Posts by Aaron Pressman

  • Yahoo faces proxy battle distraction amid turnaround efforts

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    Yahoo's ( YHOO ) convoluted turnaround and possible restructuring plans suffered yet another setback on Thursday as activist investor Jeff Smith opened a hostile proxy fight to replace the company's entire board of directors. Smith, whose firm Starboard Capital owns almost 2% of Yahoo shares, divulged the move in a blistering letter, blaming the company's current management for having "repeatedly failed shareholders." "We have been extremely disappointed with Yahoo’s dismal financial performance, poor management execution, egregious compensation and hiring practices, and general lack of accountability and oversight by the Board," Smith wrote . "We believe the Board clearly lacks the leadership, objectivity, and perspective needed to make decisions that are in the best interests of shareholders." Analysts said the proxy battle over the board of directors at Yahoo, the parent of Yahoo Finance, would make selling all or part of the company much more difficult until the controversy is resolved. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has continued to focus on finding revenue growth, recently explaining she had a three-year turnaround plan , even as her board...

  • Amazon Echo just took another step toward dominating the digital home

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    Capital One Financial ( COF ), one of the largest credit card lenders, joined the Amazon ( AMZN) Alexa system on Friday, the latest high-profile partner added to Jeff Bezos' growing smart digital assistant offering. Capital One customers who own the $180 Echo, a 9-inch tall, Internet-connected speaker that responds to voice commands powered by Amazon's Alexa digital assistant technology, can add the bank's app starting on Friday. Users can ask Echo for their Capital One credit card balance, review recent transactions or initiate a payment. Customers with a Capital One bank account can also check their balance and the app can be set to require a 4-digit passcode for security. Since Amazon introduced the Echo in 2014, a growing number of partners have signed on to give the device additional capabilities. Echo users can order a car via Uber, ask for a Domino's pizza delivery or check their balance at Fidelity. The device also can play music from a variety of online sources, play a weather or news report, and control Internet-connected home appliances. And, of course, it can be used to order items from Amazon. (Here are some other neat things you can do with your Echo ....

  • FBI warns it could demand Apple's iPhone code

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    The FBI on Thursday threatened to raise the stakes in its legal battle with Apple (AAPL), suggesting it might demand access to the iPhone maker's source code and secret electronic signature used to verify the legitimacy of its software updates. The FBI currently is seeking to force Apple to write a special version of its iOS software with some security features disabled so that the bureau can try to crack the passcode on an iPhone 5C used by deceased San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple is challenging the order issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym last month. But in a court filing on Thursday, the FBI said that if can't require Apple to create the weakened software, it may demand access to what it described as Apple's "crown jewels" instead. Source code is the list of programming code instructions used to create the software that runs the iPhone. The code controls everything from the background colors on the screen to the most critical security protections the phone has. Apple's secret signature is a digital "key" required to update software on all iPhones.

  • Hackers steal $100 million from Bangladesh account at NY Fed

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    Hackers stole $100 million from the account of Bangladesh's central bank at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last month, laundering the purloined funds through Sri Lankan banks and casinos in the Philippines. Bangladesh officials are blaming the New York arm of the U.S. central bank for allowing the transfer to go through and on Tuesday threatened to sue, but are also reportedly investigating whether the theft was an inside job by employees who had access to the proper transfer codes. The Fed has denied that its systems were hacked. The money was moved out of the Bangladesh bank's account on Feb. 5 using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication system, known as SWIFT, which is one of the secure messaging platforms used to transmit money transfers around the world between banks. Fed officials haven't said much other than to deny any breaches at their end. "There is no evidence of attempts to penetrate Federal Reserve systems and no evidence Fed systems were compromised," the bank said in a statement on its official Twitter account . Bangladesh Finance Minister AMA Muhith, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday , said the central...

  • Netflix and Amazon are losing to these 3 boring tech stocks in 2016

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    In 2016 technology investing, boring is beautiful. Among the tech sector's top performers year to date are the Western Union Company ( WU ), Fiserv ( FISV ) and PayPal ( PYPL ), which all offer payments-related services, according to S&P Capital IQ tech sector analyst Scott Kessler. Shares of Western Union are up 9% so far this year, Fiserv is up 6% and PayPal gained 8%. That compares to the S&P 500's 2% loss and a 3% drop in the index's tech sector. None of the three is exactly setting the world on fire, but all three have performed better than expected despite facing heightened competition from more famous tech competitors. Apple ( AAPL ), Alphabet's ( GOOGL ) Google and Samsung, among others, all started heavily-hyped payments services that some thought would "kill" the older players. But it has not come to pass, at least not yet. "These aren't the most exciting businesses out there," Kessler says. "But these kinds of businesses are a lot more stable than areas of technology that have gotten all the negative attention year to date, like cloud services." Lately, none of the three has posted stellar quarterly results, but...

  • Ebook buyers to see $400 million of refunds from Apple

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    Buyers of electronic books can expect refunds totaling some $400 million soon, as Apple (AAPL) on Monday lost a bid to have the Supreme Court review a ruling that it conspired with book publishers to raise prices. Apple made a deal two years ago that it would pay refunds of $400 million to consumers as part of a $450 million settlement if it ultimately lost the case, with the other $50 million covering legal fees. Those payments would come on top of $166 million paid back to consumers by major publishers that previously settled.

