Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don Sterling's Comments Sink Clippers' Ticket Prices (BusinessWeek)

Don Sterling's Comments Sink Clippers' Ticket Prices

After the ridiculous and racially insensitivecomments made by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, fans have lost interest in attending the Clippers’ playoff game tonight against the Warriors at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Twenty-four hours before the game, almost twice as many tickets were available on the secondary market as at the same point before the Clippers’ last home game on April 21, according to ticket data site The minimum ticket price for tonight’s game was $36.32, down 27 percent from that for the last home game ($49.74).
Average ticket prices have also plummeted. By Monday night, three days after TMZ published an audio recording of the Clippers owner telling his then-girlfriend not to be seen with black people, the average price for tonight’s game had fallen to under $250, down from $680 over the weekend. Here is the chart from TicketSpy:
Clippers Prices for Tonight's Home Game
Dave Landau, who runs TicketSpy, says that most people with season tickets end up overpaying over the course of the year. Fans get a better deal by buying tickets for each game, he says—even when a volatile owner hasn’t alienated his fan base.
The most interesting difference stands between the median ticket price and the mean ticket price. Ticket broker SeatGeek says the median price has fallen only about 16 percent since the weekend. Contrast that with the mean price drop that TicketSpy tracks: 63 percent.
To explain this difference, Landau notes that the most expensive seats are in the highly visible lower section of the arena. Big spenders who spring for those seats might not be willing to be seen in crowd shots on TV tonight and might also be unwilling to entertain corporate clients at the arena. Falling prices for fancy seats suggests that these fans are fleeing en masse, while regular fans in the cheap seats—away from TV camera views—might still come for the spectacle.
Chemi is head of research for Businessweek and Bloomberg TV.

How Google chooses Fiber cities (TechRepublic)

How Google chooses Fiber cities

So, we know that it started in Kansas City, then moved to Austin, then Provo and now Google Fiber has targeted nine more metro areas. That possibility is beginning to look more like a reality with Google recently signing a tentative franchise agreement with the city of Portland. That makes Portland the first of those nine metro areas to take the next steps toward becoming a Google Fiber city.
So, how is Google choosing these cities? Are they picking the cities who merely want it the most, or are the most prepared? According to Charlotte CIO Jeff Stovall, his city didn't really have major plans for fiber before they were approached by Google.
Google Fiber customers can stop by to get any questions answered or swap devices.
 Image: Google
"It appears to me the cities that are chosen are ones that have high growth potential and are still small enough, in some respects, to be able to put in this type of infrastructure versus a mega-city like New York City," Stovall said.
We know Google is hiring for the Fiber team, with more than 60 open listings for positions such as "network infrastructure design manager." Although the listing was open in the Empire State, New Yorkers probably won't be getting Fiber anytime soon. Here are the five parameters that Google is using to determine which cities will get Google Fiber:
1. Existing fiber network - Google wants wants to move quickly and do it as cheaply as possible so it is leveragingdark fiber and existing fiber networks like the one in Provo. So far, Google has only moved to take over existing buried networks, so there is a possibility that they will install Fiber in cities that have utility poles (like Charlotte), mainly because of the massive price difference of hanging vs. buried cable.
2. Close to a Google data center - Google operates data centers internationally to support their products. More fiber running to and from the Google data centers means that it can process requests faster and glean data more efficiently. Proximity to a Google data center is key.
3. Population size range - At least in the beginning, Google will be targeting cities that are big enough to be diverse, but small enough that it will be able to avoid the oversight of cities like San Francisco, Boston, and New York City. Again, speed matters.
4. Willing local government - Permitting is, perhaps, one of the biggest obstacles that Google will have to overcome in its quest to rapidly build out Google Fiber cities. All of the city officials we have talked to said that they were very eager to work with Google, and some were working to expedite the permitting process to show their dedication to bringing Fiber to their city. So, local government cooperation is huge.
5. Not in a Verizon FiOS coverage zone - Verizon is the biggest competitor Google Fiber has at this point. FiOS consistently takes top ratings in customer satisfaction as an ISP. It would be foolish of Google to try to take on FiOS this early in the game, however, they don't seem to have a problem taking shots at AT&T, as evidenced by their brazen move into Austin.
"I think you want an underserved community that can be served economically. That might mean it has enough backbone capacity, or some way to provide that capacity, without costing a huge amount of money," said Jeff Hecht, author of Understanding Fiber Optics.
That's why Google is targeting existing fiber networks. It saves the company time and money and it is proof that the city is interested. Provo, Portland, Phoenix, Chapel Hill, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, San Antonio, and San Jose all have either existing fiber optic networks, or unused "dark fiber" that has been installed, but isn't currently in use.
"I believe these cities are not too big, they are not too small, they are not too rich, they are not too poor. They have the possibility to dig up the roads without causing major havoc like in downtown Manhattan, but there is purchasing power," said Dan Dieler, a principal analyst at Forrester Research.
These cities have enough resources to make good use of the Google Fiber product, without have an overbearing bureaucracy that could slow down the plan. According to Heather Burnett Gold, the president of Fiber to the Home Council in the Americas, Google is looking for cities with a committed city leadership in place who are "champions for fiber deployment," to help with things like expedited permitting, non-onerous franchise fees, access to any common ducts pole or right of way, and demand aggregation. Google is looking for cities that share their vision.
"I think Provo and Google shared a common vision about access to the Internet at home; the value to education, entrepreneurship, families and governance are all enhanced by nearly ubiquitous access and the availability of high speed said Provo chief administrative officer Wayne Parker.

