Businesses

Negative Free Cash Flow Will Be an Indicator of Enormous Success For Netflix, Says CEO (barrons.com) 112

During Netflix's quarterly earnings call, in which it noted it had added more than five million subscribers in the last three months, CEO Red Hastings was also asked about the millions of dollars it burns every quarter. Hastings said that burning cash is a sign of success, in a way. Here's the money quote: Look, when we produce an amazing show like Stranger Things, that's a lot of capital up front, and then you get a payout over many years. And seeing the positive returns on that for the business as a whole is what makes us comfortable that we should continue to invest and integrate to basically self-develop many more properties as Ted (the content head) can find the appropriate ones. And then there's comfort with being able to finance it, and of course, our debt-to-market cap is incredibly low and conservative, so we've got lots of room there. And I think that combination that it's spent well and we can raise it is what makes us very excited. And the irony is the faster that we grow and the faster we grow the owned originals, the more drawn on free cash flow that we'll be. So in some senses, negative free cash flow will be an indicator of enormous success. On Monday, Netflix updated its estimate for negative free cash flow for 2017. While previously the company had said it would be $2 billion, Netflix now says it will be $2 to $2.5 billion (versus $1.7 billion in 2016).
Privacy

Facial Recognition Could Be Coming To Police Body Cameras (defenseone.com) 178

schwit1 quotes a report from Defense One: Even if the cop who pulls you over doesn't recognize you, the body camera on his chest eventually just might. Device-maker Motorola will work with artificial intelligence software startup Neurala to build "real-time learning for a person of interest search" on products such as the Si500 body camera for police, the firm announced Monday. Italian-born neuroscientist and Neurala founder Massimiliano Versace has created patent-pending image recognition and machine learning technology. It's similar to other machine learning methods but far more scalable, so a device carried by that cop on his shoulder can learn to recognize shapes and -- potentially faces -- as quickly and reliably as a much larger and more powerful computer. It works by mimicking the mammalian brain, rather than the way computers have worked traditionally.

Versace's research was funded, in part, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA under a program called SyNAPSE. In a 2010 paper for IEEE Spectrum, he describes the breakthrough. Basically, a tiny constellation of processors do the work of different parts of the brain -- which is sometimes called neuromorphic computation -- or "computation that can be divided up between hardware that processes like the body of a neuron and hardware that processes the way dendrites and axons do." Versace's research shows that AIs can learn in that environment using a lot less code.

Bug

Data Glitch Sets Tech Company Stock Prices At $123.47 (theverge.com) 52

For one moment on Monday evening, the prices of several stocks on Nasdaq -- including those of Amazon, Apple, eBay, Google, and Microsoft -- were all priced exactly the same, $123.47. From a report: In a statement obtained by the Financial Times, Nasdaq said the culprit was "improper use of test data" that was picked up by third party financial data providers. The exchange said it was "working with third party vendors to resolve this matter." The issue was replicated across major financial websites, including Bloomberg, Google Finance, and Yahoo Finance, and it's not known when it all started.
News

Wall Street Journal To Cut Back Print Outside the US (ft.com) 32

The Wall Street Journal plans to discontinue production of print edition outside the United States in what is the latest testament that popularity of print is waning and it is no longer as lucrative for news outlets to maintain print editions of their journalism. From a Financial Times report: The print edition of the business and finance newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, will no longer be available in Europe (paywalled; alternative source), according to two people briefed on the plans. Free copies and unprofitable hotel "amenity deals," where hotels buy bulk copies at a discount, are also being scrapped. However, Dow Jones, the News Corp division that owns the Journal, is debating whether to continue mailing copies to subscribers who still want a physical paper. It is pursuing a similar approach in Asia but is in talks with a partner about a print joint venture that would continue distribution in one big market there, according to the people with knowledge of the discussions. In Australia some Wall Street Journal pages are available as an insert in The Australian, another Murdoch-owned paper.
Earth

Coal Market Set To Collapse Worldwide By 2040 As Solar, Wind Dominate (bloomberg.com) 375

Jess Shankleman reports via Bloomberg: Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast. That's the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India. The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency's central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.

