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With 1 Tweet, Kylie Jenner Cut $1.3 Billion From Snapchat. Here's the Explanation Everyone's Missing
February 23, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

With a single tweet yesterday, Kylie Jenner sucked $ 1.3 billion out of the market capitalization of Snap, Inc.  

Her whole message ran just 18 words, and that includes “sooo” and “ugh.” It all ads up to more than $ 72 million lost, for each word she wrote.

So, was it simply a tweet? Is Jenner just throwing in with the 1.2 million people who signed a petition objecting to Snapchat’s recent redesign?

Or is there something else going on?

I don’t have any inside information, but the timing of the tweet–the exact timing–makes me raise an eyebrow.

Here’s the background. Jenner is a social media influencer of the first order, making between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000 per post, according to one estimate.

That’s more money for a single post that almost everyone who reads this article makes in a year. Big-time influencer money. 

Pretty impressive performance for a woman who won’t even be able to drink legally in the United States until August 10 of this year. But Jenner is a Kardashian (half-sister of Kourtney, Kim and Khloé Kardashian).

Whatever else anyone may say, the Kardashians are brilliant marketers. I’m not exactly their demo, but I have to respect something about what they’ve managed to build.

And, whatever else they do, they don’t do things like this without thinking it through.

So, three things.

First, the change in Snap’s design potentially impacts the degree to which Jenner–heck, any of the Kardashians–can make money on the platform. Those 1.2 million Snapchat users who signed the petition? They’re her audience.

If there’s a change, of course she’d make noise. Double irony points for doing so on Twitter.

Second, the timing of the tweet: 4:50 p.m. Eastern time–less than an hour after the U.S. markets closed.

Recently, I wrote about how Mark Zuckerberg’s post in January about changing how Facebook’s news feed works sent his company’s stock into a tumble, and devaluing his own stake by $ 3 billion. Next time he posted, he did it outside trading hours.

So, by posting just outside trading hours, it’s almost as if Jenner knew she could impact Snap’s share price–but didn’t want to overwhelm it.

I don’t have any inside information. It’s just a hunch, but it feels like a a warning shot: Hey Snap, pay attention to what I can do if I want to!

But, it also feels like it’s not intended as a fatal blow. In fact, KJ did tweet again, reminding Snap that it was her “first love.” 


Sure enough, the stock price rebounded later Thursday, too. All’s well that ends well, right? 

At least until the next tweet.


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How Twitter Is Working to Protect Parkland, Fla. High School Students From Malicious Bots and Trolls
February 22, 2018 6:06 pm|Comments (0)

Twitter is working to shield Parkland, Fla. students from bots and trolls on the platform. Many of the high schoolers are organizing in the wake of the shooting at their school on Feb. 14 that left 17 dead.

As Marjory Stoneman Douglas students continue to speak out about gun control and their follower counts on Twitter rise, there are more instances of online abuse and conspiracy theories about these teenagers.

The claims that students are “crisis actors” paid to take advantage of the tragedy to further political agendas have spread on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

Students like Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky, who have been some of the most vocal in the wake of the shooting, seem to be taking the disinformation in stride.

Meanwhile, Twitter is takings steps to protect these teens. The company moved quickly to verify some students’ accounts and says it is “actively working on” addressing reports of harassment and abuse.

Twitter is also using its anti-spam tools “to weed out malicious automation” targeting Parkland survivors and the conversation they’ve started.

Directly after the shooting, bots and users linked to the Russian influence campaign began pushing both sides of the gun control debate.

These announcements from Twitter come in the midst of an effort to purge bots from the site that also affected some real people. Many of the users locked out of their accounts were conservative voices on the platform, leading to calls of political bias, which the company denounced.

Users have called for Twitter to take action to combat abuse and harassment repeatedly, and the demands for better management of the platform and the community intensified after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


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Can Machines Save Us From the the Machines?
February 17, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

Is it just me or is the cyber landscape getting more scary? Even as companies and consumers get better at playing defense, a host of new cyber threats is at our doorsteps—and it’s unclear if anyone can keep them out.

My doom-and-gloom stems from the dire predictions of Aviv Ovadya, the technologist who predicted the fake news epidemic, and now fears an “information apocalypse” as the trolls turbo-charge their efforts with AI. He points to the impending arrival of “laser phishing” in which bots will perfectly impersonate people we know by scraping publicly available images and social media data. The result could be the complete demolition of an already-crumbling distinction between fact and fiction.

