Charter’s $2 billion promise to Time Warner Cable isn’t worth much


Fortune

Charter Communications [fortune-stock symbol=”CHTR”] insists that this time will be different. It says that its $78 billion bid to acquire Time Warner Cable [fortune-stock symbol=”TWC”] won’t run into the same regulatory roadblocks that last month caused Comcast [fortune-stock symbol=”CMCSA”] to kill its own deal for Time Warner Cable (despite 14 months of work and friends in high places). And Charter is putting its money where its mouth is, by agreeing to include a $2 billion termination fee that would kick in were Charter to walk away from the deal.

To be sure, there are all sorts of valid reasons to believe that the FCC and U.S. Department of Justice will sign off on Charter/TWC. For example, the combined company would be much smaller than was the proposed Comcast tie-up, and Charter doesn’t own any original content verticals.

But it’s worth cautioning that the $2 billion termination fee shouldn’t really…

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America’s secret weapon against cyber attacks: U.S. veterans?


Fortune

As we come off of a Memorial Day holiday weekend, Americans reflect with gratitude on the countless times our veterans have stood firm in the face of danger. We appreciate the valor, strength, and sacrifice our troops show in facing down enemies at home and abroad. We thank our men and women in uniform for preserving liberty and freedom for the millions within our own shores, and for billions across the globe.

But as we honored the most sacred of holidays, a new threat lurks, one for which our veterans again offer the best hope of crafting an adequate defense: cyber security.

It is no longer science fiction or the preserve of Hollywood to envision cyber attacks damaging our nation’s critical infrastructure. Recent events demonstrate the vulnerability of our air traffic control systems, power grids, industrial controls and financial networks to web-based warfare. Just as the threat posed by cyber…

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Broadband consumers win with the Charter, Time Warner Cable, Brighthouse deals


Fortune

Like a hydra, when one massive broadband merger is killed another springs up in its place. A month after Comcast walked away from buying Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, Charter announced its intent to buy Time Warner Cable and wrap it into an already-announced Brighthouse acquisition in a deal valued at $78.7 billion inclusive of debt.

The proposed Charter and Time Warner deal would change the landscape of the U.S. broadband market by combining the second and third-largest cable-based broadband providers, and creating a new company with a total of 19.4 million broadband subscribers once the Brighthouse customers are added in. When you factor in all of the customers the combined companies would have a total of 23.9 million. This leaves the combined entity behind Comcast’s 22.4 million subscribers, but shoves the newly combined company ahead of AT&T for the No. 2 slot in total customers.

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For broadband customers…

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AOL: We had other suitors


Fortune

AOL [fortune-stock symbol=”AOL”] today filed documents with the SEC that included background on its pending $4.4 billion acquisition by Verizon [fortune-stock symbol=”VZ”]. Among the revelations were that AOL entered into confidentiality agreements with three other potential acquirors, including a private equity firm.

In the filing, AOL says that “members of Verizon’s management team” contacted AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong last July “to discuss potential collaborative opportunities between the companies.” Armstrong sat down with Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam at Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley conference that month to begin talks, even though media reports emanating from the event instead focused on Armstrong’s private chat with Yahoo [fortune-stock symbol=”YHOO”] boss Marissa Mayer.

The two companies discussed a variety of different possibilities — including a joint venture or commercial partnership — and entered into a confidentiality agreement in November 2014. At the time, Verizon said it had no…

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Charter-TWC merger: Why Time Warner Cable’s CEO wants out


Fortune

Time Warner Cable is getting bigger by going smaller.

On Tuesday morning, Charter Communications [fortune-stock symbol=”CHTR”] announced that it was buying Time Warner Cable [fortune-stock symbol=”CHTR”] for nearly $79 billion, including debt. That cable companies feel they need to get bigger is not new. Cable firms want more bargaining power in their negotiations with large content providers like Time Warner, which owns HBO and spun off TWC a few years ago, and Twenty-First Century Fox, not to mention Netflix. That was the logic behind Time Warner Cable’s proposed deal with Comcast, which was called off last month.

But a quirk of Tuesday’s deal is that Charter, the company now buying Time Warner Cable, is actually the smaller of the two, by a lot. TWC had revenue of $23 billion last year. Charter’s revenue was less than half of that, at $9 billion.

It’s not clear why TWC is the one…

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How Oculus and Facebook could finally work together


Fortune

Facebook’s virtual reality arm, Oculus, may one day help people interact on the social network. The idea: use the technology to create a digital stand-in for users.

Researchers teamed up with Oculus found that they could read the smiles, frowns and other facial movements of people wearing the Oculus headset and then recreate them in an avatar. They theorized that Facebook could let users incorporate their doppelgangers into its service.

The researchers, including from University of Southern California, hung a 3D camera from an Oculus Rift headset to monitor the person wearing it. The software scanned the person’s facial expressions and copied them onto a digital stand-in, whose head moved and reacted as if alive.

As Pfsk noted, one of the biggest challenges is that the Oculus headset covers the upper half the face (the headset resembles big ski goggles). The team worked around this by attaching eight sensors to…

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Why your next tablet might come with Word and Excel


Fortune

Microsoft has signed partnerships with 20 new hardware manufacturers to pre-install Skype and Office apps on a range of new Android devices, marking the company’s latest push to expand its mobile footprint beyond Windows devices.

Sony, LG and Haier are among several major manufacturers to sign the strategic agreement, joining Samsung and Dell as Microsoft’s leading partners. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype will roll out to Sony’s newest tablet, the Xperia Z4, within the next 90 days.

“Our aspiration is to continue to build and grow a vibrant community of billions of people who love and rely on Microsoft experiences, on any device, across all aspects of their daily lives,” Microsoft vice president Nick Parker wrote in an official blog post.

New Microsoft Office apps were first released as a free download for iPhone and Android users last year.

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