Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

Cloud Hosting Technique

Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

provides the hosting services in the form of a single virtual machine and is implemented through the use of cloud computing and cloud architecture. It dynamically distributes data and processes across the small servers of the system for processing. The cloud hosting system is divided into many virtual machines. The services offered by a loud hosting service provider are located at its premises and these can be accessed by using client software.

The cloud hosting allows the users to get their applications up and running much faster and enables the quick readjustment of virtual resources to meet the dynamic demands like increased data rate, traffic size and storage requirements. The users can assess the cloud using different client devices like desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Some of the user devices require real time cloud computing for running their applications, while others can interact with a cloud application via web browsers. Some cloud applications only support specific client software dedicated for these applications. Some legacy applications are also supported through screen sharing technology. The internet giants such as Google and Amazon are using this state of art hosting technology successfully for their servers.

Cloud hosting can be offered in three different modes i.e. infrastructure as a service(IaaS) , platform as a service(PaaS) and software as a service(SaaS). The basic mode IaaS , offers the services in the form of physical or virtual machines ( computers & other processing devices), raw/block storage , firewalls , load balancing mechanism and networks .The IaaS mode services provider supply these resources from a large deployed pool of resources in data centers andthis also include provisioning of local area networks and  IP addresses. The PaaS mode cloud hosting services provider offers a cloud computing platform  that include an operating system, programming execution environment, database and server. The PaaS application software can be developed and run on a cloud platform and does not involve cost and complexity of buying and managing the hardware and software layers. The (SaaS) mode cloud hosting services provider  install and operate application software in the cloud and cloud users access the software from cloud clients and the cloud platform in this case is not managed by the clients. Clouds hosting can be physically deployed in the form of public cloud, personal cloud, hybrid cloud and community cloud.

Cloud hosting has greatly reduced the website operational cost. In older versions of servers, the clients used to pay for a specific bandwidth irrespective of the traffic on that server. The cloud hosting has tackled this problem through the skillful use of variable costing method, where the cost will increase with the traffic and as the load/traffic reduces the cost will be automatically decreases.

The cloud hosting has a great advantage in terms of its security, as it operates in isolated environment and only the host has the access to it. One of the biggest advantages of cloud hosting is that the cloud platform manageability, maintenance and upgrades can be easily and remotely accomplished, as it does not require any physical/hardware maintenance repair and replacement.

Chromebooks and Office 365 together will challenge Windows laptops

Video: Samsung’s new Chromebook Pro hybrid can run Android apps

It’s no secret that I’m not a Windows fan. I’m beginning to wonder if Microsoft isn’t either.

Hear me out. On Nov. 27, Chromebook users discovered that Office 365 would run on some of their laptops. To be exact, we now know you can download and run Office 365 on Samsung Chromebook Pro, Pixelbook, Acer Chromebook 15, and the Acer C771.

Now, you’ve been able to run the lightweight web versions of Office programs — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote — on Chromebooks. But they were never that good. Then, Microsoft made Office Mobile for Android available, and that also worked on Chrome OS. But, now, Office 365 is up and running — and it’s the real-deal MS Office.

There are now more than 120 million Office 365 users. That’s about 10 percent of all Office users. Those aren’t just home users on a tight budget. According to a 2016 study by Skyhigh, 91.4 percent of businesses with at least 100 users were running Office 365. Usage within enterprises grew over 320 percent as the percentage of employees using at least one Office 365 application more than tripled from 6.8 percent to 22.3 percent.

In the past, the automatic answer at most companies to any attempt to switch to another operating system was: “But it can’t run Microsoft Office.” Well, now Chromebooks can.

True, Office 365 is not the full all bells and whistles Microsoft Office, but numbers don’t lie. For most businesses, Office 365 is more than enough Office for day-to-day work.

And running Office 365 on a Chromebook doesn’t require any special software, such as CodeWeavers’ CrossOver. You just download Office 365 from the Play Store on any Chromebook, which supports Android apps on Chrome OS, then pay Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription fee of $70 a year, and get to work.

Besides just getting Office, you also get all the other advantages that come with a Chromebook. Chrome OS is more secure than Windows. It’s updated with the latest patches and features about every six weeks. Chromebooks are mindlessly simple to use. If you can use a web browser, you can use a Chromebook.

In addition, one feature I’ve grown to love recently is that, if you lose your Chromebook or dump it in a bathtub, to get all your apps, documents, and settings back, all you need to do is get a new one, then sign in with your Google ID, and in minutes, your desktop is back just as you like it and ready to rock.

Finally, you can get a great Chromebook for only a few hundred dollars. Sure, Microsoft promises that its new Windows 10 S will be great. What I see though is the next incarnation of arguably Microsoft’s greatest OS failure to date: Windows RT.

Sure, there’s some software that only runs on Windows. But, unless you’re running one of those programs, most Windows users no longer need Windows. Heck, Microsoft itself has been moving to a service — rather than a product — business plan for years now. And the company has just moved Office, once and for all, into a multi-operating system service model.

The bottom line is that Microsoft has got rid of the single biggest reason why people are still with Windows: MS Office. If you can run Office on a Chromebook, which is safer, more reliable, and cheaper, why wouldn’t you? I’ll be darned if I can think of a reason for most users.

