Friday, June 22, 2018

Apple Opens New Front Against Qualcomm: the Patent Office -- Bloomberg

Challenge different
"The two are locked in a bitter fight over the amount of royalties Apple’s suppliers should pay to use Qualcomm’s technology on telecommunications. Billions of dollars are at stake. A hearing in one case is under way at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, and trials are scheduled for later this year in China and Germany.

Apple wants the patent office to cancel four Qualcomm patents, saying they don’t cover new ideas. All are part of a patent-infringement lawsuit Qualcomm filed in 2017 against Apple in federal court in California."
Apple Opens New Front Against Qualcomm: the Patent Office -- Bloomberg

Facebook expands its fact-checking tools but says its work ‘will never be finished’ -- The Washington Post

Also see Increasing Our Efforts to Fight False News (Facebook Newsroom)
"In a company blog, Facebook acknowledged that fake news reports and doctored content have increasingly become image-based in some countries, making it harder for readers to discern whether a photo or video related to a news event is authentic. The company said it has expanded its fact-checking of traditional links posted on Facebook to photos and videos. Partnering with third-party experts trained in visual verification, the company will also flag images that have been posted on Facebook in a misleading context, such as, for example, a photo of a previous natural disaster or shooting that is displayed as a present-day event.

Facebook will also use machine-learning tools to identify duplicates of debunked stories that continue to pop up on the network. The company said that more than a billion pictures, links, videos and messages are uploaded to the social platform everyday, making fact-checking difficult to execute by human review. The automated tools will help the company find domains and links that are spreading the same claims that have already been proved false. Facebook has said it will use AI to limit misinformation, but the latest update applies to finding duplicates of false claims."
Facebook expands its fact-checking tools but says its work ‘will never be finished’ -- The Washington Post

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Why Apple’s AirPower Wireless Charger Is Taking So Long to Make -- Bloomberg

Charge different
"The AirPower charger is also more advanced than the current competition because it includes a custom Apple chip running a stripped down version of the iOS mobile operating system to conduct on-device power management and pairing with devices. Apple engineers have also been working to squash bugs related to the on-board firmware, according to the people familiar. They asked not to be identified discussing a product that hasn’t been released yet.
[...]
Apple designers eventually hope to remove most of the external ports and buttons on the iPhone, including the charger, according to people familiar with the company’s work. During the development of the iPhone X, Apple weighed removing the wired charging system entirely. That wasn’t feasible at the time because wireless charging was still slower than traditional methods. Including a wireless charger with new iPhones would also significantly raise the price of the phones."
Why Apple’s AirPower Wireless Charger Is Taking So Long to Make --  Bloomberg

Jack Dorsey's Twitter, Square Are Both on the Verge of Doubling This Year -- Bloomberg

In other tech CEO news, see Mark Zuckerberg Is on the Brink of Being Richer Than Warren Buffett (Bloomberg)
"In 2018, it pays to be on Jack Dorsey’s side.

Square Inc. and Twitter Inc., which both count the tech titan as chief executive officer, are on the brink of boasting 100 percent gains this year. The firms are now worth more than $62 billion combined, surpassing the market value of Tesla Inc.

In the past, investors have expressed skepticism about Dorsey’s ability to effectively run both companies at the same time. It seems some shareholders have put those concerns on the backburner."
Jack Dorsey's Twitter, Square Are Both on the Verge of Doubling This Year -- Bloomberg

Is There a Smarter Path to Artificial Intelligence? Some Experts Hope So -- NYT

Elsewhere in this AI reality check: Prolog is back...
"There are other hopeful signs in the beyond-deep-learning camp. Vicarious, a start-up developing robots that can quickly switch from task to task like humans, published promising research in the journal Science last fall. Its A.I. technology learned from relatively few examples to mimic human visual intelligence, using data 300 times more efficiently than deep learning models. The system also broke through the defenses of captchas, the squiggly letter identification tests on websites meant to foil software intruders.

Vicarious, whose investors include Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, is a prominent example of the entrepreneurial pursuit of new paths in A.I.

“Deep learning has given us a glimpse of the promised land, but we need to invest in other approaches,” said Dileep George, an A.I. expert and co-founder of Vicarious, which is based in Union City, Calif."
Is There a Smarter Path to Artificial Intelligence? Some Experts Hope So -- NYT

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Name C.E.O. for Health Initiative -- NYT

That's going to be an extensive checklist manifesto...
"Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, the powerful triumvirate that earlier announced its hope to overhaul the health care of its employees and set an example for the nation, said on Wednesday that it had picked one of the country’s most famous doctors to lead the new operation.

Dr. Atul Gawande, a Harvard surgeon and staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, will become chief executive of the new company, which will be based in Boston, on July 9. He said he was not stepping down from his current medical and other duties to take the job."
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Name C.E.O. for Health Initiative -- NYT

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Facebook takes another shot at grabbing social media stars from YouTube -- CNBC

See Helping Creators Connect, Create and Grow (Facebook Newsroom) for more details; on  a related note, from late May: America’s Teens Are Choosing YouTube Over Facebook (Bloomberg)
"The company announced at an event for Facebook video creators on Tuesday it would allow more content to be eligible for its Watch program. By doing so, it opens up the doors for both the company and social media stars to earn more advertising revenue. Facebook also announced Brand Collabs Manager, a platform that will connect video creators with sponsorship opportunities.

Digital video advertising revenue is projected to hit $19.81 billion by 2020, according to eMarketer. Google's YouTube is considered the main home for online creator-made video content. Facebook, however, is trying to encroach on that territory with Tuesday's announcement, which follows reports of plans to expand the length of Instagram videos and introduce original Instagram shows."
Facebook takes another shot at grabbing social media stars from YouTube -- CNBC

Google launches a podcast app for Android with personalized recommendations -- The Verge

Final sentence: "There are currently no plans for an iOS app." See Listen up: Google Podcasts is now on Android (Google blog) for more details.
"Google today is introducing a new standalone podcast app for Android. The app, called simply Google Podcasts, will use Google’s recommendation algorithms in an effort to connect people with shows they might enjoy based on their listening habits. While podcasts have previously been available on Android through Google Play Music and third-party apps, Google says the company expects Podcasts to bring the form to hundreds of millions of new listeners around the world. (Google Listen, an early effort to build what was then called a “podcatcher” for Android, was killed off in 2012.)

