Daily Archives: October 25, 2020

Top Cloud Computing Funding and Investment in October 2020 – Analytics Insight

Posted: October 25, 2020 at 10:37 pm

Cloud computing has made it easier for organizations to perform business following a business continuity plan. The technology has driven numerous growth factors across industries, while lessening cost, improving flexibility and client relationships. By integrating cloud infrastructure, startups as well as large enterprises now are able to optimize costs and augment their offerings without purchasing and managing all the hardware and software. According toIDC, over 500 million digital apps and services will be developed and deployed using cloud-native approaches by 2023.

However, as more and more companies shift to the cloud, the occurrence of new issues and pain points is inevitable. In this way, businesses must ensure that they are functioning with updated technology standards and must make the right vendor choice.

Heres a look at the top cloud computing service providers that have raised venture capitals in October 2020.

Amount Raised: US$200 Million

Transaction Type: Series C

Key Investor(s): Spark Capital

MessageBird, a cloud communications company connecting organizations to their customers on billions of devices around the world, raised a mammoth amount of US$200 million in a Series C round. This funding round was led by Spark Capital, with additional backer Bonnier, Glynn Capital, LGT Lightstone, Longbow, Mousse Partners and NewView Capital as well as existing investors Accel, Atomico and Y Combinator. With this fresh round, the Amsterdam-based companys total valuation reached a whopping US$3 billion. MessageBird intends to utilize the funds to increase its global team and further expand into its core markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Amount Raised: US$40 Million

Transaction Type: Series C

Key Investor(s): B Capital Group

Armory, an enterprise software company that commercializes an open-source continuous and cloud-native software delivery platform Spinnaker, bagged US$40 million in Series C funding round. The round was led by B Capital, with additional participation from new investors Lead Edge Capital and Marc Benioff and existing backers Insight Partners, Crosslink Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Mango Capital, Y Combinator and Javelin Venture Partners. This latest financing round brought Armorys total fundraised to over US$82 million.

Amount Raised: US$33 Million

Transaction Type: Series C

Key Investor(s): Cardinal Health

Vineti is a commercial cloud-based platform that expands patient access to life-saving cells and gene therapies. As an industry-leading expert providing safety, security, seamlessness, and scalability, the company secured US$33 million in a Series C funding round. Led by Cardinal Health, the fresh capital will support Vineti to further expand its Personalized Therapy Management (PTM) platform for personalized and high-value advanced therapies. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the company offers a digital platform of record to integrate logistics, manufacturing, and clinical data for personalized therapies.

Amount Raised: US$20 Million

Transaction Type: Venture Funding

Key Investor(s): Intel Capital and ClearSky

The cloud cyber resilience expert, Accurics received US$20 million in seed and Series A funding round to improve the security of cloud-native applications with a self-healing approach. Intel Capital leads the Series A and ClearSky leads the seed round. Accurics delivers a powerful solution at a critical time, as cloud-native technologies fuel innovation and power todays applications. This new investment will support the companys market momentum and assist it to continue to build technology that self-heals cloud-native infrastructure by codifying security throughout the development lifecycle.

Amount Raised: US$13 Million

Transaction Type: Series B

Key Investor(s): Felicis Ventures

Yotascale is a next-generation cloud cost management platform for enterprises that rely on cloud cost visibility and optimization for business success. Recently, the company sealed US$13 million in a Series B round led by Aydin Senkut at Felicis, with participation from other capital pools, including Engineering Capital, Pelion Ventures and Crosslink Capital. With this funding, which intends to continue to expand operations and its business reach, Yotascales total valuation reached US$25 million. The companys mission is to optimize the worlds cloud computing spend by empowering engineering teams.

Amount Raised: US$7 Million

Transaction Type: Seed Round

Key Investor(s): DNX Ventures

Macrometa, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based edge computing company that enables web and cloud-native developers to build and run applications across a network, closed a US$7 million in a seed financing round. The round was led by DNX Ventures, with participation from existing investors Benhamou Global Ventures, Partech Partners, Fusion Fund, Sway Ventures, Velar Capital and Shasta Ventures. The new funds will help Macromet to expedite the product rollout and sales of Global Data Network (GDN), a cloud service that enables web and cloud developers to build and run high performance, multi-region, multi-cloud, globally distributed, stateful web, mobile, IoT apps and APIs applications.

Amount Raised: US$1.6 Million

Transaction Type: Pre-Seed Round

Key Investor(s): ISAI

Koyeb, a pioneer in smart storage solutions for the cloud-native era, raised US$1.6 million in pre-seed funding round from Jean-David Chamboredon and Juliette Mopin from ISAI. The round was also joined by Plug and Play Ventures, Kima Ventures, AceCap and a long list of business angels, such as Zachary Smith, Justin Ziegler, Alexis L-Quc, Sbastien Lucas, and others. Koyeb Storage is the industrys first Cloud Platform dedicated to data management and optimisation across multiple Cloud Service Providers. The company also supports a growing number of storage providers, including AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Wasabi, Backblaze B2 and others.

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Top Cloud Computing Funding and Investment in October 2020 - Analytics Insight

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Tax implications of cloud computing, and everything as a service – ETCIO.com

Posted: at 10:37 pm

By Tapati Ghose, Vijai Jayaram, and Rohit Lal

Cloud computing has made rapid strides over the years and witnessed tremendous growth. While the global cloud business is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 16.5% and reach $345 Billion by 2022, the Indian cloud computing market which was $2.5 Billion in 2018, looks more optimistic and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30%, to become $7.2 Billion by 2022. Further, 70% of the revenue of Indian SaaS players is from exports. Key attributes of cloud computing models are on-demand provisioning, reduction in duplicity, virtual environment with almost no use of hardware, very less capex, etc.

