Who was first to launch 5G? Depends who you ask

NEW YORK/SEOUL (Reuters) – When it comes to who triumphed in the multi-billion dollar global race to launch the world’s first 5G next generation wireless network, the winner is clear … depending on who you ask.

FILE PHOTO: People take photographs during a launching ceremony for SK Telecom’s 5G service, in Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

Early Wednesday in South Korea, Reuters published a story quoting South Korean officials declaring victory over the United States and China as the site of the world’s first commercial launch of a fifth generation telecoms network.

They made their assertion on the basis that the new network connected to an actual 5G phone. U.S. carriers disputed South Korea’s claims to be first.

After the piece was published, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc intensified their angry rejections of South Korea’s boast in post-publication communications sent to Reuters on Wednesday.

AT&T said it was the victor because it announced on Dec. 18 that it planned to launch its 5G network in 12 U.S. cities that month. However, its network is available only to consumers using a mobile hotspot device, not on 5G phones.

Verizon, for its part, countered that it had come first. Hours after the Reuters report, it said it had already launched its 5G network and that it would be available on a new Motorola phone – though only in Chicago and Minneapolis.

“We stand by our story,” a Reuters spokeswoman said.

The intensity with which company representatives disputed each other’s claims underscores the high stakes in the battle for supremacy over an industry that is expected to spend $275 billion over seven years in the United States alone, according to Accenture estimates.

The winner is seen playing a central role in helping to generate some $12.3 trillion in annual revenue across a broad range of industries by 2035, according to IHS Markit.

The technology, which can provide data speeds at least 20 times faster than 4G, will also underpin the great advances of the next era, from self-driving cars and augmented reality to smart cities and artificial intelligence.

“Being first is important in our industry and we want that recognition,” an AT&T spokesman said.

Some experts point out that the jockeying will mean little to consumers. “The reason you’re getting that reaction is this is a battle of marketing vaporware rather than real network evolution,” said Craig Moffett, telecoms and communications analyst at MoffettNathanson.

“They’re tripping over themselves to claim they have a 5G network,” he said. “But we’re years away from it having any impact on user experiences.”

Bragging rights aside, being first is a matter of national pride. So excited was U.S. President Donald Trump about dominating the telecoms future, he invented a technology that does not yet exist – 6G – in a Feb. 21 tweet.

“I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind,” he tweeted. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


On Wednesday April 3, South Korea’s carriers announced plans to launch their 5G networks by Friday.

But by 5pm local time, word was spreading that Verizon was planning a surprise debut of its own 5G network around April 4, a full week ahead of its original intended schedule, an official at South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT told Reuters.

To snatch victory from the jaws of Verizon, the South Korean carriers raced against the clock and agreed to collectively light up the country’s 5G networks just six hours after finding out about Verizon’s plans, said the official, who declined to be named.

South Korean carriers including SK Telecom and KT Corp flipped the switch at 11pm local time (1400 GMT/1000 EST), nearly an hour ahead of when Verizon confirmed it had launched in the two markets in the United States at 10:55am EST (1455 GMT).

“It is a pretty big deal for every mobile carrier who can be called the world’s first,” the Ministry of Science official said.

On why Verizon accelerated its launch plan by a week, a Verizon spokesman said its network was ready. “Our customers were enthusiastic and ready to use 5G,” the spokesman added.

Reporting by Kenneth Li in New York and Ju-Min Park in Seoul; additional reporting by Angela Moon in New York; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Lyft's shares rise after Citron advises against shorting stock

(Reuters) – Shares of ride-hailing company Lyft Inc rose as much as 4 percent on Friday, setting the stock for its best day since its market debut last week, after short-seller Citron Research advised investors to hold on to the stock.

FILE PHOTO: Lyft supporters gather for the Lyft IPO as the company lists its shares on the Nasdaq in the first-ever ride-hailing initial public offering, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The number of active Lyft riders has surged fivefold to 18.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, from the first quarter of 2016, and those numbers are set to rise further, Citron said, listing several other reasons to not be short on Lyft.

As of Thursday, Lyft’s short interest was $937 million, with 13.38 million shares shorted, which makes up about 41.2 percent of its float, according to data from S3 Partners, a financial technology and analytics firm.

Citron, which has held a stake in Lyft for the last two years, said it has increased its position in the company in the open market.

Describing ride-sharing as a “megatrend”, and not just a fad, Citron said Lyft has good prospects, especially since millennials are foregoing car ownership for ride-sharing.

“This is not a trendy video game or a GoPro camera… this is a way of life that is saving people time and ensuring safety,” the note said.

“The entire rideshare market in the U.S. only accounts for 1 percent of miles traveled today…. we have only just begun,” Citron said.

But brokerage Seaport Global, which started coverage on Lyft with a “sell” rating on Tuesday, said it was skeptical that consumers will give up car ownership in favor of relying on ride-hailing services.

