From data mining to mysterious barges, the Internet giant sometimes seems at odds with its 'Don't be evil' philosophy. But a positive image plays a crucial role in its success.
By Dana Blankenhorn
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Recently I noted that Amazon.com (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos has entered the "Bond villain" stage of his career -- a point where he's larger than life, and where every pronouncement he makes, no matter how strange (Let's have drones deliver packages!) is seen as brilliant insight.
Blofeld was the "super villain" in nine different Bond films, and was played by a succession of actors, most memorably by Donald Pleasence, his head shaved, stroking a white cat in "You Only Live Twice."
How does a company whose unofficial motto was "Don't be evil" suddenly appear to be the personification of evil? Mainly it's a product of its own success.
It may sound trivial, but the on-demand video company is selling used content at an unsustainably low price.
Keep it simple.
That's good advice in life, and it's great advice for technology investors. The more novel a thing is, the less we can predict about its future -- so it's important that we stick to the basics. What is a company selling? What price can it get? What are its costs?
Netflix (NFLX) sells used video content. It repackages movies that have left the theater, and television shows that have concluded their season. The video-on-demand service charges $7.99/month per subscriber, and pays somewhere in the neighborhood of $6/month per viewer for content, plus any and all expenses.
The company is widely seen as a threat to cable TV, and the success of original content like the Emmy Award-winning "House of Cards" would seem to be proof that the challenge is real. However, definition and price work together. Original content cannot be had for $6/month per viewer, and in order to turn a profit, Netflix must resell content that it cannot afford to produce on its own. That makes it a used video seller.
This is may sound trivial, but it's an important point. The moving pictures that Netflix sells for $7.99/month cost far more than that to create.
Eight leading technology companies -- bitter rivals in some cases -- are pushing the White House and members of Congress to rein in government surveillance.
By Danny Yadron, The Wall Street Journal
Eight U.S. technology giants are making a joint appeal to reform government surveillance activities, following a stream of disclosures about actions by the National Security Agency.
Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Twitter (TWTR), Yahoo (YHOO), LinkedIn (LNKD) and AOL (AOL) -- bitter rivals in some cases --are issuing an open letter to President Obama and members of Congress along with a set of reform principles to better safeguard the information of Internet users. (Microsoft owns and publishes MSN Money.)
A shorter version of the open letter is appearing in full-page ads in the Monday editions of several print publications, including The New York Times and several D.C.-focused newspapers, including the Washington Post, Politico, Roll Call and The Hill.
"This summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide," the ad reads in part. "The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual -- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution."
- MSN Money: 12 ways you could be tracked
The otherwise all-male board will now include former Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino, but women directors remain a rare sight at Silicon Valley tech companies.
By Yoree Koh, The Wall Street Journal
Scardino's appointment is effective immediately, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. She will join the audit committee.
Twitter was criticized in the weeks leading up to its high-profile initial public offering for a lack of women in top executive positions -- a fact exacerbated by CEO Dick Costolo's seemingly flippant response to critics.
Women are by far still a minority in U.S. corporate boardrooms, particularly among Silicon Valley's disruptive tech firms. Facebook (FB) came under fire last year when it went public with an exclusively male board. The company named Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, whose "lean in" philosophy brought fresh attention to the dearth of women in senior positions, to its board in July 2012, two months after its Wall Street debut.
Android may lead in market share, but iOS wins hands down in adoption rates, making it more attractive to developers.
By Chris Ciaccia
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There's always been the battle of which operating system is better: Apple's (AAPL) iOS or Google's (AAPL) Android. If you're a developer, iOS wins hands down.
Apple has released its latest statistics showing iOS 7 adoption, and the results show that a staggering 74 percent of iDevices are now running Apple's latest mobile operating system compared to just 1.1 percent for Android's latest operating system, KitKat. Apple's previous OS, iOS 6, is running on 22 percent of devices while the remaining 4 percent of iDevices run iOS 5 or lower.
Apple's iOS 7 was released for public use on Sept. 18, 2013, after being announced at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
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[BRIEFING.COM] Equity indices settled on their lows following a steady, session-long slide. Similar to yesterday, small-caps paced the retreat as the Russell 2000 fell 1.6%, extending its December loss to 3.6%. The S&P 500 settled lower by 1.1%, widening its month-to-date decline to 1.3%.
There was no specific news catalyst behind today's slide, which had the markings of broad-based profit-taking. Seven of ten sectors settled with losses of 1.0% or more while only two groups ... More
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