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Monday, December 14, 2015


Original Story:

Apple’s iPhone and Mac, long touted for their security, aren’t nearly as safe to use as they once were, new research suggests.

Record amounts of malware targeted and infected Apple computers and smartphones this year, security researchers say. And next year is likely to be even worse. An Evans internet lawyer represents clients in cyber-crimes, content licensing matters, and identity theft cases.

“Apple remains a relatively safe platform but Apple users can no longer be complacent about security,” Dick O’Brien, a researcher with security firm Symantec, told BBC News.

In 2014, between 10,000 and 70,000 Macs were hit with malware each month, according to Symantec. That was a small fraction of the amount of malware targeting and infected computers running Microsoft Windows. But in the first nine months of this year, the total Apple computers infected by malicious or unwanted applications was seven times higher than all of last year. A Melbourne internet lawyer has experience representing clients in cases of fraud, piracy, an unauthorized computer access.

Apple’s mobile devices, which generally can only get applications via Apple’s app store, are relatively safer. Some 96 percent of all mobile malware is targeted at devices running Google’s Android operating system, according to FireWire, another security firm.

But malware writers are increasingly targeting Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Symantec has identified seven new security threats aimed at those devices. And earlier this year, applications infected with a particular piece of malware — including the popular WeChat messaging app — were listed in the App Store. Apple quickly removed them, but not before they were downloaded by numerous customers. For more information on the power of Organic SEO, click here.

Malware authors are increasingly “finding ways into Apple’s walled garden, and that will ramp up next year,” Bryce Boland, chief technology officer at FireEye.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Original Story:

Just hours after Marissa Mayer announced a plan to spin off Yahoo’s core Internet business, the chief executive gave birth to identical twin daughters.

“Zack and I are excited to announce that our identical twin girls were born early this morning,” Ms. Mayer said on Twitter on Thursday, referring to her husband, Zachary Bogue. “Our whole family is doing great!” She didn’t disclose any further details.

Congratulatory tweets poured in from well-wishers, including Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, where Ms. Mayer used to work; Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft; Ellen Pao, the former interim chief executive of Reddit; and Frank Quattrone, a prominent investment banker.

Ms. Mayer had revealed her pregnancy in September, at a time when scrutiny of Yahoo was increasing. She came aboard Yahoo in 2012 from Google to turn around the struggling Internet company, but it remains well behind Alphabet’s Google and Facebook in online advertising and other areas. For more information on the power of Organic SEO, click here.

Yahoo has recently been considering what to do with the valuable 15 percent stake it owns in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company. It had earlier proposed a tax-free spinoff of the shares, but the plan ran into a setback this year when the Internal Revenue Service said it would crack down on such transactions. That prompted Starboard Value, a hedge fund, to pressure Ms. Mayer to sell off Yahoo’s core business instead. Yahoo’s board met last week to consider its options.

On Wednesday, the board announced that Yahoo would pursue a spinoff of its core Internet business, leaving the Alibaba stock in the old company. A Boston M&A lawyer represents clients in contract matters and in business transactions. In an interview on Wednesday, Ms. Mayer said she agreed with the new plan because the old plan “was causing a certain amount of market uncertainty.”

Ms. Mayer and Mr. Bogue also have a three-year-old son, Macallister.

Ms. Mayer, who has hired several people to help her care for her children both at home and when she is traveling, has said she plans to take a “limited time away” for maternity leave and will be “working throughout.”

Yahoo, offers up to eight weeks of paid leave for any Yahoo employee who has a new child, including birth, adoption, foster child placement or surrogacy. Birth mothers can get an additional eight weeks of additional paid leave. An Albany employment lawyer is following this story closely.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Original Story:

A story in Re/code not only makes it appear that Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer’s effort to turn around Yahoo has failed, but also that she doesn’t know how to manage people.

According to this article by Kara Swisher, published Monday, Yahoo Inc. YHOO, +0.67%  has hired consultant McKinsey & Co. to help Mayer and her executive team decide which units should get increased investment and which should be closed or sold. A Boston investment lawyer is following this story closely.

Yahoo declined to comment for this article, and a spokesperson for McKinsey said the firm’s policy was “not to talk about or comment on our client work.”

Mayer was hired as Yahoo CEO, and joined the company’s board of directors, on July 17, 2012. She had previously worked at Google (now a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. GOOG, -0.27% ) as vice president of product search. Mayer is the fourth CEO of Yahoo in eight years.

“It’s a bad sign that almost four years into a turnaround, you are hiring McKinsey to advise you on how to do a turnaround,” said Eric Jackson, a managing director at New York-based Ader Investment Management. Last month Jackson published an article calling for the ouster of Mayer. A Los Angeles finance lawyer has experience representing clients in asset sales, debt and equity finance claims and in financial restructuring cases.

In an interview Monday, Jackson said hiring the consultant “doesn’t inspire confidence that she knows what she is doing,” adding that “typically consultants are hired by many companies as a way of passing the buck to someone else if things don’t work out.”

Then again, according to a transcript provided by FactSet of Yahoo’s third-quarter 2014 earnings call, which took place on Oct. 21, 2014, Yahoo CFO Kenneth Goldman said the company had “engaged a top-tier management-consulting firm to help us achieve cost and structural efficiencies via benchmarking and implementing best practices.”

Not a ‘people person’?

The other major revelation in the Re/code article was that Mayer, “over the last month,” had asked high-level Yahoo executives to make commitments to stay with the company for at least three years.

Mayer said during Yahoo’s earnings conference call Oct. 20, according to a transcript provided by FactSet: “The design and changes in Yahoo’s leadership team are the result of careful planning to achieve the necessary skills, passion and the ability to execute growth in our business.” A Sacramento employment lawyer is reviewing the details of this story.

The timing of Mayer’s comment on the executive departures, along with Re/code’s report, throws Mayer’s skills as a personnel manager into question.

“If your boss comes to you and asks that, what are you going to say? No? People are going to be compelled to say ‘yes’ wether they want to say or not,” Jackson said.

He questioned why Mayer felt she needed the pledge. During the conference call, “she made it sound as though she had to make various moves to remove people and bring in others, and yet, when you hear that ... before some of those people left she asked for a pledge, it suggests a very different story than what she is telling publicly,” he said.

“All in all, it suggests a CEO who doesn’t know what the strategic vision is that she is following, and that she doesn’t have the support of the senior team around her.”


Being fair about Yahoo’s investments

The bulk of Yahoo’s value to investors is the company’s investment in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA, +0.13% and the company’s 35% stake in Yahoo Japan. Those investments were made long before Mayer took over Yahoo’s helm.

Yahoo valued its Alibaba investment at $22.6 billion as of Sept. 30, down 43% from its value of $39.9 billion a year earlier. But Jackson pointed out that bashing Yahoo for the timing of its spin-off of a unit holding the Alibaba stake was unfair, “since they were under a lockup agreement with Alibaba for a year after Alibaba. They couldn’t have sold it until September of this year, after it had already gone down.” Google SEO programs are cost-effective and powerful.

Investors’ decision on whether to hold Yahoo’s shares now, according to Jackson, are based on how you value the Alibaba stake.

“Some people think you have to tax it fully; some people think it will not be taxed,” he said.

It remains to be seen if the Internal Revenue Service will consider the spin-off of the Alibaba stake a tax-free event.

The value of Yahoo’s core business

According to FactSet, Yahoo’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the past 12 months totaled $642 million. That’s down from $1.42 billion during the 12-month period through June 2012 before Mayer became Yahoo’s CEO in July 2012.

That may seem like an unfair comparison, because Yahoo has increased its spending as Mayer has attempted to turn its long-term performance around. But after more than three years, and heading into another reorganization, investors have a right to wonder where those efforts might lead.

Jackson said that if the Alibaba and Yahoo Japan sakes are “stripped away,” the value of “the part of Yahoo Mayer has control over, is, essentially, zero.”

Considering how popular Yahoo’s website is, and the value of services like Yahoo Finance, it’s possible that the company is not being valued properly. After the Alibaba spin-off is completed, investors will need to reevaluate Yahoo’s stock.

Thursday, November 05, 2015


Original Story:

SAN FRANCISCO - Expedia is deepening its travel-company bench with a $3.9 billion purchase of vacation rental site HomeAway.

Bellevue, Wash-based Expedia announced the deal Wednesday, which adds the Austin, Texas, company to a portfolio that also includes booking sites Orbitz and Travelocity. A Los Angeles M&A lawyer assists clients in leveraged buyouts, company reorganizations, and mergers and acquisitions.

