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Minimal meetings and managers: the tech companies shaking up the “big company” mentality

9:47AM | Wednesday, 17 September

Vending machines full of free Apple products, fully catered meals, band rooms, huge cafeterias that look like any on-trend café; the offices of Yammer, Dropbox and Stripe leave a lasting impression on anyone that is lucky enough to score a look-in.   As part of the AngelCube tour of San Francisco, this year’s startups got a small taste of what “non-corporate” could look like. In a bid to attract the best talent – the number one priority that all startups identified as their pain point – tech companies have reimagined work life. And it looks good.   But perks are only a small part of what creates a culture at these companies.   For Stripe, whose home in an old trunk factory in the Mission District of San Francisco, the focus is on employing people that they would happily spend time with outside of work.   They’ve made internal transparency a big focus and keep all email “open” which means that anyone within the company can access all communication in order to find out what is happening elsewhere and reduce the inclination for teams to work in silos. A “nombot” also announces lunch where everyone heads to the kitchen to spend time together. Meetings are kept to a minimum.   At 150+ employees and growing fast, it’s still much smaller than Dropbox at around 800. The scale of Dropbox is evidenced by the fact it takes up an entire floor of a large building based down near the Giants ballpark that spans almost a block.   It’s not uncommon for employees to be spotted on scooters getting from one side of the building to the next. Like everyone else experiencing huge growth, Dropbox is investing a lot of time making the right hires, and trying not to compromise on that even when departments are crying out for more staff.   Yammer has probably had the most interesting journey in that it was acquired by Microsoft in 2012, just after it had moved into its new headquarters on Market St, in the same building as the Twitter office.   As a result the desks that were put aside for growth remain empty, but most importantly they have tried to resist the Microsoft mentality (or the perceived “old business thinking”) and keep things as close to the original Yammer vibe as possible.   For those who have been with the company from the beginning that has not always been an easy battle, and the slightly barren vibe indicates they have not had an outright win on this front.   For now though, the bright blue and green common areas are inviting enough for groups to sit down and relax together, or talk at length about a new feature.   Indeed, holding on to that startup heart seems like a worthwhile pursuit.   For myself, it was good to see that big companies still aspired to be little companies too. Well, ones with great internal restaurants attached to them at least.

THE NEWS WRAP: Microsoft set to unveil $2.5 billion bid for Minecraft developer

9:24PM | Sunday, 14 September

Microsoft will unveil a $2.5 billion bid to buy Mojang, the Swedish developer of Minecraft, Monday morning US time, sources have told Reuters.   Minecraft has over 100 million players and the deal is aimed at pulling users onto Microsoft’s mobile platform, as opposed to its PC systems, or Xbox console.   Minecraft is the top paid app on both the iOS and Android. After launching five years ago on PC, about 40% of copies are now downloaded onto phones and tablets.   Product Hunt raises $6 million   Aggregations site Product Hunt, which helps surface new tech products and startups, has raised $6 million in Series A funding, TechCrunch reports.   According to the report, the round was led by Andreessen Horowitz at a valuation of $22 million although sources were unsure whether that valuation was pre or post money.   The startup raised $1 million in seed funding in August.   Before $100 million raise, Square was in talks with Apple   Mobile payments platform Square has raised another $100 million in capital, according to a filing obtained by VCExperts, TechCrunch reports.   Multiple sources have told TechCrunch that Square and Apple were in acquisition talks recently, but Square walked away, the sticking point being price – Apple wanted to buy Square for less than half of the $6 billion valuation it would eventually raise at.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 61.49 to 16,987.51. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US90 cents.

