The Phony Patriots of Silicon Valley

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Kevin Roose writes:

Top tech companies are rallying around the flag. How opportunistic of them.
Not long ago, many leading technologists considered themselves too lofty and idealistic to concern themselves with the petty affairs of government. John Perry Barlow, a lion of the early internet, addressed his “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” to the “governments of the industrial world,” saying that for him and his fellow netizens, these creaky institutions had “no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.”

But that was before privacy scandals, antitrust investigations, Congressional hearings, Chinese tariffs, presidential tweets and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Now, as they try to fend off regulation and avoid being broken up, some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley are tripping over their Allbirds in a race to cozy up to the United States government. These companies’ motives vary — some are vying for lucrative public-sector contracts, while others are lobbying against regulation by painting China as a red menace that must be defeated for the good of the country.

Either way, the game is the same: salute the flag, save our bacon.

The latest example of Silicon Valley’s patriotic playacting comes courtesy of Peter Thiel, the Trump-backing venture capitalist. In an op-ed in The New York Times this month, Mr. Thiel took Google to task for opening an artificial intelligence lab in Beijing while canceling a controversial Pentagon contract, accusing the company of trying to “evade responsibility for the good of the country.”

Mr. Thiel’s obvious conflicts of interest aside (he is on the board of Facebook, Google’s rival, and is the chairman of the technology firm Palantir, which has lucrative government contracts of its own), seeing him lecture anyone on patriotism is rich. He was among the first major supporters of the Seasteading movement — a group of libertarians who wanted to flee the United States and build a floating city in international waters — and in 2011, he became a New Zealand citizen after buying up property there. (“It would give me great pride to let it be known that I am a New Zealand citizen and an enthusiastic supporter of the country,” Mr. Thiel wrote in his citizenship application.)

But Mr. Thiel, who did not respond to a request for comment, is far from the only tech titan trading in his hoodie for a flag pin.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief, has also been warning that if the social network — the proud, American social network, that is — is broken up or harshly regulated, it will only be a matter of time before China takes over the global tech industry.

In an interview last year, Mr. Zuckerberg said that if Facebook were broken up by American regulators, “the alternative, frankly, is going to be the Chinese companies.”

David Marcus, one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s lieutenants and the executive in charge of Facebook’s digital currency project, called Libra, echoed that point while testifying before Congress last month.

“I believe that if America does not lead innovation in the digital currency and payments area, others will,” Mr. Marcus said. “If we fail to act, we could soon see a digital currency controlled by others whose values are dramatically different.”

Mr. Zuckerberg, who speaks Mandarin, is an odd choice to lead the charge against China. He has spent much of the last decade trying desperately to curry favor with the Chinese government in hopes of getting Facebook’s apps — which are banned there — permission to operate in one of the world’s most lucrative markets. Mr. Zuckerberg even reportedly offered to let Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, name his second child. (Mr. Xi declined.)

Google, too, is rallying around the flag. The company’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, went to the White House to visit with President Trump in March, to discuss government contracts and reassure the president that Google does not discriminate against conservatives. This month, in a series of tweets attacking Mr. Pichai and Google, President Trump recalled that meeting, which he described as “Mr. Pichai working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing, that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election.”

Like Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Pichai was a China booster before he began distancing himself from the country. Last year, Mr. Pichai had a large team of Google engineers building a prototype search engine, called Dragonfly, that was designed to be compatible with China’s censorship regime. The project was dropped amid heated internal dissent from Google employees. But it reportedly would have blocked sites like Wikipedia, as well as other material considered objectionable by Chinese authorities.

Amazon and Apple, two tech giants that love America so much that they have gone to elaborate lengths to avoid paying taxes to its Treasury, are also promoting themselves as national champions. After President Trump criticized Apple’s plans to do some of the assembly of its Mac Pro in China, the company reiterated its desire to keep much of the computer’s assembly in the United States. And Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, has knocked rival firms for insufficient patriotism, saying that “if big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble.”

Representatives for Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple all declined to comment.

