Google Honors Safer Internet Day with Gmail Security Changes
In honor of Safer Internet Day, which fell on Tuesday, tech giant Google revealed changes to its Gmail service. The changes were designed to warn users when an email they receive is sent over an unsecured connection or are not secure. The company began talking about these changes about a year ago, and has now enacted them on the Gmail service, which it reports just surpassed one billion active users. In addition to flagging emails that are sent over unsecured networks, Gmail will also warn users that send those emails over unsecure networks. Users will be alerted by an open-lock icon in the top-right corner of their browser when they either receive or send over unsecure networks.
Twitter Increases Campaign to Rid Network of ISIS
Twitter revealed Friday that it has increased its efforts to stop ISIS-related activity on the social network by suspending suspected terrorists' accounts and hiring staff to monitor the network for terrorist activity. In a blog post, the San Francisco-based social media giant claimed it has supended more than 125,000 accounts over the past seven months for threatening or promoting terrorist acts or agendas. Most of the suspended accounts, the company added, belonged to persons suspected of belonging to, or supporting, ISIS. "We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism," the post declared, “As the nature of the terrorist threat has changed, so has our ongoing work in this area.” Cyber-security experts in recent months have expressed alarm at the ease in which ISIS and other terror groups have used social media to lure disillusioned people, even Americans and Europeans, to join their cause.
Morgan Stanley Cuts 1,200 Jobs
In response to its slowest quarter since the recession for bond trading, Morgan Stanley has cut some 1,200 jobs around the globe in recent days. According to reports, the cuts were broad-based, with the bank's fixed income and commodities business shedding about a quarter of its staff. About 730 of the layoffs were back-office jobs across a number of divisions. In a memo to employees Tuesday, leadership said the cuts will result in businesses that are “critically and credibly sized for the current market.”
Activision Blizzard Acquires King Digital
Activision Blizzard revealed Thursday it has agreed to acquire King Digital Entertainment, the Irish based maker of Candy Crush Saga, for the tidy sum of $5.9 billion. The purchase price works out to just about $18.00 per share, or a 20 percent premium over King Digital's closing price on Wednesday. The deal has already been approved by the board of directors at each company, but King Digital shareholders must still approve the sale. The deal must also gain approval of Irish regulators before the deal is finalized, which the companies hope to occur by next spring.
Kroger Acquires Chicago Grocery Chain
The nation's biggest supermarket chain got bigger Wednesday as the Kroger Co. agreed to purchase a Chicago area grocery chain named Roundy's, which operates 34 Mariano's grocery stores. The purchase price of $800 million, or $3.60 a share, represents a healthy 65 percent premium over Tuesday's close, when Roundy's shares were trading at $2.19 per share. According to a press release, the boards of directors at Roundy's and Cincinnati-based Kroger have already approved the merger. In a statement, Roundy's chairman Bob Mariano lauded the merger with Kroger, calling it a “great win for our customers, communities, employees and our shareholders.” Marianio's stores will be run as a Kroger subsidiary, lead by senior members of Roundy's management team. No store closings are expected to result from the merger.
Microsoft Discourages Use of Chrome & Firefox
Microsoft is using its new Windows 10 operating system to try and dissuade users from opting for Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox web browsers. When searching on the company's new Edge browser for either Firefox or Chrome, Windows 10 users see an ominous message saying: “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10,” with a “Learn Why” button next to it. Clicking the button brings up a Microsoft web page that shows off all the features of Edge. A spokesman for Microsoft noted that Edge was designed specifically for Windows 10, and the notifications are to alert people to all the browser's features, but also explained that users can still choose whatever default browser they want.
US Stocks Suffer Worst Month in Three Years
US stock markets fell slightly on Monday, wrapping up the worst month for US stock markets since 2012. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 6.6 percent in August, while the S&P fell 6.3 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slipped 6.9 percent during the month. The declines were driven by massive selloffs in recent days sparked by uncertainty about the Chinese economy. Investors have also been concerned that the Fed is getting ready to increase interest rates, which have been kept low since the onset of the recession.
Volkswagen Passes Toyota as World's Number One Automaker
Germany's Volkswagen achieved a long-held goal in the first half of the year, surpassing Japan's Toyota as the world's largest automaker. According to figures released Tuesday, Volkswagen delivered a total of 5.04 million vehicles from January to June, edging out the 5.02 million vehicles Toyota sold in that time. Both companies are believed to be firmly ahead of General Motors, whose days atop the world carmaker list are far behind. Volkswagen, meanwhile, declined to brag about the achievement, choosing instead to focus on staying on top. The company's stated goal of being number one by 2018 is in reach, but it remains to be seen if it can avoid being passed by Toyota by the time the year ends.
Dept. of Justice Sides with Oracle in Lawsuit Versus Google
Oracle scored a huge victory last week in its ongoing lawsuit against Google over the company's Android operating system. The Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in the case last week which essentially confirms a lower court's ruling siding with Oracle. The brief also recommended that the Supreme Court not take up the case, effectively putting an end to the matter if the Supreme Court follows the DOJ recommendation. The nation's highest court had asked to take a look at the matter after a pair of lower courts issued opposing rulings, but the US Solicitor General is now asking the Supreme Court to hold off until the lower courts rule on Google's Fair Use argument.
Taco Bell Considering Offering Delivery
Taco Bell is considering launching late-night delivery service, according to Greg Creed, the CEO of Taco Bell's parent company, Yum Brands, Inc. Customers ask about delivery in Taco Bell restaurants quite often, Creed said during a discussion at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York on Wednesday. The executive noted that a test run would likely be designed to cater to kids living on or near college campuses, and would only involve deliveries on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Of course, delivering Taco Bell food presents challenges, Creed admitted because of the hot and cold temperatures of different ingredients. Another Yum Brands restaurant, KFC, is “actually well-suited for delivery," Creed noted. The only Yum brands concept that is offering delivery currently is Pizza Hut.