Report Examines Where the Top VC Firms Are Investing

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Last week, we looked at one of the latest reports from the investment research firm CB Insights, tracking the top venture capital firms across the U.S. in terms of their deal activity. According to that report, over the past year the top 30 firms participated in 663 unique deals (almost a quarter of all deals) with amounting to almost $9 billion in investment.CB Insights has broken down these deals further to examine the trends in terms of deal flow by sector, and no surprise, investment in Internet technologies led the pack, comprising 36% of the deals and 26% of the dollars the top VC firms invested. (Healthcare was the number 2 sector for both the deal numbers and deal size.) Within the Internet sector, there are numerous sub-industries where VCs invested – monitoring, security, web development, video. But despite this diversity, four of these sub-industries dominated, accounting for 40% of the funding from VC firms: social; advertising, sales and marketing; e-commerce; and gaming. Social, advertising, and gaming were the top three sub-industries in terms of deal flow as well. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts Tags:#Analysis#start center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… audrey watters Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Consumer Level Cisco Telepresence Coming Next Week

first_imgNetworking giant Cisco offers super-fancy “telepresence” video conferencing studios for rent in major cities around the world, but now the futuristic service will be made available to consumers for home use, according to reports.Kara Swisher writes this morning that telepresence systems will be sold for between $200 and $500 and the announcement will be made next week. You can get a picture of what the enterprise product looks like, including the company’s progress on interoperability with other platforms, in the video from last week below. Tags:#Multimedia#news#Video Services#web 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App marshall kirkpatrick 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Related Posts Why does Cisco do telepresence? As we wrote this Summer:As blogger and Institute for the Future researcher Chris Arkenberg put bluntly: “Anything that drives more bandwidth through those increasingly clogged arterial Intertubes makes Cisco very happy. Video is huge and hosting more and more of it will require companies to budget for bigger & better routers to handle the throughput.”Would you plop down a few hundred bucks for a big home telepresence device? I’d probably rather wait for an iPad with a front facing camera, myself, but I certainly find this idea intriguing as well.Real time, video, presence data, collaboration – all of those are important trends for the future. But does dedicated hardware and a single-purpose communication channel outside the public web make sense for consumers? That’s going to be a hard sell, beyond the “wow” factor. This is like Apple Facetime for the couch, but Facetime comes on a mobile device that can do a whole lot more as well.Jay Cuthrell of ReadWriteHack may disagree:I watched a 7 year old kid kick off a Telepresence when I lived in Atlanta 2 years ago. He touched a touch screen phone and up popped a 3 HD display in 1080p of folks in San Jose just like they were across the table from us. It’s wonderfully elegant technology. If Cisco can manage to sell a boatload of these products, though, expect the “web is dead” debate about bandwidth use inside and outside the open public web to be even further skewed. last_img read more

Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Incubators Are Reaching Out To 1M/1M

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… After hosting three live roundtables and being on stage for six to seven hours a day last month during my trip to Pune, I almost lost my voice. At the final roundtable, we worked with just two entrepreneurs and then spent the rest of the time on Q&A, which in itself was interesting.First up, Satya Choppadhandi from Bangalore, India, presented Evolutech Networks, a company that manufactures wireless energy monitoring devices for the smart home. Satya is evaluating various go-to-market models such as franchising, and I advised him to focus on direct selling to major builders and working with industry value-added resellers (VARs) that already operate in the smart home segment in India. These resellers buy devices from the U.S. and Singapore at significantly higher prices and presumably would be open to sourcing lower-cost parts.The smart home business is still in the very early stages in India, and it will take some time before Evolutech ramps up. Meanwhile, financing the company will be quite challenging, and I advised Satya to manufacture parts based only on signed contracts and advances against orders, to avoid getting into an inventory-rich, working capital-poor situation.GeoInvenioNext, Douglas Villalobos from Costa Rica pitched GeoInvenio, a mobile application development platform. Douglas has identified about 50 software companies in Costa Rica that may be willing to develop apps on top of the GeoInvenio platform. I advised him to get into deeper conversations with these 50 companies and get a better feel for what applications they would build and how they want to pay for the platform: license, subscription, or transaction fee. In addition, I asked him to do a competitive analysis on the pricing models of the various mobile app platforms and come back to me with both sets of market data, namely, customer research and competitive analysis. We can derive GeoInvenio’s business model and pricing model based on that.You can select the business you like best through a poll on the 1M/1M Facebook page.In the Q&A, Bill Gordon introduced himself as one of the principals of the Stamford Innovation Center, an incubator being formed in Connecticut. Bill has been following the 1M/1M project and would like to connect his partners to our team. This is an interesting trend we’re seeing as we connect with incubators around the world. We are successfully establishing partnerships with various incubators whereby 1M/1M is being viewed as a supplementary resource to the efforts of these organizations. As you know, we have already announced two partnerships with MAD Incubator in Malaysia and the IAN Incubator in India, and have several other such relationships in the pilot stage.There are 7,000 incubators in the world, and our vision is to work with as many of these incubators as possible in a supplemental mode, whereby we plug in our Silicon Valley-based methodology and network, curriculum (video lectures and case studies), business development services, and investor connections to enhance significantly the portfolio of offerings from local and regional incubators in various countries. Clearly, efforts to establish technology business incubators are in high gear around the world, and our 100% virtual offering can be a great complement to the brick-and-mortar incubators that are providing on-the-ground support for entrepreneurship development.The recording of this roundtable can be found here. Recordings of previous online roundtables are all available here. You can register for upcoming roundtables here.Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tags:#start#StartUp 101 sramana mitracenter_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts last_img read more

