Exclusive: Logitech in talks to acquire headphone maker Plantronics – sources

(Reuters) – Logitech International SA, a Swiss manufacturer of keyboards and webcams, is in discussions to acquire Plantronics Inc, a U.S. maker of Bluetooth earpieces and gaming headsets, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO – Chief Executive Bracken Darrell of the computer peripherals maker Logitech addresses the company’s annual news conference in Zurich, Switzerland April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The deal would be by far Logitech’s largest acquisition and would illustrate the company’s push to diversify its business. It would come as Logitech and Plantronics seek to keep down manufacturing costs following the introduction of tariffs on imports from China into the United States.

Logitech has offered more than $2.2 billion to acquire Plantronics, one of the sources said. As of the end of trading on Friday, Plantronics had a market capitalization of about $2 billion.

If the negotiations prove successful, a deal between Logitech and Plantronics could come as early as next week, the sources said, cautioning that it was also possible that no agreement would be reached.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Plantronics declined to comment, while Logitech did not respond to a request for comment.

Plantronics shares jumped 5.6 percent to $56.50 on the news in after hours trading in New York on Friday.

Logitech’s and Plantonics’ businesses have been under pressure as a result of new offerings being developed, not just from network gear makers such as Cisco Systems Inc, but also from major technology companies such as Microsoft Inc and Google owner Alphabet Inc.

Founded in 1981, Logitech has been countering declining sales of personal computers by focusing on consumer accessories that are benefiting from the growth of cloud computing, such as gaming, music, smart home connectivity and video conferencing. The Lausanne-based company has a market capitalization of $5.6 billion.

Last year, Logitech acquired ASTRO Gaming for $85 million in cash to expand in the video game sector.

Santa Cruz, California-based Plantronics makes unified communications systems, wireless headsets, conferencing systems, and some software, which it sells to businesses and consumers.

Founded in 1961, Plantronics’ first products were lightweight headsets for airline pilots. It later became known for selling headsets to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including the ones worn by Neil Armstrong during his first moonwalk in 1969.

A sale of Plantronics would come on the heels of the company’s $2 billion acquisition in July of U.S. video-conferencing equipment maker Polycom Inc.

Private equity firm Siris Capital Group LLC owns 16 percent of Plantronics, making it its largest shareholder. Reuters had reported earlier this month that Plantronics was exploring a sale.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Carl O’Donnell in New York; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

3 tips for negotiating with your public cloud providers

The last time you renewed or got a new contract in place with a big pubic cloud provider, how did your negotiations go? For most enterprises this past year, such negotiations did not go very far. These days, the amount of money on the table is much larger, and the public cloud providers are starting to negotiate more like enterprise software providers—like IBM, Oracle, Adobe, and SAP—than like public cloud utilities.

So, I am commonly asked, “How do I negotiate with my cloud provider when they already know that I’m dependent on them as my cloud platform of choice?”

Here are three tips that will give you some advantages, even if your back is up against the cloud wall.

Do These 3 Things Every Morning to Boost Your Productivity and Happiness

You don’t have to change your entire morning or suddenly start training for a marathon when you wake up to create a morning that will nourish the rest of your day. These three simple morning habits are a great place to start if you want to create a morning routine that will enhance your productivity.

1. Get an early start to the day.

As we all know, the early bird gets the worm. Getting an early start to your day allows you to begin your day with the freedom (and time) to own your morning. Instead of hitting the snooze button and running out the door to avoid being late, try waking up 30 or 40 minutes before you normally do. 

Lauren Vanderkam’s book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast shows that almost 50 percent of self-made millionaires start their mornings three hours before their day needs to begin and that 90 percent of all executives prefer to be early rises and wake up before 6A.M. on workdays. 

Waking up early gives you time to get what you want to be done before heading into work. Take this time to make a healthy breakfast, read, meditate, or to do the remaining productive boosting habits on this list. 