Conspicuous patriotism is not a new tactic for companies accused of bad behavior. In the 1980s and 1990s, defenders of American tech giants like IBM and Microsoft argued that those companies’ monopolistic behaviors were necessary to stave off competition from Japanese rivals. During World War II, Hollywood movie studios delayed a federal antitrust crackdown, in part by agreeing to help the military in the war effort.

Meredith Whittaker, a co-founder of the AI Now Institute at New York University and a former Google employee, characterized the tech industry’s scaremongering about China as a tactical move meant to deflect criticism.

“It’s a really convenient narrative,” Ms. Whittaker said. “It evokes nationalism and a red scare trope that has worked in the past. And it implies that regulation, accountability, and taking a pause to consider ethics would be counter to ‘winning.’”

Patriotic posturing may be a cynical tactic, but it could also be a smart one. Today’s big tech companies are in a better negotiating position than most industries under fire. The meteoric growth of companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon has bolstered the American stock market and made Silicon Valley a global innovation hub. Even if the motives of the tech giants are questionable, the importance of technologies like 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence to the country’s competitive position isn’t lost on lawmakers.

Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat who represents parts of Silicon Valley in Congress, has called for greater regulation of tech companies. But in an interview this month, he told me that the risk of losing ground to China worried him.

“There is a risk that we could see a Berlin digital wall,” Mr. Khanna said. “The question is, are the values of liberty, privacy and freedom of speech going to be embedded in technology platforms? China’s platforms do not have many of the values that liberal democracies believe in.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with the belief that America’s values are superior to those found in Shanghai and Shenzhen, or that American tech companies should act in the country’s best interest. But lawmakers should be appropriately wary of Silicon Valley’s charm campaign, and they should avoid conflating what’s good for Facebook, Google and other tech companies with what’s good for the nation. Tech executives might be whistling “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but they really just want to be left alone.

Via nytimes.com

Take A Break: Working Long Hours Linked To Increased Stroke Risk

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John Anderer writes:

PARIS — Despite billionaire CEOs like Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma preaching that 10-12 hour work days should be the norm for their employees, a recent study conducted in Paris finds that working long hours may lead to an increased chance of stroke. This is especially true if someone works long days regularly for 10 or more years.

Interestingly, the study also found that people under the age of 50 who had already worked long hours for at least a decade were at an even higher risk of suffering a stroke.

Long work hours were defined as working a minimum of 10 hours daily for at least 50 days per year.

To come to their conclusions, researchers analyzed data collected as part of a French population-based study in 2012. A total 143,592 individuals were surveyed, all between the ages of 18-69. Each person was asked about their work schedules, gender, and smoking habits. Medical histories were also referenced in regards to any cardiovascular risk factors or previous stroke episodes.

Of all surveyed participants, 42,542 (42%) reported working long hours, and 14,481 (10%) reported working long hours for 10 years or more. A total of 1,224 of the participants actually suffered a stroke.

After crunching the numbers, researchers say that those working long days had a 29% greater chance of suffering a stroke, while those who worked long hours for over 10 years had a 45% greater chance of a stroke.

“The association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50,” says study author Dr. Alexis Descatha, a researcher at Paris Hospital, Versailles and Angers University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, in a statement. “This was unexpected. Further research is needed to explore this finding.”

Descatha also mentioned that many healthcare providers typically work very long hours, often well beyond 10-12 hours. With this in mind, Descatha believes many medical professionals are likely at a high risk of suffering a stroke.

Prior studies have indicated that long work days have less adverse health effects on individuals in more managerial positions such as CEOs or executives, but researchers speculate this is because people in authoritative roles typically have the ability to set their own hours and work at their own pace.

The study is published in the scientific journal Stroke.

Via studyfinds.org

Markets Right Now: Stocks sink after Trump raises tariffs

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NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):

4 p.m.

Stocks took a nosedive and bond prices spiked after President Donald Trump said the U.S. would raise tariffs on more Chinese goods, increasing the stakes in an ongoing trade battle.

The market had been on track for its biggest gain in nearly two months Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up nearly 300 points but plunged as much as 315.

Retailers and technology companies, which do a lot of business with China, took heavy losses.

