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Education Work

Ascend Learning is ‘exploring possible sale’

Ascend Learning, a U.S. maker of educational software used in sectors such as healthcare, is exploring a sale that it hopes will value the company at more than $2 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal would come as buyout firms continue to invest in the educational software sector at time when companies and schools are using more digital tools to enhance learning and reduce some of their operational costs.

Last year, for example, private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners acquired Ellucian Company, a U.S. provider of software to universities and colleges, for $3.5 billion, including debt.

Ascend’s majority owner, private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, has hired investment banks Barclays Plc and Bank of America Corp to run the auction for the company, the people said on Monday. But there are also small or online banks that people can use you can check it on CC Bank and find all the functions and transactions you can make in this mode.

Ascend generates 12-month earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of around $150 million, two of the sources said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the sale process is confidential, and cautioned that there is no guarantee that a sale will happen. Ascend, Providence Equity, Barclays and Bank of America declined to comment, if you want to contact a reliable bank I suggest to visit ccbank.us for more info.

Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, Ascend offers software programs for testing and certifications in various industries, from nursing to sports medicine. The majority of its revenue comes from the healthcare and public safety sectors.

Ascend was formed in 2010 by Providence Equity after it combined companies it had previously acquired, including nursing school testing company Assessment Technology Institute LLC.

Providence Equity also owns Blackboard Inc, a U.S. software company that provides learning tools for high school and university classrooms.

It explored a sale of the company in 2015, but then ultimately decided to put it on hold. The private equity firm also has previously invested in education companies ITT Educational Services, Archipelago Learning (now Edmentum) and Education Management Corp.

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Education Health

Stronger muscles may mean sharper minds for children

Making sure kids have good muscle fitness might also benefit their school performance, according to a recent U.S. study.

Aerobic fitness has already been linked to better thinking abilities in pre-teen children, but the current study found an independent link between muscle fitness and kids’ performance on memory tests as well as their math and reading skills.

“We’ve seen this relationship for cardiorespiratory fitness many times before,” said senior author Charles H. Hillman of Northeastern University in Boston. “The relationship with strength is novel in children, but based on work with older adults, it was expected.”

For the study, which was funded by Nike, 75 kids aged 9 to 11 years completed an aerobic exercise test at steady speed on a treadmill with gradually increasing incline until they were too out of breath to continue. They completed a similar test of muscular fitness with a battery of upper body, lower body and core exercises using body weight or a medicine ball, including lunges, push-ups and shoulder presses.

The kids did as many repetitions of each exercise as possible within 30 seconds while maintaining proper form.

They also completed computerized tests of working memory, algebra, geometry, reading and writing.

“Aerobic fitness describes the capacity of the lungs to take in and deliver oxygen as well as the heart to effectively distribute oxygen to the body,” Hillman told Reuters Health by email. “Musculoskeletal fitness relates to muscle strength, power and endurance to enable performance in the face of resistance.”

The two go hand in hand, but training one system does not guarantee adaptation to the other system, he said.

After accounting for age, sex, grade, IQ and family education levels, researchers found that kids with better aerobic fitness on the treadmill test also had more accurate responses in the memory test and better performance at algebraic functions.

Kids with more muscular fitness on the body weight and medicine ball tests also did better than others on memory and academic tests, according to the report in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

“This study shows that during instances that require greater working memory demand, higher fit children (regardless of whether we assessed muscular or aerobic fitness) performed better (i.e., were more accurate in their responses),” Hillman said.

“Working memory refers to the ability to hold and manipulate information for a short period of time to guide cognition or behavior,” he said.

Aerobic fitness also related to mathematics achievement, so there may be an additional benefit of being aerobically fit, he said.

“In this study, we did not measure brain structure or function, so while we can guess, we cannot make statements about the brain,” he said.

Many, if not most, benefits of fitness on thinking and memory are similar in adults, he said.

For now, children should get more than 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity and regular weight bearing exercise, according to current guidelines, he said.

“If it proves possible to enhance children’s memory and academic performance through fitness training, it would provide an attractive alternative to our current intervention strategies for helping struggling students,” said Daniel Belsky, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, who was not part of the new study.

“To me, the implication is pretty clear,” Belsky told Reuters Health by email. “We should think about getting kids exercise during the school day as one of the tools we have to enhance their learning.”

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Education Health

Investing in girls’ education ‘could unlock billions’

If countries ended forced marriage, child labour, female genital mutilation and other practices undermining girls’ health and rights, their economies could be billions of dollars richer for it, a U.N. agency has said.