2. Say your goals for the day out loud.

No matter how big or small your goal is for the day, week, or year it’s important to keep it at the front of your mind every single day. Creating a pathway to progress on your goals starts with acknowledging them. 

Being an entrepreneur means having to put out a million little fires a day, while still building a company and pushing a product or service. Being in charge of clients, employees, marketing materials X, Y and Z can start to give you whiplash. This is why it’s especially important to state your goal and objective every morning. Staying grounded in this will help you on even your busiest of days. 

Add a massive amount of productivity to your day by reciting your goals at the start of your day. Do so in a positive and affirmative way. Instead of saying “I want my company to earn X amount of revenue by X”, say “My company has a brilliant product, and we will earn X amount of revenue by X day.”. You should also do this with smaller, personal goals. 

Visualize what you want your day to be like, and what aspects of your day will attribute to you getting closers to your goal. Give yourself reassuring affirmations that will stay with you throughout the day–no matter how hectic it gets. 

3. Write a detailed to-do list.

Writing a to-do list every morning is a fantastic way of taking inventory of what you didn’t get accomplished the day before, and what you plan to get done today. Starting your day off by doing this every morning helps you set the tone for the day. 

Use this list in conjunction with your schedule to keep you prepared for what needs to get done that day. Staying aware of what your day should consist of is the easiest way to stay on track. This will boost productivity by allowing you to prepare for your day within the hour you wake up.

French tobacco shops to sell bitcoins via fintech company

PARIS (Reuters) – French tobacco shops, where people go to buy lottery tickets and cigarettes, will start offering bitcoins to customers from early next year via a deal with a French fintech company Keplerk.

FILE PHOTO: A sign indicates a tobacconist shop in Bordeaux, France, September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

Keplerk said it has secured a contract with a local cash register software provider to give tobacco shops the possibility to sell the cryptocurrency to their customers.

The tobacco shop owners will sell customers a voucher which can be used to obtain bitcoins via an electronic wallet owned by Keplerk. They will be the first brick and mortar shops to sell bitcoins anywhere in the world, Keplerk said.

“Tobacco shop owners are the best channel as they are trusted by customers and they are used to sell vouchers such as credit for mobile phones,” Adil Zakhar, Keplerk’s director for strategy and development, said.

Keplerk has been working on the project to sell bitcoins to retail investors for a year and a half.

French regulators, including the country’s central bank, have warned savers about the potential risks associated with investing into cryptocurrencies.

The central bank said it does not supervise the Keplerk initiative.

“Those are purely speculative assets and not currencies. Those who invest in bitcoin or other crypto-assets do it at their own risk,” the Central Bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

France’s 24,000 licensed tobacco shops have already diversified to sell lottery tickets, credits for cellphone operators or video and music streaming services.

Keplerk said it will finance the project by charging a 7 percent commission fee on every transaction.

Bitcoin has attracted a mix of investors, some convinced that it can reshape global finance by displacing traditional means of payments and others attracted by rapid gains that pushed it close to $20,000 in December.

It has since lost three-quarters of its value, falling below $4,500 on Tuesday.

Reporting by Inti Landauro, additional reporting from Thomas Wilson. Editing by Jane Merriman

Have You Built a Culture of Creativity?

But before a company can build their business value of design, some critical building blocks must be in place. 

They must first prime the organization to have a culture of creativity that supports design-centric initiatives.  This only happens when companies get really good at leveraging creativity as an innovation resource.  

I’ve written in an earlier article about the significance of “the human quotient” in companies as they grapple with the future of work in the midst of our 4th Industrial Revolution- a time when we are tethered to cloud technology, AI, VR, robotics and data in ubiquitous ways.  Pointing out the business value of design is another way of acknowledging that when a company starts with their customers’ human needs and desired experiences, and builds products and services around those drivers, it is ultimately a more efficient way to run a business.

