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Bill Gates added $9 billion to his stack-o-cash in the last year

Bill Gates has climbed back to the top of Forbes' list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, with a total net worth of $81.2 billion. The next richest American on the list of Warren Buffett, who has $13.4 billion less than Gates, with $67.8 billion.

 

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Considering Gates has donated close to a third of his money, or around $30 billion, is massive. Gates has donated the $30 billion to charity, mostly through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With that much money on its own, you could be the 16th most richest person in the United States. Over the past 12 months, Gates has added $9 billion to his net worth, mostly due to big gains in Microsoft shares.

 

Gates' return on his investments in Canadian National Railway and trash company Republic Services are also providing him with a nice injection of cash. He also owns a big chunk of stock in tractor maker Deere & Co. and South American McDonald's franchise, Arcos Dorados.

SoftBank buyout may help DreamWorks Animation boost box office sales

Following news that DreamWorks Animation is considering a sale to Japanese company SoftBank has created quiet optimism that this could help the studio long-term. The proposed $3.4 billion deal, with SoftBank offering $32 per share, would be able to give DreamWorks long-term financial stability that it needs to continue developing up to three new films per year.

 

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Despite being known for "Shrek" and "Madagascar," the studio struggled with disappointing sales of "Rise of the Guardians" and "Turbo." Operating as a smaller, independent studio prevented the company from having a buffer - every new film must be a box office hit, or the company would feel it - though backing from a company such as SoftBank would help create new opportunities.

 

"I think they are sort of doing a 21st century version of what Disney did in the 1950s, when they went from being just an animation studio to doing living action," said Steve Hulett, Animation Guild business agent, in a recent statement to the Los Angeles Times. "They diversified, and that's the only thing you can do if you want to be a long-term player. Now it probably makes sense to sell."

Microsoft confirms plans to open Fifth Avenue store, close to Apple

Microsoft plans to open a new retail store at 677 Fifth Avenue in New York City, a few blocks away from Rockefeller Center - and not too far away from a rival Apple store. The company currently has more than 100 retail stores throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, with at least 10 more expected to open before the end of the year.

 

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Learning from the success of the Apple store, where die-hard customers and curious onlookers wander in, Microsoft hopes its retail experience will help draw in potential customers. Even if a Microsoft store cannot draw the same attention as a rival Apple store, it's an important opportunity to allow consumers the chance to test new technologies they might be unfamiliar with.

 

"As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience," the company said in a blog post. "This is a goal we've had since day one - we were only waiting for the right location. And now we have it."

SoftBank interested in possible DreamWorks acquisition in curious move

Japanese telecommunications and Internet company SoftBank has reportedly shown interest in acquiring the DreamWorks animation studio. SoftBank currently owns Sprint and had a failed bid to buyout T-Mobile in the United States, though is still interested in successful U.S. companies it could benefit from.

 

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If the deal materialized, it would be a rather curious move for SoftBank, as DreamWorks would likely join a growing catalog of business units. Shares of DreamWorks closed on Friday at $22.36, and SoftBank would reportedly pay an inflated price of $32 per share, which the DreamWorks board is currently considering.

 

DreamWorks officials haven't shunned buyout offers in the past, but said they were interested in developing its own businesses - but a few Hollywood box office duds has pressured the company to potentially make changes.

BlackBerry bounces back, posts better-than-expected Q2 results

The tubes of the Internet have been filled the new two new iPhones, #BendGate, the Galaxy Note 4 coming soon, and so much more in the mobile world, so BlackBerry doesn't get the headlines that its biggest competitors do.

 

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Well, the company has just posted better-than-expected Q2 results, but still managed to lose $207 million for the three-month period. Even with the huge loss, it's still an improvement from the previous quarter, where the company posted a loss of $965 million. After one-time items, such as charges for laying off employees and other restructuring efforts, the company said the loss was around $11 million, or $0.02 per share, beating Wall Street's forecast of $0.16 per share.

 

Revenue for Q2 sat at $916 million, which is represented as 46% hardware, 46% services and 8% in software and other revenue. During the three-month period, BlackBerry said it sold approximately 2.4 million smartphones to end users, which included shipments made, and recognized before Q2. BlackBerry's Executive Chairman and CEO, John Chen, said: "Our workforce restructuring is now complete, and we are focusing on revenue growth with judicious investments to further our leadership position in enterprise mobility and security".

Continue reading 'BlackBerry bounces back, posts better-than-expected Q2 results' (full post)

Samsung has more staff than Apple, Microsoft and Google... combined

Most would think that Apple or Google would have the most employees under its belt, but it is Samsung, by a long shot. Ars Technica has compared Samsung's filing with it's biggest competitors - Apple, Google, Sony and Microsoft - to find that Samsung hires a mammoth number of people, even compared to its biggest competition.

