Rami Alkarmi builds lean startup Ecosystems

Geek. Investor. Growth Strategist.

A proud geek, investor, and widely recognized advisor and expert in strategy, lean startup ecosystems, business models, growth & distribution through big data and viral marketing, and corporate venturing.

In 2013, he founded Arcoten Holdings as his advising/investing vehicle where he partners with corporates, accelerators, and incubators to build lean startup ecosystems, and helps companies through providing expertise in growth, hands-on mentorship, access to capital, and helps companies iterate product and grow fast. From time to time, he also likes to build companies with friends and partners inside Arcoten.

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Daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel has raised $70 million in Series D funding, only days after rival DraftKings raised $41 million, to go along with its $18 million in existing funding.


Apple Tim Cook

In a statement Tuesday, Apple said the hack that caused nude photos of celebrities to leak was not the result of a widespread attack on its iCloud system. Instead, the hackers targeted the accounts of individual celebrities.

Here’s the statement:

We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved. 

To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://twt.lu/1lxOSbC

But Apple’s response still leaves some unanswered questions. If the culprits weren’t able to infiltrate iCloud, then how were they able to target individuals? And what, if anything, can Apple do to prevent it?

As soon as the statement was released, several journalists and tech pundits pointed out that Apple appeared to be placing the blame on the user, not the fact that Apple IDs seem to be easy to crack if you have the right tools.

There are several theories as to how the hackers were able to access iCloud accounts. The most prominent one is the so-called “brute force” tactic, which means hackers use advanced software and other maneuvers to guess an individual user’s ID and password.

Apple’s statement implies that hackers did use a “brute force” method or something similar in the recent celebrity photo hack. Here’s that excerpt from the statement:

After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet.

But what Apple doesn’t say is whether a flaw on its end allowed the hackers to employ brute force methods. Other than enabling 2-step authentication, which requires you to validate your password through a secondary device, there’s not much assurance that you’re safe from being targeted. Still, as TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino points out, 2-step authentication won’t protect your photos and some other personal data. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment beyond the prepared statement.

There’s more.

As Sam Biddle of Valleywag discovered, celebrities aren’t the only victims of iCloud photo hacking. There’s an entire message board on a site called AnonIB dedicated to “iCloud rippers” who apparently use similar techniques to steal nude photos from random women. This was going on long before nude photos of celebrities leaked over the weekend.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the narrative has shifted against Apple. Instead of explaining how iCloud user IDs are vulnerable, or why it hasn’t heavily promoted 2-step verification, Apple only delivered a delicate statement for the public to go on. We could learn more as Apple’s investigations continue, but what we have today isn’t very reassuring.

Still, this kind of problem isn’t exclusive to Apple. Home Depot said Tuesday it was investigating a potential security breach. And the same methods hackers used to access iCloud accounts can be applied to Android phones, Windows Phones, BlackBerrys … whatever.

Until a better solution comes out, your best bet is to enable 2-step (some services call it 2-factor) verification on everything you can. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing.

SEE ALSO: One way the iCloud hackers may have been able to break into celebrity accounts

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Over the weekend, several celebrity accounts were hacked, and nude photos of them were leaked online.

There could have been many ways that the hackers might have gained access to the photos, including via iCloud, as well as other cloud services, such Google Drive. 

In a statement, Apple said, “To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification.”

Two-step verification is a way for websites to verify that you are who you say you are when you try to log in. Once you set it up, the site will often text you a verification code when it notices that you’re trying to log in from a new computer.

In addition to iCloud, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Tumblr offer two-step verification. 

And turning it on for your Google accounts is dead simple (and if you’re using an Android phone, you can set it up right from your device). Here’s how to do it:

Go to your account settings page.

Google account

Click on Security.

Google security

Click on where it says “Setup” to set up 2-step verification.

Google 2 step

It will then ask you to which phone number you’d like to send your authentication code. 

