SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son and board director Rajeev Misra, who is also SoftBank Investment Advisers chief executive, are focused on saving the Vision Fund, whose bets on Uber Technologies and WeWork have been disastrous. Last week, SoftBank bailed out WeWork, whose value had dipped 80 percent below its peak, with $10 billion. The London-based private investment fund debuted two years ago, with the goal of raising $100 billion to invest in startups valued at $1+ billion, the so-called unicorns of Silicon Valley. Continue reading SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

WeWork’s largest investor, SoftBank, took over the ailing company and ousted co-founder/former chief executive Adam Neumann. WeWork, which ran out of money quickly after failing to go public, attempted to reinvent how office space is sublet, with a technology twist. But Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business management professor Vijay Govindarajan noted that the startup’s business model “is nothing more than a real estate play.” SoftBank, which has a three-year plan to save WeWork, put top executive Marcelo Claure at the helm. Continue reading SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

Facebook is slated to launch a News Tab as early as the end of October, but according to sources only a few of the publishers whose headlines appear there will get paid. The News Tab, which will appear on the toolbar at the bottom of the Facebook mobile app, will feature links for up to 200 publications, but sources say the social media giant never intended to pay all those news outlets. Sources note that it is similar to how Facebook built its Watch section, which includes videos it doesn’t pay for. Continue reading More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Verizon Media (formerly Oath) now has production studios located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sunnyvale and Taiwan. In addition, it built a 5G Los Angeles studio with plans to help pioneer new formats and production tech enabled by advanced 5G wireless connectivity. The worldwide facilities are being used by Verizon Media brands such as AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. The L.A. space — led by Verizon Media’s immersive media arm RYOT — is outfitted with full motion capture and volumetric capture stages. Continue reading Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Facebook Watch Courts Content Creators at VidCon London

Facebook is increasing its efforts to boost content on Facebook Watch, promising content creators they can connect with communities and make serious money via ads. Even though Facebook is behind powerhouse YouTube, the company has also staked out an impressive presence at the first VidCon London, running February 14-17, and is holding an invitation-only Facebook Creator Day in London just prior to that. Self-help guru Jay Shetty, who has 20+ million Facebook followers, is the platform’s face at the event. Continue reading Facebook Watch Courts Content Creators at VidCon London

DeepMind’s AlphaZero Defeats Leading Chess Game Engine

Alphabet’s London-based DeepMind loosed AlphaZero, its AI-powered system that can master games without human intervention, on Stockfish, the highest rated chess game engine, and crushed it. DeepMind developed the self-training method, dubbed deep reinforcement learning, specifically to attack strategy board game “Go,” and an earlier iteration of the system beat one of the world’s best “Go” players, although it needed human guidance. AlphaZero trained itself in chess in three days, rejecting red-marked moves after a mere 1,000 simulations. Continue reading DeepMind’s AlphaZero Defeats Leading Chess Game Engine

Team Builds Practical Quantum Random Number Generator

Security solutions provider Quantum Base and England’s Lancaster University have developed a quantum random number generator that could become a major step in combatting cyberattacks. The generator can easily be embedded in electronic devices to provide quantum security for authentication. “We have created a small, low power device that produces pure random numbers,” explains Quantum Base CEO Phillip Speed. “It can be incorporated into any electronic product with little or no incremental cost once volume production is achieved.” Continue reading Team Builds Practical Quantum Random Number Generator

Uber Wins Appeal, Regains its License to Operate in London

Uber won an appeal yesterday that will allow the company to operate in London for 15 months. A judge overturned a ban so that Uber will regain its taxi license, after agreeing to increased government oversight. Regulatory agency Transport for London withdrew the company’s license last fall and Uber has been unable to operate during the appeals process. Transport for London had accused Uber of showing a “lack of corporate responsibility” regarding “public safety and security.” The decision marks a victory for Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced Travis Kalanick last year. Continue reading Uber Wins Appeal, Regains its License to Operate in London

ESPN to Cover More Than 500 Wimbledon Tennis Matches

For the first time, ESPN will have cameras on all 18 courts at Wimbledon to offer complete coverage of more than 500 matches, including this week’s four days of qualifiers. Tennis fans can stream coverage from the All England Club on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN+ via the ESPN App. The sports network is also planning to televise about 140 hours on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. Additionally, the network will offer daily highlights, weekly reviews, press conference feeds, social buzz, related specials, and a marathon of notable matches on ESPN Classic. Continue reading ESPN to Cover More Than 500 Wimbledon Tennis Matches

Aftermath of EU’s Data Privacy Law is Far-Reaching, Profound

With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation going into effect, technology companies are flooding email inboxes with updates to privacy policies. Though GDPR currently touts the strictest privacy regulations, Brazil, Japan and South Korea plan to enact their own strict laws. The EU is encouraging such regulations by tying them to some trade deals and promoting a global approach. The EU and its 28 member countries are also planning to enact stricter enforcement of antitrust laws and tougher tax policies for giant tech companies. Continue reading Aftermath of EU’s Data Privacy Law is Far-Reaching, Profound

Skyrocketing Membership Threatens the Viability of MoviePass

MoviePass chopped its prices eight months ago, bringing membership to two million people — and the company to the brink of bankruptcy. Parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, which owns 92 percent of MoviePass, reported that it was down to just $15.5 million in cash at the end of April, with $27.9 million on deposit with merchant processors. The question now is if subscribers can slack off on movie-going before the company runs out of money. A recent SEC filing indicates that the company’s auditor has “substantial doubt.” Continue reading Skyrocketing Membership Threatens the Viability of MoviePass

Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Sources say that Google has agreed to discuss the concerns of publishers at four of its global offices on the eve of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect May 25. Google has told publishers using its advertising tools that they will be responsible for obtaining user consent to gather personal information from European users. Google has not adopted an industry-wide framework that many publishers plan to use to gain user permission on behalf of their advertising technology partners. Continue reading Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

In the wake of the Facebook privacy scandal, London-based data consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL Elections announced yesterday that they will be shutting down and filing for bankruptcy. Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of mining the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, has defended its actions while blaming the media for damaging its reputation and driving away clients. The company said it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.” Continue reading Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Palo Alto-based startup Arraiy is developing methods for automating part of the often-tedious process of producing visual effects for movies, TV shows and video games. “Filmmakers can do this stuff, but they have to do it by hand,” said CTO Gary Bradski, who has worked with tech companies such as Intel and Magic Leap. The Arraiy team, led by Bradski and CEO Ethan Rublee, “are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects houses,” reports The New York Times. “That includes systems that learn to ‘rotoscope’ raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from their backgrounds so that they can be dropped onto new backgrounds.” Continue reading Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

According to the latest figures from London-based piracy tracking firm MUSO, entertainment media piracy continues its ascent. Globally, consumers made more than 300 billion visits to piracy websites in 2017, up 1.6 percent from the previous year. Despite the popularity of legal streaming options such as Netflix and Spotify, MUSO found that the illegal streaming and downloading of television content and music increased last year, up 3.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. However, movie piracy decreased by 2.3 percent. Continue reading Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

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