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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 70

Facebook said to be losing users in most lucrative markets

Things aren't looking so bright for Facebook ahead of their first-quarter earnings announcement. According to several different groups tracking Facebook usage, numbers are down in some of the most lucrative markets. SocialBakers estimates that Facebook has lost around 6m US-based users in the past month alone.

 

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Further losses have been incurred around the world, with SocialBakers estimating Facebook has lost 1.4m UK users in the past month. Over the past six months, they estimate Facebook has lost around nine million monthly visitors in the US and two million in the UK.

 

New media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis:

The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it. There is a boredom factor where people like to try something new. Is Facebook going to go the way of Myspace? The risk is relatively small, but that is not to say it isn't there.

 

No one is saying that Facebook is heading the way of Myspace, but it looks like Facebook's massive growth is over, at least in the developed world. Facebook is still adding users in developing countries such as Brazil and India.

 

Jefferies' analysts agree with SocialBakers, stating that user levels may have declined from peak in the first quarter.

Continue reading 'Facebook said to be losing users in most lucrative markets' (full post)

Opera sues Trond Werner Hansen, claims he gave trade secrets to Mozilla

Trond Werner Hansen, a former Opera employee, has been sued by the company who alleges that he took trade secrets and gave them to Mozilla. Opera is looking to receive damages of 20 million kroner, or about $3.4 million US. Of course, Hansen denies that allegations, saying he has been "wrongly accused."

 

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Opera's lawyer Ole E. Tokvam:

Opera is of the opinion that the former employee has acted contrary to his contractual and other legal obligations towards Opera. Among other things, we claim that he is in breach of the duty of loyalty and his contractual and statutory confidentiality obligations.

 

Hansen has been forced to return to Norway for a hearing in late August. "The lawsuit caused me to have to return to Norway, instead of pursuing my album release and other art projects in New York," Hansen said. Hansen has provided a lot of background information in this blog post about his employment and a "green browser" project that Opera failed to become interested in.

 

Firefox is remaining out of it, noting that they were not implicated in the lawsuit: "Mozilla is not being sued, and is not implicated in the lawsuit. Mr. Hansen worked for a time as an independent contractor and is no longer affiliated with Mozilla Corporation."


Apple lays foundation for first-ever debt sale as part of stock buyback program

Apple has laid the foundation for its first-ever debt sale. The company that has over $140 billion in cash and not a single penny of debt has decided to sell bonds in order to raise capital for its $60 billion share buyback program. It needs to raise capital because only about $45 billion of its cash is in the United States.

 

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Interestingly, Apple was not rated a Triple A rating, even with all of the cash it has on hand. It is expected that Apple could cheaply raise funds, possibly cheaper than Microsoft, due to the current interest rate and notoriety of Apple. Investors are expected to jump at the chance to buy up some of Apple's debt.

 

S&P rated Apple as AA+ for debt and Moody's rated it Aa1. Moody's analyst Gerald Granovsky:

 

Apple's Aa1 rating is not higher due to Moody's view that there are inherent long-run risks for any company with high exposure to shifting consumer preferences.

 

Bankers expect Apple to issue 10-year bonds at roughly 45bp-50bp over Treasuries. Microsoft, on the other hand, recently sold 10-year bonds at 70 basis points over Treasuries.

Corsair explains market position, is not being bought out by Francisco Partners

Corsair has just communicated information to us that states that Corsair is not being bought out by Francisco Partners (as previously reported), a private equity (PE) company based in the San Francisco Bay Area, which specializes in tech companies.

 

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Corsair, however, has confirmed that it is in active talks with Francisco Partners for an injection of funds to the tune of $75 million to settle in a few weeks. Corsair explains that it won't change the management of the company or its direction that targets the gaming and enthusiast market, one which Corsair says is "growing and shows no signs of stopping".

 

It's little secret now that Corsair had plans to go public last year, but it was around the time that Facebook launched and saw less than stellar results. This caused Corsair to re-think its plans and come up with something new. The result, it seems, is working with Francisco Partners.

Continue reading 'Corsair explains market position, is not being bought out by Francisco Partners' (full post)

Microsoft working on visual redesigns of their platforms, including Xbox and Bing

It looks like Microsoft are working on rebrandings of multiple services under their wings, which includes Bing, Skype, Yammer and Xbox. Speaking at Design Day 2013, Wolff Olins creative director Todd Simmons and Windows Phone design studio manager Albert Shum talked about the challenges involved when rebranding a company like Microsoft.