What can we learn from Apple’s celebrity leak fail? Five ways to keep data safe

9:39AM | Wednesday, 3 September

The internet exploded this week with a cache of private photos taken from the devices or online accounts of several high-profile celebrities.   Beyond the ethical and social questions raised by this incident are the technology questions and risks that have been exposed through this leak. There are lessons here on what businesses can do to better secure their information and that of their customers.   From what we know so far, the photos were claimed to have been taken from the iCloud accounts of the celebrities involved. It’s recently been revealed that Apple’s Find My iPhone service was vulnerable to password brute-forcing.   Brute-forcing is a password analysing technique which works by testing a large number of passwords until one is shown to be the correct one. Because Apple didn’t block repeated incorrect login attempts, it was vulnerable to this technique.   This recent iCloud vulnerability, whether or not it’s how the photos were gained, is terrifyingly easy to exploit. It’s not a stretch to believe this vulnerability could have also been behind the iPhone ransom incident from a few months ago.   As data continues to move to the cloud, it’s important to implement good security practices to reduce the risk of exposure. If you operate a business that involves handling sensitive or personal information, you are responsible for the security measures that keep that information out of the wrong hands.   Here are five things businesses can do to prevent unauthorised access to their online information:   1. Perform regular security audits on any online applications that store personal data.   Even a fairly rudimentary security audit would have revealed the brute-force vulnerability that Apple was exposed to. You can perform your own security audits using software such as WebSecurify, or hire a “penetration testing” consultant.   2. Ensure all software developers that work on your online applications have adequate knowledge and training in computer security.   This one can be tricky to measure, but most software developers are quick to learn when made aware of hacking techniques and how to protect against them. Resources such as the “Security Now” podcast help increase awareness. Depending on the technologies your company relies on, following related technical blogs is a great way for your developers to stay abreast of any security developments they need to react to.   3. Do not reuse passwords across multiple applications and do not use easily guessable passwords.   The Find My iPhone vulnerability still required a fairly rudimentary password to successfully gain access to an account. Remembering passwords (and creating strong ones!) is a tough process, look to software tools that make it easier and also remember the passwords for you. My personal recommendation would be AgileBits' 1Password, but many software applications exist that do this well.    4. Keep software up-to-date by installing updates as promptly as possible.   This applies to everything from your operating system, to your browser, to the plugins it may rely on (Java and Flash updates in particular are crucial). Modern operating systems (Windows, OSX, iOS, Android) all display prompts for security updates. Mobile operating systems in particular prompt for updates often, don’t ignore them! If you’ve had a particular software package that doesn’t have auto-update or update prompts, be sure to periodically check online for updated versions of that particular software. Never run unsupported software, or software with known security issues.   5. Finally, if you ever have a security breach, make diagnosing and patching it your number one priority.   Depending on the breach, this is a task that can be performed by your developers, although in some cases you may wish to consult an expert with background in computer forensics or computer security to help diagnose and rectify the problem. Notify your customers if you have a vulnerability that concerns the integrity of their data, and give them the information they need to secure it again.   Remember, your customers might not be happy about the breach, but they’ll be furious if they find out you covered it up or failed to try your best to prevent it.   Farid Wardan is a lead software engineer at Terem Technologies, an Australian company that specialises in developing custom software and technology solutions for corporate innovations and high-tech ventures.

Five key features you can expect to find up Apple’s sleeve with the iPhone 6

9:22AM | Wednesday, 3 September

Apple is expected to launch the latest version of the iPhone at an event it is hosting at the Flint Center for Performing Arts in Cupertino, California, next week.   Apple has already sent invitations to an event taking place on September 9th at 10am, local time. In a curious move, there are reports the notoriously secretive tech giant has gone so far as to construct its own multi-storey structure alongside the venue.   The choice of location is particularly significant because it is the venue where Apple launched its first Macintosh computer in 1984. It is also significantly larger than the Yerba Buena Center or the theatre at Apple’s corporate headquarters, where the tech giant normally makes its major new product announcements.   Speculation about the new device hasn’t escaped its key rivals, with a list of consumer electronics giants including LG, Samsung, Microsoft and Motorola – and possibly others – all gearing up for major product launches of their own over the next month.   So what can we expect to find from the iPhone 6? Here are some of the more credible rumours about what we can expect from the device: 1. A larger screen and, perhaps, a phablet   As far back as November last year, there have been persistent and credible reports Apple has been working on two different models of the iPhone 6.   According to most reports, the first model is set to feature a 4.7-inch display, while the second will include a 5.5-inch screen. This would make them close in size to the 5-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the 5.7-inch display used on the Galaxy Note 3.   Along with the move to two screen sizes, Apple is reportedly moving away from the plastic casing used on its current low-end device, the iPhone 5s.   Aside from the usual Apple rumours sites, reports about the two screen sizes have appeared in a number of credible business publications, including The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.   Unfortunately, it is not clear if both versions of the iPhone will be available at launch, with some speculation the larger 5.5-inch phablet version could be on hold until next year. 2. Mobile payments   According to a second credible rumour, Apple has been working on its own mobile payments platform centred on the iPhone 6.   During the past week, a number of respected publications including The Information, Re/Code and Bloomberg have independently confirmed with sources that Apple has struck a number of deals with major payment providers, retailers, and banks.   Those signing up to the payment platform include credit card and payments giants American Express, Visa and MasterCard.   The reports suggest the iPhone 6 will include an NFC (near-field communications) chip, a technology used to power tap-and-pay credit cards and public transport systems.   It will allow iPhone 6 users to make purchases with their smartphones, rather than by using a credit card or by paying with cash.   While NFC-chip technology has long been a standard feature of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry smartphones, Apple has long held out on using it in its devices. 3. Does Apple have anything up its sleeve?   For years, it has been rumoured Apple has had a smartwatch, or iWatch, up its sleeve.   In recent years, the hype surrounding wearable devices, including smart bracelets and smartwatches has grown, with many expecting Apple to eventually join the market.   Following the release of the Pebble in January 2013, a number of consumer electronics and device manufacturers have dipped their toes in the market, including Sony, LG, Motorola and Samsung, among many others. Other companies, such as Microsoft, are believed to be working on wearables of their own.   At the Google I/O developer conference, the search and mobile giant unveiled its Android Wear device platform. Meanwhile, rival consumer electronics makers are working on smartwatches with their own SIM cards, as well as round clockfaces.   The growing speculation is that the time is right for Apple to release its smartwatch – before it’s too late. 4. iOS8   Whether or not the iPhone 6 comes in a larger form, accepts mobile payments or is partnered to a smartwatch, one thing is for certain: it is set to run iOS8.   First unveiled during the company’s WorldWide Developer Conference during June, iOS8 will bring along a number of new features for users.   The new version of the mobile operating system is designed to be interoperable with the new version of Mac OS X, known as Yosemite.   The improved interoperability means users will be able to use their Mac as a speakerphone for their iPhone, read and send their iPhone messages from their Mac, or use a feature called Handoff to pass activities from one device to another.   It will also come with a new health tracking app called Health, which uses a new underlying API called Healthkit to gather health tracking data from a range of third-party health tracking apps and devices.   iOS8 also includes the foundations of Apple’s Internet of Things home automation platform, known as Homekit. 5. A sapphire display   In August, some photos of the new device leaked showing a thinner, lighter version of the iPhone. But one feature in particular was notable: the use of sapphire, rather than glass, for the screen.   While the choice of material is likely to make the device significantly more expensive, a less shatter-prone iPhone will certainly be music to the ears of anyone who has ever accidentally busted a mobile phone screen.   This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