Meanwhile, the phenomenon of crypto-jacking—in which hackers hijack your computer to mine digital currency—has quickly morphed from a novelty to a big league threat. Last week, for instance, hackers used browser plug-ins to install malignant mining tools on a wide range of court and government websites, which in turn caused site visitors to become part of the mining effort.

The use of browser plug-ins to launch such attacks is part of a familiar strategy by hackers—treating third parties (in this case the plug-ins) as the weakest link in the security chain, and exploiting them. Recall, for instance, how hackers didn’t attack Target’s computer systems directly, but instead wormed their way in through a third party payment provider. The browser-based attacks feel more troubling, though, because they take place right on our home computers.

All of this raises the question of how we’re supposed to defend ourselves against this next generation of threats. One option is to cross our fingers that new technologies—perhaps Microsoft’s blockchain-based ID systems—will help defeat phishing and secure our browsers. But it’s also hard, in an age when our machines have run amok, to believe more machines are the answer.

For a different approach, I suggest putting down your screen for a day and picking up How to Fix the Future. It’s a new book by Andrew Keen, a deep thinker on Silicon Valley culture, that proposes reconstructing our whole approach to the Internet by putting humans back at the center of our technology. Featuring a lot of smart observations by Betaworks founder John Borthwick, the book could help us fight off Ovadya’s information apocalypse.

Have a great weekend.

Jeff John Roberts



Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my about.me), PGP encrypted email (see public key on my Keybase.io), Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.


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4 Essential Tools That Will Help You Run Your Business From Anywhere
January 31, 2018 6:07 pm|Comments (0)

In 2018, running a remote company is not as difficult as it may seem–and it is quickly becoming a necessity. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, 22 percent of employees work at least partially in a remote environment and the number–as well as the demand for remote positions–continues to increase. As the market shifts to accommodate this new style of work, it is crucial for businesses to understand how to operate successfully in an online environment.

The key is having the right tools… and knowing how to use them. After testing dozens of platforms with my fully-remote company, these are the select few that have stood the test of time.

1. Trello

Trello CEO Michael Pryor uses an analogy to describe what his product does: If you go camping in the forest, you need a map to navigate out of the forest and a walkie-talkie to communicate with your team.

Trello is designed to be your map. It is a project management tool that is simple in its workflow and user interface–it allows you to lay out tasks and clearly document what needs to get done, who is doing it, and what the current status is. Although simple in nature, Trello offers a tremendous amount of flexibility with integrations, Power-Ups, and customization via their API.

2. Slack

Communication is essential when running any company, and without a physical office, communication can be infinitely more difficult. Slack is your walkie-talkie.

Slack helps build team culture in a remote environment by providing streamlined, instant communication with your entire team. Beyond just communicating, it integrates with Zapier and hundreds of other apps to do everything from scheduling automated reminders to increasing morale with animated GIFs. At Leverage, we have automated reminders for team meetings and notifications that remind a contractor that they need to follow up with a client. A handful of Slack apps add another layer of functionality and help our remote team feel like a real community.

There is a key distinction between Slack and Trello. Trello is a project management software for “to-dos” while Slack is for communication. While you can communicate via comments in Trello, the purpose is to use these comments to facilitate work on a specific project, not simple day-to-day conversations.  Pro tip: Slack is for internal communication, email is for external.

3. Zoom

Even with Slack, there is still an important communication component that is missing–the classic conference-room style meetings. For that, we use Zoom.

Zoom is a simple video conferencing program that can handle everything from huge team meetings to small one-on-ones. The simplicity lies in the way that it ties urls to meeting rooms. You can easily send a meeting url to your team to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Each individual account also has their own designated meeting url–add in a custom domain like “meetwithXXX.com” and conducting conference-style meetings is a breeze.  

Zoom allows for recordings, as well as a fantastic webinar platform. It also has an app that lets you take your video conferencing on the go.

4. Process Street

Every successful company–no matter how big or small–has processes in place to keep things running smoothly. It is incredibly important to document all of the processes within your company so that if an employee is sick or leaves unexpectedly, another team member can easily complete their tasks. Process Street can be used to document anything from the simplest three-step process to the largest, most complex process you can dream up. It can also integrate with Zapier, so you can automate entire checklists or various parts of a process. At Leverage, between Zapier and Process Street we have completely automated many core processes–like our hiring system, for example.