 

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Samsung hires 275,133 people according to the report, while Sony comes the closest with 105,000 staff. Microsoft comes in third with 99,000 employees, Apple with 80,300 staff coming in fourth, and Google in at fifth with 47,756 employees. Ars Technica did a real deep dive into the filing, finding that Samsung had 40,506 software engineers as of 2013, which is a massive 45% increase over 2011.

 

Google on the other hand, has only 18,593 software engineers, which shouldn't surprise you. Google makes countless services which billions use, where Samsung may sell hundreds of millions of handsets and other devices, but most wouldn't know a piece of Samsung software apart from TouchWiz on an Android-based device.

Apple being sued for violating 13 of SanDisk's patents

Apple is being sued by two parties, Ireland's Longitude Licensing Ltd and Luxembourg's Longitude Flash Memory Systems S.a.r.l., with their joint patent infringement lawsuit against Apple alleging the company is in violation of 13 counts of patent infringement that cover virtually all of Apple's iDevices.

 

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The plaintiffs are using former SanDisk patents that they now hold, partnering up with Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc., to help them increase the value of their IP. The following Apple devices are included in the lawsuit: Apple iPad, Apple iPad 2, Apple iPad (3rd Generation), Apple iPad (4th Generation), Apple iPad Air, Apple iPad mini, Apple iPad mini with Retina display, Apple iPhone, Apple iPhone 3G, Apple iPhone 3GS, Apple iPhone 4, Apple iPhone 4S, Apple iPhone 5, Apple iPhone 5C, Apple iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 2G, iPod Touch 3G, iPod Touch 4G, and iPod Touch 5G".

 

The lawsuit itself involves the flash technology and memory on the massive list of iDevices, which could land Apple in some hot water. For the full legal mumbo-jumbo, Patently Apple has you covered.

DirecTV shareholders support AT&T acquisition, as feds consider deal

Satellite provider DirecTV shareholders have reportedly agreed to an acquisition by AT&T, as 99 percent of votes from 77 percent of shareholders support the deal. The $49 billion mega deal will give AT&T an avenue to better compete against Verizon in paid television, with the deal expected to close sometime in Q1 or Q2 of 2015.

 

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"We appreciate DirecTV shareholders' approval and look forward to continuing our work with the various regulatory agencies reviewing the deal to gain their approval as well," an AT&T spokesperson recently noted.

 

AT&T already utilizes its own Uverse TV service, but DirecTV has a larger reach nationwide due to regional restrictions.

FTC shuts down Butterfly Labs, a supposed bitcoin mining company

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shut down Butterfly Labs, a bitcoin-mining company that tricked users into purchasing machines that would produce bitcoins. The supposed "bitcoin-mining" devices cost from $149 to $29,899, along with a cloud-based service that tricked customers into paying for server farm computing time.

 

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"We often see that when a new and little-understood opportunity like bitcoin presents itself, scammers will find ways to capitalize on the public's excitement and interest," said Jessica Rich, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director, in a press statement. "We're pleased the court granted our request to halt this operation, and we look forward to putting the company's ill-gotten gains back in the hands of consumers."

 

The opportunity to mine, own, and use bitcoins as a digital currency - with no federal or central bank support - has paved the way for cybercriminals to trick and steal from regular users. The current value of bitcoin is slightly under $500 per bitcoin, but peaked at more than $1,000 each last November, and continues to prove to be rather volatile.

Kickstarter's updates its rules for failed projects

After a massive Kickstarter game was officially cancelled on Thursday, the company has updated its terms to better protect people from being stung by cancelled projects. The project in question was science fiction author Neal Stephenson, with his $526,000 in funding up in the air after cancelling his project late last week.

 

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Section 4 of Kickstarter's new terms states that it will help project creators set themselves up better for success, and to not upset their backers. If the creators behind a Kickstarter project can't deliver their goods, the company explains how it will try and make good when creators don't fulfil their goals, or backer rewards.

 

If this does happen, creators are expected to explain themselves as to what is happening, and where all the money has gone. If the project was cancelled, Kickstarter expects creators to issue refunds to anyone who asks for them. Kickstarter reiterates that when refunds are offered, backers can "explain how those funds will be used to complete the project in some alternate form", but I don't see many people having faith in a creator if their project fails, but the option is there. Estimated completion dates, to Kickstarter, are just that: estimations. They are not deadlines, with Kickstarter having no power to issue refunds. But, backers can pull their pledge out anytime during the funding process.

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