Daiwa Capital Markets also initiated coverage on the company on Thursday, with an ‘outperform’ rating and a price target of $80.

The rating reflects strong revenue growth potential ahead for the company, the brokerage said, but added it expects losses to increase through 2020, and then reach break even by the end of 2022.

Lyft’s shares fell below their IPO price of $72 on their second day of trading, erasing all debut gains, after market research companies cited lack of a clear path to profitability.

The company did not mention when it would turn profitable. It reported a loss of $911 million in 2018, wider than its $688 million loss in 2017, despite revenue doubling in 2018 to $2.16 billion.

Daiwa added autonomous robotaxis, currently under development at tech and auto companies, are among the biggest threats to the company.

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel

Verizon Just Launched Its 5G Wireless Service a Week Earlier Than Expected

Verizon has flipped the switch on wireless 5G in Chicago and Minnesota, launching the service a week earlier than it had previously announced it would.

The move, which caught many by surprise, will give the customers who have 5G equipped phones access to wireless service with speeds of up to 1 Gps, roughly 10 times the peak speed of 4G.

“Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive officer in a statement.

The number of people who can actually take advantage of that service will be limited at first. Only one phone on the market—the Motorola Z3—supports 5G. Later this year, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G model, which will be exclusive to Verizon customers for a short period, will join that club.

The 5G service launched today will be limited to certain areas of the cities, Verizon warned.

In Chicago, 5G coverage is concentrated in areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and The Chicago Theatre. Customers also have 5G Ultra Wideband service in the Verizon store on The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town and River North.

In Minneapolis, service is concentrated in the Downtown area, including Downtown West and Downtown East, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service is also available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center and First Avenue venues, The Commons, areas of Elliot Park and in the Verizon store in The Mall of America.

Verizon’s launch comes as the carrier feuds with AT&T, which has launched a service it calls “5G E” that is not actually connected to a 5G network. The company ultimately plans to roll out 5G mobile service to 30 U.S. cities. AT&T did launch a mobile 5G device to customers in December, though it came with some caveats, such as the required use of a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

Late last year, Verizon launched 5G home service in four cities, testing the technology in smaller environments.

Customers who want the 5G service will pay a $10 per month premium on their unlimited data plans, the company announced last month.

When to declare cloud application migration failure

One of the hip terms that you hear a great deal in Silicon Valley is “fail fast.” This means to find out what does not work so you can move on to what does. It’s solid advice, for the most part.

However, failing in some enterprises’ IT shops may get you put out of the organization, so many IT pros avoid failure at any cost—or at least never declare failure, even if it means spending millions of dollars in dealing with ineffective systems that are costly to run or even hurt the business.

For the cloud, you need to know when to declare a “fail,” when to hit the reset button and start from the beginning when doing migrations.

I bet if you look at your cloud migration projects now around the company, at lwast 20 percent are in big trouble. While the reasons for running into trouble that can lead to outright failure vary, these are the big three that I’m seeing:

  • Lift-and-shift is not working.
  • Data integration is an afterthought.
  • Compliance or security issues have not been addressed.

The biggest issue with migration of applications is the false belief that if it runs on premises on platform A (say, on Linux with four cores), provisioning virtual platform A on a public cloud using the same configuration means the application should work there as well. Umm, often no.

The result of such assumptions is that IT organizations run into issues around communications with systems that have not moved to the public cloud yet, or that their cloud bills are 300 percent higher than expected.

The reason: These lifted-and-shifted applications aren’t optimized for the cloud platform, either for functionality or costs. They don’t use native cloud features, so the value of moving to the cloud has gone out the window; indeed, it may cost you much more.

When that happens, there is nothing you can do other than declare failure and go back to the migration drawing board, this time refactoring to use cloud-native systems, as well as optimize it for the target cloud platform.

The other two issues—data integration, and compliance and security—are less frequent causes of outright failures, but they are still big issues.

Not considering the data integration needs before migration means that you’re not going to find the issue before you can do anything to fix it quickly. In many instances, the latency between on-premises systems and the cloud can’t be corrected. In such cases, you need to move back to the data center—after declaring failure.

Compliance and security issues often require systemic changes to the applications and databases in the cloud, and so need a lot of upfront planning. In a worst case, you end up with compliance or security failures so grave that you must start over.

It’s important to understand that failure is a part of cloud migration; after all, most organizations are still learning. So expect mistakes and build the fact of failure into the migration efforts. But do more than that: Also make sure you learn from the failures and thus continuously improve your practices, tools, and skills.

Flying on American, Southwest, United, JetBlue or Alaska Today? Check Your Flight. They All Had Problems This Morning

American, Southwest, United, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines, along with smaller regional carriers, were forced to ground flights across the United States this morning after a computer system error that affected many U.S. airlines.

