Amazon shares surge 13% to record above $1100 as Wall Street shocked by giant’s rapid growth

Wall Street is buzzing over Amazon’s impressive September quarter results.

Analysts say they are growing more confident Amazon’s success will continue because of its proven ability to invest in new opportunities.

The e-commerce juggernaut generated third-quarter earnings per share of 52 cents, handily beating the 3 cent Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

Its shares hit a new all-time high Friday and closed up 13 percent after reporting the results after the closing bell Thursday. Around midday they rose above $1100 for the first time ever.

“Amazon reported better-than-expected revenue and operating income, driven by strong Prime Day signups,” wrote Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju in a note to clients on Friday. “And once again it demonstrated accelerating growth across all e-commerce reporting segments.”

The analyst said the strong growth was the result of the company’s massive investment spending. Amazon had $5.7 billion in capital expenditures during the third quarter, $300 million more than he expected.

Jeff Bezos

Amazon shares break above $1,100 for the first time  12:51 PM ET Fri, 27 Oct 2017 | 01:03

“We have always believed that Amazon continues to allocate capital as a function of consumer and enterprise demand for its services across e-commerce and AWS,” he wrote, referring to Amazon Web Services, the company’s web hosting operation. The third-quarter result “serves as the confirmation of the rationale for the investment cycle that began in 3Q16.”

Ju reaffirmed his outperform rating on the shares and raised his price target to $1,385 from $1,350. The new target is 42 percent higher than Thursday’s closing price.

Jefferies analyst Brent Thill said he believes Amazon’s big investments are driving growth for its Prime subscription services, which is then spurring stronger sales.

The Amazon “results reinforced again our long-standing thesis that investment in the assets behind AMZN’s competitive moats (fulfillment, digital content, AWS) continues to drive the Prime flywheel effect,” Thill wrote Friday. “Subscription rev growth accelerated in Q3 on strong Prime membership growth driven by above-expectations Prime Day results which also drove higher than expected results internationally.”

Thill reiterated his buy rating and raised his price target on Amazon shares to $1,350 from $1,250.

One analyst said he is optimistic that Amazon’s scale and track record will help it maintain strong growth rates. Third-quarter sales rose 34 percent from the same period last year, to $43.7 billion.

“Amazon is one of the highest quality companies in the internet sector considering its consistent innovation and execution, the size of the opportunities it is pursuing, and its positioning within those future growth opportunities,” Citi Research analyst Mark May wrote Friday. “We believe the company is positioned well relative to a number of growth vectors in the Internet sector and see upside to shares considering its compelling growth versus industry peers.”

Amazon has been one of the best-performing large-cap stocks in the market. Its shares rallied 30 percent this year through Thursday versus the S&P 500’s 14 percent gain.

This chart shows how Ruth Porat is exercising discipline at Alphabet — and investors love it

Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet, at the New York Economic Club on May 22, 2017.

Google Fiber was one of the company’s most ambitious projects. Under the original vision, the company was going to run fiber-optic cable directly to consumers’ homes, giving them super-fast internet.

Google announced it would roll the service out in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2011, and followed by eight other cities.

Then, Alphabet happened.

Specifically, Google hired new CFO Ruth Porat in 2015, and that August it reorganized into a holding company called Alphabet, consisting of the core Google businesses — which provide nearly all of its revenue and all of its profit — and a set of longer-term investment areas called “Other Bets.”

Fiber was placed into that Other Bets category. A year later, in August 2016, the company took a closer look at the Fiber business and saw it wasn’t meeting subscriber expectations. So it decided to concentrate on less-expensive wireless last-mile solutions, according to a report in The Information. A couple months later, in October, Google Fiber CEO Craig Barratt stepped down, the company “paused” all uncompleted but previously promised rollouts, and laid off some Fiber employees.

While Alphabet never disclosed exactly how much it was spending on rolling out Fiber, the company does break out capital expenditures within its Other Bets category. Capex there started climbing rapidly in the second half of 2016, peaking at $504 million in Q4. Then, it dropped dramatically. In Alphabet’s most recent quarter, which it reported Thursday, it spent only $77 million on capital expenditures in the Other Bets category.

Here is a chart showing the spike, which we first saw from analyst Jan Dawson via Twitter.

The conclusion? Porat and the rest of Alphabet management are keeping a tight lid on spending in the company’s long-term bets, and if these bets are not performing to expectations, they’ll shut them down.

Investors seem happy with this discipline — Alphabet stock is up about 6 percent after Thursday’searnings report exceeded investor expectations.

Facebook, Google, Twitter: How tech giants are involved in the Russia investigation

As congressional lawmakers investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, they are looking at social media’s function in the spread of misinformation.

