March 12, 2009

YouTube to block music videos in United Kingdom

Online video site YouTube will block most music videos in the United Kingdom because talks with a royalty group there failed and an earlier license between YouTube and the group expired. San Bruno-based YouTube, which is owned by giant Google Inc. said the Performing Rights Society for Music asked for too much money in licensing fees, more than YouTube was willing to pay.

Filed under Media and Entertainment, United Kingdom by

March 3, 2009

Chancellor Merkel and Governor Schwarzenegger open German trade show

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger jointly inaugurated CeBIT, one of the top annual fairs in the technology industry. CeBIT exhibits computers, software and communications products, mainly for corporate and manufacturing buyers. At the event this year, California has been declared ‘partner,’ an honorary status usually awarded to entire nations.  Schwarzenegger, speaking in both English and German to an invited audience, highlighted California’s advanced computer technology.  “Technology is really our great hope for creating extra revenues and stimulating the economy — especially green technology is where the action is,” said Schwarzenegger.  Speaking in English, our Austrian-born governor said environmental-technology companies represent the only sector of California’s economy that is creating jobs.  Schwarzenegger praised Germany’s commitment to renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and attacked economic protectionism. “The world is the marketplace … and the only way we can protect the consumer is if we let the consumer choose from products all over the world no matter where they come from,” he said. The Governor also tried to encourage the executives attending to be more upbeat, “”Losers whine but winners move forward in a strong and powerful way and I know that everyone who is here at the CeBIT is a winner!” In spite of the upbeat speeches, to mood at CeBIT was reported to be gloomy as a result of the worldwide economic slowdown and slump in the computer industry.  This year’s CeBIT has suffered a 25-per-cent slump in exhibitor numbers to 4,300.

Filed under Germany, Governor Schwarzenegger, Information Technology by

April 8, 2008

California shown as part of Mexico in Absolute Vodka advertisment

Absolute vodka company set off a minor controversy by showing California, Texas and much of the Western part of Mexico in advertisements in Mexico. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan “In an Absolut World,” showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states. Mexico still resents losing that territory in the 1848 Mexican-American War and the fight for Texas independence.

But the ads, which ran only in Mexico and have since ended, were less than ideal for Americans undergoing a border buildup and embroiled in an emotional debate over illegal immigration from their southern neighbor. .. Absolut said the ad was designed for a Mexican audience and intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”

“As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market, and for that we apologize.” Vin & Sprit, Absolut’s Sweden-based parent company, will be acquired by French spirit maker Pernod Ricard SA under a deal reached last week.

Filed under Foreign Relations, Media and Entertainment, Mexico, Sweden by

March 12, 2008

Bridges to Italy economic development group launched

Bridges to Italy has launched as a first-of-its-kind economic development organization focused on helping Southern California entrepreneurs, researchers and investors pursue new business opportunities with their colleagues in Italy and throughout the world. The nonprofit organization will foster cooperation and collaboration through an ongoing series of networking events that highlight Italy’s emerging technology sectors. The first such event was held February 25th at UC Irvine, and introduced business leaders from Southern California and throughout the US to some of Italy’s most renowned biotechnology pioneers. “The goal of Bridges to Italy is to help business and research leaders in Southern California connect one-on-one with their foreign colleagues to build successful new ventures in the technology sector,” said Bridges to Italy founder Bianca Dellepiane. “Information and personal relationships are the building blocks of international business collaboration.”

Bridges to Italy events present information about business, research and investment opportunities in a format that transcends language and cultural barriers. The organization’s approach to international business introduces Italian and US participants to each other’s unique cultural, as well as business, resources and opportunities. This in turn helps its events attract a uniquely multicultural and multidisciplinary crowd. “We want to make learning about international business opportunities an approachable and even fun endeavor,” Dellepiane explains. More information about Bridges to Italy can be found at

Filed under Business Associations, Economic Development, Italy by

February 13, 2008

EU raids Intel’s German office

European regulators raided the German office of Intel Corp. as part of antitrust investigation into possible anticompetitive practices, according to a report in Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. Santa Clara-based Intel said the EU raided its offices in Munich, and said it is cooperating with the investigation. The Wall Street Journal reported that German conglomerate Metro AG confirmed that the EU also raided its computer sales businesses Media Markt and Saturn Holding GmbH. In July, the EU charged Intel with conducting illegal competition against rival Sunnyvale-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc. by offering computer hardware manufacturers rebates, discounts and cash. The Journal said AMD has a separate case against Media Markt that accuses the retailer of only selling Intel-based PCs. Intel is due to appear in Brussels for a hearing on the issue in March, and the company also faces a similar probe in New York by the State Attorney General’s office.

