TechSummit Rewind #073

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

Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft agree to EU free speech rules

Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and YouTube have agreed to European Union regulations requiring them to check most hateful content on their platforms within 24 hours of being notified – and to remove it, if necessary – as part of a new “code of conduct” aimed at combating hate speech and terrorist propaganda across Europe.

The new rules oblige the tech companies to identify and promote independent counter-narratives to hate speech and online propaganda.

“The recent terror attacks (Paris and Brussels) have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people and to spread violence and hatred.”

-Vera Jourova, EU commissioner for justice, consumers, gender equality

“In short, the ‘code of conduct’ downgrades the law to a second-class status, behind the ‘leading role’ of private companies that are being asked to arbitrarily implement their terms of service. This process, established outside an accountable democratic framework, exploits unclear liability rules for companies. It also creates serious risks for freedom of expression as legal but controversial content may well be deleted as a result of this voluntary and unaccountable take down mechanism.

-Brussels-based advocacy group European Digital Rights, international rights group Access Now; in a joint statement

“We’re committed to giving people access to information through our services, but we have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms. We have efficient systems to review valid notifications in less than 24 hours and to remove illegal content. We are pleased to work with the Commission to develop co- and self-regulatory approaches to fighting hate speech online.”

-Lie Junius, Google head of public policy and government relations

Samsung’s newest 512GB SSD is smaller than a postage stamp

Samsung 512GB SSD

Samsung has announced a 512GB SSD that’s half the size of a postage stamp.

According to the Seoul-based tech giant, the drive is the world’s first mass-produced 512GB SSD with non-volatile memory express (NVMe), which allows for a streamlined register of speed in a simple package. The drive is organized as a collected unit in a ball grid array, which allows for its to be easily fit in and connected to other parts of a device. That’s ideal for ultra-slim notebooks, where space and weight are at a premium.

According to Samsung, the drive triples the performance of a typical SATA SSD. It’s 1500MB/s read and 900MB/s write speeds allow you to transfer a five gigabyte HD video in three seconds.

The drive will be available in June in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB variants.

Instagram announces new business tools

new Instagram web interface

Instagram has announced the launch of its tools for business users, including new business profiles, analytics, and the ability to turn Instagram posts into ads within the app.

“We’ve grown to 200,000 active advertisers on Instagram, and the vast majority of those are small to medical businesses. Fifty percent of people follow a business on Instagram, and sixty percent learn about products and services on Instagram.”

-James Quarles, Instagram global head of business and brand development

These business profiles will allow Instagram users with an accompanying business Facebook page to gain expanded features like the ability to let customers reach out to them with phone calls, emails, or texts with a tap and directions to the business (when needed).

Instagram will also begin testing its Insights (analytics) feature with verified accounts and those with large followings, before considering a wider rollout.

Insights allows businesses to track which posts are doing well, along with their audience’s demographics (reach, impressions, engagement, gender, age, location, etc.)

Users will also be able to turn well-performing posts into ads, with Instagram offering suggestions based on the audience and budget.

“We would love to get to a place where we partner with [businesses] to try and track the traffic… a place in the future where we know someone has actually visited the store.”

-James Quarles

The profiles will roll out in the “coming months” in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, with a worldwide launch expected by the end of the year.

Microsoft Ventures to invest in cloud, security, machine learning startups

Microsoft Ventures

Microsoft is creating Microsoft Ventures, an early-stage investment group that targets startups in the cloud, security, and machine-learning fields.

The entity formerly known as Microsoft Ventures, which was owned by the Redmond, WA-based company’s Developer Evangelism team, has been rebranded as Microsoft Accelerator. The accelerator will continue to help startups with technology and consulting worldwide.

Corporate Vice President Nagraj Kashyap will head the Microsoft Ventures group, and will initially have offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, New York, and Tel Aviv with expansion to “other geographies in the coming years.”

The firm will invest in companies developing product and services complementing Azure, building new business software-as-a-service apps, targeting Windows and HoloLens, creating enterprise and consumer productivity and communications offerings around Office 365, and working in security and/or machine learning.

According to Microsoft, Ventures isn’t looking to hit a specific number of investments annually, but will instead focus on the gap between startups targeted by Microsoft Accelerator and larger investment and acquisition targets.

