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JOHN CHAMBERS INVESTS IN PINDROP AND JOINS BOARD AS VOICE SECURITY AND AUTHENTICATION EXPANDS BEYOND THE ENTERPRISE CALL CENTRE

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JOHN CHAMBERS INVESTS IN PINDROP AND JOINS BOARD AS VOICE SECURITY AND AUTHENTICATION EXPANDS BEYOND THE ENTERPRISE CALL CENTRE

Martin Casado also joins as Board Member and Marc Andreessen as Board Observer

Pindrop, the pioneer in voice security and authentication, today announced new board additions including John Chambers, Executive Chairman at Cisco, and Martin Casado, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Marc Andreessen, cofounder and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz has also joined as a Board Observer. In addition, Chambers has personally invested in the company.

“We are thrilled to have John, Martin and Marc partnering with us as voice becomes the interface of the future. John is going to help scale Pindrop to new heights, Marc is helping with our audacious vision, and Martin knows how to create and dominate a market,” said Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO and co-founder of Pindrop.  “These three entrepreneurs, have all created global ecosystems and will help accelerate our growth and expansion in the voice security and authentication market.”

“From my first interaction with Vijay Balasubramaniyan, Pindrop’s CEO and co-founder, I was taken by his vision and passion for tackling hard problems. In 2016, Pindrop doubled their customer base, solving massive security problems for Fortune 500 companies,” said John Chambers, Executive Chairman, Cisco. “My investment in Pindrop was made to help drive the voice revolution. I believe the company is well positioned for long term success and I am honoured to be working closely with Vijay and his executive team.”

Pindrop’s growth among enterprise call centres is driven by its success in mitigating its customers’ exposure to rapidly-expanding fraud totalling $10 Billion in fraud losses in the US alone last year. Call centre fraud is up more than 100% y-o-y as companies are investing more heavily in physical and online security. Pindrop’s Phoneprinting™ technology solutions are catching 80% of fraudulent calls while protecting hundreds of millions of calls annually.

100 billion phone calls happen every month, moving around trillions of dollars in stock trades, wire transfers, product purchases, travel bookings, etc. The old methods of keeping the phone lines safe no longer work. For example, when you call a bank they will most likely ask you basic questions to authenticate you like your first pet’s name, mother’s maiden name and your social security number. Fraud rings have all this info due to ongoing identity hacks and even low level criminals can easily find out that information on Facebook or through a simple Google search.

Pindrop’s Incredible Momentum in 2016

Pindrop provides Fortune 500 companies with the security technology necessary to mitigate losses from call centre fraud, which in the US has increased more than 100% year-over-year. According to Pindrop’s most recent 2016 US data, 1 in 937 calls into the call centre were fraudulent, compared to 1 in 2000 calls in 2015.

In 2016, Pindrop achieved the following milestones:

  • Doubled its customer base and saw revenues increase more than 100% y-oy.
  • Broad customer adoption now includes eight of the top 10 US banks alongside two of top five insurance carriers.  Pindrop also saw substantial growth in the retail, healthcare, e-commerce and government sectors as it expands beyond its existing vertical base.
  • A 500% increase in calls protected by Pindrop y-o-y.
  • Opened its London office and won its first customer in Europe, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Added key executives to its management team, including Robert Krohn, a seasoned former Cisco executive, as SVP of Engineering; Clarissa Cerda, former EVP, Chief Legal Officer for LifeLock and former White House lawyer, as General Counsel, and Jacki Hertenstein, a VMware HR veteran, as VP of People.
  • Added more than 100 employees worldwide, totalling 255 employees at the end of 2016.
  • John, Martin and Marc join the existing board members that include Somesh Dash, IVP, Gene Frantz, CapitalG, Arvind Purushotham, Citi Ventures, Paul Judge, Chairman and co-founder of Pindrop.

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Japan’s jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures – Reuters poll

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Japan's jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures - Reuters poll 1

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s jobless rate is expected to have edged up in January as service industry businesses suffered renewed restrictions on movement to fight spread of the coronavirus in some areas, including Tokyo, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Friday.