“There’s still tons of room for growth when it comes to podcast listening,” said Zack Reneau-Wedeen, product manager on the app. Creating a native first-party Android app for podcasts “could as much as double worldwide listenership of podcasts overall,” he said."
Google launches a podcast app for Android with personalized recommendations --  The Verge

Ford and Volkswagen Discuss Developing Vehicles Together -- WSJ

So perhaps a bit like a 115-year-old software start-up (see next post)?...
"Ford has been working to implement a so-called corporate fitness plan that aims to slash $25.5 billion in cumulative costs over the next four years and help the Dearborn, Mich.-based company catch up on profitability with its two traditional rivals, General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

This week, Ford purchased a long-abandoned train station in Detroit that it plans to redevelop into a technology hub for the development of electric and autonomous cars. The company says it is aiming to transform itself from an old-line manufacturer to a seller of high-tech transportation services."
Ford and Volkswagen Discuss Developing Vehicles Together -- WSJ

GE Kicked Out of Dow, the Last 19th Century Member Removed -- Bloomberg

From less than 2 years ago: G.E., the 124-Year-Old Software Start-Up  (NYT)
"Once the world’s most valuable company, GE will be replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., the Deerfield, Illinois-based drugstore chain created in a 2014 merger. The change will take effect prior to the open of trading next Tuesday. Down 26 percent, GE is the worst performer in the Dow in 2018, as it was last year, as well.

“It was an issue not of if, but when,” said Quincy Krosby, the chief market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc. “The GE that was dominant in the Dow in the ’70s and ’80s is no longer the same GE.”

The change means the last original Dow member has finally been removed from the benchmark formed in 1896, with GE joining the likes of Distilling & Cattle Feeding, National Lead, Tennessee Coal & Iron and U.S. Rubber. GE briefly left the index, but has been in it continuously since 1907."
GE Kicked Out of Dow, the Last 19th Century Member Removed -- Bloomberg

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint suspend selling of customer location data after prison officials were caught misusing it -- The Washington Post

Just another day in the data broker business...
"Wyden's investigation found that one of Verizon's indirect corporate customers, a prison phone company called Securus, had used Verizon's customer location data in a system that effectively let correctional officers spy on millions of Americans. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission last month highlighting the probe, Wyden said prison officials using Securus's surveillance system could obtain real-time location data on Americans with little more than a "pinky promise" of propriety, leading to "activities wholly unrelated" to prison management.

To gain access to the data, prison officers simply visited an online portal and uploaded an "official document" showing they had permission to access the information. But, Wyden told the FCC, senior Securus officials admitted that the company did not review the requests for information or require that supporting documents reflect the decision of a judge or other legal authority."
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint suspend selling of customer location data after prison officials were caught misusing it  -- The  Washington Post

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Onion is on a crusade against Mark Zuckerberg because it says Facebook is choking its traffic -- Business Insider

A sample: Mark Zuckerberg Insists Anyone With Same Skewed Values And Unrelenting Thirst For Power Could Have Made Same Mistakes (The Onion)
"Over the last two days, The Onion has published around a dozen articles ridiculing the social network and its founder, and it says there’s more on the way.

Why? The Onion’s editor-in-chief Chad Nackers told Business Insider that the comedy onslaught is because Zuckerberg has “repeatedly betrayed the trust of billions of people,” and because Facebook is choking off traffic to The Onion’s website.

“We have 6,572,949 followers on Facebook who receive an ever-decreasing amount of the content we publish on the network,” Nackers said, calling Facebook an “unwanted interloper” between the publisher and its audience.

In other words, The Onion is on a mission."
The Onion is on a crusade against Mark Zuckerberg because it says Facebook is choking its traffic -- Business Insider

Pod Save America’s Dan Pfeiffer has some advice for Democrats: Learn how to use Facebook, ASAP! -- Recode

I may take a Facebook (and Twitter) break until ~November 7th... On a related note, see Report: Americans are bad at telling news from opinion (Poynter)
"He said Facebook trying to favor outrageous content less often is like the NFL trying to fix its concussion problem: “It is the core of your business model.” A more feasible solution would be the left learning how to Facebook as well as the right does.

“My point for Democrats is ... we need to build a progressive media infrastructure that is the bizarro version of the Republicans’,” Pfeiffer said. “It shouldn’t be propaganda, it shouldn’t be dishonest, it shouldn’t be racially divisive. It has to be the things that work best for Democrats: Inspirational, hopeful, fact-driven. But we need these nodes of amplification to carry the Democratic message, otherwise we’re going to get swamped again.”"
Pod Save America’s Dan Pfeiffer has some advice for Democrats: Learn how to use Facebook, ASAP!  -- Recode

Musk Says Tesla Hit With ‘Extensive’ Sabotage by Rogue Employee -- Bloomberg

More tumultuous transition times for Tesla
The worker, who had been denied a promotion, did “quite extensive and damaging sabotage” to Tesla’s operations, Musk wrote in the memo late Sunday, which was reported in full by CNBC. While a spokesman declined to comment, an employee who asked not to be identified confirmed he received the email.

Tesla is conducting an in-depth investigation into the matter, including whether the worker was acting alone, with others at the company or with any outside organizations, Musk wrote.

“As you know, there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die,” Musk said. He referenced Wall Street short sellers “who have already lost billions of dollars,” oil and gas companies that “don’t love” to see solar power and electric cars advancing, and automakers that produce gasoline and diesel vehicles. “If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?” he said.
Meanwhile,

Musk Says Tesla Hit With ‘Extensive’ Sabotage by Rogue Employee -- Bloomberg

Crypto Celebrity McAfee Stops Touting ICOs, Citing ‘SEC Threats’ -- Bloomberg

Earlier in the article: "“It is unjust but it is reality. I am writing an article on an equivalent alternative to ICOs which the SEC cannot touch. Please have Patience.”"
"The offerings have come under increased scrutiny from regulators in recent months, with the SEC calling them securities that should be registered with the regulator. Some analysts have said paid promoters of ICOs may be breaking the law by acting as unregistered broker-dealers. In March, McAfee tweeted a web link that showed he charged $105,000 per tweet to promote ICOs and other products.

The SEC and McAfee didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment."
Crypto Celebrity McAfee Stops Touting ICOs, Citing ‘SEC Threats’ -- Bloomberg

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pentagon Puts Cyberwarriors on the Offensive, Increasing the Risk of Conflict -- NYT

From an article adapted from The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age, which will be published tomorrow
"There is little debate inside the government’s sprawling community of cyberwarriors and defenders that the United States needs to step up its game: It did not see the Russian hack of the 2016 election coming, or North Korea’s “WannaCry” attack last year, which crippled the National Health Service in Britain and rippled around the world, partly driven by stolen American cyberweapons.

But the risks of escalation — of United States action in foreign networks leading to retaliatory strikes against American banks, dams, financial markets or communications networks — are considerable, according to current and former officials. Mr. Trump has shown only a cursory interest in the subject, former aides say, not surprising for a man who does not use a computer and came of age as a business executive in a predigital era.

Efforts to rewrite the main document governing the presidential authorities in the cyberarena — Presidential Policy Directive 20, signed by Barack Obama — have faltered in the chaos of Mr. Bolton’s decision to oust the key players."
Pentagon Puts Cyberwarriors on the Offensive, Increasing the Risk of Conflict -- NYT

Here's what Apple's doing to get you excited about AR -- CNET

Also see How ARKit 2 works, and why Apple is so focused on AR (Ars Technica)
"The future of augmented reality headgear and smartglasses is still very much in flux. The long-awaited Magic Leap might emerge this year. Microsoft's Hololens has hung in a state of enterprise limbo -- one from which it may finally emerge next year. Little smartglasses like ODG's might get better with Qualcomm's next chips, but don't expect miracles.