 

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Simmons said: "We're still trying to figure out how to put a consumer face on this brand, as an ecosystem". The discussion turned to the creation of the Windows 8 logo, but also talked about revamping other MS brands, where Simmons added: "Other brands are coming along too. Bing, Skype, Yammer, Xbox -- everything is under development".

 

Considering the next-generation Xbox is only months away, not would be the perfect time to unveil a complete new look for multiple of Microsoft's services.

Sony will post their first annual profit in over five years

After five rough years with finances, Sony is poised to post their first annual profit since 2008 thanks to the sale of various assets. The Japanese giant sold their New York City HQ earlier this year, for $1.1 billion, which should give them net cash proceeds of around $770 million to help pay off various debt.

 

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Another contribution to the profit is the weaker yen, something that helped increase the value of their overseas earnings, something that Sony expects to report a net profit of 40 billion yen for the fiscal year which ended on March 31, up from their previous estimate of 20 billion yen. Sony are scheduled to post their three-month earnings on May 9.

Corsair in talks with Francisco Partners over buyout

A regulatory filing shows that Francsico Partners is currently in talks with Corsair Componenets over a possible buyout. Corsair had previously indefinitely postponed an IPO after the IPO flop that befell Facebook. At the time, they said they would "relaunch when equity conditions are more favorable."

 

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It now appears that they are choosing a buyout over an IPO. Corsair could be heavily affected the current downturn in the PC market, resulting in the need for a cash infusion. As an interesting aside, Francisco Partners was part of the Blackstone Group-led consortium that decided to not make a formal buyout offer for Dell.

 

It's very possible nothing could come of these talks. On the other hand, Corsair could end up being bought out. This could result in changes in the company or products that they make and sell. For now, nothing has changed. We'll be sure to report if or when a buyout agreement is reached.

IDC report: smartphone shipments out-shipped feature phones for the first time ever

We've seen a great quarter from many companies dishing out smartphones, with Q1 2013 being the first time that smartphones outsold cellphone shipments across the world, according to industry analyst IDC.

 

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216 million smartphones with computer-like features were sold for the three-month period compared to 419 million total, meaning smartphones represented 51.6% of shipments. ZTE and Huawei took two of the top five slots, pushing Blackberry and RIM out in the cold.

 

Samsung improved their lead from Apple in smartphone shipments in the quarter, from 29% to 32.7% in Q3, leaving Apple slipping from 21.8% to 17.3%. Sony dropped out of the top five entirely, where LG jumped up and scooped position number three with 10.3 million units shipped.

Nokia executive who was responsible for the tight relationship with Microsoft, has left the company

Nokia's relationship with Microsoft hasn't taken off as much as most thought it would when it was announced, but the relationship itself is a big deal. The man behind this relationship, Steven Overman, has left Nokia.

 

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Overman was the vice president for global branding and marketing strategy with the Finnish company, and was responsible for drafting the partnership with Microsoft, as well as handling the marketing for Nokia's Lumia and Asha smartphones.

 

He joined Nokia in 2010, coming from a position at Lowe Worldwide where he was in charge of a marketing team that handled Nokia's account. Nokia have pushed out some great marketing campaigns, but have struggled against the juggernauts that are Apple and Samsung. Lumia Windows Phone shipments increased to 5.6 million units in Q1 2013, up from 4.4 million in Q4 2012.

Continue reading 'Nokia executive who was responsible for the tight relationship with Microsoft, has left the company' (full post)

Google reports that government content removal requests have increased

The government is thirsty for content removal according to Google, who says they've seen a huge increase in the amount of content removal requests in the past year.

 

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Google have reported that government content removal requests have increased from 1,811 in the first half of last year, to 2,285 in the second half of the year. 39% of these takedowns were related to cases of alleged defamation, with 18% of the takedown requests said to be related to privacy and security concerns, says Google.

 

Google have also added that they received "a request to remove a YouTube video that allegedly defames the President" of Argentina "by depicting her in a compromising position". There was also a "request from legal representatives of a member of the executive branch" of Israel's government "to remove two YouTube videos for alleged defamation". South Korea also chimed in, with a "request to remove a YouTube video that allegedly defamed a presidential candidate".

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