TechSummit Rewind 160

Intel buying Mobileye for $15.3B, Yahoo CEO Mayer to get $23M in severance, & Pandora Premium prepares for launch

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

Intel buying Mobileye for $15.3B


Intel is buying Israeli computer vision company Mobileye for $15.3 billion, per Mobileye.

Intel is offering $63.54/share in cash for the company.

“This acquisition is a great step forward for our shareholders, the automotive industry, and consumers. Intel provides critical foundational technologies for autonomous driving, including plotting the car’s path and making real-time driving decisions. Mobileye brings the industry’s best automotive-grade computer vision and strong momentum with automakers and suppliers. Together, we can accelerate the future of autonomous driving with improved performance in a cloud-to-car solution at a lower cost for automakers.”

-Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

The new unit will include Mobileye and Intel’s Automated Driving Group and will be headed by Mobileye co-founder and CTO Amnon Shashua from Israel. The transaction is expected to close within the next nine months.

“By pooling together our infrastructure and resources, we can enhance and accelerate our combined know-how in the areas of mapping, virtual driving, simulators, development tool chains, hardware, data centers and high-performance computing platforms. Together, we will provide an attractive value proposition for the automotive industry.”

-Ziv Aviram, Mobileye co-founder and CEO

Yahoo CEO Mayer to get $23M severance package after Verizon deal closes


Marissa Mayer, who is set to lose her job as Yahoo’s CEO after the closing of Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo’s operating businesses, will get a golden parachute package worth around $23 million, per a Yahoo regulatory filing.

Per the company, former IAC CFO Thomas McInerney will take over as CEO of the company after the Verizon deal closing, which is expected sometime in Q2. At that point, the company will change its name to Altaba Inc., with its major assets including its shares of Alibaba.

In addition, CFO Ken Goldman will be replaced by Yahoo VP and global controller Alexi Wellman.

When she’s terminated as CEO, Mayer will receive $3 million in cash, $20 million in equity, and $25,000 in medical-coverage benefits, per a Yahoo SEC filing.

Under their severance agreements, chief revenue officer Lisa Utzschneider would receive $16.5 million (including $14.7 million in equity) and Goldman would receive $9.5 million (including $7.8 million in equity).

Pandora Premium’s ready for prime time


Just three months after announcing its plans, Pandora is ready to launch its full-fledged Premium on-demand music service.

For the most part, it’s everything you’d expect it to be: a $10/month subscription with millions of songs that you can listen to and save offline whenever you want. There are workout and driving mixes and – naturally – a  radio feature. However, Pandora has added a slew of personalization features and a simple experience that can be more approachable than Apple Music and Spotify.

“Today it’s just 30 million songs in a search box, essentially. I think that can be appealing to a small segment of the population, but for most people that’s just overwhelming; it’s hard work.”

-Tim Westergren, Pandora CEO

The first thing you’ll notice in Pandora Premium is that it takes less clicks to start playing music compared to Apple Music and Spotify. The app launches into My Music, which features a carousel of recently played albums and stations that can be played with one tap (that command requires multiple taps on Apple Music and Spotify).

Below the carousel is a list of all your saved music, sorted in reverse chronological order. You can also sort between album, artist, and song lists if you want, but the option’s hidden in a drop-down menu.

Simplicity is a key focus on Premium, with huge influence coming from Rdio, whose assets were purchased by Pandora just over 15 months ago. There’s big album artwork and a minimalistic look with clean, white lines that combine to form an intuitive design that will make it easy for new and current Pandora users to pick up quickly.

Pandora is also handling its catalog differently than other streaming services. While it has access to the same over 40 million song catalog as Apple Music and Spotify, it is curating the catalog to get rid of karaoke, tributes, and duplicate tracks to help improve search.

However, there are also a few quirks to get used to. Pandora Premium doesn’t have pre-generated playlists, instead relying heavily on its radio stations without restrictions.

To fix the inevitable issue of creating playlists from radio stations with four or fly songs, Premium introduces an “add similar songs” feature that will add three to seven songs to your playlist at the click of a button. The algorithm will determine a handful of songs you’d enjoy based on the current content of your playlist.

Pandora has taken the musical analysis and data science that powers its radio stations and used it to cluster songs that work well together and combine with your musical taste to offer a small collection of songs every time you tap the magic wand.

“Sequencing is such an important part. It’s not just grabbing the right music to put into a playlist for you, it’s also organizing it and sequencing it so it flows. Those are really important qualities when you want to have a listening experience that just works. Just grabbing a bunch of recommendations of songs and throwing it in front of you still requires you as the user to do work. Our whole aim was to do it for you.”

-Chris Phillips, Pandora chief product officer

The best part is that it learns your preferences as you keep or remove the songs it adds.

“If you delete all four [recommendations] but leave one in there, that’s a pretty strong signal that you like that one song. There’s a lot of really delicate constant learning going on around how you feel about those recommendations. If you delete it, we will learn right away.”

-Chris Phillips

Other features aimed at novices include a toggle to hide explicit music on radio stations and in search, a New Music section tailored to your tastes, Ticketfly integration for buying tickets to your favorite acts, and a My Thumbs Up playlist that includes every song you’ve ever liked.

However, gaps remain. There’s no way to edit the “up next” queue. There won’t be a desktop or iPad app at launch (a web app is in the pipeline). Echo support is coming, but it’s not there yet.

“We’re really going to be just maniacally focused on what really enhances the experience for everything. There will be power user capabilities. Will video appear on Pandora? That’s been on our list for a long time. But it’s more about what are the right things to do next and in what order, to make the product better and keep it simple. That’s our guiding philosophy.”

-Tim Westergren

The company hopes to become the very best – like no one ever was – with around 6-9 million Premium subscribers by the end of the year.

“We have very grand ambitions for what this can be. If we look around at the space right now, we just don’t think that there’s a product that’s done it right. No one has solved the ease of use and personalization part of the on-demand world. I don’t think there’s really a true premium product out there yet… we think we’re bringing something really different here.”

-Tim Westergren

Pandora has opted for a staggered rollout plan for Premium on iOS and Android. Existing Pandora free can test out Premium free for two months, with invites to the trial beginning to roll out tomorrow (Mar. 15). Pandora Plus users can try out Premium free for six months. Non-Pandora users can have access to the two-month free trial by signing up here, with invitations rolling out in mid-April.

Facebook tells developers not to use data for surveillance


In response to pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change and the Center for Media Justice, Facebook announced that it will clarify its developer policy to explicitly prohibit the use of Facebook or Instagram data in surveillance tools.

The ACLU has revealed several instances of developers using information gleaned from Facebook’s APIs to create surveillance tools for law enforcement, and each time, Facebook has decided to revoke access to its data.

