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  • Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

    An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo is most known for its search, email, and news services. But its U.S. web presence is only part of its corporate portfolio. It also owns large stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba (a web services company based in China). Yahoo Japan is publicly traded, and Alibaba is heading toward an IPO, so both have a pretty firm valuation. The thing is: when you account for Yahoo's share of each and subtract them from Yahoo's current market cap, you get a negative number. Investors actually value Yahoo's core business at less than nothing. Bloomberg's Matt Levine explains: 'I guess this is fairly obvious, but it leads you to a general theory of the conglomerate discount, which is that a business can be worth less than zero (to shareholders), but a company can't be (to shareholders). ... A fun question is, as fiduciaries for shareholders, should Yahoo's directors split into three separate companies to maximize value? If YJHI and YAHI are worth around $9 billion and $40 billion, and Core Yahoo Inc. is worth around, I don't know, one penny, then just doing some corporate restructuring should create $13 billion in free shareholder value. Why not do that?'"

    147 comments | yesterday

  • Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

    April 15, 2014 isn't just a full moon: it's Tax Day in the U.S. That means most American adults have already submitted a tax return, or an extension request, to the IRS and -- except for a few lucky states -- to their state governments as well. I filed my (very simple) tax return online. After scanning the free options, since I live in a state -- Texas -- that does not collect personal income tax, I chose Tax Act's free services. That meant enduring a series of annoying upgrade plugs throughout the process, but I could live with that; I have no reason to think it was better or worse than TurboTax or any of the other e-Filing companies, but I liked Tax Act’s interface, and it seemed less skeevy in all those upgrade plugs than the others I glanced at. The actual process took an hour and 19 minutes once I sat down with the papers I needed. My financial life is pretty simple, though: I didn't buy or sell a house, didn't buy or sell stocks outside of a retirement account mutual fund, and didn't move from one state to another. How do you do your taxes? Do you have an argument for one or another of the online services, or any cautionary tales? Do you prefer to send in forms on paper? Do you hire an accountant? (And for readers outside the U.S., it's always interesting to hear how taxes work in other countries, too. Are there elements of the U.S. system you'd prefer, or that you're glad you don't need to deal with?)

    385 comments | 3 days ago

  • How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

    An anonymous reader writes "Amazon Web Services has cut its prices on 40-plus consecutive occasions, at times leading the charge, at other times countering similar moves by Microsoft and Google. This article at CRN includes some interesting behind-the-scenes trivia about how Amazon keeps costs down, including some interesting speculation — for example, that perhaps the reason Amazon's Glacier storage is so cheap is that maybe it might be based at least partly on tape, not disk (Amazon would not comment). The article also explains that the company will only pay for its employees to fly Economy, and that includes its senior executives. If they feel the need to upgrade to Business or First Class, they must do so from their own pocket. And instead of buying hardware from an OEM vendor, AWS sources its own components – everything from processors to disk drives to memory and network cards — and uses contract manufacturing to put together its machines."

    144 comments | 4 days ago

  • Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

    An anonymous reader writes "When the Obama administration announced on April 1 that an estimated 7.1 million had signed up for ObamaCare by the end of March, it seemed a nearly impossible achievement. To reach 7.1 million, sign-ups had to rocket up by 67% in just one month. That's astounding enough, but an IBD review of existing ObamaCare enrollment data shows that the mathematical challenge of reaching 7.1 million sign-ups was even tougher."

    722 comments | about a week ago

  • Stem-Cell Research Funding Institute Is Shuttered

    An anonymous reader writes "The National Institutes of Health, the top funder of biomedical research in the U.S., has closed a program designed to bring induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) from the lab to the clinic. It has made no public mention of the closure, but the website has been deleted and Nature News reports that the center director, Mahendra Rao, resigned his post in frustration after the program allocated funds to only one clinical trial in its last round of funding."

    86 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Evidence Aside, FBI Says Russians Out To Steal Ideas From US Tech Firms

    v3rgEz (125380) writes "It sounds like a scare from 1970s Cold War propaganda or a subplot from the popular TV series "The Americans," but the FBI says the threat is real: Russian investment firms may be looking to steal high-tech intelligence from Boston-area companies to give to their country's military. Many of the firms under scrutiny are in the Boston area, including those partnered with a number of area biotech companies and with ties to MIT." And while the FBI says this could be happening, as the article points out, this pronouncement seems to be based on plausibility rather than specific incidents of such theft. One relevant excerpt: "The FBI warning comes as the Obama administration has increased pressure on Russia for its annexation of the former Ukrainian territory of Crimea by levying sanctions on some business leaders close to President Vladimir Putin. In March, the US Commerce Department banned new licenses for the export to Russia of defense-related products and “dual-use” technologies that could have military applications."

