Andrew Ng Leaves Baidu’s AI Group to Launch New Startup

AI visionary Andrew Ng — co-creator of the Google Brain research project, former chief scientist at Chinese web giant Baidu, and co-founder of online education platform Coursera — has launched a new AI company called deeplearning.ai. While details are scarce at this point, Ng recently promised “more announcements soon” via tweet. The company’s website simply features the tagline “Explore the frontier of AI,” followed by #deeplearniNgAI and “August 2017,” suggesting more information is coming later this summer. Continue reading Andrew Ng Leaves Baidu’s AI Group to Launch New Startup

Westergren to Step Down as CEO of Music Service Pandora

Pandora co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren plans to step down from his position running the 17-year-old streaming music pioneer. The company has yet to select a replacement. Earlier this month, satellite company Sirius XM announced it would invest $480 million in the web radio service for a 19 percent stake in the company and three board seats. Despite a user base of 80 million, “Pandora has struggled to generate enough advertising revenue to cover the cost of the free service,” reports Recode. “Meanwhile, music listeners have begun gravitating to the on-demand subscription services of Spotify, Apple and others, which offer ad-free access.” Continue reading Westergren to Step Down as CEO of Music Service Pandora

Fox Plans Six-Second Ad Format for Digital Platforms and TV

Fox Networks Group plans to introduce a six-second, unskippable ad format for digital and on-demand platforms by October. The new format, similar to an approach adopted by YouTube, could eventually be offered to traditional TV advertisers, following its testing phase. “TV ads are typically longer than 15 seconds, but as viewing shifts online, where people are skipping or blocking ads, advertisers and media companies have experimented with new ad formats and strategies,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Fox’s new format could be ideal as pre-roll ads before long-form episodes and premium sports content. Continue reading Fox Plans Six-Second Ad Format for Digital Platforms and TV

CNN to Transform Great Big Story Into a Streaming Channel

Time Warner’s CNN plans to spend $40 million over two years to turn its in-house social video startup Great Big Story into a 24-hour streaming channel. The cable news pioneer “launched Great Big Story in 2015 to make short videos about offbeat places and people,” explains Bloomberg. “The goal was to distribute videos on social media to reach millennials who don’t watch CNN on television.” By next summer, Great Big Story will transform to a 24-hour schedule, “including live programming or feature-length films,” streaming via web TV services such as Sling TV or DirecTV Now. According to CNN exec Andrew Morse, the online feed could one day become its own subscription service or TV network. Continue reading CNN to Transform Great Big Story Into a Streaming Channel

White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

At the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the White House’s American Technology Council, President Donald Trump called for a “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology,” admitting that the government needed to catch up with the private sector and that federal agencies had to deliver “dramatically better services to citizens.” The Council’s mandate is to convert paper forms into easy-to-use websites, and help the government buy better technology and use new tools like artificial intelligence. Continue reading White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

Ransomware: Hackers Extort $1 Million From One Company

In the largest ransomware payout to date, South Korean web provider Nayana has agreed to pay $1 million to hackers who originally demanded 550 Bitcoins, about $1.62 million. Following negotiations, Nayana has agreed to pay $1 million in three installments. The ransomware, identified as Erebus by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, impacted 153 Linux servers and more than 3,400 websites hosted by Nayana. “This is the single largest-known payout for a ransomware attack, and it was an attack on one company,” reports CNET. “For comparison, the WannaCry ransomware attacked 200,000 computers across 150 countries, and has only pooled $127,142 in Bitcoins since it surfaced.” Continue reading Ransomware: Hackers Extort $1 Million From One Company

YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

YouTube creators who want to see specifically where people are looking in their 360-degree and VR videos are in luck. The company is introducing a new analytics tool that does just that, via heatmaps, available for any such videos that exceed 1,000 views. YouTube is also sharing tips on 360-degree videos aimed to help video producers. Making these videos is particularly challenging since viewers can watch in a variety of ways, including via a VR headset, the YouTube smartphone app or desktop web browsers, where they can rotate the video. Continue reading YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, is reportedly close to ruling on an antitrust case regarding Google’s search services that is likely to result in a record fine, according to insiders. The penalty is expected to exceed the $1.4 billion antitrust fine that Intel paid in Europe in 2009. “Officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete,” reports The New York Times. The case “claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site.” The European Commission is also investigating two other cases that involve Android and Google’s advertising products. “Google has denied any wrongdoing,” notes NYT. Continue reading Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Katy Perry Is First to Achieve 100 Million Followers on Twitter

