Apple Reportedly Fires Engineer After Daughter Posts iPhone X Video

There’s a reason Apple is so good at keeping secrets. Brooke Amelia Peterson says she and her father have found that out the hard way.

The younger Peterson posted a short video to YouTube from the Apple campus, apparently sometime early last week. One segment, filmed from Apple’s campus, showed off her father’s pre-release iPhone X – the highly-anticipated super-flagship phone due to be released on November 3. Peterson’s father, according to her videos, was an engineer working on radio communications and Apple Pay features for the iPhone X, pronounced “iPhone ten.”

Apple watchdogs including 9to5 Mac and Apple Insider jumped on the video, which 9to5 Mac described as “probably our best look yet at the device in action.” It included substantial glimpses of the device’s calendar app, camera, Face ID, and the new Animoji feature, as well as the physical design of the phone itself.

In a followup video posted on Saturday, though, Peterson claims that Apple reacted to the video by firing her father, who was seen cheerfully participating – despite Apple’s well-known commitment to secrecy around unreleased technology.

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In yesterday’s video, the younger Peterson was conciliatory towards Apple, acknowledging that she and her father had made a mistake.

“At the end of the day, when you work for Apple, it doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. If you break a rule, they just have no tolerance.”

“I’m not mad at Apple,” she continued. “My dad takes absolutely full responsibility for the one rule that he broke. We’re not angry, we’re not bitter.”

Details of Peterson’s story have not been independently verified, but we have reached out to Apple and will update this story with any confirmation or details.

Peterson says she took down the original video at Apple’s request, and some mirrors of the full video appear to be down as well, but copies are still surfacing both around the web and on YouTube.

Tech

Tesla Fires Hundreds of Workers After Their Annual Performance Review

They’re not layoffs, the automaker says.

Electric automaker Tesla Motors fired hundreds of employees this week, including workers at its Fremont, Calif. factory and corporate managers, as it tries to solve production problems for its recently released Model 3.

An estimated 400 to 700 people were dismissed this week, according to a San Jose Mercury News report published Friday afternoon. That’s between 1% and 2% of the company’s more than 33,000 employees. Former and current employees told the Mercury News that little or no warning preceded the dismissals.

A Tesla spokesman would not confirm that number but told Fortune that the move follows its annual performance reviews, which typically involve both involuntary and voluntary departures.

“Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period,” a Tesla spokesman said in an emailed statement. “This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases. As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

Tesla insists that the losses are not layoffs and that it plans to backfill the positions. That’s likely accurate, at least for jobs in California. State law requires companies to notify employees of layoffs through its WARN notification system. There are no records of new layoffs from Tesla. About 200 Tesla and SolarCity employees in the company’s Roseville, Calif. offices were notified Aug. 30 that they would be terminated.

The latest cuts come as the automaker tries to fix bottlenecks on the production line for its Model 3, an all-electric model designed to appeal to the masses. Earlier this month, Tesla reported that it produced 260 Model 3 cars in the third quarter, of which it has delivered 220. That figure is far less than CEO Elon Musk’s prediction that Tesla would produce more than 1,600 of the vehicles by September.

In July, Musk tweeted a production update for the Model 3, saying the car had passed all regulatory requirements ahead of schedule. After announcing that the first 30 customers would receive the Model 3s on July 28, Musk wrote, “production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1,500.”

Altogether, Musk said that third quarter production numbers for the Model 3 would be around 1,630 vehicles—a prediction off by 84%.

A Wall Street Journal report published earlier this month revealed that Tesla workers were assembling Model 3 vehicles by hand until at least early September. One of the “bottlenecks” Musk alluded to was a process that involved positioning and welding body panels by hand, rather than by precision robots, according to workers interviewed by the Journal.

Musk recently delayed the unveiling of an electric semi-truck until Nov. 16 so the company can focus its attention on production problems with its new mass-market car, the Model 3.

