TechSummit Rewind #026: June 11, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Apple Music, labels investigated in two states

Apple Music

While Apple was preparing the launch of Apple Music, a service that lets you stream music for $9.99/$14.99 a month, New York and Connecticut’s attorney generals were investigating the company’s negotiations with music labels in search of potential antitrust violations.

The attorney generals wanted to know if Apple pressured the music labels to withdraw support for popular freemium services like Spotify and Pandora in favor of the company’s new Music service.

Universal Music Group has confirmed its cooperation in the industry-wide effort, a continuing effort led by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen.

The first written response to the antitrust inquiry came from Universal Media Group on Monday when the company’s legal firm, Hunton & Williams, sent a letter to the attorney generals. Universal Music Group had no agreements with Apple or other labels like Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group that would impede free, ad-supported services, according to the letter.

Universal “shares the attorneys general’s commitment to a robust and competitive market for music streaming services in the mutual best interest of consumers, artists, [streaming] services, and content companies alike – and we have a long track record to that effect,” according to the letter.

“It’s important to ensure that the market continues to develop free from collusion and other anticompetitive practices.”

-Mike Mittenthal, spokesman for Eric Schneiderman

“We will continue to monitor that market to ensure that consumers and competition are protected.”

-George Jepsen, Connecticut attorney general

The European Commission is also looking into these negotiations.

Musk files to provide Internet from space

53879-spacex_test

SpaceX, the space company run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has asked the federal government to begin testing on a project to beam Internet service from space.

The plan calls to launch a constellation of 4,000 small satellites that would beam high-speed Internet worldwide. The effort “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space,” according to Musk.

SpaceX’s web of satellites would wrap around Earth in low orbit, handing off Internet signals to one another to make connections more reliable and reach more areas.

The filing, made with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month, is the first glimpse into how Musk will move with the project.

Tests are proposed to start next year, according to the filing, and the service could be up and running in five years.

The satellites would be deployed from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, then connecting to three West Coast ground stations. These tests would see whether the antenna technology used would be able to deliver high-speed Internet to the ground without hiccups.

“Some people might say the idea of satellite broadband has come and gone, but the cost structure of the business is so much better than when Bill Gates tried it. I think Musk’s track record of disruptive innovation would make this a really attractive business for the FCC to support.”

-Paul Gallant, Guggenheim Partners analyst

Facebook Messenger hits a billion Android downloads

Facebook Messenger for Android

Only two companies have apps with over one billion Google Play downloads, one is Google, but now Facebook has hit the billion-download club for the third time as its Messenger app has been downloaded over a billion times on Android, according to leader David Marcus. It joins Facebook’s own Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as Google’s Gmail, YouTube, Search, and Maps in this club.

Larry Page CEO of the year, bumping Jeff Weiner: Glassdoor

FILE - In this June 12, 2007 file photo, Google co-founder Larry Page smiles at a news conference held at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. When he replaced his mentor Eric Schmidt as Google's CEO last April, Page insisted that the company had to be more aggressive about countering the threat posed by Facebook's ever-growing popularity.  Page responded with a social networking crusade that is still reshaping Google Inc. as he marks his one-year anniversary as chief executive on Wednesday, April 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)
FILE – In this June 12, 2007 file photo, Google co-founder Larry Page smiles at a news conference held at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. When he replaced his mentor Eric Schmidt as Google’s CEO last April, Page insisted that the company had to be more aggressive about countering the threat posed by Facebook’s ever-growing popularity. Page responded with a social networking crusade that is still reshaping Google Inc. as he marks his one-year anniversary as chief executive on Wednesday, April 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

Glassdoor has released its latest report on 2015’s top 50 CEOs, and once again the tech industry dominates the list.

Google CEO Larry Page has bumped LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner from the top spot.

The career website compiled its figures from company reviews submitted by U.S. employees between April 22nd, 2014 and April 21st, 2015. For a CEO to be considered, he/she had to receive at least 100 employee reviews during the last year. Only 20 of this year’s top CEOS were on last year’s report.

Last year, Page was 10th with a 93% approval rating, however, his rating increased four percent to 97% this year. Weiner saw his CEO approval rating drop seven percent to 93%, putting him in the 12th spot overall (sixth in tech).

Only 15 tech CEOs made the list this year, down from the 20 that did last year. Here’s the full tech list.

  • #1: Larry Page, Google, 97% approval
  • #4: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, 95% approval
  • #5: Scott Scherr, Ultimate Software, 95% approval
  • #10: Tim Cook, Apple, 94% approval
  • #11: Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia, 94% approval
  • #12: Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn, 93% approval
  • #21: Marc Benioff, Salesforce, 92% approval
  • #22: Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp, 91% approval
  • #33: Frank D’Souza, Cognizant Technology Solutions, 91% approval
  • #34: Thomas Richards, CDW, 91% approval
  • #35: Vishal Sikka, Infosys, 91% approval
  • #36: Brad Smith, Intuit, 91% approval
  • #39: Brain Krzanich, Intel, 90% approval
  • #47: Shantanu Narayen, 89% approval
  • #48: Brian Chesky, Airbnb, 89% approval

Zero female CEOs made the list, down from the two that made it last year.

