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China’s Tencent Surpasses Facebook In Value

November 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tencent Holdings Ltd has had an impressive week – becoming the first Chinese firm to be worth more than $500 billion and surpassing Facebook to be the world’s fifth-most valuable company.

Earnings for China’s biggest social network and gaming firm have surged on the popularity of its smartphone games led by titles such as Honour of Kings – a fantasy role-playing game, which has as many active players as the population of Germany.

 Also driving earnings has been its messaging-to-payment super app WeChat which has amassed 980 million monthly active users, with 38 billion messages sent daily, while its Youtube equivalent, Tencent Video, has become the video streaming service with the largest paying subscriber base in China.

That success has helped Tencent’s stock more than double this year, making it Asia’s most valuable company worth $522 billion on Tuesday and easily outpacing a 36 percent rise in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Led by Chinese billionaire Pony Ma, Tencent this month reported a better-than-expected 69 percent rise in third-quarter net profit.

“Tencent’s high growth, as demonstrated by its quarterly results, has supported the rally in its shares,” said Steven Leung, a sales director at UOB Kay Hian.

“Since the company has been able to deliver on its earnings, the stock is still worth holding onto despite its current high level.”

In addition to robust earnings, Tencent has also burnished its luster after some units and affiliates have made some eye-catching market debuts.

An executive recently also told Reuters the company is close to making Malaysia the first foreign country to roll out its WeChat ecosystem, pitting it against Alibaba as they scramble for new growth opportunities outside China.

Facebook Workplace Finds Enterprise Client in Virgin Atlantic

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The nature of Virgin Atlantic’s business means many of its employees are continuously globetrotting. Ensuring effective communications channels – a challenge for any company – isn’t easy: nearly half of the airline’s 10,000 employees are cabin or cockpit crew members.

Two months ago, the airline rolled out Facebook’s Workplace, the business version of the social network tool, in a bid to improve information-sharing between staff and senior execs. It currently functions primarily as an intranet for internal communications, though the company plans to integrate the software with other apps and processes, such as ServiceNow, eventually.

Since it was launched, Workplace has been widely adopted across the organization, said Virgin Atlantic CIO and senior vice president for technology Don Langford.

“We went live in the beginning of September and our target for the end of the year was for us to be at 65% adoption,” he said. “We are already over that now; we have got over 7,000 people up on it, so over 70%.”

Aside from the 70% activation rate, 65% are accessing the tool on a weekly basis, and 32% of groups are active weekly. (Tellingly, 34% of the users have added their own Workplace profile pictures.)

Deploying an enterprise social network is one thing, but convincing people to use it daily is often quite another. Raúl Castañón-Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research, said that adoption rate of Workplace at Virgin Atlantic is “very impressive,” particularly considering the number of users accessing the tool on a weekly basis.

“It validates Workplace’s value proposition, which is based on widespread adoption across the organization,” he said.

Langford credited the swift uptake to the familiarity workers already had with Facebook – a potential lesson for other companies.

“Workplace has that advantage of having that same interface, that same way of working,” he said, “and we felt – correctly it turned out – that using Workplace would allow our people to move quite seamlessly across from a Facebook platform to a Workplace platform…. That certainly proved to be true.”

Qualcomm To Power Alibaba

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm and Alibaba have ported Alibaba Cloud Link One to run on the Qualcomm MDM9206 global multi-mode LTE IoT modem.

This is all part of a cunning plan to allow developers to quickly develop and deploy solutions that connect with the Alibaba Cloud using LTE IoT connectivity and client software running directly on the LTE system-on-chip (SoC).

Qualcomm pre-integrated the Alibaba Cloud Link One on to the MDM9206 modem, so that module manufacturers and IoT Tight and cost-effective integration between edge devices and the cloud.

The porting fixes a vast array of the existing and emerging LTE IoT use cases, including smart transportation (e.g. bike sharing), smart cities, as well as industrial IoT applications in areas such as smart grid, smart metering (e.g. electricity, gas, water), asset tracking and more.

