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Speed of Technology Confounds Wall St. Regulators
April 08, 2014
Michael Lewis did not do the securities industry any favors with the publication of his new book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. His portrayal of how investment banks use high-frequency trading to leverage the few additional milliseconds this technology provides to grab stocks at optimal prices appears to have been a factor behind federal agency decisions to investigate this activity.
Candy Crush Fails to Melt Wall St.'s Heart
March 27, 2014
Investors didn't share the same excitement for King Digital Entertainment stock as Candy Crush fans do for the mobile game, sending King shares down nearly 16 percent in Wednesday's disappointing first day of trading. It slipped a further couple of percentage points on Thursday. King's stock debuted at $22.50, but dropped 15.6 percent to close at $19 -- this year's worst first day drop for an IPO.
eBay Board Pumps Up Volume in PayPal Clash
March 27, 2014
eBay's board of directors this week urged shareholders to reject Carl Icahn's plan to spin off PayPal as a separate company. "Our shareholders and our customers are best served by keeping PayPal and eBay together," the board said in a letter to investors. "No other payments competitor has achieved PayPal's success -- because no other competitor has had a commerce platform like eBay."
Haunted Empire - Biased Author or Biased Readers?
March 24, 2014
What really surprises me about the book Haunted Empire, which predicts the decline of Apple, isn't that Apple fans don't like it. That's a given -- Apple fans only want positive books and stories. It is the level of effort that has gone into killing it, and how much that apparently has accelerated sales. There is an old saying: The only thing better than bad publicity is no publicity.
Earth Narrowly Missed Solar Blasts in 2012
March 20, 2014
Enormous solar blasts, which possessed the potential to wreak havoc on electrical grids and satellites, barely missed Earth in 2012. The near-misses, revealed by researchers Wednesday, would have been akin to the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar storm ever recorded. While there were no satellites to cripple back then, the storm knocked out telegraph systems across the U.S.
Alibaba Seeks Treasure in US IPO
March 18, 2014
Alibaba, which controls 80 percent of the e-commerce in China, is going public -- but not in its native land. Alibaba Group on Sunday announced its decision to begin the process of an initial public offering in the United States, saying the move would make it a more global company and enhance its transparency, while allowing it to pursue its long-term vision and ideals.
Chinese E-Commerce Giant Plans Stateside IPO
March 17, 2014
Gargantuan Chinese e-commerce outfit Alibaba soon will begin the process of launching an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Early forecasts suggest that the IPO could raise $15 billion. The announcement seemingly ends speculation about whether Alibaba would be listed on the NYSE or in Hong Kong. Alibaba apparently found some of the SEHK's rules particularly unpalatable.
Icahn Escalates War of Words With eBay
March 12, 2014
Carl Icahn's latest move in a campaign to compel eBay to sell its PayPal division is to take on its CEO John Donahoe. The company on Monday rejected Icahn's nominees to the eBay board -- employees Daniel Ninivaggi and Jonathan Christodoro -- on the grounds that they were unqualified. The board urged shareholders to vote against them at its upcoming annual meeting.
Oppenheimer to Fly the Apple Coop
March 04, 2014
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer will retire in September, when he'll be replaced by Corporate Controller Luca Maestri, the company's VP of finance. Maestri will begin taking the reins in June. The move was expected. When Maestri joined Apple last year from Xerox, where he was CFO, the rumor mill began buzzing about his being groomed for Oppenheimer's post.
China Risks Another State-Run Search Engine Faceplant
March 04, 2014
The Chinese government is taking another stab at the domestic search market with a new service called "ChinaSo." ChinaSo was formed by merging two already-failed search engines: Jike, launched three years ago by state-run newspaper/propaganda pusher The People's Daily; and Panguso, launched by fellow state-run media outlet Xinhua.
Target Reels From Customer Data Breach
February 26, 2014
Target reported financial results for the quarter during which it suffered a high-profile data breach, revealing how badly the company was stung by the security lapses. In the three months ending Feb. 1, net earnings dropped by 46 percent compared with the year-ago fourth quarter, from $961 million to $520 million. Profit dropped by more than 40 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Investors Drop $350M on Dropbox
February 25, 2014
Dropbox reportedly has secured $350 million in a new round of funding to further its growth. The funding round generated at least $325 million but that figure could swell to as much as $450 million, according to documents filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It appears that $350 million already has been raised. The financing gives Dropbox a $10 billion valuation.
