#WhyIDidntReport and the Tragic Banality of Rape in America

Professor Christine Blasey Ford was a teenager when she says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her. You know the story by now. She didn’t report it at the time, but has come forward now that Kavanaugh is close to being confirmed as a justice to the highest court in the land. On Friday morning, President Trump tweeted that he had “no doubt” that if it had happened, Blasey Ford would have reported it right away.

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. I know this because this is my story, too, and the story of millions of people. Don’t believe me? Look at Twitter today. Look at the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. Read the cacophony of stories—each different but the same. Stories of assault by strangers, friends, family members, teachers. The hashtag exposes the sheer banality of rape in America. Sexual assault is not rare. It’s common. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, there were 320,000 sexual assaults in the US in 2016. And 77 percent of people who experienced rape or sexual assault say they did not tell police.

That number is likely much higher. Though the NCVS data is the best the US has for now, critics have long warned that in addition to suffering from the risk of underreporting that befalls all self-reported surveys, its methodology specifically discourages reporting. In a study from five years ago, the National Academy of Sciences found that the government’s survey was probably vastly undercounting sexual crimes. That report found that a separate survey devoted to sexual assault and rape would have more accurate results.

Tweets are not a replacement for this data. But they can augment it. The stories told today give texture to the statistics that tell us this is common. Three hundred and twenty thousand—even if that number is low—is too big and abstract a number to really fathom. But the tweets shared this morning are real, and individual, and impossible to forget.

In an era of misinformation and bots on social media, when we have daily coverage of the pain that can be inflicted by social media, this hashtag is a reminder of how powerful these mediums can be in bringing people together. (Of course, it was also Twitter that the president used to share the tweet that so startled sexual assault survivors this morning.)

But it’s also worth remembering that a hashtag doesn’t tell the whole story of sexual assault in America. Not everyone is on Twitter, and many people aren’t comfortable sharing their stories—even vaguely—in such a public place. But for some, it’s a crucial outlet to validate our identities at a time when it feels like those in power would like us to be silent. Or invisible.

I say our, because I am included in this. When I read Trump’s tweet this morning, first I stopped breathing. When the most powerful person in the land denies your lived experience, it feels like someone punching you in the diaphragm.

When I breathed again, I paced the room, thinking about when I was a teenager, one year older than Ford at the time of her alleged assault. I was in college, and a boy I trusted date raped me in his room. I told a few friends and then didn’t mention it for years. I didn’t report it. I had a lot of reasons not to, but chief among them was: I didn’t think anyone would care. Why were you in his room, I thought they’d ask. I had previously reported a much less serious sexual assault—groping—in high school, and nothing had happened. Why go through the public embarrassment of that again? I didn’t even tell my family about it for 15 years.

This morning, I picked up my phone and tweeted about that incident. I wanted to speak directly to the president, or anyone reading his tweet and thinking it sounded right. Like the women and men who took to Twitter this morning, I wanted to declare: I exist, here is my story.

Reading through the tweets on the hashtag drives home the innumerable reasons people do not report these events. Chief among them is that they won’t be believed, and then they’ll be punished by whoever has an interest in protecting the status quo. Yet, the collectivism in a hashtag gives us all solidarity. Though it is at once the most public airing of our most personal story, it somehow feels less intimate to tweet about this kind of experience than to sit across the table from a family member or friend and tell them.

Why don’t people report? Here’s what some said.

I’m a man and it would make me seem weak.

It would ruin my career before it had even begun.

Nothing happened the first time I reported.

The person who raped me is the person I would have needed to report to.

They were a friend and I was in denial.

He told me he’d kill me if I told anyone.

Men are tweeting about how, for them, the stigma of coming out and reporting their sexual assault was too much to bear. That’s in line with research that’s been saying the same thing for years. People are sharing about how they didn’t report professors or bosses who had power over their professional lives. Or how they didn’t report family members on whom they literally depended for everything. They’re tweeting about police officers and administrators whom they did tell, but who doubted and blamed them.

