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Medium Slashes Staff, Aims to Fix 'Broken' Model
January 6, 2017
Medium, the once-promising platform led by Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, is losing about a third of its workforce and will undergo a radical overhaul to fix what the CEO called a "broken" business model -- advertising-supported online publishing. Williams touted the company's successes in a post announcing the layoffs, but said that change was needed to address several major business shortfalls.
Bitcoin Rides the Uncertainty Wave
January 4, 2017
The price of bitcoin soared to a new three-year high on Monday, surpassing the $1,000 mark for the first time, in response to economic and geopolitical uncertainty in China following the U.S. presidential election. The price of bitcoin stood at more than $1,025 in late trading on Tuesday, after rising to nearly $1,030. The market cap was $16.49 billion, according to the CoinDesk index.
Germany Could Ding Facebook for Fake News
December 30, 2016
The frenzied 2016 election cycle mercifully is over, but Facebook's fake news problem isn't going away. The company may face steep fines in Germany if it fails to address it satisfactorily. A bill slated for consideration next year would establish fines of up to $500,000 euros per day for each day that a fake news story persisted after notification of its falsehood was provided.
Apple, Ireland Balk at EU's Bill for Back Taxes
December 29, 2016
Apple and the Irish government are fighting what some view as a European Union tax grab. The two recently filed a formal appeal of the EC's decision ordering Apple to pay nearly $14 billion in back taxes, based on its finding that Ireland had given Apple several illegal tax breaks. The EC found that Ireland had allowed Apple to determine its tax based on the activities of its subsidiary firms.
Softbank Pumps $1B Into Global Web Access Race
December 20, 2016
Softbank has cut a check for $1 billion to OneWeb, which plans to build a constellation of satellites to provide Internet access to underserved parts of the world, the companies announced Monday. Helmed by satellite industry veteran Greg Wyler, OneWeb raised a total of $1.2 billion in its latest round of funding. The company will deploy 650 Ku band satellites into orbit at a height of 750 miles.
Uber Staff Still Stalking Customers, Claims Suit
December 17, 2016
The controversy over Uber staff using the company's tech to track people's movements was reignited this week when information in a pending lawsuit began circulating in the tech press. Uber employees can pull customer data at will, alleged Ward Spangenberg, the company's former forensic investigator, in a court declaration filed earlier this fall.
Yahoo Suffers Major Data Breach Deja Vu
December 16, 2016
Yahoo has revealed that Net bandits stole data associated with 1 billion of its user accounts -- one of the largest data breaches in Internet history. The theft, which occurred in 2013, is distinct from the theft disclosed earlier this fall, in which 500 million accounts were compromised, Yahoo CISO Bob Lord explained. Stolen data may include names, email addresses, telephone numbers and more.
FCC's Tom Wheeler Hitting the Road
December 15, 2016
United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday announced that he will leave the agency he helmed for the past three years on Jan. 20, the day President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in. "Serving as FCC chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life," Wheeler said.
Gates Spearheads $1B Clean Tech Effort
December 15, 2016
One year after a powerhouse group of technology executives and venture capital icons met to form the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, the group, led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has launched a $1 billion investment fund to support clean energy startups around the world. The Breakthrough Energy Fund, chaired by Gates, is designed to jumpstart an entire new generation of entrepreneurs.
Amazon Prime Air Zips Through British Countryside
December 15, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday announced that it had completed its first drone delivery in the UK. During the private customer trial period, packages of up to 5 pounds will be delivered within half an hour. The first live delivery took place a week ago, when a highly automated drone delivered a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV to a customer near Cambridge. It took 13 minutes for the order to arrive.
Facebook Investors Slam Zuckerberg, Andreessen
December 14, 2016
Facebook investors have accused director Marc Andreessen of secretly coaching CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding a major sale of shares he held. The structure of the sale enabled Zuckerberg to refocus on philanthropic activities while maintaining lifetime control over the company. The suit alleges that Andreessen secretly tipped off the CEO about concerns raised by other members of Facebook's board.
Magic Leap Catches Flak Over Tricky Video
December 13, 2016
It turns out the awe-inspiring video Magic Leap unveiled last year is not a demo of its still-secretive mixed reality technology, but a bit of sleight of hand from special effects firm Weta Workshop, which is credited at the beginning and end of the clip. Magic Leap's post -- titled "Just another day in the office at Magic Leap" -- claims the video shows a game being played around the office.
Trump, Tech Bigwigs to Meet Wednesday
December 13, 2016
Some of high-tech's heaviest hitters will be in New York City Wednesday to meet with President-elect Donald J. Trump. On the list of all-stars expected to attend the meeting are Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Oracle CEO Safra Catz. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is likely to attend as well.
LinkedIn Begins New Chapter Under Microsoft's Wing
December 13, 2016
Microsoft last week closed its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn. LinkedIn will remain a separate company and Jeff Weiner will continue as its CEO, but he now reports to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Integration of the companies' products is under way. Among many other things, a user's LinkedIn identity and network will be made available in Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite.
AT&T, Time Warner Defend Merger to Lawmakers
December 10, 2016
AT&T and Time Warner executives this week appeared before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee to respond to lawmakers' concerns about their $84 billion merger. Their testimony came at a time of high public skepticism of institutional power. Rival content and mobile providers applied further pressure with questions about the impact the deal would have on competition and pricing.
