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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 11

Activists launching balloons carrying 'The Interview' into North Korea

Think the drama regarding North Korea and The Interview is over? Think again! Lee Min-Bok, a North Korean defector and activist, has carried out another round of balloon launches to share copies of The Interview in North Korea.

 

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"I launched thousands of copies and about a million leaflets on Saturday, near the western part of the border," Lee recently told the AFP. Helium balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda and copies of The Interview were floated from the South Korean side - and it's unknown how many balloons actually reach the other side of the border.

 

To help make it more difficult for guards on the North Korean side to detect the balloons floating into their country, Lee launched the balloons in remote locations and under the cover of darkness. The police also are aware of his actions and don't move to intervene: "The police would have no right to stop me from doing this. I am always being tailed by police."

Visceral Games boss leaves the studio after nearly 15 years

Visceral Games has only just launched Battlefield Hardline after quite the headline-grabbing development of the game, with the studio's Vice President and General Manager, Steve Papoutsis, leaving the company.

 

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Papoutsis had been with EA for nearly 15 years, working on a bunch of huge games like the Battlefield series and Dead Space. He then took over on Battlefield Hardline, but an EA spokesperson has confirmed that he is no longer with the company. EA added: "we are thankful for Steve's many contributions to EA and wish him the best".

 

Scott Probst, who has been a Producer with EA, and is the son of EA's Chairman, Larry Probst, is now the new boss of Visceral Games. An EA spokesperson told Polygon: "The Visceral team continues to be focused on new game content for Battlefield Hardline including expansion packs, as well as new development projects".

Ways to Make Conference Calls Less Disturbing

Would you be surprised to know that 92 percent of staff love meetings? According to a Verizon study, they really do! Meetings are seen as a chance to participate and contribute, and have face to face time with other participants. It's when meetings disrupt the workflow of individual staffers and departments that things can get dicey. As much as people love meetings, they can be stressful, too, with work backing up and schedules upended because anyone who needs a soapbox feels the need to call a meeting.

 

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Making your meetings a part of the workflow instead of a big rock thrown into the middle of it can also help to decrease a trend toward staff disengagement. A Gallup poll reported that some of the most experienced and highly educated workers feel "not engaged" or even actively disengaged from their workplace and co-workers. These workers tend to be age 30 to 64 and have high levels of education, and often years of experience and know-how. Re-engaging these workers is a soft cost that savvy business owners and managers will reckon against the cost of finding and hiring a new candidate and filling the position anew, or letting the situation sit and fester with a resentful, disengaged worker playing Candy Crush on their iPad during meetings.

 

Making Meetings Work

 

Making meetings work in the real-world takes some thought and ingenuity, and there are times when a conference call is all it takes to put things right. However, to pull out an old cliché, there are times when you need to think outside the box on how to engage with everyone, face to face in the best and most effective way. Using modern technology such as the cloud-based Blue Jeans Network for video conferencing can help bring back that engagement gained from a stimulating face to face meeting without the stress, expense, and work disruptions caused by calling meetings in a single location.

 

Top Ten Tips for Successful Meetings

  1. Set a time for the meeting that worked for everyone. This is simple courtesy. Interrupting people's workflow can cause all types of problems, and so can calling audio or video conferences across time zones. Working out a good time for everyone helps reduce stress and resentment.
  2. Set an agenda for the meeting and make sure that everyone gets a copy. By setting an agenda, there's little room for meetings to wander off on tangents, or get caught up in side issues.
  3. Set a limit for speakers in terms of both number and time. Unless you're hosting a lecture or demonstration, other parties need to be given time to speak, and a question and answer period provided for after each speaker is finished.
  4. Seek input from the participants. Find out what issues they feel need to be addressed and what their concerns are, then address them.

Continue reading 'Ways to Make Conference Calls Less Disturbing' (full post)

Twitter takeover rumors swirl, with Google rumored to acquire Twitter

There have been rumors of a potential takeover bid on Twitter, with shares in the company rising 3.5% to $52 each yesterday. Barron's reporting that there are two unnamed companies that have approached Twitter with "serious" interest in taking it over.

 

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According to Briefing.com, Twitter has bought in advisers - with Goldman Sachs rumored to be talking with the social network giant - in order to "fend off a takeover offer". We don't know who would buy Twitter just yet, but Google would be a potential company and it could see them fight off Facebook in the social networking space much better than its own Google+ ever did.

