“This is unacceptable and we’re not happy about it,” Jack Dorsey, who stepped in as interim chief executive on July 1, said on a call with analysts.
Twitter said it had 304 million core users in the second quarter, up from 302 million in the prior quarter.
Twitter’s struggles to increase its audience worries investors, who are focused on the company’s growth potential, and the latest figures did little to reassure them.
The data on users overshadowed the company’s second-quarter earnings and revenue, which exceeded expectations, and its bullish projections for future revenue.
Executives also made clear it would be a long process, and were candid about problems with the service.
“We do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth (in monthly active users) until we start to reach the mass market,” Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said on the call.
“We have not clearly communicated Twitter’s unique value. And as a result non-users continue to ask, ‘Why should I use Twitter?’ “Simply said, the product remains too difficult to use.”
Twitter recognizes “there is an issue that needs to be worked on,” Evercore ISI analyst Ken Sena said. “They were giving investors a sense of the challenge and I think the stock sell-off that you saw just reflected that.”
Herbalife Ltd has filed a petition requesting information from micro-blogging company Twitter Inc to identify an anonymous user who posted defamatory tweets against the weight-loss and nutritional products maker.
The petition for “discovery before suit” seeks to identify the person against whom a lawsuit can be filed.
Herbalife said it wants Twitter to provide information such as IP addresses and account details of the user who vilified the company and its management as “thieves, pill pushing frauds and bullies”.
“The twitter feed of @AfueraHerbaLIES contains not only defamatory, disparaging, and deceptive posts about Herbalife and its products, but also contains numerous insulting and offensive statements about Herbalife’s management team, its members, and even federal regulators,” the company said in the petition filed on Monday in Illinois.
Herbalife said the user’s tweets, accusing it of selling toxic and unregulated products, prejudice the company in its trade and are materially harmful to its reputation.
The company wants the court to order Twitter to preserve all information relating to the matter and also allow Herbalife to serve discovery upon Twitter, including document production requests.
“This is pretty straightforward. We are not going to sit back and let someone make false and defamatory statements about our company,” said Alan Hoffman, a representative for Herbalife.
Cortana always listens in order to hear its name and be a smart digital assistant. This is Microsoft answer to Siri and Google Now that is making its way to Windows 10.
Unfortunately, this will affect your notebook battery life. We have spoken with a few industry sources and we can definitely confirm that Windows 10 with enabled Cortana will have an impact on the battery life. We are testing this as we speak to check how big the impact is.
We don’t know how significant the battery life decrease will be, but the good thing is that you will be able to switch Cortana off in case you don’t need it. We heard that many new Toshiba notebooks will come with a dedicated Cortana button, as this is the easiest way to save battery life. Cortana on Toshiba won’t listen until you press the button.
It would be smart if Microsoft would come up with Cortana enable / disable keyboard shortcut. Win + Q will enable Cortana news while Win + S will bring you directly to the Cortana search engine.
Windows 10 seems to be a logical upgrade for anyone who has Windows 8.1 on their notebooks and misses the options from Windows 7, and some familiar UI elements. We use Windows 8.1 on some devices, while most of our computers still have Windows 7 and nothing more. Microsoft DirectX 12 will force us to Windows 10 but from what awe can tell from Preview release, the upgrade to Windows 10 from with 7 seems like quite seamless and logical step.
Just make sure to be aware that your notebook battery life might suffer because of Cortana. Have in mind that this “talk to your PC and expect a smart answer” option can be disabled.
As of the next build to the Windows Insider program, Microsoft will require that participants associate their Microsoft Account — typically the same username and password combination for accessing company services such as Outlook.com, OneDrive and Skype — with the preview on their PC.
“You’ll need to connect the MSA [Microsoft Account] that you registered for the Windows Insider Program with (and accepted the ‘Microsoft Windows Insider Program Agreement’) in order to continue receiving new Windows 10 Insider Preview builds (both Fast and Slow rings) from Windows Update,” wrote Gabriel Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft’s operating system group who regularly blogs about the preview.
Most testers have already done so, but those that haven’t need to toe the line. “We’re introducing new infrastructure in Windows Update to help us deliver new builds more effectively to Windows Insiders, and ensure that we’re flighting builds to people who have registered and opted in to the program,” said Aul.
Part of that move is due to the impending release of Windows 10, another to the fact that Microsoft will — contrary to past practices with beta programs — continue Insider after the initial launch.
Insider will then become Windows 10′s fastest release “branch” — Microsoft’s label for the multiple update cadences it will offer users — and receive new features, functionality and UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) changes before those on other tracks. Within Insider, users can select from different “rings” — subsets that denote how rough-edged the builds are — as they will be able to do if updating on the other tempos, “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business.”