Best Buy sank 10.8% and Micron lost 2.9%.

The S&P 500 fell 26 points, or 0.9%, to 2,953.

The Dow lost 280 points, or 1%, to 26,583. The Nasdaq gave up 64 points, or 0.8%, to 8,111.

Bond prices soared. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.89%, the lowest since November 2016.

___

1:37 p.m.

Stocks dropped sharply on Wall Street and investors snapped up bonds after President Donald Trump escalated his trade battle with China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average went from a gain of more than 250 to a loss of 179.

Trump said in a tweet that the U.S. would place a 10% tariff on $300 billion in Chinese imports as of September 1 following the conclusion of the latest round of slow-moving trade talks.

Companies that rely heavily on sales to China took the brunt of the selling. Apple quickly went from a gain of 1.4% to a loss of 1.4%.

Bond prices spiked as traders sought safety. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 1.88%, the lowest it’s been since the 2016 election.

___

11:45 a.m.

Stocks are moving steadily higher as General Motors and other big-name companies report solid earnings.

GM rose 3.1% Thursday after its profits came in far better than analysts were expecting. The automaker said higher prices for pickup trucks and SUVs helped overcome slowing sales.

The gains came a day after markets were spooked by comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicating the Fed was not embarking on a long cycle of lower interest rates.

The S&P 500 rose 30 points, or 1%, to 3,010.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 275 points, or 1%, to 27,137. The Nasdaq climbed 123 points, or 1.5%, to 8,298.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury fell to 1.96%, the first time it’s been below 2% since July 3.

___

9:35 a.m.

Stocks are edging higher in early trading as investors are reassured by solid earnings reports from several big-name companies.

General Motors added 2% early Thursday after reporting earnings that were far higher than analysts were expecting. The automaker said higher prices for pickup trucks and SUVs helped overcome slowing sales.

The early gains came a day after markets were spooked by comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicating the Fed was not embarking on a long cycle of lower interest rates.

The S&P 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.2%, to 2,987.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 50 points, or 0.2%, to 26,915. The Nasdaq rose 53 points, or 0.6%, to 8,227.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to just under 2%.

Via apnews.com

US Awards Patent for Blockchain-Based Firearm Data Recording System

Max Boddy writes:

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Two American inventors have won a patent for a blockchain-based recording system for ballistic data. 

The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded two inventors — Jason Palazzolo and Kevin Barnes — a patent for a “firearm environmental recording apparatus and system” on July 23.

This apparently could include multiple recording devices, including a camera, microphone, and spatial sensor module that can record velocity, spatial measurements and acceleration data. 

The filing states that a blockchain database or network could be used to store or be associated with any of the data gathered by the mechanisms.

Justifire and evidence for self-defense

According to LinkedIn, Jason Palazzolo is the founder and CEO of a company called Justifire. On its website, Justifire advertises a product called a “blackbox for your firearm.” The featured device attaches to the barrel of a pistol and contains the same features mentioned in the patent — video, audio and spatial recording and data gathering.

The website claims that the purpose of this technology is to provide proof of self-defense, saying, “This valuable data could be used by its owner as evidence of an event where lethal action was required.” Justfire additionally claims that only it will be able to access the encrypted information, by default:

“Data and video footage that involves a violent action taken against another human will be automatically recognized by the device and instantly encrypted, becoming un-accessible to all parties except Justifire Technologies LLC. Data will be provided to the owner of the device only through specific legal request, preventing any party from submitting the public to graphic illegal actions.”

Blockchain-based gun monitoring

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Missouri State Representative Nicholas Schroer proposed a bill in 2017 to make blockchain-based gun monitoring illegal. The bill, which was entitled “Imposes Restrictions on the Use of Firearm Tracking Technology” stated:

"It shall be unlawful to require a person to use or be subject to electronic firearm tracking technology or to disclose any identifiable information about the person or the person's firearm for the purpose of using electronic firearm tracking technology."

However, the bill did include exceptions to this policy, specifically for law enforcement officials, merchants using distributed ledgers to report sales and firearm owners who have expressly issued a written authorization for monitoring their weapons.

