Archive for March, 2012

RIM Begins Laying Off Executives Prior To Earnings

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Research In Motion (RIMM), the Blackberry maker has been laying off high-level staff on the eve of its earnings reports the Globe & Mail.

A source with knowledge told the news outlet that, RIMM CEO,  Thorsten Heins was letting go executives at the senior vice-president and vice-president levels. They were told they no longer had jobs on Thursday.

Here is rest of the report from the Globe & Mail:

“Lots of high level people within RIM were let go today,” this person said. “Quite a few. Big shake up.”

Sales and marketing staff, which were targeted for layoffs in the summer, have been targeted yet again, according to this person.

Few have expected RIM’s results to be good. The only question analysts had were how bad the results would be and what changes Mr. Heins was beginning to implement at the smartphone maker, which has lost market share to Apple Inc. and Google Inc.’s Android platform.

RIM said when it announced its third-quarter earnings that it expected to see fourth-quarter revenues of between $4.6-billion and $4.9-billion, earnings per share of between $0.80 and $0.95, and a gross margin of approximately 38 per cent.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based technology company also said it expected to ship between 11 million and 12 million smartphones.

Bay Street and Wall Street analysts in recent weeks have been universally bearish on the company, with many forecasting that RIM would miss its earnings guidance and announce that BlackBerry sales were slowing.

Several analysts have also raised other issues, either through an analysis of long-term trends or through channel checks. Some have pointed out that the strong overseas growth that has carried RIM through recent quarters may be slowing, and that demand seems to be slowing for RIM’s current crop of “aging” BlackBerry 7 smartphones, such as its flagship touch screen BlackBerry Bold 9900.

“The company is on a declining trajectory and there is little reason to think this is going to change with the current strategy,” wrote BGC Financial L.P. technology analyst Colin Gillis in a note to clients this week. “Our take is that customers view the brand as yesterday’s phone, and (mobile application) developers are not building for the platform.”

Super Genius Explains Why The Time On Android Phones Is Incorrect

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The brilliant Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson on explains why the time on your Android phone is always incorrect.

Tyson explains:

“The iPhone has the correct time unlike the Android-based phones…The bulk of the Androids get their time from GPS satellites. The timekeeping system for GPS satellites was defined up to 1982. And since 1982, 15 leap-seconds have been added to civil time. And those leap-seconds are not included in the Android timekeeping because they’re getting their time directly from GPS, whereas the iPhone compensates for this, puts those 15 seconds back in, and has therefore the correct time. As a result, most Android phones are exactly 15 seconds too fast.”

Skip to 15 minutes, 20 seconds to hear Dr.Tyson explain it himself:

Allie The Cat Loves iPads

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Allie the cat loves iPads. She loves going to bed listening to music on her iPad. She likes listening to Michael Jackson’s, “Lady in My Life” and “Human Nature”. She knows some of the words. During the day she is busy. She likes playing “App for Cats”, an iPad game for cats. Later in the day, she watches businesses news on CNBC and she likes to listen to business leaders like, Steve Jobs on the new iPad. What can I say, she is a very busy person.

Google To Listen To Calls To Serve Ads

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Google (GOOG) has filed a patent that would allow the company to listen in on phone calls in order to target advertisements. The technology would listen to the phone call and target ads that are relevant to that conversation. Conversations would be sent to Google’s servers where it would be analysed and relevant ads will be will be targeted at you. Google, already has the technology to tweak its ads based on location, web history, email contents, smart phone usage, taste in music and film, and personal information.

The idea is not being received well by commentators, they say the move is over reaching into people’s personal lives. However, Google considers conversations on phones as public just like your home address on its StreetView on Google Maps.

The company is spending heavily in Washington to avoid the scrutiny of regulators and avoids the privacy investigation similar to the one launch by the European Union regarding the worm spying on Apple users. Privacy groups have complained to Washington, saying that the company is going too far, however Google does not see this as a problem of privacy but one of technology. Google, continues in this direction unnoticed because it knows that Washington is bought and nothing will happen to it. And they may be right, but at some point it will come to bite them.

patentgooglecreepy 520x284 Google wants to serve you ads based on the background noise of your phone calls

Dutch To Open Steve Jobs Schools, Educate Nation

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Dutch educators and politicians are proposing to fulfill Steve Jobs’ vision and create a school where students are taught with iPads. The proposal will be presented on Monday in Amsterdam. The plan, called Education for a New Era, is designed to help students learn “21st century skills” and push the limits of what can be done in a classroom.

If the proposal goes through, the “Steve Jobs schools” would open their doors in August 2013. In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson shared a story of Jobs’ meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. Along with sharing his displeasure at the difficulty in building a factory in the United States, he also disassembled America’s education system.

It was absurd, he added that American classrooms were still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks. All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time.

Jobs wanted to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. He wanted to make textbooks free and bundled with the iPad, and believed such a system would give states the opportunity to save money.

Earlier this year, Apple rolled out a digital textbook initiative. The company partnered with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — the three companies together control 90% of the textbook market in the U.S. — and is focusing on high school textbooks initially. Apple presumably wants to expand the project to include all grade levels, and eventually fulfill Jobs’ vision of a digital classroom.

Source: Macrumors

A Year Later, $41 Million Startup Color Has A Pathetic 30,000 Daily Users

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Bill Nguyen in fake fat suit

About a year ago, serial entrepreneur Bill Nguyen shocked the startup world when he announced his latest effort, a company called Color, had raised $41 million out of the gate in order to build yet-another iPhone photography app.

