Tag: eBay

Linked in and eBay millionaires invest to save us from AI

cybermen__quot_delete_quot__campaign_by_degaspiv-d33hjoaTwo millionaires have each committed $10 million to save the world from the troubles of AI.

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s non-profit are spending a fortune funding academic research and development aimed at keeping artificial intelligence systems ethical.

The fund received an additional $5 million from the Knight Foundation and two other $1 million donations from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group. The $27 million reserve is being anchored by MIT’s Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

While the project acknowledges that AI has its uses they are worried that things can go wrong. The most critical challenge is making sure that machines are not trained to perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society.

The money will pay for research to investigate how socially responsible artificially intelligent systems can be designed to, say, keep computer programs that are used to make decisions in fields like education, transportation and criminal justice accountable and fair.

The group wants to talk with the public about and foster understanding of the complexities of artificial intelligence. The two universities will form a governing body along with Hoffman and the Omidyar Network to distribute the funds.

Ebay can’t find anyone to do its evil bidding

xboo26dkpficgadrd2syOnline auction EBay has predicted a much weaker-than-expected revenue and profit for the current quarter and full year.

The outfit is apparently doing battle with a strong dollar and trying to improve its core marketplace business.

The online retailer, which faces intense competition from e-commerce giant Amazon.com is seeing competition from brick-and-mortar rivals like Wal-Mart Stores which are finally waking up to this Internet thingee.

Under its new chief executive Devin Wenig, eBay has returned to its roots, refocusing on unique inventory and smaller sellers.

Wenig said he was not too concerned.  He wanted to grow the company’s metrics faster but he was pleased with where the company is now.

The company forecast full-year adjusted profit of $1.82-$1.87 per share and revenue of $8.5 billion-$8.8 billion.

That was lower than analysts’ average expectation of $1.98 per share in profit and $8.99 billion in revenue. In 2015, eBay reported $8.6 billion in revenue.

Its forecast for first-quarter adjusted profit of 43-45 cents per share and revenue of $2.05 billion-$2.10 billion also missed analysts’ average estimates.

This is the company’s second quarter without PayPal.  eBay’s revenue was $2.32 billion in the fourth quarter ended December 31 which was flat with a year earlier during the crucial holiday shopping season and in line with analysts’ average expectations.

Online sales in the United States increased by nine percent to $105 billion in the November-December holiday period.

EBay began testing a paid shipping membership program in Germany last year, responding to shoppers’ increased demand for faster delivery.

Wenig on Wednesday said there were “no plans for now” to expand the program.

A lot of EBay’s problems is that it gets 60 percent of its revenue from overseas and faces headwinds from a strong dollar.

If you did not factor in the almighty dollar eBay’s revenue grew 5 percent in the quarter.

The company’s net income fell to $477 million, or 39 cents per share, from $1.02 billion, or 82 cents per share.

Raspberry Pi Zero sold out

Ebay Raspberry Pi ZeroA day after it was launched, the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero computer has sold out.

The machine was being given away attached to the cover of MagPi magazine.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, which manufacturers the Zero said that it made 20,000 individal Zerps, with 10,000 more being given away free on the magazine.

The machine, which has a 1GHz ARM chip and half a gigabyte of memory. It uses a flavour of Linux, Raspbian, as it operating system and also comes with two USB ports, an SD slot, and a HDMI slot.

The magazine is being reported as sold out all across the country, but the Foundation said there are still copies out there. One person claimed that some individuals were going into WH Smith and other outlets and buying up all the copies that were in the shop.

Some people have started selling copies of the magazine with the free Zero on Ebay. One is being sold for £79 – see screen capture above.

Paypal waves Ebay goodbye

Paypal's Dan SchulmanThe new entity Paypal Holdings has completed its split from Ebay and has started trading on the NASDAQ bourse today using the symbol PYPL.

Dan Schilman, CEO of Paypal (pictured) were allowed to ring the opening bell at NASDAQ as trading for Monday opened.

Schulman claimed that Paypal is the “most trusted and popular digital wallet” and is ready open another chapter in its history.

Paypal thinks money will become digital at an increasingly rapid place and processed $235 billion in total payment volume in 2014.

Of that figure, $46 billion were represented by mobile payments, and Schulman said that it has over 169 million active customer accounts around the world.

Ebay bought Paypal in 2002 for $1.6 billion.

Ebay sells enterprise unit

cashEbay has sold its enterprise unit to a a private equity consortium for close to $1 billion.

The consortium, headed by private equity company Permira, will acquire the unit for $925 million.

Ebay had positioned its enterprise business as a way of helping shopkeepers create online presences on the internet. It bought a company called GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion in 2011 but it’s never performed as Ebay had hoped it would.

The sales is in the run up to it splitting from Paypal, which will trade separately on the NASDAQ bourse from July 20th.

Ebay will operate as it once did separately specialising in its auction business.

Ebay announced its last financial results which showed its revenues rose by seven percent – much of that growth coming from the PayPal business which will go its separate way soon.

E-commerce bans Confederate flag symbols

confederateMajor e-commerce outfits are pulling products with the Confederate flag on them after the US suddenly realised that people flying them tend to think the South should have won the US civil war and that African Americans should be slaves.

The US had a wakeup call in the wake of the racist massacre in a South Carolina church.

Amazon reportedly joined other e-commerce companies, such as eBay and Etsy, Apple and national retailers in pulling goods with symbols from their digital shelves.

Google followed saying it will pull paraphernalia with images of the flag from Google Shopping, its online marketplace, as well as its product listing ads.

