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

With IPO on Hold, WeWork Investors Consider CEO’s Future

When WeWork, the office-space startup renamed We Company, was valued at $47 billion, skeptics expressed concern that, in 2018, it lost $1.6 billion on revenues of $1.82 billion. Still, many stuck with co-founder/chief executive Adam Neumann. But when We Company faced its IPO, more concerns were voiced about its business model and profit potential. After mulling over reducing its valuation by half, WeWork postponed the IPO. Now, said sources, some board members and investors are discussing the ouster of Neumann. Continue reading With IPO on Hold, WeWork Investors Consider CEO’s Future

In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Amazon has decided to cancel plans to develop a new campus in New York’s Long Island City, taking with it the promise of 25,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in investment. In recent weeks, a debate has heated up between government officials who supported the e-commerce leader’s plans and New York politicians, activists and labor union leaders who have criticized a lack of transparency regarding deal specifics and questioned the necessity to provide Amazon with tax incentives worth billions. Despite the debate, the news still came as a surprise to many, especially real estate developers and renters who were rushing to the Long Island City neighborhood. Continue reading In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Alternative Data Company Thasos to Offer Info to Bloomberg

Your smartphone creates data constantly, and now a few companies are leveraging it to give Wall Street traders a leg up on market movements. So-called alternative data includes a range of information, from credit-card charges to construction permits. Thasos is one of the leading companies reaping such data from about 1,000 apps, which share the user’s location. Beginning this month, AI-based data analytics firm Thasos Group will offer its data through Bloomberg terminals. Company founder/chief executive Greg Skibiski calls the smartphone a “beacon.” Continue reading Alternative Data Company Thasos to Offer Info to Bloomberg

California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

The California State Legislature quickly passed a digital privacy law that gives consumers much more control over their online personal data. Governor Jerry Brown signed the law into effect, narrowly beating a deadline to remove another, tougher initiative headed for the November ballot. Consumers now have the right to know what information tech companies are collecting, and why they’re collecting it, as well as with whom they are sharing it. Consumers can also demand their data be deleted or not sold or shared. Continue reading California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Drone operators are beginning to realize the commercial potential of UAVs. In Southern California, for example, drones are being used for film production, sports coverage, wedding photography, map-making and more. According to Los Angeles Daily News, drone operators are also making money with applications such as: “examining the health of agricultural crops,” “monitoring the progress of construction projects,” “documenting the installation of rooftop solar panels in order to claim federal tax credits,” “selling commercial, industrial and residential real estate” and “surveying electric wires, pipelines, railroad tracks, dams and canals for damage.” Meanwhile, companies including Amazon and Google are experimenting with drone delivery services. Continue reading Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Silicon Valley Still Dominates Tech Startup Culture and Power

In the Industrial Revolution, ideas were more portable than machines, helping to spread change globally. Not so with today’s high-tech startups. Although U.S. cities as far-flung as Denver, Austin, Chattanooga and Washington, DC boast startup centers, Silicon Valley is far and away the biggest for new technology companies, offering experienced talent and more capital. Even as other cities evolve, Silicon Valley grows faster, leaving startups elsewhere at a competitive disadvantage. Continue reading Silicon Valley Still Dominates Tech Startup Culture and Power

Yahoo Streamlines Online Magazine Project to Trim Work Force

Yahoo chief exec Marissa Mayer has decided to close the company’s online magazine initiative, which was one of her signature projects. Yahoo notified editors and writers at 15 publications that they would be let go. The digital magazines covered topics such as autos, crafts, fashion, food, health, real estate, technology and travel — some of which will be folded into Yahoo News moving forward. Yahoo plans to continue some original content for areas including tech and fashion, but publications covering autos and food lost all their staff. Continue reading Yahoo Streamlines Online Magazine Project to Trim Work Force

Chinese Company Buys Legendary Entertainment for $3.5B

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group paid $3.5 billion in cash to purchase Legendary Entertainment, one of Hollywood’s largest independent movie companies, making it the largest such deal between Hollywood and China. Dalian Wanda’s other Hollywood holdings include AMC Entertainment, the second largest cinema chain in the U.S. The company, which got its start in real estate, also owns theaters and produces movies in China. Legendary has co-financed numerous movies, produced its own and has TV and digital divisions. Continue reading Chinese Company Buys Legendary Entertainment for $3.5B

Oculus Aims for High-End Virtual Reality with $600 Headset

Despite a sticker price of $599 for its new Rift VR headset, Oculus VR has already sold out its preorders, resulting in an extension of its shipping date. The headset, over $100 more expensive than originally predicted, also requires the processing power of a PC that costs in the vicinity of $1,000. Starting in February, Oculus will sell a bundled headset/PC for $1,499. The expense of the Rift is justified, say observers, since its quality needs to sell VR to a public that has, in the main, never experienced virtual reality. Continue reading Oculus Aims for High-End Virtual Reality with $600 Headset

Greenlight VR Maps Today’s Virtual Reality Industry Ecosystem

Greenlight VR, a San Francisco-based business intelligence startup specializing in the virtual reality industry, has created a business map of significant VR players. The rising prospects for virtual reality as a mainstream medium has seen new demand for ways of better grasping the scope and nuances of the industry’s emerging and rapidly evolving landscape. The database profiles hundreds of VR businesses from around the world — from fledgling startups to the established companies entering this space — organized by 22 categories across 11 sectors. Continue reading Greenlight VR Maps Today’s Virtual Reality Industry Ecosystem

FAA Relaxes Restrictions on Drones for Film and TV Production

After negotiations with the Motion Picture Association of America, the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to grant permission for six film production companies to use small unmanned aircraft to shoot movies and television shows. The drones can only be flown within sight on closed sets by certified drone operators after notifying the FAA. The exemptions for production companies are only an interim measure while the FAA continues to write more comprehensive rules. Continue reading FAA Relaxes Restrictions on Drones for Film and TV Production

New Domain Names: Get Ready for the Dot-Everything Boom

Around 1,000 new domain names are about to be added to the Internet, and as a result, on February 4th, anyone will be able to scoop up new Web addresses using these domains. The common standard domain names are the .com, .org and .net suffixes. But the number of generic top-level domain names (or gTLDs) will soon expand to include names like .coffee, .soy, .dot and .lol, among many others. This major shift could resemble the online real estate market of the dot-com boom era. Continue reading New Domain Names: Get Ready for the Dot-Everything Boom