It means that Qualcomm will have a foot in the door as more of our hardware becomes sentient and cloud based.

Courtesy-Fud

SoftBank Acquires $10B Stake In Uber

November 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber’s board of directors has agreed to a deal that will allow SoftBank to make a multibillion-dollar investment in the ride-hailing startup.

The agreement resolves a legal battle between Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick and Benchmark Capital, one of the startup’s early investors, Reuters reported Sunday. Benchmark Capital, which owns about 13 percent of Uber, sued Kalanick in August, alleging that Kalanick misled Uber’s stockholders to gain control of three board seats.

“We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment,” an Uber representative said in a statement. “We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”

The agreement comes a month after Uber’s board voted to eliminate its super-voting structure, in which early shareholders had 10 times the voting power, to a one vote per share model, according to a source familiar with the vote. The board also voted to expand the number of board members to 17, adding six seats to dilute additions made by Kalanick in September.

At the same time, Uber’s board approved the sale of $10 billion of stock to SoftBank, a Japanese internet giant. SoftBank plans to acquire a 14 percent to 20 percent stake in the world’s most valuable privately-held tech startup, board member Arianna Huffington said in October.

The vote came amid a tumultuous year for the ride-hailing startup, which has been rocked by a slew of scandals, including sexual harassment allegations that resulted in more than 20 Uber employees being fired. The company has been caught using a secretive tool called Greyball to avoid local authorities. The company is also defending itself against a trade-secret theft lawsuit from Waymo, a self-driving car business run by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

 

SportsCenter Show Comes To Snapchat

November 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN rolled out its flagship SportsCenter program on messaging app Snapchat on Monday, reimagining the show that provides sports highlights and commentary into a short-form series.

The new show deepens the relationship between ESPN parent Walt Disney Co and Snapchat parent Snap Inc.

The sports network, which has made Snapchat content since 2015, is trying to reach a younger audience, while the social media app, whose messages disappear after viewing, is adding more content in an effort to grow its user base beyond its core youth demographic.

The partnership is a two-year deal and Snap and ESPN will share revenues, Snap said, though it declined to give specifics.

SportsCenter will air twice a day on Snapchat during weekdays, and once a day on weekends. A roster of six hosts will give commentary and perspectives, including ESPN anchors Katie Nolan and Elle Duncan, and ESPN Radio host Jason Fitz, Snap said.

Sean Mills, Snap’s head of content programming, said SportsCenter helps round out the app’s stable of daily shows, which already includes news shows from CNN and NBC News, as well as an entertainment show called “The Rundown” from E! Network.

Along with daily shows, Snap launched a joint venture studio with NBCUniversal last month to produce scripted shows to air on the app.

Facebook Has A Unique Way To Fight Revenge Porn

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is prompting people to share their nude photos. But this isn’t what it sounds like.

The goal of the social network’s plan is to make sure people’s nude photos aren’t used for revenge porn by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The way it’ll work is people will share their photos with Facebook via its Messenger app and the company will then “hash” the images, which is a process that converts the photos into a unique digital code. Once Facebook has that code, it can block the images from ever being uploaded to its site. The company will store the images for a short time and then delete them.

The company is piloting the technology in Australia with a small government agency headed by e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

We see many scenarios where maybe photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly,” Inman Grant told the ABC.

Other tech companies have used similar types of hashing technology in efforts to rid the internet of child pornography. Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have used unique digital codes to detect exploitative images, some of which have led to the arrests of people distributing the photographs on the web.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Twitter 280-Character Tweets Go Worldwide

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microblogging website Twitter Inc, known for its iconic 140-character tweets, officially announced that it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world.

Twitter said it ran a test on 280-character tweets in September that showed users spent less time editing their tweets and were less likely to abandon them.

User posting in languages including Japanese, Korean and Chinese, which do not face the issue of “cramming”, will continue to have a limit of 140 characters, Twitter said.

