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Rahul Sood leaves Microsoft, forms his own gaming company 'Unikrn'

You might remember Rahul Sood as the founder of VoodooPC, especially when he cut his birthday cake with that first-gen MacBook Air all that time ago. Well, Sood has left his post at Microsoft, to form his own gaming company known as Unikrn.

 

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Sood took to his LinkedIn page where he said that he's leaving a dream job, but adds that "this is the kind of crazy shit entrepreneurs do (or at least I keep telling myself that!". Sood started VoodooPC, something that was purchased by HP in 2008, and has been a part of the gaming community since, even joining Microsoft as the GM of Xbox, but moved over to helping early stage startups.

 

In his blog post, Sood said that his "gaming past continues to drive unrest inside me, starting with Voodoo, and then advising various companies including Razer and Vrvana, and now...".

Underwriters Laboratories acquires Futuremark, the makers of 3DMark

3DMark has been a staple of PC enthusiasts all across the world for over a decade, but the company behind it, Futuremark, has just been acquired by Underwriters Laboratories. Underwriters Laboratories is a safety testing organization, based in the US with offices in 46 countries, which analyzes the safety of technological products and their components.

 

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General Manager of UL's Consumer Technology Division, Stephen Kirk, talked about the acquisition: "Embedded software is now an important part of product design. With an increased focus on mobility, we see more and more products being connected, making the Internet of Things a reality. Consequently, software quality is a significant driver of product safety and performance; and we believe that benchmarking is an important way to help our customers to improve the performance of their products". He continued: "This acquisition provides us with an opportunity to build a new business line in testing a wide variety of technological devices so they offer the performance, safety and privacy that consumers expect".

 

What does UL have planned for future Futuremark products? We should see more professionally-orientated packages, similar to what PCMark's suite offers. Futuremark's Chief Executive, Jukka Mäkinen, said: "In recent years, we've expanded on to new platforms, our software has been adopted by the European Commission and national governments, and we've welcomed more of the world's leading technology companies into our Benchmark Development Program. We've accomplished a lot on our own, but with UL, we're in an even better position to achieve our goals".

Walmart testing online price matching to win over consumers

Retailer Walmart wants to win over consumers looking to open up their wallets this holiday shopping season, and is now considering matching online prices for in-store purchases. Walmart has started a trial run to match online prices in the following markets: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Phoenix and northwest Arkansas.

 

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Walmart, the world's largest retailer, has matched rival in-store prices in the past - but with consumer spending to be the best it has been in the past few years - wants to better compete against Amazon and other e-tailers. Although this effort could end up hurting revenue, with many consumers shopping in its stores purchasing multiple items, Walmart hopes to provide consumers with incentives so they head to the store and spend even more.

 

Consumers that have been hesitant to spend large amounts of money during the holiday shopping season should find great deals - both online and in-store - as the economy continues to recover from years of consistent struggles.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he is 'proud to be gay' in published essay

Apple CEO Tim Cook became the most prominent public company executive to come out of the closet, saying he is "proud to be gay" in a recently published essay. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights activist group, applauded Cook for making such a "courageous" decision - and noted he is the first openly gay Fortune 500 company CEO.

 

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"Let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me," Cook said in his essay. "Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world - and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them."

 

Cook has never necessarily denied being gay with others, but wanted to make a public announcement to try to help others be comfortable, saying if it "can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy."

Comcast settles overcharging lawsuit, will fork over $50 million

Comcast will pay $50 million to end an 11-year-old class-action overcharging lawsuit that was filed by angry Philadelphia customers. The lawsuit was filed on December 8, 2003, and originally wanted $875 million from the cable giant.

 

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The payments, credits and free upgrades will be issued to subscribers in Philadelphia and four other local counties - and will help out curren and former subscribers from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2008, according to legal documents.

 

Plaintiffs will receive a measly $15 payout, as just $16.67 million will be paid out in cash or customer credit - including four months of free Internet service upgrades, six free pay-per-view movies two free months of The Movie Channel, or one free month upgrade to Extreme 105 service.

