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Wall St. ends lower after shooting at Canada parliament

25 Oct

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeNEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell in afternoon trading on Wednesday, with major indexes erasing earlier gains as a shooting at the Canadian parliament unnerved investors and Boeing and Biogen sold off following results. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 151.05 points, or 0.91 percent, to 16,463.76, the S&P 500 lost 14.04 points, or 0.72 percent, to 1,927.24 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 36.63 points, or 0.83 percent, to 4,382.85. (Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Adam Pollicino Picks – StartUP raises money to get back in play.

24 Oct

You may remember FormSpring a social networks that had a great following until they ran into problems with cyber bullying and other member issues including the rise of competitors. In yet another member acquisition play by another industry player Spring.me raised $5mm from a range of name players to re-launch. See the details in this great article on the raise.

Spring.me, the new social network that was previously Formspring, has raised a total of $5 million in debt and equity seed funding from investors including Right Click Capital, Tank Stream Ventures, Nextec Strategic Capital, and Rubicon Project Founder Craig Roah. The company plans to use the funding to expand Spring.me in the U.S., where it just launched.

Formspring’s demise was due in part to the site’s accidental role in faciliating cyberbullying. Though Spring.me, which currently claims five million regular visitors, acquired the Formspring website and database, it wants to create a completely different reputation for itself by becoming the world’s “friendliest social network.” The site lets users engage in Q&A discussions and group chats, share photos and opinion polls, and send private messages.

One of the first anonymous “ask me anything” platforms, Formspring shut down in March 2013. The closure was partly due to increasing competition from similar features on larger sites like Tumblr. Before closing, Formspring had tried to gain a second lease on life by announcing a shift from anonymous Q&A to interest-based discussions.

User attrition was not the only challenge that Formspring, which had raised $14 million in funding, faced. Cyberbullying was a much more serious problem. The anonymity of the site allowed users to send harrassing messages to one another and Formspring was cited in the suicides of at least two teenagers.

Since Formspring’s closure, a host of anonymous networking and discussion apps have sprung up to replace it, including Ask.fm, Yik Yak, and Whisper, but these sites still have their share of cyberbullies, which is especially problematic because many of their users are teenagers.

Spring.me wants to differentiate from other social networks by encouraging people to make friends through asking and answering questions, CEO Keith O’Brien says. “We have found that is the reason people are on Spring.me. Not for the voyeuristic reasons they are on Ask.fm, Whisper, and Secret.”

O’Brien says that the site will be able to avoid a “Lord of the Flies” environment in part because its members are older and (hopefully) more mature, with many in college or working at their first jobs.

“Most bullying affects 12-16 years old. We have less than 5 percent of our users in that age group, so it has become almost a non-existent issue for us,” he told TechCrunch. The median age of Spring.me’s users is 21 and the average age is 24.

“Our members don’t want to mix with the school kids who are on Yik Yak and Ask.fm. We are not about secrets, gossips, or even anonymity. We provide a platform where people can make friends through Q&A. Members hang out on Spring.me to explore ideas and conversations when they have a spare moment in between studying, shift work, working-from-home, or when traveling,” says O’Brien. “We’re closer to a modern day ICQ than we are to anonymous broadcasting.”

Other measures that Spring.me has taken in its effort to be more “friendly” than competing social networking platforms include Spring.me volunteers or ambassadors chosen from its user ranks, who flag trolls and offensive comments. There are currently about 1,000 ambassadors on the platform, who can earn rewards such as becoming Spring.me “royalty” and earning titles like “lady,” “count,” “princess,” “king,” and “queen,” and early access to new features. The site also uses exclusively smiley emojis in an effort to create a friendlier environment. Users who are under 18 can only receive certain types of messages, and there is a filtering system (similar to Google’s safe search filter) in place so people can decided what kind of content they see.

The site plans to acquire more users by releasing mobile apps by the end of November. Currently, 70 percent of its traffic on desktop and 30 percent is from mobile. The site will also launch matching features and other services similar to the ones on dating sites, including a personality quiz that will match users with similar people. Spring.me will monetize by introducing native advertising when it reached about 20 million to 30 million visitors per month.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/24/spring-me/?ncid=rss

 
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Social Security benefits to go up by 1.7 percent

24 Oct

FILE - This Feb. 2005 file photo shows trays of printed social security checks, in Philadelphia, waiting to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury. More than 56 million Social Security recipients will see their monthly payments go up by 1.7 percent next year. The increase, which starts in January, is tied to a measure of inflation released Tuesday. It shows that inflation has been relatively low over the past year _ despite the recent surge in gas prices _ resulting in one of the smallest increases in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower, File)More than 56 million Social Security recipients will see their monthly payments go up by 1.7 percent next year.