The next 10 Fiber cities

Based on these five measurements from our investigation, here are 10 metro areas that we believe could be next on the list for Google Fiber:
1. Charleston, South Carolina - According to research done by others, there is a Google data center located in Goose Creek, South Carolina, which is a little over 17 miles outside of Charleston, and considered part of the Charleston Metro area. Moving into South Carolina would also offer Google the opportunity to continue its expansion into the Southeast, slowing Verizon's entry into that region. That same research points to evidence that North Carolina and South Carolina have provided tax incentives to Google in the past, proving their willingness to work with the search giant. Plus, fiber initiatives are already happening in the area, so we know there is existing fiber and a desire for gigabit internet.
2. Miami, Florida - At present, Miami is the one of the most fiber-connected cities in the US. Verizon has cornered St. Petersburg and Sarasota, so stepping into Miami would help to sweat them a little, provided that pressuring incumbents is their overall plan. Combine that with the fact that AT&T has announced that they are planning to enter Miami and the fact that Google already has a data center there and it is a no-brainer. The demographic diversity is an added plus for Google to collect user data.
3. Houston, Texas - Texas is an important state in the geographic battle for fiber because it is a strategic link between the Southeast and the West. Google has an existing data center in Houston, and it is close enough to Austin (existing Fiber city) and San Antonio (proposed Fiber city) to glean support from those areas. It is also a proposed AT&T fiber area, and close enough to Dallas and Fort Worth (both Verizon FiOS cities) to pressure the incumbents.
4. Seattle, Washington - Seattle is almost exactly what we believe Google is looking for. Google has a data center there and it is close in distance and demographics to Portland, the most recent city to take a step toward Fiber. By getting to both Seattle and Portland, Google will effectively corner the Pacific Northwest and position itself for an easier entry into Northern California. Seattle's cost of living and focus on creative endeavors show that they have the resources and the desire to engage new technology.
5. Tulsa, Oklahoma - Tulsa is a mere 45 minute drive from Google's data center in Pryor, Oklahoma. The city is home to the University of Tulsa, a private university with about 4,000 students. Verizon and AT&T have both avoided the central US, which is where Google got its start with Fiber. This gives Google a chance to draw a line in the sand and capture some of the top cities of the Great Plains region.
6. Cincinnati, Ohio - Cincinnati is one of the top 25 metros in the US with the most existing fiber. Cincinnati's population size and the presence of the University of Cincinnati offer an excellent sample population. Ohio already appears eager to get involved with the search giant, hosting a Google in Education Conference in Columbus in May of last year, sponsored by ITIP Ohio.
7. Chicago, Illinois - While this might not seem to fall in line with what the five parameters, Chicago, and its surrounding suburbs, are a testing ground for Google to enter a major city. Google does have a data center in Chicago, and the city is third most fiber-connected city in the country. Chicago's plethora of research universities adds to the potential for interesting Fiber experiments. The city's numerous suburbs could be a good starting point for Google Fiber, which can then slowly move toward the city center, if it is ever able to get the approval of the local government.
8. Minneapolis, Minnesota - Minneapolis, which is one of the most fiber-connected cities in the US, does not actually house a Google data center; but it would more than likely initially run as a support hub for the Chicago deployment. Google for Entrepreneurs has been known to sponsor events at the city's CoCo coworking space, and has named the city one of its tech hubs. If Google did decide to build a data center in the Twin Cities, thedefunct Ford plant offers the perfect real estate, complete with a hydroelectric dam to win them green points. The city is known as the primary business hub in the US between Chicago and Seattle, and houses a huge number of Fortune 500 companies, such as UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy, and US Bancorp. The city regularly lands on top quality of life lists and was named a "Top Tech City" by Popular Science in 2005.
9. San Diego, California - California is Google's home turf, and they are already targeting San Jose for one of their next Fiber deployments. They have a data center in Los Angeles, but Verizon has already deployed FiOS there. San Diego is the proxy Google needs to continue rolling out Fiber in California, without attacking FiOS head-on. San Diego is also a good way for Google to test the waters with the California government to see how far they can go in SoCal.
10. Denver, Colorado - Denver is another one of the most fiber-connected cities and while it doesn't have a Google data center, but it does have a connection to Google. The Google for Entrepreneurs program recently chose Denver's Galvanize startup building to be part of their network of tech hubs. Denver is a midpoint between the Midwest and the West Coast, and the Denver Technological Center is home to many large tech companies that compliment the startup scene.
Additionally, here are five metro areas to watch as Google Fiber continues its rollout. They don't meet all of our criteria, but they each offer Google a strategic advantage.
1. Virginia Beach, Virginia - While Google does have a data center in Virginia Beach, Verizon has deployed in the Virginia cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Norfolk, and Newport News; leaving Google a pawn surrounded by Queens.
2. St. Louis, Missouri - St. Louis is highly fiber-connected city, and it would provide a bridge from Chicago to Kansas City and Tulsa.
3. Columbia, South Carolina - If Google doesn't move on Charleston, they will more than likely deploy in Columbia. Google purchased nearly 500 acres in Blythewood, South Carolina, right outside of Columbia, for the construction of a data center. Columbia is also the home of the University of South Carolina.
4. Baltimore, Maryland - Baltimore would allow Google to dip its toe in the water of the Northeast, while getting them close enough to Washington, DC, which is an existing FiOS city, to put pressure on Verizon.
5. Detroit, Michigan - This may seem a little more contrived, but Detroit is one of the most fiber-connected cities in the US and is an emerging tech center. In a show of good faith, Google could deploy Fiber in Detroit to assist in a much-needed revival of the economy in the Motor City. It's also home to a Google for Entrepreneurs tech hub.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