Cloud computing services can be categorised under three heads, viz., Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Under PaaS model,a PaaS provider usually hosts the software and hardware on its own infrastructure to provide all the facilities that are required to support the life cycle of building and delivering web applications and services.

IaaS provides a standardised way of acquiring computing capabilities over web. Such resources include network, electronic storage, virtual servers etc. IaaS helps in the delivery of computer infrastructure as a web-based service which helps companies in cutting down investment in costly infrastructure.

In recent years, data center supply ecosystem in India has expanded exponentially. Such growth in data centers is also the result of data localisation regulations which require data of Indian customers to be stored locally/ restricts data transfer outside Indian borders. IaaS is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% to reach $2.3-2.4 Billion business by 2022.

In this context, it is important to take a closer look at the key tax issues impacting cloud computing.

The authors are Tapati Ghose, Partner with Deloitte India, Vijai Jayaram, Director at Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP, and Rohit Lal, Manager, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP.

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WGU Aligns to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Framework to Bolster Workforce Relevance of Cloud Computing Degree – Business Wire

Posted: at 10:37 pm

SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Western Governors University (WGU) announced the launch of key updates to its Bachelor of Science Cloud Computing (BSCC) degree program built in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS). The degree program is designed to prepare students with the skills they need to succeed in todays economy and meet the demands of employers seeking cloud professionals.

WGUs degree programs are online and competency-based, removing the barriers of time, allowing working learners to study and advance in their degree programs according to their schedules. Students in the BSCC degree program complete their credential on average in 18 months and prepare for industry-recognized certifications that include AWS Certifications along their path to degree.

The technology skills gap has been exacerbated by a lack of innovation in technology education, said Dr. Elke Leeds, Dean and Academic Vice President of WGUs College of Information Technology. WGU has a deep knowledge of the skills that employers are looking for, and we will continue to innovate in our degree programs and future educational offerings by ensuring that our curriculum meets the demands of learners and employers.

WGU collaborated with two AWS education programs, AWS Educate and AWS Academy, to update its BSCC degree program. Team members from AWS Educate assisted WGU program developers to embed cloud-specific learning objectives and hands-on experiences into the program with the intent to ensure alignment with the needs of cloud employers. As an AWS Academy member institution, WGU has also incorporated AWS Academy Cloud Operations into its degree, which is a course developed by AWS experts and delivered by AWS accredited educators. As part of the course, students are also required to pass the AWS Certified SysOps Associate exam.

Western Governors University is a leading innovator in higher education, and we are proud to deepen our collaboration via this new bachelor of science degree in cloud computing, said Josh Weatherly, Director of US Education Vertical Sales and Global Programs at AWS. WGUs competency-based learning model aligns with our belief in the importance of working backward from the skills employers are seeking while also providing the flexibility of remote learning anywhere in the world. We are excited for WGUs cloud computing degree help expand and diversify the cloud workforce of tomorrow.

For more information about WGU and the Bachelor of Science Cloud Computing degree program, visit http://www.wgu.edu/BSCC.

About WGU

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves more than 127,000 students nationwide and has more than 202,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nations leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 23 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families, and preparing the workforce needed in todays rapidly evolving economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Companys Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at http://www.wgu.edu.

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WGU Aligns to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Framework to Bolster Workforce Relevance of Cloud Computing Degree - Business Wire

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I think this cloud computing stock will thrive in the next lockdown – Yahoo Finance UK