    132 comments | about two weeks ago

  • China Cracks Down On Bitcoin, Cuts Off Exchanges' Bank Access

    jfruh (300774) writes "Bitcoin has made many governments and regulators uncomfortable, and the Chinese government is responding to the challenge it poses with its usual lack of subtlety. Two Chinese bitcoin exchanges have found themselves cut off from the money economy, as Chinese banks, under pressure from the government, refuse to do business with them."

    100 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography

    jsuda (822856) writes "Most of us know that making money is difficult and saving it is even harder, but understanding money is easy–it's just coins and folding certificates, a mere medium of exchange. That's wrong! according to Felix Martin, author of Money: The Unauthorized Biography. Not only is that understanding wrong but it's responsible (in large part) for the 2007 Great Recession and the pitiful 'recovery' from it as well as a number of previous financial and credit disasters." Keep reading for the rest of Jsuda's review.

    91 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Taxis By Algorithm: Streamlining City Transport With Graph Theory

    New submitter Mark Buchanan (3595113) writes with a story about research from scientists at MIT, Cornell and elsewhere showing "that big city taxi systems could be made 40% more efficient with device-enabled taxi sharing. We could cut miles driven, costs, and pollution with the right application of just data and algorithms, and do it while introducing no more than a 5 minute delay to any person's trip. " Letting such algorithms compete seems an excellent reason to encourage, rather than reject by law, ride-coordination services like Uber and Lyft.

    72 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Big Data Breaches Give Credit Monitoring Services a Boost

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "As attacks like the one on Target have exposed up to 40 million customer payment card accounts and the names, addresses and email addresses of as many as 70 million shoppers, Tiffany Hsu and E. Scott Reckard report in the LA Times that increased activity by data hackers has produced millions of victims but there has been one big winner: credit monitoring businesses. "It's almost a terrible thing to say, but these kinds of situations raise awareness of the need to protect yourself and to be more vigilant in checking your transactions," says Yaron Samid. Meanwhile services with names such as BillGuard and Identity Guard report a surge in sign-ups from people anxious to be protected. For example, the number of AAA Southern California members opting in for the club's identity theft monitoring service — whether for free or for an extra charge — boomed in January, up 58% from December." (More below.)

    48 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Turkish Finance Minister Defends Twitter Ban

    An anonymous reader writes "Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek has defended his governments ban on Twitter and accused the social networking site of not complying with court orders. Simsek said: 'The Turkish telecommunications watchdog has made a number of statements saying that they have asked Twitter on a number of occasions to remove some content on the back of court orders and Twitter has been refusing to comply. I don’t think any global company, whether it’s a media company, whether it’s an industrial company, it shouldn’t see itself [as being] above the law.'" As a result of the ban, Tor gained over 10,000 new users in Turkey.

    94 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts

    Powercntrl (458442) writes "Vircurex, an online exchange for Bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies is freezing customer accounts as it battles insolvency. While opinions differ on whether cryptocurrency is the future of cash, a Dutch tulip bubble, a Ponzi scheme, or some varying mixture of all three, the news of yet another exchange in turmoil does not bode well for those banking on the success of Bitcoin or its altcoin brethren, such as Litecoin and Dogecoin."

    357 comments | about a month ago

  • Linux May Succeed Windows XP As OS of Choice For ATMs

    Dega704 sends this news from ComputerWorld: "Some financial services companies are looking to migrate their ATM fleets from Windows to Linux in a bid to have better control over hardware and software upgrade cycles. Pushing them in that direction apparently is Microsoft's decision to end support for Windows XP on April 8, said David Tente, executive director, USA, of the ATM Industry Association. 'There is some heartburn in the industry' over Microsoft's end-of-support decision, Tente said. ATM operators would like to be able to synchronize their hardware and software upgrade cycles. But that's hard to do with Microsoft dictating the software upgrade timetable. As a result, 'some are looking at the possibility of using a non-Microsoft operating system to synch up their hardware and software upgrades,' Tente said."

    367 comments | about a month ago

  • Working with Real-Time Analytics as a Service (Video)

    This is wide-ranging interview with Dev Patel and Poulomi Damany of BitYota, an Analytics as a Service startup that works specifically with MongoDB. Open Source? Not yet. But hopefully soon, they say. And why should an IT person or programmer care about marketing-oriented analytics? Because the more you know about functions in your company besides IT (such as finance, investor relations, and -- yes -- marketing), the more valuable you are as an employee. Dev also mentions the two main things he looks for when recruiting for BitYota: "One is intellect, and the other is attitude." He points out that this is not true merely of BitYota, but of any strong startup. This is all good information for any job-seeker hoping to land a spot with a startup -- and for anyone who is happy with where he or she works but hopes to earn promotions and raises, too.

