Facebook founder and proud dad Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he and wife Priscilla Chan will give up 99 percent of their shares in Facebook to fund a new initiative inspired by the birth of their daughter Max.
Zuckerberg and Chan celebrated the arrival of their daughter by announcing in a lengthy post on Facebook that they want to create a world that Max can thrive in by using their immense wealth in areas such as education, healthcare and connectivity.
“Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today,” they wrote.
The happy couple will now pour the money into the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to support this goal, with a focus on “personalised learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities”.
“We will give 99 percent of our Facebook shares - currently about $45bn - during our lives to advance this mission,” the couple added breezily.
The money will be given in stages and Zuckerberg will still retain a majority stake in the company for the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, the intention to give away such a huge amount of money in the name of charity by such a well-known tech figure is notable, and could well encourage others with frankly obscene net worth to do likewise.
Indeed, one of the first to back Zuckerberg and Chan's plans was Melissa Gates, part of the power couple that heads up the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation which is also dedicated to using the immense wealth Gates generated from Microsoft to improve the planet.
“As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: wow. The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world," she wrote by way of reply on the Facebook post.
“We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, 'Seeds planted now will grow.' Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come.”
Michael Bloomberg also praised Chan and Zuckerberg for the decision, claiming that they will never regret it. And he urged other super rich tech leaders to do likewise.
"The traditional approach to giving - leaving it to old age or death - is falling by the wayside, as it should. Mark’s decision shows that, when it comes to philanthropy, 30 is the new 70," he said.
"I share many of Mark’s philanthropic interests, especially around education and innovation, and his focus on long-term ideas and research will help create economic opportunities and promote social equality for generations to come. The only question now is: how many of his peers in Silicon Valley and beyond will join him?"
Whether other leaders, such as those at Google, Apple, Oracle and so forth, are compelled to do likewise remains to be seen, but it is heartening to see a couple with so much wealth and influence recognise at such a young age that their money can be better spent on improving the world, rather than on garish super yachts, private islands or fleets of never-driven sports cars.
Apple Music has 11 million users just over a month since it became available with the iOS 8.4 update that rolled out to devices at the end of June.
Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president for internet software and services, revealed the number to USA Today. "We're thrilled with the numbers so far," he added.
Cue also said that two million of the 11 million have opted for the $14.99 a month family plan that can be used by up to six people.
The figure of 11 million is just over half that of Spotify, which revealed in June that it has 20 million subscribers.
On the face of it Apple gaining an equivalent of half of Spotify’s user base in a month is impressive going. But, breaking it down, Apple’s sign-up rate actually seems less spectacular than it first appears.
Apple’s users are not paying a penny at the moment to use the service, so a huge explosion of people getting music for free is perhaps not surprising. It could well be the case that many thousands choose not to pay once the free service ends.
Furthermore, given that almost every iPhone and iPad owner in the world could start using Apple Music if on iOS 8.4, the figure of 11 million choosing to take a three-month free trial of a heavily advertised and promoted service from Apple seems surprisingly low.
For instance, Apple sold 61 million iPhones in Q2 2015 alone, so 11 million is only a dent in that number.
Also, Spotify may ‘only’ have 20 million users despite having been in the market for many years, but it has done a lot more work educating users and growing the brand to reach this figure.
In fact Spotify lists its 'active user' base as over 75 million, suggesting that it still has a huge potential base of over 55 million people it could convert to fee-paying users. This is five times that of Apple.
A final point is that many Spotify users feel loyal to the brand, or just don’t want to go through the hassle of having to recreate their lovingly cultivated playlists on Apple Music, and have not bothered to sign-up for Apple Music, even with the free-trial offer.
Apple too will no doubt see its numbers growing, especially with the arrival of iOS 9. Many people may not have bothered updating to iOS 8.4 and will be awaiting iOS 9 before bothering to upgrade. This will then bring them Apple Music and could see user numbers soar.
Even so, the figure of 11 million should give heart to Spotify and suggests that Apple may not have everything its own way in the music market in the years ahead.
For years data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was regarded as a toothless tiger.
It sounded big and scary and delivered stern warnings about the importance of data protection, but it could do very little about any data breaches, except perhaps wag its finger.
Then in 2010 everything changed. It was given fining powers to the tune of £500,000 and since then it has levied over £4m against organisations. But some may now consider it something of a heartless hound.
The latest to fall foul of the ICO’s desire for justice is the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). The charity provides help and guidance for women with an unplanned pregnancy, from abortions to counselling and more besides.
For some its work is contentious and in March 2012 an anti-abortion hacker used his computing skills to wreak havoc on its website, defacing it and stealing details about those who had contacted the charity for help.
The hacker – James Jeffrey – got almost three years in prison as a result of the incident.
As the hack affected personal details of members of the public, the ICO got involved and its investigation found several technical lapses at the BPAS that made the incident worse than it should have been.
The long and short of it is that the BPAS now faces a fine of £200,000 for an incident which, as its CEO Ann Furedi understandably points out, was caused by a hacker who is now almost seeing his actions rewarded.