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AT&T begins testing high-speed internet over power lines

NEW YORK (Reuters) – AT&T Inc has started trials in Georgia state and a non-U.S. location to deliver high-speed internet over power lines, the No. 2 wireless carrier said on Wednesday, marking its latest push to offer faster broadband service to more customers.

The AT&T logo is pictured during the Forbes Forum 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

AT&T aims to eventually deliver speeds faster than the 1 gigabit per second consumers can currently get through fiber internet service using high-frequency airwaves that travel along power lines. While the Georgia trial is in a rural area, the service could potentially be deployed in suburbs and cities, the company said in a statement.

“We think this product is eventually one that could actually serve anywhere near a power line,” said Marachel Knight, AT&T’s senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design, in an interview. She added that AT&T chose an international trial location in part because the market opportunity extends beyond the United States.

AT&T said it had no timeline for commercial deployment and that it would look to expand trials as it develops the technology.

“Potentially, it can be a really big deal,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics. “You need the power company to play ball with you. That’s the downside.”

AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, have also been testing 5G internet services in which the last leg of the connection is delivered via a radio signal to homes using high-frequency airwaves known as millimeter wave spectrum.

Verizon said in November it would launch the faster broadband service in three to five U.S. markets in 2018.

Reporting by Anjali Athavaley; Editing by Richard Chang

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

South Korea considers cryptocurrency tax as regulators grapple with 'speculative mania'

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Wednesday it may tax capital gains from cryptocurrecy trading as global regulators worried about a bubble, with Australia’s central bank chief warning of a ‘speculative mania” that has seen the digital asset making rip-roaring gains.

FILE PHOTO: A copy of bitcoin standing on PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

As bitcoin futures made their world debut on a U.S. stock exchange this week, policy makers have been forced to contend with cryptocurrencies becoming more of a mainstream play and the need to regulate them.

The world’s biggest and best known cryptocurrency, bitcoin BTC=BTSP, surged past $17,000 to new all-time highs this week, marking an almost dizzying 20-fold rise this year and feeding fears of a bubble.

Australia’s central bank governor Philip Lowe warned on Wednesday the fascination with the assets felt like a “speculative mania.”

The comments come days after his New Zealand counterpart said bitcoin appeared to be a “classic case” of a bubble, and cast doubt on its future. The chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday warned trading and public offerings in the emerging asset class may be in violation of federal securities law.

Digital currencies are very popular across Asia, with many retail investors giving up their daily jobs to trade them full time in countries such as Japan and South Korea, which together make up for more than half the global trading volumes by some estimates.

But the possibility of major losses if the bubble bursts and wild gyrations of 10-30 percent in a single day have instilled a sense of urgency among policymakers to come up with a regulatory response.

In Seoul, after an emergency meeting on Wednesday, South Korea’s government said it will consider taxing capital gains from trading of virtual coins and will also ban minors from opening accounts on exchanges, according to a statement obtained by Reuters ahead of its official release.

To be eligible, exchanges in South Korea will need to uphold investor protection rules and disclose all bid and offer quotes.

The measures need parliamentary approval. Seoul will maintain a current ban on all financial institutions dealing virtual currencies.

“The regulations in Korea will not have a negative effect,” said Thomas Glucksmann, head of marketing at Hong Kong-based exchange Gatecoin, adding that on the contrary, “licensing brings certainty, which encourages already regulated entities … to get involved in addition to skeptical retail investors.” 

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, the Seoul-based operator of the world’s busiest virtual currency exchange Bithumb, said it will fully comply with potential regulations from the South Korean government and adequately capitalize itself to protect its clients.

Elsewhere in Asia, China in September ordered Beijing-based cryptocurrency exchanges to stop trading and immediately notify users of their closure, in a move aimed at limiting risks in the speculative market. Economists and cryptocurrency advocates say the move was also intended to close an avenue used to evade Beijing’s capital controls.

Japan requires crypto-currency operators to register with the government. The Japanese government in April granted cryptocurrencies legal status as a means of settlement and in September officially recognized 11 digital currencies exchanges.

CRYPTO COINS WEAKEN

Bitcoin dropped to $16,575 on Wednesday, down 0.5 percent on the day, after losing $152 from its previous close. On Bithumb, it was down 2 percent at $17,083. Bitcoin futures maturing in January on the Cboe Global Markets Inc’s Cboe Futures Exchange XBTF8 were $17,700, having opened at $18,010.

Bitcoin-related shares in Seoul slumped in early trade on news of the government’s emergency meeting, before rebounding as the statement did not mention harsh restrictions. Vidente Co Ltd (121800.KQ) and Omnitel Inc (057680.KQ), which hold stakes of Bithumb, were up 4 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Bitcoin mining-related company JCH Systems Inc (033320.KQ) were up 1 percent.

While crypto trading has attracted anyone from hedge funds and finance professionals to housewives and college students, it is yet to lure institutional asset managers whose mandates require them to make long-term investments which do not chime with highly-volatile digital currencies, whose fundamental values are also difficult to define.

