Breakfast Briefing: Sinofsky's $17.5m nest egg, Spotify valued at $3bn and Exchange 365 users left in lurch

Today in tech, stories include France sharpening the axe over Google taxes and an Enigma selling for £85,000

15 Nov 2012

Today's top technology stories include an insight into Steven Sinofsky's finances, the value of Spotify, Microsoft cloud outage, an Enigma auction that raises £85,000, and how to block that annoying uncle's chain emails.

Sinofsky’s $17.5m Microsoft nest egg

Whatever the circumstances of Steve Sinofsky leaving Microsoft, he’s unlikely to be selling off the family silver to cover the mortgage any time soon. The former head of Windows’ finances were partially revealed in Securities and Exchange Commission documents that showed the outgoing executive holds 650,000 shares in the company. Although Computer World suggests he won’t receive all of his 2012 bonus, the $17.5m value of the shares should tide him over until he manages to find gainful employment elsewhere.

Spotify valued at $3bn as big hitters sign up

Spotify has managed to land funding worth about $100m from big-hitting investors including Goldman Sachs and Coca-Cola, TechCrunch reports. The slice of the company that the cash injection buys reportedly values the streaming music service at $3bn. Once closed, the investment would be the fifth round of funding.

The power of technology and music combined has also been underlined by estimates from music-matching company Shazam that it will drive more than $300m in music sales to partners such as iTunes and Amazon this year. In an interview with Kickshuffle, Shazam marketing boss David Jones said the company is also now focusing on TV content.

Microsoft apologises for 365 service outages

Microsoft has apologised to customers in North and South America after two separate incidents meant Office 365 Exchange Online users saw disruption to email. According to the company, the first glitch on 8 November was caused by an overzealous and cranky anti-virus package that disrupted data flow, while the second was some sort of perfect storm that left users without email four hours.

"The service incident resulted from a combination of issues related to maintenance, network element failures, and increased load on the service," the company said in a blog post.

"The Office 365 team was performing planned non-impacting network maintenance by shifting some load out of the datacenters under maintenance. In combination with this standard process, we experienced 'grey' failure of some active network elements; the elements failed, but did not alert us to their failure. Additionally, we have an increasing load of customers on-boarding to the service." If you use a word like on-boarding, frankly, you get what you deserve.

MIT unveils false-fact filter - so long trigger happy uncle

If only there was a way to filter all the cobblers emails you get sent by forward-happy friends and family that perpetuate myths with chain emails. The Atlantic reveals that MIT has developed just such a piece of wizardry with LazyTruth, a fact filtering plug-in for Chrome that scans emails for content that’s been debunked on sites such as and Politifact.

If it spots false info, the software includes a correction and links to more reliable sources. "Put simply," the MIT team explained, "LazyTruth is a bridge between low-quality information (chain emails) and high-quality information (the research outlets that debunk chain emails)."

French look at tougher taxes on Google, Amazon

UK MPs aren't the only ones looking at how to pry more tax money from Google and Amazon. A day after both firms were grilled by the UK Public Accounts Committee over their tax-avoidance schemes, the French government has said it was also looking to close loopholes, according to Reuters.

The report suggests France is looking at taking action at a national level, as well as with European authorities and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. "Even if the internet is a zone of freedom it shouldn't be a lawless zone," spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said. "Fiscal rules should be able to be applied to those activities as well."

Enigma machine sells for £85k to US buyer

An Enigma coding machine has sold at auction for £85,250, more than £25,000 above its guide price. The German machine was used during WWII, and Alan Turing and others at Bletchley Park cracked the encryption system.

"Many machines were picked up by the allies as souvenirs during the final stages of the Second World War and as such, in later years, tended to be 'mixed and matched', where rotors, outer cases and head blocks were replaced with another machine's parts," said a spokesman for the auction house told the BBC. "This one has all elements bearing the same serial number, making this totally complete and original throughout." While the device was sold to an American buyer, you can head to Bletchley Park to see its extensive collection.

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