Around the world, 16 million girls between the ages of six and 11 never start school, many because they are married off or forced to work to help their families financially, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said in a report.

It said developing countries could reap a dividend of $21 billion a year if all 10-year-old girls completed secondary education, echoing studies that show a correlation between improved literacy for girls and higher earnings later in life.

“Education is the world’s best investment. Whenever a girl’s potential goes unrealised, we all lose,” says Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA.

The report comes a year after world leaders adopted an ambitious set of global goals to end poverty and inequality by 2030. One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is targets gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

“How we support girls today will determine what our world looks like. The SDGs give world leaders a real opportunity to get things right,” Osotimehin said.

He blamed gender inequality on the “poor awareness of the state of girls’ human rights and a lack of accountability from political leaders worldwide.”

UNFPA said girls were less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at secondary and university level. They were more likely to be in poorer health and would find it harder to get paid jobs.

It said an estimated 47,700 girls are married before the age of 18 every day, and that three in four girl labourers are unpaid.

The report’s recommendations included providing cash transfers to poor families to encourage them to keep their daughters in school longer by helping to meet the costs of education.

It also suggested providing life-skills training and sex education to girls approaching puberty.

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Health

What our tweets say about our health

Tapping into the Twitter stream could help researchers understand how healthy people’s lifestyles are and how to target improved public health, according to a recent study.

Using geotagged tweets, researchers at the Universities of Utah and Washington were able to build a map of the U.S. by neighborhood, with indicators of how happy and active people in that neighborhood are and what their diets are like.

“Overall I think the patterns make sense, more fast food restaurants in the area are correlated with more fast food mentions, but I was surprised that coffee was so highly ranked,” said lead author Quynh C. Nguyen of the University of Utah College of Health in Salt Lake City.

The researchers collected 1 percent of randomly selected tweets that were tagged with a geographic location between April 2015 and March 2016. That yielded 80 million tweets from 603,000 users in the contiguous U.S.

They then built several versions of a machine learning algorithm to sort the tweets by indicators of happiness, activity and diet. The results were checked by humans to make sure tweets weren’t misunderstood by the machine – for instance, in one case, the algorithm identified tweets about basketball player Stephen Curry as food tweets, before researchers corrected it.

The study team next mapped their sorted tweets to 2010 census tracts and ZIP code areas.

About 20 percent of tweets were classified as happy. People tend to only use a few words to talk about food or activity, so the researchers only used 25 search terms.

Proximity to fitness centers or parks only modestly predicted mentions of physical activity, but density of fast food restaurants by neighborhood did predict how many mentions of fast food people in the neighborhood made.

At the state level, more positive mentions of physical activity and healthy foods, as well as happiness, were associated with lower all-cause mortality and the prevalence of chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes, according to the report online October 17th in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Public Health and Surveillance.

“Right now we’re correlating it with county-level and state-level health outcomes,” which will hopefully be helpful for health researchers in the future, Nguyen told Reuters Health.

“We don’t think the data can be taken as 100 percent a food diary; what we can see is what people are willing to share,” she said. People are very willing to share about coffee, in particular, which may be due to its “social capital,” she noted.

“There’s a certain image-crafting associated with being online,” Nguyen said.

Twitter users also are not a perfect sample of people in the U.S., she said.

“It’s important for researchers to utilize meaningful data to understand the underlying conditions that shape the health of communities and individuals and to identify inequities in health that we can do something about,” Jennifer L. Black of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver said by email.

“Because twitter and social media are so new as sources of data and sources of health information, I don’t think we yet know what the full potential is for tweets to shape health behaviors,” said Black, who was not part of the new study.

Twitter may not tell us what people are eating and doing, but it provides a sense of what people are saying and writing, Black told Reuters Health.

“Twitter and social media may be able to tell us something about peoples’ experiences living in neighborhoods with barriers to accessing healthy/fresh food,” Black added. “In the coming years it will be important for researchers as well as students and emerging food and nutrition professionals to gain insight about how people use social media.”

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Health Work

Why parents are stressed out by their own mobile phones

Parents searching for elusive work-life balance may see smartphones and tablets as a way to escape the office in time to be home for dinner each night, but these gadgets can also be a huge distraction and source of stress, a recent study suggests.

When researchers asked a group of parents to slow down and answer detailed questions about how and when they use mobile technology, people revealed a lot of internal conflict about how the devices are changing their lives.