Then there's Apple. As CNET reported in April, Apple is working on a powerful headset capable of both AR and VR. Whether that version is a "what if" prototype or something akin to what Apple may ship in 2 years is anyone's guess. But you don't need to wait until 2020: Apple's plans for virtual magic are playing out in real-time, right now, on the iPads and iPhones that your currently own."
Here's what Apple's doing to get you excited about AR -- CNET

Google Is Training Machines to Predict When a Patient Will Die -- Bloomberg

For a less sensationalist overview of related work, see Scalable and accurate deep learning with electronic health records (Jeff Dean et al. in Nature)
"What impressed medical experts most was Google’s ability to sift through data previously out of reach: notes buried in PDFs or scribbled on old charts. The neural net gobbled up all this unruly information then spat out predictions. And it did it far faster and more accurately than existing techniques. Google’s system even showed which records led it to conclusions.

Hospitals, doctors and other health-care providers have been trying for years to better use stockpiles of electronic health records and other patient data. More information shared and highlighted at the right time could save lives -- and at the very least help medical workers spend less time on paperwork and more time on patient care. But current methods of mining health data are costly, cumbersome and time consuming."
Google Is Training Machines to Predict When a Patient Will Die -- Bloomberg

Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain. -- NYT

All the local news that's fit to ICO; tangentially, see The SEC Will Leave Good ICOs Alone (Bloomberg)
"The new publication will have a conventional website whose data will be written permanently into the secure digital ledger known as the blockchain. Expenses for the fledgling outlet will be covered by a grant from Civil, whose sole investor, for now, is ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based blockchain software technology company founded by the Canadian entrepreneur Joseph Lubin. Mr. Lubin is also a co-founder of the Ethereum, a virtual currency and blockchain database company. As part of its plan to fund new media entities, Civil plans to unveil a new token this summer called CVL.
People who purchase the CVL token, a form of cryptocurrency, will have a say concerning the projects hosted by Civil — meaning that they can vote on whether one of its websites violates the company’s journalism standards, which are outlined in the Civil Constitution."
Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain. -- NYT

Amazon Tightens Grip on a New Medium: Live Streams of Video Games -- NYT

On a related note, see Video Game Addiction Tries to Move From Basement to Doctor’s Office (NYT)
"Twitch began in 2011 as an offshoot of Justin.tv, a lifecasting site founded by two Yale graduates, Emmett Shear and Justin Kan. They started the platform after they found that viewers were more interested in watching their lifecasters play video games than eat or sleep. Big tech companies came courting, and Amazon beat out Google.
In the four years since the sale, video gaming as a spectator sport has gone mainstream, and Twitch has captured the majority of those who want to watch it live.
For the dedicated fans, the live, freewheeling sessions on Twitch have the appeal of a major sporting event crossed with a talk show. The interaction between the host and viewers is one key to the site’s success, making for an involved viewing experience that is markedly different from the prerecorded and edited videos of game sessions that have long been popular on YouTube."
Amazon Tightens Grip on a New Medium: Live Streams of Video Games -- NYT

Friday, June 15, 2018

How Net Neutrality Actually Ended Long Before This Week -- NYT

Tangentially, see Facebook’s New Political Algorithms Increase Tension With Publishers (NYT) and Scoop: Facebook to meet GOP leaders to hash out censorship complaints (Axios)
"“History shows us that companies that have the technical capacity to do things, the business incentive to do them and the legal right — they will take advantage of what is made available to them,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, an F.C.C. commissioner and a Democrat, who voted against the repeal of net neutrality last year.

By repealing neutrality rules, the government has just given our online overlords that legal right, she cautioned.

“Now they can block websites and censor online content,” Ms. Rosenworcel said. “That doesn’t make me feel good — and if you rely on the internet to consume or create, it shouldn’t make you feel good, either.”"
How Net Neutrality Actually Ended Long Before This Week -- NYT

Alphabet's DeepMind Should Clarify Business Model, Panel Says -- Bloomberg

On a related note, see AI at Google: our principles (Sundar Pichai in The Keyword)
"In response to the panel’s report, DeepMind said that its health-care division is continuing to define its commercial approach. "We’re developing our longer-term business model and roadmap, and look forward to sharing our ideas once they’re further ahead," DeepMind said in a statement. "Rather than charging for the early stages of our work, our first priority has been to prove that our technologies can help improve patient care and reduce costs."

The company has also said in the past that it does not share data with Alphabet or with sister company Google. But the panel said DeepMind needed to provide more clarity around this policy, since DeepMind does store and process data in Google’s data centers."
Alphabet's DeepMind Should Clarify Business Model, Panel Says -- Bloomberg

Bitcoin and ether shouldn’t be regulated like stocks and bonds, a top SEC official says -- The Washington Post

Also see SEC says Ether isn’t a security, but tokens based on Ether can be (TechCrunch); in other cryptocurrency news, see William Shatner wants bitcoin miners to boldly go to this solar-powered mining facility in Illinois (The Washington Post)
"“Based on my understanding of the present state of ether, the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of ether are not securities transactions,” Hinman said.
Hinman's remarks suggest that, unlike companies, which are required to educate stock investors about the health of their businesses, the developers behind bitcoin and ether face no such obligations. The basis for this conclusion, Hinman said, lies in the fact that bitcoin and ether are developed diffusely, by many unaffiliated people, rather than by a single, centralized entity such as a corporation.

“As a network becomes truly decentralized, the ability to identify an issuer or promoter to make the requisite disclosures becomes difficult and less meaningful,” Hinman said. “As with bitcoin, applying the disclosure regime of the federal securities laws to current transactions in ether would seem to add little value.”"
Bitcoin and ether shouldn’t be regulated like stocks and bonds, a top SEC official says -- The  Washington Post

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. Wins Chicago Airport High-Speed Train Bid -- Bloomberg

So maybe just take the L?...
"Winning the nod means the city of Chicago will negotiate exclusively with Boring for one year over details of the project, which aims to connect downtown Chicago with O'Hare, about 15 miles and a $40 taxi ride away. A final go-ahead requires approval from the city council.

In its request for proposals, the city set a goal of connecting downtown with the airport in 20 minutes or less, with service every 15 minutes for the majority of the day. It also requested that fares be below the current rates for taxis and ride-share trips.

