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March 6, 2013

Technology News Briefs — March 6, 2013

Investor Demands Dell Open its Books

Southeastern Asset Management, Dell Inc.’s largest investor wants to take a look at the company’s books, which could be a move to oppose Michael Dell’s $24.4-billion deal that will take the firm private.

Southeastern Asset Management has said the proposed buyout courtesy of Michael Dell and his partners Silver Lake undervalues the company.

According to Reuters, Southeastern Asset Management is demanding “straightforward information” on behalf of its No. 1 client, Longleaf Partners Fund.

In a letter March 5, the firm also demanded Dell provide a list of the company’s other stockholders in an apparent bid to rally support among other shareholders in an effort to block the deal.

The letter also accused the firm of stressing a decline in PC sales, while turning a blind eye to its growth in its IT services division, to validate an insufficient buyout price.

“Under the current buyout proposal, management and Silver Lake stand to receive all of the future upside, while denying shareholders, who have paid to reposition the company, the opportunity to reap the rewards of our investment,” Southeastern said in the letter.

Facebook News Feeds to Get Facelift

Facebook is set to debut new ways for its members to tailor their news feeds to meet their needs.

The changes, set to launch March 7, will include a photos feed of users’ Facebook and Instagram images, as well as a made-over music feed, sources “within and close to Facebook” told Tech Crunch.

The overhauled news feed design will also enable members to choose from different content-specific feeds, these sources said. The new music feed will include such items as what songs friends are listening to on Internet radio services such as Spotify and Rdio. Music news such as concert schedules and information on new albums will also be available.

“Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a Facebook employee, a member of the social ads industry, and several developers concurred that multiple feeds and larger images in posts by users, Pages, and ads are what’s in store,” Tech Crunch reported.

ViralSearch Tracks Viral Content on Social Media

Microsoft has a new tool in its arsenal to track why some Web content goes viral.

Microsoft will debut ViralSearch this week at the company’s annual TechFest event. ViralSearch, which has studied roughly one billion information cascades across Twitter, tracks the dispersal of news, videos, and photos to discover how they were shared on Twitter and then rates their virality.

Jake Hofman, a researcher from Microsoft’s New York lab, says popularity doesn’t always signify that a piece of content has gone viral. A well-established newspaper or magazine, for instance, can make a piece of content popular simply by posting to be seen by their thousands of Twitter followers. For a piece of content to truly go viral, a wide variety of people must be tweeting it independently and spreading the content in the same time period.

ViralSearch can also reveal the impact of specific Twitter users and tweets. This type of analysis is difficult given the sheer amount of data, Hofman said.

Microsoft has yet to reveal how it might use its research in its products.

To learn more, watch the ViralSearch video below.