Qualcomm draws up plans to rebuff Broadcom's $103 billion offer: sources

(Reuters) – U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) is making preparations to reject rival Broadcom Ltd’s (AVGO.O) $103 billion bid as early as this week, four people familiar with the matter said on Sunday, setting the stage for one of the biggest-ever takeover battles.

A building on the Qualcomm campus is seen, as chip maker Broadcom Ltd announced an unsolicited bid to buy peer Qualcomm Inc for $103 billion, in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Qualcomm’s board of directors could meet as early as Sunday to review the unsolicited acquisition offer and decide on its strategy, the sources said. The preparations for the board meeting indicate that Qualcomm is poised to rebuff the bid as insufficient as early as Monday, although it may decide to spend a few more days this week to prepare its full response to Broadcom, the sources added.

Qualcomm Chief Executive Steven Mollenkopf has spent the past few days soliciting feedback from Qualcomm shareholders, and feels that Qualcomm’s $70-per-share bid undervalues the company and does not price in the uncertainty associated with getting the deal approved by regulators, according to the sources.

Broadcom CEO Hock Tan, who said earlier this month he would redomicile his company to the United States from Singapore, has stated he is open to launching a takeover battle. The sources said Broadcom was preparing to submit a slate of directors by Qualcomm’s Dec. 8 nomination deadline. That would allow Qualcomm shareholders to vote to replace the company’s board and force it to engage with Broadcom.

FILE PHOTO: A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen, as chip maker Broadcom Ltd announced an unsolicited bid to buy peer Qualcomm Inc for $103 billion, in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Broadcom has also been deliberating the possibility of raising its bid for Qualcomm, including through more debt financing, some of the sources said, although it was not clear when Broadcom would choose to make such a move.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Qualcomm and Broadcom did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Qualcomm provides chips to carrier networks to deliver broadband and mobile data. It is engaged in a patent infringement dispute with Apple Inc (AAPL.O), and is also trying to close its $38 billion acquisition of automotive chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI.O) after signing a deal in October 2016. Broadcom has indicated it is willing to acquire Qualcomm irrespective of whether it closes the NXP deal.

NXP shares have been trading above Qualcomm’s offer price, as many NXP shareholders, including hedge fund Elliott Management Corp, have been holding out for a better price. Qualcomm does not plan to significantly raise its price for NXP as a defensive strategy to make its acquisition by Broadcom more expensive, according to one of the sources.

Qualcomm shares closed at $64.57 on Friday, while Broadcom ended at $264.96.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Cooney

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This Famous Company Found an Ingenious, Emotionally Intelligent Way To Improve School Attendance

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Kids sometimes don’t want to go to school.

Their reasons might vary from “Don’t want to” to “Don’t feel like it.”

Sometimes, though, it’s because they’re feeling ashamed or even being bullied.

And sometimes, the reason is both blindingly simple and painful.

The kids don’t have clean clothes. 

It could be because their parents can’t afford a washer and a dryer. It could be because they can’t afford to fix their broken machines.

It could also be because, as one little girl admitted: “Our electricity got cut off.”

In stepped Whirlpool to offer schools washers and dryers, so that kids could bring their washing into school and have it done there. 

Perhaps some parents and kids might find it embarrassing at first to admit that they need to have their clothes washed at school. 

Then again, perhaps the more parents that use the machines, the less embarrassing it is.

It’s not as if recent economic times have closed the gap between rich and poor, is it?

Yes, for Whirlpool this is an ad. It’s also something that school teachers are saying improves school attendance.

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The people who run the so-called Care Counts program say that in 90 percent of cases it improved attendance.

At-risk kids attended school for two more weeks a year.

Of course, some might feel it’s a sad indictment of our social and educational systems that such a situation might have arisen.

However, the program now seems to be expanding to more schools in more parts of the country.

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So many times, brands try to piggyback on social issues solely in order to make themselves look good.

How often does an event occur that captures the public’s imagination or grief and every brand on earth insists on tweeting its own take on the subject?

In this case, it seems that Whirlpool actually bothered to consider what genuine good it could do for others.

Which seems startlingly sane and refreshing.

Louis C.K. Responds After New York Times Report and Being Dropped by Netflix, The Orchard

Hollywood studios are moving quickly to distance themselves from Louis C.K. one day after a bombshell The New York Times report surfaced allegations from multiple women who accused the comedian of masturbating in front of them without their consent. On Friday, the comedian admitted that the allegations against him are true and issued an apology (see below).

The independent film studio The Orchard said in a statement on Friday that it “will not be moving forward with the release of I Love You, Daddy—the movie that Louis C.K. wrote, directed, and starred in—which was supposed to hit theaters November 17. The studio previously cancelled the movie’s New York premiere event on Thursday in advance of the Times‘ story.

