Micron Names SanDisk Co-Founder Sanjay Mehrotra as CEO

Chipmaker Micron Technology Inc named SanDisk co-founder Sanjay Mehrotra its chief executive, replacing Mark Durcan who announced his retirement in February.

Mehrotra’s appointment will be effective May 8, post which, Durcan will serve as an adviser to the company until early August.

Micron Names SanDisk Co-Founder Sanjay Mehrotra as CEODurcan, a 30-year Micron veteran, took the top job in 2012 after long-time CEO Steve Appleton was killed in a plane crash.

Mehrotra, who will also become Micron’s president and join the company’s board, served as CEO of SandDisk from 2011 to 2016.

He spearheaded the $16 billion acquisition of the company by US hard-disk maker Western Digital Corplast year.

Micron shares were up 1 percent in premarket trading on Thursday.

Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse Launched as a Companion for the Surface Laptop

While Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S managed to take the spotlight on Tuesday, the Redmond-based company also launched the new version of its Arc Touch Mouse – called the Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse. While the mouse still comes with the same arc design that provided a distinct look to the earlier versions, the latest iteration doesn’t have distinguishable left and right click buttons as before. The company has priced the accessory at $80 (roughly Rs. 5,100) and interested users can already pre-order the device from company’s website.

In order to power up the new Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse, users simply need to snap the mouse into its curved position and can snap it into a flat position to power it down, or better store and carry it. The new mouse comes with two buttons (left and right click) but on a single surface, featuring a capacitive touch ‘full scroll pane’. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity – this limits use with certain Apple and Windows 7 machines, the company said. The accessory comes with 2 AAA alkaline batteries (included) and has a battery life of up to 9 months, as per the company’s claims. The Surface Arc Mouse has frequency range of 2.4GHz and will be made available in Burgundy, Light Gray, and Cobalt Blue colours – which complement the newly launched Surface Laptop.

Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse Launched as a Companion for the Surface LaptopThe new mouse from Microsoft measures 131x55x14mm and weighs 82.49 grams. “Slim, light, and ready to travel, Surface Arc Mouse is designed to conform to your hand and snaps flat to fit easily in your bag,” the company says on its website.

On Tuesday, alongside education-focused Windows 10 S, Microsoft also launched its Surface Laptop at its New York Spring event. The new device runs on the Windows 10 S, and will be made available in four colour options including Burgundy, Graphite Gold, Platinum, and Cobalt Blue. The Surface laptop has been made available for pre-orders right away, and will be shipped starting June 15.

Microsoft Surface Pro 5 Doesn’t Exist, Says Panos Panay Ahead of Shanghai Event

It seems like all the predictions for Microsoft’s upcoming event in Shanghai, which is scheduled for May 23, have gone for a toss as Panos Panay, Corporate Vice-President of Devices at Microsoft and Surface creator, has reportedly confirmed that “There is no such thing as a [Surface] Pro 5,” at least as of now. While earlier it was expected that the company might be unveiling its Surface Pro 5 tablet at the event, it seems like we might get to see some other Surface hardware at the event.

When the Redmond-based company announced last week that it will be holding an event in Shanghai and Panay confirmed his presence at the event with a tweet that contained ‘#Surface’, the initial speculations were that the company will announce the Surface Pro 5 tablet. In an interview to CNET, Panay has now said that the company doesn’t plan to launch the successor to Surface Pro 4 tablet till the time it has achieved “meaningful change” over its predecessor.

Microsoft Surface Pro 5 Doesn't Exist, Says Panos Panay Ahead of Shanghai EventAs per Panay, the change doesn’t have to be associated with the hardware and should rather be an experiential change that makes “huge difference” in the product line, as per the report. Panay is said to have cited examples on improved battery life and weight reduction to qualify as meaningful change. This means that users can expect more than just an upgrade in processors over the last generation.

This can also mean that the company might update its Surface Pro 4 tablet with new Kaby Lake processors till the time it is ready to launch a new product in the series. However, it seems like we are still hung up on what to expect out of the company’s upcoming event. As the company reportedly confirmed that there will be new hardware unveiled at the event and Panay himself mentioned Surface series, there are cues but we will have to wait till official announcement to figure out what Microsoft has in store for us.

