Sprint to acquire 100 percent stake in Clearwire for $2.2B

Sprint today confirmed in a press release that it will acquire the roughly 50 percent of Clearwire it doesn’t already own, giving it 100 percent ownership of the company in deal worth $2.2 billion:

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. & BELLEVUE, Wash. (BUSINESS WIRE), December 17, 2012 – Sprint (NYSE:S) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the approximately 50 percent stake in Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) it does not currently own for $2.97 per share, equating to a total payment to Clearwire shareholders, other than Sprint, of $2.2 billion. This transaction results in a total Clearwire enterprise value of approximately $10 billion, including net debt and spectrum lease obligations of $5.5 billion.

The transaction will take place for $2.2 billion paid to Clearwire’s shareholders (other than Sprint), or $2.97 per share. Sprint explained it is a “128 percent premium to Clearwire’s closing share price the day before the Sprint-SoftBank discussions were first confirmed.” Sprint also said the spectrum acquired from Clearwire, in combination with its own, will provide “an enhanced spectrum portfolio that will strengthen its position and increase competitiveness in the U.S. wireless industry.” As noted in the release, Softbank, which is currently slated to take control of Sprint in mid-2013, gave its consent to the Clearwire deal as required:

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FTC antitrust investigation into Google said to end this week

google sign

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported this evening that the long antitrust probe/suit/investigation into Google by the Federal Trade Commission is ending after nearly two years. The debacle, centered on antitrust litigation and allegations, is said to end with Google coming out relatively unaffected—something competitors like Yahoo certainly do not want. The FTC is said to end the investigation as early as this week, with Google agreeing to make changes to satisfy the organization. The changes are not yet clear. We can only wonder if CEO Larry Page’s meeting helped push things in Google’s direction. You bet we’ll update as more develops.
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Futurist Ray Kurzweil joins Google

Raymond_Kurzweil_Fantastic_VoyageBeyond interesting development:

Ray Kurzweil confirmed today that he will be joining Google to work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing.

“I’m excited to share that I’ll be joining Google as Director of Engineering this Monday, December 17,” said Kurzweil.

“I’ve been interested in technology, and machine learning in particular, for a long time: when I was 14, I designed software that wrote original music, and later went on to invent the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, among other inventions. I’ve always worked to create practical systems that will make a difference in people’s lives, which is what excites me as an inventor.

“In 1999, I said that in about a decade we would see technologies such as self-driving cars and mobile phones that could answer your questions, and people criticized these predictions as unrealistic. Fast forward a decade — Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones. It’s easy to shrug our collective shoulders as if these technologies have always been around, but we’re really on a remarkable trajectory of quickening innovation, and Google is at the forefront of much of this development.

“I’m thrilled to be teaming up with Google to work on some of the hardest problems in computer science so we can turn the next decade’s ‘unrealistic’ visions into reality.”

As if Google’s endeavors into futurism needed a jolt.

Google to shut down Google Sync ActiveSync support for new consumer devices, Calendar features, and more

Google-cleaningGoogle announced on its official blog today that it would do some “winter cleaning” by discontinuing a number of services in the near future. Among the services shutting down as of Jan. 30 is Google Sync, which allowed users to get access to Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts using the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol. As an alternative, Google recommended IMAP for mail and the recently launched CardDAV and CalDAV protocols. Google also confirmed it would continue offering the service to existing consumers and Google Apps for Business, Government, and Education customers.

Google also said it would shut down some of its less-popular Calendar features starting Jan. 4:

You’ll be unable to create new reservable times on your Calendar through Appointment slots, but existing Appointment slots will continue working for one year. In addition, we’ll discontinue two Calendar Labs—Smart Rescheduler (we recommend Find a time view or Suggested times as alternatives) and Add gadget by URL. Finally, Check your calendar via smsand Create event via sms (GVENT)—U.S.-only features for creating and checking meetings by texting information to Google—will be discontinued today, as most users prefer mobile Calendar apps.

Another victim of the winter cleaning is the Punchd app for Android and iOS that will officially shut down on June 7, 2013. At that time, retailers will no longer accept the service’s loyalty cards. Google’s full list of apps and features on the way out is below: Read more

Google rolls out improved video sharing for YouTube & Google+, adds public YouTube videos to Google+ profiles

Custom-Text-YouTube-upload

Google announced today on the YouTube Creator blog that it is today rolling out new features for sharing videos on YouTube, Google+, and elsewhere. Now, when uploading a video to YouTube and sharing it directly with social networks, YouTube will allow you to customize the message displayed alongside your video, as highlighted in the image above. Google explained:

Now, when you upload your videos to YouTube, you can write your own post to your fans… Where will this post appear? In YouTube feeds, the text will be merged into the upload feed item (exactly the same as if you were to upload a video, then make a channel post about the same video, but without the extra effort).  This also works with the scheduled publishing feature, offering you even greater convenience… As the video and post will be shared to your other connected social accounts as well, you no longer have go to each site to manually customize a post for each video.

Google also noted that it would add users’ public YouTube videos to the Videos tab on their Google+ page if they have opted in to connect the two accounts: Read more