The apparent problem, several airlines said, stemmed from a shared system that many airlines use — rather than any kind of simultaneous problem encountered by multiple airlines on their individually operated computer systems. 

Airline spokespeople at JetBlue and American Airlines both told me this morning that they put the blame on a system run by a company called Aerodata.  

A Federal Aviation Administration official also told The Washington Post that the Aeroplan system tracks “weight and balance of a plane,” and is also “used in flight planning.”

While it appears that most if not all of the flights are now cleared, and the problem resolved, airlines said they expected delays would likely reverberate across their schedules today.

So if you’re flying anywhere in the United States today on a U.S. carrier, it would be a good idea to check your flight’s status before heading to the airport.

Earlier, Southwest had said it grounded all fights across the United States for about 40 minutes Monday morning. 

“We’re working with customers on any impacts to their travel plans and we appreciate their understanding as we place nothing higher than the safe operation of every flight,” a spokesman said.

At Delta, it appeared the problem might have been confined largely to regional airlines operating as Delta Connection, although a spokesperson advised via USA Today, ” If you’re on a flight departing soon, please check the status of your flight via the Fly Delta Mobile App or Delta.com.”

Some reports said that JetBlue was most heavily affected, and as of about 8:30 this morning, the company told me in an email that it was still experiencing delays. At one point, it appeared the airline had grounded all flights due to the issue.

It appears the computer problem has been resolved as of about 9:30 a.m., but airlines expected some residual delays throughout the day as they work to get back on schedule. 

United Airlines said about 150 of its flights were affected Monday morning. 

“Some of our regional carriers experienced an issue with a flight planning program this morning that impacted operations, resulting in delays for select United Express flights. Our team worked quickly with our partners to resolve the issue,” a spokeswoman for United told me.

Alaska Airlines also reportedly had delays, but the company did not respond to my request for comment this morning.

Earlier reports — for example when the FAA reported via Twitter at about 7:42 a.m. simply that “several U.S. airlines” were “experiencing computer issues this morning” — led to some concerns that the problems might have been happening simultaneously on each airline’s separate systems.

While there’s no word on what caused the Aerodata issue, the good news here seems to be that there’s nothing like a concerted attack on multiple airlines’ systems–along with the fact that the airlines apparently responded quickly, and were able to resolve it all.

Three Research-Backed Strategies For Successful Work Management

According to a 2018 study conducted by Forrester Consulting, 35 percent of enterprise projects fail to meet their original business intent. Today’s business environment calls for a different approach to work management. 

1. Conduct a tool audit. 

Fixated on digital transformation and agile methodologies, organizations have morphed into SaaS-powered enterprises. The number of SaaS apps in organizations doubled from eight in 2015 to 16 in 2017, according to a 2017 report by BetterCloud. Workplaces are swarming with a potpourri of apps and communication tools. More often than not, these tools are haphazardly stitched together. 

The result is a Frankenstein’ed tool landscape that invites context shifting. Workers are constantly distracted by the string of pings emitted from their tool stack. A 2001 study by researchers at Loughborough University found that most workers react to incoming emails within a mere six seconds and proceed to squander an average of 64 seconds before resuming work. In a typical eight-hour workday, distractions by email alone amass to 90 minutes wasted. 

Forward-thinking businesses are embracing the value of conducting a tool audit, an end-to-end inventory of how workplace apps are being used (or not), which ones are duplicative, and which ones are improving (and impairing) productivity and collaboration. The more companies are able to consolidate and integrate tools, the lower the risk of context shifting. 

2. Adopt a centralized work management system. 

Not too long ago, project management was the exclusive domain of certified project management experts. In recent years, project management has been democratized. The need for greater project management proficiency across all teams has increased by 70 percent, according to the Forrester report. 

Alas, work management tools have become just another rung of the Frankenstein’ed tool stack. Companies are relying on a hodgepodge of different tools–including Evernote lists, paper to-do lists, Google docs, Trello, Slack, and more. The result is noise, a lack of transparency, and organizational silos. 41 percent of companies lack collaboration between IT, data and analytics, and business functions, according to a 2017 report by Forbes Insights and EY. The most common hurdle that knowledge workers face in using enterprise collaboration tools is ensuring that all employees are using the same tools and all stakeholders are included. 

Research has shown that collaboration improves when workers are co-located in the same physical environment. The same philosophy applies to collaborative technologies and work management solutions. When stakeholders rely on the same platform, collaboration and productivity increase. Without a central system of record, workers won’t have a unified view of organizational objectives and understand how their work funnels up into broader company goals. It’s no surprise that 78 percent of companies view collaboration across silos as critical and 69% view transparency across silos as critical to delivering on top business objectives, according to the Forrester research. 

