TurboTax offers customers a refund

TurboTax offers customers a refund

23/Jan/2015  //  478 Viewers

TurboTax tax software company admits it made a mistake and is offering some of its customers a refund.

Some people were forced to buy TurboTax Premium, the most expensive version of the company's software to file 2013 taxes.

The company has issued an apology on its website and has offered a $25 refund.

"We made a change this year to TurboTax desktop software and we didn't do enough to communicate this change to you as proactively and broadly as we could or should have. We're very sorry for the anger and frustration we may have caused.

To make things right and help you through this transition year, we are giving $25 back if you purchased TurboTax Deluxe desktop software (CD or download) to file your 2013 tax return and had to upgrade to TurboTax Premier or Home & Business to file your 2014 return."

Source: http://7online.com/
An Ode to SkyMall as It Files for Bankruptcy

An Ode to SkyMall as It Files for Bankruptcy

23/Jan/2015  //  479 Viewers

My parents didn’t love each other anymore, so at 10-, 7-, and 2-years-old, we flew unaccompanied between Idaho and LA for visits. We may not have had chaperones or the security of an intact nuclear family, but we had one essential comfort: The SkyMall catalog.

As the eldest sibling, it fell to me to read the descriptions to my brothers. I ad-libbed.

“THIS is the garden gnome we’d need if we lived by ourselves in the forest. We’d set this up outside our rotted out tree trunk to warn away bad guys.”

“What bad guys?” little 7-year-old Ben would ask.

“Uh, that bad guy,” I’d say, pointing to some smelly adult on the plane.

We devoured every page–even the ones with the posters of slogans we didn’t understand. Why is that cat hanging in there, we wondered?

My favorite was the convertible furniture section. I was big into playing house at the time, pretending I had no parents and was in charge of my own destiny. The centerpiece of said destiny was surely going to be that magic-looking bureau that actually opened up into what the catalog called a liquor cabinet but looked to me more like where a witch stored her potions. I was no dummy; I knew what liquor was, and I knew people abused it and went to something called “Ah” to deal with that, so I figured instead of liquor I’d hide way better things, like makeup and food. Or magic potions if I ever came across any.

When my dad would pick us up at LAX, we’d bring our copy of SkyMall, dog-eared, pored over.

“Dad, can we get the life-size tiger for your house?”

I can only imagine how much he wanted to laugh in our faces, but divorce does a tricky thing to parents: it makes them never want to say no to you. That year, he let us pick our Christmas gifts from SkyMall. All of them. Literally. I have no memory of what we actually chose. He flew us back to Idaho so we could spend the holiday together and I just remember the elation of picking up the phone in the back of the headrest on the Delta plane and calling a human being from the air. The line cracked, but from down deep below the thin air, a woman’s voice said, “Hi, thanks for calling SkyMall.” Outside the window, smog and clouds skidded past and I was talking on the telephone to a human being who was going to send us presents!

The possibilities in life were limitless.

That was the only time I ever bought anything out of the catalog, but Ben spent a good decade ordering Christmas presents from its pages. He did this for two reasons: first, he saw it as a sort of tradition, beginning on that trip in 1991; and second, he inevitably was flying to whichever parent we were spending the holidays with and hadn’t thought about a gift for anyone yet.

Before the Internet, before Amazon, SkyMall was the best option for slackers with no cash but a credit card furnished by family guilt.

“Mom, I bought you a bunion strap and a stepping stool for your dog!” Ben would say, never able to keep his gifts a secret until Christmas day.

“YOU bought it? How?”

“With your credit card.”

“Oh. That credit card is for emergencies, honey.”

“It was a Christmas emergency, Mom.”

There was no answering that.

SkyMall was our babysitter. Our distraction. When we got older we delighted in mocking the absurdity of it, how ridiculous and unnecessary was everything in its pages. In this way, we explained to each other that we were maturing, that we weren’t dumb little kids anymore. When I became a teenager–embarrassed by everything and everyone–I’d tease the boys for liking anything in the catalog.

“That is SO pointless,” I’d say.

“OK, we can stop looking at it,” Ben would say.

“No, no,” I’d protest. “Harry is having fun.” Harry, wide-eyed and three years old would narrow his eyes into a look that seemed to say, “I know I’m being used.”

SkyMall was a tradition. An absurd, capitalistic embodiment of everything that was shallow and wrong with our lives, and yet it also brought us comfort. No matter if the plane was delayed, or we were stuck alone on a layover, missing whichever parent we were leaving, missing the friends and the life we were leaving behind each time we went between homes, it was there to make us laugh. To let us roll our eyes. To surprise us with a new level of novelty and frivolity.

SkyMall, that stupid wonderful completely American wonder that, with its insistence that you take your own free copy, announced it was your right as a human in the ‘90s to never not be shopping. Never not be consuming.

Of course, I didn’t think about how genius it was for them to tap into such a captive audience, stuck with nothing to do but wait. I never felt manipulated back then. I was a kid. Now it’s not hard to see how the business model wasn’t sustainable into the aughts and beyond.

