Snapchat has been valued at around $10 billion

Snapchat has been valued at around $10 billion

Rather than flirting with internet giants such as Facebook and Google, Snapchat decided to take the road of independence, and its founders may have just become billionaires as a result. The company is reportedly in the process of raising another round of funding which could value the company ay somewhere around $10 billion.

This could seal Snapchat’s place as one of the most valuable private technology startups in the world, despite the fact that it has yet to make a single dime in revenue. The two founders of the company, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, each owned about 25% of the company back in December of last year according to reports, meaning that the two could be billionaires.

Snapchat is currently the third-most popular mobile app among millennials behind only Facebook and Instagram. According to ComScore, somewhere around 33% of all people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 34 use the app. This new funding would value the company at more than three times what Facebook offered to pay for it last year, before CEO Evan Spiegal turned down the offer.

“The valuation of our business and our capital requirements are the least exciting aspects of supporting the Snapchat community,” Mary Ritti, a spokeswoman at Snapchat, wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

Read more about the story at BBC.

 

Stacking solar cells could make them as efficient as natural gas

Stacking solar cells could make them as efficient as natural gas

Too many people are focusing on complex ways to make solar power more efficient: developing new materials, creating complex tracking systems, stuff like that. A startup called Semprius, however, is taking a simpler approach, just stacking solar panels on top of each other.

The idea is to simply stack different semiconducting materials, which collect different frequencies of light, on top of each other. Just allow the sunlight to pass through one to the next and then collect all of the energy they produce at once.

Semprius has developed a new method of stacking multiple semiconductors on top of each other using a new adhesive that will keep them from separating without affecting their performance, as well as a way to link together all of their outputs.

The best part is that it has actually been proven to work, and Semprius believes that this could make solar as cost-effective as natural gas. The startup has already put together a couple of different solar cells which stack four different semiconductors on top of each other. The two have achieved 43.9% and 44.1% efficiency, which measure how much of the sun’s energy they actually convert into usable energy.

The only issue is that they’re very expensive due to the fact that they use so many layers of semiconductor. Mass production, however, should lower the cost considerably, not to mention the amount of money that could be saved in the long run by using such efficient solar power technology.

Read more about the story at Technology Review.

Lookout Sprint, France’s Iliad has its eyes on T-Mobile as well

Lookout Sprint, France’s Iliad has its eyes on T-Mobile as well

The French telecommunications company, Iliad, has made an unexpected offer for T-Mobile, which could set up a bidding war between them and T-Mobile’s other potential suitor, Sprint.

Iliad has shaken up the French mobile and broadband market in the last ten years or so with its affordable subscriber plans, and according to its $15 billion bid for 56.6% of T-Mobile, the company is looking to do the same in the United States as well.

The bid comes at $33-per-share, but Iliad said it valued the rest of T-Mobile at $40.50-per-share, and expects $10 billion of cost savings from the deal. Deutsche Telekom currently owns 66.67% of T-Mobile.

Iliad’s founder, Xavier Niel, has been trying to build a telecommunications empire – having already set up businesses in France, Israel, and Monaco – and this move is just the latest in his bold plan. He actual bears many similarities to Masayoshi Son, the head of Softbank, which controls Sprint and is the other company looking to take control of T-Mobile.

Iliad may actually have a better shot at buying T-Mobile than Sprint does as it would not have to face the same anti-trust scrutiny that is hindering Sprint’s deal, which would merge the third and fourth-largest mobile network operators in the United States. The FCC and the DOJ have previously expressed a desire to have at least two more network operators competing against the current market leaders, AT&T and Verizon.

Niel believes the United States market is ripe for the kind of challenge that Iliad previously mounted in France, whose entrance into the market in 2012 sent prices tumbling down by 30% and damaged profits for its much larger rivals, Orange and SFR. With a market capitalization of just above $16 billion, this deal would be a big bite for Iliad.

Read more about the story at The Wall Street Journal.

 

Apple “bit off more than it could chew” with Apple TV

Apple “bit off more than it could chew" with Apple TV

Apple has some grand plans for Apple TV, but they aren’t going well according to recent reports. According to Jessica Lessin and Amir Efrati of The Information, Apple has stalled its plans to revolutionize TV with a new version of its set-top box.

According to the report, Apple, the cable companies, and the content providers are all pointing fingers at each other over who is to blame for these delays. If Apple has any hope of enacting its revolutionary vision for the future of television, it needs to partner with both the cable companies and the content providers.

When it comes to licensing content to stream live or on demand, TV industry executives claim that “Apple has bit off more than it could chew”. A major source of concern for the executives was Comcast’s upcoming acquisition of Time Warner, something that would consolidate the pay TV landscape considerably. The merger might even have been what killed Apple’s TV plans, as it was rumored to be partnering with Time Warner for its new TV.

There is also the fact that companies like Comcast are worried that by partnering with Apple, they run the risk of having customers start associating Apple with TV delivery more than its cable partners. However, as more consumers “cut the cord” a partnership with Apple may be the cable industry’s best way to hold on to revenue.

Read more about the story at Apple Insider.

Google is collecting health data for its revolutionary new genetic study

Google is collecting health data for its revolutionary new genetic study

Google’s got a big new project and it’s you. Well, not just you, but a genetic and molecular study of humanity that aims to grasp at what a healthy human should be. It’s in its early days, collecting anonymous data from 175 people, but it plans to expand to thousands later.