3. Measure collaborative analytics. 

Despite the fact that enterprise-grade social tools have infiltrated the workplace, most companies aren’t paying attention to how collaborative work is getting done, and the cost of collaborative activities. Research by Babson College’s Robert Cross revealed that three to five percent of people in an organization account for 20 to 35 percent of the useful collaboration. Organizations need to recognize the importance of evaluating collaborative analytics. 

It’s especially important to assess the “dark side” of collaboration–the people who have a disproportionately negative impact on collaboration and fuel collaborative overload. Collaborative overload causes burnout, drives attrition, slows agility, and creates friction in networks. Cross’ research has also revealed that when a worker is heavily sought out, such that more than 25 percent of the people around them want greater access to them, burnout is especially common. One study found that the attrition rates around these individuals were more than 200 percent higher than leaders who were not overloaded.

Traditional organizational network analyses (ONA) informed by often-biased survey results do not shed light on the true extent of collaboration. Organizations need to measure collaborative activity by the digital exhaust of a company–the collection of email exchanges, chats, file transfers, and task assignments. When all this raw material is housed in a central work management system, the results can be transformative. Collaborative analytics can help prevent collaborative overload, reduce redundancy, and identify the individuals who are driving the most value-added collaboration. Research by Aberdeen Group found that collaborative intelligence can speed up decision-making by 46%

Today’s business dynamic is calling for a different approach to strategic execution. Organizations can’t afford to fly blind in their implementation of workplace tools. The philosophy that “more is better” is a recipe for disaster. The onus is on leaders to critically examine tool stacks and strategically select centralized tools that encourage transparency and a shared understanding of how individual tasks funnel up into larger organizational goals. 

Inside a Ferrari Hypercar, Lyft’s IPO, and More Car News

Let the unicorn feast begin! On Friday, ride-hail galumphed onto the markets with the opening day of trading for little bro Lyftt. (Big rival Uber is reportedly on its way to its own IPO.) Lyft had a strong first day of trading, reaching a share price high of $87.24 before sliding to $78.29 at market’s close. Now the big question, which will answer itself in the weeks and months to come: How do investors feel about the prospect of the mustachioed company actually making money? How about the gig economy at large?

Still, plenty of transportation interestings were happening off Wall Street this week. We took a look at the current state of automotive software safety standards, and talked to people wondering how self-driving cars might fit into the mix. We reminded ourselves that self-driving cars aren’t going to be driverless for a while, and about the role of remote drivers in the ecosystem. We drove a Jeep Gladiator, the company’s adorably tough mini-pickup.

It’s been a week: Let’s get you caught up.


Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

Dress Rehearsal of the Week

Porsche promises its first all-electric sports car, the Taycan, will hit the market at the end of the year. Which means it’s time for the fun stuff: test drives! This week, the German automaker said it will have tested the Taycan on 3.7 million miles of road before its official launch, in the snows of Sweden, the heat of the UAE (up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit!), and the chill of Finland. More details on the Taycan’s testing regime here.

Stat of the Week

$911.3 million

The amount of dough Lyft lost last year, according to a filing submitted to the SEC in early March. For more stats on the ride-hail company, and to help you understand its IPO this week, check out these five charts.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet
Uber acquires Middle Eastern rival Careem for $3.1 billion, though the deal needs regulatory approval and may not be finalized until the end of the year.

Recode points out: “To bet on Uber—as is increasingly clear with this Careem purchase—is to bet not on Uber but on a global ride-hailing spoke model in which San Francisco-based Uber Technologies, Inc is merely the hub.”

Lyft rings in its IPO with a “City Works” pledge, investing $50 million or 1 percent of profits (whatever’s bigger) in city infrastructure, clean energy tech, and transportation access for disadvantaged communities. Anthony Foxx, the former secretary of transportation and Lyft’s current chief policy officer, clarified to WIRED that this doesn’t necessarily mean Lyft will write $50 million in checks—”Some of it will be in-kind,” he said—but that it will continue its current work on those three target areas in close partnership with cities.

Meanwhile, Lyft and Uber drivers went on strike in California this week, demanding higher wages after Uber cut their per-mile pay.

I Rode an E-Scooter as Far From Civilization as Its Batteries Could Take Me

Oh Wow, oh no: A budget airline suddenly ceased operations.

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
Via 1998: “How the beer company that created the first Internet IPO is shaking up the stock market.”

4 Things That Pundits Who "Predict" the Future Always Seem to Get Wrong

Peter Thiel has pointed out that we wanted flying cars, but got 140 characters instead. He’s only partly right. For decades futuristic visions showed everyday families zipping around in flying cars and it’s true that even today we’re still stuck on the ground. However, that’s not because we’re unable to build one. In fact the first was invented in 1934.

The problem is not so much with engineering, but economics and safety. We could build a flying car if we wanted to, but to make one that can compete with a regular automobile is another matter entirely. Besides, in many ways, 140 characters are better than a flying car. Cars only let us travel around town, the Internet helps us span the globe.

