Boston Dynamics Creates a Robot with Humanlike Movement

Boston Dynamics, a robotics company owned by Google’s parent Alphabet, has introduced a robot that is making leaps and bounds in the industry — literally. Handle, as the robot is called, can jump over obstacles, go down stairs, and lift objects up to 100 pounds. The impressive machine has two legs with wheels that allow it to move fluidly. Unlike other robots that generally move slowly and deliberately, Handle can use its momentum without losing control to get around more easily. Continue reading Boston Dynamics Creates a Robot with Humanlike Movement

Verizon to Pay $350 Million Less for Yahoo Internet Businesses

Verizon and Yahoo announced yesterday plans to move forward with the sale of Yahoo’s core Internet businesses. In the wake of major data breaches at Yahoo, the purchase price has been lowered by $350 million for a new deal valued at $4.48 billion. The companies plan to split future costs related to the data breaches. “The revised agreement,” notes The New York Times, “paves the way for the deal to proceed to a shareholder vote as early as April, although securities regulators are still assessing how Yahoo disclosed information about the breaches to investors.” Verizon is looking to compete with Facebook and Google in digital advertising and, according to The Wall Street Journal, plans to fold Yahoo’s ad tech and websites “into AOL, which Verizon acquired in 2015.” Continue reading Verizon to Pay $350 Million Less for Yahoo Internet Businesses

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

Facebook Loses Oculus IP Lawsuit in $500 Million Jury Verdict

Facebook lost its intellectual property lawsuit with video game publisher ZeniMax Media yesterday and was ordered to pay $500 million in damages. ZeniMax had contended that a former employee helped develop the Oculus Rift VR headset with knowledge that he gained while working for the game publisher, and that the company had developed a prototype prior to Facebook acquiring Oculus VR for $2 billion. While Oculus was not found guilty of stealing trade secrets, the jury determined the company was guilty of copyright infringement and violating a confidentiality agreement. An appeal is expected. Continue reading Facebook Loses Oculus IP Lawsuit in $500 Million Jury Verdict

Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Facebook has decided it wants longer videos, and will reward videographers who create them. That’s quite a turnabout for the company that counts three seconds as a “view,” and the many publishers reporting that few viewers watch their videos to completion. Facebook still plans to count three seconds as a view, but is changing its News Feed algorithm to favor longer videos, especially those that keep viewers watching. With the new algorithm, the longer a video holds its audience, the more Facebook will promote it. The social network is also adding a feature similar to Snapchat Stories. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Ant Financial Services Group, China’s largest online-payments company, has announced an $880 million deal to acquire Dallas-based money-transfer provider MoneyGram International. Ant Financial split off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2011 and is controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma. “With the deal, Ant Financial would gain a large footprint and a brand name in the U.S. and expand its global money-transfer business, ultimately bringing it into closer competition with PayPal” and others, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, the deal could be scrutinized by the new presidential administration as global competition is being called into question, despite Donald Trump’s recent discussions with Ma to help create jobs. Continue reading Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Sprint Buys One-Third of Jay Z’s Troubled Tidal Music Service

Sprint bought a one-third stake in Jay Z’s streaming music service Tidal, after beginning discussions in April 2015. Sprint has not offered details on how much it paid or what the partnership entails, although it says that its subscribers will now have access to Tidal content and that Tidal and its artists will create content specifically for them. Jay Z has stated that he and Sprint share the view of allowing artists to connect directly with fans. Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure will join the Tidal board of directors. Continue reading Sprint Buys One-Third of Jay Z’s Troubled Tidal Music Service

Cisco Systems Plans $3.7 Billion Acquisition of AppDynamics

As part of its push to ramp up software offerings for enterprise customers, Cisco Systems is purchasing software maker AppDynamics Inc. for a premium $3.7 billion, just as the company was about to go public. AppDynamics software helps companies — including airlines, banks and retailers — monitor their applications’ performance and address any potential problems across cloud services offered by Google, IBM and others. The startup was founded by engineer Jyoti Bansal in 2008. Continue reading Cisco Systems Plans $3.7 Billion Acquisition of AppDynamics

Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Walmart is expected to cut about 1,000 jobs by the end of January, before the close of its fiscal year. “The plans mark one of Walmart’s largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to CEO Doug McMillon, the company’s chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will step down in February. Other retailers have been making similar moves; Macy’s recently announced it would close stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Walmart is working to fend off Amazon and smaller discounters. The retail giant purchased Jet.com in September, and its founder, Marc Lore, took over the e-commerce business. Continue reading Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

New Name for Yahoo After Verizon Sale, CEO to Leave Board

Yahoo announced that board members, including CEO Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filo, would step down from the board of directors once the company’s core Internet assets are sold to Verizon. What remains of the company after the sale is completed would be renamed Altaba (combining “alternate” and “Alibaba”). “Altaba’s remaining assets include Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo Japan,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Board member Eric Brandt, former CFO of Broadcom, will become Altaba’s chairman. Mayer “is expected to remain with Yahoo once it becomes part of Verizon.” The deal will cost Verizon about $4.8 billion, unless terms are changed due to two recent high-profile hacks of user data.  Continue reading New Name for Yahoo After Verizon Sale, CEO to Leave Board

Yahoo: Second Data Breach Involves 1 Billion User Accounts

In September, Yahoo revealed a 2014 security breach that involved 500,000 of its users’ accounts. Now the company has announced an even larger data breach from 2013 involving more than one billion accounts, including those of more than 150,000 government and military employees. “The two attacks are the largest known security breaches of one company’s computer network,” reports The New York Times. “The newly disclosed 2013 attack involved sensitive user information, including names, telephone numbers, dates of birth, encrypted passwords and unencrypted security questions that could be used to reset a password.” Continue reading Yahoo: Second Data Breach Involves 1 Billion User Accounts

Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

According to a report from The Information, fitness band market leader Fitbit is close to finalizing a deal to purchase smartwatch maker (and Kickstarter success story) Pebble. The startup was said to be facing financial challenges and looking to sell. Fitbit is reportedly looking to pick up Pebble’s intellectual property and software, and is expected to shutter the brand and its products over time. While a dollar amount for the deal has not been revealed, some place the purchase price in the $34-40 million range. “Watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015,” reports TechCrunch. “This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million.” Continue reading Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division

Warner Bros. announced its plan to purchase the rest of gamer-centric YouTube network Machinima, which the studio first invested in two years ago. The digital media company will join the recently created Warner Bros. Digital Networks arm to help the studio develop new digital and over-the-top offerings. “With Machinima now wholly under its control, Warner Bros. hopes to tap deeper into the network’s loyal audience of young consumers who devour video game-related programming — especially content related to Warner’s own franchises including DC,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Machinima also “provides video programming for services including Playstation Vue, Amazon Prime and the CW network.” Continue reading Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division

Symantec Agrees to Purchase LifeLock for $2.3 Billion in Cash

Computer security company Symantec Corp. will acquire LifeLock Inc. for $2.3 billion in a deal that will broaden Symantic’s offerings beyond its antivirus software. LifeLock, which sells identity-theft protection services, currently has more than 4.4 million subscribers. “Symantec hopes to integrate LifeLock with its Norton antivirus businesses into a single product line after the acquisition closes, expected early next year,” reports The Wall Street Journal. In June, Symantec acquired Blue Coat Systems for $4.65 billion to add cyberdefense technologies to its portfolio. Earlier this year, the company “sold its Veritas data-storage unit to Carlyle Group for $7.4 billion.” Continue reading Symantec Agrees to Purchase LifeLock for $2.3 Billion in Cash

Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

Facebook has acquired FacioMetrics, a startup spun off from Carnegie Mellon University. FacioMetrics’ IntraFace can detect seven different emotions on peoples’ faces. Since the purchase, FacioMetrics has been removed from the app stores. The acquisition is likely fueling Facebook’s goal to apply its artificial intelligence research to create “gesture-based controls, recognize facial expressions and perform related actions.” Facebook has said it will use FacioMetrics to enhance its augmented reality face masks. Continue reading Facebook Acquires FacioMetrics for Human Emotion Detection

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