Facebook has contended that this kind of surveillance is already against its policies, but its policy was revamped today to state that developers can’t “use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”

“Our goal is to make our policy explicit. Over the past several months we have taken enforcement action against developers who created and marketed tools meant for surveillance, in violation of our existing policies; we want to be sure everyone understands the underlying policy and how to comply.”

-Rob Sherman, Facebook deputy chief privacy officer

Facebook has cut ties with a few developers that make surveillance tools, and has worked with several others to bring their apps into compliance with the policy.

“We commend Facebook and Instagram for this step and call on all companies who claim to value diversity and justice to also stand up and do what’s needed to limit invasive social media surveillance from being used to target black and brown people in low-income communities.”

-Brandi Collins, Color of Change campaign director

However, just because Facebook says surveillance is banned doesn’t mean that developers will listen.

According to the ACLU, Color of Change, and the Center for Media Justice, the next step is for Facebook to proactively enforce the policy, something Facebook argues it is already doing.

“Facebook and Instagram should institute both human and technical auditing mechanisms designed to effectively identify potential violations of company policies, both by developers and their end users, and take swift action for violations.”

-The coalition, in a letter to Facebook

Google’s Area 120 startup incubator reveals Uptime video sharing app


Google’s Area 120 startup incubator has released Uptime, a group video messaging app that lets you watch and share videos with your friend.

As of now, Uptime is only available for iPhone as an invite-only app. Once you log in with your Google account, you’re greeted with an introductory video explaining how everything works. You watch a video, and your profile picture travels along a progress bar that wraps around the screen. If there are other people watching, their icons will also travel along. You can also react to what you’re seeing on screen by typing comments or touching the screen in real time.

However, there are some limits. There’s no way to record video or to stream live: you can only share YouTube clips. The app is also best oriented for portrait-recorded videos, rather than landscape. You can watch and comment on something like a movie trailer, but if you rotate your phone 90 degrees, it won’t let you type text or add reactions.

There’s also no readily apparent way to search for specific people, and the Find Friends button only lets you invite new people to the platform.

Vertu sells for $61M to exiled Turkish businessman


British luxury phone maker Vertu has been bought for the first time since Nokia spun it off in 2012. According to the Telegraph, the company’s been purchase for $61 million by an investment vehicle funded by Turkish exile Hakan Uzan.

“Vertu is a powerful brand with an acknowledged market niche. I look forward to working with the team and providing the investment to enable Vertu to realize its full potential.”

-Hakan Uzan, Vertu owner


TechSummit Rewind 145

Google uses machine learning to reduce data for images, Intel wants sensors to help you with shopping, & the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 launches

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

Google using machine learning to reduce data needed for high-resolution images

Google Photos

Google has begun the process of integrating RAISR, a prototype technology that uses machine learning to make low-resolution images appear more detailed, into its online services. The technology will first upscale large images on Google+ and save users’ data in the process.

So far, it’s being used to tweak high-resolution Google+ images accessed on a “subset of Android devices.” When a user requests an image, Google+ retrieves a version that’s actually a quarter of the size and uses RAISR’s algorithms to “restore detail on [the] device.” This reduces the data cost of each image by up to 75 percent, according to Google. This technique is currently being applied to over a billion images a week, and has reduced “users’ total bandwidth by about a third,” according to Google.

The technique inserts new pixels into low-resolution images to make up for lost detail. However, while traditional upscaling uses fixed rules to work out which new pixels to use where, RAISR adapts its method to each image. It pays special attention to “edge features” (bits of the image that look like the edge of an object), making the resulting larger image look less blurred.

Intel wants sensors to help you with your shopping

An employee walks past an Intel logo during the 2014 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in Taipei

Intel is launching a Responsible Retail Platform that creates a common set of sensors, software kits, and other components for in-store tech. It promises to speed up inventory tracking, provide feedback on buying habits and personalize your shopping.

The company is investing over $100 million into the retail industry over the next five years to help get the ball rolling.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 launches at $30, ready to power up in other products


Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched the Compute Module 3, a slimmed-down Raspberry Pi 3 for developing customized hardware like TV displays, industrial control systems, and home media players.

It delivers double the RAM and a 10-times boost to CPU performance over the first iteration released in 2014.

The new module contains the Raspberry Pi 3’s guts, featuring a 64-bit Broadcom BCM2837 processor at up to 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage. By removing a number of ports, it offers a smaller design to make it more suitable than the Raspberry Pi for industrial applications.

The device also fits the DDR2 SODIMM sockets and has the same pin-out as the first Pi compute module. One notable change is that the Compute Module 3, at 31mm high, is one mm taller than the original one.

“The idea of the Compute Module was to provide an easy and cost-effective route to producing customized products based on the Pi hardware and software platform.

“The thought was to provide the ‘team in a garage’ with easy access to the same technology as the big guys. The Module takes care of the complexity of routing out the processor pins, the high-speed RAM interface, and core power supply, and allows a simple carrier board to provide just what is needed in terms of external interfaces and form factor.”

-James Adams, Raspberry Pi Foundation COO

The Foundation has also launched the Compute Module 3 Lite, which has the same processor and 1GB of RAM minus the flash storage. Builders can add an eMMC device or SD card socket on the base board.

Lastly, it’s releasing an updated version of the Compute Module IO Board 3, which provides HDMI and USB connectors, powers the module, and enables programming of its flash memory.

The standard Compute Module 3 costs $30 while the Lite version will set you back $25, excluding shipping and tax. The original Compute Module has been reduced to $25 from distributors RS Components, element 14, and Farnell UK.

Showing off its commercial applications, the Raspberry Pi Foundation highlighted a partnership with the European arm of NEC to integrate the module into a line of new large-format displays.

The module will power signage software and presentations on the NEC displays, and for CubeSats (mini-satellites made with off-the-shelf technology) by UK researchers.

Xiaomi stops disclosing annual sales figures, CEO admits company grew too fast


Xiaomi has forgone its tradition of revealing how many smartphones the company sold the previous year. Its CEO Lei Jung admitted Xiaomi has been in transition after growing “too fast.”

“In the first few years, we pushed ahead too fast. We created a miracle, but also drew on some long-term growth. So we have to slow down, further improve in some areas, and ensure sustainable growth for a long-term future.”

-Lei Jung; Xiaomi CEO, in a letter to employees

However, Lei told his staff that the “difficult times are behind us.”

A range of business metrics were also provided in Lei’s letter that give a picture of how the company is doing:

  • Xiaomi reached $1 billion in annual revenue in India for the first time
  • Three of Xiaomi’s 54 offline stores passed $14.5M in gross merchandise value each – including sales of partner products – and it plans to open 200 more in 2017, and 1,000 more by 2020
  • Xiaomi’s ‘Mi Ecosystem’ has 50 million connected devices – which includes smart TVs, fitness trackers, and more – which brought in $2.2 billion in sales
  • Xiaomi has applied for 16,000 patents globally, 3,612 of which have been granted to date
  • Xiaomi’s revenue from “internet services” doubled in 2016

The most interesting note here is that Lei wants to push on and see Xiaomi develop its offline retail arm.