“Every time a new technology is introduced, it disrupts things a little, so in many ways this is no different from the anxieties that families and our culture felt with the introduction of the TV or telephone,” said lead study author Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrics researcher at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

“What is different is the rate of adoption and saturation of our households with mobile technology compared to these older technologies (e.g., it took the iPad 80 days to reach 50 million global users, compared to 14 years for televisions) — so we have less time to reach a new homeostasis with each of them,” Radesky said by email. Maybe it[s just time to get the technology we actually need, like products that offer us comfort and maybe even calm us down when we are stressed, like the paraben android recovery stick – spycentre, that is something we can use to recover our phone data if it ever gets accidentally erased. Now that is something everybody should get.

As smartphones and tablets blur the lines between work, home and social lives, parents are struggling to balance it all and this may be causing internal tension, conflicts and negative interactions with kids, Radesky and her coauthors note in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

To explore how parents feel about these gadgets, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 35 caregivers, including mothers, fathers and grandmothers.

On the one hand, many of the participants credited the devices with allowing them to spend more hours at home with their young children. But on the flipside, they felt pressure to stay constantly plugged in and responsive to emails from work even during playtime with kids or risk being perceived as “bad employees.”

“It’s the fear of being irrelevant within your professional career,” one father in the survey said.

The more work popped up on those tiny screens, the more parents paid attention to devices instead of their children, many participants said. Then, the more kids acted up to get their parent’s attention, the more parents tended to snap at them.

Also: How to cure your mobile phone addiction

Sometimes, though, these devices can also provide a much-needed break, whether it’s a little time for video games or catching up with friends on social media. “It is my escape, but I’m not sure it’s the healthiest escape, so I have conflict around that,” one mother in the study said.

The trouble is that parents can’t focus well on work or children when they’re trying to do both at once, said Larry Rosen, professor emeritus at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

“Younger generations believe that they can multitask with anything and that is simply not true,” Rosen, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“What they rapidly discover is that they cannot do two tasks together as well as each separately, and, in fact, it adds another layer of stress to their already stressed lives raising children,” Rosen added.

Even when bringing work home on a tablet or phone seems impossible to avoid so everyone wants to keep their phone or tablet safe and they get protection devices as popsockets which you can learn more about at https://www.top9rated.com/what-is-a-popsocket/, there’s still plenty parents can do to minimize stress for everyone in the household.

One thing that helps is creating device-free time, whether it’s a ban on technology during dinner or before bed or right after everyone gets home for the day, Radesky said.

There are also apps that can track how much time parents spend on their tiny screens to help pinpoint opportunities to cut back.

Parents can also tune into which activities are the most stressful, and try to avoid these tasks when it’s family time.

“So much of their lives are contained in these devices – work, friendships, world news, loads of information – so they elicit much more in-depth cognitive and emotional responses from us, and this can be even harder to balance with attention to each other,” Radesky said.

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Work

Twitter’s future could take many forms, depending on who bids biggest

With speculation mounting that Twitter will soon have a new corporate owner, the 10-year-old social networking service – which has long struggled to define its core purpose – may end up heading in one of several distinctly different directions depending on who ends up paying for it.

Companies including Salesforce.com, Walt Disney Co and Google have shown interest in Twitter, which is working with investment banks to evaluate its options, according to people familiar with the matter.

With Salesforce.com, Twitter might turn its focus to customer service communications and mining its database of tweets for business intelligence. Google would likely be most interested in the social and news dimensions of Twitter. Disney, by contrast, might see it as a way to expand the reach of its sports and entertainment programming.

It is not clear how quickly Twitter might approach a sale, but it is moving to formalise the process, sources have said. A deal is by no means assured in light of the company’s uncertain financial prospects and steep price tag – its market value is more than $16 billion after talk of a sale drove the stock up over the past few days.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, speaking at a conference in Washington on Monday, declined to comment on possible sale talks.

CORPORATE ROUTE?

Salesforce.com, run by CEO Marc Benioff, is focussed on cloud-based sales and marketing software; unlike Twitter, its main product is aimed at businesses users, not consumers. Under Salesforce.com, Twitter could become a corporate tool used to power sentiment analysis and nurture customer relationships.

Salesforce.com already uses the Twitter “firehose” for its new artificial intelligence platform, Einstein.

“It would give them the social graph and a better idea of how social media relates to its customers,” said Ryan Holmes, chief executive of Hootsuite, a private technology firm that helps brands and consumers manage their social media accounts.

