The widespread job cuts could come before the company releases its third-quarter earnings on Thursday, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the matter. It cautioned that the precise number of jobs affected could change.
A Twitter spokeswoman said in an email that the company doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation.
Twitter announced in October last year that it was laying off 336 employees.
Unlike many of its peers, the company has failed to grow significantly the number of its users or adequately monetize through advertising the number of users it already has on the site.
For the second quarter of 2016, the company reported that average monthly active users (MAUs) of the service for the quarter were 313 million, up 3 percent year-over-year and compared to 310 million in the previous quarter. Revenue at $602 million was up 20 percent year-over-year, but the company posted a loss of over $100 million under generally accepted accounting principles.
The company has been trying to give users better ways to express themselves on Twitter, including through streaming video and by not counting @names in replies and media attachments in the 140-character limit for a tweet.
The company had hired bankers to explore a sale, but Salesforce.com, The Walt Disney Company and Alphabet, which had shown interest, later backed out from the process, according to reports. The company has seen a steep decline in its share price over the last one year.
Up to 10,000 webcams will be recalled following a cyber attack that blocked access last week to some of the world’s biggest websites, Chinese manufacturer Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co has announced.
In Washington, a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence committee asked three federal agencies what steps the government can take to prevent cyber criminals from compromising electronic devices.
In a new type of attack last Friday, hackers harnessed hundreds of thousands of webcams and other connected devices globally to flood U.S.-based internet infrastructure provider Dyn with so much traffic that it could not cope, cutting access to websites including PayPal, Spotify and Twitter.
Hangzhou Xiongmai said it would recall some surveillance cameras sold in the United States after researchers identified they had been targeted in the attack.
Liu Yuexin, Xiongmai’s marketing director, estimated the number of vulnerable devices at fewer than 10,000 to be recalled. He said the company would recall the first few batches of surveillance cameras made in 2014 that monitor rooms or shops for personal, rather than industrial, use.
Xiongmai had now fixed loopholes in earlier products, prompting users to change default passwords and block telnet access, Liu said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it had discussed the attacks with 18 major communications service providers and was working to develop a new set of “strategic principles” for securing internet-connected devices.
Authorities have yet to identify suspects in the attack, but the Director of U.S. National Intelligence, James Clapper, said on Tuesday that an early analysis did not point to a foreign government.
Cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint concurred.
“The evidence that we have strongly suggests it is amateur, attention-motivated hackers,” said Allison Nixon, Flashpoint’s director of security research.
Nixon said the same infrastructure was used on Friday in an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt internet access to a major video game manufacturer, which she declined to identify.
“Nation states generally don’t attack gaming companies,” she said.
U.S. Senate intelligence committee member Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, sent letters on Tuesday asking DHS, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission if they have adequate tools for combating the threat posed by “bot net” armies of infected electronic devices.
“Manufacturers today are flooding the market with cheap, insecure devices, with few market incentives to design the products with security in mind, or to provide ongoing support,” Warner said.
He asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler if communications providers have authority to deny internet access to electronics devices they deem insecure.
Xiongmai devices were unlikely to suffer similar attacks in China and elsewhere outside the United States, where they are typically used in more secure industrial networks, Liu said.
The company may take further steps to beef up security by migrating to safer operating systems and adding further encryption, Liu said.
China’s Alipay has teamed up with U.S.-based Verifone to integrate its mobile app on Verifone payment terminals at merchants in Europe and North America, the latest such deal to reach Chinese consumers traveling abroad.
Alipay, which counts 450 million active users in China, is the top mobile payments player there. It is a unit of privately held ANT Financial, which is in turn an affiliate of publicly traded Chinese Internet giant Alibaba.com.
It has begun actively expanding outside Asia this year via partnerships with Western payment providers. Verifone terminals are used by most of the top 200 retailers in the United States, a spokesman said.
Instead of seeking to go head to head with major payments players outside its home market, Alipay targets the fast growing Chinese tourism market, which numbered 117 million travelers in 2014, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and is forecast to double by 2020.
Through the Verifone deal announced on Monday, Alipay is targeting top-tier merchants across retail, luxury goods, health supplement and department stores.
Alipay and rival WeChat, a unit of Tencent,together make up 90 percent of the Chinese mobile payments market, with gross merchandise value estimated at more than $1 trillion last year, dwarfing other mobile payment systems around the world, according to iResearch China estimates.
Sabrina Peng, the president of Alipay International, said in a recent interview that her company’s ambition is to become a global payments provider over the next decade, with 60 percent of its transaction volume coming from outside China. “We are targeting 2 billion users in the next 10 years,” she said.