“We have long had our eyes on the fast growing $100 billion alternative accommodations space and have been building on our partnership with HomeAway, a global leader in vacation rentals, for two years,” Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia's CEO, said in a release. “Bringing HomeAway into the Expedia family and adding its leading brands to our portfolio of the most trusted brands in travel is a logical next step.”

HomeAway's stock (AWAY) was up 22% in after hours trading on the news, while Expedia shares were down at the close 1.63% to $134.17.  HomeAway's brands include HomeAway, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and similar sites overseas. All told, the company says it represents 1 million paid listings in 190 countries. A Los Angeles finance attorney is reviewing the details of this story.

The deal comes on the same day that short-term accommodations giant Airbnb won a significant victory in San Francisco, where voters shot down a measure that would put greater restrictions on those seeking to rent out rooms or entire properties. Airbnb argued that its service helps homeowners stay in their residences by providing extra income through rentals, while opponents - who were outspent eight to one by Airbnb - countered that Airbnb rentals cut into already scarce housing options.

While Airbnb typically offers short-term rentals and HomeAway often targets travelers looking for one-week or longer stays, buying HomeAway instantly allows Expedia to expand its options for consumers beyond hotels.

"We're eager to benefit from Expedia's distribution, technology and expertise, which will allow us to provide an even better product and service experience for our owners, property managers and travelers," said HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples in a statement. "In this way, I believe our combination with Expedia will turbocharge our growth and industry leadership for many years to come." A Los Angeles real estate lawyer is following this story closely.

The transaction, a combination of cash and stock, amounts to $38.31 per share based on Expedia's stock price at the end of day on Nov. 3.

It’s the latest acquisition for Expedia, the number one digital travel provider, which purchased Orbitz Worldwide for roughly $1.6 billion earlier this year. In January, it bought Travelocity for $280 million., and Hotwire are some of the other sites that fall under Expedia's umbrella.

Expedia chief financial officer Mark Okerstrom said during the investors call that "this acquisition is a bit different,'' from the other deals forged this year. "Specifically we anticipate that HomeAway will continue to be run relatively autonomously out of Austin.''

HomeAway, which sees $15 billion in bookings from its vacation rental listings, expects its online transactions to grow significantly because of its tie-up with Expedia. "Maybe about a fourth to third of revenue is through (the) online booking channel,'' Sharples said in a call with investors on Wednesday. But in the next two to three years, "we hope to have most of our transactions running through.''

Sharples added that “this is a place where everyone's going to have to be. . . It’s just too big for people who are in this business to ignore.’’

The HomeAway deal is expected to become final during the first three months of next year.

Monday, November 02, 2015


Original Story:

SAN FRANCISCO — If it seems like every young person you see has a smartphone in their hand, you’re not far from wrong.

Smartphone ownership is reaching saturation levels among people in their 20s, a survey out Thursday found. As more and more people are remaining connected to the internet, it's important to focus on Google SEO services to reach your target audience.

A whopping 86% of people aged 18 to 29 have a smart phone, the survey by the Pew Research Center found.

That compares with 83% of those ages 30 to 49.

All told, 68% of adults have a smartphone.

The only group more likely to have a smartphone than Millennials was people living in households earning $75,000 or more annually, Pew found. There, 87% had them.

Overall, cellphone ownership has become the norm. A stunning 92% of U.S. adults own a mobile phone of some sort. That’s up from 64% just 11 years ago. Organic SEO allows your company to secure top keyword placements as an endorsement of your company, products, and services.

Americans seem to be folding many of the things they once did on task-specific devices into their smartphones — and ditching the other device.

In 2014, 32% of adults had an e-reader. That number has fallen to 19%.

In 2010, about 75% of people aged 18 to 29 owned an MP3 player. Today, just 51% do.

“We don’t ask people why they do not use a particular device, but these data suggest how the rise of smartphones has been a major story in the universe of connected gadgetry,” said Lee Rainie, director of Internet research at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. “These changes in device ownership are all taking place in a world where smartphones are transforming into all-purpose devices that perform many of the same functions of specialized technology, such as music players, e-book readers or even gaming devices.”

Computers are what's not hot, the survey found.

Ownership of desktop and laptop computers has stalled out at 73% of adults, Pew found. That's about where things were 11 years ago and slightly down from the 80% who owned them in 2012. Google SEO services are cost-effective and powerful.

Tablet computers are still popular but seem to be plateauing out at lower rates of adoption. Currently, 45% of U.S. adults say they own a tablet computer, up from just 4% five years ago.

The poll is based on telephone interviews conducted March 17 through April 12 among a national sample of 1,907 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Original Story:

More than a third of major IT projects in the Netherlands never see the light of day, costing the government up to €5 billion a year, according to a highly critical report by a Parliamentary inquiry.

A commission headed by Liberal (VVD) MP Ton Elias, called for an independent regulator to be set up so that IT specialists can monitor the progress of large-scale projects. An Amsterdam IT lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Projects often failed because those commissioning them lacked the technological knowledge, said Elias. “Things go wrong on every level and at every stage.

“It is one great unsightly mass, with no clear objectives, direction or cost control.” He noted that the lost money “could have been spent on healthcare or defence”.

Elias’s panel looked at a range of IT projects, including the OV chipcard used to pay for public transport and the A73 motorway tunnels. An Amsterdam IT attorney is following this story closely.

It found that 36 per cent of large projects – those with a budget of €7.5 million or more – were aborted before they were put into service. More than half (57%) either went over time or over budget, or did not meet expectations. Just 7% were judged to be successful.

Elias also said Parliament was failing in its duty to oversee projects funded by the public purse.

He said lack of interest and expertise by MPs meant they were not scrutinising the process properly. “Moreover, the provision of information to Parliament by the cabinet is frequently insufficient,” he said.

The commission’s work was hampered by problems obtaining the relevant information from ministers, according to Elias, who urged MPs to be more stringent. “Parliament needs to use its powers and take its scrutiny role seriously.”

The commission recommended that all projects costing more than €5 million be scrutinised by the Office for IT Testing (Bureau ICT Toetsing), which would measure their progress against 10 basic standards.

“The experts would act as a gatekeeper for IT projects. In addition it would drive it into the heads of IT departments that things could, and should, be done differently,” Elias said.

Monday, October 05, 2015


Original Story:

Global information services group Experian announced Thursday that one of its business units had been hacked. The breach occurred on a server that contained data on behalf of one of its clients, T-Mobile.
The data includes personal information for a combination of about 15 million customers and applicants in the U.S. who at one point may have applied for T-Mobile service. The company said that the incident did not impact its own consumer credit database.

The data also included applicants requiring a credit check for service or device financing from Sept. 1, 2013 through Sept. 16, 2015, Experian North America said in a statement.

The ADRs of Ireland-headquartered Experian closed Thursday up nearly 1.7 percent to $16.38, while shares of T-Mobile were down more than 1 percent in extended trading.

In a letter to consumers, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the following:

"Obviously I am incredibly angry about this data breach and we will institute a thorough review of our relationship with Experian, but right now my top concern and first focus is assisting any and all consumers affected. I take our customer and prospective customer privacy VERY seriously. This is no small issue for us. I do want to assure our customers that neither T-Mobile's systems nor network were part of this intrusion and this did not involve any payment card numbers or bank account information."

Legere also said that any customers concerned that they may have been impacted can sign up for two years of free credit monitoring and identity resolution services at Experian's "Protect My ID" program.

Experian said it took immediate action upon finding the breach: it secured the server, initiated a comprehensive investigation and notified U.S. and international law enforcement.

The data stolen included names, dates of birth, addresses and Social Security numbers. No payment card or banking information was acquired, the company said.

"We take privacy very seriously and we understand that this news is both stressful and frustrating. We sincerely apologize for the concern and stress that this event may cause," said Craig Boundy, CEO of Experian North America. "That is why we're taking steps to provide protection and support to those affected by this incident and will continue to coordinate with law enforcement during its investigation."

Thursday, October 01, 2015


Original Story:

For all its majesty, the law is imperfect, and, if you're willing to pay a room full of corporate lawyers seven-figure salaries, they're likely to come up with all kinds of clever (and legal) ways of circumventing the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Such corporate loopholes have allowed multi-billion dollar corporations to do things like circumvent campaign finance law, stiff the IRS and get generous tax subsidies for criminal malfeasance. Here are 11 of the worst legal loopholes corporations have come up with:

1. Tax havens and transfer pricing

Multinational corporations don't have to pay taxes on overseas profits; that is, until they transfer those profits back home. This would make sense, if it weren't for a practice known as "transfer pricing," where a multinational corporation can transfer the profits of a U.S. subsidiary to a subsidiary in, say, the Cayman Islands. There the money sits, allowing corporations to defer taxes on those profits indefinitely. By its own accounting, the U.S. government loses $10 billion to this loophole every year. A Binghamton patents lawyer is following this story closely.

