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

mobileye

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_29

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

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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

Facebook_Logo

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

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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

vertu

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 155

Yahoo valuation drops by $350M, TransferWise launches Facebook Messenger bot for money transfers, & Qualcomm’s latest chip promises data that’s faster than fiber

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

Verizon, Yahoo agree to slash $350 million from merger deal

Verizon and Yahoo have agreed to drop its original $4.83 billion acquisition deal price by $350 million after the company’s public image rolled downhill from one hacking scandal after another.

“We have always believed this acquisition makes strategic sense. We look forward to moving ahead expeditiously so that we can quickly welcome Yahoo’s tremendous talent and assets into our expanding portfolio in the digital advertising space.”

-Marni Walden; Verizon executive vice president, in a statement

The companies have agreed to share the legal and regulatory burdens that will come from the hacks the website suffered from in 2013 and 2014.

Under the terms of the revised deal, Yahoo will have to pay half the bill for any non-SEC government investigations and lawsuits related to the hack. Any shareholder’s lawsuit over the hacks will also be Yahoo’s responsibility.

The deal is still open to adjustments, and is expected to close by June 30.

TransferWise launches Facebook Messenger bot for easy money transfers

transferwise

International money transfer service TransferWise has introduced a new Facebook Messenger bot, letting customers send money and create rate alerts directly within Facebook Messenger.

The automated customer service bot guides users through money transfers, that can be made from the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Canada. They can also set up rate alerts through Messenger giving you a daily update on rates between your preferred currencies.

“Our mission at TransferWise is to bring faster, cheaper, and more convenient international money transfers to everyone in the world. Building the TransferWise bot for Messenger is a great step in that direction. It’s also a powerful example of how our API can be used to seamlessly integrate TransferWise into almost any messaging, bank, or business payment system.”

-Scott Miller; TransferWise head of global partnerships, in a blog post

Qualcomm chip promises phone data that’s faster than fiber

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Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem that promises 1.2Gbps download speeds on mobile devices. That’s 20 percent faster than the company’s previous best, and enough to nearly max out the speed provided by landline services like Google Fiber. The X20 does this with more aggressive carrier aggregation (which bonds carrier frequency ranges) That lets it download 12 unique data streams of up to 100Mbps each. Upload speeds are also healthy at 150Mbps.

The chip supports the 3.5GHz airspace used by Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the U.S., which opens the door to private LTE networks. It can also handle high-quality LTE phone calls on dual SIM phones.

Unfortunately, the first shipping products with this modem aren’t expected until the first half of 2018.

Project Fi starts testing Voice over LTE support

Project Fi

Google’s Project Fi wireless service has rolled out Voice over LTE support for some users, according to an announcement in its product forums. Users can tell if they’re a tester by their signal indicator remaining at LTE when they’re making or receiving a call instead of falling to H [HSPA], according to Google.

The test has been underway for a few weeks.

Voice over LTE includes higher quality calls that don’t count towards your data usage, faster data browsing while on a call, and faster call setup.

This translates into fewer dropped calls, or being able to navigate in Google Maps while on the phone without losing your connection.

The VoLTE support will only work when users are on T-Mobile’s network as Project Fi’s other carrier partners haven’t officially introduced support.

UPS tests drone deliveries

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UPS tested home delivery by drone on Monday in Lithia, Florida (a western suburb of Tampa), where the drone launched from the roof of a UPS vehicle and anonymously flew towards its destination.

The package was dropped off and then returned to the vehicle as the driver continued its normal delivery route.

There is no timeline for when drones might be put into wider use, according to company vice president of industrial engineering John Dodero, partly because federal authorities are still developing regulations on the technology.

TechSummit Rewind 147

Google Voice gets first revamp in years, Sprint buys a third of TIDAL, and Samsung keeps the Note brand alive

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

Google Voice gets revamped for first time in years

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Google has revamped Voice, its VOIP phone service, for the first time in years. The updates are available now on Android, iOS (over the next few days), and the web and brings it in line with the Material Design philosophy in Mountain View’s other apps. Once your mobile app is updated, the web client will automatically change over to the new design. According to Google, everyone should have it within a couple weeks.