The company did not say when it would start allowing users to post 280-character tweets.

Snapchat Launches Re-design

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc is redesigning its disappearing-message app Snapchat hoping to attract a broader audience, going back to the drawing board as Wall Street clobbered it for another quarter of slowing user growth.

The Venice, California-based firm, whose March stock market debut was the hottest of any tech stock in years, reported revenue and user growth for the third quarter well below Wall Street expectations as it struggles to compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

Snap has disappointed investors each quarter of its brief existence as a public company.

User growth in the last three months was well below what investment analysts expected. Daily active users rose to 178 million in the third quarter from 173 million in the second quarter. Analysts had expected 181.8 million, according to research firm FactSet.

Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company was launching the redesign after hearing for years that Snapchat was difficult to understand or hard to use.

“We are going to make it easier to discover the vast quantity of content on our platform that goes undiscovered or unseen every day,” Spiegel told analysts on a conference call.

The 27-year-old CEO said there was a “strong likelihood” the redesign would be disruptive in the short term, but said Snap was willing to take the risk for long-term gain.

Such a radical change so soon after an IPO is unusual.

Snap is not the only social media company looking to revive growth by changing its look. Microblogging service Twitter Inc said on Tuesday it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world, double the length of its iconic 140-character tweets.

Asked on the analyst call what Snapchat’s redesign would look like, Spiegel said the company had been studying the evolution of mobile content feeds such as Twitter streams and the Facebook News Feed and saw room for a “personalized content service.”

Spiegel said the company next year would also build more tools for people to share with broad audiences beyond their friends, the type of public broadcasting common on Instagram and Twitter.

“It seems like a significant amount of change in a short period of time,” analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG told Spiegel on the call. He asked what led to the shifts.

Spiegel said Snap needed to evolve rapidly. “We’re just not afraid to make changes in the long-term interest of the business,” he said.

Snapchat Popularity Waning, Growth Slows

November 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Snapchat’s growth has come to a near crawl.

Snap, the company behind the social network, saw daily active users climb by 5 million in the third quarter — just 3 percent growth from the second quarter and 17 percent from a year ago — bringing the total to 178 million.

That trails the 300 million daily users on rival Instagram stories. Instagram’s parent, Facebook, boasted a year-over-year 16 percent growth rate, but off a base of more than 2 billion users.

The numbers illustrate the fact that Snapchat still faces stiff competition from Facebook and Instagram. While Snapchat has been successful in attracting younger users, it remains a mystery to a broader audience. Its array of filters and the idea of disappearing messages presents an intimidating barrier for people trying it out.

On the other hand, Facebook’s Instagram Stories continues to grow at an impressive clip.

“One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said Tuesday in a prepared statement, adding that the company is planning a redesign to make the application easier to use.

“We don’t yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application,” Spiegel said. “We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business.”

More bad news: Snap also took a $40 million charge to write-down unsold Spectacles.

The company reported a loss of $443.2 million, or 36 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, Snap lost 14 cents a share, narrower than the average analyst estimate of a loss of 15 cents a share, according to Yahoo Finance.

A year ago, the company lost $124.2 million, or 15 cents a share.

Snap’s revenue rose more than 60 percent to $207.9 million, but still fell far below analysts’ expectations of $239.5 million.

Twitter Introduces Revamped Rules Regarding Abusive Behavior

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is changing the rules for how it expects its users to behave following criticism of how the platform enforces its policies.

The new rules, which Twitter unveiled last Friday, don’t alter the fundamentals of its previous rules but rather seek to clarify its policies and enforcement. The updates incorporate feedback from the company’s global Trust and Safety Council to include more details and examples to provide greater context.

“We have worked on this clarified version of our rules for the past few months to ensure it takes into account the latest trends in online behavior, considers different cultural and social contexts, and properly sets expectations around what’s allowed on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.