Currently, Chicagoans can ride to the airport for $5 on a Chicago Transit Authority train, taking about 40 minutes."
Elon Musk’s Boring Co. Wins Chicago Airport High-Speed Train Bid -- Bloomberg

Twitter to Predict What You Want to See, When It Happens -- Bloomberg

All the news that's fit to tweet
"Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey “often says we want Twitter to be the little bird on your shoulder that tells you what you need to know, when you need to know it,” said Keith Coleman, the San Francisco-based company’s vice president of product. “When something important happens on Twitter, we want Twitter to tap you on the shoulder and say ‘hey, this is going on and we want you to check it out.’”
[...]
Twitter shares have rallied more than 80 percent this year, as investors grow confident in the company’s turnaround strategy and pace of product innovations. Dorsey has focused on using artificial intelligence to personalize content for people and improve the algorithms to filter out spam and automated accounts called bots. Yet while the changes have encouraged existing users to spend more time on the platform originally known for its 140-character posts, monthly active users gained 2.8 percent to 336 million in the first quarter compared to a year earlier -- the slowest pace of growth in two years."
Twitter to Predict What You Want to See, When It Happens -- Bloomberg

At Snapchat, Redrawing the Bounds of Reality -- NYT

From an augmented reality reality check
"In light of the medium’s sci-fi potential, Snapchat’s 3D Bitmoji animations are relatively primitive. Philip Lelyveld, director of immersive media at the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center, said the cartoons were “one step ahead of Pok√©mon Go,” the mobile game that  first created mass awareness of A.R. in 2016. Helen Pappagianis, an A.R. researcher and author of the book “Augmented Human,” likened 3D Bitmoji to silent films in the early days of cinema.

The equivalent of blockbusters, which will rely on special headsets like Magic Leap’s Lightwear and Microsoft’s HoloLens, are in development. And Facebook (which owns the virtual reality company Oculus), Apple and Google have all moved in the last year to make it easier for third-party developers to create new kinds of A.R. experiences for mobile phones.

But Snapchat’s animators here in Los Angeles have already created the medium’s first hit series, thanks to uniquely appealing main characters that are flipping, dancing and pratfalling their way into the hearts of the company’s 191 million daily users. While Snapchat doesn’t share viewership numbers for 3D Bitmoji, a spokeswoman for the company told me that 70 percent of its daily users are using their Bitmoji avatar on the app."
At Snapchat, Redrawing the Bounds of Reality -- NYT

Apple is making it harder for police to collect evidence from iPhones of suspected criminals -- The Washington Post

Looks like the mainstream media temporarily ran out of Facebook innuendo fodder, so it's Apple's turn again; also see Apple is ending apps’ ability to secretly sell your contacts list (The Washington Post)
"Apple said the change, which would disable the Lightning port on the bottom of iPhones an hour after users lock their phones, is part of software updates to be rolled out in the fall. Designed to better protect the private information of iPhone users, it will have little obvious effect on most people using the devices but will make it far more difficult for investigators to use extraction tools that attach through the port to collect the contents of seized iPhones.

The change is not intended to thwart law enforcement efforts, Apple said. “We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data,” the company said in a statement. “We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs.”

Yet some authorities almost certainly will see it as yet another barrier to carrying out their legally sanctioned investigations."
Apple is making it harder for police to collect evidence from iPhones of suspected criminals -- The Washington Post

Stephen Bannon Buys Into Bitcoin -- NYT

More evidence suggesting bitcoin jumped the shark a while ago...
"The offbeat world of cryptocurrencies has drawn interest from all sorts over the last few years, from drug dealers and scam artists to the biggest companies in Silicon Valley and the most staid institutions of Wall Street.

It is not a shocking place for Mr. Bannon, 64, to plot his re-emergence. Cryptocurrencies have many of the characteristics that drew him into Tea Party politics: They break old rules, they exist on the periphery, and they pose a challenge to the powerful figures and institutions that have long called the shots.

“It’s disruptive populism,” Mr. Bannon said in the interview, at his Capitol Hill townhouse in Washington. “It takes control back from central authorities. It’s revolutionary.”"
Stephen Bannon Buys Into Bitcoin --  NYT

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Musk’s Model 3 Miscalculation Culminates in Major Tesla Job Cuts -- Bloomberg

A Tesla course correction; on a related note, see SpaceX is giving Wall Street a reason to bet on Tesla (Quartz)
"“Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us,” Musk wrote in an internal email Tuesday. “What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable. That is a valid and fair criticism of Tesla’s history to date.”

Tesla shares pared an earlier gain of as much as 6.9 percent and closed up 3.2 percent at $342.77. Since it started trading in 2010, the stock has risen at a blistering pace driven by optimism that Tesla would lead a new era of transportation innovation. In the past 12 months, amid production snags and debt-related jitters, shares have fallen 4.5 percent, while Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have climbed."
Musk’s Model 3 Miscalculation Culminates in Major Tesla Job Cuts -- Bloomberg

After AT&T-Time Warner Approval, Focus Shifts to Comcast and Disney -- NYT

The recent Recode media landscape diagram is likely to get a bit simpler... Also see Comcast’s Pursuit of Fox Will Face Hurdles, Despite AT&T’s Victory (NYT)
"How quickly are things changing? Netflix recently surpassed Disney to become the most valuable media company at $158 billion.

That helps set the stakes for the pending clash between Comcast and The Walt Disney Company as each seeks to own the bulk of 21st Century Fox.

In December, Disney struck a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal to buy much of 21st Century Fox’s assets. Now, Comcast plans to announce its own offer for 21st Century Fox’s assets as early as Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss company business."
After AT&T-Time Warner Approval, Focus Shifts to Comcast and Disney -- NYT

Bitcoin’s Price Was Artificially Inflated Last Year, Researchers Say -- NYT

Wait -- Bitcoin's price roller coaster doesn't reflect the efficient market hypothesis?... Also see Bitcoin’s Collapse Accelerates, Falls to Lowest Since February (Bloomberg)
"Many industry players expressed concern at the time that the prices were being pushed up at least partly by activity at Bitfinex, one of the largest and least regulated exchanges in the industry. The exchange, which is registered in the Caribbean with offices in Asia, was subpoenaed by American regulators shortly after articles about the concerns appeared in The New York Times and other publications.

Mr. Griffin looked at the flow of digital tokens going in and out of Bitfinex and identified several distinct patterns that suggest that someone or some people at the exchange successfully worked to push up prices when they sagged at other exchanges. To do that, the person or people used a secondary virtual currency, known as Tether, which was created and sold by the owners of Bitfinex, to buy up those other cryptocurrencies."
Bitcoin’s Price Was Artificially Inflated Last Year, Researchers Say -- NYT

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Inside Palmer Luckey's Bid to Build a Border Wall -- Wired

From a Steven Levy profile
"Anduril is barely a year old, and the trespassing I’d witnessed was part of an informal test on a rancher’s private land. The company has installed three portable, 32-foot towers packed with radar, communications antennae, and a laser-­enhanced camera—the first implementation of a system Anduril is calling Lattice. It can detect and identify motion within about a 2-mile radius. The person I saw in my headset was an Anduril technician dispatched to the valley via ATV to demonstrate how the system works; he was about a mile away.