Via Cointelegraph.com

Dunkin’ Joins Meatless Rush with Beyond Patty

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Heather Haddon reports:

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. DNKN +1.24% is diving into the meat-replacement craze.

The chain said Wednesday that it had added a breakfast sandwich made with Beyond Meat Inc.’s vegetarian “sausage” patty to the menu at 163 Dunkin’ stores Manhattan, and that it would soon serve them nationwide.

That makes Dunkin’ the latest of more than a dozen big restaurant chains that have added meat substitutes made by Beyond and rival Impossible Foods Inc. since 2017. Executives at those companies say they don’t want to miss out on consumer curiosity and demand for products that are marketed as more healthful and environmentally friendly than beef and pork.

“We are all about democratizing trends,” Dunkin’ Chief Executive Dave Hoffmann said in an interview.

Sales of plant-based meats in retail are up 10% in the past year to about $800 million annually, according to figures released by trade groups last week, and serving of plant-based burgers at fast-food chains have also climbed 10% from a year ago as more restaurants have added them to menus.

But Beyond and Impossible products have also faced shortages recently as demand and the number of new restaurants where they are on offer have outstripped production capacity. Some of the biggest restaurant chains including McDonald’s Corp. have said they are watching to see whether customers make eating the patties a habit.

Beyond co-founder and Chief Executive Ethan Brown said Wednesday that the company is addressing supply constraints, including by expanding production at new facilities.

“We were surprised in the interest consumers were showing in our products, and that it turned on very quickly,” Mr. Brown said.

Investors eager to jump in on the meat-replacement trend have pushed Beyond’s shares to $200 since they debuted at $25 in May. Beyond’s shares rose more than 4% Wednesday, and Dunkin’s stock was up 1%.

Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, part of Restaurant Brands International Inc., started offering breakfast sandwiches using a Beyond sausage patty at close to 4,000 locations in Canada in June. Beyond, based in El Segundo, Calif., since 2017 has struck deals to sell its burger and sausage alternatives at chains including TGI Friday’s,Del Taco Restaurants Inc. TACO 0.36% and Carl’s Jr., the burger chain operated by CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc.

Rival Impossible Foods Inc. has its own fake-meat patties in “Impossible Whoppers” at Burger King, and replacement sausage toppings at Little Caesars Pizza.

Dunkin’, based in Canton., Mass., said it would suggest its franchisees sell the Beyond sausage sandwich for $4.29, around the same as many of its other Dunkin’ breakfast sandwiches. Dunkin’ franchisees set their own prices. Mr. Hoffmann said the sandwich will be profitable for franchisees at that price.

The meatless offering is the latest move Dunkin’ has made to push its image beyond drip coffee and doughnuts. The company recently reintroduced espresso and dropped “Donuts” from its name to appeal to customers looking for quick, affordable coffee and food.

“It’s all about transforming our brand and making it more relevant,” Mr. Hoffmann said.

Via wsj.com

Bitcoin Startup Brings Lightning Network Payments to Amazon, Whole Foods

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Marie Huillet reports:

United States-based payments startup Fold has made Lightning Network (LN) payments possible at Amazon, Starbucks, Uber and other big name retailers. The news was revealed in an official blog post published on July 10.

As previously reported, the Bitcoin (BTC) Lightning Network is a second-layer solution to bitcoin’s scalability limitations, opening payment channels between users that keep the majority of transactions off-chain, turning to the underlying blockchain only to record the net results.

In its announcement, Fold reveals that participating selected retailers will settle users’ LN payments — denominated in satoshis, or one hundred millionth of one Bitcoin — via their prepaid access programs in a currency of their choice. 

LN payments are thus processed via the Fold site, where users can select a retailer and pay the relevant invoice using their Lightning wallet. Once paid, this provides them with a gift card — at a maximum value of $25 — that is redeemable either in-store using a barcode or online via alphanumeric code. 

Beyond the evident scalability and accessibility benefits of providing LN support at major retailers, Fold underscores that its services more broadly aim to keep faith with the cornerstone principles of crypto: meaning no Know-Your-Customer (KYC) checks, a non-custodial system and — in an outburst of Bitcoin maximalism — no support for altcoins.