Holmes also said that if Salesforce.com owned all of Twitter’s data, it could have better insights into what sort of conversations companies such as airlines or telecom firms might be having with their customers and thereby gain more understanding of their business challenges.

But many Twitter users – especially newer ones – are not active tweeters, which over time could limit the value of the data Twitter can provide. Salesforce.com could also likely gain much of the benefit of Twitter’s data from licensing its trove of tweets as opposed to buying the whole company.

Salesforce.com investors are already spooked by the speculation it could acquire Twitter: its shares are down 6 percent since news of the company’s interest flared up last week.

GOOGLE AD PLAN

Twitter would fit easily with Google’s online advertising-driven business model. Ads could be sold across paid search, YouTube, display and mobile on Twitter – while filling a gap for Google, which has struggled with social media.

“Google already has the eyeballs with advertisers. Cross-selling to the Twitter inventory could be an amazing play for them,” Hootsuite’s Holmes said.

Google, which has expertise in monitoring its video service YouTube, would know how to deal with the tricky policy issues facing Twitter, such as abusive tweets and censorship.

Still, such a tie-up faces potentially fatal regulatory hurdles, analysts said. In Europe, where the company has a bigger share of the search market than in the United States, the company is already facing two antitrust investigations.

“Google could help Twitter’s user acquisition problem. The unknown is whether regulators in the United States and European Union would allow the transaction,” said BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield.

Facebook Inc, meanwhile, has been trying to replicate Twitter on its own platform and could also face antitrust challenges if it tried to buy the company, Greenfield said. So far Facebook has not been mentioned as a potential buyer, but with its large cash reserves and penchant for surprise moves it cannot be counted out.

THE MEDIA PLAY

Twitter’s foray into live streaming of National Football League games and its presence in news gathering could interest media companies such as Disney, which owns sports channel ESPN.

Twitter’s presence on mobile devices could help any media company, all of which are struggling to find mobile growth, according to BTIG’s Greenfield. No media company has a mobile product with as much reach as Twitter, he noted.

“The world of media is shifting to mobile and these newer platforms are becoming the future,” Greenfield said.

Still, media companies do not have the best track record with social media. News Corp’s acquisition of MySpace in 2005 ended in disaster. And some question whether the media companies and top personalities that have been so important to Twitter would stick around if a rival media firm were the owner.

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Health

Poor exercise habits follow teens into adulthood

Most American teenagers don’t get enough exercise, and they often stick with their sedentary ways as they enter adulthood, a U.S. study suggests.

More than 9 in 10 adolescents fail to get the minimum 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

“Physical inactivity is one of the major predictors of childhood and adolescent obesity, the consequences of which increases incidence of obesity as well as metabolic syndrome in adulthood,” said lead study author Kaigang Li, a researcher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in kids and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the CDC.

More than one third of children and teens are currently overweight or obese, putting them at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and psychological issues such as poor self-esteem.

To assess activity levels in teens, Li and colleagues assessed exercise habits among a sample of 561 students in 10th grade at 44 schools representing urban, suburban and rural communities.

At the start of the study, when participants were 16 years old on average, researchers asked them to wear activity trackers for one week to see how much physical activity they got.

In 10th grade, students got about 27 minutes of exercise each weekday, on average. This inched up to almost 29 minutes in 11th grade, then dipped back down to 28 minutes for both 12th grade and the year after completing high school.

Weekends came out even worse, with participants logging only about 20 minutes in all but one year of the study, when they achieved 21 minutes on average.

High school students who went on to a four-year college got more exercise than their peers who didn’t continue their education, and so did college students living on campus versus those living at home, the study also found.

One limitation of the study is that it wasn’t a nationally representative sample even though researchers selected participants to include a variety of different communities, the authors note. Researchers also didn’t have data on the health impacts of exercise or assess how much additional physical activity some teens might need to achieve health benefits, since some adults rather try with weight loss pills instead of exercise.

Still, the findings highlight the need for parents and school leaders to build more opportunities for exercise into children’s routines, said Dr. Ravi Shah, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Physical activity in the transition to adulthood is important in all individuals, and patterns of activity start early in life and may persist into adulthood,” Shah said by email. “Engagement in school-based activities, community events, and supervised exercise and weight loss programs for those children who need them will be important in preventing cardiovascular disease in years to come.”

Exercise habits may be easier to solidify if parents start long before kids reach high school, said Dr. Venkatesh Murthy of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“The fact that these young people were more active on weekdays than on weekends highlights the potential opportunity for parents to get involved and encourage fitness activities over the weekend,” Murthy, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Given that many exercise activities are group activities, I worry that this is a reflection of the fact that many parents are not placing emphasis on their own fitness as well.”

