An anonymous reader writes with Yahoo's report that the makers of Adblock Plus are "looking to reach out to advertisers and identify an 'acceptable' level and form of advertising on the net." That involves convincing advertisers to conform to the company's own guidelines for advertising, or an alternative path much disliked by some of the software's users — to pay the company to ignore ads that don't meet those guidelines. From the article: Big websites can pay a fee not to be blocked. And it is these proceeds that finance the Cologne-based company and its 49-strong workforce. While Google and Amazon have paid up, others refuse. Axel Springer, which publishers Germany's best-selling daily Bild, accuses [Adblock Plus maker] Eyeo of racketeering. "We believe Eyeo's business model is against the law," a spokesman for Springer told AFP. "Clearly, Eyeo's primary aim is to get its hands on a share of the advertising revenues." Ultimately, such practices posed a threat to the professional journalism on the web, he suggested, an argument Eyeo rejects.
schwit1 writes: Banks are watching wealthy clients flirt with robo-advisers, and that's one reason the lenders are racing to release their own versions of the automated investing technology this year, according to a consultant. Robo-advisers, which use computer programs to provide investment advice online, typically charge less than half the fees of traditional brokerages, which cost at least 1 percent of assets under management.
An anonymous reader writes: Cisco has announced its intention to spend $1.4 billion purchasing startup Jasper Technologies, Inc. which specialises in IoT connectivity. It's the most significant acquisition the tech multinational has made since its purchase of Wi-Fi manufacturer Meraki in 2012. In 2015 Cisco also acquired OpenDNS for $635 million, and with the Jasper acquisition seems committed to securing a major foothold in IoT infrastructure over the next five years.
New submitter xxxJonBoyxxx writes: Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer has announced plans to cut the company's workforce by 15% and close five foreign offices by the end of 2016 after announcing a $4.4bn loss. Yahoo shares have fallen 33% over the past year, including a 17% drop in the last three months. Its shares fell again in after-hours trading after Mayer announced her plan. Yahoo expects its workforce to be down to 9,000 and have fewer than 1,000 contractors by end of 2016. About a third of Yahoo's workforce has left either voluntarily or involuntarily over the last year. And the cuts may just be starting: one activist investor (SpringOwl) says the total number of employees should be closer to 3,000 for a company with its revenue.
MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
An anonymous reader writes: A massive new $794 million Series C investment in secretive AR startup Magic Leap puts the company among the world's most valuable startups, now reportedly valued at $4.5 billion. The company has aggressively teased what they believe to be revolutionary augmented reality display technology, allowing a mixture of the real and virtual dimensions in a way previously not achieved. Although they've played coy to the public, offering little more than bold claims, investors like Alibaba, Google Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures have bought into the company's vision to the tune of $1.39 billion in total raised by Magic Leap thus far. Also at Network World, which notes that their demo must be amazing.
An anonymous reader writes: In June the European Commission will propose new legislation to effectively end the possibility of anonymous payment, by forcing users of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, and of prepaid credit cards, to provide identity details. Additionally the EC intends to propose monitoring inter-bank transfers within Europe, a measure which had not been implemented with the launch of the EU-US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP). Though the proposed measures are intended to heap new pressure on the financing of terrorism, a report from Interpol last week concluded that terrorist funding methods have not changed substantially in recent years, stating 'Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement.'
An anonymous reader writes: Printer and copier maker Xerox has announced its plans to split into two separate publicly traded companies, giving billionaire Carl Icahn three board seats in the settlement. CEO Ursula Burns has now claimed that the decision was not driven in any way by the activist investor. Burns confirmed that the company had begun looking into its structure and portfolio from October 2015, in order to better reflect changes in the market. She added that no conversations with Icahn took place prior to these reviews, or before it made the final call. Xerox will now be divided into a new business process outsourcing company, and a document technology firm. Burns explained that her role, in either company, has not yet been confirmed. However now that the split is being implemented, leadership discussions will be held shortly, she said.
theodp writes: For years," Charles Erwin Wilson famously said back in the day, "I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa." That was then. This is now. The Washington Post reports that a strong U.S. dollar is the biggest threat to Apple's business around the world. "The dollar has shot up about 22 percent against a trade-weighted basket of other currencies since the middle of 2014," explains Matt O'Brien. "And in Apple's case, that's meant what would have been $100 of foreign sales in September 2014 was just $85 by the end of 2015. That's not good when you get two-thirds of your revenue overseas." Apple blamed the strength of the dollar compared to other currencies for costing it $5 billion in revenue, "For perspective, that difference is the size of an average Fortune 500 company," quipped CEO Tim Cook.
