Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

As part of ongoing security concerns focused on technology, the Trump administration is now re-examining investments in U.S. tech startups by Chinese and other foreign groups, even investments that are years old. Heading the investigation is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which, after gathering information, can decide whether to probe specific deals more deeply and even demand that the foreign investor divest. The probe is based on the government’s belief that the United States did not sufficiently scrutinize these investments from China and other countries. Continue reading Federal Government Probes Foreign Investments in U.S. Tech

Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services With Startups

San Francisco-based startup Abnormal Security is moving its AI-driven email security software to Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace, in exchange for Microsoft’s promise to sell Abnormal’s services to its enterprise clients. This is the first such deal for Microsoft, which is battling Amazon for cloud computing dominance. Amazon has already inked similar deals; in a January agreement, cloud-cost management software company Apptio expanded its use of Amazon Web Services in exchange for Amazon’s help to sell Apptio’s services to its clients. Continue reading Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services With Startups

FTC Interviews Mark Zuckerberg as Part of Its Antitrust Probe

The Federal Trade Commission often interviews witnesses under oath as part of investigations that lead to lawsuits. It’s telling, then, that, according to sources, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified remotely and under oath over a two-day FTC “investigative hearing.” Those sources also pointed out that Zuckerberg’s testimony doesn’t guarantee the case is headed toward an antitrust lawsuit but could be used by the FTC and state attorneys to build their case. State officials also participated in the hearing. Continue reading FTC Interviews Mark Zuckerberg as Part of Its Antitrust Probe

Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

According to a Treasury Department report, a number of tech startups have received funds from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans intended to pay workers’ salaries. Cloud software company C3.ai, for example, valued at $3.3 billion, got a $5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan. Other startups have been denied loans, however, when the federal authorities deemed their venture capital partners an “affiliated business.” Meanwhile, almost 70,000 employees of tech startups recently lost their jobs. Continue reading Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

The Justice Department recommended, in a 25-page report, that lawmakers repeal portions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which has given website operators broad immunity for what people post on their services. The proposed repeal would take away that immunity, forcing social media platforms and similar sites to be responsible for the videos, words, images posted by their users, while assuring that their moderation is consistent. The DOJ’s recommendation will have to be enacted by Congress. Continue reading DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

In the economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic, Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are thriving. Amazon and Facebook are viewed as essential services, and Apple and Google are working on tools that will help the nation’s state health departments trace COVID-19 infections. While funding for startups shrivels, these companies are hiring. Only months ago, these companies were embattled by regulators and privacy advocates. Now their lobbyists are working to delay California’s new privacy law. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

Pandemic Tests Big Tech Firms, Slows VC Money for Startups

This week, big tech companies such as IBM and Intel will report quarterly earnings, followed by Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft next week. Some companies — such as Amazon, Intel, Micron Technology and Microsoft — are doing well, even growing, whereas Facebook and Alphabet deal with a dramatic plunge in advertising. Even Apple issued a “rare profit warning.” The pandemic is hitting startups particularly hard, as venture capital money dries up and they are forced to lay off staff. Continue reading Pandemic Tests Big Tech Firms, Slows VC Money for Startups

Amazon Is Developing Faster Arm-Based Data Center Chip

Amazon debuted a second-generation processor chip for its Web Services data center that relies on technology from Arm Holdings, owned by SoftBank Group, according to sources. The new chip is expected to be 20 percent faster than the first generation Arm-based chip, dubbed Graviton, which was released in 2018 as a less expensive option for lighter computing jobs. If this second-gen chip proves as powerful as sources claim, AWS could rely less on Intel and Advanced Micro Devices for their server chips. Continue reading Amazon Is Developing Faster Arm-Based Data Center Chip

As Values Crash, Startups Focus on Profitability, Not Growth

This year, Silicon Valley companies — most notably WeWork and Uber Technologies — are estimated to have lost about $100 billion in value. Car subscription company Fair and software company UiPath are two others that have downsized, and scooter company Lime has had to tweak its operations to prove it can be profitable. As a result, startup executives are honing their pitches and venture capitalists are more wary of investing. Ahoy Capital’s Chris Douvos noted that the five-year “rollicking” party appears to be over. Continue reading As Values Crash, Startups Focus on Profitability, Not Growth

Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

The U.S. has yet to define the specifics of a 2018 law designed to limit foreign access to critical technologies. In the meantime, Chinese investors continue to put money in U.S. startups and venture capital funds. U.S. tech entrepreneurs also welcome a connection with China, and investment between the two countries remains significant. The tangle of investments in a single company can make it hard to determine provenance. Even so, successful Chinese AI startup SenseTime Group was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Continue reading Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

Google Claims Major Breakthrough in Quantum Computing

Google stated it achieved “quantum supremacy,” a breakthrough in quantum computing that researchers have been pursuing since the 1980s. According to Google, at its Santa Barbara, California-based research lab, its quantum computer took 3 minutes and 20 seconds to complete a mathematical calculation that would take supercomputers over 10,000 years. Quantum computing is expected to unleash major advances in artificial intelligence and other complicated technologies. IBM, however, has disputed Google’s claim. Continue reading Google Claims Major Breakthrough in Quantum Computing

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

Amazon Technology Chief Details Rise to Cloud Dominance

Amazon launched its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing unit in 2006. AWS generated $8.4 billion in sales in the latest quarter, with operating income up 29 percent to $2.1 billion. Research firm Gartner reported that AWS’ $15.5 billion in annual cloud services is about half of total revenue for this sector last year. Amazon’s closest rival, Microsoft and its Azure cloud service, represents about 15 percent of cloud market sales. Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels described the company’s path to dominance. Continue reading Amazon Technology Chief Details Rise to Cloud Dominance

FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

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