Even before the app had a chance to launch, the startup company began laughing at the size of Color’s raise.

The people New Work City created up a wildly popular satirical pitch deck mocking the raise, titled:  “Color.XXX. people. colors. apps. mobile. social. pivot.”

The vision for Color was as massive as that $41 million mountain of cash: using geo-positioned crowd-sourced photos, Nguyen and company were going to build a virtual world to mirror our own, live.

Unfortunately, in terms of actual user adoption, the app went nowhere.

A few months in, Nguyen scrapped the idea.

Now, Color is a iPhone app for taking short video clips and uploading them as “status updates” on to Facebook.

Foursquare business development boss Tristan Walker thinks the pivot was a mistake. He just tweeted: “It has been about a year since ‘s launch and I’m still incredibly sad that it didn’t stick to its orig idea. It was so damn ambitious.”

The new version of Color is not very popular. According to AppData, 30,000 or so people use it every day, 110,000 every month. By contrast, ~15 million people use iPhone photo app Instagram, while millions use iPhone social network, Path.

Don’t close the book on Nguyen and Color yet, though. Raising as much money as he did out the gate means he and his (ever-changing) team have plenty of time to create an app that will actually take off.

Remember, Rovio made about 50 games before it came out with Angry Birds; now it’s a $2 billion+ company. OMGPOP, the company that just sold to Zynga for $200 million, was basically out of money when it came up with mega hit Draw Something.

Still, Color investors Sequoia and Bain Capital have to be sweating a year later.

Source: SAI

Zynga CEO Dumping $225 Million Of Stock (ZNGA)

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Mark Pincus

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus will be selling 16.5 million shares, or 15% of his stake, in the company’s secondary offering, according to its latest SEC filing.

Based on yesterday’s closing price that equals $227 million. Assuming a small discount to where it’s trading, Pincus probably pocket $225 million.

Dan Primack at Fortune picked through the filing and has this list of everyone that’s selling:

  • CEO Mark Pincus: 16.5 million shares, leaving him with around 94 million shares
  • Institutional Venture Partners: 5.8 million shares, leaving it with around 28.5 million shares
  • Union Square Ventures: 5.2 million shares, leaving it with around 25.5 million shares
  • Reid Hoffman: 687,000 shares, leaving him with nearly 3.9 million shares.
  • Own Van Natta: 505,000 shares, leaving him with around 2.18 million shares.

Source: SAI

Is The ‘Hard Man Of Russia’ Costing Facebook’s Big Backer?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

alisher usmanov

Over the past three years, Russian investment firm DST made a series of huge bets in tech that quickly paid off brilliantly.

It invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Zynga, Groupon, and Facebook and valuations that now look cheap.

DST investors have to be thrilled.

Given that, here’s a strange detail: According to Bloomberg’s Sabrina Willmer, when DST raised its latest billion dollar fund, it had to entice potential limited partners with cheap Facebook stock and a 25% discount on fees.


One partner at a rival VC firm Silicon Valley firm has a theory: DST had to offer new investors discounts in order to get them comfortable with sharing a bed with DST’s most famous – or rather, infamous – investor, Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

Until recently, Usmanov has been DST’s biggest investor. He has a controversial past.

In 2010, Gawker’s Ryan Tate published a handy summary of what we know about Usmanov, “aka ‘the hard man of Russia.”

Quoting from Tate:

  • Usmanov has been dubbed a “gangster and racketeer,” rapist and mafia drug trafficker by Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan. Usmanov denies the charges.
  • To fight the aforementioned accusation, Usmanov’s lawyers launched a much-derided legal campaign to keep British bloggers from even talking about the charges. There’s more in the video report “Blogs vs. Usmanov,” from British Channel 4′s cable network.
  • A subsidiary of the De Beers diamond cartel named Usmanov in a suit alleging fraud and “unjust enrichment” in a fight over a diamond mine in northern Russia. Usamov’s people denied this publicly in strong terms.
  • There are clues Usmanov could have been part of a violent plot to acquire mobile-phone operator Megafon. A former co-owner of Megafon disappeared from his bloodstained vacation home in Latvia after telling a U.S. federal court he had been physically coerced into selling his Megafon stake to IPOC, a Bermuda entity, as part of a “plot by high-profile individuals to secretly take over Megafon.” Two months after he disappeared, it was announced Usmanov had acquired 39 percent of Megafon, in part by buying IPOC’s Megafon shares.

DST did not return an email about this post.

Source: SAI

Goodies From The Apple Campus Store

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I picked up these goodies from the Apple campus store in Cupertino, CA. I bought a coffee mug, a water bottle, a pen, a mouse pad and a beanie cap. The quality and design of the merchandise is impressive, just like Apple products. As an Apple shareholder I am impressed with the detail Apple puts into everything that bears its logo. The coffee mug takes the cake, simply gorgeous and it comes with a carry case, which came handy on my trip to LA. Only the Great Steve Jobs could have thought of that. The best part, all the goodies cost me under $100. What a deal!

Reid Hoffman Is Unloading Facebook Stock Before The IPO

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Prior to Facebook’s IPO, Reid Hoffman is going to sell a minority of his stock as part of a “diversification” strategy he tells Bloomberg News.

The LinkedIn chairman was a seed investor in Facebook, and Bloomberg via Who OWNS Facebook, says he owns 0.5% of the company.

He says he’s “holding onto the majority of my stock.”

Source: SAI