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Best of the Tech Blogs: The Russian Hulu Plays Defense With Fundraising

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Also, ARM claims it's winning the mobile race and Google loses a piece of hardware in Iowa.

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This column highlights the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary about the tech sector from around the Web each day.

TechCrunch
Link: The Hulu of Russia, Ivi.ru, Raises $40 Million to Fight Off the Threat of Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube
"Ivi.ru, the 'Hulu of Russia' that offers streamed premium TV and films from international and local big-name content holders, has raised another $40 million round of funding. The investment was led by Baring Vostok, a private equity firm, along with existing investors ru-Net, Tiger Global, Prof-Media and Frontier Ventures. Oleg Tumanov, ivi.ru founder and CEO, tells TechCrunch that the funds will be used to build out both the company's technology as well as its content catalog, amid rumors that ivi's inspiration - Hulu itself - as well as Netflix (NFLX) are eyeing up a move into the Russian market.

"The company does not disclose how much money the site has raised since launching in February 2010, but Tumanov notes that prior to this ivi.ru had raised "several dozen millions" of dollars in investment.

"Although Tumanov acknowledges that Hulu and Netflix have been sniffing around his patch, he says that without knowing the final conclusion of that story, this investment is also about continuing to build out its own offering, to better compete with existing players like YouTube (GOOG) and RuTube."

GigaOM
Link: Zynga Exec Exodus Continues as Gaming Company Loses Infrastructure CTO
"Allan Leinwand, chief technology officer of infrastructure for San Francisco-based social games company Zynga (ZNGA), has left the company, according to an update on his LinkedIn profile page. Leinwand is assuming a similar role at ServiceNow, a company that offers software to automate enterprise IT operations as a service.

"Leinwand was once a venture partner at Panorama Capital and founded Vyatta, an open source networking company. He was also the CTO of Digital Island, a content delivery network and CEO of Proficient Networks. Leinwand was one of the key people behind Zynga's shift away from Amazon's cloud service to Zynga's homegrown Z-cloud."

VentureBeat
Link: On Eve of Intel's Developer Event, ARM Argues That It Is Winning the Mobile Race
"Intel (INTC) is about to talk up its progress in making chips for smartphones and tablets at its Intel Developer Forum this week. But its arch rival ARM (ARMH) has preemptively argued that it continues to dominate the market for processors for mobile devices, based on the strength of its partner ecosystem.

"ARM has had the inside track on mobile devices because it started with a chip architecture that was designed for low power from the start, compared to Intel's approach of trying to redesign computer chips so that they can operate on a lower amount of power, said James Bruce, lead mobile strategist, in an interview with VentureBeat. As the market shifts from low-performance, low-power mobile devices to smartphones and tablets - which feature high performance and low power - ARM and its partners continues to win the bulk of designs, Bruce said. ARM is a designer of chip architecture, and its partners take those blueprints, modify them to their own needs, and fabricate chips for use in mobile devices."

Wired
Link: Mystery Google Device Appears in Small-Town Iowa
"Google (GOOG) calls itself one of the world's largest hardware makers. For the past 10 years, the web giant has designed much of the gear driving the massive data centers that underpin its web empire, but it treats the particulars of this hardware operation as the most important of trade secrets. That's why the Pluto Switch is so intriguing.

"The mystery switch may provide a small window into the networking hardware that drives the Googlenet - and indicate where the rest of the web is going. In recent years, Google's efforts to redesign data center hardware have nudged other web giants in a similar direction, with Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), and even Microsoft (MSFT) exploring custom-built data center gear. When a web empire reaches a certain size, it needs gear that's much cheaper and more efficient than the hardware typically offered by big-name sellers such as Cisco (CSCO), HP (HPQ), and Dell (DELL)."

Ars Technica
Link: Amazon Caves In, Will Remove Ads From Kindle Fire For $15 Fee
"After widespread criticism, Amazon (AMZN) has changed its mind about those home and lock screen ads on the new Kindle Fires. Yesterday, Amazon insisted that all Kindle Fires will come with 'special offers' on the home screens and lock screens, and that unlike with Kindle e-readers, the Fire won't provide any option to remove the ads with an extra payment.

"But just now, we received confirmation from Amazon that it has decided to let customers pay $15 to opt out of the ads. 'With Kindle Fire HD there will be a special offers opt-out option for $15,' an Amazon spokesperson told Ars Technica. 'We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out. We're happy to offer customers the choice.'"
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