Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes “Ryan Vogt writes in the Mercury News that Shakespeare described death as ‘the undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn no traveller returns.’ Did you know there is a the miraculous way to resuscitate tabs sent to the ‘undiscovere’d country,’ a sort of Ctrl-Z for the entir…
The tech world reeled when Yahoo announced in May that it would buy Tumblr, the weblogs platform favored by those tech-savvy young ‘uns, for a total of $1.1 billion.
Five intriguing tidbits about the deal came out in Yahoo’s quarterly financial documents, which landed last night.
Most eye-popping: Yahoo bought Tumblr for $990 million (the remainder of the billion-plus total goes to founder David Karp and other Tumblr employees), and an incredible $751 million of that value was attributed to “goodwill.”
Goodwill is an accounting term for the worth of an intangible asset blahblahblah, and in this case it means brand value. So 75% of Tumblr’s value lies in its cool factor. (More details in our main CNNMoney story here.)
It’s no secret that Yahoo could use an injection of cool. Plus, Tumblr captures users in two fields — social and mobile — that Yahoo is looking to grow.
But Tumblr might even be the luckier one in this deal, as the 10-Q docs revealed the site was running out of money. Tumblr had less than $17 million in cash on hand when Yahoo bought it.
Stripping out its goodwill value, Tumblr had only $353 million in other assets, as well as liabilities of almost $114 million.
Founder Karp — who will get $81 million in stock-based comp and cash as long as he stays at Yahoo for four years — said in the past that advertising “turns our stomachs.” But Tumblr began to soften on that point recently.
And anyway, being bought for a billion dollars usually forces one to change one’s mind on such things.
Indeed, even as Mayer assured Tumblr users that the site will maintain its independence, she also promised analysts back in May that Yahoo will “monetize” Tumblr. After all, these cat gifs were expensive! -Julianne
Immersion: A do-it-yourself privacy invasion/metadata visualization
MIT’s Media Lab just launched a fascinating tool for exploring email metadata: Immersion. Give it your Gmail account and it will map out the network of your personal connections.
The Boston Globe has a feature explaining the project’s genesis and how it works. It’s both fascinating and creepy to see how your emails can be used to map out your personal network and the various players’ interconnections. I charted out my inbox (below) — then used the app’s “log out & delete” feature to purge Immersion’s record of it. I assume the NSA has its own backup. -Stacy
Microsoft (also Skype): “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”
Yahoo: ”Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”
Facebook: “We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”
Mark Zuckerberg has a longer post about the “outrageous press reports.”
Apple: “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”
Google (also YouTube): "Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data."
AOL: ”We do not have any knowledge of the Prism program. We do not disclose user information to government agencies without a court order, subpoena or formal legal process, nor do we provide any government agency with access to our servers.” (posted on AOL’s blog)
PalTalk: "We have not heard of PRISM. Paltalk exercises extreme care to protect and secure users’ data, only responding to court orders as required to by law. Paltalk does not provide any government agency with direct access to its servers."
Is it possible the intercepts are happening at the telecom level and the tech companies themselves really didn’t know? Here’s what the nation’s biggest ISPs had to say when we asked for their comments on PRISM involvement.
Verizon: “We have no comment.”
AT&T: “We have no comment.”
Time Warner Cable: “We are not familiar with the NSA’s PRISM program.”
Comcast: “Comcast learned of the PRISM program in media reports. We only respond to government requests for customer information pursuant to legal process and have not received any court orders or subpoenas related to PRISM.”
Palintir: “Palantir’s Prism platform is completely unrelated to any US government program of the same name. Prism is Palantir’s name for a data integration technology used in the Palantir Metropolis platform (formerly branded as Palantir Finance). This software has been licensed to banks and hedge funds for quantitative analysis and research. You can read more about Palantir Metropolis on our website https://docs.palantir.com/metropolisdev/prism-overview.html and explore the platform here: https://joyride.pfinance.com/welcome/”
(Yes I know petaflops aren’t really a good measure of Bitcoin hashpower and that the new custom ASIC miners can’t do floating-point calculations and so technically run at 0 flops. It’s a thought experiment. Play along. -Stacy)
I’ve been tracking and occasionally writing about bitcoin for a year, but I’d never actually bought or tried to spend one. Clearly, I wasn’t going to make it out of a weekend at Bitcoin 2013 without changing that.
People here are evangelical about the cyber currency and get really, really excited about showing newbies how easy it is to take the first step away from Ben Bernanke’s printing press.
If you’re not surrounded by Bitcoin advocates, it’s not quite as simple as they’d like: Putting U.S. cash in and getting bitcoins out through an exchange service like Coinbase, BitInstant or Mt.Gox (hold off on that one for now) requires waiting a few days to link your bank account (Coinbase) or going to a bank or money-transfer point like a convenience store (BitInstant).
