U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

U.S. tech execs are experiencing app envy, with companies from Uber to PayPal and billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey setting their sights on building one-size-fits-all “super apps” to rival Tencent’s WeChat in China and SoftBank’s LINE in Japan. Where typical apps are built to do one thing really well, so-called super apps are generalists, which in theory means people will use them more often. Spotify and Snap have also expressed interest in super solutions, which have been popular in Asia since 2020 and are sparking new interest in the West. Continue reading U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

Big Tech Concerned About Crypto Startups Poaching Talent

There are reports of a migratory wave of executives and engineers moving from Big Tech firms such as Google, Amazon, Apple and others to chase what is being described as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” with startups whose business models rely on blockchain and involve everything from cryptocurrencies to non-fungible tokens. Google is said to be so worried about employee retention they’ve increased stock grants in categories vulnerable to poaching following the exit of Surojit Chatterjee to join Coinbase where he saw his stake in the company grow to more than $600 million in 14 months. Continue reading Big Tech Concerned About Crypto Startups Poaching Talent

The Web3 Debate: Impending Revolution or Marketing Hype?

Nearly 37 percent of the world’s population has never used the Internet, according to the United Nations. That’s about 2.9 billion people yet to experience the technology most of the other 63 percent now take for granted. But many feel the Internet is ready for its third act, Web3 (also known as Web 3.0). Companies trying to figure out what Web3 means for their business models are not helped by the fact that there is dissent as to what it will be. Decentralized, relying on blockchain, connected to the metaverse are among the themes being discussed. Although there’s a lot being written, it’s all rather fuzzy at this time. Continue reading The Web3 Debate: Impending Revolution or Marketing Hype?

Talk of Twitter Sale Brews with Square/Block Floated as Suitor

Even before Jack Dorsey tweeted his resignation as Twitter CEO — and announced that another company he co-founded and runs as CEO, Square, will on December 10 change its name to Block — there was speculation that Twitter will soon be purchased. The rumors have been fueled by a belief that Twitter has potential beyond its stagnant share price — $44.47 as of yesterday’s close, slightly less than $44.90 the day of its November 2013 IPO — evidenced in its strong branding and popularity with elites. Top tech exec Parag Agrawal’s ascent to CEO is the corporate equivalent of staging in real estate.  Continue reading Talk of Twitter Sale Brews with Square/Block Floated as Suitor

The Rapid Expansion of Bitcoin Networks Called Off for Now

Bitcoin supporters that wanted to double the number of transactions that run through Bitcoin-supported networks have lost the fight, at least temporarily, to do so. They were opposed by another camp composed of many programmers working on Bitcoin who worried that too rapid expansion would make it easier for a government or company to exert influence over a system prized for being decentralized. Those who wanted to expand Bitcoin wanted to switch to a new software version that would have created a split in the network. Continue reading The Rapid Expansion of Bitcoin Networks Called Off for Now

Apple Requests Order to Block Sale of Some Samsung Phones

In the wake of a recent jury verdict that Samsung had infringed upon three of its patents, Apple is now seeking a sales ban in the U.S. on some older models of Samsung’s smartphones. The move also follows an agreement between Apple and Google’s Motorola Mobility unit to dismiss patent litigation against each other. However, according to papers filed in a California court, Apple is not looking for such a resolution with Samsung, but has requested a retrial to increase the amount awarded earlier this month and impose a sales ban. Continue reading Apple Requests Order to Block Sale of Some Samsung Phones

Net Neutrality: FCC Votes in Favor of Advancing Web Proposal

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 yesterday in favor of moving forward with proposed rules that would allow broadband providers to charge individual companies extra for preferential handling of online traffic. The ongoing debate has divided tech companies regarding the best path to keeping the Internet open. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal would ban providers from blocking or slowing sites, but leaves open the possibility of deals for access to so-called “fast lanes.” Continue reading Net Neutrality: FCC Votes in Favor of Advancing Web Proposal

Will Proposed FCC Regulations Create a Two-Speed Internet?