This hashtag has power. After I had tweeted and I later saw the trending hashtag, I felt like my story was a raindrop in a lake, at once singular but part of something bigger. I was grateful. I was floored by what so many people have gone through, even while not being surprised. The specifics of their pain: “He held my face so I couldn’t breath.” “He was stronger than me, and my cousin.” “I was 13.”

Every woman and many men I know have a story. Or many stories. In 2016, in the weeks after the Access Hollywood tape came out, I wrote a list of the sexual assault and harassment in my life that I could remember. It wasn’t exhaustive, but it was exhausting. It had never occured to me to write them down before because that kind of experience is so much an accepted part of life for women. “After we are leered at and groped, we get off the train, and go to work, and we don’t mention it, because why would we? This is part of being a woman,” I wrote at the time. I assumed everyone knew.

But everyone doesn’t know. That’s what the #metoo movement, and the backlash to it, has taught us. And that’s why so many people are reliving their own assaults today to share their stories. It hurts to educate people about the ordinariness of sexual assault. It means having to think about something someone might not want to think about. It means remembering the reasons you felt stifled from sharing in the first place. For many of us, it means remembering how violated and embarrassed and guilty, and above all, alone we felt.

I hesitated to tweet this morning. Even though I’d already written about my experience and told my family, and even though I really don’t feel as traumatized by it as I used to, I worried it could in some way seem unprofessional to tell my story. But this thing that happened to me when I was 18; it’s a truth I carry inside me every day.

Even now, telling feels dangerous, despite the fact that the story being told is so universal, which is exactly the point. These are our stories to tell.


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How a Tech Stock Shakeup on Monday Could Have a Big Impact on ETF Investors

For years, buying exchange-traded funds focused on, say, the technology sector has offered a simple buy-and-hold investment strategy for individual investors who wanted exposure to surging tech giants like Facebook and Alphabet.

Come Monday, that simple approach is about to get more complicated. And investors who have money in ETFs based on the S&P 500’s tech, telecom, and consumer sectors will need to take note.

S&P Global Ratings and MSCI oversee a kind of corporate taxonomy, known as the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS), which groups individual companies into sectors. On Monday, GICS will move three of the four FANG stocks—Alphabet, Facebook, and Netflix—into a new sector. As technical as those moves sound, they will have a big impact on some of the ETFs and passive index funds that mirror those two sectors.

Normally, reshuffling sector stocks wouldn’t be a big deal. But the three FANG stocks being reclassified have market caps totaling $1.8 trillion. Another 14 stocks are being affected by the sector changes, including Twitter, Disney, Comcast, and News Corp..

Most will be lumped together into what S&P had termed the telecom sector, and which will now be named “communications services.” One tech company, eBay, will move to the consumer discretionary sector.

All told, stocks that make up 10% of the S&P 500’s capitalization will be affected by the changes, said Matthew Bartolini of State Street Global Advisors on a recent podcast by Zacks Investment Research. The changes are meant to reflect the way that technology has affected different industries, he said.

“Americans spend more than 12 hours a day on some form of media communications,” Bartolini said. “Dedicating a sector to telecom, which is really carriers and landline operators, no longer reflects the current communications environment. So it really was time for the GICS classification schema to be updated.”

After the changes, the S&P tech sector will go from 26% to 21% of the S&P 500 Index, according to Bloomberg data. The Consumer sector, until recently the home of Netflix and Disney, will go from 13% to 10%. And the revamped communications services sector will make up 10% of the S&P 500 market cap, up from the 2% the old telecom sector represented.

Only some ETF providers are responding to the sector reclassifications. Tech ETFs from State Street (XLK) and Vanguard (VGT) will reflect the changes, but Blackrock’s tech ETF (IYW) won’t. ETF investors may want to check their portfolios, and rebalance if necessary.