Posted: at 10:37 pm


(Bloomberg) -- Ant Group Co. has set the price for its initial public offering in Shanghai, paving the way for a blockbuster sale that may give the Chinese fintech giant a valuation higher than JPMorgan Chase & Co.Billionaire founder Jack Ma, speaking at a weekend conference, said Ant has determined the IPO price, though he didnt disclose the amount. Pricing details for the China shares are expected by Tuesday, with the Hong Kong price to be announced as soon as Oct. 29, people familiar with the matter have said.This was the first time such a big listing, the largest in human history, was priced outside New York City, Ma told the Bund Summit in Shanghai Saturday. We wouldnt have dared to think about it five years, or even three years ago.The stock sale by Mas finance giant is one of the most hotly anticipated IPOs in years, on course to make history by surpassing Saudi Aramcos record $29 billion share sale in 2019. Large investors have put in bids of about 68 to 69 yuan a share for the Shanghai stock, Reuters reported. That would value the China portion of the sale at as much as $17.3 billion, or close to $35 billion for the dual listing including the Hong Kong leg.Ants IPO Is Said to Lure Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, UBS AssetThe company may raise another $5 billion after it exercises the so-called greenshoe option to meet demand, people familiar with the matter have said, adding the numbers are subject to change. That would give Ant a valuation of about $320 billion, making it bigger than JPMorgan and four times larger than Goldman Sachs Group Inc.The IPO is attracting interest from some of the worlds biggest money managers, and sparking a frenzy among individual investors in China clamoring for a piece of the sale.T. Rowe Price Group Inc., UBS Asset Management and FMR LLC, the parent of Fidelity Investments, are among the money managers angling for a piece of the deal, a person familiar with the matter has said.Each of the firms is considering investments worth several billion dollars in the Hong Kong-listed shares, though theyve yet to finalize plans and theres no guarantee theyll get an allocation, the person said.Singapores sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte, Temasek Holdings Pte and Chinas $318 billion National Council for Social Security Fund are also jockeying for a slice of the IPO, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. Mas Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will also buy new Ant shares to maintain its ownership stake at around 32%.Leveraged LoansHong Kong stockbrokers are so confident Ant IPO will go smoothly that theyre offering to let mom-and-pop investors buy the stock with as much as 20 times leverage. That matches the highest ratio ever offered by brokerages including Bright Smart Securities & Commodities Group and UP Fintech Holding Ltd. HSBC Holdings Plc has set aside more than HK$100 billion ($13 billion) of margin loans for retail investors to subscribe to the Hong Kong IPO, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported, citing the lender.With the pricing this week, investors will have to commit to the deal just days before a U.S. presidential election that could have ramifications for both Ants overseas expansion plans and investor risk-appetite. Shares will almost certainly start trading only after the U.S. vote on Nov. 3.The company will issue no more than 1.67 billion shares in China, equivalent to 5.5% of the total outstanding before the greenshoe option, according to its prospectus on the Shanghai stock exchange. It will issue the same amount for its Hong Kong offering. The Shanghai shares will be listed under the ticker 688688, according to the prospectus.Ant has picked China International Capital Corp. and CSC Financial Co. to lead the Shanghai leg of the IPO. CICC, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are heading the Hong Kong offering.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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I think this cloud computing stock will thrive in the next lockdown - Yahoo Finance UK

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Academic | An interview with Joshua McKenty, co-founder of OpenStack on the art of contemporary cloud computing – IT World Canada

Posted: at 10:37 pm

The fact that my songs take a long time to write is no guarantee of their excellence. Leonard Cohen

Over the past decade, cloud services have evolved from being perceived as a nebulous, risky solution suited for non-critical services to a position of strategic prevalence in the vast majority of enterprises; impacting the vast majority of business functions. Cloud services have reliably addressed the false promises of inflated expectations, myopic forays into disjointed and non-critical solutions, and legitimate concerns about security, privacy, and sovereignty.

Despite the oft-heard narrative that cloud adoption is always a moving target of two to five years away, over 90 percent of North American enterprises are already leveraging cloud computing in one way or another. Enterprise cloud is no longer a choice between virtualized cloud-washed solutions from legacy providers and one-size-fits-all hyper-scale solutions, but present a wide range of viable choices for each core and non-critical business function.

Progressive technology companies and leading enterprises are responding by disposing of the traditional portfolio management and capital budgeting approach to transformation and instead adopting Zero Cost Transformation approaches based on significantly reducing or eliminating the capital investment required for wide-scale innovation. Investment by strategic technology partners in digital transformation and compensation for technology partners is often now directly linked to the tangible business value generated, measured, and reported. In 2020, over 30 percent of all transformation initiatives are based on co-investment, and close to one-third of initiatives link some or all vendor compensation to tangible business value generation.

On the eve of the Electronic Recycling Associations new digital event series, Academic, I sat down with Victorias Joshua McKenty, Co-Founder of Openstack and Piston Cloud (Acquired by Cisco) to discuss what the future beholds for a medium near and dear to both of our hearts.

Many of humanitys most impactful discoveries are not significant by virtue of what they accomplish directly, but rather by virtue of what they help others to accomplish. It took almost 25 years to go from the first transistor to the first microprocessor. Just about 28 years after that we had the invention of the World Wide Web. In the 30 years since then, 59% of the worlds population now has internet access, and we expect that to reach 90% by 2030.

I dont like cool technology. Cool generally means complicated, expensive, and hard to use just like a cool restaurant is one where its hard to get reservations, and the appetizers cost $15. Theres nothing cool about sewers or power lines, but Im a huge fan of indoor plumbing and electric lights. So, the way that cloud computing has become boring, while simultaneously making Amazon and Microsoft two of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world, is actually a great sign. The way that the IT industry overall is chasing cool, unfortunately, is not as promising.

This is actually a really tough policy question very much akin to Affordable Housing.

Because renting has such a dramatic impact, in terms of lowering the barriers-to-entry of sleeping indoors, it becomes hard to reason about the impacts of different policies on the housing stock. Cloud computing has had the same effect as opening up the rental market while it makes it very easy for EVERYONE to participate in the sleeping indoors market, it doesnt necessarily create a path to homeownership. Put differently: while Cloud has lowered the barriers to building a new business in the digital economy, those generous landlords have a habit of becoming protectors in the worst sort of way Thats a nice looking revenue stream ya got there. It would be a shame if something was to HAPPEN to it

Ultimately, the promise of globalization was a Pandoras box: Access to an infinitely large marketplace also put each of us into direct competition with an infinitely large number of competitors. The solution, ironically enough, is the same as it has always been: build a business based on real value, delivered one customer at a time. Resist FOMO. Use technology (whether its cloud, social media, machine learning, or just email) thoughtfully, and authentically. Dont chase cool use the cloud to amplify the cool you already are.

