Microsoft Introduces Its Viva Suite of Remote Working Tools

Microsoft debuted Viva, a package of tools to enable better employee management including a range of human resources-related software for payroll, tracking employee performance and resources for staff on benefits, career development and other life and work aspects. Chief executive Satya Nadella called the toolset “essential,” adding that “the very best tools and systems” for remote working are crucial in difficult times. During the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft has seen an earnings boom in cloud-computing, laptops and video games.

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Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Amazon’s robust holiday shopping quarter garnered $125.5 billion in sales and net income of $7.2 billion, the first time the company reached $100+ billion in quarterly revenue, and only days after Apple achieved the same milestone. Amazon amped up sales when it moved its two-day Prime Day shopping event from summer to October. The company’s overall 2020 sales hit $386.1 billion, a 38-percent year-over-year jump. According to analysts, e-commerce grew about 50 percent during the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

During Sundance Film Festival 2021 (January 28 – February 3), Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution and Disney Television Animation is showcasing an interactive short — “Baymax Dreams of Fred’s Glitch” — that plays via Nvidia’s GeForce NOW streaming service. The game-like short features the cast from “Big Hero 6” and challenges the viewer to fix Fred’s destructive “glitch” and Baymax’s programming. “Baymax Dreams” is part of the New Frontier Alliance Showcase at Sundance. GeForce NOW, officially unveiled in 2015, recently launched for the Chrome web browser and M1 Macs in beta. Continue reading Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

ETC Publishes Videos of ‘Ripple Effect’ Digital Town Square

On January 20, the Entertainment Technology Center at USC presented a Digital Town Square, the second of two “Ripple Effect” events. The 2.5-hour online program — “Breaking Down ‘Ripple Effect’ Part 2: Virtual Production” — was co-sponsored by Microsoft Azure and led by Erik Weaver, ETC Adaptive Production director and executive producer of “Ripple Effect.” The program examined lessons learned and virtual production principles of the live-action short. The keynotes, panels and fireside chat are currently available on ETC’s YouTube Channel. Continue reading ETC Publishes Videos of ‘Ripple Effect’ Digital Town Square

CES: Sessions Examine the Potential of Quantum Computing

Two CES 2021 panels addressed the current state and anticipated advances in quantum computing, which is already being applied to problems in business, academia and government. However, the hardware is not as stable and robust as people would like, and the algorithms are not yet up to the task to solve the problems that many researchers envision for them. This has not stopped entrepreneurs, major corporations and governments from dedicated significant resources in R&D and implementations, nor from VCs and sovereign funds making major bets on who the winners will be. Continue reading CES: Sessions Examine the Potential of Quantum Computing

CES: Samsung, Ice Mobility on Trends in 5G Implementation

At CES 2021 this week, Elemental Content co-founder John Penney moderated a conversation with Samsung Electronics America vice president of product management Drew Blackard and Ice Mobility co-founder and chair Denise Gibson on trends in mobile communications. “The 5G new wireless ecosystem offers a lot of applications in business environments,” Penney noted, asking Blackard and Gibson to describe some of what they think will be the most compelling use cases as 5G continues its rollout of networks and devices. Continue reading CES: Samsung, Ice Mobility on Trends in 5G Implementation

CES 2021 Opens with Predictions on Tech Trends for the Year

At the opening of the all-digital CES 2021 this week, Consumer Technology Association vice president of research Steve Koenig and director of research Lesley Rohrbaugh described their predictions for innovation and technology trends to expect in the coming year, noting that the CTA provides 30 studies a year on its website. Koenig put 2021 in context as following a tough 2020 of COVID-19 and related economic downturn. “As a global community we confronted a lot of those challenges together and saw a myriad of solutions from tech innovation,” he said. Continue reading CES 2021 Opens with Predictions on Tech Trends for the Year

Cloud Computing Leads to Growth in Data Center Real Estate

Brick-and-mortar real estate has cratered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The single exception is real estate linked to the significant growth in cloud computing: the buildings that house the servers that enable it. Goldman Sachs is investing up to $500 million in data center infrastructure. Private equity companies Blackstone and KKR also plan to invest in data centers, while, according to JLL, real estate investment trusts (REITs) focused on data centers had returns of 19 percent in the first half of 2020. Continue reading Cloud Computing Leads to Growth in Data Center Real Estate

Chipmakers Intel, Nvidia Now Compete with Their Customers

Companies such as Intel and Nvidia have long dominated the design and manufacture of semiconductor chips, but they are now facing competition from their own customers. Amazon, Google and Microsoft, all of which have seen strong growth in cloud computing, are looking to create their own chips to ensure better performance and lower costs. Amazon, for example, debuted a chip intended to speed up AI algorithms. Traditional chip manufacturers are creating specialized processors to retain their long-time customers. Continue reading Chipmakers Intel, Nvidia Now Compete with Their Customers

VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

New Zealand-based Weta Digital, a visual effects company that has worked on such high-profile films as “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame,” is making a play to create its own original content. Co-founded by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Weta Digital recently added firepower to its board of directors, including former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, and is also searching to make strategic purchases in the special effects and animation business since animation can be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

ETC Executive Coffee: Students, Execs Talk Cloud Resources

As part of ETC@USC’s Executive Coffee with… series, M&E leaders connected via Zoom with eight engineering students, three cinema students and one business student on October 29. The topic of discussion was “Production in the Cloud for Media and Entertainment; content and experience creation, distribution, interaction, and analytics.” Students were particularly interested in new advances related to areas such as production workflow, asset management, gaming, remote collaboration for live music, and the impact of analytics on content creation. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Students, Execs Talk Cloud Resources

Amazon Commits to Train Millions Worldwide in Cloud Skills

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically change the work landscape, Amazon plans to retrain 29 million people globally in cloud-computing skills by 2025. In addition to building on existing programs, Amazon will invest in new ones by teaming with schools, nonprofits and other organizations. Last year, Amazon earmarked $700 million to retrain 100,000 of its own workers. Some of those trained in the new programs may find employment at Amazon or in other companies that use Amazon Web Services. Continue reading Amazon Commits to Train Millions Worldwide in Cloud Skills

Internet Task Force Pushes CDN Routing Security Measures

The Internet’s Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), its universal routing system, has always had design weaknesses. Now, a global initiative known as Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) — supported by the Internet Society and a consortium of Internet infrastructure companies — has established a task force to assist content delivery networks (CDNs) and other cloud services in hardening security. Although MANRS already focused on improving security for network operators and their physical hardware, this task force focuses on bringing the process to the cloud. Continue reading Internet Task Force Pushes CDN Routing Security Measures

Salesforce to Purchase Slack Technologies for $27.7 Billion

Salesforce.com inked a $27.7 billion cash-and-stock deal to buy Slack Technologies. The purchase, double any other Salesforce acquisition, positions the company to compete with Microsoft and Alphabet. Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff pioneered software subscriptions running on remote servers, which evolved into tech tools for businesses. Slack Technologies chief executive Stewart Butterfield pioneered online collaboration tools as an alternative to email but, when COVID-19 hit, Slack was slow to pick up video tools. Continue reading Salesforce to Purchase Slack Technologies for $27.7 Billion

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