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Work

Don’t count on technology to save you in a natural disaster

Newfound enthusiasm for the latest technologies, such as drones and smartphones, to improve the way aid is provided to people in disasters may be overblown, experts have warned.

The annual World Risk Report from the United Nations University (UNU) highlights the growing interest in new technologies to improve emergency response – from drones that can survey crisis-hit areas to social media networks that allow survivors to communicate with the wider world.

These can provide important information to the logisticians who organise aid delivery or health workers trying to track deadly diseases like Ebola in no-go areas, the report said.

But Matthias Garschagen, a risk management expert with the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security, said it could not substitute for the basic infrastructure some countries have lacked for decades.

“Too many people see technology as the main panacea for solving all the problems you have after disasters strike,” he said. “A lot of development experts put too much emphasis on technology.”

In Africa, for example, there are just 65 kilometres (40 miles) of paved road per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 832 km in Europe or 552 km in the Americas.

In heavy rain, dirt roads soon become impassable, which hampers the delivery of aid, the report said.

“No smartphones in the world are going to significantly change this state of affairs,” Garschagen said in the report produced with the University of Stuttgart and Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, an alliance of German aid agencies.

After the Nepal earthquakes last year, aid agencies used drones to find out the extent of damage, but their uncontrolled flying was a headache for the government, which introduced restrictions.

And in many cases, helicopters were not available to bring in aid to meet the needs identified by aerial surveillance.

Drones themselves cannot be expected to carry out aid deliveries any time soon, because they cannot carry big enough loads and their use is subject to so many rules, said Kathrin Mohr, who heads Deutsche Post DHL Group’s “GoHelp” team.

“Some suggest that drones could even carry medicine supplies to remote villages. I think this is complete nonsense,” she said in the report.

“Just realize what one of these drones can carry: Not more than one to three kilogrammes. This really is an extremely limited amount.”

Humans Matter

Garschagen said sound infrastructure – from transport to telecoms and power networks – must be built with disaster risks in mind and properly maintained.

An early warning system, installed in Indonesia after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, malfunctioned in October 2010 when a 3-metre (10 ft) wave crashed into the remote Mentawai islands, taking residents by surprise and killing several hundred people.

“Too often we think infrastructure means building a nice road, a nice bridge or a tsunami early warning system,” Garschagen said.

“But we don’t pay sufficient attention to the humans and institutions that need to be trained, educated and built around the technology in order to maintain or run it properly.”

Planners and builders of infrastructure – whether companies, governments or development banks – should also consider the risks from climate change, such as worsening floods, he added.

That is particularly so in Southeast Asia and Africa, where much essential infrastructure is not yet in place, he said.

But pressure from investors in growing cities like Lagos or Ho Chi Minh City can make it difficult to think long term, raising the risk of buildings or transport being located in disaster-prone areas.

An index ranking the risk of disasters for 171 countries, contained in the report, shows the world’s hot-spots lie in the Pacific Ocean, Southeast Asia, Central America and Africa’s southern Sahel region.

In the event of a disaster, you can always count on a reliable water damage restoration company.

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Work

It’s only a matter of time before the retailers swarm around Pokemon Go

Pokemon GO, the mobile game that has rocketed to the top of Apple and Android app stores in record time, looks set to challenge young internet companies which specialise in increasing foot traffic for small businesses and may end up playing a role in major brands’ marketing, according to industry experts.

The augmented reality game from Japan’s Nintendo, where players walk around real-life neighbourhoods to hunt down virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens, has more than 65 million users in the United States just seven days after launch.

That is already more users than Twitter Inc, and the game is already helping local restaurants, coffee shops and small retailers to attract new customers.

L’inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City in New York claims its sales jumped 75 percent over the weekend by activating a “lure module” feature that attracts virtual Pokemon characters to the store, thereby tempting in nearby players. The store’s manager spent $10 to have a dozen Pokemon characters placed in the location, according to a report in the New York Post.

That sort of instant effect is a potential threat for Groupon, LivingSocial Inc, Foursquare and other relatively new companies which have revolutionized online marketing for small businesses in the last few years.

Pokemon GO’s instant popularity appears to be the result of nostalgia for the classic 20-year-old cartoon franchise and players’ desire to win kudos within the game by capturing as many characters as possible.