Representatives from Facebook and Twitter have already privately met with lawmakers on the Hill to discuss purchased ads during the campaign. And both Senate and House intelligence committees have asked the companies, along with Google, to come back for a public hearing in the next few months.

Here’s what you need to know about the tech companies’ involvement.

How is Facebook involved in the investigation?

Last month, Facebook revealed that it uncovered about $100,000 in ad purchases connected to “inauthentic accounts” that violated its policies. Another $50,000 was found to have been spent on “potentially politically related ad spending” that were in Russian.

Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said the accounts were “likely operated out of Russia.”

As lawmakers have called for more information about the advertisements, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised to make its political advertising more transparent.


President Donald Trump accused Facebook of being “always anti-Trump” in a tweet. But Zuckerberg hit back and said “both sides” of the political aisle were upset by content on Facebook – proving “what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

What about Twitter?

Twitter representatives told lawmakers that it suspended approximately two dozen accounts that were potentially linked to Russia and corresponded to Facebook’s troublesome accounts. Additionally, it said it found 179 related accounts that violated their rules.

Twitter also revealed in a blog post that Russia Today, which it said “has strong links to the Russian government,” spent $274,000 in ads in 2016.

After representatives met with lawmakers, Rep. Mark Warner, D-Va., slammed the information shared from Twitter as being “frankly inadequate on almost every level.” He said Twitter’s explanations of its response was “deeply disappointing.”

Twitter announced Thursday that it has banned ads from Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik.

The social media giant said it would use the money already spent on advertisements by Russia Today for research around civic engagement and electoral misinformation.

And Google?

Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Google Search products and Gmail regarding the 2016 election, Fox Business reported. However, the ads do not appear to be from the same source as those purchased on Facebook.

Accounts connected with the Russian government spent $4,700 on search and display ads and $53,000 was spent on ads with political material that were purchased from either a Russian territory, Russian Internet address or with Russian currency, according to the Associated Press.

“We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries,” Google said in a statement.

Why does it matter?

The issue over social media’s involvement in the investigation largely stems from advertisements bought from the companies, not necessarily the content shared by users, Dr. Karen North, a clinical professor of communication at the University of Southern California, told Fox News.

But the issue further boils down to what is wrong versus what is illegal. Spreading so-called “fake news” is wrong, but it might not be illegal, the social media expert explained.

“We as users of social media platforms do not want the platforms to be telling us what we can or can’t say – or even that we can’t say falsehoods – because people spin the story of their lives to present a public face to our friends and colleagues,” North said. “We don’t want Facebook or Twitter to tell us we can’t do that.”

North predicted that social media companies will begin to strengthen their regulations – or “dress codes” – for future advertisers.

“There are laws [to protect speech] and then there are rules of conduct, including dress codes at offices or schools,” North said. “Whether or not what’s being done by the Russians or fake news or people lying about adventures in their life, are those illegal or in violation of dress codes?”

7 steps for crafting the perfect password

Seven tips to help you craft the perfect password. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder )

Your password can ruin your life. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true. If someone figures out your email password, you’re in trouble. Social media? Even worse. Once hackers access your online bank account, they can wreck your finances, and you may feel the repercussions of that break-in for years.

It seems not a week goes by that we don’t hear about another data breach. How do you know if the hackers have your info? Click here to find out whether your email has been hacked or stolen.

Most of us have the wrong idea about passwords. We think they have to be convoluted messes, like F$%Th5l2K!&. This theory — that passwords should be nonsensical and hard to remember — reigned for years.

It started in 2003 with guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which insisted on random combinations of numbers, letters and symbols. The organization’s manager, Bill Burr, spread this gospel for years. But in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, he admitted that this wasn’t nearly as effective as he’d thought.

Thanks to a new round of research, cybersecurity experts have changed their tune. Yes, you should still avoid guessable passwords like “p@ssword1” or “letmein.” But a strong password also can be logical, fluid and easy to remember.

1. Passwords should withstand 100 guesses

This is the most important part: No matter what your password is, it should withstand 100 guesses, which means it shouldn’t be tied to any public information about you or your family.

Hackers often turn to your social media profiles to find information about you, such as your birthday and the name of your pet. And a little data goes a long way. Experts believe criminals can guess the average person’s password nearly 73 percent of the time, and they can often access other accounts by using slight variations of the same password.

Facebook is all about making it easy to share your life with your friends and family. Unfortunately, there are some things you shouldn’t share online. These bits of information can put you in danger of identity theft, losing your job or causing other major headaches. Click here for five of the biggest offenders you should not put on your profile.

