Get Ready for Video Ads on Your LinkedIn News Feed

But sponsored content is limited to a few advertisers and mobile devices—for now.

LinkedIn is testing sponsored videos that will run in users’ news feeds.

On Thursday, the social network—now part of Microsoft–said that it is testing sponsored videos with a limited number of advertisers.

These will not be pre-roll or post-roll ads, which play at the beginning or end of a selected web page. Instead, these ads will play right from a user’s LinkedIn feed. As you scroll down, you will see the video just as you would see other content. But the video will be labeled as “promoted.”

Marketers increasingly see video as the best way to reach business audiences, and LinkedIn says its tools and data can help those advertisers target the optimal audience. Because the LinkedIn database knows what members do for a living, their job titles, and who they work for, that targeting gets just that much easier.

Related; Here’s What LinkedIn Could Mean for Microsoft Azure Cloud

The select advertisers, which include Prudential Financial Services and Microsoft Canada, will be able to reach specific audiences based on the aforementioned member profile information.

Initially, the ads will run only on mobile, not desktop devices. LinkedIn offers reporting tools to help advertisers track how many people viewed the ad at all and how many watched it all the way through. The company also started letting users embed their own videos a few months ago.

Related: LinkedIn Claims Half a Billion Users

LinkedIn claims more than 500 million users, yet it does not disclose daily active user count or break out how many people are paying customers. The network offers free basic services, but charges human resources, sales, and marketing professionals for additional features and capabilities.

Microsoft msft dropped $ 26.2 billion to buy LinkedIn last year, so there’s pressure to make that investment pay off. Ads could help with that. Microsoft is also tying LinkedIn and its user data trove tightly into its Dynamics business software so that a user of Microsoft’s sales software can easily find prospects for campaigns from LinkedIn without leaving that application.

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LinkedIn faces competitors on several fronts—not the least of which is Facebook fb , the social network which as of June claimed two billion users. Over the past year, Facebook has been pushing more into business applications with job postings and Workplace.


Self-Driving Cars Can Soon Cruise This State’s Highways Without Anyone Inside

No human back-up driver would be required.

California regulators on Wednesday unveiled revised rules that would allow self-driving cars to travel the state’s highways without human drivers for the first time as early as next year, a move that won the support of automakers.

The new rules represent a compromise with automotive and technology companies, which had objected to many of the requirements previously proposed by the state.

The California rules could still conflict with proposed federal legislation that would largely bar states from regulating autonomous vehicles.

But they are a boost for automakers who want to be able to deploy vehicles without human controls in California.

More than 40 companies are testing self-driving vehicles in California with human controls, and most automakers have autonomous research centers in the state, which is the largest U.S. auto market.

The new rules are expected to take effect by June 2018, the state said.

Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company Alphabet, Ford Motor, Tesla, <a href=””>Apple</a&gt;, and General Motors had sought changes in California.

Previous rules had demanded that firms submit safety assessment reports to state regulators and seek new approval for updated vehicles.

Existing rules also require a backup human driver to be in all driverless vehicles.

Wade Newton, a spokesman for trade group the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Wednesday it appeared that California had recognized that “certain onerous” requirements could delay deployment of self-driving technology.

“We appreciate the (state’s) attempts to streamline requirements consistent with the recently updated federal guidance,” Newton said.

But the Association of Global Automakers, a trade group representing mostly Asian and European automakers, said California did not go far enough.

“A special permit is still required to deploy, creating regulatory uncertainty and raising concerns about the ability of autonomous vehicles to cross state lines,” it said.

Companies would still need a California permit to test or deploy vehicles on state roads.

California would also require automakers and tech firms to record information about autonomous sensors in the 30 seconds before a collision. Vehicles must follow all state laws “except when necessary for the safety of the vehicle’s occupants” or other road users.

Consumer Watchdog criticized the revisions, saying California should stick to its earlier, stricter state requirements.

The group noted local communities could not block testing under the proposal.

Last week, a Senate panel approved a bill aimed at speeding the use of self-driving cars without human controls in the United States, a measure that also bars states from imposing regulatory road blocks.

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Automakers would be able to win exemptions from safety rules that require human controls if they met certain requirements. States could set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections, but not performance standards.

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra told Reuters on Tuesday that the federal legislation “allows us to get this technology on the road,” but declined to say when the automaker might seek approval for exemptions.


AT&T: Hurricanes and Earthquakes Hurt Revenue

Video subscribers are also down.

AT&T said on Wednesday that its third-quarter results took a hit from a string of hurricanes that tore into parts of the United states and earthquakes in Mexico.

