The former head of Y Combinator wants to distribute UBI via cryptocurrency – and is testing an eye scanner that would identify recipients

In this photo illustration of the litecoin, ripple and ethereum cryptocurrency 'altcoins' sit arranged for a photograph
Jack Taylor/Getty Image

  • A new cryptocurrency is aiming to distribute wealth to everyone on earth, Bloomberg reported.
  • Y Combinator’s Sam Altman thought of the concept of Worldcoin in 2019.
  • Now, the creators have developed a way to scan people’s irises to assign the cryptocurrency.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new cryptocurrency aims to distribute wealth to “every single person on earth” with the help of an orb-shaped device that would scan people’s irises to identify them, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

Sam Altman, the former president of Y Combinator, a seed-money company that helped grow Airbnb and Dropbox among others, thought of the concept of Worldcoin in 2019 in the hopes of capitalizing on the economic idea of universal basic income, Bloomberg reported.

According to an online job listing, the new cryptocurrency is “free, frictionless and not controlled by anyone.”

Worldcoin hopes to reach mass adoption by “distributing it to everyone on earth through a novel approach: a dedicated hardware device ensuring both humanness and uniqueness of everybody signing up, while maintaining their privacy and the overall transparency of a permissionless blockchain,” the post said.

The silver, basketball-sized device would scan peoples’ irises to create a personal identifier for the coin and prevent users from defrauding the system, Bloomberg reported, adding that the creators said the image isn’t stored. Bloomberg said the device is being tested in various cities with Bitcoin because Worldcoin itself is not yet ready to hit the market.

Altman – who is one of three founders and now serves as an advisor, according to the report – did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for the story. Firms backing Worldcoin include Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm behind Coinbase. The firm also did not respond immediately to Insider.

Worldcoin has yet to be formally unveiled, Bloomberg reported, as the founders, who believe crypto could give the whole world access to financial systems, are considering how to distribute the currency to everyone.

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Dropbox soars on report that activist hedge fund Elliott Management has a 10% stake in the company

dropbox ceo Drew Houston and co-founder Arash Ferdowsi
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and co-founder Arash Ferdowsi.

Dropbox stock soared on Wednesday after a report out of the Wall Street Journal revealed the activist hedge fund Elliott Management holds a 10% stake in the company, worth well over $800 million.

Speculation about a potential activist investor stake in Dropbox has been swirling since mid-May when a 13-F filing from UBS showed that the bank had picked up 7.7 million shares of Dropbox in the second quarter. UBS is often associated with activist investors taking swap positions through banks.

Now, unnamed sources speaking to the Wall Street journal confirmed Elliott Management has entered the fray.

The hedge fund boasted more than $41 billion in assets under management (AUM) as of January 2021 and is known as one of the busiest activist investors in the markets.

The firm has been involved in Twitter, Comcast, and dozens of other stocks as an activist shareholder, pushing for changes to help increase return on equity for investors.

Dropbox was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi and is focused on offering cloud-computing storage solutions to its over 700 million registered users.

The company reported revenue of $1.9 billion last year, an increase of 15% year-over-year, and boasts a market cap of over $11 billion.

Dropbox went public in March 2018 at $21 a share, and its stock quickly shot up to nearly $40 per share by the summer. However, since then, Dropbox has struggled to break out of the $20 to $25 range amid increasing competition in the cloud storage space.

In January, the company was also forced to cut 11% of its workforce, with CEO Drew Houston saying, “the steps we’re taking today are painful, but necessary.” The move came just months after the company said all of its workforce would be allowed to work remotely on a permanent basis.

Despite the poor performance over the past two years, Dropbox shares have jumped roughly 23% in 2021. This, despite first-quarter earnings results, which showed a continued decline in the company’s revenue growth (first-quarter revenue rose just 12%).

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Dropbox’s HR chief dropped 5 hours of meetings a week she didn’t need to be in after the company let workers organize their own days to be more productive

Laura Ryan
Laura Ryan’s “non-linear” work day now consists of blocks for calls, following by a block for independent work.