One of the basic tenants of the free market is that competition keeps competitors honest, and it keeps prices fair. While OpenStack-powered cloud providers havent emerged as dominant public cloud players,by and large,I believe that the largercloud interoperability movement, of which OpenStack was an important part, has fundamentally succeeded. Very few technology professionals should be using IaaSprimitives these days, anyway either they should beusing an abstraction such as Terraform, a PaaS such as Cloud Foundry or Heroku, or a higher-order, domain-specific offering such as the Azure IoT Hub. (Increasingly, software vendors are packaging their products for Kubernetes, which can be run on any of the major cloud providers or in-house on something like VMwares Tanzu platform).

In political discussions around the world, the theme of UBI (Universal Basic Income) has emerged as a rallying cry for a different type of relationship between the individual and the state. Idream of a world with UBC Universal Basic Cloud where instead of trading my personal privacy for a set of basic services from Google, myBC Services Card unlocked a Microsoft Office 365 account and enough AWS GPU credits to sequence my own genome. Why doesnt mydaughtersGoogle Classroom come with a half-dozen GCP virtual machines?

The window of opportunity for transforming the public cloud landscape has passed in the same way that the x86 architecture cemented Intels role in the personal computing landscape, the unannounced-but-surely-imminent Hashicorp IPO will cement the supported by Terraform public clouds as the new Baby Bells of our era. Our role is now to ignore them and to apply the awesome power of near-infinite transistors to the problems that are closest to our hearts.

The opening chapter of Academic will be hosted by Jim Love, Chief Information Officer at IT World Canada and feature a digital roundtable with five of Montreals leading cloud computing luminaries including:

For additional information or to register for the event, please click here.

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Academic | An interview with Joshua McKenty, co-founder of OpenStack on the art of contemporary cloud computing - IT World Canada

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Cloud Computing in Education Sector Industry Market Dynamics, Comprehensive Analysis, Business Growth, Revealing Key Drivers, Prospects and…

Posted: at 10:37 pm

An analysis of Cloud Computing in Education Sector Industry market has been provided in the latest report available at MarketStudyReport.com, that primarily focuses on the market trends, demand spectrum, and future prospects of this industry over the forecast period. Furthermore, the report provides a detailed statistical overview in terms of trends outlining the geographical opportunities and contributions by prominent industry share contenders.

The Cloud Computing in Education Sector Industry market report covers the key growth trends overseeing the profit curve of this business space in the upcoming years. It aims to provide insights about the various restraints as well as the opportunities to aid industry partakers in decision making and sound assessment. Moreover, the report investigates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the growth trajectory of the industry over the review period.

Request a sample Report of Cloud Computing in Education Sector Industry Market at:https://www.marketstudyreport.com/request-a-sample/2825255?utm_source=thinkcurouser&utm_medium=RV

Main pointers from COVID-19 impact analysis:

An overview of the regional landscape:


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Cloud Computing in Education Sector Industry Market Dynamics, Comprehensive Analysis, Business Growth, Revealing Key Drivers, Prospects and...

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Malaysia on the fast lane to become Cloud Computing Hub Malaysia Cloud & Datacenter Digital Summit 2020 – Web Hosting | Cloud Computing |…

Posted: at 10:37 pm

Malaysia Cloud & Datacenter Digital Summit, organized by W.Media, took place virtually on October 8, 2020.

The digital event saw the coming together of more than 200 IT (Information Technology) and DC (Datacenter) professionals, business leaders, and other technology enthusiasts who discussed the future of the cloud, datacenter, 5G, IoT (Internet of things) in South East Asia, particularly Malaysia.

Cloud and datacenter were at the center of discussion and were closely knitted in almost all panel discussions and thought leadership presentations.

Lets look at some of the key highlights of the digital event.

As mentioned in the starting of this write-up, cloud and datacenter technologies were one of the hot topics of discussion at the event.

Lets explore the reason why.

Malaysia stands at the very edge of transforming into a full-fledged cloud computing hub and many factors or driving forces are leading towards this mega shift. In the budget 2020, the Malaysian government earmarked a whopping amount of MYR 21.6 bn into the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP). This move indicates the governments focus on accelerating digital transformation by promoting more cloud adoption and roll-out of 5G connectivity through Malaysia.

The event included key sessions by leading cloud and datacenter professionals who shared their views on the digital future of Malaysia and the growth drivers.

Lets look at some of the key session highlights.

In his opening presentation, Aaron Tan Dani Chairman, IASA ASIA PACIFIC, shared how a well-defined EA blueprint can help organizations successfully implement their digital transformation goals. Quoting a prediction by Gartner, By 2025, organizations will predominantly focus EA on delivering business outcomes from the perspectives of their business ecosystem he said digital transformation has become the need of the hour. According to him, 2025 is this year- 2020 only, due to the COVID-19 induced push for getting digitally transformed.

He further shared key designs of EA principles that can drive digital transformation across organizations, as well as the key challenges faced by enterprises when moving from computerization to digitalization.

Highlighting the key cloud migration challenges and risk assessment, Sina Manavi Group AIA, shared how cloud migration is not as easy as it sounds. Presence of multiple vendors, agents, servers, administration overheads, integration issues, etc. make the process a bit complex for the first-time movers. He shared a few cloud migration challenges faced by almost every organization willing to step into the cloud:

He further shared a few solutions to overcome the above challenges. According to him, setting up a cloud risk management and governance framework can simplify the cloud migration. He also emphasised the role of cloud service providers in helping organizations swiftly move towards the cloud.