According to Lei, Xiaomi has to branch out because its current distribution model is limited.

“Xiaomi has great ambitions, and we are not satisfied with just being an e-commerce smartphone brand, so we have to upgrade our retail model, and incorporate offline retail for a new retail strategy.”

-Lei Jung

Xiaomi also plans on developing artificial intelligence, increasing its global presence, and developing fintech solutions in 2017.

Jung’s “humble” goal for the year is to reach $14.5 billion in revenue.

Facebook rolls out fake news filter in Germany


Facebook will begin rolling out its fake news filter in Germany, according to the Financial Times, amid lawmakers expressing growing concern over the spread of fabricated news stories and Russian interference ahead of its national elections later this year.

The social network will begin fact-checking and flagging fake news for users in Germany over the coming weeks.

Under Facebook’s fact-checking system, stories reported as fake by users will be sent to Correctiv, a nonprofit news organization based in Berlin. If an item is deemed false, it will be marked as “disputed,” along with justification, and the site will warn users before they share it. Disputed items will also show up lower in News Feeds.

“Our focus is on Germany right now but we’re certainly thinking through what countries will unveil next.”

-A Facebook spokesperson

The Bragi Headphone starts shipping

Bragi’s latest Headphone earbuds are now available for immediate shipping after a series of delays.

The earbuds are a stripped down version of the company’s Dash earbud, and ditches the fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, gesture controls, and app to simply function as a pair of truly wireless Bluetooth headphones. It’s shipping now on Bragi’s website now for $149.99, with Bragi estimating orders to arrive within two weeks.

BMW, Mobileye, Intel will test 40 self-driving cars on public roads this year

The three companies revealed that BMW 7 vehicles will “employ cutting-edge Intel and Mobileye technologies” as part of the trials

BMW is planning to put 40 autonomous test cars on public roads in the second half of 2017, as the self-driving car race intensifies.

The German luxury car maker teamed up with Intel and Mobileye in July when they first announced plans to put self-driving cars into full production by 2021.

Speaking at a joint press conference at CES, the three companies revealed that BMW 7 vehicles will “employ cutting-edge Intel and Mobileye technologies” as part of the trials that’ll happen in the US and Europe. The companies have also developed a “scalable architecture” that can be used by other carmakers.

“This partnership has all of the skills and talent necessary to overcome the enormous technological challenges ahead and commercialize self-driving vehicles. Therefore, we are already thinking in terms of scalability and welcome other companies to participate and contribute to our autonomous platform. This year our fleet of vehicles will already test this joint technology globally under real traffic conditions.”

-Klaus Frohlich, BMW AG for Development management board member

“From an industry perspective, we are already seeing savings and speed in development by sharing development costs and in pooling resources to develop a complete autonomous platform. The car to cloud system will perform with consistent, predictable behavior and is validated to the highest level of safety. That’s why this partnership is breaking new ground. We have established a dedicated team with clear, shared goals and a culture of innovation and agility and accountability.”

-Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

Source: Venturebeat

Intel acquires 15 percent stake in Here

Intel has acquired a 15 percent stake in mapping and location services company Here.

Intel has acquired a 15 percent stake in mapping and location services company Here.

“Cars are rapidly becoming some of the world’s most intelligent, connected devices. We look forward to working with HERE and its automotive partners to deliver an important technology foundation for smart and connected cars of the future.”

-Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

“A real-time, self-healing and high definition representation of the physical world is critical for autonomous driving, and achieving this will require significantly more powerful and capable in-vehicle compute platforms. As a premier silicon provider, Intel can help accelerate HERE’s ambitions in this area by supporting the creation of a universal, always up-to-date digital location platform that spans the vehicle, the cloud and everything else connected.”

-Edzard Overbeek, HERE CEO

Source: TechCrunch

TechSummit Rewind 099: Intel Developer Forum

A recap of Intel’s Developer Forum.

This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on the Intel Developers Forum.

Project Alloy


Intel has fully embraced VR as its future, and Project Alloy is the latest indication of that.

“We believe the capability of Alloy and what is introduces is significant. It gives the opportunity to merge the physical and virtual world together.”

-Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

The completely wireless virtual reality headset features all the necessary cameras, sensors, and input controls built-in.

According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Alloy has six-degrees-of-freedom, which basically gives you free motion in VR without restrictions.

The headset relies entirely on hand-tracking for input through integrated sensors.

Intel has also partnered with Microsoft to bring the Windows Holographic operating system to the Alloy platform so developers can easily build apps for the headset. Alloy’s hardware will be made open source in the second half of 2017 so “anyone can combine the Project Alloy hardware with Windows Holographic platform,” according to Krzanich.

All Windows 10 PCs will support HoloLens apps next year


A new partnership with Intel will make all future Windows 10 PCs compatible with mixed reality apps, according to Microsoft Windows chief Terry Myerson.

“All Windows 10 PCs next year will include a holographic shell.”

-Terry Myerson, referring to the Windows 10 SKU that runs on Microsoft’s HoloLens headset

PCs will work with a head-mounted display, according to Myerson, and run all Windows Holographic apps so wearers can interact with 2D apps in addition to 3D apps. They will be enabled through a future Windows Update, and the company’s existing Universal Windows app program.

Project Euclid


Intel’s Project Euclid is a module aimed at bringing what’s needed to make robotics into a small, self-containted PC.

Euclid is based on Intel’s RealSense “perceptual computing” technology, according to Krzanich, and “brings sensors to any robot.”

Inside, it runs Linux and features an Atom processor, a current generation RealSense camera (as opposed to the upcoming RealSense 400), motion sensors, onboard communications capabilities, and a detachable battery.

According to Intel, Project Euclid will be available in the first quarter of 2017.

Tech Experience Labs

Lastly, Intel announced Tech Experience Labs, a Hollywood studio designed to produce 360-degree sports and entertainment virtual reality experiences.

The studio will build on the company’s existing 360 Replay technology, which froze the screen and rotated the view of action during the NBA Finals, to create new “merged reality” experiences where people can view all of the game’s action from anywhere.

“The whole field is digital. We’ll provide the technology to make it happen. You become the director of your merged reality experience.

“The idea is to be dedicated to push limits of our tech and understand how it can be used in production, to really redefine what is possible with the tech.”

-Brian Krzanich


TechSummit Rewind 095

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

Intel acquires Nervana Systems

An employee walks past an Intel logo during the 2014 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in Taipei

Intel is acquiring San Diego, Calif.-based deep learning startup Nervana Systems.

