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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 5

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.

Microsoft throws another 2100 employees out the window

Microsoft has announced today that it is cutting 14% of its total workforce, or 2100 jobs. From those 2100 employees who are now out of jobs, 747 of them are from the Washington state, with the remaining jobs lost from Microsoft's other locations across the world.

 

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It was only a few months ago that the Redmond-based giant cut a total of 18,000 jobs, with 12,500 of those jobs being cut from the recently-acquired handset and services division from Nokia. At the time, CEO Nadella said that he wanted to get Microsoft in better shape, with the reductions required in order to properly integrate Nokia's services and devices teams into the company. The cuts were to both professional, and factory workers.

 

We should see Microsoft feeling pre-tax chargers of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion over the next year, with $750 million to $800 million for severance and related benefit costs, and then $350 to $800 million for asset-related charges.

Amazon shells out $4.5 million to purchase .buy domain, beats Google

As soon as new top level domains (TDLs) are created, the massive Internet giants jump on them instantly, throwing millions of dollars in order to own them. This has just happened with a bidding war between Amazon and Google, fighting for the rights of new TDLs, including .buy, .tech, and .VIP.

 

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Google bet on all three of the new TDLs, but Amazon beat them for .buy, throwing up $4.5 million. Dot Tech paid $6.7 million for the .tech domain, with .VIP going to Minds + Machines for $3 million. Google walked away with nothing, but the company is showing interest in as many as 100 TDLs, so their time will come.

 

ICANN auctions off the domains, with the organization responsible for coordinating and maintaining the domain names. ICANN is set to throw up a slew of new domains before the end of the year.

Toshiba to reduce its consumer PC focus, moves to business clients

The consumer PC business is something that Toshiba doesn't have much faith in anymore, with the company announcing that it will be reducing its global PC business workforce by around 900 staff, or more than 20% of its non-manufacturing workforce. The move, will reduce fixed costs by over $184 million.

 

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Toshiba hasn't said which consumer markets it will remove itself from, but it did say that it will be shifting away from unprofitable markets, to optimize sales based in low profit countries and regions. The Japanese company said that the PC market is expected to see a continuing trend to modest growth rates, so they are now measuring this, and are taking the required steps in making sure it continues a consistent profit.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison steps down, appoints Mark Hurd to lead

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has stepped down as company CEO, and will appoint Mark Hurd and Safra Catz to lead to the company moving ahead. Both Hurd and Catz are co-presidents of the company that Hurd founded in 1977 - Hurd will operate marketing, sales and strategy, with Catz serving as financial officer.

 

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"The three of us have been working well together for the last several years, and we plan to continue working together for the foreseeable future," Ellison recently noted. "Keeping this management team in place has always been a top priority of mine."

 

Oracle remains one of the largest and most powerful tech companies today, but some analysts wondered how much longer Hurd would be able to lead. Oracle's dominance has been tested by cloud-based solutions that the company has struggled to keep up with - and now it will be up to new executives to make a difference.

Continue reading 'Oracle CEO Larry Ellison steps down, appoints Mark Hurd to lead' (full post)

The biggest gaming news sites are involved in a massive conspiracy

I don't think anyone saw this coming, but Breitbart has written a piece "Exposed: The Secret Mailing List of the Gaming Journalism Elite" which exposes some of the biggest editors, reporters and reviewers of gaming news sites. This expose accuses these editors and sites from shaping industry-wide attitudes to events, and much more.

 

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These editors and sites using a private Google Groups mailing list, which is called Gaming Journalism Professionals, or GameJournoPros. This group revolves around developer Zoe Quinn, who had "a sexual relationship with at least one prominent games journalist -- a journalist who had mentioned her and her products in his reporting" reports Breitbart.

 

The report is quite damning, but getting to the point, it looks like GameJournoPros is one giant voice, with one even larger, single opinion. They collectively collude on major issues, to "distort coverage of ethics violations and to support figures to whom they are politically sympathetic". We should expect this to either be blown up, or brushed under the rug, as game developers and publishers have invested tens of billions of dollars into the gaming industry, but if this is the result, do we need a big change? Can these editors ever be trusted with their obviously skewed opinions, if these reports and leaks are indeed true? What do you think?

1.2 billion smartphones expected to ship this year in total

According to the latest report from mobile research specialist Juniper Research, global smartphone shipments are expected to swell this year to 1.2 billion units. This number is up 19% over the 985 million smartphones shipped in 2013.

 

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This 19% growth is thanks to the increase in shipments in the emerging markets, where smartphones shipments are driven by low-cost economy ($75-$150) and ultra-economy (sub-$75) smartphones. Developed markets have been seeing a sign of slowing growth for a while now, as everyone has a smartphone, with some having no reason to upgrade.

 

Juniper Research does note that both Samsung and Apple have a massive 45% chunk of the global smartphone shipment pie, which is a mammoth number. The research specialist has said that the average price of a smartphone will slowly decline by 2019 to around $274, which will be thanks to increased advances in technology, as well as new competition.

Yahoo faces up to $250,000 in daily fines for not giving in to NSA

If Yahoo refuses to turn over user data to the U.S. government, the company faces a fine up to $250,000 per day. The National Security Agency (NSA) wants Yahoo and other companies to adhere to new surveillance rules they've created, but Yahoo officials said the agency's efforts are unconstitutional.

 

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A federal judge recently unsealed wording relating to the case, which Yahoo hailed as a minor victory for transparency - an ongoing fight that the NSA will continue, likely at the daily expense of Yahoo. For more than half a year, Yahoo said the government's demand to turn over user information regarding non-U.S. citizens living overseas was unconstitutional - breaching the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.

 

The ongoing battle between invasive federal monitoring began years before former NSA analyst Edward Snowden outlined widespread and systematic spying operations. Yahoo had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US government's surveillance efforts," according to Ron Bell, Yahoo general counsel.

Oculus VR CEO donates $31 million to a University for a VR lab

Oculus VR is pushing for the future of VR to be awesome, so what better way than donating millions of dollars to a University to build a new VR lab? That's exactly what Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR has done, donating $31 million to the University of Maryland.

 

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The money will be used to build a new computer science building that will feature a VR lab. Iribe had the idea of donating the funds after the acquisition made by Facebook in March of this year for $2 billion, after he met with Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, where he walked around the University and noticed that not much had changed around the place.

 

Iribe met Michael Antonov at the time, who is now the Chief Software Architect of Oculus VR, who will be donating $4 million the university to help with the construction of the building, and establish a scholarship. Iribe spoke with Business Insider, where he said: "It will have a big focus on robotics and computer vision, computer graphics, and human computer interaction. In the past, computers have been used regularly as a tool, so you don't need to bring in psychologists or the biotech side of things to understand how the computer affects the brain in order to make a great operating system. But in VR, you actually do".

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