In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology news:
- Raleigh-based Sensus is expanding – but not in the Triangle
- The home of the alleged bitcoin founder is raided
- Yahoo shifts gear on Alibaba stake
- Spotify mulls changes in new music streaming
- Facebook lifts its ban on rival Tsu
- Sensus picks Louisiana for expansion
Raleigh-based power technology firm Sensus is expanding its operations, but in Louisiana rather than in North Carolina.
Sensus chose Covington, La. for a 6,000 square foot manufacturing facility and an unspecified number of new jobs, including engineers. The facility will open early next year.
Among products to be made there is a recently launched wireless base station.
“Wirelessly and securely transporting critical data for electric, water and gas utilities provides the basis for smart infrastructure,” said Sensus President Randy Bays. “We have extended these capabilities to all types of sensors such as distribution automation, lighting controls and IoT devices. The speed, latency and operational effectiveness of two-way communication are critical to successfully implementing a reliable network infrastructure.”
- Australia police raid home of man said to be bitcoin founder
Australian police on Wednesday raided the home and business premises of a man that technology news sites have claimed is the founder of virtual currency bitcoin.
A statement from the Australian Federal Police said the searches were related to a tax investigation and not recent media reports on the virtual currency, which is used for transactions across borders without third parties such as banks.
Federal officers and tax officials refused to answer questions as they left the house in a Sydney suburb hauling two black roller suitcases.
Technology publications Wired and Gizmodo published reports this week claiming an Australian businessman is bitcoin’s likely inventor.
Since bitcoin’s birth in 2009, the identity of currency’s creator has remained a mystery. The person, or people, behind the digital currency’s inception have been known only as “Satoshi Nakamoto,” which many observers believed to be a pseudonym.
- Yahoo drops Alibaba spinoff to pursue alternative split
Yahoo is scrapping its original plan to spin off its prized stake in China’s Alibaba Group and will instead explore an alternative breakup that could make it easier to eventually sell its Internet business.
Investors reacted positively to the about-face announced Wednesday as Yahoo’s slumping stock edged higher.
The change of heart comes after Yahoo’s board met last week to review the proposed Alibaba spinoff, as well as CEO Marissa Mayer’s stalled attempts to turn around one of the Internet’s best-known companies.
Instead of spinning off its Alibaba holdings, Yahoo Inc. now plans to pursue another course that would end up transferring the Internet operations that generate virtually all of its revenue into newly formed company. Shares in the newly hatched company would then be distributed to Yahoo shareholders, a process that could take a year to complete.
Yahoo Chairman Maynard Webb says there are no plans to sell the Internet business. “We believe that we are tremendously undervalued and we think the best path to unlocking that value is by separating the Alibaba assets from our operating businesses and also turning around the performance in our operating business,” Webb said during a Wednesday conference call.
Even so, placing the Internet operations into a new company make it easier for investors to assess their value. That, in turn, could attract bids from prospective bidders, especially if Mayer isn’t able to improve Yahoo’s financial performance. She has promised to shake things up in a reorganization that will jettison Yahoo’s least profitable services and potentially lay off hundreds, if not thousands, of workers.
Analysts say Yahoo’s websites, mobile applications and ad services, along with its well-known brand, could fetch $3 billion to $5 billion from a list of potential suitors that could include AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications, Comcast Corp., IAC/InterActiveCorp and private equity firms that specialized in buying troubled companies.
- Spotify mulls a ‘paid only’ option for new music releases
Music-streaming giant Spotify is toying with the idea of allowing musicians to reserve new releases for paying subscribers, although it balked at doing so for Coldplay’s latest album, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Such a move might push some users of Spotify’s free version to upgrade to a $10-a-month subscription. Artists and record labels have pressured Spotify to pay more for themusic it streams.
A “paid-only” window might also increase album sales if it led more music fans to purchase music rather than wait months or years for it to become available via cumbersome free options involving ads or the use of computers instead of phones or tablets. It’s also possible it could tempt more people to seek out pirated music.
The person familiar with the discussions wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. Spotify’s deliberations were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.
- Facebook lifts ban on content from rival social network Tsu
Facebook has lifted a ban that blocked material from Tsu.co, a small rival challenging the world’s largest social network’s financial dependence on freecontent shared by its 1.5 billion users.
The reversal comes a month after The Associated Press published a story airing concerns that Facebook might be abusing its power to thwart competition and stifle the concept advanced by Tsu that people should be paid for the stories and images that they post onsocial networks.
“We won in the court of public opinion,” Tsu CEO Sebastian Sobczak said Tuesday. “When you have something new and novel in the market like what we are doing, this kind of validation is extremely important. It feels like we just got a golden stamp of approval.”
The dispute between one of the Internet’s most powerful companies and Tsu began in late September when Facebook removed nearly 10 million posts containing links and other references to Tsu (pronounced “soo”). Facebook also blocked attempts to post anything else that sent traffic to Tsu.co, both on the pages of its social network or on in its popular Messenger and Instagram applications.
Tsu’s ouster stemmed from its practice of sharing ad revenue with its users. The payments are based on how many people read their posts.