2. Antitrust loopholes

Ordinarily, when one big company acquires another, they have to notify the Department of Justice, which decides if the merger violates anti-monopoly regulations. However, companies can avoid those regulations if the company they buy a company that is both foreign and itself owns less than $70 million in U.S. assets. When Google bought Israel-based Waze for over $1 billion last June, which was considered to be Google's real competition in the development of mapping software, many cried foul. But according to existing law, the Justice Department couldn't touch them.

3. Punitive damages deduction

When an ordinary person gets a speeding ticket, they don't get to write that off as a tax deduction at the end of the year. But when corporations are found criminally liable and hit with punitive damages, they get to claim those damages as a "necessary and ordinary" business expense. For example, Exxon's $1.1 billion fine for the Valdez oil spill ended up costing the company less than half that figure, after taxes. Essentially, taxpayers were left picking up the rest of the tab. A Fresno patents lawyer is experienced in the effective resolution of patents lawsuits as related to inventions and their inventors.

4. Patent injunctions

Patent injunctions are corporations' favorite tools for bullying and intimidating rising competitors. Ideally, when a patent-holding corporation believes another company's product is violating their copyrights, they can ask a judge for an injunction, essentially blocking the violator from selling the infringing product. However, because injunctions were so easy to get, in many cases corporations were using the mere threat of one to force smaller companies into shelving their products or paying them exorbitant fees, even when only a weak claim of copyright infringement could be made. When the Supreme Court rewrote the rules to make injunctions harder to get, many thought the loophole was closed, but when government closes a door, corporate lawyers open a window. Instead of going through the courts, corporations are now going through the U.S. International Trade Commission.

5. Volcker Rule: Government debt exception

The long-awaited Volcker Rule, a provision in the Dodd-Frank bill that aims to finally get commercial banks out of the risky trading business, was meant to finally clamp down on the kind of financial practices that led to the recession — that was the idea anyway. Now that it's been watered down by lobbyists, big banks will have plenty of loopholes to access. The biggest loophole seems to be the exemption allowing banks to buy government debt. Although there's no danger when banks buy relatively low-risk treasury bonds, they are free to bet your money on Detroit and Puerto Rican debt, which, you know, isn't so secure. A Warsaw patents lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

6. Volcker Rule: foreign bank exemption

One of the financial sector's loudest arguments against the Volcker Rule was that the restriction against proprietary trading reduced U.S. banks' competitiveness vis-à-vis foreign banks, which face no such restrictions. Thanks to their lobbying, they've won an exception. Banks under the Volcker Rule can do all of the risky trading they want, so long as it's through their "foreign banking entities." Because, you know, financial crises are always local anyway.

7. Carried interest

Some hedge fund managers and corporate CEOs manage pay to drastically lower taxes on their income by calling it something else: carried interest. Carried interest, which refers to the return over a predetermined profit, allows these executive to claim their compensation as capital gains and not income. Capital gains are taxed lower to encourage investment and stimulate economic growth. However, for corporate executives who are compensated mainly through stock options and carried interest, it's a loophole that lets them pay half of what they' d otherwise owe to the IRS.

8. Unlimited and anonymous campaign donations

Most people are familiar with why super PACs are bad, namely their complete abrogation of any limits on campaign donations. For a brief moment, there was a silver lining: super PACs would be required to reveal their donors. If one extremely wealthy individual or corporation tried to outright buy an election, at the very least the public would know. That is, until corporations started exploiting a loophole that allowed them to funnel their donations through 501(c)4, "social welfare" organizations that are not required to make their donors public. Now, when you look at a super PACs donor list, all you see are other non-profits. A Zurich patents lawyer advises clients in the commercialization and utilization of intellectual property rights.

9. Last-in, first-out accounting

Lifo is a pretty standard accounting practice that lets companies track the value of their inventory by what the last piece of product sold for, sparing them the need of tracking changing values over multiple quarters when tax time comes. Conceivably, it is an important tool for small businesses across the country, but when Exxon Mobil uses it, it's nothing more than legalized tax evasion. Basically, Exxon Mobile can spend a year selling $20 gas for $50 but still claim a $10 profit per transaction, so long as the price of oil at some point gets to $40 by the end of the year, saving them billion in tax liabilities.

10. Agribusiness

During the early 20th century, a slew of federal agricultural policies were instituted to insure small farmers from changing weather and preserve a dependable food supply for the American people. Almost a century later, many of those policies are still in place, except the beneficiaries no longer small farmers, but big agribusiness, which receives 75% of the subsidies. Over the past decade, subsidies have cost the American taxpayer over $168 billion.

11. Corporate Lobbying

After the Jack Abramoff scandal, lobbying reform was passed that made it impossible for a lobbyist to buy a lawmaker so much as a sandwich. At least, that was the idea. A series of loopholes have meant that nothing has even slowed down the practice of flying congressmen to Brazil in return for a few favors. Now, instead of paying for the trips directly, lobbyists and corporations set up 501(c)(3)s to do the work for them. As recently as 2011, the International Conservative Caucus Foundation spent $100,000 sending four congressmen and their families on an African safari, finding time along the way to tour a Volkswagen factory (an ICCF donor).


Original Story:

Apple: iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Refreshed Apple TV. Enterprise-focused iPad Pro.

Google: Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Refreshed Chromecast. Enterprise-focused Pixel C tablet.

Those lineups show the similarities between the new products Google Inc. GOOG, -0.01% GOOGL, +0.00% announced Tuesday and those Apple Inc. AAPL, -1.05%  announced earlier this month. The big difference between the two companies’ new offerings is price, with Google undercutting Apple across the board.


Google introduced two new Android smartphones, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, at a product event on Tuesday. Both phones — manufactured by LG and Huawei, respectively — will be sold as unlocked devices, meaning they can be purchased directly through Google’s digital store or at partner bricks-and-mortar retailers and used with a wide variety of carriers. They will also be compatible with Project Fi, Google’s new WiFi program, part of a trend among Google, Apple and others to take over parts of the wireless business previously reserved for carriers. Google SEO deliver top organic keyword rankings in all of the major search engines.

The 5.2-inch Nexus 5X will retail for $379 and up, while the 5.7-inch Nexus 6P will start at $429. Both devices will come equipped with fingerprint technology similar to Apple’s TouchID, though the sensor is on the back of its phones, and will operate on Android’s upcoming Marshmallow operating system.

Apple’s AAPL, -1.05%  4.7-inch iPhone 6s and 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus, unveiled at Apple’s product event earlier this month, can also be purchased as unlocked phones directly through Apple for $549 and $649, respectively. Apple also is offering a monthly pricing plan that allows consumers to upgrade every time a new iPhone hits the market.

Also Read: Apple breaks another iPhone record, but China was included this time

Google is sweetening the deal by offering a $50 credit for use at the Google Play app store and a free three-month trial subscription to Google Play Music. Apple also offered a free three-month trial for Apple Music.

Enterprise tablet

Tablets for the workplace are all the rage this year. Google on Tuesday launched its answer to the iPad Pro and Microsoft Inc.’s Surface Pro with a new tablet called Pixel C that will start at $499, versus $799 for the iPad Pro. Pixel C will also come with a detachable keyboard, which can be purchased separately for $149; Apple’s keyboard costs $169. Microsoft’s MSFT, +0.75%  Surface Pro 3 starts at $699 and offers a $129.99 keyboard.

Unlike both tablets from Apple and Microsoft, Google is not marketing the Pixel C with a stylus.

Video streaming

Google launched its second-generation Chromecast device that will retail for $35. It will receive support for Showtime content immediately, and Sling TV and Spotify will join within a few weeks. The device already supports Netflix NFLX, -0.14%  , Google Play Movies, HBO Now, Hulu, Pandora P, -0.07%  and many other streaming services. Google also launched a $35 Chromecast Audio device with a plug-in that can turn a user’s existing speaker into a conduit for music streaming.

Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its fourth-generation Apple TV, which comes with a remote control, Siri compatibility, and content from similar streaming services for $149, though Apple’s TV streaming device does not natively support Apple Music’s rival streaming services.

The only place where Google is not trying to undercut Apple by price is music streaming. Both Apple and Google offer music streaming services for $9.99 a month. Google unveiled a six-person family plan on Tuesday that will cost $14.99 a month, matching the price of Apple’s six-person family plan launched earlier this month.

Shares of Google rose ahead of its product event but declined slightly after it kicked off, ultimately closing down 0.3% at $622.61. Apple’s stock declined throughout the day, with the fall accelerating after the Google event, and shares ultimately closed down 3% at $109.06.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Original Story:

Microsoft Corp. unveiled new partnerships with politically connected Chinese companies in an effort to open doors to more sensitive and official business in the vast China technology market.