According to Google’s blog post announcing the changes, “your inbox now has separate tabs for text messages, calls, and voicemails. Conversations stay in one continuous thread, so you can easily see all your messages from each of your contacts in one place.”

The update also brings over some feature that were previously only available for users who switched to Hangouts for some Voice functions like texting and voicemail. For one, photo MMS is now supported by Google Voice on all platforms and across most major carriers. Images show up inline in your conversations.

Group texting has also been added, with a clear label.

Voicemail transcriptions are still there, with support for Spanish transcriptions as well. Other nice touches include in-notification replies on Android, 3D Touch support for iPhone (mostly in Messages view), and a user experience that’s finally been edited.

Google has committed itself to “regular” updates and new features for the mobile apps and web client, though there’s no estimate on how often they’ll arrive. However, the company is working to implement RCS messaging in Voice.

If you’ve already switched over to Hangouts, there’s “no need to change to the new apps, but you might want to try them out as we continue to improve and add more features.”

Sprint buys 33 percent of TIDAL music service

tidal_2

Sprint has acquired a 33 percent stake of Jay-Z’s music service TIDAL.

Sprint, Jay-Z, and other artist-owners will “continue to run TIDAL’s artist-centric service” with Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure joining the company’s board of directors.

“The formidable pairing of Sprint and TIDAL will grow customers on both platforms by offering exclusive access for customers who subscribe to TIDAL.”

-Sprint, in a statement

Sprint will unveil “exclusive offers” and promotions in the near future.

Samsung sticking with Note branding for Note7 successor

samsung-galaxy-note-7

Despite the scandal that killed the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung will stick with the Note branding with the next iteration.

“I will bring back a better, safer, and very innovative Note 8.”

-DJ Koh, Samsung mobile chief

This comes despite the scandal that left an explosion (pun intended) of jokes and flight attendant warnings banning the Note 7 on all flights.

However, Koh believes that the Note has a devoted following that will stick with Samsung.

“We found through the investigative process, we knew there are lots and lots of loyal Note customers.”

-DJ Koh

Trump appoints Ajit Pai to head FCC

U.S. President Donald Trump has appointed Ajit Pai as the Federal Communication Commission’s chairman.

Pai has been a commissioner at the FCC since 2012, appointed by then-President Obama and confirmed by the Senate.

Shortly after Trump took office, Pai indicated that a top priority under the new administration would be dismantling net neutrality, writing in a letter that he intended to “revisit … the Title II Net Neutrality proceeding … as soon as possible.”

Pai has a traditionally Republican stance: free market and minimal regulation, He’s been opposed to requiring ISPs to implement stricter privacy protections for consumers, increasing broadband benchmarks to promote higher speeds, and regulating mergers.

However, he did vote in favor of a bipartisan proposal that will enable the support of real-time texting for people with disabilities, allowing text to be transmitted letter by letter, rather than requiring a user to hit “send.” He also voiced support for rules that would reduce the rates inmates must pay to place calls in many states, though he voted against a proposal that would do this because of legal concerns.

Pai has emphasized his dissatisfaction with current policies on the FCC’s mandate to promote broadband deployment. He’s suggested adding tax credits and removing regulations that protect older technologies like copper wire that some communities rely on to speed up the process of closing the “digital divide between rural and urban America.”

He’s also been critical of the FCC’s willingness to pass partisan proposals under the leadership of Tom Wheeler, who was chairman during Obama’s last three years in office.

Pai will need to be reconfirmed by the Senate this year if Republicans want to keep him around. If reconfirmed, he’d get an additional five-year term that would keep him in place for Trump’s entire first term.

Google X co-founder Yoky Matsuoka returns to Nest

Yoky Matsuoka has returned to Alphabet as Nest’s Chief Technology Office.

She previously co-founded Google’s X lab and served as Nest’s VP of Technology before becoming the CEO of health-data company Quantus and joining Apple to work on Cupertino’s health-related projects.

According to the company, this is a new position.

