Businesses

Silicon Valley's Big Lie 110 110

HughPickens.com writes: Danny Crichton writes at TechCrunch that startups in Silicon Valley run on an alchemy of ignorance and amnesia and that lying is a requisite and daily part of being a founder, the grease that keeps the startup flywheel running. Most startups fail. The vast, vast majority of startup employees will never exercise their options, let alone become millionaires while doing it. But founders have little choice as they sell their company to everyone, whether investors, employees, potential employees, or clients. "Founders have to tell the lie – that everything is fine, that a feature is going to launch even though the engineer for that feature hasn't been hired yet, that payroll will run even though the VC dollars are still nowhere on the horizon," writes Crichton. "For one of the most hyper-rational populations in the world, Silicon Valley runs off a myth about startup success, of the lowly founder conquering the world."
Businesses

Symantec: Hacking Group Black Vine Behind Anthem Breach 18 18

itwbennett writes: Symantec said in a report that the hacking group Black Vine, which has been active since 2012 and has gone after other businesses that deal with sensitive and critical data, including organizations in the aerospace, technology and finance industries, is behind the hack against Anthem. The Black Vine malware Mivast was used in the Anthem breach, according to Symantec.
China

The Factory of the World - Documentary On Manufacturing In Shenzhen 34 34

szczys writes: This Hackaday documentary (video) looks at the changing ecosystem of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, China) through interviews with product engineers involved with the MIT Media Lab manufacturing program, Finance professionals in Hong Kong, and notables in the Maker Industry. Worth checking out for anyone thinking of a hardware startup or just interested in how hardware gets made.
The Media

Twitter Stock Jumps Nearly 8 Percent After Fake Report 92 92

vivaoporto writes: As noted by Re/code and many other outlets, Twitter stock jumped nearly 8 percent after a bogus report, attributed to Bloomberg News, said Twitter had received a $31 billion buyout offer. The fake story, which cited "people with knowledge of the situation," appeared on a website (Google Cache version) made to look like Bloomberg's business news page and claimed the company had received a takeover offer worth $31 billion.

The website domain, bloomberg.market (now suspended), was registered Friday, according to a search of ICANN's records. The identity of the person or company who registered it is not publicly available. Close scrutiny flagged a number of questionable elements in the report, like the name of Twitter's former chief executive, Richard Costolo, being misspelled. By late afternoon, the web page for bloomberg.market was no longer operable. A message posted on the page said, "account suspended." A spokesman for Bloomberg confirmed the takeover article was fake.

In May, a fake bid for another company, Avon Products, sent its shares as much as 20 percent higher. That offer involved a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last month the SEC sued a Bulgarian man, Nedko Nedev, and said he and five others worked together to violate securities laws by creating fake takeover offers. Robert Heim, a former lawyer at the SEC, said these kinds of schemes will probably persist because news spreads so fast over social media and traders have to react so quickly.
Businesses

Microsoft Offers Washington a Bargain: More State Taxes, For More Education 161 161

reifman writes: The Washington State Legislature and its budget is a complete mess this year but there's been an unusual bright spot which may quiet the protesters Slashdot reported earlier: Microsoft has volunteered for an exclusive $28 million annual tax — as long as the state funds a number of computer science degree programs. Visions of these faded after the 2008 recession when the legislature cut $4 billion from K-12 and higher education spending in part to cover the coming legalization and amnesty for Microsoft's Nevada tax dodge (students' tuitions only increased 58.6 percent.) With Microsoft's voluntary tax, the company will have fully repaid its $8.75 billion tax dodge by 2327, just 312 years from now.
The Almighty Buck

China's Stock Crash: $3.5 Trillion Wiped Out, $2.6 Trillion Frozen 364 364

An anonymous reader writes: The stock market crisis going on in China is notable for the huge numbers involved. $3.5 trillion ($3,500,000,000,000) in value has been wiped out by falling prices, and over a thousand companies have forced a pause in trading. The combined value of all of these companies exceeds $2.6 trillion, and it represents about 40% of the total market capitalization. This follows attempts by the exchanges and the government to instill confidence in trading once more, but investors are still wary. The NY Times has a detailed explanation of how the market got into trouble, and why it's not likely to fix itself overnight: "Put all these pieces together, and here's what we have: a rise in Chinese share prices in the last year that seemed to be driven more by investor psychology than by anything fundamental. It is hard to see how the prices as of a month ago were justified, and easy to see why the sell-off of the last month would occur. That, in turn, implies that Chinese officials are fighting an uphill battle in their policy moves to try to stop the correction, and helps explain why their policy actions have had little effect so far."
Businesses

Software Devs Leaving Greece For Good, Finance Minister Resigns 431 431

New submitter TheHawke writes with this story from ZDNet about the exodus of software developers from Greece. "In the last three years, almost 80 percent of my friends, mostly developers, left Greece," software developer Panagiotis Kefalidis told ZDNet. "When I left for North America, my mother was not happy, but... it is what it is." It's not just the software developers quitting either. The Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis also resigned. A portion of his resignation announcement reads: "Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today."
Movies

Adam Nimoy "For the Love of Spock" Documentary On KickStarter 43 43

New submitter Yohannon writes: In November of 2014, Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard, began talking with his father about creating a documentary regarding the late actor's most iconic role for potential release on the 50th anniversary of the premier of Star Trek. With the actor sadly passing in late February, the project has become more of a celebration of Leonard Nimoy's life as a whole. To fund the project, Adam has turned to KickStarter to raise the relatively modest 600 thousand dollars (US) to complete the documentary.