Lodsys Moves Forward With Lawsuits Against iOS App Developers

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Despite a letter from Apple lawyers last week stating that its licensing agreements protected iOS app developers, Lodsys is moving forward with its lawsuits against developers for patent infringement. Lodsys owns four patents that it claims app developers must pay to use, and in a series of blog posts today, Lodsys outlined its plans to continue its legal efforts to obtain those payments.Lodsys disputes Apple’s claims that agreements between the two companies cover the third party developers building iOS apps. While the company notes that Apple’s defense of developers had a “very positive reaction” in the press and by developers (duh), it warns that “Developers relying on Apple’s letter do so to their own detriment and are strongly urged to review Apple’s own developer agreements to determine the true extent of Apple’s responsibilities to them.”Although Lodsys had initially given developers 21 days to respond to its legal threats, it went ahead today and filed lawsuits against developers, saying that it opted to “move its litigation timing to an earlier date than originally planned, in response to Apple’s threat, in order to preserve its legal options.”in an attempt to demonstrate that it’s willing to put its money where its mouth is, Lodsys says that it will pay $1000 to any developer to whom it has sent an infringement notice if it turns out that the company’s claims are baseless. Although Macrumors interprets this as a sign the company is confident that it will prevail in court, it could be seen as another grandstanding effort.Regardless, the lawsuits are a serious matter and as it appears that the legal threats have spread from iOS to Android developers, they could stifle innovation and development on mobile platforms, particularly if third party developers have to shell out the money to pay to use the technology to which Lodsys holds the patents. audrey watters Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#Apple#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Google, Bing & Yahoo’s New Schema.org Creates New Standards for Web Content Markup

first_imgThe Web’s three leading search companies are announcing today a new collaboration called Schema.org, where more than 100 new types of website markup for content like movies, music, organizations, TV shows, products, places and more will allow search engines to better understand and present what they find on the pages that show up in search results. Yahoo announced the project first today on its Yahoo Search Blog and said it was reminiscent of all three search companies collaborating to create the sitemap concept.This will change the way people design websites, it will change the way people do search marketing, it will change a lot of things. It should be very, very interesting.The work is related to Yahoo’s years-old Search Monkey project, where website owners were given guidance about how to mark up websites so that their appearances in Yahoo search results were vastly improved. Gone are the days of a blue link and a few lines of text in each and every case. Some types of discovered content are better displayed in other ways, with charts, graphs or images, for example. Now that Google and Bing are teaming up with Yahoo to create a standard format, I expect that just about every site on the Web will be stopping to take a look and see how they can incorporate the new structure advocated on Schema.org.Above, a screenshot of the kind of search results Google has displayed since offering its Rich Snippets markup documentation. In this case, it will be easy to know what the cooking time for this recipe is because “cookTime” is one of 10 standardized fields in the recipe schema under schema.org, so there’s one standardized way to communicate cook time for a recipe and every third party indexing a recipe Web page will know what the cooking time is immediately.Bing says of the project:“We’ve made great progress on the technical front to begin to model the real world from the messy bits of data scattered across the web. Things like movies have benefitted from this work. We’re now able to understand ‘Casablanca’ is a movie and literally mine the web to re-assemble information about that movie from millions of sites.But we think we can do better. We want to enable publishers to give us hints about what things they are describing on their sites. Rather than rely solely on machine learning and other AI techniques, we asked “what if we could enable publishers to have a single schema they could use to describe their sites that all search engines could understand?…We at Bing see this as a major step forward for the web, simplification for webmasters and richer more informative search results for consumers. As search continues to evolve from finding links to taking action, we’re excited about the potential this new system provides.”This will change the way people design websites, it will change the way people do search marketing, it will change a lot of things. It should be very, very interesting.Google’s take on the announcement is the most detailed and can be found here.Here’s how I understand such work: technical standards like standardized markup for content types allows search engines and other sites to skip spending time and work figuring out what kind of content is on a page and move directly to the stage of doing something interesting with that content. It’s not easy for a Web service to know that a page is about food, or wine or a movie – but if all pages that are communicate that in a standard fashion, then 3rd parties like search engines can proceed directly to building beautiful food, wine and movie search results pages or other services that present the content in a more compelling fashion. That could make searching more pleasurable and useful and ultimately drives more traffic to the most useful and best formatted sites in the search results. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting marshall kirkpatrick A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts Tags:#NYT#search#web last_img read more

VMware Labs Tentatively Releases Zimbra Client for Android

first_imgIT + Project Management: A Love Affair 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Tags:#Communications#enterprise#mobile Related Posts klint finleycenter_img Things have been quiet on the Zimbra front for some time now, so it’s nice to hear a little news: VMware has released a Zimbra client for Android. But it describes the apps as a “fling.” Zimbra for Android is free, but there is no support and no guarantee that it will ever become part of an official product offering. In other words, it’s nothing you want to seriously deploy, but if you’re both a Zimbra user and an Android user you might want to check it out and give VMware your feedback.Zimbra running on an Android tabletThe client enables users to access e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks and files. It doesn’t seem to have built in support for document editing. It should work with “any Microsoft ActiveSync compliant email server and also supports the VMware Zimbra Collaboration Server.”You can download it RemoSync, Aderium Companion and LVContacts Sync.Disclosure: VMware is a ReadWriteWeb sponsor. Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…last_img read more

Jobs for Data Scientists Explode Across The Market

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting marshall kirkpatrick Tags:#Data Services#NYT#web center_img Related Posts In what’s likely just the beginning of a long-term story, job listings indexed by employment search engine Indeed.com indicate that market demand for data scientists and people capable of working with “big data” took a huge leap over the last year. David Smith of Revolution Analytics performed several related queries and posted the results today on his company’s blog.The most common definition of “big data” is datasets that grow so large that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools, such as Excel. It’s a soft term and is super trendy right now – but that doesn’t mean the trend’s not big and real. “Even if you just look at it as a superficial marketing change, it shows how excited people are about applying statistical techniques to new problems,” says leading independent data scientist Pete Warden. “The success of companies like Google and Amazon has encouraged a whole generation of business leaders to try and replicate their data-driven processes, and left them searching for data scientists.”What does a data scientist do? “Right now, everybody with data knows that there’s value in there, that they should be doing something,” says Edd Dumbill, program chair for Strata, O’Reilly’s new conference on Data. “Trouble is, nobody’s entirely clear on the next steps, but they do know that a data scientist can help frame questions and transform data into useful insight.“In some ways, yes, there’s just a fashion for job title change. But there’s a bit more there. The data scientist’s brief is exploratory and entrepreneurial, prospecting for and unlocking value in data.”Dumbill says he sees the demand first hand. “At the Strata conference in February the job board was plastered with recruitment ads in no time at all,” he says. “Some enterprising person even advertised a job by using their computer to advertise a wireless network ID saying they were hiring.” Indeed, that almost every speaker on stage said they were looking hard to make new hires was one of the most striking things about that event in my memory as well. I’ve got high hopes that a growing appreciation for analyzing the world quantitatively will yield opportunities to make it a better place qualitatively. If you’re interested in this trend, check out this list of data-loving journalists on Twitter. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