The human quotient is grounded in creativity.  Creative approaches to business outcomes can positively affect revenue generation, market share diversification, efficiencies and cost reductions.  This has to happen in an inside-out manner.  That is, the creative impact of your products and services on people’s lives will only come to pass when the company builds a culture of creativity.  This is especially true at a time when employee engagement, generative thinking and thought diversity in a company are critical means to innovation.  

Here are three ways companies can build their creative competencies, and thus prime themselves to build the business value of design.

1.     Encourage Curiosity

Leaders need to model that inquiry – versus certainty- gets us to the next level. There are market leader companies- such as Amazon, Whole Foods and Lyft- who would have never anticipated 5 years ago with certainty, where they are today.  There are new alliances they now make based on macro-environmental drivers.  Encouraging people to ask lots of questions and not equate curiosity with appearing ignorant is a crucial first step.

2.     Improvise

Companies that design flexible structures and processes, versus rigid rulebooks, are better off.  Humans respond well to structure – to an extent.  Structure helps us to understand the limits we can push.  This is the very nature of improvisation.  Like jazz music, all improvisational systems have rules.  It’s the ability to stretch and rebound off the rules which allows for adaptive and responsive solutions to customer needs.  

3.     Intuit

While most corporate boardrooms don’t admit out loud the role of intuition in decision making- because of our culture’s leniency on the rational- the truth of the matter is that plans are fiction:  they haven’t happened yet.  Although honing intuition is not something we teach in business school, the majority of successful entrepreneurs can speak to pivotal moments when they followed their heart, paid attention to subtle patterns, and great things happened.  

Companies that implement great design practice linked to positive business outcomes, have also created opportunities for encouraging curiosity, improvising solutions through adaptive structures and acknowledging intuition.  Try experimenting with implementing your own version of these 3 building blocks, one per month over the next quarter.

Facebook sued by Russian firm linked to woman charged by U.S.

(Reuters) – A Russian company whose accountant was charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to meddle in U.S. elections sued Facebook Inc (FB.O) on Tuesday, claiming it is a legitimate news outlet and its Facebook account should be restored.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Russian flag in this photo illustration taken on August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The Federal Agency of News LLC, known as FAN, and its sole shareholder, Evgeniy Zubarev, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California, seeking damages and an injunction to prevent Facebook from blocking its account.

Facebook deleted FAN’s account in April as it purged pages linked to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, which was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year for flooding social media with false information in a bid to sow discord in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. election.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment.

FAN and Zubarev said they were improperly swept up in Facebook’s purge, which took down more than 270 Russian language accounts and pages, according to the complaint.

“FAN is an independent, authentic and legitimate news agency which publishes reports that are relevant and of interest to the general public,” the company said in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argued that Facebook had effectively acted as an arm of the government in improperly impinging on its right to free speech, and cited the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in claiming Facebook discriminated against it due to its Russian origins.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, described those arguments as weak and predicted the plaintiffs would have a hard time gaining any traction in the courts.

“It’s safe to say this lawsuit is not going to be very successful,” he said. “At first glance it seems like a PR stunt to me.”

FAN acknowledged previously sharing the same office building as the Internet Research Agency and said it has employed Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, the Russian woman charged by prosecutors last month for attempting to meddle in the 2018 congressional elections, as its chief accountant since August 2016.

But the plaintiffs said Khusyaynova’s role at the company has been limited to overseeing day-to-day bookkeeping, and that she was not an officer and had no discretion over editorial content.

The plaintiffs also said they were not involved in “Project Lakhta,”, a Kremlin-backed information warfare campaign U.S. prosecutors say was started in 2014 and financed by Evgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s chef” due to his catering company and its ties to the Kremlin, was indicted in February along with the Internet Research Agency, which he controls.

Khusyaynova was the chief accountant for Project Lakhta, according to the charging documents in her case, which is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys in the Justice Department’s Eastern District of Virginia.

A spokesman for the district did not respond to a request for comment.

