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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brian chesky

In his ongoing tussle with Airbnb, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked for detailed records on 124 hosts in the New York area. And Airbnb has agreed to give them to him.

Airbnb has about 16,000 hosts in New York. In a post explaining the news, Airbnb’s David Hantman writes:

"This request represents an incredibly small fraction of our New York hosting community – far less than 1 percent.

… nothing about these hosting profiles suggests he is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform.

The NY AG wants to locate people it believes are running “illegal hotels,” an AG spokesperson told Business Insider in April. In documents to compel the AG to turn over data about its users in April, it says that New York law forbids people to sublet their apartment for less than a month or more.

"It is illegal for residents of Class A buildings to rent out their apartments for any period of time less than 30 days unless they are also present in the apartment," the documents say.

The AG’s office told us it is not trying to stop people in New York from using the site to rent out a spare room now and then. It’s trying to find hosts with multiple New York listings who are perhaps running a room-renting business without complying with all hotel laws, the spokesperson said.

Airbnb negotiated with the AG and agreed to turn over only anonymous data on its New York hosts. The AG has a year to request details on specific hosts.

Here’s the full post from Airbnb:

I want to provide you the latest update on the New York Attorney General’s investigation into our community here in New York.

As you remember, the New York Attorney General originally requested a full set of data on most of our hosts in New York, and we were concerned that this request was too broad. After some legal wrangling, we agreed to provide the Attorney General anonymized data about approximately 16,000 hosts in New York. This data did not include names, apartment numbers, or other personally-identifiable information, and was designed to present the Attorney General with a full picture of who our community is, and how it operates in New York. Under the agreement, the Attorney General’s Office has one year to review the anonymized data and receive information from us about individual hosts who may be subject to further investigation. You can read more about this agreement here.

Before we reached this agreement, we reviewed our community in New York and removed some bad actors who were providing a low-quality experience or failing to live up to the standards we set for our community.

After we reached this agreement and as this process continued, we became increasingly confident that the Attorney General was truly concerned about a relatively small number of hosts he considered to be “bad actors,” and that the vast majority of our community was never a target of his inquiries. As a result, we came to expect that we would start receiving requests for individual data at a relatively modest level.

This week, that confidence was reinforced as the Attorney General requested unredacted, personal information on 124 individual past and present hosts. The vast majority of these hosts were no longer on our site. The remainder of records requested are all for hosts with multiple listings, and without knowing more about why the Attorney General is interested in those hosts specifically, it is hard to know why they have been targeted.

But two things are clear.

First, this request represents an incredibly small fraction of our New York hosting community – far less than 1 percent. The vast majority of our hosts are simply renting out their own homes on an occasional basis. The law was never meant to target them, and we now believe the Attorney General did not mean to target regular New Yorkers either.

Second, while the Attorney General’s Office may request additional information in the coming months, nothing about these hosting profiles suggests he is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform.

We have notified each of the 124 hosts subject to this request individually, so if you have not heard from us this week, your information was not requested. As this process progresses, we will continue to strive to be as transparent as possible. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

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Social Network Drinking

It should come as no surprise that tech employees in Silicon Valley make boatloads. 

We learned just how many boatloads they make in a recent post by SFGate.

The average tech worker in San Francisco made $156,518 in 2013, a gain of roughly 19% from 2012.

If you head south on the Peninsula, salaries are even higher.

The mean salary in San Mateo County is $291,497. That’s up 8% year-over-year.

It’s important to remember these are averages, not median salaries. That means they can be distorted by outliers, like one person making a ton.

As SFGate notes, that outlier may be Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

Zuckerberg cashed in a whopping $3.3 billion in stock options last year. In 2012, Zuckerberg made $2.3 billion, again from stock options.

That would factor into the numbers SFGate used because their source wasn’t able to differentiate between salaries and total compensation, which includes other compensation like stock.

SFGate found that when you remove Zuckerberg’s stock option money, the mean wage in San Mateo County slides down to around $210,000.

That’s still more than the nearly $196,000 your average employee made working in 2013 in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley.

