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Early this morning just before Wall Street opened for trading, Microsoft announced that it would be buying back $40 billion of its own stock as well as increasing its quarterly dividend by 22 percent. This announcement comes on the heels of the company's previous $40 billion buyback program that will expire at the end of this month.
Microsoft said that its quarterly dividend will rise to $0.28 per share, which is up from the $0.23 per share it paid last quarter. Unlike the last buyback initiative, there is no expiration date for the new program, which means the buyback could take a while to complete. Shortly after the announcement, Microsoft stock opened about $0.60 per share higher than at closing on Monday at about $32.75 per share. At the time of this writing, it is down to about $33 per share, which is an increase of 0.7 percent over its closing numbers Monday, and is actually lower than what the stock closed at on Friday.
Today, the tech startup Bump announced that it has been acquired by Google in what industry analysts say is a deal worth between $30 million and $60 million. Bump was the first app that allowed users to "bump" their iPhones together to automagically transfer files from one phone to the other.
The original app has been downloaded over 100 million times. In the years, the company has expanded to feature a group photo sharing app called Flock. While the price tag of $30 million seems to be a home run for the company, it had already raised about $20 million from backers including Sequoia Capital, making the deal not so sweet.
"Bump and Flock will continue to work as they always have for now," Bump CEO David Lieb wrote in a blog post today. With the company now being owned by Google, it leaves many industry insiders to believe that we will see deep integration of Bump's IP into Android 5.0
"The Bump team has demonstrated a strong ability to quickly build and develop products that users love, and we think they'll be a great fit at Google," said a Google representative. Google declined to comment further on where it will integrate the Bump team at Google.
Mark Zuckerberg has once again reclaimed the number 20 spot on Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. He previously held the spot back in 2011 but fell to number 36 in 2012 after Facebook's IPO flopped. Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Facebook, the world's largest social network.
Last year, Zuckerberg's net worth was reported at $9.4 billion, but in the last year this figure has more than doubled with a newly reported net worth of $19 billion, which landed the number 20 spot on the Forbes list. This new wealth comes after Facebook stock has risen from an all time low of $17.55 in 2012 to an all time high of more than $45 per share last week.
Zuckerberg is among good company with Bill Gates taking the top spot at $72 billion, Jeff Bezos who is ranked number 12 with $27.1 million, and he pushes out Steve Ballmer who is now rated number 21 with a net worth of $18 billion. Other notables on the list include: Google's Larry page at $24.9 billion and his colleague Sergey Brin who is worth a mere $24.4 billion.
It looks like Samsung is putting down $500 million to build a new testing facility in Xi'an, an industrial city in Northwest China. The new facility will see packaging and testing done under its roof, and is the South Korean giants latest investment in a string of investments for its future in the last couple of months.
The new facility will be built in the same city that Samsung built a $7 billion chip plant in last year, on top of the $1.7 billion it spent in 2012 on improving its operations in the manufacturing hub Kunshan. All of these steps that Samsung has made are all part of a $41.4 billion capital expansion that Samsung started last year. The electronics giant has seen gigantic success in the mobile devices segment, and is now packed with cash.
The company is using its flow of cash to invest in its future, which we're constantly seeing. In its Chinese supply chain network, Samsung has over 250 manufacturers, which is definitely saying something. The new factory will begin construction in January next year, and should be finished by the end of 2014.
Microsoft isn't seeing game-changing success with its Windows Phone platform, but this might change in the years coming with its acquisition of Nokia's Device and Services division. In the meantime, the Redmond-based giant is enjoying a new milestone on its Windows Phone Store.
The Windows Phone Store now sees 9 million transactions per day, which is made up from a combination of app and in-app purchases. The news comes from WP Store General Manager, Todd Brix. If we extend it into per-month statistics, we're looking at around 270 million per month, which is an increase of 70 million more downloads per month when compared to the numbers in June. Things are about to change for the Windows Phone Store though.
You'll now start seeing more ads than you will see new ads, with Microsoft issuing unique device IDs to new advertising partners. These new UDIDs won't be linked to specific devices, and the company has said that it won't give out identifiable information. You can opt out of these targeted ads if you choose, by clicking here and having a poke around.
According to Netflix's Vice President of Content Acquisition, Kelly Merryman, the company partly determines which shows it should buy based on the popularity of such shows on file-sharing platforms, which should come as quite the shock.
The video streaming company sees itself as one of the biggest competitors to pirate sites, where Netflix offers a subscription-based model, and pirate sites offering it for free. But, while the pirate sites may offer it for free and make money from ads and other sources, Netflix uses these sites to gain information on which shows are popular, which helps them decide on which content they should acquire for their ever-growing base of customers.
This week, the video streaming giant rolled out its Netflix service to the Netherlands, with Merryman stating: "With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites." Mellyman used Prison Break as a prime example, saying that Netflix acquired the rights to the Wentworth Miller starring prison drama because it is heavily pirated locally. Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, even commented, saying that the company is aware that people download content without permission through pirate sites.
He does add though, that this isn't all bad, because it also creates business for Netflix: "Certainly there's some torrenting that goes on, and that's true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand. Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don't have to deal with files, you don't have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch ."
Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has been in a downward spiral for quite a while now, with a little bit of help in the last couple of months coming from its latest flagship handset, the HTC One. But now there are reports that HTC has laid off 30 employees and contractors from its HTC America division.
30 employees might not seem like a lot, but it amounts to 20% of HTC's employees in the US. A statement was given to The Verge, which said that these layoffs are strategic moves in order to help HTC "streamline and optimize our organization." We don't know which departments have seen employees packing their bags, but they might actually be helped by HTC. Jason Mackenzie, President of HTC America said in a letter to employees that those hit with the layoff news will be 'treated with respect' and the company will help them out with resources to continue their careers elsewhere.
Today at the Extremely Large Database conference being held in Stanford California, Google announced that it will be migrating its MySQL systems over to MariaDB. Google has assigned one of its engineers to the MariaDB foundation to aid in the migration.
"Were running primarily on [MySQL] 5.1 which is a little outdated, and so we're moving to MariaDB 10.0 at the moment," said Google senior systems engineer Jeremy Cole in a presentation he gave on the general state of the MySQL ecosystem.
Cole said that Google has been working with the MariaDB foundation since the beginning of the year in an effort to make the migration over to MariaDB as smooth as possible. He went on to say that the migration involves thousands of MySQL servers within the Google ecosystem and that Google's MySQL team is looking forward to working with the SkySQL MariaDB team to advance the reliability and feature set of MariaDB.
I see this move as nothing but a win-win situation for both Google and MariaDB. I personally know several of the people over at SkySQL / MariaDB and I can honestly say that I have never met a more friendly and helpful group of people. So I want to issue a personal congratulations to the whole MariaDB team and say that I cannot wait to see what comes out of this partnership.
This day was always coming for Twitter, but for me at least, it kind of struck me by surprise. The social network has said that as of Thursday afternoon, it has confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO.
At the moment, Twitter is valued at around $11 billion, and is able to file confidentially thanks to the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act. The JOBS Act allows companies to go public without public scrutiny, and is for companies that have has than $1 billion in revenues.
Today Cisco announced that it intends to acquire the solid state memory manufacturer WHIPTAIL for $415 million. Cisco says that this acquisition will strengthen the company's Unified Computing System strategy and enhance application performance by introducing scalable solid state memory into the UCS's fabric computing architecture.
Our good friend, Jim Handy of Objective Analysis was kind enough to send over his take on the whole acquisition and I have posted the entire statement below. Jim says that he feels that this move by Cisco was a good decision and that the price seemed reasonable enough based on other recent acquisitions in the market.