If you’re buying directly from a bitcoin holder, though, you can do the whole thing in about five minutes. “I’ll show you how,” said my very patient guide and moneychanger, Julian Tosh of CoinBus.
First step: I needed a software “wallet” to hold my coin. There are dozens if not hundreds of options. Julian recommended I start with BitcoinSpinner, a free, well-regarded Android app with a very simple user interface. (Apple doesn’t allow Bitcoin wallets into the iTunes store, but a few people have made it through with sneaky workarounds. Hint: The “Paytunia” app stores more than just euros.)
Once I had BitcoinSpinner installed, Julian suggested I immediately back up my private key. Bitcoin wallets have two key pieces of information: Your public key, which allows other people to send you coins, and your private key, which gives you access to your stash. It’s literally the keys to the kingdom. Anyone with your private key can spend your loot, and if you lose it, it’s irrevocably gone. The Web is filled with tales of sadness and woe related to lost or hacked private keys.
I backed mine up by copying the private-key QR code to my phone’s clipboard and emailing it to myself. All set.
Next, the purchase. BitcoinSpinner’s interface is very, very easy. It shows your Bitcoin address, your balance, and offers two options: Send Bitcoins and Transaction History. I tapped the QR code icon for my Bitcoin address to make it large and readable.
Julian hovered his phone over mine, opened his Bitcoin wallet software and snagged the code. His wallet offered two transfer options: You can specify an amount in bitcoins or in a traditional currency like U.S. cash. Julian told it to zap me $5. The software ran the conversion on the fly, using Mt. Gox’s rate, and sent me a sliver of a bitcoin: 0.04053244 BTC. (For that, it charged a transfer fee of 0.0005 BTC — about a nickel.)
I set down my drink, fished a $5 bill out of my purse to give Julian, and admired my newly diversified financial portfolio. Now let’s see if Mint can track my BTC stash. -Stacy
Many hours of technical geekery later, I had my head around the basics. For those who want to play along at home, here’s how you can de-code the messages hackers and pranksters have intentionally hidden in the Bitcoin chain. For my working test, I used Dan Kaminsky’s 2011 hack, when he embedded a tribute to his friend Len Sassaman in the blockchain.
The full list of all the hidden messages in the Bitcoin blockchain is pretty hysterical. “I LIKE TURTLES” is probably my favorite for its sheer randomness, but I also love the back-and-forth tussle with the hacking Christian evangelist. In response to a long, long deluge of religious propaganda (“O my God! I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine persons, …”), people started coding messages barking back at the alleged perpetrator: “FFS Luke-Jr leave the blockchain alone!” -Stacy
Earnings season can get a bit tedious for reporters, who end up staying late (at least on the east coast!) to field after-the-closing-bell conference calls that run for about an hour.
So we take the laughs where we can get them! Last week’s earnings amusement came courtesy of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who joked about the lame hold music before the call (she didn’t realize her mic was live).
Don’t worry, Marissa: Your knight in shining armor is here! It’s — who else? — Snow, the rapper whose claim to fame is the 1992 one-hit wonder “Informer.”
According to the New York Post, music licensing company Jingle Punks (creators of music for NBC show“The Voice”) commissioned the bizarre project.
Listen above to the song (which isn’t really rap, I guess) and sing along to the chorus, which has wormed its way into my brain on loop: “You’re on hold / Hold at Yahoo / Gimme a second / While I patch you through.” - Julianne
That’s THIRTEEN BILLION. $13,078,000,000, to be more precise. It’s the second-highest quarterly profit in U.S. history.
As Tim Cook pointed out on Apple’s conference call, the company sold 10 iOS devices per second last quarter.
So, you’d think Wall Street would be like this:
Here’s how investors actually reacted:
Apple shares are down 11% after-hours. Tomorrow’s opening trade will probably be gruesome.
Now, to be fair, investors have legit concerns that Apple’s growth is slowing. Apple’s margins are shrinking, and there’s no sign yet of a new, next magical “it will sell ZILLIONS” device on the horizon.
But still. I find it astonishing that profit of THIRTEEN BILLION can be considered a total disaster. -Stacy
“It’s like watching a person crawl out on thin ice to rescue someone flailing in freezing waters. You can’t be sure if the rescuer is going to fall though the ice as well or if he/she can actually drag the other person to safety.”—A tech analyst CNNMoney pinged for comment, who requested anonymity, in response to rumors that Microsoft will take a significant stake in Dell.
It’s inauguration weekend, which means there are a thousand balls to attend. These balls are tedious, so Monica and Dan decided to make a competition out of going to them, in the style of “The Amazing Race.” They will be live-tweeting their contest — @MonicaHesse, @MrDanZak — using the…
The Post is working waaaay harder than us on today’s festivities.