La Economía: Tema subterráneo en las campañas electorales (Uruguay)

La economía es un tema subterráneo.

Cámaras empresariales exigen que los candidatos lo incluyan en la agenda
Las cámaras empresariales reclaman que la economía se convierta en uno de los temas centrales de la campaña electoral, dado que advierten factores de riesgo para el próximo gobierno.

La Cámara de la Construcción, la de Comercio, la de Industria y las asociaciones rurales sostienen que el próximo gobierno deberá enfrentarse a problemas económicos, y por esto advierten a los precandidatos que éste deberá ser un tema central e, incluso, algunos van más allá y plantean sugerencias para incluir en los programas.

También advierten que la crisis educativa ya los está afectando, y que esto se nota ante la ausencia de mano de obra calificada.

Desde la Cámara de Comercio señalan que una mejora de la educación es clave "para lograr una economía más competitiva".

Las mayores preocupaciones en materia económica recaen justamente sobre el comercio. Carlos Perera, presidente de esta cámara, dice que "hoy el gran desafío que presenta la economía uruguaya es lograr que su tasa de crecimiento tendencial a la cual está convergiendo, en el orden del 3% al 3,5%, sea sostenible en el tiempo, por lo tanto allí se presentan las principales preocupaciones del sector empresarial".

Lograr que la tasa se mantenga en esos niveles "dependerá de las políticas que las autoridades lleven adelante" en el marco de una "nueva situación económica mundial que implicará: incrementos en las tasas de intereses internacionales, fortalecimiento del dólar y menores precios internacionales de las materias primas".

Ante este contexto, el presidente de la Cámara dijo divisar algunos "problemas y obstáculos para el desarrollo de negocios" dentro de la coyuntura actual. Y enumeró: "regulaciones de corte proteccionista, creciente inversión del Estado en las actividades económicas, escasos avances en materia de educación, baja calidad educativa de la mano de obra disponible, rigidez en la determinación de los costos salariales y no salariales, aumento de la presión fiscal, aumento de la inseguridad pública e importantes trabas burocráticas para el desarrollo de negocios".

En cuanto a la carga impositiva, en tanto, el presidente de Comercio señaló que "es factor de preocupación empresarial que la presión fiscal en el país continúe manteniéndose en un 30% del Producto Bruto Interno (PBI)". Y añadió que "se torna evidente, por lo tanto, que bajo la situación económica actual deja de ser viable llevar adelante una estrategia de aumento del gasto público, financiado con la suba de impuestos o con mayor endeudamiento".

Otro tema que preocupa a la Cámara de Comercio son las "señales negativas para el sector empresarial asociadas a los escasos avances de infraestructura adecuada para sostener las tasas de crecimiento".

En este sentido también se expresó el presidente de la Cámara de la Construcción, Ignacio Otegui, que advirtió que es cuestión clave "mantener la inflación bajo control, no seguir aumentando el número de funcionarios públicos y disminuir los cargos de particular confianza. Evitar el aumento del déficit fiscal que implica endeudamiento o necesidad de emisión".