“There is far more data being given off by these machines than people can possibly sift through.”

-Jason Waxman, Intel vice president

“Raising money was not the problem. That was going to be relatively easy. [By selling to Intel], “we have access to technology we’d never dream about.”

-Naveen Rao, Nervana Systems CEO

“There’s always a next wave. I firmly believe this is not only the next wave but something that will dwarf the last wave.

“This is a real thing at Baidu; this is a real thing at Google. They are using deep learning techniques. It is not just papers any more.

-Jason Waxman

Chrome will block Flash content in September, make HTML5 default in December


Google has shared more details on its plan to replace Flash with HTML5 in Chrome.

In September, Chrome will block Flash content that loads behind the scenes (roughly 90 percent of Flash on the web, according to Google). In December, Chrome will make HTML5 the default experience for central content (games, videos, etc), except on sites that only support Flash.

At that point, you’ll be prompted to enable Flash when you first visit the site.

Google Maps for Android gets WiFi-only mode, SD card download option

Google Maps for Android

Google has updated Google Maps’ Android app with a WiFi-only mode and the option to download map data to an SD card.

Google also added more transportation options to the mapping app, including integrations with Go Jek and Grab in Southeast Asia, and expanding its existing support for Gett, Hello, and MyTaxi to cover Ireland, Poland, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Israel.

Facebook now bypassing ad blockers on desktop


Facebook announced in a blog post Tuesday that it’s now circumventing ad blockers. This means that desktop users will continue seeing ads regardless of if they have an ad blocker active.

However, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is giving users more control over what ads they’re subjected to.

Its updated “Ad Preferences” panel now lets you opt out of ads related to particular subjects, like “travel” or “cats,” or those from a specific company/organization. It also shows you a rundown of business that’ve added you to a customer list.

According to Facebook, the change comes after a survey conducted by Ipsos Connect with 2,000 people in six countries about ad blocking. The survey found that most of those that use ad blockers do so because they’re tired of disruptive/intrusive ads and are worried about potential security risks.

“Facebook should be applauded for its leadership on preserving a vibrant value exchange with its users. For hundreds of years, advertising and marketing have been central to the delivery of entertainment and services that are otherwise free to consumers. In addition, advertising is essential to the functioning of democratic capitalism.”

-Randall Rothenberg, Interactive Advertisement Bureau president & CEO

“This is an unfortunate move, because it takes a dark path against user choice.”

-Ben Williams, AdBlock Plus spokesperson

Disney investing $1 billion in streaming tech, new streaming sports network

disney-logo-PrintingRay.Com_ (1)

Disney is buying a third of New York-based based streaming tech company BAMTech for $1 billion to eventually launch an ESPN-branded subscription streaming service that won’t include the aforementioned cable networks.

Google Inbox adds Drive file attachments

Google Inbox

Google has added the ability to directly attach Google Drive files to emails in mobile-optimized email client Inbox.

Now, notifications from Trello and GitHub that come into your Inbox will automatically show you a summary of their contents, in a similar style to newsletters from places like Medium.

Inbox can also pull Google alerts in the same newsletter style, with a preview of the contents from your inbox. Tapping the email will start with an auto-generated summary of the items inside. You can tap or click on those specific items to get the full story, or scroll down to read the full email.

It’s now easier to put emails directly into the trash instead of the archive. Hovering over a message in the Web on Inbox, a trash can icon is prominently displayed next to the “done” and “snooze” options.

All of these changes should be rolling out now for Inbox users on the Web, along with the Android and iOS apps.

Google tests more personalized Now virtual assistant

Google Now

Google Now is testing a new feature called “Explore Interests,” which will give users more control over the information Google will track on their behalf, and will make it easier to tell Google the information you want to know about.

The app informs users they can “pick teams, bands, movies, and more” and a click through takes them to a screen where there are colorful titles for sections like Sports, TV, Movies, Musicians, People, Stocks, and more.

As you dive into each section, you can browse through cards of individual items across a number of subcategories, and click plus signs to add the item to the list of things you’re tracking.

You can also see which topics are “Popular in Your Area,” for a bit of local flair.

Yelp Q2 earnings: Revenue $173.4 million, EPS $0.16


Yelp has reported Q2 2016 earnings with revenue of $173.4 million ands earnings per share of $0.16.

In addition, the company partnered with and made an investment in Nowait, a mobile platform that allows restaurants to manage their waitlists.

“In the coming months, Nowait will be integrated onto Yelp Platform, allowing consumers to conveniently view wait times at thousands of restaurants and even add themselves to the waitlists remotely via the Yelp app.”

-Yelp, in a statement

The company also announced Jed Nachman as its chief operating officer, effective immediately. Former COO Geoff Donaker will continue as a strategic advisor to the company.

Profit was $449,000, compared to a $1.3 million loss a year ago.

“In the second half of the year, we look to execute against our three strategic priorities of growing the core local advertising business, boosting awareness of Yelp and driving transactions.”

-Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp co-founder & CEO

Rackspace sells Sites business to Liquid Web


Rackspace has sold its Cloud Sites business unit to hosting company Liquid Web.

“As Rackspace continues to focus on delivering expertise and Fanatical Support for the world’s leading clouds, while serving more enterprise customers, it has been divesting services that are not core to this strategy.”

  • Rackspace, in a statement

The deal is expected to close before Sept. 30, according to Liquid Web, and will leave the unit based from Rackspace’s San Antonio headquarters.

BitTorrent offers creators cash grants, promotional support through Discovery Fund

BitTorrent Now

BitTorrent is funding the work of select creators through the San Francisco-based company’s Discovery Fund.

The fund intends to find an audience for the work of the aforementioned creators.

BitTorrent will provide between $2,500 and $100,000 in funding to roughly 25 different creators. Some of that funding will come from support and promotion on BitTorrent, but the money could also pay for ad campaigns on other sites.

According to BitTorrent vice president of creative initiatives Straith Schreder, the company’s asking for a brief exclusivity period (seven to 10 days for music, 30 days for video), but after that, the creator can distribute said content anywhere they please.

“It’s about being able to – via a grant – explore new work across mediums. And understanding how to build content, how to build art for the Internet, and being able to back it.”

-Straith Schreder, BitTorrent vice president of creative initiatives

BitTorrent has already announced one winner – the filmmakers behind the dream-focused anthology movie collective:unconscious.

According to Schreder, the focus on distribution and promotion has made BitTorrent look for products that are already in progress.

“It’s really about getting [the project] over the line, in collaboration with the creator.”

-Straith Schreder

Walmart buys for $3B


Walmart has acquired ecommerce startup for $3 billion. co-founder Marc Lore will join Walmart to run e-commerce for both companies.