Yahoo postpones Verizon transaction close to Q2 2017

The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale

Yahoo released its Q4 earnings Monday, saying that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company generated $1.47 billion in revenue (up 15 percent) and earnings per share of $0.17.

Yahoo doesn’t expect to close its acquisition by Verizon until Q2 2017 – previously it was expected to close this quarter. Yahoo blames this on the enormous work required to meet closing conditions.

“The company is working expeditiously to close the transaction as soon as practicable in Q2.”

-Yahoo, in its earnings release

However, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer boasted on the quarter.

“What we have achieved reflects some of the most impressive teamwork, focus, and resilience I’ve seen throughout my career. We continued to build our mobile and native businesses – delivering nearly $1.5 billion in mobile revenue and over $750 million in native revenue – while operating the company at the lowest cost structure in a decade. With our 2016 and Q4 financial results ahead of plan, and the continued stability in our user engagement trends, the opportunities ahead with Verizon look bright.”

Much of the company’s revenue continues to come from non-Mavens programs ($824 million), but the company’s solution set of mobile, video, native, and social initiatives increased 25 percent year-over-year to $590 million from 2016. More revenue continues to come from desktop than mobile, but mobile got the biggest jump – 57 percent ($459 million) compared to 2.57 percent ($955 million),

Search revenue was up 45 percent from the same time last year to $767 million.

All 2017 Chromebooks will be compatible with Android apps

Toshiba Chromebook 2

All Chromebooks that launch this year will support Android apps right out of the box, according to Google’s list of Android-compatible Chromebooks.

Chan Zuckerburg Initiative acquires, will free up Meta science search engine

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Mark Zuckerburg and Priscilla Chan’s Chan Zuckerburg Initiative has made its first acquisition to make it easier for scientists to search, read, and tie together over 26 million science research papers with Meta, an AI-powered research search engine startup.

The tool will be made free to all in a few months after it gets enhanced.

The key selling point for Meta is that its AI can recognize authors and citations between papers to surface the most important research instead of simply what has the best SEO. It also provides free full-text access to 18,000 journals and literature sources.

“Going forward, our intent is not to profit from Meta’s data and capabilities; instead we aim to ensure they get to those who need them most, across sectors and as quickly as possible, for the benefit of the world.”

-Sam Molyneux, Meta co-founder & CEO

“The potential for this kind of platform is virtually limitless: a researcher could use Meta to help identify emerging techniques for understanding coronary artery disease; a graduate student could see that two different diseases activate the same immune defense pathway; and clinicians could find scientists working on the most promising Zika treatments sooner. In the long run, it could be extended to other areas of knowledge: for example, it could help educators stay up to date on developmental science to better understand how children learn.”

-Cori Bargmann (Chan Zuckerburg Initiative president of Science, and Brian Pinkerton (Chan Zuckerburg Initiative president of Technology)

China makes VPNs illegal

Chinese authorities are now requiring the use of VPNs and special cable connections in China to be approved by the government, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The new rules will be active from now until Mar. 31, 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S8 not appearing at Mobile World Congress

Samsung Galaxy S7

According to Samsung’s Koh Dong-jin, the company’s S8 flagship will not appear at Mobile World Congress as it has traditionally done for the past several years.

TechSummit Rewind 112

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

Google will launch dedicated search results for mobile

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Within months, Google will create a separate index for mobile that will become the “primary” index used for responding to search queries. A separate desktop index will be maintained, however it won’t be as up-to-date as the mobile index.

Facebook updates Instagram Windows 10 app to support PC, tablets

new Instagram web interface

Facebook has updated its Windows 10 app for Instagram to support PCs and tablets. The new version is available now in the Windows Store.

The app has its own Live Tile that shows you new photos and notifications right on your home screen. It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the Instagram apps for iOS and Android, including the ability to post and edit photos (only on devices with a touchscreen and rear-facing camera), get notifications, chat with Instagram Direct, and use Stories and the bevy of other features you’d expect.

Google News rolls out “fact check” tag for stories on web, mobile apps

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Google News has launched a new fact check feature in search results for news stories.

