Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Microsoft experienced a successful quarter, due in large part to significant growth in Azure cloud services. The company reported overall Q4 sales of $46.2 billion, up about 21 percent year-over-year, for a $16.5 billion profit, an increase of 47 percent year-over-year. Similar to other Big Tech companies, Microsoft’s numbers exceeded Wall Street expectations. According to chief financial officer Amy Hood, Microsoft expects overall sales of $44.2 billion for the current quarter. Microsoft’s stock is currently up 40 percent over the last year, and its valuation is now $2+ trillion, second only to its rival Apple. Continue reading Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

Music streaming service Spotify launched its live audio app, Greenroom, for iOS and Android. Built on Locker Room — the app focused on sports content created by Betty Labs and acquired by Spotify in March — the Greenroom app is similar to Clubhouse in that it allows users to host live conversations about music, sports and other topics. Branded with Spotify colors and a new logo, Greenroom features native recordings, which can be distributed as podcasts. Although users can sign in with Spotify credentials, it is not required to use the app. Continue reading Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

LinkedIn added a “Boost” option that brands can use to maximize the reach of their posts. Any high-performing organic Page update can be turned into paid ads in this manner, explained LinkedIn, adding that if the brand sees “early traction” to an organic update, it can “capitalize on that, without having to create a new ad.” “With the click of a button and a few payment details, you can easily give your most engaging or time-sensitive content a little boost to quickly expand your audience reach,” the company added. Boost is touted as an ideal tool for content related to industry thought leadership, customer spotlights, and new product launches or special events. Continue reading LinkedIn Offers Feature for Brands to ‘Boost’ Organic Pages

Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Pinterest allows users to “pin” photos and videos onto boards, helping them to “discover ideas through images,” especially those pinned by people or companies that they follow. It uses neural networks, which make millions of calculations quickly, to surface and suggest the images that people will like. According to Pinterest senior vice president of engineering Jeremy King, this tool is responsible for “nearly 100 percent” of the company’s growth. In Q1, Pinterest’s AI-powered formula drew in almost 480 million people. Continue reading Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Microsoft quarterly numbers exceeded analysts’ expectations and drove stock up 50 percent, bringing the company close to a $2 trillion valuation, second only to Apple’s. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to remote working and remote learning drove strong uptake of the company’s cloud computing services and video game units. Although chip shortages are slowing down hardware sales, chief executive Satya Nadella reported that digital adoption curves “aren’t slowing down … they’re accelerating.” Continue reading Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Microsoft is on track to acquire Nuance Communications, an AI and speech recognition software company, for about $16 billion. The company intends to expand its offerings in medical computing; Nuance already has speech and text data related to healthcare, an established customer base and the transcription tool Dragon. According to Microsoft, the purchase will “double the size of the healthcare market where it competed to almost $500 billion.” With the purchase, Microsoft could also develop advanced AI solutions for the workplace across numerous industries. Microsoft’s last big purchase was LinkedIn, for $26.2 billion in 2015.  Continue reading Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Spotify acquired Clubhouse rival Betty Labs, which produces live sports audio app Locker Room, for an undisclosed amount of money. Although Locker Room will stay live in the App Store, Spotify will rebrand it with a new name and broaden its focus to include music and culture as well as sports. In addition to the iOS version, Spotify will eventually add an Android version. LinkedIn and Facebook are also developing live audio features as the trend continues to gain traction. These apps would compete with existing platforms Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Discord. Continue reading Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

Roku is apparently planning to expand its VOD offerings by producing its own original content, having placed a LinkedIn ad in January looking for a “lead production attorney … [with] substantial experience in television and film production either at a studio, network, streaming service or entertainment law firm [for its] expanding slate of original content.” The ad also asked for someone with “experience working with Hollywood guilds and unions.” Roku recently purchased original content from the startup Quibi. During the holiday quarter, Roku experienced a 58 percent jump in revenue. Continue reading Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

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.

Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Its Viva Suite of Remote Working Tools

Canada Confronts Clearview AI Over Facial Recognition App

Canada has denounced facial recognition app Clearview AI and, despite the lack of legal authority, demanded that the company delete all Canadian faces from its database. Canada’s privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien stated that the company puts all of society “continually in a police lineup.” Clearview AI has scraped 3+ billion photos from social media networks and other public sites. Canada is the first country to take such a strong stand against the app that is currently in use by 2,400+ U.S. law enforcement agencies. Continue reading Canada Confronts Clearview AI Over Facial Recognition App

Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

Microsoft reported its fiscal Q2 net income rose 30+ percent to $15.5 billion, the result of COVID-19-driven remote working, increased video game playing and cloud computing. The company has also seen increased sales of its Surface laptops, which facilitate remote working and learning. Chief executive Satya Nadella has prioritized Microsoft Teams workplace-collaboration software, dubbing this last year as “the dawn of a second wave of digital transformation sweeping every company and every industry.” Continue reading Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

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

Microsoft Q1 Revenues Rise in Part Due to Azure Cloud Unit

Microsoft’s sales rose 12 percent to $37.2 billion, with a net profit of $13.9 billion for Q1 of its fiscal year, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Its cloud unit Azure’s revenue jumped 48 percent from the same quarter last year, driving the quarter’s results, said chief financial officer Amy Hood. Much of the dramatic leap in Azure’s use can be attributed to online demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the company’s gaming content business showed a 30 percent increase in sales from last year. Continue reading Microsoft Q1 Revenues Rise in Part Due to Azure Cloud Unit

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