As Luckey and his team see it, Lattice will become not just a system for securing the border but a general platform for geographic near-omniscience. With the aid of artificial intelligence, it aims to synthesize data from potentially thousands of sensors and local databases, displaying the most relevant data in phone apps, on laptop screens, and in mixed-reality headsets. Anduril’s goal is to become a major tech startup that builds hardware and software specifically for the defense industry, a venture-capital-infused outsider challenging the likes of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman with their multibillion-dollar government contracts and strong establishment ties."
Inside Palmer Luckey's Bid to Build a Border Wall -- Wired

Here’s who owns everything in Big Media today -- Recode

Also see It's judgment day for AT&T's merger with Time Warner (Axios)
"Now things are up for grabs: Netflix buys stuff from the studios, but it’s making its own stuff, too, and it’s selling it directly to consumers. That’s one of the reasons older media companies are trying to compete by consolidating. And new distributors like Verizon and AT&T are getting in on the action. AT&T, for instance, wants to merge with Time Warner.

Meanwhile, giant tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple that used to be on the sidelines are getting closer and closer to the action.

To help sort this all out, we’ve created a diagram that organizes distributors, content companies and internet video companies by market cap and their main lines of business."

Here’s who owns everything in Big Media today -- Recode

Monday, June 11, 2018

Microsoft is building a game streaming service and new Xbox consoles -- The Verge

Also see Microsoft doubles its game development studios and showcases more than 50 games on E3 stage including 18 console launch exclusives and 15 world premieres (Microsoft News Center)
"Microsoft has been teasing it’s working on game streaming from the cloud recently, but today at E3 the company made it official. Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s gaming chief, revealed the company is hard at work building a streaming game service for any device. “Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device,” says Spencer, and the service will work across Xbox, PCs, or phones.

Spencer didn’t give any firm dates on when the service will be available, but he’s previously teased Xbox game streaming within three years. Many have tried and failed to create a game streaming service, and it’s a challenging thing to get right. Sony acquired streaming games service OnLive only to shut it down, and previously acquired Gaikai which eventually became part of its PlayStation Now service. Nvidia is trying to stream games to PCs, but all these existing services will suffer some form of latency that hold them back from being widely used."
Microsoft is building a game streaming service and new Xbox consoles -- The Verge

Goodbye to net neutrality. Hello to an even-bigger AT&T? -- The Washington Post

Just another week in Trump's DC...
"The two events in Washington could lead to further consolidation of wireless, cable and content giants, public-interest advocates say. And they fear that behemoths like AT&T might someday prioritize their own TV shows and other content over rivals’. Internet service providers, or ISPs, deny that they would engage in such a practice — yet consumer watchdogs worry that consumers would have little legal recourse if they did.

“I think this could be a one-two punch to consumers and online competition,” said Gene Kimmelman, the president of Public Knowledge, a D.C.-based public interest group. “The combination of no net neutrality and video consolidation creates new bottlenecks that empower the traditional media industry to raise prices and limit online competition.”"
Goodbye to net neutrality. Hello to an even-bigger AT&T? -- The Washington Post

WhatsApp is upending the role of unions in Brazil. Next, it may transform politics. -- The Washington Post

Organize different
"Nearly two-thirds of Brazil’s 200 million people use WhatsApp to share memes, set up meetings and, increasingly, to vent about politics. Now, the messaging app is helping Brazilians undermine established power structures, injecting a level of unpredictability and radicalization into a country beset by economic and political crises.

WhatsApp is particularly suited to organized movements. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, which often provide information to wider audiences, WhatsApp requires users to be invited to participate in groups, which leads to increased intimacy and secrecy, according to researchers. The platform’s voice messaging and photo sharing options enable users of varied educational backgrounds to take part in discussions. And it is free. Disgruntled Uber drivers, feminists and hard-line conservatives here use the app to share ideas and plan get-togethers."
WhatsApp is upending the role of unions in Brazil. Next, it may transform politics. -- The Washington Post

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Bitcoin Tumbles Most in Three Months Amid South Korea Hack -- Bloomberg

Rough weekend for cryptocurrencies
"Bitcoin extended losses for a third day, tumbling 12 percent Sunday as South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail said there was a "cyber intrusion" in its system.

The largest cryptocurrency declined to $6,749 as of 2 p.m. in New York, the biggest drop since March 14, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from Bitstamp pricing. That widens Bitcoin’s losses for the year to 53 percent. Peer cryptocurrencies Ethereum and Ripple fell 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively."
Bitcoin Tumbles Most in Three Months Amid South Korea Hack -- Bloomberg

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Amazon's New Fire TV Device Is a Voice-Controlled Cube -- Wired

Tbd how Alexa responds when you vocalize complaints about unavailable content
"Amazon, not surprisingly, is pitching the Fire TV Cube as the perfect Frankengadget for your TV, something that not only gives you full Echo features but is supposed to drastically simplify your TV experience. But as with any hardware product from a company that has some services skin in the game, the Fire TV Cube is not a perfectly agnostic streaming platform.

Like every other FireOS device, the Fire TV Cube doesn't play content purchased through iTunes. Apple TV, on the other hand, now streams Amazon Prime Video, so Apple has the distinct advantage there. More important is FireOS's lack of a native YouTube app. Thanks to a spat that Google and Amazon can't seem to resolve, your only option for watching YouTube videos on an Amazon device right now is to use a browser."
Amazon's New Fire TV Device Is a Voice-Controlled Cube -- Wired

The Rich Are Planning to Leave This Wretched Planet -- NYT

Only $55M for an 8-day trip...
"“It” was an early mock-up of a cabin that will reside inside a commercial space station, among the first of its kind, that Axiom is building: a mash-up of boutique hotel, adult space camp, and NASA-grade research facility designed to hover approximately 250 miles above the earth. Axiom hired Philippe Starck, the French designer who has lent panache to everything from high-end hotel rooms to mass-market baby monitors, to outfit the interior of its cabins. Mr. Starck lined the walls with a padded, quilted, cream-colored, suede-like fabric and hundreds of tiny LED lights that glow in varying hues depending on the time of day and where the space station is floating in relation to the earth.

“My vision is to create a comfortable egg, friendly, where walls are so soft and in harmony with the movements of the human body in zero gravity,” Mr. Starck wrote in an email, calling his intended effect “a first approach to infinity. The traveler should physically and mentally feel his or her action of floating in the universe.”"
The Rich Are Planning to Leave This Wretched Planet -- NYT

Next year, people will spend more time online than they will watching TV. That’s a first. -- Recode

Kinda scary numbers
"It’s finally happening: Next year, people around the world will spend more time online than they do watching TV, according to new data from measurement company Zenith.

In 2019, people are expected to spend an average of 170.6 minutes each day on online activities like watching videos on YouTube, sharing photos on Facebook and shopping on Amazon. They’ll spend slightly less time — 170.3 minutes —watching TV."
Next year, people will spend more time online than they will watching TV. That’s a first. -- Recode

Global addiction to social media is ruining democracy -- Boston Globe

From a timely Jaron Lanier reality check
"It’s important to understand the nature of the problem. The effects of social media manipulation are slight at any given time. But slight changes applied consistently and carefully can have big effects. An initially minute compound interest can turn into a big reward for a patient investor. In the same way, slight but predictable changes to the behavior of a population can be gained through adaptive algorithmic adjustments to social media experiences.