Beyond the aforementioned Amazon, Starbucks, and Uber, Fold’s Lightning payment service is also available for REI, Home Depot, Southwest Airlines, Target, AMC, Whole Foods and others. 

Fold follows other third-party crypto payment processors aiming to provide ways for users to use Lightning at major e-commerce and retail locations. 

This April, fellow startup Moon launched a web browser extension allowing online shoppers to use their Lightning wallets for purchases on Amazon and similar sites. As Fold, Moon serves as an intermediary — meaning that household names like Amazon are for now still not handling or processing the crypto directly.

As reported, Fold had rolled out its Bitcoin payments service — this time explicitly designed as a gift card — that was available for use at retailers such as Starbucks as early as 2015.

This March, blockchain development firm Lightning Labs announced the initial release of the Lightning offramp Lightning Loop, providing a non-custodial way to receive funds via the network.

Via Cointelegraph.com

Chia Releases Green Paper Detailing Eco-Friendly Means of Crypto Mining

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San Francisco-based tech firm Chia Network has released a green paper that describes an eco-friendly means of mining cryptocurrencies.

The green paper provides a description of how proof of space and proof of time create a "Nakamoto-style" consensus algorithm for Chia’s blockchain. Specifically, Chia proposes to “farm” rather than mine to verify blockchains that issue cryptocurrencies, wherein proof of space and proof of time take the place of the proof of work (PoW) principle used for mining of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). The paper further explains: 

“Instead of using proofs of work, Chia alternates proofs of space with verifiable delay functions. This results in a chain than in many aspects is similar to Bitcoin, in particular, as in Bitcoin no synchronisation is needed and we can prove rigorous security guarantees assuming a sufficient fraction of the resource (space in Chia, computation in Bitcoin) is controlled by honest parties.”

Initially, Chia’s CEO Bram Cohen debuted his solution to Bitcoin in late 2017, which he said resolves “centralization problems” with the virtual currency by employing the concept of proof-of-time. Cohen said “the idea is to make a better Bitcoin, to fix the centralization problems,” relying on a two-step block authentication method.

As reported in June, the carbon emissions generated by Bitcoin are comparable to the whole of Kansas City, and even a small country, according to a study published in the Joule journal. With annual emissions of CO2 estimated at between 22 and 22.9 megatons, Bitcoin sits somewhere between Jordan and Sri Lanka in terms of output. The study suggested that this level would double if every other cryptocurrency was also taken into account.

According to a March study by a blockchain specialist at Big Four auditing firm PwC, renewable energy would not be enough to solve bitcoin’s sustainability problem. The carbon footprint of a Bitcoin transaction reportedly outpaces that of a traditional non-cash banking transaction.


Via Cointelegraph.com

Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, patriot and philanthropist, dies at 89

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Cheryl Hall writes:

Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, renowned patriot and two-time independent candidate for U.S. president, has died after a five-month battle with leukemia.

He was 89.

The pioneer of the computer services industry, who founded Electronic Data Systems Corp. in 1962 and Perot Systems Corp. 26 years later, was just 5-foot-6, but his presence filled a room.

"Describe my father?" Ross Perot Jr., his only son and CEO of the Perot Group, asked rhetorically in an interview. "Obviously a great family man, wonderful father. But at the end of the day, he was a wonderful humanitarian.

"Every day he came to work trying to figure out how he could help somebody."

Perot was diagnosed with leukemia in February. A massive secondary infection the next month nearly killed him, according to the family.

In true Perot fashion, he fought back, showing up at the office most days in his dark suit with the omnipresent American flag on his lapel.

Perot entertained a steady stream of well-wishers at Perot headquarters on Turtle Creek Boulevard and spent Easter with his family at their compound in Bermuda.

He celebrated his 89th birthday in June with a family lunch at his office and a dinner at the home of his daughter, Carolyn Perot Rathjen.

One of his recent visitors was Morton H. Meyerson, the former EDS and Perot Systems president and CEO. Perot named Dallas' symphony hall after Meyerson when Perot donated $10 million toward its construction in 1984.

