By Astrid Wendlandt and Silvia Aloisi PARIS/MILAN (Reuters) - Natalie Massenet, founder and executive chairman of online fashion group Net-A-Porter, said on Thursday it was the right time to leave after she resigned abruptly ahead of the completion of a planned merger with Italy's Yoox. Regarded as the fashion visionary of the soon-to-be-combined business, she was to become its executive chairman and oversee editorial content, one of Net-A-Porter's main strengths. Massenet, who pocketed this year more than 100 million pounds ($153.09 million) as part of a deal with Net-A-Porter's controlling shareholder Richemont, said it was time for her to move on to explore new ideas and opportunities.
The director of Taylor Swift's new music video set in Africa struck back on Wednesday at mounting criticism of the scarcity of black people in the mini-film and its romanticized portrayal of the continent. "Wildest Dreams," a love story filmed against a backdrop of giraffes, lions, waterfalls and stunning sunsets, has been viewed more than 15 million times since it was released on Monday to accompany the American pop superstar's latest single. Although Swift is donating all proceeds to the African Parks Foundation of America, critics have seized on the video as portraying a stereotyped colonial-era view of Africa.
By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - Syria's water network, heavily damaged by bombs and shelling, is at risk of collapse as its civil war drags on, increasing the threat of deadly typhoid or cholera outbreaks, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday. Millions of people in Aleppo and Damascus are cut off from water supplies for days at a time, a tactic used by all warring sides to exert control in divided cities, the ICRC said. ICRC aid workers have helped water boards and engineers to maintain and repair aging pumping stations throughout Syria since the conflict began in March 2011.
By Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Richwine LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When technology and geek culture enthusiast Chris Pirillo purchased his iPhone 6 last year, he rushed home to broadcast himself unboxing the item live on YouTube. The video has garnered nearly 50,000 views and is part of the growing craze of 'unboxing' that is a centerpiece of a live global Walt Disney event, starting on Wednesday evening in Australia, to unveil new toys from its December movie "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." The goal? The Disney event, to be live-streamed online, is the most high-profile embrace to date of unboxing, where people film themselves opening and trying out new toys and gadgets.
MILAN/PARIS (Reuters) - Natalie Massenet, founder and executive chairman of online fashion group Net-A-Porter (NAP) abruptly resigned on Wednesday ahead of its planned acquisition by Italy's Yoox. Massenet, regarded as the fashion visionary of the soon-to-be-merged business, was to become its executive chairman and oversee its editorial content, one of NAP's main strengths. In a statement Yoox said that Massenet would not be a member of the merged group's board.
(Reuters) - Microblogging website operator Twitter Inc said it had expanded its self-service ads platform to more than 200 countries and territories from 33 countries. Small and medium-sized businesses can now reach their target audiences on Twitter in 15 languages, Twitter said in a blog post on Wednesday. (http://bit.ly/1hygFYa) The company said it had about 100,000 advertisers. (Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)
By James Davey LONDON (Reuters) - Nick Robertson, the founder of British online fashion retailer ASOS, has stepped down as chief executive after 15 years in which he transformed the internet start-up into a retail powerhouse with millions of fans around the world. ASOS, popular with Internet savvy twentysomethings and high-profile supporters such as British singer Rita Ora and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, said on Wednesday that Nick Beighton, the company's chief operating officer, would take over from Robertson with immediate effect. ASOS shares fell as much as 5.7 percent in early trading reflecting uncertainty whether the loss of the retailer's driving force could hinder its growth.
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Uber drivers are entitled to class action status in litigation over whether they are independent contractors or employees, a key development in a case threatening Uber's business model and that of other hot startups dependent on similar service workers. Three drivers sued Uber in a federal court in San Francisco, contending they are employees and entitled to reimbursement for expenses, including gas and vehicle maintenance. The results of Uber's legal battle could reshape the sharing economy, which is built around Internet companies that serve as marketplaces matching people who provide a service with others looking to pay for it.
By Eric Auchard TUEBINGEN (Reuters) - SAP unveiled a new product on Tuesday that promises to help businesses make sense of a deluge of real-world data from retail transactions, transport systems and social media, hoping to persuade customers to switch from rival database suppliers.SAP HANA Vora, as the database query software will be known, aims to give businesses greater insights into the vast volumes of data organizations are collecting from customer feedback, along with sensors installed in products, vehicles and networks. HANA Vora will work along with Apache Hadoop, an open source framework popular with serious software developers for handling huge sets of data, from government statistics to scientific results to shopping or credit data. "The new datasets that are emerging are going to have a profound impact on how a business is going to function, and what its options are," said SAP Chief Technology Officer Quentin Clark, who until last year was in charge of rival Microsoft Corp's data product business.
Facebook Inc's Instagram added new features on Tuesday allowing users to exchange messages in private and group conversations as the photo and video-sharing service aims to keep up with growing messaging service Snapchat. The upgrade by Instagram, which has more than 300 million users, is the latest move in the escalating battle for a young audience addicted to messaging with younger and hipper rival Snapchat, which has 100 million users and growing. The new features mean Instagram users can share pictures directly with one friend or a group of people and send back text responses or pictures, which Instagram hopes will make users want to stay on its mobile app or web site longer.
(Reuters) - Google Inc unveiled a redesign of its iconic logo on Tuesday, the fifth such modification since the search engine giant started in 1998, the company said in a blog post. The revamped logo, displayed as a Google Doodle on its homepage, spells 'Google' in a sans-serif typeface, similar to the one being used by Google's newly created holding company, Alphabet. The new brand identity "aims to make Google more accessible and useful to our users", the company said in a blog post explaining the logo.
(Reuters) - LinkedIn Corp on Tuesday rolled out a revamped messaging service along the lines of modern chat apps, departing from its unpopular design that resembled email. LinkedIn, which operates the biggest social networking site for professionals, has started to roll out the new messaging service to English-language users accessing its platform via a desktop or through an app. LinkedIn plans to make the revamped messaging feature available in other languages in the coming weeks.
By Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. law firm and class action specialist Hausfeld launched a platform on Tuesday to help pursue claims against Google, posing a potential headache for the world's No. 1 Internet search engine amid its regulatory troubles in Europe. Hausfeld has coordinated various high-profile class action cases, including for companies affected by an air cargo pricing cartel, investors impacted by currency-rigging by banks and firms fighting fees levied by MasterCard and Visa Europe. The law firm said the Google Redress & Integrity Platform (GRIP) is aimed at those affected by alleged anti-competitive behavior by Google in Europe.
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bild tabloid publisher Axel Springer and Korean electronics group Samsung announced a partnership in mobile media including news. The two companies said on Tuesday they would collaborate to produce digital media exclusively for Samsung customers, beginning with a news platform in Germany and Poland that will be rolled out in other European markets next year. Newspaper publisher Springer, which owns several publications in Poland, now makes about two thirds of its sales and three quarters of its core profit from digital offerings. ...
By Arshad Mohammed, Matt Spetalnick and Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is considering sanctions against both Russian and Chinese individuals and companies for cyber attacks against U.S. commercial targets, several U.S. officials said on Monday. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no final decision had been made on imposing sanctions, which could strain relations with Russia further and, if they came soon, cast a pall over a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September. It did not mention Russia.
Hundreds of thousands of people signed up for infidelity website Ashley Madison in the last week, parent company Avid Life Media said on Monday, even after hackers leaked data about millions of its clients. "Recent media reports predicting the imminent demise of Ashley Madison are greatly exaggerated," the company said in a statement. "Despite having our business and customers attacked, we are growing." On Aug. 18, hackers who claimed to be unhappy with Avid Life's business practices released Ashley Madison customer data.
Images of Kanye West's face on Mount Rushmore and a potential White House takeover by the Kardashian reality TV clan fired up social media on Monday, a day after the rapper virtually hijacked a rambunctious MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) show as he declared he planned to run for U.S. president in 2020. West, who is married to Kim Kardashian, sparked dozens of satirical memes on social media after his rambling, 13-minute speech on Sunday - when he admitted he had "rolled up a little something earlier in the night - while accepting the Video Vanguard award for lifetime achievement. Although most viewers saw West's presidential declaration as a joke, a Maryland college student on Monday filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to set up a political action committee called Ready for Kanye.