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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Twilio came ahead of expectations and the stock is going nuts

Twilio today reported a positive quarter that brought it to profitability — on an adjusted basis — ahead of schedule for Wall Street, sending the stock soaring 16 percent in extended hours after the release came out.

While according to traditional accounting principles Twilio still lost money (this usually includes stock-based compensation, a key component of compensation packages), the company is still showing that it has the capability of being profitable. Born as a go-to tool for startups and larger companies to handle their text- and telephone-related operations, Twilio was among a wave of IPOs in 2016 that has more or less continued into this year. The company’s stock has more than doubled in the past year, and is up nearly 170 percent this year alone. Twilio also brought in revenue ahead of Wall Street expectations.

Still, as a services business, Twilio has to show that it can continue to scale its business while absorbing the cost of the infrastructure required and acquire new customers. It also has to ensure that those customers aren’t leaving, or at least that it’s bringing on enough new developers more quickly than they are leaving. Larger enterprises, as a result, can be more attractive because they’re more predictable and can lead to bigger buckets of revenue for the company — and, well, most larger companies still need communications support in some way still today.

On an adjusted basis, Twilio said it earned 3 cents per share, ahead of the loss of 5 cents that analysts were expecting. It said it brought in $147.8 million in revenue compared to $131.1 million analysts were expecting, so it’s a beat on both lines, and more importantly shows that Twilio may be able to morph its toolkit into a mainline business that can end up as the backbone of any company’s communication with their customers or users.


Source: TechCrunch

Pokémon GO is getting PvP by the end of the year

As popular as Pokémon GO is, it has always been missing one major feature: pitting your Pokémon directly against another trainer’s. Strange, since that was the entire basis of the franchise to begin with! But the mobile game will at last get this much-requested feature by the end of the year, the company told Polish news site Gram.

After a record-shattering debut and then a long slump as players perceived the game’s shallowness and abandoned it en masse, Pokémon GO is having something of a renaissance. Improved gym and social mechanics, better reliability and, of course, a host of new ‘mon have brought players back, and it seems that features will continue to be rolled out.

What exactly the PvP mode will consist of is not clear. Chances are it will require players to be near each other, like the trading function. Though it is likely to produce some kind of reward, it likely will be limited in some other way, via a stardust or candy cost, to prevent people gaming the system.

Niantic’s Anne Beuttenmüller, in her interview with Gram, didn’t get specific. She was more interested in talking about the upcoming Ingress Prime, a sort of relaunch of the game on which Pokémon GO is essentially based; that will also be released toward the end of the year.

As for the highly anticipated Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which will no doubt involve people waving their phones around and uttering magic nonsense in full view of the public, her lips were sealed. It too will release around the end of the year! It’s going to be a busy holiday season.


Source: TechCrunch

Facebook and YouTube Ban InfoWars but Invite New Headaches

The battle over Alex Jones illustrates how Facebook and YouTube’s strength has become their greatest weakness.
Source: Wired

FCC admits it was never actually hacked

The FCC has come clean on the fact that a purported hack of its comment system last year never actually took place, after a report from its inspector general found a lack of evidence supporting the idea. Chairman Ajit Pai blamed the former chief information officer and the Obama administration for providing “inaccurate information about this incident to me, my office, Congress, and the American people.”

The semi-apology and finger-pointing are a disappointing conclusion to the year-long web of obfuscation that the FCC has woven. Since the first moment it was reported that there was a hack of the system, there have been questions about the nature, scale and response to it that the FCC has studiously avoided even under direct Congressional questioning.

It was so galling to everyone looking for answers that the GAO was officially asked to look into it. The letter requesting the office’s help at the time complained that the FCC had “not released any records or documentation that would allow for confirmation that an attack occurred, that it was effectively dealt with, and that the FCC has begun to institute measures to thwart future attacks and ensure the security of its systems.” That investigation is still going on, but one conducted by the FCC’s own OIG resulted in the report Pai cites.

The former CIO, David Bray, was the origin of the theory, but emails obtained by American Oversight in June show that evidence for it and a similar claim from 2014 were worryingly thin. Nevertheless, the FCC has continuously upheld the idea that it was under attack and has never publicly walked it back.

Pai’s statement was issued before the OIG publicized its report, as one does when a report is imminent that essentially says your agency has been clueless at best or deliberately untruthful at worst, and for more than a year. To be clear, the report is still unpublished, though its broader conclusions are clear from Pai’s statement. In it he slathers Bray with the partisan brush and asserts that the report exonerates his office:

I am deeply disappointed that the FCC’s former [CIO], who was hired by the prior Administration and is no longer with the Commission, provided inaccurate information about this incident to me, my office, Congress, and the American people. This is completely unacceptable. I’m also disappointed that some working under the former CIO apparently either disagreed with the information that he was presenting or had questions about it, yet didn’t feel comfortable communicating their concerns to me or my office.

