TechSummit Rewind 176

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

Mary Meeker releases annual internet trends report

We start with a few headlines from the Code Conference. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual internet trends report, with 355 slides on the state of the digital world.

Some key takeaways:

  • Smartphone shipments grew three percent year over year over last year, compared to 10 percent the year below. This comes in addition to slowing internet growth that Meeker discussed last year.
  • However, India’s internet-using population grew over 28 percent in 2016. That’s only 27 percent online penetration, giving a lot of room to grow. Mobile internet usage is driving this as the cost of bandwidth declines.
  • Twenty percent of mobile searches were made via voice in 2016, with accuracy bumping up to roughly 95 percent.
  • In 10 years, Netflix went from 0 to over 30 percent of the US’ home entertainment revenue. Meanwhile, TV viewership continues to decline.
  • Interactive gaming is going mainstream, with 2.6 billion gamers in 2017 compared to a mere 100 million in 1995. Global gaming revenue is estimated to have been $100 billion in 2016, with China being the top market.
  • 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies in the US were founded by first- or second-generation Americans in 2016 and were responsible for 1.5 million Americans, including Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook.
  • Roughly 25 percent of Americans own a wearable device, with 60 percent of consumers willing to share their health data with companies like Google and Fitbit in 2016.

Hillary Clinton urges platforms to do more curating

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton urged social media platforms to figure out new ways to slow the “weaponization and manipulation” of information while conceding that it’s a difficult problem to solve.

“I have a lot of sympathy at this point… for people trying to make these decisions. I would just urge them to hurry up.”

Hillary Clinton, former US presidential candidate

She urged platforms to focus more on editorial decision-making part of the equation, rather than “being overwhelmed by the challenge.”

Clinton particularly mentioned the hack of her campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails that she says led to conspiracy theories.

“The other side was using content that was just flat-out false and delivering it in a very personalized way.

“If I put myself in the position of running a platform like Facebook … they’re got to get back to trying to curate it more effectively. Put me out of the equation, they’ve got to help prevent fake news from creating a new reality that does influence how people think of themselves, see the world, the decisions that they make.”

-Hillary Clinton

Oculus adds Chromecast support to Gear VR ahead of Google’s own Daydream

Chromecast Hulu Plus

Oculus has added Google Chromecast support to the Gear VR headset, so users can stream their virtual reality experiences to their TV. Other people can share what you’re doing inside virtual reality with a new cast button in the Oculus mobile app. The feature has long been available on headsets like Oculus’ own Rift and PlayStation VR, but this is a first for phone-based VR.

Ironically, this comes ahead of Google’s own integration for its Daydream VR platform that’s coming later this year.

People watching a cast won’t be able to interact with the VR experience, but it can make virtual reality less isolating in group settings.

Defense contractor left sensitive Pentagon files on Amazon server without password

Gizmodo reports that a cache of 60,000 files tied to a US military project were discovered on a publicly accessible Amazon server, including passwords to a government system with sensitive information on it and the security credentials of a lead senior engineer at intelligence and defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The roughly 28GB of data also contained at least six unencrypted passwords belonging to government contractors with Top Secret Facility Clearance.

The leaked files make constant reference to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which awarded Booz Allen an $86 million defense contract in March. The combat support agency works with the CIA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and Defense Intelligence Agency to collect and analyze geospatial data gathered by spy satellites and aerial drones.

The NGA confirmed the leak to Gizmodo and said that no classified information was disclosed.

“NGA takes the potential disclosure of sensitive but unclassified information seriously and immediately revoked the affected credentials.”

-A National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency spokesperson, to Gizmodo

The spokesperson also said that the Amazon server that the data was leaked from wasn’t “directly connected to classified networks.”

Uber posts $708M loss as finance head leaves

Uber_NY_request-screenshot

 

Uber reported first-quarter revenue of $3.4 billion, up 18 percent from the fourth quarter. The loss, excluding employee stock compensation and other items, was $708 million, narrower than the $991 million reported three months ago.

The company’s head of finance, Gautam Gupta, is also leaving the company in July.

“During my time here, I have been incredibly inspired by Uber’s deep operational excellence – so much so that I have decided to give it a try myself.”

-Gautam Gupta, Uber finance head

The company, which has raised $15B in equity and debt funding, still has $7.2 billion of cash left on hand, roughly the same as it had at the end of last year.

“The narrowing of our losses in the first quarter puts us on a good trajectory towards profitability.”

-An Uber spokesperson

Leaked docs: Uber burned over $1M during some weeks in 2015 to subsidize UberPool

Meanwhile, internal documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show that Uber burned well over $1M a week during some weeks in San Francisco to subsidize the growth of the company’s Pool ride-sharing service.

“We didn’t have a plan for tomorrow. Everybody was just trying to put a Band-Aid on this problem.”

-A former Uber employee, to BuzzFeed News

However, ridership tanked once Uber dropped the discounts. Sixty-three percent of riders moved on to cheaper alternatives, according to Uber data, with 26 percent moving to Lyft’s Line service.

Microsoft reveals Windows Mixed Reality headsets from Dell, Asus

Microsoft revealed new details on Dell, ASUS, and Lenovo’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets at Computex 2017.

Dell’s white headset, designed by the company’s XPS and Alienware teams, will be available at an “affordable” price point this holiday. It includes a weight balanced headband, replaceable cushions, cable routing, and a flip-up visor.

ASUS’ headset looks the most unique out of the bunch, with a polygonal 3D cover panel on the front and six degrees of freedom tracking. No release date was announced.

Lenovo’s headset was described by Microsoft as “incredibly affordable,” but no exact pricing was given. It features built-in sensors for inside-out tracking and a basic design. The headset will be available later this year.

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