Mueller is not handling Khusyaynova’s case because his focus is on the 2016 presidential election and the charges against her relate to the 2018 midterm elections.

Reporting by Nathan Layne and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard Chang

Best Cookbooks (Fall 2018): José Andrés, Anissa Helou, Simone Klabin

In this zinger of a year, food’s role in our lives felt like it shifted every day. Cooking at home became more of an oasis than ever, a meal with friends somehow more important. Some nights, though, punting and ordering takeout was not a copout but a necessity. This year’s best books reflect this whipsawing, whether it’s about saving the world (or just a part of it), understanding it a little better, encouraging us to take a load off and pour a nice drink, or just tell us what to do because one more decision was one too many. We’re still hungry, though—more than ever!—and these are the books that reflect our appetites.

We Fed An Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at A Time

By José Andrés with Richard Wolffe (Anthony Bourdain Books/Ecco)

Ecco Press

The most important food book of 2018 doesn’t contain a single recipe or talk about technique. Instead, it talks about saving lives and keeping people fed in the wake of a disaster. Chef José Andrés is well known for his high-end restaurants in and around Washington, DC, but when Hurricane Maria barreled through Puerto Rico in September 2017, killing an estimated 2,975 people, Andrés made his way to the island just a few days later, fighting through the rubble to hand out sandwiches and bowls of sancocho.

Feeding a localized group of people is noble, but Andrés and his assembled team of local chefs had greater ambitions, eventually going on to serve three million meals, a monster feat on a flattened, demoralized island. We Fed an Island is a first-hand look at what it took to do it.

While Washington politicians struggled to help and shifted their focus to Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston, Andrés created a de facto emergency agency in Puerto Rico, forever changing what it means to be a chef. People are still into awards like the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, but for many reasons, those are starting to feel incredibly out of touch with reality. In Puerto Rico and several other disaster zones since, Andrés showed that there’s more important work to do, and in my book at least, he became the indisputable chef of the decade. $28, Buy now.

Prosecco Made Me Do It: 60 Seriously Sparkling Cocktails

By Amy Zavatto (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

It is holiday feast time, and all that reveling requires bubbly and cocktails. For those, food and drink writer extraordinaire Amy Zavatto has us covered. Zavatto’s new book focuses on Italy’s famous fizz, giving some history on the country’s many different proseccos and focusing on its most important grape: the glera. Zavatto gives 60 sparkling cocktail recipes and tells the backstory for each, like the classic Bellini (white peach purée and brut-style Prosecco), the Venetian Spritz she first had at NYC’s Fort Defiance (Aperol, brut-style Prosecco, club soda, and an olive), and the Dance Party (does it matter?), each with Ruby Taylor’s poster-worthy illustrations setting the vibe.

You’ll learn and make some fine cocktails as you go, but Zavatto’s true gift is her take-you-along-for-the-ride charm. Are we learning? Yes! Are we laughing! Hell yes! Do we have a lovely drink in our hand, to boot? Yep! That too. Cheers! $17, Buy now.

Feast: Food of The Islamic World

By Anissa Helou (Ecco)

Art dealer, chef, and author of several cookbooks, Anissa Helou employs most of the skill sets involved in these jobs, and adds a healthy glug of anthropology in this beautiful and important work. For dumpukht/dumpokht biryani, she describes watching a noblewoman in Hyderabad cover goat marinated in papaya, cardamom, cumin, cloves and saffron with long-grain rice and cook it in a tight-lidded pot. When it came off the heat, the noblewoman heated a lump of charcoal over a flame, and dropped it right on the rice for a few minutes, giving the whole dish a smoky flavor.

When Helou finds room for improvement in an established recipe, or finds a way to make something more easily, she trusts herself enough to suggest a change. For complex multilayer breads like Pakistani paratha or Turkish tahinli katmer, where the classic technique can be difficult to master, she suggests a different dough-folding pattern that saves time and still yields excellent results. $60, Buy now.