“BlackRock’s view is that this isn’t a financial asset that we would trade in terms of equities or fixed income instruments,” said Belinda Boa, head of active investments for Asia Pacific, BlackRock.

“There are questions around the store of value and the fact that actually for our clients we’re looking at longer term investments.”

Reporting by Dahee Kim, Cynthia Kim and Christine Kim in SEOUL and Michelle Chen and Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Riot Blockchain: Sudden Business Pivot, Suspicious Acquisitions, Questionable Special Dividend

With “blockchain mania” in full swing, a new self-described leader has emerged. Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ:RIOT) purports to be “a Leading Blockchain Company & Only Nasdaq Listed Pure Play Blockchain Company.” With share prices nearly quadrupling in the past three months, we decided to examine the name more closely.

The company’s blockchain focus has come about through a series of rapid moves. Mere months ago, Riot was known as Bioptix, Inc. and operated “a life science tools company that provides an affordable solution for drug discovery scientists who require label-free, real-time detection of bio-molecular interactions.”

On October 4th of this year, Bioptix announced that it was changing its name and ticker from Bioptix. Inc. (BIOP) to Riot Blockchain (RIOT), and indicated that it would be pursuing a completely different business model focused on strategic investment and operations in the blockchain ecosystem.

We find such a dramatic pivot in business operations to be concerning in its own right, but we believe it is even more questionable given that the seismic shift has come about in conjunction with a series of dubious transactions.

Riot Paid Approximately $12 million To Acquire Kairos Global Technology – A Two-Week-Old Crypto-Mining Company That Owned Only About $1.9 Million in Crypto Mining Assets

On November 2, 2017, the company announced via press release that it had “entered into a definitive agreement to acquire cryptocurrency mining equipment consisting of 700 Antminer S9s and 500 Antminer L3s, all manufactured by industry leader Bitmain.” Upon closing of the purchase the company issued another press release on November 6, 2017, stating that “it has closed on its acquisition of cryptocurrency mining equipment”. A basic reading of the press releases might lead a reader to believe that the company had purchased the equipment directly.

However, a reading of the November 1, 2017, Form 8-K that described the transaction leaves us with a different impression. The 8-K clarified that Riot had actually acquired a corporate entity called Kairos Global Technology (“Kairos”) that held the cryptocurrency mining equipment described above.

The form 8-K described a share exchange agreement with Kairos whereby the company exchanged Convertible Preferred Stock (convertible into 1,750,001 common shares of Riot) for all outstanding shares of Kairos’s common stock. Given that Riot’s stock closed at $6.95 per share on November 1, 2017, we estimate the share transaction value at approximately $12.1 million (As of this writing those same shares would be worth an estimated $27 million.) In addition, Riot included a potential $1 million royalty sweetener for Kairos’s shareholders:

The shareholders of Kairos also will receive a royalty to be paid from cash flow generated from operations, which shall entitle such shareholders to receive 40% of the gross profits generated on a monthly basis until they have received a total of $1,000,000, at which point the royalty is extinguished.

All told, we estimate the transaction provided anywhere from $12-13 million in value to Kairos’s shareholders on the day of closing. Our belief is that Riot grossly overpaid. As above, Riot’s stated motive for the transaction was to acquire 700 Antminer S9s and 500 Antminer L3s used to mine cryptocurrency.

However, if Riot had simply purchased the above servers directly from Bitmain, we estimate that the price would have been $1,905,000. In order to arrive at this number, we checked a historical capture of the Bitmain website as of October 16th, 2017, and found that Antminer S9 servers were selling for $1,265 and that Antminer L3s were selling for $2,040.

We contacted Bitmain to see if it was experiencing massive backlogs or any other scenario that could justify an overpayment of roughly $10 million for $1.9 million of machines. We have not heard back from Bitmain as of this writing. The historical capture of the Bitmain website from October 16th shows that machines would have been expected to ship in just over one month from that date (November 21st-November 30th).

Adding to our skepticism of the Kairos deal is the fact that Kairos appears to have had no operations and/or website (despite registering a domain name) and that the entity was formed on October 19, 2017 – less than two weeks prior to its announced acquisition by Riot. We believe the fact pattern indicates that Riot’s acquisition of Kairos’s assets is highly irregular.

Furthermore, it is unclear to us who ultimately benefited from the apparent generous payment terms for Kairos. The entity was registered to the address of a believed one-man law firm called Laxague Law, Inc. (“Laxague Law”). Its officers consisted of a Dubai resident and its directors consisted of two Floridians, though the underlying shareholder structure was not publicly disclosed.

Riot’s Acquisition of a Majority Stake in Another Blockchain Technology Company Raises Additional Questions

Riot’s acquisition of newly-established Tess, Inc. raises additional red flags. On October 20, 2017, Riot announced that it had acquired a majority (52%) stake in Tess, which Riot described as a company that was “developing blockchain solutions for telecommunications companies.” A “whois” search of the Tesspay.io website shows that it was initially registered on July 18, 2017. Tess then released a seven-page whitepaper in August 2017 describing (i) its plans for an initial coin offering (“ICO”); and (ii) the role its coins intend to play in telecommunications transactions. Those representations aside, the resumes of Tess’s principals leave us skeptical of Tess’s odds of success:

  • Tess’s CEO, Jeff Mason, concurrently holds the same CEO position at two other companies, according to his LinkedIn profile: PowerCases and Wiztel;
  • Tess’s CFO, Fraser Mason, concurrently hold the position of Senior Vice President of PowerCases, according to his LinkedIn profile; and
  • Tess’s Chief Software Architect, Sorin Tanasescu, concurrently holds various senior roles at other companies, including: (A) Managing Director of VoiceWay; (B) Director of Middleware Integration for Rogers Communications; and (C) Director of an entity called Ingenium IT Compusoft (“Ingenium”).