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Eventbrite’s IPO Is a Hot Ticket as Stock Surges 59% in First Day of Trading

Shares of online-ticketing company Eventbrite rose 59% in their first day of trading as investors clamored for what looks to be a dwindling supply of brand-name tech IPOs in the final months of 2018.

Eventbrite’s stock, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker EB, rose as much as 71% to $39.30 a share on Thursday before closing at $36.50. The company initially priced its offering from $19 to $21 a share, but high demand raised the final offering price to $23.

At that price, Eventbrite’s IPO raised $230 million.

Eventbrite created its online service for live-event ticketing 12 years ago. According to a letter from Eventbrite’s founders in the IPO prospectus, the idea behind the site was not only to make it easier for people to organize and distribute tickets for free and paid live events, but also to address a need for face-to-face connections in an era in which people increasingly connect through social networks and other digital platforms.

Last year, Eventbrite created tickets for 3 million events in 170 countries. Its revenue grew 51% to $202 million in 2017 while its net loss declined to $1.98 a share from $2.48 a share. In the first six months of 2018, revenue growth accelerated to 61%, while its net loss increased to 73 cents a share from 44 cents a share a year earlier.

Part of the popularity of Eventbrite’s offering may come from the successful tech IPOs in the last 12 months, including streaming-TV device maker Roku, online-storage provider Dropbox, wireless-speaker manufacturer Sonos, as well as the direct listing of streaming-music giant Spotify. For the remainder of the year, however, there are few well-known tech startups that have signaled plans to go public in coming months.

After Eventbrite, online-survey software company SurveyMonkey is the best-known tech-IPO candidate.

This has been the strongest year for IPOs in several years since 2014 and one of the busiest periods in 24 years. According to Dealogic, 120 companies have staged IPOs in the first half of 2018, raising an aggregate of $35 billion.

Tech company offerings have been among the most successful IPOs.

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Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase hires chief legal officer from Fannie Mae

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Coinbase has hired finance executive Brian Brooks as chief legal officer, it said on Wednesday, as the cryptocurrency exchange grows its compliance and government affairs capabilities amid intensifying regulatory scrutiny of the nascent market.

Brooks was most recently executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Fannie Mae, the U.S. mortgage finance company. In that role he led the company’s legal department and government relations group, and was a senior advisor to the CEO and board of directors, said Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges based in the United States.

“His arrival is part of our effort to expand our legal, compliance and government affairs capabilities as we head into this next chapter for the company and the cryptocurrency industry as a whole,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said in a blogpost.

Mike Lempres, who was previously chief legal and risk officer at Coinbase, will now focus on growing the company’s government affairs program, Coinbase said.

The appointment comes as regulators and governments start ramping up their focus on cryptocurrency markets, which have been the subject of growing investor interest over the past 18 months.

On Tuesday the New York Attorney General’s office issued a report stating that several cryptocurrency exchanges are plagued by poor market surveillance, pervasive conflicts of interest and lack of sufficient customer protections.

In April the attorney general office had asked 13 platforms, including Coinbase, to voluntarily share information about their practices.

The report noted that some platforms engage in proprietary trading on their own venues, which it said could create potential conflicts of interest. Coinbase disclosed to the attorney general’s office that almost 20 percent of executed volume on its platform was attributable to its own trading.

Coinbase did not immediately comment on the report.

The hire announced Wednesday, follows appointments of other former finance executives to senior compliance posts at the startup. In July Coinbase hired a former Pershing LLC executive as chief compliance officer.

Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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This Ridiculous Video for United Airlines 'Explains' the New Boarding Process

Some explanations are better left to a simple card or even a text message.

A new video on YouTube, created by United Airlines, tries to explain the new boarding process, which went into effect this week.

Sadly, it makes it seem like an intricate maze.

Before we get into the video and what makes it so confusing, know this: There’s hope. United Airlines did simplify how it all works to board a plane now, trimming the lines down to just two options, green or blue. At first glance, you might wonder if things would be far simpler if there was one lane, but that might also be an indication that you have only flown with really polite people. One lane means way more crowding. People bud in line. Multiple lanes beyond two means more confusion. So I do understand why this two lane approach is much easier.