French payment terminal supplier Ingenico announced in August an expanded deal with Alipay to allow merchants across Europe to use Ingenico’s payment gateway to accept payments from Alipay users visiting the region.
The Alipay service is also being integrated into terminals from Concardis, a payments provider for merchants in German-speaking Europe.
Alipay has a similar deal with mobile payments start-up Zapper in Britain to allow Chinese tourists to use QR codes in more than 1,000 restaurants there.
According to Piper Jaffray Companies, a recent survey of 10,000 U.S. teenagers showed that 52% used Facebook at least once a month this fall, compared to 60% who used it monthly in the spring.
“Factoring out shifts in the population surveyed, core Facebook usage likely declined by three basis points, which indicates Facebook is gradually becoming less relevant versus Instagram and Snapchat,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note to investors.
The same survey, however, showed that teen use of Facebook-owned Instagram has gone from 70% to 74% in the same time frame — and rose from 75% to 80% for rival Snapchat.
When asked what their favorite social network was this fall, 35% said Snapchat; 24% said Instagram; and 13% said Twitter and Facebook (which tied for third place).
While older users – say anywhere from 35 to 65 years old – have shown to be loyal Facebook users, the site isn’t pulling in enough users 24 and younger to offset losses as older users die off.
“Well, think about it,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “If Facebook just lost 8% of all teens, that’s millions of users…. Over time, they need to keep the funnel of users coming in on the younger side. I think it creates a huge issue down the road. It’s not likely they can add users that are of older generations. They probably have all they will get from anyone 30 and older.”
Facebook certainly has been working to draw in younger users.
In August, Facebook unveiled its Lifestage stand-alone app. Designed for iOS devices, the app enables teen users to share videos with other people in their schools.
Lifestage was born as a rival to Snapchat and basically a video version of an early stage Facebook.
Also, in March, the company bought face-swapping app Masquerade or MSQRD. The app enables users to dress up their photos and selfies with an Iron Man helmet or a panda outfit.
Facebook hoped that by being able to add special effects to their pics, teens and young adults would be pulled onto Facebook — or at least one of the apps. But so far, at least, those efforts don’t appear to be panning out.
“Facebook has demonstrated the power of social media to engage more people to register to vote, helping thousands take a big step to casting a ballot this November,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a statement. “For many who may be new to the political process, an invitation to register can be a powerful nudge to get involved.”
Facebook dove into the voter registration process this fall. On Sept. 23, Facebook sent reminders to its U.S. users, who were at least 18 years old, about registering to vote. The effort, which ran through Sept. 26, provided a link to voter registration sites at the top of Facebook’s News Feed.
According to Padilla, it caused a “major surge” in online voter registrations in California.
The state reported that on Sept. 23 alone, 123,279 Californians completed registrations or updates of their registration information on the Secretary of State’s online voter registration site. The next day another 43,888 registrations were completed online, and on the 25th, there were 29,256 more registrations or updates.
Padilla said that before the Facebook reminder went up, there was an average of 9,307 completed registrations or registration updates per day in September, and many of those registering were younger voters.
California reported that 23.8% of these registrations and updates were from people between 17 and 25 years old. Another 29.7% were between ages 26 and 35.
Facebook, which has provided users with Election Day reminders for the past eight years, wanted to do more this year to encourage voter registrations.
“Going back to 2008, we’ve been reminding people on Facebook to vote on Election Day and directing them to information on where to vote,” Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s product manager for civic engagement said in an email to Computerworld. “This is the natural next step. We want people to have a voice in the process, and getting registered means that there’s one less hurdle for them.”
Sony Corp jumped into the race for virtual reality (VR) dominance with the $399 PlayStation VR, a headset the Japanese electronics group hopes will beat pricier rivals and revive its reputation as a maker of must-have gadgets.
Emerging from years of restructuring, Sony is reshaping itself to focus on lucrative areas such as video games, entertainment and camera sensors – rather than televisions or smartphones where demand is flat, competition acute and margins thin. The games unit is now the single largest profit contributor for the group.
The PlayStation VR headset, Sony’s first major product launch since it declared its turnaround complete in June, will put the company back on the offensive and test its ability to compete in one of the most talked-about spaces in the industry.
Rival offerings in virtual reality headsets include Facebook Inc’s $599 Oculus Rift and HTC Corp’s $799 Vive.
Sony hopes to lure in customers with its more modest price tag and by tapping the 40 million existing users of its flagship consoles – the headset is designed to plug into PlayStation 4, rather than requiring new equipment.