The update comes roughly two weeks after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that the social network would be rolling out changes to how it monitors content and protects its 328 million users from online bullying and harassment. Abuse is nothing new to Twitter users, but the platform has been under increased pressure since October’s  #WomenBoycottTwitter protest, which urged people to forgo tweeting for a day to prod Twitter into improving how it vets content.

Friday’s revisions address areas including self-harm, graphic violence, adult content and spam. But the greatest attention will be on abusive behavior. The company explains that when evaluating alleged abuse, it will consider whether the “behavior is targeted, if a report has been filed and by whom, and if the tweet itself is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.”

The company has come under criticism for how it handles abusive behavior on the site, particularly in relation to how it deals with tweets from President Donald Trump. Many have wondered why some of his tweets aren’t being deleted by the social media platform, despite their apparent violation of Twitter’s rules.

One particular tweet in October was interpreted by many as a threat of violence against North Korea’s leadership. Twitter acknowledged that Trump’s tweet had caused an uproar but said it was allowed to stay because of its “newsworthiness.”

Twitter’s media policy Help Center page has been updated with examples of content the company considers to be “graphic violence” or “adult content.” Twitter said the policy will be updated again on Nov. 22 to incorporate examples of prohibited hateful imagery

Twitter said it will discuss its enforcement options in a separate update on Nov. 14.

Facebook Profits Soar, Undeterred By Russian Controversy

November 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc quarterly profits beat expectations and revenue as it pushed further into video advertising, showing no sign of financial damage from the controversy over how Russia used the social network in an attempt to sway voters in the 2016 U.S. election.

The company’s shares, which hit a record earlier in the day, initially rose in after-hours trading, but later fell into negative territory. They have gained almost 60 percent this year.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg condemned Russia’s attempts to influence last year’s election through Facebook posts designed to sow division and repeated his pledge to ramp up spending significantly to increase the social network’s security, something he said on Wednesday would affect profits.

 “What they did is wrong, and we are not going to stand for it,” Zuckerberg said of the Russians, on a conference call with analysts.

Facebook is at the center of a political storm in the United States for the ways it handles paid political ads and allows the spread of false news stories. U.S. lawmakers have threatened tougher regulation and fired questions at Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch in hearings this week.

Facebook, in a series of disclosures over two months, has said that people in Russia bought at least 3,000 U.S. political ads and published another 80,000 Facebook posts that were seen by as many as 126 million Americans over two years. Russia denies any meddling.

Facebook’s total advertising revenue rose 49 percent in the third quarter to $10.14 billion, about 88 percent of which came from mobile ads.

Analysts on average had expected total ad revenue of $9.71 billion, according to data and analytics firm FactSet.

WhatsApp Now Allows Deleting Of Accidental Messages

November 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

You’ve just sent someone the wrong message and begin to panic.

Calm down. Much like Gmail’s Undo Send feature, WhatsApp now lets you delete messages you sent by mistake, according to a WhatsApp support article spotted by The Next Web.

The Facebook-owned messaging app tested the feature throughout this year and will release it gradually for real to WhatsApp users over the next week. It will let you delete messages up to seven minutes after you send them from individual or group chats.

You can delete a message by tapping and holding on it, then choosing Delete from the menu. From there, tap Delete for Everyone to make the message on your end and the receiving end disappear too. Note that when you do this, the message will be replaced in your recipient’s chat by one saying “This message was deleted.”

There are a few caveats, including that both you and others need to be using the latest version of WhatsApp. People may see your message before it’s deleted, and WhatsApp noted that “you will not be notified if deleting for everyone was not successful.”

Google’s Brass Fixates On Cheeseburger Emoji

October 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google’s technical achievements are well known : Google Search, Google Maps, the Pixel 2 XL. And yet, it doesn’t seem to know the simple formula for assembling a cheeseburger.

The company’s problematic approach to making up everyone’s favorite meaty sandwich was pointed out on Twitter by writer Thomas Baekdal, who noted that in Google’s version of the cheeseburger emoji the cheese sits underneath the patty. Quelle horreur!

