Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S., companies sent their employees home to work. Since then, the return-to-work date changed from “a few weeks” to September, and then January. Now, with the virus still problematic in many parts of the country, Google became the first to tell employees they’ll be back July 2021, followed by Airbnb, Slack and Uber and, more recently, Ford Motor Company. Microsoft, Target and The New York Times also plan to return in summer 2021, while Dropbox has made remote working the default for employees. Continue reading Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

Amazon Explore Platform Delivers Unique Virtual Experiences

Amazon debuted Explore, a platform for live classes, sightseeing tours, personal shoppers and other virtual experiences hosted by local experts. The video is one-way but the audio is two-way so the user can ask questions and make requests of the video’s host. Among the offerings are a $129 bagel cooking class and, for $70, a 45-minute virtual tour of a Lima, Peru mansion. At launch, Explore offers 86 experiences across 16 countries, but the platform has potential for significant growth. Other companies offering virtual experiences include Airbnb and fitness company ClassPass. Continue reading Amazon Explore Platform Delivers Unique Virtual Experiences

Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

Apple’s 30 percent commission on digital goods and services in its App Store has raised the ire of numerous companies, including Netflix and Spotify, which have formed a coalition to promote legal and regulatory changes for app marketplaces. Apple and Epic Games are battling the issue in court, and Spotify filed an antitrust suit in Europe last year, with claims that it unfairly harms competitors. Apple is, however, giving a brief COVID-19-related reprieve on fees to some companies selling virtual experiences. Continue reading Apple Under Increasing Pressure to Change App Store Fees

Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

According to a Treasury Department report, a number of tech startups have received funds from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans intended to pay workers’ salaries. Cloud software company C3.ai, for example, valued at $3.3 billion, got a $5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan. Other startups have been denied loans, however, when the federal authorities deemed their venture capital partners an “affiliated business.” Meanwhile, almost 70,000 employees of tech startups recently lost their jobs. Continue reading Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

With the advent of the coronavirus, companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google quickly responded, featuring links to “high-quality information” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). Big Tech has now donated thousands of N95 masks to healthcare providers and continues to highlight accurate news. Facebook committed $100 million in small business grants and Amazon put out the call for 100,000 new employees. Overall, Big Tech isn’t just doing good but doing well, with business holding steady. Continue reading Big Tech Responds to Coronavirus, Improving Its Public Image

JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

JPMorgan Chase has developed an e-wallet for Airbnb, Amazon, Lyft and the like, to allow them to offer customers virtual bank accounts, car loans and home rental discounts. In doing so, these online marketplaces and gig economy companies will end up spending less on payment processing fees to third parties — including JPMorgan. That might sound counterintuitive, but the catch is that the companies can only avail themselves of the offerings if they let JPMorgan handle all the payment processing and cash exchanges. Continue reading JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

Password-Free Logins Getting Closer to Becoming a Reality

WebAuthn, with the approval of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the FIDO Alliance, just became an official web standard for password-free logins. After W3C and the FIDO Alliance first introduced it in November 2015, WebAuthn gained the support of many W3C contributors including Airbnb, Alibaba, Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, PayPal, SoftBank, Tencent and Yubico. With WebAuthn, which is supported by Android and Windows 10, users can log-in via biometrics, mobile devices or FIDO security keys. Continue reading Password-Free Logins Getting Closer to Becoming a Reality

CES Panel: Possibilities of Marrying 5G With Edge Computing

What is edge computing and what can it bring when married with 5G, asked TechRepublic editor-in-chief Jason Hiner, who moderated a CES panel on the topic. AT&T vice president Alicia Abella described edge computing in historical context, as the pendulum has swung back and forth from centralized computing (in the 1960s to 1980s) to compute power on the desktop (with the advent of the desktop PC), back again to a centralized notion with the cloud, and now back to a distributed model with edge computing. Continue reading CES Panel: Possibilities of Marrying 5G With Edge Computing

CES Panel: Envisioning Entertainment in the 5G Ecosystem

UTA chief innovation officer Brent Weinstein convened technology and entertainment honchos to parse out 5G’s impact on a range of M&E applications. Intel senior vice president/general manager of the network platforms group Sandra Rivera opined that, “it’s never too early to be on the forefront of innovation.” “The work we did on 4G created the environment that drew in investment and services from Airbnb to Netflix and Uber,” she said. “We’re not quite at 5G, but the excitement is attracting the entrepreneurs and engineers.” Continue reading CES Panel: Envisioning Entertainment in the 5G Ecosystem

Internal Emails Reveal the Way Facebook Treated Companies

Based on 250 pages of internal Facebook emails and documents from 2012 to 2015 and released by a U.K. parliamentary committee, it’s been revealed that Facebook used its massive cache of data to favor some companies, such as Airbnb and Netflix with “special access,” and punish others by cutting them off. Further, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were closely involved in decisions to “increase sharing back into Facebook” and other moves to primarily benefit the company. Continue reading Internal Emails Reveal the Way Facebook Treated Companies

U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

According to a new study from Country Financial, a majority of U.S. consumers are sharing their login info for mobile, shopping and streaming accounts, but are not necessarily sharing the tab. The study found that overall, 74 percent of consumers say they share accounts for Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Uber with their family members and friends (and, in some cases, even their exes). However, more than 36 percent of those who freely share their accounts also indicate that they do not share the monthly costs of those accounts with others. Continue reading U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and other tech companies are lobbying to begin work on a federal privacy law, with the goal of creating regulations that would favor them more than the strict law passed in June by California. The California law, a benchmark in the U.S., gives users the right to know what information tech companies are collecting and why, as well as with whom they’re sharing that data. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said its tech company members want to be “a constructive part of the process.” Continue reading Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Noted venture capitalist and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker recently released her annual Internet Trends report at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Among the 294 slides, Meeker explained that smartphone shipments did not grow in 2017, and Internet user growth slowed to 7 percent (more than half the world is already online). However, people are spending more time online. Of the 5.9 hours per day that U.S. adults spent on digital media last year, 3.3 were spent on mobile, which is leading the charge in digital media consumption. Continue reading Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

Snap Inc. is launching an accelerator named “Yellow” with hopes of finding the next big media business. This fall, the accelerator will invest $150,000 in 10 startups or creators looking to develop media projects for mobile devices. Snap plans to take a small equity stake in those selected to receive the funding. The startups will also get mentorship from Snap execs, access to professional networking events, the opportunity to distribute content on Snapchat, and office space in Venice, California where Snap is based. CEO Evan Spiegel is expected to be involved in mentorship and the selection process. Continue reading Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

CES Tech Trends: 5G Ushers In a New Connected Ecosystem

On Sunday, January 7, CES 2018’s hottest trends were previewed in an event open only to press. CTA senior director of research Steve Koenig and senior manager of research Lesley Rohrbaugh divided tech trends into three parts: Ingredient or B2B technologies such as 5G, AI and robotics; In the Market tech comprised of native interfaces, digital senses and realism redefined; and Emerging Tech focused on smart cities, sports innovations and digital therapeutics. The technology that will make all of it possible, they say, is 5G. Continue reading CES Tech Trends: 5G Ushers In a New Connected Ecosystem

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