PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

PayPal announced the launch of Checkout with Crypto, which allows customers to purchase certain items online via cryptocurrencies. The new feature is part of the company’s new unit focused on blockchain and crypto/digital currencies and adds to its current capability for customers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash are the cryptocurrencies accepted, which are processed with clear conversion rates and no additional fees but only one type of cryptocurrency is accepted for each purchase. Continue reading PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

Bitcoin’s price surged above $50,000 for the first time yesterday as companies including Tesla, Mastercard, PayPal and BNY Mellon showed support for the cryptocurrency. Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and plans to accept it as payment for its cars, while Mastercard added that it too would accept Bitcoin as payment for “some of its products.” Coin Metrics reported that Bitcoin broke the $50,000 metric by rising 3 percent on Tuesday to $50,487, and hitting a fresh record high of $51,715 earlier today. Meanwhile, SEC commissioner Hester Peirce has called for crypto regulation. Continue reading Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

In its first fiscal quarter, ending December 2020, Apple earned record-breaking profits with $111.4 billion in sales driven by high-end iPhone sales and a pandemic-related demand for laptops and tablets. Investors are worried if high-flying companies including Tesla and Facebook can sustain rapid growth. Tesla posted a sixth straight quarter of profits and Facebook also reported record net income. But Apple’s strong numbers came under attack from Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who sees the company as a rival. Continue reading Apple Reports Record-Breaking Profits for Fiscal First Quarter

Government Monitoring Trade Activity of AMC and GameStop

Individual investors are savoring their win over hedge-fund investors of GameStop, AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry and other companies perceived to be failing. As stocks go through the roof, individual investors gather on Reddit, Discord, Facebook and Twitter to encourage each other and brag, while investors lose the money they bet on short-selling stocks of troubled companies. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her economic team are monitoring the situation. The SEC revealed it was “evaluating the extreme price volatility of certain stocks’ trading prices over the past several days” and would “review actions taken by regulated entities that may disadvantage investors or otherwise unduly inhibit their ability to trade certain securities.” Continue reading Government Monitoring Trade Activity of AMC and GameStop

Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

In Silicon Valley, some tech companies, investors and venture capital firms are relocating to cities with lower costs and less traffic. Oracle is pulling up stakes in Redwood City, California and heading to Austin, Texas, saying it plans to implement remote-work policies. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is moving its headquarters to Houston, Texas, where Elon Musk, long a Los Angeleno, has also moved. Although the reasons for leaving vary, many relocations seem to have been triggered by rising costs and the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter were among the first U.S. companies to send their employees home as the coronavirus spread. Now, as they reopen their campuses, they are also allowing some of employees to continue to work from home. If that policy becomes widespread, it will be a major change from the college-like corporate campuses the companies built to encourage creativity and spontaneous interactions. Working from home will be its own perk and allow companies to broaden their search for workers. Continue reading Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

According to Nielsen, radio reaches 92 percent of Americans over 18 years of age every week. Whereas Netflix and other streaming services have loosened over-the-air TV’s grip on the viewing audience, AM/FM stations still dominate in vehicles. But that might change since the coronavirus has kept millions of Americans from commuting — and listening to radio — while stuck at home. U.S. drivers, who listen to 100 minutes of radio every day on average, are worth $67 in radio industry revenue annually, according to Deloitte. Continue reading Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

British startup Graphcore has developed an AI chip for computers that attempts to mimic the neurons and synapses of the human brain, so that it can “ponder” questions rather than analyze data. Up until now, said Graphcore co-founder and chief executive Nigel Toon, GPUs and CPUs have excelled at precision, using vast amounts of energy to achieve small steps. Toon and Graphcore co-founder and CTO Simon Knowles dub their less precise chips as “intelligence processing units” (IPUs), that excel at aggregating approximate data points. Continue reading Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

Hyperloop Projects Bring New Travel Tech Closer to Reality

Hyperloop technology — which relies on magnetic levitation, steel tubs and vacuum pumps — is one way that hopeful technologists promise to improve the travel experience. Most recently, a Missouri congressman proposed a hyperloop between Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, which would take 30 minutes to travel 250 miles. In Las Vegas, Nevada, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company (TBC) landed its first commercial contract, for $48.7 million, to build a “people mover” that would shuttle people around the city’s Convention Center, expected to be ready for CES 2021. Continue reading Hyperloop Projects Bring New Travel Tech Closer to Reality

Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

At CES 2019, Tel Aviv-based Guardian Optical Technologies debuted Optical Cabin Control (OCC) for the car’s interior. The single camera, a bit bigger than one featured in a mobile phone, is installed in the car’s ceiling and uses machine learning to keep an eye on the driver — and the kids in the backseat. More specifically, the camera watches to see if the driver takes his hands off the wheel, his eyes off the road or closes his eyes. To train the system, the company hired a diverse group of people, wearing different clothes and holding various accessories and pets. Continue reading Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

We Were Passengers in a Las Vegas ‘Self-Driving’ Rideshare

Autonomous vehicles have been a part of tech culture for so long that it’s hard to realize that only a handful of people have actually ridden in one. So it was with great surprise that our very first Lyft ride out of our Las Vegas hotel on Sunday night was in a “self-driving” vehicle. Lyft partnered with Irish auto-parts-company-turned-autonomous-vehicle-startup Aptiv (formerly known as Delphi) to offer CES attendees and Vegas commuters the option to ride in one of their 30 “self-driving” BMW 5 Series. Continue reading We Were Passengers in a Las Vegas ‘Self-Driving’ Rideshare

CES 2019: Yet Another Transformation Waiting in the Wings?

The ETC@USC team is heading to Las Vegas this weekend to deliver daily news and analysis from CTA’s annual CES trade show. Yesterday, ETC’s Don Levy pointed out that “the transformative potential of 5G … will likely emerge as the hot underlying topic of CES” and ETCentric will be covering the “show with particular interest in how developments can impact or disrupt media, entertainment and technology companies.” We’ve been watching for signs of a next transformational change that’s been growing in the background since Ericsson started testing 5G in 2015. At CES, we’ll be looking for supplementary trends to see how close we are to a sea change in distribution and personalization. Continue reading CES 2019: Yet Another Transformation Waiting in the Wings?

Series of Tweets Cost Elon Musk Chair Position, Major Fine

As part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk has agreed to pay a $20 million fine and step down as chairman of the California-based electric automaker for three years. The SEC accused Musk of securities fraud after he tweeted from his personal Twitter account that he had secured enough funding to take Tesla private. Musk has admitted to no wrong-doing. In addition to Musk’s significant personal fine, Tesla has agreed to develop leadership reforms and pay $20 million for not properly vetting the CEO’s tweets. Continue reading Series of Tweets Cost Elon Musk Chair Position, Major Fine

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