Lucas123 writes: A start-up financial services company called Someone With Group has just completed a pilot of a crowdfunding service that allows hospitals to set up campaigns to help patients pay their medical expenses. The website, which is HIPAA compliant in terms of privacy and security, allows patients facing medical debts to inform family, friends and even strangers of their need for funds versus flowers or cards. The crowdfunding service also addresses a systemic debt issue in the healthcare industry. Each year, the U.S. healthcare industry writes off $40 billion in bad debt from unpaid medical bills. "Then you consider that $6 billion is spent on cards and flowers for patients every year. Why can't we redirect that money and put it into a debit instrument restricted to medical spending only?" said Jagemann-Bane, CEO of Someone With Group. One hospital group, Pinnacle Health Systems in Harrisburg, Penn., routinely writes off $40 million to $50 million a year in unpaid medical bills from patients. The hospital set up a crowdfunding site via Someone With Group and so far has seen a couple dozen patients use it. ... After a one-year pilot of the crowdfunding service, patients who've used it on average have raised $2,315.
Applehu Akbar writes: Yellow Cab Cooperative, the largest taxi company in San Francisco, has filed Chapter 11. While competition from those newfangled ride-sharing services is a natural target for blame, a more proximate cause is Yellow Cab losing an $8 million accident liability suit by a passenger who is now paralyzed. Apparently the Yellow Cab drivers are...registered as independent contractors. So much for the medallion cab argument that they offer superior liability coverage.
jones_supa writes: Saxo Bank, an investment bank based in Denmark, has released a list of its outrageous predictions for 2016. Among these predictions, economist Christopher Dembik claims that Europe will consider the introduction of a universal basic income to ensure that all citizens can meet their basic needs in the face of rising inequality and unemployment. This will come on the back of increased interest in basic income from Spain, Finland, Switzerland, and France.
An anonymous reader writes: R3CEV, a startup dedicated to bringing blockchain technology to traditional finance, yesterday ran a successful test of transactions between 11 of the world's largest financial institutions. This represents a big step forward in bringing blockchain, the foundation for Bitcoin, to traditional banking. The test, which connected the banks on a private 'distributed ledger' using Microsoft's cloud-based Azure service, allowed participants to execute sample financial transactions instantly, globally, and without a centralized third-party clearing house. Participants included Barclays, BMO Financial, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, TD Bank, UBS, and UniCredit among other leading financial groups.
schwit1 tips a piece at the NY Times about the most entrenched companies in consumer technology: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. The article makes the case that these five have a such a strong grip on the modern tech industry that they're destined to stick around for the foreseeable future. From the article: Tech people like to picture their industry as a roiling sea of disruption, in which every winner is vulnerable to surprise attack from some novel, as-yet-unimagined foe. ... But for much of the last half-decade, most of these five giants have enjoyed a remarkable reprieve from the boogeymen in the garage. And you can bet on them continuing to win. So I’m coining them the Frightful Five. .... Though competition between the five remains fierce — and each year, a few of them seem up and a few down — it’s becoming harder to picture how any one of them, let alone two or three, may cede their growing clout in every aspect of American business and society. ... In various small and large ways, the Frightful Five are pushing into the news and entertainment industries; they’re making waves in health care and finance; they’re building cars, drones, robots and immersive virtual-reality worlds. Why do all this? Because their platforms — the users, the data, and all the money they generate — make these far-flung realms seem within their grasp."