Continue reading 'Comcast settles overcharging lawsuit, will fork over $50 million' (full post)

EA revenues drop 18%, increases its predictions for Q1 2015

EA has been in the news a fair bit in the last 24 hours, where we only just reported that Battlefield: Hardline has a release date of March 17, 2015 and we have a release window of Q4 2015 for DICE's Star Wars Battlefront. Now we're hearing about EA's financials for the quarter that finished on September 30.

 

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The company reported $990 million in net revenue for the three-month period, which is an 18.5% slide from the $1.21 billion in revenue it posted from its last quarter. When comparing it to the same quarter from last year however, it shows the company has a nice 42.4% year-over-year increase. Net income for the company has improved from the same time last year, posting $3 million in income versus the $273 million loss from last year.

 

Digital revenues slipped 5.2% from $536 million to $508 million for the quarter, but this is still a 12.9% increase year-over-year. EA is still hoping to make a massive $1 billion in digital add-on content this year, and looks to be on track to reach that big goal. The company has adjusted its expectations for the fiscal year, something that ends on March 31, 2015, too. It has added $75 million to its projections, for a total of $4.375 billion. For the next three months, EA expects a net revenue of $1.1 billion.

Apple iTunes music sales slid 13% in 2014, as paid downloads slow

Apple saw iTunes music sales plunge 13 to 14 percent in 2013, as the music industry continues to be extremely fragile, according to recent reports. Music sales have been flat for a several years, and have dropped a whopping 50 percent since 2000, as listeners have embraced digital music files.

 

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Music companies are struggling to convince listeners to drop free, ad-supported programs and sign up for monthly subscriptions - typically around $10 per month.

 

To compare, revenue of iTunes downloads slowed only 2.1 percent in 2013, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said. However, ad-supported and subscription streaming services helped make up for the slight 2013 drop, while there was very little respite in 2014.

AMD drops the prices on their APUs, is also offering free games

Just weeks after cutting the prices on their Radeon GPUs, AMD is back to the price-cutting game with prices dropped on their APUs. Not only that, but the company is offering free games, too. Buy any APU between now and the end of the month, and AMD will offer you one of three games: Murdered: Soul Suspect, Thief, or Sniper Elite 3.

 

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Just how hard are the price cuts? Well, AMD are slashing the prices of its top-end parts by 15-25%. The A10-7850K was $189 on NewEgg, but it is now $143, where the A10-7800 was $165, is now $133. These cuts have AMD competing at a better price point against Intel now, especially when it comes to Intel's Core i3 and Core i5 processors.

Airbnb valued at $13 billion, up from $10 billion earlier this year

According to people familiar with the matter, Airbnb's valuation is set to expand up to $13 billion, up from $10 billion earlier this year, reports CNBC.

 

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The community-driven hospitality company, if valued at $13 billion, would come second only to Uber "in the rankings of Silicon Valley's most valuable private companies". Airbnb doesn't have a CEO, after Andrew Swain left last month, which should push out the IPO, if there was one any time soon, to sometime in 2015.

 

In order for Airbnb employees to cash in on some of their stock between now and the IPO, the company is in discussions with existing investors about allowing them to buy back tens of millions of dollars worth of shares, according to CNBC's sources. This cash injection won't be going into new capital for the company, but instead it would reportedly go to staff.

Microsoft posts record revenue, Surface sales are helping, a lot

Microsoft has posted a somewhat surprising quarterly financial report, which even exceeded analysts' expectations. The Redmond-based giant posted $5.48 billion in operating income, with $4.5 billion in net income from $23.2 billion in revenue.

 

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When compared against the results from the same quarter of last year, Microsoft's revenue has increased by 255, but net income is down 14%. The company explains this slump of $1.14 billion because of "integration and restructuring expenses" after acquiring Nokia's Devices and Services business.

 

One of the bigger surprises, is that Microsoft's Surface division has performed extremely well. The Surface division posted an increase in revenue of a huge 127%, compared to the same three-month period from last year. The Surface Pro 3 has been successful for the company, with $908 million in revenue with positive gross margin, and will soon be Microsoft's next billion-dollar business. When it comes to the Lumia division at Microsoft, it sold 9.3 million handsets for the quarter, an increase of 6% on the same period of last year.

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