“Sony is well-positioned to build an early lead in the high-end VR headset race,” market researcher IHS Technology said in a report, forecasting sales of 1.4 million units in 2016.
Sony, developer of the Walkman portable cassette player and maker of the first compact disc player, hopes the headset will be a springboard to pull ahead of rivals in VR, gelling with the content portion of its business, specifically music and film.
In an interview with Reuters in September, Andrew House, Sony’s gaming division chief, said he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for Sony’s VR headset.
“We are talking about years into the future, but these are interesting conversations to start having now,” House said.
Sony, however, will compete in a crowded market. Nomura analysts expect cumulative shipments of all VR headsets to expand more than 20 times to 40 million by 2020, which along with accessories and other non-game content could be worth $10 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said last week the Oculus business will spend $500 million to fund VR content development and is working on an affordable standalone VR headset not tethered to personal computers or consoles.
Salesforce.com Inc is still mulling over whether it should make an offer for Twitter Inc in the face of resistance from Salesforce shareholders over the strategic merits and valuation of such a deal, people familiar with the matter said.
Twitter shares have lost as much as a third of their value since Oct. 5 on concerns the company has attracted less interest from potential acquirers than previously envisaged. It now has a market capitalization of $12 billion.
Salesforce is deliberating whether it is worth making a lowball offer for Twitter in the coming days based on Twitter’s stock performance and any news of other bidders, the people said.
Other potential acquirers such as Alphabet Inc’s Google and Walt Disney Co have backed away from making offers for the Internet company, the people said. There may however be other companies contemplating offers for Twitter whose identity has not yet been reported, some of the sources suggested.
The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Salesforce declined to comment while Twitter, Google and Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters previously reported that Twitter aimed to conclude deliberations about selling itself by Oct. 27, when it reports its third-quarter earnings.
Salesforce.com, run by CEO Marc Benioff, is focused on cloud-based sales and marketing software. Unlike Twitter, its main product is aimed at business users, not consumers. Under Salesforce.com, Twitter could become a corporate tool used to power sentiment analysis and nurture customer relationships.
A potential acquisition of Twitter has weighed down Salesforce’s stock since news broke on Sept. 23 that it was vying for Twitter. Its shares rose as much as 7 percent on Monday after a weekend report by Bloomberg News suggested Salesforce was unlikely to make an offer.
Some analysts and investors have questioned why Salesforce would need to own Twitter, when it already licenses the Twitter “firehose” for its new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.
Businesses have yet another set of tools to help build chatbots. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has begun touting a new LiveMessage service that’s aimed at connecting his company’s Service Cloud with messaging services like Facebook Messenger and SMS.
Benioff is pitching the new service as a way to turn messaging apps into a user interface for Salesforce, in addition to serving as a tool for connecting people with their friends. It will power bots, in addition to direct communications between service representatives and customers. Right now, LiveMessage works with SMS, and it will be expanded to work on Facebook Messenger later this year.
With the launch of LiveMessage, Salesforce is joining a pantheon of different tech companies competing to provide the underlying technology powering companies’ bots. While announcing the product on stage at the company’s Dreamforce event Wednesday, Benioff talked about how it would facilitate “conversations as a platform,” cribbing a phrase directly from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s discussions of his company’s bot-making tools.
In addition to Microsoft, Salesforce will also be competing with Facebook, Google, Oracle and a host of startups. Salesforce has an advantage, as the home of customer data for its fleet of users. Easily connecting that information with logic that can operate a chatbot might be an appealing option for businesses looking to create one without a ton of work.
In addition to running bots, LiveMessage can also be used to connect customer service representatives with users for a live chat session over a variety of platforms. That means it would be possible for users to message a business on Facebook, and get connected with a person who can help them. With LiveMessage, that person would be able to handle the conversation through Salesforce.
It’s all based on technology from HeyWire, a company that Salesforce acquired earlier this year.
What remains to be seen is whether the bot platforms actually take off with users. Tech industry insiders like execs at Microsoft and Salesforce clearly believe in bots. But it’s not clear that users really want to replace traditional user interfaces with automated conversation partners.
The feature is set to roll out to users 18 and older in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand over the next few days, according to the company.
Facebook bills Marketplace as a service people can use to find the things they’re looking to buy and sell what they want to get rid of.
“Facebook is where people connect, and in recent years more people have been using Facebook to connect in another way: buying and selling with each other,” wrote Mary Ku, Facebook’s director of product management. “More than 450 million people visit buy and sell in [Facebook Groups] each month — from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world. To help people make more of these connections, today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.”