The problem is weirdly devilish. It attacks the very mechanisms that ought to protect us. The damage is reminiscent of the way AIDS undoes the immune systems that would normally battle disease. Once elections are made suspect, for instance, then politicians have little choice but to cling to the results that brought them to office. If a politician says, “I might not have been legitimately elected,” then that politician is undone, and chaos ensues. There is no way out."
Global addiction to social media is ruining democracy -- Boston Globe

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Did Cambridge Analytica Actually Change Facebook Users’ Behavior? -- The Atlantic

Final paragraphs:
"While privacy violations may lead some people to opt out of some platforms altogether, the dominance of social media seems unlikely to change at a macro level. “It’s not enough to say we can just stop using these platforms because we can just go back to the old way of things,” Das says. “I think we can’t, because they’ve totally changed how we socialize, at least in this country.”

Rather, if we continue to rely on social media to do much of the heavy lifting of keeping in touch, then privacy violations that damage trust are likely to have a subtler chilling effect. People won’t abandon social media en masse; they’ll just be a little quieter, a little more careful, a little less personal. And social media won’t be a very good tool for real, authentic connection."
Did Cambridge Analytica Actually Change Facebook Users’ Behavior? -- The Atlantic

Emirates looks to windowless planes -- BBC

Or, if you're happy with virtual experiences, skip the flight, radically reduce your carbon footprint, and have a remote meeting...
"Instead of being able to see directly outside, passengers view images projected in from outside the aircraft using fibre-optic cameras.
The airline says it paves the way for removing all windows from future planes, making them lighter and faster.
Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said the images were "so good, it's better than with the natural eye".
The virtual windows can be found in the first class cabin of Emirates' newest Boeing 777-300ER aircraft."
Emirates looks to windowless planes -- BBC

As YouTube looks to improve its news credentials, it is interviewing senior news people about a job -- Digiday

In other streaming news news...
"YouTube has been interviewing senior newspeople for a position at the company that is believed to relate to a new YouTube news initiative, according to three publishing sources who are familiar with YouTube’s plans.

What exactly YouTube is planning is unclear. Two sources speculated that YouTube may follow Facebook’s playbook and pay news publishers for exclusive videos or simply roll out a new way to promote videos from accredited news outlets on its platforms to combat the spread of fake news videos. The latter seems more likely. For one, YouTube is said to be eyeing people with proven journalism backgrounds for the aforementioned position."
As YouTube looks to improve its news credentials, it is interviewing senior news people about a job -- Digiday

Facebook has failed to build a business for publishers. Now it’s trying again with news programming. -- Recode

For those who like to Watch the news; tangentially, Instagram plans to launch Snapchat Discover-style video hub (TechCrunch)
"The problem historically is that none of Facebook’s efforts have delivered enough revenue to publishers to counterbalance the time and effort that goes into producing the work. Facebook won’t pay these news publishers out of pocket forever, which means they’ll eventually need to establish consistent audiences big enough to generate ad revenue that will pay for the production costs (and then some) on their own.

So far, we haven’t seen evidence that this is possible on Facebook, which isn’t yet a proven video destination in the way that YouTube or Netflix are. With Facebook trying to figure that out, and news publishers desperate to keep pace, we’re in for another experiment. Facebook, of course, will be fine. Whether or not news publishers come out the other side of this tunnel feeling pleased or not is the question."
Facebook has failed to build a business for publishers. Now it’s trying again with news programming. -- Recode

Apple’s Market Value Should Cross $1 Trillion and Keep On Trucking -- NYT

Value different
"Yet Wall Street has remained oddly skeptical over the years. Apple is valued at 15 times estimated earnings over the next 12 months, which is slightly less than the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index over all. And peers trade at a substantial premium, with Facebook at 22 times forward earnings and Microsoft and the Google parent Alphabet on a multiple of 25.

That’s too large a gap. Microsoft is projected to grow roughly as fast as Apple this year. Facebook and Google are growing faster, but they are in the line of fire from consumers and regulators over data gathering and privacy worries. Apple’s conference this week may be short on pizazz, but the nearly trillion-dollar company can tweak its business without the distraction of defending it."
Apple’s Market Value Should Cross $1 Trillion and Keep On Trucking -- NYT

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Behind the Messy, Expensive Split Between Facebook and WhatsApp’s Founders -- WSJ

Later in the article: "Among WhatsApp’s competitors is Signal, an encrypted messaging app run by a nonprofit called the Signal Foundation and dedicated to secure communication, with strict privacy controls and without advertising. Mr. Acton donated $50 million to fund the foundation and serves as its executive chairman."
"When Mr. Acton departed Facebook, he forfeited about $900 million in potential stock awards, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Koum is expected to officially depart in mid-August, in which case he would leave behind more than two million unvested shares worth about $400 million at Facebook’s current stock price. Both men would have received all their remaining shares had they stayed until this November, when their contracts end.

The amount the two executives are leaving in unvested shares hasn’t been reported, nor have the full extent of the details around their disagreements with Facebook over the years."
Behind the Messy, Expensive Split Between Facebook and WhatsApp’s Founders -- WSJ

GitHub Is Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion Undo Button -- Bloomberg

Paul Ford takes the long view on Microsoft's GitHub acquisition
"A truly fun aspect of Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub is that it was announced before Apple Inc.’s Worldwide Developers Conference. This is like when Passover overlaps with Easter in New York City. The WWDC, sacred nerd summit of Appledom, is where they announce things like a new “night mode” for the operating system and try to convince programmers that Apple Watch matters. But GitHub is nerd infrastructure. Huge portions of modern culture—Google’s TensorFlow machine-learning software, for instance, and even other programming languages, such as Mozilla’s Rust—run on code managed there. For Microsoft to trot this out during WWDC is a real thunder-stealer. It’s nice to see global-platform capitalism played with a little verve.
GitHub represents a big Undo button for Microsoft, too. For many years, Microsoft officially hated open source software. The company was Steve Ballmer turning bright colors, sweating through his shirt, and screaming like a Visigoth. But after many years of ritual humiliation in the realms of search, mapping, and especially mobile, Microsoft apparently accepted that the 1990s were over. In came Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, who not only likes poetry and has a kind of Obama-esque air of imperturbable capability, but who also has the luxury of reclining Smaug-like atop the MSFT cash hoard and buying such things as LinkedIn Corp. Microsoft knows it’s burned a lot of villages with its hot, hot breath, which leads to veiled apologies in press releases. “I’m not asking for your trust,” wrote Nat Friedman, the new CEO of GitHub who’s an open source leader and Microsoft developer, on a GitHub-hosted web page when the deal was announced, “but I’m committed to earning it.”"
GitHub Is Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion Undo Button -- Bloomberg

Take a First Look at Larry Page’s Flying Car -- Bloomberg

Tbd if the Flyer will be commercially available before SpaceX lunar tourism missions
"Kitty Hawk, the Mountain View, Calif.-based flying car company founded and backed by Larry Page, is offering a new glimpse of one its upcoming aircraft: a single-person recreational vehicle.

