Posts Tagged Inc

Google rejects White House request to pull Muhammad (PBUH) film clip

Google Inc rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East.

The Internet company said it was censoring the video in India and Indonesia after blocking it on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya, where US embassies have been stormed by protestors enraged over depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a fraud and philanderer.

On Tuesday, the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in a fiery siege on the embassy in Benghazi.

Google said it was further restricting the clip to comply with local law rather than as a response to political pressure.

“We’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries,” the company said. “This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”

White House officials had asked Google earlier on Friday to reconsider whether the video had violated YouTube’s terms of service.

Google initially said on Wednesday that the video was within its guidelines.

US authorities said on Friday that they were investigating whether the film’s producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year old Egyptian Coptic Christian living in Southern California, had violated terms of his prison release. Basseley was convicted in 2010 for bank fraud and released from prison on probation last June.

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Amazon.com Hiring Talented People

The eCommerce giant Amazon Inc is recruiting talented people. Amazon is getting lot of press on their new projects like Streaming Video, Amazon Lockers, Amazon Fresh. They are looking for Software Developers, Technical Program Managers, and Software Development Managers. Anyone who is interested in applying should fill out Amazon’s form and email it, along with their resume to dakottaa@amazon.com.

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Facebook cracks down on fake ‘Likes’

Facebook Inc is weeding out fake “Likes” on its social network that are being caused by spammers, malware and black marketeers as it strives to maintain credibility as an advertising platform.

Facebook said the number of Likes, or endorsements by users, on corporate pages is likely to drop by less than 1 per cent, on average, after the crackdown.

“Newly improved automated efforts will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes,” Facebook said in a post on its official blog on Friday.

“While we have always had dedicated protections against each of these threats on Facebook, these improved systems have been specifically configured to identify and take action against suspicious Likes,” the post continued.

Thanks to a growing black market, companies can instantly raise their profile on Facebook by purchasing thousands of Likes at a time – a practice that is forbidden by the No. 1 social network, which has 955 million users.

Many of these Likes come from bogus Facebook user accounts rather than genuine users of the social network.

Meanwhile, various spam-like programs on Facebook deceive users into unwittingly liking something when they perform another action, such as clicking to watch a video.

Facebook said the cleanup will benefit both users and companies that maintain pages on the network, by giving a more accurate measurement of fan count and demographics.

Ensuring the integrity of Likes is serious business for Facebook, which depends on advertising revenue from large brands and other businesses. Many of the ad campaigns that companies conduct on Facebook are designed to garner Likes – a sign that their marketing message has resonated with consumers.

“It’s their currency,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at research firm Altimeter Group. “Facebook is playing the Federal Reserve, to take the counterfeit currency off the market to ensure that there’s quality in the marketplace.”
The problem is not unique to Facebook, say analysts, who note that Twitter and Google Inc also grapple with fake accounts, spam and other techniques to game the service.

But for Facebook, the pressure to show that activity on its social network is genuine has grown as concerns have mounted on Wall Street about the company’s long-term profit potential.

Shares of Facebook set a new low on Friday, falling as much as 5.3 per cent to $18.08, after brokerages cut their price targets on the stock. Facebook has lost more than 50 per cent of its market value since its initial public offering in May.

Facebook estimates that 1.5 per cent of its users are “undesirable” accounts set up for purposes that violate its terms of service, according to its most recent 10-Q regulatory filing.

“I think what they’re intending to do is get a handle on it before it gets really out of control,” Brian Blau, an analyst with research firm Gartner, said.

“You can imagine no business wants to pay for advertising to fake accounts.”

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Samsung to ship first Windows Phone 8 in Q4

BERLIN: Samsung will ship its first Windows Phone 8 model in the fourth quarter, a company spokesman said, after the firm unexpectedly unveiling the device on the sidelines of Europe’s top consumer electronics fair in Berlin.

The South Korean firm has come under pressure to innovate after losing a US patent battle with Apple Inc.

A US federal jury last week found Samsung had copied critical features of the iPhone and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. Apple is now seeking speedy bans on the sale of eight Samsung phones, moving swiftly to turn legal victory into tangible business gain.

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Facebook’s director in spotlight after cashing out

Peter Thiel was the first investor to take a gamble on Facebook Inc. Now some people are wondering whether, in selling most of his stake, the Facebook board member is signaling to others that it’s time to rush for the exits.

Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal who invested in Facebook in 2004, sold roughly $400 million worth of Facebook shares last week as the first restrictions barring insider selling were lifted.

