Google acquries Waze in a $1.3bn deal

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Search engine Google announced a deal to acquire Israel-based for $1.3 billion, said reports

According to reports, Google acquired Waze to stay ahead of the curve in lifestyle-centered apps on devices. Facebook was looking to buy Waze earlier

Waze is a free social GPS application featuring turn-by-turn navigation, developed by the Israeli start-up Waze Mobile which is now owned by Google for GPS-enabled smartphones with a data plan. Waze supports Android, iPhone, Symbian, and J2ME (RIM).

Waze won the Best Overall Mobile App award at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, beating Dropbox, Flipboard and others. On June 11, 2013 Google completed the acquisition of Waze for a reported $1.3 billion

Waze differs from traditional GPS navigation software as it is a community-driven application and learns from users’ driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. It is also free to download and use, as it gathers map data and other information from users who use the service. Additionally, people can report accidents, traffic jams, speed traps, police and can update roads, landmarks, house numbers, etc. Waze also helps users find the cheapest, closest gas station around them or along their route. As of January 2012, the app has been downloaded 12 million times worldwide. In July 2012, Waze announced that it had reached 20 million users, half of those gained over the previous six months.

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Need of a financial planner

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With the rising investor needs and complex financial products, there is a strong requirement for need-based holistic advice by financial planners.

It is often said that Indians are good savers, but ‘poor’ investors. Indians usually lack the financial knowledge to plan for the long-term. They fail to save for their retirement but won’t think twice before breaking their savings to splurge on a foreign tour, weekend home, etc.

Most do not even maintain accounts of their monthly expenses and savings. They are unable to provide rough estimates of how much is spent on what purpose. It is essential for people to know their expenses to comprehend the amount of money to be saved/invested for meeting their future goals. Even if they keep track of their expenses, they feel lazy to prepare a budget and to stick to it. This phenomenon is not only confined to rich households but also prevalent among poor and middle class households.

With the economy doing well, people are earning astronomical salaries but are not ‘financially literate’ to take care of their funds. They can’t differentiate between financial products based on risk, tenure, tax and returns. With healthcare improving, the average life span of a person post retirement has increased by an average 15-20 for males and 25 years for females.

This necessitates the need for a financial planner who has accurate information about products and the client’s needs. For instance: if a person has a family that is financially dependent on him, he/she needs to buy adequate life insurance to secure the family’s financial future in the case of an untimely death of the primary earner. If one is already financially protected and the primary need is for capital appreciation, then available options under saving-oriented plans, equity-linked saving schemes may be considered. There are a number of players in each of these avenues with diverse offerings. It is difficult for a person to manually keep track of all financial avenues.

It has been observed that financial planners charge a fee for their services which is a big turn-off for Indians, who usually ‘trust’ their family members, neighbours, colleagues, sales persons for their financial planning. They fail to realise the difference between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ expense. To many, financial planning means saving/investing more and stopping unnecessary expenses, thus failing to see the big picture.

The role of a financial planner is similar to that of a doctor. A financial planner is a professional advisor who helps clients deal with various personal finance issues through proper planning.

He/she helps you meet your financial goals in a systematic way by analysing your expenses and savings. Based on the latter, he/she draws up a plan for the future. The planner monitors changes in your portfolio and based on life events helps tweak it to achieve the desired objectives.

The need for financial planning

Financial planning is still at nascent stage in India. Financial planning is necessary to make sure that you are investing in a planned way to lead a comfortable retired life, to beat inflation and meet other medium term and long-term goals such as children’s education and their marriage.

With the rising investor needs and complex financial products, there is a strong requirement for a need-based holistic advice which can be provided by financial planners to the investors. The role of financial planners is to meet the financial goals of their clients. Financial professionals serve as a channel between saving and investment for consumers.

How financial planners work?

Financial planners are professionals who have passed the certification (certified financial planner) exam. They have learned strategies and have gone through in-depth knowledge to understand how to restructure a common man’s financial mess and come up with a sound long-term plan which will help a client achieve his/her financial goals in future. CFP is regarded as one of the top most certifications in financial planning and it is recognised in most countries.

Financial planners comprehend the income level and risk appetite of the investors before advising them for a particular product. The financial planner first understands the financial goals of the client, gathers relevant information from him/her, analysis this information, constructs a financial plan, implements the plan and finally monitors and reviews the plan regularly.

