Opera’s shareholders greenlight $1.2B sale to Chinese consortium

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Opera’s shareholders greenlight $1.2B sale to Chinese consortium
Browser maker Opera’s proposed $1.2 billion acquisition by a consortium of Chinese companies just took a major step towards completion after its shareholders voted in favor of the deal.

Opera announced today that 90.6 percent of the outstanding share capital and 90.9 percent of the votes in the company have approved the acquisition. That’s a preliminary result that the firm will confirm for sure soon, but, if the number stays as it is or is higher, that will be enough to enable the sale to proceed. Approval from relevant authorities in Norway and China will be required further down the line.

Today’s approval is notable because there have been murmurs of discontent about the proposed sale to Golden Brick, a group comprised of Qihoo 360, one of China’s most visible (and controversial) Internet companies which recently went private in a $9.3 billion deal, listed games firm Kunlun, which owns a 60 percent share in gay dating service Grindr, and investment firm Yonglian.

Weeks after the proposed offer was announced, Opera CEO Lars Boilesen and CTO Håkon Wium Lie told TechCrunch that decision to sell wasn’t made by them.

“I have been working for Opera since ’99, Håkon ’98,” Boilesen said. “He’s No. 8; I’m No. 16. We’ve been with Opera for many years. We got listed on the Stockholm stock exchange in 2004. So basically, the shareholders — they decided to initiate this process. It was kind of their decision. It wasn’t our decision.”

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement.

The proposed deal hasn’t stopped Opera from introducing a busy slate of product updates, including a built-in VPN for its desktop browser and mobile apps, and an ad-blocker, too.

Web developers rejoice; Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 die on Tuesday

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Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer has long been the bane of many Web developers’ existence, but here’s some news to brighten your day: Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 are reaching ‘end of life’ on Tuesday, meaning they’re no longer supported by Microsoft.

A patch, which goes live on January 12, will nag Internet Explorer users on launch to upgrade to a modern browser. KB3123303 adds the nag box, which will appear for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 users still using the old browsers after installing the update.

It’s great news for developers who still need to target older browsers — not needing to worry about whether or not modern CSS works in these browsers is a dream, and it’s much closer with this move.

End of life means the browsers will no longer receive security updates or any other kind of patches, leaving those running them wide open to new vulnerabilities in the future.

The nag can be disabled by those in enterprises who haven’t made the upgrade yet, through the registry, though it’s probably easier just to jump onto Internet Explorer 11.

What’s even bigger about the end of life for these versions is that this means Internet Explorer 11 is the last version of Microsoft’s old browser that’s left supported, as the company continues to transition customers to Edge on Windows 10.

If you’re still using any version of Internet Explorer below 11, it’s time to upgrade now, before it’s too late.

Paytm acquires Near.in to boost online-to-offline play

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Paytm
BENGALURU: Online payments and commerce player Paytm has acquired Near.in as consolidation sets in the crowded local and home services market. The acquisition of the Gurgaon-based Near.in is in line with Paytm’s strategy to strengthen its O2O (online-to-offline) play, a company executive told TOI. The move comes at a time when a number of startups in the local services market have been unable to raise fresh capital as investors pull back.

Near.in had raised seed funding of around Rs 2 crore from serial entrepreneurs like Anupam Mittal of Shaadi.com, Manish Vij of adtech firm SVG Media, Prashant Tandon (CEO) and Gaurav Agarwal (CTO) of Healthkart.com, and Akash Agarwal, global vice-president of the mobile division of enterprise software maker SAP Labs.

Paytm has shelled out $2 million to buy out Near.in and the latter’s founders Lomesh Dutta and Sunil Goyal will join Paytm as vice-presidents, said Kiran Vasi Reddy, senior VP (business), at Paytm. Near.in’s early investors will exit as part of the acquisition.

Near.in, which was founded a little over a year ago, provides a platform to local services and connects professionals with customers looking to avail services such as makeup artists, dietitians, dance teachers and yoga instructors, among others. Currently, the company offers over 100 categories of local services. It competes with well-funded bigger players like UrbanClap and Housejoy, besides a bunch of vertical marketplaces offering specific services like beauty and laundry.

“O2O is a key focus area for Paytm and Near.in seemed a perfect fit for us, which has a credible team. While funds are not easily coming to a lot of companies, making the right purchase is crucial. Our investments in Jugnoo and Little reflect the same intent as to whoever bridges the gap between online and offline effectively is an attractive target,” Reddy told TOI, adding that the Alibaba-backed company is looking to purchase a couple more startups in this space.

