Lots of happenings these past few weeks in the e-commerce universe. In case you missed anything, here are a few headlines you should know about:
Microsoft to Buy Skype for $8.5 Billion: The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Microsoft announced it would buy Skype Global for $8.5 billion in cash, in its largest acquisition ever. In Skype, Microsoft is buying the leader in Internet voice and video communications, with 107 million users per month connected for more than 100 minutes a month on average. That large and active user base represents a major asset, Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, said in an interview. “It’s an amazing customer imprint,” Mr. Ballmer said. “And Skype is a verb, as they say.”
Apple Now World’s Most Valuable Brand: Mashable has reported that
Apple has surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization to become the second most valuable U.S. company in 2010, and has superseded Google to become the most valuable consumer-facing brand in the world. This is according to a study published by global research agency Millward Brown. Apple’s brand value jumped 84% to $153.3 billion, driven largely by the company’s success with the iPad and iPhone 4, the study found. Google’s brand declined 2 percent to $111.5 billion. IBM, McDonald’s and Microsoft rounded out the top five.
Gilt Groupe Valued at Roughly $1 Billion: In a bid to expand its e-commerce empire, Gilt Groupe has raised $138 million in its latest financing round, according to an article by Evelyn M. Rusli, in The New York Times’ Dealbook. Best known for its limited sales of women’s and men’s apparel, the Manhattan-based company has raised capital from several new investors, including Goldman Sachs, the media conglomerate Softbank Group, New Enterprise Associates and Draper Fisher Jurvetson Growth, the article stated. Two previous investors, General Atlantic and Matrix Partners, also participated in the round, which values the company at about $1 billion.
Wal-Mart to invest $756 million in Brazil: Wal-Mart Stores said that by the end of the year it will have invested the equivalent of approximately $756 million to expand its operations in Brazil, said a story on Chain Store Age. Marcos Samaha, president of Wal-Mart’s Brazilian subsidiary, said in a statement that 1.2 billion reals ($755 million) will be used to build 80 stores, renovate existing locations and improve logistics.
Luxury goods set for another record year: Reuters has reported that the outlook for the luxury goods market has improved significantly in recent months, boosted by a stronger-than-expected rebound in the United States and Europe and surging demand in China, consultancy Bain & Co said. Bain raised its 2011 growth forecast for luxury sales to 8 percent at constant currencies from a 3-5 percent range, after recent sales data from groups such as LVMH (LVMH.PA), Burberry (BRBY.L), PPR (PRTP.PA) and Tod’s (TOD.MI) comfortably beat market expectations.
Google to Unveil Service to Let Users Stream Their Music: Google plans to introduce its long-awaited service to allow people to upload and store their music collections on the Web and listen to their songs on Android phones or tablets and on computers, according to a New York Times article. The announcement of the new service, a so-called cloud-based music player, will be made on Tuesday at Google I/O, the company’s developers conference here, which will run through Wednesday.