Google extends olive branch to European newspapers with €150 million fund

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Google is investing €150 million ($ 163 million) in a new fund to support newspaper publishers and other journalism organisations in Europe.

The move comes less than two weeks after the European Commission accused Google of abusing its dominant position in the market by distorting search results in favour of its Google Shopping service. The Commission also opened a separate antitrust investigation into its Android operating system

Major news organisations including the Financial Times, The Guardian, Les Échos, NRC Media, El Pais, La Stampa, Faz, and Die Zeit are taking part in the partnership, known as the Digital News Initiative, which will offer training and research as well as access to the innovation fund, according to multiple reports. Major media groups in Europe such as News Corp and Axel Springer are not currently involved in the partnership Read more…

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Another One Bites the Dust: Facebook Acquires Branch, the Twitter Founders-Backed Company that Brought You Potluck

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How Does Branch Work screenshot

And another innocent startup bites the dust. Online conversations startup Branch has been acquired by Facebook, Branch cofounder Josh Miller announced this morning. Branch is the maker of the social sharing network Potluck and, interestingly, is backed by Twitter cofounders Evan Williams and Biz Stone.

Though Miller didn’t point to any numbers, The Verge reports that Branch was acquired for around $ 15 million.

Branch Co-Founder Josh Miller announces acquisition on Facebook

“After two years building Branch and Potluck, I am thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our mission at Facebook!” Miller wrote. The Branch team will remain in New York while forming Facebook’s new Conversations group. According to Miller Facebook wants the team to “build Branch at Facebook scale” by helping Facebook users connect with others around their interests. In other words, the company’s product shouldn’t change much – but is this ever truly possible in an acquisition?

What Is Branch?

Screenshot of Potluck's main view

Branch is a clever and fast-moving startup that has produced a number of fun and useful internet products. In addition to its conversation service, Branch also launched Potluck, which provides a great interface for discussing Web findings with friends and acquaintances. Recently the company released an online chatting service for the modern workforce, Chitchat, and a “PhoneTag” app that makes it easier to connect with hard-to-reach friends and family in a personal way.

Under Facebook’s Wing, Will Branch Go the Way of the Dodo?

While Branch over the past two years has focused on creating products the modern consumer will find useful and intuitive, Facebook has focused on creating products (like video ads) that monetize its users. So I don’t think I’m wrong to worry that under Facebook Branch will soon go the way of past acquisitions and lose its customer-centric approach to business. But only time will tell.

Facebook also recently acquired mobile analytics company Onavo, which helps users manage the amount of data downloaded by their smartphones.

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