THE NEWS WRAP: Google set to crash in on Uber’s transportation space

2:33PM | Tuesday, 3 February

Google is developing its own competitor to Uber, Bloomberg reports.   The company is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, likely in conjunction with its long running driverless car project.   Google, through its venture capital arm Google Ventures, invested $US258 million in Uber in August 2013. Since 2013, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development David Drummond has served on Uber’s board of directors.   According to a Bloomberg source, Drummond has informed Uber of the possibility that Google will be entering the transportation network space and the company is now deciding whether to ask him to resign from the board.   Bitcoin mining company KnCMiner raises $15 million Despite being on the receiving end of several lawsuits from customers, bitcoin mining company KnCMiner has raised $15 million in a Series B Round, led by Accel Partners, the Wall Street Journal reports.   The Stockholm-based KnCMiner now largely mines bitcoin for itself, but it originally sold bitcoin mining equipment to customers, who paid thousands of dollars per machine in advance of receiving the equipment.   Some of those customers are suing the company in Swedish courts, alleging the company delayed shipment, sent faulty equipment, and are demanding refunds.   Twitter starts selling ads outside of Twitter   Twitter has started running its “Promoted Tweet” ad unit on top of other people’s apps and sites, in what’s the beginning of a new revenue stream for the social media giant – ads that don’t appear on Twitter, Re/code reports.   Advertisers who already use Twitter can run the same ads in the same format on places outside Twitter that display tweets. Twitter will share the revenue with the third-party platforms.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 305.36 to 16,666.40. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US78 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Amazon to make films for the big screen

1:40PM | Monday, 19 January

Amazon Studios has announced it is going to produce full-length feature films for the big screen before making them available for streaming online.   The Verge reports Amazon plans to make up to 12 movies a year beginning in 2016.   The films will be available to its Prime subscribers in the US four to eight weeks after they are released in cinemas.   The news follows a number of streaming services jostling for market share in the US and Australia.   On-demand video service Netflix will launch in Australia and New Zealand in March this year – set to compete with already locally established streaming services Quickflix and EzyFlix. Rubikloud raises $7 million to help retailers tap into big data Canadian startup Rubikloud has raised $7 million in Series A funding to help retailers leverage big data in order to boost sales.   The round was led by TOM Group and Ule, along with Access Industries and a number of private investors.   Rubikloud allows customers to analyse data in real time, and says the funding will be used to expand its workforce and customer reach in America and China.   Co-founder and chief executive Kerry Liu said in a statement retailers are “waking up” to the fact that the future of retail will be data-driven.   “If they don’t understand their customer across all their channels, they will become obsolete or lose their brand recognition and loyalty,” she says. Venture capitalists gave $48.3 billion to US startups in 2014 Venture capital has reached its highest point in the US since the peak of the dot-com boom in 2000, according to Bloomberg.   American startups received $48.3 billion in venture capital in 2014, an increase of 61% from the previous year. Last year saw startups receive more than double the $20.4 billion invested in US tech companies in 2009.   Last year saw the most funding pumped into US startups since 2000, when venture capitalists poured $105 billion into the tech industry just before the dot-com bust. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 190.86%, rising 1.10 points to 17,511.57. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at $US82 cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Social network Secret relaunching after swift dip in popularity

12:28PM | Thursday, 18 December

Anonymous social network Secret is relaunching as a faster, more text-based service that puts new emphasis on chat, according to The Verge.   The buzz around Secret has slowed since its launch in February. Several news stories broke first on Secret, helping popularize the app which has been downloaded more than 15 million times in 10 months. It was number one on the app store in seven different countries.   Secret’s power has diminished and it’s no longer among the top 1500 apps, according to app analytics website App Annie. As activity slowed, its co-founders began work on the second version of the service.   Boston Uber driver charged with rape   A Boston man who is an Uber driver has been charged with taking a woman to a secluded area and raping her, Bloomberg reports.   Police and prosecutors allege the 46-year-old man arrived at a Boston residence where the young woman was waiting for a pre-arranged ride-sharing driver. Police say they don’t known whether he used information gained through his position as an Uber driver to target the victim.   BBC investigation finds Apple not meeting its supply chain standards   Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by a BBC Panorama investigation.   Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple’s promises to protect workers were routinely broken. Standards on workers’ hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories. Apple says it strongly disagreed with the program’s conclusions.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 421.40 to 17,778.27. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at 81 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Sony goes for style over tech with electronic paper watch

