Lawsuits Claim VW CEO Knew of Fraud

Three U.S. states filed civil lawsuits against Volkswagen on Tuesday, accusing the German automaker of violating environmental laws. In separate but virtually identical suits, New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts leveled claims of fraud that extended to the very top of the company’s boardroom.

The accusations fly in the face of statements VW made last year. According to Martin Winterkorn, the former chairman of the board of directors, equipping 11 million vehicles with software to cheat emissions tests were grave errors made by just a handful of employees. He added that top executives were oblivious to the deception.

But the three attorney generals driving the lawsuits claim that many executives were aware of the orchestrated fraud. In one specific instance, the complaint suggests that chief executive officer Matthias Müller knew the company decided not to equip Audi vehicles with equipment required to meet clean-air standards in the U.S. as far back as 2006.

The complaint says the systematic scheme to cheat emissions tests was a cost-saving measure. Through the use of six different devices, the world’s second largest automaker was able to avoid overhauling vehicles sold in the U.S.

The scandal, known as “Dieselgate”, has already cost VW billions of dollars. Last month, the automaker settled claims with U.S. owners and regulators by agreeing to pay $14.7 billion. However, that resolution does not prevent individual states from seeking penalties.

The company is already holding discussions to design a settlement that would resolve its environmental issues across the U.S.

Yahoo Adds Tumblr As Sale Draws Closer

Tumblr Added to Yahoo as a Sale Gets Closer

Yahoo may soon find itself no longer operating as an independent company.

Even though the company may not be an independent public company for a lot longer, that didn’t stop the website from releasing the results of their second quarter earnings. Most people watching the industry assumed that their results would be down for the quarter, proving that Yahoo was going into decline more and more. As of this year, Yahoo has earned a total revenue of $1.31 billion, up from $1.08 billion the year before.

With all of this in mind, the career of CEO Marissa Mayer is not as important as figuring out what Yahoo’s core business sale process is looking like, though many reports are implying that Yahoo is narrowing down its final bids from companies such as Verizon. Verizon is actually supposed to be the frontrunner for companies taking over Yahoo, after buying out AOL much earlier on. Verizon has also bought several other private equity firms from other billionaire backed groups, including ones run by Dan Gilbert and Warren Buffett.

When asked about Yahoo, Mayer herself stated that the company is making progress for the 2016 year and has meet expectations for the second quarter with the help of strong disciplined management. She also added that the board has also made a lot of progress in finding strategic alternatives in addition to putting in the extra effort to improve the overall quality of the operating business.

Pepsi Beats Profit Expectations

Pepsi Exceeds Expectations in Spite of Changing Environment

Pepsi has had a rough time just seven months into 2016.

Between the passing of a soda tax in Philadelphia and a ban on selling sodas to Brazilian schools, it’s safe to say that Pepsi has been in an unfriendly environment for quite some time. And yet through all of that the soft drink giant has managed to make up any lost revenue through other products like oatmeal and chips. Which is exactly what happened to Pepsi.

Over the course of the second quarter, Pepsi reported taking in a revenue of $15.395 billion and $2.01 billion in total net income, which equals to roughly $1.38 per share. The revenue was only a hair short of what Wall Street had predicted, estimating a $15.4 billion figure and hinting there would be a 3% decline since last year. However, the findings show that Pepsi did manage to exceed their expectations and improve on their total profit from a year ago.

Pepsi believes that the sudden drop in its revenue over the quarter can be blamed on the bad foreign currency exchange, but also to a serious drop in production in Venezuela, to the point where the company had to deconsolidate its operations in the country. Pepsi concluded that there was a negative 2.5% drop on its revenue because of this, yet Frito-Lay and Pepsi’s Quaker segment all saw profit and revenue increases during the second quarter. Beverages as a whole went up by 1%.

Tesla to Improve the Autopilot System

After recent fatal car crash, Tesla’s Elon Musk promises significant improvements to its autopilot system. Not long ago, a driver of company’s Model S has died after the autopilot feature failed to work properly.

