Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

The EarthNow project, which plans to launch 500 small satellites to provide video coverage of the world, now has three notable investors: Airbus, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and SoftBank Group chief executive Masayoshi Son. Satellite entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who has also partnered with Airbus and SoftBank on OneWeb, another satellite Internet project, is a fourth investor. Project chief executive Russell Hannigan says EarthNow will cost more than $1 billion, but didn’t reveal tech details or a launch date. Continue reading Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Sprint plans to launch a 5G network by early 2019, joining its competitors in rolling out the new technology and spending $5 billion to $6 billion annually on its network. Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their 5G networks later this year. Although today’s smartphones can already stream HD video with the current 4G networks, 5G networks will enable other devices and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, also has a significant investment in Uber Technologies. Continue reading AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

According to a knowledgeable source, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to invest about $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb. That brings SoftBank’s total investment in the company to about $1.5 billion. OneWeb is a U.S. startup focused on providing Internet connectivity worldwide that is faster than current space-based or terrestrial systems. OneWeb founder/executive chairman Greg Wyler reports that the company is currently designing and looking for suppliers for its next-generation satellites. Continue reading SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and major investor Benchmark reached an agreement over board seats, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar investment led by SoftBank Group. This investment will give Uber resources to fend off its global rivals. Until recently, Kalanick and Benchmark were in a stalemate; the new agreement will add six directors and change voting in a way that will limit Kalanick’s power on the board. These changes are the aftermath of scandals that led the board to force Kalanick out. Meanwhile, Uber is facing setbacks in the U.K. regarding the status of its drivers. Continue reading Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

SoftBank Group wants to buy 17 percent to 22 percent of Uber Technologies, via a combination of share purchases from the company and a tender offer to employees and investors. The deal would only work if SoftBank can convince Uber’s shareholders to sell their stock at a discount. According to sources, the bank’s investment could total as much as $10 billion, which would make it the largest-ever single investment in a private venture-backed startup. SoftBank also wants two board seats, adding to Uber’s nine current directors. Continue reading SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Essential Products, the smartphone company founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Google’s Android mobile software, has amassed $300 million from several investors, including China’s Tencent Holdings and Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The company, which plans to compete with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market, also stated that Best Buy and Amazon will be its first partners for distributing the new $699 titanium-encased Essential phone. What Essential did not reveal was the date the phone will launch. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Essential Raises $300M from Amazon, Tencent

Google Push Could Spark Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Google is getting closer to offering quantum computing over the cloud. It’s uncertain if a quantum computer, which is based on “qubits” rather than 1s and 0s, can out-perform a supercomputer, but Google and other companies are betting it will be able to perform certain important tasks millions of times faster. Google and its rivals would be more likely to rent quantum computing over the Internet, since the computers are too bulky and require too much special care to live in most companies’ data centers. Continue reading Google Push Could Spark Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Intel Eyes the Future With New Family of Xeon Server Chips

Intel just unveiled its Xeon Scalable line, a new generation of 58 processors designed for “secure, agile, multi-cloud data centers.” Priced from $200 to $10,000 each, this array of new chips should serve as a clear message to would-be competitors that Intel plans to continue its dominance in the data-center market segment, which offers better profit margins than chips for PCs. Threatening Intel’s leadership are companies creating specialized chips aimed at maximizing performance of artificial intelligence programs. Continue reading Intel Eyes the Future With New Family of Xeon Server Chips

Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

To boost its efforts in robotics, SoftBank Group is purchasing U.S.-based Boston Dynamics from Alphabet and, as part of the deal, is also buying Schaft, a Japanese bipedal robotics company. Although terms of the deal were not revealed, SoftBank shares rose as much as 7.7 percent in Tokyo trading. According to sources, Google, which had acquired Boston Dynamics in late 2013, decided to sell it when it concluded that the company wouldn’t be likely to produce a shipping product in the next few years. Continue reading Robotics: SoftBank to Buy Boston Dynamics From Alphabet

SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Japanese telecommunications/Internet titan SoftBank Group just led a $502 million investment round in Improbable, a London-based startup that makes virtual worlds for video games and real-world simulations. In exchange, SoftBank will take a board seat and a non-controlling interest in Improbable, although details of the deal were not released. SoftBank founder/chief executive Masayoshi Son’s growing interest in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things has been a driver in the company’s recent deals. Continue reading SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

SoftBank Reportedly Ready to Sell Sprint to Deutsche Telekom

When the U.S. spectrum auction ends in April, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to approach Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile US about taking over Sprint, for a merger of the two wireless carriers. Until then, SoftBank is restricted by FCC anti-collusion rules preventing discussions between competitors. SoftBank ran into U.S. antitrust regulations two-and-a-half years ago when it was forced to stop negotiations to acquire T-Mobile for Sprint, a deal that would have put SoftBank in control with Deutsche Telekom a minority shareholder. Continue reading SoftBank Reportedly Ready to Sell Sprint to Deutsche Telekom

Warner Bros. Digital Networks is the Studio’s Latest OTT Effort

Warner Bros. just opened a new unit, Warner Bros. Digital Networks, to create content for online video entertainment and the cord-cutters who watch it. The studio is the largest U.S. producer and distributor of TV shows, and parent company Time Warner has been making efforts to appeal to consumers who choose not to subscribe to cable services. According to the studio’s statement, the new unit will create new online video channels, expand its current online services, seek strategic alliances and work with Turner and HBO. Continue reading Warner Bros. Digital Networks is the Studio’s Latest OTT Effort