    15 comments | about a month ago

  • White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups

    dcblogs writes that the Obama Administration is urging tech entrepreneurs "to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and said having the coverage will give them the 'freedom and security' to start their own businesses. 'There is strong evidence that when affordable healthcare isn't exclusively tied to employment, in more instances people choose to start their own companies,' wrote White House CTO Todd Park in a post to launch its #GeeksGetCovered campaign. Bruce Bachenheimer, a professor of management at Pace University and director of its Entrepreneurship Lab, said the effort is part of a broader appeal by the White House to get younger and healthier people to sign-up for Obamacare, and is in the same vein as President Obama's recent appearance on Between Two Ferns." Removing the tax structures that make companies by default intermediaries in the provision of health insurance, and allowing more interstate (and international) competition in health finance options would help on that front, too, aside from who's actually footing the insurance bill.

    578 comments | about a month ago

  • Google Chairman on WhatsApp: $19 Bn For 50 People? Good For Them!

    theodp writes "Speaking at an SXSW panel, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt emphasized that Google is 'very, very worried' about the class tensions that underlie recent Bay Area protests, where high-salaried techies have driven up rents. 'Ninety-nine percent of people have seen no economic improvement over the last decade,' he said, adding that 'the data suggest that the problem gets worse' and will become the 'number one issue in democracies around the world.' Schmidt's solution to this displacement? Foster conditions — e.g., better education, looser immigration laws, and deregulation in strictly-controlled areas like energy and telecommunications — that encourage the creation of fast-growing startups ('gazelles') that generate lots of jobs. When interviewer Steven Levy noted 'gazelles' like the 50-employee WhatsApp which was acquired by Facebook for a reported $19 billion seem to lead to more inequality, Schmidt brushed aside the apparent contradiction. 'Let us celebrate capitalism,' the tax-us-if-you-can Schmidt said, opening his arms. '$19 billion for 50 people? Good for them.' Eric, meet Tom."

    303 comments | about a month ago

  • Hackers Allege Mt. Gox Still Controls "Stolen" Bitcoins

    The Verge reports that "Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox lost $400 million worth of bitcoins in February. Its management said the amount was stolen after hackers exploited a transaction bug to divert the funds, but some of Mt. Gox's users are not so sure, suggesting instead that the exchange's owners pocketed the cash. Now, facing silence from those owners about the fate of the money and the methods by which 6 percent of all of the Bitcoin in the world could have been stolen, a group of hackers claims it has broken into the bankrupted Bitcoin exchange's network to get answers. ... Forbes reports that the group gained access to the personal blog and Reddit account of Mark Karpeles, Mt. Gox's CEO. The hackers used the platforms to post a message that claimed Karpeles still had access to some of the bitcoins that he'd reported stolen. In support of the claim, they uploaded a series of files that included a spreadsheet of more than a million trades, Karpeles' home addresses, and a screenshot purportedly confirming the hackers' access to the data." (The Forbes article on which the Verge report is based.)

    228 comments | about a month ago

  • The Tangled Tale of Mt. Gox's Missing Millions

    jfruh writes "What went wrong to produce the spectacular implosion of bitcoin repository Mt. Gox? Well, according to some preliminary investigation from the IDG News Service, pretty much everything. There was a lack of management oversight and 'culture,' the code running the site was a mess, and the CEO seemed more concerned about his plans for a 'Bitcoin cafe' than he was about his Japanese bank closing the company's account."

    191 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • HTTPS More Vulnerable To Traffic Analysis Attacks Than Suspected

    msm1267 writes "Researchers have built new attack techniques against HTTPS traffic that have been effective in learning details on users' surfing habits, leaking sensitive data that could impact privacy. They tested against 600 leading healthcare, finance, legal services and streaming video sites, including Netflix. Their attack, they said in a research paper, reduced errors from previous methodologies more than 3 ½ times. They also demonstrate a defense against this attack that reduces the accuracy of attacks by 27 percent by increasing the effectiveness of packet level defenses in HTTPS, the paper said. 'We design our attack to distinguish minor variations in HTTPS traffic from significant variations which indicate distinct traffic contents,' the paper said. 'Minor traffic variations may be caused by caching, dynamically generated content, or user-specific content including cookies. Our attack applies clustering techniques to identify patterns in traffic.'"

    17 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • How Ireland Got Apple's $9 Billion Australian Profit

    elphie007 writes "An investigation by The Australian Financial Review has discovered how from 2002 to 2013, Apple has shifted approximately $AU8.9 billion of revenue generated in Australia to Ireland, via Singapore. The article states that last year alone, Apple Australia paid only $AU88.5 million in tax, or 0.044% of estimated potential tax liabilities. What's more, the Australian Tax Office has agreed that this arrangement is acceptable under Australian law."

    288 comments | about a month and a half ago

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