Singer Katy Perry, who joined Twitter in early 2009 and just released a new album called “Witness,” has become the first to achieve the 100 million follower milestone on the social platform. “The second most-followed Twitter account belongs to Justin Bieber, who currently has 96.7 million followers,” according to Variety. “Next in line are Barack Obama (90.8 million), Taylor Swift (85.1 million) and Rihanna (74.1 million).” While these figures do not specify the number of spam accounts or bots, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said bogus bots represent less than 5 percent of accounts. Perry also broke her own YouTube record last month when single “Bon Appetit” reached 16.8 million views in just 24 hours. Continue reading Katy Perry Is First to Achieve 100 Million Followers on Twitter

Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion. Organic grocer Whole Foods, founded in 1978, has more than 460 locations, but has been facing increased competition from large chains such as Walmart that have introduced more natural and organic products. The Austin, Texas-based company built its brand on premium service and generally higher prices. This approach may mark a change for Amazon, which has built much of its business on lower prices. Whole Foods will continue operating under its existing brand and CEO John Mackey will remain in his position. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Instagram has taken a step to increase transparency, giving Internet celebrities on the site an easier way to let viewers know if their posts are sponsored. Users and sponsors can work together to decide whether or not to tag a post as a “paid partnership” at the top. This new feature is currently being tested with a few celebrities and businesses. If it proves successful, Instagram will launch it more widely. Parent company Facebook already uses a similar method of disclosing such paid partnerships. Continue reading Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Verizon completed its $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo’s Internet business, which it will combine with Internet pioneer AOL. The two merged companies form Oath, a new division led by AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong that will serve about 1.3 billion monthly users. Verizon executive Marni Walden says the strategy is to place the same content in multiple locales to reach the biggest audience possible. “There is a tremendous opportunity to increase viewership of some of these brands,” she said.  Continue reading Verizon Merges Yahoo, AOL Into Oath, With 1.3 Billion Users

Netflix Doubles Subscription Base in 5 Years, Surpasses Cable

According to Leichtman Research, Netflix has surpassed cable TV in number of total subscribers. Netflix recently reached 50.85 million subscribers, whereas U.S. cable companies presently have 48.61 million. “The numbers don’t count minor cable networks, which could in themselves amount to 5 percent of total cable customers,” explains Forbes. While Netflix has added 27 million subs in the last five years, cable subs are only down by 4 million, “not a massive drop off. It’s also worth bearing in mind that cable TV makes up only 50 percent of total TV viewership in pay TV.” Satellite TV presently has around 38 million subscribers. “In total there are 93,319,187 subscribers to cable, satellite and Internet streaming services in the U.S. Continue reading Netflix Doubles Subscription Base in 5 Years, Surpasses Cable

Technology May Lead to Change for Theatrical Film Releases

MoffettNathanson analyst Robert Fishman suggests that the film industry is on the verge of change, “in part because the movie studios want and need it to change,” notes Recode, “and in part because Netflix is going to push the industry forward whether it likes it or not.” Studios are looking to make movies available in the home without waiting for the traditional 90-day theatrical window, while Netflix is ramping up its original programming and straight-to-streaming library. According to Fishman, such change could cost theater owners up to 20 percent of their profits. While Hollywood was not successful with earlier attempts to shorten the release window, Fishman believes this year could be different, since Internet technologies continue to impact the home video business. Continue reading Technology May Lead to Change for Theatrical Film Releases

Video Will Comprise 82 Percent of All Internet Traffic by 2021

Cisco predicts that online video will be responsible for 82 percent of all consumer IP traffic in 2021, with live video expected to see the fastest rate of growth over the next four years. By comparison, video accounted for 73 percent of Internet traffic last year. Demand is coming from a range of video, including on-demand content from services such as Netflix, webcam viewing and IP VOD. Not surprisingly, Cisco forecasts the amount of bandwidth will grow as more online video is consumed and an increasing number of higher-quality videos are watched. Continue reading Video Will Comprise 82 Percent of All Internet Traffic by 2021

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