Fortunately, Google immediately put its top man on the job. Company CEO Sundar Pichai, retweeted the image posted by Baekdal on Sunday, promising: “will drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday.”

Great, you might think, that’s that taken care of. But not quite. Pichai will make the fix on one condition: “if folks can agree on the correct way to do this.” This suggests that he himself is not quite sure where the cheese should go in the order and seems to think it’s open to debate, which it obviously is not.

Let us help you out here, Sundar. The cheese goes on top of the meat. On the top.

Facebook Announced New Transparency Measures For Political Ads

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc confirmed that it has plans to increase transparency about its role in political advertising on Friday, ahead of congressional hearings this week on social media companies and Russia’s meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president for ads, said in a blog post that the company would launch a publicly searchable archive next year containing details about the advertisements it runs related to U.S. federal elections.

Details will include the size of spending and the demographics of the audience the ads reached, Goldman said. The archive, beginning with ads carried in 2018, will cover a rolling four-year period, he said.

 Internet political ads have boomed in recent years as U.S. politicians looked for different ways to reach potential supporters, and as companies including Facebook have created tools to allow targeted marketing.

Online ads, though, are generally viewable only to the intended audience, raising concerns among transparency advocates, researchers and lawmakers about how to hold politicians accountable for what they say.

The planned archive reflects a change in corporate policy for the world’s largest social network, which had previously resisted the idea.

In June, Facebook told Reuters that it would go on treating political ads like all others and that creating an online repository would violate the confidentiality of those advertisers.

Since then, Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google have all said that Russia-based operatives bought ads and used fake names on their services to spread politically divisive messages in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. election.

Moscow has denied interfering in the election.

Next week, general counsels for Facebook, Google and Twitter will testify before public hearings of three U.S. congressional committees about the alleged interference and proposed legislation to require them to disclose election-related ads.

Goldman wrote in his post: “Transparency helps everyone, especially political watchdog groups and reporters, keep advertisers accountable for who they say they are and what they say to different groups.”

Facebook said its archive will eventually expand beyond the United States and show ads from elections in other countries and jurisdictions.

In the future, advertisers on Facebook will also be required to include a disclosure in election-related ads, to read: “Paid for by,” the company said.

Twitter Beats Revenue Expectations, Shows Signs Of Momentum

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter still has a long way to go.

For a second straight quarter, the social network said Thursday its user growth remained essentially flat. With 330 million users logging in at least once a month — way behind rival Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion monthly users — Twitter has become an afterthought. Kinda.

Twitter’s become one of the most high-profile tech companies there is. President Donald Trump turns to it daily to share his thoughts, and leaders from all manner of industries, countries and social movements rely on it to broadcast their ideas, statements, and activities.

So what’s the problem?

One of the biggest issues Twitter faces is harassment. Nonstop, daily vicious attacks that for some can become all-encompassing parts of their lives. And while the attacks have hit celebrities like the comedian Leslie Jones, they’ve ravaged the lives of everyday people as well.

 It all came to a head when actress Rose McGowan’s account was briefly suspended in October after she tweeted that disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein harassed her. Following the high-profile #WomenBoycottTwitter protest in response, CEO Jack Dorsey last week announced changes to the company’s harassment policies

The changes include giving users who get unwanted sexual advances more power to report them. The company is also prohibiting “creep shots” and hidden camera content under a “nonconsensual nudity” category and will take unspecified actions against organizations that have repeatedly promoted violence. Twitter also vows it will hide hate symbols behind a “sensitive image” warning.

For the third quarter, Twitter recorded net income of $78 million, or 10 cents per share, on revenue of $590 million.

Analysts had expected, on average, earnings of 7 cents per share on revenue of $586.7 million.

“This quarter we made progress in three key areas of our business: we grew our audience and engagement, made progress on a return to revenue growth, and achieved record profitability,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, in a statement.

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