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Wall St. little changed as Microsoft offsets Amazon

24 Oct

A woman carries an umbrella as she passes by the New York Stock Exchange on Broad St. in New York's financial district during the morning rushBy Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday, as disappointing earnings from Amazon were offset by gains in Microsoft after its quarterly results. Amazon plunged 7.3 percent to $290.45 as the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 after the online retailer’s sales projections for the crucial holiday quarter disappointed Wall Street and third-quarter results missed forecasts. But Microsoft , up 1.3 percent at $45. …

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Directory Website Raises Venture Capital

23 Oct

Another customer platform that allows for the best possible quote to be chosen from a number of service providers in a range of business categories. Oneflare.com is based in Australia and is looking to expand the service worldwide. Another cool company picked up through seed fund programs and promoted on techCrunch :)

Oneflare, a local services marketplace based in Sydney, Australia, has raised an additional $1 million AUD (about $876,000), bringing its total funding so far to $1.5 million AUD (about $1.3 million). Investors include Les Szekely of Equity Venture Partners, Garry Visontay, of the Sydney Seed Fund and Dr. Jeffrey Tobias of The Strategy Group. The startup says it will use the capital on hiring, sales and marketing, and international expansion.

The site allows users to get multiple quotes from pre-vetted service providers, including cleaners, electricians, plumbers, painters, accountants, and gardeners. Oneflare was founded in 2011 by Marcus Lim and Adam Dong and currently has 50,000 registered business in more than 200 categories, as well as 500,000 visitors pre month. In Australia, Lim says that Oneflare’s market oppotunity could be about $18 billion if it replaces the Yellow Pages and directories as customers’ preferred way to find services.

In addition to the Yellow Pages, Oneflare’s competitors also include directory sites TrueLocal and Gumtree. Oneflare differentiates, Lim says, but offering multiple quotes and checking for Australian Business Numbers (ABN), licenses, insurance, and qualifications. It’s customer reviews are also linked to completed transactions, and separate from customer testimonials.

In addition, Oneflare, which is available online and through mobile apps, also provides a guarantee of up to $500 AUD for home damages by listed businesses, as well as an on-time guarantee so businesses can back themselves with a $50 AUD bond if they don’t arrive on time.

The site currently claims 500,000 unique visitors per month and has had over $55 million AUD of jobs requested through the site so far. It also says it has tripled its revenue over the last year, and seen a 300 percent increase in total traffic over the past 12 months.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/23/australian-service-directory-site-oneflare-raises-876000-for-international-expansion/?ncid=rss

 
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Wall Street rallies on Caterpillar, 3M results

23 Oct

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks jumped 1 percent on Thursday as a number of strong results, including from a pair of Dow components, reassured investors that corporations continued to fare well despite concerns about global economic growth. Shares of both Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co rose following their results, with heavy machinery maker Caterpillar also raising its full-year profit view. Caterpillar was up 4.2 percent at $98.31 while 3M added 4.3 percent to $144.95. As both are big multinationals, the results were especially encouraging, given concerns about how recent U.S. …

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Earnings lift Wall St. for fifth straight day

22 Oct

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged higher on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 up for a fifth straight day as technology companies rallied on strong results, though weakness in Boeing weighed on the Dow. With the session’s advance, which builds on a jump of about 2 percent on Tuesday, the S&P 500 is up 4.5 percent over the past five sessions, putting it on track for the biggest five-day rally since December 2011. Tech names were among the market’s biggest advancers a day after both Yahoo Inc and Broadcom beat revenue expectations. Broadcom shares climbed 7.2 percent to $40. …

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Wall St. on track for fifth straight daily gain

22 Oct

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged higher on Wednesday, with major indexes up for a fifth straight day as technology companies rallied again on strong results. With the session’s advance, which builds on a jump of about 2 percent on Tuesday, the S&P 500 is up about 4.5 percent over the past five sessions, putting it on track for the biggest five-day rally since December 2011. The gains were largely driven by earnings, with tech names among the biggest gainers of the day. …

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Wall St. gains on Apple; S&P up for fourth straight day

21 Oct

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock ExchangeBy Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 on track for a fourth straight session of gains as Apple and Texas Instruments rallied after their results. The results lifted the tech-heavy Nasdaq index up more than 1 percent, while the Dow’s gains were limited following disappointing results from Coca-Cola. The S&P 500 has gained 3.2 percent over the past four sessions, rebounding after a four-week decline that took the benchmark index down nearly 10 percent from its intraday record. …

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Valeant says may raise Allergan bid; beats on profit

20 Oct

The head offices of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. are seen in Laval, QuebecBy Rod Nickel and Ashutosh Pandey (Reuters) – Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc VRX.TO VRX.N said on Monday that it may raise its bid for Botox maker Allergan Inc AGN.N after the Canadian company posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Valeant CEO Michael Pearson said a possible revised stock and cash bid would be worth more than $200 per share, assuming that Valeant’s stock rises, and would include more cash. The current bid is worth about $52.7 billion or $176 per share. Shares of Laval, Quebec-based Valeant were up 3 percent at C$139.51 in Toronto on Monday. …

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