THE NEWS WRAP: Apple investigators say celebrity photo hacks highly targeted

9:21PM | Tuesday, 2 September

The celebrity photo leak was a very targeted attack on specific accounts, Apple says in an update on its investigation into the incident.   Apple engineers have been working for more than 40 hours in an attempt to find the source of the leak.   “We have discovered that accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the internet,” the statement says.   “None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find My iPhone.   “We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.”   UberPop ride-sharing service banned in Germany   A German court has banned Uber’s most popular service from operating in the country until a hearing this year is completed, The New York Times reports.   The hearing will examine whether or not the service unfairly competes with taxis.   UberPop allows people to use their smartphones to book rides with freelance drivers. Uber Black is unaffected by the ruling. Uber says it will continue operations and appeal the ruling.   Ouya in acquisition talks   Ouya, the maker of a low-cost Android-based gaming console of the same name, is in preliminary acquisition talks with a number of big players in China and the US, including Xiaomi, Tencent, Google and Amazon, sources have told Re/code.   Those sources say the acquisition is related to company’s staff talent, rather than the Ouya console.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 30.89 to 17,067.56. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Apple partners with Amex, Mastercard and Visa for iPhone 6 payments

8:27PM | Sunday, 31 August

Apple is partnering with American Express, Mastercard and Visa, to enable iPhone 6 owners to pay for goods in physical stores.   Sources have told Re/code that American Express has agreed to be part of the company’s mobile payments platform, while Bloomberg sources confirmed the involvement of Visa and Mastercard.   The new payments system is expected to let iPhone 6 owners use their phones in place of credit cards, debit cards or cash to pay for goods in brick-and-mortar stores.   It’s not clear which retailers have signed on to accept such payments.   Alibaba IPO planned for next week   Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, will hold what is expected to be the world’s largest initial public offering next week, a source familiar with the deal has told The Wall Street Journal.   The deal could raise more than $20 billion and be the world’s largest in years, and would mean Alibaba shares would begin trading as soon as September 18 or 19.   $400 for Apple’s wearable?   Apple executives have discussed charging around $400 for the company’s new wearable device, although it’s not yet clear whether or not the price will be set in time for Apple’s September 9 press event, where it’s expected to be unveiled.   Sources have told Re/code to expect a range of prices for different models, including lower priced versions.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 18.88 to 17,098.45. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Uber SLOGS its competitors

8:14PM | Tuesday, 26 August

Uber is giving teams of independent contractors burner phones and credit cards as part of a sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors, The Verge reports.   Interviews with current and former contractors, along with internal documents obtained by The Verge, outline those methods.   Using contractors it calls “brand ambassadors” Uber requests rides from Lyft and other competitors, recruits their drivers, and takes multiple precautions to avoid detection.   The program known as “SLOG” has resulted in thousands of cancelled Lyft rides and made it more difficult for competitors to gain a foothold in new markets.   Apple CEO defends Tablets Last month it was reported that tablet sales were crashing, which lead to some commentators to argue that the tablet boom was over.   Apple CEO Tim Cook disagrees.   In a brief interview with Recode’s Walt Mossberg Cook says he couldn’t be happier with the first four years of the iPad.   “I’d call what’s going on recently a speed bump, and I’ve seen that in every category,” he says.   Instagram releases Hyperlapse Instagram has launched one of its first apps outside of Instagram itself – Hyperlapse.   The app makes it easy for users to use their phones to create tracking shots, and fast time-lapse videos.   The app is currently only available on iOS but Instagram hopes to develop an Android version soon.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 29.83 to 17,106.70. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