Bitcoin companies turning to Wall Street for financial leaders

The Factom bitcoin technology company has turned to Wall Street to help find a new treasurer, relying on his interest in bitcoin and financial expertise. While working at Morgan Stanley, Dienelt co-founded the Lazzerbee paper bitcoin wallet company - and is knowledgeable in regards to the private wealth business.

 

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"After two years traveling to bitcoin conferences, mining, and running a paper wallet company, I'm glad to have found a home in the space," said Jacob Dienelt, a former Morgan Stanley investment manager and now head treasurer of the Factom bitcoin company, in a statement published by Reuters.

 

The bitcoin financial infrastructure isn't going to disappear, but needs clear leadership to help work through government regulation hurdles, grow consumer support, and attract new business partners. "Bitcoin 2.0," which has seen more bitcoin firms taking experienced leaders from Wall Street, hopes to find new processes for the blockchain.

South Korea is on track to produce graphene-based products by 2017

The South Korean government has said that the country will begin producing and selling products using graphene by as early as 2017, making it one of the first countries in the world to commercialize the exciting new advanced material.

 

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Graphene, is as thin as an atom and when spread out onto a sheet of carbon, can transmit electric currents up to 1 million times faster than current conductors like copper. Additionally, it has twice the strength of diamonds. Graphene-based products will include flexible display panels and touchscreen panels. South Korea has been at the forefront of graphene research, with the company hoping to become one of the world's first nations to commercialize graphene production, with research starting 10 years ago. The "government named six consortia made up of 45 private firms and research institutes in 2013 to develop related technologies", reports The Korea Times.

 

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release: "The country believes it can create a new global market for graphene under its leadership as the country has developed leading technologies through over 10 years of research while it also has enough demand for the material in the mobile phone, display and secondary cell battery sectors".

Continue reading 'South Korea is on track to produce graphene-based products by 2017' (full post)

Samsung Q1 2015 isn't good, next few quarters won't be any better

We are on the eve of Samsung throwing its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge handsets into consumers hands, but with the end of Q1 2015 here, we can expect the South Korean giant to soon release its quarterly report.

 

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Samsung is expecting its operating profits to be between $5.2-$5.6 billion, which is down from $7.8 billion this time last year. The company expects to see sales of between $42-$44 billion, down from the $48 billion from the same time last year. Sales and profits are expected to be lower than the previous quarter, since Q4 2014 was the holidays and all.

 

We should expect a bounce back of sorts, with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge about to roll out. The official financial report will be released sometime later this month.

Crytek reportedly sign $50-$70 million licensing deal with Amazon

Just months after Crytek was reportedly in serious financial trouble, paying its staff late and laying some off, with the German-based studio behind the CryEngine and games like Crysis, reportedly signed a major licensing deal with Amazon.

 

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According to four sources of Kotaku, Amazon has agreed to a massive licensing deal for Crytek's CryEngine, worth between $50-70 million. The sources haven't said much more, but they said that this deal is enough to pull Crytek out of the financial black hole it was being sucked into last year.

 

If you asked me, Crytek need to get back into developing hardcore graphics engines for the PC and then scale down to consoles from there. Instead, they went full steam ahead into the consoles and that has seemingly backfired - requiring the help of Amazon.

Microsoft quietly lays off hundreds more employees in latest wave

Microsoft recently laid off hundreds of employees in the company's last effort to slash 18,000 jobs that started in 2014. This most recent round of cuts focused mainly on the company's IT group, but also said other departments were impacted. It was done to "remove role overlap, optimize activities and functions, align disciplines with the rest of Microsoft, and, perhaps most importantly, reshape IT for the skills we need to transform," Microsoft CIO Jim DuBois told employees via email.

 

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The layoffs took place in July, September, October and this April, and is the largest round of layoffs Microsoft has ever conducted. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was focused on helping the company restructure, especially after the purchase of Nokia's phone hardware business.

 

"We expect this to be the last of the anticipated broad cuts as part of the restructuring plan announced last July," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement released over the weekend.

Sharp rumored to spinoff its smartphone LCD division

Sharp hasn't been doing too well in the smartphone LCD market, with the likes of Samsung and LG dominating it. So the news of the company continuing its financial issues, and the possibilities of spinning off its LCD division shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

 

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Sources close to Nikkei, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal are all reporting that Sharp is very close to spinning off its LCD division, something that would happen during Sharp's current fiscal year (in the next 12 months). The WSJ says that it could be announced before Sharp begins its restructuring plans in May.

 

If the rumors do end up being true, it goes to show just how hard the smartphone display market business is, especially with South Korea utterly dominating it right now.

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