“We accept that no hacker should have been able to steal our data, but we are horrified by the scale of the fine, which does not reflect the fact that BPAS was a victim of a serious crime by someone opposed to what we do,” she said.
“It is appalling that a hacker who acted on the basis of his opposition to abortion should see his actions rewarded in this way."
Furedi also said the fine was “out of proportion” when compared with others the ICO has handed out, especially when those organisations’ breaches were not caused by criminal behavior.
- Glasgow City Council fined £150,000 after losing 74 unencrypted laptops, including one containing more than 6,000 people's bank records.
- Aberdeen City Council fined £100,000 after a member of staff inadvertently posted data relating to the care of vulnerable children online.
- Islington Council fined £70,000 after details of over 2,000 residents were released online due to a basic misuse of Excel by a staff member.
Even if the BPAS pays its fine early – by the end of March – it still faces paying £160,000, more than any of those listed above.
None of this is to say the ICO has acted unreasonably though: it has to enforce the law and if it encounters incidences of poor data protection – as in this case – it must take a stand so others sit up and take notice. If other firms and charities up their game after seeing a fine being levied, the public are better protected.
Conversely, if it does not issue a fine, it will be seen as weak and unwilling to take a stand, while any organisation that is fined can make a claim to being harmed. A council delivers vital frontline services and a fine will hamper its efforts to do this, it could be argued.
Clearly, this is a controversial case, driven by the scale of the fine. The fact this money will end up in government coffers – having been given to charity – is also questionable, as noted by Stewart Room, partner at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse.
“The users of the BPAS charity services have high expectations of privacy and any security weakness that could expose them is bound to trouble the regulator,” he said.
“But the financial penalty regime here is moving money from the collection jar direct to The Treasury. Perhaps the cash could be better spent on improving security and data protection at the charity?"
The BPAS is now appealing the fine in what could prove a fascinating case to see if the ICO's desire to fine can be tamed.
By V3's Dan Worth
Bill Gates has reclaimed his title as the world's richest man, passing telecoms magnate Carlos Slim Helu for the top spot in Forbes' annual rich list with a current estimated net worth of $72bn.
To put that in perspective, Bill Gates now worth a little over ten Nokias, the company Microsoft is in the process of buying for $7.2bn. Gates – who is re-acquainting himself with Microsoft's product team as the firm's new technology adviser – hasn't held the top spot in four years
As a man who spends most of time these days on philanthropic schemes to spend his money on at every given opportunity, it's highly unlikely that he cares about a fairly superficial list of people in sharp suits.
There are plenty of familiar faces from the world of IT. Oracle's Larry Ellison ranks fifth, with a net worth of $48bn. You have to head down the list to 17th before you find another tech name; Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page. Page is apparently worth $32.3bn, or 10 Nests, the connected home company Google bought in January for $3.2bn.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos is close behind at 18th, with $32bn in his metaphorical coffers, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin weighs in at 19th place, with $31.8bn. That's 11 Motorolas, if you're counting. Lenovo probably is.
Where's Mark Zuckerberg? He's down in 21st place with $28.5bn, or around one-and-a-half Whatsapps.
Other than tech, retail dominates the list, as do financial investments. The outspoken Carl Icahn is worth $24.5bn, which isn't bad for a man who expresses his business grievances on Twitter.
By V3's Michael Passingham, who's also worth it
22 Aug 2013
HP's financial results posted today do not paint a particularly pretty picture for the IT firm; the company has many fingers in lots of pies, but most of those pies are causing minor burns.
Personal computing was down 11 percent year-on-year, while printing also fell by four percent. Its enterprise division didn't just lose 9 percent of its revenue, but also lost its chief, as David Donatelli was shifted into another role within the company. The only ray of sunshine for HP was its software division, but even that only managed a one percent increase in revenue.
So where does HP go from here? Right now, analysts are unsure, with the company not giving clear pointers as to where its focus lies. What's worse, the places in which HP is losing revenue are all totally different aspects to its business, so it can't blame one particular part of the market.
The personal computing business is of course suffering much of the decline coming from the consumer side of things, according to Ovum analyst Tom Reuner, with consumers still unwilling to upgrade their laptops as often as they used to. The firm had previously toyed with the idea of selling off its personal computing arm, but Reuner isn't so sure that would go down well with investors. "It's such a large chunk you need something to replace it because top line is still important for investors." Indeed, personal computing is HP's biggest money spinner after its enterprise business, worth $7.7bn in the last quarter.
HP was also rumoured to be looking at making a play for the smartphone market but, again, with the market so utterly saturated by a combination of Samsung, Android and Apple, it would be a hard slog that probably wouldn't amount to much. "It's such a commoditised space, when you look at PCs and smartphones as a lever for other products and services but from a smartphone point of view it's more difficult to see where the turnaround could come from," explained Reuner.
So with enterprise still the biggest earner for the company but also appearing to be in significant decline, it only makes sense to oust the current head and look elsewhere. David Donatelli's replacement is Bill Veghte, previously the firm's chief operating officer. Veghte has strong experience in the competitive and burgeoning cloud business, and HP hopes that he will be able to better unite cloud and enterprise services.