Tanasescu’s other companies give us additional cause for concern. Namely, VoiceWay appears to have been associated with a Bitcoin phishing website.

On a Bitcoin forum called BitcoinTalk, one user conveyed that Google was displaying advertisements for “mt-qox.com,” a clever misspelling of the then-popular Mount Gox bitcoin trading website. That same user noted that the “mt-qox.com” website completely duplicated the real Mount Gox website.

The apparent imposter site was registered to Cristian Talle at the address 196 Judith Ave., Toronto, Canada, which appears to be a residence, based on a Google Maps search. That same address houses Tanasescu’s other businesses including VoiceWay and Ingenium. In addition, Talle used a VoiceWay email address to register the mt-qox.com site. Reddit users also noticed the site and started a thread entitled “[SCAM] watch out for mt-qox.com“. The users reported the site to Mount Gox and Google. Google subsequently took action and blocked it as a phishing website, according to the thread. (Note that the VoiceWay website itself was also registered by an individual named Cristian Talle – under a Rogers Communications email address).

Furthermore on the subject of Tess: On the same day that Laxague Law set up Kairos (October 19, 2017), the same law firm also set up an entity called Ingenium Global, Inc., which has a unique name that is similar to an entity in which Tanasescu manages (Ingenium IT Compusoft). Even more interestingly, Ingenium Global, Inc. listed the exact same officers/directors as Kairos (an individual in Dubai and two from Florida) and registered the exact same par value and share count. Given that Riot announced the acquisition of Tess the very next day (October 20, 2017), we cannot help but wonder whether the selling parties in the Kairos transactions were in any way related to the shareholders of Ingenium, and ultimately to the selling parties in the Tess transaction.

Riot Depleted An Estimated 63% of the Company’s Cash Through a Special Dividend That Appears To Have Disproportionately Advantaged Company Insiders

Bioptix/Riot recently engineered a “special cash dividend” that stripped the fledgling company of approximately 63% of its cash, seemingly handing a significant portion of those funds to company insiders. That kind of cash giveaway – announced one day ahead of a shift to a new, speculative business model – gives us significant concerns. The sequence of events was as follows:

In March 2017, Bioptix announced the completion of private placements that included a convertible note financing and also included warrants to purchase 1,900,000 shares of common stock.

On September 25, 2017, Bioptix made the following disclosures:

  1. Bioptix filed a Form 8-K stating, in part, that notes from the March 2017 Offerings had been exchanged for shares of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock.
  2. Bioptix filed an amended Registration Statement Form S-3 which described how holders of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock “are entitled to receive dividends if and when declared by the Company’s board of directors. The Series A Preferred Stock will participate on an ‘as converted’ basis, with all dividends declared on the Company’s Common Stock.”

Then on October 4, 2017, the newly-named Riot filed a Form 8-K stating that the company had approved a cash dividend:

Pursuant to which, the holders of the Company’s common stock, no par value per share (the ‘Common Stock’), and Series A Convertible Preferred Stock, no par value per share (the ‘Series A Preferred Stock’), as of the close of business on October 13, 2017, shall receive $1.00 for each share of Common Stock, including each share of Common Stock that would be issuable upon conversion of the Series A Preferred Stock, on an as converted basis.

The magnitude of the dividend is significant. The payout “totaled approximately $9,562,000” whereas Riot’s financial statements reflected that at the close of Q3 2017 – two days before the October 2017 dividend was approved – the company had only $13,139,722 in cash and cash equivalents. When factoring in an added $1.86 million in cash proceeds from warrant conversion, the October 2017 dividend depleted an estimated 63% of the company’s cash and cash equivalents balance. Consequently, we find its size relative to Riot’s available cash to be troubling.

The timing of related warrant conversions is similarly concerning. Riot’s quarterly filing prior to the October 2017 dividend indicates that 2,060,000 warrants from the March offering were converted into 1,228,690 common shares on a cashless basis. In addition, 620,000 warrants were exercised for cash during a period where Riot’s board of directors authorized on October 10th a “temporary reduction in exercise price” of convertible securities from the March 2017 private offerings. Given that the record date of the October 2017 dividend was October 13, 2017 (with a payment date of October 18, 2017), both the cashless warrant conversion and the conversion from the reduction in exercise price of the March 2017 securities appear to have conspicuously occurred just prior to the payment of the October 2017 dividend.

Who Benefited From the Special Dividend?

In the press release announcing the special dividend, the company’s CEO stated: “This special dividend is a positive step to return value to all Bioptix shareholders.” Despite this pronouncement, we believe Riot insiders and participants in the March 2017 private placements benefited disproportionately.

