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Verizon Profit Jumps 40 Percent on Wireless Subscriber Growth

Verizon Communications Inc. said its third-quarter profit improved 40 percent as the largest U.S. phone carrier continued to build up its base of wireless and FiOS customers.

Verizon last month agreed to purchase Vodafone Group PLC’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion, granting Verizon full control of their joint venture. To help fund the deal, Verizon sold $49 billion in bonds, making it the largest corporate-debt sale in history.

Verizon reported a profit of $2.23 billion, or 78 cents a share, up from $1.59 billion, or 56 cents, a year earlier. Excluding special items, per-share earnings were 77 cents in the latest quarter. Revenue improved 4.4 percent to $30.28 billion.

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Barnaby Jack, Famous Hacker, Dies

Barnaby Jack, the hacker known for making an ATM literally spit out cash, died Thursday, days before he was set to show how to disable a pacemaker from 30 feet away at Black Hat, the large annual hacker conference. He was 36 years old.

Jack was the director of embedded security research at security firm IOActive. He had previously worked at a variety of security firms, including McAfee.

The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the death Friday but didn’t yet know the cause.

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Samsung’s Profit Climbs 26 Percent

Samsung Electronics Co. said its third-quarter net profit rose 26 percent from a year earlier to another record as smartphones and its chip division helped drive earnings.

As smartphone margins plateau, Samsung is finding refuge from a cyclical upturn in memory chips. The division’s margins have nearly doubled from a year earlier. The importance of Samsung’s chip unit – composed of memory and logic chips – is being highlighted as it now accounts for roughly one-fifth of its total operating profit.

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Amazon Mines Its Data Trove to Bet on TV’s Next Hit

In May, a dozen Amazon.com Inc. executives, including Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, gathered in a Seattle conference room to select the first original TV shows the company would produce for its streaming video service.

A group of 14 “pilot” episodes had been posted on the company’s website a month earlier, where they were viewed by more than one million people. After monitoring viewing patterns and comments on the site, Amazon produced about 20 pages of data detailing, among other things, how much a pilot was viewed, how many users gave it a five-star rating and how many shared it with friends.

Those findings helped the executives pick the first five pilots – winnowed down from an original pool of thousands of show ideas – that would be turned into series. The first will debut this month: “Alpha House,” a political comedy about four politicians who live together, written by Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau.

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Publicis, Omnicom Close to Merger Deal

Omnicom Group Inc. and Publicis Groupe SA, the world’s second- and third-biggest advertising companies, respectively, are near a deal to merge, people familiar with the situation said, creating what would be a $30 billion behemoth.

If a deal is completed, it would be billed as a merger of equals. The two companies each have a market capitalization of about $16 billion. Omnicom Chief Executive John Wren and Publicis CEO Maurice Levy are expected to be co-CEOs of the combined company, the people said. An announcement could come as early as Sunday, the people said.

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Sony Surprises Optimists With Loss

Sony Corp. posted an unexpected quarterly loss on Wednesday, demonstrating the depth of the problems facing its electronics business and deflating a sense of optimism that was reflected in a recent share-price rally.

While Sony said recent restructuring measures undertaken by Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai are starting to pay off, the company’s eighth-straight quarter in the red highlights the shifting landscape of consumer electronics, as smartphones encroach on traditional gadgets. It also heightens the importance for Sony to crack the smartphone duopoly of Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.

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Tracking Sensors Invade the Workplace

A few years ago when Bank of America Corp. wanted to study whether face time mattered among its call-center teams, the big bank asked about 90 workers to wear badges for a few weeks with tiny sensors to record their movements and the tone of their conversations.

The data showed that the most productive workers belonged to close-knit teams and spoke frequently with their colleagues. So, to get more employees mingling, the bank scheduled workers for group breaks, rather than solo ones.

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Dell Board Defends Actions, Looked at Breakup and Leveraged Recap

Dell Inc.’s board of directors, facing steady criticism from shareholders, defended its actions in selling the company to founder Michael Dell in a statement Wednesday.

The board’s independent committee revealed that it reviewed several alternatives including breaking up the company, a leveraged recapitalization, a change to the dividend or continuing on the current course. Ultimately, the board decided to go forward with the buyout, which it said was done in a unanimous vote.

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Yahoo Leans on Facebook in Revamp of Home Page

Yahoo on Wednesday morning plans to unveil a much-awaited overhaul to its iconic home page, as Chief Executive Marissa Mayer looks to reverse a long-term decline in the time people spend on many of its sites.

The new home page has a stronger emphasis on tailoring the news articles and other content to individual visitors’ personal interests, in part based on their Facebook accounts.

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