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.
Mike Capps left his position as president of Epic Games last year, and has now joined Remedy Entertainment's board of directors. You might remember Remedy, as the developer behind Quantum Break and the smash hits Max Payne and Alan Wake franchises.
Remedy CEO, Matias Myllyrinne has said: "Like any team, I think a good board is a combination of different kinds of skill sets, and different kinds of strengths that really come together. That's the way, in my experience, the best teams work. Obviously Mike has a tremendous track record in the games industry. He's been very successful and has proven himself over and over again."
In a release earlier today, OCZ Technology announced that it would be expanding its Research and Development center in Orange County, California in an effort to expand its focus on enterprise development of the company's next-generation SSDs. Instead of building a new facility, the company will be moving its R&D division to a larger facility in Irvine, California.
"Orange County, California has a rich base of engineering talent covering semiconductors and storage that makes it a viable location for us to expand our design center," said James Tout, SVP of Global Engineering for OCZ Technology. "With a leading and widely recognized portfolio of SATA, SAS and PCIe-based solid state solutions, we believe that the opening of our new OC-based design center will attract the professional resources and talent we need to create leading-edge, next-generation enterprise products for the storage industry."
On Monday BlackBerry was forced to lay off several dozen members of its US sales team as the company continues its downward spiral amidst massive financial woes. The news came in from the Wall Street Journal which cited information from sources close to the company.
BlackBerry has been on a continued downward slope for several years now, and things took a drastic turn for the worse when the company's new mobile OS, BlackBerry 10, failed to meet industry expectations. The company's flagship smartphones the Z10 and Q10 also failed to compete with their Android, iOS and Windows Phone competitors, which is led to the company putting itself up for sale.
A spokesperson for BlackBerry told the Wall Street Journal that they "Can confirm a small number of employees were laid off" on Monday, but declined to give any further details. It's my opinion that BlackBerry will be sold off to either Samsung or Apple, and will see its hardware division tossed to the side with one of the two companies porting BlackBerry's enterprise software over to their platform in an effort to gain enterprise market dominance.
Following yesterday's launch of Apple's next-generation iPhones, the company saw its stock drop more than 5-percent this morning shortly after the markets opened. The drop saw Apple's stock dipped below $466 per share, and was the direct result of UBS, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Bank of America all downgrading their ratings on the company's stock.
Of course a drop in investor confidence was also a major factor as many feel that the so-called "cheaper" iPhone 5C was just not cheap enough. Investors were hoping for a low-end model that would be able to compete with cheaper Android phones in emerging markets such as China. Unfortunately the news that the iPhone 5C would cost Chinese customers more than $700 (roughly two times the monthly salary of those who work in the factories that make the iPhone) was just to astronomically high for most consumers in the country.
"The lower-priced iPhone 5c may not be priced low enough, in our view, which could limit incremental penetration of the midrange smartphone segment," writes Mark Moskowitz, an analyst at JP Morgan. At the time of this writing Apple's stock had dipped to almost a 7-percent drop since closing yesterday.
Apple is on the verge of releasing two new smartphones, the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Both of which are the company's latest push for consumers to hand over their money before the holidays, but what do new products require? Marketing.
The Cupertino-based company is reportedly looking for between 200-300 new marketing employees, which would see a doubling in the amount of its current in-house marketing team. Ad Age reports that when Steve Jobs was CEO, there was a cap of how big the in-house marketing team could grow, but now that he's gone, that cap is too.
Apple will continue working with ad agencies, but the new team will be "tackling more projects, doing everything from site design to tutorial videos for Apple products to maintaining a large internal commercial-production facility."
SK Hynix provided an update today, where it has said that the fab that was damaged by the fire is still being evaluated, but the second fab has been re-opened. The company said in a statement: "Our plan is to resume normal operations with full production capacity in the shortest time by ramping up operations in stages as soon as the damaged facilities are replaced."