Then, there’s the video. Here it is:

That’s right. Text pops up in the video in a chaotic fashion, a guy gives you all of the boarding pass advice, a cheesy music tracks plays in the background, and there are blue and green colors flashing at you like crazy. By about halfway in or maybe two-thirds, it starts to feel like someone went overboard with the two primary colors. It’s not a terrible video, but it also doesn’t help explain a simple process. And it probably shouldn’t exist.

The problem with visual communication, of course, is that it can go way too far. The video is two minutes and 21 seconds long when it should have been about 30 seconds. A voiceover saying “there are now only two lanes, and you’ll split into two groups depending on which zone you’re in” would have been just about right. Text me that, then snap–done.

There’s something to be said for “you’ll figure it out” after giving a teaser or a hint of what’s going to happen when you board. A sign is sometimes better than a video.

It would be like trying to explain the airport kiosks. You know, they are super simple. Insert your ID or a credit card, punch a few buttons, grab your boarding pass.

If a video tried to explain things like multiple layovers, what to do if your ID doesn’t work, or just about any other scenario that would make it seem complicated would…make it seem complicated. Very few people get confused by kiosks. It’s actually better to skip a video altogether. I always notice someone hovering around the kiosks anyway. And, if you don’t watch the United Airlines video explaining the new process, you’ll figure it out. It speaks for itself. And there are screens everywhere. And gate agents are readily available.

It’s a bit ironic, actually.

By making an explainer video, it makes passengers more stressed instead of less stressed. The video itself tells you ot to be stressed, which is a sure sign that you might want to be stressed. What would be far less stressful? No video at all.

And, this is where things get interesting, by the way. For anyone trying to communicate about a slightly complex topic, the first question to ask is: Should this even be a video? Or is it better to include a few directional indicators at the point where someone needs to know a new process? Think about something as simple as placing an order for products and services. Sometimes, not explaining something makes it all seem easier.

My best example of this has to do with McDonald’s kiosks.

They are not as common in the U.S., but I started using them on a trip to Austria recently. I can’t imagine how anyone could improve them. They have huge icons, you click things to order. That’s it. Making the process itself easier–which United Airlines has done–is the big win. Trying to explain why something is easier–which is the mistake United Airlines made in the video–is a sure way to create even more confusion.

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Eventbrite Raises IPO Pricing Range, Now Hopes to Raise as Much as $230 Million

Eventbrite, an online platform for live-event ticketing, raised the proposed price of its planned IPO to a range of $21 a share to $23 a share from its previous range of $19 a share to $21 a share.

When IPO candidates increase the price of their offerings, it can signal a strong demand among institutional investors. Eventbrite is planning to sell 10 million shares later this week, listing its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker EB. At the high end of the new range, Eventbrite’s proceeds from the IPO would total $230 million.

The company was founded in 2006 as a way to make it easier for people to organize and distribute tickets for free and paid live events. Last year, Eventbrite created tickets for 3 million events in 170 countries. Its revenue grew 51% to $202 million in 2017 while its net loss declined to $1.98 a share from $2.48 a share.

In the first six months of 2018, revenue growth accelerated to 61%, while its net loss increased to 73 cents a share from 44 cents a share a year earlier.

Despite the higher net loss so far this year, demand for Eventbrite shares was enough to prompt a higher price. Part of that popularity may come from the successful tech IPOs in the last 12 months, including Roku, Dropbox, Sonos, as well as the direct listing of Spotify. Outside of Eventbrite and SurveyMonkey, there aren’t a lot of well-known tech startups heading through the IPO pipeline later this year.

2018 has been the strongest year for IPOs in several years. According to Dealogic, 120 companies have staged IPOs in the first half of 2018, raising an aggregate of of $35 billion. It’s the best first half for U.S. IPOs since 2014 and one of the busiest periods in the 24 years that Dealogic has been tracking IPO data. Tech offerings have been among the most successful IPOs.