  • After going “virtual-first”, Dropbox introduced “non-linear” workdays to let staff organize their schedules more.
  • International HR head Laura Ryan tells Insider how an audit of her calendar showed there were meetings she wasn’t adding value to.
  • “That wasn’t allowing for any ad hoc meetings, which certainly wasn’t allowing much work to get done.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Dropbox asked its 2,500 employees to audit their calendars to analyze whether there was anything they could cut, its international HR director Laura Ryan realized she “was in 15 hours of standing meetings a week, not adding value to any of those.”

“They had just built up over time. That wasn’t allowing for any ad hoc meetings, which certainly wasn’t allowing much work to get done,” Ryan told Insider.

The audit was the first step towards the “non-linear work day” that Dropbox began implementing in October, shortly after it announced it would shift to “virtual-first” working in which remote working was the default.

Teams define “core collaboration” hours for meetings and individuals are free to structure the rest of their day whenever they want.

This could be evening or early hours, whatever best suits when they function best and when they’re naturally inclined to sleep.

Under this system, Ryan, who is based in Dublin, Ireland, cut a third of the 15 hours of meetings she was in and re-thought her contribution to others.

Now, her day typically starts with preparation, breakfast and school drop-offs.

At 10 a.m., the first of her core collaboration hours begins, which are generally spent on calls. Between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. she is meeting-free and will respond to emails, work on documents, and take a walk.

She then goes back into collaboration mode, spending between 4 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. on calls, with the occasional late international call.

Ryan said that, after employees do their calendar audit, they’re asked to block out the core collaboration hours needed.

Respecting other colleagues’ independent time by not requesting meetings outside collaboration hours – and equally not accepting meetings outside your own – was key, she added.

So is clearly communicating schedule preferences to others in the team so no one thinks a person has gone AWOL when actually they intend to be working from 8 p.m. to midnight that day.

Current company guidelines state that the “collaboration hours” should take place between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., to allow for some cross-time zone meetings.

Teams, however, can adjust these as required. The rest of the time is reserved for independent, focused work, and does not have to be during the traditional working day but any time the employee prefers.

Regardless of how someone cuts up their day, the idea was to move away from a mindset of “busy for the sake of it” to “impact,” said Ryan.

With office perks less of an attraction for future candidates, Dropbox will be emphasizing the policy in recruitment, Ryan said.

New employees will be able to discuss their preferred work pattern, be they early birds or night owls, with their line manager during their onboarding. Team meetings could be shifted earlier or later, as long as all are in agreement, Ryan added.

Some teams lend themselves to a work pattern outside of conventional hours naturally. Engineering teams, Ryan said, typically start and end later.

And any role that is not customer-facing, such as HR, or marketing and communications, could work well in a non-linear fashion.

Sales teams, for example, need to work more traditionally as most of the company’s customers are still working this way.

But Ryan said Dropbox’s sales teams have introduced a rotation system so staff can still do non-linear working hours on certain days.

Ryan said the company was willing to tweak the system as time goes on.

“We’re not going to get this right on day one, but we’ll figure it out together,” she added.

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Is Dropbox secure? Here’s how Dropbox has improved its security measures, and what you can do to protect yourself

Dropbox app
Dropbox is a cloud storage and file hosting system that has previously received backlash over security concerns.

  • Dropbox is secure thanks in part to its 256-bit AES encryption, but the service has been hacked in the past.
  • Because Dropbox is relatively secure, the largest vulnerabilities are often the end users and their security hygiene. 
  • To be safe, you should enable two-factor authentication, be wary of public folder sharing, and consider using file-level encryption.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage solutions in the world, supporting more than 14 million paying customers as of December 2019. Like most online services that have a long history dating back to the early days of the web, Dropbox’s past includes hacks and data breaches. 

The most infamous incident included the theft of more than 68 million account credentials in 2012 (hackers tried to sell this data in 2016), and the hack led to the company resetting passwords for millions of accounts in 2016. 

How Dropbox has increased its security level

In the years since, Dropbox has shored up its security substantially. Today the service’s 256-bit AES encryption and support for additional security tools like two-factor authentication is competitive.

