Tag Archives: Pressure

Fingerprint Cards announces new cost cuts amid weak market, price pressure
June 4, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish biometrics firm Fingerprint Cards on Monday announced a new round of big cost cuts on the back of weak market conditions for capacitive sensors for smartphones and heavy price pressure.

The company said it expected the new cost cuts to yield savings of 350 million crowns ($ 39.8 million) on an annual basis, with full effect at the end of the fourth quarter.

Fingerprint Cards said it will cut around 179 staff, and the restructuring costs are seen at 65 million crowns, which will mainly be taken in the third quarter.

“We are continuing to adapt our operations to the fundamental and rapid change in business conditions, with the objective of returning to profitable growth,” Fingerprint Cards Chief Executive Christian Fredrikson said in a statement.

“The cost reduction measures we are communicating today are important in order to strengthen our competitiveness,” he added.

The company also said it would make an inventory write-down of around 336 million Swedish crowns and a 143 million crown write-off of capitalized research and development (R&D) projects.

During the first quarter of 2018, Fingerprint Cards implemented another cost reduction program, seen generating cost savings of 360 million crowns this year.

Fingerprint Cards’ shares are down 60 percent so far in 2018 year on the back of rapidly falling sales and earnings.

Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Samsung faces new pressure on group structure after criticism by antitrust head
May 10, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s biggest conglomerate, Samsung Group [SAGR.UL], came for fresh criticism about its ownership structure on Thursday, with the country’s antitrust chief saying it was unsustainable.

FILE PHOTO – Samsung Group chief, Jay Y. Lee, is surrounded by media as he arrives at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

Korea Fair Trade Commission chief Kim Sang-jo took aim at the group’s circular shareholdings between companies such as Samsung C&T, Samsung Life Insurance, and Samsung Electronics.

The structure has enabled the family of Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee to retain control of the companies in the conglomerate, especially crown jewel Samsung Electronics, with minimum investments, critics have said.

“The clear fact is, the current ownership and control structure of Samsung Group, which goes from Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee to Samsung C&T to Samsung Life Insurance to Samsung Electronics, is not sustainable,” Kim told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with business leaders.

Samsung Group’s complex ownership structure has come for criticism earlier too, most notably from U.S. activist hedge fund Elliott Management, which proposed as a solution in 2016 that Samsung Electronics split itself into two.

Samsung Electronics rejected that proposal but accepted part of the fund’s proposals by announcing plans to cancel its existing treasury shares worth over $ 35 billion by 2018.

Fair Trade Commission’s Kim said he urges Jay Y. Lee to make a decision concerning the ownership structure, adding that Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Yoon Boo-keun, who attended the meeting, had told him it will be considered.

A Samsung Electronics spokesman did not have an immediate comment.

Others have also questioned the group’s ownership structure recently.

The country’s top financial regulator said on Wednesday that Samsung Life Insurance must consider ways to lessen the risk of having too much of its assets concentrated in one place, including selling some or all of Samsung Life’s stake in Samsung Electronics.

“Lessening the risk of concentrated assets is key to securing financial stability, which is what we are interested in,” said Choi Jong-ku, Chairman of the Financial Services Commission.

“If there are any concerns about retaining management control (of Samsung Electronics) we are saying, look for ways to keep it while lessening the risk.”

Samsung Life Insurance is at the heart of a cross-shareholding structure in which it owns about 8 percent of Samsung Electronics, which has a market value of about $ 340 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Yuna Park; Additional reporting and writing by Joyce Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , , ,
U.S. tax liabilities for crypto currencies in 2017 seen at $25 billion, to pressure bitcoin: Fundstrat
April 5, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Soaring crypto-currency prices last year are estimated to result in U.S. tax liabilities of $ 25 billion, adding further selling pressure to these assets in the short term, according to a research note by Fundstrat Global Advisers on Thursday.

A bitcoin logo is seen at a facility of the Youth and Sports Ministry in Caracas, Venezuela February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

This could mean a massive outflow from crypto currencies to the dollar by April 15, the deadline for filing taxes this year, the firm said.

“We believe selling pressures (in crypto) have been amplified by capital gains tax-related selling this year,” said Thomas Lee, Fundstrat’s co-founder and head of research. Lee was formerly J.P. Morgan’s chief equity strategist from 2007 to 2014.

