Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Making Copies

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Happy Monday.

Only 10 days to Turkey Day. Get ready to gobble gobble.

I’ll tell you who’s not making copies. That would be HP, the board of which rejected Xerox’s acquisition bid over the weekend claiming the $22/share bid undervalued HP and was not in the best interest of shareholders.

Operators of Yahoo sites in Japan and the Line chat app have reached agreement on a merger, one where SoftBank Group and SK internet firm Naver will form a joint holding company. The new entity is expected to become the largest internet player in Japan.

On the funding front: AI-driven news app SmartNews has raised a $92M round at a valuation of $1.2B. The app is said to use machine learning (rather than human curation) to generate personalized news experiences.

The company is focused initially on Japan and the U.S. as key markets.

Self-driving startup Wayve has raised $20M in a Series A to help teach cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision.

Wayve is looking to improve AI through simulation and knowledge transfer to the real world, rather than “hand-coded” rules. It plans to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous Jaguar I-Pace cars in Central London which will include, for now, safety drivers. 

Written by turbotodd

November 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Bad Weather

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Happy Friday, and TGIF.

Yesterday, some news about the weather from IBM with the introduction of its GRAF weather forecasting model.

GRAF stands for “Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting” and is the first global weather model to run on a GPU-accelerated supercomputer called “DYEUS.”

In partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this new system uses state-of-the-art science to forecast the atmosphere on a global scale, providing hourly (vs every 6-12 hours) updates and bringing forecast fidelity once limited to a few countries to the rest of the world.

Forecasts from the new system will be available via The Weather Channel and Weather Underground apps and websites, and also to businesses via IBM offerings.

IBM GRAF runs on supercomputer powered by the IBM Power9 System and CPUs and GPUs optimized on open source software for AI and high-performance computing.

Also on the cloud front…Amazon is filing a protest of the Pentagon’s decision to award the JEDI contract to Microsoft, claiming “unmistakable bias” and “errors” in process.

And Apple is just saying no to vaping, announcing it will remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its store amid growing health concerns over e-cigarettes.

Written by turbotodd

November 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

Need a New Razr?

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The original Motorola Razr flip phone came out in July 2004. It was thin and streamlined compared to most mobile feature phones of its time.

And now it’s back, this time with a 6.2″ touchscreen that folds like a clamshell, and only costs $1,500 clams running Android.

Early reviews suggest the new Razr has a much improved folding experience over what we’ve witnessed thus far in the folding phones. I still wonder if this is a problem looking for hinge…err, solution.

If your heart rate just went up, you might want to try the new Apple Research app that will allow U.S. users to enroll in one of three new health studies — one on women’s health, one on heart and movement, and a hearing study.

Developers: GitHub released its first native mobile app and improved notifications at the GitHub Universe event. GitHub Actions/Packages have also moved out of beta, and the company is also improving its code search.

Today’s funding: Password manager 1Password has raised a $200M Series A led by Accel, and will use its new capital to grow its enterprise footprint. And app-based loyalty card and analytics firm Punchh raised $40M to continue its expansion.

Written by turbotodd

November 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

Cached Check

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Good morning.

Google’s apparently following Apple and others’ leads and becoming the next big tech firm to move into finance.

Specifically, to offer checking accounts to consumers through Project “Cache,” whereby the company will partner with banks and credit unions to offer the new services.

What’s in it for Google? More consumer information and insight, particularly around personal finances. ‘Cause nothing could ever go wrong there.

To whit: The FT is reporting that popular health websites in the UK are sharing sensitive user data with dozens of companies including Google and Facebook (including medical symptoms and diagnoses). This info would presumably be protected under GDPR, but you should probably talk to your family doctor first.

More digital money stuff…Facebook has dropped Libra but added “Facebook Pay,” which will allow users to shop, donate to causes, send money to friends, etc on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. Don’t ask for change.

Today’s funding fun: DoorDash is raising $100M from T. Rowe Price Group and others to bring it to a $13B valuation. And digital freight marketplace Convoy, which matches truckers with cargo shippers, has raised a $400M Series D at a $2.75B valuation.

10-4, Billy Big Rigger!

Written by turbotodd

November 13, 2019 at 9:52 am

Data Ignorance is Strength!

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It is Tuesday. The rest of the country (world?) is talking about the pending public hearings on the impeachment inquiry.

But I’m going to talk about data and algos.

First, Google. It was reported yesterday by the WSJ that the company is engaged with Ascension on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states.

Data like lab results, doctor diagnoses, hospitalization records, and personal data including health histories, patient names, and dates of birth. 

Calling Dr. Google, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard!

Microsoft, meanwhile, indicated in a blog post that it would honor Calilfornia’s digital privacy law throughout the entire U.S., an attempt to elude a patchwork of state data privacy laws and a call for federal privacy legislation.

And then there’s the new Apple Card algorithm which is being probed by the New York Department of Financial Services for alleged algorithmic gender discrimination.

There have apparently been several instances where Apple and banker Goldman Sachs Group are giving husbands credit limits of up to 20 times to that of their wives.

Including, with much irony, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

“So 1984 won’t be like…1984.”

 

Written by turbotodd

November 12, 2019 at 4:32 am

Posted in 2019, google

Tagged with , , ,

Thank You for Your Service

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I was locked up in a courtroom in downtown Austin all last week, doing my civic duty (serving on a nasty child custody battle trial).

Man oh man am I glad to be back at work. What’d I miss?

The headlines this AM have a sneak that Apple is aiming to release an AR headset in 2022. 

Uh, three years from now? By then my augmented reality may have been completely re-augmented!

Twitter has drafted a new “deep fake” policy and opened it up for public input before it goes live. The gist: When the company sees synthetic or manipulated media that’s intentionally trying to mislead or confuse people it will place notices next to the content and/or warn people before they share such material.

Singles Day in China showed quite the bustling economy, with Alibaba alone reporting $38.4B in sales in 24 hours. Yes, you read that correctly.

Dealmaking: Enterprise info mgmt firm OpenText is acquiring cloud data backup protection firm Carbonite for $1.42B.

And Sweden-based e-bike and e-scooter-sharing startup raised an $85M Series B. The company has 4M registered users and has powered 14M rides across 38 European cities.

Thank you to all the veterans out there (including those from my own family) for your service to our country.

Written by turbotodd

November 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm

A New Mobile Office

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Happy Monday.

Apple has started the week communicating a $2.5B plan to help California’s housing crisis. This on on the heels of similar $1B infusions from Facebook and Google in recent months.

The Apple fund will include a $1B affordable housing investment fund, and a $1B first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund.

Up in Redmond, Microsoft has unveiled a new office app for iOS and Android, one which sees Word, Excel, and PowerPoint combined into a single download. The new version features a prominent actions section that makes key features more easily accessible (like transferring files from your smartphone to your desktop).

Monday Fund-day: South Korea’s CODE42 has raised $25M in a pre-Series A funding round led by Kia Motors. CODE42 is an autonomous transportation startup and will use the funding to build its Urban Mobility Operating System. 

And Casstime, a China-based automotive aftermarket search engine and procurement platform, raised an $80M Series C1. Casstime’s search platform allows users to find unique part numbers by enteringn the VIN and part name, then uses an algo to assign multiple suppliers that have fit the user’s past purchasing behavior.

Written by turbotodd

November 4, 2019 at 9:49 am

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