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President Trump's Tweets Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

In the past seven days New York decided it didn’t want Cynthia Nixon as its governor, Amazon’s owner elected to get into the education business, and a series of gas-line explosions hit north of Boston. But on the plus side, we also had Mark Wahlberg’s schedule to look at and a new Dolly Patron/Sia collaboration to listen to, so I guess it’s not entirely a hellscape out here? Maybe? While we ponder that idea together, let’s look at what else has been dominating the online conversation over the last week.

Is There Such a Thing as a Solemn Fist Pump?

What Happened: President Trump probably could’ve handled the anniversary of 9/11 better than he did.

What Really Happened: The anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2001 is a solemn occasion, and one in which the United States turns to its president to see empathetic, strong leadership that comforts everyone and embraces the country’s greatest strengths during a troubled time. President Trump’s behavior on 9/11 this year was, well, maybe not that.

He did, to be fair, address the topic people wanted him to.

Funny thing about the image in that last tweet…

There was also this:

Oh, and this:

What could be more presidential?

As the media dazedly recounted Trump’s behavior during the day, others found a memetic outlet for those appalled by what was happening.

There. Doesn’t that feel almost cathartic? There’s nothing that can’t become content, if we try hard enough.

The Takeaway: To be fair, it could have been worse. No, really.

Bad Tweets, Part 2

What Happened: Apparently, when you’re prone to paranoid thinking, it’s very easy to become a truther for all kinds of things.

What Really Happened: Actually, speaking of things that could’ve been worse, let’s take a brief moment to discuss what might be the worst thing President Trump has done on Twitter yet. First off, please remember that an independent study by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University found that the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria stands at 2,975 (and rising. Now, with that number in mind, consider that as recently as this past week President Trump was calling the government’s response to Maria “incredibly successful,” and complaining that the work was “an unappreciated good job.” OK, now that you know all of that, think about this:

Yes, that really was Trump outright denying the deaths of thousands of people, and claiming it was a lie motivated by politics. Just let that sink in for a second.

Of course, this was news because how could it not be? The president is outright being a hurricane impact denier, which is genuinely staggering.

Still, at least his Republican counterparts stood up against him. Right? Well, OK, Orrin Hatch and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed they hadn’t seen the tweets, Lindsey Graham also questioned the death toll, and Marco Rubio tried to straddle a non-existent line.

Studies in leadership, all. (FYI, a couple of Republicans did eventually push back.)

The Takeaway: If this was, as some believed, an attempt to distract attention away from other subjects, it certainly worked well. Maybe a little too well.

All Those Witches, Lined Up and Offering Confessions

What Happened: The ongoing so-called “witch hunt” against those surrounding President Trump claimed another victim last week, as Paul Manafort pled guilty in court on Friday.

What Really Happened: On Friday, the one thing that political watchers had simultaneously been expecting and convinced was unlikely to happen—let’s call it the Schrödinger’s cat of the current political moment—finally happened: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed to plead guilty to avoid a second trial.

The news resurrected a piece of Trump-related ephemera in at least one person’s mind.

Of course, people are already wondering how this impacts the big picture.

At the time of this writing, Trump’s Twitter feed is filled with Hurricane Florence-related retweets, but it’s genuinely only a matter of time before he responds to this news and revisits his previous statements about Manafort.

Still, at least the White House has its angle, as utterly unbelievable as it is.

Once again, Paul Manafort was the chair of the Trump campaign, and the man who chose the vice president. It’s more than a little disingenuous to claim that this has nothing to do with the campaign. But tell that to those around the president.

The Takeaway: There’s really only one way to end this, isn’t there?

Ringo Starr Would Be Appalled

What Happened: Just in case you thought that Thomas and Friends was a jolly series about happy trains and overweight controllers, the National Rifle Association has a shocking piece of information for you. Yes, the National Rifle Association.