Microsoft Build 2017 Conference: How to Watch Live and What to Expect

Microsoft is set to hold its Build annual conference from May 10 to May 12 in Seattle, Washington. The keynote by Microsoft executives will kick off the three day event, and it is set to begin at 8.30pm IST on Wednesday.

The Microsoft Build keynote will be live streamed for the world to see, and you can watch it here. Build is one of the biggest events for Microsoft, and as the tradition goes, it is expected to announce what’s next for Windows 10, Azure, Office, and its other products from its vast portfolio.

The conference will include two days of keynotes, including announcements from CEO Satya Nadella; Scott Guthrie, EVP of Cloud and Enterprise Group; Harry Shum, EVP of Artificial Intelligence and Research Group; and Terry Myerson, EVP of Windows and Devices Group.

Microsoft Build 2017 Conference: How to Watch Live and What to ExpectWith regards to Windows 10, Microsoft will presumably highlight all the big changes coming with the next update of Windows 10, reportedly also codenamed as ‘Redstone 3’. This update is set to arrive later this year. It could include more information on Project Neon which suggests bringing major changes to the UI of operating system. Previously leaked screenshots indicate it is focused heavily on transitions, animations, simplicity, consistency, and essentially go back to UI elements from earlier versions of Windows. Project Neon also comes with changes for company’s AR headset HoloLens that introduce modifications to the UI at the points of user interaction. Other tipped additions include Adaptive Cards and a new Home Hub app.

Microsoft will also make announcements around mixed reality, as the company has been pushing itquite fiercely in recent times. Hopefully, there’ll also be some update on the Surface Phone, as it’s rumoured for quite a while now, but we recommend you to not hold your breath on that one. The company is also expected to bring bots to Bing, and an announcement on that front could be made as well.

Windows 10 Timeline Will Let You Easily Revisit Recent Activity

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will bring a new Timeline feature that will offer a historical view of everything that you do on your devices.

Microsoft says “Timeline allows users to jump back in time with a visual timeline that displays what a user was doing previously and easily hop back into files, apps, and websites as if it was real time.”

Built-in Windows 10 apps will leverage the Microsoft Graph to automatically log your activities, and third-party developers will also be able to use the Activity APIs to create engagement records as users interact with their applications. Developers will be able to customise how these activities are visualised in the Timeline by attaching an adaptive card to the activity. Android and iOS developers will be able to use the Project Rome SDK to achieve the same effect with their apps, which means your Timeline will also include activities you do on mobile devices.

Windows 10 Timeline Will Let You Easily Revisit Recent ActivityIf you are working on your smartphone on a document that’s stored on your OneDrive – which is getting some new capabilities as well – this activity will show up on your Timeline as well.

The Timeline view will also be available on Android and iOS devices via the Cortana app, which now also offers the ability to pick up where you left off on other devices. Microsoft is also making it easy to copy text on one device and pasting on another.

Disclosure: Microsoft sponsored the correspondent’s flights and hotel in Seattle for Build 2017.

Lenovo Announces Restructuring Plan to Focus on Consumer Group

Lenovo Group Ltd announced a plan to restructure its China business to cope with the changing personal computer (PC) industry.

Lenovo will be reorganised into two divisions, a consumer-focused division of PC and smart devices, and a data centre group, Chairman Yang Yuanqing said in a blog post on Tuesday.

“China has the fastest-changing smart devices market. In order to take advantage of the opportunities in China, we take the step to restructure our business here,” he said.

Lenovo Announces Restructuring Plan to Focus on Consumer GroupLiu Jun, who previously worked for Lenovo’s mobile business group, will return to the company as president of Lenovo China and lead the consumer division, Yang said in the microblog post.

Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC maker by shipments, posted a 67 percent slide in third-quarter net profit in February. Its PC division, which accounts for about 70 percent of revenue, saw revenue rise 2 percent after seven quarters of decline.

PayPal to Expand Lending Offering With Acquisition

Payments firm PayPal has agreed to acquire online lending company Swift Financial in a bid to expand its business that provides working capital to merchants.