Fact check will now appear as a label among news search results, alongside other labels like opinion, local source, and highly cited.

Fact-checks are algorithmically being connected with live news stories partly based on Claim Review. According to Google, fact-checking services can apply to have their service included.

“We’re excited to see the growth of the Fact Check community and to shine a light on its efforts to divine fact from fiction, wisdom from spin.”

-Google, in a blog post

Fact check labels are visible in the expanded story box on Google News’ website, on iOS and Android, and will roll out first in the U.S. and U.K.

Amazon opens limited beta for Alexa to manage lists; Any.do, Todoist now work with Echo

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Amazon has opened up a limited beta that adds the ability for lists to be managed with the company’s Echo speaker.

Any.Do and Todoist have baked in support, which lets you add items to your to-do or shopping list with your voice. Those lists are then synced to the app.

The list API lets you specify which to-do list service you want to add your item to. Once Any.Do/Todoist is connected to your Alexa account and set as the default list app, adding items to your list becomes as simple as saying “Alexa add Oreos to my shopping list” or “remind me to get the oil changed.” You can also ask Alexa for a summary of what’s on your to-do list.

The API is currently in private beta, and integration is available now with Any.Do and Todoist.

Yahoo revives email forwarding

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Yahoo has flipped back on automatic mail forwarding after disabling it earlier this week. According to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, “previously planned maintenance to improve its functionality between a user’s various accounts” caused the issue.

Verizon starts selling 30-minute unlimited data sessions

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Verizon has announced PopData, an option for pay-as-you-go unlimited data that sets you back $2 for a 30-minute session and $3 for an hour-long unlimited data binge.

Samsung expects to lose another $3.1 billion after Note 7 recall

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According to Samsung, the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7 will cost the Korean company another $3.1 billion over the next two fiscal quarters.

“The company already allocated the expected direct cost from the discontinuation of Galaxy Note7 sales in its third quarter earnings guidance revision announced on Oct. 11, but expects the drop in revenue from the discontinued sales to continue to have a negative impact on operating impact for the next two quarters. The negative impact is estimated in the mid-2 trillion-won range in the fourth quarter of 2016 and at approximately 1 trillion won for the first quarter of 2017.”

  • Samsung, in a statement

Salesforce rules out Twitter takeover

The reception desk at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. (Image: Aaron Durand/Twitter)
The reception desk at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. (Image: Aaron Durand/Twitter)

Salesforce has confirmed that it will not make a bid in Twitter.

“In this case we’ve walked away. It wasn’t the right fit for us.”

-Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO

Shazam adds in-app music video channels

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Shazam has added videos to its arsenal thanks to a partnership with music video platform Vadio. When you ID a song, a curated music video channel will now pop up and play within the app.

“We continually look for new ways to expand the ways in which our users can discover music. We want to give fans a great reason to spend more time with Shazam by giving them access to a rich and immersive music video experience. In turn, this creates new revenue opportunities for artists and, moreover, powerful ways of gaining exposure for brands.”

-Fabio Santini, Shazam chief product officer

The new feature will be available everywhere the app is active.

Naspers sells Allegro to Permira consortium for $3.3B

allegro_pl_ecommerce_online_retail

Media and internet holding company Naspers has agreed to sell off Polish online auction business Allegro to a consortium of private equity firms that includes Cinvne, Permira, and Mid Europa for $3.25 billion.

Comparison shopping business Ceneo.pl was also included in the transaction.

According to Naspers, the deal is still subject to antitrust clearance.

TechSummit Rewind 110

A daily recap of the top technology headlines.

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

New Roku streaming media players support 4K, HDR video

roku-lineup

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

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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

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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

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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

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

applovin

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

win10_windows_startscreen1_Web

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

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

chromelogo-highres

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_Logo

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

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

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 Jet.com for $3B

Jet

Walmart has acquired ecommerce startup Jet.com for $3 billion.

Jet.com 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, Jet.com 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_logo

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.

Verizon to acquire Yahoo for $4.83B

Yahoo’s core business is being acquired by Verizon for $4.83 billion.