The Kitty Hawk Flyer sports 10 battery-powered propellors [sic] and two control sticks, and looks like a human-sized drone, according to photos and videos of the final design posted to the Kitty Hawk website on Wednesday morning. At first, it will go 20 miles per hour and fly up to 10 feet in the air, the company said."

Take a First Look at Larry Page’s Flying Car -- Bloomberg

Google Walks Away From America's Security -- Bloomberg

From a Michael Bloomberg Google reality check
"Google’s leaders also seem to have forgotten the vital role the government, and especially the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, played in creating the internet and making their company possible in the first place. Yet, from Apple’s refusal to unlock the iPhone of a mass-murdering terrorist to Project Maven, tech firms have repeatedly snubbed law-enforcement, intelligence and defense agencies.

Fortunately, some tech companies have deigned to help the U.S. defend itself. Amazon.com’s cloud computing arm has collaborated with the intelligence community as well as the Pentagon, and is believed to be the front-runner for a (highly controversial) multibillion-dollar Department of Defense contract. But Google’s decision may put pressure on other firms and their funders to shun the Pentagon in the future. Will Microsoft, IBM and others that Google reportedly beat out for the initial Maven contract, which expires in 2019, get back in the bidding for the next one? 

Hopefully so. Helping to defend the U.S. is nothing to be ashamed of. That shouldn’t be a controversial idea among our nation’s business leaders."
Google Walks Away From America's Security -- Bloomberg

They’re Not ‘Mad Men’ Anymore. But the Ad Business Is Still High Stakes. -- NYT

From a review of Ken Auletta's latest book, Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else); also see an extensive article adapted from the book: How the Math Men Overthrew the Mad Men (The New Yorker)
"Auletta surveys the tumultuous, treacherous ad landscape through the framework of frenemies. Not only are Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley frenemies, but so, too, he declares, are ad agencies and their marketer clients; agencies and media companies; traditional and digital media companies; agencies and consultancies like Accenture and McKinsey; agencies and software firms like Adobe and Salesforce.com; and, perhaps most telling, advertising and consumers. The easier it becomes for the public to zip, zap through and avoid interruptive ads — through innovative technology like ad blockers and streaming video — the madder, and more anxious, the mad men (and women) grow.

Yet as dire as their fate looks, some flowers bloom amid the gloom, taking the edge off the book’s pessimism. A respected industry strategist, Rishad Tobaccowala, tells Auletta: “People say we are dinosaurs. We are not dinosaurs. We are cockroaches. Everybody hates us. Nobody likes to see us. But cockroaches have outlived everyone. We scurry out of corners. We soldier on and hire people with different skill sets.”"
They’re Not ‘Mad Men’ Anymore. But the Ad Business Is Still High Stakes. -- NYT

Can Facebook Be Cut Down to Size? -- NYT

The NYT continues its accentuate-the-Facebook-negative series; also see Facebook Gave Data Access to Chinese Firm Flagged by U.S. Intelligence (NYT)
"When the government broke up the telephone system in 1984, the fact that AT&T could count most citizens as customers and that it was arguably the best-run telephone company in the world was not deemed compelling enough to preserve its monopoly power. The breakup would unleash a wave of competition and innovation that ultimately benefited consumers and the economy.

Facebook seems to be in a similar position today — only with far greater global reach than Ma Bell could have imagined. Facebook’s two billion monthly active users, and the way those accounts are linked and viewed by users and by third parties, have made it the most powerful communications and media company in the world, even if its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, insists his is a technology business."
Can Facebook Be Cut Down to Size? -- NYT

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Apple Joins the Impending Avatar Wars With Memoji -- Road to VR

*moji wars...
"During the live demo, Apple’s Memoji showed an impressive range of facial movements that seemed to match up fairly accurately with the user’s actual voice. The resultant Memoji that Peterson created was decidedly on the Pixar-side of the uncanny valley, making it approachable and actually really cute.

Apple is also integrating Animoji, as well as Memoji, onto FaceTime group chat, which is cool if that’s what you’re into.

While Samsung released its own version, called ‘AR Emoji’, back at MWC 2018 a few months ago, the truly striking feature of Apple’s Memoji system is how solid it appears in comparison to Samsung’s AR Emoji, which not only proved to be surprisingly jittery, but offered overall strange-looking results to say the least—certainly less approachable and less cartoon-like."
Apple Joins the Impending Avatar Wars With Memoji -- Road to VR

How The Alt-Right Manipulates The Internet’s Biggest Commenting Platform -- BuzzFeed

Hate will find a way -- at least where constructive terms of service aren't consistently enforced
"The alt-right and white nationalist trolls who frequent Twitter and backwater message boards have found another gathering place online: the commenting platform Disqus.

Used by publications like Rolling Stone and TMZ, Disqus says it gets about 2 billion unique visitors each month. It supports anonymous commenting and allows its users to comment on any Disqus-enabled site — a single Disqus account is a gateway to discussions on thousands of sites. It also hosts its own channels. And lately some of those channels have become rallying points for white nationalists and white supremacists looking to red-pill users in discussions around contentious, already-politicized news events. And while Disqus has a hate speech policy that should prevent or temper this, it doesn't seem to be particularly vigorous about enforcing it. The trolls are free to plot."
How The Alt-Right Manipulates The Internet’s Biggest Commenting Platform -- BuzzFeed

400,000 people now subscribe to NYT's digital crossword -- Poynter

A NYT digital transformation snapshot
"The app now has 400,000 standalone subscribers.

Standalone crossword subscribers pay $6.95 per month for full access. Those with subscriptions to the Times get a 50 percent discount. Daily mini crosswords are available for free.

In February, Sydney Ember reported for the Times that the newspaper added 157,000 digital-only subscriptions at the end of last year, and revenue from subscriptions now brings in 60 percent of total revenue. Ember reported that the times had 2.6 million digital-only subscriptions."
400,000 people now subscribe to NYT's digital crossword -- Poynter

GitHub Billionaires Will Own More Microsoft Stock Than Its CEO -- Bloomberg

"Communists" gain big Microsoft votes
"The windfall will make billionaires of Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath and PJ Hyett, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and shake up the ownership ranks of the world’s largest software company. The transaction will turn them into some of Microsoft’s biggest individual shareholders.

Each of the three could receive about 12.3 million Microsoft shares, assuming they control equal stakes in GitHub. A 0.16 percent holding would give each of them about 10 times more shares than Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, and roughly 14 times more than President Brad Smith. Among insiders, only co-founder Bill Gates’s 1.34 percent holding would exceed theirs, according to data compiled by Bloomberg." 
GitHub Billionaires Will Own More Microsoft Stock Than Its CEO -- Bloomberg

First Look at WWDC 2018: Today Apple Goes from Think Different to Live Different -- Thrive Global

Also see Apple Ups Privacy Controls in Growing Spat With Facebook (Bloomberg); for a cynical perspective, see Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour (NYT)
"And Apple has tapped into the zeitgeist with a comprehensive set of built-in features designed, as SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi put it at today’s WWDC, “to help you limit distractions, focus, and understand how you're spending your time." We’ve already seen this hunger for a new way to engage with technology reflected in Google’s announcement of a suite of “digital wellbeing” features, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat announcing features that promote “time well spent.” And this was our mission when Thrive Global worked with Samsung to launch the Thrive App, which helps people monitor how they use their phone and gives them the tools to take a break from it. But our goal wasn’t just to get people to download the app – it was to shift the culture.