That has created far more value than a flying car ever could. We often fail to predict the future accurately because we don’t account for our capacity to surprise ourselves, to see new possibilities and take new directions. We interact with each other, collaborate and change our priorities. The future that we predict is never as exciting as the one we eventually create.

1. The Future Will Not Look Like the Past

We tend to predict the future by extrapolating from the present. So if we invent a car and then an airplane, it only seems natural that we can combine the two. If family has a car, then having one that flies can seem like a logical next step. We don’t look at a car and dream up, say, a computer. So in 1934, we dreamed of flying cars, but not computers.

It’s not just optimists that fall prey to this fundamental error, but pessimists too. In Homo Deus, author and historian Yuval Noah Harari points to several studies that show that human jobs are being replaced by machines. He then paints a dystopian picture. “Humans might become militarily and economically useless”, he writes. Yeesh!

Yet the picture is not as dark as it may seem. Consider the retail apocalypse. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of retail store closings. Those jobs are gone and they’re not coming back. You can imagine thousands of retail employees sitting at home, wondering how to pay their bills, just as Harari predicts.

Yet economist Michael Mandel argues that the data tells a very different story. First, he shows that the jobs gained from e-commerce far outstrip those lost from traditional retail. Second, he points out that the total e-commerce sector, including lower-wage fulfillment centers, has an average wage of $21.13 per hour, which is 27 percent higher than the $16.65 that the average worker in traditional retail earns.

So not only are more people working, they are taking home more money too. Not only is the retail apocalypse not a tragedy, it’s somewhat of a blessing.

2. The Next Big Thing Always Starts Out Looking Like Nothing At All

Every technology eventually hits theoretical limits. Buy a computer today and you’ll find that the technical specifications are much like they were five years ago. When a new generation of iPhones comes out these days, reviewers tout the camera rather than the processor speed. The truth is that Moore’s law is effectively over.

That seems tragic, because our ability to exponentially increase the number of transistors that we can squeeze onto a silicon wafer has driven technological advancement over the past few decades. Every 18 months or so, a new generation of chips has come out and opened up new possibilities that entrepreneurs have turned into exciting new businesses.

What will we do now?

Yet there’s no real need to worry. There is no 11th commandment that says, “Thou shalt compute with ones and zeros” and the end of Moore’s law will give way to newer, more powerful technologies, like quantum and neuromorphic computing. These are still in their nascent stage and may not have an impact for at least five to ten years, but will likely power the future for decades to come.

3. It’s Ecosystems, Not Inventions, That Drive the Future

When the first automobiles came to market, they were called “horseless carriages” because that’s what everyone knew and was familiar with. So it seemed logical that people would use them much like they used horses, to take the occasional trip into town and to work in the fields. Yet it didn’t turn out that way, because driving a car is nothing like riding a horse.

So first people started taking “Sunday drives” to relax and see family and friends, something that would be too tiring to do regularly on a horse. Gas stations and paved roads changed how products were distributed and factories moved from cities in the north, close to customers, to small towns in the south, where land and labor were cheaper.

As our ability to travel increased, people started moving out of cities and into suburbs. When consumers could easily load a week’s worth of groceries into their cars, corner stores gave way to supermarkets and, eventually, shopping malls. The automobile changed a lot more than simply how we got from place to place. It changed our way of life in ways that were impossible to predict.

4. We Can Only Validate Patterns Going Forward

G. H. Hardy once wrote that, “a mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas.” Futurists often work the same way, identifying patterns in the past and present, then extrapolating them into the future. Yet there is a substantive difference between patterns that we consider to be preordained and those that are to be discovered.

Think about Steve Jobs and Appl for a minute and you will probably recognize the pattern and assume I misspelled the name of his iconic company by forgetting to include the “e” at the end. But I could have just have easily been about to describe an “Applet” he designed for the iPhone or some connection between Jobs and Appleton WI, a small town outside Green Bay.

The problem with patterns is that the future is something we create, not some preordained plan that we are beholden to. The things we create often become inflection points and change our course. That may frustrate the futurists, but it’s what makes life exciting for the rest of us.

The Art of the Bracket Smack Talk, Perfected With Purpose Inside Your Company

Host a company-wide bracket challenge – they’re already doing it anyway, even if you don’t know about it. Offer a grand prize that doesn’t cost cash, like an extra day off, or convert an office lunch you were already planning into a bracket-themed bonanza. Then have a bunch of smaller inexpensive gifts for top contenders. Encourage a number of smaller pools by team to increase everyone’s chances of winning something.

To do March Madness right, and to have more fun, you must introduce smack talk. It doesn’t have to be mean or dirty. Sports have provided a long line of terrific trash talkers, but rappers, celebrities, and soldiers have all contributed greatly to the Western cannon of smack.

