Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

With an initial focus on the Indian market, Facebook is developing a cryptocurrency aimed for use on its WhatsApp messaging app. More specifically, sources said the company is developing a so-called stablecoin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar to reduce volatility. The company is, however, still working on its strategy, meaning that debut of the coin is still some time off. In 2014, Facebook hired former PayPal president David Marcus to run Messenger, fueling belief the company was going to engage in financial services. Continue reading Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

Onshape App for Magic Leap Powers 3D Engineering Design

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Onshape, a cloud-based CAD (computer-aided design) manufacturer, has created an application for use with Magic Leap’s augmented reality glasses to let engineers collaborate in designing products. Shown as a technology demonstration at the L.E.A.P. conference, Onshape’s tool was one of the few applications that was not entertainment-related and proved the concept of spatial computing’s power touted by Magic Leap chief exec Rony Abovitz. Onshape’s leadership includes the original creators of SolidWorks, a popular CAD tool. Continue reading Onshape App for Magic Leap Powers 3D Engineering Design

AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

AT&T inked an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap to distribute its augmented reality glasses. Later this year, potential buyers will be able to try them out at stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Magic Leap, which promises a “more practical” AR experience, is reportedly debuting a Creator Edition version later this year. With the deal, AT&T, which is making an equity investment in the company, will offer wireless service and content, most likely from existing partners such as the NBA. Continue reading AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

After top Google and Facebook executives met with French president Emmanuel Macron, the tech companies vowed to invest artificial intelligence resources in that country’s capital. Google will create a Paris-based AI lab focused on research into automatic learning, language and computer vision. Facebook, which already has created an AI lab in Paris, plans to double its 50-person team there by 2022 and spend 10 million euros ($12.2 million). Both companies also pledge to train that country’s citizens on digital tools. Continue reading Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

DigitalOcean Provides Cloud Services for Smaller Businesses

Cloud computing startup DigitalOcean, based in New York City, is taking on industry leaders Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud by targeting smaller developers and startups. According to CEO and co-founder Ben Uretsky, DigitalOcean is offering simple and flexible solutions for smaller companies that may not necessarily need the same business-class services as larger companies. While it is not currently planning an IPO, DigitalOcean indicates it is on a $175 million annualized run rate (ARR) for this year. Continue reading DigitalOcean Provides Cloud Services for Smaller Businesses

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

Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

The new iPhone X offers several new features, but none of them more innovative than the neural engine that is part of Apple’s new A11 Bionic SoC processor. Artificial neural networks, which excel at processing images and speech, are behind the phone’s ability to recognize the user’s face to unlock it, transfer facial expressions onto Animoji (animated emoji), and other, as-of-yet unspecified features. As Apple moves into augmented reality and image recognition, the neural engine will likely be central to these endeavors. Continue reading Apple’s Innovative Chips Ready to Lead in AR, AI, Wearables

Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

Android operating system co-creator Andy Rubin has introduced his Essential Phone that he says can be dropped onto concrete without breaking. The new smartphone, which will run on Android software, has magnetic connectors for a 360-degree camera or charger. Priced at $699 and available only in the U.S., Essential Phone will come without preinstalled apps or a need for yearly updates. Rubin also unveiled Essential Home, a voice-activated device that controls appliances. Both products are part of Rubin’s Playground Global incubator. Continue reading Andy Rubin’s Company Unveils New Phone, Digital Assistant

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

Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Pinterest, now in its third full year earning selling ads, is targeting more than $500 million in revenue this year. The company earned $100 million in revenue in 2015 and $300 million last year. Some close to Pinterest say the company is gearing up for an eventual IPO. “The company hired its first CFO, Todd Morgenfeld, from Twitter back in October, and has Facebook’s former monetization director, Tim Kendall, overseeing all of Pinterest’s revenue efforts, among other things,” reports Recode. Those close to the company suggest that if Snap “can fetch a valuation north of $20 billion on the public markets, Pinterest is in good shape to do something similar.” Continue reading Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Leaked Photo Shows Magic Leap Augmented Reality Prototype

Augmented reality company Magic Leap has operated in secrecy since its founding in 2010. Based in Florida, Magic Leap, valued at $4.5 billion, has raised almost $1.4 billion from Google, China’s Alibaba, Qualcomm, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, among others. Rumors of its augmented reality headset have been rife, but the only product to be unveiled thus far was an AR app in 2011. Now, a public photo of a prototype has been released, offering possible details of what the company has been working on. Continue reading Leaked Photo Shows Magic Leap Augmented Reality Prototype

Alibaba’s Shopping App Mixes E-Commerce and Social Media

Alibaba is expanding beyond e-commerce into social media and entertainment with its mobile app Taobao. Founded in 2003 as a site for small businesses to sell directly to consumers, Taobao has since blossomed with social and entertainment, a “one-stop shop” paradigm that’s getting Chinese youth to spend more time on the site than visitors to Amazon and Twitter, and mobile revenue more than doubling in the most recent quarter. What helps to make the site so successful are its more than 1,000 special interest groups. Continue reading Alibaba’s Shopping App Mixes E-Commerce and Social Media

Magic Leap Still Mum on Release Date, Describes Production

Magic Leap has not yet set a date to unveil its mixed reality technology, and didn’t do so at a recent Fortune conference in Aspen. There, Magic Leap founder/chief executive Rony Abovitz and chief marketing officer Brian Wallace said the technology is “very real” and “not a research project anymore.” Some listeners detected a hint that a product might be released this fall, but Abovitz and Wallace never made an overt statement. The most they would say is that the public would see its products “soonish.” Continue reading Magic Leap Still Mum on Release Date, Describes Production

Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

VR company Vrse has changed its name to Within and received $12.56 million in funding, led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other Within investors include 21st Century Fox and Annapurna Pictures. This is just the latest example of the huge sums that VR and AR companies have been able to garner. Magic Leap raised $793.5 million earlier this year, and Disney spearheaded a $65 million round for VR firm Jaunt. Comcast also led a $6.8 million Series A funding round in VR studio Felix & Paul. Continue reading Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

SXSW Focuses on Big Issues, Lifestyle Products Replace Apps

At this year’s SXSW, the verdict is that apps are over. Instead, tech-influenced lifestyle innovations and big picture issues took center stage. President Obama became the first U.S. President to attend the festival, where he delivered a keynote address about encryption and fighting terrorism, without directly referencing the current battle between the Justice Department and Apple. In addition to hearing about futuristic technologies, SXSW attendees discussed the election and enjoyed “lifestyle brand” products. Continue reading SXSW Focuses on Big Issues, Lifestyle Products Replace Apps

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