In his session, Malaysia Cloud-First Strategy, IR. Wan Murdani Mohamad, shared Malaysias direction in accelerating cloud adoption from 2017 to 2021. The Malaysian government has set a target of achieving 50% cloud adoption by the year 2024. The focus in 2021 would be on the implementation of cloud-first strategy in the public sector.

To accelerate cloud adoption, Malaysia is focusing on two high impact domains Governance and People. Formation of cloud computing committees and upskilling competencies across people through cloud awareness program are key strategies to speed-up the cloud adoption across the Malaysian economy.

He further stated lack of knowledge, skills, and experience in the cloud followed by cloud data management complexities as the key challenges that can hinder cloud adoption.

In his thought leadership presentation, Sabarinathan Sampath SVP & COO, ZNet Technologies, shared his outlook on the datacenter growth in South East Asia, specifically Malaysia, and how cloud and digital infrastructure plays a key role in driving this growth.

The presence of digital infra components like 5G, automation tools, cloud computing, and APIs can make businesses agile and help them in providing great user experience and build long-lasting customer relationships.

With its proactive measures to drive cloud adoption from improvements in connectivity, energy sustainability, and business sophistication to enabling MYR 16 billion revenue opportunity for service providers with the advent of 5G, Malaysia is on a fast lane to cloud adoption.

Apart from key sessions and presentations, the event also had interviews of Wan Murdani Mohamad, MDEC, Vidit Arora, Securonix and interactive panel discussions like:

The participants were Alvin Teoh, MDEC; Peter Leong, Technology Program Director; Vidit Arora, Securonix; and Moderator: Fong Choong Fook, LGMS

The participants were Ong Chin Seong, PIKOM; Tan Tze Meng, MDEC; Mohamad Rejab bin Sulaiman, TM One; Rhys Cole, Powershield; and Moderator: James Rix, Arcadis UK

The event was sponsored by MDEC, Open Computing Singapore, HR.Exchange, Securonix, Insyghts Security, etc. DHN was one of the media partners.

Overall, it was an insightful event with a lot of takeaways for those in the cloud, datacenter, and technology domains.

If you missed the live event, you can watch the on-demand session to know more about the topics that were discussed.

If youre looking to attend more such cloud and datacenter focused events, get ready to join Thailand Cloud and Datacenter Digital Summit on 4th November 2020. Register for this upcoming cloud event through this special link.

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Why A Gamer Started A Web Of Disinformation Sites Aimed At Latino Americans – FiveThirtyEight

Posted: at 10:37 pm

This article was written in collaboration with First Draft, a nonprofit organization that provides investigative research to newsrooms tracking and reporting on mis- and disinformation.

When we picture the entity behind a network of disinformation websites, a few archetypes spring to mind: shadowy figures intent on interfering with democracy, Russian agents, Macedonian teens. Not usually included: a gamer from a suburb of New York City who sells coffee beans with his wife at the local farmers market on weekends. But thats precisely who was behind three sites that, until last week, were pumping out misleading, hyperpartisan Spanish-language content on both the left and right. They were just a few sites in a broader ecosystem of misinformation and disinformation that spreads such narratives to millions of Americans. But their story has something to tell us about the misinformation industrial complex overall.

Sean Reynolds, a YouTuber, gamer and entrepreneur, was the owner and operator of three websites and affiliated Facebook pages that peddled in misinformation, predominantly in Spanish. The existence of the network was first reported by Politico last week, but an exclusive interview with Reynolds revealed why he started the sites.

Namely, he said, he saw an opportunity.

These websites and the content on them do not reflect my personal political leanings, Reynolds wrote in a direct message on Twitter. I am non-discriminating towards opportunities where there is demand and no supply, which in this case, there was no political opinion pieces written in Spanish on Facebook, so I found writers (ghostwriters) interested to fill that demand. Reynolds did not respond when FiveThirtyEight asked whether he speaks Spanish but did say he does not personally write the content on the sites. In a video he posted on his gaming channel, he identified as half Jamaican and half German.

Since 2017, Reynolds has operated the three websites and their affiliated Facebook pages: PoliticaVeraz.com, which published right-leaning content, AlertaPolitica.org, which published left-leaning content, and LeftOverRights.com, a left-leaning site which initially ran English-language stories but switched to publishing in Spanish this August. When all three sites were active, they would each regularly publish 5-10 stories per day and then spread those stories through Facebook, where they would typically attract thousands of shares. After FiveThirtyEight contacted him, Reynolds took all three sites and their Facebook pages offline.

A FiveThirtyEight investigation found multiple links that tied Reynolds to the sites, including a common server and IP address among his personal website and his other confirmed businesses, the same Google AdSense and Analytics code for his personal sites and these pages and corporate records listing Reynolds as a process agent for both Left Over Rights LLC and Alerta Politica LLC (there was no record of an LLC for Politica Veraz). Reynolds also confirmed to FiveThirtyEight that he ran the sites.

Much of the content these sites published was misleading and hyperpartisan. A recent story on Politica Veraz, for example, claimed that Joe Biden had forgotten the words to the Pledge of Allegiance, when in actuality he quoted part of the pledge for emphasis in a speech. Meanwhile, recent stories published on Left Over Rights deployed spin from a left-leaning perspective, such as a story about the vice presidential debate declaring Sen. Kamala Harris had destroyed Vice President Mike Pence by asking him not to interrupt her.