The move gives sites like eBay and Craigslist, which have made their names and their fortunes on acting like online flea markets, a new rival.
“Yeah, this is like a jazzed up Craigslist,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “Facebook should bring an element of trust that Craigslist never had. Craiglist, which has had a problem with scammers, is built on the concept of anonymity, where Facebook uses the concept of community or social network to provide a level or security.”
Even so, Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, thinks Facebook may have its own issues with trust.
“Historically, Facebook has been tone-deaf about privacy,” he added. “I’m skeptical this will work, given the perceived creepy factor involved. I mean, let’s consider Craigslist and all the creepy things that have happened on that service. And now consider letting those same people near your personal Facebook world.”
Moorhead noted that Facebook may have to make it clear to users how it will separate Marketplace and a Facebook user’s private information. “Given their track record, this won’t be easy,” he said.
The company has sent out invitations for a launch event in London.
The new enterprise effort, which is both a mobile app and a desktop service, went into a pilot test around January 2015.
The new service is designed to help co-workers stay connected and share information, much like they do with friends and family on the original Facebook.
Facebook at Work reportedly will let users set up events, collaborate on projects, message each other and set up groups.
“I’ve always said that Facebook has to diversify and this is one of their efforts to penetrate the enterprise,” said Brian Blau, a Gartner analyst. “The enterprise has been interested in social tools in as much as they can help with explicit work issues, such as communications and project facilitation, but so far the adoption of pure-play social communications in the enterprise hasn’t yet reached maturity.”
While analysts might not be sure exactly what Facebook at Work will exactly look like, they generally agree that moving to the enterprise may be more difficult than Facebook anticipates.
Business executives, for example, will want to know that there is no link between the presumably more secure and enterprise-facing network and the original, purely social Facebook. So, for example, posts in one place will not show up in the other.
Executives also will want to be sure that a new service will benefit the business and not just be another place for workers to waste their time.
“One common mistake that consumer-facing companies make is thinking the step to the enterprise market is both easy and lucrative,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with The Enderle Group. “Collaborative products can represent more risk for IT than they do benefit… [Enterprises] typically view social networks as time sucks and are appalled at how much productivity has dropped because of social networks and other worker distractions.”
Enderle added that for Facebook at Work to be successful, it will have to be seen as more of a collaboration tool than just a communication tool.
Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, said it may be a challenge but it’s a good move for Facebook to make and a good stretch of its original business.
“Facebook is always looking for more ways to grow,” he added. “They are very successful, but only on the consumer side. They now want to see that same level of growth in a new market. This is a new idea. There are no guarantees.”
Mozilla has unveiled three new test features for Firefox, including one that separates YouTube videos from the browser and another that may signal towards a more aggressive ad-blocking strategy by the open-source developer.
“We’re excited to announce the release of three new Test Pilot experiments,” said Nick Nguyen, the vice president of Firefox, in a post to a company blog. “These features will help you share and manage screenshots; keep streaming video front and center; and protect your online privacy.”
Test Pilot was re-introduced in May when Mozilla resurrected a 2009 moniker and used it on a 2015 project that had fallen into disuse. Test Pilot was designed to collect feedback on proposed new features for Firefox before they were added to the browser.
The three features that debuted today were a screenshot taker, called “Page Shot,” that also includes a search mechanism for finding what has been snapped; “Min Vid,” which plays YouTube and Vimeo videos in a Lilliputian window atop Firefox; and “Tracking Protection,” a tool brought over from Firefox’s already-extant Private Browsing.
The last of the trio — Tracking Protection — had the most significant implications for the browser.
As part of Private Browsing — Firefox’s incognito mode — Tracking Protection has blocked web ads, page analytics measuring tools and the sharing buttons, such as those for Facebook and Twitter, that may record users’ site-to-site travels. Mozilla added Tracking Protection to Private Browsing in November 2015.
“This experiment will help us understand where Tracking Protection breaks the web so that we can improve it for all Firefox users,” Nguyen wrote today.
By testing Tracking Protection, Mozilla signaled that it’s thinking of adding the feature to Firefox, where it would be used — whether by default or as an option — by all users, not just those calling up Private Browsing.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should prohibit mobile messaging service WhatsApp from sharing user data with parent company Facebook in violation of earlier privacy promises, several privacy groups said.
The FTC should step in to stop WhatsApp from violating “commitments the company previously made to subscribers,” the 17 groups said in a letter sent to the agency Thursday. WhatsApp has long billed itself as a secure and private messaging service.