Filed under Germany, Information Technology, Legal and Criminal Issues by

February 11, 2008

BTAnnounces Solar Energy System for California Headquarters

Press release: HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, will join BT today to announce the ground-breaking of a renewable energy initiative at BT’s office complex in Southern California. Next month, BT will begin construction of a solar photovoltaic system for its North American corporate headquarters site in the City of El Segundo (Los Angeles County). Once the system is fully operational by late summer, BT expects to reduce carbon emissions by 642,000 pounds (more than 290 metric tons) annually as well as decrease its overall power costs for the site in future years. HRH Prince Andrew, the United Kingdom’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, commented, “British companies continue to demonstrate their interest and investment in the United States and in solutions to help reduce the impact of climate change.” He continued, “I commend BT for its leadership in producing significant renewable energy solutions in the UK. With this solar project, BT extends its environmental consciousness to its operations in the U.S.”

Filed under Energy Industry, United Kingdom by

December 14, 2007

Oracle acquires Netherlands-based Moniforce

Redwood City-based Oracle Corp. has announced that it has acquired Moniforce, a Netherlands-based software vendor whose products monitor the availability and performance of any Web application. Oracle said the acquisition “significantly broadens the scope of business exceptions addressed by Oracle Enterprise Manager, allowing administrators to proactively monitor and analyze the application experience from a user’s standpoint.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Filed under Information Technology, Netherlands by

California Micro opens Finland office

California Micro Devices Corp. opened a Northern Europe office in Espoo, Finland, the company has announced. Milpitas-based California Micro said mobile handset suppliers based in Northern Europe represent almost half of the total market. The company also has offices in Chicago, San Diego, the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. California Micro Devices supplies application specific analog and mixed signal semiconductor products for the mobile handset, digital consumer electronics and personal computer markets.

Filed under Finland, Telecommunications by

October 22, 2007

Armenia trade office gets axed

Governor Schwarzenegger has vetoed Senate Bill 515, that would have extended the statutory sunset for the privately funded California trade office in Armenia until 2010. This will possibly end California’s experiment with privately funded, but officially sanctioned trade offices in foreign countries. California eliminated all its official foreign trade offices in 2003 after an Orange County Register investigative reporter found them to be greatly exaggerating, and in some cases completely fabricating success stories related to their own performance. At about the same time, a proposal for a privately funded trade office was pushed through the State Legislature by the State’s powerful Armenian community, and a small trade promotion office was established in Yerevan, Armenia. While the office received no State Government funding, it was officially sanctioned and the California Business Transportation and Housing Department was charged with oversight of the program. A recent performance review of the Armenia trade office by this agency found its performance to be mediocre at best and noted that the office had not been able to meet investment targets for its own funding, and could only identify one significant deal it had facilitated.

Filed under Armenia, California Government, Governor Schwarzenegger by

October 16, 2007

Mercedes introduces clean diesel to California

Mercedes-Benz USA has unveiled a version of its E320 BLUETEC, a diesel sedan that will immediately be available in limited numbers to California customers through a special two- year/24,000-mile lease. California’s stringent emissions requirements have kept new diesel automobiles models off the California market for the better part of a decade. “In order to be able to provide the power and economy of diesel technology throughout the world, we had to make the diesel version as clean as the gasoline model,” said Dr. Leopold Mikulic, head of powertrain development at Mercedes-Benz Cars. According to Tom Cackette, executive director for the California Air Resources Board (CARB), “This vehicle has shed the reputation of diesel as a dirty technology. And we hope California has shed its anti-diesel reputation by certifying this vehicle as the first diesel passenger car to meet the most stringent smog emission standards in the world.”

Filed under Environment and Climate, Germany, Transportation by

October 9, 2007

SAP to acquire Business Objects for $6.8 billion

SAP AG announced that it will buy Business Objects SA for an eye-popping $6.8 billion. SAP is an enterprise software firm based in Germany with it U.S. headquarters in Palo Alto. Business Objects is based in Paris and San Jose. Acquiring Business Objects is seen helping SAP compete with Oracle in the area of business Intelligence software that is used for risk management and corporate management.

Filed under Germany, Information Technology, Mergers and Acquisitions by

September 27, 2007

Menlo Worldwide opens European headquarters in Amsterdam

San Mateo-based Menlo Worldwide LLC, a provider of logistics, transportation management and supply chain services announced the opening of its new European headquarters in Holland. According to the San Jose / Silicon Valley Business Journal, Menlo, a subsidiary of Con-way Inc. the 70,000-square-foot facility is near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport:

The center is Menlo Worldwide’s fourth-largest of eight distribution and logistics centers in Europe serving customers in the high-tech industry as well as other markets, the company said. “As the center of an extensive network connecting the rest of Europe, Amsterdam is a crucial market for Menlo and our customers,” said Gert Askes, managing director of European Operations. “The proximity of this new facility to the airport and customs is ideal and allows us very fast turnaround times. It is also a state-of-the-art building, perfectly suited to support the requirements of our high-tech clientele.”