11:22PM | Wednesday, 26 November

Sony is developing a watch made out of electronic paper for release as soon as next year in a trial of the company's new venture-style approach to creating products, Bloomberg reports.   The watch’s face and wristband will be made from a patented material that allows the entire surface area to function as a display and change its appearance, sources say.   The watch will focus on style, rather than trying to outdo products like Apple Watch and Sony’s own SmartWatch technologically. Twitter to track user app downloads Twitter is set to start tracking which apps its users have downloaded, Re/code reports.   The social media giant says it will only be collecting a list of applications users have installed, not any of the data contained within those applications.   The feature will be opt-out, meaning Twitter will begin collecting the data from users unless they explicitly say otherwise.   “To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in,” the company says. Lyft experiences best week yet Transportation network Lyft says it had record usage last week in the wake of the Uber controversy, VentureBeat reports.   While the company isn’t releasing specific figures, it says it experienced its biggest week in terms of number of rides, beating a previous record week during Halloween. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 12.10 to 17,802.84. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US85 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Apple executive signals US spring for Watch launch

11:39PM | Monday, 3 November

The Apple Watch launch is scheduled to arrive later than originally anticipated, according to Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, Angela Ahrendts.   Ahrendts told retail employees in a video message the launch is scheduled for the US spring, according to 9to5mac.   “We’re going into the holidays, we’ll go into Chinese New Year, and then we’ve got a new watch launch coming in the spring,” she says in the video.   Spring begins on March 20 in the US and lasts until June. Apple has consistently said the Apple Watch will ship in early 2015.   Publicis buys Sapient for $3.7 billion Publicis Groupe SA has agreed to purchase Sapient Corp for $US3.7 billion ($A4.26 billion), pushing the world’s third-largest advertising company deeper into digital offerings and the United States, Bloomberg reports.   The French company is moving on from a failed $35 billion merger with Omnicom, which was abandoned after executives clashed about how to run the combined entity.   Google updates Calendar app   Google has updated Google Calendar app, features include automatic event creation from emails, and a new Schedule View that includes photos and maps of the places its users are going.   The new Google Calendar works on all Android 4.1+ devices.   Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 24.28 to 17,366.24. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US87 cents.

Best of the Web: This app can’t make you smarter; How Yelp’s CEO created a revolutionary product

10:52AM | Friday, 31 October

Neuroscientists are fed up with the brain training industry, Michael Byrne reports in Motherboard.   According to Byrne, neuroscientists object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do.   Sorry Lumosity, Fit Brains and Brain HQ.   Sadly there doesn’t appear to be an app which can make you smarter. How Yelp revolutionised customer feedback Yelp’s presence in Australia may still be small compared to the United States but David Kamp’s article in Vanity Fair ‘How Yelp chief executive Jeremy Stoppelman created a revolutionary product’ is still a fascinating read.   Kamp reports that “something funny happened shortly after Stoppelman’s project at PayPal, Yelp went live: its users embraced the site’s “Write a review” feature to a degree far greater than anticipated.”   “A few weeks of hasty re-coding later, Yelp was reconfigured to make reviewing its raison d’être, and Stoppelman has never looked back.   “Ten years after its founding, Yelp is the web’s premier site and app for customer reviews—not just of restaurants, but of shops, kiosks, food trucks, parks, bus lines, funeral homes, D.M.V. offices, and even human attractions. (The Naked Cowboy in Times Square was averaging four stars out of five at press time.)” Dealing with toxic people In Inc, Jessica Stillman outlines ‘7 Ways To Deal With Toxic People.’   She says the sad reality is that toxic people are common.   “Equally troubling is the effect those individuals – who like to push others' buttons, stymie projects, and inject pessimism into every situation – can have on their better-adjusted co-workers,” Stillman says.   She outlines seven strategies for managing this noxious breed. Tim Cook’s personal statement Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken a step away for a moment from the rigours of running one of the biggest companies in the world to write in Bloomberg Businessweek about being gay.   “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”   It’s an understated but proud proclamation by Cook about his sexuality and about his pride in Apple’s history and continued commitment to human rights and equality.