The No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier said third-quarter consolidated revenue was hurt by about $ 90 million and pre-tax earnings by about $ 210 million, or 2 cents per share.

AT&T also said it lost about 90,000 U.S. video subscribers in the quarter due to intense competition in traditional pay TV markets as well as the impact of the recent hurricanes.

“Several devastating hurricanes, as well as earthquakes in Mexico, significantly impacted certain regions of our service area during the third quarter,” the company said.

“We expect further reductions in the fourth quarter as we continue to assess damage to our network and fully restore service,” it added.

However, the company reiterated its full-year forecast of mid-single digit growth in adjusted earnings and capital expenditures in the $ 22 billion range.

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The company’s shares t fell marginally in extended trading on Wednesday.


Italy state role in Telecom Italia could solve network tiff: PD's Orfini

ROME (Reuters) – Italy should play a role in resolving the gridlock over Telecom Italia’s (TIM) network assets, possibly by involving state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), president of the ruling PD party said in a position paper.

Italian politicians have been calling on and off since 2006 for TIM’s network to be transferred to a state-controlled entity as Rome considers it a strategic asset that should be a neutral platform open to all phone companies.

The heavily-indebted company has been criticized for putting off costly upgrades to its ageing copper network and is now facing competition from Open Fiber, jointly controlled by utility Enel and CDP.

The network issue returned to the forefront of political debate when French media group Vivendi built a 24 percent stake in TIM, becoming its top investor and increasingly calling the shots at Italy’s biggest phone group.

In the document published by online magazine Key4Biz, Matteo Orfini said the state needed to push for the creation of a single integrated network company and eliminate infrastructure rivalry which he called “unsustainable in the long term”.

“The status quo is not an option,” he said.

Listing a series of scenarios to resolve the network tiff, Orfini said a public or private Italian investor could flank Vivendi as a shareholder in TIM, to help sharpen the Italian phone group’s business focus.

He added that CDP could propose to buy part or all of Vivendi’s stake in TIM.

Orfini said Vivendi should be given the opportunity to give up control of Italy’s biggest phone group and instead focus on its plan to build a European media powerhouse, by involving broadcaster Mediaset, in which it has built a stake of just under 30 percent.

Plans to spin off TIM’s network, which according to some estimates could be worth up to 15 billion euros ($ 17.7 billion), have foundered in the past over its valuation and because TIM insisted on hanging onto the business.

Orfini said that while a spin-off might be difficult in the short term, the network could be separated into a regulated newco, fully controlled by TIM but legally distinct.

That move, along with some state participation in TIM, could facilitate a later integration with network rival Open Fiber.

TIM shares rose more than 3 percent after the position paper came out. The stock was up 2.1 percent at 0.77 euros by 1153 GMT.

TIM, which considers its network a strategic asset, declined to comment. Vivendi could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni, writing by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Ken Ferris


How a Heavy Lift Ship Rescued the Damaged USS John S McCain

If the USS John S. McCain is Vin Diesel—big and strong—the MV Treasure is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Way bigger, way stronger. It’s what seafaring types call a heavy lift ship, and it’s designed to scoop up all sort of enormous things and haul them around the ocean. Oil rigs, yachts, wind turbines—they all become swaddled babes in the arms of a caring parent when a ship like the Treasure comes calling.

This weekend, it was the McCain’s turn to catch a ride. In August, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer hit an oil and chemical tanker in the crowded Straits of Malacca, between Singapore and Malaysia. The collision badly dented the McCain’s hull and killed 10 sailors. That crash came just two months after another American destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, struck a merchant container ship of the coast of Japan, killing seven sailors. (The Navy pinned the collisions on subpar training and dismissed several officers.)

To bring the damaged McCain back to a US naval base in Japan for repairs, the Navy sent the MV Treasure. Like most heavy lift ships, the Treasure works by submerging its deck, keeping the crew and not-so-waterproof machinery above the surface. Tugs maneuver the cargo in question into place, and the deck rises back up, lifting whatever needs lifting. That how’s the USS Cole came home to the US after being bombed in Yemen in 2000. This weekend, it was the McCain’s turn to catch a ride, a miracle of hitchhiking you can watch in the video above.

Once safely back in Japan, the destroyer will get some much-needed repairs, then ship back out to sea, good as new.


The Race to Secure Voting Tech Gets an Urgent Jumpstart

Numerous electronic voting machines used in United States elections have critical exposures that could make them vulnerable to hacking. Security experts have known that for a decade. But it wasn’t until Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential campaigns and began probing digital voting systems that the topic took on pressing urgency. Now hackers, researchers, diplomats, and national security experts are pushing to effect real change in Washington. The latest update? It’s working, but maybe not fast enough.