Tech

Equifax takes down web page after report of new hack

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Equifax Inc said on Thursday it has taken one of its customer help website pages offline as its security team looks into reports of another potential cyber breach at the credit reporting company, which recently disclosed a hack that compromised the sensitive information of more than 145 million people.

The move came after an independent security analyst on Wednesday found part of Equifax’s website was under the control of attackers trying to trick visitors into installing fraudulent Adobe Flash updates that could infect computers with malware, the technology news website Ars Technica reported.

“We are aware of the situation identified on the equifax.com website in the credit report assistance link,” Equifax spokesman Wyatt Jefferies said in an email. “Our IT and security teams are looking into this matter, and out of an abundance of caution have temporarily taken this page offline.”

The Atlanta-based company, which has faced seething criticism from consumers, regulators and lawmakers over its handling of the earlier breach, said it would provide more information as it becomes available.

As of 1:15 p.m. (1715 GMT), the web page in question said: “We’re sorry… The website is currently down for maintenance. We are working diligently to better serve you, and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We appreciate your patience during this time and ask that you check back with us soon.”

Equifax shares were down 1.2 percent at $ 109.18 in early afternoon trading.

Randy Abrams, the independent analyst who noticed the possible hack, said he was attempting to check some information in his credit report late on Wednesday when one of the bogus pop-up ads appeared on Equifax’s website.

His first reaction was disbelief, he said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he recalled thinking. Then he successfully replicated the problem at least five times, making a video that he posted to YouTube.

Equifax’s security protocols have been under scrutiny since Sept. 7 when the company disclosed its systems had been breached between mid-May and late July.

The breach has prompted investigations by multiple federal and state agencies, including a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, and it has led to the departure of the company’s chief executive officer, chief information officer and chief security officer.

As a credit reporting agency, Equifax keeps vast amounts of consumer data for banks and other creditors to use to determine the chances of their customers’ defaulting.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Bill Rigby

Tech

Tesla shares fall from record high after warning from analyst

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Shares of Tesla (TSLA.O) fell from record highs on Tuesday after an analyst warned that the electric car maker may take longer than expected to become profitable.

Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois launched coverage of Tesla with an “underperform” rating, helping send shares of the company headed by entrepreneur billionaire Elon Musk down 2.17 percent to $ 376.74 after closing at a record high the day before.

“Achievements to-date and vision are impressive, but we don’t think Tesla’s vertically integrated business model can be scaled up as profitably and quickly as consensus thinks and valuation multiples imply,” Houchois warned in a research note.

Houchois’ $ 280 price target was well below the median analyst price target of $ 337.50, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Musk is counting on the recently launched Model 3, Tesla’s least pricey car, to make the Palo Alto, California company profitable and establish it as the leading electric carmaker ahead of BMW (BMWG.DE), General Motors (GM.N) and other long-established players.

Wall Street’s confidence in Musk has sent Tesla’s stock up 83 percent over the past year to record highs.

Skeptics believe Tesla’s aggressive production targets are unrealistic, that Musk is burning through cash too quickly and that the company’s electric cars will be overtaken by larger automakers.

Eight analysts recommend buying Tesla’s stock, while another eight recommend selling, and eight others have neutral ratings, according to Thomson Reuters data. That makes Tesla one of the 10 most poorly-rated stocks in the Nasdaq 100 index.

Reporting by Noel Randewich; editing by Diane Craft

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

After Amazon outage, HealthExpense worries about cloud lock-in

Financial services companies as popular targets of cybercriminals for the obvious reason — they’re where the money’s at. And health care companies have medical records, which are very valuable on the black market since the information there can be abused in so many ways, and doesn’t expire.

HealthExpense, which provides health care payment services to banks and their enterprise customers, straddles both worlds.

“When we started, every new client asked us about security,” said Marco Smit, CEO at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Health Expense.

“It has to do with the data we’re collecting,” said company CSO Ken Lee. “We are definitely bound by HIPAA compliance, and we hold all the personal health information and financial information.”

