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Twitter updates app to highlight big events, news stories

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By David Ingram

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Twitter Inc said on Wednesday it is changing its service to give more space to major events such as the World Cup, earthquakes, royal weddings and elections in a bid to make it easier for people to find interesting tweets.

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Twitter has tried to stand out with users and advertisers by emphasizing live events and instant news, in contrast with social networks such as Facebook Inc that have made news a lower priority than posts about family or friends.

San Francisco-based Twitter said it would begin notifying users in its app when an event was happening that might interest them, and that it would promote such events in a dedicated section of Twitter’s search page.

The prompts will appear at the top of Twitter’s timeline, the heart of the service and the first thing that users generally see when they open Twitter on a smartphone, said Keith Coleman, Twitter vice president of product.

“We want Twitter to be the little bird on your shoulder that tells you what you need to know when you need to know it,” Coleman said in a briefing with reporters.

Tapping on the prompts will take users to selections of tweets, pictures and video on a topic, put together by a combination of computer algorithms and human “curators.”

Twitter launched a similar feature called “Moments” in 2015, and the latest changes expand on that feature, Coleman said.

Twitter shares hit a three-year high of $44.33 during intraday trade on Tuesday after JP Morgan raised its price target on the stock, citing revenue growth estimates and Twitter’s ability to show “what’s happening now” during events like the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Twitter has an agreement with Fox Sports to show World Cup highlights including every goal scored in the tournament, which begins on Thursday.

Some highlights will also appear on Snap Inc’s Snapchat, which has a separate agreement with Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

Big events and high-profile news have proved tricky for social networks including Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube because of the easy spread of hoaxes and false information.

Twitter’s in-house team of curators helps to avoid such problems in its “Moments” section, said Joanna Geary, Twitter’s director of curation.

Geary declined to say how large Twitter’s curation team is, but she said it works in five languages in eight of Twitter’s offices worldwide.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Lenovo swings to forecast-beating first quarter profit; PC revenue jumps

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group swung to a profit and beat estimates in the first quarter on Thursday, helped by a sharp jump in revenue.

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Net profit came in at $77 million for the three months ended in June, compared with a loss of $72.3 million in the same period a year earlier when it was hit by higher costs amid a shortage of components.

That was ahead of an average estimate of $59.37 million from six analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 19 percent from a year earlier to $11.91 billion, its second straight quarter of double-digit revenue growth.

“The group remains confident in its core PC business, and aims to grow at a premium to the market in revenue without compromising on profitability,” Chairman Yang Yuanqing said in the statement.

Lenovo’s shares gained 3.4 percent in early trade on Thursday.

(Reporting by Sijia Jiang and Donny Kwok; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Tencent shares slide as profit falls and regulatory outlook spooks investors

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares of Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings plunged on Thursday after it reported its first quarterly profit fall in nearly 13 years and said it did not know whether it would get Chinese approval for its most popular game.

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Chinese censors’ sometimes abrupt and haphazard regulatory measures have clouded the outlook for the world’s largest market for mobile games in a country where the government can make or break a business.

Tencent said late on Wednesday the biggest issue facing the company before it could return to rapid revenue growth was to gain regulatory approval to start charging for its PlayerUnknowns’ Battlegrounds (PUBG) video game in China.

While several brokerages cut their price target for Tencent after its earnings, analysts were broadly upbeat on the outlook.

“Fundamentally, the business is as strong as it has ever been, in our view, and management says that it is working on various initiatives to reinvigorate growth as soon as possible,” Renaissance Capital said in a research note.

Tencent’s shares, which have dropped 13.5 percent so far this week, fell as much as 5 percent in early trade to HK$319, their lowest level in a year. Shares of South Africa’s Naspers, which owns a 31 percent stake in Tencent, slid 8 percent after the results were announced on Wednesday.

Beijing’s move to halt approvals for game licenses has hit shares of video game companies across Asia and in the United States.

Tencent’s profit decline and caution over the gaming business further hit tech shares in Asia on Thursday.

Shares of chipmaker Samsung Electronics Co fell nearly 2 percent, SK Hynix dropped 3.4 percent, while Japan’s Capcom, which developed Tencent’s blockbuster game Monster Hunter:World, fell 3 percent.

(Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Stephen Coates)

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Apple accused of pressuring game rivals in Japan: Nikkei

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese regulators are investigating Apple Inc over allegations it unfairly pressured Yahoo Japan Corp to slow the expansion of its online games platform, which competes with Apple’s App Store, Japanese media reported on Thursday.

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The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is looking at whether Apple interfered in Yahoo Japan’s operations by pressuring it to cut back on developing its Game Plus web-based service which enables users to stream games without downloading apps, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman at Yahoo Japan, one of the country’s most successful internet companies, declined to comment on the report, but said that the site continued to add game titles.

Shares in Yahoo Japan fell around 2.5 percent in early trade, while the broader market slipped 0.5 percent.

Last month, the FTC said Apple could have breached antitrust rules by forcing Japanese mobile service providers to sell its iPhones cheaply and charge higher monthly fees, denying consumers a fair choice.

Game Plus offers free and fee-based games developed by Square Enix Holdings Co and other game publishers, some of which are also available on the App Store for Japan-registered users. Yahoo Japan’s gaming site has more than 60 million monthly users, which the company and game publishers can tap for usage history and other data.

According to the Nikkei, Yahoo slashed its budget for the platform last year, and has largely stopped promoting the service. Meanwhile, game publisher Square Enix in April removed a game that had been developed exclusively for the site, the newspaper added.