On Tuesday, representatives from the hacking conference DefCon and partners at the Atlantic Council think tank shared findings from a report about DefCon’s Voting Village, where hundreds of hackers got to physically interact with—and compromise—actual US voting machines for the first time ever at the conference in July. Work over three days at the Village underscored the fundamental vulnerability of the devices, and raised questions about important issues, like the trustworthiness of hardware parts manufactured in other countries, including China. But most importantly, the report highlights the dire urgency of securing US voting systems before the 2018 midterm elections.

“The technical community … has attempted to raise alarms about these threats for some years,” said Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, in a panel discussion. “Recent revelations have made clear how vulnerable the very technologies we use to manage our records, cast our votes, and tally our results really are … These findings from the Voting Village are incredibly disconcerting.”

Fortunately, the past few months have seen signs of progress. The Department of Homeland Security is moving forward with its critical infrastructure designation for voting systems, which frees up resources for helping states secure their platforms. The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering a lawsuit challenging the state’s use of digital voting machines. And in Virginia, state officials are converting voting systems to use paper ballots and electronic scanners before the November 7 elections. They say the change was motivated by the findings at DefCon’s Voting Village.

Susan Greenhalgh, an elections specialist for the vote-security group Verified Voting, which worked with Virginia officials this fall, applauded the “transition into real-world change” that had transpired in just the last few months.

Virginia and Texas represent important progress, but plenty of work remains. Five states still rely solely on digital voting machines without paper backups, and at least 10 states have mixed voting infrastructure, with certain counties that use digital voting without paper. These systems are the most vulnerable to manipulation, because you can’t audit them afterward to confirm or dispute the digital vote count in the case of suspected tampering.

“The one core point that election security experts and others have been making about why our votes are safe was that the decentralized nature of our voting systems, the thousands and thousands of voting offices around the country that administer the election, is what kept us safe,” Jake Braun, a DefCon Voting Village organizer and University of Chicago researcher said. “Because Russians [or other attackers] would need to have tens of thousands of operatives go get physical access to machines to actually infiltrate the election. We now know that’s false.”

With only a handful of companies manufacturing electronic voting machines, a single compromised supply chain could impact elections across multiple states at once. The Voting Village report emphasizes that there is a huge amount of change required in the US to address security issues at every point in the election workflow, from developing more secure voting machines to sourcing trustworthy hardware, and then actually setting up voting system devices and software for use in a secure way. DefCon founder Jeff Moss says that the goal for next year’s Voting Village is to have a full election network set up so hackers can evaluate and find weaknesses in a complete system, not just individual machines.

The Department of Homeland Security recently confirmed that Russia infiltrated various election-related systems in 21 states during 2016, and access to a full voting-system setup would give security researchers additional real world insight into defending US voting infrastructure. But as was the case with acquiring real voting machines for last summer’s conference, Moss says it has been extremely difficult to gain access to the third-party proprietary systems that states use to coordinate voting.

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“I would love to be able to create any kind of a complete system, that’s what we’re aiming for,” he said during the panel. “The part that’s really hard to get our hands on is the backend software that ties the voting machines together to tabulate and accumulate votes, to provision voting ballots, to run the election, and to figure out a winner. And boy do we want to have a complete voting system for people to attack. There’s never been a test of a complete system—it’s just mind boggling.”

DefCon’s voting village and interdisciplinary partnerships are certainly raising awareness about election security and motivating change, but with some elections just a few weeks away and the midterms rapidly approaching, experts agree that change may not be coming quickly enough.

“We’ve got a lot to do in a short period of time,” said Douglas Lute, a former national security advisor to President George W. Bush and former US ambassador to NATO under President Barack Obama. “In my over 40 years of working on national security issues I don’t believe I’ve seen a more severe threat to American national security than the election hacking experience of 2016. Russia is not going away. This wasn’t a one shot deal.”


Skechers: Running Higher

The shares of Skechers USA Inc. (SKX) are up about 11% over the past twelve months, and I think there’s more upside ahead. I’ll go through my reasoning below by focusing on the financial history here, and by talking about the stock relative to the overall market. I’ll also make a forecast of future price action by looking at the growth in retained earnings here.

Financial Snapshot

A quick review of the recent financial history of Skechers suggests that this is a growth company. For example, both revenue and net income have grown dramatically over the past five years (revenue is up at a CAGR of 18% and net income is up at a CAGR of about 45% over the same period). Earnings per share have grown less dramatically, as the share count has generally expanded over the past few years. It seems that people like these shoes.