How Big Data and the iPad Have Fundamentally Changed Baseball

first_imgThe first time I stood in a Major League Baseball clubhouse was a month after the original iPad came out. My editor at the time was standing next to me and joked how Apple products were like a fever in the MLB. Whenever the newest and coolest was released from Cupertino, all the players rushed to buy.I nodded and shrugged. These are rich men that want their toys. I looked over and saw a starting pitcher sitting on a leather couch, playing Plants vs. Zombies on his iPad (he was not pitching that night). Yet, iPads and other devices permeating baseball are not all about watching YouTube or killing zombies. Combined with an era of abundant data, iPads have revolutionized the game.This post is brought to you by Columbia Pictures “Moneyball“Sabermetrics: Stats Can Tell You Everything“Then you could change it to where you say, ‘I want to see all pitches low and away.’ And it will change every piece of data [to] every pitch low and away. You can draw a custom area you want to pick on that strike zone, or out of the strike zone, and see all the pitches in those locations. Then, once you draw that, it shows you the data, all his stats and numbers, for that area you’ve selected, on that type of pitch.” – Colorado Rockies video coordinator Brian Jones.About 15 years ago, baseball started undergoing a shift. Smart general managers saw data as a way to exploit market inefficiencies that others were not yet aware of. Twenty years ago, the standard baseball statistics were hits, runs, home runs, runs batted in, hitting average, earned run average and errors. These days, those stats do not tell the whole story. Without context, they are shell numbers. It is great to know that a player hit 25 home runs, but how many runs did he create? If he hit 25 home runs yet got on base less than 25% of the time, he is actually a below average player. These days statistics can tell you everything you need to know about a hitter or a pitcher. Hit charts that show the spray of where a hitter normally puts the ball into play can give managers an edge by allowing them to align their defense to those statistical “hot spots.” Below is a chart of a game that Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched several years ago against the Philadelphia Phillies. The chart represents the “release point,” or where the pitcher let go of the ball in his windup, for each pitch he threw in that game. For example, a hitter can study this and know that when the pitcher throws a fastball, he tends to release it at a specific point in his delivery over time. (Chart from Brooks Baseball) Related Posts The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement This new era of advanced baseball statistics is called Sabermetrics. The term is derived from the name of the research organization Society for American Baseball Research, a.k.a SABR. SABR is also a mathematical “stochastic volatility model” used in financial derivative markets. Along with SABR there are a variety of baseball professionals and stat enthusiasts who spend their lives analyzing baseball statistics. FanGraphs, Baseball Reference are two of the most popular destinations for statistical research and a great resource for sports writers, managers and players. There is even a Chrome extension that allows people to search all of these websites directly from the address bar. Almost all major league teams now have divisions in their front offices dedicated solely to advanced statistical analysis. Data has changed the game.The iPad RevolutionFormer NASA CTO Chris Kemp once told me that “tablets are the gateway to the cloud.” It is a line that has stuck with me. Think of data as a silo that exists within the cloud. That data can be tapped at anytime, from anywhere, using tablets with applications specifically designed to access the data and give it context. That has precisely what is happening in baseball. Before the iPad, some of the geekier players in baseball would load data and video on to iPod Touches and research past performance when they were working out or on a plane to the next city. Say that a Red Sox second baseman wants to see every plate appearance he has ever had against Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia. The Red Sox stats and video department could queue up those instances and download them onto Pedroia’s iPod, to be used at his leisure.center_img Tags:#Apple#cloud computing#mobile#web Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces dan rowinski Image: ESPNThe iPad has taken this a step further. Video can now be accompanied with charts and data, all on the same screen. The player does not need to have the video department download any thing, it is available on tap from the cloud. ESPN senior baseball writer Jayson Stark illuminates how the iPad and statistical analysis has changed baseball. He posted an article on ESPN in late August that is a one of the most comprehensive looks at how the Information Age, especially iPads, is changing the fundamental nature of baseball. “You have all these boxes you can change,” Brian Jones, the video coordinator for the Colorado Rockies, said to Stark. “Say you want to look at all right-handed pitchers versus Carlos Lee. It will pull up a strike zone and a guy standing there, and it will show you, like, every pitch. Then you can break it down by date. You can change the date range, and it will give you his stats, the pitches thrown, swing-and-miss percentage, everything you can think of, for those dates.”Baseball Just The Tip Of The SpearOther sports have jumped into advanced statistical analysis as well. Basketball probably has the second highest rate of advanced statistical usage while football and hockey provide more challenges for the penetration of advanced statistics. That is not to say that hockey and football do not use advanced stats, it is just that the sports have not developed a research community that focuses on them the way that baseball has. Now, think away from sports. Organizations and enterprises such as large companies and federal agencies are starting to see the value of data on tap available through tablet interfaces. Baseball is a fun example but how people, businesses and organizations access data is fundamentally changing how people go about their daily lives. last_img read more

Google Deputizes the Crowd to Help Edit Maps

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts Tags:#Google#NYT#web It always seemed pretty brave of Google to try to maintain an up-to-date, accurate map of the entire world when their business (advertising) makes a lot more money off of U.S. and European users than, say, users in South Sudan. But Google Maps expanded top-level international support for Maps last month, indicating a bigger commitment to localized content, which means the internal reviewers will need all the help they can get.The service hasn’t always treated all locations equally. For example, earlier this summer, Google Maps restored the name of Martyr’s Square in Tripoli – renamed Green Square by Moamar Gaddafi’s regime – practically overnight while that revolution was in the news. By contrast, South Sudan, which gained independence from the North months ago, still doesn’t exist on Google Maps. In keeping with these priorities, Google still hasn’t responded to us with comment on why that is.Google Maps vs. the CIA World FactbookMeanwhile, it took three years for Map Maker to open in the U.S. Take that as an indication of where Google’s internal editorial priorities were; they didn’t need any help with the U.S. until this year. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img jon mitchell Photo credit: GoogleHave you ever edited a Google Map? Tell us about it in the comments. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Google has finally admitted that it can’t keep Google Maps up to date without the crowd’s help. The LatLong Team has just announced a Regional Expert Reviewer program, appointing the best contributors to Google Map Maker as volunteer moderators.Map Maker, which launched in 2008, allows Maps users to submit edits, but these all had to be reviewed by internal Google teams before being added to the live map. Today’s change shifts some of that burden onto the most dedicated volunteers, indicating that Google no longer wants to handle all that work itself.last_img read more

Are QR Codes a Real Security Risk For Smartphone Owners?

