Samsung chief executive announces shock resignation as profits surge

The departure of the 32-year Samsung veteran Kwon Oh-hyun Kwon after five years in the top job comes at a time of leadership uncertainty at the company. (Reuters)
Updated 13 October 2017
0

Samsung chief executive announces shock resignation as profits surge

SEOUL: Samsung said on Friday its CEO and Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun plans to step down from management, deepening concerns over a leadership vacuum at the tech giant after group scion Jay Y. Lee was jailed for bribery.
The surprise resignation of Samsung’s chip and display head came as he was expected to take a bigger role following Lee’s arrest in February and the departures of other key executives in the wake of the bribery scandal.
The move came on the same day the South Korean smartphone maker forecast record third-quarter operating profit on the back of the memory chip business which Kwon was instrumental in building into the world leader.
“The timing is nonsensical. Samsung tipped record earnings, it’s going to be better in the fourth-quarter, and all that’s been driven by Kwon’s components business,” said Park Ju-gun, head of research firm CEO Score.
Kwon, 64, is seen as Samsung Group No. 2. As well as being chairman of the board and a board director, he heads the components business — including memory chips — and the display business.
In a statement, the man known as “Mr Chip” said the time had come to “start anew with new sprit and young leadership.”
“We are fortunately making record earnings right now, but this is the fruit of past decisions and investments; we are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now,” he added.
The world’s biggest maker of memory chips, smartphones and TVs is set to smash its annual profit record this year, thanks partly to soaring demand for memory chips. Semiconductors were Samsung’s top earner in the three months through June, making a record 8 trillion won (SR29.73 billion).
The global chip industry is undergoing a major shift with Japan’s Toshiba partnering with home rival SK Hynix, and other firms consolidating in search of new growth areas like artificial intelligence and automobiles.
The departure of 32-year Samsung veteran Kwon after five years in the top job comes at a time of leadership uncertainty at the company.
Choi Gee-sung, Jay Lee’s mentor, quit earlier this year for his alleged role in the bribery scandal, and Samsung now needs to fill several more key roles with Kwon’s exit.
Kwon would serve out his term as chairman of the board and board director until March 2018, the company said. He is also not stepping down immediately from his two other roles.
A Samsung Electronics spokeswoman declined comment on the exact timing of succession and potential successors for Kwon’s roles.
While Samsung Group is South Korea’s top conglomerate with businesses ranging from smartphones to hotels — it has had no ‘Plan B’ for taking big decisions following Lee’s arrest, people familiar with the matter have said.
“I’m worried about a leadership vacuum at a time when Lee is absent from management,” Chung Sun-sup, chief executive of research firm Chaebul.com, said following Kwon’s announcement.
The leadership changes also could be an opportunity for a new generation to emerge, he added.


Twitter suspended 58 million accounts in 2017 fourth quarter

Updated 18 July 2018
0

Twitter suspended 58 million accounts in 2017 fourth quarter

  • Twitter executives say efforts to clean up the platform are a priority
  • Company struggling with user growth compared to rivals like Instagram and Facebook

NEW YORK: Twitter suspended at least 58 million user accounts in the final three months of 2017, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The figure highlights the company’s newly aggressive stance against malicious or suspicious accounts in the wake of Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Last week, Twitter confirmed a Washington Post report that it had suspended 70 million accounts in May and June. The cavalcade of suspensions has raised questions as to whether the crackdown could affect Twitter’s user growth and whether the company should have warned investors earlier. The company has been struggling with user growth compared to rivals like Instagram and Facebook.
The number of suspended accounts originated with Twitter’s “firehose,” a data stream it makes available to academics, companies and others willing to pay for it.
The new figure sheds light on Twitter’s attempt to improve “information quality” on its service, its term for countering fake accounts, bots, disinformation and other malicious occurrences. Such activity was rampant on Twitter and other social-media networks during the 2016 campaign, much of it originating with the Internet Research Agency, a since-shuttered Russian “troll farm” implicated in election-disruption efforts by the US special counsel and congressional investigations.
Suspensions surged over the fourth quarter. Twitter suspended roughly 15 million accounts last October. That number jumped by two-thirds to more than 25 million in December.
Twitter declined to comment on the data. But its executives have said that efforts to clean up the platform are a priority, while acknowledging that its crackdown has affected and may continue to affect user numbers.
Twitter said in April it had 336 million monthly active users, which it defines as accounts that have logged in at least once during the previous 30 days. The suspended accounts do not appear to have made a large dent in this number, which was up 3 percent from a year earlier. Twitter maintains that most of the suspended accounts had been dormant for at least a month, and thus weren’t included in its active user numbers.
Michael Pachter, a stock analyst with Wedbush Securities, said he thinks the purge late last year may have been part of an initial sweep of inactive accounts that had little effect on activity or advertising revenue. But he said he expected advertising revenue to fall 1 to 2 percent due to the more recent purge last week, when Twitter said it was removing frozen accounts from follower counts.
He expects the company to be upfront about the impact when it announces quarterly earnings on July 27, and said the cleanup is good for users and advertisers. “They’re certainly doing the right thing,” he said.
Scott Kessler, an analyst with CFRA who has a “sell” rating on Twitter stock, said multiple reports and vague clarifications by executives are creating uncertainty about what Twitter’s numbers really mean.
The purge activity “adds a level of uncertainty,” he said. “As an analyst, I want a more genuine view of the user base.”
Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said in February that some of the company’s “information quality efforts” that include removing accounts could affect monthly user figures. Segal offered no specifics.
Six months later, in late June, Twitter disclosed that its systems found nearly 10 million “potentially spammy or automated accounts per week” in the month of May, and 6.4 million per week in December 2017. That’s up from 3.2 million per week in September. The company didn’t say how many of these identified accounts were actually suspended.
Following the Post report, which caused Twitter’s stock to drop sharply, Segal took to Twitter to reassure investors that this number didn’t count in the company’s user metrics. “If we removed 70M accounts from our reported metrics, you would hear directly from us,” he tweeted last Monday .
Shares recovered somewhat after that tweet. The stock has largely been on an upswing lately, and more than doubled its value in the past year.
Twitter is taking other steps besides account deletions to combat misuse of its service, working to rein in hate and abuse even as it tries to stay true to its roots as a bastion of free expression. Last fall, it vowed to crack down on hate speech and sexual harassment and CEO Jack Dorsey echoed the concerns of critics who said the company hasn’t done enough to curb such abuse.