On the other hand, I’m pleased that this report debunks the conspiracy theory that my office or I had any knowledge that the information provided by the former CIO was inaccurate and was allowing that inaccurate information to be disseminated for political purposes.

Although an evaluation of Pai’s “conspiracy theory” idea must wait until the report is public, it’s hard to square this pleasure of the chairman’s with the record. At any time in the last year, especially after Bray had departed, it would have been, if not simple, then at least more simple than maintaining its complex act of knowledgelessness, to say that the CIO had made an error and there was no attack. Nothing like that has escaped the mouth of Chairman Pai.

One must assume the agency had reviewed the data. Bray left a long time ago; why did these subordinates of his fail to speak out afterwards? If the FCC had its doubts, why did it not say so instead of risking withering criticism by avoiding the question for months on end?

Some of the FCC’s reticence to speak out may have even been explained as part of the request by the inspector general not to discuss the investigation. That’s an easy out, at least for some of the time! But we haven’t heard that, that I know of at least, and it doesn’t explain the rest of the agency’s silence or misleading statements.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel urged everyone to move on with a quickness:

The Inspector General Report tells us what we knew all along: the FCC’s claim that it was the victim of a DDoS attack during the net neutrality proceeding is bogus. What happened instead is obvious—millions of Americans overwhelmed our online system because they wanted to tell us how important internet openness is to them and how distressed they were to see the FCC roll back their rights. It’s unfortunate that this agency’s energy and resources needed to be spent debunking this implausible claim.

Although moving forward is a good idea, accountability and an explanation for the last year of mystery would also be welcome.

Because it wasn’t a hack, it seems that the comment-filing system, though recently revamped, needs yet another fresh coat of paint to handle the kind of volume it saw during the net neutrality repeal. Plans for that are underway, Pai wrote. A separate investigation by the Government Accountability Office regarding fraud in the comment system will no doubt affect those plans.

I’ve contacted the FCC and its Office of the Inspector General for more information, including the report itself. I will update this post when I hear back.


Source: TechCrunch

Zillow gets into the mortgage business, acquires Mortgage Lenders of America

Zillow, the publicly traded real estate portal and lead generation service, has acquired Mortgage Lenders of America. This is Zillow’s first move into originating mortgages. Until now, the company’s focus in this space was on providing home buyers with quotes from a variety of third-party lenders.

The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Mortgage Lenders of America (MLoA) is a privately held online lender based in Kansas. It will continue to operate as usual and will continue to appear in Zillow’s existing mortgage marketplace, which isn’t going away either. “Owning a mortgage lender will allow Zillow Group to develop new tools and partnership opportunities, including for real estate brokers with existing in-house mortgage operations or mortgage affiliates,” the company says in today’s announcement.

Other lenders in Zillow’s marketplace may not feel the same way. MLoA originated 4,400 mortgage loans in 2017. The company argues that this leaves “plenty of opportunity for independent lenders to continue to advertise and build their businesses on the Zillow Group platform.”

In many ways, this move makes perfect sense, given the trajectory Zillow has been on in recent years. The company recently started buying and selling homes through its Zillow Offers program in a few select cities, so this closes the loop for buyers who are using this program.

“Getting a mortgage can be the toughest, most painstaking and time-consuming part of the home buying process,” said Greg Schwartz, president of media and marketplaces at Zillow Group, in a canned statement. “Now that we are buying and selling homes through Zillow Offers, we believe that having our own mortgage origination service as an option for consumers will allow us to streamline the process for people who buy a Zillow-owned home. Over time, we expect the work we do in conjunction with this new line of business will help us expand our offerings to our partners – including real estate brokers with existing in-house mortgage operations and third-party lenders who co-market with Premier Agents.”

MLoA was founded in 2000 and currently has about 300 employees. It will remain in its Kansas headquarters and its CEO Philip Kneibert will continue to lead the company as general manager after the deal closes, which will likely happen in the fourth quarter of 2018.


Source: TechCrunch

Answer Update lets Alexa get back to you when she's stumped – CNET

The feature is rolling out this week — turn it on, and Alexa will let you know when she’s figured out how to answer any questions that were too tough for her.
Source: CNET

Disney's live-action Star Wars series could cost whopping $100M – CNET

Disney plans to spend big bucks on new shows for its streaming service.
Source: CNET

NASA planet hunter TESS snaps comet zipping through space – CNET

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite might looking for planets, but it caught a spectacular view of a flying comet.
Source: CNET

Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify ban Infowars: A conspiracy theorist's dream? – CNET

The sudden crackdown makes martyrdom easy for Alex Jones.
Source: CNET

2019 Mazda CX-9 adds Apple CarPlay and other creature comforts – Roadshow

It starts out affordable, but it can max out near $45,000.
Source: CNET

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