The Almighty Buck

When Fraud Detection Shuts Down Credit Cards Inappropriately 327

reifman writes: On Sunday, Capital One declined a $280 travel reservation I charged at India-based and immediately shut off my card for all transactions until I contacted them by phone. It wasn't the first time that CapitalOne had shut off my card after a single suspect transaction. But, I'd actually purchased from using my CapitalOne card on two prior occasions. It was an example of very poor fraud detection and led me on a tour of their pathetic customer service. The banks want to cut their losses regardless of how it impacts their customers. Having had my own credit card suspended out of an abundance of caution on a different credit card issuer's part (for legitimate charges), but having recently had some widely known scam charges get accepted, the fraud protection algorithms that the credit companies use certainly seem inscrutable sometimes, and so do the surrounding practices about communicating with customers. How would you like it to work instead?

China Beats US In Early Cuban Internet Infrastructure Investment 109

lpress writes: The US would like to sell Cuba Internet service and equipment, but we have had little success so far. China has won the first round — they financed and installed Cuba's undersea cable, supplied backbone equipment and public WiFi access centers and will provide equipment for the forthcoming home DSL rollout. That being said, Cuba has very little connectivity today and most of what they have and plan to install is already obsolete by today's standards, so they will be buying a lot of equipment in the future.

Uber Raided By Dutch Authorities, Seen As 'Criminal Organization' 466

An anonymous reader writes: Uber offices in Amsterdam have been raided by Dutch authorities, as reported by several local media sources (Google translation of original in Dutch). This follows intimidatory deterrence practices earlier in The Netherlands, with Uber drivers being fined in the past months, and fresh allegations that the company would act as a "criminal organization" by offering a platform for taxi rides without license (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice). Time for tech companies to consider moving their European offices elsewhere? Uber's lawyers must be incredibly busy. Proposed regulations in London would effectively end the company's service there, while the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he would ban Uber's operations outright. They're receiving mixed messages from Australia — just a day after running afoul of regulations in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is moving to legalize it.

Video Bitcoin and Beyond

Circle is building a new consumer finance company with radically different unit economics, they're also leveraging mobile and social trends to drive global adoption. Here's a look at the how's and why's.
The Almighty Buck

Ellen Pao Drops Appeal of Gender Discrimination Suit 234

McGruber writes: Jeff Bezo's newspaper is reporting that Ellen Pao is dropping her appeal of the gender discrimination suit she lost against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao sued KPCB in 2012, claiming that women were not given fair consideration in the male-dominated workplace. She also said that a male colleague with whom she had an affair unfairly cut her out of e-mail correspondence and upper management did nothing about it. She was fired soon after filing her suit. After a bruising month-long trial in which her personal character and work performance were repeatedly brought into question, a jury of six men and six woman ruled that there was no evidence of gender discrimination.

Citi Report: Slowing Global Warming Could Save Tens of Trillions of Dollars 248

Layzej writes with news carried by The Guardian about a report published by the Global Perspectives & Solutions division of Citibank (America's third-largest bank) examining the costs and benefits of a low-carbon future. The report examined two hypothetical futures: one "business as usual," and the other (the "Action" scenario) which includes an aggressive move to reduce energy use and carbon emission. From the article: "One of the most interesting findings in the report is that the investment costs for the two scenarios are almost identical. In fact, because of savings due to reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency, the Action scenario is actually a bit cheaper than the Inaction scenario. Coupled with the fact the total spend is similar under both action and inaction, yet the potential liabilities of inaction are enormous, it is hard to argue against a path of action." But there will be winners and losers, says the report: "The biggest loser stands to be the coal industry, where we estimate cumulative spend under our Action scenario could be $11.6 trillion less than in our Inaction scenario over the next quarter century, with renewables, wind and nuclear (as well as energy efficiency) the main beneficiaries."

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Is Now Chairing Lessig's Presidential Bid 119

Funksaw sends a followup to Tuesday's news that Lawrence Lessig is pondering a presidential campaign: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is now chairing the committee for Lessig's campaign. Wales said, "Larry's run for President is different. He's crowdfunding his campaign instead of seeking out rich donors. He's showing people that we can change the rigged political system. ... The Internet community came together to fight back against SOPA and we were successful. Now we’re behind Lessig to fight for citizen equality." Lessig's goal is to raise a million dollars by September 7, and they're already at roughly $300,000. Relatedly, Newsweek had a brief interview with Lessig over his potential campaign, and Eric Posner wrote an insightful piece about it at Slate.

Tesla Suffering Cash Flow Issues; Every Model S Means a $4,000 Loss 232

An anonymous reader writes: The latest reports from Tesla show a trend of missing positive cash flow targets. Despite previous guidance to the contrary, Tesla is losing more than $4000 per car in operating margin and no sign of near term improvement as they are now reducing their production targets at a time when they are also experiencing pricing pressure. A scan of articles published today on this news reveals a common opinion that Tesla will need to raise more capital soon. A small slice of the Reuters report linked: Tesla has signaled capital spending will drop next year because the company won't be spending on a major vehicle launch. In 2017, Tesla plans to launch its Model 3 line, which the company says will start at about $35,000 and push total sales toward the goal of 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020. Barclays analyst Brian Johnson disagreed with the company's estimates, and said he expects Tesla's capital spending will go up in 2016 and 2017 as the company ramps up its battery factory and Model 3 development. "Their small scale means the cash generation is not as great as they might have hoped for," he said.

Hackers Exploit Adobe Flash Vulnerability In Yahoo Ads 77

vivaoporto notes a report that a group of hackers have used online ad networks to distribute malware over several of Yahoo's websites. The attack began on Tuesday, July 28, and was shut down on Monday, August 3. It was targeted at Yahoo's sports, finance, gaming, and news-related sites. Security firm Malwarebytes says the hackers exploited a Flash vulnerability to redirect users to the Angler Exploit Kit. "Attacks on advertising networks have been on the rise ... researchers say. Hackers are able to use the advertising networks themselves, built for targeting specific demographics of Internet users, to find vulnerable machines. While Yahoo acknowledged the attack, the company said that it was not nearly as big as Malwarebytes had portrayed it to be."

Behind the Microsoft Write-Off of Nokia 200

UnknowingFool writes: Previously Microsoft announced they had written off the Nokia purchase for $7.6B in the last quarter. In doing so, Microsoft would create only the third unprofitable quarter in the company's history. Released on July 31, new financial documents detail some of the reasoning and financials behind this decision. At the core of the problem was that the Phone Hardware business was only worth $116M, after adjusting for costs and market factors. One of those factors was poor sales of Nokia handhelds in 2015. Financially it made more sense to write it all off.

Silicon Valley's Big Lie 129 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."

Symantec: Hacking Group Black Vine Behind Anthem Breach 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.

The Factory of the World - Documentary On Manufacturing In Shenzhen 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

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, (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 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.

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

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."

Software Devs Leaving Greece For Good, Finance Minister Resigns 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."

Adam Nimoy "For the Love of Spock" Documentary On KickStarter 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.]

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

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

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."