The technology hype cycle: From disillusionment to enlightenment

8:13AM | Monday, 18 August

For 20 years, consulting firm Gartner have been calling the future of technology using its now iconic “Hype Cycle”.   The Hype Cycle: from hype to reality   The Hype Cycle breaks the introduction of new technologies into five phases starting with the “Technology Trigger”, the first point at which a technology comes to the attention of the press and businesses. Technologies then rapidly become oversold or hyped. This is the point at which expansive claims are made about how technology X is going to radically transform and disrupt and the early innovators push to be amongst the first to ride the wave of excitement that technology generates.   The initial hype eventually leads to a “Peak of Inflated Expectations” which is subsequently followed by the crash as it is realised that the technology isn’t going to be adopted in quite the way everyone predicted, nor is it generally as useful. This part leads to a “Trough of Disillusionment” which is accompanied by an increasing number of negative articles, project failures and lessening of interest in the technology generally.   For some technologies however, the disillusionment is followed by a gradual increase in a more realistic adoption of the technology which eventually results in a “Plateau of Productivity”.   Technologies for the next 10 years   For Gartner’s 2014 Hype Cycle, the notable technologies are speech recognition which they are claiming to be well into the productive phase. Certainly mobile phones and increasingly, wearables, have driven the adoption of voice control and interaction and it is definitely usable on a day-to-day basis.     Having said that however, Gartner also puts wearable user interfaces as having passed the peak of inlfated expectations and rapidly heading to the trough of disillusionment. Given that Google has based their interface for wearables very heavily on the use of voice, it seems odd that these two technologies would be so far apart according to Gartner.   The position of the Internet of Things at the peak of inflated expectations will also come as a disappointment to all of the companies like Cisco that are claiming that we are already well and truly in the era of billions of interconnected and independently communicating devices.   The future is lumpy   Although the Hype Cycle is a convenient way of visualising the progress of technology from invention to universal use, it over-simplifies the way progress is made in innovation. As science fiction writer William Gibson once said:   “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”   Technology innovation is never smooth and never takes a single path. There can be businesses and individuals that are using technologies to radically improve productivity at the same time as almost everyone else is failing to do the same. A good example of this is the hype around “Big Data”. Whilst everyone acknowledges that we are creating enormous amounts of data that ultimately must hold valuable information and knowledge, very few organisations are attempting, let along succeeding, in finding it. Those that are experts in Big Data are the companies that have made digitally massive infrastructure their entire existence, companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.   Whilst Gartner has predicted that Big Data will reach the plateau of productivity within five to 10 years, it is also possible that it will never get there and that very few companies will have the skills to be able to take advantage of their amassed data.   The other issue with Gartner’s representation of the technologies that it surveys is that it doesn’t distinguish between the different categories of technologies. Those that are aimed at consumers as opposed to the business sector. Here again, we are likely to see very different paths to adoption and acceptance of those technologies with very different time frames.   What we are increasingly seeing is how technology is increasingly being used to enable a concentration of a very small number of very large companies. In turn, these companies are able to focus their resources on introducing new technologies for the public, rapidly iterating on designs until they work. Wearables from Apple, Google and companies like Samsung is a good example of this.   As always with predictions around technology, it is very hard to tell what will be the key technologies next year, let alone in five to10 years time. Given that the Hype Cycle has been with us for 20 years however, my prediction is that it will still be here for the next 20.   David Glance does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

THE NEWS WRAP: Apple looks at sapphire screens but cost is a factor

8:34PM | Thursday, 14 August

Apple is considering using its sapphire unbreakable screens in more-expensive models of the two larger iPhones it plans on unveiling later this year, if it can get enough of the material, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.   Analysts estimate that a sapphire screen costs Apple about $16 to produce, compared to just $3 for Gorilla Glass, the heavy-duty glass used in current iPhones   Sapphire is already used to cover the iPhone’s camera lens and fingerprint reader. It doesn't crack or scratch as easily as glass, withstands high temperatures and resists corrosion.   Using sapphire would lead to fewer broken screens and Apple would save money in warranty costs, but analysts estimate those savings wouldn’t offset the higher cost of sapphire and, as such, would lead to smaller profit margins or higher prices for Apple products.     Robin Williams’ daughter bullied off Twitter   Twitter has vowed to improve its policies after trolls bullied Robin Williams’ daughter off of Twitter and Instagram just days after her father’s death, The Washington Post reports.   A handful of Twitter users sent Zelda Williams messages on Twitter that blamed her for her father’s death, as well as pictures of her father altered to show bruises around his neck.   Twitter says it will not tolerate abuse of this nature and a number of accounts have been suspended relating to the issue.   Ask.com buys Ask.fm   California-based Ask.com has announced it has acquired Ask.fm, a popular question-and-answer website, the New York Times reports.   Formerly known as AskJeeves when it began as a search engine in 1995, this is Ask.com’s first significant push into social networking.   Ask.fm has 180 million regular monthly users, 40% of whom are younger than 18.   Terms of the deal were not disclosed.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 61.78 to 16,713.58. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