Filed under Freight and Logistics, Netherlands by

Trimble buys German software company

Trimble Navigation Ltd. acquired Kirchheim, Germany-based Ingenieurburo Breining GmbH- a German company that provides custom field data collection and office software for the survey market. , Sunnyvale-based Trimble did not disclose financial or other terms of its deal with Breining. According to a report in the San Jose / Silicon Valley Business Journal, Trimble said the addition of Breining software, expertise and products will help the company address local application requirements and provide custom survey products for the German market. Trimble focuses on GPS, construction lasers, robotic total stations and machine control solutions and has more than 3,400 employees in over 18 countries.

Filed under Germany, Information Technology by

September 13, 2007

Volkswagen and Apple in exploratory talks

Rumor has it that German automaker Volkswagen AG and American computer company Apple Inc. are now in talks about the possibility of producing an “iCar” that would feature products from the manufacturer of personal music player. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and Volkswagen’s chief Martin Winterkorn met several days ago in California, and plan to meet for further discussions, said Hans-Gerd Bode, a spokesman for Volkswagen. There are “scores of ideas,” but few concrete plans at this point, according to a report in Digital Journal. Jobs and Winterkorn are supposedly in discussion to build a series of vehicles, reported German magazine Capital. The two industry giants met in California recently, and while the talks are in their early stages, Apple and Volkswagen are reportedly planning to cooperate on developing VW compact cars that will include Apple products.

Filed under Germany, Joint Ventures, Manufacturing by

August 9, 2007

Virgin America Takes Off

Virgin America, headquartered in Burlingame California, has started operations today with daily flights to New York and Los Angeles. As reported in Aviation and Aerospace:

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group that owns 25 per cent of Virgin America and licenses the Virgin brand, will jet into town. Virgin America Chief Executive Officer Fred Reid, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and possibly Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger will be in attendance. Newsom and Schwarzenegger lobbied Branson to have Virgin America set up its headquarters in the Bay Area. The state also put up nearly $13 million in job-training funds as inducements for the carrier to open its corporate headquarters in Frisco.

Virgin America first set up office operations in 2004, promising to create excitement, offer jobs and create an economic ripple in the Bay Area. It took three years, but funding has fallen into place, and the Transportation Department has overcome its fright of foreign ownership and given a green signal to Virgin America’s flight plans. The airline has hired about 500 of the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 employees it expects to eventually have on its rolls. About 100 are pilots and another 100 are flight attendants. Most staffers will be based in the Bay Area.

Not all of Virgin America’s employees are in the Bay Area. The carrier uses reservations agents who work from their homes around the US. Virgin America also outsources many of its IT needs to CSS Corp, a San Jose company that further farms out the work to its outfit in Chennai, India. Justifying these practices, CSS chief marketing officer Ajmal Noorani says: “Virgin America is offering a very high-quality service at a cut-throat price, and it needs to keep its IT lean and mean.

A 10-year-old company, CSS employs just 45 people in San Jose, and 5,000 worldwide in its offices in New York, Washington, Singapore and India. It is also setting up operations in Poland and Ireland. In 2004, Virgin America received nearly $13 million in job development funding from the Employment Training Panel, associated with the California Employment Development Department, to create Bay Area jobs. Officials expect the company will use the money to retrain some of the thousands of Bay Area aviation industry workers laid off in the post-9 / 11 US airline meltdown.

Filed under Aerospace and Aviation, United Kingdom by

July 23, 2007

Armenia Trade Office criticized

The Los Angeles Times has published a highly critical review of California’s sole international trade offices- a privately fund office for the small country of Armenia. The California-Armenia Trade Office in Yerevan is a legacy of a confused period for the State in international business development as lawmakers struggle to determine the proper role of the Government in this area. At the time when the Legislature was closing the other trade offices, California’s influential Armenian-American community convinced then to accept private funding in exchange for official status and recognition.

Critics consider it ludicrous to put the state’s sole overseas trade office in such a small and isolated country. If California were a nation, it would have the world’s eighth-largest economy, they note. Armenia ranks 128th. The contract with the state required a minimum of $150,000 (amount of business) for 2006, a June 30 report from the Schwarzenegger administration to the Legislature said. The report cited only one significant achievement, a deal between a North Hollywood spirits importer and Safeway to market a high-end Armenian vodka. “It appears the trade office did not successfully complete any of the priorities set forth in the contract,” read a letter signed by Dale E. Bonner, secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which oversees the trade office.