Is Dropbox secure 1
Dropbox’s security is bolstered by 256-bit AES encryption.

The service authenticates all user connections to the server, whether it’s via a web browser or mobile app, and Dropbox uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect data as it moves between Dropbox’s users and the servers.

Moreover, Dropbox routinely tests its own hardware, software and processes for security vulnerabilities, and makes sure to alert users if Dropbox detects an attempted login from a new device or location. There have been no known large-scale hacks on Dropbox since 2012.  

How Dropbox may be vulnerable

“Their current encryption standards make the odds of a hack less likely, but no cloud-based solution is completely safe from new and emerging threats,” said Kristen Bolig, founder of SecurityNerd. 

Aside from the risk of an attack on Dropbox itself, one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities is on the user end of the Dropbox experience. Users – especially corporate customers – routinely face phishing attacks and social engineering attacks designed to trick people into giving up credentials and access to accounts. 

And not all security concerns originate with hackers and criminals. Dropbox’s user base crosses international boundaries, and Dropbox may opt to share user data with government agencies and law enforcement from time to time – the service has formal guidelines that dictate its behavior based on official requests. 

How to protect yourself as a Dropbox user

All that means your risk of a data breach with Dropbox is low, but not zero, and there are steps you can take to ensure your own security. 

Chris Hauk, consumer privacy advocate with Pixel Privacy, recommended enabling Dropbox’s two-factor authentication. “This ensures that if a third-party attempts to log into your Dropbox account, you will be notified via email or text message.” 

Is Dropbox secure 2
Two-factor authentication is an easy step you can take to ensure Dropbox remains secure.

Simple human error is also a risk – Dropbox allows users to store files in easily exposed public folders, for example, so it’s important to be careful about where files are placed. 

And for the ultimate in security, both from accidental public folder disclosures as well as hacks, security experts like Security.org’s Chief Editor Gabe Turner suggest using file-level encryption on important files stored on Dropbox. You can encrypt and password-protect documents created in Microsoft Office, for example, or with a third-party app. 

This eliminates the risk of Dropbox itself accessing your files with the company’s own encryption key or handing your information to government authorities. 

‘What is Dropbox?’: How to use the cloud-based file-storage service for collaborationHow to upload files to your Dropbox account from a computer or mobile deviceHow to create a folder in Dropbox to keep your files organized on a computer or mobile deviceHow to uninstall Dropbox on a Mac computer in 4 easy steps

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Dropbox falls as charge on real estate in shift to remote leads to wider quarterly net loss

Drew Houston Dropbox
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston

  • Dropbox fell as much as 5% on Friday after turning in a fourth-quarter net loss of $346 million. 
  • The company took a quarterly charge on real-estate assets following its shift to remote work during the COVID-19 outbreak. 
  • Dropbox’s adjusted earnings of $0.28 per share beat expectations of $0.24 per share. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Dropbox stock fell as much as 5% Friday, with the cloud-storage provider turning in a fourth-quarter net loss as a shift to remote work led to a charge related to real estate.

The company’s net loss was $345.8 million, wider than its loss of $6.6 million a year ago and a swing from profit of $32.7 million in the third quarter.

Shares of Dropbox fell as much as nearly 5% to $23.31. It’s added on nearly 10% during the year and 8.5% over the last 12 months.

Dropbox recorded a non-recurring impairment charge of $398.2 million in the fourth quarter for “right-of-use and other lease related assets.”

The charge stems from its reassessment of real estate assets, which will include subleasing some of its space. In October, the San Francisco-based company said employees working remotely “will be the primary experience” and “the day-to-day default for individual work” under its “Virtual First” program. 

Dropbox acknowledged the “abrupt shift” to remote work in 2020 during which numerous companies transitioned to work outside of offices because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impairment charge was not part of its adjusted earnings, which came in at $0.28 per share compared with $0.16 a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of $0.24 per share.

Revenue climbed to $504.1 million from $446 million a year earlier, surpassing Wall Street’s target of $498 million.

 

 

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