The amended Form S-3 detailing the convertible and warrant offerings prominently mentioned one individual in particular. Per the filing, “The Lead Investor is Barry Honig who is also a selling stockholder.” Moreover, Honig-related entities, as well as Honig’s family members including brother Jonathan and father Alan, also participated in the transactions.

Later, in two Schedule 13G filings filed as of an event date of October 10th – just days prior to the dividend ex-date – Jonathan Honig and an individual named Mark Groussman reported common stock ownership stakes of 9.51% and 5.93% respectively. Jonathan Honig’s filing also mentioned that the 9.51% figure “does not include 808,198 shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of Series A Preferred Stock.” it is unclear from the filings where Barry Honig’s ownership on a common stock and on a convertible/exercised basis stands currently.

Note that the same filing mentioned that there were only 5,436,503 shares of common stock outstanding as of September 20th. By November 13th, the number of common shares had spiked up to 8,321,137, a roughly 53% increase in common shares in less than two months. Such a jump indicates that a significant amount of dilution has affected common stockholders in a short amount of time.

Conclusion

We have no strong bearish or bullish view on the future of blockchain. We genuinely hope the technology is implemented broadly and that currency and information can be effectively decentralized through its use. Regardless of one’s views on blockchain technology however, we think Riot is a name that investors should avoid. We urge cautious investing to all.

Disclosure: I am/we are short RIOT.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Use of Hindenburg Research’s research is at your own risk. In no event should Hindenburg Research or any affiliated party be liable for any direct or indirect trading losses caused by any information in this report. You further agree to do your own research and due diligence, consult your own financial, legal, and tax advisors before making any investment decision with respect to transacting in any securities covered herein. You should assume that as of the publication date of any short-biased report or letter, Hindenburg Research (possibly along with or through our members, partners, affiliates, employees, and/or consultants) along with our clients and/or investors has a short position in all stocks (and/or options of the stock) covered herein, and therefore stands to realize significant gains in the event that the price of any stock covered herein declines. Following publication of any report or letter, we intend to continue transacting in the securities covered herein, and we may be long, short, or neutral at any time hereafter regardless of our initial recommendation, conclusions, or opinions. This is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security, nor shall any security be offered or sold to any person, in any jurisdiction in which such offer would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. Hindenburg Research is not registered as an investment advisor in the United States or have similar registration in any other jurisdiction. To the best of our ability and belief, all information contained herein is accurate and reliable, and has been obtained from public sources we believe to be accurate and reliable, and who are not insiders or connected persons of the stock covered herein or who may otherwise owe any fiduciary duty or duty of confidentiality to the issuer. However, such information is presented “as is,” without warranty of any kind – whether express or implied. Hindenburg Research makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, timeliness, or completeness of any such information or with regard to the results to be obtained from its use. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice, and Hindenburg Research does not undertake to update or supplement this report or any of the information contained herein. Hindenburg Research and the terms, logos and marks included on this report are proprietary materials. Copyright in the pages and in the screens of this report, and in the information and material therein, is proprietary material owned by Hindenburg Research unless otherwise indicated. Unless otherwise noted, all information provided in this report is subject to copyright and trademark laws. Logos and marks contained in links to third party sites belong to their respective owners. All users may not reproduce, modify, copy, alter in any way, distribute, sell, resell, transmit, transfer, license, assign or publish such information.

Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Atos offers to buy Gemalto for 4.3 billion euros to boost cyber security services

PARIS (Reuters) – French technology consulting firm Atos ATO.O offered to buy Gemalto (GTO.AS) for 4.3 billion euros ($5.06 billion) on Monday to boost its cyber security services as states and big corporations seek to cope with a growing number of attacks on the Internet worldwide.

FILE PHOTO – Atos Chairman and CEO Thierry Breton poses in front of the company’s logo during a presentation of the new Bull sequana supercomputer in Paris, France, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

The bid comes as Gemalto, the world’s largest maker of chips found in mobile phones and credit cards, is under pressure after posting four profit warnings in a year and having missed a chance to strengthen its security business through a large acquisition.

The combination would strengthen Atos in the burgeoning so-called Internet of Things (IoT) sector of internet-connected machinery and household devices able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors and European payment services on top of digital security, it said.

Atos said it delivered an offer to Gemalto’s board on Nov. 28.

Shortly after issuing the formal offer, Atos Chief Executive Thierry Breton said he had already received the backing of Gemalto’s biggest shareholder, France’s state-owned investment bank Bpifrance.

“I’ve met the main shareholders and Bpi in particular,” Breton said in a call with reporters following the announcement of the unsolicited bid for Gemalto.

“Bpi is not only favorable to this operation of European consolidation, but it also authorized me to tell you about it,” he added.

Bpifrance holds 8.51 percent of Gemalto’s shares, according to the group’s last annual report. Gemalto and Bpifrance were not immediately reachable for comment.

STOCK PRESSURED

FILE PHOTO – The shadow of an attendee is cast below a logo of Franco-Dutch technology firm Gemalto during a news conference in Paris February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Gemalto had to postpone to March 2018 the presentation the presentation of its next multiyear strategic plan, after several profit warnings notably caused by slowing demand for credit card chips.