Digital Storm’s latest gaming all-in-one packs a 10-core CPU

Digital Storm Aura

Digital Storm has unveiled a new iteration of the Aura, a 34-inch curved system with high-end specs to boot.

Starting with one of the first implemented Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition processors, it can be equipped with up to 10 cores of power for multitasking, along with a GeForce GTX 1080 GPU for gaming at the Aura’s native 3440×1440 resolution.

According to the Fremont, Calif.-based company, you can replace just about anything, including the graphics card and motherboard. The Aura also supports liquid cooling, in case you want a quieter rig.

The Aura starts at $1,999.

Vista Equity Partners buys Marketo for $1.8B

Marketo logo. (PRNewsFoto/Marketo)
Marketo logo. (PRNewsFoto/Marketo)

Marketo is being taken private yet again. The marketing software company has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $1.79 billion in cash.

Marketo shareholders will receive $35.25/share as part of the buy, representing a 64 percent premium on the company’s closing price on May 9, 2016.

“The acquisition will allow Marketo to focus on customer success and to remain the independent category leader, continuing to set the agenda for product innovation and thought leadership for the entire digital marketing industry. It will also enable us to successfully deliver on the bold vision we recently set forth – to give tomorrow’s marketers and the C-suite an ultra-high-scale enterprise platform for consumer engagement.”

-Phil Fernandez, Marketo chairman &CEO

The San Mateo, Calif-based company offers a suite of cloud-based marketing services ranging from customer acquisition to consumer, segmented, and mobile marketing, and counts companies like GE and Microsoft as customers.

According to Marketo, the deal is expected to close in Q3 2016.

Atari returns to hardware with new smart home gadgets


Atari has announced a return to hardware with connected home devices in a partnership with Sigfox.

The Paris-based company is focusing on the mass market and charity sectors, with the IoT connectivity providing functionality like GPS tracking, the ability to give status and temperature info, and other basic things like a panic button or alerting family that you’re running out of gas.

According to Atari, potential markets include kid trackers, sports, travel, and pet collars.

Jawbone denies reports of company exiting fitness tracker market

Jawbone Up2

Jawbone has issued a statement refuting reports that the company will exit the fitness tracker market.

“Speculation that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether is false. Jawbone remains wholly committed to innovating in and building great wearables products. The company has never been more excited about its pipeline of technology and products and looks forward to sharing them when ready.”

-Jawbone, in a statement

Simply Hired shutting down June 26


Job search engine Simply Hired is shutting down on June 26.

Sirin Labs launches $14K Solarin privacy-focused smartphone


Sirin Labs has officially unveiled its super high-end Solarin smartphone.

The phone promises to have the “most advanced privacy technology currently available outside the agency world,” and has KoolSpan-powered chip-to-chip 236-bit AES encryption, which is like what’s used by the military to protect its communications, and is activated with a physical switch on its back.

“Cyberattacks are endemic across the globe. This trend is on the increase. Just one attack can severely harm reputations and finances. Solarin is pioneering new, uncompromising privacy measures to provide customers with greater confidence and the reassurance necessary to handle business-critical information.”

-Tal Cohen; Sirin Labs CEO, co-founder

The device also totes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, support for 24 LTE bands, and promises “far superior” WiFi than other smartphones. It also has a 23.8-megapixel rear camera and a 5.5-inch IPS LED 2K display.

“Every single design decision and material choice was based on performance and functionality. The product unites the very best of the world stage.”

-Fredrik Oijer, Sirin Labs product VP

The phone goes on sale globally starting today for $13,800.

PayPal halting Turkey operations after losing license

PayPal logo

PayPal has suspended its business operations in Turkey effective June 6, after failing to get a new license for its services.

According to the company, customers will still be able to log in to their accounts and withdraw their account balance to a Turkish bank account.

“Supporting our customers is very important to PayPal. However, we have no choice but to suspend processing payments in Turkey as our application for a Turkish payments license has been denied by the local financial instructed to suspend our Turkish business operations.”

-PayPal, in a statement

According to a company spokesperson, the suspension is the result of “new national regulations overseen by the BDDK that require PayPal to fully localize our information technology systems in Turkey.”

“We respect Turkey’s desire to have information technology infrastructure deployed within its borders, however, PayPal utilizes a global payments platform that operates across more than 200 markets, rather than maintaining local payments platforms with dedicated technology infrastructure in any single country.”

-A PayPal spokesperson


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