Handy says that this seems to contradict earlier reports from the company, where it said it would see operations resumed quickly so that production volume wouldn't be impacted in the long-term. SK Hynix has said that it has inventory in Korea, where they said: "We will continue to make every effort to minimize the impact on supply with our inventories of finished products and completely processed wafers as well as production support from our headquarters."
HTC has been on the downward spiral for quite sometime now, but its latest revenue report for August is quiet disappointing. Even with the HTC One smartphone being a success, the company only made $443.3 million, which is 16% lower than July's numbers.
Even worse, it's the worst they've seen in six months with HTCSource.com reporting that August's numbers are 45% lower than it was at the same time last year. The problem now is bringing the numbers up going into September, which would require a 60% increase in sales which simply isn't going to happen. Do you think HTC will make it until 2014? I see the company being acquired by a bigger player such as Google, rolling it into its Motorola business.
Carl Icahn has called it quits and given up his fight to take control of Dell Computers. Icahn announced his intent to cease his fight to take over control of Dell in a newsletter he sent out to shareholders earlier today. This leaves the door wide open for Dell CEO Michael Dell to finally take the company private after 14 long months of Icahn's blockade.
Michael Dell, along with private equity firm Silver Lake, will come together to purchase all outstanding shares of the company for $25 billion in an effort to take it private. Dell has agreed to pay $13.75 per share, issuing a one-time dividend to shareholders in exchange for a modification to the way votes are tallied. This new method will ensure that only votes that are actually submitted will count towards the final tally, thus giving Dell and Silver Lake control of the company.
Today, Newegg announced that it has won yet another battle in its ongoing fight against the notorious "patent trolls" Soverain Software and TQP Development. Newegg says that on September 4, 2013, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated an additional claim made by Soverian Software LLC on its "Shopping Cart" patent.
Additionally, the court denied Soverain's request for a rehearing of the initial January 22, 2013 decision that invalidated the balance of the asserted claims. As a result of this decision, Newegg says that all patent claims asserted by Soverain have been held invalid for being no more than obvious variations of old patents held by CompuServe technology.
Newegg says that it is looking forward to going to trial later this year against TQP Development LLC, a shell company affiliated with the notorious patent troll Erich Spangenberg. Newegg says that it hopes that Spangenberg will allow the patent to be tested by the court system this time around and feels that it will be the end to the "shopping cart" patent for good.
The Wall Street Journal has recently released a report that indicates that BlackBerry is planning to "run a fast auction process" in an effort to get the company under new ownership before the end of November of this year.
The report goes on to say that BlackBerry has narrowed its list of potential buyers and should begin the sale process "soon." No mention was made of who these buyers could be, nor was any asking price quoted in the article.
I'm actually hoping that either Apple or Samsung will pick up the troubled company. Either one could take the company's enterprise software, port it to their own operating system, and dominate the corporate smartphone market. I have a hunch that one of the buyers is Samsung and that they could be a strong contender to pick up the company after recent reports that BlackBerry Messenger will hit Galaxy Devices before other Android Handsets.
Today, a new report from Bloomberg suggests that Lenovo CEO, Yang Yuanqing, plans on giving away $3.25 million of his bonus to 10,000 of the company's lowest paid workers. Workers in 20 countries will get the payments, including a facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, where Lenovo's US headquarters is located.
The deal works out to about $325 per employee, which may not sound like much to the US crowd, but $325 is just about the equivalent of one month's pay for the company's workers in China where 85 percent of the company's employees are located. Yang says that he is giving away a significant portion of his annual bonus so that all employees understand the impact they have on making Lenovo the largest PC manufacturer in the world.
10,000 workers only work out to about a third of Lenovo's total employees, but Yang has decided to give the payouts to those who earn the least amount, are paid by the hour, or not eligible for commission or other bonuses that would increase their normal rate of pay. The $3.25 million will not affect Mr. Yang, though, as last year he earned 14.6 million and owns roughly 7 percent of the company's stock.
Nothing stirs up the rumor mill quite like a major corporation purchasing another major corporation shortly after the first corporation's CEO announces his retirement. With this morning's announcement that Microsoft is in the process of purchasing Nokia's Devices and Services business, reports are starting to come in that Nokia boss, Stephen Elop, could land in the CEO chair when Microsoft's Steve Ballmer departs from the company sometime in the next 12 months.