Financial planners use simplified representations that help people understand what is being advised and why. Most planners prepare a financial plan which normally includes nearly 20 pages, of which around five pages comprise introductory details about the clients, disclaimer, discovery notes such as clients stated goals and concerns.

Financial planners help consumers take informed decisions related to their investments and financial goals. Financial planners also ensure that the customers’ information remains confidential with them.

How to choose a financial planner?

Investors often lack “trust” in their financial planners. Hence, they need to have a certain level of trust while consulting a financial planner. They need to interact with the planner, check their credentials, ask for a sample plan and once when they are satisfied, they can hire the planner.

Investors also need to check that the planner is not selling them any product. His job is to provide financial advice and not sell products or refer investors to other agents—where he may be earning some commission.

Financial planners aim to give personalised service to their clients. They provide clients guidance over phone, by email, chat and face to face. At the end of the day, a financial planner is someone who is concerned with meeting your financial goals and educating you and not just making money from you. There is a certain moralistic tone in advice which tells customers that they should be saving rather than spending.

Apple expected to reveal digital radio, changes to software at developers conference

 

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Apple is expected to reveal a digital radio service and changes to the software behind iPhones and iPads as its annual conference for software developers gets underway today.

The iPhone maker had not revealed what it would  unveil at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The major announcements are expected to come during today’s keynote presentation. The company, last year, announced at the event, its own mapping service, better integration with social networks as also improvements to virtual assistant Siri.

Announcements were also made about thinner MacBooks featuring high-resolution screens. The conference would run up to Friday.

company is expected to unveil a simplified look on iPhones and iPads and if the speculation were correct, it would be the most radical design change since the iPhone made its debut in 2007, showing consumers that phones could do more than make calls and exchange messages.

The event this week comes at an important time for Apple, with the company’s stock price down amid concerns that another breakthrough product was not imminent.

Although according to CEO Tim Cook people should not expect new products until the fall, Apple was likely to preview how future products would function as it unveiled new services and features.

According to commentators, though Apple Inc would not be revealing a new iPhone or iPad, anticipation for the event had been running high since chief executive officer Tim Cook, made changes that saw head industrial designer Jonathan Ive charged with the look and feel of Apple’s software.

Commentators point out that the period since the iPad mini’s debut in October marked one of Apple’s longest product gaps in over a decade, coinciding with a 37-per cent share slide from a record set the previous month. The redesign of the software behind the devices that generate over 70 per cent of Apple’s sales comes as a first step toward renewing consumers’ interest, according to some analysts.

With smartphones increasingly looking alike as regards physical and technological features, device makers were looking to software design and services to pitch their appeal to prospective customers, according to industry watchers.

Tips on using social media in business communications

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We’ve all learnt about the need for clarity in communications. More so now, when social media communications has gained sufficient ground to become an accepted medium of effective communications.

So, now, whether we send an email, register with an online subscription service, access in-house software or intranet programs, or carry out general business transactions globally, we need to frame what we write with suitable brevity and speed. Lose either of them, and we risk losing our audience.

That is because social media communications has  created a phenomenal change in the way we must now relearn to communicate, whether personally or professionally, since social media differs from traditional media in many ways such as reach, frequency, and immediacy.

Nielsen reports internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site.

worth keeping in mind social media communications is all about interactions among people whom we don’t know through creating, sharing, and exchanging information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

While there are many businesses (usually corporate giants) who have grasped the idea of how to use social media – i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. – there are many others who are trying to figure how to use social media for the purposes of business communications.

So, here are my Top 10 Tips for you to do just that!