Apple finally admits it has a diversity problem

8:45AM | Wednesday, 13 August

Apple has become the latest in a string of major tech companies to admit it has a problem with gender and ethnic diversity, according to figures it released overnight.   The news follows a similar revelation from Google in May, which led to a string of other major tech companies, including LinkedIn and Twitter, admitting they too have gender and ethnic diversity issues.   According to Apple’s figures, 70% of its 98,000-strong global workforce is male, a rate higher than LinkedIn where 61% of staff are male, but roughly equal to Google and Twitter.   The figures also show 80% of Apple’s tech positions and 72% of its leadership positions are held by men.   However, it’s not just in tech roles where Apple has a gender diversity problem, with the figures showing female employees make up just 35% of non-tech roles. This compares to 50% at Twitter.   In terms of ethnic diversity, 55% of Apple’s US workforce identify as white, 15% as Asian, 11% as Hispanic, 7% as Black, 2% as two or more ethnicities, 1% as other and 9% are undeclared.   However, the figures for ethnic diversity in leadership positions are far worse, with 64% identifying as white, 21% as Asian, 6% as Hispanic, 3% as Black and 6% as undeclared.   In a statement, chief executive Tim Cook said “inclusion and diversity have been a focus” for the company under his leadership, but admitted the tech giant still has a long way to go.   “Let me say up front: As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” said Cook.   “They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.”   Cook said the company is taking a number of steps to overcome gender and ethnic inequality, including its sponsorship of LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign, and its recent pledge of $100 million to President Obama’s ConnectED initiative.   He also said the recent appointments of senior executives Eddy Cue, Angela Ahrendts, Lisa Jackson and Denise Young-Smith are examples of how the company’s culture is changing under his leadership.   The figures were released just one day after the Victorian ICT for Women Network organised an event at Melbourne’s Deakin University called Go Girl Go for IT. The event was aimed at encouraging more high school aged girls, from Years 8 to 11, to consider a career in IT in order to overcome the gender disparity in the tech industry.   Go Girl Go for IT communications team lead Sara Ogston told SmartCompany the challenge is to encourage more girls and women in the education system to consider a tech-related career.   “I think a lot has to do with when applications are open for tech-related jobs, if girls or women don’t have the skills, they won’t apply or be considered for those jobs. So we need more diversity at the education level, at university and high school,” says Ogston.   “I also think having work experience and internships available to people who aren’t necessarily from tech-focused universities or courses can also potentially be a first step into a tech-related role.”   This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

Eight great startup quotes to help you get through your day

8:08PM | Wednesday, 13 August

Starting your own company can be the hardest thing you ever do, but a few words of wisdom never go astray. In fact, there are whole websites dedicated to inspirational quotes for people who want to set up their own business.   Here at StartupSmart we decided to trawl the web for eight of the best.   1. “Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.” – Satya Nadella, Microsoft   Nadella is the chief executive of Microsoft and has been with the company for 22 years. This particular quote is exemplified in his push for Microsoft to embrace cloud computing.   On the company’s website, Nadella says Microsoft must continue to transform and bring innovative products to customers more quickly.   2. “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are a few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” – Nolan Bushnell, American engineer and entrepreneur   Bushnell is an American entrepreneur renowned being the cofounder of Atari Inc, a company that helped pioneer arcade and home video games. Interestingly, Steve Jobs and Al Alcorn used to work for him in the 1970s.   3. “Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.” – Anthony Volodkin, founder of Hype Machine   Volodkin founded Hype Machine – an online music database – while he was still a computer science student. The website aggregates the most recently posted songs from a range of music blogs, and markets itself as a way to find “new music worth listening to”.   Speaking of blogs, Volodkin has a personal Tumblr where he often posts about startups.   4. “Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh, chief executive of Zappos.com   Despite being a workaholic himself, Tony Hsieh is renowned for promoting a fun workplace culture that involves everything from a man dressing up in a hot-dog suit and doing backflips to “Tutu Tuesdays” (yes, yes you did just read that correctly).   5. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple   Many entrepreneurs talk about the importance of having the courage to take risks, and this quote by Steve Jobs sums it up rather nicely.   6. “A culture that supports women doesn’t come about spontaneously; it only happens when the leaders of companies create policies and initiatives to stimulate such a culture. In my experience, mentoring women into leadership is fundamental.” – Naomi Milgrom, chief executive of the Sussan Group   Let’s face it: the majority of startup quotes floating around the internet are by men. Milgrom is a refreshing voice and renowned champion for women – particularly when it comes to flexible work practices.   7. “There is a whole myth about super people. That super people can do everything and they do it on their own.” – Therese Rein, founder of Ingeus   While entrepreneurship is often stereotyped as a lonely pursuit, Rein’s quote is important because it highlights that even the most talented people cannot do everything by themselves. Often it takes a skilled co-founder or co-working space to really make a startup the best it can be.   8. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox   Houston is the founder and chief executive of online storage service Dropbox. If anyone knows about only needing to be right once, it’s Houston – before Dropbox he worked on a number of startups and is now worth $1.2 billion.