The deals—which include a tie-up with a state-owned Chinese military-technology consortium—were disclosed on Wednesday, the same day Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella joined other U.S. business leaders in meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Seattle. They come as Microsoft seeks to make inroads into the world’s second-largest economy, a market that has been challenging for the company amid cybersecurity and antitrust challenges. Mr. Xi toured Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus with Mr. Nadella on Wednesday. A Denver antitrust attorney is following this story closely.

Microsoft said its Chinese cloud partner 21Vianet Group Inc.—which operates Microsoft’s cloud services in the country—is setting up a joint venture with an arm of state-backed chip-maker Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. that will sell cloud services to Chinese state-owned enterprises. Microsoft will provide technical training and support to the joint venture, Microsoft said in a news release on its China website. An Atlanta joint venture lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Microsoft also struck a deal with state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp. to explore ways to configure, deploy and maintain a “localized” version of Windows 10 for clients in Chinese government organs and state-owned enterprises operating critical infrastructure. The Chinese consortium, known as CETC, provides technology for Chinese military and civilian use, including major communications and electronic equipment and key components.

The companies didn’t disclose financial terms.

Western technology firms have forged partnerships with Chinese companies in response to challenges in the Chinese market that worsened with allegations by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the U.S. government used U.S. tech firms’ products to conduct widespread spying. A Shanghai international trade lawyer provides high-quality legal services for clients' international trade needs.

Microsoft in particular has had problems with the massive but complicated market. A Chinese state agency last year said it was probing the way it distributes software. Microsoft has said it is cooperating. Also last year, China’s Central Government Procurement Center banned government agencies from purchasing computers loaded with Microsoft’s Windows 8 software.

Also on Wednesday, Microsoft struck a deal with Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. to make the default search engine and home page for Web surfers in China who are using Microsoft’s Edge browser.

There are already hundreds of millions of PCs running Windows, but because of widespread piracy, Microsoft has traditionally had difficulties extracting revenue from many of these users. The Baidu deal is designed to help Microsoft capture more users for its new Windows 10 software. In exchange for the search placement, Baidu will make it easier for its own customers to update to Microsoft’s new operating system. A Mexico City intellectual property lawyer assists clients with intellectual property and technology issues.

Internet users who search for Windows 10 on the China search engine will be greeted with a large banner advertisement on the top of their screens, which will then take users to a special Windows 10 download site, Baidu said.

Microsoft says it isn’t giving up on its own search engine, Bing, in China. But with a negligible market share in the country, it makes sense for the company to play down Bing to promote its more popular Windows software, said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of website Search Engine Land.

“If Google can’t win the search market in China, then Microsoft can’t,” Mr. Sullivan said. “But there’s a lot to gain by pushing the Windows adoption.”

With the deal, Baidu will fortify its grip on Web search in China. More than 92% of Internet users in China have used Baidu for search, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Google, with 27%, is ranked fourth in the country by number of people who have used it, while Microsoft’s Bing is used by less than 2%.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Original Story:

If you answer a phone call and hear a recording claiming to be Google, the odds are good that you're being scammed. That's the message of a new Google Business post and a new lawsuit from the company, targeting a company that used robocalling to target businesses using Google Adwords. A San Diego unfair competition lawyer is following this story closely.

According to the complaint, a company called Local Lighthouse Corp. made telemarketing calls to Adwords customers, using misappropriated logos and other methods to represent themselves as agents of Google. Once they gained a target's trust, they attempted to milk them for $100 fees in exchange for Search benefits like "front page domination." Based on those claims, the lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition. A Roseland trademark lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Google says such scams are routine, but the company is usually unable to prosecute because scammers are too successful in hiding their tracks. In this case, the accused party is a California search engine optimization company, making it significantly easier for Google to take action. Still, the company reminded users that it rarely contacts Adwords users over the phone, and never does so through pre-recorded calls. Anyone receiving such a call should contact both Google and the Federal Trade Commission to lodge a complaint.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Original Story:

Twitter Inc.’s direct messages may not be as private as it claims, according to a lawsuit filed against the company on Monday.

A lawsuit seeking class action status alleges that Twitter “surreptitiously eavesdrops on its users’ private direct message communications. As soon as a user sends a direct message, Twitter intercepts, reads and, at times, even alters the message.” A Charleston class action lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

The lawsuit takes particular issue with the hyperlinks sent within the private-chat function. The plaintiff claims that, for example, when a hyperlink to a New York Times story is sent via direct message, Twitter goes in and replaces the link with its own link-shortening tool,, before it reaches the intended recipient, which it then masks by displaying the original New York Times link. Link shorteners are commonly used on Twitter to make the most of a tweet’s 140-character limit, though Twitter removed the character constraint on direct messages last month.

“Twitter’s algorithms will read through the Direct Message, identify the hyperlink, and replace it with its own custom link, thereby sending the person clicking on the link to Twitter’s analytics servers before passing them on to the original linked-to website,” claims the suit.

The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco federal court, alleges that Twitter is doing this to benefit its advertising business. By using its own link shortening tool, Twitter can better track and show publishers how much Twitter drives traffic back to their site. A Minneapolis class action lawyer is following this story closely.

According to the lawsuit, this interference represents a violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and California’s privacy law.

“We believe these claims are meritless and we intend to fight them,” said a Twitter spokesman.

The lawsuit was filed by law firm Edelson PC and brought by Wilford Raney, a resident of Texas, seeking to represent two classes: U.S. Twitter users who have sent direct messages and U.S. Twitter users who have received direct messages. And it wants as much as $100 a day for each user whose privacy was violated.

“When you have a privacy policy and the company is not being clear or transparent about what they’re doing, the reason is usually because economic gain is really their focus,” said Jay Edelson, managing partner at the Chicago-based firm Edelson PC that is representing Mr. Raney.

Mr. Edelson said that its internal forensic experts were able to piece together how and why Twitter replaced the hyperlinks with its own URL shortener. But it has yet to come across evidence that Twitter was actually able to charge higher advertising rates thanks to the traffic data gleaned from intercepting hyperlinks sent through direct messages. “That’s obviously going to be a focal point of the litigation,” he said, adding “we feel confident that we understand why they’re doing it.” Mr. Edelson said a lot of people have been contacting the firm with questions since the lawsuit was filed this week.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Original Story:

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google (GOOGL - Get Report) shares are slumping 0.31% to $653.30 on Monday after Russia's antitrust regulator found that the search giant violated the country's antitrust rules, The Wall Street Journal reports. A Denver antitrust lawyer is following this story closely.

Google was guilty of "abusing its dominant market position," but not of "unfair competition practices," the regulator told the Journal.

This action comes after Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) started the probe back in February. Russia's Internet firm Yandex (YNDX) often called the "Google of Russia," had asked the country's regulator to look into whether or not the tech giant violated Russia's antitrust rules.

Yandex specifically pointed to Google's Android operating system and how the company bundles apps with the system, according to the Journal. A Charleston unfair competition attorney represents clients in matters involving deceptive trade practices, domain infringement issues, and in non-compete and non-disclosure agreements.

The regulator's decision will "help restore competition on the market," Yandex added.

Shares of Yandex are jumping 7.99% to $12.17 on heavy trading volume in Monday's afternoon trading session.

Based in Mountain View, CA, Google builds technology products and provides services to organize the information.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates GOOGLE INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate GOOGLE INC (GOOGL) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, reasonable valuation levels, increase in net income and good cash flow from operations. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

GOOGL's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 6.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.1%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share. An Aiken unfair competition lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Although GOOGL's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.05 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 4.60, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.

The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Internet Software & Services industry average. The net income increased by 17.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $3,351.00 million to $3,931.00 million.

Net operating cash flow has increased to $6,985.00 million or 24.13% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, GOOGLE INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 19.50%.


Original Story:

Pinterest is trying to distance itself from the Facebooks of the world in an effort to convince advertisers that it deserves a piece of their search advertising budgets.

Over the past few months, the image-bookmarking service has been making the rounds with advertisers trying to persuade them it’s not a social network but rather a place where consumers search for and discover products.

Pinterest is not a place where people come to connect with family and friends, it’s a “catalog of ideas,” says Tim Kendall, the company’s head of monetization. People “go through the catalog and do searches,” he added.

Part of the challenge for Pinterest has been to shake the image that it’s merely a scrapbooking tool where users can save images to “pin boards” based around themes like wedding dresses and dessert recipes, which can then be shared with other users. The company has created a library of over 50 billion user-collected pins and according to Pinterest executives it is that trove that sets Pinterest apart from its social networking cousins. Organic search engine optimization secures top keyword placements in search results as an endorsement of your company, products, and services.