The disinformation on Politica Veraz, in particular, often echoed messaging that was already circulating in far-right communities online and among followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, pushing it towards a more mainstream audience. One article claimed that President Trumps life was in mortal danger after he gave a speech at a Whirlpool Corporation Manufacturing Plant in Clyde, Ohio, where he said he had many enemies and that this may be the last time you see me for a while when discussing lower prices for pharmaceuticals. And while Reynolds said the sites content had minimal reach, that story was shared more than 6,000 times on Facebook, according to social media data tool BuzzSumo, and received nearly 40,000 interactions (reactions, shares, and comments combined). Similar messaging had been amplified by right-leaning users on Twitter before the Politica Veraz piece was published, including a tweet from an account that regularly shares theories associated with QAnon that was retweeted or quote tweeted more than 12,000 times.

Reynoldss sites are far from the only source of misinformation targeting the Latino community. There are sites, Facebook pages and YouTube channels that operate on the margins, attracting little mainstream notice while garnering audiences in the hundreds of thousands. Their stories rife with misleading spins on the news and outright falsehoods are shared across social media and privately in messaging apps. They target communities that have fewer trusted sources that cater directly to them, according to media experts we spoke to, and amplify misinformation originating from extremist communities. And experts say this kind of misinformation can lead to voters not only being misinformed, but also feeling disillusioned by the political process.

Nevertheless, Reynolds said his goals werent necessarily to inform, misinform or disinform, but to make a little bit of money. So little money that he didnt think twice about taking the sites down as soon as he was contacted by a reporter.

I will say, though, that these websites (all three) were scheduled to be fully closed after the months of not posting and not generating any income to keep them running, Reynolds wrote. (Two of the sites stopped uploading new posts in August and September, respectively.) But now Im getting contacted about them, and I just dont have time for anything else, so I will have their closings sped up.

Reynoldss sites represent a brand of misinformation fueled by the ease and profitability of building an audience on social media, according to Joan Donovan, a researcher of disinformation at Harvard University.

Social media companies have incentivized disinformation by rewarding it with financial dollars, Donovan explained. The fact that he was targeting Latinos with Spanish-language disinformation or misinformation from either side of the aisle shows a kind of willingness to create chaos so long as it makes money.

Its not as if the content was simply a translated version of English-language misinformation, either. It clearly targeted the Latino community, playing into existing fears such as worries about socialism, given its history in authoritarian Central and South American governments.

Some of the key narratives are around the perceived threat of socialism coming into the United States, and connecting that to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, said Jacobo Licona, a disinformation researcher for Equis Labs, a Latinx voter research group. Another one we often see is trying to discredit Black Lives Matter and paint them as violent. Since the murder of George Floyd, weve seen an increased effort by these bad actors in Latinx spaces to fuel racial tension in Black and brown communities.

Politica Veraz regularly posted stories that played into these threads, like one that called the Obamas Marxists or another that inaccurately reported two Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department deputies shot in Compton were ambushed by Black Lives Matter.

This misinformation is being seeded in the midst of an election where Latino voters represent a powerful voting bloc. While Trump is trailing Biden among Latino voters in national polls, the margin is narrower in the key battleground state Florida. In a Univision poll released on Sept. 28, 52 percent of Latino voters nationally said they planned to cast a ballot for Biden, compared to 19 percent who were committed to Trump. But in Florida, 36 percent of Latino voters said they favored Trump.

Reynolds said his content was not effective and that the sites were not profitable or popular, and that he had been planning to shut them down before he was contacted by FiveThirtyEight. But data tells a different story. Combined, the three sites Facebook pages had nearly 1 million likes and followers, and Politica Veraz alone attracted more than 500,000 interactions on its Facebook posts since July, according to data from Crowdtangle.

The allure of sensational, emotionally provocative misinformation is well documented. But this content was also able to appeal to an audience facing a dearth of targeted media, according to Randy Pestana, the assistant director of research at Florida International Universitys Institute for Public Policy.

The media outlets that appeal to Hispanics are limited. There are not a lot of them out there, and the ones that are out there more recently have been called fake news, Pestana said. Theres this movement where everything is fake news if it doesnt align with your opinion.

He also noted that many Latino Americans consume news through social media, including Facebook and WhatsApp, making it easier for this kind of content to spread. The share of Latino Americans who get their news from the internet is higher than that of the U.S. population overall, according to surveys from the Pew Research Center. In a 2016 survey, Pew found that 74 percent of Latino respondents got their news online on a typical weekday, whereas a 2017 Pew survey found that 43 percent of the total population often got their news online. And while social media platforms have been cracking down on English-language misinformation to a certain degree, Spanish-language disinformation doesnt always receive the same treatment, Pestana said.

Reynoldss sites are now shut down, but there are plenty of other misinformation sources targeting Latino Americans. As we head into the final weeks of an election, many members of one of the most influential voting blocs continue to be bombarded with false information.

The worst examples of the potential consequences of this is what we saw in 2016: People felt so disenfranchised by the political process that they opted not to participate in it, said Steven Renderos, the executive director of MediaJustice, a nonprofit that focuses on racial inequality in communications. Thats the risk were facing here today, that people will just opt out of engaging.


Why A Gamer Started A Web Of Disinformation Sites Aimed At Latino Americans - FiveThirtyEight

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Juice of success: The Donlip Story – NorthEast Today

Posted: at 10:37 pm

T S Haokip

As the world grips to term with the consequences of the pandemic where job loss, unemployment, and business failures have occupied most headlines, the successful entrepreneurial story of a few youths in Manipur, a tiny state in the North-eastern part of India deserves to be told, heard and emulated.