“Gaining the trust and approval of an entire workforce is one of the most difficult yet rewarding responsibilities for any leader.”

  • Robert Hohman, Glassdoor co-founder and CEO

Instagram launching redesigned website with bigger photos

new Instagram web interface

Instagram is introducing a new desktop and mobile web design this week that cleans up the website and makes photos much larger than they currently are. Most noticeable is the change to desktop profile pages, which will display three large images in each row, rather than the five smaller images it does right now. The cover image grid is gone at the top, and a lot of the borders and rounded edges are going too. The website is also getting circular profile pictures.

The new layout will also be present on hashtag pages as well, and similar design updates will be on the desktop feed and mobile profiles. The pages are rolling out now, according to Instagram, and should be available to all users by the end of the week.

Unity lays groundwork for more VR games in latest upgrade

unity3d1

To help developers build games for virtual reality, Unity Technologies has begun adding VR-specific features to its suite of cross-platform development tools.

The company’s platform is already used to build games for smartphones, PCs, TVs, and game consoles. Unity 5.1 includes a few VR features.

Native Oculus Rift support is available to all users. To help developers, the Unity platform’s update also handles a number of VR-specific features like automatically applying head tracking and the correct field of view, as well as rendering them in stereo. Support for Microsoft’s HoloLens and Samsung’s Gear VR is coming in the near future.

The update also adds the Unity Multiplayer Service to make building multiplayer games easier. The Multiplayer Service is currently in preview, but will come to all users soon. It offers a Matchmaker server, designed to make it easier for gamers to find others to play with, and a Relay service, which aims to solve connectivity problems for players trying to connect to each other behind firewalls.

Verizon 5.1 is available now on Unity’s website. Developers can choose either the free Personal Edition or the $75/month Professional Edition.

Netflix investors approve share increase

Earns Netflix

Netflix’s shareholders have approved an increase in the number of shares the company is allowed to issue.

Company management will seek approval from the board of directors “in due course” to pursue a stock split, according to Netflix spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo.

The video streaming company won approval to raise its share authorization to five billion from 170 million.

Shareholders also approved non-binding proposals to elect board members annually, to require a simple majority vote for all measures, and to increase the ability of investors to nominate directors.

Google Maps now lets you send places from desktop to iPhone

google-maps-adwords-panorama

The latest version of Google Maps for iOS, now available in the App Store, lets you send any place you search for with Google Maps on desktop to an iPhone or iPad. Your iOS device will get it pushed as a notification, and the app will take you there once you tap on it.

To activate the future, you need to enable it in the Google Maps for iOS settings menu. Inside the notifications section is a new option to allow notifications “sent from desktop apps.” Turn that on, and a new “Send to device” option will appear on desktop if you’re using the same Google account. Tap that, select the device you’re sending the location to, and you’re done from your mobile device.

The update also lets you edit business hours from your phone and makes it easy to view taken reviews and photos.

ADP cuts off access to Zenefits

adp-vs-zenefits_1024

Corporate payroll incumbent ADP has all but declared war with HR startup Zenefits over the use of third-party data.

The dispute began around June 4th when ADP cut off Zenefits small business clients using ADP’s RUN payroll system from sharing data with Zenefits.

ADP did this because Zenefits was “pulling sensitive information, including unmasked Social Security numbers and employee banking information, in a manner that did not comply with ADP’s standards for data security,” according to a company statement.

“[ADP’s] gone and shut down accounts without telling customers.”

-Parker Conrad, Zenefits founder

Zenefits offers HR services to small and medium-sized businesses and works with several third-party partners to provide tools like payroll and insurance.

However, ADP “never integrated with Zenefits in any sense,” according to the company, and “never authorized [Zenefits’] method of extracting data.”

ADP shut off Zenefits’ access to its servers due to a spike in user traffic and a Zenefits security risk, according to ADP.

“[Zenefits] gained access to our systems by convincing clients to give them administrative access to our platform. Despite having many legitimate ways to integrate with ADP properly, Zenefits chose an insecure and indirect approach.”

-ADP, in a company statement

The two were partners and had an understanding, according to Conrad. Zenefits was on friendly terms with ADP and the latter company helped set things up for Zenefits customers using ADP for payroll.

The traffic spike was bogus, according to Conrad, claiming that ADP started shutting down access to certain customers well before June 4th and that using social security numbers and bank information is a normal practice.

“You can’t be an insurance broker without a social security number. There’s nothing we have done that is abnormal here.

“[ADP absolutely compete[s] with us on the insurance side but more importantly they compete with us on the HR side.”

-Parker Conrad

About .25% of ADP’s customers are from Zenefits, according to the ADP statement. The shut off effects about 10 percent of Zenefit’s customers, according to the company.

“We’ll be reaching out to each [affected customer] personally, by phone.”

-Parker Conrad

Conrad will recommend each customer to switch to another payroll provider like Zenpayrol, Intuit, or Paychex, according to TechCrunch.

 

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