AT&T Earnings: Brace For Impact

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Tech

Japan's Mitsubishi, U.S. partner to invest $1.8 billion in data centres: media

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T) plans to set up a joint venture with U.S. data centre operator Digital Realty Trust (DLR.N) and build around 10 data centres in Japan by 2022 for 200 billion yen ($ 1.8 billion), the Nikkei said on Saturday.

The logo of Mitsubishi Corp is pictured at its head office in Tokyo, Japan August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon – RC1E7B85B0E0

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi expects the centres to help meet growing demand for information storage from customers of California-based Digital Realty and generate sales of around 20 billion yen to 30 billion yen in 2022, the business daily reported, without citing sources.

The two companies could invest an additional 300 billion yen in the medium term, the Nikkei reported.

Mitsubishi could not be reached for comment.

Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Tom Hogue

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

It's Easier to Focus in a Coffee Shop Than an Open Plan Office, According to Brain Scans

Yesterday, the Harvard Business Review published an article asking why people feel they can focus better in a coffee shop than in an open plan office, even though both environments are noisy. 

The article cites research that people tend to be more creative in the presence of noise than in complete silence and that EKG readings reveal that “a certain level of white noise proved the ideal background sound for creative tasks.”  

Considering that white noise is fine and even beneficial,

“Why do so many of us hate our open offices? The quiet chatter of colleagues and the gentle thrum of the HVAC should help us focus. The problem may be that, in our offices, we can’t stop ourselves from getting drawn into others’ conversations or from being interrupted while we’re trying to focus. Indeed, the EEG researchers found that face-to-face interactions, conversations, and other disruptions negatively affect the creative process. By contrast, a coworking space or a coffee shop provides a certain level of ambient noise while also providing freedom from interruptions.”

I think that’s true as far as it goes, but there’s more going on here than meets the ear. Coffee shops (and coworking spaces) operate under different social systems than offices and workplaces.

For example, in a coffee shop, all patrons are created equal. There is significant social pressure to adhere to common-sense politeness, such as no telephone calls (you take it outside) and no loud talking.

By contrast, in an office, social pressure exists within an informal hierarchies of clout. While there may be rules–even posted rules–similar to the unspoken rules of coffee shop behavior, breaking those rules–and escaping censure for doing so–is a highly-visible and universally understood way to establish dominance.

Indeed, sexual harassment (especially when committed in the presence of underlings, as has been the case in many of the recent horror stories) is the most extreme form of this kind of status-establishing bad behavior.

Less heinous, though equally status-driven, behaviors plague most workplaces. For example, in a high tech firm a project leader might (consciously or subconsciously) hold a loud conversation in the middle of a shared work area simply to prove to everyone else that his project is more important than whatever they’re doing.

Is he being a jerk? Sure. But while people may resent it, if he’s got enough political clout he’ll not only get away with it but the fact he got away with it will emphasize and reinforce his status.  

Another difference between coffee shops and open plan offices is the nature of the conversations that you’re likely to overhear. 

In a coffee shop, there’s an infinitesimal likelihood that an overheard conversation will be relevant to your or your job. By contrast, in an open plan office any conversation is potentially relevant. As a result, your brain is going to keep half-an-ear cocked when anybody is talking.

Another big difference is your level of control. If you’re in a coffee shop and find the noise distracting, you can wear noise-cancelling headphones with a reasonable expectation that nobody will ask you to remove them.

In an open plan office, though, other people (especially those who believe they’re more important than you) feel empowered to catch your eye and demand your attention. They may even believe they’re doing the company a favor by pulling you away from your playlist and back into the real world.

In short, it’s not so much the noise that makes an open plan office such a miserable place to work, it’s the inability to escape the proximity of the petty and annoying behaviors of your coworkers.

One point that the HBR article entirely missed was that there’s a perfectly reasonable alternative to both open plan offices and coffee shops/shared work areas: working from home and using tools like Skype and Slack to control your interactions with your coworkers.

A Personal Victory

Anyway, while I’m on the subject, I’ll share a real-life experience of how I dealt with some status-driven annoying behavior back in the day. 

Early in my career, I worked for a company where everyone, even the C-level execs, had cubicles. While I found the environment distracting, I made the best of it by requesting a cubicle off the beaten path, next to two cubicles that were reserved for visitors, and therefore usually empty.

One day, however, a salesman sequestered one of the visitor cubicles and started making cold calls. (This was back before cell phones, so the only way to make calls was on a wired handset.) Normally, I’m sympathetic to salespeople but this guy was one of those fast-talking, loud-mouths who uses the same, lame script, over and over and over.

After about an hour of this, I’m about to lose my mind, so I pop my head over the partition and ask, politely, could he please keep it down. He gets all in my face about how his job is more important than mine and ends the conversation with a suggestion that I commit an unnatural act upon myself.

Fine, I say to myself. 

I wait until he goes to the restroom, go into his cubicle, unscrew the handset mouthpiece, remove the microphone, and replace the mouthpiece.  When he returns and resumes cold calling, everyone hangs up on him because they can’t hear anything he’s saying.

He eventually gets so frustrated that he calls technical support who, of course, also hangs up on him while he’s explaining the problem. Cursing, he goes to find somebody who can fix the phone.

While he’s gone, I replace the microphone.

In about fifteen minutes, he returns with a support engineer, who tests the phone, confirms it’s working properly, and then leaves, making it clear (in a voice of belabored patience) that he thinks the executive is either incompetent, crazy or both.

By this time, it’s lunch hour. The exec, still fuming, heads towards the cafeteria.

I go back into the cubicle and remove the microphone again.

The exec comes back, starts cold calling. Soon he’s so frustrated that smoke is practically coming out of his ears whilst I’m maintaining a innocent expression, all the while mentally ROFLMAO.

Finally, the salesman storms out of the building, never to return.

And I go back to work… with the satisfaction of a job well done.

Tech

Toshiba investigated by Japan's securities watchdog: source

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s securities watchdog is investigating Toshiba Corp’s (6502.T) accounting practices for the last business year to see if it properly handled the losses incurred by its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission is examining the process involved in creating the financial report for the 2016/17 business year, said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified.

A Toshiba spokesman declined to comment.

Reporting by Takahiko Wada; Writing by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Tech

Amazon to ship electronics in Brazil from third-party sellers

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc began offering electronics from third-party sellers to Brazilian shoppers on Wednesday, expanding beyond books in the fiercely competitive e-commerce market in Latin America’s largest economy.

The long-awaited move will offer televisions, cell phones and laptops from hundreds of independent sellers on Amazon’s website in Brazil without involving the company in the tricky logistics that have hurt many online retailers in the country.

Alex Szapiro, Amazon’s country manager in Brazil, declined to say if there were plans for the company to stock its own electronics inventory or open a fulfillment center to ship third-party goods more efficiently, as it did simultaneously with the launch of independent sellers in Mexico two years ago.

“Each country has a different playbook,” said Szapiro in an interview with Reuters at Amazon headquarters in Sao Paulo. He helped launch the company’s Brazil business with e-books in 2012 after running operations for Apple Inc in the country for five years.

Shares of local e-commerce rivals MercadoLibre Inc, Magazine Luiza SA and B2W Cia Digital have fallen 14 percent, 17 percent and 20 percent, respectively, in the past week on concerns of heightened competition from Amazon.

Keeping pace with the local e-commerce market, Amazon will parcel purchases into as many as 10 monthly installments without interest, a practice the company started in Brazil for Kindle e-reader sales in 2014, then extended to Mexico and other markets.

Sellers will be paid up-front, minus a 10 percent commission to Amazon and fees of 19 reais ($ 6) per month or 2 reais per item. Szapiro called the 10 percent commission a “promotional” rate without saying when or how much it would eventually rise.

($ 1 = 3.16 reais)

Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Tech

7 Things You Should Know Before Making a Major Career Decision

A friend of mine recently announced that his employer was closing the facility where he currently worked and moving its function to a larger facility about 600 miles away.

They gave him a choice: 1) relocate or 2) work remotely from home without relocating. Last I heard, he’d decided to relocate. His logic was as follows:

  1. As is typical in this sort of announcement, some of the coworkers at his facility were laid of rather than given a choice.
  2. The stated reason behind the relocation was to increase the amount of contact between employees in hopes of creating a more collaborative culture.
  3. Working from home would place him out of the collaborative loop and thus make him more likely to be laid off in the future.