Paipeh Team or P4which is famous for its Thadou-Kuki comedy video series called Lutpu Paipeh was founded by Mr. Lenchung along with 4 main actors. The founder, who had won the coveted Kuki Idol-a talent hunt competition in Manipur, has several Kuki hit songs to his name as a singer and composer. But the first Kuki Idol would soon realized that singing as a career is not sufficient to make ends meet. Not one to be bogged down easily, Mr. Lenchung devised a new strategy to utilize his creative mind which then heralded the birth of Paipeh Team, and their hit seriesLutpu Paipeh. The team met instant success among the Kuki Community with their YouTube channel garnering more than 50k subscribers and an average view of 2 lakhs per video. They have attained the status of a small-town celebrity with local medias interviewing them even as their fan base grew by the day. Meanwhile, though the team had devoted most of their time for the making and production of their new episodes of the series, the revenues were not sufficient to fully rely on as a livelihood. Mr. Lenchung then felt the need to be more than a successful singer and director.

Leveraging adversity

The success of their comedy series notwithstanding, the pandemic has resulted in the absence of any alternative livelihoods to make additional income. After much deliberation, P4 came up with the idea of attending to the demands for food. While pondering over viable options, they zeroed down to fruit juice as two of their team members have Pineapple farm and they have learned that many farmers have resorted to burying their farm produce as there was no demand; as markets were closed. The thought inspired them because, not only would they be achieving their goals of setting up a start-up, they would in the process be helping many farmers who otherwise would have their farm produce go wasted.

According to Lenchung, once they contemplated the idea, there was no looking back. It took us only a couple of months to strategize our plan and implement it. We made a partnership with an established enterprise named Joyfood and the rest as they say is history, he added.

Launch of the 100 % organic fruit juice Donlip

In the month of August 2020, the people of Churachandpur town witnessed history unfold; a business start-up has been inaugurated by a rebel leader. Donlip a juice with 100% organic Pineapple fruit was launched officially by Pu P S Haokip, President of Kuki National Organisation- one of the two umbrella organisations of Kuki militants having tripartite talks with the Government; it was groundbreaking, considering the fact that militancy has been attributed to the lack of business avenues and dismal economic growth in the region. Gone are the days when any business setup would be allegedly subjected to ransom demands. All that seems to be history now as business prospects dawn in the erstwhile militancy infested state. Part of the credit should go to the Government for engaging the rebels to talks as the Hills of Manipur, long excluded from business and development stories finally made its mark.

Market progress

The plan was to produce 5000 units per month initially with a gross income of 1 lakh and to increase the unit according to the demands. But in the first month itself, due to huge demands, P4 ended up selling 2,000 units per day. With a humble investment, we break-even in the first month itself. We have not even started investing in the promotion of the product but everyone is aware of the products and we have received supply orders from all corners of the state and beyond, said an understandably excited Mr. Lenchung.

He further added that the orders for September are even better, more in units compared to August 2020. At present, sales are not just good but overwhelming. We want to make sure that these good vibes continue by maintaining quality standards, said the proprietor of P4.

Public feedback

As P4 launch their product, it has overwhelming support from the public. The success of their comedy sequels has a huge impact as the team has thousands of dedicated fans already. Buying the product was considered a trend with many fans uploading their selfies with Donlip. It was beyond our expectation. We believe our fans will buy the products out of love and charitable cause. But we never thought it would make a trend to pose with our products as is presently witnessed. Now our customers are the promoters themselves, said the proprietor. Well, Paipeh team are stars. So, when I saw my friends uploading pictures of themselves, I too was tempted because it was trending, said Mr. Chochon, one of the many fans who uploaded their pictures of themselves drinking Donlip. Of course, many bought the products out of compassion and love and their attachment with Paipeh team. once I learned that Paipeh team is launching a fruit juice, Id asked my son to get a cartoon of the product in support of the team. I have heard of their humble backgrounds and I am an ardent fan of their work in Lutpu Paipeh series. I feel this humble initiative of mine, buying their products, is my way of saying thank you for the beautiful memories they have given, said Nu Nemvah, a 62-year-old woman, who said she had never missed the 20 episodes of the P4 TEAM Lutpu paipeh comedy series.

The Road Ahead

According to Mr. Lenchung, proprietor of P4, the team is confident that the product would initially make a mark for itself locally and then theyd venture into exporting it to neighboring states and beyond. He said, a region like North East India, with its rich flora and fauna, is home to varieties of fruits. Strangely, we import among all things, fruits and fruit juices. We will work towards making P4 into a successful venture, which caters to the juice demands of North-East and beyond and give livelihood to at least a hundred person.

As for concerns on the possible decline in the demands of their products, if and when the hype and excitement of the newly launched Donlip waned, the team is all prepared to diversify its products; the team, according to the proprietor, has a plan in place to introduce other food items including Soft Drinks in collaboration with Joyfoods ltd.

The success story of P4 tells that COVID- 19 can be an excuse for many but for those eyeing to make a mark and be a change maker, there is just no excuse. Apart from fruits, there are other avenues like organic farming, animal husbandry- piggery, fishery, handicrafts, and setting up micro and small scale industries that can be adopted. Already, tens of thousands who have returned from different cities to the region are rendered unemployed. With proper skill development, the ambitious project of #VocalforLocal will be a successful hit in the region. And with the right mindset, zeal, and hard work, we will have many more successful entrepreneurship tales to tell from the North East region and India.

