TechSummit Rewind 110

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

New Roku streaming media players support 4K, HDR video


Roku has announced a new line of streaming media boxes. Its streaming stick remains unchanged.

The Roku Express succeeds the Roku 1 with a 75 percent smaller form factor and double the processing power. It tops out at HD quality, but has a significantly lower $30 price tag. The Express+ features all of this with composite cables for an extra $10.

The Premiere and Premiere+ Rokus replace the Roku 2 and Roku 3, respectively. The Roku Premiere retails at $80 and supports 4K video at 60 frames per second. It also has a quad-core processor and Roku’s standard IR remote. Meanwhile, the $100 Premiere+ adds HDR support, along with an enhanced remote that includes Roku’s “private listening” feature (a headphone jack) and Ethernet/microSD card support.

Lastly, the Roku Ultra, which replaces the Roku 4, features the Premiere+’s feature set with a more advanced remote and a USB port. The $130 unit’s remote is the only one that comes with the “Find My Remote” function, as well as A/B gaming buttons.

The Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra boxes also come with a “night listening” mode that compresses the audio levels of the video you’re watching, so loud music or harsh explosions more closely match the programming’s dialogue levels. Roku’s search software has also been improved to make it a little easier to find all the stuff you want to watch.

All of this hardware is set to ship in October, from Roku and other retail partners. However, the Express+ is a Walmart exclusive.

Plex partners with Amazon to launch Plex Cloud hardware-free media server


Plex has partnered with Amazon Cloud Drive to launch Plex Cloud, which allows you to stream hosted files from the cloud.

Files will be added on Amazon Cloud Drive, then streamed from any device using the Plex app.

The service will only be available to Plex Pass users, but requires that users already have an Amazon Drive account. This’ll set you back $59.99/year for unlimited storage of any file type.

Plex Cloud will eventually have Plex’s complete feature set, including transcoding capabilities and media player software for accessing and organizing your media library, but several features are not available at launch like camera upload, mobile sync, cloud sync, media optimizer, DLNA, and DVR.

Plex will work with accounts that aren’t in territories where Amazon doesn’t offer unlimited storage.

Interested customers can sign up for the Plex Cloud Beta here to request access to the invite-only beta.

OurCrowd raises $72M to boost crowdfunding funds


OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based website that connects investors to a pool of mostly Israeli and U.S. startups, has raised $72M to expand its operations and invest in other businesses.

The new funds will be evenly split between the venture arm and the company itself, according to company CEO and co-founder Jon Medved, which plans to use the money to open more offices around the world.

New California law would be required to remove actors’ ages when asked


California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law AB-1687, a bill that requires commercial websites to remove information about an actor’s age upon request, in an attempt to combat agism in the state’s film industry.

The law states that commercial online entertainment service providers, like IMDB, will be required to remove “certain information [their age] regarding the subscriber’s age on any companion Internet Web site under the provider’s control if requested by the subscriber.”

AB-1687 only applies to commercial websites, which display ads or receive payment from subscribers, and doesn’t apply to websites where the general public uploads the information to the site like Wikipedia, or to news outlets.

In a note to its members, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) championed the bill, saying that “age discrimination is a major problem in our industry,” and these websites are a major part of the casting process.

Metromile raises $191.5M, acquires Mosaic Insurance


Metromile, a San Francisco-based pay-per-mile insurance provider, has raised $191.5 million in funding – primarily through equity, according to company CEO Dan Preston. Metromile will use the money to acquire Mosaic Insurance, a Lynnwood, WA-based insurance carrier to handle the underwriting of its policies itself along with expanding to new states and continue building its platform.

For now, Metromile has acquired licenses to operate in all 50 states although it’s currently only underwriting policies in four: New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The new funding will expand underwriting to California, Illinois, and Washington.

“We will start accelerating our state rollout at the beginning of 2017. For the time being, our focus is on the huge opportunity for per-mile insurance in the U.S. but we’re excited about exploring global opportunities with partners in the future.”

-Dan Preston, Metromile CEO

According to Preston, the company will continue providing insurance for Uber with the Mosaic acquisition not impacting the ridesharing service’s drivers “for the time being.”

“We are focused on moving our personal business over first. The new claims experience is currently only available for Metromile’s personal policies. Uber driver-partner policies will continue to be underwritten by insurers in the National General Insurance Group and their coverage will not be compromised in any way.”

-Dan Preston

AppLovin selling majority stake to Orient Hontai Capital for $1.4B


Palo Alto, Calif.-based mobile ad startup AppLovin has agreed to sell a majority stake of the company to Chinese private equity firm Orient Hontai Capital for $1.4 billion.

“While this deal is a tremendous validation of the outstanding product we’ve built, it’s also particularly remarkable because it’s the most sizeable outcome for a mobile advertising company ever. We focused on building a business that could grow on its own and sustain itself, and that’s exactly what we did.”

-Adam Foroughi, AppLovin co-founder & CEO

According to Foroughi, the company will keep its Palo Alto headquarters and the “core of AppLovin remains and endures.”

Windows 10 now on 400M devices


According to a Microsoft announcement made during the opening day of the company’s Ignite conference in Atlanta, Windows 10 is now running on 400 million active devices as of Monday.

That’s up from 300 million as of early May. “Active devices” are those that have been active in the last 28 days, including Windows 10 PCs, phones, tablets, Xbox One, HoloLens, and Surface Hubs.

Senator calls for SEC investigation into Yahoo breach

File photo of a Yahoo logo in front of a building in Rolle

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a co-founder of Nextel, has called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Yahoo properly notified the public and its investors of the security breach.

Yahoo made the announcement last week that data from 500 million user accounts was stolen in 2014 by a “state-sponsored actor.

According to press reports, Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer knew about the breach as early as July, when the company was still finalizing its sale to Verizon. By law, Yahoo should have disclosed the breach to the public and its investors within four days, but Verizon wasn’t notified until Sept. 20 and its users were notified two days later.

“The public ought to know what senior executives at Yahoo knew of the breach, and when they knew it. I encourage you to investigate whether Yahoo and its senior executives fulfilled their obligations to keep investors and the public informed, and whether the company made complete and accurate representations about the security of its IT systems.

“Yahoo’s September filing asserting lack of knowledge of security incidents involving its IT systems creates serious concerns about truthfulness in representations to the public.”

-Mark Warner, U.S. senator

Warner is also asking the SEC to look into why more major companies aren’t disclosing cybersecurity problems.

“Since published reports indicate fewer than 100 of approximately 9,000 publicly listed companies have reported a material data breach since 2010, I encourage you to evaluate the adequacy of currency SEC thresholds for disclosing events of this nature.”

-Mark Warner


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