SEE ALSO: Apple’s Archrival May Make An Essential Part Of The iPhone 6

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Cisco John Chambers

Here’s a David-and-Goliath story in which Goliath saved David.

It involves Cisco (Goliath), a startup called Connectify (David), the website URL “Connectify.com,” and a years-long struggle quickly devolving into a legal battle.

If you type Connectify.com into your browser today, it will take you to Connectify’s website. But for most of the startup’s life, which launched in 2009, it didn’t. It took you nowhere.

The name had been owned by another company since the early 2000s and wasn’t being used at all, the startup’s president, Bhana Grover, told Business Insider.

While trying to find the owner of the name, Connectify launched its company using a less than ideal website name, “Connectify.me.”

Alex Gizis CEO of ConnectifyDespite the odd website name, Connectify prospered. It makes a networking product called Connectify Hotspot that lets you turn any Windows computer into a Wi-Fi hotspot to share your internet connection.

It’s been downloaded 65 million times and used for over 500 million hotspots, Grover says.

It just launched a second product, Speedify, that lets you combine multiple internet connections together – 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, satellite – for super speed.

Still, it’s sort of embarrassing for an internet company not to have its website name. When Connectify execs tracked down the owners of the website, they negotiated a price.

"But when we transferred the money to escrow, they backed out. So we eventually decided to file complaint with ICANN," Grover tells us.

ICANN is the organization that controls website names. If you have a legitimate right to use a website name, like a registered trademark, you might have legal rights to the name, even if someone else owns it. Cybersquatting, or owning a website that uses someone else’s trademark and trying to extort money for the name, is illegal.

After the complaint was filed with ICANN, the website owner came back to Connectify, asking for more money.

"Then, out of left field, our lawyers received a letter from Cisco’s lawyers saying that they would transfer the domain to us," Grover says.

It turns out, the people who owned the website name sold their company to Cisco eons ago. Somehow, this dispute came to Cisco’s attention and Cisco made it clear that it was the legal owner of the website name.

It immediately handed the name over to Connectify, free of charge.

This is doubly cool because Connectify is a relatively tiny player in the world of networking where Cisco dominates.

Connectify’s CEO Alex Gizis was so thrilled that he wrote a public thank you post to Cisco and called Cisco the “hero” of the story. He then offered a free year of its hotspot service to all of Cisco’s 75,000 employees.

That’s nice, and ironic. Cisco is the world’s largest maker of hotspot Wi-Fi equipment and the equipment that runs the internet.

SEE ALSO: The 25 Most Enjoyable Companies To Work For

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NYPD facesFacial-recognition systems are getting better.

WITH some pride, the FBI trumpeted the news last month that thanks to the agency’s facial-recognition system Neil Stammer, wanted for sexual assault and kidnapping, had been apprehended in Nepal after being on the run for 14 years. The truth was slightly more prosaic. A State Department official had used the FBI’s “Wanted” posters in a test for passport fraud.

The system then matched Mr Stammer’s face with an American calling himself Kevin Hodges who regularly visited the US embassy in Kathmandu to renew his visa. Still, Mr Stammer’s arrest illuminates the growing importance of facial-recognition technology.

The two main techniques used to recognise faces electronically are principal-component analysis (PCA) and linear-discriminant analysis (LDA). Both compare a picture of someone’s phizog with a reference image taken in a controlled environment. Passport photos and mugshots, then, are about as ideal as it gets.

Basic PCA and LDA are good for skin colour, hair colour and the like. Advanced systems, such as that used with British biometric passports, may look at cheek bones, the bridge of the nose, jaw lines and eyes.

All of which is fine when someone is sitting or standing in front of a camera, but is less useful in the world beyond the studio. That requires a technique called Elastic Bunch Graph Matching (EBGM), which tries to create a three-dimensional (3D) model from two-dimensional images. This model can, thereafter, be used to match any subsequent image, or part thereof.