Still, Fundstrat believes the outlook for bitcoin should improve after the April 15 tax deadline. It reiterated its mid-year target of $ 20,000 and year-end forecast of $ 25,000.

Bitcoin in 2018 has lost more than 50 percent of its value, with other crypto currencies such as ether and ripple also hurt by intense regulatory scrutiny around the world.

Bitcoin last traded down nearly 2 percent at $ 6,673.53 on the Bitstamp platform. In December last year, bitcoin hit a record just shy of $ 20,000.

Virtual currencies led by bitcoin grew $ 590 billion in 2017 in terms of market value, compared with an $ 11 billion increase in 2016, Fundstrat said, estimating that 30 percent of crypto holders are in the United States.

The $ 25-billion tax liability accounts for 20 percent of the expected total tax payments for capital gains of around $ 168 billion in 2017, the research firm said. The projected tax liability is based on taxable gains for crypto of $ 92 billion, it added.

Fundstrat also said crypto exchanges posted record profit in November and December and are expected to have huge tax liabilities, which should add to further selling in crypto-currencies. Many of the exchanges have net income exceeding $ 1 billion in 2017 and keep their working capital in bitcoin and ether, the research firm added.

To meet these tax liabilities, exchanges need to sell bitcoin and ether.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Bernadette Baum

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Investors, lawmakers, advertisers pressure Facebook over data
March 22, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s apology for how his company handled 50 million users’ data did little on Thursday to ease investor worries about the cost to fix mistakes and lawmakers’ dismay that his response did not go far enough.

Germany’s second-largest bank Commerzbank AG has suspended advertising on Facebook until further notice, Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Thursday, following in the steps of Mozilla, which runs the Firefox web browser.

Allegations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to build profiles on American voters and influence the 2016 presidential election has knocked more than $ 50 billion of Facebook’s market value this week.

Five days after the scandal broke, Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday that mistakes were made and promised to restrict developers’ access to user information as part of a plan to improve privacy protection.

On Thursday, Facebook executives were still saying sorry. “It was a mistake”, Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said at The Financial Times FT Future of News Conference in New York City.

Zuckerberg’s apology and promises were not enough to ease political pressure on the world’s largest social media company.

“It shouldn’t be for a company to decide what is the appropriate balance between privacy and innovation and use of data. Those rules should be set by society as a whole and so by parliament,” British minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, told BBC Radio. “The big tech companies need to abide by the law and we’re strengthening the law.”

In Washington, Zuckerberg’s media rounds did little to satisfy lawmakers in either political party who have demanded this week that the billionaire testify before Congress.

Facebook executives were expected to brief two congressional committees on Thursday, after being grilled for nearly two hours by staff for the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman and other executives were unable to answer many questions at Wednesday’s meeting, according to two aides who were present. The executives said they had written down a list of 60 questions they promised to answer, the aides said.

The Republican chairman and top Democrat of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee said they will in coming days formally ask Zuckerberg to testify.

REPUTATIONAL COSTS

Wall Street analysts expressed relief that there were no signs so far of a more fundamental shift in the company’s advertising-driven revenue model, but some said there would be costs to shore up its reputation.

Facebook, with more than 2 billion monthly active users, made almost all its $ 40.6 billion in revenue last year from advertising.

A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration photo March 20, 2018. Picture taken March 20. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Stifel analyst Scott Devitt cut his price target on Facebook by $ 27 to $ 168, while BofA Merrill Lynch slashed its target by $ 35 to $ 230.

“Facebook’s current plight reminds us of eBay in 2004 – an unstructured content business built on trust that lost that trust prior to implementing policies to add structure and process,” Devitt said.

“Warren Buffett has his own thing called a “too hard” pile, and we are choosing to put Facebook shares in it,” he wrote.

Facebook shares were down 2.2 percent on Thursday in heavy trading.

Slideshow (4 Images)

Analysts said that Zuckerberg’s promises to investigate thousands of apps, and to give members a tool that lets them turn off access, would not substantially reduce advertisers’ ability to use Facebook data – the company’s lifeblood.