Así, agregó que hay que "animarse a comenzar a transitar el camino de una reforma del Estado, no para destruirlo sino para hacerlo eficiente y con el menor peso económico sobre los recursos disponibles. Que los líderes sean eso justamente y no personas que esperan a ver por dónde pasa la opinión general para sumarse".

Otegui recordó que "el país necesita una fuerte inversión en mantener y desarrollar más infraestructuras" y dijo que eso "ya no es novedad para nadie".

También contó que desde hace ya 20 años la Cámara entrega a los candidatos de todos los partidos, previo a cada elección, un análisis del estado de situación y propuestas que entienden necesarias y realizables. "Infraestructura en toda su dimensión, vivienda en toda su expresión inmobiliaria, innovación, desarrollo tecnológico, competencia leal, fortalecimiento de las empresas y recursos locales, tratamiento impositivo equilibrado, mecanismos de financiamiento diverso, formalización de la actividad, internacionalización de nuestras empresas, capacitación de nuestros recursos humanos, entre otros, han sido objeto de estudios y aporte de propuestas", contó Otegui.

La misma sensación de peligro a nivel económico fue expresada desde la Cámara de Industrias. Su presidente, Javier Carrau, precisó que lo que más afecta al sector "es el desalineamiento del tipo de cambio real".

"Debería definirse cuáles serán las medidas que se llevarán a cabo para adecuar la relación de precios de Uruguay con la región y el mundo, que nos devuelva la competitividad perdida por esta vía", advirtió.

Por otra parte, el presidente de la Cámara de Industrias precisó que "si tuviéramos que priorizar, creemos que es necesario que se comprometan a buscar los mecanismos para que se incremente la inversión en infraestructura, que se mejoren los resultados educativos y que se alivie la carga del Estado en lo que refiere a impuestos y regulaciones que entorpecen los negocios, al mismo tiempo que se aumente la calidad de los servicios públicos".

Los ruralistas no se quedan afuera del reclamo y también encienden una luz amarilla en cuanto a la economía, al tiempo que denuncian la pérdida de miles de puestos de trabajo en el último año.

Carlos María Uriarte, presidente de la Federación Rural, señaló los problemas que el sector observa en materia económica. "Tenemos varias preocupaciones en el marco económico, como la competitividad y el costo país, el tamaño del Estado y la carga tributaria del sector", resumió.

Ruben Echeverría, presidente de la Asociación Rural, se expresó en un sentido similar. "En la línea económica, la competitividad y los costos son temas medulares para el sector agropecuario. Hoy en día hay muchas producciones que están acotadas por los altos costos que tenemos, como una energía muy cara, uno de los combustibles más caros de la región, y eso a veces con la logística, la infraestructura y los fletes, genera limitantes a algunas producciones", afirmó.

Uriarte contó que observan con inquietud que "hay un aumento del centralismo, que está marcado por la desaparición de 12.000 explotaciones agropecuarias en los últimos 10 años, por 3.000 puestos de trabajo menos en el último año, y por las entre 10 y 12 escuelas rurales que se cierran cada año. Por eso nos preguntamos cómo se imaginan el campo", dijo.

Agregó que "hay un modelo de país que está sucediendo en forma silenciosa, que está fomentando el despoblamiento de la campaña".

El presidente de la Federación Rural dijo que la gremial tiene inquietud por la minería de gran porte y sus posibles impactos, "no sólo ambientales, sino, y más que nada, sociales". En esto coincidió Echeverría, que dijo que en su gremial "no vemos que este sea el momento adecuado para hacer minería de cielo abierto".

A la hora de pensar en qué temas deben estar presentes en la campaña electoral, el presidente de la Cámara de la Construcción, Otegui, se refirió antes que nada a la educación. "No ya en sus diagnósticos o en propuestas, que hay variadas y ejemplos exitosos aunque muy escasos, sino en ver y remover los obstáculos que impiden ingresar en un terreno de mejora continua. El aumento de los recursos económicos no es ya un argumento. Seguramente las barreras ideológicas y el fortalecido corporativismo sindical se han convertido en el freno principal", dijo.

Para Otegui "la educación, sobre todo la pública, no debe seguir de espaldas al mundo del trabajo pues además de buenos ciudadanos y conocedores de sus derechos, necesitamos buenos, eficientes y laboriosos profesionales, empleados, trabajadores, empresarios y gobernantes", opinó.

Sobre la educación, Perera, de la Cámara de Comercio, advirtió que esta es "la herramienta fundamental para disponer de mano de obra calificada" y que ésta "junto con la eficiencia en el mercado de trabajo son las claves para lograr una economía más competitiva, no solo en términos absolutos, sino también frente a los principales socios comerciales actuales y potenciales".