Fitbit Pulls Pebble From Rock, Hard Place
December 9, 2016
Fitbit has announced an acquisition deal with smartwatch maker Pebble. It clearly has been struggling, having laid off 25 percent of its staff earlier this year, when CEO Eric Migicovsky acknowledged that money was tight. "Fitbit is acquiring certain assets of Pebble, including key personnel and intellectual property specific to software and firmware development," a Fitbit spokesperson said.
Bill Bolsters Legal Efforts of Wells Fargo Fraud Victims
December 8, 2016
U.S. lawmakers have introduced legislation to stop Wells Fargo from enforcing arbitration agreements with victims of fraud it perpetrated against them. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Rep. Brad Sherman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced the Justice for Victims of Fraud Act of 2016.
SCOTUS Scuttles Apple's Big Samsung Award
December 7, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday spoiled Apple's hopes for a big payday, scotching the $399 million award in its successful patent infringement suit against Samsung. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the Court's decision, which turned on what lawmakers meant by the term "article of manufacture." The appeals court had ruled that it encompassed the entire phone. The Supremes disagreed.
Uber Sees Gold in Autonomous Vehicle Field
December 7, 2016
Uber has announced the acquisition of startup Geometric Intelligence, a move designed to increase its presence in the autonomous vehicle technology field. Geometric CEO Gary Marcus will become the chief of Uber's new artificial intelligence business. He will lead the newly formed Uber AI Labs, which will be dedicated to conducting research into artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Multinational Effort Halts Malware Avalanche
December 6, 2016
The DoJ on Monday released new details about the multinational takedown of Avalanche, a multimillion-dollar malware and money-laundering network, following a four-year probe led by German police and prosecutors. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell, Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song and Assistant Director Scott S. Smith of the FBI's Cyber Division made the announcement in Pittsburgh.
Twitter Buys Yes for Product VP Talent
December 6, 2016
Twitter has purchased Yes and named the mobile app startup's CEO, Keith Coleman, as its new VP of product -- a challenging post. Coleman will be Twitter's third VP of product this year and the fifth since 2014. Twitter's main problems are monetization, which has plagued it since its founding; slowing user growth; and stiff competition. Coleman's supporters cite his previous experience at Google.
Fitbit May Pick Up Pebble
December 5, 2016
Fitbit, the leader in the wearables category, is close to an agreement to buy struggling smartwatch maker Pebble for up to $40 million, in a move to gain the firm's intellectual property and software. The negotiations follow several months of financial turmoil at Pebble, which reportedly slashed its workforce by 25 percent in March and has rebuffed several prior offers to be acquired.
Zenefits Pays the Piper
December 1, 2016
The California Department of Insurance this week announced fines totaling $7 million against startup Zenefits, a provider of cloud-based human resources services. The company's former leadership "created an anything goes culture at the Internet startup, resulting in numerous violations of licensing requirements to protect consumers," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Samsung Floats Possibility of Split
November 30, 2016
Samsung has announced road map for a corporate restructuring that might include splitting itself into two. The company has retained external advisors to review the optimal corporate structure for its activities. The review is expected to take six months. Depending on the findings, Samsung may create a holding company structure and might list its shares on additional international exchanges.
China's Business-Unfriendly Cybersecurity Stance
November 30, 2016
China's parliament earlier this month passed a law aimed at addressing the country's concerns about hacking and terrorism, which has spiked concerns among foreign businesses and human rights advocates. One interpretation of the new law is that it only codifies China's existing cybersecurity practices. However, 46 global business groups across a variety of industries didn't see it that way.
CNN Taps Beme Talent to Cultivate Millennials
November 29, 2016
CNN has acquired Beme, the startup cofounded by YouTube sensation Casey Neistat, the companies announced Monday. CNN plans to launch a new branded subsidiary featuring timely and topical video content by the summer of 2017. It will be led by a team including the Beme cofounders, under a name as yet undecided, with CNN providing funding. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Pay TV's Newest Innovation: Giving Users Control
November 21, 2016
With the launch of Stream Saver, AT&T Mobility has given users control over their streaming video quality. Stream Saver is similar to Sprint's video optimization and T-Mobile's Binge-On plans. Now, the only major carrier not offering a video optimization service is Verizon Wireless. Stream Saver lets users choose. They can use it or not depending on their particular circumstances.
US Comptroller Gears Up for Blockchain and Internet Finance
November 16, 2016
The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has a lot of catching up to do in dealing with innovative information technology, as it affects not only conventional finance, but also new channels of e-commerce made possible through advances in IT. These channels include cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, related "blockchain" technologies, and other Internet-driven financial services.
Russia May Kick Out LinkedIn
November 14, 2016
A LinkedIn block in Russia could be imminent, in light of last week's court ruling that the company broke a law requiring personal data on Russian citizens to be stored on servers within the country. Roskomnadzor, Russia's telecommunications and media authority, is waiting until it has the full text of the ruling before acting on it. Russia had 5 million registered LinkedIn members in Q1.
Google Insists Android Plays on Level Field in Europe
November 11, 2016
Google on Thursday fired back at the European Commission's charges that it violated antitrust law by imposing coercive rules on mobile operators and developers who use or write applications for its Android operating system. The EC this spring charged that Google's requirements to use its search engine and its Chrome browser on mobile devices running Android were coercive tactics.
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