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First regulated bitcoin exchange is now open, thanks to Coinbase

Coinbase has launched the first regulated bitcoin exchange in the United States, dubbing the new service Coinbase Exchange, available for residents in 24 states. The company has worked with federal regulators for more than one year, trying to create guidelines to promote safety for current clients.

 

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The new service is designed "to bring increased stability to the bitcoin ecosystem," which has endured extreme volatility - and recent high-profile bitcoin heists. Coinbase serves as a storage facility so consumers and merchants are able to make transactions, and allows interested buyers to bid on and trade their cryptocurrency stash.

 

"A proper U.S. exchange that's trustworthy, that's insured, we were the first guys to get insurance on our bitcoin in some form, this will really help bring a dampening of volatility," said Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase, while speaking on CNBC's Squawk on the Street. "I think the New York Stock Exchange sees this as an important trend."

Sony postpones earnings reports due to hacking attack

The beleaguered Sony has announced a delay in reporting their third-quarter earnings. The delay comes as a result of the intense hacking attack suffered at the hands of the North Korean government, if you believe the FBI. The hack was purportedly undertaken as a means of punishing Sony Pictures for the forthcoming movie 'The Interview', which soundly blasts the benevolent Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jung-un.

 

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Sony has requested an approval to delay their earnings report, chalking the issue up to damaged network hardware and the loss of a large amount of data. The reference to network hardware likely means their networked storage, such as HDDs in a SAN or NAS, as the bug wiped the drives clean once the hackers were done stealing data.

 

Sony continues to experience severe disruption of its internal computer systems in the wake of the attack. They initially shut down the entire system, but parts are now functioning again. However, crucial segments, such as financial and accounting applications, are shuttered until the middle of February.

Continue reading 'Sony postpones earnings reports due to hacking attack' (full post)

Xiaomi could be worth $100 billion, a billionaire investor claims

Xiaomi's estimated valuation could reach $100 billion due to increased interest from potential investors, according to billionaire investor Yuri Milner. The Chinese smartphone maker has seen a continued rise of its low-cost smartphones and tablets, while expanding in select markets outside of China.

 

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"I was attracted by the size of the opportunity ahead of them," said Yuri Milner, a billionaire investor, in an interview with Bloomberg. "I don't think there's any company that has reached $1 billion in revenue as fast as Xiaomi. In every conceivable benchmark, it's almost unprecedented in terms of its speed of growth."

 

Xiaomi wants to become the first major global consumer brand from China, and while the company avoids the United States, will develop its business in China, Brazil, and other select nations.

Travel giant Expedia acquires Travelocity for $280 million in cash

Online travel giant Expedia has just acquired online travel site Travelocity for $280 million in cash. A filing over at the SEC has confirmed the mammoth deal.

 

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Expedia purchased Travelocity from its parent company, Sabre Holdings, where it will likely keep its rival Priceline at a better distance, and turn the Travelocity brand into something even better. Expedia's CEO and President, Dara Khosrowshahi, said that Travelocity's strong brand recognition was one of the big selling points for the company. With over 20 million travellers using Travelocity each month, you could see why, too.

 

The companies were already working together within a strategic marketing agreement that put together "Travelocity's strong brand" with Expedia's "best-in-class booking platform, supply base, and customer service" according to Khosrowshahi. 50% of Travelocity's revenue was coming in from Expedia, thanks to the latter company running its back-end services, according to reported numbers. Before the acquisition of Travelocity, Expedia is worth $10.8 billion, but it should gain a fair chunk of marketshare post acquisition, which will only bolster those numbers even more.

Winklevoss twins want secure bitcoin exchange with FDIC support

In an effort to help take bitcoins mainstream, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss want to create a regulated bitcoin exchange, a "Nasdaq of bitcoin" that is insured by the FDIC. The current state of bitcoin is relatively unstable, and despite businesses accepting bitcoin payments, hackers have taken interest in finding ways to steal the popular cryptocurrency - not to mention the continued slide in bitcoin value.

 

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The so-called Gemini exchange would be self-funded by the Winklevoss brothers, as they look to create an infrastructure designed to receive federal support. "Right now we have to build the infrastructure," said Tyler Winklevoss, in a statement published by the New York Times. "You have to walk before you run."

 

Between Mt. Gox "losing" bitcoins, and bitstamp being hacked with $5 million worth of bitcoins stolen, having a federally-insured offering could help win over potential consumers and investors.

Apple boss Tim Cook earned a nice $9.3 million in 2014

Just how much did Apple's CEO make last year? Well, according to a newly released SEC filing, Tim Cook made $9.22 million last year. Breaking these figures down, we have a salary of $1.7 million, and non-equity incentive compensation of $6.7 million. This is close to double the $4.3 million in compensation he raked in across 2013.

 

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Cook didn't make that much when it came to other staff, with Apple's latest hire, Angela Ahrendts, securing herself a very nice $73 million in cash and stock over 2014. This included a $400,000 salary, $500,000 bonus and $70 million in stock. Ahrendts joined Apple in May of 2014, after making $37 million at Burberry.

 

These wages can be watered down thanks to the huge $182.8 billion in sales that Apple generated over 2014, with $38.5 billion in net income for fiscal 2014. This is a new record for the company, and during its latest forecast, Apple expects to make between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion for Q1 2015.

Google broke out the check book to help lobby politicians in 2014

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.

 

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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 pulled in $5.5 billion in revenue for 2014, beats expectations

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.

 

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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.

Chinese government will put $6.5 billion aside to help out startups

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.

 

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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".

Facebook increasingly hiring to fill growing virtual reality ambitions

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.

 

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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."

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