2.     “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

3.     “I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” – Coco Chanel

4.     “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” – Dr. Seuss

7.     “May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.” – General George S. Patton

9.     “Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” – Theodore Roosevelt

10.  “I don’t talk trash often, but when I do, I go for the jugular.” – Kobe Bryant

11.  “I’m just looking around to see who’s gonna finish second.” – Larry Bird

14.  “I got my own back.” – Maya Angelou

15.  “Get your popcorn ready, ’cause I’m gonna put on a show.” – Terrell Owens

18.  “The best thing I like about human beings is that they stack so neatly.” – Frank Underwood

19.  “If he calls that number, I’ll be sure to pick up after the fifth ring.” – Kobe Bryant

20.  “All right. They’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us … They can’t get away this time.” – Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller

23.  “I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.” – Muhammad Ali

Daimler buys Torc Robotics stake for self-driving trucks

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Daimler Trucks has agreed to buy a majority stake in self-driving truck software maker Torc Robotics as part of a broader push to develop autonomous vehicles.

The Daimler logo is seen before the Daimler annual shareholder meeting in Berlin, Germany, April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Torc, based in Blacksburg, Virginia, will help Daimler accelerate software development by giving the German manufacturer access to 120 skilled staff, Daimler Trucks Chief Executive Martin Daum said.

“You cannot have enough expertise in this area. Our Achilles’ heel is the ability to quickly develop software,” Daum said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Torc Robotics has partnerships to develop self-driving technology with Caterpillar with mining and agricultural applications, and competed in the DARPA self-driving vehicles challenge 12 years ago.

Torc has developed technology that allows vehicles to operate at a high level of automation, known as level 4, helping Daimler to accelerate its own plans for commercializing self-driving vehicles.

“Torc’s Level 4 system has been shown to operate well for both urban and highway driving in rain, snow, fog, and sunshine,” said Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), which includes the market-leading Freightliner brand.

Daimler currently offers a level 2 automation system on its trucks, which can automatically brake, accelerate and steer using radar and camera systems that make partially automated driving possible.

“Bringing Torc Robotics within the Daimler Trucks family creates a unique and powerful team of innovators to put highly automated trucks on the road,” Daum said.

Torc will continue to be run on an arms-length basis from Daimler but the Torc team will work closely with Daimler Trucks’ developers, Daimler said.

Torc will continue to develop its Asimov self-driving software and testing at its Blacksburg facility. At the same time, Daimler Trucks will focus on further evolving automated driving technology and vehicle integration for heavy-duty trucks at its Automated Truck Research & Development Center in Portland.

Daimler Trucks will also use know-how about sensors and automation from the group’s Mercedes-Benz passenger car brand, the car and truck maker said.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Thomas Seythal and Mark Potter

Facebook charged with racial discrimination in targeted housing ads

The Facebook logo is reflected on a woman’s glasses in this photo illustration taken June 3, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Illustration

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Facebook Inc on Thursday with violating the Fair Housing Act, alleging that the company’s targeted advertising discriminated on the basis of race and color.

HUD said Facebook also restricted who could see housing- related ads based on national origin, religion, familial status, sex and disability.

Facebook said it was surprised by the decision and has been working with HUD to address its concerns and has taken significant steps to prevent ads discrimination across its platforms.

The social media giant said last week it would create a new advertising portal for ads linked to housing and employment that would limit targeting options for advertisers.

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and related services, which includes online advertisements, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

Data Sheet—Why Twitch Pivoted to Video Games, and Why It Worked

Upgraded. Remember that meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and the Pentagon? It seems it turned into more of an Oval Office affair, as President Trump tweeted about talking with the tech exec, too. Pichai “stated strongly that he is totally committed to the U.S. Military, not the Chinese Military,” Trump wrote. At the other end of the political spectrum, the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. LGBTQ group, withdrew its positive corporate rating of Google over an app in Google’s Play store promoting conversion therapy.

Third class. After three generation of failure, Apple is finally apologizing for its terrible butterfly keyboard design–sort of. Wall Street Journal columnist Joanna Stern mocked the design in a piece titled “Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm,” prompting the company to issue a statement saying the problem was limited to a small number of users “and for that we are sorry.” Hopefully, the laptop maker comes up with a new design soon instead of an apology. (I am not a fan, as you may have read.)

Caught in the act. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Thursday it is charging Facebook with violating housing discrimination laws over the company’s advertising targeting features. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. No immediate response from the company, which has already moved to end the practice.

Challenging times. Four former IBM employees filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the company on Wednesday. All four were age 55 or older when IBM let them go in 2016. The suit also attacked IBM’s requirement that departing employees waive their right to collective legal action in order to obtain severance. “We are confident that our arbitration clauses are legal and appropriate,” the company told the San Jose Mercury News.

Nailed. Federal regulators uncovered one of those bogus tech support scams that relied on phony alerts generated by supposed PC cybersecurity apps. The bad guy? Retail chain Office Depot, which agreed to pay $25 million to settle the charges.