EBGM considers the head as a union of two ellipsoids: one whose main axis is vertical, and runs from forehead to chin; the other whose main axis is horizontal, and runs from tip of the nose to the back of the cranium. This basic scheme is overlaid with “fiducial” points which act as anchors for the modelling. These can be as few as half a dozen (the pupils of the eyes, the corners of the mouth, and so on), or as many, in one system, as 40,000.

EBGM allows the construction of a three-dimensional representation of a face from poorly lit images taken at odd angles, such as a closed-circuit television camera might provide. Once it recognises enough fiducial points it can work out what aspect of a face it is viewing.

It then extrapolates the expected positions of other fiducial points. As more data come in from the camera, the model’s shape is updated. Given enough horsepower, says a British official, such a system can build a model from as few as 80 pixels located between a subject’s eyes—and only two images are needed for a 3D reconstruction.

Governments are not the only ones interested. Earlier this year, Facebook’s DeepFace system was asked whether thousands of pairs of photos were of the same person. It answered correctly 97.25% of the time, a shade behind humans at 97.53%.

Although DeepFace is only a research project, and is aided by the fact that many Facebook photos are tagged with the names of people in the images, which lets the system learn those faces in different poses and lighting conditions, it is still an impressive feat.

As DeepFace shows, access to an accurate gallery of images is crucial. Passport photos, or those on national identity cards, can act as such galleries, as they can be rendered by EBGM into usable 3D models. Add in the increasing ubiquity of closed-circuit television, and the idea that anyone will be able hide for long in Nepal, or anywhere else, looks quaint.

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Dick CostoloJob-hunting site Glassdoor just released its list of the 25 companies with the best corporate cultures.

Given how tech companies shower their employee with perks ranging from free gourmet food to free laundry to free massages, it’s not surprising that tech companies dominate the list.

But one tech company did surprisingly well (even better than the king of corporate culture, Google): Twitter.

Our coverage of the list prompted Ben Slater, head of marketing for recruitment tech company Seed Jobs, to tweet us about Twitter saying, “Have you seen their 2012 recruitment video? Really great.”

He’s right. The video was so funny that it went viral. It’s been viewed more than 1 million times.

Our favorite bit, captured below: “Front-end engineers and back-end engineers.” But there’s all sorts of other inside jokes throughout.

Twitter recruit video joke gif

The story goes that it was a hack-day project. The challenge was to come up with the best/worst recruitment video of all time.

SEE ALSO: These 11 companies are the most fun to work for, employees say

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Consumers aren’t using cloud storage services in very large numbers, even as nearly every Internet user is on the cloud in some way.

Almost 90% of U.S. broadband users polled have at least heard of “cloud storage,” according to a study from nScreenMedia.

CloudAwareness

But only 29% said they currently use it, and about half of the respondents had either never heard of cloud storage services, didn’t use them, or reported not knowing anything about them.

This is a huge opportunity for cloud service companies to build out their audiences.

In particular, usage of cloud storage services, such as iCloud, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive, will soar over the next few years as more consumers come to understand the value of storing their data, files, and media online.  

For now,  a new report from BI Intelligence finds that no one of these services is winning out (see chart at the bottom of this post), and this may be because each offers different features. For example, Box is geared toward the enterprise market, while Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive work with other Google or Microsoft services.

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

These services appeal particularly to users already on the respective platforms who would like to have all of their data and files synced seamlessly. For the companies, the cloud is a means of keeping users within their ecosystem of products.

Here are the key points from the report about how consumers are using the cloud: 

In full, the report:

BI Intelligence is a subscription tech research service. For full access to all BI Intelligence’s analysis, reporting, and downloadable charts, sign up for a free trial.

CloudServicesUsers

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yelp elite eventFrom an outsider’s perspective, becoming a Yelp Elite is akin to joining a secret society. 

Elite members bear special badges on their Yelp profiles, and they’re invited to private events where up-and-coming restaurants and bars provide food and drinks for free.

The idea is that Yelp Elites will get these new local businesses on their radar, then create high-quality, reliable reviews and direct traffic to the site.