2. Use a phrase

Instead of thinking of your password as a secret code, think of it as a “passphrase.” These are strings of words that are both easy to memorize but hard for anyone else to crack.

Suppose you wanted to be an astronaut when you were a kid, and your favorite color is fuchsia. You have never mentioned these facts online, and only your mom knows such trivia about you. You could compose a passphrase like “ilikefuschiaastronauts.” You’ll never forget it, and the passphrase will confound hackers for (literally) centuries.

I told how to create a great passphrase a little over a year ago, and the advice is still valid. Go here to come up with your own.

3. Go long

You might want to sit down for this one: The new NIST guidelines suggest allowing users to create passwords up to 64 characters long. As if that isn’t weird enough, the guidelines also allow spaces between words. While many people just try to meet the minimum requirement of eight characters, you will get a much stronger password by stretching things out.

You could theoretically create a complex list or sentence, which still makes perfect sense to you. You could list all your pets’ names from childhood, like “fluffy princess rex spike booboo chewie,” or all the streets on the way to your favorite restaurant,

like “academy main washington ohio central.” Easy to remember. Hard to crack.

4. Don’t change your password until you have to

Until recently, consumers were advised to change their passwords every three months. But as NIST’s Paul Grassi recently told the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “Expiration isn’t a motivator to create a brand-new password, it’s motivation to shift one character so you can remember the password.”

If you’ve created a strong password, then don’t worry about changing it out all the time. Just stick with it unless you’ve been notified of a security breach that requires a password reset.

5. Choose something memorable

Remember, all passwords should be unique, but they don’t have to be cumbersome. NIST calls passwords “memorized secrets.” You want to avoid the temptation to write them down, so pick passwords that mean something to you and will stay in your mind.

I’m not a big fan of password managers. I commit my passwords to memory. But if you cannot do that, here’s a free program that will help you store your passwords safely and easily.

6. Get creative with characters

It may take websites some time to catch up to the latest NIST guidelines, but you can still create a memorable password that meets current restrictions. Go back to Burr’s advice on passphrases. You might choose something like “ArizonaCardinalsfootballisnumber1!” or “Igivemyjob1000%everyday.” Those meet the requirements of having at least eight characters, a special character, and upper and lowercase letters.

7. Use two-factor identification

While passwords help protect your information, cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever. If they break into your accounts, you may not recognize the damage until it’s too late.

Months passed before the public learned about the Equifax breach, and it’s hard to assess how much information was leaked and how it will be used. (If you haven’t checked to see if your personal details are in the hands of cybercrooks, click here and do it now.)

That’s why two-factor identification is so important. Using text messages, emails or special apps, an account-holder will receive a notification every time a password is changed, or when it’s entered on a new device or at a new location. You will have to verify that it’s you trying to gain access.

Robots will be 100 times smarter than humans in 30 years, tech exec says


Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank, has been preparing his company for this scenario for quite some time.

Now the tech exec thinks robots will not just outsmart humans, but will have an IQ of 10,000 in the next 30 years.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Son, who has made countless investments in companies related to artificial intelligence ─ including chip companies Nvidia and ARM Holdings ─ stated that robots will surpass human-level intelligence rapidly and ultimately become far smarter than humanity has ever dreamed of.

“Singularity is the concept that [mankind’s] brain will be surpassed, this is the tipping point, crossing point, that artificial intelligence, computer intelligence surpass [mankind’s] brain and that is happening in this century for sure,” Son was quoted as saying at the conference. “I would say there is no more debate, no more doubt.”

SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RC16E8410BC0

 (Masayoshi Son. (Credit: Reuters))

By comparison, an average level IQ for a human is between 90 and 110. Geniuses such as Stephen Hawking have been estimated to have an IQ level around 160. However, Hawking has never taken an official intelligence test, according to a report in British newspaper The Independent.

Mensa, the self-proclaimed “high IQ society,” admits people to become members after they have demonstrated intelligence levels “at or above the 98th percentile on certain standardized IQ or other approved intelligence tests.” For Stanford–Binet, the minimum accepted score is 132, whereas for the Cattell test, it is 148.

Singularity is rapidly approaching

The timeframe for singularity, the concept that machines will become smarter than the human brain, is up for debate.

In March, Google’s Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil said that by 2029 “computers will have human-level intelligence.”

For his part, Son has repeatedly said it will happen in the “next 30 years or so.”

He has helped position his company Softbank, which also owns a controlling stake in U.S. telecom provider Sprint, for the upcoming singularity.