While I understand his logic, I’m not sure he’s made the right decision.

Based upon what I’ve seen and experienced in the corporate world, there are seven essential truths to consider before making any major career decision.

1. There is no such thing as job security.

Millions of people have pursued their careers under the assumption that if they do the job required of them–and do it well–t they’ll remained employed and even get regular, reasonably-sized raises. And millions of people, having made huge sacrifices for their employers, have gotten fired anyway.

2. Always have options in your back pocket.

In my most recent book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, I recommend always having at least three different job opportunities under development, as well as a written plan for what you’d do, and who you’ll call, should you lose your job or decide to leave. If you’ve got options, your employer can’t bully. You make decisions based on opportunity not fear.

3. Know your true value to your company.

All companies, large or small, want to compensate you as little as possible while getting you to create (for them) as much value as possible. By contrast, it’s in your interest to get your compensation as close as possible to the value you’re creating, allowing for a fair profit to your employer. Essential question: how much would it cost to replace you?

4. Bad managers love management fads.

Thirty years ago, it was Total Quality Management; twenty years ago, it was Reengineering; ten years ago, it was Disruptive Innovation; today it’s the Collaborative Office. Popular management panaceas, at best, serve as corporate productivity taxes.  Worst case, they actively drive companies out of business. Be forewarned.

5. Do the numbers before you decide.

Consider the hidden costs before making any career decision. In my friend’s case, working from home eliminates commute time. Adding, say, an hour commute (both ways) to a 50-hour work week is the equivalent to a 20 percent pay cut! Similarly, relocating away from extended family could mean increased child-care costs. Always do the math!

6. Never make a career decision out of fear.

Fear is a useful emotion for making short-term decisions like “Should I try to pet that strange dog?” Fear is worse than useless, how, when making long-term decisions like “Where should I work?” or “What should I do for a living?” Making career decisions out of fear tends to land people in jobs that they hate and miss opportunities for jobs they’d truly enjoy.

7. The true measure of success is happiness.

As I’ve pointed out previously, it’s better to be happy and poor than miserable and rich. Of course, it’s easier to be happy when you don’t need to worry about money but past a certain point, it’s harder to achieve more happiness than more money. With this in mind, most people are happier when they work for home

Tech

Exclusive: T-Mobile, Sprint plan merger without selling assets

(Reuters) – T-Mobile U.S. Inc (TMUS.O) and Sprint Corp (S.N) plan to announce a merger agreement without any immediate asset sales, as they seek to preserve as much of their spectrum holdings and cost synergies as they can before regulators ask for concessions, according to people familiar with the matter.

While it is common for companies not to unveil divestitures during merger announcements, T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s approach shows that the companies plan to enter what could be challenging negotiations with U.S. antitrust and telecommunications regulators without having made prior concessions.

Reuters reported last week that some of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust staff were skeptical about the deal, which would combine the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers. However, regulators can only begin reviewing a corporate merger once it has been agreed to and announced.

T-Mobile and Sprint are preparing a negotiating strategy to tackle demands from regulators regarding asset sales, including the divestment of some of their spectrum licenses after their deal is announced, the sources said.

The companies’ announcement of a merger agreement, currently expected to come either in late October or early November, will focus on the potential benefits of the deal for U.S. consumers, including the advancement of next-generation 5G wireless technology, which requires considerable investment, the sources added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. T-Mobile and Sprint declined to comment.

“It is better for Sprint and T-Mobile to listen and learn the concerns of regulators first, and see whether there is anything that can be done to address those concerns,” MoffettNathanson research analyst Craig Moffett said.

A combination of T-mobile and Sprint would create a business with more than 130 million U.S. subscribers, just behind Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and AT&T Inc (T.N).

Companies often chose not to make any pre-emptive announcements on divestitures when they announce mergers. For example, when U.S. health insurers Anthem Inc (ANTM.N) and Aetna Inc (AET.N) separately announced deals two years ago to acquire peers Cigna Corp (CI.N) and Humana Inc (HUM.N), they did not reveal which assets they would be willing to divest. U.S. federal judges shot down both mergers on antitrust grounds earlier this year.

Some media and telecommunications deals in recent years have been announced with divestitures, such as U.S. cable operator Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable in 2014, which was later called off after regulatory pushback. When U.S. TV station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI.O) announced its acquisition of peer Tribune Media Co (TRCO.N) in May, it said it might sell certain stations to comply with regulators.

Companies often also choose to place caps in their merger agreements on the size of divestitures they would be willing to accept in their negotiations with regulators. T-Mobile and Sprint have not yet agreed to include such a cap in their merger agreement, though it is possible they will do so, one of the sources said.

SPECTRUM HOLDINGS

UBS research analyst John Hodulik said in a research note earlier this month that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will likely force T-Mobile and Sprint to make some divestitures of spectrum, since the combined company would have the most airwaves in its sector with more than 300 MHz, putting it ahead of Verizon’s and AT&T’s holdings.

T-Mobile spent $ 8 billion in a government auction of airwaves earlier this year. Sprint stayed out of the auction, touting its holdings of high-band spectrum, which it says can move large volumes of information at high speeds.

Having access to a lot of spectrum is particularly important for the 5G wireless offerings that AT&T and Verizon hope to launch to better compete with high-speed Internet services from cable companies.

T-Mobile and Sprint believe that the U.S. antitrust enforcement environment has become more favorable since the companies abandoned their previous effort to combine in 2014 amid regulatory concerns, according to the sources.

The two companies have not yet introduced a breakup fee in their merger negotiations that would compensate one side if regulators reject the deal, though it is possible one will be agreed to by the time the deal is signed, the sources said.

Investors have been waiting for the deal to be announced since Reuters first reported last month that T-Mobile and Sprint were close to agreeing tentative merger terms.

Sprint shareholders are expected to receive little to no premium in the deal, meaning that Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T), which controls Sprint, and other Sprint shareholders will own around or more than 40 percent of the combined company. T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE) and the rest of the T-Mobile shareholders will own the remainder.

It is still possible that the negotiations between T-Mobile and Sprint will conclude without a deal, the sources have cautioned.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco and Anjali Athavaley in New York; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

Tech

​Windows Subsystem for Linux graduates in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

More Windows 10

Interested in running Linux on Windows 10 with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), but nervous about it being both a beta and only available in Windows 10 developer mode? Your worries are over. In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (WinFCU) WSL has graduated to being a Windows 10 feature that can be run by any user.

Tested for over a year, WSL on WinFCU is bringing many new features to this combination of the Linux Bash shell and Windows.

Besides WSL no longer being a beta or requiring users to be in developer mode, the new features include:

  • Install Linux distros via the Windows Store
  • WSL now runs multiple Linux distros
  • WSL comes to Windows Server & Microsoft Azure VMs
  • WSL now supports USB/serial comms
  • Miscellaneous fixes and improvements

Besides Ubuntu, the new WSL-supported Linux distros are SUSE‘s community openSUSE and its corporate SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). Fedora and other distros will arrive in the store shortly.

If you’ve previously installed WS, your existing “legacy” Ubuntu instance will continue to work, but it’s deprecated. To continue to receive support you should replace it with a new store-delivered instance. Without this, you won’t receive Canonical or Microsoft support.

To keep your old files, you should tar them and copy them to your Windows file system; for example: `/mnt/c/temp/backups` and then copy them back to your new instance.

In addition, instead of jumping through hoops to install Linux on Windows, you can install one or more — yes, you can have multiple distros on a single Windows 10 system — Linux distros from the Windows Store.

To do this, you must first enable the WSL feature in the “Turn Windows Features on or off” dialog and reboot. No, WSL is not active by default and yes, you must reboot.

After rebooting you simply search for “Linux” in the Windows Store, pick a version to install, hit install, and in a few minutes you’re good to go.

If you already have a Bash instance installed on WSL, you can start afresh with the lxrun /uninstall command. You run this command from the command prompt or PowerShell.

