Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft’s gross margins for its commercial cloud business (including Azure and Office 365) grew to 67 percent, driving the company’s robust fiscal Q2 earnings on record sales. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella revealed that revenue from this sector grew 39 percent to $12.5 billion. Company executives told analysts that the gross margins percentage will increase this year while margins rose for the fourth consecutive quarter, noting that this reflects the “huge opportunity” selling cloud products and infrastructure. Continue reading Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Media Companies Look to Expand Podcasting Outside U.S.

Acquired by iHeartMedia, the podcast “Stuff You Should Know” is now on track for global expansion. The podcast, which has been downloaded more than a billion times in the last 11 years, tackles topics as diverse as artificial sweeteners, time zones and deepfakes. As part of the expansion, iHeartMedia will make “Stuff You Should Know” and five other podcasts available next year in French, German, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish. Last year, the radio broadcaster bought StuffMedia, the studio that produces the podcast, for $55 million. A number of other media companies are also taking a global approach to podcasting. Continue reading Media Companies Look to Expand Podcasting Outside U.S.

Coalition of Banks Launches Bitcoin for Cross-Border Trade

Led by UBS Group, 14 financial firms including banks in the United States, Europe and Japan are using blockchain technology to settle cross-border trades. The group, which spent the last four years developing this project, invested £50 million ($63.2 million) to establish Fnality International, a company to control the bitcoin token, dubbed the utility settlement coin (USC). Trades can take a long time to clear and failed trades are common; the USC token would both carry all the information to complete a trade and be payment for it. Continue reading Coalition of Banks Launches Bitcoin for Cross-Border Trade

MoviePass Updates Service, Addresses Exhibitors’ Concerns

MoviePass is relaunching its service with a marketing campaign that includes a billboard in Times Square and print ads. With the tagline “let’s go to the movies,” MoviePass’s second incarnation has to rise above the failure of its unlimited $9.99/month movie plan that drew millions of subscribers but then continually changed its terms to keep the company afloat. The new model includes both basic and “red carpet” plans whose price varies based on geography, with more expensive plans for cities where movie ticket prices are higher. Continue reading MoviePass Updates Service, Addresses Exhibitors’ Concerns

Helios and Matheson Analytics Plans to Spin Off MoviePass

Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), parent company of MoviePass, wants to spin off the struggling movie theater subscription service as the publicly traded MoviePass Entertainment Holdings. The board has approved preliminary plans for the spin-off, which would also include other HMNY-owned film-related assets. But the company does not yet know if it is legal under Delaware law. Investors are also suing the company, which is under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office. Continue reading Helios and Matheson Analytics Plans to Spin Off MoviePass

Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Facebook struck a deal with Utah-based Vidpresso to acquire its technology and absorb its seven-person team, without actually buying the company. Vidpresso’s website says that the new partnership will help put its tools in the hands of creators. Founded in 2012 to “make video more like HTML,” Vidpresso allows publishers to incorporate interactive graphics and superimposed captions to encourage viewers to respond to polls or ask questions. BuzzFeed, Nasdaq, NBC, TED, Turner Sports and Univision are among its customers. Continue reading Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

According to Forrester Research, many blockchain-based software projects are ending this year and 90 percent of them will never be integrated into the companies’ operations. Blockchain/cryptocurrencies advocate Nasdaq stated in 2016 that it would deploy blockchain for voting in shareholder meetings, but has yet to deploy any large-scale project. The initial enthusiasm over blockchain seems to be dying down, while some traders are manipulating cryptocurrency prices to enrich them but leave investors in the cold. Continue reading Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

Facebook Stock Plunge Proves Tech Firms Aren’t Bulletproof

The myth that the stock of the tech behemoths will only increase in value was shattered this last week when Facebook’s shares tumbled 19 percent, erasing about $120 billion in shareholder wealth. That loss represents among the largest one-day dip in market value that any company has suffered. Facebook’s loss began when it released disappointing Q2 earnings and warned investors of a “sharp slowdown in sales growth” in the next quarters as well as more spending for security and privacy. Continue reading Facebook Stock Plunge Proves Tech Firms Aren’t Bulletproof