Uriarte, en tanto, no fue ajeno al señalar los problemas de "inseguridad, de educación y de la pérdida de valores de la sociedad. El respeto, el amor al trabajo y a la familia son cosas que preocupan mucho al sector agropecuario", expresó.

El Pit-Cnt reclamará por "más conquistas"

El miércoles 9, la Mesa Representativa del Pit-Cnt aprobó un documento elaborado por la mayoría -afín al gobierno- que se titula "Propuesta de Plan de Acción del Año-Pit-Cnt 2014". El material contiene visiones de los trabajadores sobre temas como la inflación, la minería de gran porte, el rol del movimiento sindical ante un gobierno frenteamplista y el incremento de los tributos, entre otros.

La minoría -crítica al gobierno- realizó aportes al documento y allí confrontaron las dos visiones existentes en el Pit-Cnt.

Además, el Pit-Cnt utilizará el acto del 1° de mayo, previsto para el próximo jueves, para brindar su punto de vista en un año electoral.

Los oradores serán el coordinador del Pit-Cnt, Fernando Pereira y el dirigente del sindicato de Antel, Gabriel Molina.

Uno de los ejes del discurso de ambos dirigentes será que los trabajadores uruguayos experimentaron una "serie de cambios favorables" a partir de la llegada al gobierno en el año 2005 del Frente Amplio, "no exento de contradicciones y diferencias".

"Estos avances tienen que ver con una recuperación salarial superior al 40% en términos reales en promedio de los trabajadores, en algunos sectores más débiles alcanzó el 80%. Desde el punto de vista técnico explica buena parte de la reducción de la pobreza", dijo Pereira a El País.

El Frente Amplio mantendrá en su plataforma la insistencia sobre la necesidad de aumentar el salario mínimo por categoría.

Pereira destacó que se aprobaron varias leyes que profundizaron la democracia, como la de negociación colectiva, libertad sindical, horario de ocho horas para el trabajador rural y servicio doméstico, el cambio del pago de Disse a los trabajadores que se enferman y la responsabilidad penal en caso de siniestralidad.

En el acto del 1° de mayo, el Pit-Cnt insistirá en que se necesitan "más conquistas" como la profundización del Sistema Integrado de Salud, aumentar el presupuesto de la educación a un 6% del Producto Bruto Interno, el cambio de la matriz energética, la generación de las condiciones para que la pobreza y la indigencia desaparezcan de Uruguay.

"Hemos batallado mucho para que algunas leyes, salarios y nuestros derechos mejoraran. Claro está que falta mucho por hacer y vamos a tratar de expresar en el acto todo aquello que peleará el movimiento sindical en el próximo quinquenio", resumió Pereira.

El Pit-Cnt cuenta con 350.000 afiliados pertenecientes a 60 gremios. Cada corriente de la central obrera dirige a sindicatos que aglutinan a un poco más de 100.000 trabajadores cada una de ellas.

ADES reclama aumentos

"Nosotros seguimos insistiendo con las cosas básicas. El presupuesto de la educación pública es un tema clave y decisivo, porque nunca se cumplió con lo prometido. Y todos los gobiernos de turno han mentido. Entre la Administración Nacional de Educación Pública (ANEP) y la Universidad de la República (UdelaR) apenas llegan a un 4% y téngase en cuenta que solo en ANEP hay 700.000 estudiantes y 58.000 trabajadores", dijo a El País el dirigente de la Asociación de Docentes de Educación Secundaria (ADES), Luis Martínez.

Los sindicatos reclaman un presupuesto del 6% del Producto Interno Bruto, pero advierten que éste debe destinarse solo a mejorar los salarios.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Yandex Sinks as Putin Hints at Stronger Internet Control (Bloomberg)

                                    Apr 25, 2014

President Vladimir Putin’s threat to subject Yandex NV (YNDX), Russia’s largest search-engine company, to more regulation is deepening the stock’s selloff. Yandex plunged 10 percent to $24 in New York today after slumping 5.6 percent yesterday as Putin said the government is considering what types of companies should be recognized as media outlets, which require a license in Russia. He said the issue with Yandex, which republishes news stories on its website, isn’t a simple one. The stock is down 44 percent this year, making it the worst performer on the Bloomberg index of the most-traded Russian stocks in the U.S., after doubling in 2013.

Putin, speaking at a conference in St. Petersburg, said Russia should protect its information in a market dominated by U.S. technology. The comments suggest Putin may try to gain more control of Russia’s online industry as his push into neighboring Ukraine fuels the worst standoff with the U.S. and its allies since the end of the Cold War, said Ian Hague, founding partner of Firebird Management LLC.
“The Kremlin seems to be very concerned about its ability to control people’s communications on the Internet, particularly communications in Russian,” Hague, based in New York, said by phone yesterday. “It’s hard to interpret Putin’s comments as anything but negative for Yandex.”
Firebird, which manages $1.3 billion of assets including Russian stocks, doesn’t hold Yandex shares, Hague said.