Food & Drink Infographics: A Visual Guide to Culinary Pleasures

By Simone Klabin and edited by Julius Wiedemann (Taschen)

I may be biased, but while this whopper of a book might be difficult to pick up, it’s surprisingly hard to put down. Infographics are a great way to take a new look at food, and your first impulse with this beautiful tome might be to get out a razor and turn each page into a poster. Resist! At least hold off for a little while and learn visually.

Flip through the pages and certain aspects of food will begin to crystallize in ways they hadn’t before. Meat cut charts reveal the differences between regional and national styles of butchery, maps of cheese production detail mastery, diversity and depth. Conversion charts illustrate volume conversions like the ten tablespoons and two teaspoons in two-thirds of a cup, and if you ponder that for a moment, you might discover the vast superiority of going metric in the kitchen like the rest of the world.

There’s also hidden humor in Heather Jones’ “Correct Plating: And How to Get Through That (Sometimes Awkward) Holiday Dinner,” where she positions three tabs of Xanax just to the right of the soup spoon and not far from the Cognac. There’s also a bit of cross-cultural learning with Pop Chart Labs’ cocktail diagrams labeled “The Poison” across the page from “The Remedy—Hangover Cures From Around The World,” where your interest may be piqued by the Germanic take: mustard berries, juniper berries, and pickled herring. $70, Buy now.

36 Bottles: Less Is More with 3 Recommended Wines Per Month

By Paul Zitarelli (Sasquatch Books)

Sasquatch Books

A confession: I lived in Paris for a decade, where I wrote about food and drank a lot of wine. While I can speak knowledgeably about the latter, my knowledge of individual styles of wine probably isn’t what it should be. In France alone, never mind the rest of the world, there are hundreds of options.

Paul Zitarelli offers a simple, global solution. Focus on just three wines a month: a red, a white and a wildcard like rosé or a sparkler. In November, just drink French Chablis, or Italian Langhe Rosso, and say “oui” to a Thanksgiving-friendly Tavel rosé from the Rhône Valley. Next May, limit your purchases to Austrian grüner veltliners, Oregon pinot noirs, and try a sweet, divine Tokaji or two from Hungary. Each month’s suggestions are accompanied by a couple recipes that quietly affirm that Zitarelli’s good taste extends beyond the bottle.

As someone who’s been overwhelmed by choice, this monthly trifecta strikes me as a great idea. Where 36 Bottles really clinches it is in the writing—both funny and smart—with lines like this: “Ultimately [using sherry in cocktails] reminds me too much of mixing liquid Tylenol into applesauce to get my daughter to take her medicine. If it tastes good in the first place, why do we need to hide it?” $20, Buy now.

Cooking With Scraps: Turn Your Peels, Cores, Rinds, Stems, and Other Odds & Ends into Delicious Meals

By Lindsay-Jean Hard (Workman)

Workman Publishing

We all do it. After a big trip to the produce stand and a nice dinner or two, we end up with a few pounds of wilty bedfellows in the icebox, and a stale bread heel on the counter, all destined for the compost heap, or worse, the trash.

A whopping 40 percent of food in the United States suffers a similar fate, says the Natural Resources Defense Council, a staggering $165 billion worth, but Lindsay-Jean Hard’s new book is an effort to chip away at that number. Hard breaks it all down by key ingredient, giving recipes for each thing you might have too much of: pestos made from asparagus ends or carrot top greens, or an ingenionus mushroom-stem compound butter. I was immediately attracted to the catch-all dishes throughout the book like frittatas, stratas, and stocks. Got extra cauliflower or okra or half a shallot? You can (quick) pickle that! Have some leftover pickle brine? Use it to turbocharge your potato salad.

Hand’s book isn’t the kind of thing you buy just for the recipes, but if you put it on the kitchen reference shelf, you’ll be happy it’s there the next time you have something that needs to be put to use in a hurry. $20, Buy now.