Google phone code

Google will then text or call you with a code. Enter it on the next screen.

Google phone verify

You’re almost done! Google will then ask you to verify that the computer you’re using is a trusted machine.

Google trusted computer

And finally, you’ll be asked if you want to turn on 2-factor authentication. Click “Confirm.”

Google 2-factor confirm

Some apps don’t work with 2-factor authentication, such as Mail on your iPhone or iPad. If you get an error that says something is wonky with your password, you can use a specific app-specific password, which Google will generate and provide. 

You don’t have to memorize the 16-digit code, either. You’ll usually just have to enter the special code once per app. 

SEE ALSO: How to enable two-step verification on Tumblr

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Payments Value Chain Graphic

The credit and debit card ecosystem is much bigger than MasterCard, American Express, and Visa. 

Scores of companies play different roles in the system as intermediaries, most of them as merchant-facing vendors that provide the technology and services that help businesses accept credit cards. Recently, Silicon Valley has decided they also want to compete in this market, and  introduced online, mobile, and cloud-based services that compete with those provided by the legacy players. 

In a recent report from BI Intelligence, we look at the complicated series of interactions among different legacy players that powers each credit card payment, outlining the six types of companies that play key roles in the credit credit payment chain. We explain what each of these players do, and how much value they add, and explain why two parts of this chain — the hardware providers and merchant service providers (MSPs) — are particularly vulnerable to disruption.

Access The Full Report And Data By Signing Up For A Free Trial Today »

Here are some of our key findings:

In full, the report: 

Payment Card Transaction Breakdown

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Nordstrom Facebook

Apple is in talks with Nordstrom to bring its soon-to-be-announced payment platform to the retailer, according to a report by Bank Innovation’s Ian Kar.

According to the report, Nordstrom recently updated its payment terminals so they would be compatible with the mobile payment technology that will debut in the next iPhone.

Last week, Apple reportedly partnered with Mastercard, Visa, and American Express on its payment platform.

Presumably, Apple has been working with other retailers to make sure pay terminals are compatible with the new iPhone, which will debut on September 9. So far mobile payments systems like Google Wallet have failed to take off because retailers don’t have the required tech. Apple, it seems, has been able to do what competitors couldn’t and get retailers to join the system.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 Case Makers Are Going All In On The Rumors

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Last week, Instagram announced its latest app, called Hyperlapse.

Hyperlapse allows you to take time-lapse videos, without the need for fancy, expensive equipment. It’s really easy to use, and has a beautiful interface. You push one button to record the video, and then speed it up to various degrees using a separate button. 

You can then upload the video you made to Instagram and Facebook at the touch of yet one other button.

Sound simple? That’s because it is. And people are using it to make some awesome-looking, creative videos.

You can watch the sun set in just a few seconds. And you can use other apps to add some music.

Some people are using Hyperlapse to quickly tour a city, such as this one in Holland.

And the train system in Toronto.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

computers gamers cyber

The game industry has been in the spotlight for the past week, with several incidents of harassment and sexism making headlines. And now the game developer community has had enough. 

Andreas Zecher, an indie game designer who works for Spaces of Play, has written an open letter to the gaming community on Medium.

We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened,” the letter reads. “It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.”

It then says that if people see any form of harassment on places such as Twitter or Facebook, to report them on the respective sites. It also says people should take a public stand against any form of harassment.

More than 2,000 industry professionals have signed the open letter, including from big-name players, such as Ubisoft, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and BioWare. 

Signups for the letter have since been closed. “Writing and signing a letter is easy. Making change happen is hard,” Zecher writes. 

There’s been backlash to the letter. Zecher tweeted that people have signed the petition using fake names, so that they can then claim the list of supporters has been padded.

And even gamers themselves have started their own petition on Change.org.We are asking indie developers, AAA developers, and other folks to stop branding gamers as neckbearded, misogynistic, hatefueled, ignorant, homophobic, idiots,” the petition reads. 

