Amazon Warehouses Impacted by Spread of the Coronavirus

An Amazon warehouse, AVP1, in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania is the locus of at least 21 positive COVID-19 cases, becoming what appears to be the most severe among the company’s 10 such warehouses in its U.S. fulfillment network. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened an investigation into working conditions at AVP1 and Amazon issued a directive to let shipments from this site remain untouched for 24 hours. As cases are reported in numerous Amazon warehouses, chief executive Jeff Bezos made a surprise visit to a Dallas, Texas warehouse. Continue reading Amazon Warehouses Impacted by Spread of the Coronavirus

Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

In Pittsburgh, a group of about 80 HCL Technologies contractors working at Google has voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers. Although the group represents only a small number of the many contractors employed by Google, it represents one of the first groups of tech workers to unionize in the U.S., according to United Steelworkers. At Google’s Bakery Square offices, contractors work side-by-side full-time Google employees but are paid less and receive fewer benefits, leading to the push to organize. Continue reading Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are extending their seven-month-old alliance to include collaborating on self-driving and electric car technology. In a joint statement today, the companies announced that Volkswagen would invest $2.6 billion in Ford’s autonomous-vehicle partner Argo AI by providing $1 billion in funding and contributing its Audi $1.6 billion Autonomous Intelligent Driving unit, based in Munich. In 2017, Ford invested $1 billion in Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup Argo. Once the Ford-VW deal is finalized, Argo’s value is expected to reach $7 billion. Continue reading Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Apple Reveals Plans for Texas Campus and Major Expansion

Apple announced yesterday that it plans to spend $1 billion on a new campus in Austin, Texas to accommodate up to 15,000 employees. Over the next three years, the company also plans to add hundreds of workers to its offices in Boulder, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York, while opening 1,000-worker operations in Culver City, California; Seattle, Washington and San Diego, California. Major tech players such as Apple, Amazon and Google are increasingly moving beyond Silicon Valley as part of strategic expansion plans and the ongoing search for new tech talent. Continue reading Apple Reveals Plans for Texas Campus and Major Expansion

U.S. Supreme Court Rules States Can Allow Sports Gambling

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, struck down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal law stipulating that states could not “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize” sports gambling. The ruling, which sided with a challenge brought by New Jersey, now opens the door for states to allow legal gambling, upending an over-25 year ban. The major sports leagues have responded positively and enthusiastically to the new status quo. Continue reading U.S. Supreme Court Rules States Can Allow Sports Gambling

Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Equifax’s two cyber breaches, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, were the work of hackers who took advantage of a flaw in Apache Struts software. The nonprofit Apache Software Foundation and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned of the bug in early March, but Equifax only alerted its end users on September 7, almost five months later. IT experts say the event highlights the challenges in keeping software current and identifying all potentially vulnerable applications. Continue reading Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

In August, Walmart purchased Jet.com for $3.3 billion in cash and stock, a vote of confidence that the e-commerce startup’s founder/chief executive Marc Lore understood the way that Walmart could successfully compete with Amazon. Lore believes that Walmart should focus on product areas that are newly popular online, including clothing, fresh food and everyday essentials found in the drugstore. Shortly after acquisition, Lore and his management team took over Walmart’s domestic e-commerce operations, including 15,000 employees. Continue reading Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

LG Display Signs Deal to Supply LCD TV Panels to Samsung

LG Display, a major panel supplier for Apple, will reportedly supply TV displays to rival Samsung as early as this year in a deal that is expected to replace the Sharp-Foxconn venture as a lead supplier to Samsung. A deal between LG Display and Samsung (the world’s largest television manufacturer) would mark a first for the South Korean rivals. Sharp and Foxconn are cutting back production of LCDs, which would also likely impact panel supply and display prices throughout the industry. Meanwhile, Sharp and Foxconn are considering expansion into the U.S. Continue reading LG Display Signs Deal to Supply LCD TV Panels to Samsung

Walmart Beefing Up its E-Commerce Efforts to Catch Amazon

Walmart has surpassed online retail giant Amazon in sales growth for the first time in a decade. Global online sales for Walmart rose by 30 percent in 2013 to $10 billion, while Amazon experienced 20 percent sales growth. However, Amazon’s $67.8 billion in online sales are more than six times Walmart’s sales, and Amazon sold more last year than its next 10 largest competitors. To better compete with Amazon, Walmart is investing significantly in e-commerce. Continue reading Walmart Beefing Up its E-Commerce Efforts to Catch Amazon

Study of Facebook Language Leads to Groundbreaking Results

A group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study through which they carefully analyzed the Facebook statuses of 75,000 volunteers. The volunteers all took a personality questionnaire and made their Facebook posts available to researchers who searched for linguistic patterns. In analyzing the Facebook posts, researchers were able to determine a surprising amount of information about each individual. Continue reading Study of Facebook Language Leads to Groundbreaking Results

UltraViolet: Retailer MovieStop Launches New Digital Platform

Atlanta-based MovieStop, with 44 stores in 10 states, is launching a new digital platform that offers electronic sales of movies and TV shows, many to include UltraViolet functionality. MovieStop has been running a buy, sell, trade business model since 2004 that originated during its time as a subsidiary of video game retailer GameStop. It has partnered with Philadelphia-based FlixFling.com in the joint venture. FlixFling operates a cloud-based digital locker for independent movies. Continue reading UltraViolet: Retailer MovieStop Launches New Digital Platform

Facebook to Acquire Developer of Speech Translation Tools

Facebook has agreed to acquire Pittsburgh-based Mobile Technologies, a developer of voice-recognition and speech translation tools. Founded in 2001, Mobile Technologies offers an automatic interpretation service for lectures and developed Jibbigo, a speech-to-speech translator app for iPhone and Android. The company’s goal has been to break “through language barriers to open up communication between the people of the world.” Continue reading Facebook to Acquire Developer of Speech Translation Tools

SIGGRAPH: Disney Uses 3D Printing to Create Expressive Eyes

Disney Research is using 3D printing to create components to build expressive eyes for robots. However, rather than mimic human eyes, which can appear strange to some, the robot eyes have a cartoonish look. The technology may have future applications for interactive toys, video game characters and possibly even human prosthetic eyes. The research team demonstrated the technology at the ACM SIGGRAPH Conference in Anaheim last week. Continue reading SIGGRAPH: Disney Uses 3D Printing to Create Expressive Eyes

Tribune to Acquire 19 Local TV Stations in $2.7 Billion Deal

The Tribune Company has agreed to pay about $2.73 billion to acquire all 19 television stations from Local TV Holdings, which is owned by investment firm Oak Hill Capital Partners. Tribune, which already owns 23 local TV outlets and is looking to possibly sell some or all of its newspapers, will become one of the country’s largest station groups through the deal (and the biggest holder of Fox affiliates). The 19 stations cover areas from Scranton to Salt Lake City. Continue reading Tribune to Acquire 19 Local TV Stations in $2.7 Billion Deal