Thursday News: Yahoo’s money trouble, Google overreaches, and Instagram still hates nipples
Secrets of the Yahoo Sale ‘Book’ Reveal Financial Meltdown and Big Bet on Mobile Voice Search – Re/code has apparently acquired private disclosure documents for prospective buyers, documents that reveal a significant cash flow problem and a company “in serious free fall,” which is making prospective bidders wary of the company’s prospects.
In one slide showing expected results from 2016, Yahoo is estimating that revenue is dropping close to 15 percent and earnings by over 20 percent. Those revenues, backing out traffic acquisition costs (TAC), are expected to decline from $4.4 billion in 2014 and $4.1 billion in 2015 — already down from previous years — to $3.5 billion in 2016; meanwhile, earnings before depreciation, taxes and amortization are moving from $1.4 billion in 2014 and just below $1 billion in 2015 to $750 million in 2016. . . .
While expenses are also declining, it is not nearly enough to offset what is a troubling landscape that Yahoo is painting for possible acquirers. In addition, while Yahoo expects its number of employees to be about 9,000 at the end of 2016 — down from 12,500 in 2014 and 10,500 in 2015 — stock-based compensation remains steady. At well over $400 million annually now, that’s double what it was only a few years previously and means CEO Marissa Mayer is loading up valued employees with outsize share grants to get them to stay. – Re/code
Google reaches into customers’ homes and bricks their gadgets – Et tu, Google? I guess we should not be surprised that Google’s massive corporate reach means that it can conveniently enter your living room and kill your access to a product that relies on its own networked software. But it’s definitely more evidence of the way we have been conditioned to accept the license paradigm for software, a model that has far fewer benefits for the individual consumer than for the licensor.
Revolv is a home automation hub that Google acquired 17 months ago; yesterday, Google announced that as of May 15, it will killswitch all the Revolvs in the field and render them inert. Section 1201 of the DMCA — the law that prohibits breaking DRM — means that anyone who tries to make a third-party OS for Revolv faces felony charges and up to 5 years in prison.
Revolv is apparently being killswitched because it doesn’t fit in with Google’s plan for Nest, the other home automation system it acquired. Google’s FAQ tells its customers that this is OK because their warranties have expired, and besides, this is all covered in the fine-print they clicked through, or at least saw, or at least saw a link to. – BoingBoing
50 books every kid should read by 12: Did your favorite make the cut? – Common Sense Media’s list of books for the well-read twelve year old. I’m always wary of these lists, although in this case it appears that they paid some attention to diversity of genre, perspective, and culture. First on the list is Mo Willems’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, while #50 is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. In between are titles like Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan and Revolution is Not A Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. What else would you have put on the list?
“The list includes books that are known to turn a kid into a reader, books that are known to hook reluctant readers and books that have stood the test of time,” Common Sense senior editor Regan McMahon told me.
“I also didn’t want the list to be all books from a white, Western perspective,” she said. “I wanted books that discuss the immigrant experience and the people-of-color experience. I wanted different genres to be represented: poetry, science-fiction, graphic novels, historical fiction, novels in verse, dystopian novels, fantasy.”
McMahon compiled the list largely by herself, with input from the Common Sense managing editor and editorial director. – Chicago Tribune
Instagram disables a mom’s account for posting this photo of a cake – Instagram’s notorious nipple-phobia reached new extremes when a British woman’s Easter cake triggered suspension of her account. Because whatever boob-scanning program Instagram uses could not tell the difference between a dozen balls of marzipan and a (female) human breast. While Instagram eventually realized the error and reinstated the woman’s account, the incident only highlights the weirdness of their fixation with women’s breasts.
This delicious-looking cake looks, if anything, more like an udder than a human breast, a fact that suggests Instagram’s boob-detecting algorithm is in need of some serious tweaking. Unless udders aren’t allowed either.
Fiona, together with her sister Jenny who baked the controversial cake, ramped up their heartfelt social media campaign, urging Instagram to take a closer look at the cake. Which definitely is not a breast. Or, to be absolutely clear, an udder. – Yahoo News