Anyone can nominate themselves or their friends on Yelp’s site. Nominations are sent to the San Francisco-based Elite Council, a mysterious group that’s responsible for making sure the applicant is a real person writing real, reasonable reviews of businesses. 

But according to Yelp, there isn’t really a specific benchmark a reviewer has to meet to be considered an Elite, and each member has to be reapproved by the Council each year.

There’s no magic number that unlocks it,” Ruggy Joesten, community director for Manhattan Yelpers, told Business Insider. “Elite status is only reserved for the best of the best, the people who are making quality content.”

We recently attended a Yelp Elite event at Analogue, a cocktail and jazz bar in New York City’s West Village. When we arrived, guests were enjoying small bites and spritzer cocktails made with Casoni 1814 and Prosecco. We were told everything was on the house.yelp elite event

"The application process itself is easy, but you have to be vetted. You have to be very proactive in Yelp, and really candid," Yelp Elite member Gigi Angelis told Business Insider during the event.

As of this week, Angelis has written 129 reviews, given 306 tips, uploaded 136 photos, and checked in close to 1,500 times.

"I’m a serious Yelper, but it’s my sole form of social media," she said. 

yelp elite event

Since there’s no specific guideline as far as the number of reviews you must have written, most Elites agree that when it comes to being chosen for this exclusive group of reviewers, quality always trumps quantity. Some said they had only written dozens of reviews when they applied and were accepted, while other people they knew had written hundreds and were denied.

"It’s the quality of reviews that makes it," Elite member Amanda Stoneall told us.

She has written about 120 reviews, and her goal is to do a few a month.

"We take it really seriously," she said. "They should be middle-of-the-bar, fair reviews."

The event at Analogue filled up fairly quickly. The bar’s owner is said to have some 10,000 vinyl records in his collection, and the bar is decorated to fit a vintage music aesthetic.  

The theme of the party, then, was a “record swap,” and some Yelpers brought in vinyls to trade. People seemed to have their hands on a little bit of everything, from Kenny Loggins and Ted Nugent to Sisqo and the Beach Boys.yelp elite eventA jazz band played by the front entrance.

yelp elite eventThis Elite event seemed pretty low-key, but it was hard to say if it was typical or not.

"Every event is a mixed bag. It’s all about exposing businesses that aren’t on the radar yet," Stoneall said. 

That could mean everything from flea-market parties with free Franzia wine to extravagant bashes in Brooklyn warehouses with liquor sponsors. The Holiday Hangover, for example, is an annual event that brings 500 Yelpers aboard a Hornblower yacht.

"Some are really small and intimate, where it’s nice to see people you hadn’t seen in awhile," Yelp Elite member Mitch Einhorn said. "Some are amazing events where you’re thinking, ‘I have to go back.’"

Regardless of the venue and theme, what really matters to Yelp Elites is the sense of community they get from events. It’s a tight-knit community of people who are passionate about going out, exploring, and sharing their opinions about local businesses. 

After awhile, they get to know each other pretty well, too. Einhorn said that he recently attended a wedding of two Elite members who had met through the business-review site. The community director for Brooklyn presided over the ceremony.

yelp elite event

Still, the Yelp Elite program has admittedly gotten some bad press in recent years. 

Some have criticized the program for unfairly bestowing a kind of celebrity status upon certain Yelpers, rewarding prolific reviewers with free food and perks and threatening to take their status away if they can’t keep up the pace. 

In 2012, the owners of New York City’s Big Gay Ice Cream Shop claimed they were contacted by a group of Elites who asked that the shop be opened early just for them.

And several lawsuits have been filed by Elite members who claim that Yelp should be paying them for writing reviews for the site. Yelp says the suits are frivolous.

Though it’s ultimately up to the San Francisco-based Elite Council to decide who gets to be designated as Elite, the community director for each particular region is responsible for welcoming new members, reaching out to local businesses, and planning events like this one. There are dozens of communities across the U.S. and the world, including four in the New York metropolitan area alone.

Joesten, who’s in charge of Manhattan, says that he intentionally plans events at times that wouldn’t interfere with a business’s usual customers — weeknights, for example, or before brunch on Sundays. 