The Orchard paid a reported $5 million to acquire worldwide distribution rights to the film in September after the movie made a well-received debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. (The deal was the largest to come out of that festival this year.) Even before yesterday’s huge allegations, Louis C.K. had been drawing criticism over I Love You, Daddy, which features some questionable content and offensive language, including a storyline where a character’s 17-year-old daughter has a romantic relationship with a 68-year-old man.

Meanwhile, multiple media giants also took a step back from Louis C.K. on Friday. Netflix announced that it will not move forward with a planned stand-up special featuring the comedian, who signed a deal with the streaming service to create two comedy specials earlier this year. The first of those two stand-up specials started streaming on Netflix in April.

“The allegations made by several women in The New York Times about Louis C.K.’s behavior are disturbing,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement provided to Fortune. “Louis’s unprofessional and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues has led us to decide not to produce a second stand-up special, as had been planned.”

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On Friday afternoon, Louis C.K. issued a statement verifying the accounts of five women who accused him of sexual misconduct in The New York Times‘ report. Here is the comedian’s full statement:

I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.

I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.
I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.
There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.

I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.

The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie. and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.
I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.

I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.

Thank you for reading.

Time Warner’s HBO said it is removing the comedian from its lineup of performers for Jon Stewart’s annual fundraiser Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism when it airs on the cable network later this month, and HBO also said it is “removing Louis C.K.’s past projects from its On Demand services.”

And 21st Century Fox’s FX Networks, which airs the comedian’s comedy series Louie (along with projects Louis C.K. executive produces, like Better Things and Baskets) said in a statement on Thursday that the network is “obviously very troubled by the allegations” against the comedian and that “the matter is currently under review.”

Nvidia Corp reports 54.6 percent rise in quarterly profit

(Reuters) – Nvidia Corp reported a 54.6 percent rise in quarterly profit, driven by strong demand for its graphics chips used in gaming devices, data centers, autonomous vehicles and also by cryptocurrency miners.

A NVIDIA logo is shown at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake – RC1C8FF654B0

Net income rose to $838 million, or $1.33 per share, in the third quarter ended Oct. 29, from $542 million, or 83 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose to $2.64 billion from $2 billion.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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Former Yahoo CEO apologizes for data breaches, blames Russians

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer apologized on Wednesday for two massive data breaches at the internet company, blaming Russian agents for at least one of them, at a hearing on the growing number of cyber attacks on major U.S. companies.

”As CEO, these thefts occurred during my tenure, and I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users,” she told the Senate Commerce Committee, testifying alongside the interim and former CEOs of Equifax Inc (EFX.N) and a senior Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) executive.

“Unfortunately, while all our measures helped Yahoo successfully defend against the barrage of attacks by both private and state-sponsored hackers, Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users’ data.”

Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless operator, acquired most of Yahoo Inc’s assets in June, the same month Mayer stepped down. Verizon disclosed last month that a 2013 Yahoo data breach affected all 3 billion of its accounts, compared with an estimate of more than 1 billion disclosed in December.

In March, federal prosecutors charged two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers with masterminding a 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo accounts, the first time the U.S. government has criminally charged Russian spies for cyber crimes.

Those charges came amid controversy relating to alleged Kremlin-backed hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible links between Russian figures and associates of President Donald Trump. Russia has denied trying to influence the U.S. election in any way.

Special Agent Jack Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Division said in March the 2013 breach was unrelated and that an investigation of the larger incident was continuing. Mayer later said under questioning that she did not know if Russians were responsible for the 2013 breach, but earlier spoke of state-sponsored attacks.

Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer waits to testify before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on “Protecting Consumers in the Era of Major Data Breaches” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, asked Mayer on Wednesday why it took three years to identify the data breach or properly gauge its size.

Mayer said Yahoo has not been able to identify how the 2013 intrusion occurred and that the company did not learn of the incident until the U.S. government presented data to Yahoo in November 2016. She said even “robust” defenses are not enough to defend against state-sponsored attacks and compared the fight with hackers to an “arms race.”

Yahoo required users to change passwords and took new steps to make data more secure, Mayer said.

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“We now know that Russian intelligence officers and state-sponsored hackers were responsible for highly complex and sophisticated attacks on Yahoo’s systems,” Mayer said. She said “really aggressive” pursuit of hackers was needed to discourage the efforts, and that even the most well-defended companies “could fall victim to these crimes.”

The current and former chief executives of credit bureau Equifax, which disclosed in September that a data breach affected as many as 145.5 million U.S. consumers, said they did not know who was responsible for the attack.

Senator Bill Nelson said “only stiffer enforcement and stringent penalties will help incentivize companies to properly safeguard consumer information.”