“We started Jet with the vision of creating a new shopping experience. Today, I couldn’t be more excited that we will be joining with Walmart to help fuel the realization of that vision. The combination of Walmart’s retail expertise, purchasing scale, sourcing capabilities, distribution footprint, and digital assets – together with the team, technology and business we have built here at Jet – will allow us to deliver more value to customers.”

-Marc Lore, co-founder

The deal includes another $300 million in share incentives.

Hulu goes subscription only, moves free stuff to Yahoo

Chromecast Hulu Plus

Hulu is ending its free tier, leaving only the $7.99 tier with limited commercials and the $11.99 one with no ads.

According to Hulu, it’s committed to enhancing its standard paid service with original shows and exclusives and has been forced to limit the free tier into something that’s “no longer aligned with the Hulu experience or content strategy.”

Most of Hulu’s free stuff — the five most recent episodes of shows from ABC, NBC, and Fox eight days after their premiere, some clips, and full seasons of some anime and Korean dramas – will be moved to Yahoo’s View website.

Kaltura raises $50M from Goldman Sachs, confirms IPO plans


Kaltura, the New York-based open source video platform, has raised $50 million from Goldman Sachs, and has confirmed its plans to go public.

The cash will be used to “extend its footprint” worldwide, according to the company.

“Video is booming – it is the favorite data type for communication, collaboration, teaching & learning, marketing, and entertainment. Kaltura is in a unique position to capitalize on this huge market opportunity since it provides the broadest set of video products and capabilities to customers across all industries.”

-Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura chairman & CEO

“Kaltura has an impressive roster of marquee customers across a large and diversified set of markets and an experienced management team that has demonstrated excellence, agility, and leadership.”

-Hillel Moerman, Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investment group co-head

As part of its investment, Goldman Sachs investment vice president Holger Staude will be joining Kaltura’s board of directors.

TechSummit Rewind 092

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

KickassTorrents domains seized after alleged owner arrested in Poland


The U.S. Justice Department has successfully apprehended and charged the alleged founder and operator of BitTorrent distribution site KickassTorrents. Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old from Kharkiv, Ukraine, was arrested today in Poland on behalf of the United States, which has requested his extradition for crimes related to running the website.

Vaulin faces two counts of criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. All of KickassTorrents’ domains are in the process of being seized, while access to the site has been halted.

“In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”

-Leslie Caldwell, Justice Department criminal division assistant attorney general

Skype drops support for Windows Phone, old Android versions


Over the past few years, Skype has been slowly transitioning to the cloud, and Microsoft has unveiled some changes to the Skype apps it supports as a result. While Microsoft will continue to support Skype on iOS 8, Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and Windows 10 Mobile, any users stuck on Windows Phone 8 or any Android version older than Ice Cream Sandwich will no longer receive access to Skype updates. This will eventually render some of the apps useless.

“At times, unforeseen issues have cropped up, like messages not syncing across devices, or delayed notifications. Knowing the impact of these issues for our users, we fix these issues as quickly as we can.”

-Gurdeep Pall, Skype chief

Facebook Messenger hits a billion users

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger has hit one billion monthly users.

According to Facebook, the messaging app is “one of only a handful of apps worldwide that touch so many lives.” The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company created a video to celebrate the occasion and encourage users to send balloon emoticons in their messages.

Microsoft debuts Bookings Office 365 service for online appointment scheduling

Microsoft Bookings

Microsoft has announced Bookings, a new service in the Office 365 suite that allows customers to schedule appointments with a business online. Bookings also manages other aspects of appointment management, including sending out confirmations and reminders and handling re-scheduling and cancellations.

Businesses are provided with a unique webpage that works on both desktop and mobile where customers can select their dates and times based on current availability. Here, they’ll enter in their contact information and book the appointment. The system then automates the rest of the process.

It’ll automatically send an email confirmation to the customer, as well as a reminder email ahead of the appointment time.

Customers can return to the scheduling site by clicking a link in their email to choose a different time or cancel. According to Microsoft, businesses can avoid last-minute cancellations by controlling how much advanced notice is required to cancel an appointment.

Once created, the bookings are synced to a centralized booking calendar where businesses can then reschedule them, cancel them, or reassign them to other staff members if necessary. You can also input new bookings in the calendar for in-person or phone arrangements.

Split view shows which staff are booked at which times by letting you view schedules side-by-side. These appointments are also synced to staff calendars (on Office 365 Outlook,, or Google Calendar).

The system also creates a contact entry automatically when a customer inputs their info into the online system. The contact card contains the customer’s personal information (name, address, phone, email) along with notes.

According to Microsoft, a standalone app for Bookings will launch in a few weeks for on-the-go appointment management.

As a business grows, it can add more staff and create additional booking pages at no extra cost. Staff isn’t required to have individual Office 365 subscriptions to use the service, according to Microsoft, with only one master Office 365 Business Premium subscription required.

Bookings is initially launching for those who are in the Office 365 Business Premium First Release program, with a worldwide rollout planned in the “coming months” through the Office 365 app launcher.

Airbnb hires Eric Holder to craft anti-discrimination policy


Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is joining Airbnb to fight discrimination on the rental platform, according to company CEO Brian Chesky.

“We are honored that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to join our team to help craft a world-class anti-discrimination policy. While we have a policy that prohibits discrimination, we want this policy to be stronger. And we will require everyone who uses our platform to read and certify that they will follow this policy.

“I know we’ve failed on that front previously. We weren’t fully conscious of this issue when we designed the platform. After speaking to many of you, I have learned that there have at times been a lack of urgency to work on this, and we need to rectify that immediately.”

-Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO

“I’m looking forward to working with Airbnb to develop and implement a world-class anti-discrimination policy. Airbnb is committed to building a community where everyone can belong, no matter who they are or what they look like. I’m eager to help them craft policies that will be the model for companies who share Airbnb’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

-Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General

Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 designed to survive epic smartphone drops

Gorilla Glass 5

Corning has unveiled the newest version of Gorilla Glass, the chemically strengthened super glass used in dozens of consumer electronics makers’ devices.

Gorilla Glass 5 was formulated to improve drop performance from gadgets dropped onto rough surfaces from waist height to shoulder height. According to the glassmaker, Gorilla Glass 5 survives up to 80 percent of the time when dropped from 1.6 meters.

SwiftKey unwraps emoji prediction app


Swiftkey has launched Swiftmoji, the keyboard app maker’s first new product as a member of Microsoft.

The emoji-predicting keyboard app is available now for download on iOS and Android, supporting only English for now.

Predictions are crowdsourced based on Swiftkey’s keyboard usage data, but will also draw on each user’s emoji preferences over time.