THE NEWS WRAP: Apple surprised by sapphire screen maker’s bankruptcy

10:20PM | Wednesday, 8 October

Apple has admitted it found sapphire screen manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies (GT) decision to file for bankruptcy “surprising”.   Earlier this week GT abruptly filed for bankruptcy, stunning investors, creditors and Apple, who had backed the materials maker for its bet on sapphire screen technology, The Wall Street Journal reports.   As recently as August GT executives said they expected to end the year with $US400 million ($AU 453 million) in the bank.   Apple called the bankruptcy “a surprising decision”. A source told The Wall Street Journal that Apple had been working with GT to keep it solvent.   Symantec exploring split   Symantec is the latest technology company to explore a breakup.   Sources told Bloomberg the company is in advanced talks to split up its business into two entities, one that sells security programs, and another that does data storage.   The company has been struggling to strengthen its growth. Revenue declined in the latest fiscal year and is projected to be unchanged this year as it grapples with a PC sales slump that has damaged sales of its antivirus software.   Truecaller secures $60 million in funding   Swedish startup Truecaller has announced it has raised $US60 million ($AU68 million)in a Series C round led by Atomico, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and Sequoia Capital, TechCrunch reports.   The company helps users identify all the phone numbers calling their smartphone, whether that number is listed in the phone’s contacts or not.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 274.83 to 16,994.22. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US88 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Cloud-storage provider Box puts IPO plans on hold until 2015

10:33AM | Thursday, 2 October

Cloud-storage provider Box has decided to delay its planned initial public offering until 2015.   Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the IPO, which Box filed for in March, won’t occur until next year because of volatile market conditions.   Box chief executive officer Aaron Levie gained some financial flexibility in July by raising $150 million at a valuation of $2.4 billion, after delaying the IPO in May.   One of the sources says the next logical time for an IPO is during the company’s fourth quarter, which ends in January.   Facebook to refine name authentication process   Facebook says that it would be building new authentication tools to verify accounts flagged as fake, amid protests by members of the LGBT community regarding the need to be able to use pseudonyms.   The protests arose two weeks ago when Facebook cracked down on several hundred drag performers whose accounts had been reported as fake. The site’s only process for verifying accounts involves asking for some form of ID as evidence of a real name.   Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox says the policy had done a good job up until recently, and that Facebook wants people to use the name they use in real life, rather than their legal name.   Houzz raises $165 million   Fast-growing US-based home-remodelling site Houzz says it has raised a $US165 million ($189 million) Series D round, led by Sequoia Capital.   The funds will be used to accelerate the startups global expansion plans. It’s already opened offices in Berlin and London, and more recently Sydney.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 238.19 to 16,804.71. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US87 cents.

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 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: Mooted Alibaba deal could put Snapchat in the $10 billion club

7:25PM | Wednesday, 30 July

Snapchat is in talks with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba for a round of financing that may value the company at $10 billion, sources told Bloomberg.   Talks are ongoing and the terms of the funding may change, one of the sources said.   If the funding is completed, Snapchat would join an elite group of technology startups, including Airbnb and Dropbox, valued at or above $10 billion.   People send more than 700 million disappearing “snaps” a day and more than 500 million stories are viewed daily.   Tablet sales crashing?   Best Buy chief executive officer Hubert Joly has told Re/code that the company has seen a revival in PC sales in the company’s first quarter.   Joly puts attributes the growth in PC sales at least in part to Microsoft’s decision to stop supporting Windows XP, and says tablet sales have dropped off.   “The tablets boomed and are now crashing,” he says.   “The volume has really gone down in the last several months.”   He says the issue facing tablets is that once you have a tablet of a certain generation, it’s not clear that you have to move to the next gen.   Twitter acquires Madbits   Madbits, a deep-learning-based computer vision startup, has been purchased by Twitter.   Details of the acquisition are unknown, but Madbits confirmed the purchase in a statement on its website.   Over the past year the company has been building visual intelligence technology that “automatically understands, organizes and extracts relevant information from raw media”.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 31.75 to 16,880.36. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