Thune told reporters after the hearing the Equifax data breach had created “additional momentum” for Congress to approve legislation. He said Mayer’s testimony was “important in shaping our future reactions.”

The Senate Commerce Committee took the unusual step of subpoenaing Mayer to testify on Oct. 25 after a representative for Mayer declined multiple requests for her voluntarily testimony. A representative for Mayer said on Tuesday she was appearing voluntarily.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Susan Thomas

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Google Wants to Help You Avoid Long Restaurant Lines

Google wants to help you avoid long lines at popular restaurants.

The search giant debuted a new tool on Tuesday that lets people see the wait times at nearby restaurants.

For example, searching for San Francisco restaurant Michael Mina using a smartphone in Google (goog) search or Google Maps brings up a section titled “Popular times” below the usual restaurant reviews. A chart in it lists the busiest times at the restaurant while another click shows an estimated wait at a specific time.

People can also check to see wait times for other days in the week.

Google said it calculates its waiting time estimates “based on anonymized historical data.” This anonymized data is taken from people who agree to be tracked via the Google Location History feature that the company uses to target people with better recommendations based on places they have visited.

Online business listing company Yelp (yelp) also has a similar restaurant wait-time feature that it inherited through its $40 million acquisition of online reservation company NoWait in March.

Google did not say whether the restaurant wait feature is available nationally or in a limited number of cities. The company said that the service includes “all your favorite restaurants,” but it did not specify what that means. The company said the new feature is “rolling out soon” and that it would first debut in Google Search followed by Google Maps.

IBM Has a New Blockchain Idea: Tracking Marijuana Sales

Companies are using the digital ledger technology popularized by bitcoin in banking, insurance, and contracts—but how about using a blockchain to track marijuana sales?

Canada is planning to legalize cannabis sales next year, with some regulation of distribution and retailing done at the province level, following the same model used for tobacco and liquor. So when the government of British Columbia asked for suggestions about everything from age minimums to retail store rules, IBM came up with an innovative idea: use a blockchain.

The idea, as IBM (ibm) laid out in a brief four-page submission, is to track pot supplies as they move up the supply chain from farm to distributor to retailer to consumers. The most well-known blockchain, typically a publicly-available digital document that uses encryption techniques to validate transactions, tracks the bitcoin economy and other cryptocurrencies like ethereum. But tech companies have been finding all sorts of new uses for the technology, such as Walmart’s (wmt) experimental blockchain tracking livestock and other farm products. And IBM has been at the forefront.

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Blockchain’s “relevance to regulating cannabis is similar to its many chain of custody applications in areas such as pharmaceutical distribution and food chains,” IBM wrote in its submission. “The core to those supply chains is the same, assuring health and safety of consumers, preventing fraud and counterfeiting while creating a foundation of transparency upon which to base regulation.”

A blockchain could help the government ensure that cannabis crops are legally grown, that appropriate taxes are collected and that black market sales are blocked. Consumers would know the exact origin of any products they purchased as well.

“This type of transparency would bring a new level of visibility and control to the provincial regulators and provide assurance to the multitude of cautious stakeholders regarding the way the management of a cannabis supply chain is rolled out within British Columbia,” IBM said.

Mobile bank N26 sees customers tripling within two years: CEO

LONDON (Reuters) – The smartphone-based bank N26 expects to peel away 5 to 10 percent of retail customers aged 18 to 35 from established banks in its core continental European market in the next two to three years, its chief executive told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Valentin Stalf, Founder and CEO of the Fintech N26 (Number26), poses for a portrait in Berlin, Germany, August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo

The Berlin-based fintech start-up has been signing up 1,500 to 2,000 customers a day in recent months, putting it on track to triple in size to around 1.5 million clients within two years from its current 500,000 users, Valentin Stalf said in an interview in London on Friday.

The company, which counts Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing and Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel among its backers, is competing with traditional branch-based retail banks by offering a suite of mobile banking services that customers can use entirely from their smartphones.

It also faces competition from other digital banks such as Revolut and Monzo, and even French telecom operator Orange (ORAN.PA), which launched its own banking service last week.

Since its launch in Germany in 2015, the company has expanded rapidly into 17 European countries including Austria, France, Spain and Italy. It recently said it will start operating in Britain and the United States next year.

“We see the U.S. as a big opportunity because digital banking is underdeveloped,” Stalf said. “There are no clear rivals for us there.”

The regulatory environment is also becoming more favorable, Stalf said.

In 2018, new European Union rules will start to force banks to allow customer data to be made available to other companies if the customers agree. That will help the likes of N26 identify potential customers and offer them better deals than their current lenders.

Stalf said that within three years N26 expects to have a 5 to 10 percent share of the market in the main countries where it operates.