Swiftmoji offers emoji suggestions based on what the user has typed, so you won’t have to waste your precious time searching for the French flag.

Tapping on one of these suggestions adds it to the text. There’s also “emoji storm,” a feature that will add the entire stack of emoji predictions in one long line when you hold down on the “add emoticon” key.

On iOS, there’s a frequently used emoji feature that puts your favorite emoticons one tap away along with a popular screen to surface trendy emoji based on Swiftkey’s usage data. A third screen organizes all emoji into easy to navigate categories such as people, food & drink, sports, etc.

The Android app is a full keyboard replacement with emoji predictions positioned in a line above the keyboard. According to SwiftKey, the differences are due to the different frameworks iOS and Android have for managing keyboards.

Mozilla will block Flash in Firefox starting next month


According to Mozilla, Firefox will start blocking Flash content “not essential to the user experience” starting next month. The company will also adopt a new click-to-activate policy starting in 2017, requiring users to approve the use of Flash for any content on a page, advising sites that use the Adobe plugin or Microsoft Silverlight to “plan on adopting HTML technologies as soon as possible.”

According to the company, the change is expected to reduce Flash-related crashes and hangs in Firefox by up to 10 percent, and give users “enhanced security, improved battery life, faster page load, and better browser responsiveness.” Mozilla data shows that Firefox plugin crashes dropped when both YouTube and Facebook switched to HTML5 by default.

French authorities serve notice to Microsoft for Windows 10 privacy failings


The French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a formal notice against Microsoft, ordering the company to “stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent.”

The complaint also demands Microsoft to “take satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data.”

CNIL based the complaint on seven investigations conducted between April and June of this year, as well as interviews with Microsoft representatives to ensure that the company was following the French Data Protection Act.

The CNIL notice accuses Microsoft of the following violations:

  • Irrelevant or excessive data collected: According to the CNIL, “collecting diagnostic and usage data via its telemetry service” was acceptable, but it also found that the default Windows 10 settings, which collect additional information, go too far. The complaint says collecting “information on all the apps downloaded and installed on the system by a user and the time spent on each one” is “excessive.”
  • Lack of security: The option to secure a PC with a four-digit PIN is insecure, but it doesn’t limit the number of attempts to enter the PIN.
  • Lack of individual consent: Microsoft’s advertising ID enables Windows apps and third party apps to monitor browsing and offers targeted ads without proper consent.
  • Cookies: Microsoft puts cookies on users’ websites without sufficient consent.
  • Data transfer outside the EU: Data from French Windows users is being transferred to the U.S. on a “safe harbor” basis, which should have stopped after a decision issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union on Oct. 6, 2015.

The CNIL public notice stresses that “formal notices are not sanctions and no further action will be taken if the company complies with the Act within the specified timescale, in which case the notice proceedings will be closed and this decision will also be made public.”

Microsoft has three months to comply with the complaint.

“We built strong privacy protections into Windows 10, and we welcome feedback as we continually work to enhance those protections. We will work closely with the CNIL over the next few months to understand the agency’s concerns fully and to work toward solutions that it will find acceptable.”

-David Heiner, Microsoft vice president & deputy general counsel

Intel Q2 earnings: Sales of $13.5B, $0.59 EPS

An employee walks past an Intel logo during the 2014 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in Taipei

Intel has posted its Q2 earnings, with revenues of $13.5 billion with earnings of $0.59/share.

The company had net income of $1.3 billion.

“Second-quarter revenue matched our outlook and profitability was better than we expected. In addition, our restructuring initiative to accelerate Intel’s transformation is solidly on-track. We’re gaining momentum heading into the second half. While we remain cautious on the PC market, we’re forecasting growth in 2016 built on strength in data center, the Internet of Things, and programmable solutions.”

-Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

Among its divisions, Intel’s Client Computing Group posted revenue of $7.3 billion, down three percent from last quarter. The Data Center Group had sales of $4.0 billion, up one percent on last quarter.

The Internet of Things Group posted revenue of $572 million, down 12 percent from last quarter. Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group had revenue of $554 million, down one percent sequentially.

The Programmable Solutions Group posted revenue of $465 million, up 30 percent from last quarter.

eBay raises forecasts

eBay Argos 084

eBay has raised its revenue and profit forecasts, as efforts to lure new shoppers gain traction.

The San Jose, Calif-based company’s revenue will be between $8.85 billion and $8.95 billion, up from a previous forecast of $8.6 billion to $8.8 billion.

Full-year profit, excluding certain items, will be between $1.85 and $1.90/share, compared to a January forecast ranging between $1.82 and $1.87/share. Adjusted third quarter profit will be between $0.42 and $0.44/share.

Sales in the current quarter will be between $2.16 billion and $2.19 billion, according to the company.

According to eBay, the company’s board has approved a $2.5 billion share buyback, compared to a $500 million buyback in the second quarter.

eBay’s revenue increased six percent to $2.23 billion in the second quarter, with its customer base increased to 164 million active accounts, up four percent from a year ago.

According to eBay, gross merchandise volume increased four percent to $20.9 billion in the second quarter compared to a year ago.

Revenue from concert and event ticket marketplace StubHub gained 40 percent to $225 million in the second quarter.

“I’m not ready to jump on a table and start dancing for eBay, but it looks like they’re moving in the right direction.”

-Vic Anthony, Axiom Capital Management analyst

Qualcomm releases Q4 forecasts


Qualcomm has released its fourth-quarter forecasts that are helped by higher royalties and a jump in chip orders from Chinese customers.

Revenue in the quarter that ends in September will be between $5.4 billion and $6.2 billion, according to the San Diego, Calif.-based company. Profit before certain items will be between $1.05 and $1.15/share.

Net income in the third quarter that ended June 26 rose to $1.4 billion ($0.97/share) from $1.18 billion ($0.73/share) a year earlier. Excluding certain items, profit was $1.16/share.

Sales increased to $6.04 billion, up 3.6 percent from a year ago to break a year-long quarterly double-digit percentage decline.

“It was a really strong quarter – it was strong in both businesses, in particular the license business. We got some money a little earlier than we would have thought.

“In China, the chipset business has done a good job of growing. We’re on track and executing.”

-Steve Mollenkopf, Qualcomm CEO

China temporarily bans highway testing of self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are no longer welcome on Chinese highways. According to Bloomberg, the country’s auto industry is working with police to create new regulations for autonomous vehicles – with automakers being ordered to keep them off the roads until they go into effect.

Doppler Labs raises $24 million led by The Chernin Group

Doppler Labs Here One

Doppler Labs has closed an additional $24 million in funding led by The Chernin Group, which will support the company’s preparations for the launch of its Here One wireless listening system.

The company intends to spend capital on hiring more engineers while improving its Here One platform.