As of this writing it has more than 3,000 signatures. 

Zecher’s open letter comes in the wake of several incidents involving harassment within the video game industry. Video game critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her house after she received a ton of threats following a video she did critiquing how women are portrayed in video games. 

Game developer Zoe Quinn was harassed after a former boyfriend wrote a blog post about her, accusing her of having personal relationships with video game journalists. The gaming community exploded, alleging that her personal relationships advanced her career and that the game journalism industry is corrupt, and culminating in a trending #GamerGate hashtag on Twitter

Game developer Phil Fish came to Quinn’s defense, which led to hackers taking down his studio’s website, and posting his personal information online. 

And a Sony Online Entertainment exec’s plane was diverted after hackers tweeted a phony bomb threat to American Airlines. 

And all this over video games. 

The gaming industry landscape has changed. As have the people who are playing the games. The Entertainment Software Association reports that 48% of people who play video games are women. And more adult women are playing video games (36%) than boys 18 and younger (17%).

"Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad," writes Leigh Alexander over on Gamasutra.

Joseph Bernstein at BuzzFeed writes, “[Video games] are becoming simply another medium — one with no inherent bias towards any group. In twenty years, it may sound as old-fashioned to call someone a ‘gamer’ as it is to call someone a ‘moviegoer.’ And we may well look back at these few weeks in 2014 as the moment when the medium finally separated from the limitations put on it from outside, and from within.”

An open letter to end harassment is a good start. And an even better next step would be for the game developers and designers to continue the trend, and continue making more games that appeal to everyone. 

SEE ALSO: Shame On The Gaming Industry: Severed Heads Outnumbered Women Speakers At The E3 Conference

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We like to think that all our smarts are contained in our brain, but researchers at Umea University in Sweden have found that the neurons that extend into our fingertips perform the same sorts of calculations that take place in the cerebral cortex.


Motorized skateboards have been a kooky outsider vehicle since the late 60’s.  They were noisy, expensive, and incapable of handling the precise feats of physical prowess that made human-powered skateboards so popular.


mckayla maroney silver medal olympics 2012

McKayla Maroney, a member of the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team in 2012 at age 16, was among the celebrities whose pictures were part of this weekend’s massive nude photo leak.

After learning that Maroney may be underage in her leaked photos, Reddit moderators are freaking out.

The moderators of a subreddit called The Fappening, where many of the celebrities’ leaked photos have been posted, published a warning to its users on Tuesday afternoon.

The mods say that all pictures of gymnast McKayla Maroney will be deleted since they could potentially be classified as child pornography. The Reddit post was originally spotted by BuzzFeed

Here’s the full warning from Reddit:

The reddit.com site admins have let us know that McKayla Maroney was underage in the photos as well and that we need to remove them. If we don’t remove them, then this subreddit will most likely be banned (very quickly).

Liz Lee was not part of the leaks, but people have been posting her images anyways. Liz’s pictures were taken in 2007 when she was 16 years old by an ex of hers. He is a current sex offender because he posted them to 4chan. We have been instructed by the reddit admins to remove these images as well.


If you are skeptical in any way, just remember that it is better to be safe than sorry.

Due to this, we will be removing any and all things that contain their images. It is considered CP (Child Pornography), and breaks reddit’s site-wide rules (in addition to international law, age of consent is completely different than child pornography), and will get this subreddit banned if we were to allow them to be posted.

On another note: please use other hosting sites besides imgur.com. We have a large list of whitelisted domains listed here that you should be uploading to besides imgur. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket.

That is all for now, stay tuned for further updates.

Pictures circulating on the subreddit of MTV star Liz Lee were allegedly taken when she was 16, reports BuzzFeed. Lee’s photos were not among those leaked this weekend.

The nude photo leak has affected celebrities across the board—from models like Kate Upton to actresses like Jennifer Lawrence. 


