Just in case you feared the giant swell in her belly was a tumor, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has finally confirmed her pregnancy. The French first lady and anal play enthusiast says she doesn't know the gender, and did not specify how many months along she is. Tabloids speculate her fetus is a week or two shy of six months. I'm not sure how they reached such a specific date, but suspect it had something to do with a hacked cellphone hidden under a mattress. Unless Nicolas Sarkozy's sympathy bump gave it away. [People, image via Getty]
Earlier today, we speculated that one of the few Take Your Child to Work Day jobs that children would enjoy would be National Geographic's swashbuckling Explorer-in-Residence job. Apparently Nat Geo jobs aren't the only paradisiacal thing—at this year's TKCTW celebration, they auctioned an iPad. A reader writes in,
My worst fears for a favorite writer have been confirmed: Dan Lyons told Valleywag alumnus Jordan Golson via phone that (A) Newsweek, his new employer, ordered Lyons to remove a blog post calling Yahoo publicists "lying sacks of shit," and (B) rather than continue to blog under the boss's watchful eye, Lyons — once Internet-famous as the Fake Steve Jobs — has stopped blogging altogether. The man has two kids and Newsweek pays real money, so I'm not going to toss rocks. Except at Newsweek, which hired Lyons because of Fake Steve Jobs, his hilarious fake-Apple-CEO persona; urged him to blog outside the magazine; then freaked out when Lyons continued to write honestly in his spare time. You maniacs! You blew it up!
This just in: Current TV's director of public relations sent us an email designed to be printed in its entirety. (Thanks for that. Since Valleywag fired everyone else, I spend way too much time editing.) Current didn't just cut staff, they reshuffled a couple dozen employees. Instead of the economy, Current blames "a new, innovative programming strategy." That's gotta make everyone feel better. A tipster tells us, "The few spared [in San Francisco] are being made to choose between unemployment or a move to L.A." Here's the statement:
A boilerplate statement from Linden Lab confirms yesterday's rumor: "We've had to make some hard decisions about resources and as a result we eliminated four positions out of our headcount of nearly 300." That's not as bad as the "9 or 10" we'd been told were cut. In a statement sent to Silicon Alley Insider, Linden says they're still hiring. There are 45 job listings on the company's employment page. Are they all still open? Huh, maybe Second Life really is an alternate reality. What temperature does water boil at in SL?
LinkedIn, the richly funded business-networking website, is indeed laying employees off today. (No numbers available yet; if you know more details, please send them in.) But we know of at least one person who's
skipping sticking around for the cuts: Reid Hoffman, the company's chairman and cofounder. He's in Japan , speaking at a conference. A convenient absence. Hoffman is described by his underlings as generous and kind, but we hear he didn't oppose the layoffs. We also notice he wasn't kind-hearted enough to cancel his trip and console his employees in person. Update: We're now told Hoffman did cancel his trip to Japan for the conference, at the last minute.
Tesla Motors, the automaker which is Silicon Valley's best hope to build an electric-car industry, will run out of cash in three months if it does not raise new financing. CEO Elon Musk has confirmed Valleywag's report that it has spent most of its customers' deposits and is running low on cash. In an interview with Reuters, CEO Elon Musk conceded that the company only has $9 million in the bank, as a concerned Tesla employee told us yesterday. Tesla's contract with customers specifies that deposits can be used for "working capital" — but last I checked, "working capital" means liquidity available to a company. It does not mean "money that has gone out the door." So Tesla may arguably be in breach of contract with the 1,200 customers who have put between $5,000 and $60,000 down for its Tesla Roadster. Tesla has only delivered 50 cars.Musk has previously said that Tesla will be able to turn cash-flow positive in nine months, if it receives new investment. He now says he's seeking an additional $20 million from Tesla's current investors, and expects to get it next week. Do the math: If Tesla has $9 million in the bank, and requires another $20 million to get to positive cash flow over the next nine months, then it is burning at least $3 million a month. And that's after it laid off 24 percent of its workforce and announced plans to shutter its Detroit office.
In our inbox, rumor of a staggering blow to one of Silicon Valley's new growth industries: Tesla Motors, a tipster tells us, is laying off 100 people, about half of its staff. CEO Ze'ev Drori is also leaving, he claims. Update: Tesla VP Darryl Siry called Wednesday morning to tell us that the number our tipster supplied is "exaggerated" and that the company is "refocusing" to get through "a tough nine months." Sad: A few years ago, electric-car enthusiasts talked up the Valley as the new Detroit, home to a vibrant new automotive economy. Last month, Tesla had set plans for a $250 million electric-car factory in San Jose, along with a new headquarters.But autos are an expensive business, thoroughly dependent on free-flowing credit for their manufacture and sale. Tesla's high-end electrics, a status symbol in good times, now seem excessive; who wants to drive a $109,000 car into a half-empty parking lot? Siry says that the company's moves aren't driven by demand, which remains healthy.