Meet the Melbourne ‘foundr’ giving Bloomberg a run for its money

7:07AM | Thursday, 17 July

Nathan Chan has learnt what it takes to run a profitable magazine from the comfort of his own home at a time when it is widely recognised the publishing industry is struggling.   Chan launched Foundr magazine early last year, and told StartupSmart he just wanted to create a magazine he would want to read.   “It’s purely focused on young entrepreneurs and early stage business owners,” he says. “This is my first serious business. I felt there wasn’t really a publication that targets and speaks to Gen Y – certainly from starting a business and from an entrepreneur standpoint.”   The magazine – which publishes in a digital-only format – has almost reached 80,000 downloads and is in the top 10 “Business & Investing” magazines on iTunes.   “We only launched on the iPad and in the past 15-16 months we moved to iPhone, the Google play store and got momentum as a serious publication,” he says. “We sit next to Entrepreneur, FORTUNE, Bloomberg and all the big publications.”   Chan is based in Melbourne and manages a team of around ten writers based in Australia, New Zealand, the US and UK.   “The internet has changed the game,” he says. “If I wanted to start a magazine 20 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do it on digital, I would have had to do it in print.”   The cheaper costs associated with an online publication meant within three to four months Chan was covering his operating costs. Now, he turns a profit.   “I think I didn’t dream big enough when I first started,” he says. “I just thought of it as a bit of a lifestyle business but now I can see myself building a big publishing business.”   Chan says he would encourage entrepreneurs looking to break into the publishing business to understand it’s not just about the magazine – these days consumers are after a strong social presence and additional content such as a podcast.   “People are interested in media brands,” he says. “It’s not just about having a magazine, it’s having multiple channels so you can reach your audience or target audience.”

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.

Hedge fund hot shot calls it: We're in a bubble

4:01AM | Wednesday, 23 April

US Hedge-fund manager David Einhorn, described by Forbes as a hot shot, has sent out an investor letter that warns we’re in a market bubble.   Greenlight Capital Inc, a $10.3 billion hedge-fund firm run by Einhorn, says it’s betting against a group of technology stocks as evidence grows of a bubble.   “There is a clear consensus that we are witnessing our second tech bubble in 15 years,” says Mr. Einhorn in the letter. “What is uncertain is how much further the bubble can expand, and what might pop it.” Einhorn says that the current bubble is “an echo of the previous tech bubble, but with fewer large capitalization stocks and much less public enthusiasm.”   He cited “three indications that we are pretty far along”: • The rejection of “conventional valuation methods” • Short sellers being forced to cover positions “due to intolerable market losses” • Huge first day IPO pops for public companies that “have done little more than use the right buzzwords and attract the right venture capital.”   He didn’t go on to name any companies to which he was specifically referring. According to Bloomberg News, Einhorn’s letter has already affected some stocks.   As The Wall Street Journal notes“Einhorn isn’t the first investor to warn of a bubble. Pricey stock valuations, record high levels of margin debt and a near record number of money-losing companies going public have made some investors nervous that the market has rallied far beyond what the fundamentals dictate.   Greenlight

The News Wrap: Telstra set to roll out fibre-to-the-node pilot for NBN

3:45PM | Sunday, 30 March

Telstra looks set to have a big role in the construction of the national broadband network, with negotiations on a fibre-to-the-node pilot due to be completed within a month.   It would involve more than 300 node cabinet units, each capable of connecting about 300 homes and businesses to the NBN.   If successful, Telstra's pilot could become one of Australia's biggest fibre-to-the-node rollouts and a blueprint for any increased partnership with Telstra in the construction of the NBN.   Bitcoin tax ruling   The IRS has spoken: Bitcoins are property, not currency. The US Internal Revenue Service made the ruling last week, saying that bitcoin should be classified as a tradable commodity such as stock or property rather than as a currency.   Charles Allen, chief executive officer of online marketplace BitcoinShop Inc, told Bloomberg he’d like to see the IRS reconsider its decision as virtual currencies develop.   “The implications this decision will have on the bitcoin ecosystem are far reaching, and will be burdensome for both individual users of bitcoins, bitcoin-focused business and for the general adoption of virtual currencies,” he said, adding that bitcoin users will adapt to the rules.”   This was hardly a surprise, but it has some important implications that tell us a lot about what it takes to make a currency work.   Turnbull lays down the law to ABC board   Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned ABC board members that if they are not willing to ensure the accuracy of content on the national broadcaster then they should resign.   Turnbull says the “law of the land” couldn’t be clearer and the board needs to take responsibility for accuracy and impartiality.   Aussie Dollar   The Aussie dollar is trading at 92.42 US cents, down from 92.66 cents on Friday.

