Facebook-owned (FB) chat application WhatsApp has been reportedly found injected by an Israeli malware. The company has confirmed on the vulnerability and has asked users to update their software with the latest version available on the Play Store. The malware has been found to be used for surveillance on WhatsApp phone calls.
The Whatsapp messaging company was acquired by Facebook in 2014 and has been in speculation on the privacy and data collection practices followed by the company. However, this time, the tapping of conversations by a third party was unexpected by the users. This malware can tap phone calls intercept protected conversations, as reported by the Financial Times.
WhatsApp confirmed on this breach of privacy but has also not named the alleged company who is involved in this vulnerability of Whatsapp. A company spokesperson said that it urges people to update their mobile operating systems along with the app version, this is basically to protect against malware and various targeted programs. Apart from this, the updated version will also help in refraining the information which might have been stored to destroy or compromise on internal information.
What’s Up With WhatsApp?
The company said it was working with industry standards and partners to work on this breach and make it safe.
The Financial Times has gone ahead and named an Israeli cybersecurity firm – NSO Group for this perpetration. As per the information, few select individuals have been targeted and the company works with the government for creating and delivering spyware.
The company has declined to say anything on this issue. It became famous for its role in helping the FBI to open the phone of San Bernardino (mass shooter) when Apple had declined.
This is certainly a serious breach of trust for WhatsApp as a company as it bases its strength on end-to-end encryption, privacy, and security.
It became more popular amongst the users owing to the status of information via texts, calls, and messages as they seemed e safe and secure, besides being a selling USP for the company. The app is an informal medium of conducting business, sharing personal, legal and even political information.
The malware was used to decrypt the data in transit. Primarily, human rights activists were targeted and WhatsApp has approached to Justice Department Authorities for the same. While the company will have to cooperate on delivering all the information, it will also have to stay afloat in the good books of security conscious users for whom privacy and safety of their data and information are of utmost importance. This vulnerability to any company or individual program can be trouble for them as it makes them feel a breach of privacy.
The Roller Coaster Ride On Shutterfly (SFLY) Stock
Shutterfly (SFLY) has been one of the most important companies in the photofinishing industry with the range of services that it offered. Over the past twenty years, the company had been involved in services like digital photo storage, customized merchandise, and print processing among others. However, the company is now all set to make an exit from the business that they have built up over the years by selling it to Apollo Global Management.
Last week, the company announced that it had accepted the offer that had been made by Apollo and some experts claim that the investors in Shutterfly might not be entirely happy with the final payout.
Apollo is going to fork out $51 per share for the acquisition and that might not make many investors happy, considering the fact that it is just 1.5% higher than the closing price of the Shutterfly stock on Monday. However, there is another way of looking at it.
The news of a potential acquisition by Apollo had first been reported back on 23 April and it was then that the stock started climbing. If the price prior to that surge is taken into consideration, then the shareholders are looking at a 31% premium on their shares.
What Are Investors Saying?
That being said, the investors still have a lot to be upset about, since Shutterfly stock had been trading at $100 on June 5 last year. However, it is quite clear that the price offered by Apollo is the best deal since no other bidder has come forward with a counteroffer. Apollo will be paying out $2.7 billion for the acquisition.
Shutterfly’s business started showing weaknesses towards the end of last year and the company’s acquisitions at the time did not really make a big dent in the revenues. Although the business has shown weaknesses, it is important to note that Apollo clearly sees a future in the company; otherwise, it would not have forked out $2.7 billion for the company.
While the company will continue to be in business, it has been a pretty harrowing experience for people who had invested in the company.
Amazon’s Ad-Biz On A Roll Amid Increased Competition
Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), the giant e-marketer, the third-largest digital advertisement seller seems to be on the way of making it to the top. The Q1 advertising revenue, although not specifically mentioned in the annual reports, stood at $2.72 billion.
There has been a 36% increase in the income generated through these ad services from the previous year. However, the growth rate seems to be increasing at a diminishing rate, with last year’s quarterly growth figuring to 95% to 138% and revenues 57% more than that in 2016. But, the declining growth rate does not imply that the market might fall for Amazon.
Tough Competition For Google And Facebook
While on one hand, the Amazon ad-biz is soaring high, the same cannot be said for Google (GOOG). The company along with Alphabet, its parent, saw its all-time low growth rate of 15% in 2019 Q1 since 2016. This might be a result of Amazon’s expanding market share. Even though Amazon still holds little market share as compared to the top-two giants – Google and Facebook (FB) – but, it seems to be gaining a popular reputation among the CPG retailers. With more and more retailers keeping an increased budget for advertising with Amazon, things sure are looking bright for the company.
With Amazon being a shopping site as well, the consumers find it quicker and easier to search for the desired product and buy it on just a few clicks, even less with saved bank account details. Not to forget the exceptional heavy discounts and offers provided by Amazon, sparsely luring in customers. These incline retailers all the more to advertise their products on Amazon.
The Digital Age
The Amazon advertisement business seems to be quite appealing in today’s digitalization age. Google and Facebook are at the risk of losing their business to this giant. But, this does not mean that Google is at a stance of losing its prime position. Google, with its large customer base, unlike Amazon, incorporates not only a few select retailers but other business scopes as well, like that of financial service providers, realtors, etc. This puts Google a step ahead of Amazon, making it unlikely to be overthrown by the latter.
Facebook, on the other hand, has little to worry about. Its advertising model is quite different than that of Amazon or Google, which has a search-based model. Facebook takes into account the demographics, interests and online habits of its users offering them a wider range of advertisers. But, the biggest threat looms over the traditional advertisement media which might go extinct in time.
ROKU Stock Up 210% in 2019, Time To Sell?
Roku (ROKU), which is one of the world’s largest online media players, has grown at a breakneck pace over the past half a decade. Much of Roku’s growth is due to the expansion of online streaming. It is one of the most popular services in the world and it had grown at a much faster clip over the course of 2019 so far.
ROKU Stock Gains 210% So Far In 2019
From the beginning of the year up until last Friday, ROKU stock has surged by as much as 210% and has outperformed the growth in the S&P 500 index which has gained by only 13%. Moreover, the stock made an all-time of $95.10 in Friday’s session.
The primary reason behind the remarkable upsurge has been the growth in the number of users in addition to rising streaming hours and income from each user. However, despite the hyper growth in the company and the stock, ROKU stock went down by as much as 6% in Tuesday’s session. Due to that fall, old worries about the company having grown too fast have resurfaced and there is a compelling case to be made.
Stephens’ Analyst Downgrades to Overweight
An analyst at Stephens named Kyle Evans has stated in a note that the company may have grown too fast and that could create risks for investors in the near term.
The note in question was written by Evans on Tuesday and he stated, “We believe the recent run and higher valuation … combined with raised expectations … creates increased [near term] risk.” He did not lower his 12-month target price of $84 but changed the rating for the stock to overweight from equal weight. Following the drop on Tuesday, the shares were trading at $90.
The analyst stated that the recent rally in the stock may have been impressive but even last year, the stock had nosedived after reporting its earnings for the third quarter. At the time, it went down by as much as 22% and the reason for the decline was the disappointing platform revenue.
Hence, a case is being made that the dizzying highs could just as easily trigger a big selloff if the company underperforms in any of the quarters.
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