Auto1 may consider IPO in future but no need for cash now: CEO

BERLIN (Reuters) – German used-car dealing platform Auto1 said it could seek a public offering in future but a 2018 cash infusion from Japan’s Softbank means it has no immediate need for extra funding of its European growth plans.

FILE PHOTO: A worker loads a second hand car on a car transporter truck at the Auto1.com company grounds in Zoerbig, Germany January 28, 2017.REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch /File Photo

Last year’s Softbank’s deal valued Berlin-based Auto1 at 2.9 billion euros ($3.27 billion), making it one of Germany’s top so-called tech unicorns.

It is virtually unknown to consumers except through its used car buying arm Wir Kaufen dein Auto (We Buy Your Car) in Germany and similar names elsewhere. It operates from Finland to Romania to Portugal, 30 countries in all.

Revenues rose by 32 percent to 2.9 billion euros last year, and although it is profitable in Germany, investments in other markets have led to a loss on group level.

“Currently, an initial public offering is not a topic for us,” Auto1 co-founder Christian Bertermann told Reuters, adding this could change in future.

Auto1 buys cars using its vehicle pricing database to calculate an offer within minutes and then sells the vehicles on to one of its roughly 35,000 dealerships for a commission.

Its platforms helped 540,000 vehicles change hands in 2018.

The company will now also start a retail platform to compete with Scout24’s Autoscout unit or Ebay’s Mobile.de offering, Bertermann said.

He confirmed a Reuters report about Auto1’s talks with Scout24 about an acquisition of Autoscout, adding that these would not lead to a takeover.

Scout24 in February agreed to be acquired by buyout groups Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone.

Auto1 was set up in Berlin by entrepreneur Christian Bertermann after having trouble selling two old cars owned by his grandmother, along with Koc, who previously worked at Rocket Internet-backed firms Zalando and Home24.

Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik,; Writing by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

Denver and West Virginia Deserve Praise for Voting on Blockchain

As the world waits to learn what is contained within the Mueller report, the culmination of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it seems appropriate to expand on last week’s column about the security of electronic voting systems.

I recently spoke to Nimit Sawhney, CEO and cofounder of Voatz, the blockchain-based, mobile voting software provider, whose technology West Virginia piloted during last year’s general midterm election. Sawhney came up with the idea for the project with his brother when the two competed in—and won—a hackathon at Austin’s SXSW festival in 2014. Since then, Sawhney has formally established a company, based in Boston, to develop the product.

Voatz’s technology is making inroads. Sawhney’s 14-person team recently won over Denver, Colo., as the second testing ground for its voting system. The city is trialling the app in its May 7th municipal election, early voting for which starts—today!

I asked Sawhney why he decided to incorporate a blockchain into his system. He says it’s so that IT administrators within and outside his company can’t manipulate or delete records at will. Voatz uses so-called permissioned ledgers, meaning only authorized parties can operate them. In this case, the voting database is distributed across 32 computing nodes running the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth software on machines hosted by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Voatz stewards the nodes alongside select nonprofits that act as independent monitors, a small cadre Voatz hopes to expand to include other major stakeholders—political parties, media entities, and others—over time.

While Sawhney says he’s excited about the potential of public blockchains, like Ethereum, to become part of the infrastructure of elections, his prospective customers are more wary. “Early feedback we received from election officials was that they were very uncomfortable with nodes running in potentially unfriendly part of world,” Sawhney tells me.

Sawhney believes blockchains can imbue the electoral process with greater transparency. The technology “gives citizens the ability to audit an election,” he says, noting that ballots submitted through Voatz return digital receipts that allow voters to verify their intentions. “You have a sense of trust that is backed by irrefutable mathematics rather than somebody telling you, These are the results and you must believe them,” Sawhney says.

Electronic voting systems are not bulletproof, however. Threats resulting from vulnerabilities, hackers, and physical coercion raise grave security concerns. Yet, conversely, these systems bear obvious benefits. They’re much more accessible than paper-based ballots, at least to smartphone owners. And they hold promise for enfranchising citizens who are disabled, traveling abroad, or serving in the military.

Despite the advantages, many security professionals find it impossible to overlook the risks. Sawhney understands critics’ objections. “No system is 100% safe,” he concedes. But, to this, he adds an addendum: “That’s true of paper-based systems as well.”

“We realize there are lots of opposing forces—people who hate and disapprove of what we’re doing,” Sawhney says. But, he continues, “we feel this is really important and needs to be done for progress to happen.”

All technologies are double-edged swords. The trick lies in blunting the blade when one falls into the hands of adversaries.

Besides, if Estonia can do it, maybe the U.S. can too.

A version of this article first appeared in Cyber Saturday, the weekend edition of Fortune’s tech newsletter Data Sheet. Sign up here.