Yahoo’s core business (advertising, content, search, mobile) is being acquired by Verizon for $4.83 billion in cash.

“The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising.”

-Lowell McAdam, Verizon Chairman & CEO

Yahoo’s stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan aren’t part of the deal.

Yahoo will be integrated with AOL, which Verizon acquired last year, with Verizon EVP and Product Innovation and New Businesses organization Marni Walden leading the process.

“Yahoo is a company that has changed the world, and will continue to do so through this combination with Verizon and AOL. The sale of our operating business is an important step in our plan to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo. This transaction also sets up a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising and social.”

-Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

“This transaction is about unleashing Yahoo’s full potential, building upon our collective synergies, and strengthening and accelerating that growth. Combining Verizon, AOL, and Yahoo will create a new powerful competitive rival in mobile media, and an open, scaled alternative offering for advertisers and publishers.”

-Tim Armstrong, AOL CEO

TechSummit Rewind #058

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

Apple announces March 21 event at Cupertino HQ

Apple event invitation

Apple has sent out invitations to a Mar. 21 event at the company’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. GMT)

Opera adds built-in ad blocker to desktop browser

Opera

The latest developer release of Opera’s desktop browser includes a built-in ad blocker.

According to the Oslo, Norway-based company, blocking ads can speed up load times by as much as 90 percent. Opera claims that a built-in ad blocker can load sites 40 percent faster than a third-party solution.

“Advertising fuels the internet, allowing for many services to be free for users. But, as our new research shows, most webpages today are significantly slowed down by bloated ads and heavy tracking. We don’t accept it – we want the web to be a better place for us all, as users.”

-Krystian Kolondra, Opera SVP of Engineering, Head of Opera for Computers

Opera lets you set up your own whitelists for sites where ads will be allowed to appear.

The company also added a unique feature that lets you compare load times with and without the ad blocker, and show you a running counter of blocked ads.

Sonos announces layoffs, refocus on streaming/voice tech

Sonos

Sonos will be “letting go of some employees” as part of a company restructuring.

“Everyone in the ecosystem is adjusting to a world of streaming services.”

-John Macfarlane; Sonos CEO, in a blog post

According to Macfarlane, this will involve “building incredibly rich experiences that were all but unimaginable when we started the company.”

Macfarlane also mentioned that voice recognition will also be a big change for the speaker company. The company is reinvesting into that tech to make sure it works, and to cater to the streaming revolution.

Nest can now use your phone to tell when you leave home

nest-thermostat-003

An update to Nest’s iOS and Android apps allow it to start monitoring your phone’s location. When it senses you leaving the house, it’ll set the Nest Thermostat to its “away” mode, and start warming (or cooling) things for you when it sees you coming back. The feature can be disabled by declining to grant Nest the required permissions (or by turning off out-of-house automation).

The new feature is called Home/Away Assist, and is being launched in conjunction with family member accounts in the Nest app. Several people can now have control over the same products.

“[Location tracking] is an input that’s going to make it more accurate and efficient.

“What’s really important to us is that what’s happening in your home is understandable and intuitive to the customer. The more cumbersome, the more complicated it gets, the more frustrating to consumers.”

-Greg Hu, Nest senior product manager

Android N developer preview now live

Android N developer preview

Google has launched a developer preview for Android N, the next version of the mobile operating system, on its Nexus devices.

For the first time, the preview’s available as an over-the-air update, although traditional device images can also be downloaded.

N’s headline feature is split-screen multitasking, where Android devices will be able to show two separate apps at once, with picture-in-picture support coming to video apps.

The company is also adding new notifications features, including a new way for apps to let users directly reply to notifications. There are also bundled notifications, which let apps put multiple messages into a single notification card that can get expanded to show more detail.

The developer preview is available for the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Pixel C.

Wikipedia iOS app update focuses on discovery, personalization

Wikipedia iOS app

Wikipedia has launched an updated version of its iOS app for helping users discover content matching their own interests. The app has also been optimized for iOS 9, as well as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, with 3D Touch and Spotlight Search support.