Presently, the federal safety regulators are investigating this deadly crash. Prior to the accident, some experts cautioned drivers, claiming that they may not be able to retake the wheel on time once a warning is given. And it looks, the system can get confused.

A separate Stanford study has concluded that a two-second warning is not enough time to safely retake the car and steer it from danger. Although Tesla’s cars have an auto-braking system installed, it didn’t function properly during the fatal crash.

Per CNN Money, Tesla has also admitted that there was a second autopilot accident in Montana. It involved Model X, but hasn’t resulted in injuries. In that case, Tesla claims, the car gave a warning to a driver to put his hands on the wheel shortly before the crash. However, this driver denied that a warning had been given.

There’s also a report of another Tesla crash in Pennsylvania. But, Tesla denies the car was running on the autopilot. After the crashes, Consumer Reports urged Tesla to disable this self-driving feature. However, Mr. Musk says he has no intention of doing so since the customers want this feature on.

Pokemon Helps Nintendo

Pokemon Go game is helping Nintendo. The company’s stock price has risen an astounding 120% since early July, reports CNN Money International. The Japanese company, known for its consoles and games, is now valued at over $40 billion. That’s more than Sony, Toshiba, Canon, or Panasonic.

The augmented reality game available on smartphones has people running around cities to find a virtual Pokemon and strike it with a virtual ball. It seems amazing that so many adults are getting so silly, but they were kids when Pokemon characters ruled.

Pokemon Go is a free app and both Apple and Google reported record downloads. The money can be made on purchase of add-ons that make chasing Pokemons easier. Many game developers are making money by offering free games and then getting their addicted players pay to move forward more quickly. One example is “The Forge of Empires,” a civilization-building game with 15 million players.

Pokemon craze can brig some extra sales to Nintendo. As more people get to know the company, sales of other Nintendo games and products could increase. Yet, many wonder if this 120% increase in Nintendo’s stock price is justified based on Pokemon’s popularity alone.

It is still not clear if the augmented reality games are just a fad or the future. But, better devices, software, and games will bring more exciting games to the market.

Live Sports on Twitter?

Twitter is changing. Company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, wants Twitter to be more about live experiences. According to Fortune Magazine, the social media network is testing live sports with free Wimbledon coverage.

The company has also made a deal for live NFL streaming which will start in 2016 season. In addition, there will be pre-game broadcasts with players and teams as well as other other behind-the-scenes coverage.

This is a good deal for NFL as it’ll be now authorized. It’s better than having the public watch the games without league’s consent. Plus, NFL is hoping to attract viewers who spend most of their time online rather than watching television.

“This should be favorable for Twitter in terms of creating a product that will encourage people to show up and use it,” stated Brian Wiesel of Pivotal research. So far, the users tend to use Twitter as a second app to send short messages, while watching video streams.

This streaming will be available in both desktop and mobile formats. At this point, it’s only a testing phase, and Twitter thinks the live streaming will need much more improvement to make it even better.

Attracting more users and improving its share price (which has fallen 50%) is Twitter’s response to recent investor criticism. The company also hopes to attract more advertisers to its network.

When it comes to other social media networks, both Facebook and Snapchat are big with 8 billion daily video views.

Ex-Microsoft Executive Joins Hedge Fund Firm

In an effort to improve automated marketing and trade functionality, Citadel Securities has hired former Microsoft executive B. Kevin Turner. As the chief executive officer of Microsoft for 11 years, Turner has extensive experience in working with technology firms to set innovative goals and exceed client expectations. To that end, his new position at Citadel Securities is that of CEO, and he also a new vice chairman position at Citadel.

Of course, Turner has more experience than just Microsoft, as he also worked for many years at Walmart. Starting from cashier position, Turner was able to slowly work his way up until he became the chief information officer.

While Citadel Securities is already one of the largest ranked firms for trading volume, this talent acquisition is interesting for what it means for future hedge fund management firms. Specifically, firms are increasingly conducting all of their trades through automated programs, making them more reliant on technology for financial decisions than ever before. It’s easy to see how firms are thus more concerned with finding talent that is comfortable in this field and able to adapt accordingly.