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Juice of success: The Donlip Story - NorthEast Today

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Q: First FSE WordPress Theme Now Live – WP Tavern

Posted: at 10:37 pm

Q WordPress theme screenshot.

Themes Team representative Ari Stathopoulos is now officially the first theme author to have a theme in the directory that supports full-site editing (FSE). With a slimmed-down beta release of FSE shipping in WordPress 5.6 this December, someone had to be the first to take the plunge. It made sense for someone intimately familiar with theme development and the directory guidelines to step up.

In many ways, it is a huge responsibility that Stathopoulos has taken on. Until one of the default Twenty* themes handles FSE, the Q theme will likely be one of the primary examples that other theme authors will follow as they begin learning how to build block-based themes.

Earlier this month, I used Q to test FSE and determine how much it had advanced. It is at least months away from being ready for use in production. The beta release in 5.6 is more or less just to get more people testing.

Stathopoulos has no plans to make Q much more than a bare-bones starter or experimental theme. It is almost a playground to see what is possible.

Q was born out of necessity, he said. I couldnt work on full-site editing or global styles without having a base theme for them, so for a while, I had it in a GitHub repository. I decided to release it to the WordPress.org repository because I think I might not be the only one with those issues. Downloading a theme in the dashboard is easier than cloning a repository for most people.

Existing block-based themes are few and far between. Automattic and some of its employees have some experimental projects, but none of those are in the official directory for anyone to test. Stathopoulos wanted a base theme that was unopinionated in terms of design that would allow him to work on FSE, test pull requests, and experiment with various ideas.

It has some ideas for things that ultimately Id like to see implemented in FSE, and its a playground, he said. For example, the addition of a skip-link for accessibility in the theme, an implementation for responsive/adaptive typography, and conditional loading of block styles only when they are used/needed. These are things that I hope will be part of WordPress Core at some point, and the Q theme explores ideas on how to implement them.

He began work on the theme over a year ago and continues working on it as a side project. He said Yoast, his employer, fully supports the idea of creating things that are beneficial for other theme designers and WordPress core.

End-users must install the Gutenberg plugin and activate the experimental FSE feature to use the theme or any similar theme. Currently, FSE is missing many key features that make it viable for most real-world projects. However, theme developers who plan to work with WordPress over the next several years will need to begin testing and experimenting. Q makes for a good starting point to simply get a feel for what themes will look like.

The biggest issue was and still is keeping up with Gutenberg development, said Stathopoulos. Many things are currently fluid, and they happen at a very high pace. The reason I created the theme was because other themes I was testing, as part of my contribution to the Themes Team, were not properly maintained or updated. I wanted to create a starter theme that can be used as a starting point for others as well.

One of the biggest questions still hanging in the air is what the timeline will look like for publicly-available, block-based themes. Will 2021 be the year they take over? That is unlikely given the features current state. However, there will be a point where developers are no longer building classic or traditional themes.

I think were going to see a lot more FSE themes in 2021, said Stathopoulos. It might take a couple of years before they become the standard, but after the release of WordPress 5.6, I hope there will be a lot more development and focus on FSE and global styles. Whether we see more FSE themes or not depends on when some things get merged in WordPress core.

He pointed out some critical missing features from Gutenberg at the moment. The big one is that the Query block, which is the block that displays posts on the front end, does not inherit its options from the global query. Essentially, this means that, regardless of what URL a visitor is on, it displays the latest posts.

Once these things are addressed, and blockers for theme builders get resolved, I expect well see an explosion of good FSE themes being built, he said.

Stathopoulos is most excited about the prospect of seeing more design standards come to core. Currently, there is no consistency between themes. Theme authors can use any markup they want. Switching themes affects a sites structure, SEO, accessibility, speed, and many other things.

My advice to theme developers who want to start tinkering would be to start with something simple, he said. Its tempting to add extremely opinionated styles, for buttons for example, but more and more things get added every day to the editor like a border-radius setting for buttons. Theme authors should avoid the trap of designing an FSE theme having in mind what the editor currently does. Instead, theme authors should strive to build something having in mind a vision of what the editor will eventually become.

Because Stathopoulos is a representative of the Themes Team, he also has some insight into the shift in the coming years for guidelines and what steps authors might need to take. While it is too early for the team to begin making decisions, its members are already thinking about forthcoming changes.

Change is always difficult, especially when its for something this big, said Stathopoulos. It will be a bumpy ride, and it will take time. WordPress theming is a huge industry. For a while, classic (for lack of a better word) themes will continue to be a viable solution for theme developers who didnt have time to catch up. But not forever.

Some may look back at previous major shifts and worry about what the future theme directory guidelines may ask. In 2015, the team required all theme options to use the customizer. This was after a three-year wait for theme authors to organically make the switch. Given that FSE will be a much larger departure from norms and dislike of the Gutenberg project from segments of the development community, it could be a rough transition.

At some point, FSE themes will become the industry standard and what the users want, said Stathopoulos. Personally, I hope no one will want to upload a classic theme in the w.org repository in 2025 when the industry has moved on. It would be like uploading today a theme that is using tables and iframes for layouts.

He said that sufficient time would be given for the eventual transition. However, the team will likely prioritize FSE-based themes. They are cognizant of how much of a shift this will be and will plan accordingly when the time comes.

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