The app presents users with a new “Explore” feed with a combination of the top read articles, a featured article and picture of the day, random articles, and nearby articles, along with recommendations based on what you’ve previously read in the app.

The update includes support for navigating with multi-touch gestures (swipe, tap, 3D Touch), along with 3D Touch on the app’s homescreen icon. This will let you open search, read a random article, see nearby articles, or continue editing your latest. Handoff is also supported in this release.

Finally, a feature that saves articles to read later (and offline), arrived along with image gallery improvements and tools to share images on social media or email.

YouTube Gaming expands to new markets, improves mobile experience

YouTube Gaming

YouTube Gaming, the video network’s dedicated application for gaming content, has announced an expansion into more markets and a host of new features for improving browsing and the app’s viewing experience. One of the changes sees the network promoting its “Live” game streams.

In addition, an update to its Android live stream player brings quality switching, 60fps playback, and DVR mode.

According to Google, other improvements include a simplified homepage navigation to make it easier to manage your games and channels.

On Android, users can also pop out the YouTube Gaming player to keep it visible above other apps on your device.

The YouTube Gaming mobile app for iOS and Android is also expanding its reach to countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.

Soothe raises $35M to bring on-demand messages

Soothe

Soothe has raised $35M to bring on-demand massages to the masses.

The new funding came from current investor Riverside Company for the app that allows consumers to book appointments with licensed and vetted five-star massage therapists in 22 cities.

The Los Angeles-based company plans to add 20 more U.S. cities by the end of the year, and is expanding internationally to places like Vancouver.

Soothe has over 3,000 independent massage therapists on board, and the company claims that they earn three to four times more than the industry standard.

“We make it easy to book a massage through an app, a website, or a phone call. It’s a better way of experiencing a massage. It’s much less stressful. You don’t have to get in the car and deal with the pains of traffic. The therapist brings everything. They bring the table, the sheets, the oil, the music, and creates the ambiance and turns your home into a spa.”

-Merlin Kauffman, Soothe CEO

Less tech-savvy users can also book through a website. Soothe sends over the booking to the highest-rated therapist that can get there the fastest.

“We’ve just created a better mousetrap. The public market fit is clearly there.”

-Merlin Kauffman

In most markets, Soothe’s price is $99 for 60 minutes, $139 for 90 minutes, and $169 for 120 minutes. Therapists keep 70 percent of the proceeds.

To date, Soothe has raised $47.7 million, and has 40 employees.

“While many companies have failed on the promise of ‘Uber for X,’ Soothe is a proven leader in a valuable market, and we’re eager to support them again as they look to expand.”

-Loren Schlachet, Riverside Company managing partner

Uber testing secret safety hotline

Uber_NY_request-screenshot

Since late last fall, Uber has been testing a critical response hotline in 22 U.S. cities for passengers or drivers to call in an emergency.

Users who call 800-333-8237 will be put directly in touch with a customer support representative. If it’s a true emergency, they’ll be transferred to 911.

Yahoo adds directors as proxy fight, potential sale loom

The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale

Yahoo added two new independent directors who have experience in helping sell companies as the company is considering the unloading of its Internet businesses.

Former Broadcom CFO Eric Brandt joins Yahoo after helping guide the chipmaker in its sale to Avago Technologies for $37 billion. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company also appointed former Morgan Stanley managing director Catherine Friedman, where she served as strategic and transaction adviser.

“They could be gearing up for a proxy contest, or it may be a defensive move as they seek to negotiate with Starboard – to strengthen their hand. It’s somewhat perplexing that they would do this now.”

-Victor Anthony, Axiom Capital Management analyst

Cola launches app for smarter, more interactive text messages

Cola

Messaging app Cola is now available publicly on iOS.

The app features “Cola Bubbles” that add interactivity and functionality. Instead of texting someone “Hey, when do you want to meet?,” you can send them a Bubble with three available time slots, they can choose the option or options that work for them, then you can both add it to your calendar. Or if you’re running late, instead of typing out a message describing where you are and when you’ll arrive, you can just opt to share your location with someone for 15, 30, or 60 minutes.