In fact, many other firms are seeking out technology experts to join their teams in high-level positions. As recently as March, Bridgewater hired Jon Rubinstein, who had previously worked with Steve Jobs at Apple.

For his part, Turner has said that he is excited to transition into a new field and bring his unique mix of competitiveness and innovation to Citadel Securities.

The Possible Cost of Buying Yahoo

Buying Yahoo and Paying Mozilla Billions for Nothing A Possibility

In 2014, Yahoo and Mozilla made a deal that allowed Mozilla to become the default search engine for Firefox browsers in the United States.

The deal cost Yahoo a grand total of $375 million when it went through in 2015 and was meant to help Yahoo compete with Google as a way to expand its market and act as a search engine hub. On paper this sounds like a very beneficial deal but now that Yahoo is up for sale, anyone who may want to buy the company may want to have second thoughts because this deal could backfire in a fascinating way.

The Yahoo-Mozilla agree has a hidden clause that allows Mozilla to back out of the deal while still getting paid their $375 million every year up until 2019, provided the company is bought out. The clause states that Mozilla has the right to distance itself from the partnership if they feel their new partner is unacceptable for the company to do business with. This basically means that Mozilla can find a new partner to strike a deal with if they don’t like the current one and Yahoo would still be stuck paying them over one billion for the next few years.

This clause would be something a potential buyer for Yahoo would have to seriously take into account since it would prove to be incredibly costly for a buyer if Mozilla has a sudden change of heart.

Who’s To Blame for Kylie Cosmetics’ Failures?

Your Kardashian love or your Kardashian hate is inconsequential when it comes to Kylie Cosmetics. From a business perspective, all that matters is the post mortem. When Kylie Jenner’s company received an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau, entrepreneurs soon chimed in with business thoughts, not entertainment critiques.

Gene Marks, president of The Marks Group, expressed a surprising sympathy for Kylie Jenner. He noted that the faces of many companies, such as Jessica Alba, are often the most smeared when failure should land squarely on all partners involved.

Marks cited poor manufacturing partners, less than helpful marketing partners and others invested in the cosmetic company as potential factors in the “F” rating. His advice to Kylie and other entrepreneurs is to anticipate contingencies. In other words, accept that people will let you down.

It seems that Kylie has already applied this lesson. Her contingency plan was to follow-up. After assessing the situation, it turns out that proper paperwork was never filed or sent to the Better Business Bureau. The agency has a formula for grading which includes the number of sales in ratio to the number of complaints. When the actual numbers came in and were plugged into the formula, Kylie Cosmetics received an informal “C” to “B” grade. The reason for the lack of clarity is Kylie Cosmetic’s age. Since the company is in its first year, grades “C” and above are not officially given.

So, who is to blame? The entire team, but not necessarily the cosmetics.

Musk Defends His Company After Accused Downplay of Fatal Accident

Elon Musk, the Chief Executive Officer for Tesla, is still in full spin mode over the fatal crash that killed a driver using his autopilot feature.

In May, electric car enthusiast Joshua Brown was behind the wheel of a Model S and initiated Tesla’s autopilot mode which allegedly has the capacity to manage highway driving. The driver apparently has successfully used it many times before. Unfortunately, the sensor system did not “see” a truck and trailer on the highway. The Model S tried to go under the trailer at full speed.

Brown’s accident has put Musk’s company in a bad light. The story itself hurt, but Musk would eventually be accused of withholding information about the incident in order to safeguard a multi-billion dollar stock offering. The revelation, released by “Fortune,” has put the mogul on the defense, saying, “Fortune’s article is fundamentally incorrect.”

Musk says the assertion that they tried to downplay the incident is “BS.” He states that the company’s investigation was only beginning and the stock sale – already planned – coincided with that. “It was not until May 18th that a Tesla investigator was able to go to Florida to inspect the car and the crash site and pull the complete vehicle logs from the car, and it was not until the last week of May that Tesla was able to finish its review of those logs and complete its investigation.”

While analysts have stated the crash would hurt Tesla, Musk says the company’s stocks are up.

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