first_imgRole of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Related Posts john paul titlowcenter_img What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Just as the use of QR codes slowly creeps toward mainstream adoption in the United States, someone has found a way to exploit them. But how serious is the threat? Some owners of Android-powered smartphones in Russia were surprised recently when they tried to download an ICQ chat app by scanning a 2D barcode. What they got instead was an unusually large phone bill after their phone sent a series of SMS messages to a premium texting service, which charges a few dollars per text. The incident was reported by Kaspersky Lab, an antivirus software firm, who first noted the use of malware to hijack QR codes and install trojans on Android devices last month. A Real Threat to Smartphone Security?It’s kind of surprising that this problem didn’t arise earlier. Since QR codes can point to and open any URL, it wouldn’t be at all difficult to set one up that points to a page that loads some kind of malware and even installs something nefarious on the phone. At the same time, the incentive for hackers to do this probably hasn’t existed until recently. QR codes are still far from being mainstream technology, but they are being recognized and used by more consumers, as smartphone adoption continues to grow. This type of exploit is probably easier to execute on handsets powered by Android, whose “open” nature (we know, it’s debatable) has the downside of allowing more security holes than its chief competitor, iOS. iPhone users sometimes have trouble opening seemingly common file types, let alone an unauthorized, executable file that could do real damage. The rise of this type of security threat is pretty much to be expected as any technology grows in popularity. Look at social networks. Yesterday, as news of the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi spread throughout Twitter and Facebook, so too did malware disguised as photos or videos of the ousted leader’s final moments. Just as with social media and email, the first line of defense in smartphone security lies with the user, who needs to be discerning and cautious, whether they’re clicking links or snapping photos of a barcode. Tags:#mobile#web last_img read more

The Hottest IPO You’ve Never Heard Of

first_imgTags:#cloud#cloud computing#saas antone gonsalves Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts center_img With an expected valuation of close to $100 billion, it’s understandable that no one can stop talking about Facebook’s initial public offering this week. But while Facebook basks in the social media spotlight, companies tackling tough business problems are exciting investors, if not consumers. Workday, for example, is expected to be among the largest IPOs this year in the business software market.Founded in 2005, the Pleasanton, California-based Workday makes payroll, accounting and human resources management software available over the Internet to 280 corporations, including big names like Time Warner, Kleenex-maker Kimberly-Clark and giant electronics manufacturer Flextronics. So far, Workday has raised $250 million from venture capital firms and other investors.Dave Duffield Strikes AgainThe company is the brainchild of David Duffield and Aneel Bhusri. Duffield, cofounder and chief executive of PeopleSoft, was forced to sell the company to Oracle in 2005 for $10 billion in a hostile takeover. Duffield and Bhusri, who was vice chairman of PeopleSoft, decided that same year to start rebuilding their company in the cloud.As of the end of 2011, Workday had more than $300 million in revenue and an estimated value of $2 billion, AllThingsD reported last week. The company expects to launch its IPO in the fourth quarter with the help of bankers Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Allen & Company and JPMorgan Chase & Co.Ironically, while the hype has focused on high-profile consumer and social-media IPOs, business-focused tech companies may be a better bet. On the consumer side, as of Friday, the stock of online game maker Zynga had fallen 25% from its IPO price in December last year. Stock of coupon site Groupon has dropped 50% since November 2011.But Jive Software, which makes social business tools, has seen its stock climb 50% from its IPO price in December 2011. Stock in Guidewire Software, which serves the insurance industry, is up almost 60% since the company’s debut in January. Workday is going after a market that is expected to soar. Worldwide revenue from delivering business software over the Internet is expected to reach $240 billion in 2020, a six-fold increase from 2010, according to Forrester Research.Cloud RulesCompanies of all sizes are looking at cloud-based software because it’s often easier and less expensive than deploying and maintaining on-premise applications. In an interview with Bloomberg TV in April, Bhusri claimed Workday’s HR software is half the cost and is much easier to use. “There’s no reason enterprise software needs a training manual,” he said.Early investors of Workday included Duffield and venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates and Greylock Partners, where Bhusri is a partner. In its last round of funding in December 2011, Workday raised $100 million from investors that included MSD Capital, owned by Dell founder Michael Dell, and Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment entity of Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of online retailer Amazon.Workday is not without competition. German software maker SAP bought rival SuccessFactors last year for $3.4 billion, and Oracle is expected to either buy or develop its way into the HR cloud. In addition, analysts are wondering how long it will be before Workday partner Salesforce.com begins to add competing capabilities to its cloud-based software for sales reps and customer relationship management.Despite the competition, Workday has built a solid business that investors and some analysts believe could make it a leading player in the HR software market – even though the general public has probably never heard of the company.Everyone knows Facebook, of course, but analysts are debating whether a company with slowing revenue growth and a potential valuation of 99 times earnings can possibly live up to its hype.Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Ladies Learning Code Team Aims to Fix Programmer Education – One City at a Time

