The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 58.0°F | A Few Clouds and Breezy
Article Tools

Murdoch Is Taking MySpace to China

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is bringing MySpace.com to China, a latecomer that is betting it can overcome that handicap by competing unconventionally as a start-up.

The News Corp. signed a deal to license the brand for its popular online social networking site and allow local Chinese entrepreneurs who understand their market to pick and choose to build an indigenous business. Using this approach, the News Corp., hopes to succeed where other Western Internet ventures have failed.

The company and two venture capital firms agreed this month to hire a former Microsoft executive to license the MySpace.com brand and technology in China in an attempt to capture some of the business in the world’s fastest-growing Internet market.

MySpace.com is entering China at a time when social networking sites, online games and entertainment sites are already wildly popular.

“They want to avoid some of the mistakes made by the first and second waves of international Internet companies that came to China,” said William Bao Bean, a partner at Softbank China & India, a venture capital firm. “By putting a local manager in, they give the company a fighting chance. This is a very crowded area, with at least 100 companies competing in the same space that MySpace has entered.”

American Internet companies have scrambled to set up operations in China’s booming online marketplace, which already has more than 137 million Internet users, second only to the United States.

Tainted Feed’s Human Risk Played Down

The potential risk to humans who might have eaten meat contaminated with melamine is extremely low, and the Food and Drug Administration believes that only 6,000 hogs may have eaten the reconstituted feed.

But concern has shifted to encompass melamine-related compounds that include cyanuric acid, which can be used as a pool cleaner, and mixed with melamine could cause crystal formations that damage kidneys and could in some cases cause the organ to fail, an FDA official said.

Melamine, a compound used to make plastic utensils and as a fertilizer in some countries, has been found in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate that came from two Chinese suppliers starting as far back as July 2006.

On Thursday a new recall was issued for food containing rice protein concentrate, said David Elder, the director of enforcement in the Office of Regulatory Affairs at the FDA. More than 100 pet foods have been recalled since March.

A Record Quarter For Exxon, Despite Lower Oil Prices

Despite a winter of relatively soft oil and natural gas prices, Exxon Mobil on Thursday reported another surge in profits for the first quarter of the year because of stronger earnings from its refining, marketing and chemicals businesses.

Exxon’s continuing good fortunes — it said the results were its best ever for any first quarter — were particularly noteworthy given the mixed earnings picture reported in recent days by other large oil companies. Most of them cannot match the cost management and range of investments held by the world’s largest publicly traded oil company.

Exxon, BP, ConocoPhillips, Occidental, Hess and other companies that reported this week generally acknowledged that profits from oil sales, though still hefty, had slowed in recent months.

While oil prices had rocketed from an average of $20 a barrel through much of the 1990s to a record of more than $78 a barrel last July, oil prices settled to $55 to $65 during the early months of the year. That was about $5 lower than last year.

Oil prices have crept up in recent weeks and gasoline stockpiles are dropping as the summer driving season approaches. But most experts say they expect OPEC to continue producing at levels that would keep prices at the pump for regular gas in most states at less than $3 a gallon. That will assure strong profits for oil companies, though probably not at record levels.

A Unified Voice Argues the Case For U.S. Manufacturing

U.S. Steel, Alcoa, Goodyear and other manufacturing companies have formed an unusual alliance with the United Steelworkers, aiming to preserve and promote manufacturing in the United States.

One of the first issues that the group, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, plans to address is how American factory owners and workers have been hurt by what the group says is the Chinese government’s improper currency manipulation and industry subsidies.

The United States has lost one-sixth of its factory jobs over the last six years because of many factors, including automation, imports and relocation overseas in search of lower-cost labor and proximity to developing markets.

“The hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs is hurting America down to the local level,” said Terrence D. Straub, U.S. Steel’s senior vice president for public policy and government affairs. “Until and unless there is a political understanding of that — and political attention paid to that — our fear is much won’t change and in 10 years the American manufacturing base could be gone.”

The alliance, which plans to announce its formation Thursday in newspaper and online advertisements, asserts that the decline of manufacturing undercuts America’s long-term competitiveness, its research capabilities and its ability to produce sophisticated weapons needed for national security.