The project is headed up by molecular biologist Andrew Conrad, who pioneered cheap HIV tests for blood-plasma donations. According to the WSJ, the team at Google X current numbers between 70 and 100, encompassing experts in physiology, biochemistry, optics, imaging and molecular biology.

In the study, which will eventually be expanded to thousands of participants, Google X’s Dr. Andrew Conrad and a team of as many as 100 scientists in varying fields will collect anonymous molecular and genetic data in order to determine the idea traits of a healthy individual. These samples will come in the form of tissue, tears, urine, and more which will be collected this summer.

The Baseline project will apparently take in hundreds of different samples, with Google using its information processing talents to expose biomarkers and other patterns – the optimistic result hopefully being faster ways of diagnosing diseases. Biomarkers has typically been used with late-stage diseases, as these studies have typically used already-sick patients.

“He gets that this is not a software project that will be done in one or two years,” said Dr. Sam Gambhir, who is working with Dr. Conrad on the project. “We used to talk about curing cancer and doing this in a few years. We’ve learned to not say those things anymore.” Information from the project will remain anonymous: Google said that data won’t be shared with insurance companies, but the shadow of privacy issues hang over pretty much anything the company touches.

Baseline started this summer, initially collecting fluids such as urine, blood, saliva and tears from the anonymous guinea pigs. Tissue samples will be taken later. “With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems,” Dr. Conrad said. “That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like.”

Dr. Conrad expects medicine will be improved by the mountains of new information that can now be collected. This fits with Google’s original mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful, he said. “We shouldn’t put a slash through our mission statement and say that health care is excluded,” Dr. Conrad added. Read more about the story here.

 

 

Could Google Stock hit $2000?

Google Stock

It’s pretty impossible to conceive, isn’t it. How could any tech stock triple in price in less than two years when it’s at that level. Sure, stocks jump up by over 200% in much shorter periods of time, but not when they’re already over $1000. It’s not possible, right?

Actually, in the case of Google, their current projects could do more damage than just $2000. That could be shooting themselves short. You see, they made it where they are today through their core businesses: search, mobile, and advertising. Those are small compared to some of their other endeavors including health, energy, and connectivity.

Don’t be surprised to see them end 2014 with a value more than double their already-gigantic stock value.

According to The Street:

The game really changes, however, when one of those infamous Google side projects turns into another massive revenue generator distinct from search and advertising. If that ever comes to, $2,000 might be a conservative price prediction.

Read More: The Street

For YouTube-Only Users, Google has Failed

Failure

Google has always wanted to be the center of the online universe. They’ve recently wanted to become the center of the offline world as well, but that’s a different story. Their latest move towards online domination comes at the price of its own users and they aren’t taking it very well.

YouTube has remained independent of Google proper for a long time. The switch to make them a full Google property started in 2011 when they started requiring Gmail accounts in order to access all of the features of YouTube. This was an annoyance but it was only the beginning to the bigger play which they just unveiled in the last month and a half.

Now, Google+ accounts are required in order to get the full scope of features, including commenting. If this surprises people, that’s because they didn’t understand the goals of the company. They aren’t interested in how funny your comments are. They’re only interested in your activities and the best way to control monitor those activities is through their social network. Now, if you want to play, you have to pay in the form of personal tracking and data.

This makes many YouTube-only users unhappy. In essence, Google sucked them in and now it has failed them by forcing something onto something that they didn’t really want. Don’t expect Google to change it back, either. This is their path. It’s been their path since before Larry Page took over the day-to-day operations of the company. It’s not going to change any time soon.

According to Guardian Express:

For the first time in eight years, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim has spoken out against Google’s updates to the website. Instead of uploading a video, Karim merely posted a passive aggressive question to his personal account:

“Why the **** do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?”

Read More: Guardian Express

A More Efficient Aircraft Carrier Was Christened Today

Ford Aircraft Carrier

It’s big. It’s powerful. It’s fast. It’s efficient. The newest line of aircraft carriers in the US military is being christened today in a ceremony that will lock in the next generation of mobile air and sea superiority for the United States.

The USS Gerald R Ford represents a shift towards quality over bulk for the US Navy. It is able to launch 25% more aircraft from its deck and can run with a smaller crew than others in the fleet.

According to the Christian Science Monitor:

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the lead ship in the Navy’s next class of aircraft carriers. It was christened Saturday at the Newport News shipyard where it was built.

Read More: Christian Science Monitor

In Sickness and In More Sickness: Healthcare Booms in Good or Bad Economy

Nurse

Nothing says “job security” like working in an industry that everyone needs regardless of their money situation. Healthcare has not only avoided the dreaded recession, it has been the focus of US government initiatives to increase its size and scope.

A recent study shows that there may be over 500,000 additional nurse positions available by 2018, over twice as much as the second highest growing profession (accountants and auditors). As long as there’s sickness, there’s always going to be a need for people to make us better.

This infographic by our friends at Course Hero breaks down medical as well as other arenas and compares the differences between college graduates and those who enter the workforce early. Common sense (and our mothers) tells us that getting a college degree makes sense, but just as there will always be nurses, there will always be statistics telling us to go to school.

[Read more...]

The Middle East Domino Effect

Tunisia is already yesterday’s news, but the effects will be felt for months and years. It isn’t just in the small country itself, but rather the effects that the successful regime-change will have on the area in general.

This graphic by The Visual News puts it nicely into perspective for us as this tumultuous landscape of political upheaval that has reigned as a state of being in the region for centuries appears to be hitting a tipping point fueled by both technological advances (particularly in communication) as well as the increasing boldness of the people who are now more empowered than ever before.

[Read more...]