"Ross was the unusual combination of his father, who was a powerful, big, burly cotton trader — a hard-ass, practical, cut-deals person — and a mother who was a little-bitty woman who was sweet, warm, wonderful," Meyerson said. "Ross was tough, smart, practical, loved to negotiate. But he had a warm and kind heart, too."

In recent years, Perot Sr.'s memory was dimming, but he and Margot, his wife of more than 60 years, maintained a steady social calendar.

Nancy Perot said there was a private, tender side to her father that was often eclipsed by his bolder-than-life public persona. 

No matter how busy Perot was, family dinners were sacrosanct when the children were growing up. The only time he wasn't at the head of the table to say grace was when he was out of town.

"I want people to know about Dad's twinkle in his eyes," she said. "He always gave us the biggest hugs. We never doubted that we were the most important things in his life."

Strong roots

Family influence and an East Texas upbringing molded Perot.

The third child of Lulu May Ray and Gabriel Ross Perot was born in Texarkana in 1930.

He was named Henry Ray, after his maternal grandfather. But Perot changed his middle name in his early teens to honor his beloved father. His older brother, Gabriel Ross Jr., died as a toddler.

When Perot was 25, he dug his father's grave with a shovel and filled it as a final tribute to him.

Perot started throwing the Texarkana Gazette as an 8-year-old. He later credited his newspaper experience with shaping his entrepreneurial ways.

Perot attended Texarkana College before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949.

He met Margot on a blind date when he was a midshipman and she was at Goucher College in Baltimore.

In his autobiography, Ross Perot: My Life & the Principles for Success, Perot reflected on getting several pairs of shoes and a dozen sets of underwear after being sworn into the academy on his 19th birthday. 

He had never had more than one pair of shoes and three or four sets of underwear at a time in his life.

"This was possibly my first example of government waste," he wrote.

Bill Gates of the '60s

As of July, Forbesestimated Perot's wealth at $4.1 billion, making him the 478th-richest person in world. That didn't include the riches he bestowed on his family and community.

Forbes ranked Perot's self-made quotient as a full-fledged 10. That's because he started his empire on his 32nd birthday as a one-man operation financed with $1,000 borrowed from Margot.

Perot came up with the name Electronic Data Systems while attending Sunday service at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, where he and Margot have been members since moving to Dallas in 1957. He scribbled it down on the back of a pledge envelope.

Perot became a multimillionaire when he took EDS public in 1968.

In a 2018 interview, Perot Jr. described the family's dinner the night before the company's IPO. "Dad said, 'Now tomorrow, we're going to take EDS public, and a lot of people are going to write about the money that we have. But remember, none of this is important. The only thing that's important is our family and how we take care and respect our family.'

"That's the first time we ever had a money conversation in the family.

"Then we watched Dad become the Bill Gates of the '60s. As I tell the children, Fortune said he was 'the fastest, richest Texan ever.' "

Fortune added the "H." to Perot's name when it put him on its cover after EDS went public. "The media took to it, and it stuck," said Perot Jr.

Perot became a billionaire in 1984 when General Motors Corp. bought EDS for nearly $2.6 billion.

But the marriage of titans was short-lived, with Perot and GM chairman Roger Smith at loggerheads over such things as GM's two underfunded employee pension plans while top management's retirement plan had no such deficit.

In 1986, the automaker shelled out $750 million to buy back Perot's stock. Perot agreed to sever all ties with GM and EDS and end his public haranguing of Smith.

Unfortunately for EDS, GM didn't get a noncompete agreement.

In 1988, Perot, Perot Jr. and a handful of former EDS loyalists launched Perot Systems in Plano. The information technology services company grew to more than 23,000 employees and had an annual revenue of $2.8 billion when Dell Inc. acquired it in 2009 for $3.9 billion.

Father and son pocketed another $1 billion in that deal.

"Ross had an uncanny ability to think about six moves ahead," said former EDS executive Tom Meurer, trustee of the Perot Family Trust. "He saw things that most people didn't. It was a sixth sense."

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