“People born in the 1980s and 90s, they grew up with this. It’s approachable and reassuring and that’s why it’s gone from zero to millions of users in just a few days,” said Jeremiah Rosen, managing director at creative agency Reason2Be in New York City. “I see McDonald’s, Home Depot, national brands playing into the culture.”

A report on tech news site Gizmodo on Wednesday said a student in Australia had uncovered code in the game’s workings that indicated a sponsorship system and mentioned the name of McDonalds. McDonald’s declined to comment on the matter or any of its marketing plans.

Disrupting disruptors

The popularity of Pokemon GO threatens companies like Foursquare, which has a service called Swarm offering coupons and prizes to customers who “check in” at participating venues, and social e-commerce sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, which many businesses use as a vehicle to offer discount deals. Such “daily deal” sites get a cut every time a customer buys a retailer’s coupon.

Groupon and LivingSocial were not immediately available for a comment. Foursquare said it was too soon to tell the impact of Pokemon GO.

Marketing experts said small businesses may increasingly turn to Pokemon GO – and redirect some of their marketing spend – as the mobile game racks up a bigger user base.

“With Pokemon GO, you are seeing it as bypassing a lot of digital (marketing) channels that the brick and mortar shops have been relying on for the past few years,” said Christophe Jammet, director of social media and mobile at consultancy DDG in New York.

“There hasn’t been a geolocation social platform that can lure so many people all at once.”

Pokemon GO players are highly engaged, spending far more time in the app than they do with some of the most popular social apps such as Facebook Inc’s <FB.O> Instagram and messaging services WhatsApp and Snapchat, according to SimilarWeb, a market intelligence and web analytics firm.

Many shops are attracting customers by advertising themselves as “Poke Stops,” a place where gamers can grab new Pokemon balls and increase their level of power within the app. Experts said it is only a matter of time before major brands jump on the bandwagon.

“They are already looking into it,” said Tom Kelshaw, director of technology at Maxus Global, a media investment management group in New York.

The Pokemon GO craze – and potential for further revenue from third parties – has sent Nintendo’s shares skyrocketing since the game’s debut, adding nearly $10 billion to the company’s market value.

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Pokemon Go adds $7.5bn to Nintendo value in two days

Shares in Japan’s Nintendo have soared again  bringing market-value gains to $7.5 billion (£5.8 billion) in just two days as investors cheered the runaway success of Pokemon GO – its first long-awaited venture in mobile gaming.

The game, which marries a classic 20-year old franchise with augmented reality, allows players to walk around real-life neighbourhoods while seeking virtual Pokemon game characters on their smartphone screens – a scavenger hunt that has earned enthusiastic early reviews.

In the United States, by July 8 – two days after its release – it was installed on more than 5 percent of Android devices in the country, according to web analytics firm SimilarWeb.

It is now on more Android phones than dating app Tinder and its rate of daily active users was neck and neck with social network Twitter, the analytics firm said. The game is also being played an average of 43 minutes a day, more time spent than on WhatsApp or Instagram, it added.

As the game took the U.S. by storm, Nintendo’s shares surged by a quarter in value on Monday to their highest level since November. They have gained 36 percent since Thursday’s close with the initial momentum coming from the game shooting to the top of free app rankings in Apple Inc’s <AAPL.O> U.S. iTunes store.

The game has been released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Launches for other countries including Japan – one of the world’s biggest gaming markets – are due soon.

Pokemon GO may not prove an immediate boost to Nintendo’s bottom line: it is free and Nintendo is not the sole investor or creator.

The game itself was created by Niantic, spun off from Google last year, and Pokemon Company. Nintendo owns a third of Pokemon Company and both have undisclosed stakes in Niantic, which had already developed a similar augmented reality, multi-player game in 2012.

Some analysts have been upbeat about the money-making potential for Pokemon GO, largely from small purchases made while playing – and the positive signs for other mobile gaming launches planned by Nintendo for 2016 and 2017.

The augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs, California U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich/Illustration

The augmented reality mobile game “Pokemon Go” by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs, California U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich/Illustration

“If nothing else, Pokémon GO has shown that there are ‘dormant’ Nintendo fans eager to trial its content for smartphones,” Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.

But others cautioned that there were still large question marks over whether Pokemon GO will be able to generate the kind of sustained excitement that would significantly boost Nintendo’s earnings – particularly given that the company now has to contend with a sharp strengthening in the yen.

Real change, those investors say, would have to come from the core console business.

“Now if we were talking about its next generation console becoming the core platform for gamers, then that would be something to get excited about – but at the moment, this alone is not enough,” said Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management.

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