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Chinese E-Commerce Giant Plans Stateside IPO

By David Vranicar
Mar 17, 2014 2:31 PM PT

Gargantuan Chinese e-commerce outfit Alibaba soon will begin the process of launching an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chinese E-Commerce Giant Plans Stateside IPO

Early forecasts suggest that the IPO could raise US$15 billion.

The announcement seemingly ends speculation about whether Alibaba would be listed on the NYSE or in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has certain rules about ownership structure that Alibaba found particularly unpalatable. The company had tried to coax the exchange into making an exception, but to no avail.

While Alibaba does not divulge its finances, Yahoo, which owns a 24 percent stake in the company, said that Alibaba's revenue for the quarter ending in September was $1.8 billion, up 51 percent from a year earlier.

[Source: USA Today]

Putin-Critical Sites Blocked in Russia

Russia's prosecutor general has blacklisted four websites that were critical of President Vladimir Putin.

Among them were two news sites and the blog of Alexei Navalny, a political opponent of Putin. Navalny actually is under house arrest at the moment, so he's having a thoroughly tough go of it.

Officially, the sites were blocked because they played a role in facilitating recent illegal protests. Of course, some are wondering if the blocks are just Putin's way of thwarting dissent.

[Source: BBC]

Kevin Spacey Needles Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Actor Kevin Spacey tweeted a fake image featuring himself sandwiched between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Ford's brother.

The Brothers Ford had complained that Spacey would not indulge them in a photo when Rob Ford appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live in early March. Ford's brother, for his part, called Spacey "an arrogant SOB."

Ford could do well to avoid the limelight for awhile. In November, he admitted to smoking crack cocaine after the website Gawker got its mitts on a video proving as much. Later that month, Ford was in an altercation at a city council meeting, and in the time since, multiple unsavory videos of Ford -- including this one from January -- have surfaced.

[Source: The Guardian]

US to Forfeit Address-and-Domain Duties

In 2015, the U.S. will retire from its role of overseeing the system of domain names and Internet addresses, handing those duties over to an as-yet-unformed international group.

The U.S. took the lead on assigning the numbers that form Web addresses -- what is colloquially referred to as the "plumbing" of the Internet.

The structure and administration of the international group taking over the Internet reins is not yet clear, but apparently will be ironed out over the next year.

It always was assumed that the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, would give up its role of governing Web addresses and domains. Ongoing revelations about National Security Agency snooping have given this handover a sense of urgency.

[Source: The New York Times]

Twitter CEO Goes on 1st Trip to China

Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, will meet with government officials, academics and students in Shanghai, marking his first trip to the Middle Kingdom, where Twitter has been blocked since 2009.

Costolo is not slated to drop by Beijing, where Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg visited last year to shoot the breeze with a Chinese official. However, he will meet with representatives of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, a sort of Petri dish for testing new policies in China. (Foreign companies, for instance, can now make game consoles within the free trade zone, reversing the country's 14-year ban on consoles produced by foreign companies.)

Of course, rumors that China was lifting its ban on Facebook and Twitter in the Shanghai zone proved to be false.

[Source: Reuters]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com. You can also connect with him on Google+.

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How do you feel about accidents that occur when self-driving vehicles are being tested?
Self-driving vehicles should be banned -- one death is one too many.
Autonomous vehicles could save thousands of lives -- the tests should continue.
Companies with bad safety records should have to stop testing.
Accidents happen -- we should investigate and learn from them.
The tests are pointless -- most people will never trust software and sensors.
Most injuries and fatalities in self-driving auto tests are due to human error.