    “Apple’s liability for knowingly conspiring with book publishers to raise the prices of ebooks is settled once and for all,” Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a statement.  “And consumers will be made whole."

    The Supreme Court disclosed without comment on Monday that it had voted not to hear Apple's appeal. Four justices must agree to hear an appeal, a high bar as the court has only eight members currently.

  • How Facebook plans to dominate virtual reality in real life

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    Last summer, Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg took Samsung (005930.KS) vice chairman Jay Lee on one of his famous walk and talks. The subject for Zuckerberg and Samsung's heir-apparent was the two companies' partnership in virtual reality. Samsung was contributing its hardware expertise, specifically with high-resolution screens, while Facebook supplied software and applications from Oculus VR, the pioneering virtual reality upstart that Zuckerberg bought for $2 billion in 2014. As the two talked, Oculus had already introduced its own VR headsets, which would later go on sale for $600, and an earlier offering from Samsung that used a smartphone as a screen was being sold for $200. But Zuckerberg wanted to drop the price even more to attract the tens of millions of customers he needed to reach a mass market audience and eventually get to the scale of Facebook's 1.6 billion users. "We talked about how we could bring this experience to the most people possible," Zuckerberg recalled last month during his surprise appearance at a Samsung event in Barcelona. "And after that we decided to target a $99 price." Now Samsung is about to deliver millions of its updated Gear VR headsets for even less than that. Lee and his team decided to give away a free headset to everyone who pre-orders the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, arriving in stores next week (otherwise people will pay $99 for the headset). That will immediately create a huge audience for Facebook's Oculus platform, with its hundreds of games, interactive videos and other apps. And even higher on Zuckerberg's priority list, it will also massively expand the potential viewership for thousands of virtual-reality-like videos already uploaded to Facebook's social network. Although there are only some 20,000 such videos posted on the giant social network among the many millions of ordinary videos, the number should grow quickly, again thanks to Samsung. After showing off new phones and its updated VR headset in Barcelona, Samsung also introduced the Gear 360 camera, a tiny, spherical device that anyone can use to shoot VR-like footage. It's slated to go on sale for $400 in the second quarter. Reporters and other attendees at the event were blind to Zuckerberg's surprise entrance because they were watching a demonstration of footage shot on the 360 camera, leading to one of the most iconic photos ever taken emphasizing how quickly technology is changing in an increasingly digital world.

  • If Netflix were a cable network, it'd be the 8th largest in America

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 3 mths ago

    Netflix (NFLX) would be the eighth-largest cable network in the United States, trailing just behind CBS (CBS) and Discovery Communications (DISCA), if measured by how many hours people spend watching its shows, according to a new analyst report.

    Coach potato Americans spent one out of every 20 hours in front of their television sets watching Netflix last year, a total that's expected to double to one out of 10 by 2018, the report by analysts at MoffettNathanson in New York calculated.

    Netflix shares exploded last year, gaining 134%, as investors came to see the once-upstart video streaming player as an emerging titan of the new world of online video. But the shares have lost 16% so far in 2016, as concerns emerge about slowing growth and the expense of expanding overseas into new markets. The new analysis from MoffettNathanson shows both more opportunities for growth as well as emerging challenges.

  • Facebook is under fire in two of the world's biggest economies

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 4 mths ago

    Facebook's ( FB ) commanding position as the world's leading social network is also making it a juicy target for an array of government regulators. Just this week, Facebook, which has 1.6 billion members, found itself at odds with regulators in Germany and Brazil. Germany is using tougher antitrust rules to pursue privacy issues at Facebook, while Brazil briefly arrested a Facebook executive after prosecutors complained the company's WhatsApp messaging service wasn't turning over data. And just a few weeks ago, the social network lost a French court ruling over possible censorship charges. The clashes mark just the latest examples of the company's vast user data collection efforts and occasionally shifting privacy policies drawing attention from regulators around the world. As Facebook has grown, it has built one of the largest caches of data about individuals ever assembled, creating concerns about how the data might be used or shared. Last year, Facebook faced scrutiny  of its privacy practices from France, Spain, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, among others. And Facebook's various messaging platforms now carry communications not just from billions ...

  • Congress likely to side with Apple in iPhone unlocking debate

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 4 mths ago

    In the days after the attacks of Sept. 11, law enforcement and national security agencies brought Congress a lengthy list of new surveillance powers they wanted. Most ended up quickly becoming law as part of the Patriot Act. But a request to ban strong computer codes, or encryption technology, was left out completely. It was hardly the first time -- or the last -- that Congress shot down legislation to ban or regulate encryption. And that's likely why Apple (AAPL) has been fighting to shift its court battles with the FBI and federal prosecutors to the broader legislative arena in Congress. While presidents and the executive branch often side with law enforcers, courts have been less predictable -- and more importantly, Congress has continuously and repeatedly sided with tech companies. On Tuesday, Apple's top lawyer faces off against FBI Director James Comey before the House Judiciary Committee. The hearing is likely to get a lot more attention than a similar one last April, or the dozens and dozens in various House and Senate committees on encryption over the past two decades. But the outcome will still likely be the same -- no new restrictions. The reason is that laws to weaken encryption so the FBI can crack criminals' hidden data also put at risk the digital data and online transactions of hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens. And many industries -- from technology equipment and telecommunications carriers to banking and retailing -- deeply rely on strong encryption. That has created a formidable array of lobbyists and campaigners to make the case that strong encryption is a source of economic strength.