And that’s exactly what Apple is doing here. With Apple’s global cultural influence, this is going to dramatically accelerate a shift from a world that values constant connectivity at all costs to one that values unplugging, recharging and reducing noise and distractions."
First Look at WWDC 2018: Today Apple Goes from Think Different to Live Different -- Thrive Global

Monday, June 04, 2018

Want to Read Michael Lewis’s Next Work? You’ll Be Able to Listen to It First -- NYT

An Audible grasp -- later in the article: "Mr. Lewis, author of the best-sellers “Moneyball,” “The Big Short” and “The Blind Side,” will continue to release his print books with W. W. Norton, but he will publish his long form journalism with Audible rather than Vanity Fair, he said. His audio originals may be adapted and expanded into print, but Audible will have exclusive rights for several months."
"When Michael Lewis had an idea for his next book, a contemporary political narrative, he decided he would test it out first as a 10,000-word magazine article, as he often does before committing to a yearslong project.

But this time he made a surprising pivot. Instead of publishing the story in Vanity Fair, where he has been a contributing writer for nearly a decade, he sold it to Audible, the audiobook publisher and retailer.

“You’re not going to be able to read it, you’re only going to be able to listen to it,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’ve become Audible’s first magazine writer.”"
Want to Read Michael Lewis’s Next Work? You’ll Be Able to Listen to It First -- NYT

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Delays Plans for First Space Tourists to Circle Moon -- WSJ

Space tourism appears to be lower in the SpaceX priority list
"The delay comes amid SpaceX’s own projections of a nearly 40% drop in launches next year from as many as 28 anticipated for 2018. The decline primarily reflects a global slump in manufacturing orders and launch contracts for large commercial satellites.

SpaceX also is confronting industry doubts about market demand for its Falcon Heavy rocket, the company’s newest and biggest launcher, which had its maiden blastoff in February. “People don’t think it’s serious enough yet to figure out how to use it,” Thomas Mueller, SpaceX’s chief propulsion technology officer, said in May, speaking to attendees on the sidelines of a space conference in Los Angeles. Mr. Mueller declined to elaborate or respond to questions.

Industry officials and SpaceX competitors have said the latest variant of the company’s smaller Falcon 9 rocket—upgraded to provide more thrust than earlier versions—is capable of putting most of the current generation of large and small satellites into required orbits. Those improvements have “eliminated much of the commercial need for the Falcon Heavy,” according to Charles Miller, a consultant and space entrepreneur."
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Delays Plans for First Space Tourists to Circle Moon -- WSJ

Microsoft Will Acquire Coding Site GitHub -- Bloomberg

GitLinkedIn?...  Also see With GitHub, Microsoft would be buying a crucial part of the software ecosystem (Recode)
"But even as Ballmer celebrated the developers building proprietary software for Microsoft, in the early 2000s he and his executive team were highly critical of the kind of open-source program built in GitHub today. Open-source software allows developers to tinker with, improve upon and share code -- an approach that threatened Microsoft’s business model. A lot has changed since then, and under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is supporting many flavors of Linux and has used open-source models on some significant cloud and developer products itself.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft is now one of the biggest contributors to GitHub, and as Nadella moves the company away from complete dependence on the Windows operating system to more in-house development on Linux, the company needs new ways to connect with the broader developer community."
Microsoft Will Acquire Coding Site GitHub -- Bloomberg

Tesla: Both Sides Of The Case -- Monday Note

Final paragraphs from a timely Tesla reality check
"Certainly, Tesla is far from profitable, but a recent “Tesla First Quarter 2018 Update” to shareholders shows strong Q2 2018 numbers for all models, and tells us that Model 3 production is on its way to the mid-year goal of 5,000 units per week, ascending to 10,000 by the end of the year (or early 2019). For escape artistry purposes, exact numbers matter much less than a trend line, especially if, as the CEO hopes, higher production volumes help Tesla reach or trend towards positive cash-flow. Just as a banker will lend you an umbrella as long as the sun is shining, Wall Street would easily find money for Musk if he shows he isn’t in dire need of it.
It’s that simple: If Musk overcomes, or just shows he’s beginning to overcome the Model 3 “manufacturing hell”, everything will be forgiven. Tesla will be successful, Musk will deservedly become a legend, and future entrepreneurs will be labelled the Elon Musks of their time.
Both sides considered, I think Elon will find a way."
Tesla: Both Sides Of The Case -- Monday Note

Friday, June 01, 2018

America’s Teens Are Choosing YouTube Over Facebook -- Bloomberg

See this Pew Research page for the full report
"Three years ago, Facebook was the dominant social media site among U.S. teens, visited by 71 percent of people in that magic, trendsetting demographic. Not anymore.

Now only 51 percent of kids ages 13-17 use Facebook, according to Pew Research Center. The world’s largest social network has finally been eclipsed in popularity by YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram."

America’s Teens Are Choosing YouTube Over Facebook -- Bloomberg

GM’s stock surges as SoftBank plans to invest billions in automaker’s self-driving business -- The Washington Post

In other automotive news, Tesla’s over-the-air brake upgrade was amazing—and also a bit worrying  (Ars Technica) and Waymo to Buy Up to 62,000 Chrysler Minivans for Ride-Hailing Service (NYT)
"General Motors announced Thursday that SoftBank Vision Fund will pour $2.25 billion in the automaker's self-driving business, in a significant deal that experts say boosts GM's chances to be one of the first companies to deploy autonomous cars nationwide.

In exchange for the investment, GM said the Japanese investment firm will receive a nearly 20 percent equity stake in GM Cruise, the Detroit company's autonomous vehicle unit. GM's stock soared after the announcement, closing up 12.87 percent to $42.70. That's the biggest gain the company's shares have seen since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2010."
GM’s stock surges as SoftBank plans to invest billions in automaker’s self-driving business -- The Washington Post

Worried About Big Tech? Chinese Giants Make America’s Look Tame -- NYT

The PR teams at Amazon, Facebook, and Google were probably very happy to see this article...
"Tencent Holdings and the Alibaba Group are ratcheting up their no-holds-barred contest to dominate the ways 770 million internet users communicate, shop, get around, entertain themselves and even invest their savings and visit the doctor.

The two titans long ago branched out from their core businesses — games and social media for Tencent, e-commerce for Alibaba — to duke it out in ever more realms of Chinese life. They have competed in messaging, microblogging and delivering takeout. They go head-to-head in video streaming and cloud computing."
Worried About Big Tech? Chinese Giants Make America’s Look Tame -- NYT