Pinterest’s positioning makes financial sense. While social media has dominated the headlines over the past few years, search advertising has remained the dominant force in the digital ad ecosystem, grabbing the biggest share of marketing dollars.

According to estimates from eMarketer, search ads accounted for over 45% of all digital ad spending in the U.S. in 2014. Advertisers are expected to shell out roughly $26. 5 billion on U.S. search ads this year while ad spending on social media is expected to reach $10.4 billion, the research firm says.

And the social media arena is getting crowded – with giant Facebook looming large alongside Twitter, Snapchat, and a host of other smaller players.

Still, Pinterest’s push for search budgets won’t be easy, ad buyers said. “Pinterest will have to show the same kind of conversion rate that Google search does,” said Sarah Hofstetter, chief executive officer of 360i, a digital ad firm own by Dentsu. Google AdWords services helps companies reach their target market.

“The mindset is there but the dream has to be realized and that is still a work in progress,” Ms. Hofstetter added. (Conversion rate is the number of visitors who take a desired action on a site after clicking through on an ad.)

Google controls 72.4% of total search ad spending in the US, eMarketer estimates.

Mr. Kendall said it will take some time for advertisers to understand how Pinterest fits into the search picture but added that he is “starting to see search budgets.”

He also noted that the site isn’t solely dependent on one type of ad budget and already pulls dollars from marketer’s display budgets.

Pinterest, which investors have valued at $11 billion in an investment round earlier this year, has significantly ramped up its push for revenues by launching multiple ad products and most recently adding “buyable pins,” which allow users to buy products directly via Pinterest.

ComScore estimates Pinterest had about 76.2 million unique U.S. visitors in July, up 24% from a year ago.


Original Story:

Microsoft Corp. General Counsel Brad Smith was appointed the company’s president and chief legal officer, positions that will have him taking a broader role at the company.

Microsoft appoints regional sales presidents, but Mr. Smith is the first company-wide president since Richard “Rick” Belluzzo resigned in 2002. However, Mr. Beluzzo had a more operationally focused role.

“Brad has long had a broad role at the company and now I’m asking him to lead more new initiatives,” wrote Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella in a Friday email to employees. In addition to handling the company’s legal work, Mr. Smith will be responsible for “privacy, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion,” Mr. Nadella wrote.

Mr. Smith will manage employees beyond the legal division, but it’s unclear which parts of the company he will oversee. He will continue to report to Mr. Nadella, and his promotion won’t affect the company’s existing senior leadership structure, the company said.

A 22-year Microsoft veteran, Mr. Smith has served as Microsoft’s general counsel since 2002, the year the company agreed to change its business practices following an antitrust court settlement and consent decree. A Kansas City antitrust lawyer is following this story closely.

Mr. Smith has been increasingly involved in policy issues in the past decade, weighing in on debates over whether law enforcement should be able to circumvent encryption software or access customers’ email messages.


Original Story:

Yahoo Inc. is losing its marketing chief to a Hollywood movie studio, the latest setback for the Sunnyvale, Calif., tech giant.

Kathy Savitt, Yahoo's chief marketing officer since 2012, will join the new Burbank film and television company STX Entertainment to lead its digital content business next month, the studio said Friday.

The move comes at the end of a difficult week for Yahoo. The firm told investors Tuesday that the Internal Revenue Service declined to approve Yahoo’s proposed tax-free spin-off of its $23-billion stake in the Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group. Yahoo also lost its top European executive Dawn Airey. Yahoo’s stock has declined nearly 40% this year, but rose 28 cents, or 1%, on Friday to $31.43.

But Savitt’s departure is a boost for STX. Producer Bob Simonds launched the company last year with TPG Capital, a private investment firm, to focus on films with low- to mid-level budgets of $20 million to $60 million. In April, STX secured an investment from Chinese film production company Huayi Bros. Media Corp. to co-produce and co-distribute movies. A Mumbai investment lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

STX is gearing up to make original short videos and long-form series for the Web at a time when Silicon Valley companies have increasingly courted Hollywood for content. Amazon Inc. and Netflix Inc. have invested heavily in original shows and Apple also has taken steps to get into the content business.

Savitt will report to Simonds and STX President Sophie Watts in her new role.

Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer had tasked Savitt with reviving Yahoo's flagging brand to appeal to a younger generation of consumers. Along with traditional marketing, she was responsible for the company’s editorial teams and its push into original video. Last year she inked a deal with Beverly Hills music promoter Live Nation to air a daily series of concerts online.

Savitt was instrumental in reviving the cult series “Community” and launching the Paul Feig sci-fi comedy “Other Space” for Yahoo. Still, the company’s digital video efforts have yet to yield many major hits.

“We appreciate her contributions to Yahoo over the past three years and wish her well,” a Yahoo spokesperson said in a terse statement.

Before joining Yahoo, Savitt founded Lockerz, a short-lived social commerce website focused on young audiences. She also previously led marketing at clothing brand American Eagle Outfitters, and ran content and entertainment initiatives for Amazon. A Birmingham entertainment lawyer is following this story closely.

Simonds said Savitt will help kick-start the studio’s online content business, leveraging its relationships with movie stars and major writers and directors.

“What we're trying to do is say, how do we take the talent swirling around us and channel it into the digital infrastructure?” Simonds said.

STX achieved early success last month with its first release “The Gift,” a low-budget thriller produced by horror maestro Jason Blum. The $5-million movie has grossed more than $40 million in the United States and Canada.


Original Story:

The project might have a CEO, but Google isn’t ready to make self-driving cars an official Alphabet company.

Google has hired automotive veteran John Krafcik as CEO of its self-driving car project, a signal that the company is preparing to turn its experiment into a business.

Krafcik will take over the newly formed position in late September, Google announced Sunday. Most recently, Krafcik was president of online car shopping service TrueCar  TRUE , a position he has held since April 2014. A Detroit automotive attorney has experience representing clients in automotive matters involving technological developments and general commercial transactions.

“This is a great opportunity to help Google  GOOG develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars,” Krafcik said in an emailed statement. “This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today. I can’t wait to get started.”

Krafcik has deep automotive roots that include management stints at Ford  F and Hyundai Motor America. However, he’s not just some automotive management flak. He’s really known for his product development prowess—a strength that Google is likely attracted to.

Krafcik has a mechanical engineering degree from Stanford University and was one of the first engineers for New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI, the former joint-venture plant in Fremont, Calif., operated by Toyota and General Motors  GM . The NUMMI plant, which closed in 2010, is now owned and occupied by Tesla Motors  TSLA . An Atlanta joint venture lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

He went to work at the International Motor Vehicle Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before signing on at Ford, where he held various product development leadership positions over 14 years, including as chief engineer for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles. Krafcik later joined Hyundai Motor America and eventually became president and CEO, a position he held for five years. After presiding over a period of expanding market share and consumer regard for the brand, Hyundai suddenly replaced Krafcik in late 2013 with David Zuchowski, who had been head of sales for the automaker.

Google launched its self-driving car project in 2009 and until recently has primarily tested its software in Mountain View, Calif. In July, the company began testing its outfitted Lexus RX450h sport-utility vehicles in Austin, Texas.

Google has 23 Lexus RX450h SUVs self-driving on public streets in Mountain View and Austin. The company also has 25 two-seater prototypes, five of which are self-driving in Mountain View. These prototype cars, which look more like gumdrops on wheels, are coming to Austin later this month.

Google says it still has a lot to learn about how people perceive its vehicles, and hopes to run pilot programs with its built-from-ground-up prototypes at some point, spokeswoman Kara Berman told Fortune. For now, the company says it’s focused on building out a team. Chris Urmson, the former director of Google’s self-driving project, will stay on and lead technical development.

The Krafcik hire illustrates Google’s need to find someone with the technical and auto industry expertise to expand the project—possibly into a business. But not just yet. A Detroit automotive lawyer is following this story closely.

Google was quick to note in an email that the “self-driving car project is not becoming an Alphabet company at this stage, though it’s certainly a good candidate to become one at some point in the future.” The self-driving project is still part of the company’s X lab. In August, Google announced it had created a holding company called Alphabet. Google, which is under Alphabet, is the company’s legacy business and includes search, advertising, YouTube, and Android. Meanwhile, Alphabet houses its experiments, including Google X, health-related investigations as well as Nest and two investment arms.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Original Story:

Google is retiring its Photo Sphere Camera app on iOS and the Street View feature from the Google Maps app on Android in favor of a new app for both operating systems: the Street View app.

The tech giant announced Thursday the standalone app will let people explore collections of 360-degree panorama photos of locations (both interior and exterior), and make their own contributions to public photo galleries.