During an interview with the Seattle Times, Ballmer said that Elop will be moved from an external list of possible candidates to an internal list that could fast-track him into becoming the CEO of Microsoft. Ballmer did note that the board will continue to consider all appropriate candidates through the process and that Elop is still merely a candidate. So at the moment, it is still up in the air about who will fill Ballmer's seat when he leaves, but I would say the chances are high that Elop will take the helm and guide Microsoft for the years to come.
Microsoft's early morning announcement of its pending acquisition of Nokia has the entire tech world talking this morning, with many speculating about what the future may hold for both companies. Shortly after the official announcement, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer issued a statement to Microsoft employees in the form of a company-wide memo.
The memo mentions that the partnership between Microsoft and Nokia over the last two years has yielded some incredible work and cites the recently released Lumia 1020 41-megapixel Windows Phone as its greatest achievement. Ballmer says that he believes that now is the time for Microsoft to build on this momentum and capitalize on Windows Phone's growing popularity on the Lumia platform.
He goes on to say that Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia is a good deal for both companies in that Microsoft is on the receiving end of some incredible talent, technology, and intellectual property. In an article I posted earlier this morning, Ballmer alluded to the fact that he feels that Microsoft can take the Lumia line of smartphones to an entirely new level that was unachievable with Nokia.
Maybe this is one of the driving forces behind Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's Services and Devices division today, in that the Redmond-based company isn't even making $10 per Windows Phone-based Nokia device sold.
Part of it's "rationale for the deal", Microsoft revealed that under its current deal with Nokia, it receives less than $10 per phone in software royalties. This would mean that if Windows Phone were to overnight, somehow, with maybe a wish from a genie, become the number one mobile OS in the world and sell millions of handsets through Nokia, it wouldn't exactly equal huge money for Microsoft.
So while people might be looking at Microsoft taking a big risk acquiring the Services and Devices division from Nokia, in the long run it obviously hopes it'll help them. Microsoft has also said that Nokia's Windows Phones have a gross profit margin in the range of $40 per phone. The Redmond-based software giant is also signing a rather large cheque to Nokia for "platform support", which is kinda like a bribe so that Nokia goes all-in with Windows Phone instead of Android.
I'm sure that most, if not all of Microsoft's Windows Phone partners were calling emergency board meetings today when the Redmond-based giant announced it had acquired Nokia's Devices and Services division, but what does this mean for the future of Windows Phone?
Well, apart from writing an article about it (which you can expect in the coming days, as well as a new surprise addition to the site), Microsoft's EVP of Operating Systems, Terry Myerson, has said that Microsoft won't be cutting ties with other WP partners. He has been quoted as saying: "Acquiring Nokia's Devices group will help make the market for all Windows Phones, from Microsoft or our OEM partners. We collaborate with our Microsoft hardware teams in the same way we partner with our external hardware partners... We look forward to building new products together that will provide valuable business opportunity for the ecosystem and enable OEMs."
Without going into much detail, I don't think we'll see anything big from the acquisition. By then, Google would have put its foot right down to the metal with Android 5.0 "Key Lime Pie", Google Glass, and enjoying its partners pushing out countless devices. Apple is going to be the underdog going into 2015 with the iPhone, and Microsoft, well, they could surprise us, but they haven't so far.
In an unexpected turn of events, Microsoft has announced its intentions to purchase Nokia's Devices and Services divisions for a reported $5 billion dollars. Additionally, the Redmond computing pioneer will also license all related patents from the Finnish telecom giant for an additional $2.2 billion.
The transaction is expected to be under review until 2014 and is expected to finalize sometime during the first quarter. Nokia Executives expected to transfer to Microsoft in the deal include Stephen Elop, Jo Harlow, Juha Putkiranta, Timo Toikkanen, and Chris Weber. Stay tuned to TweakTown for full coverage of the acquisition as news begins flowing in.