  • Communiacations beyond borders: Before the days of the internet and social media, businesses were limited to market their products and services to the territorial borders of their country. Not so now though! If you are on Facebook, for example, why not put up your product / service on a Facebook Page and then share the hyperlink to it with your friends and contacts on your personal account! Yes, it’s really that simple!
  • Instant feedback: Once you have got your content on to a Facebook Page, get people to ‘Like’ the page and encourage them to give you feedback. This can be via questions in posts you put up, links, polls and surveys.
  • Humour: Offer informative insights, or even anecdotes, about events that go on within your organisation. But do be careful about intercultural values – you do not want to offend your audience who could well be your customers, or potential customers.
  • Be positive!: Try to keep as much of your promotional content – whether they are tweets on Twitter, LinkedIn updates or Facebook posts – as positive as possible. If you do not have anything positive to say; please do not prevaricate or say something out of context. Trust is far more crucial in the online world as recipients (who you may never get to know) can just drop you dead from their networks, without giving you a chance to redeem yourself later.
  • Be interactive: There is a huge difference in between being active updaters – ie those who only upload promotional content and do nothing else – and interactive updaters – ie those who upload promotional content but also respond to the feedback as much as possible.Depending on the volume, of course; if you have a massive amount of comments and queries to reply to, filter the ones which need an individual response and compose a general post addressing everyone, thanking them for their feedback and explaining what they can expect from you and your business next.
  • Be There!: Think of it this way. When you take the time to provide feedback on a product / service / business which you have used or invested in, do not you feel nice when your feedback gets a response? Does it not make you feel special? Of course it does! So, if you apply this approach to your target audience, you are bound to have more loyal customers.
  • Small talk: The very name ‘Twitter’ conjures up visions of tuneful little melodies of birdsong. For professional purposes, tweets should be short, sweet / sharp (depending on context) and simple, ie the meaning of what you are saying needs to be clear. Otherwise, the point is lost, as it has been seen that tweets which end up too long are often not read at all.
  • Mind your language!: All social media brings new language and meanings. For example, Facebook has introduced new terms, like ‘Unfriend’ (i.e. to remove a Friend from your contacts list) and ‘Unlike’ (ie to not like, thereby actually meaning ‘dislike’). Similarly, Twitter has ‘tweets’ and ‘Direct Messages’ (i.e. personal messages between two followers) and Linked uses the term ‘Headline’ to imply your professional designation- not the front page news! So, it is important to use these terms correctly so as to not cause confusion or embarrassment.
  • What jargon?: If you are using LinkedIn Groups, you are highly likely to be networking with like-minded professionals who are aware of the specific professional terminology – ie jargon – that you use. In such instances, using jargon is fine. However, if you are reaching to your audience in general, please be very mindful of what jargon you use and if you have to use it, then you may want to provide a very brief explanation of what it means. This shows two things: a) You are being as clear as possible and b) You care and do not want to alienate any members of your audience who happen to not know about it.
  • Be balanced!: Get the tone right. You do not want to be so formal that you bore your audience and neither do you want to be so informal that your audience stops taking you seriously enough. Be judicious with what you post!

 

Venture capital firm launches seed investment programme for start-ups

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The venture capital company behind The Life of Pi plans to launch a programme to make seed investments of at least £2.25 million into the best media and creative start-ups in Yorkshire as also other parts of the UK.

 

Ingenious Ventures has launched its Ingenious Seed Investment Programme to make 15 payments of £150,000 to the start-ups by September, with capital already raised from the EIS fund of the company.

 

Starting next week, the team would travel to meet founders of start-up companies at technology and innovation hubs across the country.

 

Entrepreneurs would get an opportunity to present their ideas, meet investors and also receive tips before applying online. The team would visit Sheffield and Leeds as part of their national tour.

 

Sectors would include consumer, technology, e-commerce, gaming, fashion, design, audio-visual content and publishing.

 

Companies shortlisted for selection during the process would be eligible for a further funding of £1 million from the EIS fund as early as January 2014.

 

The programme is part of Ingenious with investment to date of £8-billion or more in creative products and businesses, from Avatar and Life of Pi to music guru Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment and global dance music operator Cream.

 

According to Inenious, media industries accounted for 6 per cent of the GDP of the UK and employed more people than the financial and professional services industries.

 

According to Patrick Bradley, CEO of Ingenious Ventures, for 15 years, Ingenious had been the engine for the media and creative industries and had already raised and deployed over £8 billion in the sector. He added, through the programme the company was continuing to stand behind the top emerging creative talent the UK has to offer.

 

The £2.25 million fund would aim to back 15 ventures qualifying for the seed enterprise investment scheme (SEIS).

 

Bradley said the firm had already raised and invested £8 billion in the media and creative sectors during the last 15 years.