Bank Of America: An Income Play With A Kicker

Bank of America’s (BAC) stock has performed well so far in 2019 (up 9%), but BAC shares have significantly underperformed the broader market over the last year.


Data by YCharts

Financials have been under pressure since mid-2018 due largely to industry-specific factors (low interest rate environment, flattening yield curve, and increasing regulatory concerns), but I view the pullback in BAC shares as a great long-term buying opportunity. BAC has a strong bull case, which includes promising capital return prospects, so I believe that there is a lot to like about BAC shares at today’s price.

A Legitimate Income Play

BAC pays a lower-than-average dividend, but it has significant dividend growth prospects. The bank’s yield is slightly above 2%, which is the lowest dividend yield in its peer group – Citigroup (C), Wells Fargo (WFC), and JPMorgan (JPM).


Data by YCharts

Looking back, BAC has materially increased its dividend since the token $0.01 that was paid quarterly for years after the Financial Crisis.

Source: Seeking Alpha

The $0.15 quarterly dividend ($0.60 on an annual basis) may not seem like much, but it is a far cry from the $0.05 that was paid only a few short years ago. The bank has a 5-year dividend growth rate of ~72% and, more importantly, management still has the necessary wiggle room for further increases in the years ahead.


Data by YCharts

BAC’s dividend would be approximately 26% higher (~$0.76 on an annual basis), if the bank had an average payout ratio.

The bank will first need to receive approval through the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, or CCAR, process to raise its dividend, but, in my opinion, investors should expect for the impressive dividend growth to continue over at least the next two-to-three years. Moreover, let’s not forget that management repurchased $20.1B worth of common stock in 2018 and the board recently increased the buyback program by another $2.5B (expires by June 30, 2019), which means that management is creating additional room for future dividend hikes. To this point, I believe that the chart below says a lot.

Source: Q4 and Full-year 2018 Earnings Presentation

Any way you slice it, BAC has a great capital return story to tell. And it helps the bull case that the bank has a strong earnings profile and a stock that is attractively valued.

The Kicker, An Attractively Valued Bank With Strong Earnings Prospects

On January 16, 2019, BAC reported Q4 2018 results that beat the top- and bottom-line estimates. The bank reported adjusted EPS of $0.70 (beat by $0.07) on revenue of $22.7B (beat by $390M), which also compares favorably to the year-ago quarter.

Source: Q4 and Full-year 2018 Earnings Presentation

I recently covered the bank’s Q4 2018 operating results here, so I will focus on what really matters, i.e., earnings growth. Over the last five years, BAC’s earnings per share increased from $0.43 to $2.64.

Source: 2018 10-K

Yes, share buybacks are coming into play but also notice the fact that the bank’s net income came in at $28.1B for 2018, which is materially higher than each of the prior four fiscal years. BAC definitely benefited from the tax reform bill in 2018, but this type of growth is impressive, especially in an environment that many pundits labelled as “challenging” for the banks.

From a valuation standpoint, BAC shares are trading at attractively levels when compared to the bank’s peer group.

Current Price T/BV BV
BAC $27.01 $17.91 25.13
Current Valuation 1.51 1.07
C $60.98 60.16 $70.62
Current Valuation 1.01 0.86
JPM $99.76 56.33 $70.35
Current Valuation 1.77 1.42
WFC $48.31 31.86 $38.06
Current Valuation 1.52 1.27
Average 1.45 1.16
Average ex C 1.60 1.25

Source: Data from the Q4 ’18 Presentations for Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan; table created by author.

BAC’s stock is not as cheap as it was a year ago, but I still believe that it has room to run. If BAC traded in line with its closest peers (i.e., Wells and JPMorgan), the stock would be trading in the lower $30 per share range (~11% higher).


Regulatory concerns always need to be factored in when evaluating large financial institutions, and this includes BAC. I believe that the regulatory environment is actually improving, but this could change in short order.

From a macro standpoint, a deteriorating economy would eventually negatively impact the banking sector. Currently, there are some headwinds, but in my opinion, a recession is not in the cards in the near future.

Bottom Line

No one should be surprised by the fact that Warren Buffett is a big fan of BAC given the bank’s strong earnings profile and promising dividend growth prospects. This bank is a legitimate income play that has reported impressive earnings growth over the last five years, and it helps the bull case that BAC shares are trading at an attractive valuation.

I believe that BAC’s stock will be a market beater over the next 18-24 months, so investors with a time horizon longer than the next few quarters should treat any significant pullbacks, especially if they are caused by broader market concerns, as long-term buying opportunities.

Author’s Note: Bank Of America is my largest holding in the R.I.P. Portfolio and I have no plans to reduce my position in the near future.

Disclaimer: This article is not a recommendation to buy or sell any stock mentioned. These are only my personal opinions. Every investor must do his/her own due diligence before making any investment decision.

Disclosure: I am/we are long BAC, C. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.