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Anyone who has been following the Bitcoin saga, will likely have ran across reports that the virtual currency is fueling the online drug trade. For anyone who doubted this, today's seizure of Silk Road proves just how closely connected the two really were. Reports suggest as much as $1 billion of Bitcoin transactions occurred as a direct result of Silk Road.
Today as news began to spread about Silk Road being shut down by the FBI, the price of Bitcoins dropped from $130 down to just over $85. Analyst are speculating that the selloff was the direct result of Silk Roads seizure, and indicated that many users felt uncertain about the future of the virtual currency. There could potentially be millions of Bitcoins that are frozen in limbo as a result of the seizure, and they will most likely never be claimed by their owners. At the time of this writing, the Bitcoin price had rebounded to about $120.
While I first broke the news that Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, had purchased The Washington Post, the sale was not finalized until this week. Yesterday the announcement came that the $250 million acquisition had been finalized, and that Bezos was now the sole owner of the near 80-year old company.
While $250 million sounds like a lot of money to spend on a business which many consider a dying medium, Bezos has plenty of cash to spare. He founded Amazon.com back in 1994 and has since became one of the wealthiest men in the world. Bezos says that he plans to turn the post around and once again lead it to profit. Bezos commented that he will remain at the helm of Amazon, and that he will visit the Post from time to time, but will remain devoted to Amazon for the foreseeable future.
You've probably heard of Tom Clancy, as he's a best-selling author, but most gamers would know him thanks to his work on game franchises like Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell. Clancy died last night in hospital.
The New York Times has confirmed the news unfortunately, directly from Clancy's publisher. Clancy back in 1996 helped create a game development studio called Red Storm Entertainment, where a bunch of games were made. The developer was scooped up by Ubisoft, who took the best franchises and continued making them under Clancy's name, such as Splinter Cell.
A new report from Reuters says that three of Microsoft's biggest shareholders think that the company's founder, Bill Gates, should step down from his seat on the board. The shareholders suggest that Gates may prevent current CEO, Steve Ballmer's, replacement from bringing forth new innovation to the company.
The report from Reuters reads:
The three investors are concerned that Gates' presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular, they point to Gates' role on the special committee searching for Ballmer's successor.
They are also worried that Gates - who spends most of his time on his philanthropic foundation - wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding.
While it is a bit of a stretch, many think that Ballmer was chosen as CEO because he was good friends with Gates, and that Gates could keep control of the company through Ballmer. Personally, I think that Gates has a right to sit on the board, and it is his duty to continue to advise the direction of the company he founded so many years ago.
The Galaxy Note range of phablets from Samsung has been uber successful, after most in the industry didn't think a smartphone that big could really make it. Samsung broke tradition, and it worked, handsomely for them.
It looks like Samsung is seeing great success from the Galaxy Note range of smartphones, with the South Korean giant confirming it has sold over 40 million Galaxy Note handsets across the world. This includes over 10 million Galaxy Note units, and over 30 million Note II devices. This doesn't include the Galaxy Note-branded tablets, and is exclusive to the Galaxy Note smartphones.
It looks like another Japanese giant is experiencing trouble, with Toshiba looking to reduce its TV staff by up to 50%. The company will also stop production at two of its three overseas factories before the end of this fiscal year.
Toshiba has said it will also increase outsourced production to 70%, up from 40%, and reduce the amount of its global staff in the TV division by 3,000 with two-thirds of these positions held overseas. Toshiba hasn't penciled in which two factories would be closed, but we should find that out soon enough.
Toshiba has been experiencing losses in its TV division for over two years now, which is blamed on a slowdown in Europe and a drop in domestic demand for its TVs. I'm sure the huge competition from Samsung doesn't help, either.
Twitch.tv, everyone's favorite social video game footage sharing site, has just announced that its series C round of funding has been a massive success. The company managed to raise $20 million thanks to efforts led by Thrive Capital, Take-Two Interactive, and WestSummit Capital.
At the moment, Twitch sees more than 45 million monthly visitors, and with the upcoming release of next-gen consoles, we expect to see that number rise significantly. While no mention has been made with how the company will use the funds, we would imagine that some of it will go towards beefing up its servers, as well as improving on its services offered to gamers who live stream their gameplay to the site.
BlackBerry is quite quickly circling the sink, ready to be sucked into it, but before then it looks like Google is acquiring a bunch of ex-BlackBerry engineers.
Reuters reports that Google's Motorola Mobility division is setting up a new hub in Waterloo, Ontario - BlackBerry's hometown. The company is looking to take in people who have backgrounds in engineering and computer science. Even with BlackBerry starting to fade, Waterloo is a massive hub of talent thanks to the University of Waterloo's top-notch computer science program.
The Engineering Director at Motorola Canada, Derek Phillips, has told Reuters that Motorola is looking to "get just as many people who are interested to come out and hire as many people as we can."
After a massive 13-year ban on gaming consoles, it looks like China is about to open the flood gates to all consoles. Rewinding the clock back to 2000, we saw the country put a ban on gaming consoles because of the influence violent and mature games could have on the youth of China.
We heard about the Shanghai free-trade zone, which the console ban being lifted is all a part of. In order for gaming consoles to be sold in China, game developers and console retailers will need to set up shop in the free-trade zone in Shanghai, pending official approval they can sell their products to the mainland market.
Microsoft has already sprinted to the market, striking a deal with Chinese company BesTV in order to develop games in the free-trade zone. The free-trade zone is opening up in Shanghai on September 29, which should see billions upon billions of dollars being pumped into the industry.
The partnership between headphone manufacturer Beats and handset giant HTC has finally came to an end. This morning, Beats announced that it has bought back the remaining stake held by HTC for $265 million. The two companies partnered up back in 2011, when HTC picked up a 50.1 percent controlling interest for $300 million.
Just a year later, Beats bought back half of that stake for $150 million. With today's buyback, HTC has profited over $115 million from the deal, not including any royalties and unseen payments that have taken place. No reason was given for the split, but with HTC in financial trouble, we are sure that the sudden influx of cash is a welcomed one.