An anonymous reader writes: Cryptsy, a website for trading Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other smaller crypto-currencies, announced a security incident, accusing the developer of Lucky7Coin of stealing 13,000 Bitcoin and 300,000 Litecoin, which at today's rate stands more than $5.7 million / €5.2 million. Cryptsy says "the developer of Lucky7Coin had placed an IRC backdoor into the code of [a] wallet, which allowed it to act as a sort of a Trojan, or command and control unit." Coincidentally this also explains why two days after the attack was carried out, exactly 300,000 Litecoin were dumped on the BTC-e exchange, driving Litecoin price down from $9.5 to $2.
gollum123 writes: More employers, from Whole Foods Market, with 91,000 employees, to smaller companies such as SumAll and Squaremouth, are opening up companywide salary information to all employees. They generally don't disclose it to the public—but one company, Buffer, posts all employees' salaries on its website. The idea of open pay is to get pay and performance problems out on the table for discussion, eliminate salary inequities and spark better performance. But open pay also is sparking some awkward conversations between co-workers comparing their paychecks, and puncturing egos among those whose salaries don't sync with their self-image.
Lucas123 writes: Indiegogo announced at CES today that is now has a crowdfunding site exclusively for big businesses, which often have hundreds of internal R&D projects or ideas that never see the light of day and could benefit from getting public exposure online. Companies such as Google, Anheuser-Busch, GE and Hasbro have already run crowdsourcing campaigns on a pilot of the new site in order to raise money for projects, garner customer ideas, or validate pre-retail products. In July, GE ran a campaign to prove market demand for a countertop nugget ice-making machine for the home. GE offered the Opal icemaker for $399 to early buyers on Indiegogo, with a future retail price of $499. GE's Opal icemaker project raised $2.64 million total from 6,177 contributions by the end of the 30-day Indiegogo campaign. The campaign also garnered 510,000 page views and 15,000 Facebook shares. Natarajan Venkatakrishnan, head of R&D for GE Appliances, said crowdsourcing allows development and marketing to be conducted at a fraction of the cost of a traditional R&D project. "If it flops, no worries. Upfront costs were some 20 times less than a traditional product rollout, which can cost tens of millions of dollars," Venkatakrishnan said. "If we're going to fail, we want to fail fast."
An anonymous reader writes: General Motors has invested $500 million in ride-sharing service Lyft, and also committed resources to develop an on-demand network of autonomous cars. "GM will also work with Lyft to set up a series of short-term car rental hubs across the United States, places where people who do not own cars can pick up a vehicle and drive for Lyft to earn money." Lyft thinks the future of self-driving cars is in a network of vehicles people share, rather than individual ownership. GM, which produces millions of automobiles every year, seems to agree. The money will help Lyft compete with competitor Uber, which has raised over $10 billion in investments already. "The alliance with GM is surprising because automakers could consider ride-hailing companies like Lyft as long-term threats to auto sales. In an interview, [GM president Daniel Ammann] said that GM wanted to be part of the changing business models in transportation."
Lemeowski writes: Compliance concerns have long prevented financial services businesses from adopting mobile capabilities as quickly as other industries. But Yvette Jackson of Thomson Reuters argues that technology advancements have made compliance worries of the past now obsolete, and financial services companies are running out of excuses for not going mobile. She stresses that holding onto this reluctance will cause businesses to miss opportunities, limit innovation, and turn away talent by restraining their workflow. She says, "Any millennial joining the financial services industry, who expects a flawless user experience both at home and at work, is – I'm sure – surprised on their first day in the office when they get to their desk and are transported back in time by the technology they're expected to use."
An anonymous reader writes: Following initial news of the project in March, IBM, under the supervision of the Linux Foundation and in partnership with several major tech interests including Fujitsu, has announced today that it will lead development of a new blockchain — a financial transaction ledger fashioned after the Bitcoin model. Provisionally called Open Ledger, the new initiative is aimed specifically at financial transactions, and though it will be open source in terms of development, but 'semi-private' in operation. Those with an interest in the project are said to include JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and the Bank of England. IBM VP Jerry Cuomo, who has discussed the project with Fortune and Wired, commented "The current blockchain is a great design pattern...Now, how do we make that real for business? What are the key attributes needed to make that happen? That's what this organization is about."