The group’s shares have shed 38 percent so far this year compared with an increase of 24 percent for Atos.

Since Breton took the helm of Atos in November 2008, the firm has multiplied its stock price by close to six times, outperforming French rival Capgemini (CAPP.PA) and U.S. companies Accenture (ACN.N) and IBM (IBM.N).

Atos’ revenue has more than doubled over the period to reach 11.7 billion euros in 2016, after having bought assets from Germany’s Siemens (SIEGn.DE), U.S. group Xerox (XRX.N) and France-based computer company Bull.

Gemalto had sales of 3.2 billion euros in 2016.

The all-cash bid reflects a price of 46 euros per Gemalto share, representing a 42 percent premium on the group’s last closing price, Atos said in a statement.

The bid would be financed by Atos’ existing cash resources and debt, the company said without elaborating.

Breton said that two banks had already given their approval for a potential loan.

($1 = 0.8495 euros)

Editing by G Crosse

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Crispr Therapeutics Plans to Launch Its First Clinical Trial in 2018

In late 2012, French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier approached a handful of American scientists about starting a company, a Crispr company. They included UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna, George Church at Harvard University, and his former postdoc Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute—the brightest stars in the then-tiny field of Crispr research. Back then barely 100 papers had been published on the little-known guided DNA-cutting system. It certainly hadn’t attracted any money. But Charpentier thought that was about to change, and to simplify the process of intellectual property, she suggested the scientists team up.

It was a noble idea. But it wasn’t to be. Over the next year, as the science got stronger and VCs came sniffing, any hope of unity withered up and washed away, carried on a billion-dollar tide of investment. In the end, Crispr’s leading luminaries formed three companies—Caribou Biosciences, Editas Medicine, and Crispr Therapeutics—to take what they had done in their labs and use it to cure human disease. For nearly five years the “big three’ Crispr biotechs have been promising precise gene therapy solutions to inherited genetic conditions. And now, one of them says it’s ready to test the idea on people.

Last week, Charpentier’s company, Crispr Therapeutics, announced it has asked regulators in Europe for permission to trial a cure for the disease beta thalassemia. The study, testing a genetic tweak to the stem cells that make red blood cells, could begin as soon as next year. The company also plans to file an investigational new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration to treat sickle cell disease in the US within the first few months of 2018. The company, which is co-located in Zug, Switzerland and Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the timing is just a matter of bandwidth, as they file the same data with regulators on two different continents.

Both diseases stem from mutations in a single gene (HBB) that provides instructions for making a protein called beta-globin, a subunit of hemoglobin that binds oxygen and delivers it to tissues throughout the body via red blood cells. One kind of mutation leads to poor production of hemoglobin; another creates abnormal beta-globin structures, causing red blood cells to distort into a crescent or “sickle” shape. Both can cause anemia, repeated infections, and waves of pain. Crispr Therapeutics has developed a way to hit them both with a single treatment.

It works not by targeting HBB, but by boosting expression of a different gene—one that makes fetal hemoglobin. Everyone is born with fetal hemoglobin; it’s how cells transport oxygen between mother and child in the womb. But by six months your body puts the brakes on making fetal hemoglobin and switches over to the adult form. All Crispr Therapeutics’ treatment does is take the brakes off.

From a blood draw, scientists separate out a patient’s hematopoietic stem cells—the ones that make red blood cells. Then, in a petri dish, they zap ‘em with a bit of electricity, allowing the Crispr components to go into the cells and turn on the fetal hemoglobin gene. To make room for the new, edited stem cells, doctors destroy the patient’s existing bone marrow cells with radiation or high doses of chemo drugs. Within a week after infusion, the new cells find their way to their home in the bone marrow and start making red blood cells carrying fetal hemoglobin.

According to company data from human cell and animal studies presented at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting in Atlanta on Sunday, the treatment results in high editing efficiency, with more than 80 percent of the stem cells carrying at least one edited copy of the gene that turns on fetal hemoglobin production; enough to boost expression levels to 40 percent. Newly minted Crispr Therapeutics CEO Sam Kulkarni says that’s more than enough to ameliorate symptoms and reduce or even eliminate the need for transfusions for beta-thalassemia and sickle cell patients. Previous research has shown that even a small change in the percentage of stem cells that produce healthy red blood cells can have a positive effect on a person with sickle cell diseases.

“I think it’s a momentous occasion for us, but also for the field in general,” says Kulkarni. “Just three years ago we were talking about Crispr-based treatments as sci-fi fantasy, but here we are.”

It was around this time last year that Chinese scientists first used Crispr in humans—to treat an aggressive lung cancer as part of a clinical trial in Chengdu, in Sichuan province. Since then, immunologists at the University of Pennsylvania have begun enrolling terminal cancer patients in the first US Crispr trial—an attempt to turbo-charge T cells so they can better target tumors. But no one has yet used Crispr to fix a genetic disease.