Aul also reiterated what he had said previously on Twitter, that Insider participants would receive the July 29 first stable release starting that day.
As part of the acquisition, announced Wednesday, Twitter will discontinue Whetlab’s beta service on July 15, and will no longer accept sign-ups for the product. Current users will be able to export their data from Whetlabs’s website in either tab-separated format or JSON.
It’s not clear how Twitter plans to use Whetlab’s technology to enhance its existing machine-learning plans. However, the startup’s tool seems useful for any company implementing machine-learning techniques. The technology, which was developed by researchers at Harvard, Toronto and Sherbrooke universities, takes in information about the problem a user wants to solve with machine learning. It then gives the user a series of suggestions to help them optimize a machine-learning model to solve the problem.
Users don’t have to send Whetlab their data, nor do they need to use a special machine-learning toolkit, according to the company’s product page. “You can run your code on your own private machines at whatever scale you want. What we do is help you use those resources optimally by telling you what you should try next,” the page reads.
The acquisition makes sense for Twitter, which is trying to offer users more customized experiences to improve adoption of its microblogging service. Machine learning is likely critical to those initiatives, and acquiring technology that makes the application of machine-learning technology easier could benefit Twitter’s in-house development process.
Advertisers’ videos and those uploaded to Twitter natively through its new video recording tool will play automatically on the company’s desktop site and in its iOS app, with Android functionality coming soon, the company announced.
The changes also apply to videos recorded with Twitter’s Vine app and GIFs.
Autoplaying videos, though possibly annoying, will help Twitter compete against Facebook, which started placing autoplaying videos, including those from advertisers, in users’ feeds in 2013. Twitter makes the bulk of its money through advertising, and more Internet companies are looking to siphon video advertising dollars away from traditional TV.
On Twitter, the videos will start playing without sound unless they’re tapped on.
Twitter users who don’t want autoplaying videos can change their settings to revert to the click-to-play format. Users can also change their settings so videos only play automatically when they’re connected to Wi-Fi.
Users will not see auto-playing videos if they have a low bandwidth connection on their device, Twitter said.
Twitter is using the same amount of viewing time as Facebook to define a video “view”: three seconds.
Twitter began testing auto-playing videos earlier this year.
And many advertisers, analysts and investors say Twitter already has the right person for the job: not interim CEO Jack Dorsey but Adam Bain, the company’s president and head of revenue, who has emerged as an early favorite.
Twitter’s outgoing chief executive, Dick Costolo, resigned abruptly last Thursday amid pressure from investors to increase the user base and improve what’s known as direct response advertising, the most lucrative type on the microblogging site.
Those ads prompt users to take an action, such as signing up for a website or buying a product. Improving them is central to Twitter’s ability to make more money.
Before joining Twitter in 2010, Bain served as president of the Fox Audience Network where he was responsible for monetizing advertising platforms across News Corp’s web properties. At Twitter, he has helped aggressively grow the advertising platform. He holds many of the company’s most valuable relationship with advertisers and understands the media business, advertisers said, and could help redirect Twitter so it meets advertisers’ demands and makes more money.
For now, advertisers hope the management change will “light a fire” under Twitter, said Adam Epstein, chief executive of ad Marketplace, which works with search advertisers. Even though they have discussed ways to improve advertising with Twitter executives, the company has been slow to change.
“When you talk to Twitter, you can throw some great ideas on a whiteboard, but there seems to be a lack of urgency,” Epstein said.
They also hope Twitter makes the site easier to use so that more people become regular users and click on ads. Advertisers also want Twitter to provide data that allows them to gather more information on consumers.
Last week it was reported how Geeknet Inc. was in the process of being bought out by retailer Hot Topic for $16 a share or $37 million in cash.
However we have just discovered that deal was squashed because Thinkgeek got a better deal from Gamestop.
GameStop offered $20 per share and Hot Topic wanted away. GameStop’s $20 per share deal also includes $37 million in cash and comes out to a total valuation of $140 million.
Geeknet must pay Hot Topic a three percent “break-up fee,” which GameStop has agreed to reimburse.
What this will mean is that ThinkGeek customers can pick up ThinkGeek merchandise in GameStop stores.
The press release also mentions the potential of offering GameStop PowerUp Rewards members “exclusive, unique and cutting edge merchandise related to their favorite entertainment.”
The deal should be concluded by the end of GameStop’s second financial quarter of 2015, which will happen in August.
Hackers from Brazil have managed to discover a new exploit for the PS4 which enables them to bypass the DRM on any software and games.
