• Employees at Goldman Sachs can expect the "biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year." [Guardian]
• Banks like Merrill Lynch, UBS and Citigroup are "hiking pay for their top investment bankers in an attempt to stop an exodus of talent." [FT]
• Bill Gross of Pimco has "emerged as one of the nation's most influential financiers." How do we know this? Tim Geithner has him on speed-dial. [NYT]
• Russian-American billionaire Len Blavatnik is suing JPMorgan for allegedly mismanaging an investment account with $1 billion in assets. [NYT]
• Jack Welch is lending his name to a new online MBA program. [WSJ]
• Warren Buffett auctions off lunch every year for charity. The bidding is open, but it's not expected to rake in the fortune it did in years past. [Guardian]
Sequoia partner Mark Kvamme just plunked down $31 million on a company he also chairs, called Searchme. It's an image-based search engine. Search is a crowded field but Searchme CEO Randy Adams thinks there's room for innovation. "Search," he told BoomTown, "is still largely a text and list experience." True, but Snap CEO Tom McGovern told me almost the exact same thing in May 2006. Didn't work out for him. Now Snap is a site for bloggers. Below, a video demonstration of Searchme's "innovation" and another video showing two-year-old Snap doing pretty much the same things.
Techdirt, the ever-opinionated analysis blog, has weighed in and found Demo's lineup of startups and new products more compelling than last week's TechCrunch40. Why? Mike Masnick doesn't come out and say it, but his implication is clear: Unlike the parade of Web 2.0 one-note-Johnnies drummed up by TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, most of experienced Demo organizer Chris Shipley's picks were focused on useful improvements to existing technology, not gimmicky new ideas. Arrington and Calacanis launched TechCrunch40 because they felt that it was somehow wrong for conferences to charge startups to present. Nonsense, of course. I think that the fact that Demo charges presenters — reportedly $18,500 apiece — was actually what makes it a stronger event.
Now playing World of Warcraft can get you a job. Thrilling, really, to discover that a game played by destroying arbitrarily assigned enemies ad infinitum, rising up a ladder until reaching a disappointing top that isn't a top at all, commiserating with socially inept addicts with little life outside the computer, could prepare you for tech work. No, seriously, I am shocked at this news. [Wired]
It's funny 'cause it's petty: Just as Microsoft pushes Vista to 2007 and shuffles the whole Live department, MSN goes down for an hour. [Threadwatch]
AT&T doesn't really want to break your Internet. Sure, that's what it says while it's sober. [ZDNet]
Google Finance doesn't just disappoint Yahoo blogger (and "Expert Author") Jeremy Zawodny, it makes him sad. Jeremy comes this close to naming the folks who let Yahoo Finance rot, then praises the product manager in charge of Google Finance. "Not speaking for my employer" indeed. [WebProNews]
Idealab shareholders agree to pay founder Bill Gross's $50 million loan. And now he can't have that puppy he asked for, because that was the agreement about responsibility, Bill, and for now you can only keep your goldfish. [LA Times]
Songbird plays a good game of gotcha. Steve Jobs in 2002: "If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own." France fighting iTunes in 2006: "The consumer must be able to listen to the music they have bought on no matter what platform." Oh, they couldn't mean it the way he did, they're just the French. [Songbird]
Idealab CEO Bill Gross scored board approval to make shareholders take over his $50 million personal loan. If shareholders approve, Bill will pay back the cash over the next four years (or find a new sucker to buy the loan). The jet's sold, the Ferrari's sold, but Bill must have some tchotchkes left to make a $50-mil yard sale.