What Really Happened: Everyone knows that, sometimes, there’s something in combining two flavors together to create a fun and exciting taste combination that will thrill the masses. Chocolate and peanut butter? It’s a game changer! The NRA and Thomas and Friends? Maybe a little less so, as it turns out.

Yes, you read that right. A show on the National Rifle Association’s streaming service dressed characters—you know, trains—from Thomas and Friends in KKK hoods. This is actually a thing that really happened, somehow.

It’s quite breathtaking that this was real—so real, in fact, that it became a story in its own right, because sure, why not? But at least Twitter was totally cool with it. Oh, no. Wait.

But how did Dana Loesch, who hosted the segment, feel about the whole kerfuffle?

The Takeaway: There really is just one way to wrap this one up. George Takei, do you have the pun-o-matic ready?

Emergency Services

What Happened: There’s one organization that even the federal government turns to in times of natural disaster, and with a hurricane headed towards the East Coast, last week seemed like the time to shine a spotlight on it.

What Really Happened: Late last week, Hurricane Florence made landfall on America’s East Coast, leading to a very difficult number of days for everyone whose homes, family, and loved ones in its path. But even before it hit, Florence was very much being considered a big deal.

With mandatory evacuations underway, people watched as the storm grew stronger, then seemingly weakened before getting stronger again. Was it going to slow down and linger in certain areas? It was hard to tell. Even NASA got involved. That mixture of surreal expectation and fear kept building throughout the week as the hurricane continued to approach.

But how serious were storm preparations on the ground? I mean, a state of emergency is one thing, but is there another way to measure these things? Turns out, the answer is yes, and in the most amazing way.

It’ll come as little comfort for those affected directly by Florence, but for everyone else, there’s some strange joy to be had in watching the Waffle House Index go mainstream. The world can still offer unexpected delights, it turns out.

The Takeaway: Stay safe, everyone.


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Evacuating for Florence, Tesla's Security Flaw, and More in This Week in Cars

Sure, we’re a little biased around here. But when storms bear down on this country’s coasts—scary ones, like Hurricane Florence (since downgraded to a tropical storm), threatening floods and high winds—our minds zero in on the transportation aspects. Some people need to leave their homes, but how? Some need to get to shelters, but when, and how quickly? And then, after the storm is over, someone needs to get in and assess it all. And then the residents need to come back. This week, WIRED Transpo spent some time thinking about these thorny questions, from the perspective of residents, government emergency planners, logistics-obsessed officials, even drone pilots.

Elsewhere in transportation world, we talked to people who had solved other intimidating issues: How to stop someone hacking your Tesla, how to get around flying cars’ battery problems, and how to help someone ride a bike at 168 mph. It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

