In Brief: eBay buys e-commerce tools from Kurant

Also in Brief: Google settles with SEC over stock options; Motorola President Zafirovski resigns; Microsoft working with Indian government on GIS project; Sharp to invest $1.45 billion in advanced LCD plant

EBay will buy the technology assets of Kurant, a company that makes e-business software for small and medium-size businesses. The online auction company was primarily interested in acquiring Kurant's software relating to online stores, the companies said in a statement Thursday. Terms of the cash deal, which is expected to close by the end of March, were not disclosed. Kurant's flagship product is StoreSense, a software package for building e-commerce Web sites that includes software for supply chain management, secure transaction processing and wireless shopping. EBay expects to hire nearly all of Kurant's employees and to support its current customers.

Google settles with SEC over stock options

January 14, 7:30 a.m. PST
Google has settled charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the search engine company violated the law when it granted stock options to employees without registering those or making required financial disclosures. In the two years prior to its IPO, Google granted over $80 million in stock options to employees but it neither provided detailed financial information to the recipients nor did it register the option awards with the SEC as mandated by law, the SEC said in a statement. Without admitting nor denying the SEC's findings, Google consented to cease and desist from violating or causing violations to the Securities Act, the SEC said. The SEC also decided not to pursue any action against Google related to an interview the company's founders granted to Playboy magazine prior to the IPO. Company executives have to abide by certain rules over what they can say publicly about their companies before an IPO, and it was speculated at the time that the Playboy interview could have put Google in violation of those rules.

Rambus appoints new CEO
January 12, 7:20 a.m. PST
 Memory technology provider Rambus announced a series of changes to its top management as the company's chairman, Bill Davidow, stepped down from his position. Davidow, who had served as the company's chairman since it was founded in 1990, will remain on Rambus' board of directors and has been replaced as chairman by Geoff Tate, who previously served as the company's chief executive officer, Rambus said. Tate has been replaced as CEO by Harold Hughes, who is a member of Rambus' board of directors and the former chairman and CEO of Pandesic, a joint venture between Intel and SAP, it said. Rambus did not give a reason for the changes or specify why Davidow had stepped down as chairman.

Motorola President Zafirovski resigns
January 12, 7:20 a.m. PST
Motorola President and Chief Operating Officer Mike S. Zafirovski will leave his post on Jan. 31, the company announced Wednesday. Zafirovski, president and COO since July 2002, will continue to serve the company as an advisor during the transition period after his resignation. Zafirovski will not stand for re-election to Motorola's board of directors in May. Motorola on Tuesday also announced a reorganization of the management structure of its mobile devices business in Asia, and in December, the company announced a reorganization of its businesses and functions with the goal of making Motorola the world's leading mobile technology company. The presidents of the company's four business groups, focused on mobile devices, networks, government and enterprise mobility solutions and connected home solutions, will report to Ed Zander, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, effective Jan. 31.

Microsoft working with Indian government on GIS project
January 12, 7:05 a.m. PST
Microsoft Research, the research and development arm of Microsoft, is to collaborate on science and technology research projects with India's Ministry of Science and Technology and Ocean Development. The announcement was made at the formal inauguration Wednesday of a new Microsoft Research lab in Bangalore that will conduct research in a number of areas, including computing technologies for emerging markets. The new lab, called Microsoft Research India, is part of a network of five research labs that Microsoft in Redmond, Washington runs worldwide. The first collaborative project between the Indian government and Microsoft Research will be a geographic information system (GIS) project that will bring a variety of satellite imagery, remote sensing and other geographic data together in a geographically indexed database. Besides the GIS project, Microsoft Research India also plans to collaborate with the Indian government in a number of other areas.

Sharp to invest $1.45 billion in advanced LCD plant
January 12, 7:05 a.m. PST
Sharp will construct a new factory capable of handling the largest-ever sheets of glass used to make LCD panels. The factory will help the company meet rising consumer demand for large-screen flat panel TVs while also driving down production costs, said Katsuhiko Machida, Sharp's president. The company will spend $1.45 billion on the factory, which is expected to start producing glass panels in October 2006 using a so-called eighth-generation process that handles sheets measuring 216 centimeters by 240 centimeters. By making such big sheets and improving the manufacture of the electronics needed to turn them into TVs, Sharp believes it can reduce the costs of LCDs to compete better with plasma display panels, which are more commonly used for flat-panel TVs with screen sizes over 40 inches. Prices for LCD TVs with screens of 40 inches to 45 inches could fall from about double the prices of plasma TVs currently to about the same price in 2008, according to market research company iSuppli.