A couple of weeks ago, a number of electronic stores in Brazil had been advertising the means to copy and run a series of ripped retail games on the console.
At the time little was known about the hack back then, but information gradually began to trickle out from customers and make its way around the web. Please see below for commentary from Lancope.
Gavin Reid, VP of threat intelligence, Lancope said that Sony was playing an arms race against groups that benefit from the abilities to copy and share games.
The hack originates from a Russian website and has been pushed into the public by Brasilian retailers. The hack isn’t necessarily a jailbreak for the PS4, nor is it really a homebrew technique.
What they did was use a retail PS4, with several games installed on it, with it’s entire game database and operating system (including NAN/BIOS). This was then dumped onto a hacked PS4 via Raspberry Pi.
The entire process costs about $100 to $150 to install 10 games and $15 per additional game.
“Open source groups like Homebrew with more altruistic motivations of extending the functionality of the console alongside groups selling modified consoles specifically to play copied games and of course the resell of the games themselves at fraction of the actuals costs. This has happened historically with all of the major consoles. It would be highly unlikely not to continue with the PS4,” he said.
Twitter.com has been redesigned to make content posted to the site more accessible to people who do not have accounts with the service. Those people can visit the site, and as of Wednesday they will find 18 tabs leading to streams of content on various topics, whether it be country singers, general news, or travel guides.
There’s also dozens of other curated streams of content accessible from links on the home page, with the content organized around more granular topics like U.S. federal agencies, art museums and wedding guides.
Previously, visitors to Twitter.com who did not have accounts were greeted with a sign-up page.
The changes come as Twitter faces continuing pressure to grow the number of people who use its site, and find new ways to make money off people who see its tweets and interact with them. Twitter ended the last quarter of 2014 with 288 million users who log in monthly — a 20 percent increase from the previous year, but the smallest annual growth rate Twitter ever reported.
One of Twitter’s biggest problems is that many people still don’t understand what it’s for.
With the redesigned home page, the company is trying to address this, by highlighting the site’s value as a source of real-time information and news. The tweets Twitter has selected for its new streams, the company says, come from some of the most popular accounts posting on those topics.
People without accounts still can’t do much to interact with the content. To reply to, re-tweet or “favorite” one of the tweets, the visitor is prompted to create an account. But with the redesign, Twitter hopes it might give the uninitiated enough bait to sign up.
And even without a flood of new sign-ups, Twitter’s new home page is likely to get more tweets in front of more people. That could give rise to new advertising methods around those tweets.
The new home page is available first in the U.S. on the desktop, Twitter said on Wednesday, though it will be arriving “to more places over time.”
The future for the CIA is cyber espionage, and the agency wants to make sure that it has the means, the men, and the measures to take a role in that party.
Brennan gave the team a briefing at the end of last week, and the CIA has released an unclassified version of an internal communication.
The document outlines the agency’s future, its threats and what in the name of heck the CIA is going to do about it.
The future will include a special digital division, called the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which will host highly trained and skilled staffers and take the whip hand in internal and external agency technology moves.
“Digital technology holds great promise for mission excellence, while posing serious threats to the security of our operations and information, as well as to US interests more broadly,” said Brennan.
“We must place our activities and operations in the digital domain at the very center of all our mission endeavors. To that end, we will establish a senior leadership position to oversee the acceleration of digital and cyber integration across all of our mission areas.
“The new Directorate will be responsible for overseeing the career development of our digital experts as well as the standards of our digital tradecraft.”
Brennan said, and let’s all agree to noticing this, that cyber threats are increasing, and that the changes will help policymakers and the CIA tackle the “unprecedented pace and impact of technological advances”.
He went further in a briefing with journalists, explaining that the change is needed to fill gaps in skills coverage at the agency and put an end to problems where one part of an agency may not know what another is doing.
A report in The Washington Post quoted Brennan as saying that the reorganization will allow the CIA to “cover the entire universe regionally and functionally so that something going on in the world falls into one of those buckets”.
Chinese PC and mobile phone maker Lenovo Group Ltd acknowledged that its website was hacked, its second security blemish days after the U.S. government advised consumers to remove software called “Superfish” pre-installed on its laptops.
Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.
Lizard Squad posted an email exchange between Lenovo employees discussing Superfish. The software was at the center of public uproar in the United States last week when security researchers said they found it allowed hackers to impersonate banking websites and steal users’ credit card information.
In a statement issued in the United States on Wednesday night, Lenovo, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, said it had restored its site to normal operations after several hours.
“We regret any inconvenience that our users may have if they are not able to access parts of our site at this time,” the company said. “We are actively reviewing our network security and will take appropriate steps to bolster our site and to protect the integrity of our users’ information.”