THE NEWS WRAP: Uber hits back at Lyft with counterclaims of wrongdoing

8:31PM | Tuesday, 12 August

Transportation network startup Lyft recently claimed Uber employees had requested and cancelled more than 5000 Lyft drivers, and now Uber has shot back.   According to The New York Times, Uber has accused Lyft of doing the same thing.   In a statement, Uber denied Lyft’s allegations and claimed that Lyft’s own drivers and employees, including one of Lyft’s founders, have cancelled 12,900 trips on Uber.   “But instead of providing the long list of questionable tactics that Lyft has used over the years, we are focusing on building and maintaining the best platform for both consumers and drivers,” the statement says.   “These attacks from Lyft are unfortunate but somewhat expected. A number of Lyft investors have recently being pushing Uber to acquire Lyft. One of their largest shareholders recently warned that Lyft would “go nuclear” if we do not acquire them. We can only assume that the recent Lyft attacks are part of that strategy.”   OnePlus launches weird, sexist, smartphone contest Startup OnePlus recently launched its first smartphone, the One, and to deal with production issues, it’s been letting people buy them by invitation only.   According to The Verge OnePlus began supplementing that system with a contest dubbed Ladies First.   It asks women to draw the OnePlus logo on their body, or a sheet of paper they’re holding, take a photo of themselves, and then post it on the OnePlus forums.   From there the 50 most well liked will get a free T-shirt and the option of buying the phone.   Following widespread backlash, the startup removed the Ladies First contest page from its forums, but offered no further comment.   Apple releases diversity report Apple has released its diversity report which shows that seven out of 10 of its workers globally are male, and in the United States 55 per cent of its workers are white.   The company says the numbers represent a work in progress and it hopes to achieve more diversity over time.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 9.44 to 16,560.54. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Apple reportedly launching large-screen iPhone models on September 9

8:13PM | Tuesday, 5 August

Apple is expected to hold an event to introduce its new iPhones on September 9, a source told The Wall Street Journal.   It’s widely expected to launch two large-screen iPhones, one with a 4.7 inch display and another with a 5.5 inch display.   The company declined to comment.   Fox withdraws proposal to buy Time Warner Fox has announced it has withdrawn its $80 billion bid for the TV and movie conglomerate Time Warner.   Fox chief executive officer Rupert Murdoch says his Time Warner counterpart Jeff Bewkes wouldn’t sit down and negotiate a deal, and Fox wasn’t going to negotiate with themselves.   Time Warner shares fell after Fox announced it had withdrawn the proposal.   Apple App Store breaking records Apple’s App Store saw record-setting revenue numbers in July, the company told CNBC.   In addition to those numbers, the company also said its app store saw a record number of customers making transactions.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 139.81 to 16,429.47. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Internal documents reveal Amazon plans for credit card reader

7:24PM | Sunday, 27 July

Amazon is reportedly set to launch its own mobile credit card reading technology, according to internal documents from the office supply store Staples, obtained by 9to5mac.   The documents say Staples stores are preparing to stock a new product called the “Amazon Card Reader” alongside existing card readers from Square, PayPal, and Staples’ in-house brand.   Amazon recently launched a new wallet app for smartphones and 9to5mac speculates that Amazon’s card reader will likely connect to that.   Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi raises $40 million   Easy Taxi, a taxi calling app from Rocket Internet, has raised $40 million in a Series D funding round.   The company launched in 2011 and has roughly 185,000 drivers, with 150,000 of those added over the past year. It’s available in 160 cities across 30 countries predominantly in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.   Easy Taxi co-CEO Dennis Wang says the funding will allow the startup to continue its growth in existing markets, while also scaling its operations and improving its service so as to appeal to “more audiences and geographies”.   US cable companies say Google and Netflix biggest threat to net neutrality   In a filing to the US Federal Communications Commission, Time Warner Cable claimed that the controversy over internet providers potentially charging websites for access to “fast lanes” on the internet is a “red herring”.   It says the real danger is that Google or Netflix could start demanding payments from internet providers, as customers expect access to the most popular websites, an internet provider would have no choice but to pay.   The National Cable and Telecommunications Association says a relatively connected group of large internet companies such as Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook have enormous and growing power over people’s ability to access what they want on the net.