The acquisition will allow PayPal to offer loans to the larger businesses that process payments through its platform and better provide credit to firms that are not yet users of its services, the company said on Thursday.

San Jose, California-based PayPal did not disclose terms of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval.

Founded in 2006, Delaware-based Swift Financial extends credit to businesses through loans and advances.

PayPal has been offering short-term loans to its smaller merchants through a division called PayPal Working Capital since 2013. It uses data on the payments it processes for its merchants to assess their credit-worthiness.

The company has lent more than $3 billion (roughly Rs. 19,260 crores) to 115,000 small businesses in loans of up to $125,000 since inception.

The deal will enable PayPal to start offering term loans of up to $500,000 to its larger merchants and take advantage of Swift Financial’s data capabilities to lend to companies that may not be long-time users of its services.

“This is an area where customers have been asking for more,” Darrell Esch, vice president and commercial officer of global credit at PayPal, said in an interview.

PayPal to Expand Lending Offering With AcquisitionSince breaking off from eBay in 2015, PayPal has been expanding partnerships and acquiring new services to gain advantage over rivals in a highly competitive digital payments market.

Online lending, which took off after banks retreated from offering loans to small businesses and consumers in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, takes advantage of digital technologies to offer loans at lower costs.

Online lenders say they are better at servicing new types of e-commerce companies because their business models may not fit the established underwriting parameters used by traditional financial institutions such as banks.

Linda Lightman, chief executive of an online luxury consignment business she started from her home 17 years ago and a long-time PayPal user, secured a loan from it in June as the payments company launched its first loan product for larger businesses with Swift Financial.

“With a bank it is a much more elongated experience,” Lightman told Reuters. “For PayPal it was a day. They understand our business to begin with.”

Uber Investor Benchmark Capital Sues to Force Former CEO Kalanick Off Board

Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital is suing former Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick to force him off the board of the ride-services company and rescind his ability to fill three board seats, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed Thursday accuses Kalanick of concealing a range of misdeeds from the board and scheming to retain power at the company even after he was forced to resign as chief executive of Uber Technologies in June following a series of scandals.

The company is currently seeking a new CEO, a search that has proved difficult.

Benchmark’s lawsuit marks a rare instance of a Silicon Valley investor suing the central figure at one of its own start-ups. The well-regarded venture firm was an early investor in Uber and said in the lawsuit that it owns 13 percent of Uber and controls 20 percent of the voting power.

Kalanick issued a statement calling the lawsuit “completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations.” The statement accused Benchmark of “acting in its own best interests contrary to the interests of Uber” and denounced the legal action as a “transparent attempt to deprive Travis Kalanick of his rights as a founder and shareholder.”

Uber and Benchmark Capital declined to comment.

Around Silicon Valley, the case surprised many technology investors, who deemed it “the nuclear option” for a venture firm. At the $68 billion valuation that Uber achieved last year, Benchmark’s stake would be worth almost $9 billion.

Bill Gurley, the venture capitalist who led Benchmark’s investment into Uber, was once a mentor to Kalanick and one of his closest confidants. Gurley resigned from Uber’s board in June after he grew increasingly unhappy with Kalanick’s behavior, according to sources close to the situation.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in a Delaware court opens another chapter in a saga of woe at Uber that has cast doubt on the future of the world’s most highly valued startup company.

Uber’s troubles include a trade-secret lawsuit by Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit that led to the departure of a star engineer and hobbled Uber’s self-driving car program; sexual harassment allegations that led to a major internal investigation and the dismissal of several top executives; and alleged misconduct by Kalanick and other executives in handling a rape committed by an Uber driver in India.

In its lawsuit, Benchmark argued that Kalanick was aware of these problems when Uber’s board in 2016 agreed to expand the number of voting directors from eight to 11, with Kalanick having the sole right to fill those seats.

Benchmark, which still holds one of the seats on the Uber board, said that it never would have given Kalanick the three extra seats if it had known about his “gross mismanagement and other misconduct at Uber,” the lawsuit said. Kalanick appointed himself to one of the seats after he was ousted as CEO, and the other two remain vacant.