[Full disclosure: I am the husband of one of the models Nimoy used for his "Full Body Project", and she might be interviewed as a part of the documentary; However, cutting room floors being what they are, even virtually, that's not a guarantee she would actually be IN the doc.]
Businesses

US Tech Companies Expected To Lose More Than $35 Billion Over NSA Spying 236 236

Patrick O'Neill writes: Citing significant sales hits taken by big American firms like Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Salesforce, Qualcomm, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, a new report says losses by U.S. tech companies as a result of NSA spying and Snowden's whistleblowing "will likely far exceed" $35 billion. Previously, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation put the estimate lower when it predicted the losses would be felt mostly in the cloud industry. The consequences are being felt more widely and deeply than previously thought, however, so the number keeps rising.
Communications

PayPal Will Be Able To Robo-Text/Call Users With No Opt-out Starting July 1 116 116

OutOnARock notes that as PayPal separates from eBay in the coming months, new terms of service are set to take effect on July 1st. Most of the changes unexciting, but one provision has consumer rights groups up in arms: PayPal is granting itself the ability to use automated systems to call and text users. These robocalls could happen for something as serious as debt collection or as frivolous as advertisements. What's more, the company grants the same rights to its affiliates. Activists are questioning the legality of these changes. "Given that both the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (which created the Do Not Call list) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ban most robocalling and texting, this seemed in direct opposition to consumer protections granted Americans by Congress." PayPal says it will comply with all laws, but their actions may spark a legal debate about whether terms of service can qualify as "written consent."
Businesses

How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies 356 356

theodp writes: By the Los Angeles Times' reckoning, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and SpaceX together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. The figure compiled by The Times, explains reporter Jerry Hirsch, comprises a variety of government incentives, including grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental credits that Tesla can sell. It also includes tax credits and rebates to buyers of solar panels and electric cars. "He definitely goes where there is government money," said an equity research analyst. "Musk and his companies' investors enjoy most of the financial upside of the government support, while taxpayers shoulder the cost," Hirsch adds. "The payoff for the public would come in the form of major pollution reductions, but only if solar panels and electric cars break through as viable mass-market products. For now, both remain niche products for mostly well-heeled customers." And as Musk moves into a new industry — battery-based home energy storage — Hirsch notes Tesla has already secured a commitment of $126 million in California subsidies to companies developing energy storage technology.
Businesses

Hot Topic To Buy ThinkGeek Parent Company Geeknet 107 107

jones_supa points out the news (also at Ars Technica, and -- paywalled -- at the Wall Street Journal) that clothing and music retailer Hot Topic has announced plans to buy Geeknet, parent company of ThinkGeek and ThinkGeek Solutions, for $117.3 million. ThinkGeek Solutions is a distributor of video-game themed merchandise through licensed web stores. Hot Topic Inc. will pay $17.50 per Geeknet share. Privately held Hot Topic, based in Los Angeles, has more than 650 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Geeknet will become a Hot Topic subsidiary. This news inspires some nostalgia here; ThinkGeek was for a long time one of Slashdot's sister sites under the umbrella of VA Linux, and I had some fun years back helping to set up the ThinkGeek booth at LinuxWorld in New York.
Businesses

Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable 206 206

mpicpp writes with word that Charter Communications has struck a $56 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable; if the deal goes through (which the article says is likely, according to Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong -- at least more likely than the recently scotched Comcast-Time Warner deal), it would mean that the second- and third-largest U.S. cable companies would share a letterhead, and more than 20 percent of the country's ISP market. From the linked Reuters article: The Federal Communications Commission immediately served notice that it would closely scrutinize the deal, focusing not only on absence of harm but benefits to the public. Charter, in which Malone-chaired Liberty Broadband Corp owns about 26 percent, is offering about $195.71 in cash-and-stock for each Time Warner Cable share, based on Charter's closing price on May 20. Including debt, the deal values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion. A key area of regulatory concern would be competition in broadband Internet.
EU

Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment 743 743

jones_supa writes: Greece, the country which has been in extreme financial trouble and high debt for years, cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month, unless it achieves a deal with creditors. 'The four installments for the IMF in June are €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given,' Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV's weekend show. Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions. With its future as a member of the 19-nation eurozone potentially at stake, a second government minister accused its international lenders of subjecting it to slow and calculated torture.
Cellphones

Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone 134 134

New submitter JoSch1337 writes: After a year and a half of development, the Neo900 project now opened its web shop for the down payments of binding pre-orders for either a full Neo900 phone or the bare circuit board to upgrade an existing Nokia N900. The up-front down payment is necessary to now secure expensive "risk parts" like the modem, 1GB RAM and N900 cases. Thus, without pre-ordering now, there might not be enough parts left after the first batch.

