Tech Rewind: Media Takeovers and Patent Wars

The week began with a shocking announcement from Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder and chief executive for online retail giant (NASDAQ:AMZN) who snatched up the Washington Post's (NYSE:WPO) namesake newspaper and publishing assets for $250 million.

The news that Bezos would acquire the famed 136-year-old newspaper was unexpected, and the paper’s current chairman and chief executive officer Donald Graham said in a statement released Monday that he decided to sell only “after years of familiar newspaper-industry challenges” made him wonder if someone with a history in business and technology would make a better owner.  Graham went on to tout Bezos’ “proven technology and business genius,” his “long-term approach” and “personal decency” as qualifying him as a unique candidate for ownership.

Bezos outlined his intention to maintain the Post’s values in light of the “critical role” the newspaper plays both in Washington and on the national stage.

“Our duty to readers will continue to be the heart of the Post, and I am very optimistic about the future,” Bezos said.

The deal includes the company’s publishing businesses only, and is expected to close later this year.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) announced Tuesday that it will make changes to its news feed feature so that users are able to see more of the social network’s content.  The company said instead of seeing only the most recent posts in the news feed, users will see different content each time they visit the site, meaning Facebook will move older posts up that users might have missed.  The company said in tests the changes to the feed increased the percentage of stories read to 70%, up from 57%.

The social-media giant has still not confirmed reports that the company is working on a video advertising service that will play 15-second video ads, though reports that the service is in the works are widespread.

Tuesday also saw General Motors (NYSE:GM) cave to pressure to lower the price of its new Chevy Volt.  GM will cut the price by $5,000, bringing the sticker price of the 2014 model down to $34,995, and the cut follows similar moves by competitors Nissan and Ford (NYSE:F) which have both aggressively discounted their electric vehicles, the Leaf and the Ford Focus Electric.

Marissa Mayer continued her turnaround effort for search-engine pioneer Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), announcing plans to overhaul the company’s logo for the first time in its near 20-year existence.  The company will show off a different logo on the homepage every day for the next month in its new “30 days of change” marketing campaign in an effort to show off the new spirit of innovation fueling its new product and service offerings. The official new logo will be unveiled on Sept. 4.

Shares of Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) rallied 22% on Thursday, after the daily deal service announced a new chief executive officer to replace founder Andrew Mason, and weighed in with second-quarter results that met expectations.

The company’s co-founder Eric Lefkofsky, who was named co-CEO with Ted Leonsis after the ouster of Andrew Mason, will take the job permanently while Leonsis will become the company’s chairman.  The company’s board also announced it would authorize a new $300 million share buyback program.

Friday, the patent war between Samsung and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) raged onward when the U.S. International Trade Commission ordered an import ban that would halt the sale of some of Samsung’s mobile products.

The trade committee’s ruling, which found some Samsung devices infringed on two Apple-held patents, will intensify pressure on the Obama administration which vetoed an ITC ruling earlier in the week that would have banned the sale of some older versions of Apple’s iPhone and iPad infringing on Samsung patents.

The administration will have 60 days to decide if it will veto this new ruling, during which time Samsung may continue to sell the banned smartphones. Samsung, based in South Korea, will be watching closely to see if the administration takes action on its behalf, striking down any perception of favoritism toward California-based Apple.

Follow Kathryn Glass on Twitter at @Kathryn_Glass