Uber is seeking not only a CEO but also a number of other senior executives, and for now is being run by a group of 14 employees. Uber co-founder and Chairman Garrett Camp wrote a letter to employees earlier this week stating that “Travis is not returning as CEO,” after reports that Kalanick was hoping to reclaim the top job.

Uber Investor Benchmark Capital Sues to Force Former CEO Kalanick Off Board“The combination of this lawsuit and his cofounder’s statement that he’s not coming back are pretty strong statements,” said Ben Narasin, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. “Put a fork in it. He (Kalanick) is done.”

Benchmark’s lawsuit alleged that Kalanick was scheming to regain power by attempting to “pack the board.” The lawsuit seeks an injunction to block Kalanick’s right to appoint new directors, asserting he had agreed to give up those rights when he stepped aside as CEO.

Kalanick’s continued role at the company has complicated the CEO search and scared off some good candidates, according to one Uber investor.

Uber’s head of operations, Ryan Graves, one of the company’s first employees and a long-time Kalanick ally, announced earlier Thursday that he would resign from his job at Uber to focus on his role as a board director.

Benchmark’s lawsuit will cause investors to rethink the recent practice of granting founders extensive power over their firms, said Bob Ackerman, founder of venture firm Allegis Capital, which is not an investor in Uber.

“A lot of sins get overlooked when everything is going right from a financial perspective,” Ackerman said.

Still, the case could be a tough one for Benchmark to win, said Erik Gordon, an entrepreneurship expert at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

“Even if you assume that Kalanick acted outrageously improperly, where was Benchmark when he was acting out?” Gordon said. “Did Benchmark fight tooth and nail against Kalanick’s conduct, or were they willing to put up with it as long as the company’s valuation, and the value of their investment in it, skyrocketed?”

Snapchat Daily Active Users Grow to 173 Million, Still Behind Instagram Stories

Facebook once failed to buy Snapchat; ever since, it’s tried to copy it, mostly without success. Until now. Facebook’s Instagram Stories, a clear Snapchat clone, has more daily users than Snapchat itself – and parent company Snap Inc should be very worried.

Snap’s latest earnings report isn’t helping either. On Thursday, the company said user growth for the April-June period was a paltry 4 percent from the previous quarter.

Snap’s stock, already down 44 percent since its initial public offering in May, declined 14 percent, to $11.90, in extended trading after the results came out. That’s less than half of the $24.48 closing price on its first trading day.

While the doom doesn’t spell imminent death, it’s a sign that Snapchat could be relegated to the sidelines as a niche app for young people – or worse, a passing fad – rather than a major competitor for digital ad dollars like Facebook and yes, even the struggling Twitter.

An analyst for Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter for Snap’s IPO, recently cut his rating of the company’s stock, citing competition from Instagram and worries that Snap’s advertising offerings aren’t evolving or improving. The analyst, Brian Nowak, said the company needs to do more so that advertisers don’t see it as a mere experiment, but a serious player.

By the numbers
Instagram recently disclosed that Stories, which lets people share videos and snapshots in a continuous 24-hour loop, has amassed 250 million daily users in the year since it launched.

Snapchat, in comparison, had 173 million in the second quarter – and that’s all of Snapchat, not just its version of Stories. Instagram in its entirety, meanwhile, had more than 400 million daily users as of February, the last official count.

Snap said Thursday that it lost $443 million (roughly Rs. 2,844 crores), or 36 cents per share, in the second quarter. That compares with a loss of $116 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew to $182 million, more than double the $72 million a year earlier but below analysts’ expectations.

To grow or not to grow
“Facebook has proven themselves to be a fierce competitor ,” Gartner analyst Brian Blau said. Facebook, he added, understands how to get more and more people to sign up and keep using its services.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has long defended the company’s decision not to make user growth its primary mission. He doesn’t even like calling Snapchat a social network; he insists it’s a camera company.

“There’s a lot of this thing in our industry called growth hacking, where you send a lot of push notifications to users or you try to get them to do things that might be unnatural or something like that,” Spiegel told investors in May.