Lizard Squad has taken credit for several high-profile outages, including attacks that took down Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live network last month. Members of the group have not been identified.
Starting 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, visitors to the Lenovo website saw a slideshow of young people looking into webcams and the song “Breaking Free” from the movie “High School Musical” playing in the background, according to technology publication The Verge, which first reported the breach.
Although consumer data was not likely compromised by the Lizard Squad attack, the breach was the second security-related black eye for Lenovo in a matter of days.
Visa Europe has announced a new, more secure way for consumers to pay retailers usinng their mobile phones,a move that could set the stage for Apple’s Apple Pay and rival mobile payment services to be introduced into Europe in the coming months.
Visa Europe said on Tuesday it would introduce to member banks by mid-April a “tokenization” service which substitutes random numbers for a user’s credit card details when a merchant transmits transaction data, reducing the risk of online theft.
Similar security from Visa Inc ,the former parent of Visa Europe, and rival card issuers MasterCard and American Express has been key to the success of Apple Pay since it was introduced in the United States last year, according to industry experts.
Apple Pay allows iPhone users to store their credit card details on their phones, then pay at the tap of a button. In its first three months, more than $2 out of every $3 which U.S. consumers spent using speedy new “contactless” systems at the three major credit card networks was done via Apple Pay, the company said last month.
Visa Europe’s move is one of several new services the London-based credit card giant is unveiling as it battles to retain its role as a middleman connecting banks and consumers in a fast-moving payments landscape being shaken up by major technology firms including Apple, Google and eBay’s PayPal, as well as scores of ambitious start-ups.
These include a way for card customers to send money overseas to other Visa users via their social media profiles on sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Steve Perry, Visa Europe’s chief digital officer, said in an interview his association’s plan for secure credit card data transmission parallels what Visa Inc offers in the United States. But he declined to comment on whether Apple Pay had agreed to use his organization’s version in European markets.
“Providing this level of transparency is not without its complications and sometimes means we get tough questions and criticism about our decisions,” wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s senior manager for global legal policy, in a blog post Monday.
Twitter received 2,871 account information requests from various governments, targeting 7,144 accounts, during the second half of 2014, and the company complied in 52% of the cases, it said in a new transparency report.
Russia, Turkey and the U.S. were among the countries where requests for Twitter user information increased significantly.
Twitter received more than 100 requests for account information from the Russian government in the second half of 2014, from previously “having never received a request,” Kessel wrote. Twitter declined to honor any of the Russian requests.
Turkey requests rose by 150%, while those from the U.S. government increased 29%. Turkey didn’t honor any of Turkey’s requests, but it did comply with 80% of the U.S. requests.
Meanwhile, government and government-sanctioned requests for content removal jumped 84%. Leading this category were Turkey with 477 requests, Russia with 91, and Germany with 43.
During the second half of 2014, Twitter received 376 court orders for content removal and 420 other removal requests from police and other government agencies. Twitter honored the removal requests in 13% of those cases, covering 1,982 tweets.
Twitter also saw an 81% increase in the number of copyright infringement takedown notices allowed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA], during the second half of 2014. The company received 16,648 DMCA takedown notices during the six-month period, and the company removed content 66% of the time.
Twitter Inc announced plans to acquire Indian mobile phone marketing start-up ZipDial, reportedly for $30 million to $40 million, as the U.S. microblogging service looks to expand in the world’s second-biggest mobile market.
Bengaluru-based ZipDial gives clients phone numbers for use in marketing campaigns. Consumers call the numbers and hang up before connecting and incurring charges, and then receive promotion-related text messages.
The start-up’s clients include International Business Machines Corp, Yum! Brands Inc’s KFC and Procter & Gamble Co’s Gillette.
The service capitalizes on a local tradition of communicating through so-called missed calls. A person may give a friend a missed call to signal arrival at an agreed destination, for instance, without having to pay the cost of a phone call.
Such “unique behavior” was behind ZipDial, the start-up said in a statement announcing the Twitter deal.
Twitter did not disclose terms of the purchase. Techcrunch, citing unidentified sources, reported the deal at $30 million to $40 million.
“This acquisition significantly increases our investment in India, one of the countries where we’re seeing great growth,” Twitter said in a statement.
The acquisition is the latest in India by global tech giants who have snapped up companies in a fledgling startup scene, concentrated in the tech hub of Bengaluru in southern India.
Last year, Facebook Inc bought Little Eye Labs, a start-up that builds performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile apps. Yahoo! Inc bought Bookpad, whose service allows developers to add document viewing and editing to their own applications.