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If it's tech-related, it seems Google wants a piece of the action - and the company is willing to spend money to help get the job done. The search giant racked up $16.83 million in federal political lobbying throughout 2014, according to the Consumer Watchdog group.
Google's lobbying figures put it ahead of Comcast, Verizon, IBM, Time Warner Cable, and other big spenders. More importantly, Google is investing more into political action over Microsoft ($8.33 million) and Facebook ($9.34 million), as the company expands into new business ventures.
Google recently invested $1 billion into SpaceX, while Google wants net neutrality laws revamped, to help fund autonomous vehicle research, and other ventures.
Netflix has posted its revenue for both the quarter just passed, and the full 12 months of 2014. The streaming giant thrashed expectations, which had them pegged at $0.45 per share, but Netflix posted $1.35 per share over revenues of $1.48 billion and profits of $83.4 million.
Compared to the same quarter a year ago, Netflix posted just $43 million in profit, or $0.79 per share. Over the entire 12 months, Netflix posted revenues of $5.5 billion. During Q4 alone, the company added 1.9 million subscribers in the US, and 2.43 million overseas for an additional 4.33 million new subscribers. Over the course of the year, Netflix added 39.11 million new subscribers in the US, and 18.28 million subscribers from across the world. Netflix now has a total of 57.39 million subscribers.
This has helped the company post its biggest quarter ever, and is a reason why investors love the company so much - continuous, and close to unstoppable growth.
We all know that startups can turn into some big and beautiful things, which is why the Chinese government is now launching a 40 billion RMB (roughly $6.5 billion) in a venture capital fund to help startup companies.
The $6.5 billion is coming from both the Chinese government, and private investors. Investors in the region are beginning to see the benefits of startups, which is where this idea started from. A government run venture capital project is part of China's start to becoming less reliant on property and other infrastructure asset investments, and more into something that has massive long term appeal.
The Premier of China's State Council, Le Keqiang, said that the motivation behind the project is of the hope to boost overall economic growth. China's State Council said: "The establishment of the state venture capital investment guidance fund, with the focus to support fledging start-ups in emerging industries, is a significant step for the combination of technology and the market, innovations and manufacturing. It will also help breed and foster sunrise industries for the future and promote (China's) economy to evolve towards the medium and high ends".
For software and hardware experts with a focus on virtual reality, Facebook - which acquired Oculus Rift last year - plans to increase virtual reality hiring up to 14 percent in the immediate future. The company continues to enjoy high profit margins, with strong revenue and a workforce smaller than other leading Silicon Valley tech companies.
Facebook has a specific focus on its Oculus VR headsets, with 54 new positions geared towards employees with virtual reality experience.
"We are an ambitious company run by an ambitious CEO," said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, in a statement to Reuters. "Our users are growing and our business is growing and we want to support that."
According to a class action lawsuit against Apple, the company has tried to hide the issues with their 2011 MacBook Pro, something that is coming out because of the lawsuit.
Apple Insider is reporting details of the case, which is unearthing some interesting details that were otherwise hidden by the company. Law firm Whitfield, Bryson & Mason LLP said in a note "Specifically, we allege that between early- and late-2011, Apple released a software update that dramatically reduced the graphical performance of the GPUs in order to prevent them from reaching temperatures that would cause the GPUs to effectively self destruct".
The lawsuit itself has been expanded, with the firm stating that it has expanded to cover California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Puerto Rico and Vermont. Various members of the class action lawsuit have offered up their hardware for testing, with experts performing various tests on their faulty MacBook Pros. The company is expected to file a motion to dismiss the case on January 29, but Whitfield, Bryson & Mason will be responding with their own filing on March 5.
We constantly hear of the mountains of money that mobile giants like Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm and more make, but what about the industry itself? According to a new report commissioned by Qualcomm from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), we are getting a handle on just how much money the industry is generating.
In 2014 alone, the mobile industry generated a gigantic $3.3 trillion, with six of the 25 most valuable companies in the world - Alibaba, Apple, China Mobile, Facebook, Google and Verizon - earn revenue directly from mobile technology. But it's not just the big tech giants that are enjoying these returns, as mobile technology has created 11 million jobs in six countries that BCG studied. These countries are Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Korea and the United States.
The report also found that investments into infrastructure and technology hit $1.8 trillion between 2009 and 2013, and those who are involved in the mobile industry will continue to spend heavily into research and development, especially in areas like the titanic shift between 4G and 5G that is coming in the next few years. It's expected that companies will spend around $4 billion in R&D over the next five years alone.
Bitcoin values dropped below $200 on Wednesday for the first time since late 2013, as investors and supporters worry about the volatile cryptocurrency. In the first two weeks of 2015, bitcoins lost 40 percent of their value - sliding from $320 on Jan. 1 down to $185 on Jan. 14.
The current bitcoin valuation occurs during a time of record transaction volume, with huge amounts of activity amid the sliding price. Bitcoin miners appear ready to offload their supply of the cryptocurrency, in an effort to cover overhead.
Bitcoins cost $600 each in June 2014, but prices have declined consistently since then, even with more retailers adopting bitcoin payments.
The Spotify music streaming service reached 60 million subscribers, with 15 million paid users, the company said in a blog post. A paid subscription costs $9.99 per month per account, and Spotify hopes more of its listeners transition into paying subscribers.
"We had an amazing 2014 at Spotify and owe it all to you, the music fans who listen, discover, share and celebrate music and artists with us every day of the year," Spotify said in a blog post. It would appear Spotify's pre-Christmas offering of three months of subscription service for just $0.99 per month instead of the $9.99 normal price tag.
More than half of Spotify listeners use their smartphones and tablets to access the service, Spotify recently noted.
Sony Pictures grabbed all of the headlines during late 2014 due to its data breach, but Sony as a whole is in significant need of a company-wide revival. Company CEO Kazuo Hirai took over in April 2012 and every option is on the table, according to financial investors, including business unit spinoffs and joint ventures.
Since Hirai took over, the company has cut 15,000 jobs and has endured six forecast earnings cuts - with an estimated $1.9 billion net loss for its fiscal year which ends in March.
"Electronics in general, along with entertainment and finance, will continue to be an important business," Hirai told journalists at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week. "But within that there are some operations that will need to be run with caution - and that might be TV or mobile, for example."
The bitcoin cryptocurrency endured highs and lows throughout 2014, with the bitcoin economy making progress - but valuation saw continued decline. Compared to other currencies, bitcoins suffered the worst, decreasing 67 percent throughout 2014, and is off to a turbulent start in 2015, cryptocurrency analysts noted.
Despite a volatile value, CoinDesk predicts there will be more than 140,000 merchants and retailers accepting bitcoin payments by the end of the year.
The IRS ruled in 2014 that bitcoins are property and not currency, which could cause major headaches for bitcoin owners. US taxpayers will need to be careful when filing their taxes, and since bitcoin value declined, likely won't have to pay any type of taxes for gains.