"I’m always out educating local businesses on how to make Yelp work for them," Joesten said. "News in the business-owner community spreads fast, and having an event like this makes sense for them. We’re taking advantage of a night that would be slow for them anyway." 

Joesten compares Elites’ review contributions to the most popular creators on huge social media platforms like YouTube. 

"It’s a small group of people making a large impact that a lot of people can enjoy," he said. "Lots of people like to explore the city. It’s just a small minority of people who broadcast it. And it’s making people’s lives easier around town.”

SEE ALSO: Inside The Wacky World Of Epic Rap Battles Of History, YouTube’s Biggest Comedy Duo

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The latest data from comScore, which was charted for us by Statista, shows how the tried-and-true mainstream apps from America’s biggest tech companies are still dominating mobile app stores. 

Facebook, in particular, leads the pack with the most unique visitors — the social network enjoyed roughly 115.4 million unique visitors in the month of June. Several Google apps follow Facebook at the No. 1 spot, including YouTube, Google Play, Google Search, Google Maps, and Gmail. Pandora, Facebook-owned Instagram, Apple Maps and Yahoo Stocks round out the top 10 apps in the U.S. Interestingly enough, people use these apps so often that nearly 2 out of every 3 smartphone users fail to download a new app each month.

2014_08_21_Apps

SEE ALSO: CHART OF THE DAY: Google Receives Millions Of URL Takedown Requests Each Day

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google car driverless self-driving

Google has logged hundreds of thousands of miles with its self-driving cars. When the vehicles have been in “autonomous mode” (translation: driver not in control), they’ve never had an accident. But up to this point, Google has been adding its self-driving technology to existing production vehicles for testing purposes.

Google would like to change that. And it’s an unexpected change.

The company plans to build “about 100” of the small, low-speed microcars — some have called them “pod cars” or “podmobiles” — that it showed to the public back in May, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Alistair Barr. The pods lacked steering wheels and pedals, the better to demonstrate their complete lack of a need for a traditional driver.

In Google’s vision of the future, we’re all passengers.

google self-driving car

But the podmobiles also looked like something that should be navigating sidewalks, not freeways, and so no one immediately concluded that Google was about to make the leap from outfitting production cars from Toyota and Audi with self-driving technology to actually assembly the self-driving Car of Tomorrow.

self driving car

However, Google now wants to take the podmobiles out on the open road. But California — where Google is headquartered and has done most of its self-driving car testing — says that the company can’t until it equips the vehicles with controls that a human driver can take over if something goes wrong.

And so, as Barr notes, Google will “comply with the California rule by building a small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system.”

google self-driving car

Here’s what that means: Google just became a carmaker. Because if it only has wheels and seats and windows, it’s not a car — it’s a conveyance. If it has a steering wheel and pedals, it’s a car. 

A GOOGLE car.

Move over Tesla. There’s a new car company in Silicon Valley.

google self-driving car

tesla factory production 

SEE ALSO: Here’s What It’s Like Test Driving A Google Car

SEE ALSO: China’s Baidu Is Working On A Self-Driving Car Concept That Sounds Less Terrifying Than Google’s

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The robots now writing the Associated Press’ company quarterly earnings stories are now grading your fantasy football draft, and they’re being kind of harsh about it.   

This is actually the third year that North Carolina-based Automated Insights have been evaluating draft outcomes for users of Yahoo Fantasy Football. But this year’s analysis, which is carried out by AI’s Wordsmith program, incorporates more data and more complex language, making it particularly brutal. 

We configure the lexicon for each project – in this case, we taught Wordsmith many, many snarky phrases,” AI’s James Kotecki told us an in email. “Wordsmith determines the best phrase combinations for a specific report, from AP style to Fantasy Football trash talk.”

Here’s the report Wordsmith gave Lema D, who received a “C” grade after she drafted too many New York Giants too high in the draft (Big Blue is 13th in Vegas’ odds of winning the Super Bowl). She also drafted a kicker, a non-essential position, in the 9th round out of 15.