  • Tesla owners, remember to turn on your dashboard display PIN. WIRED security writer Andy Greenberg tells the tale of KU Leuven researchers who discovered that anyone with a bit of savvy and $600 in radio and computing equipment should be able to wirelessly read and decrypt Tesla key fobs, allowing them to swipe cars without a trace. Tesla rolled out its new antitheft PIN feature two weeks ago, and says no Model S units sold after June are vulnerable to the hack.
  • Don’t call it a concept car. Mercedes-Benz’s Vision Urbanetic is a “mobility concept,” a body-swappable hybrid that can haul people or packages, depending on its fancy. The concept is an excuse for the Germans to start thinking (and messaging) about new forms of moving stuff—without adding to cities’ already oppressive traffic issues.
  • Another pack of Germans, another mobility concept. Transportation editor Alex Davies meets BMW’s Vision iNEXT, an electric, autonomous, baby SUV that BMW hopes points to the future of driving. Or not driving, as it were.
  • Led by Los Angeles, 30 cities teamed up this week to create an online portal for collectively bargaining with electric car, street sweeper, garbage truck and bus manufacturers over the price of their products. Together, these cities will need to replace 115,000 vehicles valuing about $10 billion, senior writer Jack Stewart reports. And going electric is a lot easier when you can get a good deal.
  • As Hurricane Florence continues to batter the East Coast, it’s important to remember: When governors and mayors declare mandatory evacuations, they’re the products of years of planning and thought.
  • But some have more planning and thought than others. A disaster and urban planning expert tells me that some places just don’t have the resources for robust hurricane plans—and that the vulnerable, and especially those without cars, suffer for it.
  • As the rains continue to fall, Jack Stewart catches up with the professional drone pilots prepping to help out in the recovery effort—beef jerky, pretzels, and all.
  • Waze and tech company SpotHero install specialized beacons in Chicago’s labyrinthine tunnels, where no functioning GPS dare go. Just one problem: Locals love their shortcut tunnel secrets.
  • Lyft adds public transit data to its app in Santa Monica—meaning Californians might open it every time they travel, no matter the mode.
  • What’s better than a flying car? A flying car with all of its complex electric battery issues solved, because it’s in fact tethered to a power line for much of every trip. Eric Adams speaks to the (quixotic?) inventors behind the Karman Electric concept.
  • Meet Denise Mueller-Korenek, a bicyclist who hopes to beat the world motor-paced bicycle land speed record—a mere 167 mph—this weekend at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. “Accelerating past the takeoff speed of a Boeing 757 on a bike seems impossible,” writes contributor Joe Lindsey, but when you’ve got a drag racer blocking the wind for you, it just might be possible.

Elon Musk Street Art of the Week

It’s been 11 days since Tesla CEO Elon Musk sat down for a 2.5-hour, wide-ranging interview with comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan. And it’s been about eight days, if the internet is to be believed, since someone in Melbourne, Australia, immortalized the interview with a mural of the [CEO himself taking a quick hit of a blunt.

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To Solve Flying Cars' Battery Problem, Tie Them to Power Lines

Of the many challenges facing the nascent flying car industry, few turn more hairs gray than power. A heavier aircraft needs more power, which requires a bigger battery, which weighs more, thus making a heavier aircraft. You see the dilemma. So how do you step out of that cycle and strike a balance that lets you fly useful distances at useful speeds without stopping to recharge?

One startup thinks the answer lies in another question: Who needs a big battery, anyway?

San Francisco-based Karman Electric proposes dividing the need for power from the need to carry that power through the air. It wants to connect passenger-carrying electric air taxis to dedicated power lines on the ground, like an upside-down streetcar setup. The aircraft will carry small batteries so they can detach from the lines when necessary, but they’ll get most of their juice from their cords, allowing them to cover long distances at high speeds.

A few more questions, then. What happens if the cable gets jammed, or a bird flies in its path, or a helicopter wanders by? What if there’s a power loss on the ground, or if two vehicles get their cords tangled? How can you traverse bodies of water or rugged terrain? And doesn’t tying a flying car to the ground defeat the whole purpose?

LEARN MORE

The WIRED Guide to Drones

Karman cofounder Chiranjeev Kalra, an alum of Virgin’s Hyperloop One program, has a surprisingly reasonable set of responses to this unsurprisingly wide array of concerns. For starters, the vehicles will pull power from the ground only at altitudes of 30 to 100 feet, outside of dense population centers. If they’re flying through a city, or approaching their destination, they can disengage from the power line, pull in the tether, and run off their own battery, flying as high as 3,000 feet. “This portion of the flight is untethered and operates on batteries,” Kalra says, “typically the so-called first or last mile of intercity travel.”

The idea of routing power straight from the grid to a moving electric vehicle is as old as the moving electric vehicle. Trolleys have been doing it for more than a century. In cities like San Francisco, buses and streetcars use this setup. It’s common for trains, too. The setup has even been broached as a way to run long-haul trucks on electricity instead of diesel. Karman simply inverts the idea, combining the flexibility of an air vehicle that can detach and go anywhere whenever necessary—something trains can’t do—with the efficiency of a grid-powered system.