Yahoo Japan’s biggest shareholder is SoftBank Group Corp.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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SEC scrutiny of Tesla grows as Goldman hints at adviser role

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By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has sent subpoenas to Tesla Inc <TSLA.O> regarding Chief Executive Elon Musk’s plan to take the company private and his statement that funding was “secured,” Fox Business Network reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

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The electric carmaker’s shares fell as much as 4 percent but cut their losses after Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N> said it was dropping equity coverage of Tesla because it is acting as a financial adviser on a matter related to the automaker.

Investors viewed the Goldman statement as confirming a tweet from Elon Musk on Monday about working with Goldman, even as the reported subpoenas indicated the SEC has opened a formal investigation into a matter.

The latest news extended the roller-coaster ride for Tesla investors in recent days, adding to uncertainty about the future course of the company and whether a deal can be done amid growing regulatory complications.

Tesla and the SEC declined to comment.

Musk stunned investors and sent Tesla’s shares soaring 11 percent when he tweeted early last week that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and that he had secured funding for the potential deal.

The shares fell 2.6 percent to $338.69 on Wednesday, below $341.99, their closing price the day before Musk tweeted his plan to take Tesla private.

The Tesla CEO provided no details of his funding until Monday, when he said in a blog on Tesla’s website that he was in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and other potential backers but that financing was not yet nailed down.

Musk also tweeted late Monday night he was working with Goldman Sachs and private equity firm Silver Lake as financial advisers. However, as of Tuesday, Goldman was still negotiating its terms of engagement with Musk, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The 47-year old billionaire’s tweet about secured funding may have violated U.S. securities law if he misled investors. On Monday, lawyers told Reuters Musk’s statement indicated he had good reason to believe he had funding but seemed to have overstated its status by saying it was secured.

The SEC has opened an inquiry into Musk’s tweets, according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter. Reuters was not immediately able to ascertain if this had escalated into a full-blown investigation on Wednesday.

This source said Tesla’s independent board members had hired law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to help handle the SEC inquiry and other fiduciary duties with respect to a potential deal.

The Wall Street Journal said the SEC was seeking information from each Tesla director.

(Reporting by Sonam Rai, Michelle Price and Supantha Mukherjee; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Nick Zieminski and Cynthia Osterman)

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U.S. investor sues AT&T for $224 million over loss of cryptocurrency

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By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. entrepreneur and cryptocurrency investor Michael Terpin filed a $224 million lawsuit on Wednesday against telecommunications company AT&T <T.N>, accusing it of fraud and gross negligence in connection with the theft of digital currency tokens from his personal account.

In a 69-page complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Terpin alleged that on January 7, 2018, the tokens were stolen from him through what he alleged was a “digital identity theft” of his cellphone account. In the complaint, he said AT&T was his service provider.

In an emailed response, an AT&T spokesman said: “We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court.”

At the time of the theft, the three million stolen tokens were worth $23.8 million, the complaint said. Terpin is also seeking $200 million in punitive damages.

The complaint said that AT&T had been previously contacted by law enforcement authorities about such frauds.

Cryptocurrencies have a market capitalization of about $200 billion, according to data from virtual coin tracker coinmarketcap.com. Nine years after bitcoin came into existence, the market has seen the emergence of more than 1,800 digital currencies.

Terpin, represented by Los Angeles litigation firm Greenberg Glusker, claimed in the lawsuit that after the theft of the digital currency, his cellphone account was transferred to an international criminal gang.

Terpin co-founded the first angel group for bitcoin investors, BitAngels, in early 2013, and the first digital currency fund, the BitAngels/Dapps Fund, in March 2014. He is a senior advisor to Alphabit Fund, one of the world’s largest digital currency hedge funds.

The complaint claimed that the theft of the tokens occurred through what is called a SIM swap fraud. SIM stands for subscriber identification module, and SIM cards are used to authenticate subscribers on mobile phones.

SIM swapping consists of tricking a provider into transferring a subscriber’s phone number to a SIM card controlled by someone else. Once that person gets the phone number, it can be used to reset the subscriber’s passwords and access online accounts.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Nick Zieminski)

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Cisco’s software push fuels quarterly beat, strong forecast

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(Reuters) – Cisco Systems Inc <CSCO.O> topped Wall Street targets for quarterly revenue and profit and forecast first-quarter sales above estimates on Wednesday, as the network gear maker’s transition to a software-focused company gains traction.

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Shares rose 6.1 percent to $46.53 in extended trading as the company also highlighted improving subscription-based revenue.

Cisco, like other legacy technology companies, has been launching new products focused on high-growth areas such as cyber security and Internet of Things to cushion sluggish demand in its traditional routers and switches business.

“We’re seeing the returns on the investments we are making in innovation and driving the shift to more software and subscriptions,” Chief Financial Officer Kelly Kramer told analysts on a post-earnings call.

The company forecast first-quarter revenue growth of between 5 percent and 7 percent, implying $12.86 billion at the mid-point, and adjusted profit of between 70 cents and 72 cents per share.

Analysts were expecting a profit of 69 cents and revenue of $12.61 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Subscriptions, which provide a more steady revenue stream, represented 56 percent of total software revenue in the reported quarter, the company said.

Revenue in the security business, which offers firewall protection and breach detection systems, rose 12 percent to $627 million, beating estimates of $615.8 million. Deferred revenue in the business jumped 23 percent.

Cisco said in August it would buy cyber security provider Duo Security for $2.35 billion, the latest in a series of acquisitions by Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins as he builds out the company’s newer businesses.

CFO Kramer told Reuters Cisco is looking at more acquisitions in the security space.

Revenue in its infrastructure platform division, which houses the company’s traditional business of supplying switches and routers, rose 7 percent to $7.44 billion. Analysts had expected revenue of $7.32 billion.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 70 cents per share, beating analysts expectation by 1 cent.

Total revenue rose 6 percent to $12.84 billion, topping average estimate of $12.77 billion.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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