Crispr Therapeutics rival Editas was once the frontrunner for correcting heritable mutations. The company had previously announced it would do gene editing in patients with a rare eye disorder called Leber congenital amaurosis as soon as this year. But executives decided in May to push back the study to mid-2018, after running into production problems for one of the elements it needs to deliver its gene-editing payload. Intellia Therapeutics—the company Caribou co-founded and provided an exclusive Crispr license to commercialize human gene and cell therapies—is still testing its lead therapy in primates and isn’t expecting its first foray into the clinic until at least 2019. All the jockeying to the clinic line isn’t just about bragging rights; being first could be a big boon to building out a business, and a proper pipeline.

Clinical Crispr applications have matured much faster than some of the other, older gene editing technologies. Sangamo Therapeutics has been working on DNA-cutting tool called zinc fingers since its founding in 1995. In November, more than two decades later, doctors finally injected the tool along with billions of copies of a corrective gene into a 44-year-old man named Brian Madeux, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Hunter syndrome. He was the first patient to receive the treatment in the first-ever in vivo human gene editing study. Despite the arrival of newer, more efficient tools like Crispr, Sangamo has stayed focused on zinc fingers because the company says they’re safer, with less likelihood of unwanted genetic consequences.

It’s true that Crispr has a bit of an “off-target” problem, though the extent of that problem is still up for debate. Just on Monday, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that genetic variation between patients may affect the efficacy and safety of Crispr-based treatments enough to warrant custom treatments. All of that means Crispr companies will have to work that much harder to prove to regulators that their treatments are safe enough to put in real people—and to prove to patients that participating in trials is worth the risk. Kulkarni says they looked at 6,000 sites in the genome and saw zero off-target effects. But it’ll be up to the FDA and the European Medicines Agency to say whether that’s good enough to send Crispr to the clinic.

As the Southern California Fires Rage, a Boeing 747 Joins the Fight

The largest and most destructive fire burning in California continues to grow, consuming dry brush as it races not just through but across the canyons north of Los Angeles. Strong winds and dry conditions mean flames can leap large distances, prompting thousands to evacuate their homes. The Thomas Fire has now spread from Ventura County into Santa Barbara County, burning up 230,000 acres—an area larger than New York City and Boston combined. The out of control blaze is on track to become one of the largest in California history.

So firefighters are using the largest tools they have to tackle it, including one that’s more than 200 feet long, and does its work from just 200 feet above the ground.

“We avoid flying through smoke at all costs, but you can smell the fire 200 miles out, even at 20,000 feet,” says Marcos Valdez, one of the pilots of the Global Supertanker, a Boeing 747 modified to fight the fiercest of fires. The jumbo jet can drop 19,200 gallons of fire retardant liquid per trip, nearly double the capacity of the next largest air tanker, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Fully stocked, the plane weighs in at 660,000 pounds, comfortably under its 870,000-pound max takeoff weight.

Step inside (which you can do in the interactive 3-D model below) and you’ll see that the upper floor looks pretty normal, with the cockpit and a few seats. Head down the stairs to the main floor, though, and you’ll see the key changes its owner, Global Supertanker LLC, made when it converted the Japan Airlines passenger plane to a firefighter in 2016: In what looks like the interior of a submarine, you’ll find eight cylindrical white tanks in two rows.

Holding the fire suppressant liquid in separate tanks means the 747, aka The Spirit of John Muir, can make up to eight segmented drops on multiple small fires, or put down a solid two miles of fire line, to try to protect property or contain a fire. The liquid drops through a big hose, through a series of manhole-cover-sized circular nozzles under the plane, near the back. (If you use the “Dollhouse” view on the 3-D model, you can see some of that detail on the very lower deck.)

The plane is based in Colorado Springs, but its owner contracts it out to fire agencies in need. This week it’s flying out of Sacramento, in the northern part of the state. That’s because it can carry so much flame retardant that picking it up in Southern California wouldn’t leave enough for the smaller aerial firefighters. Plus, with a 600-mph cruise speed, it can reach the perimeter of the Thomas fire in just 38 minutes.

The 747 and other fixed wing aircraft sat out the early days of the fight against these fires, because high wind speeds would have blown their liquid retardant unpredictably off course. Though the pink stuff won’t damage people or property (good news for this guy), pilots make an effort to avoid dumping it on firefighters on the ground. The 747 can actually lay such a long line of retardant that it can be used to draw a line to safety for people trapped in a “burn-over” situation, where flames threaten to engulf them.

When the Supertanker reaches a fire, it doesn’t just drop down and fire away. The whole operation is a carefully orchestrated affair. Valdez, the pilot, starts by flying at 1,000 feet up, watching a “show me” flight by a lead plane, usually a Rockwell OV-10 Bronco or Beechcraft King Air. That has likely been in the air for hours, and directs each tanker aircraft exactly where to make its drops, pointing out hazards like power lines or tall rocks over the radio. “They’re using signals like ‘Start at this tree that’s split,’ ‘Fly on the right flank of the fire,’ and ‘I want to you stop at this rock that looks like a bear,’” Valdez says.

Then Valdez pushes the yoke forward until he and his crew are flying 200 to 300 feet above the ground—in a jet whose wingspan is just over 200 feet. Valdez plays down the terror, comparing it to driving next to a concrete barrier down the center of a highway. You know it’s there, and that one wrong move could kill you, but you just keep your heading and your cool.