What’s more, critics warn that bureaucrats in Sacramento don’t have the money to effectively supervise the operations of a faraway entity. Bonner noted in his letter that the Scott legislation did not provide “budget authority for direct supervision or ongoing oversight.” As a result, the state could be legally liable for any misconduct by unsupervised representatives working in a part of the world not known for especially honest or stable governments. “This is an invitation to a scandal,” said Jock O’Connell, a veteran trade consultant in Sacramento. “They’ve created a system that allows a private company to obtain for a ridiculously small amount of money the right to represent California commercial interests in a distant country, while effectively prohibiting any state agency from looking into the activities of the people who are representing us overseas.”

Filed under Armenia, California Government, California Legislature by

July 2, 2007

Schwarzenegger, French president discuss trade and global warming

Governor Schwarzenegger’s toured European last week and stopped in France, where he discussed trade, global warming and politics with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. After a 30-minute talk, Schwarzenegger said he admired Sarkozy “tremendously” and believed the president would “put a new energy in the relationship between France and other countries, and our state.” Both pledged to work together on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Schwarzenegger called Sarkozy “fresh new blood for politics in the world, because he is a politician that believes in inclusion and not in making everyone the enemy, which we have seen so many times in politics.” The Governor said he also was studying France’s method of using public-private partnerships to build schools, highways, rail lines, energy plants and other projects. Schwarzenegger and Sarkozy also discussed the possibility of twin trade missions next year, with French officials promoting their country’s products in California and Schwarzenegger returning to France. The Governor has previously organized trade missions to China, Japan, Mexico and Canada for his business associates and Corporate supporters. An additional trade mission to India is planned for the fall.

Filed under Foreign Relations, France, Governor Schwarzenegger by

June 19, 2007

German Book Fair Peace Prize goes to UC Professor

Israeli historian Saul Friedlander will receive the top prize of the annual Frankfurt Book Fair in recognition of his narratives documenting the Nazi Holocaust, the German Book Trade association said Thursday.  According to the International Herold Tribune, Friedlander, 74, who holds a professorship at the University of California, Los Angeles, is to be given the €25,000 (US$33,000) peace prize during the annual book fair in October.  In honoring Friedlander, the jury praised him as an “epic narrator of the history of the Shoah and of the persecution and extermination of the Jews during the Nazi era in Europe.”  Among Friedlander’s best-known works are his two-volume collection “The Third Reich and the Jews.”  Previous winners of the award include German sociologist Wolf Lepenies, last year; outspoken Turkish author and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk; and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Filed under Germany, Israel, University of California by

May 26, 2007

EU asks Google to explain its data privacy policies

In the latest example of a U.S. technology giant potentially being called on the carpet in Europe, Google has been warned that it may be violating European Union privacy laws by storing data on its users for up to two years, according to a report in the International Herold Tribune.  An advisory panel of data protection chiefs from the 27 EU countries sent a letter last week to the Internet search engine company asking Google to justify its policy of retaining data on Internet addresses and individual search habits, said Friso Roscam Abbing, a spokesman for European Union’s justice commissioner, Franco Frattini.  Privacy experts said the letter was the first salvo in what could become a determined effort by the European Commission to force Google to change how it does business in the EU, whose 400 million consumers outnumber the United States.   Any EU effort to impose limits on Google, which as a U.S.-based company operates under U.S. law, would be the latest in a series of increasingly aggressive actions taken by European policy makers to rein in global technology companies.

Filed under Europe, Information Technology by

May 1, 2007

California-Armenia Trade Office names Executive Director

Due to some strange politics, California has only one legal foreign trade office and it is in Yerevan, Armenia of all places. They have just named an Executive Director for the non-profit organization that manages this trade office:

Entrepreneur and long-time business consultant Johnny Nalbandian was named by the Foundation for Economic Development as the Trade Specialist for the California Trade Office of Yerevan, Armenia last month… The initiative to form CATO was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in September 2005. With an office already established in Yerevan, CATO is once again expanding operations with the addition of Nalbandian in Los Angeles…. Nalbandian, who grew up in Los Angeles, has become a successful and highly demanded business consultant and marketer. His private firm J III & Co. is based in Commerce, CA. For the past four years, Johnny has advised businesses of all industries and sizes regarding expansion, trade, and investment opportunities. “My dream,” notes Johnny, “is to introduce California-based businesses to new market opportunities so that we can both strengthen there foundations while play a leading role in the development of these emerging economies.”

“Given its current economy and geography,” Nalbandian believes, “Armenia is the perfect gateway to the regions served by the office. This frontier of opportunities for California’s businesses and investors are endless.”

CATO began its work in October 2005 under the auspices of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and is California’s only foreign trade representation. The bill authorizing its creation was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support in the California State Assembly and Senate. Serving the greater Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and former Soviet States, CATO is operated by a California-based non-profit organization called the Foundation for Economic Development, for which Nalbandian serves as the new Executive Director.

Filed under Armenia, International Development by

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