N26 offers a free current account, its “anchor product”, but makes most of its money through card usage, savings, credit and insurance services.

The company made its name taking on traditional banks but came under scrutiny itself last year after a security researcher found that its apps exposed users to potential account hijacking. N26 then implemented fixes to prevent such problems.

Stalf said the main advantages of being an app are having daily interactions with customers and as a result being able to better understand their needs and offer tailor-made, value-added services.

“If I happen to book a trip and hire a car with my N26 card, my app would instantly use that information to offer me travel and car insurance.”

With marketing costs of 5 to 10 million euros per year – far lower than those of traditional banks – and customer data gathered via payments, N26 has been able to either make a profit or break even from each newly acquired customer.

Stalf said that excluding marketing costs, the company could be profitable in about a year.

Acquiring a banking license has also helped keep costs down, and the company is now betting that word-of-mouth and good Apple Store ratings will help it contain its marketing costs and help it move along the path to profitability.

“Today you can create a trusted brand much faster because everything is more transparent,” said the 32-year-old Vienna-born entrepreneur.

(In the first paragraph, company corrects to say .. retail customers aged 18 to 35 ..not.. all retail customers)

Reporting by Sophie Sassard in London; Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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BP, Shell lead plan for blockchain-based platform for energy trading

(Reuters) – A consortium including energy companies BP and Royal Dutch Shell will develop a blockchain-based digital platform for energy commodities trading expected to start by end-2018, the group said on Monday.

The logo of BP is seen at a petrol station in Kloten, Switzerland October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Other members of the consortium include Norwegian oil firm Statoil, trading houses Gunvor, Koch Supply & Trading, and Mercuria, and banks ABN Amro, ING and Societe Generale.

Blockchain technology, which first emerged as the architecture underpinning cryptocurrency bitcoin, uses a shared database that updates itself in real-time and can process and settle transactions in minutes using computer algorithms, with no need for third-party verification.

Mercuria has been a vocal advocate of implementing blockchain technology to significantly cut costs in oil trading.

“Ideally, it would help to eliminate any confusion over ownership of a cargo and potentially help to make managing risk more exact if there are accurate timestamps to each part of the trade,” said Edward Bell, commodities analyst at Dubai-based lender Emirates NBD PJSC.

Similar efforts for an energy trading platform have failed to take off, Bell said, but added this latest bid with backing from BP and Shell and the banks, “may have more success than if it were an independent party trying to convince oil and gas companies to make use of it.”

The new venture is seeking regulatory approvals and would be run as an independent entity, the consortium said in a statement.

“The platform aims to reduce administrative operational risks and costs of physical energy trading, and improve the reliability and efficiency of back-end trading operations…,” the statement said.

(This version of the story was refiled to make clearer in headline that platform is tool for trading, not a trading platform)

Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.

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Toyota seeks more investments in Israeli auto tech, robotics

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp is seeking more investments in Israeli robotics and vehicle technologies after its venture arm led a $14 million investment in Intuition Robotics in July.

A logo of Toyota Motor Corp is seen at the company’s showroom in Tokyo, Japan June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

The startup, which makes robots for the elderly, was the first Israeli investment for Toyota AI Ventures, a new $100 million fund investing in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous mobility and data and cloud computing.

“We will see more involvement of Toyota in the Israeli market in the future,” said Jim Adler, managing director of California-based Toyota AI Ventures, which is part of the $1 billion Toyota Research Institute.

“There’s more in the pipeline,” he told Reuters during a visit to Israel, adding that technologies dealing with perception and prediction and planning were of particular interest to Toyota.

Perception technology enables a self-driving vehicle to understand the world around it while prediction and planning can help a car interpret situations such as whether a child at an intersection might try to cross at a red light.

“There’s a tremendous amount of innovation happening in Israel as cars become more produced by data,” said Adler, who is in the country meeting companies whose technologies interest Toyota.

Israel is a growing center for automotive technology. Earlier this year Intel Corp bought autonomous vehicle firm Mobileye – one of Israel’s biggest tech companies – for $15.3 billion.

On Friday Germany’s Continental AG said it was buying Israel’s Argus Cyber Security, whose technology guards connected cars against hacking.

Toyota AI Ventures has made five investments and expects to invest in at least 20 companies worldwide.

Regarding its investment in Intuition Robotics – which plans to begin trials of its robots with older adults in their homes early next year – Adler said there were many common features between robotics and autonomous vehicles, which he referred to as “big robots with wheels”.

Japan’s population is aging, with 40 percent expected to be over 65 in 20 years, he said, and there will be demand for technologies that help the elderly stay in their homes, rather than have to move to assisted-living facilities.

“We think Toyota will have a role there,” he said.

Editing by Keith Weir

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