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

Impact Creative Rolls Out App to Connect Writers with Execs

In Hollywood, screenwriters are hired based on personal relationships and past successes but filmmakers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard believe the paradigm needs to change. “Promising writers blow years of their lives trying to get agents and have their work seen by the right people,” said Howard. For two years, their startup, Impact Creative Systems (formerly Imagine Impact) offered an eight-week bootcamp to help writers get their scripts ready to pitch. Now, they’ve added the free-to-join Creative Network app to connect them with executives. Continue reading Impact Creative Rolls Out App to Connect Writers with Execs

Pinterest Debuts Story Pins, Other Tools Aimed at Influencers

Pinterest is debuting two features intended for lifestyle influencers: Story Pins, which is similar to the increasingly popular stories feature available on Snapchat, Instagram and other platforms; and “creator profiles,” which allow influencers to show off their work. For Story Pins, which is already available to a select group of influencers, the creator can post photos and vertical videos with overlaid text and voice-over narration but doesn’t need to link to an outside website. Story Pins are not ephemeral, and followers can comment and react to them. Creator Profiles highlight projects via Story Pins. Continue reading Pinterest Debuts Story Pins, Other Tools Aimed at Influencers

Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

A recently fired Facebook data scientist, Sophie Zhang, sent a 6,600-word memo giving specific examples of how the social media company ignored or was slow to act on solid information on fake accounts undermining global politics and elections. That included her proof that, in Azerbaijan and Honduras, government leaders and political parties used fake accounts to shift public opinion. She found similar evidence of coordinated campaigns to impact candidates or elections in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Spain and Ukraine. Continue reading Ex-Facebook Scientist Reveals Slow Action on Fake Accounts

Twitter Hack Technique Is Being Replicated for Other Attacks

Last month, three alleged hackers were arrested for manipulating Twitter to control 45 accounts of high-profile figures including Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden and Elon Musk. Now, the technique these young malefactors used — dubbed “phone spear phishing” — is being used by so many other bad actors that experts dub it a crime wave. Phone spear phishing, also known as “vishing,” a mashup of “voice phishing,” has been used this last month to attack banks, web hosting companies and cryptocurrency exchanges, said investigators. Continue reading Twitter Hack Technique Is Being Replicated for Other Attacks

Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft reported that sales rose 13 percent to $38 billion in its fiscal Q4, for a net profit of $11.2 billion. Largely due to continued demand for its Azure cloud-computing services, both figures exceeded Wall Street expectations. Microsoft’s revenue from the commercial cloud division “surpassed $50 billion for the first time ever in the latest fiscal year.” The company is also the target of a complaint Slack filed with the European Commission, accusing it of using its market power to crush rivals. Continue reading Microsoft Cloud Service Revenues Skyrocket Past $50 Billion

Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

To help fight the unemployment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft and LinkedIn (which Microsoft acquired in 2016) plan to offer free online classes and job-hunting resources to 25 million people around the world by the end of 2020. The two companies have identified 10 booming occupations — including data analyst, digital marketer and help-desk technician — that require digital skills they aim to teach. These professionals also pay relatively well, even for those without a college degree. Continue reading Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

President Orders Investigation of Foreign Taxes on U.S. Firms

The Trump administration stated that it will open an investigation into digital taxes levied by foreign governments on American commerce. U.S. technology companies such as eBay and Google, among others, are most likely to be impacted. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will conduct the investigation into the European Union as well as Austria, Brazil, Britain, the Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain and Turkey.  The investigation takes place amid ongoing global negotiations for a consensus solution. Continue reading President Orders Investigation of Foreign Taxes on U.S. Firms

Microsoft: Remote Work Needs Outpace Supply Chain Issues

Microsoft expected the original $10.75-$11.15 billion Q1 forecast for its personal-computing business to be negatively impacted by COVID-19 disruptions, yet the company reported that its PC group generated $11 billion in sales as consumers continue to stay at home. The PC group benefited from an increased demand for remote work and education solutions, as well as a 2 percent rise in Xbox sales, a solid increase from a drop in the previous quarter. Microsoft’s PC business includes licensing revenue from PC sales, its Xbox video-game platform and popular Surface laptops. Continue reading Microsoft: Remote Work Needs Outpace Supply Chain Issues

Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft’s gross margins for its commercial cloud business (including Azure and Office 365) grew to 67 percent, driving the company’s robust fiscal Q2 earnings on record sales. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella revealed that revenue from this sector grew 39 percent to $12.5 billion. Company executives told analysts that the gross margins percentage will increase this year while margins rose for the fourth consecutive quarter, noting that this reflects the “huge opportunity” selling cloud products and infrastructure. Continue reading Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

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