first_imgRelated Posts Heather Payne wanted to learn to code. She worked in marketing for a large company and wanted to learn to make websites on her own, but she didn’t have any support network: No developer friends to give her advice on what language to use. No one to recommend specific books or tutorials. No one to ask for help along the way. So she gave up.Then during a business trip to Los Angeles in 2011, she stumbled onto a PyLadies workshop on the Python programming language. “It was such a supportive atmosphere,” Payne says. “I always felt dumb asking questions at other places, but at PyLadies, you can ask any question you want and no one makes you feel stupid.”When Payne returned home to Toronto, she tweeted about her experience at PyLadies and suggested that Toronto needed a similar workshop series. The idea had legs: She received a flood of retweets, and more than 80 people showed up at the first planning meeting – including several developers willing to teach classes. Thus Ladies Learning Code was born.The project was immensely successful: The monthly workshops filled up so fast, the organizers had to start offering classes twice monthly. Almost 2,000 women have completed Ladies Learn Code workshops, and more than 400 developers have signed up for the volunteer mailing list. Payne says there’s never been a shortage of volunteer teachers. “There’s not that many ways for developers to give back to the community that take advantage of their skills but aren’t just unpaid freelance work,” Payne explains. “A lot of people jump at the chance to do something like this.”Enroll in HackerYouNow Payne, along with Breanna Hughes, Laura Plant and Melissa Crnic – the other three women behind the nonprofit Ladies Learning Code – are starting HackerYou, a for-profit company that will teach classes on design and development. Payne says that although Ladies Learn Code has been self-funding, it’s not enough to turn the project into a full-time job for any of HackerYou’s founders. In order to take the project to a the next level, and keep paying the rent, they had to start a for-profit company. HackerYou will bring the same model used by Ladies Learning Code to its students, and all of its teachers have experience as volunteers for the nonprofit. HackerYou is guaranteeing a 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and is making project-based learning the core of its curriculum. But instead of single-day workshops, which Ladies Learning Code will continue to offer, HackerYou will offer ongoing courses. And while Ladies Learning Code has always allowed men to participate, the new company is expressly open to men. The first course will focus on Web development and will convene in Toronto, but Payne says the team plans to offer courses in other cities, both in Canada and the United States.A university alternativeAs to the need of a private alternative to the university system, Payne points to a survey finding high demand for software developers from startups. A paper presented at the European Conference on Information Systems in 2009 confirms the need for information technology workers, even in a down economy.Still, a 2008 study found that enrollment in university computer science programs in all but one Canadian region was actually down between 36% and 64% from its peak in 2002.Computer science education has its issues in the U.S., as well. The University of Florida planned to cut its computer science department, and though the most drastic version of that plan has since been withdrawn, students and faculty are still fight to save the department.Regardless of what you think of the merits of universal code literacy, HackerYou and similar programs in other cities – such as Code Academy in Chicago, General Assembly in New York City and Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco – have an opportunity to help close the talent gap.A talent gap – and a gender gapBut Payne thinks HackerYou also has an advantage in being able to close the gender gap. The European Conference on Information Systems paper notes that women are tremendously under represented in the IT industry, and as ReadWriteWeb has pointed out, this gap starts in education. Payne thinks the fact that the company’s founders are women, along with the collective experience they bring to the table from Ladies Learning Code, will help HackerYou reach a 50/50 gender split – a ratio unheard of in male-dominated university computer science programs.(If you want to learn code and don’t live near of the cities mentioned above, you can check out services such as Codecademy, as well as the wealth of free e-books on programming available on the Web.)Photo by Jon Lim. Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid Tags:#hack#hacking How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees?center_img klint finley 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… Why You Love Online Quizzeslast_img read more

Sorry, Apple TV Fans: Keep Waiting on That Living Room App Store

first_imgApple announced many new iOS and Mac features today, but nothing major for the living room.There wasn’t any hard evidence leading up to today’s Worldwide Developers Conference that Apple would release a software kit for the Apple TV set-top box. But it had come up in recent speculation as a possibility, along with buzz about a potential new Apple TV remote control device.The theory: Apple seems to be working on a TV to launch sometime over the next couple of years, and it might make sense to give developers early access to start the app ecosystem well ahead of time.But Apple’s keynote didn’t touch on the living room today. Instead, the company focused on a new MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6.(One nice TV feature in the new OS X, in the meantime, is AirPlay mirroring for Mac. You’ll be able to beam a Mac screen to an Apple TV the same way you could previously with an iPhone 4S or iPad. Useful for web videos, presentations and more.)Either way, expect more eventually, perhaps as soon as this fall, when Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone as well as the final version of iOS 6. The living room is a huge opportunity for Apple, and apps figure to be a big part of it.Also: Apple and Facebook, Together at Last in iOS 6Photo by smlp.co.uk Tags:#Apple#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market dan frommer A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

How to cut through cross-channel noise using intent-driven personalization

first_imgIn the world of digital marketing, the ever-increasing number of consumer devices and competing messages is making it harder than ever to connect with your target audience. With consumer attention spans at an all-time low, how can you ensure that your campaigns, bids and budgets are reaching the right people for maximum ROI?Personalization can help you stand out from the crowd and connect with consumers across devices and channels. But getting the best results requires a combination of deep data analysis and automation, delivering the ability to accurately predict customer intent and learn on the go — adjusting experiences in real time, down to the millisecond. Intent-driven personalization uses powerful algorithms to analyze billions of clicks and learn which combinations of personas and creative perform best for various marketing goals, and then apply this learning across campaigns, channels and platforms, continually optimizing for your specific goals.Delivering dynamic, creative content to a targeted audience creates better engagement, guiding consumers down the path to conversion. Here are four ways intent-driven personalization can help you reach your goals faster.Elements of intent-driven personalization#1 — Optimize for audiences, segments and personas that convertAnalyzing rich data helps you understand and accurately predict customer intent. When you understand who consumers are and what they want, you can identify and target the people who are more likely to purchase or purchase again. By analyzing billions of consumer clicks to identify patterns of behavior and using those patterns to create unique personas based on actual customer behavior — not just third party data, which may or may not be meaningful — you can forge better target connections.Predicting customer intent, including future needs, enables you to identify consumers who fit the bill for your product or campaign, making them more likely to purchase or purchase again. This means you can get the most out of your budget by directing spend at the consumers you’re more likely to get a return on.This brand fine-tuned its targeting strategy by identifying the most-likely-to-purchase personas.#2 — Optimize for highest-return mediaOnce you’ve identified your audience, you need to engage them by meeting them where they are with content they’ll respond to. Every consumer is different, and so is every customer journey. Analyzing customer behavior across multiple channels, platforms and devices allows you to connect with your audience on the right channel, at the right time. Don’t waste time and money on ads or channels your target audience is not likely to respond to.To make meaningful connections, you need a powerful platform that can understand your audience and adjust on the go — applying what you learn from one channel to the next in real time, at scale. By understanding where people are in the customer journey, you can make the best use of multiple touch points and guide consumers down the path toward conversion.#3 — Optimize for the right creative combinationPurchasing is a very personal process, and the key to really connecting is in the details. Different people respond to different creative content, from typeface and language to color and images. If you can deliver dynamic content that really resonates, you can drive better engagement and better results.Using the power of cognitive science, personalization makes it easy to design and deliver highly customized creative. The algorithm should continually adjust content based on consumer behavior and points of interaction. This dynamic combination of delivering the right content, on the right channel, to the right people, at the right time drives the highest engagement and ROI. HomeDigital MarketingHow to cut through cross-channel noise using intent-driven personalization Posted on 17th April 2017Digital Marketing FacebookshareTwittertweetGoogle+share Dynamic creative optimization makes it easy to deliver the right combination of creative, message and offer for each unique persona.#4 – Optimize to meet your marketing and business goals, fasterAnother key advantage of personalization is the ability to optimize campaigns based on your marketing and business goals. A powerful platform that’s able to ingest and analyze hundreds of thousands of online and offline events per second can also learn and adapt in real time, at scale.Optimize to specific marketing goals, such as minimum cost per acquisition (CPA) or maximum return on ad spend (ROAS) for defined impression and budget goals. And by tracking online and offline conversions (through the contact center and store), you can optimize for the business outcomes that matter most. With an automated platform that does all the work, you can respond to market and behavior changes down to the millisecond, keeping your campaign on track to help you reach your goals faster.Combine deep data analysis with automation for continual optimization across campaigns, channels and platforms to meet your goals faster.The power of personalizationPersonalization is a great tool for understanding and predicting customer intent, identifying your target audience and delivering dynamic, individual content in creative ways that improve engagement and increase results. When you’re able to understand and adjust to customer behavior in real time, you can guide your prospects down the path to conversion and reach your business or financial goals faster.While 68 percent of marketing firms cite personalization as a top priority, 53 percent lack the technology to personalize. Manual strategies just can’t compete. Intent-driven personalization uses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to help you optimize targeting, bidding and budgets — in real time, and at scale. Deliver one-on-one personalized content by targeting the right people, at the right time, with the right content, and turn connections into conversions.From our sponsors: How to cut through cross-channel noise using intent-driven personalizationcenter_img How to cut through cross-channel noise using intent-driven personalizationYou are here: Related postsThe California Consumer Privacy Act goes live in a few short weeks — Are you ready?14th December 2019Lytics now integrates with Google Marketing Platform to enable customer data-informed campaigns14th December 2019ML 2019121313th December 2019Global email benchmark report finds email isn’t dead – it’s essential13th December 20192019 benchmark report: brand vs. non-brand traffic in Google Shopping12th December 2019Keep your LinkedIn advertising strategy focused in 202012th December 2019last_img read more