Besides being able to install multiple Linux distributions, you can simultaneously run one or more Linux distros. Each distro runs independently of one another. These are neither virtual machines (VMs) nor containers, and that means they need their usual system resources. I, for example, would only want them on systems with at least an additional 2GBs per instance of running WSL.

WSL itself requires only minimal system resources. Rich Turner, Microsoft’s senior program manager of WSL and Windows Console, wrote: “We don’t list [RAM requirements] because, frankly, we don’t have any of note! If you don’t install WSL, we add no RAM footprint. If you do enable WSL, there’s a tiny 850KB driver loaded briefly, and then it shuts down until you start a Linux instance. At that point, you load /init which launches /bin/bash. This causes the 850KB driver to load, and creates Pico Processes for init and bash. So, basically, WSL’s RAM requirements are pretty much whatever the RAM is that you need to run each Linux binary, plus around 1MB of working set in total.”

The Linux distros can also access Windows’ host filesystem, networking stack, etc. That means you should be cautious about changing files on the Windows filesystem.

windows-store-linux-distros.png

You can now install Linux distros right from the Windows Store.

Why would you run multiple distros at once? Microsoft points out:

“This ability to run different Linux distros allows you to use the same tools, package manager/ecosystem, and environment that your production code will be running in. This results in less time wasted tracking down hard-to-find errors when it comes time to deploy your code. This allows you to, for example, use Edge/Chrome/Firefox on Windows, to view a website hosted on Apache on Ubuntu, that talks to a REST service running on openSUSE … without having to punch holes through the firewall when testing locally, because all these processes run above the firewall, alongside one another!”

Linux developers will be pleased to find that USB serial comms are now supported. This enables your shell scripts and apps to talk to serial ports.

WSL also now supports mounting of USB-attached storage devices and network shares. That’s the good news, The bad news is it only supports the NT filesystem IO infrastructure. In other words it only supports FAT/FAT32/NTFS formatted storage devices. Want *nix file systems? Microsoft encourages you to upvote and/or comment on the associated UserVoice ask.

Digging deeper into the new improvements, under the hood WSL on WinFCU now includes:

  • Improved TCP socket options inc. IP_OPTIONS, IP_ADD_MEMBERSHIP, IP_MULTICAST, etc
  • /etc/hosts will now inherit entries from the Windows hosts file
  • xattr related syscalls support
  • Fixed several filesystem features and capabilities
  • Improved PTRACE support
  • Improved FUTEX support
  • chsh, which enables you to change shells, now works. This enables you to use your favorite shell directly. Shell startup file other than “.bashrc” will now execute.

The following syscalls were added for the first time during the FCU cycle:

  • Prlimit64
  • getxattr, setxattr, listxattr, removexattr

As expected, WSL is also on its way to Windows Server and to Microsoft Azure Windows VM instances. This will make WSL even more useful for sysadmins.

All these improvements have made it even easier for developers and system administrators to run Linux shell commands on Windows. While this isn’t very useful for ordinary desktop users, for serious IT staff it’s a real step forward, making Windows more useful in a server and cloud world that’s increasingly dominated by Linux. Even on Azure, over a third of VMs are Linux.

With WSL, most Linux shell tools are at your command. These include: apt, ssh, find, grep, awk, sed, gpg, wget, tar, vim, emacs, diff, and patch. You can also run popular open-source programming languages such as python, perl, ruby, php, and gcc. In addition, WSL and Bash supports server programs such as the Apache web-server and Oracle’s MySQL database management system. In other words, you get a capable Linux development environment running on Windows.

While you can run Linux graphical interfaces and programs on WSL, it’s more of a stunt than a practical approach at this time. Of course, with a little work…

How does WSL work? Dustin Kirkland, a member of Canonical’s Ubuntu Product and Strategy executive team, explained: “We’re talking about bit-for-bit, checksum-for-checksum Ubuntu ELF binaries running directly in Windows. [WSL] basically perform real-time translation of Linux syscalls into Windows OS syscalls. Linux geeks can think of it sort of the inverse of ‘WINE‘ — Ubuntu binaries running natively in Windows.”

What matters now is that WSL works very, very well. If you want.

Related Stories:

Tech

6 Rules You Must Know for Using SEO and SEM to Grow Your Business

If you’re managing a business, you know how important a web and mobile presence is. Whether you’re selling tacos, tiaras, or terabytes, customers need to be able to find you.

You’ve probably dipped your toe into the complex world of organic or “free” search, also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and paid search, also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). But what do you really need to know about SEO and SEM?

I spoke with SEO/SEM expert Andrew Shelton, founder of the digital marketing agency Martec360, who gave me six rules that you need to pay attention to right now if you want to increase your sales through search:

1. Mobile is king

Need evidence of the importance of mobile? Some 96% of smartphone owners use their device to get things done. About 70% of smartphone owners use their phone to research a product before purchasing it in a store. Half of all web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

Furthermore, Google has begun to make its search index “mobile-first.” That means that Google will primarily index mobile content and use that to decide how to rank its results.

2. Paid search pays off on mobile

On mobile, paid search (SEM) is increasingly paying off. Shelton says he used to tell his clients to focus on free search (SEO) but with users putting mobile first, the continuum has changed.

“The greatest return on investment is email,” Shelton says, “because you have those customers in house. But paid search is next.” He estimates that paid search spending went up by factors of 25% to 50% in 2016.

3. Have a solid content strategy

The old adage is the new adage: “Content is king.” You need high-quality content for your website if it’s going to compete in the free search business. You can’t go about that blindly.

Consider what customer problem you’re solving. What customer questions can you be answering?

Do you have a mechanism for customers to ask questions? There could be a wealth of ideas for blog posts, FAQs, and buyers’ guides right there.

4. Social media is worth your return on investment

Social media can be vexing for many businesses. You definitely have to perform a cost-benefit analysis on it. Spending six hours a day sending out tweets that don’t lead to conversions is going to be a losing proposition.

Treat social media as “an engagement with an ongoing conversation with your customers,” Shelton recommends. “It’s not just for selling.”

In fact, if your social media channels are too hard-sell, they’ll be counter productive. You have to create value. Tools like Hootsuite, Falcon.IO, and Curalate can help.

5. Manage your online reputation

According to Shopper Approved, an app that helps its clients collect online ratings and reviews, 88% of all consumers read online reviews to determine whether a local business is a good business.

All of those reviews are part of the SEO equation. They can help you, or they can hurt you. But an app like Shopper Approved can help push more positive reviews where you need them.

6. Measure and monitor your progress

The only way you’re going see your business grow exponentially through SEO, SEM, and social media is to measure what you’re doing. You have to know where you’re starting, set some benchmarks, and monitor your progress.

Install Google Analytics. There is a plethora of other e-commerce tools you can use for analysis. Data is your friend. Get used to swimming in it.

And if you need help, find a consulting firm that understands your customer and your goals.

Just remember, effective search is process. You won’t get it right the first time. But you’ll get better at it with everything you learn.

About the author:

Kim Folsom is the Founder of LIFT Development Enterprises–a not-for-profit, community development organization with a mission to help underserved, underrepresented small-business owners – and Co-Founder and CEO of Founders First Capital Partners, LLC, a small business growth accelerator and revenue based venture fund. Learn more about Kim and her company’s mission to help grow and fund 1000 underserved and underrepresented small businesses by 2026 via their Founders Business Growth Bootcamp program at www.foundersfirstcapitalpartners.com.

 

Tech

Tesla Fires Hundreds of Workers After Their Annual Performance Review

They’re not layoffs, the automaker says.

Electric automaker Tesla Motors fired hundreds of employees this week, including workers at its Fremont, Calif. factory and corporate managers, as it tries to solve production problems for its recently released Model 3.

An estimated 400 to 700 people were dismissed this week, according to a San Jose Mercury News report published Friday afternoon. That’s between 1% and 2% of the company’s more than 33,000 employees. Former and current employees told the Mercury News that little or no warning preceded the dismissals.

A Tesla spokesman would not confirm that number but told Fortune that the move follows its annual performance reviews, which typically involve both involuntary and voluntary departures.

“Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period,” a Tesla spokesman said in an emailed statement. “This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases. As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

Tesla insists that the losses are not layoffs and that it plans to backfill the positions. That’s likely accurate, at least for jobs in California. State law requires companies to notify employees of layoffs through its WARN notification system. There are no records of new layoffs from Tesla. About 200 Tesla and SolarCity employees in the company’s Roseville, Calif. offices were notified Aug. 30 that they would be terminated.

The latest cuts come as the automaker tries to fix bottlenecks on the production line for its Model 3, an all-electric model designed to appeal to the masses. Earlier this month, Tesla reported that it produced 260 Model 3 cars in the third quarter, of which it has delivered 220. That figure is far less than CEO Elon Musk’s prediction that Tesla would produce more than 1,600 of the vehicles by September.

In July, Musk tweeted a production update for the Model 3, saying the car had passed all regulatory requirements ahead of schedule. After announcing that the first 30 customers would receive the Model 3s on July 28, Musk wrote, “production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1,500.”

Altogether, Musk said that third quarter production numbers for the Model 3 would be around 1,630 vehicles—a prediction off by 84%.

A Wall Street Journal report published earlier this month revealed that Tesla workers were assembling Model 3 vehicles by hand until at least early September. One of the “bottlenecks” Musk alluded to was a process that involved positioning and welding body panels by hand, rather than by precision robots, according to workers interviewed by the Journal.

Musk recently delayed the unveiling of an electric semi-truck until Nov. 16 so the company can focus its attention on production problems with its new mass-market car, the Model 3.

Tech

Samsung Elec on track for record third quarter as chips soar

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Friday its third-quarter operating profit likely nearly tripled from a year earlier to a new record, beating analyst estimates as strong memory chip prices fattened margins.

Samsung shares touched a fresh high of 2.74 million won soon after the market opened on Friday, on hopes for record 2017 earnings driven by soaring demand for memory chips with ever greater storage capacity.

“Memory chips have entered a brave new world. The rate of supply increase has slowed drastically, while demand has exceeded expectations, rapidly lifting prices,” said Kim Woon-ho, analyst at IBK Investment & Securities.

“Although the share price has recently seen steep jumps, it still doesn’t reflect all the forecast profit increases.”

Brisk sales of the latest Galaxy Note 8 smartphone, launched in mid-September, lifted mobile profit as Samsung recovered from last year’s costly withdrawal of the fire-prone Note 7 device, analysts said.

Samsung is also expected to announce a new shareholder return policy for the next three years as soon as the end of October, when it releases third-quarter results.

It is seen ramping up returns to a level higher than its current 50 percent of free cash flow, supporting its stock valuation, analysts said.

An employee helps a customer purchase a Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 8 at its store in Seoul, South Korea, October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The Apple Inc smartphone rival and global memory chip leader said third-quarter operating profit was likely 14.5 trillion won ($ 12.81 billion), compared with the 14.3 trillion won average of 20 analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue likely rose 29.7 percent from a year earlier to 62 trillion won, versus the analysts’ average forecast of 62.1 trillion won.

A man stands at Samsung Electronic’s store in Seoul, South Korea, October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Samsung did not elaborate on its July-September performance and will disclose detailed results at the end of October. Analysts have tipped its chip division to propel the firm to record overall profit.

Strong global demand for DRAM chips will continue to outpace supply in 2018 as new plants from Samsung and No. 2 memory chip maker SK Hynix are not expected to operate until 2019, while demand for NAND flash chips exceeded supply for six straight quarters as of last month, DRAMeXchange, a division of data provider TrendForce, said.

Growing sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) smartphone screens for new Apple smartphones also have supported forecasts of a new earnings record in the fourth quarter.

Pre-orders for the Note 8 hit the highest-ever for the Note series, Samsung previously said.

Samsung shares were trading down 0.8 percent at 0022 GMT as investors booked profits, while the broader market was flat.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Stephen Coates

Tech

Facebook pushes ad overhaul before 2018 U.S. election: executive

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc has begun overhauling how it handles political ads on its platform and may put some changes in place before U.S. elections next year, Facebook’s chief technology officer said on Wednesday.

U.S. congressional and state elections set for November 2018 present a deadline of sorts for Facebook and other social media companies to get better at halting the kind of election meddling that the United States accuses Russia of.

“We are working on all of this stuff actively now, so there is a big focus in the company to improve all of this on a regular basis,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said in an interview.

“You’re going to see a regular cadence of updates and changes,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference that Facebook is hosting about virtual reality technology.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said last month that the company would begin treating political ads differently from other ads, including by making it possible for anyone to see political ads, no matter whom they target. U.S. lawmakers had begun calling for regulations.

Disclosures by Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google that their products were battlegrounds for Russian election meddling last year have turned into a crisis for Silicon Valley.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is in Washington this week meeting U.S. lawmakers.

Moscow has denied allegations of meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Implementing changes is tricky, Schroepfer said, because Facebook does not want to stifle legitimate speech and because of the volume of material on Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2 billion users and 5 million advertisers.

“We’re investing very heavily in technical solutions, because we’re operating at an unprecedented scale,” he said.

Facebook is also using humans. The company said this month it would hire 1,000 more people to review ads and ensure they meet its terms.

Schroepfer, 42, has been Facebook’s CTO since 2013 and previously was director of engineering. He also sits on Facebook’s board of directors.

Facebook has dealt with problematic user-generated content in the past, he said.

“We don’t want misuse of the platform, whether that’s a foreign government trying to intercede in a democracy – that’s obviously not OK – or whether it’s an individual spewing hate or uploading pornography,” he said.

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Kim Coghill

Tech

When She Couldn't Find a Hairstylist, This Founder Took Matters Into Her Own Hands

When you’re in a new town, whether it be for travel or work, not only do you have to settle in, you have to find all-vendors to handle your services: from a dry-cleaners to where to grab a pizza to where to get a haircut. Most founders build something because they have personal experience with a pain-point and see an obvious gap in the market. Maude Okrah, Founder and CEO of Bonnti is no different. She recently sat down with Project Entrepreneur and explained.

Project Entrepreneur: What inspired you to start your business?

Okrah: It was entirely personal reasons that inspired me to go on this entrepreneurial journey. I’ve been lucky to travel to a number of different cities and countries for work.

As a black woman, our hairstylists are a big part of our lives and finding a good one helps to adjust to a new city that much easier! However, I really struggled with the process of finding good stylists in each new city I went to. I had so many bad experiences with all the different stylists.

If I can get on my phone and order a Lyft, shop for new clothes, and get my groceries delivered why can’t I find a great hairstylist with the same ease? This frustration and desperate need for a solution led to the founding of Bonnti – a mobile app that allows women of color the opportunity to find stylists, discover styles and build community all within a convenient and fun platform.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is learning and becoming fluent in the language of tech. As a non-technical founder, there have been quite a few hurdles I’ve had to face when it comes to app development. I’ve had a crash course in the world of tech.

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?

I’d love to see more women, especially women of color, dive deeper into the tech world and come up with solutions to solve the unique everyday problems we face.

I’ve learned so much throughout this entrepreneurial journey that I’d be remiss not to share it with any other woman who even shows an inkling of interest in this field.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?

It’s all about the 3Ps: patience, persistence, and passion. While the entrepreneurial world is very fast-paced, you have to learn there are times where you have to exercise patience, as stressful as that may be, follow your intuition.

You have to remain persistent. No matter how many no’s you get in one day, even in the face of rejection you have to keep trying.

You also have to love what you do; be obsessed with it! This space is a roller-coster, there are high levels of ambiguity and if you don’t have passion you may not survive.

This article originally appeared on the Project Entrepreneur website and has been condensed for clarity.

Tech

Starbucks' Schultz still not running for president, launches series on Amazon

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp Chairman Howard Schultz on Tuesday will debut the second season of the coffee chain’s inspirational video series “Upstanders” on Amazon Prime, and the outspoken executive said he would not run for president, despite persistent speculation.

“I have no plans to run for office. I am very consistent on that,” said Schultz, who in April fueled talk he was preparing for a presidential run by resigning as Starbucks’ chief executive. Despite his repeated denials, the New York Times recently included Schultz in an opinion piece titled “Who Can Beat Trump in 2020?”