While industrial production activity picked up in Japan, emergency curbs rolled out last month such as asking restaurants to close early and suspending the national travel campaign hurt the jobs market, analysts said.

The nation’s unemployment rate likely rose 3.0% in January, up from 2.9% in December, the poll of 15 economists found.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio, a gauge of the availability of jobs, was seen at 1.06 in January, unchanged from December, but stayed near September’s seven-year low of 1.03, the poll showed.

“As the impact from the coronavirus pandemic prolongs, it is hard for firms, especially the service sector, to expect their business profits to improve,” said Yusuke Shimoda, senior economist at Japan Research Institute.

“So, their willingness to hire employees appear to be subdued and it is difficult to see the jobs market recovering soon.”

Some analysts also said the government’s steps to support employment and existing labour shortages will likely prevent the jobless rate from worsening sharply.

The government will announce the labour market data at 8:30 a.m. Japan time on Tuesday (2330 GMT Monday).

Analysts expect the economy to contract in the current quarter due to the emergency measures to counter the spread of the disease.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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China’s economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 – central bank adviser

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China's economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 - central bank adviser 2

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s gross domestic product (GDP) could expand 8-9% in 2021 as it continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu Shijin, a policy adviser to the People’s Bank of China, said on Friday.

This speed of recovery would not mean China has returned to a “high-growth” period, said Liu, as it would be from a low base in 2020, when China’s economy grew 2.3%.

Analysts from HSBC this week forecast that China would grow 8.5% this year, leading the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

If 2020 and 2021’s average GDP growth is around 5%, this would be a “not bad” outcome, said Liu, speaking at an online conference.

China is set to release a government work report on March 5 which typically includes a GDP growth target for the year.

Last year’s report did not include one due to uncertainties caused by the coronavirus. Reuters previously reported that 2021’s report will also not set a target.

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Muyu Xu; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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Japan’s January factory output rises for first time in three months, retail sales drop

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Japan's January factory output rises for first time in three months, retail sales drop 3

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s industrial output rose for the first time in three months in January thanks to a pickup in global demand, in a welcome sign for an economy still looking to shake off the drag of the coronavirus pandemic.

But retail sales, a key gauge of consumer spending, posted their second straight month of declines in January as emergency measures taken in response to the pandemic hit consumption.

Official data released on Friday showed factory output advanced 4.2% in January, boosted by sharp rises in production of electronic parts and general-purpose machinery, as well as a smaller increase in car output.

“Manufacturers will continue to increase output over the near term as long as there won’t be any big shock,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute.

While economic growth will likely be negative in the first quarter, the strength in manufacturing would offset the negative impact of a state of emergency at home, which is mainly affecting the services sector, he said.

The rise in output, which followed a 1.0% fall the previous month, was largely in line with a 4.0% gain forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expect output to grow 2.1% in February, followed by a 6.1% decline in March.

The government kept its assessment of industrial production unchanged, saying it was picking up.

Factory output fell in November and December as a rebound in car production ended on sagging global demand, but since then strong demand for tech-making equipment and electronic goods has helped turn the tide.

Still, some analysts worry that Japan’s economic recovery will remain hobbled by weaker conditions at home and as lockdown measures taken around the world to contain the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in Europe, weigh.

The government also released data on Friday showing retail sales fell 2.4% in January compared with the same month a year earlier, in a sign households tightened their purse strings as the coronavirus staged a resurgence.

The fall, which was in line with a 2.6% drop seen by economists in a Reuters poll, was largely due to sharp contractions in general merchandise and fabrics apparel spending. It followed a 0.2% fall in December.

Compared to a month earlier, retail sales in January fell 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the third straight month of declines. But the pace of decline was slower than in the previous two months.

“We think consumer spending will only fall around 1% quarter-on-quarter this quarter,” said Tom Learmouth, Japan economist at Capital Economics.

“We expect it to rise fairly strongly over the coming quarters as the recovery resumes and is soon given a shot in the arm by vaccines,” he added.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Sam Holmes and Richard Pullin)

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