"Sometimes in life we make mistakes," the robot said. "Lema’s Team will hopefully use this giant mistake of a draft as a learning opportunity, so in future drafts they will perform much better."

Kurt C.’s team, “KC Masterpiece,” fared even worse, earning a “D” because he chose too many running backs — and they weren’t even good ones.

Congratulations, KC Masterpiece has earned a participation award,” the robot mocked, “because that’s just about all they did in this draft, participate. This delightful roster (for the opposition) is projected to finish 12th in Athlon Media NY League with a record of 2-12-0 (1,187 points). They went with the SMU “Pony Express” draft strategy, loading up on three tailbacks in the first five rounds, selecting Le’Veon Bell (second round), Reggie Bush (fourth round), and Trent Richardson (fifth round). In spite of that positional emphasis, they landed one of the lowest-scoring groups of RBs in the league. Brutal draft.”

Ouch. If you want to more examples click here »

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JamesProud

Most 23-year-olds are just getting on their feet and struggling to make ends meet after graduating from college. James Proud, however, has already raised millions to fund his startup that creates a device to help people sleep better.

James Proud is the CEO of Hello Inc., which produces a device called the Sense sleep tracker. The Sense is a tiny orb designed to sit on your nightstand and monitor the conditions in your room as you sleep.

The idea is to educate you about your sleeping habits and what’s waking you up in the middle of the night.  

Hello Inc.’s Kickstarter campaign for the Sense just ended on Friday, and the company blew past its $100,000 goal to raise $2.4 million. But that number represents a small fraction of the total funding Hello Inc. has raised so far. Proud and his company have raised $10.5 million from a circle of well-connected angel investors, according to The Wall Street Journal, bringing their total funding to nearly $13 million.

Some of Proud’s investors include tech industry big shots such as David Marcus, the former head of PayPal, Dan Rose, a Facebook executive, and Hugo Barra, a Xiamoi executive who formerly worked as Google’s head of product for Android, as the Journal reports.

Proud said his inspiration for the Sense stemmed from a basic concept: everyone needs to sleep, and most people want to learn how to sleep better.

"Most people don’t walk a lot every single day," Proud told Business Insider in a previous interview. “But everyone has to sleep every single day. … Your day is purely influenced by how you slept the previous night.”

Proud’s desire to create things began to show at a very young age. When he was 9 years old, Proud taught himself HTML after seeing a book called “Your Own Website” in a store, according to Forbes. By age 12, he was already building professional websites.

Proud says he always had a desire to attend college, but by the time he had graduated from high school, he had a change of heart, as Forbes reports. Instead, the South London native opted to join Peter Thiel’s fellowship in 2011 — a program in which the billionaire investor pays young entrepreneurs to skip out on a traditional college education to pursue their business ideas. 

Proud’s first startup, GigLocator, was the product of his time in Thiel’s fellowship. GigLocator, a live music aggregation service, was bought by the owner of the Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Bowl venue almost immediately after Proud’completed Thiel’s program in 2012.

After GigLocator was bought, Proud began working on Hello Inc. The Sense sleep tracker is Hello Inc.’s first product, and it will retail for $129 when it eventually launches. 

The secret to making a successful tech product, Proud says, is to create something that works so well it fits naturally into your everyday life.

"Technology is most valuable when you don’t have to think about it," Proud said to Business Insider previously. "That’s when it becomes magical."

SEE ALSO: A Startup Just Raised $3 Million After Inventing A Smart Cup That Tells You What’s Inside It

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samsung gumi factory worker with galaxy s5

Despite Apple’s attempts to remove Samsung from its iPhone manufacturing processes, your next iPhone may still include an important piece of hardware from the Korean electronics company, according to a DigiTimes report.

We’ve previously reported that Apple has been a huge customer for Samsung’s computer chip business in years past. But Apple has been trying to rid Samsung from its supplier lists because the companies compete in consumer electronics and are generally perceived as competitors.