THE NEWS WRAP: Senior Acer employee arrested for insider trading

3:20AM | Thursday, 20 March

A stockbroker and a spokesperson for PC maker Acer have been arrested as part of an investigation into allegations of insider trading at the troubled computer manufacturer.   The investigation was launched after Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission detected alleged stock trading irregularities at Acer in the days before the company’s then chief executive, JT Wang, resigned amid quarterly losses of $US86.6 million.   According to Bloomberg, the PC maker is cooperating with the investigation, which could see the suspects jailed for up to 10 years if convicted.   Stockland moves on rival Australand   Property developer Stockland has purchased a “strategic” 19.9% stake of key rival Australand, prompting speculation about a possible takeover.   Freehold Investment Management fund manager Andrew Smith told Fairfax Australand is now “in play” as a potential takeover target.   “This move by Stockland is expected to draw out other potential predators or joint-venture partners.   “If Stockland was to launch a formal advance on Australand, we expect other companies would like to partner with them, as the appetite for secure income-producing office assets with long leases was very strong.”   GFC fallout continues five years on   A new report by the OECD says the economic and social fallout from the global financial crisis is ongoing five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, with the effects still being felt in many economies.   “The prospects for both the world economy and the OECD area look brighter than they have for some time,” the report says.   “Encouraging as this may be, it risks seducing us into believing that all is now going well and that, over the next few years, a rising economy will lift all boats.   “The evidence of the recent past, dating even to before the financial crisis, suggests otherwise.”   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down to 16222.2. The Aussie dollar is down to US90.49 cents.

A decade of Facebook: 10 interesting things you don’t know about the social network

2:37AM | Tuesday, 4 February

Facebook is 10 years old today. It’s time for birthday celebrations for the social network with 12,800,000 Australian users and 1.19 billion users worldwide. But it’s also time to reflect on 10 interesting things you don’t know about the social network.   1. The social network makes more money now from mobiles than PCs   Facebook is worth around $US135 billion and has successfully made the shift to focusing on mobiles. In Facebook’s fourth quarter earning report filed on January 29 this year the social network disclosed that for the first time sales from ads on mobile phones and tablets exceeded revenue from traditional PCs.   In an interview marking Facebook’s 10th birthday, founder Mark Zuckerberg told Bloomberg the shift to mobile was “not as quick as it should have been”, but “one of the things that characterizes our company is that we are pretty strong-willed”.   2. Facebook tried to buy Snapchat   In 2012 Facebook bought Instagram for $US1 billion even though the photo sharing app had no revenue source. Zuckerberg described the deal as a milestone, saying "we don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all"; but last year, Facebook reportedly offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat. On two occasions. Snapchat refused the offer.   3. Paper has just launched   Facebook’s latest creation is a newspaper-style app called Paper. Paper includes photos, friend updates, and shared articles in an image-heavy, uncluttered way. The stories are picked and ordered based largely on how much they are shared and “liked” on Facebook, with a team of human editors ensuring that the content comes from the right sources.   “Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and full-screen, distraction-free layouts,” Facebook states.   4. Zuckerberg and Facebook are all about goals   Zuckerberg told Bloomberg he has lots of goals for Facebook and for himself personally. Facebook’s founder has in previous years vowed to learn Mandarin (2010), to eat only animals he slaughtered himself (2011), and to meet someone new each day (2013). For 2014 he intends to write at least one well-considered thank-you note every day, via email or handwritten letter.   “It’s important for me, because I’m a really critical person,” he says. “I always kind of see how I want things to be better, and I’m generally not happy with how things are, or the level of service that we’re providing for people, or the quality of the teams that we built. But if you look at this objectively, we’re doing so well on so many of these things. I think it’s important to have gratitude for that.”   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 5. Voting is the most talked about topic on Facebook   The 10 most talked about topics on Facebook in 2013 by Australian users were ‘vote’, Kate Middleton, cricket, Kevin Rudd, Grand Final, Election, GST, Lions, Tony Abbott and Big Brother.   6. It’s set to compete with Google   Over the next five years, Zuckerberg wants Facebook to become more intuitive and to solve problems that in some cases users don’t even know they have.   He wants to target the 5% and 10% of posts on Facebook where users pose questions to their friends, such as requests for the names for a good local dentist, or the best Indian restaurant.   Zuckerberg told Bloomberg the social network should do better at harvesting all that data to provide answers. A domain which is traditionally the preserve of search giant Google.   7. Users are a devoted bunch   Facebook users generally log in to the social network regularly and stay for long periods of time. The percentage of Facebook users that log in once a day is now 76% while the average time spent on Facebook per user per month is 8.3 hours.   8. Facebook is targeting developing countries   Facebook is targeting developing countries through the formation of a group called with six other technology companies, including Samsung, Qualcomm and Ericsson.   The group is looking at simplifying their services so they can be delivered more economically over primitive wireless networks and tapped into using cheaper phones.   Zuckerberg says more users in undeveloped countries will subscribe to mobile services for the opportunity to use Facebook, which in turn makes it more economical for mobile operators to improve their wireless networks to support higher-bandwidth services such as online education and banking.   He has described early tests as “promising”.   9. Doomsayers warn Facebook could go into rapid decline   Researchers from Princeton University published a paper earlier this year suggesting Facebook might lose 80% of its users by 2017 entering a period of “rapid decline”.   “The application of disease-like dynamics to [online social network] adoption follows intuitively, since users typically join OSNs because their friends have already joined,” says the study, which is awaiting peer review.   Facebook has hit back at the work as “incredibly speculative” and used its own data engineers to use the same methods of "scholarly scholarliness" to prove that Princeton itself was on the brink of extinction.   10. It’s king of social referred traffic   Facebook is still the king for social referred traffic, according to Adobe’s most recent social intelligence report.   But Facebook is slowly losing ground to other social media, in particular Twitter and Pinterest.