It’s not just having the tools, it’s how you use them.

The most important part of any tool is how you use it–if you’re not using best practices when it comes to these four tools, you may be actually hurting your business.

  • With Slack, it is important to set up proper channels with the right people. Too many unnecessary people in one channel? You’ve got too many cooks in the kitchen and a bunch of people getting notifications–distractions–they don’t need.

  • Trello is invaluable for organizing large projects, but if you aren’t using it correctly it can do the exact opposite. Knowing when to separate a project into multiple cards and limiting boards to a minimal number of lists is essential to keeping things clean, simple and organized.

  • Zoom is a great tool for talking face-to-face, but it should only be used when a face-to-face meeting is absolutely necessary. A remote team has the benefit of eliminating the distractions of a physical office–so keep distractions to a minimum by using these meetings strategically.

  • Process Street can offer more than just documentation. By having other team members review documented processes you can easily pave the way for innovative breakthroughs. As a rule in our company, anyone who works on a recurring process must have another team member rotate in once per month. That way, we have a second set of eyes looking at every process within our company and pointing out any faults or inefficiencies that others may have missed.


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The #1 Lesson Cryptocurrency Investors Can Learn from the Dot-com Bubble
January 31, 2018 6:01 am|Comments (0)

Life as we once knew it drastically changed in the mid-90s. The Internet’s popularity was on the rise, and many savvy businesses and companies saw the potential of a hyper-connected, digital world. This lead to the dot-com bubble–a sharp rise, and fall, in stock prices that was fueled by investments in Internet-based companies.

With experts predicting we are now in a cryptocurrency bubble, it seems as if history is at risk of repeating itself.  

While we’ve moved far past the early stages of Internet start-ups and e-commerce companies, digital is continuing to change our everyday lives–from how we work, live, and play to the future of money itself. Interest in cryptocurrency, similar to the frenzy we saw in the early days of the dot-com bubble, is reaching a crescendo–yet many experts are already predicting its demise.

Warren Buffet has gone on the record saying that crypto will come to a bad ending. Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan’s CEO, called Bitcoin a fraud before later admitting that he regretted making that statement.

Meanwhile, other big-name investors and companies are going out of their way to invest in crypto–from Richard Branson to Microsoft .

But are the naysayers right? Are we headed toward a catastrophic implosion of dot-com level proportions?

Yes, the crypto market is volatile. There are too many unknowns to be certain, but if we look at the histories of companies like Amazon, eBay, Priceline, and Shutterfly, then maybe we can gain some clarity.

These e-commerce companies were born during the dot-com era, and they weathered the storm and emerged as some of the most successful and stable companies in history. The dot-com crash didn’t destroy the concept of e-commerce or the fact that consumers want to buy airline tickets, antiques, or pet food online–there was simply a gold rush in the early development stages. Once the dust settled, however, the strong survived.  

Don’t call it a comeback

In the end, the dot-com bubble was a movement. Smart investors saw the future of digital-based commerce and, as they invested, the movement snowballed into madness. Many of the companies that popped up during that time were run by people who were in over their heads, or they didn’t have the technology to keep up with the demand. When the crash happened, it thinned the herd.

Mona El Isa, the chief executive and co-founder of Melonport, summed this notion up at a recent TechCrunch conference when she said, “The dot-com bubble was messy, but if we look at some of the largest companies that exist today they are a result of the dot-com bubble and they are part of our everyday lives.”

Which leads us back to what we’re seeing with cryptocurrency today. Even if this bubble bursts, the concept of digital currency will not go away. It may wipe out 90% of today’s existing startup currencies, but the strong will survive. Companies, like Kodak, who try to create a currency without providing real customer value may see efforts go to waste. And this will pave the way for the Amazon of cryptocurrency to make its mark on the world.

To further the power of this movement, it’s important to remember that cryptocurrency isn’t a company. It doesn’t have shareholders. It isn’t VC-backed. Which means this movement extends beyond any other economic bubble we’ve seen–it’s happening in an arena that’s removed from the stock markets. So, when, and if, the bubble bursts, it won’t go quietly into that good night. The parameters may change drastically from what we are seeing today, but digital currency–in one form or another–is the future.

How to invest in a movement

So, if cryptocurrency is the future–how do you invest? From a business standpoint, it’s important to look at crypto through a risk-management lens. Business leaders and board members should be learning everything they can about this new trend so they can determine how, where, and why it might affect or fit into the business. Is there a way to offer customers value through cryptocurrency? Is the time right to execute? Is there a long-term strategy in place that will take advantage of the crypto movement when the stormy waters calm down?