The sales, which were conducted as part of a stock sale plan that Thiel entered into in May, have dealt another blow to Facebook’s reputation among some investors in the wake of a rocky debut that has wiped out roughly 50 percent of its market value. And it has raised questions about whether Thiel’s move conflicts with his responsibilities as a Facebook director.

“It’s a vote of no-confidence from a board member,” said Max Wolff, an analyst at Greencrest Capital.

“If he wants to serve primarily as a self-interested investor, that’s fine. But then you can’t be the on the board. Boards of directors are not made up of people whose primary interests are in their checkbook,” said Wolff, who said he believed Thiel should resign from the board.

A spokesman for Thiel declined to comment. “From a shareholder standpoint, if a VC is going to be on the board you’d like to think that they still have a large position in the company and that they’re interested in making it be more valuable,” said Walter Price, a portfolio manager at RCM Capital Management which does not own Facebook shares. “It sends a mixed message when they sell most of their stock and they still stay on the board,” he said.

The 44-year-old Thiel still owns roughly 5.6 million shares of Facebook, worth around $107 million at Tuesday’s closing price of $19.14 per share.

That stake means he still has “skin in the game,” said James Post, a professor of management at Boston University who specializes in corporate governance issues.

“The worst you can say is that it may reflect perhaps a questionable judgment about getting rid of all these shares at a time when such big questions are looming about Facebook’s future,” said Post. But he said he believed that Thiel’s sales do not disqualify him from serving on the board.

The stock sales are the latest in a seemingly endless string of setbacks and controversies to plague Facebook since its highly anticipated IPO in May.

The world’s No. 1 online social networking website, with roughly 955 million users, experienced brisk demand for its shares when it was a private company and became the only U.S. company to debut with a market value of more than $100 billion.

But technical glitches with the Nasdaq stock exchange marred the stock’s first day of trading and concerns about the company’s slowing revenue growth have pressured the company’s shares since then.

Thiel, who has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University in philosophy and a law degree from Stanford Law School, was among Facebook’s first believers.

He invested $500,000 in Facebook at a $5 million valuation in September 2004, seven months after the company was created by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room. In 2006, one of Thiel’s investment firms, the Founders Fund, participated in a $27.5 million funding round along with Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and Accel Partners.

The Facebook investment is by far the most successful of Thiel’s investments, which have also included stakes in LinkedIn Corp, Yelp Inc and SpaceX.

Thiel sold 16.8 million shares of Facebook at the IPO for $38 a share, for total proceeds of roughly $640 million. And he sold a significant number of shares through a private transaction in 2009.

Facebook, which declined to comment on Thiel’s stock sales, said in its prospectus in May that the company believes Thiel should serve on the board because of his “extensive experience as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and as one of our early investors.”

It’s common for early investors, such as venture capitalists and angel investors, to have seats on the boards of companies they’ve backed. And venture firms typically distribute shares of the company to their limited partners following an IPO, so that the venture fund’s investors can get a return on the investment.

But there are no “hard and fast rules” for when those investors should exit the board after a company’s IPO, said Nick Sturiale, a partner at venture capital firm Jafco Ventures.

“It’s usually a discussion between the CEO and the board member and the partnership whether they stay, and for how long,” he said.

John Doerr, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is on the board of Google Inc and was on the board of Amazon.com Inc until 2010 – both companies that Kleiner funded.

If the fund that a director represents sells its stake after the IPO, the director should also consider stepping down, said Charles Elson, a University of Delaware finance professor specializing in corporate governance.

The topic sparked a lively debate on Tuesday, as venture capitalists and technology company executives unleashed a rash of Twitter messages and blog posts to defend or criticize the insider sales.

Fred Wilson, a principal with Union Square Ventures, noted in a post on his personal blog that insider selling is to be expected following an IPO.

“Those who took the risk of losing all the capital they bet on 20 year old Mark Zuckerberg are entitled to their return,” wrote Wilson.

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Yahoo may rethink use of cash from Alibaba deal

SAN FRANCISCO: Yahoo Inc may re-evaluate plans for the cash it gets from a multibillion-dollar sale of half of its 40 per cent stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group.

Shares of Yahoo fell 4.4 per cent to $15.30 in after hours trading on Thursday.

Yahoo, which hired new Chief Executive Marissa Mayer last month, said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that Mayer has started a review of the company’s strategy.

The filing said the review “may lead to a re-evaluation” of Yahoo’s previously announced plans to return to shareholders substantially all of the after-tax cash proceeds under the initial share repurchase from the May 2012 deal with Alibaba.

Under the agreement, Yahoo was to sell one-half of its stake in Alibaba for at least $6.3 billion in cash and up to $800 million in new Alibaba preferred stock.