After months of teasing, AMD finally gave the New York Times the official word for publication this morning: The company will split into a chip design firm and a chip manufacturing company, temporarily named the Foundry Company, that will make chips for AMD and other clients. Abu Dhabi investment firm Advanced Technology has put up $2.1 billion for Foundry, with a pledge of billions more later. This leaves Intel, as new NYT reporter Ashlee Vance summarized, "the only significant maker of PC chips to still design and build its own products."
Why would anyone not think Aaron Sorkin is working on a movie about Facebook? "You can't handle the truth!" That's the line Sorkin penned for Jack Nicholson in 1992's A Few Good Men. Nicholson might well have been speaking to some of our readers, who reacted poorly to the news that the West Wing writer was working on a movie about Mark Zuckerberg's creation. One begged us to uncover the fraud: "The BBC, the Guardian and New York Magazine are all over the totally fake-seeming Aaron Sorkin movie about Facebook. Please get to the bottom of this horrible joke." Sorry, you'll have to handle this: Sorkin himself confirmed that he is indeed planning a movie about how Zuckerberg and his Harvard classmates created Facebook.Rather, Sorkin's publicist, Joy Fehily, tells us, on his behalf. Or whoever answers her email. With all the layers of secretaries and managers and representatives in Hollywood, you can never tell. Yesterday, Sorkin's agent's assistant issued a nondenial, before politely informing us, "I have to hang up on you now." Likewise, the skeptics will have to hang up on any remaining doubts that Sorkin is behind this movie. Really, could anyone else do the movie? Sorkin is the master of the office drama, picking up on the details that make an inside-baseball story at once believable to insiders and entertaining to outsiders. If it had been anyone but Sorkin, we would have scoffed, too.
Where's Ben Ling headed next? We hear he might be headed back to Google — not a startup. Ling, a talented product manager, is closely watched as a talent barometer. His defection from Google to Facebook last year kicked off a series of trend stories about people leaving Google. Less than a year on the job, he's leaving Facebook, which has kicked off another series of trend stories about people leaving Facebook. Ling was recently spotted having lunch in Mountain View. You know what this means: A series of trend stories about ex-Googlers returning to the Googleplex. Update: Kara Swisher confirms Ling is returning to Google, tasked with figuring out how to make money off YouTube.
Roger Ehrenberg wrote a popular post-mortem on Monitor110, a news aggregator for investors he'd backed. It burned through $20 million in funding before finally dying this summer. We'd learned that Ehrenberg had omitted a key detail from his history of the company — that it had sought a bridge loan from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a VC which had invested in the company, gotten a promise of the money, spent it, and then seen DFJ renege on the loan and fund a competitor Skygrid instead. We contacted Ehrenberg for comment before running the story, and he passed up an opportunity to deny any of the facts. We ran the story. Now Ehrenberg writes: "Few things irk me more than shoddy journalism, lousy research and bad intentions, and these three neatly came together in a piece by Nicholas Carlson published today in Valleywag." He then proceeded to confirm everything we reported. "Here are the real facts," he writes:
In selling DailyCandy to Comcast for $125 million, Bob Pittman has notched a 36x return on the email newsletter he bought in 2003 for $3.5 million. We had heard that Comcast was trying to get it for $75 million, marking sharp dealmanship by Pittman to get the higher price. The long-rumored deal has done much to restore Pittman's reputation as a businessman after the disastrous AOL-Time Warner merger. [Silicon Alley Insider}
Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron, who didn't invent the Internet, video, or Internet video, but did prove back in 2006 that its possible to become Internet famous with quick, quirky edits and a pretty girl's face, has announced a "seven-figure" distribution deal with Sony, TechCrunch reports, confirming a rumor we floated earlier this summer. Sony will distribute Baron's show over its PS3 videogame consoles, PlayStation Portables, and Bravia I-Link TVs.
The grindy reporters at the Wall Street Journal have confirmed what the guys at TorrentFreak figured out a couple of weeks ago: Hard rockers Buckcherry (I recommend listening to "Lit Up" and "Ridin'" as a primer) leaked their own single "Too Drunk ..." from a computer at their manager's office in early July. The band had issued a faux-outraged press release over the pretend act of piracy. Their complaint: "We want our FANS to have any new songs first.” Uh, guys, isn't that exactly what happened?
Once an oversharer, always an oversharer — no matter what it costs, personally or financially. When IAC fired Jakob Lodwick — the Internet's own Howard Roark — from Web video site Vimeo, IAC agreed to pay Lodwick $100,000 a year until 2011, just so long as he stayed away from IAC employees in any new ventures. Lodwick, reportedly bipolar and never much one for consistency, has proven unable to resist the temptation. An image posted to former IAC employee Justin Ouellette's personal blog seems to confirm what's already been rumored: Lodwick funded Ouellette's side project, an online-music site called Muxtape, with enough cash — $95,000 in exchange for 1 percent of Muxtape's equity, going by the scribbled napkin — so that Oullette could quit IAC to run Muxtape full time.