Users can snap 360-degree “spherical” photos directly from their Android phone or iPhone, or use a dedicated 360-degree camera such as the Ricoh Theta S or NCTech iris360. They can then geotag the images and upload them directly to Google Maps. Other users can then view those images when they tap on a map location within the app.

“In one gallery, you can explore Street View collections and content from Google Maps alongside photo spheres contributed from people around the globe,” said a product manager at Google Maps, Charles Armstrong. “So whether you want to track the Loch Ness monster in Scotland, scale the famed rock wall El Capitan in Yosemite, or hike Mt. Fuji, the Street View app has you covered.”

To combat inappropriate content that often goes hand-in-hand with user-generated content, the app will have a feature that lets users report problems.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


Original Story:

A Facebook product manager has joined Snapchat’s growth team in Venice, becoming the latest Silicon Valley worker to be drawn south by the fast-expanding entertainment app maker.

Anthony Pompliano said Tuesday on Twitter that he moved to Los Angeles over the weekend to “lead Snapchat’s growth team.” His experience at Facebook included helping launch features related to elections and child abduction notifications, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Funded by more than $1 billion in venture capital and millions of dollars in ad revenue, Snapchat has brought on more than 300 software engineers, content producers and business executives since its founding in 2011.  An Atlanta venture capital lawyer is following this story closely. Many new hires have relocated to Los Angeles from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, seeing great potential in the company’s push to make the app a major force in chat and online video.


Original Story:

In just three months, Snapchat has doubled the number of video views it gets per day to 4 billion, a spokeswoman for the social media app said. Search engine optimization secures and maintains premium keyword positions in the organic search engine results pages, increasing traffic for your company.

That puts Snapchat on equal footing with social media giant Facebook, which announced it hit 4 billion daily views in the first quarter of this year.

Snapchat's newest numbers, which were first reported by the International Business Times, are being driven by the popularity of its “Live Stories” feature, which curates clips from around the world.


9 a.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that the news site Business Insider first reported Snapchat's latest video views numbers. It was the International Business Times.

Snapchat’s founder and chief executive, Evan Spiegel, told Bloomberg in May that the company was generating 2 billion views a day.

The numbers will boost Snapchat’s bottom line as advertisers gravitate toward the app’s millennial audience.

Snapchat has raised over $1 billion, implying a valuation of about $16 billion.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Original Story:

Over the past couple of years, Google has hired experts in diseases and physiology, pairing them with top software engineers, to tackle major healthcare issues.

Projects include developing contact lenses to allow diabetics to constantly monitor glucose levels, defining “healthy” traits and testing disease-detection pills capable of communicating to a special wristband.

None of that is a part of Google anymore but there is still a connection. The 150-employee Life Sciences team is becoming its own company within Alphabet, a corporation Google recently formed to organize its array of offbeat ventures. Life Sciences becomes a sister company to Google, which includes the search engine, Gmail, Maps, Android and other familiar offerings. An official corporate name is coming soon, a Google spokeswoman said.

Changing the reporting structure could give Life Sciences more autonomy while providing Alphabet, nee Google, executives a clearer picture of the division’s spending. Google’s new Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat counts Life Sciences as a forthcoming source of significant long-term revenue.

The group’s goal won’t change, said Google co-founder and Alphabet President Sergey Brin in an online post Thursday.

“They’ll continue to work with other life sciences companies to move new technologies from early stage R&D to clinical testing—and, hopefully—transform the way we detect, prevent and manage disease,” he wrote. Rankin Biomedical is a leading provide of remanufactured histology equipment for medical testing needs.

One partner, Dexcom Inc., announced earlier this month that it will make and sell miniature glucose monitors based on Google technology. Life Sciences collects an upfront fee, additional payments throughout the development and then revenue-based royalties after a certain sales level, Dexcom said.

Andy Conrad, a co-founder of the National Genetics Institute who had been leading Life Sciences, becomes the new company’s chief executive. Life Sciences will be separate from Calico, an Alphabet division working to counteract aging. BrightStar Care specializes in Plymouth elder care services providing customized companion and healthcare needs.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Original Story:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Susan Wojcicki is reminiscing about her old home in Menlo Park, Calif. "It's a very humble house, less than 2,000 square feet," she recalls fondly. A cozy, four-bedroom home — and incredibly historic.

After earning her MBA in 1998, Wojcicki bought 232 Santa Margarita Ave. for about $600,000. She rented the garage to two Stanford students for $1,700 a month to help with the mortgage. The renters: no ordinary slackers, but the Google Guys, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who incubated Google (GOOG) right there.

"It's a good reminder for the company that we did come from a small house, not a fancy house," says Wojcicki.

Her life-changing decision to open her home to Brin and Page did more than just help start the world's most-popular search engine. It also:
  • Landed Wojcicki a key early job at Google less than a year after purchasing the home. Today, she's one of its top-ranked executives, overseeing the crucial online advertising business as vice president of product management.
  • Introduced a future husband to Wojcicki's younger sister Anne, who recently married Brin on an island in the Bahamas. Google has invested $3.9 million in Anne Wojcicki's biotech start-up, 23andMe.                                           
  • Created a cottage industry for the Wojcicki family. Susan Wojcicki's husband, Dennis Troper, is an operations executive at Google. Brother-in-law Gregor (married to middle sister Janet) is a former Googler who worked in the finance department. Mom Esther Wojcicki, a teacher, has consulted for Google on educational issues.
If you've ever clicked a text ad on MySpace, or any thousands of blogs with "Ads by Google," you've got Susan Wojcicki to thank. Expanding ads beyond Google's own search pages was her idea. Now, Google has asked her to further grow the empire by bringing its advertiser base to old media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

"There are no sets of words that can be used to describe Susan's contribution to the company," says Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "She's historic, in terms of our company's founding. She's also one of those people who thinks very broadly and quickly, and (it's) deceiving because she's so pleasant."

Wojcicki is Google employee No. 18. Her early duties included refining the original Google logo designed by Brin and the overall spare look of the Google home page. She came up with the first of Google's "doodles," the remaking of the logo for holidays and other special events. Her first artistic doodle: an alien lands on Google.

In Google's fledgling days, Wojcicki, a former junior staffer for chipmaker Intel, was in charge of marketing efforts. Brin and Page charged her with spreading the word about Google on a shoestring. Her big idea: stir word-of-mouth by putting Google's search engine all over the Web. She reached out to companies to license Google search for their websites and offered it free to universities.

In 2003, she came up with her multimillion-dollar brainstorm: AdSense.

'A really novel idea'

AdSense is an extension of a program Google had successfully launched in 2002, called AdWords. AdWords offers advertisers sponsored search ads, those little text ads that appear near search results. Advertisers have to pay only if the ads get clicked.

Wojcicki's suggestion: Why not offer these same ads all over the Web, on blogs and websites? Entice Web "publishers" to participate by giving them a portion of the ad revenue. In other words, every time someone clicks on an ad on your site, you get a check.

Here's how the ads are targeted: Let's say you're reading about computers at tech site Engadget. An ad might appear offering special deals at Or, if you're reading an article at a news site about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, you might see an ad for a local criminal-defense law firm.

That's AdSense.

"It was a really novel idea at the time to serve ads that were targeted dynamically" to a specific Web page, says Wojcicki, sitting in a conference room at the "Googleplex" company headquarters.

"People were saying, 'This is a sports site, so we'll serve a sports ad.' And we were saying, 'No. We can actually look at the page in real time and figure out what this page is about.' "

Wojcicki's idea turned into a runaway smash. Google doesn't break out revenues from AdSense and AdWords. But the company recently reported quarterly profit of $1 billion, virtually all derived from both ad programs.

Thousands of tiny entrepreneurs make substantial livings by hosting Ads by Google links at their websites. "More people make money from AdSense than any other vehicle on the Web," says Jennifer Slegg, who runs JenSense, a blog devoted to AdSense. "There are many, many AdSense millionaires."

AdSense "basically turned the Web into a giant Google billboard," says Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land website. "It effectively meant that Google could turn everyone's content into a place for Google ads."

For her efforts, Wojcicki earned a Google Founders' Award, a financial incentive provided to employees to create new ideas. Spokesman David Krane says it's designed to keep employees and give them the same kind of economic award they would receive if they had formed their own companies.

Krane won't disclose how much current Founders' Awards are worth, but the first two awarded to Googlers (not to Wojcicki) were $12 million each.

Venturing into offline ads

Creating things has kept Wojcicki at Google over the years. "I love taking an idea … to a prototype and then to a product that millions of people use," she says.

"People write in from all over the world giving you feedback, telling us how a product (AdSense) changed their lives, how they were able to start a business with it, and that's just incredibly rewarding."