Other Bubbles include polling and shared to-do lists.

“Messaging apps are never done. They are the core function of these devices. They will never stop evolving.”

-David Temkin, Cola CEO

 

Paw Print Rewind #045

Editor’s Note: This is the Paw Print Rewind, a daily recap of the top news headlines.

U.S. strikes Islamic State in Libya, killing 40 people

U.S. warplanes carried out airstrikes against Islamic State-linked militants in western Libya on Friday, killing as many as 40 people in an operation targeting a suspect linked to two deadly attacks last year in Tunisia.

According to the Pentagon, it targeted an Islamic State training camp and killed a Tunisian militant linked to major attacks on tourists in Tunisia.

According to Sabratha, Libya mayor Hussein Al-Thwadi, the planes struck at 3:30 a.m., hitting a building in the city’s Qasr Talil district. 41 people were killed, with six others being wounded.

According to municipal authorities, the air strikes targeted a house in a residential district about 5 miles west of the center.

“Destruction of the camp and Chouchane’s removal will eliminate an experienced facilitator and is expected to have an immediate on ISIL’s ability to facilitate its activities in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and potentially planning external attacks on U.S. interests in the region.”

-The Pentagon

According to Thwadi, some Tunisians, a Jordanian, and two women are among the dead. Several Tunisians were among the survivors.

Ringing Bells briefly sells $4 smartphone before website crashes

Ringing Bells launched a $4 smartphone Thursday, before customer demand sent the Indian phonemaker’s website down hours later.

The Freedom 251 is being sold for 251 rupees ($3.66).

“We humbly submit that we are therefore taking a pause.”

-Ringing Bells, in an apology to customers

According to the company, they were receiving 600,000 hits per second to its website.

“It looks like it’s highly subsidized by the company and it’s not clear how they plan to sustain this.”

-Tarun Pathak, Counterpoint Technology Research analyst

Yahoo forms panel to explore strategic options

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

Yahoo’s board has formed a committee of independent directors to explore strategic alternatives.

According to the company, the committee and its advisers are working on a process for reaching out to and engaging with potentially interested strategic and financial parties.

“It seems pretty clear that the only reason this is happening even is because of the threat of the proxy fight.”

-Brian Wiesel, Pivotal Research analyst

“I think a proxy fight would be the right thing to do.”

-Eric Jackson, SpringOwl Asset Management managing director

Citigroup exiting retail banking in Brazil, Argentina

People walk past the Citigroup headquarters in New York

Citigroup plans to exit its retail banking and credit card operations in Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia as part of its efforts to cut costs and boost profitability.

“We have decided to focus our efforts on opportunities with our institutional clients in these countries and throughout the wider region.”

-Michael Corbat, Citigroup CEO

The businesses being sold are part of its consumer banking operations and will be transferred to Citi Holdings, and will report financial results as part of Citi Holdings starting in the first quarter.

Citi Holdings holds all non-core assets that the bank is winding down or selling.

Amazon opening package locker network across Europe

Amazon Prime Air

Amazon wants to set up a network of package lockers across Europe to allow people to pick up their own orders.

These lockers already exist in the United States and Britain in places like shopping centers where customers key in a code to get their package.

TechSummit Lead #004

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Lead, a technology news recap that goes beyond the headlines.

  • Sharp is pulling out of the North American television market, as the Osaka, Japan-based company sold a Mexico facility to Hisense, which will use the Sharp brand in North and South America.
  • Yahoo has acquired style-focused community Polyvore, which will be working out of t’s Sunnyvale, CA; New York; and San Francisco offices.
  • Judge Lucy Koh has affirmed a magistrate judge’s decision to tell the U.S. government to get a warrant to obtain historical location information about “target” mobile phones.
  • 88,000 Nvidia Shield tablets sold between July 2014 and July 2015 have been recalled for a fire risk.
  • Dropbox has launched an app for the Roku, allowing you to view your photos and videos directly on your TV.
  • Selfie app Frontback will continue operations, after finding a new partner.