DigiTimes notes that Apple began cutting ties with Samsung last year, but has been forced to work with Samsung because its other suppliers couldn’t meet the massive demand for the iPhone 6. The Taiwanese news company says Samsung will produce random-access memory (RAM) components for the next iPhone.

So when you pick up your next iPhone next month, you may have to thank Samsung for its speed and processing power.

SEE ALSO: A Young Steve Jobs Smelled So Bad He Had To Be Put On The Night Shift At Atari

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Computer hacker

Late last year, Target was hit by a major credit-card attack that left millions of accounts vulnerable — and it turns out more than 1,000 other businesses have been affected too, The New York Times reports

In July, Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center warned companies to check their cash register systems for a malware dubbed “Backoff.”

Some big-name businesses, like Supervalu and UPS, have already stepped forward to say they found the malware, but the Secret Service now estimates that more than 1,000 other businesses have been affected, too.

Criminals can use the Backoff malware to steal unencrypted data from cash register systems they gain access to. The credit card information of millions of Americans is reportedly being sold on the black market, because hundreds of companies don’t realize their systems have been affected by the malware. 

On July 31, Homeland Security issued a report telling companies to contact their service providers, antivirus vendors, and cash register system vendors to figure out whether they are vulnerable. The agency re-upped the report on Friday.

"US-CERT is aware of Backoff malware compromising a significant number of major enterprise networks as well as small and medium businesses," the warning reads.  

SEE ALSO: Secret CEO: Well…You’re Not ALWAYS Completely Anonymous Or Untraceable On Our App

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larry ellisonOregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has filed a lawsuit against Oracle for failing to build a functional Affordable Care Act website.

In the 126-page complaint, Rosenblum wrote that “today’s lawsuit clearly explains how egregiously Oracle has disserved Oregonians and our state agencies,” according to FM News 101 KXL’s website.

The lawsuit is seeking more than $200 million in damages related to “false statement and false claims,” according to AP.

Oracle was responsible for building the website for Oregon’s Obamacare website, called Cover Oregon. But it failed to meet the Oct. 1 deadline last year, and Oregonians are applying for healthcare through paper forms. 

Oracle has blamed the state of Oregon for the dysfunctional website, and has charged the state more than $90 million over the last two years, although Cover Oregon is refusing to pay the invoices.

According to previous reports, the state of Oregon has paid $134 million to Oracle so far, in addition to $7 million for setting up the paper-based process. The site has cost more than $200 million so far for Oracle.

We’ve reached out to Oracle and will update this article accordingly.

Here are some tweets about the lawsuit via Chelsea Kopta at local Portland TV network, KATU:

SEE ALSO: Oracle Wants Everyone To Stop Blaming It For Oregon’s ‘Disaster Zone’ Obamacare Website

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samsung-galaxy-s5-als-ice-bucket-challengeSamsung’s mobile arm in the UK tweeted out a cute video on Friday morning (via Apple Insider), which embraces the trendy ALS Ice Bucket Challenge while also showing off one of the most notable features on its flagship phone, the Galaxy S5: Water resistance.

“I am the Samsung Galaxy S5. This is my Ice Bucket Challenge,” the phone says in its British Galaxy S-Voice. “Gosh that’s freezing. I nominate the iPhone 5S the HTC One M8 and the Nokia Lumia 930.” The joke, of course, is that none of those Samsung rivals have water resistant phones.

Samsung has also opted to donate money to the British Motor Neurone Disease Association, though the company declined to say how much it was offering.

According to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, if you are challenged by another and you don’t complete your own challenge in the allotted 24-hour time frame, you must pay at least $100 to the ALS AssociationIt’s unlikely Apple or Microsoft’s ad agencies will be able to respond to Samsung’s 15-second challenge within 24 hours, but several executives from both of those companies have already taken part in the ice-dumping phenomenon. Apple’s marketing SVP Phil Schiller and CEO Tim Cook have both dumped buckets of ice water on their heads, and so has Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Check out the Samsung Galaxy S5’s Ice Bucket Challenge below. 

SEE ALSO: CHART: How Apple’s Smartphone Strategy Is Different Than Everyone Else’s

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