Schultz, a Democrat who has taken national stands on immigration, gun control and other controversial topics, said “Upstanders” was part of an effort to redefine the roles and responsibilities of public companies in U.S. society.

“One of those roles and responsibilities is to remind and reinforce the values of the country, and what better way to do that than to allow the American people to tell their story,” Schultz said in a phone interview on Monday.

The new season of “Upstanders” chronicles the journeys of everyday people who, among other things, have successfully reached across ideological divides to find consensus on divisive issues such as refugee resettlement, climate change to needle-exchange programs. Upstanders launched last year on the Starbucks app, which has 19 million active users, and the chain’s in-store wireless network.

In addition to Amazon.com’s Prime video streaming service, Upstanders Season 2 will be available on Facebook’s new Watch video platform, on Starbucks’ website at starbucks.com/upstanders and as a free audio book on Amazon’s Audible.com.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks’ executive producer on the project, said the mission behind “Upstanders” is simple.

”If these stories can lead people in other communities to say, ‘Hey, I can do that too,“ that will be mission accomplished for us,” Chandrasekaran, a former editor at the Washington Post, said during the interview.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Famed Architect’s Lawsuit Against Google Just Got Much More Serious

Eli Attia alleges he wasn’t the only one mistreated by the search giant.

A long-running lawsuit filed against Google by a prominent architect has just gotten much broader.

Last week, the Superior Court of California granted a motion adding racketeering charges to the civil case being pursued against Google by Eli Attia, an expert in high-rise construction. Attia claims Google stole his idea for an innovative building design method – and now he wants to prove that it does the same thing frequently.

Attia’s suit was originally filed in 2014, four years after he began discussions with Google (prior to its reorganization as Alphabet) about developing software based on a set of concepts he called Engineered Architecture. Attia has said Engineered Architecture, broadly described as a modular approach to building, would revolutionize the design and construction of large buildings. Attia developed the concepts based on insights gleaned from his high-profile architecture career, and has called them his life’s work.

Google executives including Google X cofounder Astro Teller came to share his enthusiasm, and championed developing software based on Engineered Architecture as one of the company’s “moonshots.” But Attia claims the company later used his ideas without fulfilling an agreement to pay to license them.

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Attia’s suit names not just Google, but individual executives including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It also names Flux Factory, the unit Attia’s suit alleges was spun off specifically to capitalize on his ideas.

Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, Attia’s lawyer claims Google told Attia his project had been cancelled, “when in fact they were going full blast on it.” Flux Factory is now known as Flux, and touts itself as “the first company launched by Google X.”

Attia’s suit will now also seek to prove that his case is representative of a much broader pattern of behavior by Alphabet. According to court documents, the motion to add racketeering charges hinged on six similar incidents. Those incidents aren’t specified in the latest court proceedings, but Alphabet has faced a similar trade-secrets battle this summer over X’s Project Loon, which has already led to Loon being stripped of some patents.

The idea of racketeering charges entering the picture will surprise many who associate them with violent organized criminals. But under RICO statutes, civil racketeering suits can be brought by private litigants against organizations and individuals alleged to have engaged in ongoing misdeeds. The broader use of racketeering charges has slowly gained ground since the introduction of RICO laws in the 1960s, with some famous instances including suits against Major League Baseball and even the Los Angeles Police Department.

Tech

7 Reasons You Don't Need a College Degree to Earn Big

There are few college degrees that pave the way to six figures. It can happen – but you can also earn a six-figure income without ever going to college. I’m a proud college dropout, and was earning over $ 200,000 a year as the head of SEO at Oversee.net while my friends were working on their degrees. I went on to build and run successful companies and help others grow theirs. And I’m certainly not an anomaly in the world of business success.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Lady Gaga are all wildly successful – all without college degrees. According to reporting from the Washington Examiner, 68% of Americans don’t have a bachelor’s degree. My position here isn’t to say college degrees are worthless or can’t be beneficial – just that they aren’t necessary to achieve success.

Here are 7 reasons you don’t need a college degree to earn big.

1. Online Learning Turns You Into an Expert

There was a time when going to college and securing a master’s was a ticket to big paychecks. But as we’ve learned during the ups and downs of our economy, a degree doesn’t always unlock doors to more opportunities.

You could end up needing an MBA for the work you want to do, but you should also stop to challenge your assumptions before signing up for four years of tuition and student debt. Do you really need a four-year degree to be a coder? Or could you take classes from Codeacademy or Dev Bootcamp to learn web development? Chances are you can find courses online for anything you want to be an expert in. Consume every course and all the content you can find to advance your own career.

2. It’s Possible to Start Consulting Right Now

There is no degree required to become a consultant; and you also don’t need to be a foremost expert to launch your services. Work on identifying areas where you can solve someone else’s problems. Look at B2B services you can offer, from email marketing to on-site optimization.

Just don’t fall into the trap of believing that you don’t know enough to consult. If you know more than your clients and can coach them in useful ways that solve their problems, then you can look to consulting. I have years of experience in content marketing and consult entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses. Although I’ve had a lot of success, there are plenty of other people out there who are more experienced and earn more than me. There’s room for people with various strengths and niches in any industry.

3. You Can Invest in Real Estate Without a Degree (or a Lot of Money)

There is no degree required to start investing in real estate. And I’m not just talking about flipping homes or buying rental property. You can start investing in commercial real estate without a degree or even much money.

Crowdsourcing has become a popular way to do this. Sites like Realty Mogul offer investment opportunities for a few thousand dollars. Their properties range from hotels to office buildings to storage units. As you build up your portfolio and earn more money, you can look to commercial real estate opportunities in your own community to make a name for yourself.

4. There Are Still Plenty of Jobs That Pay Six Figures Without a 4-Year Degree

It’s really not necessary to go to college to earn six figures in this day and age. A degree isn’t required for air traffic controllers, yet they have the opportunity to earn six figures within a few years. Real estate brokers and technical writers also don’t need degrees to work in their fields, yet they have high earning potential.

You can also lean on your own skills to earn six figures. That’s how I ultimately went from college dropout to high earner. Or you can get inspired by Millennial Lauren Holliday, a college dropout turned waitress turned self-taught full stack marketer who landed a dream job and started earning six figures. She later went out on her own to earn more and help others learn more about marketing.

5. Student Debt Can Crush Your Dreams

You don’t need a degree if it’s going to put you far into debt with no light at the end of the tunnel. Student loan statistics are grim with over 44.2 million Americans saddled with student loan debt. According to research from Student Loan Hero, the delinquency rate is 11.2% and the average monthly student loan payment for borrowers 20 to 30 years old is $ 351.

Think about what would happen if you didn’t have that loan payment. You could invest that $ 351 into your own business or self-learning to create the kind of career and income stream you’re looking for.

6. Your Degree Could Be Useless By the Time You Graduate

I’m not necessarily against college, but it is a risk. You’re putting a lot of time and money into a degree that may or may not be obsolete by the time you’re ready to use it.

However, even if the degree itself is still useful in opening some doors, it doesn’t mean you’re really ready for the job market. Technology and business processes and trends age quickly. It’s hard to keep up with changing trends when you’re stuck behind your textbooks for four years.

7. You Don’t Learn Grit in College

Author and psychologist Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth says grit can determine success. In her popular TED talk, she explained: “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.”

Grit isn’t learned from textbooks and taking tests. It’s learned from being out there in the world and struggling through challenges and figuring out how to make things work. Your own grit might be learned through launching a freelance career or startup, securing funding for your business or traveling the world and working remotely.

At the end of the day, you don’t need a degree to give you permission to succeed and earn big. While a degree may be useful to help grow your skills and make new connections, it is not a prerequisite to becoming a leader in your industry. Success is a mindset and the result of hard work – and it can absolutely be achieved without your learning credentials in hand.

Did you skip out on college and achieve big success? Let us know about your experience by leaving a response below:

Tech

Google Closer to Using Balloons for Telecom in Puerto Rico

Last Friday, engineers on Google’s internet-by-balloon Project Loon tweeted that they hoped to bring emergency connectivity to Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria left more than 90 percent of the island without cellphone coverage.

Just seven days later, the Federal Communications Commission Friday gave the company a green light to fly 30 balloons over Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for up to six months.