Her next big challenge: translating Google's simple, measurable advertising network to radio, TV and print.

Ever wanted to run an ad on the radio but didn't know how to set it up? Google has an Audio Ads section on its website with links to radio producers who will create an ad for $75 to $100. Select stations and time slots, and you're on the air.

The radio venture recently left test mode and is open to the general public. Google is testing the concept in print and on TV; that test is available only to a small percentage of advertisers.

Sullivan and other Google analysts are skeptical about the nascent program's chances. With radio ads, Sullivan says, Google "will give information on when the ad played, with more data than before, but that still doesn't prove that anyone heard the ad. They haven't done anything innovative or different to show if the ad really worked."

'A real challenge' ahead

Bringing the Google ad network to old media "will be a real challenge," says Greg Sterling, an independent analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "The ability to serve a relevant ad against someone's query is one of the great innovations of the Internet, and it's not transferable to other media, where people are more passive."

Wojcicki concedes that ads on TV and radio won't be as measurable. But she says such ads placed through Google will have more data to mine than old media currently provide, thanks to Google's obsessive tracking of numbers via its network of computers. "For example, in TV we can provide second-by-second data on what's being watched on the ad," she says.

She cautions that it's still very early for Google Radio: "The first things we're doing are really just providing online ways for people to purchase the inventory easier."

Raised in Silicon Valley

Wojcicki has plenty of experience at being eyewitness to a forming business. Brin and Page originally met her and landed at the Menlo Park house via a friend of Wojcicki's who was dating Brin.

The house that gave birth to Google was always filled with mutual friends, Wojcicki says. Most of them techies themselves, their No. 1 question for Brin and Page back then: Who needs yet another search engine?

The answer: " 'Not another but a better search engine,' " Wojcicki recalls. "From the beginning, they had a very clear vision that they could build something much better than what existed at the time."

Wojcicki grew up in Palo Alto on the campus of Stanford University. Dad Stanley Wojcicki chairs Stanford's physics department.

Mom Esther, a journalism teacher at Palo Alto High School, says she expected Susan to become an English professor. Instead, after a post-college job at educational software firm MagicQuest, she was bitten by the tech bug.

Now, Google is "such a presence" in their lives that the Wojcickis try to limit family-time chatter about the company, Esther says, though not always successfully. "It's so innovative and exciting. They're doing all sorts of interesting things, and it's fun to hear about it."

That so many of her relatives were drawn to Google isn't unusual, says Susan Wojcicki. "There are lots of people in the Silicon Valley who are interested in working at a fast-moving, dynamic company like Google," she says. "Not just my family members."

Meanwhile, the humble house where Google was incubated was purchased by Google in September. Google won't disclose how much it paid, but homes in the neighborhood sell for more than $1 million. "I haven't had time to think about what we'll do with it," says CEO Schmidt. "But I figured we should buy it sooner rather than later."

Monday, August 17, 2015


Original Story:

In a blog post today, Google co-founder Larry Page announced a massive restructuring of the company, instituting Sundar Pichai as CEO and shifting himself and co-founder Sergey Brin to a larger holding company called Alphabet. As CEO and President of Alphabet, Page and Brin will oversee Google as well as affiliated companies like the life-extension project Calico and a drone delivery venture called Wing. Alphabet will also direct Google's early-stage funding operations, dubbed Capital and Ventures. Under the new organization, each of those operations will have its own CEO and leadership, while Pichai and Google retain control of search, ads, maps, the Google Play Store, YouTube, and Android. A San Francisco M&A lawyer assists clients in joint ventures, company reorganizations and in financial restructurings.

The reorganization also involves significant financial restructuring, as detailed in an associated SEC filing. All Google shares will now be traded as shares of the larger Alphabet holding company, news that drove the company's share price up more than four percentage points in the wake of the announcement. "We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes," Page writes in the post. "But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant."

It also means a prominent role for Sundar Pichai, the former Chrome OS and Android chief who has played an increasingly central role in Google's day-to-day operations. "It is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google," Page said in the post. "I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations." A Rochester business lawyer represents clients in company formation matters, asset protection, and confidentiality agreements.

While the news has caught Wall Street and much of the tech world by surprise, it's an extension of a shift that's been ongoing within Google for some time, with Brin and Page increasingly interested in ambitious projects launched through Google X or outside funding. Alphabet formalizes that division, separating Google's traditional products from the more ambitious ventures that critics have accused of distracting from the company's core strengths. It remains to be seen how the new divisions will play out in practice, but the intention seems to be a renewed focus on both Google's current products and the moonshots that aim to replace those products as Alphabet's focus in the decades to come. "From the start, we’ve always strived to do more," Page writes, "and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have."


Original Story:

Google Inc (GOOGL.O) announced a major shake-up of its operating structure on Monday, creating a holding company called Alphabet which will contain subsidiaries to separate its core web advertising business from newer ventures like driverless cars. A Detroit corporate lawyer is following this story closely.

The move appeared to be an attempt to let the search engine giant focus on its more creative and ambitious projects, while investors cheered the potential for more financial disclosures of its disparate business segments.

"It suggests that in all likelihood, Google is not going to slow the pace of their experimental processes like self driving cars," said Michael Yoshikami, head of Destination Wealth Management which has $1.5 billion under management.

The surprise news sent shares of Google up as much as 7 percent to $708 in after hours trading.

"They are aware that they've got this hodgepodge of companies. Maybe it's better to sort them out a bit and make it clearer which ones are bringing in the bacon and which ones are science projects and which ones are long term bets," said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates. A Charleston corporate attorney is experienced in the effective resolution of corporate lawsuits as related to profit-making businesses or professional organizations.

The Mountain View-based company co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 has grown to more than 40,000 employees worldwide.

Google's planned structure resembles the way companies like Berkshire Hathaway and General Electric are organized, with a central unit handling corporate-wide activities such as finance and relatively independent business units focused on specific areas.

Under the new corporate structure, the Google unit will encompass the core search engine traditionally associated with the company as well Google Maps and YouTube. Organic SEO allows consumers to find local businesses and companies through targeted keyword searches.

The company's new ventures such as Calico, which focuses on longevity, and connected home products maker Nest will be managed separately.

Alphabet Inc will replace Google as the publicly traded entity and all shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet, with all of the same rights.

"This new structure will allow us to keep tremendous focus on the extraordinary opportunities we have inside of Google," said current Google CEO Larry Page in a blogpost.

Analysts also said the new structure could herald a new era of fiscal discipline and transparency in some of its more experimental and opaque business units.

In a SEC filing, Google said the new arrangement will take effect later this year and that it will likely result in two reportable, financial segments.

"For example, if a unit is doing well or badly they can dial it up or down, they can form partnerships or different companies," said Kay, the Endpoint Technologies Associates analyst.

The shuffle also looked to have the markings of Ruth Porat, who joined Google as its chief financial officer in March from Morgan Stanley. In Google's recent quarterly conference call, Porat repeatedly emphasized keeping expenses under control.

Porat will serve as the CFO of both Alphabet and Google.

Page will serve as the CEO of the newly created holding company and Sundar Pichai, a long-time Google executive who most recently served as the company's senior vice president of products, will head Google. The company's current directors will become directors of Alphabet.

Google co-founder Brin will become president of Alphabet, and Eric Schmidt will be executive chairman. An Edmonds corporate lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Analysts said the move, which was mainly about transparency and accountability, could be followed by more structural changes in the future.

"This may be step one of several steps," said Morningstar analyst Rick Summer.

Monday, August 03, 2015


Original Story:

Steve Jobs is a longtime role model for budding techies. But now he comes with an asterisk.

“I look up to Steve Jobs, but I see that he started everything in a garage with a bunch of men,” said Markie Wagner. “It’s hard to follow in exact footsteps.”

Wagner, who will soon turn 16, is a recent graduate of a computer science program for high schoolers called Girls Who Code. Optimized content management systems deliver superior search engine results.



In the July 31 Business section, an article about the computer science program Girls Who Code said one of the summer sessions had taken place in Brentwood. It was held at the downtown Los Angeles campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University.


Graduation ceremonies for the seven-week summer program were held this week, with awards like “Most Likely to Be My Boss One Day” and speakers including Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Tech-obsessed since age 9, Wagner, of Whittier, is still looking for female role models in a male-dominated industry. She hopes that the college-bound generation of young women, with the help of organizations like Girls Who Code, will spark change. Her own plans include launching a start-up when she gets to college, and filling it with women from diverse backgrounds.

“Hopefully, there’s going to be tons of new role models soon,” she said. “I’d love to be one myself.”

Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code in 2012 after learning that tech was the only major industry that had seen a dramatic decline in women employees over 30 years.