The company has also raised funds from investors Kevin Efrusy, David Geffen, Dan Gilbert, Henry Kravis, and Anton Levy.

“Doppler is trying to create a new product category that improves how we experience our auditory world. It’s this discipline and ambition that attracted me, and both tend to be the key ingredients for consumer breakthroughs, along with some luck.”

-Kevin Efrusy, Accel partner

Seagate unveils 10TB hard drive for home PC

Seagate Barracuda Pro

Seagate has released a trio of 10TB hard drives (primarily focused on networked and surveillance storage) that includes one designed for your desktop. The new Barracuda Pro is a standard 3.5-inch, 7200RPM disk that will set you back $535.

TechSummit Rewind #071

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

Google iOS app gets faster load times, AMP articles in search, keyboard shortcuts

Google’s iOS app

More speed is the highlight for an update to Google’s iOS app.

Like on the mobile web and Android, AMP articles will now show up in search results for faster viewing. Other improvements improve sport video highlights on Now cards that play within the app, and new keyboard shortcuts for iPad users. Holding “Command” will list shortcuts for searching and app navigation.

According to Google, faster load times when opening the app and searching will save app users 6.5 million hours combined this year.

Facebook, Microsoft team up to build undersea Internet cable

Microsoft and Google are building an underwater internet cable that will cross the Atlantic Ocean from Northern Virginia to Bilbao, Spain.

According to the companies, the cable was designed to carry data for their growing number of online users and commercial customers. The project will be operated by Spanish carrier Telefonica, which will sell unused capacity on the cable to other customers.

Intel acquires Itseez for IoT, self-driving cars

An employee walks past an Intel logo during the 2014 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in Taipei

Intel has acquired computer vision startup Itseez as it moves further in the Internet of Things and automotive electronics markets.

“Intel is transforming from a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices. These devices will use the power of Intel technology to process data being generated from ‘things,’ connect to, and learn from data being analyzed in the cloud, and deliver amazing new experiences.

“While the possibilities are exciting, the reality requires solving a myriad of technology challenges. Solutions will need to seamlessly deliver a combination of compute, connectivity, security, machine learning, human machine interfaces, and functional safety.”

-Doug Davis, Intel Internet of Things senior vice president

Intel is adding new functionality to cars like functional safety and over-the-air software management, along with the ability to see and interpret surroundings.

Computer vision includes methods for acquiring, processing, analyzing, and understanding images from the real world to make informed decisions and automate actions. According to Davis, this technology is becoming critical for the future of smart and connected “things” in autonomous vehicles, security systems, and medical imaging.

Itseez creates software and integration for everything from cars to security systems. According to Davis, the San Francisco-based startup will become a key ingredient for Intel’s Internet of Things group roadmap, and will help Intel’s customers create applications like autonomous driving, digital security and surveillance, and industrial inspection.

“Together, we’ll step up our contribution to these standards bodies — defining a technology badge that helps the industry move more quickly to OpenVX-based products.”

-Doug Davis

ZTE launches Google Daydream-ready Axon 7, first VR headset

ZTE Axon 7

ZTE has launched its Axon 7 flagship, alongside its ZTE VR virtual reality headset. The 5.5-inch, Android 6.0 Marshmallow-toting handset aims to offer flagship features and specs at a $450 price tag.

Sure enough, the spec sheet reads like any other flagship with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4/6GB of RAM, and 64/128GB of storage. The latter configuration also offers a force touch enabled 2560×1440 AMOLED display.

Other highlights include front-facing stereo speakers powered by a pair of discrete audio chips; a rear-mounted, hapticaly enhanced fingerprint sensor that vibrates to assist in finger placement; and NFC for contactless payments.

In terms of cameras, the main shooter combines a 20-megapixel Samsung sensor with an optically stabilized f/1.8 lens, while the front-facing cam offers an eight-megapixel sensor. Powering all this is a 3250mAh non-removable battery.


Axon 7 is one of the first handsets to support Google’s Daydream virtual reality platform, and is compatible with ZTE VR. The goggles include a five-piece glass configuration and nine-axis gyroscope, along with an 18-millisecond delay and 96-degree field of vision.

The phone itself is available now in China, and will hit the U.S. “shortly” through ZTE, Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, eBay, and Newegg. American customers can also benefit from a two-year warranty and white glove service contract as part of the Axon Passport Program 2.0.

Three UK trialling mobile ad blocking next month


Three will soon trial network-level ad blocking in the U.K., on the week starting June 13 for 24 hours. The carrier will contract customers beforehand through signing up on the carrier’s website. According to Shrine, the company Three contracted to handle the ad-blocking, it can handle “all of the mobile web,” including display ads and in-app ads.

“The current ad model is broken. It frustrates customers, eats up their data allowance, and can jeopardize their privacy. Something needs to change.”

-Tom Malleschitz, Three chief marketing officer

Twitter tunes into Spotify to soundtrack audio cards

Spotify-Twitter partnership

Twitter is launching audio cards in partnership with Spotify that let you listen to 30-second song previews in your timeline and Moments.

The music player can be docked in the corner of Twitter, and keep browsing your feed while the music plays.

“As part of today’s launch, Spotify tracks can now be featured within Twitter Moments providing another great way to discover new music.”


TechSummit Rewind #062

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

Intel cuts Atom chips

An employee walks past an Intel logo during the 2014 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in Taipei

According to a company spokesperson, Intel is immediately canceling Atom chips, codenamed Sofia and Broxton for mobile devices.

Resources originally dedicated to the chips will be moved to “products that deliver higher returns and advance our strategy,” according to an Intel spokesperson.

This gives the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company a mobile chip hole, with the company’s mobile chips aging and having no replacements in sight.

Intel is also phasing out its Atom X5 line of Cherry Trail tablet chips, which is being replaced by hybrid-centric Pentium and Celeron chips codenamed Apollo Lake chips.

“We no longer look at tablets as a standalone segment. Our product roadmap reflects that. We will continue to support our tablet customers with Sofia 3G/3GR, Bay Trail, and Cherry Trail now, and later with Apollo Lake and some SKUs from our Core processor family.”

-An Intel spokesperson, in an email

Samsung working on standalone VR headset

Samsung Gear 360

Samsung is working on a standalone virtual reality headset that incorporates positional tracking similar to the technologies found on higher end headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

“We are working on wireless and dedicated VR devices, not necessarily working with our mobile phone. VR is amazing, but the industry is still at its infancy.”

-Injong Rhee, Samsung head of R&D for software and services

This could pit the company against Facebook-owned partner Oculus, which developed the software platform that powers the Gear VR, or as a broader pivot for Oculus as a platform operator.

Apple dominating smartwatch sales


According to new data from research firm Strategy Analytics, 4.2 million smartwatches were shipped globally in Q1 2016 – up from 1.3 million in Q1 2015. The Apple Watch might owe a lot to the market’s adoption.