If all goes to plan, Google’s balloons will soon help replace the thousands of cellphone towers knocked down by hurricane-strength winds. The balloons would provide voice and data service through local carriers to users’ phones.

The details of those arrangements aren’t complete. But in its application to the FCC, Google included letters and emails from eight wireless carriers in Puerto Rico, in which they consented for Loon to use their frequencies for disaster relief and to restore limited communications. Two of those agreements were dated Friday.

Google has previously deployed Loon to provide emergency phone service, in Peru following flooding there earlier this year. In Peru, Google had already been working closely with a local wireless network, Telefonica, to coordinate spectrum use and prepare handsets to work with its balloons.

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In Puerto Rico, “things are a little more complicated because we’re starting from scratch,” a Google spokesperson says. “Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner’s network—the balloons can’t do it alone.”

Project Loon was born in Google’s moonshot X division, with the aim of serving the half of the world’s population that is still without internet access. It has launched several successful pilot projects, but has yet to be deployed commercially on a wide scale. It also is embroiled in a lawsuit with Space Data, a small company accusing Google of patent infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of contract following a failed acquisition bid.

With the FCC’s special temporary license in Puerto Rico, Google plans to work along the same lines as in Peru. Thirty Loon balloons will float 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) above the earth in the stratosphere, relaying communications between Google’s own ground stations connected to the surviving wireless networks, and users’ handsets.

Each balloon can serve 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles), so the fleet is expected to provide service over all of Puerto Rico and potentially parts of the US Virgin Islands. Google said it would consult with networks in the British Virgin Islands to minimize interference there.

Another issue is that Google’s technology is still set up for Peru, so some handsets in Puerto Rico may need updates to use the balloon-connected service. Google says it is working on temporary over-the-air software fixes for affected devices, which could include handsets from Apple, Samsung, and LG.

With approval in hand, Google will turn to launching the balloons. Google could not say when it will fly or when service would begin, but a spokesperson said, “We’re sorting through a lot of possible options now and are grateful for the support we’re getting on the ground.”

Restoring voice and data communications cannot come quickly enough for some of the affected. On Tuesday, Mother Jones reported Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló as saying, “Some people, even though we’ve documented the fact… that we’ve delivered food and water, it hasn’t gotten to some of them. Now, it could be for a whole host of reasons. One of them could be that they couldn’t hear it; the information didn’t get to them.”

Tech

The Russian Startup for Trading Stocks and Gold With Cryptocurrency Has Stopped Accepting U.S. Investors

In the world of startups, there’s never a dull moment. Just when you think you’re cruising along with incredible momentum, a curveball out of your control can cause you to adjust in mid-stride and navigate macro-headwinds.

Valentin Preobrazhensky had a simple and brilliant idea in December 2013. He wanted to develop a peer-to-peer marketplace to increase the transparency and lower the deal costs of home loans in emerging markets so that more investors could enter, and banks could more efficiently sell loans off of their balance sheets at a fair market value.

With a background in hedge funds and marketplace software development, he launched AIBanks, rebranded to LA Token earlier this year, which has become one of the most interesting cryptocurrency startups. By 2016 he had built real traction around the platform. 25 investors and seven banks had successfully completed over 1,000 transactions through the platform.

And just when it seems that nothing can slow this entrepreneur and his team down the industry gets a dose of regulatory reality that forces them to make some on the fly adjustments in the last 24 hours as the SEC uncovered two major unrelated frauds that sent yet another ripple through the cryptocurrency markets.

Preobrazhensky and his fans now face some notable skeptics like the Financial Times and plenty of other real-time decisions to navigate as LA Token announced today that it will no longer sell tokens to U.S. investors on the heels of the breaking news overnight and fraud cases filed against two other ICOs by the SEC.

The drama leading up to the announcement

LA Token, which stands for “Liquid Asset Token Protocol,” was explained to me as a mechanism that makes sure that the link between a token and underlying asset is legally and technically enforceable. It enables a peer-to-peer contractual rights transfer between the two parties.

The first trade of tokenized Apple stock occurred on the platform this past August 19, and spawned the opening of the company’s ICO a week later. In just three days, the company attracted over $ 10 million from approximately 3,000 contributors. The money is being used, according to Preobrazhensky, to fund the full platform trading development to allow global real estate assets to be tokenized and traded through the platform.

The second and third rounds of LA Token’s ICO attracted an additional $ 7 million in the last 30 days to allow for the development of the debt and commodities exchanges. They were poised to close out the final round of their ICO in the coming week with a hard cap of $ 40 million.

This would allow them to fund the development of the full release of complimentary exchanges for trading rare works of art and other more illiquid hard assets without a middleman.

In a video chat via Whatsapp this week, a spokesperson told me, “We have a solid core business, team, and value proposition. We believe we can capture up to $ 400 billion of the total trading volume in the market by 2020 and over $ 1.2 trillion of the trading volume by 2025 through our platform.”

Several big names also believe him and are on the board or advisory team, including Cecilia Mueller Chen (former COO of UBS, chief compliance officer at China Construction Bank and chief regulatory officer at Deutsche Borse), Mike Jones (former CEO, MySpace), and Anish Mohamed (Hyperloop and HSBC advisor).

Why this story matters

LA Token is interesting because it’s setting out to build a bridge between “the crypto economy and real economies” according to the company’s website. It does this by providing a decentralized exchange that enables investors to trade non-bank and non-digital (hard) assets, from Apple or Tesla stock to rare works of art, using cryptocurrencies.

The fascinating innovation is that in the very complicated and volatile world of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies, LA Token seems to have zeroed in on a trillion-dollar niche. They aim to become a bridge to merge the two worlds of centralized banking and Wall Street trading with the wild west of decentralized cryptocurrency investors for a potential healthy marriage of opposites.

This is definitely a story to watch in the coming weeks. As entrepreneurs, we can all relate to the roller coaster ride and highs and lows–and I look forward to watching seeing how Preobrazhensky stays level-headed with his team to navigate stormy waters.

A disclosure: I don’t own any LAT in my portfolio. I am not a registered investment advisor or qualified in any way to provide investment advice. Investing in cryptocurrencies is highly risky and volatile.

Tech

Indonesian e-commerce startup Kioson shares jump 50 percent on debut

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Shares of Indonesian e-commerce startup PT Kioson Komersial Indonesia Tbk surged 50 percent on its trading debut on Thursday.

The company sold 150 million shares at 300 rupiah each in its initial public offering to raise 45 billion rupiah ($ 3.3 million), it said in a statement.

The stock was trading at 450 rupiah as of 0208 GMT on the Jakarta Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Eveline Danubrata; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Ford CEO Jim Hackett’s 6-Point Plan to Turn Around the Automaker

Ford CEO Jim Hackett’s Blueprint: Cut Costs, Add Electric | Fortune

Tech

Japan's Murata aims for profitable battery biz in 2-3 years: CEO

CHIBA (Reuters) – Japanese electronics components firm Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd aims to turn around its money-losing battery business within two to three years as its safety technology draws strong interest from smartphone vendors, its chief executive said.

“We are seeing brisk demand for our smartphone batteries due to their safety performance, particularly since a series of incidents last year involving overheating batteries,” Tsuneo Murata said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

The firm’s battery business, most of which it acquired from Sony Corp for 17.5 billion yen ($ 154.8 million) last month, uses gel electrolytes for smartphone batteries, which are less prone to fire than commonly used liquid-type batteries.

Murata plans to boost battery revenue to 200 billion yen in the year through March 2021, up around 30 percent from current levels, with capital investment of 50 billion yen over the next two to three years.

Half of battery revenue currently comes from smartphone batteries, and the proportion will not change in the coming years, the CEO said.

He said sales expansion will come through focusing on battery efficiency, with the aim of raising the sales volume of each product rather than broadening Murata’s product line-up.

He also sees no need to rush into the automotive battery business, which he said is already highly competitive. “It won’t be too late to make decisions after a clear trend emerges in the green-car market,” Murata said.

The CEO also maintained the firm’s 2019 goal of commercializing all-solid-state batteries, a new type of battery that significantly increases safety.

The battery will be initially mounted on wearable devices, where safety is the top priority, Murata said, adding that more work needs to be done to increase energy density before launch.