These are the types of questions you need to consider. Do what’s best for your business and what’s best for your customer. As with any digital movement, you need to be aware of the trends and aware of how it could change your business. This is the only way to defend your company from possible disruption.

Final word

For anyone who is considering investing in cryptocurrency, it’s important to remember that this is a long-term movement. Our world is becoming increasingly smaller and more reliant on digital means–currency transformation is inevitable.

It’s the smart investors who understand that this isn’t a fragile economic trend. Digital currency will continue to adapt and change over the next few years–and the companies and entrepreneurs who pay close attention now will have the best chance at deftly navigating the troubled waters.


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Ford Paves a Path From Big Automaker to Big Operating System
January 27, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

In its 114-year history, Ford has been many kinds of automaker. A manufacturing innovator, a hawker of Mustang muscle, a pickup powerhouse. Now the company that helped put a car (or two) in every garage wants to be something else altogether: an operating system.

“With the power of AI and the rise of autonomous and connected vehicles, for the first time in a century, we have mobility technology that won’t just incrementally improve the old system but can completely disrupt it,” CEO Jim Hackett said in a keynote address at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, trumpeting the pivot. “A total redesign of the surface transportation system with humans and community at the center.”

As Ford executives move to execute the plan, they unveiled yesterday a reorganization of the automaker’s young mobility business, with two acquisitions to help it along. It’s all in service of a new, very 21st century goal. Ford will put less effort into convincing people to plunk down their credit cards for personal cars (though that’s still important) and more into moving them from A to B, with a little Ford badge tacked onto whatever gets them there.

It’s a turbulent time for traditional automakers, which have to keep making money today while aggressively prepping for the market changes—carshare, ridehailing, self-driving—that will happen tomorrow. Ford’s news comes eight months after the company dismissed CEO Mark Fields in favor of Hackett, a former furniture exec who oversaw the formation of Ford’s mobility subsidiary—and promised a greater vision for the future. Earlier this week, the Detroit automaker posted disappointing quarterly profits. Ford blamed rising metal prices while CFO Bob Shanks said, “We have to be far fitter than we are.”

In lean times, every expenditure merits extra scrutiny. And while Ford Mobility President Marcy Klevorn did not disclose how much it spent on its new companies, she says they’re important steps on Ford’s path to becoming more than a big ol’ automaker. “We did an assessment of our strategy and what our gaps were and the speed we wanted to go,” she says. “We looked at where we thought we needed a really fast infusion of help.”

Still, it’s all a little woolly. The thing about being a platform that connects the world is that others have to agree to come aboard. So while Ford tries to woo partners—other carmakers, mobility companies like Uber or Lyft, carsharing companies, bikesharing providers, entire cities—the carmaking continues. Make money now, prep for tomorrow.

OK, let’s look at the details of this new arrangement for tomorrow. Acquisition A is Autonomic, a Palo Alto–based company with a cloud-based platform called … wait for it … the Transportation Mobility Cloud. Autonomic seeks to build a kind of iOS for cities, managing data and transactions between city-dwellers and agencies and companies that provide payment processing, route mapping, mass transit, and city infrastructure services. That sounds vague, because it is.

“By making all these different services available we have no idea what’s going to come so we’re super excited,” Autonomic CEO Sunny Madra told Fortune Thursday. Autonomic seeks to be the go-to platform for other car manufacturers, too, and Klevorn indicated Ford hopes to monetize its cloud service quickly. Somehow.

Acquisition B is TransLoc, a 14-year-old Durham, North Carolina–based company that makes software to help cities, corporate campuses, and universities manage their transportation systems, from traditional fixed-route service to on-demand ridehailing apps like Uber and Lyft. “Ford is interested in taking the streets back in the city, and getting more people out of single occupancy cars,” says CEO Doug Kaufman. “I think one of the reasons that we ended up with Ford and not some other suitor is because our missions are so aligned.” Ford’s execs said they would lean on TransLoc’s existing sales relationships with hundreds of cities and transit agencies to accelerate its platform plan.

Meanwhile, the company is restructuring its Ford Mobility subsidiary. Autonomic is moving into a new accelerator section called Ford X. The Mobility Business Group will handle microtranist service Chariot, car services app FordPass, and digital services. Mobility Platforms and Products will cover autonomous vehicle partnerships and transportation as a service. And a new mobility marketing group will sell it all to the world. (Argo AI, the autonomous vehicle developer that Ford plunked $ 1 billion into last year, is still technically an independent company.)