The report also found that through 2040:
-China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
-The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
-At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices a practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently and spreading the use of electric cars.
-Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that's increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.

Wireless Networking

T-Mobile Rolling Out 600 MHz Low-Band Wireless (yahoo.com) 47

s122604 quotes a report from Yahoo Finance: T-Mobile, the third largest U.S. national wireless operator, has decided to roll out 600 MHz wireless spectrum in its footprints by this summer. Low-band spectrum is essential for wireless operators as the signals can be transmitted over longer distances and through brick-and-mortar walls in cities. Smartphones for this radio frequency are likely to be made available by Samsung and other manufacturers this summer.
AMD

Six Companies Awarded $258 Million From US Government To Build Exascale Supercomputers (digitaltrends.com) 40

The U.S. Department of Energy will be investing $258 million to help six leading technology firms -- AMD, Cray Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel, and Nvidia -- research and build exascale supercomputers. Digital Trends reports: The funding will be allocated to them over the course of a three-year period, with each company providing 40 percent of the overall project cost, contributing to an overall investment of $430 million in the project. "Continued U.S. leadership in high performance computing is essential to our security, prosperity, and economic competitiveness as a nation," U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said. "These awards will enable leading U.S. technology firms to marshal their formidable skills, expertise, and resources in the global race for the next stage in supercomputing -- exascale-capable systems." The funding will finance research and development in three key areas; hardware technology, software technology, and application development. There are hopes that one of the companies involved in the initiative will be able to deliver an exascale-capable supercomputer by 2021.
Government

Russian Cyber Hacks On US Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known (bloomberg.com) 520

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg article: Russia's cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump's election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said. The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step -- complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day "red phone." In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia's role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.
Security

New Malware Downloader Can Infect PCs Without A Mouse Click (engadget.com) 151

An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: You think you're safe from malware since you never click suspicious-looking links, then somebody finds a way to infect your PC anyway. Security researchers have discovered that cybercriminals have recently started using a malware downloader that installs a banking Trojan to your computer even if you don't click anything. All it takes to trigger the download is to hover your mouse pointer over a hyperlink in a carrier PowerPoint file. According to researchers from Trend Micro and Dodge This Security the technique was used by a recent spam email campaign targeting companies and organizations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The emails' subjects were mostly finance-related, such as "Invoice" and "Order #," with an attached PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint file has a single hyperlink in the center that says "Loading... please wait" that has an embedded malicious PowerShell script. When you hover your mouse pointer over the link, it executes the script.
Trend Micro writes that "while the numbers aren't impressive, it can also be construed as a dry run for future campaigns, given the technique's seeming novelty," adding "It wouldn't be far-fetched for other malware like ransomware to follow suit."
Businesses

America's Five Biggest Tech Stocks Lost $97 Billion Friday (yahoo.com) 98

An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: The so-called "big five" -- Apple , Alphabet Class A shares, Microsoft , Facebook and Amazon -- lost more than $97.5 billion in market value between the close on Thursday and the close on Friday, according to FactSet, dragging the Nasdaq to its worst week of the year. Shares of Apple fell nearly 4 percent on Friday, while the other four companies fell more than 3 percent. For most of the day, only 3 stocks in the S&P 500 tech sector were in the green: IBM , Teradata and Western Union . Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet all traded more than 2 times their 30-day average volume... "They're just plain overbought," said David Bahnsen founder, managing director and chief investment officer of The Bahnsen Group, a private wealth management firm. "They are extremely stretched from a valuation standpoint."
CNN notes the drop occurred "after a Goldman Sachs analyst questioned this year's run-up in the industry's five biggest names." They also added that "The top five techs today account for 13% of the market value weighting in the S&P 500, even though they are only 1% of the companies in the index."
Verizon

Verizon Expected To Cut Up To 1,000 Yahoo, AOL Jobs After Acquisition (recode.net) 36