Food writer Joe Ray (@joe_diner) is a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of The Year, a restaurant critic, and author of “Sea and Smoke” with chef Blaine Wetzel.

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How To Become a Tech Entrepreneur, Never Learn Code, and Keep Your 401k

Innovation does not always come from the top of the organizational chart. Often, employees who have intimate knowledge of a company’s operations are best equipped to spot opportunities for innovation and change. Unfortunately, not all great ideas filter up to the C-suite. And many would-be entrepreneurs at corporations have families, mortgages, and other financial responsibilities that prevent them from leaving to embrace the high-risk, high-reward dynamic of a start-up.

Beyond risk-reward trade-offs, these employees are also loyal to their company and want to see it succeed. Fortunately, by demystifying exactly what innovation is, managers can stay in their positions as they build a low-cost prototype to prove their idea to their company’s leaders – leaders who are likely on the hunt for innovation.

How corporate entrepreneurs differ

Corporate entrepreneurship and innovation have become buzzwords that, through repetition, have warped into meaningless phrases. That’s why a CB Insights article poking fun at corporate innovation is so funny, because anyone who thinks about these issues knows each example rings true. Innovation initiatives often mimic the atmosphere, structure, and vibe of Silicon Valley, but fail to replicate the entrepreneurial spark that inspires a visionary to do difficult, high-risk/high-reward work.

At a corporation, no work will ever truly emulate the high-risk or high-reward environment of a startup, unless the corporation spins out its innovative arm into its own entity. Employees have 401ks and other benefits, HR follows a pay schedule with tiers and caps, and shareholders are wary of diluting stocks.

But that does not mean that a visionary employee can’t become an entrepreneur within their organization. As a corporate entrepreneur, the employee can become an innovation champion simply for the sake of watching their company succeed (while scoring a well-earned promotion). However, to get leadership buy-in, they’ll first need to prove their idea works – and they can without learning a single piece of code.

High tech platforms start with low tech, manual hacks

Part of the mystique surrounding tech startups comes from well-designed platforms that seem to anticipate a user’s every need. When a corporation innovates, its leaders expect sleek prototypes that run seamlessly on the right algorithms and tech. But the truth is that most prototypes are crude, manual, low-tech hacks. Before an entrepreneur builds a platform connecting pet owners to pet sitters, he or she sits behind a computer fielding pet sitting requests in a chat window and calling pet sitters on their phone. In the early days of a platform, entrepreneurs manually facilitate most transactions, thereby validating demand and supply, and building a low-cost prototype. Only once they’ve proven that the business demand is real do they worry about building technology that can scale.

There are many types of platforms, and for each there are unique hacks that can test underlying assumptions before a company invests millions of dollars in developing a platform. With a small budget and a good amount of hustle, a non C-suite manager can test assumptions, tweak the market, and deliver to the C-suite an actionable plan.

Armed with a functioning prototype and a few months worth of data, it’s time to get the idea funded. Luckily, corporations have built in venture capitalists: their board and executive leadership. To be successful in wooing your leadership, it is critically important to capture all data from the manual prototypes and develop a business plan around how the platform would integrate with or expand the company’s core business.

Instagram Bug Leaves Some User Passwords Exposed

Instagram users have been asking for a way to view all the data the company has on them, but this may be more than they were hoping for. The new Download Your Data tool that allows users to receive that information may have left some users’ passwords exposed.

When using the new feature, some Instagram users’ passwords were displayed in the URL, which was then also stored on Facebook’s servers—a bigger issue for those using a shared computer or compromised network, according to The Information. Facebook already notified users who were affected.

The tool has since been updated and the problem should no longer occur. Those Instagram users affected are encouraged to change their passwords and clear their browser history.

But it’s still a troubling update, as Instagram and parent company Facebook fight back against a seemingly unending stream of scandal and security breaches.

Fortune reached out to Instagram for comment, but did not receive an immediate reply.