The Neo900 is the spritual successor of the Nokia N900. The new circuit board can be placed into an existing N900 for better specs (faster CPU, more RAM, LTE modem) than the original device while still maintaining fremantle (maemo 5) backwards compatibility. Alternatively, a fully assembled phone can be purchased as well. The Neo900 will be fully operational without any binary blob running on the main CPU. While the modem still requires a non-free firmware, it is completely decoupled from the rest of the device (think of a LTE usb stick you put in your laptop) and can reliably be monitored or switched off by the operating system.

You can follow the development of the project in the maemo forum, read about the specs of the device or consult the FAQ
The Almighty Buck

Stock Market Valuation Exceeds Its Components' Actual Value 335 335

An anonymous reader writes: James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, developed a concept called "Q-value" — it's the ratio between two numbers: 1) the sum of all publicly-traded companies' stock valuations and 2) the value of all these companies' actual assets, if they were sold. Bloomberg reports that the continued strength of the stock market has now caused that ratio to go over 1 — in other words, the market values companies about 10% higher than the sum of their actual assets. The Q value is now at its highest point since the Dot-com bubble. Similar peaks in the past hundred years have all been quickly followed by crashes.

Now, that's not to say a crash is imminent — experts disagree on the Q-value's reliability. One said, "the ratio's doubling since 2009 to 1.10 is a symptom of companies diverting money from their businesses to the stock market, choosing buybacks over capital spending. Six years of zero-percent interest rates have similarly driven investors into riskier things like equities, elevating the paper value of assets over their tangible worth." Others point out that as the digital economy grows, a greater portion of publicly traded companies lack the tangible assets that were the hallmark of the manufacturing boom.
Crime

SEC Charges ITT Educational Services With Fraud 85 85

mpicpp writes with news that ITT Educational Services, the company that operates for-profit college ITT Tech, has been charged with fraud over its student loan programs. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accuses the company of concealing poor financial performance from its investors. ITT formed both of these student loan programs, known as the "PEAKS" and "CUSO" programs, to provide off-balance sheet loans for ITT’s students following the collapse of the private student loan market. To induce others to finance these risky loans, ITT provided a guarantee that limited any risk of loss from the student loan pools.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the underlying loan pools had performed so abysmally by 2012 that ITT’s guarantee obligations were triggered and began to balloon. Rather than disclosing to its investors that it projected paying hundreds of millions of dollars on its guarantees, ITT and its management took a variety of actions to create the appearance that ITT’s exposure to these programs was much more limited.
The Almighty Buck

28-Year-Old Businessman Accused of Stealing $1 Billion From Moldova 133 133

An anonymous reader writes: You could be excused for not knowing much about Moldova — the small, Eastern European country has a population of around 3 million and occupies about 13,000 square miles of territory. Its GDP is just over $6 billion — which makes accusations that 28-year-old Ilan Shor stole close to a billion dollars from the country's banks quite interesting. A recent report (PDF) says Shor led a group that bought controlling stakes in three Moldovan banks and then passed transactions between them to increase their liquidity. The banks then issued massive loans to companies owned or related to Shor. $767 million disappeared from the banks, and the country's central bank thinks that total will rise to $1 billion. It was forced to bail out the banks to keep the economy from crashing. Widespread corruption led to many records of Shor's actions being "lost" or outright deleted. He's now charged and placed under house arrest while the investigation continues.
Businesses

Report: Microsoft Considering Salesforce Acquisition 58 58

An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is considering making a bid for CRM and cloud software company Salesforce, after hearing that Salesforce was entertaining an offer from another company. No talks are underway, but Salesforce has started working with investment banks to figure out how it wants to respond to such offers. Salesforce has a market value of about $50 billion, so any sort of acquisition would be a huge business deal.
United States

Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested 327 327

An anonymous reader writes that Doug Hughes, 61, a mailman from Ruskin, Florida was arrested for landing a gyro-copter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. "A 61-year-old Florida mailman was arrested Wednesday after he landed a gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol west lawn. The gyrocopter was carrying the pilot and 535 stamped letters for members of Congress urging 'real reform' to campaign finance laws. Doug Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times ahead of the afternoon stunt that he notified authorities 'well over an hour in advance of getting to the no-fly zone, so they know who I am and what I'm doing.' Capitol police sent dogs and a bomb squad to the scene. Nothing hazardous was found. A city block from the Capitol had been cordoned off."