WhatsApp’s recently released plan to share user data with Facebook as a way to target advertising could amount to an “unfair and deceptive” trade practice, said the groups, including the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, and Demand Progress.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact this proposed change in data practices will have on the privacy and security of WhatsApp users in the U.S. and across the world,” the letter added. When Facebook acquired the messaging service in 2014, both companies “made numerous promises” that WhatsApp’s privacy policies wouldn’t change, the letter added.
WhatsApp complies with “applicable” laws, a spokeswoman said in response to the letter. “As always, we consider our obligations when designing updates like this,” she added by email.
WhatsApp has collected personal information from more than 1 billion users, “with the promise that this information would not be used or disclosed for marketing purposes,” the letter to the FTC said. “WhatsApp’s reversal on this promise is a material, retroactive change that will apply to previously collected data.”
Twitter Inc has initiated discussions with several technology companies to explore putting itself up for sale, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, signaling the start of what is likely to be a slow-rolling auction of the high-profile but profit-challenged social media company.
A sale of Twitter has been the subject of on-again, off-again rumors for many months as the company grapples with stagnant user growth, soft advertising sales and losses running at hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
The company’s business struggles have come even as the 10-year-old service has evolved into a potent global source of news, entertainment and social commentary.
CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported on Friday that Twitter is in talks with companies including Google and may receive a formal bid soon. A source told Reuters that Salesforce.com is also in pursuit.
Twitter and Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company did not respond to a request for comment. Salesforce declined to comment.
Verizon, another company mentioned in media reports on Friday as a possible suitor, said it did not comment on M&A rumors but that it had not submitted a bid for the company.
Twitter shares jumped more than 19 percent to $22.22 per share on Friday, marking the largest one-day rise since their first day of trading in 2013. The company now has a market value of around $16 billion.
Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said Alphabet would be the best acquirer for Twitter since it has not yet been able to crack social media on its own despite several efforts.
“From a strategic standpoint, we think it would be more beneficial for Alphabet as opposed to Salesforce,” Mogharabi said. Former Google executive Omid Kordestani is executive chairman of Twitter.
Morningstar estimates Twitter could be bought for $22 per share. Twitter is working with investment banks Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co in considering possible transactions, sources familiar with the situation said.
Sony Corp plans to extend content for its dedicated virtual-reality (VR) headset into non-gaming areas such as TV and film, and has no plans to join the burgeoning market for smartphone-based headsets, its gaming division chief said.
Andrew House, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc’s chief executive, said in an interview that he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for the PlayStation VR headset, due for release on Oct. 13.
“We are talking about years into the future, but these are interesting conversations to start having now,” House said.
House’s gaming division has been one of Sony’s main sources of profit in recent years as sales of TV sets and other once-core electronics goods decline in the face of price competition.
As smartphone gaming now encroaches on the console market, Sony has opted to seek growth through innovations such as VR. However, analysts have said non-gaming content is necessary to broaden the appeal – and profitability – of VR.
Sony’s VR headset works in conjunction with its PlayStation 4 games console and will retail at a price lower than Facebook Inc’s Oculus Rift and HTC Corp’s Vive headsets that require more expensive personal computers to run.
But smartphone-powered headsets will be far cheaper and more portable because they use the smartphone screen as the display.
There are well over 100 smartphone-based VR headsets from 65 developers already on the market, according to Lux Research. Alphabet Inc’s Google will add to that number with its Daydream VR platform that works with its Android mobile operating system.
Sony’s House argued that smartphones would not be capable of achieving the highest quality VR experience.
“We are focused on great gaming VR experiences,” he said. “I haven’t seen a cellphone or mobile-based VR experience that really gets our content teams excited.”
House said, beyond gaming, Sony is looking into TV and film and will also concentrate on seeking “ways of bringing much more static experiences to life” in areas such as museums and planetariums.
Sony has said it is working with more than 230 developers globally, and expects over 50 titles by the end of the year, include non-gaming content such as cartoons and music, karaoke and landscape videos.
Twitter Inc rolled out a new video streaming application for Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc TV platforms, as well as Microsoft Corp’s Xbox One gaming console as it brings its video content to the forefront.
The application will also be available for users of these devices without a Twitter account or a pay-TV subscription, the company said.
The application will feature video content from a number of Twitter’s partners, including the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, as well as curated tweets and shorter video from its Vine and Periscope services.
The news comes a day ahead of the first of the 10 NFL Thursday night games that Twitter obtained streaming rights for in April.
Jack Dorsey-led Twitter has made a significant push into video, signing deals with several media companies and sports organizations to stream major events.