It’s close to a throw-it-all-see-what-sticks move, but it does show Ford is charting a different path into this new world than its great rival. General Motors, which acquired startup Cruise Automation in 2016, is all about the autonomous and electric vehicle, with self-driving Chevy Bolts testing on roads in Phoenix and San Francisco. It’s even starting to think about making actual, honest-to-goodness driverless vehicles, this month showing off a design for a steering wheel– and pedal-free EV, and touting plans to get the thing on the road by 2019. The company’s Maven service, which provides car rental and sharing in 11 American cities, could be a great, data-hoovering starting point for a delivery and ridesharing service. And GM employees in San Francisco are using Cruise Anywhere, an Uber-like platform, to catch rides in self-driving testing vehicles. But GM hasn’t as overtly attempted to partner with cities yet, and its broader mobility strategy is hazy. Will GM provide transportation services and not just an excellent autonomous, electric car? Can any American automaker do that?

Ford has been pretty consistent about its admittedly hazy vision for the future of mobility. (At least, consistent with its messaging.) “The bigger risk is doing nothing,” executive chairman Bill Ford told WIRED back in 2015, as he outlined a future where a single, digital ticket could buy you a ride on a car, taxi, subway, bus, or bicycle. “I am very confident that we can compete and morph into something quite different.” Now it’s time to deliver.

Pivot! Pivot!


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Bitcoin rises 10 percent, recovers from last week's brutal selloff
December 26, 2017 6:00 am|Comments (0)

SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) – Bitcoin extended its recovery in holiday-thinned trading on Tuesday, rising 10 percent to be up more than a third from last week’s lows of below $ 12,000.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, fell nearly 30 percent at one stage on Friday to $ 11,159.93 and, despite a late recovery, had its worst week since 2013. At 0445 GMT on Tuesday, it was quoted around $ 15,049 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange.

The digital currency had risen around twentyfold since the start of the year, climbing from less than $ 1,000 to as high as $ 19,666 on Dec. 17 on Bitstamp and to over $ 20,000 on other exchanges. But it has posted heavy declines since.

While bitcoin investors and analysts believe the decline in its value was a natural correction after a heady run-up in prices, there have been further warnings from market regulators and central banks.

“There is no right current price which would reflect the right current valuation,” said Andrei Popescu, Singapore-based co-founder of COSS, which describes itself as a platform that encompasses all features of a digital economy based on cryptocurrency.

“Taking profit is right, while buying into a long term projection is also right. You don’t have to be right in this market, just less wrong than the rest,” Popescu said.

Shmuel Hauser, the chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, said on Monday he will propose regulation to ban companies based on bitcoin and other digital currencies from trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Singapore’s central bank last week issued a warning against investment in cryptocurrencies, saying it considers the recent surge in their prices to be driven by speculation and that the risk of a sharp fall in prices is high.

Prices of rival cryptocurrencies, which slid along with bitcoin last week, have also recovered, with Ethereum, the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market size, quoted around $ 771, up from Sunday’s low of $ 689 but still far from highs around $ 900 hit last week.

Editing by Sam Holmes


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U.S. experts resign from monitoring China’s ZTE Corp: sources
December 22, 2017 12:56 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Two consulting firms hired to help the United States police ZTE Corp’s compliance with trade sanctions have resigned, according to four people familiar with the matter.

China’s second-largest telecommunications company agreed earlier this year to pay a nearly $ 900 million penalty – the largest in a U.S. export controls case – and open its books to a U.S. monitor as part of a guilty plea for illegally shipping goods to Iran and North Korea. To read the Reuters report that exposed the practice, click goo.gl/rvNwr6

Guidepost Solutions and Larkin Trade International were hired in June by the U.S. monitor in charge of the oversight regime – Texas lawyer James Stanton – to help assess the company’s compliance with U.S. export control and sanctions laws, and reduce its risk of future misconduct, said the people, who wished to remain unnamed because the matter is not public.

In late August, the two firms parted ways with the monitor after clashing over his approach to the job, the people said. Although Reuters was unable to determine the exact reasons for the departure , Stanton initially restricted the consultants’ access to ZTE documents and officials, hindering their ability to help monitor the company, one of the people said.