Turning to the capital structure, the level of debt here isn’t much of a concern to me, in spite of the fact that most of it (92.3%) is due in 2020. First, the company has a strong history of repaying debt. Over the past five years, for example, it has paid down about $ 44 million of debt. Parallel to that is the fact that the interest expense has dropped dramatically over the past five years (at a CAGR of about 16%), suggesting that the company certainly isn’t hamstrung by the level of debt present. Finally, the level of cash on the balance sheet absolutely swamps the level of debt, so there’s little risk from debt here.

The one dark cloud is the dilution present. In my view, the company generates enough cash from operations to fund anything it needs. So my advice to management would be to initiate a share buyback program of some kind. If this doesn’t materialise in the next two years, I’ll reconsider my bullish thesis here.

Forecasting Future Price

Although I usually like to look at the relationship between future price and dividend, I can do the same work on a company that doesn’t pay a dividend. Miller-Modigliani indifference suggests that a company that doesn’t pay dividends is just as easy to value as one that does; so here goes. As usual, I’ll engage in a ceteris paribus assumption when making this forecast, as it is easier to make a forecast by focusing on only one variable.

Over the past five and a half years, the retained earnings per share have grown at a compounded rate of about 17.5%, which is quite impressive. In order to be as conservative as possible, I’ll assume that the growth rate drops by about 40% over the next three years. There’s no reason to suggest that the business will slow this dramatically in future, but I prefer my surprises to be pleasant ones. When I perform this forecast, I infer a CAGR for the shares of just shy of 10% from now until the end of 2021. I consider this to be a very reasonable rate of return given the relatively low risks present.

Technical Snapshot

As per our ChartMasterPro Daily Trade Model, the trend for SKX would turn bullish with a daily close above $ 25.50. This would signal a bullish breakout from an Ascending Triangle pattern and a bullish break of a downtrend line on the daily charts which began on August 28. From here we see the shares climbing to the $ 28.00 level over the next three months.

We will buy SKX call options when the shares post a daily close above $ 25.00. Our initial stop-loss exit signal will be a daily close below $ 24.75.

For investors in the shares, we recommend that you hold for three months or $ 28.00, whichever comes first. For longer-term investors (years, not months), we believe SKX is a solid addition to any growth portfolio over the next four years.


Investing is, by definition, a relativistic process. This means that we must eschew A in order to buy B. In my view, it makes the most sense to buy those companies that are safer than their peers and the overall market. My definition of “safe” includes those companies that trade at a cheap price, as they have less far to fall in the event of a market drop. A dollar of future earnings for $ 17 is, by definition, safer than buying $ 1 of future earnings for $ 24.

At the moment, the shares of Skechers are trading at a 27% discount to the overall market, which suggests to me that they are safer. In addition, the shares are trading on the low end of their average P/E:


To summarise, this is a growth company that trades like a value company. The retained earnings are growing at a very decent clip, while the shares are near close to a P/E low. In my view, it would be wise to keep an eye on dilution, but apart from that this is a perfect investment at the moment. I am long Skechers and suggest that investors with a long-time horizon do the same.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in SKX over the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: We trade options. Sometimes our trades last a few days, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few months. Please review our trade history listed in our Seeking Alpha BlogPost to get a feel for our trading style.


How Nudge Theory Just Made You Click on This Headline (and Helped a Famous Economist Win the Nobel Prize)

It takes effort to move a mouse, point the arrow toward a headline, and click down on a button. As a writer, I know this is true–I search on Google and read headlines all day, and I write headlines like the one above that will hopefully make you interested.

The catch? We’re all inundated with many other headlines, so there has to be just enough information to make you slightly curious. And, you’re savvy enough to know when a headline is really just a ploy–a trick that’s only a level or two above an ant trap. On the web these days, headlines are all about a demonstration of perceived value. You won’t click unless it seems like there will be an obvious reward and the click will be worth your time.

It’s also a curiously apt example of how nudging works. It’s the power of suggestion, a hint of payback, and a promise of reward for your time all rolled into about 10-15 words. Of course, headlines are nothing new, and suggestions as a way to influence marketing and sales are also not new. What is relatively new, and why Richard Thaler just won the 2017 Nobel prize in economics for his work in this area, is that it has become quite a science.

A headline is a nudge in a pure form. It’s all about prompting people to action–is the promise of the article you’re about to read enough to cause people to act?