Toyota Motor Corp is working on an electric car powered by an all-solid-state battery that significantly increases driving range and reduces charging time. Murata said his firm’s battery is different to that of Toyota.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Yoshiyasu Shida; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Uber board set for contentious meeting over ex-CEO's power

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The board of Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], including two new appointees of former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick, will meet on Tuesday to consider proposals that diminish the co-founder’s influence, strip early investors of supervoting power and secure a multibillion-dollar investment, sources said.

Proponents of the measures believe they can prevail on each issue, despite the addition to the board of two new directors named by Kalanick and a legal threat from early investors, two people familiar with the matter said.

Kalanick, ousted by investors in June, contends that fellow Uber board members are moving too fast on a dramatic restructuring and wants to delay a decision on governance changes, another source said. It is not clear how many measures will be voted on Tuesday.

The proposals are the latest flashpoint between Kalanick and Uber investors spearheaded by Silicon Valley’s Benchmark, which led the board revolt against Kalanick. Directors are divided about what role Kalanick should play and whether he should retain control over a large part of the board.

The company is seeking to shore up its reputation after a series of scandals. Proponents believe the proposals would improve corporate governance ahead of an expected initial public offering and illustrate the support of major new investors – SoftBank Group Corp and growth-oriented investor Dragoneer Investment Group.

Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, last week proposed cutting the number of board seats controlled by Kalanick to one from three, raising the seats effectively controlled by Khosrowshahi to five from one, and eliminating supervoting rights, which give early shareholders multiple votes per share.

A second proposal, which proponents intend to be linked to the first, would allow internet firm SoftBank and Dragoneer to invest around $ 10 billion in Uber, two sources said.

That would include about $ 1 billion in new Uber shares at the current $ 68 billion valuation, with the rest earmarked for buying shares from current investors at a discount, the sources said. It is not clear how many shares current investors would sell at the terms discussed.

Kalanick responded to the proposals on Friday by appointing former Xerox Chief Executive Officer Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive Officer John Thain to fill two open director seats. Benchmark and others have legally challenged his ability to name the directors.

Burns and Thain took their seats Monday and will be eligible to vote at Tuesday’s board meeting in San Francisco, three people said.

Still, if the changes in voting control pass, the company could face a legal roadblock. Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, investor Stephen Russell and other shareholders threatened Monday to sue directors who voted for the plan, including Kalanick.

Supervoting rights are valuable and important for holding the company accountable, they said. Stripping the rights without consent is unfair, according to a letter seen by Reuters from attorney Mark Geragos to Uber board members Kalanick, Garrett Camp and Ryan Graves.

Each of them stand to lose voting power because they hold shares that carry more than one vote a piece. Though unlikely to make all the concessions sought by fellow board members, Kalanick has shown willingness to cut supervoting rights in the name of strengthening governance, a source said.

“Our clients are confident that, following sober reflection, you will avoid this ill-advised misadventure,” Geragos wrote.

Switching to a one-vote-per-share policy could remove one reason for investors to hold onto Uber shares, creating more demand for SoftBank’s purchase offer. It could also help Uber, if it goes public, avoid being barred from the S&P 500 and other stock indexes that this year instituted rules against unequal voting rights.

Goldman Sachs, acting as a financial adviser to Uber’s board, has been working for weeks since an initial agreement with SoftBank to amass the shareholder proxies and support necessary to move forward with the transaction, according to a source.

Khosrowshahi, who is meeting London’s transportation regulator Tuesday to appeal the non-renewal of Uber’s operating license in the city, is expected to call into the board meeting, a source said.

Reporting By Paresh Dave and Liana Baker in San Francisco and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Facebook to give Russia-linked ads to U.S. Congress on Monday

NEW YORK – Facebook Inc said it plans on Monday to turn over to the U.S. Congress copies of some 3,000 ads that the social network says were bought on Facebook likely by people in Russia in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. election.

Last month, in response to calls from U.S. lawmakers, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg pledged to hand over the ads to congressional investigators who are looking into alleged Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election, but he had left the timing unclear.

The materials would be delivered on Monday, Facebook said on Sunday.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has become a primary platform for internet political ads because it has a wide reach and gives advertisers powerful targeting capabilities. For that reason, it may possess valuable clues for U.S. investigators.

Facebook has already provided information about Russia-linked ads to U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also investigating alleged election meddling, a source said last month.

Moscow has denied any meddling in last year’s U.S. election, in which Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Facebook said on Sunday it would provide to Congress copies of the ads it has found, as well as related data such as whom the ads were targeted at and how much each ad cost.

The materials would be turned over to the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, and to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook said.

The $ 100,000 in ads linked to Russia focused on amplifying divisive U.S. social and political messages, Facebook said last month. Some ads mentioned Muslim support for Clinton, promoted in-person events and weighed in on the Black Lives Matter protests against police shootings, according to media reports.

The emergence of Facebook as a battleground for government-sponsored propaganda has become a major challenge for the social network’s corporate image.

Zuckerberg, in Facebook posts last month, disclosed a series of steps he said the company would take to prevent governments from manipulating it and said he had earlier been wrong to dismiss the possibility of Facebook being used in such a way.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, has likened digital political advertising to the “Wild, Wild West,” and he and others have called for legislation to impose disclosure requirements similar to what is required in the United States for political ads on television.

Reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

The Senate Is About to Approve Commercial Sale of Self-Driving Cars (But Not Trucks)

You will soon be able to ride home from your local car dealership in a car that finds its way there unassisted while you nap or read. That reality came a whole lot closer this week, with bipartisan agreement in the Senate on legislation allowing self-driving cars to take the the roads. The law is expected to come up for vote in the near future, and pass.

The House passed similar legislation, also with bipartisan support, several weeks ago. That legislation allows car manufacturers to sell up to 25,000 autonomous vehicles the first year they offer them. That will go up to 100,000 cars a year if the self-driving cars prove as safe as human-driven ones. And that’s not all. The Trump administration also helped out recently by issuing voluntary safety guidelines for autonomous cars and at the same time requesting that states avoid writing laws or regulations governing self-driving cars and possibly hampering their introduction.

The senators who arrived at the self-driving deal note that autonomous cars appear to be safer than human-driven ones. “Ultimately, we expect adoption of self-driving vehicle technologies will save lives, improve mobility for people with disabilities, and create new jobs,” said Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in a joint statement. They may be right: When a Tesla owner died while his car was in Autopilot mode last summer, company founder Elon Musk pointed out that it was the first known Autopilot fatality in 130 million miles of driving, whereas there’s a human fatality for every 89 million miles of traditional driving.

But if cars with no one at the wheel will soon become a common sight, the same won’t be true of semi trucks. The Teamsters successfully lobbied for the House version of the bill to limit self-driving vehicles to 10,000 pounds or less. That could be a problem for the U.S. trucking industry, which was short an estimated 48,000 drivers at the end of 2015, a shortage that’s expected to grow to 175,000 over the next seven years. That will create enormous pressure to replace hard-to-find long-haul truck drivers with no-muss, no-fuss AI.

Tech

Uber's Kalanick reignites power struggle, names two to board

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] co-founder Travis Kalanick on Friday said he had appointed two new directors, a surprise move that publicly reignited a board battle over the role of the ousted former chief executive.

Uber investors are divided over whether Kalanick, who was pressured to step down as CEO earlier this year in the wake of several company scandals, should himself be on the board and whether he can name two other directors.

The company and new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi are scrambling to portray Uber as a reformed company that is responding to concerns including sexual harassment claims and a U.S. bribery probe.

Kalanick, still one of the largest shareholders, said in a statement he had appointed former Xerox Chief Executive Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive John Thain as directors.

“I am appointing these seats now in light of a recent board proposal to dramatically restructure the board and significantly alter the company’s voting rights. It is therefore essential that the full board be in place for proper deliberation to occur, especially with such experienced board members as Ursula and John,” he said. He did not specify the proposals he opposed.

The appointments were a ”complete surprise“ to Uber and its board, the company said in a statement. ”That is precisely why we are working to put in place world-class governance to ensure that we are building a company every employee and shareholder can be proud of,” it added.

An investor who has supported Kalanick, Yucaipa Companies managing partner Ron Burkle, praised the appointments on Friday, calling Burns and Thain “smart, high-quality people.”