Russian Taxes

Yandex said in a statement that it doesn’t see the need for a license to publish headlines on its homepage “since all of these headlines are produced by licensed media outlets.”
Putin also expressed concern about Yandex’s corporate structure.
When Yandex started, “they were pushed to have a certain number of Americans and Europeans in their management,” Putin said at the conference yesterday. “Some of their regulation is done abroad, and not only for the purpose of taxation, but for other reasons. That is a complex area.”
Yandex, based in The Hague, said its decision to locate its headquarters outside of Russia had nothing to do with its tax structure.
“Practically all of our taxes are paid in Russia since our principal business is here,” Ochir Mandzhikov, a spokesman for Yandex, wrote in an e-mail response to questions yesterday.

Quarterly Income

Putin has sunk stocks before with public comments. OAO Mechel, the steelmaker controlled by Igor Zyuzin, plunged the most in three years in July 2008 after Putin, then serving as prime minister, publicly rebuked the billionaire for saying he was too sick to attend a government meeting. If Zyuzin doesn’t get well soon, “we’ll need to send him a doctor and clean up all these problems,” Putin said at the time.
Yandex yesterday reported a 19 percent increase in first-quarter profit on rising demand for Internet advertising. Net income climbed to 2.68 billion rubles ($75 million), the company said in a statement, falling short of the 2.69 billion-ruble average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue gained 36 percent to 10.9 billion rubles, compared with the average estimate of 10.5 billion rubles.
The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index retreated 3.3 percent to 77.25 today, extending its 2014 plunge to 25 percent. The Micex Index slid 1.6 percent to 1,280.12.
Putin said information must be protected and indicated that his government may review Yandex’s status as a media institution.
“This was a strong and negative signal,” Mansur Mammadov, a money manager at Kazimir Partners in Moscow, which sold its Yandex holding last year, said by phone yesterday. “When Putin talks about a private company in such a negative context, that is immediately bad for the stock.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Halia Pavliva in New York

Friday, April 25, 2014

Net Neutrality: What's Really Happening? (PCMagazine)

Fastest ISP 2011

Is net neutrality really dead? Here are some of the top questions about the FCC's plan, and what we know so far...

The Internet exploded last night after it was announced that the FCC was considering a new set of net neutrality rules that would let broadband providers negotiate individual deals with content providers.
Reaction was swift. Net neutrality is dead! The Internet is forever changed! The FCC is corrupt! But is that true? Here are some of the top questions about what the FCC is proposing, and what we know so far.
So net neutrality as we know it is dead, huh? Not exactly. The FCC has issued what is called a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM), which is a fancy way of saying a rough draft. Nothing has actually been implemented.
What happens next? FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has handed over his ideas to his fellow commissioners so they have time to look it over before voting on them at their May 15 meeting. But then it opens up to public comment, and could change form before anything becomes final.
What's in that rough draft? According to a blog post from Wheeler this morning, the proposed rules keep "the underlying goals of transparency, no blocking of lawful content, and no unreasonable discrimination among users" that the FCC's original net neutrality rules imposed. The new rules, however, create a "roadmap [for] how to enforce rules of the road that protect an Open Internet."
Translation, please? The FCC's rules were struck down by an appeals court, so the FCC needs to go back to the drawing board and find something that works. According to Wheeler, the court said that the FCC can stop activity that is not "commercially reasonable," so the FCC is running with that. But what actually counts as commercially reasonable? Well, that still needs to be decided.
And if something is commercially unreasonable? The FCC could stop it.
How would the FCC be alerted to commercially unreasonable behavior?Someone could file a formal complaint or an informal complaint, or the FCC could unearth it in its general monitoring of the industry.
OK, so what's the problem? The first report about the FCC rules came from theWall Street Journal, which said that "broadband providers [could] charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes." And that is basically the complete antithesis of what net neutrality stands for.
How does the FCC explain that one? Again, nothing is set in stone, but from what the agency is saying, companies are free to enter into certain arrangements, but they shouldn't press their luck because if the FCC deems it to be "commercially unreasonable," it can step in and make them stop it.
What type of deal would a broadband provider be allowed to broker? An FCC official had only one example of when it might be OK to prioritize traffic: a prioritized connection to someone with an at-home heart-rate monitor that didn't significantly impact Internet traffic to anyone else. Further examples will likely come up during the rulemaking process, that official said, but the FCC will consider whether there is a benefit to prioritizing traffic in certain situations.
Er, the use of the word 'prioritizing' just makes it sound bad, though. Shhh, go back to sleep.
Why change anything? Fight the power! At this point, the FCC has been sued twice over its net neutrality rules and lost both times. As a result, the commission needs to come up with something that withstands a legal challenge. And this is what they've got so far.
Am I going to see price hikes? The FCC couldn't answer that one.
Are wireless carriers involved in this? Not really. The original net neutrality rules applied loosely to wireless carriers (transparency and no blocking). But the anti-discrimination bit - which is the most controversial aspect of this overhaul - does not cover wireless providers.
How does this relate to the deal Netflix struck with Comcast? The inter-connection deal that Comcast and Netflix announced recently covers Netflix traffic traveling over the Comcast network, and basically gives Comcast customers a better Netflix experience (65 percent better, apparently). According to an FCC official, the net neutrality rules cover a broadband provider's operation of its own network and doesn't extend to things like peering. Adding that would likely complicate - and prolong - the issue, so one thing at a time.
What about re-classifying broadband? Speaking of things that would prolong the debate, there has been discussion about classifying broadband as a telecom service rather than an information service in order to give the FCC more control over the industry. Classifying broadband as a telecom service instead of an information service would be an easy way to do that–in theory. But the road to classifying Internet as an information service went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2005 via the Brand X case, so reversing that decision would probably prompt a lengthy legal and political battle. According to the FCC, though, reclassification isn't completely off the title, so feel free to bring that up when you file public comments. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Internet keeps getting faster and more dangerous (ZDNet)