For anyone trying to generate content or write a blog, it’s incredibly important to understand the art of nudging. Create too much of a nudge (or too small of a nudge) and people won’t click. A headline has to find the right balance of suggestion versus giving it all away, and the principle applies to an ever greater degree because every headline can be measured so precisely. If you’re writing a headline, it’s worth the effort to think about how the nudge will cause a reaction (or not cause a reaction).

Let’s examine the headline above as an example.

First, you maybe didn’t know about nudge theory. It’s a new concept, so you were curious. It might lead you to discover there’s a book by that name (written by Thaler and a co-author). You might even decide to buy it on Amazon. That’s a big reward right there, because the economic principles of nudging can be invaluable for anyone responsible for product success.

Second, there’s a hint of a new angle. Thaler did just win the Nobel prize, and his accomplishments are worth noting in more ways than one. There’s an interesting correlation that might develop–it must be worth clicking if it was worth winning a Nobel prize. I have no idea if this will actually garner any attention, but I do know that nudging, the Nobel prize, and Thaler are all worth your attention. They might even change how you do marketing.

But it’s the combination of these ideas that I believe is so important, just as it’s a combination of several ideas that make an advertisement enticing, or a PR campaign, or a slideshow you plan to give to an investor. The balance of interest and carrot dangling, to the point where no one even knows there is a carrot involved, is incredibly interesting to me. It’s worthy of an entire book, actually. I’d buy it and read it to find out more–how do you strike the balance? What is the brain science involved that tips people off just the right amount? When is there just enough sugar and when is there too much?

If you know the answers to those questions, you might find some incredible success…with blogging and writing, sure. Or marketing. But also with any business endeavor.


Google Also Found Russia-Backed Ads on YouTube and Gmail

Google has discovered that Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail, Google search, and other products, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated entity that bought ads on Facebook fb , which may indicate a broader Russian online disinformation effort, the paper reported. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site.

Google, owned by Alphabet googl , did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the story.

Google has downplayed the possibility of Russian influence on its platforms, but launched a probe into the matter, according to the Post. Both Twitter twtr and Facebook have said that Russia bought ads and had accounts on their platforms.

Meanwhile, Congress has started multiple investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 election, with lawmakers on both political sides saying Russia intended to sow discord in the United States, spread propaganda, and sway the election to elect President Donald Trump.

Google officials are expected to testify publicly before both the House and Senate intelligence committees on Nov. 1 alongside Facebook and Twitter about Russian attempts to use their platforms to influence the election.


Famed Architect’s Lawsuit Against Google Just Got Much More Serious

Eli Attia alleges he wasn’t the only one mistreated by the search giant.

A long-running lawsuit filed against Google by a prominent architect has just gotten much broader.

Last week, the Superior Court of California granted a motion adding racketeering charges to the civil case being pursued against Google by Eli Attia, an expert in high-rise construction. Attia claims Google stole his idea for an innovative building design method – and now he wants to prove that it does the same thing frequently.

Attia’s suit was originally filed in 2014, four years after he began discussions with Google (prior to its reorganization as Alphabet) about developing software based on a set of concepts he called Engineered Architecture. Attia has said Engineered Architecture, broadly described as a modular approach to building, would revolutionize the design and construction of large buildings. Attia developed the concepts based on insights gleaned from his high-profile architecture career, and has called them his life’s work.

Google executives including Google X cofounder Astro Teller came to share his enthusiasm, and championed developing software based on Engineered Architecture as one of the company’s “moonshots.” But Attia claims the company later used his ideas without fulfilling an agreement to pay to license them.

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Attia’s suit names not just Google, but individual executives including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It also names Flux Factory, the unit Attia’s suit alleges was spun off specifically to capitalize on his ideas.

Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, Attia’s lawyer claims Google told Attia his project had been cancelled, “when in fact they were going full blast on it.” Flux Factory is now known as Flux, and touts itself as “the first company launched by Google X.”

Attia’s suit will now also seek to prove that his case is representative of a much broader pattern of behavior by Alphabet. According to court documents, the motion to add racketeering charges hinged on six similar incidents. Those incidents aren’t specified in the latest court proceedings, but Alphabet has faced a similar trade-secrets battle this summer over X’s Project Loon, which has already led to Loon being stripped of some patents.

The idea of racketeering charges entering the picture will surprise many who associate them with violent organized criminals. But under RICO statutes, civil racketeering suits can be brought by private litigants against organizations and individuals alleged to have engaged in ongoing misdeeds. The broader use of racketeering charges has slowly gained ground since the introduction of RICO laws in the 1960s, with some famous instances including suits against Major League Baseball and even the Los Angeles Police Department.