 

Cheap eats helps McDonald’s boost sales news

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Thanks to cheap eats and new food items, McDonald’s was able to boost a key sales figure in May, bouncing back from a decline in the previous month.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain said yesterday, that global sales were up 2.6 per cent at restaurants open at least a year, helped by an extra Friday in the month. In the US, the figure was up 2.4 per cent, with the Dollar Menu with its new chicken wraps and egg white breakfast sandwiches lifting results.

The figure was up 2 per cent in Europe, with declines in Germany and France offset by strong UK and Russia results.

The figure was up 0.9 per cent in the region encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The company, with over 34,000 restaurants around the world, noted that results in China were negative due to avian flu fears.

Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s, had been struggling to increase sales as it faced changing eating habits and weak growth across the broader restaurant industry. The company, late last year reported a decline in the monthly sales figure for the first time in nearly a decade. Soon after, the company ousted the head of its US division as it renewed its focus on value and refreshing its menu.

The company this year, tried to lure customers in the US with several new items including chicken McWraps, different kinds of Quarter Pounder burgers and an egg-white sandwich. According to chief executive officer Don Thompson, the chain was doing ”more aggressive” advertising focused on the menu. The increased US sales marked an improvement from five straight months of sales drops or gains of less than 1 per cent.

The company said in a statement that US sales were helped by breakfast, chicken items and ”everyday value.” Sales in May were also fueled by the new egg-white breakfast sandwich and Premium McWraps.

McDonald shares closed up 1.3 per cent to $99.53 in New York. The shares had gained 13 per cent this year, even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 16 per cent.

 

Programming model for supercomputers of the future

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The demand for even faster, more effective, and also energy-saving computer clusters is growing in every sector. The new asynchronous programming model GPI might become a key building block towards realising the next generation of supercomputers.

The demand for even faster, more effective, and also energy-saving computer clusters is growing in every sector. The new asynchronous programming model GPI from Fraunhofer ITWM might become a key building block towards realizing the next generation of supercomputers.

High-performance computing is one of the key technologies for numerous applications that we have come to take for granted – everything from Google searches to weather forecasting and climate simulation to bioinformatics requires an ever increasing amount of computing resources.

Big data analysis additionally is driving the demand for even faster, more effective, and also energy-saving computer clusters. The number of processors per system has now reached the millions and looks set to grow even faster in the future. Yet something has remained largely unchanged over the past 20 years and that is the programming model for these supercomputers.

The Message Passing Interface (MPI) ensures that the microprocessors in the distributed systems can communicate. For some time now, however, it has been reaching the limits of its capability.

”I was trying to solve a calculation and simulation problem related to seismic data,” says Dr. Carsten Lojewski from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM. ”But existing methods weren’t working. The problems were a lack of scalability, the restriction to bulk-synchronous, two-sided communication, and the lack of fault tolerance. So out of my own curiosity I began to develop a new programming model.” This development work ultimately resulted in the Global Address Space Programming Interface – or GPI – which uses the parallel architecture of high-performance computers with maximum efficiency.

GPI is based on a completely new approach: an asynchronous communication model, which is based on remote completion. With this approach, each processor can directly access all data – regardless of which memory it is on and without affecting other parallel processes. Together with Rui Machado, also from Fraunhofer ITWM, and Dr. Christian Simmendinger from T-Systems Solutions for Research, Dr. Carsten Lojewski is receiving a Joseph von Fraunhofer prize this year.

Like the programming model of MPI, GPI was not developed as a parallel programming language, but as a parallel programming interface, which means it can be used universally. The demand for such a scalable, flexible, and fault-tolerant interface is large and growing, especially given the exponential growth in the number of processors in supercomputers.

Initial sample implementations of GPI have worked very successfully: ”High-performance computing has become a universal tool in science and business, a fixed part of the design process in fields such as automotive and aircraft manufacturing,” says Dr. Christian Simmendinger.

”Take the example of aerodynamics: one of the simulation cornerstones in the European aerospace sector, the software TAU, was ported to the GPI platform in a project with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). GPI allowed us to significantly increase parallel efficiency.”

Even though GPI is a tool for specialists, it has the potential to revolutionize algorithmic development for high-performance software. It is considered a key component in enabling the next generation of supercomputers – exascale computers, which are 1,000 times faster than the mainframes of today.