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bobby lent house

An enormous estate in Hillsborough, California has sold for $28.8 million, Curbed SF is reporting.

The 36,000-square-foot home is very castle-like, with Gothic doorways, art galleries, and 13 fireplaces. 

Still, the house has all of the amenities you would expect from a modern mansion, including two swimming pools, tennis courts, and a high-tech home theater. 

The home was previously listed for $48.9 million in 2011, and though it’s not clear who the owner is, some rumors have hinted that the seller was Robert Lent, cofounder of software company Ariba.

Regardless of the owner, this Silicon Valley mansion has to be seen to be believed.

The home sits on more than 6.2 acres of property in Hillsborough, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Silicon Valley.

The six-bedroom home looks like a manor belonging in the English countryside.

Inside, ornate wood carvings line the walls.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Gilt Groupe, Inc. CEO Susan Lyne

Susan Lyne, the CEO of AOL’s brand group, is stepping down, according to Re/code.

Lyne will now head up an AOL-owned venture fund that promotes women-fronted digital startups.

The “fully funded” and “relatively dormant” venture fund is tentatively called the Build Fund. It will invest in woman-run startups. 

AOL told Re/code that investments will primarily be made in companies related to “consumer Internet areas, including e-commerce and media.”

Lyne left Gilt Groupe in February 2013 to come to AOL. Before that, she ran Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. And prior to that, Lyne was a network executive at ABC. She oversaw the development of series like “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives,” Re/code reports.

Lyne doesn’t intend to waste any time getting started with Build Fund. “We are going to be investing very soon,” Lyne told Re/code. “This is not something that can wait many months — we need to develop a pipeline.”

SEE ALSO: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Has Sold $11.6 Million Worth Of Yahoo Shares This Year

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melanie curtain

What is it like working at today’s hottest startup, $17 billion Uber?

It’s awesome — in a stressed-out, always-working sort of way.

Former employee Melanie Curtin says she used to “daydream about leaving Uber all the time.” She spent a year in the company’s New York office where she was a community manager. She left at the end of 2013. Now she is the director of communications for another startup, Opia Talk.

Curtin wrote about what her experience was like as an Uber employee. For the most part, her description is glowing.

"The team is freaking awesome," Curtin writes on LinkedIn. "They’re ready to listen to anyone, if what they say is of value.” She also says it’s incredible to witness the company’s explosive growth first hand and know you contributed to it.

But like any rocket ship, there are downsides:

It’s stressful. “Everyone looks like they’re doing fine, but they’re really working 80-100 weeks and even then, constantly feel like they’re behind,” Curtin writes of Uber employees. Because the company is in constant sprint mode, Curtin says employees aren’t “always given everything [they] need, to do the job they’re expected to do.”

Additionally, Uber expects employees to work weekends and holidays, when Uber cars are most in demand.

It will be ‘normal’ to spend your entire workweek working until 9pm or 10pm every day, then work an all-day event on Saturday, for Uber,” Curtin writes. “You’ll miss seeing your friends and family, and resent the constant feeling that you’re not doing enough, despite working so much. This may wear on you over time, and eventually you may burn out.”

While Uber seems like a large corporation on the outside, it’s still a 4-year-old explosive startup on the inside. And, as Curtain notes, it’s natural for employees to feel both enthused and challenged by that.

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In the second quarter of 2014, five of the biggest Chinese smartphone makers — including Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Coolpad, and ZTE — accounted for about 75 million worldwide shipments. Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, had only shipped 74 million smartphones during that time. 

Based on company data charted for us by Business Insider Intelligence, all five Chinese smartphone vendors combined to comprise about 30% of all Android phones shipped in the first quarter of the year. According to BII, these vendors, which offer quality and affordable low-end and mid-tier smartphones, will continue to drive global market growth, particularly among first-time smartphone users.

Tech_COTD 9_2_2014

SEE ALSO: CHART: This Is How People Use Mobile Payments

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