Happy news! The donkey is fine. Google Maps product manager Kei Kawai leapt on the potential PR nightmare and offered photographic evidence: The donkey was playing possum. His cheekily titled blog post “Never ass-ume" tells the tale.
(We invite your conspiracy theories in the comments. Did Google post the images in reverse? Could they possibly be, like the moon landing, FAKED!?) -Stacy
“Using only their wits, an extensive list of control systems related search terms, a paper clip, and the Internet-facing device search engine SHODAN, two researchers spear-headed an ambitious effort to compile a list of almost 500,000 devices with predicted control systems impact.”—From a Department of Homeland Security report about how vulnerable America’s power, water and nuclear systems are to attack. Our question: Paper clip!?
Tim Cook took home a cool $4.2 million this year, according to a regulatory filing Apple submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
Compared to the $1 annual salary Steve Jobs used to make, Cook would seem to be doing pretty well for himself. But Apple claims Cook is woefully underpaid.
Cook’s annual salary was boosted to $1.4 million this past year, and he earned all of his eligible cash bonus — 200% of his salary, or $2.8 million. When determining Cook’s pay, Apple said it considered its “financial results, Mr. Cook’s responsibilities as CEO,” and the amount he makes compared to “CEOs at peer companies.”
Who are those peer companies? A few of the direct competitors you’d expect (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard), some giant tech companies (Oracle, Cisco, Intel and IBM), Apple’s wireless partners (AT&T, Verizon, and Qualcomm), and a bunch of media giants (Comcast, DirecTV, News Corp. Disney, and CNNMoney parent company Time Warner).
In calculating Cook’s salary, Apple included more media companies in its comparison this year, adding DirecTV and Viacom, and tossing out Texas Instruments. Is Apple TV on its way? Hmmm…
Despite giving Cook a 50% raise, from $900,000 in 2011, Apple noted that its CEO’s pay “remains significantly below the median annual cash compensation level for CEOs at peer companies.”
Don’t feel too bad for Tim, though. Last year, Cook received a pay package — filled with incentives that vest in 2016 and 2021 — currently worth more than $500 million.
I got caught up thinking about the hype around the Color launch and re-read a bunch of launch-day stories (ie, most likely embargo’ed in exchange for access), just for kicks. These are the stories and lines that stuck out at me, posted without further, er, color:
An alternate version of my '4 Internet giants' story
The part of tech conferences that’s the most fun is the random conversations and riffing that happens at meals and in other gathering spots.
Last night, I had a story to finish writing but didn’t want to miss Sir Richard Thompson’s guitar gig. So I parked myself at a table with my laptop and typed amid the rocking. Curious about what I was banging away on, a few of those nearby checked out my screen, which led to us swapping notes about the panel I was writing up. You can read my version of the story on CNNMoney.
PayPal CTO James Barrese wins the “above and beyond” prize for not just offering me his thoughts on the session’s high points but actually jumping on my laptop to type them up. I’ll note that James is a WAY faster writer than I am — he hammered this out in about 60 seconds.
So, want a second take on the high points of Techonomy’s panel discussion on the Internet’s four giants (Apple, Amazon, Facebook & Google)? Here’s James’ version:
*Apple needs to keep innovating to maintain is position; Apple needs to maintain high levels of investment.
*Amazon has built up a highly competitive moat with low margins / low pricing that makes it unattractive for investors looking to disrupt it.
*Walmart could be a dark horse.
*Microsoft should be on this list and was left off by Schmidt for obvious reasons. Xbox is an interesting place in the household.
*Facebook’s management team is unproven over time; it took 10-15 years for Bezos to be confirmed as a genius vs. a crackpot. -Stacy
Bravo just unleashed a trailer for “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley," to which there’s only one sane reaction: DRINKING GAME. We’re crowdsourcing the rules; tweet us your suggestions @cnnmoneytech. Here’s a start …
Take a sip when:
Someone refers to programmers as “rock stars”
Someone carries an iPad in one arm and a floofy little dog in the other
Randi Zuckerberg makes an appearance
Someone refers to a pitch meeting with VCs as “like, really really important”
"Coders" wander out of their natural habitat — cubicles — into Bravo’s natural habitat, nightclubs
Someone orders an Uber cab (via show cast member @kimmytaylor)
Do a shot when:
Someone talks about IPOing a company that does not yet exist
A “business development session” is held poolside among bikini-clad strategizers
Someone refers to Sean Parker, Kevin Rose, or anyone else with a decidedly mixed commercial track record as their entrepreneurial “idol” or “a legend”
A startup executive leads a tour of their blinged-out “corporate crib”
Swill the whole bottle when:
Someone actually writes a line of code
We may need a viewing party for the Nov. 5 kickoff. C’mon VCs, who wants to sponsor? -Stacy & Laurie