Bitcoin start-up fundraises $25m
A Silicon Valley company that allows speculators and merchants to trade Bitcoin has raised $25m (£15.3m) in venture capital funding in the largest investment so far in a virtual currency business. As a result of the deal, San Francisco-based Coinbase will have two of the most prominent venture capitalists in the US join its board and it has also hired the head developer of the open source software behind Bitcoin as a consultant.
Virgin affirms rail links but cuts stake
Virgin Group has insisted it remains committed to its rail joint venture with Stagecoach on West Coast mainline, despite plans to sharply cut its stake in a new joint bid vehicle for the competition to run the East Coast rail franchise. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin is the majority partner in Virgin Trains that has run services on the West Coast line linking London, Manchester and Scotland since 1997. It holds a 51 per cent stake, with Stagecoach holding the remainder.
Copper theft cripples BT broadband
Tens of thousands of homes in London were left without broadband access after thieves lifted a manhole cover and stole a large quantity of copper cable. The malicious attack has affected about 37,000 Sky customers, as well as an unspecified number of BT and TalkTalk households. Copper theft continues to be a major problem for UK telecoms companies.
Private photo messages for Instagram
Instagram has responded to the growing threat from Snapchat and WhatsApp by launching a system that enables millions of its users to send photographs directly to one another. The group, which is owned by Facebook, said that Instagram Direct would allow users to send private snaps, videos and text to individuals or groups.
BMW hires 1,000 agency staff
A thousand agency workers building the bestselling Mini at the BMW plant in Oxford are to be taken on permanently. BMW said that the decision follows its £760m backing of the Mini brand with a new Cooper launched last month.
The Daily Telegraph
PayPal targets market traders
Stallholders at the 800-year old Apple Market in London’s Covent Garden, which is expecting more than eight million visitors over the Christmas period, are the latest small businesses to adopt PayPal Here starting yesterday. The small card reader links to smartphones and tablets to allow users to accept credit cards and PayPal payments.
Snack maker Graze launches in US
After a top secret testing period, snack box company Graze.com has launched Stateside with a brand new American offering. Graze.com has invested over $5m (£3m) in its new US operation to meet demand of over 55,000 new customers.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Ireland to sell energy firm for €1.12bn
Ireland’s government has agreed to sell one of its largest energy companies to a group that includes Centrica, the owner of British Gas, for as much €1.12bn (£940m), the energy minister said yesterday, marking its largest privatization under the country's bailout.
Google’s hopes of EU deal suffer blow
Google’s hopes of settling its high-profile antitrust case in the EU suffered a setback as rivals and consumer groups blasted its latest proposal for resolving the EU’s competition concerns as merely modest improvements.