Stanton did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment. 

Tina Larkin, the chief financial officer of Larkin International, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Guidepost Solutions.

A lawyer for ZTE declined to discuss the departure of the consulting firms, or the company’s relationship with the monitor.

“We’re looking to be cooperative and have a successful monitorship,” said Matthew Bell, the head of compliance for ZTE in the United States.

The problems with efforts to monitor ZTE, unreported to date, are rooted in how a U.S. judge set up the policing program in March, according to interviews with more than half a dozen people familiar with the matter and a review of court documents related to the plea deal between ZTE and the U.S. government. 

U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade presided over the ZTE sanctions case because the Justice Department filed the plea agreement between the United States and ZTE in his court in Texas, where the company’s U.S. headquarters are located.

Before signing off on the plea deal, Kinkeade took the unusual step of having the agreement rewritten to put Stanton, a civil and personal injury lawyer, in charge of monitoring ZTE’s compliance with U.S. export controls, several people familiar with the matter said. 

The appointment was made despite the Dallas-based attorney’s lack of experience in U.S. trade controls. The order naming him was sealed, leaving additional details about the judge’s decision unclear.  

Generally, the Department of Justice chooses an independent monitor in a corporate criminal case from candidates proposed by the company, which is how the deal was originally set.

But ZTE and the Justice Department felt compelled to agree to Kinkeade’s choice and the changes to the monitorship agreement, sources said, because the plea had already been negotiated and filed in the judge’s court and a temporary license allowing ZTE to obtain U.S. made goods – crucial for the company’s output – was about to expire.   

While courts have been weighing in more often on monitors, John Hanson, president of the Virginia-based International Association of Independent Corporate Monitors, said it was extremely rare for a judge to modify a major part of a plea agreement between a company and the government to select his own monitor.

Kinkeade and his courtroom deputy did not respond to inquiries about the monitorship and requests for comment.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, which negotiated the guilty plea with the company, declined to comment. A spokesman for the Commerce Department referred questions to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Texas, which also declined to comment.

Stanton has to issue three reports, the first of which is due in January, on ZTE’s compliance with U.S. trade rules. The reports will help determine whether the company is liable for an additional fine of $ 300 million or, worse, should lose its access to the U.S. market.

Both Washington and Beijing have a lot riding on the reports and the success of the monitorship, which is set to last three years. The agreement allows the company continued access to the U.S. market, which provides 25 to 30 percent of the components used in its networking gear and smart phones. It is also part of a wider push by the United States to get China’s cooperation in combating nuclear proliferation and marks the first time that a Chinese company has submitted to such scrutiny.

Kevin Wolf, a former Commerce Department official who worked on the ZTE case, said the first few months of a monitorship do not always determine success or failure.  

“With any monitorship involving a complex situation, inevitably there will be start-up problems but in my experience the issues work out in the long run,” said Wolf, who is now a lawyer in Washington D.C.


Kinkeade has known Stanton for over a decade. Both graduates of Baylor law school in Waco, Texas, Stanton dedicated a 2016 book, titled “What Judges Want” to Kinkeade, who he described as his mentor.

“He guided me with grace and judgment as I became a lawyer, a husband, a father and a judge,” Stanton wrote of Kinkeade in his book.  Stanton was appointed as a Texas state civil judge in 2009 and lost the election the following year.

In the modified ZTE plea agreement, references to required qualifications and experience were removed, and a clause about professionals assisting the monitor was added, according to a review of the original and modified documents.   

To compare the plea agreements, click tmsnrt.rs/2BV5Duq

Kinkeade also gave his own court a key role in overseeing the monitorship, including replacing the Justice Department as the arbiter in any dispute, and the monitor’s description was changed in one paragraph from “independent third-party” to ”judicial adjunct.” In an unusual move, the judge used a civil rule to make the monitor a judicial adjunct, despite it being a criminal case.

“Anyone who looked at this scratched his or her head,” said Washington lawyer Jacob Frenkel, who specializes in government investigations at Dickinson Wright and has represented monitors. “How do you appoint someone without requisite qualifications to the monitorship?”

While monitors are not always subject experts, they generally are not appointed in major cases without some relevant experience, Frenkel added.

With the original consultants out, Stanton turned to Ernst & Young in August to advise him, two people familiar with the monitorship, said.