In May 2017, Softbank launched the Vision Fund, which is targeting up to $100 billion in investments around the world, for companies “that seek to enable the next age of innovation.” This includes areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, mobile applications and computing.

Since its launch, the fund has made a number of investments, including the aforementioned stake in Nvidia, a $4 billion investment in workplace startup WeWork, and is reported to be working on a major investment in Uber, which is working on autonomous vehicles.

In addition to Softbank’s investments in the AI space, it already has a humanoid robot, Pepper, which can perceive a person’s emotions. Son envisions that is just the beginning, saying robots will learn by themselves and “maybe [are] going to laugh at you and us. Today they look cute, they will stay cute, but they will be super smart.”

In August, a Pepper robot became an ordained Buddhist priest.

Perils despite the promise

While Son, 60, appears to be betting on the promise and the positive effect that intelligent robots may have on society, not everyone is on board.

Luminaries such as Hawking and tech executive Elon Musk have warned against the potential pitfalls of artificial intelligence, though not necessarily in robot form.

Last month, Musk tweeted that artificial intelligence could cause World War 3, following comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that the country “who becomes the leader in this sphere [artificial intelligence] will be the ruler of the world.”

Hawking has also sounded the alarm bells, going so far as to say, “The development of full artificial intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race.”

This past week, Sophia, a humanoid robot, became the first robot to receive citizenship of a country, being awarded citizenship in Saudi Arabia.

After it received the citizenship, Sophia was interviewed by a member of the media about concerns it could do harm to humanity. It responded, by saying, “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”

Nintendo expects to ship 16.7M Switch by April 2018

The only way sales of the Switch could go any better for Nintendo is if production could be easily increased. We are now eight months on since launch and Nintendo continues to struggle to keep up with demand, but that’s a problem any console manufacturer loves to have.

At launch, Nintendo managed to sell 2.74 million units in the first four weeks. By July, that figure had increased to 4.7 million and there were no signs of sales slowing down. With demand so high, Nintendo took action to increase production, announcing in October it had increased production to two million units a month.

As The Verge reports, Nintendo is now revising its yearly sales forecast. Originally, Nintendo expected to ship 10 million more Switch by April 2018. By the end of September the total was already at 7.63 million and then production increased. So now Nintendo expects to ship 14 million by the end of March next year.

Combined with the initial 2.74 million launch sales, the final sales total by April total could be as high as 16.74 million units. To put that in perspective, the Wii U only sold 13.56 million over its entire lifetime. The PS4 on the other hand managed 14.4 million units in its first year. However, that total was up to 18.5 million just two months later due to the 2014 holiday period.

Whichever way you look at it, Nintendo is having a fantastic year, and with demand so high every one of those 16 million+ Switch consoles will sell. That is, of course, barring any production hiccups that could occur in the coming months.

One thing’s for sure, the Switch is definitely here to stay for a few years and developers will continue to flock to it. In other words, we are back to three manufacturers competing for your console gaming dollars.

iPhone apps with access to your camera can secretly spy on you By Jacob Siegal | BGR Facebook Twitter Print Email

iphone hands istock

In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the ways that our devices keep track of us. Many of us have simply come to terms with this new reality, but thankfully, there are others out there who are staying vigilant and doing their part to ensure that our collective privacy isn’t violated any more than it needs to be.

Such is the case with Google developer Felix Krause, who identified on his blog this week an alarming truth about iOS apps that have access to our phone cameras. According to Krause, apps with the necessary permissions are technically capable of recording the user at any time, regardless of whether or not they have manually pressed a button or issued a command to capture a photo or a video within the app.

But that’s not all they can do. Along with snapping a photo or recording a video, Krause claims that apps can access both front and back cameras, upload pictures and videos right after taking them and even run facial recognition to detect the user’s facial features and expressions using Apple’s Vision framework.

You are probably now wondering what you can do to prevent all those apps you absentmindedly granted permission to from recording you when you least expect it. Unfortunately, short of revoking access from every app on your phone, the only real option is to buy a camera case and uncover the camera when you actually want to take a picture or a video. Otherwise, Apple will need to change how the permissions work to make this impossible.

The good news is that Krause has reported the issue to Apple, so we’ll have to wait and see if anything changes in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, think before you allow camera permissions to any app.

In Silicon Valley, this job pays a ‘startling’ salary

US News & World Report is out with a list of the 10 best jobs for millennials (No. 1 is web developer, No. 2 is dental hygienist), and says its list took into consideration the group’s priorities.

And, per a survey it did of 1,000 millennials, salary is their chief consideration. So they may want to read on: The New York Times this week took a look at a burgeoning field with “salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent”: artificial intelligence.