A spokesGoogle said that it will “remove content containing the Confederate flag from Google Shopping and Ads… We have determined that the Confederate flag violates our Ads policies, which don’t allow content that’s generally perceived as expressing hate toward a particular group.”

It is a bit odd that no-one appears to have noticed this, given that originally the flag was placed on a white background and its inventor William T. Thompson said that: “As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or coloured race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.”

Later the confederates added a red strip to the flag but kept the white background.

What most people see as the Confederate flag is just the left hand bit of the true flag also called the Battle Flag.

The Battle Flag was designed by William Porcher Miles. It was made famous because it was carried by Confederate War Veterans including one famous secret vigilante group formed in 1865 which targeted freed slaves and sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans. It was called the KKK.

Paypal and Ebay will stay close despite split

divorce460While PayPal and eBay are planning to split, it looks like the two companies will remain close for at least five years after the divorce is finalised.

eBay has said that it will not reduce the volume of transactions it channels through PayPal, while continuing to get better rates for its merchants for five years after the two split.

PayPal is slated to be separated from eBay’s marketplace division in the second half of this year, creating a publicly traded company, which some analysts say will be worth $40 billion.

EBay has agreed to ensure it will channel 80 percent of its online gross merchandise sales via PayPal, as it does now, for the next five years, PayPal said in a regulatory filing.

The pair also agreed to pay each other a commission if the percentage of marketplace sales rose or fell above that mark.

PayPal agreed to continue charging eBay merchants less than it does other merchants, which would mean that “PayPal rates for eBay merchants will remain largely consistent with today’s pricing relationship”.

eBay will be prohibited from forming its own payment service and PayPal from starting its own online marketplace.

Ebay massively hacked

Online auction house Ebay has confirmed that hackers raided its network three months ago, and nicked more than 145 million user records.

The attack is the second largest in US history, although Ebay said that it is not clear if the crooks could actually use the data they nicked

EBay spokeswoman Amanda Miller told Reuters late on Wednesday that those passwords were encrypted and that the company had no reason to believe the hackers had broken the code that scrambled them. However it did advise customers to change their passwords immediately.

Miller said that there was no evidence of impact on any eBay customers and it would be hard to decrypt the passwords.

The records contained passwords as well as email addresses, birth dates, mailing addresses and other personal information, but not financial data such as credit card numbers.

The company has hired FireEye Mandiant forensics division to help investigate the matter. EBay earlier said a large number of accounts may have been compromised, but declined to say how many.

Security experts advised EBay customers to be on the alert for fraud, especially if they used the same passwords for other accounts.

However Michael Coates, director of product security with Shape Security, told Reuters  that there was a significant risk that the hackers would unscramble the passwords because typically companies only ask users to change passwords if they believe there is a reasonable chance attackers may be able to do so.

However, eBay has said it had not seen any indication of increased fraudulent activity on its flagship site and that there was no evidence its PayPal online payment service had been breached.

The hackers got in by using the login credentials for “a small number” of employees, allowing them to access eBay’s corporate network.

Computer security experts say the biggest such breach was uncovered at software maker Adobe Systems in October 2013, when hackers accessed about 152 million user accounts. 

Ebay defends keeping Paypal

Beleagued Ebay CEO John Donahoe, who is fending off activist investor Carl Icahn, claims the majority of shareholders are behind him.

Icahn wants Donahoe to spin-off of the company’s PayPal unit and has sent letters to shareholders accusing two eBay directors of conflicts of interest, and calling the board dysfunctional.

In the past, eBay has considered spinning off the multibillion-dollar payments service, but ruled it out because it would lose some advantages in the mail order business .

Donahoe told Reuters he has spoken with as many as 16 of the 20 most-active shareholders in eBay, and most favoured hanging on to the fast-growing PayPal payments unit.

PayPal had become the preferred online payment method of the online marketplace’s customers when eBay acquired it for $1.5 billion in 2002. Icahn owns  two percent of eBay and has been scrapping with the management  since January.

Still Apple will be happy that Icahn has stopped bothering them and has moved onto new targets.  For a while, he was buying shares in the fruity cargo cult with the aim of getting Apple to buy out more of its own shares to increase the value.

There’s sweet revenge as copyright troll bites dust

The lead guitarist for the formerly popular beat combo the Sweet had a crack at being a copyright troll and failed dismally.

Andy Scott tried to sue an eBay customer for selling a used CD titled ‘The Legend Lives On’.

Scott thought that the item was a bootleg and promptly sued the seller, Dietmar Huber from western Austria. Scott demanded Huber pay $2,500 for breaching his copyright or go to court.

Unfortunately, Huber was miffed, as the CD was a legit second hand copy which he was only going to collect $1.20 for. He refused to take down the item so Scott filed an injunction to stop the sale.

The guitarist demanded $45,000 claiming he owned copyright on the name and that Dietman Huber did not have the right to sell the CD. It is not clear what he was actually thinking about as he took the case to the Austrian high court.

After five years, the Austrian high court has ruled in favour of Huber, declaring it to be a private sale, and that no crime was ever committed.

Now Scott faces a “blockbuster” legal bill. Not only will he have to fail for his own legal expenses he will have to foot the bill for the court hearing, along with Huber’s legal expenses.

That figure has been estimated at $78,000. It would have made more sense for Scott to buy the CD if it meant that much to him for $1.25.

Big Content has given up on suing customers in this way, as the publicity was never any good. However, Scott seemed to think it was necessary to launch his ballroom blitz on his own.