The whole drop is over in 10 minutes, and then it’s time to head back to Sacramento, making for a two-hour roundtrip. On Friday, the Supertanker performed three drops on the Thomas fire—each gratefully received by the firefighters trying to stop the flames reaching more property, and people.


Fire Storm

Whitman's surprise exit stumps Wall Street, shares fall

(Reuters) – Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (HPE.N) fell 6 percent on Wednesday after Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman’s decision to step down from the role took Wall Street by surprise.

FILE PHOTO: Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo

Whitman, one the most high-profile executives in the United States, said on Tuesday she would quit as CEO in February and hand over the reins to company veteran Antonio Neri.

After reports surfaced that she was being considered for the top job at Uber, Whitman reinforced her dedication to the role in July by saying that she was fully committed to HPE and planned to remain CEO.

“We have a lot of work still to do at HPE and I am not going anywhere. Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman,” she had tweeted. (bit.ly/2jesxl9)

On Wednesday, Whitman told CNBC that talks with Uber had not been a factor in her decision to leave HPE “at all.” ??

But her move caught analysts off guard. HPE is in the middle of a restructuring to cut costs, invest in research and focus on high-margin businesses. Its mainstay server business has been struggling as customers increasingly buy non-branded, assembled servers that are much cheaper.

“We are surprised by the timing of the CEO transition given commentary at the recent analyst day that seemed to imply a CEO transition was not in the offing,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long said in a research note.

Long, however, added that Neri’s experience running the company’s Enterprise Group made him a strong fit for the CEO role.

The restructuring, which was announced last month and called HPE Next, was supposed to be led by Neri – a computer engineer who has spent more than two decades with the company and is HPE’s current president.

Neri’s appointment is not a surprise given his increased visibility in recent months, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a research note.

Neri began his career in Hewlett Packard as a customer service engineer in the EMEA call center. He previously led HP’s technology services business and then its server and networking businesses, before taking over the whole Enterprise Group in 2015.

Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz and Morgan Stanley’s Huberty expect Neri to shift gears and aggressively develop technology in-house, rather than focus on mergers.

Since its split from Hewlett-Packard in late 2105, HPE has spent billions buying companies providing cloud software and data storage to better position itself to serve customers who are moving their operations to the cloud.

HPE’s shares have risen 5 percent this year, compared with a 16 percent gain in the S&P 500 index .SPX. They were trading at $13.28 in early trading on Wednesday.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sonam Rai; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

HPE CEO Whitman's surprise exit stumps Wall Street

(Reuters) – Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (HPE.N) fell 6 percent on Wednesday after Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman’s decision to step down from the role took Wall Street by surprise.

FILE PHOTO: Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo

Whitman, one the most high-profile executives in the United States, said on Tuesday she would quit as CEO in February and hand over the reins to company veteran Antonio Neri.

After reports surfaced that she was being considered for the top job at Uber, Whitman reinforced her dedication to the role in July by saying that she was fully committed to HPE and planned to remain CEO.

“We have a lot of work still to do at HPE and I am not going anywhere. Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman,” she had tweeted. (bit.ly/2jesxl9)

On Wednesday, Whitman told CNBC that talks with Uber had not been a factor in her decision to leave HPE “at all.” ??

But her move caught analysts off guard. HPE is in the middle of a restructuring to cut costs, invest in research and focus on high-margin businesses. Its mainstay server business has been struggling as customers increasingly buy non-branded, assembled servers that are much cheaper.

“We are surprised by the timing of the CEO transition given commentary at the recent analyst day that seemed to imply a CEO transition was not in the offing,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long said in a research note.

Long, however, added that Neri’s experience running the company’s Enterprise Group made him a strong fit for the CEO role.

The restructuring, which was announced last month and called HPE Next, was supposed to be led by Neri – a computer engineer who has spent more than two decades with the company and is HPE’s current president.

Neri’s appointment is not a surprise given his increased visibility in recent months, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a research note.

Neri began his career in Hewlett Packard as a customer service engineer in the EMEA call center. He previously led HP’s technology services business and then its server and networking businesses, before taking over the whole Enterprise Group in 2015.

Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz and Morgan Stanley’s Huberty expect Neri to shift gears and aggressively develop technology in-house, rather than focus on mergers.

Since its split from Hewlett-Packard in late 2105, HPE has spent billions buying companies providing cloud software and data storage to better position itself to serve customers who are moving their operations to the cloud.

HPE’s shares have risen 5 percent this year, compared with a 16 percent gain in the S&P 500 index .SPX. They were trading at $13.28 in early trading on Wednesday.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sonam Rai; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Google to be anchor tenant at Toronto innovation hub – government source

TORONTO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc, the owner of Google, will be the anchor tenant at a site being developed on Toronto’s waterfront by local and federal governments, and will move Google’s Canada headquarters to the facility, a source said on Tuesday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce the agreement in Toronto on Tuesday with Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt and Dan Doctoroff, head of Alphabet’s Sidewalks Labs innovation unit, said the government source who was not authorized to discuss the plans ahead of a formal announcement.

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Ottawa; Editing by Jim Finkle and Paul Simao

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