Platform Strategies Serve Go-Jek And Line Well In Southeast Asia

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Silicon Dragon

TechSauce panelists

</div> </div> <p>Platformization is a term in technology that I haven’t heard used much, at least not until I came to Bangkok to speak at a TechSauce event focused on the growing opportunity in Southeast Asia.</p> <p>I moderated a panel with a group of platform innovators from the region — Go-Jek and Line — with brands that cross many vertical sectors from gaming and chat to ride-hailing and shopping.</p> <p>These two companies have expanded far beyond their core service. And that makes&nbsp;sense to keep their users coming back for more from their brands no matter the service, said my panelists Ajey Gore, CTO of Go-Jek and Ariya Banomyong.</p> <p>It’s also a defensive move. If they don’t extend to new areas, someone else. That someone else could very well be the Chinese tech giants who see Southeast Asia as the next opportunity. With a market size of 665 million and a culture that is more similar to China than western markets, China’s largest technology companies are entering the region, snapping up shares in the region’s rid-sharing and payment upstarts such as Go-Jek, Grab, Ola and Paytm.</p> <p> </p> <p>So it can amount to a strategy of building a moat around your business to ward off rivals. It’s survival of the fittest, explained Go-Jek exec Gore.</p> <p>This platform is well played by Go-Jek and Line, which can simplify the name of their services with Go and Line, just like Alibaba has done with so many of its offerings such as AliPay, AliCloud, AliHealth and so on.</p> <p>How do startups fare in an environment where so much of the action is centered on these platform players?</p> <p>Grace Xia, a venture investor with Jungle Ventures and former Tencent executive, says that startups aren’t cut out. They can become innovation pipelines to these platform companies. That could even lead to an acquisition by the biggies, which certainly is not unheard of in this fast-emerging tech innovative region.</p>

<p>&nbsp;</p>” readability=”51″>

Silicon Dragon

TechSauce panelists

Platformization is a term in technology that I haven’t heard used much, at least not until I came to Bangkok to speak at a TechSauce event focused on the growing opportunity in Southeast Asia.

I moderated a panel with a group of platform innovators from the region — Go-Jek and Line — with brands that cross many vertical sectors from gaming and chat to ride-hailing and shopping.

These two companies have expanded far beyond their core service. And that makes sense to keep their users coming back for more from their brands no matter the service, said my panelists Ajey Gore, CTO of Go-Jek and Ariya Banomyong.

It’s also a defensive move. If they don’t extend to new areas, someone else. That someone else could very well be the Chinese tech giants who see Southeast Asia as the next opportunity. With a market size of 665 million and a culture that is more similar to China than western markets, China’s largest technology companies are entering the region, snapping up shares in the region’s rid-sharing and payment upstarts such as Go-Jek, Grab, Ola and Paytm.

So it can amount to a strategy of building a moat around your business to ward off rivals. It’s survival of the fittest, explained Go-Jek exec Gore.

This platform is well played by Go-Jek and Line, which can simplify the name of their services with Go and Line, just like Alibaba has done with so many of its offerings such as AliPay, AliCloud, AliHealth and so on.

How do startups fare in an environment where so much of the action is centered on these platform players?

Grace Xia, a venture investor with Jungle Ventures and former Tencent executive, says that startups aren’t cut out. They can become innovation pipelines to these platform companies. That could even lead to an acquisition by the biggies, which certainly is not unheard of in this fast-emerging tech innovative region.

Rebecca A. Fannin is founder/editor of news, events and research group Silicon Dragon. She is an author of three books on innovation and venture trends, and is a public speaker.

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Samsung Unveils Bleeding Edge 8TB Solid State Drive Using Diminutive New Form Factor

, I cover all things tech, from low-level chip design to 4K displays. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Samsung

Samsung 8TB NVMe NF1 SSD

</div> </div> <p>The NGSFF is a proposed SSD standard, which is likely to be accepted by JEDEC later in the year. NGSFF succeeds the <a href="https://hothardware.com/reviews/samsung-ssd-970-evo-and-pro-review" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://hothardware.com/reviews/samsung-ssd-970-evo-and-pro-review" rel="nofollow">current M.2 standard</a> and offers the potential for much higher density storage arrays should NGSFF drives supplant common 2.5” drives. Samsung believes this is a strong possibility because the new drives can offer up to 3x the density within existing server infrastructures, to the tune of up to 576TB of storage in a 2U server.</p> <p><em>&quot;By introducing the first NF1 NVMe SSD, Samsung is taking the investment efficiency in data centers to new heights,&quot;</em> said Sewon Chun, senior vice president of Memory Marketing at Samsung Electronics. <em>“We will continue to lead the trend toward enabling ultra-high density data centers and enterprise systems by delivering storage solutions with unparalleled performance and density levels.”</em></p> <p> </p>

Samsung

The Samsung 8TB NF1 SSD Features A New Controller With A PCIe Gen 4 Interface.

</div> </div> <p>The 8TB Samsung NF1 SSD is packed with much of the company’s latest storage technology. The drive features 16, 512GB (gigabyte) NAND packages. And those 512GB packages are comprised of 16 layers of 256Gb (gigabit) TLC V-NAND chips. When added together, the sum total of all that NAND is 8TB in a form factor <a href="https://hothardware.com/reviews/intel-ssd-dc-p4510-nvme-pcie-review" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://hothardware.com/reviews/intel-ssd-dc-p4510-nvme-pcie-review" rel="nofollow">that dwarfs 2.5&quot; drives</a>.</p>

<p>The NAND is paired to a brand new NVMe 1.3 compliant controller with a PCI Express Gen 4 interface and a 12GB LPDDR4 DRAM cache. According to Samsung, the 8TB NF1 SSD delivers sequential read and write speeds of 3.1GB/s and 2GB/s, respectively, with random reads of upwards of 500,000 IOPS and random writes of 50,000 IOPS. The 8TB Samsung NF1 SSD’s endurance is rated for 1.3 drive writes per day and it carries a 3 year warranty, which is somewhat shorter than is typical with enterprise-class drives.</p> <p>No word yet on pricing and availability.</p>” readability=”47.2909492274″>

Samsung just announced a new NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) solid state drive with a capacity of 8TB optimized for big data analytics and virtualization applications. That news in and of itself isn’t terribly impressive, especially considering the company already offers 30TB+ enterprise SSDs, but this new drive leverages the proposed Next-Generation Small Form Factor (NGSFF), is wafer thin, and only 11cm x 3.05cm.

Samsung

Samsung 8TB NVMe NF1 SSD

The NGSFF is a proposed SSD standard, which is likely to be accepted by JEDEC later in the year. NGSFF succeeds the current M.2 standard and offers the potential for much higher density storage arrays should NGSFF drives supplant common 2.5” drives. Samsung believes this is a strong possibility because the new drives can offer up to 3x the density within existing server infrastructures, to the tune of up to 576TB of storage in a 2U server.

“By introducing the first NF1 NVMe SSD, Samsung is taking the investment efficiency in data centers to new heights,” said Sewon Chun, senior vice president of Memory Marketing at Samsung Electronics. “We will continue to lead the trend toward enabling ultra-high density data centers and enterprise systems by delivering storage solutions with unparalleled performance and density levels.”

Samsung

The Samsung 8TB NF1 SSD Features A New Controller With A PCIe Gen 4 Interface.

The 8TB Samsung NF1 SSD is packed with much of the company’s latest storage technology. The drive features 16, 512GB (gigabyte) NAND packages. And those 512GB packages are comprised of 16 layers of 256Gb (gigabit) TLC V-NAND chips. When added together, the sum total of all that NAND is 8TB in a form factor that dwarfs 2.5″ drives.

The NAND is paired to a brand new NVMe 1.3 compliant controller with a PCI Express Gen 4 interface and a 12GB LPDDR4 DRAM cache. According to Samsung, the 8TB NF1 SSD delivers sequential read and write speeds of 3.1GB/s and 2GB/s, respectively, with random reads of upwards of 500,000 IOPS and random writes of 50,000 IOPS. The 8TB Samsung NF1 SSD’s endurance is rated for 1.3 drive writes per day and it carries a 3 year warranty, which is somewhat shorter than is typical with enterprise-class drives.

No word yet on pricing and availability.

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Bloomberg Eschews Vendors For Direct Kubernetes Involvement

Financial information behemoth Bloomberg is a big fan of Kubernetes, and is using it for everything from serving up Bloomberg.com to complex data processing pipelines.

Rather than use a managed Kubernetes service or employ an outsourced provider, Bloomberg has chosen to invest in deep Kubernetes expertise and keep the skills in-house. Like many enterprise organizations, Bloomberg originally went looking for an off-the-shelf approach before settling on the decision to get involved more deeply with the open source project directly.

Lori Hoffman/Bloomberg

Steven Bower, Data and Infrastructure Lead, Bloomberg photographed at Bloomberg World Headquarters in New York on June 15, 2018.

“We started looking at Kubernetes a little over two years ago,” said Steven Bower, Data and Infrastructure Lead at Bloomberg. “We had built our own orchestration system that pre-dated Docker and Kubernetes, and we were using that to manage our search infrastructure in the team I originally lead.”

“We were looking at the future of our orchestration framework and trying to figure out if there was a way for us not to have all this custom code,” he said. Bower’s team looked at Mesos, Yarn, Rancher, and similar offerings but nothing seemed to fit.

Around the same time, other parts of Bloomberg started to adopt Kubernetes. “Things like Bloomberg.com are running it,” he said, “and some other non-infrastructure engineering teams were using it for things like stateless content processing pipelines.” Eighteen months ago Bower’s team started using Kubernetes, driven largely by data science workloads.

“It’s a great execution environment for data science,” says Bower. “The real Aha! moment for us was when we realized that not only does it have all these great base primitives like pods and replica sets, but you can also define your own primitives and custom controllers that use them.”

“I have always said that people contribute to open source in a selfish way,” says Dan Kohn, Executive Director of the CNCF, “but everyone in the ecosystem benefits from the collective selfishness.” This doesn’t happen automatically, and the role of the CNCF in shepherding the development of Kubernetes, and ensuring that individual selfishness doesn’t overwhelm the collective good, shouldn’t be overlooked.

“It’s been a complicated growing process,” says Kohn. “Nobody is born knowing how to run a TOC [Technical Oversight Committee] meeting.” The members of the Foundation and its ‘three ring circus’ governance structure have tried to learn from history and their personal experience with other governance efforts. “We’ve gotten clearer about a set of principles,” says Kohn. These principles are captured, in typical developer fashion, in a GitHub repo.

“The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has done a fantastic job with the Kubernetes ecosystem,” Bower said. “It has a well managed roadmap, so we can plan ahead.”

Bloomberg has moved away from relying on vendors to drive innovation and has become heavily involved in open-source software communities instead. “Culturally, Bloomberg is like lots of small startups attached to a central spine,” Bower says. “A core value is delivering capability quickly.”

Bower has advice for other organizations considering a similar approach. “You need to have your organization in a good place for managing software in this way already,” he says. “If people are just randomly building stuff in a disorganized way, you’re going to have the same thing with open source software.”

Organizations also need to carefully consider how involved they want to be with Kubernetes. “With a cloud-hosted service, a lot of the complexity of Kubernetes is hidden from you. On-site you have to have people who understand how it works at the core, not just interfacing with it.” This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, because it becomes a critical operational constraint.

Leaving support up to an external vendor makes you beholden to the vendor’s responsiveness if there are issues. Bloomberg decided that a typical vendor response time wasn’t going to be enough. “No one ever talks about nines of uptime here,” Bower says. “This thing cannot go down.”

The traders relying on Bloomberg’s data to inform their trades stand to lose big money if they can’t access the information they need due to an outage, and Bloomberg is often on the hook to make them whole if they miss out on an opportunity. These financial incentives have reinforced Bloomberg’s decision to be in tight control of its data supply-chain.

Other organizations should look carefully at their own circumstances before following Bloomberg’s lead.

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Twitter Suspends Accounts That Posted Trump Advisor Stephen Miller’s Phone Number

Twitter temporarily suspended user accounts that either posted Trump advisor Stephen Miller’s cell phone number, or that linked to an article in Splinter magazine that included the number, including the Splinter Twitter account. The total number of suspensions is unknown.

In explaining the suspensions, a Twitter spokesperson said, “It’s against our policies to share other people’s private information on Twitter, including directly linking to that information. Today, we temporarily blocked accounts that shared this information until they deleted the Tweet that violated our rules.”

Posting sensitive personal information about an individual or organization, especially a home address and direct phone number, is known as “doxing.” It can be judged as abusive behavior by social networks and websites even if the information is available publicly online with little effort required beyond searching.

What was rare in this case was Twitter suspending accounts that linked to a news site that contained the phone number in an article, as opposed to posting the information directly in a Twitter messages or via a screenshot. Twitter’s enforcement of its rule has been criticized as uneven, with many users noting that Donald Trump had in 2015 posted the personal numbers of Sen. Lindsey Graham and Jorge Ramos, an anchor at Univision. Most recently on June 19, Twitter suspended @iceHRgov, an account that was tweeting out a list of information about ICE employees scraped from publicly available LinkedIn biographies.

Splinter, part of Univision’s Gawker Media Group, published the phone number in an article mid-day Tuesday. Twitter users began tweeting the phone number directly and linking to Splinter’s article. The number was then posted in articles at other sites, such as The Wrap, and by other journalists at Splinter and partner publications, some of whose Twitter accounts were suspended, as well as those by unrelated journalists, such as David Klion.

Miller’s number was ostensibly provided through a reporter who had previously been in touch. The number was changed later in the day. The article remains active.

Twitter has multiple forms of account suspension, and it appeared to invoke one that locks an account and hides tweets that Twitter marked as violating its rules until the account owner agrees to delete the tweet. There is typically a 12-hour delay that follows before the user can then resume normal use of the account.

Later in the day, Twitter stopped suspending accounts, although it appears earlier suspensions remain in effect or are counting down the 12-hour ban. A spokesperson explained, “At this time, the number that was previously being shared is no longer a valid number and, as such, we are no longer enforcing our policy against individuals Tweeting or linking to that information.”

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Facebook is Testing Subscriptions, but Only for Private Groups

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shied away from offering a paid version of his social network that is ad-free, for users who worry about their online activities being tracked. But there’s at least one area where the company is willing to experiment with subscriptions: private Facebook Groups.

Facebook announced the subscriptions a blog post that said administrators of certain Facebook Groups could begin charging $4.99 to $29.99 a month for memberships. Administrators of groups that are currently free won’t be affected, although some will have the option of creating subscription-supported groups in the future.

“Group admins build safe and supportive communities that people come back to every day,” the blog post announcing the change said. “We know that admins invest their time and energy to maintain their groups, and some have told us that they would like tools to help them continue to invest in their community and offer more to members.”

Facebook doesn’t allow ads in its groups, and, for now, the company won’t take a cut of the subscription revenue that administrators choose to introduce. The social network’s sales depend almost entirely on ads, a model that has landed the company in a number of controversies, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal that prompted Congress to summon Zuckerberg to give testimony in April.

When asked during that testimony whether Facebook would transition from ad revenues toward a subscription-based model, Zuckerberg replied,

A number of people suggest that we should offer a version where people cannot have ads if they pay a monthly subscription, and certainly we consider ideas like that. I think that they’re reasonable ideas to think through. But overall, I think that the ads experience is going to be the best one. I think in general, people like not having to pay for a service. A lot of people can’t afford to pay for a service around the world, and this aligns with our mission the best.

Facebook’s announcement today doesn’t mark an abrupt shift from that thinking, but it does suggest that the company is willing to experiment with subscriptions in places where it believes it makes sense.

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Australia Fines Apple Millions for Refusing To Repair Bricked iPhones

The Federal Court in Australia ordered Apple to pay a fine of Au$9 million (U.S.$6.6 million) due to misrepresentations to at least 275 Australian iPhone owners about repairing their phones after a late 2015 software update disabled some phones that had been repaired by parties other than Apple.

This became known as the “Error 53” problem, as that message appeared in iTunes after an affected iPhone became unresponsive or “bricked” after certain third-party repairs replaced or disturbed the portion of an iPhone 6 or later that contained the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. When this happened, the sensor could become “unpaired” for security reasons, as it could indicate tampering by another party attempting to unlock the phone without authorization. However, prior to a software update in 2015, phones would continue to work without Touch ID.

Apple took months to reply to the initial reports as they grew worldwide, and then issued a statement blaming repairs in early February 2016 without offering any relief to customers. After an outcry, the company backpedaled and apologized a week later, offered reimbursement for repairs iPhone owners had paid for in the meantime, and released a software update that eliminated the problem.

That wasn’t enough for the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), as it filed suit related to Australian iPhone owners who Apple initially told weren’t eligible for any kind of help from as far back as February 2015 through the February 2016 update in policy and support. The ACCC says after it contacted Apple about an investigation, the company changed its policy, ultimately contacting 5,000 affected iPhone owners. (The Federal Court filing is not yet posted.)

The ACCC also says Apple provided refurbished goods as part of its program to repair affected phones, when it should have been obliged to offer a new unit. Outside of the suit, the ACCC says Apple agreed to provide a new phone to any customer who requested one.

In the company’s global apology in February 2016, it said “Error 53” was a manufacturing test that should only be triggered in a factory. Apple’s software update allowed its customers worldwide to restore their phones, but the Home button’s fingerprint sensor still had to be replaced by Apple directly in order to re-enable Touch ID unlocking.

At least two class-action lawsuits were filed in the U.S. almost immediately. One was thrown out in June 2016, while Apple settled the other in September 2017 with what the firm that filed the case described as “full replacement costs and additional compensation” to all those it represented.

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Senate passes defense bill, battle looms with Trump over China's ZTE

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Monday, backing President Donald Trump’s call for a bigger, stronger military but setting up a potential battle with the White House over Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE Corp (000063.SZ).

FILE PHOTO: The logo of China’s ZTE Corp is seen on the building of ZTE Beijing research and development center in Beijing, China June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 85-10 for the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which authorizes U.S. military spending but is generally used as a vehicle for a broad range of policy matters.

Before it can become law, the bill must be reconciled with one already passed by the House of Representatives. That compromise measure must then be passed by both chambers and signed into law by Trump.

Considered must-pass legislation, the fiscal 2019 Senate version of the NDAA authorizes $639 billion in base defense spending, for such things as buying weapons, ships and aircraft and paying the troops, with an additional $69 billion to fund ongoing conflicts.

This year, the Senate included an amendment that would kill the Trump administration’s agreement to allow ZTE to resume business with U.S. suppliers, one of the few times the Republican-led Senate has veered from White House policy. That ZTE provision is not included in the House version of the NDAA.

While strongly supported by some of Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as some Democrats, the measure is opposed by the White House and some of its close Republican allies, who control the House as well as the Senate.

It could face a difficult path to being included in the final NDAA, especially if Trump lobbies the Republican-led Congress against it, as he is expected to do.

Republicans and Democrats have expressed national security concerns about ZTE after it broke an agreement to discipline executives who had conspired to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. government placed a ban on ZTE earlier this year, but the Trump administration reached an agreement to lift the ban while it is negotiating broader trade agreements with China and looking to Beijing for support during negotiations to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Republicans Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Chris Van Hollen, who led the Senate push for the ZTE provision, said in a joint statement after the vote that they were “heartened” by support, adding: “It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads toward a conference.”

But the final NDAA could include only a much less stringent provision, included in the House bill, that would bar the Defense Department from dealing with any entity using telecommunications equipment or services from ZTE or another Chinese company, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd HWT.UL.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT RULES

The Senate version of the NDAA also seeks to strengthen the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which assesses deals to ensure they do not compromise national security.

The bill would allow CFIUS to expand the deals that can be reviewed, for example making reviews of many proposed transactions mandatory instead of voluntary and allowing CFIUS to review land purchases near sensitive military sites.

The Senate NDAA also includes an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) unless Trump certifies Turkey is not threatening NATO, purchasing defense equipment from Russia or detaining U.S. citizens.

Senators included the legislation because of the imprisonment of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson and the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia.

The measure also includes an amendment to bar the U.S. military from providing aerial refueling support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certifies that Saudi Arabia is taking urgent steps to end the civil war in Yemen, ease the humanitarian crisis there and reduce the risk to civilians.

Shipbuilders General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc (HII.N) could benefit from the bill’s authorization of advance procurement of materials needed for the Virginia class nuclear submarines.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle an Mike Stone; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Chris Sanders and and Peter Cooney

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Tesla's Musk alleges 'extensive' employee sabotage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk accused an employee of “extensive and damaging sabotage” to the company’s operations in an email sent on Monday to company employees.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX founder Elon Musk listens at a press conference following the first launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Musk said an employee had made code changes to the company’s operating system and exported “large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties,” according to the email, which was obtained by Reuters.

The company is investigating whether the employee “was working with any outside organizations,” the email said.

“As you know, there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die,” Musk wrote, listing Wall Street short-sellers, oil and gas companies, and car company rivals.

A company spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

The accusations of sabotage come a week after Musk announced layoffs for 9 percent of the company’s workforce. Although Musk said the reorganization does not impact production associates and is not expected to delay manufacturing targets, thousands of employees lost their jobs.

Tesla has struggled to ramp up production of its Model 3 sedan, which is intended for mass production and critical to helping the company achieve long-term profitability.

Tesla’s stock price slipped 53 cents to $370.30 in after-hours trading.

Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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China's Huawei goes on offensive as exclusion from Australia 5G deal looms

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] has gone on the offensive against Australian claims it poses a security risk, issuing an open letter to the government saying that view was “ill-informed.”

The Huawei logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

There has been much speculation about Huawei in recent weeks as Australia prepares to announce a tender for its massive 5G mobile telecommunications rollout, with local media reporting the country’s spy agencies have advised against including the company.

Australia, like the United States, worries Huawei is de facto controlled by China, raising fears that sensitive infrastructure will fall into the hands of Beijing.

“Recent public commentary around China has referenced Huawei and its role in Australia and prompted some observations around security concerns,” Huawei’s chairman and two board directors wrote in a letter to government that the company released to the media on Monday. “Many of these comments are ill-informed and not based on facts.”

The public letter from Huawei executives, which was accompanied by a fact sheet, comes as Australia’s relationship with top trading partner China faces a testing two weeks. Canberra is preparing to pass laws designed to limit Beijing’s influence in domestic affairs amid pressure on some of its fastest growing exports, a stance that has led to deteriorating relations between the two countries.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations of Beijing control, and in the letter, dated Friday, again insisted it is an independent company.

“In each of the 170 countries where we operate, we abide by the national laws and guidelines,” Chairman John Lord and board directors John Brumby and Lance Hockridge wrote in the letter. “To do otherwise would end our business overnight.”

The executives noted the company’s 5G investments in Britain, Canada and New Zealand where it said the respective governments had taken up its offer to evaluate the company’s technology to make sure it abided by cybersecurity protocols.

They said the company has offered to build an evaluation and testing center as part of its Australia 5G proposal “to ensure independent verification of our equipment right here in Australia.”

Huawei was banned in 2012 from supplying Australia’s massive National Broadband Network, and in May, Australia committed millions of dollars to ensure Huawei did not build an internet cable between Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Australia has not publicly explained its objection, but a source familiar with the Solomon Islands deal said Canberra was concerned that China could jeopardize its national security by having access to Australian telecommunications infrastructure.

Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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How To Transform Marketing Into A Revenue-Generating Accountability Function

Progress

Melissa Puls, former CMO Progress

“It’s a wonderful time to be a CMO in the B2B world,” suggested Margaret Molloy, in a recent Forbes article. The role is rapidly changing and those marketers who can lead the change are poised to have significant impact. Prior to joining Optanix as CMO, Melissa Puls, as CMO of Progress, helped generate more than 75,000 new qualified leads, resulting in $35M incremental pipeline creation and $17M new revenue for the company. I was fascinated by the degree of specificity with which she could articulate her department’s top- and bottom-line impact. Below is an excerpt from the interview with Puls regarding how she transformed marketing at Progress to create a more accountable function.

Kimberly Whitler: The leads / revenue increases you helped generate at Progress are impressive. Can you elaborate on what you did, how you measured the impact, and the results you’ve achieved?

Melissa Puls: Essentially, I changed the systems and processes by which we marketed. I worked with key peers (e.g., Sales, GMs, etc.) to create a whole new process to drive accountability by function and individual. To do this, we had to put a more rigorous process in place. I’ll explain how the process works now. The very first thing that we do as a team is to break down the firm-level objectives to assign quotas by function. This is then broken down and assigned to individuals within functions. We sync these quotas up to specific sales objectives by product line and project. The objective is to align the sales objectives with marketing and to ensure that we are working together to achieve company goals.

As an example, for one new product introduction, marketing had 100% of the lead/conversion goal and had a specific revenue target to hit. On another product, the focus was on relationship development so the sales team had more responsibility for generating the revenue. We essentially work together to figure out how to disaggregate the macro financial goals into specific deliverables by function, individual, and product. Once this is done, we then assign based on these goals. For example, let’s assume that a marketer has a business development target and that they have to deliver $30M of new bookings. We then determine the budget that is required to generate the leads, nurture, and convert into the revenue target.

Once we identified exactly who and which function will generate specific sales and what the budgets are, we then create “waterfalls” (i.e., specific targets for generating website traffic and then converting into marketing leads and then converting through engagement process and then scoring leads to determine the level of qualification and then converting through to trial). At this point, the salesperson will look at the marketing qualified leads and will they have a certain amount of time to convert to sales qualified lead and they are working to close the lead. We have service level agreements (SLAs) that have been developed with the sales reps; these agreements detail how quickly sales will respond to the leads sent. This creates standards against which we “toss the baton” from marketing to sales to ensure that there aren’t any drops in the handoff.

Then, every week, marketing meets with sales, the Chief Revenue Officer, the GMs, and the Chief of Demand Generation to through all of the performance metrics we defined. We go through each stage of the conversion process and waterfall to identify opportunities for improvement. Every percent you can improve your conversion throughout the waterfall drops directly to revenue generation.

Whitler: What are the key attributes of the transformation?

Puls:

1. Standardized the system: Before this, we had a number of different systems that different people used. The key to working together was to ensure that we all worked off of the same core systems. So we converted to one system for marketing automation (Eloqua), one for sales force management (salesforce.com), one dashboard system (Tableau), and then we implemented the best-in-class benchmarking (waterfall) that SiriusDecisions created.

2. Aligned the organization: We centralized the demand center and responsibility for performance in one marketing team (before it had been distributed to more). We focused on implementing best practices within demand gen based on prior research and white papers. This created a unification that had been missing..

3. We incorporated our own content management system. We have a product that enables real-time content management through an app-like product on a remote computer or even phone. This enabled us to become more agile, more responsive, and more efficient

4. Identify goals by person/function: Allocated responsible to not only the functional level but to individual level and ensured clear, single-point accountability.

5. Create a regular process for meeting, reviewing, adapting, and reporting.

6. Align the budget to the target to the individual/function.

Whitler: What advice would you give to B2B Marketers who are trying to drive lead gen that connects to measureable business results?

Puls:

1. Don’t be afraid to take on a quota. I’m talking about impact to revenue. You have to have a specific target and know how your function will contribute to the firm’s financial performance.

2. Put a target out there so that you can measure your team against it.

3. What is really is challenging is to convert the macro goal into individual level measures. This takes discussion and deliberation. It’s not critical that you get the target perfect in the beginning. There has to be room to miss the target and to adjust the system and learn. Over time, however, the team should get better at setting targets and hitting them.

4. Remember, although marketing may hit its target, there is no celebration until all of the units are hitting their targets. It’s a partnership. If we hit our target but pass the baton and the next group is struggling, we have to ask what we can do differently to help them achieve their targets. business results to drive success. It works best when all functions hit their goals.

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler

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Apple, Qualcomm battle over possible ban on some U.S. iPhone imports

(Reuters) – The staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday recommended that a trade judge find that Apple Inc (AAPL.O) infringed at least one of Qualcomm Inc’s (QCOM.O) patents, a move that could lead to blocking the import of some iPhones.

FILE PHOTO: A woman looks at the screen of her mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China July 30, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The San Diego chipmaker filed a complaint against Apple nearly a year ago, asking the commission to ban the import of iPhones containing rival chipmaker Intel Corp’s (INTC.O) so-called modem chips, which help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks.

At a trial in Washington that started on Friday, the ITC staff said Apple violated one of Qualcomm’s patents around battery-saving technology.

FILE PHOTO: A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The ITC staff acts as a third party in such trade cases. The staff lawyers’ opinions are not binding, but judges often follow them.

In previous filings in the ITC case, Apple has argued that Qualcomm’s patents are invalid and that, regardless, the judge should not ban Intel-based iPhones because it would give Qualcomm a monopoly on modems in the United States and drive Intel out of the modem business.

“Qualcomm is selectively asserting its patents to target only Apple products containing Intel chipsets — even though its patent infringement allegations would apply equally to Apple products containing Qualcomm chipsets — in an attempt to use the ITC as another mechanism for perpetuating its ill-gotten monopoly position,” Apple wrote.

The ITC case is the first to go to trial out of more than a dozen legal fights between Apple and Qualcomm over patents, licensing practices and contracts between the two. A decision is expected by January.

If the ITC judge decides to ban some iPhone imports, Qualcomm could use that to try to persuade Apple to settle or drop several of the other patent and contract cases, legal experts have said.

Apple has argued that some of Qualcomm’s practices are illegal, and the chipmaker has paid billions of dollars in fines from antitrust regulators in several countries, though it is still appealing some of those rulings.

Qualcomm says its practices are legal and were accepted by customers for many years as the smartphone industry boomed, but it has made some changes to its licensing model of taking a cut of the selling price of a device in a bid to ease tensions with customers and regulators.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Washington, and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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The Privacy Conundrum: What Will You Give Up To Protect Your Identity?

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., center, leaves after testifying at the European Union (EU) parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Zuckerberg offered European Union lawmakers his latest mea culpa for the social network’s role in a privacy scandal that tarnished his company’s reputation. Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

In Open Society and Its Enemies, Sir Karl Popper positioned Plato as public enemy No. 1. Plato, in his work The Republic, proposed an ideal system of government that should cause any lover of liberty and progress to recoil. Popper warned that in Plato’s utopia, “Everything possible has been done to eradicate from our life everywhere and in every way all that is private and individual…. Our very eyes and ears and hands seem to see, to hear, and to act, as if they belonged not to individuals but to the community.”

Sensor networks, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and data analytics could make Plato’s desire and Popper’s disgust a reality. New technologies beget new concerns, though human beings tend to accommodate risks for benefits like pleasure, productivity or convenience. How are we coping, and what might be to come?

Europe Leads The Way— But To Where?

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect May 25, is the latest and most comprehensive effort to clarify individual data rights. Protecting an individual’s data privacy is a worthy objective. As the Economist recently argued, it will have some positive impacts, such as the creation of a global “privacy infrastructure.” But at what cost?

European Data Protection Board Chairwoman Andrea Jelinek addresses a press conference as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes enforceable, May 25, 2018. – GDPR aims to give users more control over how their personal information is stored and used, with big fines for firms that break the rules. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

GDPR is a well-intentioned, necessary but over-reaching attempt at comprehensive regulation. The regulation’s interpretation and application will change markedly over the next few years as it confronts other regulatory regimes, technology change, consumer behaviors and competition.

For instance, GDPR applies to any EU citizen worldwide. Often companies don’t know whether a particular user in Sacramento or Sydney is a European citizen. They’ll rely on an individual’s willingness to self-identify. As an unintended consequence, clicking “European Citizen” on a site might effectively answer the question, “Would you prefer service or privacy?”

Consider GDPR’s “right to be forgotten.” If requested, a company must remove an individual’s data from their systems, except insofar as it is required to accomplish services contracted or comply with other regulations. Easier proclaimed than done. How will conflicts be addressed when this new requirement confronts financial services regulations such as anti-money laundering?

How Did You Do That?

Article 22 of GDPR requires “meaningful information about the logic involved” in the decisions made with an individual’s data. ML leverages data to improve performance against specific tasks. Unfortunately, ML operators are often unsure precisely how their systems generate specific recommendations.

Enter Explainable AI (XAI), systems through which AI learning and decision processes are discernible by experts.  XAI systems could enable clarity, essential in applications such as safety, liability, research and defense. The US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a major program to develop XAI capabilities. According to DARPA, experience suggests that XAI systems might suffer lower “prediction accuracy” than ML systems unburdened by an explainability requirement. This challenge is likely to become more acute as AI systems become more capable and complex.

DARPA image approved public release, unlimited distribution.

DARPA hosts the Cyber Grand Challenge in 2016, seeking to expand AI applications.

Further, how will regulators expect companies to act when individuals request to opt out after ML systems have used their data as part of larger data sets to generate insights? Will regulators prohibit companies from using such results? What data use tracking will be required to comply?

Even where regulators resolve confusion, GDPR includes another more threatening component—a very American-like right for individuals and organizations to sue. On the first day of enforcement, Austrian privacy advocate Max Schrems filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google asserting fines of nearly $9 billion. It’s not clear if any fines will eventually be assessed, but the fact that nearly anyone will be able to initiate suits under GDPR presents businesses with potentially unlimited jeopardy. Such actions could become factors in international trade and policy negotiations out of the direct control of regulators and diplomats.

Poignantly for Europe, the cost and complexity of GDPR compliance disadvantages new entrants against large entrenched players, few (none) of whom are European. While railroads and steel mills conferred economic—and thus geopolitical— power in the 19th Century, data agglomeration and application do so today. As the CIO of a major European corporation (who requested anonymity) recently commented to me, “That’s why Googles and Alibabas don’t grow in Europe.”

Our Privacy Conundrum

GDPR and its complications are part of the wider story of privacy in a connected age. Will competitive realities and individual desires overcome attempts to protect—or overprotect– personal data? To what extent can we achieve security and service without compromising individual rights? I refer to this challenge as the privacy conundrum.

Consider a thought experiment. (Underscore: thought experiment!) Imagine two societies with diametrically opposed data privacy conditions. One successfully enforces inviolable protection of all personal data under each individual’s control. Call them data prudish. The other ensures complete, total access of all personal data by any other individual or organization. Data promiscuous. Ethics and preferences aside, which society would more likely have an economic advantage?

Our thought experiment presents extreme versions of data philosophies evolving in the US, Europe and China. As I’ve argued elsewhere, with respect to data control, China’s regime makes government paramount, the US generally favors corporations and Europe tends toward the individual.

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'Skylanders Ring Of Heroes' Beta Goes Live On Android

, I cover video games and the toy industry. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Credit: Activision

Skylanders is back…kind of

</div> </div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">We may not be getting another </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Skylanders</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> console release anytime soon, but the next best thing is now available from Activision and Com2us for early beta testing on select mobile devices.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Today, a pre-release build of </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Ring of Heroes</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> is available to <a href="https://bhimpact-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1diTjAcZUxjL3ChTNd83cwyXFfOMw1HEi8LgxfIXCIX8-1624358096&amp;key=YAMMID-95799366&amp;link=https%3A%2F%2Fsmarturl.it%2FSkylandersCBT" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://bhimpact-dot-yamm-track.appspot.com/Redirect?ukey=1diTjAcZUxjL3ChTNd83cwyXFfOMw1HEi8LgxfIXCIX8-1624358096&amp;key=YAMMID-95799366&amp;link=https%3A%2F%2Fsmarturl.it%2FSkylandersCBT" rel="nofollow">download exclusively on the Google Play Store</a>, completely for free. While the title is expected to launch in full on both iOS and Android platforms in Q3 of this year, Apple-oriented fans are out of luck with this particular sneak peak. The beta will run through June 25, so if you’re at all interested in checking things out before the actual launch, I’d jump on this now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">The game is being described in the official press release as “</span><span style="font-weight: 400">a turn-based, action RPG adventure where players assume the role of Portal Master, drawn into the Skylands from a dimensional rift caused by the dastardly dark magician, Kaos. As Portal Master, players will traverse ten diverse Skylands with multiple stages and boss battles.” There’s also mention of being able to upgrade and customize different Skylanders, some degree of dungeon exploration, a PvP mode and “deep progression and combat systems”.</span></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">From what I’ve tried so far, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Ring of Heroes</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> seems like a nicely upgraded version of the now-defunct mobile game </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Lost Islands</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400">, only with extra RPG elements sprinkled throughout. On the down side, and as far as I can tell, there’s no way to scan your current figure collection into the game, something that was possible in previous mobile </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Skylanders</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> releases via special redemption codes and a Bluetooth Portal of Power. Especially with how advanced phones and tablets are now, I expected at least minimal internal NFC support. Kind of a letdown in that regard for those of us still holding onto bins of these toys.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Beyond that, the game seems pretty decent. I’m disappointed that we’re not getting a proper AAA </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Skylanders</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> entry in 2018, but going mobile seems like a solid move for the series, at least until some of that franchise fatigue has faded from the market. Here’s hoping that <em>Ring of Heroes</em> is well supported and gathers some steam for a 2019 return to form.</span></p>

<p>&nbsp;</p>” readability=”47.9857405704″>

Credit: Activision

Skylanders is back…kind of

We may not be getting another Skylanders console release anytime soon, but the next best thing is now available from Activision and Com2us for early beta testing on select mobile devices.

Today, a pre-release build of Ring of Heroes is available to download exclusively on the Google Play Store, completely for free. While the title is expected to launch in full on both iOS and Android platforms in Q3 of this year, Apple-oriented fans are out of luck with this particular sneak peak. The beta will run through June 25, so if you’re at all interested in checking things out before the actual launch, I’d jump on this now.

The game is being described in the official press release as “a turn-based, action RPG adventure where players assume the role of Portal Master, drawn into the Skylands from a dimensional rift caused by the dastardly dark magician, Kaos. As Portal Master, players will traverse ten diverse Skylands with multiple stages and boss battles.” There’s also mention of being able to upgrade and customize different Skylanders, some degree of dungeon exploration, a PvP mode and “deep progression and combat systems”.

From what I’ve tried so far, Ring of Heroes seems like a nicely upgraded version of the now-defunct mobile game Lost Islands, only with extra RPG elements sprinkled throughout. On the down side, and as far as I can tell, there’s no way to scan your current figure collection into the game, something that was possible in previous mobile Skylanders releases via special redemption codes and a Bluetooth Portal of Power. Especially with how advanced phones and tablets are now, I expected at least minimal internal NFC support. Kind of a letdown in that regard for those of us still holding onto bins of these toys.

Beyond that, the game seems pretty decent. I’m disappointed that we’re not getting a proper AAA Skylanders entry in 2018, but going mobile seems like a solid move for the series, at least until some of that franchise fatigue has faded from the market. Here’s hoping that Ring of Heroes is well supported and gathers some steam for a 2019 return to form.

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Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2018 Livestream

Fortune’s annual technology and ideas summit is just around the corner! Beginning Monday, July 16, 2018 tune in for a live video feed from Aspen, Colo. (All times are local/Mountain Time.)

Brainstorm Tech is our annual by-invitation-only summer retreat for leaders from Fortune 500 companies, emerging entrepreneurs, and the investors who finance them. Whether you’re in attendance in Aspen or watching via the livestream, you’ll find that Brainstorm Tech is essential to help stay ahead of fast-breaking trends. At a time when every company is fast becoming a tech company, Fortune Brainstorm Tech makes the difference between finding a competitive edge or being disrupted into oblivion.

You can find an abridged version of the agenda on this page to guide you during the livestream. You can find the complete agenda, which includes roundtables and other “concurrent” sessions that will not be livestreamed as well as various morning and evening activities for attendees, here.

Monday July 16, 2018

2:00 PM Opening Remarks
2:05 PM Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, Uber
2:30 PM Shiva Rajaraman, Chief Product Officer, WeWork; Julie Rice, Chief Brand Officer, WeWork
2:50 PM Richard Liu, CEO, JD.com
3:20 PM Penny Pritzker, Chairman, PSP Partners and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Bradley Tusk, CEO, Tusk Ventures
3:50 PM Hooi Ling Tan, Co-founder, Grab
4:10 PM Ivy Ross, Vice President, Design for Hardware, Google
4:30 PM Pat Gelsinger, CEO, VMWare; Dennis Woodside, COO, DropBox; Lisa Su, CEO, AMD
4:55 PM Jennifer Fleiss, CEO, Code Eight; Marc Lore, CEO, Walmart eCommerce U.S; CEO, Jet.com
5:15 PM Alex Norstrom, Chief Premium Business Officer, Spotify
6:45 PM TBA

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

9:15 AM Toni Reid, Vice President, Alexa Experience and Echo Devices, Amazon
9:35 AM Jeffrey Housenbold, Managing Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers; Lydia Jett, Consumer Internet Investor, SoftBank Vision Fund
10:00 AM Asheesh Birli, SVP Product, Ripple; Claire Hughes Johnson, COO, Stripe; Bridget van Kralingen, SVP, Global Industries, Platform, and Blockchain, IBM
10:25 AM John Zimmer, President, Lyft
11:20 AM Christa Quarles, CEO, OpenTable
11:25 AM Town Hall: Techlash: Navigating an Industry’s Moment of Crisis
12:15 PM Robert Smith, CEO, Vista Equity Partners
3:15 PM Mark Mahaney, Managing Director, Internet, RBC Capital Markets
3:25 PM Robert Bakish, CEO, Viacom; Stacey Sher, Co-president, Activision Blizzard Studios
3:50 PM Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO, TaskRabbit
4:10 PM Mark Verstegen, President, EXOS
4:20 PM Dr. Mike Capps, CEO, Diveplane Corp.
4:45 PM Gillian Tans, CEO, Booking.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

9:00 AM Alfred Lin, Partner, Sequoia Capital; Tony Xu, CEO, DoorDash
9:25 AM Dan Hart, CEO, Virgin Orbit; Howard Lance, CEO, Maxar Technologies
9:50 AM Jen Easterly, Managing Director; Global Head, Cybersecurity Fusion Center, Morgan Stanley
10:15 AM Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, Commander, Air Force Materiel Command
10:40 AM TBA
11:10 AM Closing Remarks

Please subscribe to Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology.

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How Big Tech Is Dealing with the Big Backlash

This article first appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.

It’s a big day in the world. Two unlikely leaders of powerful countries met in Singapore. Later in the day a federal judge will rule on the most significant antitrust case in years. Peace among women and men and massive conglomeration of tech and media assets are among the potential outcomes.

If you’ll permit me to draw a thin thread between these events and what’s on my mind today, it’s the importance of face-to-face communications. That summit meeting and the ruling in court are the result of humans arguing, discussing, negotiating, and, dare I say, learning from each other.

And as you undoubtedly know by now, convening face-to-face meetings is an increasingly important part of Fortune’s business. In five short weeks Fortune will convene Brainstorm Tech, our annual meeting of tech executives, entrepreneurs, and investors in Aspen, Colo. We tend to keep our agenda close to the vest until it’s mostly baked, which it is now.

The program will cover the waterfront of topics and people in tech this year. The ongoing “techlash” is topic No. 1, and our annual town hall meeting on the topic will include comments from Facebook (fb) scourge Tristan Harris, Facebook’s head of sales Carolyn Everson, and Twitter’s (twtr) “trust and safety” chief, Del Harvey. For the second year in a row, the town hall will be moderated by a broadcast journalist perfectly positioned to ride herd on the topic, Jo Ling Kent of NBC News. (Last year, Bloomberg’s Emily Chang masterfully oversaw the town hall on diversity and inclusion.)

Speaking of our well-timed discussion 11 months ago, we’ll feature an update on where we stand from Open Table (open) CEO Christa Quarles, who memorably, and literally, called bullshit on something said during last year’s session that wasn’t to her liking.

The biggest investing story in Silicon Valley right now emanates from Japan in the form of SoftBank, which tosses around billions of dollars as if they were nickels. (For you Chicago Bears fans, that’s an inversion of a famous Mike Ditka swipe at the legendary George Halas.) Longtime SoftBank investor Lydia Jett and her new colleague, former Shutterfly CEO Jeff Housenbold, will explain if there is a method to SoftBank’s madness. They’ll be interviewed by a surprise returnee to the Brainstorm Tech tent, our formerly-very-own Dan Primack.

You’ve probably heard that innovation in China is a big topic these days. I’m particularly proud of the panel we’ve assembled that includes Fosun Group’s Silicon Valley venture capitalist Wang Ying, Andreessen Horowitz’s Connie Chan, China research ace (and former Citi analyst) Deborah Weinswig, and the always perceptive Hans Tung of GGV Capital.

There are oodles more conference participants who’ll share their thoughts onstage. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, one of the most successful investors ever in China, will be our opening-night speaker. Others include Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, now part of Ikea; Mike Capps, former president of Fortnite producer Epic Games (who is doing something new I can’t tell you about, but he can … on July 17); former prosecutor Kathryn Haun, who is teaching at Stanford now and is knee-deep in cryptocurrencies; Stripe’s Claire Hughes Johnson; a pair of ex- and soon-to-be-ex Microsoft (msft) muckety-mucks: Julie Larson-Green and Terry Myerson; and, finally, Vista Equity’s Robert Smith, an influential private-equity investor in software companies.

We’ll have a couple more surprise announcements before July 16. I’ll put those on Twitter rather than in Data Sheet. Also, though I’ll only see a few of you in mountains, all of you will be able to watch the proceedings live on Fortune.com.

***

I encourage you to read this commentary by my friend and mentor Joe Nocera. It can’t be easy writing about one’s own depression. Joe’s words very likely will help others who’ve shared his experiences.

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Carrefour, Google sign online shopping tie-up in France

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s largest food retailer Carrefour (CARR.PA) is teaming up with Google (GOOGL.O) to boost its online shopping business on its home turf, where rivals are also launching e-commerce offensives.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Carrefour is seen on shopping trolleys at the Carrefour Lingostiere in Nice, France, March 31, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

Carrefour said on Monday that from next year its groceries would be available on the U.S. search engine’s new dedicated shopping site in France, or through Google-operated systems such as connected speakers and voice-assisted devices.

The tie-up comes amid a broader shake-up in France’s competitive food retail market as retailers invest in online platforms and home delivery services to win over clients and ward off in-roads by U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon.

Casino’s upmarket Monoprix chain in March became the first French retailer to agree to sell products on Amazon. Casino also has a home delivery partnership with UK online retailer Ocado (OCDO.L).

Alphabet Inc’s Google, meanwhile, has been pushing to roll out new shopping services to retailers such as Walmart (WMT.N), enabling them to list products on a special shopping site or Google Assistant on mobile phones and voice devices.

The U.S. firm hopes the program will allow retailers to capture more purchases on mobile phones or smart home devices. The Carrefour deal marks the first partnership in France.

The companies said in a statement they would open an innovation lab in Paris this summer, in partnership with Google Cloud, for research into artificial intelligence that can be used in consumer services.

Google will also roll out its G Suite productivity tools – where it rivals Microsoft Office – to the entire Carrefour group and its 160,000 employees, the companies said.

Reporting by Sarah White and Pascale Denis; Editing by Mark Potter

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REIT Preferred – Risk And Return Vs. Alternatives

I was speaking with a fellow investor the other day, and the subject of preferred stocks came up. We were talking about the risk and return characteristics of the preferred market, and I thought it might be a decent time to dig a little deeper into the subject and share my results. As the conversation, and subsequent research, was focused on REITs, the data presented herein is also REIT focused. In the near future, I will broaden out the data set and focus on the financial sector.

For the purpose of this note, I am focused on returns to the REIT preferred space, the risk/return profile of the space (using the Sharpe Ratio as a measure, as it is often used by institutions despite its limitations) and the sensitivity of the REIT preferred space to interest rates.

During the course of this note, I will be using the following indices:

  • Wells Fargo Hybrid and Preferred Securities REIT Index (“WHPSR”),
  • MSCI U.S. REIT Index (“RMZ”), and
  • FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REIT Index (“FNMR”).

There are limitations to the data/information. The returns available take place during a period of historically low rates, where “yieldy” investments were/are often valued beyond what might normally be acceptable (as were most financial investments). Using indices exposes returns and risk to survivorship bias, where failed companies fall out of the index. The survivorship bias should be limited as bankruptcy/insolvency within the REIT space has been de minimis.

All data/charts are created from my spreadsheets.

With these caveats in place, let’s begin.

Returns

The following are the returns to the indices mentioned above:

While not completely unexpected, the returns to the mortgage REIT sector have led the pack, followed by REIT preferred, with REIT equity bringing up the rear.

Shown graphically:

Of course, there is more than one way to look at performance. While returns often drive decisions, many investors prefer to look at risk adjusted returns. While the definition of risk will vary from risk manager to risk manager (investors are ultimately risk managers), one common way to view risk adjusted returns is through the use of the Sharpe Ratio.

The Sharpe Ratio

The Sharpe Ratio uses standard deviation to measure a fund’s risk-adjusted returns. The higher a fund’s Sharpe Ratio, the better a fund’s returns have been relative to the risk it has taken on. Because it uses standard deviation, the Sharpe Ratio can be used to compare risk-adjusted returns across all fund categories.

The Sharpe Ratio measure quantifies an investment’s return in excess of a risk-free rate (I used the 10-year Treasury) relative to its standard deviation. The higher the Sharpe Ratio, the better its returns have been relative to the amount of investment risk (volatility) it has taken.

The higher the standard deviation, the higher the returns need to be to earn a high Sharpe Ratio. Conversely, investments with lower standard deviations can have a higher Sharpe Ratio even with lower absolute returns. Ultimately, a higher Sharpe Ratio indicates a better risk-adjusted performance but does not imply a lower-volatility investment. A higher Sharpe Ratio just means that the risk/return relationship is more proportional or optimal.

The data for our indices:

As the numbers above show, the REIT preferred index has the highest Sharpe Ratios over the longer five- and ten-year period while the mortgage REIT equity index has the highest Sharpe Ratio over the three-year period (followed pretty closely by the preferred index).

Graphically:

I have also looked at the Sharpe Ratios of the REIT preferred index versus other yield alternatives, namely:

  • J.P. Morgan EMBI Global Total Return Index (emerging market bonds) and
  • Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate High Yield Total Return Index.

The results were:

Over the three- and five-year time frames, preferred stocks have done very well versus these other assets. They have trailed in the ten-year time frame from a risk-adjusted standpoint.

Graphically:

Sharpe Ratio bottom line: Preferred stocks have performed very well on a risk adjusted basis over the last 10 years. The asset class has outperformed REIT equity over all periods, mREITs over the longer time frames, and high yield and emerging market bonds over the three and five-year time frames. That is strong performance for an under-utilized asset class.

Interest Rates

Then, of course, we have the concern about preferred stocks and interest rates. Preferred stocks, often being perpetual in nature, are viewed as having significant duration risk, or price sensitivity to interest rates. In order to assess the extent of this risk, I took a quick look at a graph of the index and the 10-year Treasury rate (note that the rate axis is inverted in order to show directionality):

The chart above shows that the directionality of rates and preferreds is consistent with the view that rates will have a significant impact upon the preferred stocks of REITs. Naturally, I wanted to test this further by looking at the correlation between the change in price of REIT preferreds (and the other indices) and the change in rates (using the same one-month data used earlier). To my surprise, I got the following results:

Over a longer period, the correlation is minimal, but over a shorter period (more heavily influenced by the current tightening cycle), the correlation is higher.

To get a sense of the relationship over time, I calculated the rolling 12-week (3-month) correlation over the last 10 years:

As the chart shows, the relationship is not consistently negative, it is, at times, positive. The problem with this period is that it takes place during the last ten years, the majority of which have seen central bank intervention (QE) in rates, which may serve to influence the correlation.

For what it is worth, we have seen a similar thing in the mREIT market:

As well as the equity REIT market:

And the overall preferred market, as reflected through the iShares U.S. Preferred Stock ETF (PFF):

I have also graphed the Invesco Preferred Portfolio (PGX) and PFF and rates as well, for a broader picture of the market:

Invesco Preferred Portfolio:

iShares U.S. Preferred Stock ETF:

Finally, I thought it might be helpful to show the yield differential between preferred stocks and other yield alternatives.

Equity REITs, RMZ:

High Yield – Bloomberg High Yield:

JPMorgan’s EMBI:

As the charts show, preferreds currently offer higher yields than other yield alternatives as well as asset classes.

Preferred Bottom Line: Preferred stocks continue to outperform other income/yield focused alternatives in terms of yield and risk-adjusted returns. While the asset class does have its limitations (size, depth, liquidity), it is under-utilized and often misunderstood. This is, perhaps, why it continues to offer the value it does. REIT preferreds should be part of any REIT/real estate portfolio due to the incremental yield and lower volatility.

Other reads:

Forbes REITs’ relationship with rates.

S&P – Impact of rising rates on REITs.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: The analyst has no positions in the ETFs mentioned, but has multiple positions in REIT preferred (equity and mortgage), REIT equity (equity and mortgage) as well as shipping preferred (and equity).

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Nevsun Resources Acquisition: The Bidders Try To Break The Institutional Investors

Lundin Mining (OTCPK:LUNMF) and Euro Sun Mining (OTCPK:CPNFF) don’t give up. Although Nevsun’s (NSU) management has rejected their previous takeover offers, they are still looking how to get to Nevsun’s assets. Especially to the world-class Timok project.

The whole story has started back in March 2016, when Lundin Mining made a deal with Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) to acquire 100% of Freeport’s interest in the Timok Upper Zone and 28% of Freeport’s interest in the Timok Lower Zone. However, Reservoir Minerals (OTCPK:RVRLF) (the former co-owner of the Timok Project) used its right of first offer. It made a deal with Nevsun. Nevsun helped Reservoir to acquire the abovementioned stakes from Freeport and subsequently, Reservoir got acquired by Nevsun.

Less than two years after the first one, Lundin made another attempt to acquire Timok. It presented several offers to Nevsun, however, Lundin was interested only in the European assets. All of the offers were rejected by Nevsun’s management. This is why Lundin partnered with Euro Sun that is interested in Nevsun’s remaining assets, i.e. the Eritrean Bisha mine. Together, they made another offer that valued the whole Nevsun at C$1.5billion. They offered C$5 per Nevsun’s share (C$2 in cash, C$2 in Lundin’s shares, and C$1 in Euro Sun’s shares). This offer was presented on April 30 and rejected on May 7. After the latest rejection, Lundin and Euro Sun published their offer and also provided some information about the former offers. The decision to make the offer public indicated that the story is far from over and the two companies will make further attempts.

The newest attempt came this week when Euro Sun announced that it has amended its portion of the proposal from C$300 million in shares to C$150 million in shares and C$150 million in cash. However, this amendment doesn’t change too much. It still values Nevsun only at C$1.5 billion. At the current exchange rate, it equals to $1.15 billion or $3.84 per share (~$1.54 in Lundin shares, $0.38 in Euro Sun shares, and $1.92 in cash). It is less than 15% above the current Nevsun’s share price of $3.35.

What is worrying, according to Euro Sun:

Since making the proposal public on May 7th, 2018 numerous meetings have been held with shareholders of Nevsun, both in person and via teleconference. To date shareholders representing over 30% of Nevsun shares outstanding have expressed support for the Euro Sun led offer and encourage all parties to actively engage in a friendly transaction.

Moreover, according to a recent Reuters article, M&G Investment Management (Nevsun’s second-biggest shareholder) stated that it is positively inclined towards the C$1.5 billion offer. And Adrian Day Asset Management, another institutional investor, stated:

We would urge the company to use all efforts to maximize value for shareholders… even if it does mean breaking up the company.

As Nevsun is 70%-owned by the institutional investors, there is a real danger that the current offer will be pushed through in the end. The retail investors can only hope that the offer will be somehow sweetened.

The after-tax NPV (8%) of the Upper Zone alone is $1.8 billion, according to the PFS. The project is well advanced, the feasibility study is expected in Q1 2019, and the construction of the decline has already started. Moreover, Nevsun is evaluating a development option that could help to cut the development CAPEX by approximately $100 million. It is also important to note that Nevsun’s management has repeatedly stated that there is a meaningful potential to discover more Upper Zone-like deposits. One of the targets has been drilled successfully and the results are very promising. The intersections include 2.93% copper and 2.54 g/t gold over 27 meters or 3.91% copper and 1.61 g/t gold over 7.5 meters. According to the company:

Drilling has intersected new high-sulphidation epithermal (“HSE” or “Upper Zone-style”) copper-gold mineralization 500 meters to the east of the Upper Zone deposit at Timok. Mineralization occurs over a 250 by 250 meter area which is similar in plan size to the Timok Upper Zone. The new zone of mineralization has similar characteristics to the Upper Zone with massive, semi-massive and disseminated mineralization.

It is important not to forget that also the Bisha mine has some value, especially after the Q1 results indicated that the metallurgy problems have been probably resolved. In fact, Euro Sun offers C$300 million (around $230 million) for Bisha.

And besides the other Serbian exploration-stage properties, there is also the Timok Lower Zone. Although the Lower Zone copper and gold grades are much lower compared to the Upper Zone, the Lower Zone is much bigger, as can be seen in the pictures below. The most exciting Lower Zone drill results include 0.92% copper and 0.22 g/t gold over 835.8 meters, 1.49% copper and 0.24 g/t gold over 204 meters, 0.8% copper and 0.22 g/t gold over 798.1 meters, or 1.08% copper and 0.27 g/t gold over 747.4 meters. The initial resource estimate is expected this summer. Its results are eagerly awaited by the investors as they should indicate a lot about the real value of the Lower Zone.

Source: Nevsun Resources

Conclusion

The current offer of approximately $1.15 billion is definitely not good enough. In my opinion, a fair offer should be somewhere in the $1.5-2 billion range, depending on the Lower Zone resource estimate. If the resource estimate is as good as expected, the offer should be closer to $2 billion. Nevsun’s institutional shareholders probably know it as well, but the institutions often tend to prefer quick mediocre returns to waiting for the really big ones. Moreover, some of the institutional shareholders may have equity interests also in Lundin and Euro Sun which affects their decisions further. I expect that Lundin and Euro Sun will try to improve the offer slightly in order to close the deal before the Lower Zone resource estimate is released. And there is also a wildcard named Freeport-McMoRan. Freeport owns 39.6% of the Lower Zone, however, its stake will increase to 54% after the Upper Zone FS is completed. Given Freeport’s issues with the Indonesian government regarding the Grasberg mine, it is reasonable to expect Freeport to seek some substitution. The acquisition of the Timok Upper Zone and the remainder of the Timok Lower Zone seems like a natural choice. Although Freeport has been silent by now, it may change quite quickly. There are various options on the table, and it’s going to be really interesting to follow how the Nevsun-Timok story develops. Hopefully, it will be favorable for Nevsun’s shareholders.

Disclosure: I am/we are long NSU.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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The Promised World Of 5G Connectivity

Ron Nersesian is president and chief executive officer of Keysight Technologies.

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</div> </div> <p>This year (2018) has already been full of memorable sports moments — from Lindsey Vonn’s <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/02/21/lindsey-vonn-breaks-down-in-tears-after-final-olympic-downhill-race/?utm_term=.14fa53043e99" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/02/21/lindsey-vonn-breaks-down-in-tears-after-final-olympic-downhill-race/?utm_term=.14fa53043e99">last Olympic race</a>&nbsp;to Patrick Reed <a href="http://www.golf.com/tour-news/2018/04/08/patrick-reed-wins-masters-first-major-victory" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.golf.com/tour-news/2018/04/08/patrick-reed-wins-masters-first-major-victory">winning his first major</a> at the Masters.</p> <p>But when I think of what really steals the show for me, it is the technology that makes viewing these events possible. Think about it: We were able to view livestreamed 4k video from <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2018/01/31/pyeongchang-will-host-first-major-5g-video-demonstrations-for-olympics-viewers/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://venturebeat.com/2018/01/31/pyeongchang-will-host-first-major-5g-video-demonstrations-for-olympics-viewers/">cameras attached to bobsleds</a> and pause and switch angles of figure skating routines. A small group of lucky football fans got to watch the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles <a href="http://www.verizon.com/about/news/shhh-verizon-network-engineers-quietly-worked-behind-scenes-super-bowl-lii-test-limits-5g" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.verizon.com/about/news/shhh-verizon-network-engineers-quietly-worked-behind-scenes-super-bowl-lii-test-limits-5g">through virtual reality goggles</a>, and <a href="https://www.wirelessdesignmag.com/blog/2018/02/5g-keeping-uninvited-attendees-bay-during-winter-olympics" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.wirelessdesignmag.com/blog/2018/02/5g-keeping-uninvited-attendees-bay-during-winter-olympics">high-tech sensors</a> protected ski races from predators — using lasers, gasses and tiger roars to ward off dangerous wild boars.</p> <p>The next-generation wireless standard, 5G, is at the heart of these new technological innovations, providing the architecture required to enable these high-bandwidth, low-latency applications. And 5G was not hiding in the background. Peppered throughout coverage of the Olympic Games, we could hear broadcasters discussing 5G as if the wireless network was a Hollywood celebrity stationed in the stands to promote their latest prime-time television show.</p> <p> </p> <p>And, in a sense, 5G <em>was</em> there to promote something — the <a href="https://www.techradar.com/news/why-pyeongchang-2018-winter-olympics-are-a-5g-milestone" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.techradar.com/news/why-pyeongchang-2018-winter-olympics-are-a-5g-milestone">promised world of 5G connectivity</a>.</p> <p>If nothing else, these events showed us that we are only now scratching the surface of what 5G can really do. The possibilities are endless, and the impact will be significant to all of us. It is more than just faster download speeds; 5G extends into mmWave frequencies, allowing for the high resolution and pinpoint accuracy that enables the type of wide scale and precise interconnectivity required for connected cities, factories and high-density events. Every item, from our refrigerators to our sneakers, will be connected to the cloud via a 5G network that can interact with millions of other devices, informing every decision we make — and, in some cases, making those decisions for us.</p>

<p>Everything from entertainment and sports to medicine, manufacturing, transportation, construction and education will be affected by 5G. At some point (maybe sooner than we think), we will be able to stream live 4K video on our phones while walking down the street, dodging self-driving cars as we perform remote appendectomies on patients halfway around the world.</p> <p>And that is just what we can imagine. Imagine what we can’t imagine. Who knew that 3G would lead to an explosion of data? And who would have thought that 4G would enable the gig economy or lead to interactive augmented reality games such as Ingress and Pok&eacute;mon Go or Rendever’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7TZit7tKPA" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7TZit7tKPA">virtual reality for senior citizens</a> to enable them to go where they want without actually going? The possibilities for 5G are endless.</p> <p>And we, the technology industry, are the ones who need to get us there. We have a responsibility to facilitate an environment where developers, service providers and manufacturers can create truly transformative experiences that can live up to the promise of 5G. We need to start with a robust standards process (already underway) and follow that with rigorous testing in realistic conditions — both in the lab and in the field. As the stakes move from delivering uninterrupted live video of a ski race&nbsp;to ensuring autonomous vehicles can detect and avoid road hazards or pedestrians, we need to verify that 5G is reliable and secure if we are to trust it with our lives.</p>” readability=”64.3350908026″>

Shutterstock

This year (2018) has already been full of memorable sports moments — from Lindsey Vonn’s last Olympic race to Patrick Reed winning his first major at the Masters.

But when I think of what really steals the show for me, it is the technology that makes viewing these events possible. Think about it: We were able to view livestreamed 4k video from cameras attached to bobsleds and pause and switch angles of figure skating routines. A small group of lucky football fans got to watch the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles through virtual reality goggles, and high-tech sensors protected ski races from predators — using lasers, gasses and tiger roars to ward off dangerous wild boars.

The next-generation wireless standard, 5G, is at the heart of these new technological innovations, providing the architecture required to enable these high-bandwidth, low-latency applications. And 5G was not hiding in the background. Peppered throughout coverage of the Olympic Games, we could hear broadcasters discussing 5G as if the wireless network was a Hollywood celebrity stationed in the stands to promote their latest prime-time television show.

And, in a sense, 5G was there to promote something — the promised world of 5G connectivity.

If nothing else, these events showed us that we are only now scratching the surface of what 5G can really do. The possibilities are endless, and the impact will be significant to all of us. It is more than just faster download speeds; 5G extends into mmWave frequencies, allowing for the high resolution and pinpoint accuracy that enables the type of wide scale and precise interconnectivity required for connected cities, factories and high-density events. Every item, from our refrigerators to our sneakers, will be connected to the cloud via a 5G network that can interact with millions of other devices, informing every decision we make — and, in some cases, making those decisions for us.

Everything from entertainment and sports to medicine, manufacturing, transportation, construction and education will be affected by 5G. At some point (maybe sooner than we think), we will be able to stream live 4K video on our phones while walking down the street, dodging self-driving cars as we perform remote appendectomies on patients halfway around the world.

And that is just what we can imagine. Imagine what we can’t imagine. Who knew that 3G would lead to an explosion of data? And who would have thought that 4G would enable the gig economy or lead to interactive augmented reality games such as Ingress and Pokémon Go or Rendever’s virtual reality for senior citizens to enable them to go where they want without actually going? The possibilities for 5G are endless.

And we, the technology industry, are the ones who need to get us there. We have a responsibility to facilitate an environment where developers, service providers and manufacturers can create truly transformative experiences that can live up to the promise of 5G. We need to start with a robust standards process (already underway) and follow that with rigorous testing in realistic conditions — both in the lab and in the field. As the stakes move from delivering uninterrupted live video of a ski race to ensuring autonomous vehicles can detect and avoid road hazards or pedestrians, we need to verify that 5G is reliable and secure if we are to trust it with our lives.

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This Is What Happens When You Let Artificial Intelligence Get Artistic

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used for everything from facial recognition software to chat bots that interact with a company’s potential customers.

But what about the artistic side of AI? 

Some researchers want to discover what happens when they give their neural networks a chance to show their creative side — and the results are surreal to say the least. 

Neural networks go naked

AI researcher Robbie Barrat fed a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) thousands of nude portraits from a dataset and then trained it to create its own version of the artwork it processed. The results of the AI art of surreal, swirly naked female forms would impress even the likes of Salvador Dali.

Generative adversarial networks are artificial intelligence algorithms that are used in unsupervised machine learning. It uses two different neural networks — a generator and a discriminator.

The generator tries to come up with images that fools the discriminator, and the discriminator tries to learn how to tell the difference between real images from the dataset and fake images the generator feeds it. Over time, the more realistic the output will be — in this case nude paintings.

However sometimes the generator and discriminator will keep trying to fool each other without actually getting better at the task at hand. And in the case of Barrat’s neural network, the artwork looks like a surrealist nightmare. 

Unhappy little trees

The MIT-trained roboticist and artist Alexander Reben, uses his art to explore what goes wrong when machine learning filters a seemingly innocent episode of the PBS retro TV show “The Joy of Painting” through the neural net. 

In the video “Deeply Artificial Trees” by Reben’s artist pseudonym Artboffin,  we see the PBS show host, artist Bob Ross, looking less like the ’70s art icon who loved to paint calming landscapes, and more like a character featured in a bad acid trip. 

[embedded content]

Deeply Artificial Trees (excerpt) from artBoffin on Vimeo.

The video shows the “happy, little trees” Ross is famous for painting re-imagined as horrific-looking Lovecraftian insects summoned by the fictional grimoire, the Necronomicon.

“This artwork represents what it would be like for an AI to watch Bob Ross on LSD (once someone invents digital drugs),” artBoffin writes in the video description. “It shows some of the unreasonable effectiveness and strange inner workings of deep learning systems. The unique characteristics of the human voice are learned and generated, as well as hallucinations of a system trying to find images which are not there.”

AI explores dragons and romance 

Sometimes dragons and candy hearts are the the perfect muse for a neural network. Janelle Shane, a research engineer for an optics company who also likes to experiment with neural-network programming, trained a machine-learning system to create new monsters for the fantasy tabletop game, Dungeons & Dragons. 

Shane gathered 2,205 creature names from the second-edition Dungeons & Dragons monster manual, and her neural network transformed those names into new imaginary creatures like a Curple Lard Dragon, Wolfworm, Spectral Slug, Jabberwont, Burglestar and Marraganralleraith.

She then created a recurrent neural network algorithm to generate D&D spells like Barking Sphere, Hold Mouse and Gland Growth.

Shane also trained her machine-learning system to generate new romantic phrases for Valentine’s Day candy hearts. Instead of the typical “Be Mine” message, the AI came up with “Hot Give” “Team Bear” and “Time Hug.”

The surrealist art movement seems boringly normal compared to this new wave of AI artists. Here’s hoping one day, art museums everywhere will have wing dedicated to the neural networks making this unusual art, and the humans who trained them. 

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Data Sheet–Why Big League Sports Are Reaching for a Tech Connection

Start your Xerox machines. Instagram copied rival Snapchat’s short video “stories” format with great success. Now the Facebook service is apparently taking similar inspiration from Snapchat’s Discover section. Instagram plans to add longer videos, up to an hour, produced by publishers, the Wall Street Journal reports. The news comes probably not coincidentally as Facebook itself announces video programming partnerships with news organizations CNN, ABC, Fox News, and others.

Buzzy. Larry Page’s flying car company Kitty Hawk showed off a working prototype of a one-person aerial vehicle. The electric-powered Flyer looks a bit like a cross between a miniature seaplane, with pontoons instead of wheels, and a drone, with 10 upward facing propellers.

Starting over. Speaking of the side gigs of rich guys, former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is partnering with two former colleagues to start a company called XCOM that will focus on 5G wireless technologies. Jacobs is also still trying to raise enough backing to make a bid for his old company, which was co-founded by his father, Irwin.

This could get messy. After becoming mired in several controversies over whether to distribute offensive games, Valve’s Steam platform will start accepting almost any title that’s not flat-out illegal while creating better search filters for users. “If you’re a developer of offensive games, this isn’t us siding with you against all the people you’re offending,” executive Erik Johnson wrote not entirely convincingly in a blog post. “There will be people throughout the Steam community who hate your games, and hope you fail to find an audience, and there will be people here at Valve who feel exactly the same way. However, offending someone shouldn’t take away your game’s voice.”

Ending up back where we started. Digital currency startup Coinbase is seeking licenses to become a securities broker-dealer and a registered investment advisor. The certifications from regulators of the traditional financial system would allow Coinbase to offer services like cryptocurrency securities trading, margin lending, and “new market data products,” the company says. Rival Circle is making similar moves. Also on Wednesday, one of those regulators made clear he doesn’t plan to do anything to accommodate bitcoin and its brethren. SEC chair Jay Clayton tells CNBC his agency won’t be easing its definition of a security and “if it’s a security, we’re regulating it.”

A company that hits the order button together. There are plenty of food delivery startups like Postmates or Uber Eats. Ritual, which just raised $70 million of venture capital, takes a slightly different approach, with a service that focuses on helping people in the same workplace order jointly. The aim is to make coworkers “feel like they are one team dining together,” CEO Ray Reddy explains.

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Elon Musk Calms Down, and More From Tesla's Shareholder Meeting

When Elon Musk was a kid, he had so much trouble managing his time, that his younger brother Kimbal would lie to him about the bus schedule. Elon would show up a few minutes after the supposed arrival—and have just enough time to hop aboard. A few decades on, the whole world knows about Elon’s habit of blowing deadlines. And he admits it can be a problem.

“This is something I’m trying to get better at,” he said from the stage of Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum on Tuesday afternoon, at Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting. “I’m trying to recalibrate these estimates.”

A few days after a Twitter rage fest aimed at the media, a month after refusing to answer questions about Tesla’s financial state during an investors’ call, and two months after getting in a public spat with the feds investigating a deadly crash in one of his cars, Musk’s attitude when he appeared before his fellow shareholders was conciliatory. He even seemed emotional at times. “We build our cares with love,” he said, with a slight quaver in his voice. And he noted how brutal the auto industry can be, especially to newcomers. “It’s insanely hard just staying alive.”

For an hour and a half, Musk patiently fielded questions on just about every part of Tesla’s sprawling business. He said the Model 3 production rate will hit the long-promised 5,000 cars a week rate later this month, predicted an enormous increase in battery production, announced upgrades to the Autopilot semi-autonomous system, and even appeased PETA. If you missed the meeting, here are the key takeaways.

Elon Retains the Reins

The official business of the meeting included voting on the reelection of venture capitalist Antonio Gracias, Elon’s bus-catching brother Kimbal, and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch to Tesla’s board of directors. (Only a third of the nine board members come up for election at a time—it’s like the US Senate that way.) Last month, activist investor the CtW Group urged Tesla shareholders to replace the trio with people who had automotive and manufacturing expertise. Another investor, Jing Zhao, filed a proposal to strip Musk of his position as Tesla’s chairman, which he has held since 2004 (he took the CEO job in 2008). But the shareholders stuck with Musk, reelecting the board members and nixing the leadership change by an overwhelming majority. (Tesla will file the exact vote count with the SEC in the next few days.)

The loss didn’t surprise CtW executive director Dieter Waizenegger, who argues control of Tesla is too concentrated in people tied to Musk. “This opinion is shared by a significant number of shareholders of Tesla,” he says. “We expect the final vote tally to reveal that.” Even if he’s right, Musk remains fully in charge.

More Model 3

Musk’s acknowledgement of his timeline trouble didn’t stop him from announcing that, by the end of the month, Tesla will be building 5,000 Model 3 sedans every week, which should be enough to start turning a profit on the car. The uptick is thanks to Tesla’s rebalancing of the workload between humans and robots in its factory in Fremont, California, where the company is adding a third Model 3 production line. It is also planning to open a factory in China, to go with its plants in Fremont and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Tesla is gradually expanding options for Model 3 owners, who so far have been limited to the version with an upgraded battery and premium interior, which starts at $56,000. By the end of this year, Musk hopes to start production of the version closer to the car’s $35,000 base price, with the smaller battery pack. Also coming soon: right hand drive.

New Products

Even as it struggles to build the Model 3, Tesla is planning on three new vehicles: the Semi truck, the revived Roadster, and the still mysterious Model Y. Musk told shareholders he’s hoping to start production of all three in the first half of 2020, though he has yet to specify where he’ll do that, or how. He’ll unveil the Model Y in March (it will be “something super special”), and expects the truck and the sports car to deliver better specs than the already very impressive numbers he announced last fall. Oh, and he’ll never build an electric motorcycle.

Autopilot Advances

Without getting into details, Musk said Tesla is making steady progress to improve its Autopilot feature, and is now working on adding the ability to change lanes and handle highway on- and off-ramps (Musk noted he was testing new software around 1 am this morning). For drivers who aren’t sure they want to spend $5,000 on the feature, Tesla will soon start offering free trials. Musk also reaffirmed his distaste for lidar, the laser shooting sensor most autonomous vehicle developers say is key to building a safe, capable robo-car.

SuperChargers

Tesla now runs nearly 10,000 Supercharger stations around the world, the stations where its drivers (and no one else) can plug in and charge a depleted battery to about 80 percent in 30 minutes. And Musk is working to keep improving charge times, saying a three- or four-fold improvement is possible. (That’s only true for relatively new cars, he added, disappointing the 2012 Model S owner who asked him about it.)

Going Vegan

Unlike many automakers, Tesla has been offering leather-free versions of its cars for years, appealing to its vegan and vegetarian fans. But it’s still using some leather in its steering wheels, and a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) rep took the mic to press Musk on it. He explained Tesla can make leather-free steering wheels, but the work has to be done it its design studio, making it something of a pain. But he promised it’ll be easier once the Model Y comes around. Now he’s just gotta hit that 2020 goal.


More Great WIRED Stories

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Apple Wants You to Have a Healthier Relationship With Technology. Just Not All the Time

Apple relishes its reputation as the least evil of the big consumer technology companies.

Rarely does CEO Tim Cook pass up an opportunity to direct a swipe at Facebook or Google over what he–along with, seemingly, a growing number of Americans–perceives as their central moral failing: a business model that depends on tempting or tricking users into surrendering control of their time and their personal privacy. 

That impulse of virtuous one-upsmanship was on full display Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, where the iPhone maker showed off a bevy of new products and features touted as helping customers better manage their digital lives. Inadvertently, though, the announcements also raised questions about the sincerity of Apple’s concern– whether the company sees respect for the well-being of its consumers as a selling point, or merely a concession to the current cultural moment. 

Among the new offerings announced from the stage at WWDC: a new “Do Not Disturb During Bedtime” mode will hide notifications that come in overnight, helping users who habitually check their phones during the wee hours to go back to sleep. App notifications will be grouped rather than displaying individually, making it easier to process them in batches and cutting down on information overload. 

A new feature called Screen Time allows users to see how much, how often and for what they’re using their phones. “Screen Time empowers you with both insight and control over how you spend your time,” said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering. A related feature, App Limits, allows users to pre-set quotas on usage of specific apps, warning them when they’re getting close and disabling them app when the limit is reached. “We think this is going to be helpful for many people, but especially for some kids,” Federighi said. 

Parents who manage their children’s devices can further dictate their behavior by designating some periods as “Down Time,” when apps can’t be accessed at all, and doling out digital minutes via “Allowances.” 

Throughout the course of the two-hour-plus keynote, Apple’s speakers invited the audience to draw implicit contrasts between Apple and its rivals. Slides illustrating how Screen Time works used Facebook-owned Instagram as an example of an app one might want to cut back on, while Twitter was the example used for grouped notifications. 

But when they weren’t boasting about all the ways Apple is freeing users from the tyranny of their devices, executives were hyping all the dazzling new reasons you’ll want to waste more time with your devices. It was hard to ignore the buzz of cognitive dissonance during a demo of Memoji, a new feature that lets users create animated augmented-reality avatars of their own faces to use in photos and messages.  The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern was one of many to call out the jarring juxtaposition.

Likewise, a segment of new Apple Watch upgrades started with a rundown of features meant to motivate owners to be more fit. But an onstage demo suggested the company still has a less-than-holistic understanding of what health looks like. “30 minutes ago Apple was talking about having a healthier relationship to our devices. Now, they have a woman riding a spin bike in front of us and frantically scrolling thru productivity apps and multitasking on her watch,” noted Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel

Never mind that the watch’s new Walkie Talkie feature is likely to mean having to endure interruptions from other people’s devices as well as your own. Or that Apple is reportedly looking into reviving its abandoned ad network, this time in partnership with Pinterest and Snap, putting it back into the customers-are-the-product game it claims to disdain. 

One way to decipher Apple’s mixed messaging is to look at relative investment. Products designed to get you to use your phone more–like Memoji, which requires a lot of processing power and state-of-the-art image recognition technology–are expensive and hard to make. Features like Screen Time and Do Not Disturb During Bedtime mode are easy and cheap. There was nothing stopping Apple from making them anytime in the last five years. There was simply no demand, and thus no reason to devote even minimal resources to them. 

That doesn’t make Apple hypocritical. It does suggest it will have to be consumers themselves who take responsibility for reclaiming their attention and personal data. We can’t wait for the tech giants to do it for us, because finding shiny new uses for those things is what they’re good at. Even when they’re trying their best not to be evil. 

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DataRobot Puts The Power Of Machine Learning In The Hands Of Business Analysts

, I cover Cloud Computing, Machine Learning, and Internet of Things Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Source: DataRobot

DataRobot

</div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/janakirammsv/2018/04/15/why-automl-is-set-to-become-the-future-of-artificial-intelligence/" target="_self">AutoML</a> is revolutionizing data and AI domains by bringing the power of predictive analytics to businesses. An analyst who is familiar with mainstream business intelligence tools can leverage AutoML platforms to build and deploy highly sophisticated machine learning models. Experienced data scientists can go multiple levels deeper than a business analyst to customize and optimize the models.</p> <p> </p> <p>The DataRobot platform has evolved during the last few years to take advantage of the innovations in the public cloud. Enterprises can choose to run the software either in the public cloud or on-premises data center. &nbsp;The hosted version dubbed as DataRobot Cloud Platform currently runs on AWS. At AWS re:Invent last year, the company achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) ML Competency status. DataRobot claims that customers have built over 500,000,000 models on the DataRobot Cloud on AWS.</p> <p>DataRobot delivers a wizard-style of user experience to generate Machine Learning models. In just six steps, businesses can deploy a real-time predictive analytics service backed by an accurate Machine Learning model.</p>

<p>It all starts by uploading the dataset to DataRobot platform, which accepts input&nbsp;from a file, a remote URL, a JDBC data source or HDFS.</p> <p>Once data is ingested, the platform infers the schema by suggesting appropriate data types for each feature. Business analysts and data scientists can perform necessary to advanced data exploratory activities on the ingested dataset. Finally, they need to select the target label which is going be predicted by the model.</p>” readability=”49.6642793196″>

DataRobot, the Boston-based Data Science company, enables business analysts to build predictive analytics with no knowledge of Machine Learning or programming. It uses automated ML to build and deploy accurate predictive models in a short span of time.

DataRobot was founded in 2012 in Boston by Jeremy Achin and Tom de Godoy. Both of them come with extensive experience in dealing with data science and ML models. In the most recent funding round, it has raised $54 million in Series C by New Enterprise Associates (NEA). The company has so far raised a sum of $111.4 million from Accomplice, NEA, IA Ventures and Intel among other investors.

Source: DataRobot

AutoML is revolutionizing data and AI domains by bringing the power of predictive analytics to businesses. An analyst who is familiar with mainstream business intelligence tools can leverage AutoML platforms to build and deploy highly sophisticated machine learning models. Experienced data scientists can go multiple levels deeper than a business analyst to customize and optimize the models.

The DataRobot platform has evolved during the last few years to take advantage of the innovations in the public cloud. Enterprises can choose to run the software either in the public cloud or on-premises data center.  The hosted version dubbed as DataRobot Cloud Platform currently runs on AWS. At AWS re:Invent last year, the company achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) ML Competency status. DataRobot claims that customers have built over 500,000,000 models on the DataRobot Cloud on AWS.

DataRobot delivers a wizard-style of user experience to generate Machine Learning models. In just six steps, businesses can deploy a real-time predictive analytics service backed by an accurate Machine Learning model.

It all starts by uploading the dataset to DataRobot platform, which accepts input from a file, a remote URL, a JDBC data source or HDFS.

Once data is ingested, the platform infers the schema by suggesting appropriate data types for each feature. Business analysts and data scientists can perform necessary to advanced data exploratory activities on the ingested dataset. Finally, they need to select the target label which is going be predicted by the model.

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L'Oreal Buys Silicon Valley Startup, But AR Beauty Is Just The Beginning Says CDO

Photo courtesy of L’Oreal.

L’Oreal CDO Lubomira Rochet.

“Virtual makeup” sounds like sci-fi to pre-millennials. But today everyone from CoverGirl to Rimmel London and Estée Lauder have launched their own augmented reality cosmetic apps.

The world’s biggest global beauty manufacturer L’Orealwith an annual revenue of over $28 billionis no different, and its sub-brands Maybelline, Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent, have all released smartphone tools that let fans “try on” different hair or skincare looks using their smartphone camera.

Last week however, the French beauty group broke new ground, acquiring its first startup Modifacea Silicon Valley startup powering hundreds of these digital makeover experiences.

“We acquired Modiface because we absolutely believe that services are the future of beauty,” Lubomira Rochet, L’Oreal’s Chief Digital Officer tells Forbes.

“People are really craving for experiences such as virtual try-on apps, skin diagnostics, and live streaming for influencers. Technology will only impact beauty more and more.”

Photo courtesy of L’Oreal.

ModiFace was used to build L’Oreal’s Style My Hair app.

Spotting startup talent

While Modiface was sold for an undisclosed amount, its Chinese equivalent Meitu is worth billions of dollars, and L’Oreal’s announcement at the Viva Technology in Paris detailed how it’s new asset would help the company improve its existing AR and AI services, as well a new breakthrough one-to-one beauty advice service.

This marks a tide change for the incumbents of the beauty world, showing that big brands are willing to cash out for fast, flexible startups and the talent and fresh ideas they bring.

“We don’t have a monopoly on all the good ideas out there,” says Rochet. “And when it comes to tech, that’s very specific and requires very highly skilled people.”

Nurturing a new generation of beauty-tech talent is key to progress, it appears, with L’Oreal last year backing the beauty track at Station F, Paris—the world’s largest startup campus.

Here, Rochet says L’Oreal isn’t just supporting technology, but building up new brands like The Experimental Perfume Club. “It’s about creating the Nespresso of perfumes, which we think will be a really hot trend,” says the CDO.

Despite this “buzzing” French scene, L’Oreal’s support extends far beyond the company’s home turf.

In 2016, the business announced its ongoing involvement with London-based digital accelerator Founders Factory (launched by serial entrepreneur Brent Hoberman of MADE.com and Lastminute.com), and this brought about partnerships with startups like Tailify (a Norwegian leader in influencer marketing), Cosmose (a Polish digital ad service), Alegra (the Turkey-based content and eCommerce platform) and Veleza (a Lithuania-built beauty community).

Even before Rochet took up her post in 2014, the company had set up camp with the Silicon Valley elite, launching its own incubator in San Francisco in 2012. This is where it’s developed its industry-leading personalized foundation kit Le Teint Particulier (today being tested at London’s Harrods), it’s stick-on UV sensor, and CUSTOM D.O.E.S its personalized skin care service.

“Digital knows no borders,” says Rochet of L’Oreal’s global approach.

“We want to spot the right technologies for our brands first, and then scale themnot just across one or two projects here and there, but embedded across our website, our stores, and beyond.”

Adapt or die

Rochet says the biggest challenge for big global businesses is simply keeping up. “It’s about being able to seize change as its happening: if you have that you can survive and thrive, if you don’t, it’s pretty complicated,” she explains.

It’s this never-ending creative challenge that Rochet will be discussing at Cannes Innovation Festival this month with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

“We know video has to be at the centre of everything we do because that’s the format everyone’s chasing,” notes Rochet. “Our marketers have had to evolve from 30 second TV commercial to embracing totally new services, shorter formats, Instagram stories as well as content and influencer marketing.”

To make a difficult job more complex, every digital strategy has be adapted to the world’s wide and varied markets, not just goliaths like the U.S or China, Rochet adds.

“We see fantastic emerging markets like fast-grower India (which grew by more than 70% each year) and there are markets like Brazil, Indonesia and the Middle East where people have leapfrogged the website to go straight to Facebook and Instagram and local alternatives,” she explains.

“Your digital strategy has to work with your local reality, which is what makes my job so exciting.”

The business appears to be striking the right chord though: just this year L’Oreal’s videos have been viewed 1.4 billion video times, with 250 million followers across its social networks.  

Rochet also credits digital innovation with L’Oreal’s e-commerce boon: it’s now passed the 2 billion euro mark, with online sales representing 8% of the Group’s revenues.

And its consistent 30% growth rates (over the last 5 years) have been propped up by growing numbers of digital savvy staff: L’Oreal has not only recruited 2,000 digital employees to improve its tech, but 15,500 members of existing L’Oreal have been trained through the company’s Digital Upskilling program.

“Digital is at the center of everything we do at L’Oreal. It’s not something which is “nice to have” but something that is going to profoundly change the way we do business.”

Modiface might have been L’Oreal’s first tech acquisition, but it’s doubtful it will be its last.

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4 Surprising Side Effects of Electric Autonomous Vehicles

, From Chicago, I write about green technology, energy, environment. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

LAS VEGAS, NV – The Nissan IMx, an all-electric crossover concept vehicle offering fully autonomous operation and a driving range of more than 600 kilometers, is on display during CES 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center earlier this year. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

</div> </div> <p><em>First of two parts</em></p> <p>Electric autonomous vehicles are expected to&nbsp;drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, parking demand, insurance costs and traffic fatalities. They’ll eliminate the 90 percent of traffic accidents attributed to human error.</p> <p>Those effects are well celebrated. But they will likely have some equally startling side effects, once the three trends of electric drive, connectivity and autonomy converge.</p> <p>&quot;Those three items collectively will lead to a big change in the way we travel,&quot; said Edward J. Regan, senior vice president&nbsp;of&nbsp;<span>the consulting firm</span>&nbsp;CDM Smith. &quot;The convergence of these things will have a big impact, and it’s going to affect people’s decisions on how they travel and if they choose to own a car.&quot;</p> <p>The big trigger point will come when vehicles achieve level-five autonomy, Regan said, operating completely driverless without geographic restrictions.&nbsp;When that happens, according to Regan and other&nbsp;experts at the Transport Chicago Conference in Chicago Friday,&nbsp;we’ll see side effects like these:</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>1 Cars Will Last&nbsp;Longer</strong></p> <p>Because they have fewer moving parts and don’t rely on explosive heat, electric vehicles are expected to last longer than internal combustion vehicles. According to Regan, they could last almost five times longer.</p>” readability=”40″>

LAS VEGAS, NV – The Nissan IMx, an all-electric crossover concept vehicle offering fully autonomous operation and a driving range of more than 600 kilometers, is on display during CES 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center earlier this year. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

First of two parts

Electric autonomous vehicles are expected to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, parking demand, insurance costs and traffic fatalities. They’ll eliminate the 90 percent of traffic accidents attributed to human error.

Those effects are well celebrated. But they will likely have some equally startling side effects, once the three trends of electric drive, connectivity and autonomy converge.

“Those three items collectively will lead to a big change in the way we travel,” said Edward J. Regan, senior vice president of the consulting firm CDM Smith. “The convergence of these things will have a big impact, and it’s going to affect people’s decisions on how they travel and if they choose to own a car.”

The big trigger point will come when vehicles achieve level-five autonomy, Regan said, operating completely driverless without geographic restrictions. When that happens, according to Regan and other experts at the Transport Chicago Conference in Chicago Friday, we’ll see side effects like these:

1 Cars Will Last Longer

Because they have fewer moving parts and don’t rely on explosive heat, electric vehicles are expected to last longer than internal combustion vehicles. According to Regan, they could last almost five times longer.

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Hulu Exec Joel Stillerman Departs in Management Shakeup

A year ago, Hulu announced that it had hired Joel Stillerman away from AMC to expand the streaming platform’s slate of original programming.

On Friday, Hulu announced that the chief content officer was leaving the company.

The departure of Stillerman, who worked on The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul while at AMC, was part of a broader reorganization at the Santa Monica company. There has been some tumult in the upper ranks at Hulu, which saw its chief executive, Mike Hopkins, depart in October to become the head of Sony’s television division. Randy Freer, the former COO of Fox Networks Group, replaced Hopkins—who had hired Stillerman—and recent reports suggest that Freer and Stillerman didn’t get along.

Following Stillerman’s departure from Hulu, the company’s chief content officer role will disappear. Craig Erwich, Hulu’s senior vice president of content, will oversee original programming. Tim Connolly, Hulu’s SVP of partnerships and distribution, and Ben Smith, SVP of experience, will also depart the company. Additionally, CMO Kelly Campbell will assume more responsibility, Jaya Kolhatkar will become Chief Data Officer, and Dan Phillips will become CTO.

Hulu is co-owned by Comcast, Time Warner, Disney, and 21st Century Fox, which itself agreed to be acquired by Disney earlier this year. (If Disney prevails, it would become Hulu’s majority owner.) That complicated ownership structure, rather unlike rival Netflix, has been characterized as a drag on the company’s ability to make decisions.

Hulu now reaches more than 20 million subscribers, and its service has expanded to include live television, more original programming (e.g. The Handmaid’s Tale), and deeper reserves of popular TV shows including 30 Rock and E.R. But Hulu remains unprofitable—almost $1 billion in the red last year—as it battles Netflix, Amazon, Google, and Time Warner-owned HBO for market share.

“Hulu has an enormous opportunity to lead the media and advertising industries into the future,” Freer said in a statement.

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Toshiba completes $18 billion sale of chip unit to Bain consortium

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Toshiba Corp said on Friday it had completed the $18 billion sale of its chip unit to a consortium led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Toshiba Corp is seen outside an electronics retail store in Tokyo, Japan, February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

The completion of the deal, initially aimed for by end-March, had been delayed due to a prolonged review by Chinese antitrust authorities. China approved the deal last month.

The Bain consortium last year won a long and highly contentious battle for Toshiba Memory, the world’s No. 2 producer of NAND chips. Toshiba put the business up for sale after billions of dollars in cost overruns at its Westinghouse nuclear unit had plunged it into crisis.

The consortium includes South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix, Apple Inc, Dell Technologies, Seagate Technology and Kingston Technology.

Under the deal with Bain, Toshiba repurchased 40 percent of the unit, it said in a statement.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Sunil Nair

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Driving The Digital Agenda Through Outcome-Based Models

, I have covered the oil and gas sectors for more than 20 years. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

</div> </div> <p><span>Technology has the potential to create enormous opportunity, but also presents several challenges. Digital disruption in the oil and gas space is no different. As many sectors worldwide have embarked on their own digital journeys, the energy sector has also started to explore the promise of digital enablement and Big Data. </span></p> <p><span>One of the companies leading the march into digital future is Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE); merging the oil and gas expertise that Baker Hughes has developed over its many years in the sector with GE’s digital expertise from manufacturing, aerospace and healthcare amongst many other sectors. I recently sat down with Dean Arnison, global product leader-subsea production systems and services, at BHGE to explore what he felt digitization meant to the oil and gas sector.</span></p> <p><span>Arnison believes that there are two main areas for improvement that will continue to dominate. One, in driving up productivity and two, in driving down cost, with new business models, strong partnerships and integrated service models central to these efforts. “We have seen some movement towards operators and suppliers working in a more unified manner, sharing data across the value chain, and this is something we expect to continue,” he said. “When you consider the levels of trust required for this type of integration and data sharing, however, there are undoubtedly significant barriers.”</span></p> <p> </p> <p><span>Through the downcycle we have seen companies talk about the need to make oil and gas developments profitable at break-evens of as low as $35 per barrel. Regardless of whether it’s onshore or offshore, the industry needs new technology solutions that can help lower non-productive time, reduce cost per barrel and increase recovery rates. “So long as the industry makes sure its digital efforts are aligned with stakeholder interests, I believe we will see value created,” Arnison added. “An example from within our own business is in outcome-based business models, as opposed to transactional relationships. While still in its infancy, this approach, enabled by digital tools, is something we anticipate will become increasingly mainstream.”</span></p>” readability=”48″>

Shutterstock

Technology has the potential to create enormous opportunity, but also presents several challenges. Digital disruption in the oil and gas space is no different. As many sectors worldwide have embarked on their own digital journeys, the energy sector has also started to explore the promise of digital enablement and Big Data.

One of the companies leading the march into digital future is Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE); merging the oil and gas expertise that Baker Hughes has developed over its many years in the sector with GE’s digital expertise from manufacturing, aerospace and healthcare amongst many other sectors. I recently sat down with Dean Arnison, global product leader-subsea production systems and services, at BHGE to explore what he felt digitization meant to the oil and gas sector.

Arnison believes that there are two main areas for improvement that will continue to dominate. One, in driving up productivity and two, in driving down cost, with new business models, strong partnerships and integrated service models central to these efforts. “We have seen some movement towards operators and suppliers working in a more unified manner, sharing data across the value chain, and this is something we expect to continue,” he said. “When you consider the levels of trust required for this type of integration and data sharing, however, there are undoubtedly significant barriers.”

Through the downcycle we have seen companies talk about the need to make oil and gas developments profitable at break-evens of as low as $35 per barrel. Regardless of whether it’s onshore or offshore, the industry needs new technology solutions that can help lower non-productive time, reduce cost per barrel and increase recovery rates. “So long as the industry makes sure its digital efforts are aligned with stakeholder interests, I believe we will see value created,” Arnison added. “An example from within our own business is in outcome-based business models, as opposed to transactional relationships. While still in its infancy, this approach, enabled by digital tools, is something we anticipate will become increasingly mainstream.”

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Galaxy S10 Leak Reveals Samsung's Radical Breakthrough

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Samsung president of mobile communications business DJ Koh presents the new Samsung Galaxy S9 mobile phone during the Samsung Galaxy S9 Unpacked event (Photo:Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

</div> </div> <p> </p> <p>The inclusion of the technology in the tenth major Galaxy S handset would be a strong statement of intent that the Galaxy brand is still one that can have an impact in the smartphone world. The Galaxy S9 (and arguably the S8 family before it) have been iterative builds, improving the specifications and techniques used in previous flagships without breaking any genuine new ground.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/1/9/16867536/vivo-fingerprint-reader-integrated-display-biometric-ces-2018" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/1/9/16867536/vivo-fingerprint-reader-integrated-display-biometric-ces-2018" rel="nofollow">While Chinese manufacturer Vivo might scoff</a>, Samsung would be seen as the first to bring this to the mainstream. And there;s every chance that the launch of the Galaxy S10 will be one of the big smartphone firsts of 2019 if &nbsp;Samsung brings the reveal forwards to CES in January. The early display of the S10 would see the company anointed as one of change, and leave Mobile World Congress open for the foldable Galaxy X to confirm that role.</p>

<p><a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2018/05/23/samsung-galaxy-note9-s10-galaxyx-release-date/" target="_self"><em>Now read more about Samsung’s accelerated launch schedule for the Note9, S10, and Galaxy X…</em></a></p>” readability=”36.0338835795″>

While the upcoming Galaxy Note9 phablet is not expected to be anything more than an iterative update on the existing hardware, the real leap forward according to all reports is going to come with the Galaxy S10. The latest reports out of South Korea suggest one of the advanced technologies is now finally ready for widespread consumer adoption.

That technology is the oft-discussed under-the-screen fingerprint reader. While a number of small-run handsets have demonstrated this biometric ability, Samsung has been seen to shy away from putting it in its handsets which have much larger production runs and demand far higher yield rates at scale. As SamMobile reports, the go/no-go point has been reached, and all the indications are that the South Korean company has decided to make the call:

The impression we get from recent reports is that the company has made a final decision on the matter.

The latest report claims that Samsung has “confirmed” to its industry partners that it has decided to adopt the in-display fingerprint sensor for the Galaxy S10. The display panel will be supplied by Samsung Display whereas Qualcomm is said to be supplying the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.

Samsung president of mobile communications business DJ Koh presents the new Samsung Galaxy S9 mobile phone during the Samsung Galaxy S9 Unpacked event (Photo:Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

The inclusion of the technology in the tenth major Galaxy S handset would be a strong statement of intent that the Galaxy brand is still one that can have an impact in the smartphone world. The Galaxy S9 (and arguably the S8 family before it) have been iterative builds, improving the specifications and techniques used in previous flagships without breaking any genuine new ground.

While Chinese manufacturer Vivo might scoff, Samsung would be seen as the first to bring this to the mainstream. And there;s every chance that the launch of the Galaxy S10 will be one of the big smartphone firsts of 2019 if  Samsung brings the reveal forwards to CES in January. The early display of the S10 would see the company anointed as one of change, and leave Mobile World Congress open for the foldable Galaxy X to confirm that role.

Now read more about Samsung’s accelerated launch schedule for the Note9, S10, and Galaxy X…

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