Never fear! After a slight delay, we’re back with all the latest tech news. We’ve got the most powerful women in business, several major departures and hirings across the sector, an update on Kim Dotcom, the iOS 6 Maps debacle, and of course the space shuttle Endeavour’s final flight – all this, and more, below.
Fortune has announced its most recent “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list, which included several women in the technology sector. Topping the list was Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, followed by Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, at number three; Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, at number eight; and Safra Catz, president and CFO of Oracle, at number 10. The front page solo photo was taken by none other than Marissa Mayer, who has certainly been in the spotlight recently after taking over as CEO of Yahoo!. Mayer came in at number 14 on the list and is also the youngest woman there, at 37.
Speaking of Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! this week announced what it would be doing with its $4.5bn windfall from the sale of its stake in Alibaba: returning it to shareholders. The company will pay out $3.65bn – though it is not yet clear whether this will take the form of a dividend or a stock buy-back – and keep the remaining $650mn. Mayer called the outcome “terrific,” saying: “It generates liquidity to create substantial value for our shareholders, while retaining a meaningful amount in the company to invest in our future. Also, because we still own 23 percent of Alibaba’s common stock, we have the opportunity to benefit from future upside when Alibaba IPOs.”
Later in the week Microsoft also jumped on the bandwagon, announcing that it would increase its quarterly dividend by 15%, from 20 to 23 cents a share. The increase will cost the company around $1bn extra a year.
The co-founders of BioWare, Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, have announced they will both be leaving the company they founded 17 years ago. Both said that they were ready to move on to new challenges – Zeschuk in craft beer, and Muzyka in educational and healthcare charities.
Zynga’s chief security officer, Nihls Puhlmann, has stepped down from the social games company – the latest in an ever-lengthier line of departures. Puhlmann had been at Zynga for three years and was in charge of managing its security risks.
AOL has named Karen Dykstra, a board member since 2009, as its chief financial officer following the transfer of Artie Minson to the COO position three months ago. Hugh Johnston, CFO and executive vice president of PepsiCo, was added to AOL’s board to fill the gap.
RIM’s stock fell over 6% following a three-hour Blackberry service outage across Europe, the Middle East and Africa that impacted around 6% of the company’s customers. CFO Thorsten Heins apologised for the outage.
Apple has asked the judge in its California patent trial against Samsung to increase the damages owed to it from $1bn to $1.707bn, while Samsung asked the judge to significantly reduce the damages and requested a new trial. The requests were made in motions for final judgement late on Friday night.
Hacking & Security
The prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, has ordered an inquiry into the way wiretapping was used prior to the arrest of Kim Dotcom. Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the US over charges of racketeering and money laundering related to Megaupload, was reportedly cheery at the news. The self-styled “Freedom Fighter” has already got out on bail, had the search of his house declared legally iffy, won the right to see suppressed FBI evidence against him, and obtained approval to access millions of dollars in previously frozen funds – add in the latest developments and it doesn’t look as though he’ll be visiting America any time soon.
Borderlands 2 launched to much critical acclaim.
BioWare has confirmed Dragon Age III: Inquisition, which is expected to be released in late 2013. The company also teased that “the Mass Effect universe is vast, and … our teams have plans for another full game.”
Apple pushed out iOS 6 updates to all capable devices, shortly after a minor iTunes update to add support for the new operating system. The launch was marred, however, by loud complaints about the quality of Apple’s new Maps application, which replaces Google Maps as default. Users have reported cloudy satellite cover, warped bridges, shrunken or misplaced landmarks and even entire cities moved to new locations. In a statement, Apple said: “We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover, turn by turn navigation, and Siri integration. We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.”
Apple also rolled out minor updates to OS X Lion, which now includes the Gatekeeper security feature, and to OS X Mountain Lion, which now has better Facebook integration and (hopefully) fewer battery life issues.
Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, has mentioned that users should be able to download all of their old tweets by the end of the year.
The space shuttle Endeavour flew across the US on Friday on the back of a modified 747, landing at Los Angeles International Airport. The shuttle, which completed 25 successful missions in space during its 20 years in services, will eventually reside at the California Science Center.
Supposed meteors seen across Britain and Northern Ireland at the weekend were reckoned to be satellite debris burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Gangnam Style has broken the Guinness World Record for the most “liked” – though not most viewed – YouTube video, with 2.66 million “likes” at the time of writing. We hesitate to link to that one.