Verizon's acquisition and merger of AOL and Yahoo will result in many job cuts. According to Recode, up to 1,000 AOL and Yahoo jobs are expected to take place across the two companies as the merger is completed. From the report: This action is not unexpected, given that both companies have a lot of redundancies, including in human resources, finance, marketing and general administration. The merger between the two companies -- after Verizon bought both in succession to add tech and content to its mobile services -- is expected to be completed in the next week. The shareholder meeting to approve the deal takes place tomorrow. Plans to combine both companies have been in the works for a while, as the pair attempt to make a cohesive unit out of two entities that have multiple assets and also multiple problems. It will be headed by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who will become the CEO of Oath, the new name for the Verizon subsidiary.
Businesses

Disney Chief Bob Iger Doesn't Believe Movie Hack Threat Was Real (hollywoodreporter.com) 27

You may remember Disney's boss revealing that hackers had threatened to leak one of the studio's new films unless it paid a ransom. Bob Iger didn't name the film, but it was thought to be "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." But now Iger says: "To our knowledge we were not hacked." From a report: Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger confirmed Thursday that a hacker claiming to have stolen an upcoming Disney movie and demanding a ransom didn't appear to have the goods. "To our knowledge we were not hacked," Iger told Yahoo Finance. "We had a threat of a hack of a movie being stolen. We decided to take it seriously but not react in the manner in which the person who was threatening us had required." Iger continued, "We don't believe that it was real and nothing has happened." On May 15, as first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Iger told ABC employees at a town hall meeting in New York that someone claiming to have stolen an upcoming movie would release the film on the internet unless the company paid a ransom. Iger told staff that the studio wouldn't meet any such demands.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Surges 10% To All-Time High Above $2,700, Has Now Doubled in May (cnbc.com) 139

An anonymous reader writes: In another intraday jump of more than $200, bitcoin surged to a record Thursday on strong Asian demand overnight. Bitcoin jumped more than 10 percent to an all-time high of $2,752.07, more than twice its April 30 price of $1,347.96 according to CoinDesk. The digital currency last traded near $2,726. At Thursday's record, Bitcoin has now gained more than 45 percent since last Thursday and more than 180 percent for the year so far. "There is no question that we are in the middle of a price frenzy," said Brian Kelly of BKCM, in a note to clients Thursday. "There will be a correction and it could be severe, but it's unclear if that correction will start from current prices of $2700 or from some place much higher."
Robotics

Consumers Trust Robots For Surgery Over Savings, Research Finds (bloomberg.com) 70

An anonymous reader shares an article: Andy Maguire faces a challenge: tasked with upgrading HSBC's digital-banking systems, he has discovered that customers are twice as likely to trust a robot for heart surgery than for picking a savings account. "I do find it slightly odd," said the chief operating officer of Europe's largest bank, referring to its survey of more than 12,000 consumers in 11 countries published this week. Just 7 percent of respondents would trust a robot with their savings, versus the 14 percent willing to submit to a machine for heart surgery. "You think, gosh, one would've imagined the world had moved on further or was moving faster than that," Maguire said in an interview. While consumers tend naturally to trust medical professionals, the "bar is pretty high" for banks dealing with people's money, he said. Banks around the world are spending billions of dollars to bolster creaking computer systems in a push to ward off startup competitors and cut long-term operating expenses. But consumers and regulators are holding them to ever-higher standards of security and convenience, driving the cost of overhauls higher and potentially eroding any savings.
United States

The Tech Sector Is Leaving the Rest of the US Economy In Its Dust (theverge.com) 155

Yesterday afternoon, the S&P 500 closed at a record high, and is up over $1.5 trillion since the start of 2017. "And the companies doing the most to drive that rally are all tech firms," reports The Verge. "Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft make up a whopping 37 percent of the total gains." From the report: All of these companies saw their share prices touch record highs in recent months. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the U.S. economy, which grew at a rate of less than 1 percent during the first three months of this year. That divide is the culmination of a long-term trend, according to a recent report featured in The Wall Street Journal: "In digital industries -- technology, communications, media, software, finance and professional services -- productivity grew 2.7% annually over the past 15 years...The slowdown is concentrated in physical industries -- health care, transportation, education, manufacturing, retail -- where productivity grew a mere 0.7% annually over the same period." There is no industry where these players aren't competing. Music, movies, shipping, delivery, transportation, energy -- the list goes on and on. As these companies continue to scale, the network effects bolstering their business are strengthening. Facebook and Google accounted for over three-quarters of the growth in the digital advertising industry in 2016, leaving the rest to be divided among small fry like Twitter, Snapchat, and the entire American media industry. Meanwhile Apple and Alphabet have achieved a virtual duopoly on mobile operating systems, with only a tiny sliver of consumers choosing an alternative for their smartphones and tablets.
The Almighty Buck

Big Banks Will Fall First To AI, China's Most Famous VC Predicts (qz.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes: Wall Street will be one of the first and largest industries to be automated by artificial intelligence, predicts Kai-Fu Lee, China's most famous venture capitalist and former Microsoft and Google executive. Lenders, money managers, and analysts -- any jobs that involve crunching numbers to estimate a return -- are at risk. "Banks have the curse of the baggage they have, like Kodak letting go of film," Lee says. "Their DNA is all wrong." [...] The big banks that dominate now, the venture capitalist predicts they will be outmaneuvered by smaller startups able to deploy new technology much faster.
AI

AI Is in a 'Golden Age' and Solving Problems That Were Once Sci-fi, Amazon CEO Says (yahoo.com) 99

An anonymous reader writes: Artificial intelligence (AI) development has seen an "amazing renaissance" and is beginning to solve problems that were once seen as science fiction, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Machine learning, machine vision, and natural language processing are all strands of AI that are being developed by technology giants such as Amazon, Alphabet's Google, and Facebook for various uses. These AI developments were praised by the Amazon founder. "It is a renaissance, it is a golden age," Bezos told an audience at the Internet Association's annual gala last week. "We are now solving problems with machine learning and artificial intelligence that were in the realm of science fiction for the last several decades. And natural language understanding, machine vision problems, it really is an amazing renaissance." Bezos called AI an "enabling layer" that will "improve every business."
The Almighty Buck

April Jobs Report: 211,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment At 4.4 Percent (npr.org) 198

An anonymous reader shares an NPR report: The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. Both the unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.1 million, saw only incremental changes in April. The new data follow disappointing results from March, when the Labor Department initially said less than 100,000 jobs were created. In April, some of the biggest job gains came in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, financial activities, and mining, the agency says.
Businesses

Interns at Facebook, Google Out-Earn the Average American (axios.com) 215

Alayna Treene, writing for Axios: Long gone are the days of unpaid internships, at least at these 25 companies who are paying interns more than what the average American earns. Tech and finance interns in particular -- including at Google, Bloomberg, BlackRock, and Facebook -- earn more per month than the average American, according to data released by Glassdoor Tuesday.
Government

San Francisco Politician Jane Kim Is Exploring a Tax On Robots (businessinsider.com) 239

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: In San Francisco, where robots already run food deliveries for Yelp's Eat24 and make lattes at a mall coffee kiosk, one politician is working to ensure the city stays ahead of the curve. Supervisor Jane Kim is exploring a tax on robots as one solution to offset the economic devastation a robot-powered workforce might bring. Companies that use robots to perform tasks previously done by humans would pay the city. Those public funds might be used to help retrain workers who lose their jobs to robots or to finance a basic income initiative. Kim, one of 11 city supervisors in San Francisco, has been interviewing tech leaders, labor groups, and public policy experts in the hopes of creating a task force that will explore how a "robot tax" might be implemented. San Francisco would become the first city to create such a tax, after European lawmakers rejected a similar proposal in February. Kim learned the concept of a robot tax when Bill Gates called for one in an interview with Quartz. It struck a chord with the San Francisco politician, who represents some of the poorest and wealthiest residents across the Tenderloin, South of Market, Civic Center, Treasure Island, and several other neighborhoods. She hears of robots cropping up in hotels, hospitals, and even her local bar, and worries about how automation might deepen the income gap.

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