This summer, the nonprofit organization offered programs for 1,200 girls in 14 cities, including, for the first time, Los Angeles.

With sessions in Boyle Heights, Santa Monica, Venice and Brentwood, 80 girls participated tuition free. AT&T and Google were major sponsors along with the philanthropic Saban Family Foundation and Honest Co., which sells eco-friendly goods and is run by actress Jessica Alba.

Saujani said she crafted the program with a project-based curriculum designed to appeal to women.

“They’re problem solvers. And they’re passionate. And they care about humanity. There are so many tech solutions that could solve those things,” she said.

At one graduation ceremony in Boyle Heights, participants showed off apps and websites they had created from scratch in less than two weeks using programming languages such as HTML, CSS, jQuery and JavaScript.

They had business plans, too, and described how they would attract advertisers and sell the apps.

Many of the girls' projects incorporated social services: First Jobs would curate job listings for high schoolers, Chronic Illness Connect would offer a platform for teenagers suffering from chronic ailments to share stories and support, and Global Grind would aim to teach about global warming through games, such as a "Frogger"-like design with penguins.

For Melanie Perez, 15, one of the program’s highlights was collaborating with two others on Global Grind, a project they plan to expand.

“They had the same ambition and the same passion that I have,” said Melanie, who lives in Koreatown and had not studied computer science before. Speaking at the graduation, she delivered half her speech in Spanish for her parents and other families from Latino backgrounds.

“I think it’s very important to have … that environment that pushes you to your max,” she added.

It’s not all coding at Girls Who Code. Networking with women is essential, too.

“We’ve all discussed how sometimes, you’re going to be the only woman in the computer lab,” said coder Mia Hamernik, 16, of Ventura County. “You have to find a way to set up your own network of support to get through that, just so you aren’t pushed out.”

These young women understand the challenges they'll face when they move into the workforce.

Men outnumber women by 4 to 1, at least, in the technical sectors at big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Apple, according to figures these companies released last year. The latest “diversity reports” don’t show much improvement.

And once women do land jobs, many eventually leave. A Harvard Business Review study found in 2008 that half of highly qualified women working in science, engineering and technology will, eventually, abandon their jobs because of hostile and isolating work environments. An update last year found that these women are 45% more likely than male colleagues to leave their fields.

For Carmen Nava, senior vice president of customer experience at AT&T, the solution could be getting girls committed during high school through programs like Girls Who Code.

“For us, honestly, the hardest thing is finding women in this field,” she said after the Boyle Heights graduation, where she was a speaker. “To expose them to all the joy of making something out of nothing, hopefully will help retain them.”

The girls aren’t spending all their time worrying about the future, though. They’re immersing themselves in code.

“You can look at a piece of code five hours, your eye goes over errors, and you miss a tiny semicolon,” said Wagner. “We’re all supportive in helping each other find that semicolon.”


Original Story:

(WXYZ) - No one likes to get stuck in line at their favorite coffee shop or local eatery—and now Google wants to help.

It’s a new feature labeled "popular times"—and the goal is to save you time.

It appears when you do a simple Google search of a restaurant or business on your mobile device. For iOS devices, you can use the Safari app to see the feature. If you have an Android, reports indicate you can find the feature using the Google app.

When you see the spot you're looking for with the address and hours of operation, just click on the "more" button. You’ll then see the "popular times" section.

The section helps users avoid busy times at that place throughout the week. You can scroll through the neat bar graphs to see what the peak hours are day to day.

A spokesperson for Google tells me in an email, "Much like we compute traffic data based on the anonymized aggregated movement of people on the road, we are able to determine relatively how busy a place is."

It’s a pretty neat feature; you can test it out for yourself. It’s just beginning to roll out, so if you can’t see it yet, be patient.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Original Story:

Google is known for multicolored bicycles, nap pods, and complimentary meals—and the free-spending ways that come with those perks. Now it wants to be known for something else: financial discipline. To whip the numbers into shape, it’s brought in Ruth Porat, an almost 30-year veteran of Wall Street.

She’s off to a good start. Porat, who joined Google as chief financial officer in May after five years as Morgan Stanley’s CFO, on July 16 unveiled second-quarter earnings and sales that topped analysts’ estimates. Impressed investors sent the shares to a record the next day, adding $65 billion to the company’s market value and more than $4 billion each to the fortunes of co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. An Atlanta securities lawyer is following this story closely.

Shareholders cheered Porat, 57, with her strong finance background, as the right person to help instill more discipline at a company that’s invested in everything from driverless cars to giant barges. Now she must prove she can create efficiency without crimping the creative culture that’s helped Google dominate the online advertising market. “No one really knew her before, because there’s no reason a tech investor would really know her,” says Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. When she announced the second-quarter results, the idea that a Wall Street hand was whipping Google into shape “kind of went viral,” he says. “This perception of a real, hard-nosed woman who has something to prove—I think that inspires confidence.”

During the second quarter, Google’s operating expenses grew 13 percent from the same period a year ago, the slowest rate since 2013, and declined from the previous quarter. “A key focus is on the levers within our control to manage the pace of expenses while still ensuring and supporting our growth,” Porat said on a call with analysts. Her remarks also left open the possibility of Google returning cash to investors in the form of buybacks or dividends, something Wall Street has been asking about for years. At a companywide meeting following the earnings report, she talked about the importance of disciplined execution at Google even as she thanked employees for their work, according to a person familiar with the remarks. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. A Boston investment lawyer represents clients in banking matters, project finance and private equity finance.

Porat benefited from the efforts of her predecessor, Patrick Pichette. Google’s increase in expenses started slowing during the first quarter. “Everything was probably already in motion by the time she came along,” says Sameet Sinha, an analyst with B. Riley & Co. Even so, the quarterly numbers seemed to resonate with investors, as did Porat’s résumé. “She comes with a pedigree from Morgan Stanley of doing a good job of enhancing shareholder value over her tenure there,” says Walter Price, co-manager of the AllianzGI Technology Fund, which owns shares of Google.

At Morgan Stanley, Porat helped the bank recover from its near-death experience during the financial crisis and developed a reputation as a cost-cutter who focused on boosting shareholder returns. In 2013 she laid out expense-reduction targets of $1.6 billion and last year gained approval for the bank’s biggest share buyback in four years. This year, the company more than doubled the share repurchase plan. Since the end of 2012, Morgan Stanley stock has climbed from $19 to more than $40. An Encino CPA assists companies with pension and profit-sharing plans.

Porat, a physicist’s daughter who was born in England and grew up in Silicon Valley, is no stranger to technology. As Morgan Stanley’s top Internet banker during the dot-com bubble, she advised clients such as EBay and and made pitches to tech startups considering going public, accompanied by her close friend Mary Meeker, the research analyst who was called “Queen of the Net.” Porat showed a passion for work, quickly diving back in after having each of her three sons and after a battle with breast cancer.

Connecting with Google shareholders will be a priority. After the earnings call, Porat, who traded pantsuits for jeans at Google, planned to begin meetings with investors in cities such as New York and Boston, making the case for Google’s prospects.

Announcing Porat’s hiring in March, Page said she would “invest in a thoughtful, disciplined way in our next generation of big bets.” She received a pay package worth more than $70 million that will vest from this year through 2019, according to a company filing. In her first months on the job, she’s been reviewing programs throughout the company. They include driverless cars, which seek to use technology to take humans out of the process; Project Loon, an effort to deliver Internet connectivity to rural and remote areas via high-altitude balloons; and Google Fiber, its broadband and TV service in select cities, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Some of those initiatives may have to be abandoned. “She might have to go and tell Larry and Sergey, ‘Here are 10 projects, pick five—let’s go with those,’” Sinha says. The Google Fiber project could get a hard look, according to Munster, because it competes with established companies such as Verizon Communications and AT&T that are focused on building and delivering broadband and TV services.

Lifting the share price is crucial for Google, where many employees get much of their compensation in stock and can easily jump to a rival such as Apple. In the year before Porat was named to the job, the shares had fallen 4.5 percent while the Nasdaq Composite Index had climbed 17 percent. “Retention is the biggest challenge,” Munster says.

Google’s issues go beyond cost control. They include a threat to its core business of selling ads next to search results. As consumers access the Web via smartphones instead of desktop PCs, they’re increasingly likely to tap on an app rather than open a browser.

At the same time, Google faces stronger competition in online commerce from Amazon, which is grabbing more users who skip comparison shopping on Google and buy from the retailer. Also, Facebook, growing more quickly than Google, is competing for advertising and is a threat to Google’s YouTube business as it pushes video options to its users. “It was a good quarter, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of the same structural and competitive concerns,” says Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities.