Impact Creative Rolls Out App to Connect Writers with Execs

In Hollywood, screenwriters are hired based on personal relationships and past successes but filmmakers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard believe the paradigm needs to change. “Promising writers blow years of their lives trying to get agents and have their work seen by the right people,” said Howard. For two years, their startup, Impact Creative Systems (formerly Imagine Impact) offered an eight-week bootcamp to help writers get their scripts ready to pitch. Now, they’ve added the free-to-join Creative Network app to connect them with executives. Continue reading Impact Creative Rolls Out App to Connect Writers with Execs

Microsoft Announces Azure-Hosted OpenAI Supercomputer

At Microsoft’s Build 2020 developer conference, the company debuted a supercomputer built in collaboration with, and exclusively for, OpenAI on Azure. It’s the result of an agreement whereby Microsoft would invest $1 billion in OpenAI to develop new technologies for Microsoft Azure and extend AI capabilities. OpenAI agreed to license some of its IP to Microsoft, which would then sell to partners as well as train and run AI models on Azure. Microsoft stated that the supercomputer is the fifth most powerful in the world. Continue reading Microsoft Announces Azure-Hosted OpenAI Supercomputer

Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

With Sam Altman as chief executive, OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence lab he founded with Elon Musk, has become a for-profit company pursuing investments. In fact, Altman, who stepped down as head of Y Combinator, just inked an impressive $1 billion contract with Microsoft. With Microsoft as a marquee investor, OpenAI will now pursue its lofty goal of creating artificial general intelligence (AGI), a system that can mimic the human brain. Alphabet’s DeepMind lab is also pursuing the creation of AGI. Continue reading Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Facebook struck a deal with Utah-based Vidpresso to acquire its technology and absorb its seven-person team, without actually buying the company. Vidpresso’s website says that the new partnership will help put its tools in the hands of creators. Founded in 2012 to “make video more like HTML,” Vidpresso allows publishers to incorporate interactive graphics and superimposed captions to encourage viewers to respond to polls or ask questions. BuzzFeed, Nasdaq, NBC, TED, Turner Sports and Univision are among its customers. Continue reading Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

Snap Inc. is launching an accelerator named “Yellow” with hopes of finding the next big media business. This fall, the accelerator will invest $150,000 in 10 startups or creators looking to develop media projects for mobile devices. Snap plans to take a small equity stake in those selected to receive the funding. The startups will also get mentorship from Snap execs, access to professional networking events, the opportunity to distribute content on Snapchat, and office space in Venice, California where Snap is based. CEO Evan Spiegel is expected to be involved in mentorship and the selection process. Continue reading Snap Launches an Accelerator Program With Focus on Mobile

‘Startup with Google’ Site Bundles Resources in Central Hub

Google launched a new site this week that offers startups a single location for accessing Google’s services and tools such as AdWords, Analytics, Android Studio, Firebase, Google Cloud and G Suite. “Startup with Google” also highlights Google’s Campus co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and its Google Developers Launchpad programs for providing mentorship and equity-free support. In addition to promoting Google’s own accelerators and events, the new site links to community programs and tech hubs run by third parties. Continue reading ‘Startup with Google’ Site Bundles Resources in Central Hub

Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Reddit and Y Combinator are planning a “day of action” to oppose the FCC’s plan to undo net neutrality. On July 12, the companies plan to change their websites in various ways to raise awareness of the current efforts to repeal net neutrality, which prohibits ISPs from blocking or slowing websites or charging fees to display content. A recent poll showed that a large percentage of Americans, across all political affiliations, support net neutrality and question the government’s ability to protect Internet access. Continue reading Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

FCC Chair Unveils Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

FCC chair Ajit Pai yesterday outlined his proposed changes to net neutrality rules and the federal regulation of ISPs. Pai is calling for high-speed Internet service to no longer be classified as a public utility, as a counter to policy approved under the Obama administration intended to treat the delivery of all online content equally. Pai’s proposal would lessen new rules and largely leave policing to the industry. He believes strict regulation of telecom, broadcast and cable companies is detrimental to business and innovation. However, his proposals will likely face resistance from companies and advocacy groups that fear such changes would result in broadband providers awarding unfair accommodations to specific news and video sites. Continue reading FCC Chair Unveils Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

Thalmic Labs Aims to Change How We Interact with Computers

Since Thalmic Labs debuted the Myo muscle-sensing armband, which lets users control a computer with a wave, the Y-Combinator startup received a $120 million investment from Intel Capital, the Amazon Alexa Fund, and Fidelity Investments Canada; and hired Samsung veteran Tara Kriese as its CMO and former Under Armour wearable devices head Abhi Bhatt as VP of Product Experience. The 100-employee company also opened a 50,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Waterloo, where it’s working on its next, still-unannounced product. Continue reading Thalmic Labs Aims to Change How We Interact with Computers

Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Yoshua Bengio, a leader in deep learning and professor at the University of Montreal, is opening Element AI, a startup incubator focused on this form of artificial intelligence. The incubator will help develop AI-centric companies coming from both Bengio’s university and nearby McGill University, part of Bengio’s stated goal of creating an “AI ecosystem” in this Canadian city. According to Bengio, Montreal is home to “the biggest concentration in the world” of researchers in the powerful field of deep learning. Continue reading Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Silicon Valley Titans Invest $1 Billion to Establish AI Nonprofit

Several Silicon Valley technologists and tech companies will invest at least $1 billion in OpenAI, a nonprofit research center in San Francisco with a long-term goal of creating open-source “artificial general intelligence,” a machine capable of performing any task that a human can. Among the investors are Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman. One chief focus of the group’s members is to ensure that the resultant technologies augment rather than replace humans, and are used for good. Continue reading Silicon Valley Titans Invest $1 Billion to Establish AI Nonprofit

Amazon Debuts Launchpad: New Marketing and Sales Portal

Amazon unveiled Launchpad this week, a new platform designed to help hardware and physical goods startups market and distribute their new products on Amazon’s e-commerce site. Launchpad, which currently features more than 200 items from a wide variety of startups, will compete with similar services offered by Product Hunt, Shopify and Shyp. Amazon is going big with the new platform, positioning it as a global product with access to 10 international distribution portals, and working with 25 VC firms, accelerators and crowdfunding services. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Launchpad: New Marketing and Sales Portal

Shred Video Debuts GoPro Editing, GoPro’s Version to Follow

Shred Video, a startup out of Y Combinator, now offers an easy way to turn hours of GoPro video into a 90-second clip with music. Users simply match GoPro footage with songs from their iTunes library, and Shred Video does the rest. The new app identifies moments of action from any acceleration-based sport (think surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding) and highlights video with the beat-drop of the song. Not to be outdone, GoPro plans to release its own mobile editing software by the end of summer. Continue reading Shred Video Debuts GoPro Editing, GoPro’s Version to Follow

Disney Partners with Techstars to Launch Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company has announced a partnership with Techstars to launch an accelerator program that will help 10 startups get off the ground, while potentially providing the media giant insight into new innovation and creativity. Disney Accelerator plans to invest $120,000 in each startup, and provide them with the opportunity to work with Disney for three months starting in June (the application deadline is April 16). At the end of the program, Disney and Techstars may take a stake in one or more of the startups. Continue reading Disney Partners with Techstars to Launch Accelerator Program

Instagram Acquires Video Sharing App and Stabilization Tech

Two months after Instagram introduced video to its popular app, the company has acquired video sharing app Luma (formerly Midnox), which provides users with a variety of filters and adjustment controls including brightness, contrast, saturation, exposure and more. Luma also has stabilization technology that could help Instagram with its Cinema stabilization feature. The Luma app is no longer available via iTunes, although the company will offer support through the end of the year. Continue reading Instagram Acquires Video Sharing App and Stabilization Tech