When I fly now I try to write. Or sleep. Or squirm. Or, who am I kidding, look at Twitter. I haven’t noticed a SkyMall on the last 10 planes I’ve flown but I’m sure it was there, slick and expectant in the seat back flap, amid the wrappers and detritus of former travelers. Waiting for someone to notice it.

I’m sorry I paid $7 for inflight Wi-Fi instead of reading you, little shopping catalog. Forgive me.


Source: http://www.wired.com/

As Box Stock Soars 70% At IPO, CEO Aaron Levie Is Already Looking Ahead

As Box Stock Soars 70% At IPO, CEO Aaron Levie Is Already Looking Ahead

23/Jan/2015  //  375 Viewers

Box CEO Aaron Levie is craving a slice of pizza.

After ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange with his cofounders and making the rounds to discuss his company’s first day of trading, Levie’s earned an IPO snack, but won’t have time to get it. For today, he’s the toast of Wall St., with his enterprise collaboration company’s stock trading at $24.24 in the mid afternoon, up a whopping 73.12% from its list price.

“We are incredibly excited and amazed to be a public company,” Levie says. “But I am delighted we can go back to work.”

For now though, Levie can’t just work on Box and over his junk food diet. He’s got to answer important questions, like will he keep tweeting as a public CEO? (Answer: Unless they shut off Twitter, yes.) Then there’s his business to discuss, too.

Levie’s had to keep quiet as enterprise tech investors and entrepreneurs alike have watched, and discussed, Box’s public offering at length. Part of that is because the company had an eventful nearly ten years just to get to this point, part because of its off-again on-again IPO process dating to last year adding more drama and tough lessons on market responses to tech companies. But also because until today, there was still no consensus about how public investors would actually respond to a high-spend, high-growth enterprise company like Box.

One day of trading won’t prove anything, but so far, the response has been strong in favor of what Box’s selling. Levie still can’t say too much. But he says he wasn’t surprised by the early investor split. “Some investors will understand the disruption playing out, and others don’t. There are more cash-flow oriented investors, but their companies aren’t growing at similar rates as these kinds of startups,” Levie says. Sales and marketing will remain key, Levie says, to bringing in upfront customers, who at a 130% retention rate become more valuable over time.

Tech experts watching the IPO told Forbes in the run-up that one point to watch would be Box’s role in creating a new category of enterprise centered around collaboration. On Friday, Levie described the trend a bit differently. To Levie, Box is one of the first enterprise software companies to go public with a “consumerization model,” meaning its user experience and products are organized around what an individual user wants even as the software is sold to the company’s centralized IT. “While we are part of this next generation of cloud companies defining the enterprise IT stack, we do focus on making sure we have incredibly easy end user functionality.”

That means Levie’s primary mission hasn’t changed: Acquire more and bigger customers, and then encourage them to put more of their work on the cloud. “I think of our business right now as still in Phase One,” says Levie. In that phase, Box gets big companies to deploy it and store its data securely. Over time, Box can help the company save money–and make more money itself–encouraging those customers to more ways to use and interpret that data. The CEO points to Box’s acquisition of medical imaging company MedXT as an example of one field, healthcare, where Box is pushing that migration. Box will also continue to focus on machine learning as an investment area as it specializes its product for each industry.

IPO’d

One subject does make Levie a bit touchy even on a celebratory day: analysts and talking heads who doubt the company because of the supposed specter of Amazon. Levie has heard the argument that Amazon cutting storage prices puts pressure on Box’s business. He argues the opposite is true.

“I wouldn’t mind if people understood what we are selling to customers,” he quips. “Every time Amazon lowers their prices, that benefits us. It improves our infrastructure cost. That’s not a competitive pressure we are focusing our business on.”

So what is the real pressure? The race for the IT budgets of large enterprise looking to transform their infrastructures for the cloud, Levie says. Each one will do it in a big way only once, at least for a time. “We have to address those audiences and it will be competitive, because dollars will go away from some sets of players.”

Levie sees a future where Box is one of a cohort of newer players in the enterprise cloud, alongside established companies like Netsuite, ServiceNow and Workday. Industry peers hoping to join are lining up to agree, at least for today. “I’m thinking about ordering champagne at lunch,” jokes Yorgen Edholm, secure file sharer Accellion’s CEO. “This IPO proves that the enterprise is not a laggard, it’s getting with it! And Box is the first company that’s big on enterprise getting to the cloud. This is their story.” At Egnyte, CEO Vineet Jain tipped his hat to an “outstanding start.” The pressure’s on now, Jain says, “to keep the energy high around tech and sustain this exuberance will into the future.”

But while those good feelings are felt across enterprise tech today, the exuberance should really belong to Levie, who had to sacrifice a lot to get to the NYSE  podium. Early funding rounds when Box was struggling diluted him so much that his worth is now tens of millions, not billions. And after ten years, he’s re-upping for another decade after the praise and market attention settles down.

“This is an important milestone, we can’t possibly diminish this at all,” Levie says. He can still try. “But we are focusing on a long-lasting company, and we have a big vision of where we want to go. So it’s a signpost we’re passing through.”

Knowing Levie, don’t bet on there being time for a bite to eat on the other side.