The takeaway is that the annual package of salary and stock for a “typical” AI engineer—working on, says self-driving cars or smart home devices—tends to be in the $300,000 to $500,000 range.

As for who is getting those salaries, the Times reports there’s a global pool of only about 10,000 people with the right set of skills, and so newly minted PhDs as well as “people with less education and just a few years of experience” are raking in the big bucks.

And, as a big-name athlete might do, they renew contracts every few years, for a multi-year take that has in some cases entered the eight-figure range.

The famous-athlete comparison goes pretty deep: A hiring manager at Microsoft said, “That would make things easier. A lot easier,” when the Times posed the idea of an NFL-like salary cap being imposed on skyrocketing AI salaries.

One wrinkle: the salaries are so alluring that many of the professors who are able to teach AI are being pulled out of academia. (Speaking of the NFL, one player is donating his entire 2017 salary.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: In Silicon Valley, This Job Pays a ‘Startling’ Salary

Google addresses Pixel 2 handset complaints

Image result for Google addresses Pixel 2 handset complaints

Google says it is doubling the warranty on its new flagship smartphones following complaints about the screens.

Some reviewers have noticed screen “burn in” – a permanent mark of images that have appeared previously – after only a couple of weeks with the larger version of the new phone.

The firm argued that the effect was “in line with that of other premium smartphones” using OLED screens.

However it promised software updates to maximise the screen life.

“We use software to safeguard the user experience and maximize the life of the OLED display, and we’ll make ongoing software updates to optimize further,” wrote Mario Queiroz, vice-president of product management, in a Google message forum.

The warranty for both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will now be two years instead of one, he added – although in Europe this is already standard.

Mr Queiroz also said “a new mode” for saturated colours would be released in a separate software update in the next few weeks, following other complaints about dull visuals.

The Pixel 2 XL, which appears to be the affected handset, is currently only available in the US.

The handset reviewed by the BBC was one of those which suffered the mild burn-in first reported by the tech website Android Central.

Speaking to the BBC at the time, analyst Carolina Milanesi, from Creative Strategies, said it was “not a great start” for the device.

“This was Google’s big step into really going for the devices market, broadening the breath of the products,” she said.

“It raises the question of whether they can actually take on this much.”

Google’s previous device, the Pixel, had good reviews but accounted for just 0.5% of the global smartphone market in 2016.

In a separate forum, Google advised those Pixel 2 users who said their device appeared to be “clicking”, to switch off NFC (near field communication) – used to make contact payments – and said a software fix was being developed.

The Pixel 2 costs from £629 in the UK (£799 on pre-order for the XL).

Three criticised over £117 iPhone X monthly deal

Image result for Three criticised over £117 iPhone X monthly deal

Three has announced a £117 ($150) per month contract for the iPhone X.

It’s been described as “extreme” and “crazy” on social media.

The two-year deal, which includes unlimited data and talk time, is for the largest version of the device. The same contract with an iPhone 8 costs £44 per month, plus a £99 upfront fee.

The handset is sold by Apple for £1,149 but under Three’s deal customers could end up paying more than £2,100, based on its current sim-only charges.

Three’s current all-inclusive sim-only deal is £29 per month.

The firm said it had various tariffs to suit different customers.

“There are a small amount of people that prefer not to pay an upfront cost yet want access to all-you-can eat data, minutes and texts and this is aimed at them,” Three told the BBC.

There are cheaper alternatives, it added.

“If that was an electrical retailer’s ‘interest rate’ there’d be outrage,” tweeted Michael Firth.

“No phone is worth over £30 [per month] in my opinion,” tweeted The Cyber Heartbeat.

Smartphone price barriers

Other operators are offering the device on a monthly contract ranging between £80 and £88 but are also often charging an additional upfront payment.

O2 is charging £86 per month plus a one-off £119.99 for a similar deal with 50GB data on the larger phone.

Vodafone does not offer unlimited data either but its most expensive tariff is £80 per month plus a £100 charge for 60GB per month of data.

The phone is currently available to pre-order only.

Apple’s pricing for the iPhone X had already shifted smartphone price barriers, said analyst Kester Mann from CCS Insight.

“However, Three’s bold move to break through the psychological £100 per month barrier is a huge ask even for its most dedicated and loyal fans,” he added.

Technology journalist Kate Bevan said it is generally cheaper to buy a handset upfront rather than as part of a contract deal.

“I’m sure the iPhone X will be a very good phone,” she said.

“However, if I were going to buy one – which I’m not – I would hold off until the new year if possible, to give Apple a chance to iron out any wrinkles with it and to see if prices from mobile providers come down a bit.”