It hasn't been all bad for HP, which secured a $3.5bn US Navy contract last month but, again, these huge deals don't always result in big profits. "But it is a promising promising sign that HP is able to be selected for major projects again," said Reuner
Meg Whitman has now been CEO for two years, a long period of stability for the firm, but she will need to find focus soon if HP is to continue on the road to recovery.
Written by V3's Michael Passingham, who prefers ketchup
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a WiFi connection. So starts Pride and Prejudice (Are you sure? – Ed), the most famous work by Jane Austen, who will appear on the new £10 notes from 2017, replacing Charles Darwin.
This is to ensure that there will be a woman represented on UK banknotes, after the decision to replace Elizabeth Fry on £5 notes with Winston Churchill was agreed by the Bank of England.
But while Austen is a worthy choice, it does mean Alan Turing’s chance of financial fame has gone.
V3 has reported in the past how the famed codebreaker and genius of World War Two, who helped the Allies win the war, was a candidate for the new £10, with a petition issued by programmer Thomas Thurman racking up huge numbers of signatures – over 27,087 to be precise.
“Alan Turing is a national hero. His contribution to computer science, and hence to the life of the nation and the world, is incalculable. The ripple effect of his theories on modern life continues to grow, and may never stop,” Thurman wrote in the introduction to the petition.
Sadly, it appears these efforts were in vain, but it was still refreshing to see at the time that so many people wanted to celebrate Turing in this way.
“Most importantly, it got the country talking: people are debating the work of Turing and discussing his legacy, and as long as that continues, he cannot be forgotten,” Thurman told V3 in March.
However, some good news for the Turing brigade has come from the Bank of England's announcement: it will be reviewing the decision-making process for selecting future historical figures, as outlined by governor Mark Carney.
"We believe that our notes should celebrate the full diversity of great British historical figures and their contributions in a wide range of fields. The Bank is committed to that objective, and we want people to have confidence in our commitment to diversity," he said.
Still, if Turing has been denied his chance of wider fame and recognition, the government could at least do the decent thing and quash his historical conviction for homosexuality. Earlier this week Lords called on the government – once again – to overturn the ruling he received after the war he helped them win.
By V3's Dan Worth, who loves a fistful of £10 notes
24 Jul 2013
For more than a year and a half, we have been hearing about the declining PC market. It began with analysts warning of slow sales from component makers and forecasts that sales would fall short of expectations.
Before long, the PC vendors themselves were confirming the predictions, warning that their revenues would in fact be taking a hit as consumers migrated towards the sleeker, cheaper allure of the tablet. By the end of the year, the PC market saw its first overall decline in over a decade as sales fell from the previous year.
Apple, however, had largely defied that trend. The company was able to pick up market share with its line of Mac desktops and notebooks as the PC vendors saw losses mount.
Now, however, it appears that the trend has even caught up with Apple. Over the last quarter the company reported that the Mac line saw a decline from the previous year's quarter. While the decline was still slight, it was the first time Apple has had to acknowledge that it too is seeing its own desktop and notebook brand suffer from the tablet surge.
Of course, Apple is in a much better position than the likes of Dell, HP and many other Windows PC vendors. The company owns one of the chief culprits for the PC market's decline, the fantastically successful iPad. The tablet is not only helping to cut into PC sales, but it also brings in a tidy profit for Apple due to the firm's generous retail markup.
Furthermore, Apple's decline is hardly comparable to what many PC vendors have been hit with since early 2012. The company noted that while it lost some sales, the PC market has seen an even bigger drop over the same time period, suggesting that Apple actually managed to pick up market share due to attrition.
Still, the numbers remain significant in what they say about the market. Tablets are winning, PCs are losing, and not even Apple is immune to a trend that looks as if it will shape the way we look at both the consumer and enterprise IT markets in the coming years.
Dell shareholders are nearing the vote on the company's proposed buyout plan, and opponent Carl Icahn is upping his offer hoping to halt a deal at the last minute.
The investor activist said he would up his bid to acquire outstanding shares in the company with the addition of warrants, which could increase the per-share price stakeholders would collect in the sale and offer them the chance to re-purchase their shares at a later date.
The bid comes in the wake of announcements from Dell that three outside appraisal firms brought in to review the offers have accepted the company's original plan. That offer, backed by founder Michael Dell and an investment group, would purchase all outstanding Dell shares and effectively take the company private.
Icahn has long opposed the bid, claiming that the company's $13.65 per-share offer undervalues the company and rips off shareholders. He has since formed his own group, but the viability of the offer has been called into question by the company's special committee.
Now, as the vote nears, the company is trying to quell talk of an Icahn buyout once and for all. Additionally, it has spoken out against a call from Icahn to have Dell stock appraised.
“The Special Committee cautions Dell stockholders that Carl Icahn’s latest entreaties that they pursue appraisal with respect to the Dell acquisition misrepresent the risks and costs involved in this course of action,” the company said in a statement.
“Mr Icahn’s letters claim that seeking appraisal is a 'no-brainer' involving 'no risk' and that stockholders 'might get lucky' if they follow his advice.”