Although that’s an easy way to grow daily users quickly, Spiegel said, Snap doesn’t believe “those sorts of techniques are very sustainable over the long-term.”

Facebook sends notifications for all sorts of things, such as a friend doing a live video or another friend posting something after an extended absence. Another might be on a new item for sale in the service’s “marketplace” section. These notifications – which primarily appear in the Facebook app but can also be pushed to the phone’s home screen – can conceivably keep people returning day after day.

While Snapchat sends fewer notifications, it encourages daily use through Snapstreak , which calls out streaks in which two friends send each other snaps at least once for more than three consecutive days. But it isn’t working too well, as daily use hasn’t grown much.

Snapchat Daily Active Users Grow to 173 Million, Still Behind Instagram StoriesRivals upon rivals
Rivals don’t always succeed. Facebook recently shut down Lifestage, which lets those 21 and under share photos, selfies and videos with classmates. Lifestage was aimed at high schoolers – a big chunk of Snapchat’s audience.

Before that, Facebook killed Slingshot, another Snapchat clone for sending disappearing messages. In turn, that followed the demise of Poke, which also let people send photos and videos. All that followed Snapchat’s decision to rebuff Facebook’s $3 billion offer for the service in 2013.

But Facebook and others kept trying and trying, until Facebook succeeded with Instagram Stories. Easy to use and piggybacking on Instagram’s existing popularity, Stories expanded Snapchat’s idea to a broader range of users. While Snapchat’s audience is mostly teens and young people, on Instagram, anyone might send a “story.”

It signals that even as Snapchat plays down user growth, having a strong and broad user base can be crucial to success.

Other messaging apps are looking to clone Snapchat, too. Google is reportedly working on Stamp, which The Wall Street Journal compared to Snapchat’s Discover feature for letting people find photo and video-heavy news items. While Google isn’t commenting on Stamp, published reports say the company is in talks with the likes of Vox Media and Time Inc. to create such content.

Beyond user growth
Investors in Facebook, Twitter and now Snap care tremendously about user growth. Facebook, with its 2 billion users, is enjoying record-high stock prices. Twitter, with its growth barely budging, is not.

But Blau said growth doesn’t necessarily have to be Snap’s primary focus if the company is able to make money from the users it does attract.

On this front, the company has made some strides, eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said. For example, it has launched new tools for businesses to create and distribute ads on the app.

These, she wrote in an email, “will help bring in new ad dollars, particularly from small and midsize marketers.”

But, Williamson said Snap must do even more – so advertising on it is no longer just an experiment.

Samsung Internet v6.2 Beta Now Available for Android 5.0 Lollipop and Later Smartphones

Earlier this year, Samsung made the version v5 beta of its Samsung Internet browser app on Android available for Google Nexus and Pixel devices. Now, the South Korean company has released Samsung Internet beta version v6.2 and interestingly made it available for all Android smartphones running Android 5.0 Lollipop or later.

The Samsung Internet version v6.2 beta will be rolled out gradually and will be made available to users through Google Play store as well as Galaxy Apps store. The company says that the app will receive multiple updates before the stable release of version v6.2. With this release, the company’s extension on Chrome’s desktop version supports syncing bookmarks with Samsung Internet Beta, the company said in its blog post.

Samsung Internet v6.2 Beta Now Available for Android 5.0 Lollipop and Later SmartphonesBy enabling the ‘Sync with Samsung Cloud’ in the settings menu, users will now be able to sync their bookmarks, saved pages, and open tabs across their mobile devices, apart from the Chrome desktop browser. The latest release also provides easier access to the extensions right from the settings menu and Contrast Mode makes reading more accessible and comfortable, as per the company. The Contrast Mode can be enabled from the Accessibility section within settings menu.

The new release also comes with a Chromium Engine upgrade (to M56) and brings along rendering engine improvements. The company says that it has included a key feature that it backported as priority. The company has also added CSS Grid, which has been described it as its most requested feature, and provides complete control over 2-dimensional layouts.

It will be interesting to see if users will prefer Samsung Internet over Google’s Chrome browser considering the later dominates the market as of now. Let us know if you are excited about the release in comments down below.