Since Ernst & Young has been ZTE’s auditor since 2004, some ethics experts including University of Virginia law professor Brandon Garrett said the hiring raised conflict of interest concerns about how independent the firm would be in assessing the company’s adherence to U.S. trade rules.

A spokeswoman for Ernst & Young declined to comment, as did a lawyer for ZTE.

Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Edward Tobin


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Gadget Lab Podcast: Our Favorite Gadgets From 2017
December 16, 2017 12:45 am|Comments (0)


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Best Cyber Monday Tech Deals From Target, eBay, Newegg, and Google
November 26, 2017 12:11 pm|Comments (0)

Black Friday has passed, but Cyber Monday—the big online shopping day that falls on the first Monday after Thanksgiving—is just around the corner. That means that there are some great tech deals to be had this year on Nov. 27.

And just because the name Cyber Monday implies that people only have one day to buy something on discount, several retailers like Newegg and Target are extending Cyber Monday into a multi-day shopping fest.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best Cyber Monday tech deals.


The retail giant said have everything on its website at 15% for the week, which Target is pitching as Cyber Week. Additionally, Target (tgt) will unveil special deals on several items each day throughout the week.

Some of the deals include:

  • The Sony PlayStation 4 Virtual Reality Headset, with racing game Gran Turismo included, for $ 300, a $ 100 discount.
  • People who buy BeatsX earphones or Beats EP headphones—which cost $ 150 and $ 130 respectively—will get a free $ 20 Target GiftCard.
  • A KitchenAid 4.5-qt. Classic Plus Stand Mixer will cost $ 200 instead of $ 260.


Although technically not a retailer, eBay (ebay) is rounding up some of the best tech deals from its various sellers and making them available for the week, starting Nov. 25.

  • A Samsung 55-inch 4K television will cost $ 550 instead of $ 900.
  • An Apple (aapl) iPad Pro with 256 GB and Wi-Fi will cost $ 750, a 13% discount.
  • An unlocked Apple iPhone 8 with 64 GB will cost $ 674 instead of $ 700.
  • The iRobot Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi will cost $ 760, an 11% discount.


Online tech-focused retailer Newegg will be staggering some deals throughout its Cyber Monday event lasting from Nov. 26 through Nov. 30.

Deals valid from Nov. 26 and Nov. 27.

  • A Western Digital 4 TB external hard drive will cost $ 60 instead of $ 100.
  • A Western Digital 500 GB solid state internal hard drive will cost $ 138 instead of $ 150. There’s a limit of three.

Deals valid from Nov. 26 through Nov. 30.

  • Hyperkin RetroN 1 HD Gaming Console for the NES will cost $ 15 instead of $ 30.

Deals valid on Nov. 27 only.

  • The CyberPower Intelligent LCD battery backup and power supply will cost $ 75 instead of $ 110.
  • The Corsair Carbide Mid-Tower Gaming Case will cost $ 40 instead of $ 50.
  • H&R Block Tax Software Deluxe + State 2017 will cost $ 35 instead of $ 45.
  • A MSI gaming laptop will cost $ 750 instead of $ 850.

Deals valid from Nov. 27 through Nov. 30.

  • An ABS Lite Gaming Desktop will cost $ 830 instead of $ 900.
  • A Dell OptiPlex 3050 Desktop Computer will cost $ 590 instead of $ 660


Google (goog) is cutting the price of its Google Home web connected speaker to $ 80 from $ 130 starting on Thanksgiving Day and ending at 11:59 pm on Nov. 27, Cyber Monday.


The social networking giant (fb) is slashing the price of its Oculus Rift VR headset on both its Oculus online store as well as on Amazon (amzn), Best Buy (bby), Newegg, and Microsoft’s (msft) online store. From Nov. 21 through the end of Cyber Monday, the Rift + touch controller will cost $ 350 instead of $ 400.

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Dell’s Cyber Monday event will start Nov. 25 and last until Dec. 3. Throughout the period, Dell will have a 15% site wide sale on its video game-oriented computers like the Alienware brand as well as its Inspiron models.

Additionally, the company will debut several online deals throughout the week. These include Dell products in addition to those of third-party companies.

  • A Vizio 70-inch 4K television will cost $ 1,500 instead of $ 2,000, plus a $ 200 Dell promotional card.
  • A Microsoft Xbox One S with 500 GB and the video game Battlefield 1 will cost $ 220, down from $ 370
  • Dell’s UltraSharp 24-inch monitor will cost $ 220 instead of $ 350.


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