Nevertheless, open-source browser and app developer Mozilla said it was “pressing pause” on its Facebook advertising after the revelations prompted it to take a closer look at the site’s default privacy settings.

“We found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data – particularly with respect to settings for third party apps,” Mozilla, it said in a blog post.

“When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.”

Commerzbank said it, too, was pausing its campaign on Facebook. “Brand safety and data security are very important to us,” head of brand strategy Uwe Hellmann told Handelsblatt. The comments were confirmed by a spokesman for the bank.

The Times newspaper reported that British advertising group ISBA, which represents thousands of well-known brands, has threatened to withdraw ads if investigations show user data has been misused.

“We think this issue is more likely to snowball than recede and that advertisers are reaching a tipping point at which spending on not only Facebook and other online platforms, is re-evaluated,” brokerage Liberum said in a note.

Technology stocks have fallen along with Facebook this week as investors worried about tighter scrutiny of global platforms like Google, Twitter and Snapchat.

British police removed cordons around the London headquarters of Cambridge Analytica on Thursday after they deemed a suspicious package which sparked a security alert to be safe.

Efforts by Britain’s information watchdog to investigate Cambridge Analytica were delayed when a judge adjourned for 24 hours its application to search the company’s head office.

Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Paul Sandle; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , ,
AI Can Help Apple Watch Predict High Blood Pressure, Sleep Apnea
November 14, 2017 12:00 am|Comments (0)

The world’s most valuable company crammed a lot into the tablespoon-sized volume of an Apple Watch. There’s GPS, a heart-rate sensor, cellular connectivity, and computing resources that not long ago would have filled a desk-dwelling beige box. The wonder gadget doesn’t have a sphygmomanometer for measuring blood pressure or polysomnographic equipment found in a sleep lab—but thanks to machine learning, it might be able to help with their work.

Research presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Anaheim Monday claims that, when paired with the right machine-learning algorithms, the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor and step counter can make a fair prediction of whether a person has high blood pressure or sleep apnea, in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly through the night. Both are common—and commonly undiagnosed—conditions associated with life-threatening problems, including stroke and heart attack.

The new study adds to evidence that the right algorithms might transform the Apple Watch from personal trainer to personal physician. Apple said in September that it is working on a study with Stanford that will test whether the gadget can detect atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, which can lead to stroke or heart failure. A study independent of Apple presented in May has already suggested the answer is yes. And health insurer Aetna said last week that it is partnering with Apple to give Apple Watches to members to try to reduce health costs.

The Apple Watch’s potential to predict high blood pressure and sleep apnea was revealed by a collaboration between University of California San Francisco and a startup called Cardiogram. The company offers an app for organizing heart-rate data from an Apple Watch, and other devices with heart-rate sensors. UCSF provided data from more than 6,000 Apple Watch users enrolled in a study on mobile health. Cardiogram’s founders drew on their previous experience as Google employees, working on speech recognition for Android phones and the Google Assistant.

Cardiogram’s engineers took the kind of artificial neural networks that Google and others use to turn our speech into text and adapted them to interpret heart-rate and step count data. (Like speech, they are signals that vary over time.) The system, dubbed DeepHeart, is given strings of heart-rate and step data from multiple people, and information about their health conditions. In May, the company and UCSF released results showing that DeepHeart could figure out how to predict atrial fibrillation from a person’s Apple Watch data. The study presented Monday shows that with one week of data on a wearer, the algorithms can predict hypertension with roughly 80 percent accuracy, and sleep apnea with about 90 percent accuracy.

Related Stories

Doctors don’t—and probably couldn’t—diagnose high blood pressure or sleep apnea just by eyeballing a week’s worth of data from your smartwatch. They diagnose hypertension by putting that familiar cuff on your arm. Sleep apnea requires a visit to a sleep clinic, or use of home monitoring equipment. So how do Cardiogram’s algorithms make good guesses without directly measuring a person’s blood pressure or breathing? We only sort of know.

Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure are all connected to our autonomic nervous system, which regulates the unconscious bodily functions that keep us alive. Past research has shown how hypertension and sleep apnea alter the dynamics of heart rate. For example, heart rate variability is lower in people with sleep apnea. But Brandon Ballinger, a Cardiogram cofounder, admits that he doesn’t know all the patterns in a person’s heart rate that his algorithms use to make predictions. “They’re kind of a foreign form of intelligence,” says Ballinger.

