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From more Yahoo drama to a big money investment and rumoured acquisition to the news that the mobile phone may be great for brain tumours, the tech news that interested me this week was diverse.

Yahoo announces a reorganization

Yahoo's planned reorganization was made public this week.

According to the International Herald Tribune:

"The company said it would create three new groups to help centralize its Internet products, expand its audience and better capitalize on the growth of Web advertising."

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo President Susan Decker masterminded the plan - not CEO Jerry Yang - and all the heads of the three new divisions created by the reorganization will report to Decker, not Yang.

As Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay observed:

"It begs the question, what is Jerry Yang doing? It looks like there has been a significant shift in power towards Ms. Decker."

Realistically there's not much in the reorganization that offers shareholders comfort.

Yang increasingly looks like an impotent leader and it's worth noting that Decker has figured prominently in the company's affairs over the course of its strategic mishaps, providing little reason to believe that this reorganization will not be another strategic blunder.

Frankly, in my opinion only one reorganization has a chance of affecting real change for the better at Yahoo - a new CEO and a new board of directors.

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Yang and the current board, there's something awfully painful about watching them shuffle Yahoo's organizational structure while the company is in disarray.

To a certain extent, it's about as sad as it would have been to watch passengers rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Yahoo may not be sinking (yet) but the passengers are jumping ship.

Big dollar signs for microblogging service Twitter

The 140 character version of this news item for those busy souls who have nowhere to go and nobody to see:

twitter gets big VC $$$. bezos is in. $$$ = uptime (hopefully). still no revs but will work on later

The more cogent version of this news item:

The inane and practically useless "microblogging" service that Web 2.0 junkies can't stop talking about, Twitter, officially announced its third round of funding.

It raised $15m from existing investors Union Square Ventures and Digital Garage and new investors Spark Capital and Bezos Expeditions.

Twitter has been plagued by downtime and scalability issues. This funding will be used to recruit the army that is apparently needed to deal with these issues.

According to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone:

"We will continue hiring systems engineers, operators, and architects, as well as consultants, scientists, and other professionals to help us realize our vision."

Interestingly, he also convincingly addressed the not-so-subtle subject of Twitter's lack of a business model:

"Twitter will become a sustainable business supported by a revenue model. However, our biggest opportunities will be worth pursuing only when we achieve our vision of Twitter as a global communication utility."

That makes sense. When you just raised $15mn in funding on a "very strong" valuation, there's really no reason to rush making money. Worry about that once you've established yourself as email's replacement.

After all, it would be quite greedy to pursue more money than is needed and as we know, Web 2.0 is pioneering a new type of business entity - the for-profit non-profit.

Microsoft to buy semantic search engine Powerset for $100m+

After being told by Yahoo that it couldn't spend $47.5bn on a takeover, Microsoft apparently had to spend some money somewhere.

VentureBeat is reporting that the Redmond software giant has agreed to buy semantic search "startup" Powerset for $100mn or more.

While this is still only a rumor at this point, VentureBeat insists that the deal is done and that it will be announced next month.

Powerset, which has been around for two years, has been one of the most hyped upstarts in the alluring field of "semantic search." The company's technology is designed to understand the "meaning" of search queries, in theory allowing users to search using more natural language.

Given that after all the hype, Powerset launched a limited public beta in May 2008 that searches only Wikipedia, one has to wonder if this isn't a "depression" purchase by Steve Ballmer, assuming of course that the acquisition did or does occur.

Oni joins 60Frames on Web

Online entertainment distributor 60Frames has partnered with comic book publisher Oni Press to launch two online shows that are tied to comic books.

While it's impossible to predict whether or not "Men With Guns: Assassin" and "Ark" will take off, these shows are yet another demonstration of the interest in "integrated media" that I originally wrote about a little more than a year ago.

I expect similar deals to keep popping up.

Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking'

Perhaps the iPhone is worth a look after all. If a leading neurosurgeon is correct and the mobile phone "has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking," it's worth considering that damaging your health should only be done in style.

According to Dr. Vini Khurana, a Mayo Clinic-trained neurosurgeon who currently serves as Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the Australian National University and Canberra Medical School:

"There is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours."

His prediction - within ten years this will be widely-known and accepted.

If Dr. Khurana is correct, the implications extend far beyond the world of health (and law).

The mobile has become an indispensable communications tool for individuals and businesses. For many people, it is the primary or only conduit to the outside world and to the internet.

While I would not be surprised if the electromagnetic fields mobile phones expose us to are capable of causing brain tumours, I'm not ready to "call" for a reduction in their use just yet.

Since I don't use a mobile very much myself, I think we should let rude mobile users keep yapping away until we know for sure.

Drama 2.0

Published 27 June, 2008 by Drama 2.0

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