President Obama To Kick Off Drone Privacy Guidelines

first_imgTags:#drones#Federal Aviation Administration#quadcopters The Federal Aviation Administration will no longer be able to stall on privacy guidelines for private drone operation in the United States.President Barack Obama is set to issue an executive order to create privacy guidelines for private drones operating in U.S. airspace, according to Politico. If executed, this order would put the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department, in charge of developing these guidelines. Until now, privacy guidelines for drones were considered to be under the domain of the FAA, which is currently embroiled in the lengthy process of crafting regulations for operating commercial drones in U.S. airspace. However, the FAA has yet to address photos and other personal information potentially collected by private drones, a move that’s been criticized by both lawmakers and consumer groups.See also: Why Commercial Drones Are Stuck In Regulatory LimboBrendan Schulman, a lawyer who specializes in litigation involving unmanned aircraft systems, told ReadWrite the measure lines up with the FAA’s earlier testimony. “The FAA has never had a mandate concerning privacy, and in Congressional hearings has indicated that it would look to other agencies to develop any necessary privacy policies for commercial drones,” he said. “There is no obvious agency to take this on, so it seems the President made a decision to specifically designate NTIA as the lead agency to study the issue. My understanding is that the result will be privacy best practices, not necessarily regulations.”Congress has set a 2015 deadline for the FAA to develop its regulations. Internationally, drones are used for delivery purposes, crop surveying and maintenance, search and rescue, and more.White House officials have not made it clear when the President will be issuing his order. Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid Related Posts Why You Love Online Quizzescenter_img lauren orsini How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac…last_img read more

Apple Is Walking Into Payments Naked

first_imgRole of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Related Posts owen thomascenter_img Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#Apple#Apple payments#e-commerce#iPhone#iPhone Payments#Mobile Payments#online payments The drumbeat of reports that Apple is entering the payments business is growing louder and louder. The company has deals with Visa and MasterCard, Bloomberg reports, and American Express, says Recode. An announcement should be just a week away: The company has invited journalists to an event in Silicon Valley on Tuesday, September 9.So are we that close to using our iPhones as wallets?Adam and Eve and the Serpent. (Photo by mikecogh)What Apple Must Bite IntoThe technology is one thing. Apple has any number of means of transmitting payment data—via Bluetooth, NFC, or just over the Internet. And it has long experience in e-commerce, dating back to the late-’90s creation of the online Apple Store, which predates its physical retail outlets.See also: Apple May Tap Old Tech For PaymentsBut Apple has a number of challenges it must solve before it can enter the payments market. Those fall into three broad areas: regulation, fraud, and customer service.Apple doesn’t appear to have taken any of the obvious public steps someone getting into the business of moving money would need to do. For example, it hasn’t registered with its home state of California as a money transmitter, as Amazon, Google, Square, and PayPal have. (Even Airbnb, the lodging marketplace, has registered, since it holds rental funds for a few days before disbursing them to hosts.)Apple can argue that it doesn’t need to register if a banking partner is handling the financial aspects of its payments business. And it will need a partner—like Chase, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America—if it wants to process Visa and MasterCard transactions for other retailers. (American Express is different, since it both issues cards and processes transactions: Apple can deal directly with that company for transactions involving its cardmembers.)Fraud is another issue. Apple will likely find ways to protect payment-card details from obvious forms of hacking. But what about merchants and consumers who are out to trick each other, selling bum merchandise or using stolen card numbers? Apple or its banking partners or both will have to figure that out—and any new payment system is attractive to fraudsters.There’s also Apple’s lousy track record with digital security, freshly in the news thanks to the apparent hacks of several celebrities’ iCloud photo backups. In 2012, Wired writer Mat Honan lost years’ worth of documents when his Apple accounts were hacked, allowing hackers to remotely wipe clean his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. Apple is far from alone in having security problems, and has been working to improve its systems—it just fixed a vulnerability that may have allowed hackers to get their hands on celebrities’ intimate photos. But none of this is reassuring when you think about using an account Apple is guarding to make online purchases. If anything, handling payments makes Apple a richer target for hackers.And then there’s customer service. What are merchants supposed to do if a transaction doesn’t go through? Line up at the Apple Store? In 2012, Apple laid out plans to hire 3,600 more workers in its Austin, Texas campus, largely to staff up its AppleCare support operations. Those phone lines will be busy.What Apple Brings To The Cash RegisterApple has undeniable assets to bring to a payments business—chiefly its 800 million customer accounts on iTunes with credit cards on file. It also has intriguing experiments under way, like its Apple Store app, which lets you buy things in the store with your iTunes account without needing to swipe a card or even talk to an employee: You just pay on your phone, grab, and go. It also has iTunes Pass, a program which lets you walk into an Apple Store with cash and load it up on your iTunes account. Especially in developing countries, a link between cash and digital spending could be transformative.Connecting Apple’s physical infrastructure with a payment service could be its biggest advantage. Small merchants pick up iPads and card readers at the Apple Store already. Amazon, Google, and PayPal don’t have that kind of physical touch point with businesses.But before you can start paying with your iPhone, Apple has a lot of questions to answer: Where can you buy things? What will it cost merchants? And who will help if something goes wrong?Photo by mikecoghlast_img read more