THE NEWS WRAP: Disappointing post-election results for Harvey Norman

11:35PM | Monday, 4 November

Harvey Norman has posted a 1.2% increase in sales at its Australian stores during the September quarter, with chairman Gerry Harvey saying an expected post-election boom in sales failed to materialise.   “I don't think the result is good. Sales are up… but they're marginally up," Harvey says.   "We haven't got the kick from the election that we expected. There's been a little bit of a pick-up, it's only small.”   Westpac profit up 14% to $6.8 billion   Westpac has announced a full-year profit of $6.8 billion for the year to September, up 14% year-on-year.   The strong result places it ahead of the $5.5 billion reported by the NAB and the $6.3 billion reported by ANZ, but behind the $7.7 billion reported by the Commonwealth Bank.   “We will continue to remain disciplined, due to global uncertainties and structural change in the Australian economy,” chief executive Gail Kelly says.   “However, I'm encouraged by signs of improving confidence, which we expect to lead to increased lending activity, in particular in New South Wales.”   Reserve Bank expected to hold rates on hold   The Reserve Bank is expected to keep rates on hold when it meets later today, with all 31 economists surveyed by Bloomberg expecting no change.   The cash rate is currently at a historic low of 2.5%.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.05% to 15623.39. The Aussie dollar is up to US95.17 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Quarterly mergers and acquisitions activity hits eight-year low

4:22PM | Monday, 1 April

Australian merger and acquisition activity has reached its lowest level in eight years, according to data collected by Bloomberg.   The first quarter of 2013 saw just $US9.43 billion ($A9.05 billion) in mergers and acquisitions, down sharply from $US20.03 billion year-on-year.   The figure, blamed on a sharp fall in resource deals, is the lowest since the second quarter of 2005.   ALP divisions emerge over superannuation reforms   Divisions have opened up in the Labor Party over proposed superannuation reforms, with West Australian Senator Mark Bishop joining Simon Crean in warning against introducing taxes on superannuation to fund key government programs.   “There was a clear undertaking given by the Labor Party and the trade union movement that earnings would remain the property of the individual, would be invested in the particular fund and enjoy the bounty of compounding growth," Bishop said.   “To go back on that undertaking would be a retrograde step in my view.”   South Korean President allows pre-emptive strikes against the North   South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said she will allow South Korean military forces to launch pre-emptive strikes against North Korea if signs emerge of an imminent nuclear or missile attack.   “If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations,” Park said.   “As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, I will trust the military's judgement on abrupt and surprise provocations by North Korea.”   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.04% to 14,572.32. The Aussie dollar is steady on US104.25 cents.

Apple working on iWatch to be released later this year

3:35AM | Friday, 15 March

The pundits who have been waiting for Apple to come up with a new product category may just get their wish. New reports today suggest Apple is working on a wristwatch that could be released as soon as the end of the year.