“There was an expectation of getting that cash back, so I think there will definitely be some disappointment,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Andre Sequin.

But he said that shareholders also expect Mayer, a former Google executive, to re-invest in the company’s domestic business to rejuvenate the struggling Web company.

As part of Mayer’s review, Yahoo said, she would look at the company’s growth and acquisition strategy, the restructuring plan launched by her predecessor, and Yahoo’s cash and capital allocation strategy.

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Facebook has new email address for phishing scams

NEW YORK: Facebook has created an email address for people to report scams. The address is phish(at)fb.com. Anyone even those who aren’t on Facebook can use it to report malicious emails that pretend to come from Facebook.

Known as phishing, such emails attempt to get passwords and other information by pretending to come from a legitimate business. Because many people use the same passwords at banking and other sites, someone who gets account information for Facebook can log on elsewhere.

Facebook Inc. says scams tend to contain information that’s more vague than what’s in legitimate emails from Facebook.

Facebook says it will report scams to outside security companies and notify blacklists that Internet companies keep to block malicious websites. It will also prevent users from posting such links on Facebook.

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Apple and Samsung take Australian legal patent battle to the ‘hot tub’

SYDNEY: Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd are embroiled in a high-stakes patent battle in several countries around the world, but only in Australia are they also engaged in “hot tubbing.”

Rather than a gaggle of lawyers hammering out their differences in the jacuzzi, the term refers to expert witnesses giving evidence in court together – rather than one by one – in the witness box.

Officially known by the more staid legal term of “concurrent evidence”, the practice has become increasingly common in Australia in complex, technical trials such as the Apple-Samsung patent dispute.

Proponents argue that it saves time and resources and, importantly, restrains experts hired by litigants from overstating their case as they can immediately be questioned not only by the judge and lawyers, but by their peers.

“I think in a case like this it’s quite a good approach,” said Mark Summerfield, a patent lawyer and senior associate at Melbourne-based law firm Watermark.

Australia is one several countries where Apple and Samsung are in battle over patents. Apple has accused Samsung of copying the design and function of some of its tablet and smartphone devices, while Samsung has counter-sued Apple for allegedly breaching patents related to wireless transmission technology. A U.S. Federal Court began its own high profile case last week.

The hot tub approach temporarily switches Australia’s adversarial court system into more of an inquisitorial system that is widely followed in Europe and Asia.

“The basic theory is that if an expert is in a position like that … they will be more upfront about what they really think and they’ll be more willing to discuss the nuances of points,” said Summerfield. “It also tempers the tendency of barristers to be aggressive in questioning.”

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Google to invest 150 mn euros in Finland data centre

Google will invest 150 million euros ($184.5 million) in doubling the size of a data centre housed in a former paper mill in eastern Finland, the company said, as it responds to growing demand for its services.

Companies like Google have been expanding data centres due to the increasing popularity of cloud computing services, which allow users to store and process data at massive remote data centres instead of on their own computers.

Finland and other Northern European countries are popular sites for data centres, with vast amounts of hydro-power and cold climates which cut the need for cooling, the main cost for many data centres.

Google’s data centre in Hamina uses a sea water cooling system that was part of the old paper mill which Google bought from Stora Enso in 2009.

Europe’s top paper maker closed the loss-making mill in 2008 after nearly 53 years of operation. Older parts of the mill were designed by renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

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Apple supplier Catcher Technology confirms gas leak at China plant

Catcher Technology, a casing supplier for Apple Inc, confirmed on Friday a report that a gas leak at one of its plants in Suzhou, eastern China, had caused injuries, but said the accident was unrelated to production.

China’s Xinhua Net reported late on Thursday that a chlorine gas leak during waste water processing at the plant earlier in the day had caused one death and left four people in comas.

“It has nothing to do with our production or material used. It happened when a contractor was processing waste; it was routine work. We are currently trying to understand what has gone wrong,” James Wu, Catcher’s vice president of corporate finance, told Reuters.

Wu did not confirm the number of the casualties or the nature of their injuries.

The company however later issued a statement, saying the accident involved five workers, though it also did not detail the nature of any injuries.

“The accident happened at the waste disposal facility and is not directly related to any manufacturing process, factory, or materials. This is also a single and isolated event,” the statement said.

Shares of Catcher plunged as much as 7 percent in early Taipei trading on Friday, the maximum allowed in a session, but trimmed losses to 0.91 percent at the close. The main TAIEX index was up 2.21 percent.

Last October, a separate Catcher plant in Suzhou was ordered closed for a time because of complaints from nearby residents about strong odours from gas emissions.

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