Despite Hacks, Cryptocurrency Mania Drives Up Bitcoin Value

NiceHash, a Slovenian-based marketplace for mining digital currencies, says its payment system has been hacked and the contents of its Bitcoin account stolen. According to its Facebook page, every week NiceHash paid out millions of dollars in Bitcoin weekly, meaning the loss could be significant, especially since Bitcoin has had a precipitous rise in value. Uncertain is whether NiceHash users’ accounts have also been hacked. In light of the unknowns, NiceHash has closed down operations for 24 hours. Meanwhile, Bitcoin enthusiasm continues to rise, as illustrated by a 40 percent jump in price yesterday. Continue reading Despite Hacks, Cryptocurrency Mania Drives Up Bitcoin Value

Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Following its recent Nasdaq debut, Roku is updating its product line with new specs and pricing in addition to a number of software enhancements. Roku’s entire line — from its streaming stick to home entertainment hub — is being upgraded. The $30 Roku Express gets a new processor, while the $50 Roku Streaming Stick now features a remote with voice control. The $40 Roku Express+ is the next step up from the Roku Express, offering analog component connections for those with older TVs. And the high-end 4K Roku Ultra will remain $100 for the holiday season (it recently had a $30 reduction), and gets a refresh for its remote and a wider selection of streaming options.  Continue reading Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Video streaming device maker Roku begins trading today on Nasdaq, setting its IPO price at $14 per share, which would give it a $1.3 billion stock market value. The 15-year-old company is competing with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google that all offer streaming video boxes featuring popular apps such as Netflix and Hulu. Roku’s devices provide access to Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and dozens of online channels, but competition is a major consideration with today’s tech investors. Snap Inc., for example, the year’s biggest tech IPO, has watched its shares plummet in value as Facebook’s Instagram rolled out Snapchat-like functionality. Continue reading Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Startup NYIAX Partners with Nasdaq to End Digital Ad Fraud

The Nasdaq Stock Market is lending assistance to NYIAX (New York Interactive Advertising Exchange), a startup that is trying to stop phony publishers in the digital ad market. That’s because, according to ad verification company Adloox, these con artists divert one-fifth of annual ad spending, which equals an estimated $16 billion this year. With its blockchain-enabled platform, NYIAX hopes to put an end to the lack of transparency that leads to this significant loss. These scams have become a problem due to the rise of automated ad exchanges that instantly match advertisers with publishers. Continue reading Startup NYIAX Partners with Nasdaq to End Digital Ad Fraud

Milestone: Apple Is First Company to Top $800 Billion Value

Apple became the first U.S. company to cross the $800 billion barrier in market capitalization when it reached $802.72 billion yesterday (on Monday it reached $801.37 billion but dropped below $800 billion by the close). The company reached $600 billion in 2012 and $700 billion in 2015. “Google parent Alphabet Inc. is currently in second place at $658.60 billion, according to FactSet,” reports MarketWatch. “Microsoft Corp. is third, nearly $270 billion behind Apple at $533.02 billion.” Amazon.com is presently holding at $455.42 billion. Investors are optimistic about Apple’s plans to launch three new iPhones later this year to celebrate the product’s 10-year anniversary. Continue reading Milestone: Apple Is First Company to Top $800 Billion Value

Rovi Renames Itself TiVo After Buyout, Launches UX Interface

Rovi has completed its $1.1 billion cash and stock deal to acquire DVR pioneer TiVo and, in an unusual move, announced that it would rename itself after the company it just purchased. The company also unveiled TiVo UX, its new on-screen user experience that integrates programming options from multiple platforms for a seamless search and recommendation interface. The new UI — featuring TiVo’s innovative Prediction tech — is designed to access content from TV and mobile sources quicker and easier, in an effort to “allow every device to become a primary screen for video consumption.” Continue reading Rovi Renames Itself TiVo After Buyout, Launches UX Interface

IBM to Debut Blockchain for Financial Unit Dispute Resolution

As soon as September, IBM will unveil a real-world use of blockchain, the online ledger that records peer-to-peer bitcoin transactions. Since IBM will be one of the largest organizations ever to apply bitcoin to actual business transactions, the move also goes far in validating the nascent cryptocurrency. Currently, IBM Global Financing has $100 million in capital tied up, and the move to blockchain is expected to free up some of it. Blockchain, by removing the middleman, is intended to make financial dealings more efficient. Continue reading IBM to Debut Blockchain for Financial Unit Dispute Resolution

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