Apple iPad and Samsung duopoly slips as tablet market grows 11%: IDC

7:57PM | Sunday, 27 July

Tablet sales surged by 11% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2014, despite sales of Apple’s iPad plunging by 9.3% over the same period, according to new figures from IDC.   The figures, compiled from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, shows total shipments of tablets grew to 49.3 million units during the second quarter, up from 44.4 million a year earlier. The figures include sales of both traditional slate tablets, as well as “two-in-one” devices such as the Microsoft Surface.   Apple remains the largest competitor with a market share of 26.9%. However, its worldwide shipments for the quarter dropped to 13.3 million units, down from 14.6 million for the same quarter a year earlier.   Despite Apple’s falls, Samsung’s sales remained close to flat, growing from 8.4 million units a year ago to 8.5 million for the same quarter this year. Despite the small increase in volume, the South Korean tech giant’s market share dipped from 18.8% to 17.2%.   The big winner in the market was third-place Lenovo, which saw its tablet volumes grow 64.7%, from 1.5 million units during the second quarter of 2013 to 2.4 million this year.   Rounding out the top five were Asus, which shipped 2.3 million units during the quarter, and Acer, which shipped 1 million.   The 21.9 million units is divided between a range of smaller Android and Windows tablet makers, including Microsoft, with each shipping less than 1 million units.   In a statement, IDC research analyst Jitesh Ubrani says Apple and Samsung’s stranglehold over the tablet market is slipping.   “Until recently, Apple, and to a lesser extent Samsung, have been sitting at the top of the market, minimally impacted by the progress from competitors," Ubrani says.   "Now we are seeing growth amongst the smaller vendors and a levelling of shares across more vendors as the market enters a new phase.”   Image credit: Flickr/ m01229

Apple tentatively planning to announce iPhone 6 in September

7:27AM | Thursday, 24 July

Apple is looking to launch the next version of the iPhone during a keynote address in mid-September, according to reports.   Citing “sources briefed on the plans”, 9to5 Mac reports the second or third weeks of September are the most likely timeframe for a launch, although this could change as a result of manufacturing issues.   There has been a steady stream of rumours Apple is gearing up to release two new models, with one version featuring a 4.7-inch display and the other a larger 5.5-inch display.   The latest reports suggest that at least the 4.7-inch version will be unveiled, while no final decision has been made on the 5.5-inch version, contrary to earlier reports.   Apple is also gearing up to release a fifth and final beta version of iOS 8 to developers on August 8, with the tech giant wrapping up development and shifting its efforts to iOS8.1 and iOS9.   The latest news comes after Apple’s fiscal third quarter (April-June) results, posting a profit of $US7.7 billion ($A8.19 billion) off shipments of 35.2 million iPhones, up from 31.2 million a year earlier.   This article first appeared on SmartCompany.

iPhones still Apple’s bread and butter as profits reach $US7.7 billion

7:01AM | Wednesday, 23 July

The iPhone is still Apple’s bread and butter gadget, as the tech titan reports strong quarterly profits led by its iPhone sales.   Apple’s good news comes after its biggest rival in the smartphone market, Samsung, recently reported quarterly guidance far weaker than expected.   Apple reported its fiscal third quarter (April-June) results overnight in the US, posting a profit of $US7.7 billion ($A8.19 billion), up from $6.9 billion for the same quarter last year, and a quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion.   Apple sold 35.2 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 31.2 million in the same period a year ago.   According to The New York Times, the quarter ending in June is traditionally a slow time of year for smartphone sales industrywide, as many consumers hold out until the holiday shopping season to buy new phones.   The highly anticipated release of the iPhone 6 with a larger screen, slated for later this year, will likely see the product remain the jewel in Apple’s crown.   The tech giant’s Mac computers were its second best performing product, selling 4.4 million units in the quarter, up from 3.8 million the same time last year.   “Our record June quarter revenue was fuelled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and the continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem, driving our highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.   International sales drove 59% of the quarter’s revenue.   Tablets let the company down, with iPad sales shrinking to 13.3 million from 14.6 million last year.   Apple shareholders will be satisfied with the results, with Cook announcing the company returned over $8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the quarter.   Apple also provided a guidance for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter, estimating revenue between $37 billion and $40 billion and a gross margin between 37% and 38%.   This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

