(Reuters) - Amazon.com is in talks to buy online luxury retailer Net-a-porter in what could be the biggest acquisition yet for the e-commerce giant, but the negotiations are in early stages and could fall apart, Forbes reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The potential deal, first reported by Women's Wear Daily, could value Net-a-Porter lower than the valuation of 2 billion euros ($2.16 billion) reported by the fashion industry trade journal, Forbes reported on Thursday, citing the person. Seattle-based Amazon has long eyed the high-end fashion retail sector and any deal for Net-a-Porter would mean a new commitment in an area where the company lacks a strong presence, Forbes said. Media reports in 2014 said Amazon was in talks to buy Indian fashion retailer Jabong.com for $1.2 billion.
(Reuters) - Twitter Inc launched a video streaming app called Periscope on Thursday, just days after reports that it had blocked a rival app called Meerkat. Meerkat relies heavily on Twitter and has become hugely popular in the month since its launch. Twitter's announcement comes on the same day that Meerkat unveiled a list of investors that included Silicon Valley venture capitalists Greylock Partners and Sound Ventures, Ashton Kutcher's fund.
Zynga Inc must face a lawsuit that accuses the gaming company known for its "FarmVille" game of defrauding shareholders about its prospects before and after its December 2011 initial public offering. Ruling 13 months after dismissing an earlier version of the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco said on Wednesday that shareholders could pursue claims that Zynga concealed declining user activity, masked how changes in a Facebook Inc platform for its games would affect demand and inflated its 2012 revenue forecast. Zynga's market value slid by several billion dollars between March 2, 2012, when its share price peaked at $15.91, and July 26, 2012, when the price dropped below $3 after the company posted disappointing earnings and cut its outlook. "Confidential witnesses all corroborate that the updates on game users and spending data was readily accessible to Zynga's management." White rejected a claim over Zynga's alleged product launch delays, saying it was mere "business puffery" for the company to call its game pipeline "strong," "robust" and "very healthy." Shareholders led by David Fee also claimed that Zynga hid its weaknesses to enable insiders to sell $593 million of stock before a post-IPO lockup was to expire, and avoid a roughly 75 percent drop in its share price over the next four months.
By Foo Yun Chee and Rene Wagner BERLIN (Reuters) - European Union regulators plan to investigate ecommerce to help remove barriers to cross-border trade in the 28-nation bloc, the EU's antitrust chief said, a move that may lead to action against companies which deliberately block online sales. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she decided to launch the year-long inquiry because such hurdles were hampering the growth of online sales. According to the European Commission, while one in two EU consumers shopped online last year, just 15 percent bought a product online in another EU country because of restrictions such as language, different laws and anti-competitive behavior, "It is high time to remove remaining barriers to ecommerce, which is a vital part of a true Digital Single Market in Europe," Vestager told reporters at a conference organized by the German competition authority on Thursday.
By Malathi Nayak NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc may rely largely on advertising for revenue from its upcoming online video service, Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said in an interview. This could set the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier apart from rival online video services such as Dish Network Corp's Sling TV and Sony Corp's PlayStation Vue, which offer traditional TV content with ads and collect subscription fees. Original online programing on Verizon's service could use an "advertising-type" model, "not necessarily a consumer-pay model," Shammo said in the recent interview. Most Americans own a mobile phone, and Verizon is looking at online video delivery to increase data consumption on mobile devices and increase revenue.
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to advance a long-awaited bill that would make it easier for companies to share information about cybersecurity threats with the government without the fear of lawsuits. The legislation is expected to come before the full House as soon as late April, after lawmakers return from a two-week early April recess. Similar legislation is making its way through the U.S. Senate and backers of both bills say they have a good chance of passing after repeated setbacks. U.S. corporations have been clamoring for more protection against cyberattacks, but they also worry about potential lawsuits if they hand information over to government investigators.
Three U.S. Federal Trade Commission members said on Wednesday they regretted the inadvertent release of part of an agency report about its probe of Google Inc as the company continues to face antitrust scrutiny from European authorities. The document, which was at the center of a report by The Wall Street Journal, indicated that key staff members at the FTC were in favor of suing Google for allegedly breaking antitrust law. In a statement the commissioners -- Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Julie Brill and Maureen Ohlhausen -- defended the final outcome.
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc on Wednesday opened up its Messenger service for developers to create apps and for shoppers to communicate directly with retailers, as the Internet company seeks to expand its reach. The new features mark Facebook's latest effort to transform its mobile messaging service into a full-featured platform with the same pull with consumers and businesses as its flagship 1.4-billion user social network. Facebook unveiled the new features at its annual developer conference in San Francisco, for the first time allowing developers to create apps that function inside the Messenger service used by more than 600 million people. Messenger will feature more than 40 different apps in the next few days, allowing users to send each other sports clips, animations and other items, Facebook said.
PayPal, the electronic payments firm, agreed to pay $7.7 million to settle charges by the U.S. Treasury Department that it violated numerous sanctions programs against countries that include Iran, Cuba and Sudan, Treasury said on Wednesday. PayPal, owned by EBay Inc , did not adequately screen its transactions for U.S. sanctions targets for several years through 2013, resulting in 486 apparent violations of U.S. law, Treasury said in a statement. PayPal also dismissed alerts and processed about $7,000 worth of payments for Kursud Zafer Cire, a Turkish national on the sanctions blacklist tied to proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, according to the statement.
China's Internet regulator issued on Wednesday new guidelines prohibiting sexual and vulgar content on Tencent Holdings Ltd's popular messaging app, the latest step in the agency's perennial campaign to clean up China's Internet. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said sexually explicit pictures and text, including nude photos and erotic animation, and stories of "one-night stands, wife-swapping, sexual abuse and other harmful information" will be subject to punishment. Drug advertisements for illegal sexual enhancement products or sexually transmitted diseases are also banned, as are voyeuristic pictures and leaked media. WeChat, known as Weixin in China, is by far the country's most popular messaging app with 500 million users.
By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - Cyber crime is probably the biggest risk facing companies across the world, and they need to do more to help governments tackle the problem, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin said on Wednesday. "Each of us must recognize this risk is perhaps the most pressing operational risk of our time," she told the CityWeek conference in London. Financial services firms were making substantial investments in reinforcing their resilience to cyber attacks but they needed to embed this resilience into their existing business units rather than grafting improvements on top of them, she said. Cyber threats undermined freedom of expression and hampered global economic recovery, and governments needed to ensure international legal principles that respect state sovereignty and human rights apply to conduct online as well as offline, Raskin said.
By Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - If Beijing is successful in its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics then foreigners who attend will get uncensored Internet access, but this isn't an issue for Chinese who "don't like" sites like Facebook and Twitter, an official said on Wednesday. China keeps a tight rein on its Internet. The government has warned that social media, particularly foreign services, could be a destabilizing force for Chinese society or even affect the country's security. Popular foreign social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook as well as Google Inc's main search engine and Gmail service are all inaccessible in China without specialized software to vault what is known as the "Great Firewall".
New Delhi authorities on Wednesday asked India's federal information technology ministry to block the taxi-hailing apps of U.S.-based Uber and its local rival Ola in the city in a bid to enforce a ban on the companies' services. India in December ordered all unregistered web-based taxi companies to halt operations until they obtain an operating license after a driver contracted with Uber was accused of rape. The ban, however, has largely been ineffective and both Ola, backed by Japan's SoftBank Corp, and Uber have continued to operate in Delhi while their license applications are pending.
By Suchitra Mohanty NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's top court struck down a law on Tuesday that gave authorities powers to jail people for offensive online posts, a verdict hailed as a victory for free speech in the world's largest growth market for the Internet. Section 66A of the country's Information and Technology (IT) Act was challenged in the Supreme Court by law students, bloggers, writers and rights groups following arrests across the country for statements posted on social media sites. Justices Jasti Chelameshwar and Rohinton F. Nariman in their order said they found "the law hit at the root of liberty and freedom of expression". The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it welcomed the ruling.