Summary: Akamai's latest State of the Internet Report is out and it shows an Internet that's becoming faster and more dangerous

Akamai, a leading Internet content delivery network (CDN) company, released its Fourth Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report (PDF Link) on April 23rd. The good news is that the global average Internet connect speed keeps getting faster. The bad news is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks increased at an even speedier pace.

Top 10 States Average Internet Speed
The good news? The Internet's getting faster for most of us. The bad news? There's more network attacks than ever.

First, the good news. The average connection speed in the United States reached 10.0 Mbps (Megabits per second), a gain of 2 percent from the previous quarter. Canada reached 9.0 Mbps after a 1.5 percent quarterly increase. Mexico’s 4.0 Mbps average connection speed was the highest among the remaining surveyed countries in the Americas, after growing 2.9 percent quarter over quarter.
In the US, Virginia had the highest average connection speed, at 14.4 Mbps. The state also had the largest quarter-over-quarter speed growth of 11 percent. With the exception of Washington State, the top ten states with fast Internet were all on the East coast.
According to Akamai, year over year, the global average peak connection speeds increased 38 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. During the last quarter the global average connection speed improved with a quarterly increase of 5.5 percent The global Internet average speed is now 3.8 Mbps. South Korea, as it long has, held the top spot with the highest average connection speed of 21.9 Mbps.
Global high broadband (>10 Mbps) adoption rates in the fourth quarter slowed from previous, double-digit percentage growth to a quarterly increase of 1.6 percent, staying at 19 percent. Year-over-year improvement was strong, however, with the global high broadband adoption rate increasing by 56 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.
"We’ve reached a significant milestone in the improvement of average connection speeds," said David Belson, editor of the State of the Internet Report in a statement. "The fact that all of the top 10 countries/regions’ average connection speeds are now at or exceeding the high broadband threshold – and continued strong growth in countries like South Korea and Ireland – is indicative of the progress that’s being made in broadband penetration. It’s reasonable to expect these promising trends will continue to be reflected in future reports."
So much for the good news. Akamai also saw an increase in Internet-borne network attacks. In particular, Akamai's customers reported 1,153 DDoS attacks in 2013. That's a network administrator's nightmare 50 percent increase from 2012's number of attacks.
Akamai reported that "Enterprise and commerce continued to be the industries targeted most frequently by the reported DDoS attacks in the fourth quarter respectively. Together, they account for fewer than 70 percent of the reported attacks during the quarter, while slightly less than half of the total attacks were reported by customers in the Americas."
China maintained its position as the country that originated the most observed attack traffic, with quarter-over-quarter growth from 35 percent to 43 percent. The US took second place. These numbers do not reflect government monitoring of Internet traffic, ala the NSA, or attacks made on Secure-Socket Layer (SSL) servers via the Heartbleed security hole.
Port 445, the port used for Microsoft network drive sharing via Server Message Block (SMB), remained the most targeted port in the fourth quarter. 30 percent of observed attacks were made on it in the covered quarter. Port 80, which is used by the Web's HTTP, remained in second place, accounting for a consistent 14 percent of attacks. Port 443 (SSL/HTTPS) remained in third place for this quarter.
To sum up, the Internet is getting faster, but it's also being used more and more commonly for attacks. 2013 ended up being a year of mixed blessings for the Internet. I'm sure 2014 will bring us more of the same.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge PC operating system. SJVN covers networking, Linux, open source, and operating systems.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