Ballinger says that, with the right testing, that doesn’t prevent his alien intelligence from having business potential. Cardiogram’s app for Apple Watch and other devices is free today. But the startup’s business plan is to one day add features that advise a user to be checked for atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. To stay on the right side of the FDA, the app would have to advise a person to get tested, and not suggest the person has a particular condition. Cardiogram would make money by offering to ship the necessary equipment for a home test, and billing a person’s health insurer. The app could also provide advice after a diagnosis, or link people to medical practitioners or health coaches, Ballinger says. He predicts some of these features will appear within months.

That plan is plausible, but needs to be proved out. Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist and executive director of the Center for Body Computing at the University of Southern California, says the idea of inferring conditions indirectly from heart rate and step counts needs more testing. “The study is seeing a correlation and that’s important to know, but the value is still unproven for medicine,” she says. Saxon also notes that the Apple Watch’s heart data varies in accuracy depending on how a person wears the device. Cardiogram says it has more research underway, and expects accuracy to improve. There are now about 30,000 people enrolled in Cardiogram’s study with UCSF.

That’s big for a medical study—and perhaps a reflection of people’s readiness for wearables like the Apple Watch to act as medical advisers. Saxon says studies at USC have shown that patients eagerly engage with apps capable of medical-grade measurements. If people are properly educated about what they can do alone, their health care is better managed as a result, she says. Her center’s projects include testing a mobile heart sensor that pairs with a phone or watch made by startup AliveCor. “Patients would much rather self-manage than deal with you, the physician,” says Saxon. “And they’re already on their phone 200 times a day.” If Cardiogram and Saxon are right, medical-grade notifications may soon nestle among those for our Snaps, likes, and texts.

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , , ,
AT&T Wireless Workers Try To Bring Political Pressure To End Contract Stalemate
October 7, 2017 12:00 am|Comments (0)

Negotiations have dragged on since February.

As a contract standoff between AT&T and 21,000 unionized workers in its mobile business drags into a eighth month, the employees are trying to increase political pressure on the carrier.

So far, 255 state and local politicians have sent letters to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson backing the workers, the Communications Workers of America union says. Among the senders are six Democratic senators and numerous members of California’s delegation in the House of Representatives.

“While we are aware of the changes that have taken place in the telecommunications industry, we know that AT&T wireless workers are the driving force behind your most profitable division,” 12 members of the Arizona House of Representatives wrote to Stephenson in one recent letter. “They deserve to share in the company’s success and growth.”

Still, AT&T does not appear moved by the campaign or earlier moves by the mobile workers in 36 states and Washington, D.C., including a protest outside Apple headquarters for the debut of new iPhones last month and a short strike in May that forced many wireless stores to close for a weekend.

Although the workers have concerns about wages, health benefits, and other issues, job security and sales commission rates appear to be at the center of the dispute. To highlight the issue of call center jobs being outsourced to foreign countries, some AT&T workers traveled to the Dominican Republic in early May to meet with their counterparts there who now handle AT&T customer service calls.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

AT&T said on Friday that it has been in touch with the letter writers and plans to continue to bargain with the workers, whose contract expired in February, to reach a “fair” agreement . “We regularly communicate with our stakeholders regarding labor issues and bargaining, and we’ve done so where we’ve received any letters from legislators,” an AT&T spokesman said.

The CWA says AT&T won’t negotiate over job security at call centers and retail stores where many of the employees work. “AT&T has increased its profits by cutting workers’ commissions, refused to bargain over job security even as it cut hundreds of call center jobs this year alone, and increasingly moved to low-wage contractors for its retail and call center operations,” Dennis Trainor, vice president for CWA district 1, said in a statement. “That’s not how America’s largest telecom should be acting.”

AT&T t has a long history of labor peace, though the May strike interrupted a run of more than four years without a walkout. The company says it has reached 32 agreements covering some 145,000 workers since the beginning of 2015. The strike in May, which also included 17,000 workers in AT&T’s telecom business, followed last year’s bitter, seven week strike at Verizon vz .

Tech

Posted in: Cloud Computing|Tags: , , , , , , ,