Google Has A New Answer To Apple’s Beats Music

first_img12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Related Posts Tags:#Apple#Beats Music#DJ#Google#Google Play Music#Songza#streaming music Everything is better when it’s handcrafted—apparently even music. Google is unleashing digital DJs and playlists based on moods and circumstances on its Google Play Music app as part of its integration of Songza, which Google acquired earlier this year.See also: Get Ready For The Streaming-Music Die-OffOn Tuesday, the company announced that Google Play Music subscribers can now choose music playlists keyed to a particular time of day, certain feelings, or a specific activity. These “radio stations” are put together individually by Google’s “team of music experts”—a group that apparently includes ethnomusicologists as well as DJs, musicians and music critics, because everything is better when ethnomusicologists are involved.If that approach sounds familiar, that might be Beats Music, the streaming service created by music industry legends Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. (Apple acquired that service and the related headphone maker Beats Electronics for $3 billion in May.) When Beats Music launched back in January, my then-colleague Taylor Hatmaker thought its features blew away algorithm-based rivals like Pandora and Spotify.See also: Beats Music Review: Finally, A Digital DJ That Knows Its Stuff 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App Google’s now betting on the human touch, too. When subscribers boot up the Google Play Music app, they’ll be prompted to tell Google a mood or a moment, which could be something like “at the gym,” or “summer BBQ.” Each station can be downloaded for offline listening. The company also revamped the “Listen Now” page, which includes suggestions for stations based on an individual’s music history. Previously, Google would let people create stations from a song or playlist, similar to other services.The hand-selected, mood-based playlists will be available for subscribers in the U.S. and Canada today. The “Listen Now” page is available everywhere on Android, iOS, and the Web.Google Play Music may face additional hurdles if it’s looking to keep up with its rival. Apple is reportedly planning to relaunch Beats Music at just $5 per month, about half of the $9.99 Google Play Music costs (roughly the industry standard).Lead photo by Michael Dorausch; other images courtesy of Google selena larsonlast_img read more

Fitness Trackers Are Still Waiting For Their “iPod Moment”

first_imgThe fitness-tracker market is exploding. There are a ton of new devices on the market to track steps, sleep, heart rate, and other bodily metrics, many unveiled earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One reporter tried on 56 different models on display at the event.I don’t know if this Cambrian explosion of gadgets can be a good thing. Only one in ten consumers currently has a fitness tracker, which suggests that they have yet to become truly mainstream, despite their potential health benefits.What the market really needs is a mass extinction event, some Darwinian species-killer of a product that wipes out the less fit and leaves a few strong players to survive. We need some asteroid of a product that blows everyone else away.Looking For The iPod MomentThere are very few examples of this kind of category dominance.Let’s wind the clock back a decade. The year was 2004, and Apple’s iPod—the iconic music player that turned around the company’s fortunes and transformed it from a computer company into a consumer-electronics giant was on the verge of ubiquity. Its market share would peak at 92 percent. Apple CEO Steve Jobs bragged to Newsweek how the iPod and its iconic white earbuds were taking over cities:“I was on Madison, and it was, like, on every block, there was someone with white headphones, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, it’s starting to happen.’” How did the iPod achieve ubiquity? Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, but it improved it, taking advantage of smaller hard drives to create a more compact yet capacious player than had previously existed. It also, crucially, improved the interface so that it was easy to play all those songs. Then Apple cunningly cornered the market on the parts needed to build similar devices. No one could catch up with it.Palm, too, back in the day, cornered the market on personal digital accessories—those contacts-and-calendars pocket computers which predated and anticipated smartphones.Survival Of The FittestI don’t see anyone in the fitness-tracker market employing similar tactics. There are plenty of examples of good design: Withings’ Activité Pop, for example, shines with its watch-like good looks and eight-month battery life.But the Activité Pop, at $150, just does steps and sleep tracking—a commodity offering. And its companion app, Withings Health Mate, is unremarkable, offering the same features you see in a host of similar fitness apps. It’s a good device, and its design will surely sell some people on it, but it’s not the killer we need.Likewise, I like the Runtastic Orbit, which is the best example I’ve found of integration between hardware, software, and services—but I have a hard time seeing it get the distribution it needs. And because it’s closely tied to Runtastic’s apps, it suffers from the extreme fragmentation that rules the fitness-app market, too.Fitbit is the leader in selling fitness trackers at retail right now, but their Charge and Surge models are, I feel, just keeping up with the competition, not breaking away.What about the Apple Watch? What about it, indeed? First of all, it’s a smartwatch, not a fitness tracker—and NPD reports that smartwatches are far behind fitness trackers in consumer interest and adoption. They’re more expensive, harder to keep charged, and more demandingly twiddly in their interfaces.Before Apple launched the iPod, it started offering iTunes software for managing collections of digital music, which gave it a ready-made audience. iTunes users became tied to the iPod, and vice versa—a virtuous cycle where software drove hardware sales. (I know it’s popular to complain about iTunes these days, but back in the 2000s, iTunes blew away competing tools for managing music libraries.)Apple had an opportunity to do something similar with HealthKit and its companion Health app, and it blew it, big time. HealthKit is glitchy and the Health app just isn’t very good. If Apple had strong fitness software and collections of workout and nutrition data—the health equivalent of those iTunes libraries—it would be set up for an easy entrance into the fitness-tracker market. Jawbone UP iPhone app ditches bandAs it is, I think the Apple Watch will do very well in the smartwatch category. I just don’t think many people will use its fitness features, and those interested in health tracking will gravitate to dedicated devices. Who wins in a fragmented hardware market? I think it will be the fitness apps that pull in data from the widest possible range of devices and sort it and make sense of it all. The leading contenders here include MyFitnessPal, Under Armour’s Connected Fitness group, and Jawbone, whose app no longer requires a companion Up. Indeed, if someone doesn’t come along with an iPod- or Palm-like smash hit that dominates the market, we may see fitness-tracking functions fade into smartphones. Our phones are with us constantly, after all, and we might as well think of them as wearables for all the time they spend in our pockets or otherwise on our persons.It’s a pity, because I can see a role for fitness trackers. While steps are trivial, more sophisticated movement analysis as well as heart-rate measurement and sleep tracking need a wrist-based device.If only there were one device to explain and define the market, the way the iPod did for MP3 players and Palm did for PDAs. Without that, the fitness-tracker market may rise and fall quickly—a blip in the evolutionary history of gadgets.Photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite Tags:#Apple Watch#Body#digital fitness#fitness apps#fitness trackers#jawbone#Jawbone Up#smartwatches#Withings#Withings Activité#Withings Activité Pop Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfacescenter_img The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement owen thomaslast_img read more