U.S. States Target Corporate Cash Stashed Overseas (BusinessWeek)

Members of Congress have complained for years about U.S. corporations that park profits overseas to avoid paying federal taxes. Yet efforts to pass corporate tax reform that includes incentives and penalties to prod businesses into bringing that money home have stalled in Washington. Tired of waiting for a fix, several states are going after state tax dollars that disappear into offshore havens.
Oregon enacted a bill last June for the 2014 tax year identifying 39 countries and territories—including Barbados, Liberia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—as corporate shelters. The state counts profits that corporations and their subsidiaries stash in shelter countries as taxable income, and companies that do business in the state must report it on their state tax returns and pay up. On April 16 the Democrat-controlled Maine legislature gave final approval to similar legislation, over objections from some Republicans that it’s anti-business. Minnesota and Rhode Island are studying whether to pursue bills of their own. “The issue at hand is one of fairness,” Maine Representative Adam Goode, a Democrat from Bangor, said during the debate on the bill he sponsored. “It really just seemed not in balance, not smart, and not fair that we would allow multinational corporations to hide their corporate income in a place like the Cayman Islands or in Bermuda.”
Offshore tax shelters cost the federal government $30 billion to $90 billion annually, according to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which tracks corporate taxes, puts the amount that states lose at $20 billion a year. The largest U.S.-based multinational companies have accumulated $1.95 trillion in profits outside the U.S. That’s up $206 billion, or 11.8 percent, from a year earlier, according to securities filings from 307 corporations.
Microsoft (MSFT)Apple (AAPL), and IBM (IBM) accounted for $37.5 billion, or 18.2 percent, of the total increase during the past year. Caterpillar (CAT) avoided $2.4 billion in U.S. taxes over more than a decade by shifting profits from a parts business to a subsidiary in Switzerland, according to a report issued on March 31 by a Senate committee. The company says the move was legal and appropriate.
“To the extent that they have figured out ways to avoid paying their proper share, then it’s our job to try to prevent them,” says Oregon State Representative Phil Barnhart, a Democrat who sponsored tax-haven legislation there. The model for the recent legislation is Montana, which began taxing sheltered profits a decade ago, followed by Alaska, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Montana recouped $7.1 million in taxes in 2010 from companies that held money in five top havens, according to a 2012 state report. Oregon estimates its new law will allow it to bring in $18 million a year initially. Maine projects $5 million in additional yearly tax revenue if Governor Paul Le Page, a Republican, signs the bill. (He hasn’t said whether he will.) That’s not much by Washington standards, but it’s a sizable windfall for smaller states struggling to meet their budgets.
Few of the states that have passed or are contemplating tax-haven legislation are home to a large multinational such as Microsoft, which is based in Washington, or Apple in California, IBM in New York, or Caterpillar in Illinois. Those states would stand to collect far more from such measures. California lost the most to offshore havens in 2011, an estimated $3.3 billion, the Public Interest Research Group reports. Ron Erickson, a former lawmaker who sponsored Montana’s bill in 2003, expects more states to start demanding their share. “I’m discouraged that it’s gone this slowly,” he says, “but I’m also of the confident sort that thinks that eventually fairness wins out.”
The bottom line: States want their share of $20 billion in lost tax revenue from companies that park profits in foreign tax havens.
With Richard Rubin

Niquette is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Columbus, Ohio.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The 2015 Toyota Camry Wants to Be Just as Popular, Not as Boring (BusinessWeek)

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the boring old Toyota (7203:JP) Camry. Last year, Toyota sold about 408,000 Camrys in North America—the biggest share of the biggest category (midsize cars). Honda (HMC), by comparison, sold 365,000 of its Accord, the next closest model in the group.
Car engineers in general are paying more attention to design, and Camry competitors such as the Ford (F) Fusion and the Nissan(7201:JP) Altima have earned praise for being less boring (which is a lot to ask of a sedan). The Camry, last overhauled for the 2011 model year, just got another face-lift. The 2015 model it unveiled at the New York Auto Show this week was an ambitious (and no doubt expensive) upgrade. We cornered John Krafcik, a former chief executive of Hyundai (530:KS) North America, and asked him to walk us around the new Camry and point out the most notable changes. Here’s what caught his eye:
Overall impression: “They’ve gone bolder at a time when some of their competitors have decided to smooth things out and kind of quiet things down. It’s fascinating to see that dynamic. … I think it’s great from a design-trajectory standpoint.”

Stock is an associate editor for Twitter: @kylestock