The watch’s sales dipped slightly in Q1 2016, compared to the last quarter of 2015, snagging 52 percent of smartwatch sales. However, this is expected with the product’s age and a new Apple Watch launch expected in the coming months.

For perspective, Apple is outselling Samsung three times over, selling 0.6 million units in the quarter.

Cypress acquiring Broadcom’s IoT business for $550 million


Cypress has announced a $550 million acquisition of Broadcom’s Internet of Things division.

This includes Broadcom’s WiFi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee IoT products and property, along with its WICED brand and developer system.

“Cypress is a significant player in the IoT today because of our ultra-low-power programmable system-on-chip technology, but we’ve only been able to pair it with generic radios so far. Now we have the Broadcom IoT business – that will transform us into a force in IoT and provide us with new market opportunities as well.”

-T.J. Rodgers, Cypress CEO

Twitter retires Magic Recs

Magic Recs

Twitter has retired Magic Recs, a bot account that sent DMs recommending viral accounts or tweets to follow based on an algorithm measuring how many others you knew were following an account or tweet in quick succession.

Instead, notifications are being delivered via mobile push notifications.

This makes sense considering that you had to follow @MagicRecs to get its recommendations, and the roughly 112,000 followers of the bot adds up to a small fraction of the overall Twitter user base. Meanwhile, push notifications are open to the company’s roughly 257.3 million mobile users (83% of Twitter’s overall user base).

Judge rules for Fitbit in Jawbone patent dispute


Fitbit has won a legal ruling invalidating patents Jawbone was using to block it from importing its foreign-made fitness bands to the U.S. This reduces the chance of Fitbit to face an import ban from the U.S.’ International Trade Commission, but the judge is letting Jawbone sue Fitbit for stealing trade secrets.

In a statement on the court decision, Jawbone said that the patents ruled on represent just a portion of the company’s case and the ruling will be appealed.

The corporate espionage case is scheduled for trial on May 9 in Washington, D.C.

Google testing Trips app for better vacations


Google is testing its new Trips app for aggregating travel info like plane tickets and hotel rooms from your Gmail account and/or other apps.

The app also provides a list of recommended activities, and info for getting around (public transportation, traffic updates, walking/biking directions, etc.)

Google Trips is currently in testing by select local guides that provide info for Google Maps.

FTC investigating Venmo over ‘deceptive/unfair practices’


According to a PayPal SEC filing, Venmo, the PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payment service, is currently being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.

“The [Civil Investigative Demand] requests the production of documents and answers to written questions related to our Venmo service. We are cooperating with the FTC in connection with the CID.”

-PayPal, in a SEC filing

According to PayPal, depending on where FTC goes with the investigation, legal fees to potential changes in the way Venmo works could be in store.

TechSummit Rewind #053

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

Microsoft, Samsung, others form IoT alliance

Microsoft, Samsung, Qualcomm, GE & Intel have joined forces to launch the Open Connectivity Foundation.

The foundation aims to help “unify IoT standards so that companies and developers can create IoT solutions and devices that work seamlessly together.”

Jon Steinberg launches Cheddar with $3M in funding

Jon Steinberg, former president of BuzzFeed, is launching a new media company called Cheddar.

The startup will stream one to two hours of live content daily, primarily from the New York Stock Exchange trading floor, and chop up pieces of the videos for distribution on platforms like YouTube.

The live shows will focus on tech and consumer stocks like Google, Facebook, and Chipotle.

Cheddar wants its main source of revenue to be distribution deals with streaming services like Netflix and Comcast’s Watchable.

“We’re making a big bet on connected televisions. And I don’t think the Apple TV market is as big as the phone market or the desktop market. But nobody is doing programming right now for people without cable boxes that have TVs on their walls, in offices, and have Rokus, Apple TVs and Chromecast connected to them … I take the belief that no one coming out of college is going to get a cable box.”

-Jon Steinberg, Cheddar founder

Garmin adds dash of style to Vivo activity tracker line

Garmin Vivo

Garmin has announced updates to its Vivo line of activity trackers, specifically its Vivofit wristband and Vivoactive smart fitness watch. The tech updates are incremental, with features like optical heart rate sensors and automatic activity tracking. The company has also partnered with designer Jonathan Adler.

The new Vivofit 3 wristband has a backlit display, acts as an all-day activity tracker, and is waterproof up to 50 meters, like the last Vivofit. It still has up to one year of battery life, using coin cell batteries, but the Vivofit 3 will now automatically track workouts like running, biking, swimming, and elliptical training, and can track intensity levels during workouts.

Notably, there are new design options for the Vivofit 3, lumped into two distinct categories: Garmin’s own Style collection, and a series of accessory bands designed by Jonathan Adler. The Style collection includes black and white quilted bands, a periwinkle braided band, and a camo band. The Adler designs are more colorful: purple geometrics, gray and green concentric circles, and a blue chrvron pattern.

Garmin Vivoactive HR

The new Vivoactive HR is more capable than the previous one, with optical heart rate sensors, elevation sensors, up to 13 hours of GPS battery life, native tracking for more sports, and the ability to record intensity minutes during workouts. Like the previous watch, it pairs with your smartphone over Bluetooth to show notifications.

The Vivofit 2 ships in the second quarter for between $100 and $120, with the Jonathan Adler bands selling for an additional $40. The Vivoactive HR ships in the spring for $250.

Volvo plans to replace car keys with smartphone app this year

Volvo has announced a pilot program kicking off this spring in Sweden that will offer cars without any physical key or fob, with plans to make the system commercially available in 2017.

Instead of keys, drivers will be given a smartphone app for unlocking the doors and starting the engine through a Bluetooth connection. Through the app, customers will also be able to use more than one “digital key,” so they can access more than one Volvo depending on where they are.

“At Volvo, we are not interested in technology for the sake of technology. New technology has to make our customers’ lives easier and save them time. Mobility needs are evolving and so are our customers’ expectation to access cars in an uncomplicated way. Our innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared.”

-Henrik Green, Volvo vice president of product strategy & vehicle line management

The keyless car technology will be demonstrated for the first time next week at Mobile World Congress.

Flint Mobile Payments go offline, tells customers to use Stripe

Flint Mobile Payments

Flint Mobile, a startup backed by Verizon and True Ventures, has ceased payment operations, and is directing its customers to use Stripe for payment services.

“Starting today, Flint is transitioning to a new platform. During this period, you will not be able to use Flint to process credit or debit card transactions. However, you will have continued access to your past transaction data and other Flint features.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and we will keep you updated about card processing availability for your account. If you have any questions, please contact our support team.”

-Flint Mobile Payments, in a note to customers