North Carolina ~ Franchise Tax: Bank Privilege Tax Repeal Discussed

first_imgCCH Tax Day ReportThe North Carolina Department of Revenue issued an important notice discussing the repeal of the bank privilege tax. The repeal is effective July 1, 2016. Bank privilege tax returns for the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2016 must still be filed with the department, but are not due until July 1, 2017. The tax is imposed at a rate of $30 for each $1 million of total assets held by every bank or banking association, including each national banking association, that is operating in North Carolina as a commercial bank, an industrial bank, a savings bank, a trust company, or any combination of those facilities or services.Important Notice, North Carolina Department of Revenue, July 5, 2016, ¶202-728Other References:Explanations at ¶10-340last_img read more

California ~ Personal Income Tax, Practice and Procedure: Income Properly Reassigned from ESOP to Taxpayers

first_imgCCH Tax Day ReportIn a Summary Decision, the California Board of Equalization (BOE) determined that (1) an S corporation’s income should flow through to the taxpayers, rather than to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), under IRC §409(p); (2) steps taken by the taxpayers in connection with the acquisition of the S corporation by the ESOP, and the implementation of a management fee arrangement, were part of a sham transaction that lacked economic substance; (3) the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) properly applied the assignment of income doctrine to re-allocated income passed through by the S corporation from the ESOP to the taxpayers; and (4) the FTB properly applied the noneconomic substance transaction (NEST) penalty and an interest-based penalty for each year in issue.The S corporation in question was originally created to provide management services to another business owned by the taxpayers. The S corporation later established the ESOP for its employees established a trust fund for the ESOP to hold, invest, and administer the assets of the trust by the taxpayers, who were designated as the ESOP’s trustees. The trust fund also purchased the S corporation’s stock from the taxpayers, and the ESOP became the sole shareholder of the S corporation. The S corporation and the taxpayers’ other business entered into a management agreement under which the taxpayer-husband would provide services to the other business and the other business would pay the S corporation for those services. During the 2003 tax year, the S corporation reported a distribution of over $6 million on its tax return. The taxpayers did not report the 2003 distribution on their 2003 return. The FTB audited the S corporation and determined that it passed through all of its income to the ESOP during the years in issue. However, the auditor concluded that the creation of the ESOP was a sham transaction that lacked economic substance and treated the income as though it was passed through to the taxpayers. As a result, the FTB issued a Notice of Proposed Assessment (NPA) for the 2001, 2002, and 2003 tax years, which re-allocated the income passed through by the S corporation from the ESOP to the taxpayers. Each NPA also proposed a NEST penalty and an interest-based penalty.First, the BOE noted that, under IRC §409(p), participants of an ESOP are subject to tax if they are determined to be “disqualified persons” during a nonallocation year. According to the BOE, the S corporation stock was allocated 100% to the taxpayer-husband, which resulted in a nonallocation year in the 2001, 2002 and 2003 plan years. Therefore, the taxpayer-husband was considered a “disqualified person” under IRC §409(p) and treated as having received 100% of the deemed distributions for those years.The BOE then applied a two-prong “sham transaction” test to determine whether the transfer of the S corporation stock to the ESOP had any practical economic effects other than tax benefits by examining whether the taxpayers showed (1) a subjective business purpose for entering into the transaction, and (2) the objective economic substance of the transaction. With respect to the first prong, the evidence showed that the taxpayer-wife was the S corporation’s only employee and the other persons designated as “participants” were actually employed by the taxpayers’ other business. While the taxpayers claimed that the transactions had the business purpose of providing meaningful benefits to rank-and-file employees, the BOE determined that the evidence indicated that the transactions were actually undertaken for the purpose of sheltering the taxpayers’ income from tax. With respect to the second prong, the annual valuation stated that 100% of the S corporation stock, the sole ESOP asset, was allocated to the taxpayer-husband who, prior to the transfer, was one of the S corporation shareholders. Although the taxpayers claimed that the annual valuation was in error, they did not provided any evidence to show that there were allocations to rank-and-file employees. Finally, approximately $3.3 million of the management fees was paid into deferred compensation trusts for the benefit of the S corporation employee, which the BOE stated belied the alleged purpose of the ESOP assets (the S corporation stock) as a means of providing broad-based retirement coverage for rank-and-file employees. Thus, the transaction did not change the taxpayers’ economic position in a meaningful way (apart from the income tax effects), because they held a beneficial interest in 100% of the S corporation stock before and after the transfer. In addition, there was no evidence that the management agreement had a subjective business purpose other than as a means of shifting income from the taxpayers’ other business to the tax-exempt ESOP.The FTB claimed that if the S corporation is determined to be a separate entity, the assignment of income doctrine requires the taxpayers to report the income rather than the S corporation. According to the FTB, the taxpayers improperly assigned the “consulting” income that their other business allegedly paid to the S corporation under the management agreement and, as the only shareholders of the other business, the taxpayers should report that income. The BOE noted that the taxpayers were the only shareholders of the other business and had exclusive control over the disposition of its income. In addition, there was no evidence that the taxpayer-husband performed services as an employee of the S corporation or, even if he did perform such services, that he received reasonable compensation indicating that he was employed by the S corporation. Thus, the BOE stated that there was no evidence that the S corporation employed the taxpayer-husband and thereby had the right to control his activities and the amount of his compensation. As a result, the BOE concluded that, under the assignment of income doctrine, the payment from the other business was properly taxable to the taxpayers.With regard to the NEST penalty, since the BOE found that the subject transaction lacked economic substance and that the taxpayers did not have a valid nontax California business purpose for entering into the transactions at issue, the penalty was applicable. Furthermore, the BOE noted that (1) it was precluded from reviewing the decision of FTB’s Chief Counsel denying the taxpayers’ request for penalty relief, and (2) it did not have the authority to determine whether the penalty was unconstitutional. However, the BOE did reverse the interest-based penalty because the transaction in question was not identified by regulations as having a potential for tax avoidance or evasion.Park, California State Board of Equalization, No. 529805, March 25, 2015 (released May 2017), ¶406-689last_img read more