NEWS WRAP: ‘Strong sales of iPhone and Mac’ boost Apple’s third quarter revenue

7:25PM | Tuesday, 22 July

Apple has reported its third quarter results, posting a quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and a quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share.   International sales drove 59% of the quarter’s revenue.   Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook says the company’s revenue in the quarter “was fuelled by strong sales of iPhone and Mac and continued growth of revenue from the Apple ecosystem”, which drove “the company’s highest EPS growth rate in seven quarters”.   “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, as well as other new products and services that we can’t wait to introduce,” he says.   Microsoft Cloud drives strong fourth quarter results Microsoft has announced revenue of $23.38 billion for the quarter ended June 30, posting a gross margin of $15.79 billion, an operating income of $6.48 billion, and diluted earnings per share of $0.55 per share.   Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella says the company’s focus cloud technology was behind the strong results.   “I’m proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off – our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate,” he says.   Timehop raises $10 million Timehop, an app that serves as a personal “today in history” memo by sourcing social networking photos and posts from your past has raised $10 million in new funding, TechCrunch reports.   The Series B funding round was led by Shasta Ventures with the participation of previous investors Spark and O’Reilly Tech Ventures and angel investors including Randi Zuckerberg.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 61.81 to 17,113.54. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US94 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Microsoft to axe jobs

7:38PM | Tuesday, 15 July

Microsoft is planning its biggest round of job cuts in five years, as the company looks to slim down and integrate Nokia Oyj’s handset unit, sources have told Bloomberg.   One of the sources speculates the reductions will be in engineering, marketing, and areas that overlap with Nokia.   The restructuring could be unveiled as soon as this week.   Apple and IBM partner to “transform enterprise mobility” Apple and IBM have announced an exclusive partnership on a new range of business apps that will bring IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad.   A statement from Apple announcing the move says the partnership aims to “redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change”.   This will be done by a host of native apps for iPhone and iPad, unique IBM cloud services optimised for iOS, AppleCare support tailored for enterprise, and new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.   Alan Mulally appointed to Google’s board of directors Google has announced former Ford CEO Alan Mulally will be joining its board of directors and will serve on Google’s Audit Committee.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 5.26 to 17,060.68. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US94 cents.

Australian startups need growth capital funding to thrive: FSI interim report

7:38AM | Tuesday, 15 July

Medium and small businesses, including startups, need better access to growth capital funding, including venture capital and private equity, the Financial System Inquiry interim report has found.   The report, which was released Tuesday morning, says Australian venture capital funds have not provided investors with adequate compensation for associated risks.   Australian venture capital funds formed between 1985 and 2007 had a pooled internal rate of return -1.4%.   It says barriers to generating significant investor interest include the aforementioned underperformance of VC funds, as well as the fee structures of VC and private equity funds, the tax treatment of venture capital limited partnerships, and scale.   “The Australian market may be too small for some ventures to be viable, particularly when it comes to commercialising a product,” the report says.   “In addition, certain cultures, particularly relating to risk, and extensive networks need to be developed to facilitate a thriving venture capital industry.”   The inquiry notes it received submissions suggesting superannuation funds should be encouraged to invest in securitised SME loans and venture capital funds.   “A mandate requiring superannuation funds to do so may also involve an implicit guarantee by the Government, which the enquiry does not consider to be appropriate,” it says.   “Superannuation funds could consider investing in venture capital funds as part of a broader approach to diversifying their asset portfolios.”   It says changing the research and development tax credit system to a quarterly basis for new ventures, which VC funds argue would help alleviate cash flow constraints, is an issue that should be considered as part of the Tax White Paper process.   In a statement, Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association chief executive Yasser El-Ansary says if those barriers are removed, private equity and VC funds could play a more significant role in supporting startups.   “Australian venture capital funds are currently invested in around only 200 startups and early stage ventures,” El-Ansary says.   “There is substantial scope for the industry to play a greater role in building Australian businesses and creating new employment opportunities – especially in new high innovation industries of the future – if the enquiry makes recommendations for changes to some existing policies and regulations later in the year.”   Technology and the financial system The report also highlights the role technology is playing in opening up the financial sector to non-traditional players.   “Incumbents in the Australian payments industry are facing competitive challenges from new market entrants, such as PayPal, POLi, PayMate and Stripe,” it says.   “Closed-loop pre-paid systems operated by companies outside the financial sector outside the financial sector, such as Apple, Skype and Starbucks, are holding growing amounts of customers’ funds.   “Apple has also recently signalled its interest in mobile payments more broadly and recently developed fingerprint biometric authentication for its phones.”   The inquiry received a number of submissions highlighting the potential risks virtual or crypto-currencies like bitcoin present to the current financial system.   Those risks include the safety of the funds stored in such a way, which it says are at risk of system collapse or fraud, the highly speculative nature of virtual currencies which could lead to investor protection issues, their pseudonymity and the money laundering potential that comes with it, and their cross-jurisdictional nature.   “Whether new entrants should be brought within a regulatory perimeter depends on the nature and scale of the risk they present, and who bears the risk,” the report says.   “Government needs to strike a balance that allows the benefits of innovation to flow through the financial system, while maintaining stability.”   The report concludes that government and regulators should take a flexible and technologically neutral approach to regulation, which is not currently the case as some federal and state regulations require the use of certain forms of technology.

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