Icahn Slams eBay Directors in PayPal Liberation Campaign
February 25, 2014
Carl Icahn has ratcheted up his efforts to get eBay to spin off its lucrative PayPal division. The billionaire investor on Monday sent an open letter to other shareholders accusing eBay board members Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook of placing their interests before those of investors. Icahn called out Andreessen's involvement in the group that acquired a 70 percent stake in Skype from eBay.
WhatsApp Gives BlackBerry a Bounce
February 20, 2014
Facebook's $19 billion purchase of mobile-messaging service WhatsApp appears to have buoyed the value of BlackBerry Messenger -- and by extension, BlackBerry. BlackBerry shares went up nearly 10 percent in after-hours trading because, in the words of Reuters, Facebook's purchase "put a rough valuation metric around the smartphone maker's own BlackBerry Messaging service," also known as "BBM."
HP Struggles With Autonomy's Sticky Wicket
February 18, 2014
HP's problems following its 2011 purchase of Autonomy for $11.1 billion are getting worse. Various documents reportedly indicate HP knew about the existence of loss-making hardware sales Autonomy allegedly used to bolster its revenue figures well before May 2012, when HP claimed to learn about them from a whistleblower. Former Autonomy CEO Michael Lynch insists Autonomy did nothing wrong.
Candy Crush Maker Wants Wall St. to Pour a Little Sugar on It
February 18, 2014
King Digital Entertainment, creator of the blockbuster social game Candy Crush Saga, is planning to go public. The company filed its initial public offering paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week. The company's revenue soared by more than tenfold in 2013, rising to $1.88 billion from $164 million the previous year, the filing reveals.
Icahn Whistles a Different Tune on Apple Share Buyback
February 10, 2014
Billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn on Monday dropped his attempt to push Apple into repurchasing $50 billion-worth of its stocks, after months of effort. The move follows a recommendation against his proposal made Sunday night by proxy advisory firm ISS, Icahn said in a letter to Apple investors. Icahn is "selling, and at a higher price than what he paid," said Covestor manager Barry Randall.
Turning Up the Heat on Insider Trading
February 07, 2014
Criminal and civil allegations of insider trading recently were filed against Brian Jorgenson, a senior portfolio manager at Microsoft. This news amazed me, because over the last few years there has been an abundance of published information about the hazards of insider trading, especially the criminal consequences. Consider what happened to the hedge fund billionaire, Raj Rajaratnam.
Twitter Struggles to Stay Aloft on Wall Street
February 06, 2014
Twitter on Wednesday announced Q4 2013 revenue of $243 million, up 116 percent year over year, and a 30 percent YoY increase in average monthly active users. Wall Street reacted by sending its share prices down 21 percent, and analysts promptly downgraded the company. That could be because Twitter's forecast was less than sanguine. It expects next quarter's revenue to decline.
US, British Intelligence Scoop Data From Smartphone Apps
January 28, 2014
Don't get angry, but... U.S. and British intelligence agencies have long been mining data from smartphone apps such as the wildly popular Angry Birds. The National Security Agency and its British brethren at the Government Communications Headquarters reportedly have targeted the swell of data moving to and fro on mobile apps, based on previously secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Wife of Indian Minister Dead After Exposing Husband on Twitter
January 20, 2014
The wife of Shashi Tharoor, an Indian minister and member of parliament, was found dead in a luxury hotel in New Delhi days after exposing her husband's alleged infidelity via Twitter. The cause of death is not known, but a forensic expert reportedly dubbed it a "sudden, unnatural death." Private messages between Tharoor and a Pakistani journalist popped up on Tharoor's Twitter account Wednesday.
Computer Pioneer, Subjected to Homophobic Prosecution, Pardoned by Queen
December 27, 2013
Alan Turing, a British man whose code-breaking prowess helped thwart Nazi Germany in World War II, was pardoned this week by Queen Elizabeth for his decades-old "crime." Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for "gross indecency" for having a sexual relationship with another man, a ruling that resulted in the loss of his security clearance and compulsory hormone treatment. Two years later, he died from cyanide poisoning in what was ruled a suicide.
Was 2013 the Run-Up to Nineteen Eighty-Four?
December 23, 2013
It is time to look back on 2013 and consider what we've learned about technology and human nature. Both Apple and Dell were massively changed, and Google went from a company that wanted our private information to one that wanted our jobs. The U.S. government decided, through the NSA, that laws don't apply to it. Those who brought this to our attention got big punishments.
The Devil Made Ex-Microsoft Exec Do Insider Trading
December 21, 2013
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington and the Securities and Exchange Commission have lodged criminal and civil enforcement actions against a former senior portfolio manager at Microsoft and his friend, alleging insider trading. They also accuse the two of planning to use their illegal gains to launch a hedge fund.

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