Division among Uber investors exploded in public in August, when Benchmark Capital filed a lawsuit to force Kalanick off the board and rescind his ability to fill two other seats on the panel, accusing him of concealing a range of misdeeds. Yucaipa and other Uber investors defended Kalanick and asked Benchmark to divest its own shares and step down from the board.

A Delaware judge later that month stayed the Benchmark lawsuit and sent it to arbitration, pushing the dispute out of public view and delivering Kalanick a victory.

Kalanick’s action on Friday could be subject to a new legal challenge. Benchmark or other Uber investors could attempt to block the appointments by asking the Delaware judge to issue a so-called “status-quo order.” The judge last month did not grant such a request.

Kalanick’s lawyer at the time told the court that Kalanick had not rushed to fill the seats. The New York Times also quoted Kalanick’s lawyer as telling the court Kalanick had the power to fill the seats under the pre-arbitration “status quo.”

Benchmark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Paresh Dave; Writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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South Korea bans raising money through initial coin offerings

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s financial regulator on Friday said it will ban raising money through all forms of virtual currencies, a move that follows similar restrictions in China on initial coin offerings.

The Financial Services Commission said all kinds of initial coin offerings (ICO) will be banned as trading of virtual currencies needs to be tightly controlled and monitored.

“Raising funds through ICOs seem to be on the rise globally, and our assessment is that ICOs are increasing in South Korea as well,” the regulator said in a statement after a meeting with the finance ministry, the Bank of Korea and the National Tax Service.

“Stern penalties” will be issued on financial institutions and any parties involved in issuing of ICOs, the statement added, without elaborating further on the details of those penalties.

The decision to ban ICOs as a fundraising tool was made as the government sees such issues as increasing the risk of financial scams. The decision tracks similar announcements in the U.S. and China where increasing trading volumes of cryptocurrencies are sparking concerns.

It added Friday’s announcement doesn’t mean the government has implicitly accepted trading of virtual currencies as part of its financial system, and will continue to monitor markets to see additional regulations are needed.

Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Teen Chat App Raises Almost $100 Million in Cryptocurrency

Kik, a chat app popular with teens, raised almost $ 100 million by selling its own cryptocurrency during an initial coin offering, or token sale, the company announced on Tuesday.

According to a Kik blog post, the company sold Kin, Kik’s cryptocurrency based on the Ethereum blockchain, to 10,000 people from 117 countries. TechCrunch reports that Kik users bought $ 47.5 million worth of Kin, which is tied to Ethereum’s price, currently around $ 282. Back in August, Kik closed a presale round of $ 50 million to investors, including Blockchain Capital, Pantera Capital, and Polychain Capital, which brings the total amount raised through the token sale to $ 97.5 million.

Kin, according to CEO Ted Livingston, who wrote about Kik’s move into cryptocurrency in a post on Medium, will be the default currency inside Kik. “By integrating Kin into our chat app Kik, we hope to spark the creation of a new ecosystem of digital services that is open, sustainable, and compelling,” says Livingston. The company, which is based in Ontario, wants to build an economy inside the app based on “buying and selling stickers, hosting and joining group chats, creating and using bots, and much more.”

Kik, which is backed by China’s Tencent, says that it hopes to build an ecosystem similar to China’s mega-popular chat and payment app WeChat. Users can pay at restaurants using WeChat, a function known as “social commerce.”

Companies are using ICOs to raise money without giving away equity or registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Startups are excited about the unregulated ICO space, although ICOs pose major risks to investors. In Q2 2017 alone, startups raised nearly $ 800 million through ICOs, according to a report from CoinDesk, a cryptocurrency news site.

Kik initially set out to raise $ 125 million, but it set limits to the number of tokens each user could buy.

Tech

The Internet Doesn't Need—or Want—Longer Tweets

According to Twitter’s well-worn origin story, the 140-character limit for tweets was born out of the now bygone restrictions of text messaging. The founders wanted Twitter to be used via SMS; at the time, messages were capped at 160 characters. (The extra 20 accommodated user names.) A few years after the company’s founding in 2006, text message limits had disappeared, but Twitter’s restriction remained. It became a cultural institution. People like working within its constrictions; it’s almost an art form for some. But today, Twitter announced that it’s toying with the idea of upping the character count to 280. And just like that, Twitter became that annoying jackass on Twitter who screenshots something from the Notes app to try to get more words in edgewise.

The news provoked an immediate reaction, not much of it good. #280characters became a popular hashtag; users bemoaned what would happen if President Trump had even more runway; even Jack Dorsey’s biggie-sized tweet announcing the news got worked over. In general, the news did not go over well. (Though, some cheered the idea that a few more characters might curtail the #thread.)

But is this actually bad? It’s just Twitter, right? Sure, but here’s the thing. While all social media services change—Instagram gets new filters, Facebook integrates bizarre emoji reactions—Twitter isn’t just trying out a new feature; the company is basically altering one of the last pure, long-standing rules of online culture. Granted, Twitter has tested the boundaries of the character limit for a while now, but it never fully broke them. Millions of users have condensed their witticisms to 140 characters or less for over a decade now; removing that one constant just feels wrong.

Twitter has been under a lot of scrutiny lately—for not handling harassment very well, for not letting users edit tweets, for providing trolls with a platform and playground. It deserves most of those criticisms, but they stem from things Twitter didn’t do, issues the service hasn’t responded to quickly enough. For the expanding-character-limit initiative, the critiques focused squarely on something Twitter did that it didn’t have to. They focused on Twitter screwing up the one thing it’s always done right.

Tech

Ohio Governor John Kasich Talks CEOs, Amazon, and Education

The nation’s schools must do better train young people for high-paying jobs.

That’s according to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who spoke Monday at Fortune‘s CEO Initiative conference in New York.

Kasich, a former 2016 Republican presidential nominee, said that companies should talk to education leaders and urge them to revamp their school curriculum to emphasize more on-the-job skills.

The governor said that he called the heads of several community colleges in Ohio and urged them to beef up on coursework related to cloud computing. That way, Ohio residents could be better ready for possible employment at Amazon’s (amzn) data centers that opened in the state in 2016.

When Amazon first announced it was building an Ohio data center in 2015 to power its Amazon Web Services business, it said at the time that it planned to hire 1,000 jobs “over the next few years.” The governor is hoping that the data centers will open the floodgates to other companies bringing high-tech jobs to the state, which suffered the loss of thousands of high-paid manufacturing jobs over the past few decades.

But it’s not all up to Ohio’s government to provide workers with skills, Kasich argued. To get the most qualified and skilled workforce, companies should spend money on constantly training their own employees. “It’s expensive, but it is in your interest,” he said.

Kasich also shared his thoughts on the following topics:

Being a CEO means making tough decisions:

Kasich said that CEO’s are faced with tough decisions about more issues than simply maximizing corporate profits. He cited the example of several business leaders resigning from President Donald Trump’s business advisory council after the president’s controversial comments about the Charlottesville, Va. white supremacist march as something “that took guts to do.”

Business leaders should hold politicians accountable:

Executives shouldn’t pay “lip service to these politicians,” Kasich said, and should instead play hardball with them more often. If a politician can’t get something done that an executive wants done, executives should tell them they are going to support another politician.

“Don’t be afraid,” Kasich said. “Tell them the truth and hold them accountable.”

Tech

Amazon affiliate to buy $27.6 million stake in Indian retailer Shoppers Stop

MUMBAI (Reuters) – An affiliate of Amazon.com Inc has agreed to buy a 1.79 billion-rupee ($ 27.6 million) stake in Indian retailer Shoppers Stop Ltd, the Indian company said in a filing.

Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC, a foreign portfolio investor, will subscribe to about 4.4 million shares, equivalent to an about 5 percent stake, in the Indian retailer at 407.78 rupees apiece on a preferential basis, Shoppers Stop told the stock exchanges late on Saturday.

On Friday, Shoppers Stop shares had closed 3 percent lower at 418.10 rupees on the National Stock Exchange.

The Amazon affiliate will not take a board position, Shoppers Stop, which operates large department stores and other retail outlets, said in the filing.

Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Sam Holmes

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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