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed to allow broadband providers to charge fees for high-speed Internet for faster delivery of video and other data, essentially allowing a premium Internet fast-lane for companies that can pay. Small content providers may not be able to compete because they do not have the resources to pay for high delivery speeds. The regulations would also prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing down individual websites. Continue reading Will Proposed FCC Regulations Create a Two-Speed Internet?

Israeli Startup StoreDot Can Charge Your Phone in 30 Seconds

Tel Aviv-based startup StoreDot has unveiled a prototype of a mobile phone charger that can reportedly charge a dead phone’s battery to 100 percent in a mere 30 seconds. StoreDot was created by members of the nanotechnology department at Tel Aviv University. The current prototype, about the size of a laptop charger, is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy 4. The company has plans to reduce the device’s size and expand to other smartphones when the $30 charger becomes available in late 2016. Continue reading Israeli Startup StoreDot Can Charge Your Phone in 30 Seconds

Dropbox Clarifies Policies After Users Complain via Twitter

Although users of Dropbox and other cloud-based file storage and sharing systems have become accustomed to treating their files on these services as private, this is not actually the case. Darrell Whitelaw recently tried to share copyrighted material via Dropbox, and received a message that he could not share the content due to DMCA regulations. He tweeted his frustration, which received almost 4,000 retweets, and caused outrage throughout the Twittersphere. Continue reading Dropbox Clarifies Policies After Users Complain via Twitter

Dish Chair Said to Approach DirecTV About Possible Merger

Insiders report that Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen recently contacted DirecTV CEO Mike White to discuss a potential merger of the two companies. DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV operator, currently has about 20 million subscribers, while Dish, the No. 2 operator, has about 14 million. Ergen reportedly approached White in response to Comcast’s proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. However, White is said to be reluctant regarding formal talks out of concern that regulators would block a deal. Continue reading Dish Chair Said to Approach DirecTV About Possible Merger

USC Cinematic Arts Professors Installed in New Endowed Chairs

In a ceremony at the Ray Stark Theater on USC’s Cinematic Arts campus last Thursday, Dean Elizabeth Daley joined George Lucas in welcoming three USC film professors to their new endowed chairs. Made possible by a generous gift from Lucas, the three new chairs — The Sergei Eisenstein Endowed Chair for Cinematic Design, the George Mélies Endowed Chair in Visual Effects, and the William Cameron Menzies Endowed Chair in Production Design — are now held by Bruce Block, Michael Funk, and Alex McDowell respectively. Continue reading USC Cinematic Arts Professors Installed in New Endowed Chairs

Fake Twitter Accounts Boost Individuals and Trending Topics

Twitter estimates the percentage of its accounts that are fake is less than 5 percent, but some independent researchers think that number is closer to 9 percent. Fake accounts are a big market for those looking to boost their popularity and influence on Twitter, despite efforts by the social networking site to weed out the imposters. One man who manages 10,000 robot accounts for roughly 50 clients offers a glimpse into the market. Continue reading Fake Twitter Accounts Boost Individuals and Trending Topics

USC Event: Andy Nicholson on Designing the World of ‘Gravity’

The 5D Institute and USC School of Cinematic Arts will host a special presentation this Friday with production designer and art director Andy Nicholson, who will discuss the 3D space drama “Gravity.” Nicholson will be introduced by USC professor and filmmaker Bruce Block. Following the presentation, a Q&A session will be moderated by editor and author Bill Desowitz. The event will take place 3:30-5:30 at USC’s Eileen Norris Theater. Continue reading USC Event: Andy Nicholson on Designing the World of ‘Gravity’

Google May Implement Anonymous Identifier to Replace Cookies

Google may change the way that online browsing activity is tracked by developing an anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID. This identifier would essentially replace third-party cookies to track browsing information, which would then be used for marketing purposes. The identifier would be sent to advertisers and ad networks that agree to certain guidelines, while providing users with greater privacy and control over how they browse the Internet. Continue reading Google May Implement Anonymous Identifier to Replace Cookies