Venture investors earlier this year had rushed to fund a clutch of early-stage online marketplaces in the local and home services space with the likes of Taskbob and Tiger Global-backed LocalOye raising money. But over the past few months, with the market tightening, this category has seen some players unable to shore up further capital while others like LocalOye laid off employees to cut costs paving way for consolidation.

Around the globe, this space has also been witnessing some action as, during August last year, Silicon Valley-based Thumbtack raised about $100 million in a Google Ventures-led round, followed by Amazon launching Amazon Local Services to foray into the services segment as well in November last year.

8 tools to change the way you use Gmail

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8 tools to change the way you use gmail
If you only use Gmail to send and receive emails, you’re barely scratching the surface of what it actually does. Here are some tools that will help you integrate multiple cloud storage providers, enable experimental ‘labs’ options and adding super-cool features by third-party developers and much more.

So, over to 8 tools that will change the way you use Gmail. More Details

Guidelines for Letterspacing Type

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I know very few web designers who ever adjust letterspacing when setting type on the web. Small changes can have an enormous effect on the readabiltity of text. That means it’s hard to make those decisions unless you’re very confident with your knowledge in web typography.

Effectively letterspacing text can make the difference between good typography and great typography. With that in mind, I decided to put together some guidelines for letterspacing type on the web.
More Details

Google Classroom Gets An Update Ahead Of New School Year

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Google Classroom

Google launched a couple of updates to its Classroom educational platform today that will make life a little bit easier for teachers as they get ready for the next school year.

Classroom already integrates with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, but with this update, Classroom will also automatically create a Google Calendar for each class so teachers can schedule field trips, guest speakers and other events.

For students, the most important changes, however, are likely the new features Google is adding to the Q&A and discussions features in Classroom. Teachers can now post questions to their class and (optionally) have students discuss each other’s answers (and teachers can then grade these, too).
Google Classroom

“For example, you could post a video and ask students to answer a question about it, or post an article and ask them to write a paragraph in response,” Google engineer Will Phan explains. “Just like assignments, you have the choice to grade their answers.”

And when students see those assignments, they may just turn out to be reused assignments from other years, because Google Classroom now lets teachers more easily reuse assignments, announcements and questions from other classes they have taught. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time you teach a class, after all.

Other new features in Classroom include the ability to bump old posts up, the ability to make due dates optional (which likely won’t help students who like to procrastinate), and (soon) integration with Google Forms for creating tests, quizzes and surveys.

Overall, this looks like a set of useful updates for both students and teachers. It’s been a year since Google first announced this platform. When Google launched a number of updates to Classroom in May of this year, the company said students had already turned in more than 70 million assignments.

Snapdeal Confirms $500M Investment From Alibaba, SoftBank and Foxconn

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Snap Deal

Indian e-commerce platform Snapdeal has confirmed that it received $500 million of funding from three of Asia’s largest tech companies: Alibaba, Foxconn, and SoftBank. Returning investors Temasek, BlackRock, Myriad, and Premji Invest also participated in the round.

The investment was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and Re/code and brings Snapdeal’s total funding so far to about $1.6 billion.

Founded in 2010, Snapdeal is one of India’s largest e-commerce companies and says it now has more than 150,000 sellers on its platforms and is able to deliver to 5,000 towns and cities in India. SoftBank is already Snapdeal’s largest investor after leading a $627 million investment last year.

Snapdeal is engaged in an expensive competition with Flipkart and Amazon India. Flipkart has raised $3.2 billion in funding from investors like Naspers, Tiger Global, and DST Global, while Amazon has vowed to put $2 billion in its Indian operations (and may invest another $5 billion soon). All three businesses are spending heavily on their logistics networks. Flipkart and Snapdeal are also growing by acquiring companies in related verticals, like payments.

For example, Snapdeal bought online transaction company FreeCharge in April in what it called “one of the biggest acquisitions in the history of the Internet industry in India.” The price was undisclosed, but FreeCharge’s valuation was reportedly $450 million.

Say hello to Alphabet, Google’s brand-new company

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Google is undergoing a major restructuring today, with a brand-new company called Alphabet coming to the fore.

Google itself will become part of Alphabet, which Larry Page described as “mostly a collection of companies” in a blog post. Other businesses will fall under the Alphabet umbrella, including its Life Sciences branch that develops glucose-monitoring contact lenses and Calico, the longevity initiative. Each business within Alphabet will have its own CEO. In essence, Google is now a subsidiary of Alphabet.

The new structure leaves a more slimmed down Google, untethered from companies outside core internet products.

Sundar Pichai will become CEO of Google, while Sergey Brin will become president of Alphabet and Page CEO of the new firm.

Developing…