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CIO Cloud Computing

Foursquare founder @dens given Special Project by VCs. Huge haircut after down round

Dennis Crowley, Foursquare’s remaining co-founder gets kicked up to the boardroom, “of his own volition.” In news that may or may not be connected, 4sq gets yet another honking chunk of change to burn through—but the price is said to value Foursquare at way less than it was worth previously.

This will be the Series-E round, worth $ 45 million, led by Union Square. Other investors number Morgan Stanley, DFJ, Andreessen Horowitz, and Spark.

Presumably one or more of these VCs weren’t keen on Crowley’s performance at the location-based service, so asked him to tag in the old COO and CRO. Meanwhile, he’s been asked to “make something awesome.”

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

Salesforce users: Early contracts might get you discounts, but after that watch out

Volume discounts are nothing unusual in the world of enterprise software, but over the last year or so Salesforce reportedly has been approaching customers early about upcoming renewals and wooing them with considerable extra discounts if they sign on ahead of time for the CRM vendor’s full software suite.

That’s according to a report Thursday in The Register, which attributed the information to an anonymous industry source who advises companies about Salesforce licensing.

The discount can be as much as 25 percent on top of Salesforce’s standard volume discount, according to the report. But it’s only available if customers sign up not just for its Sales Cloud but also for Marketing Cloud and consulting services.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

Okta hits $1.2B valuation after new funding

As businesses are increasing turning to the cloud for enterprise-level software and services, login management startup Okta announced today it has raised a fresh $ 75 million in funding.

Okta helps companies manage the various logins, passwords, and access to a plethora of cloud-based services they may have need of on a consistent basis. Employees enter login info to various services via Okta the first time, then refer back to Okta rather than logging in directly. (So for example, Okta could manage your login info for your company email account, task management service Asana, and the company brand’s Twitter account.) The idea is to get a better sense of who has access to what services, while eliminating possible phishing attacks or other malicious ways a hacker might gain access to a company’s various assets.

“We’re at an important inflection point where IT leaders, product developers, industry analysts and the biggest technology companies in the world are acknowledging the critical role identity plays in connecting people, apps, devices and organizations,” said Okta CEO Todd McKinnon in a statement.

The funding round itself was led by Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, and Sequoia Capital, with participation from additional existing investors. It also brings the total raised by the company to $ 230 million, and boosts its valuation to $ 1.2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Yes, for those keeping track, Okta is now the latest member of the Unicorn club — aka startups with a valuation that exceeds $ 1 billion.)

Okta hits $ 1.2B valuation after new funding originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015.

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Cloud

After fumbling public clouds, VMware focuses on hybrid clouds

From what company officials said this week at EMC VMware’s annual VMworld conference held in San Francisco, you’d think that its public cloud vCloud Air was in the same market tier as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. It’s not.

vCloud Air simply doesn’t come up in my conversations with organizations looking to move some, most, or all servers to the cloud. AWS and Azure do.

VMware’s hybrid capabilities

There’s no point to dwell on missing the public cloud infrastructure. Instead, it appears VMware will focus on the market where it currently has traction, meaning in the data center. Thus, what VMware described this week were hybrid capabilities in its cloud offerings to extend an organization’s data center to the public cloud without compromising security and compliance features.

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InfoWorld Cloud Computing

This is what's left of a trampoline after Sunday's high winds and funnel clouds

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After issuing a funnel cloud advisory, Environment Canada received reports of airborne trampolines, and numerous reports of the long, skinny, sinister-looking clouds in the Calgary and Cochrane area on Sunday afternoon. “We had some reports of a …
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Govt mulls use of cloud seeding technology for artificial rains in Karachi
With an aim to generate artificial rainfall in parts of Sindh witnessing an intense heatwave, the government is now mulling the use of cloud seeding technology, Express News reported. Talking to the media, Director General Ports and Shipping Abdul …
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Marin Software Reveals "Advertising Cloud" Platforms Becoming Increasingly
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Jun 23, 2015 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — Marketing and Advertising Technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the technology industry, with revenues expected to reach $ 32.8 billion by 2018. The advertising cloud, a subset …
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