Named for Hungarian aerospace engineer Theodore von Kármán, the company debuted the idea with a demonstration at Bentonville UP, a secretive, invitation-only air taxi conference held this past weekend in Bentonville, Arkansas. Karman engineers strung a pair of wires between two supports and flew a small quadcopter drone back and forth between them. Karman is developing a full-scale, six-rotor demonstrator now and expects to start testing by the end of the year.

A full-scale system could, Kalra says, transport 10,000 people per hour for hundreds of miles between cities, cruising in close formation at speeds north of 200 mph. That makes it more capable than an aircraft that can use only as much power as it can afford to carry. And while it doesn’t eliminate the need for room on the ground, Kalra says stringing those power lines is still easier than building, say, a hyperloop.

“This is a completely open system,” Kalra says. “Aircraft can leave or enter the power track at any point and land wherever they need.” At those entry and exit points, the “WireRunners” that connect to the ground track would be “flown” down via built-in drones, then retracted via the same setup at the end. And if a cable does get caught on something, a quick-release mechanism stops it from taking down the aircraft—which should have enough battery life to manage a safe landing.

Of course, the key question isn’t how this idea compares to the hyperloop. It’s how it compares to solutions that actually exist—like commercial air travel, highways, trains, and intercity bus networks. Could it compete on efficiency or cost? How long would it take to build, and how much would it cost to maintain? Large infrastructure projects like laying hundreds of miles of power cables are always complicated and expensive, at least in the United States. Throw in the serious regulatory concerns the flying car space already faces, and this looks like a rather hard sell.

But if Karman can handle those concerns without getting itself tied up in knots, at least it won’t have to worry about where its power is coming from.


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Top German court delays YouTube illegal uploads case to seek EU opinion

KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) – Germany’s highest court has postponed a decision on whether YouTube is liable for violations of intellectual property rights on its video platform in order to seek the opinion of European Union judges, a process expected to take one to two years.

Silhouettes of mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The lawsuit, which concerns illegally uploaded songs by the British singer Sarah Brightman, was brought by a music producer who has been quarrelling with Google’s YouTube since 2008, seeking compensation not only from the uploader but also from the platform itself.

A German court in Hamburg ruled in 2015 that YouTube must make sure the rights violations resulting from illegal uploads are being stopped, but the judges did not order YouTube to pay the producer any financial compensation.

Germany’s highest court, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), found on Thursday the interpretation of European law, over which the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has sole legal authority, was central to the case.

As a result, it said it was referring the case to the ECJ for its legal opinion.

In their preliminary request, the German judges asked the ECJ whether the fact that an internet platform operator makes content available that is protected by intellectual property rights, and that users publish on the platform without the owner’s consent, comprises a “communication to the public” that is forbidden under EU law.

The EU’s highest court will now make a general assessment of the role that internet platforms play in intellectual property rights violations, a decision that it likely to determine the outcome of the case.

Reporting by Ursula Knapp; Writing by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Mark Potter

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Walmart teams up with Instacart for same-day delivery in Canada

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc said on Thursday it has teamed up with U.S. home delivery company Instacart to bring some Canadian customers same-day grocery deliveries, raising the stakes in the country’s hotly contested retail space.

FILE PHOTO: A Walmart store is seen in Encinitas, California April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Walmart’s Canada unit said the service, which is part of a pilot program with Instacart, will be available in the Greater Toronto Area from Sept. 13, while customers in Winnipeg can start availing the service later this month.

Like in the United States, retailers in Canada have been facing stiff competition from Amazon.com Inc, pushing a lot of them to invest in online sales and home delivery.

Last November, Canadian grocery and pharmacy chain Loblaw Cos Ltd teamed up with Instacart to offer home delivery service in Toronto and Vancouver. Startup Instacart counts Whole Foods, Costco, Target and more than 100 other retailers as customers for grocery deliveries, and charges a delivery fee for its service.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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Enterprise investments in datacentre infrastructure rebound as component shortage price hikes hit

Following successive quarters of decline, enterprise spending on datacentre infrastructure appears to be rallying, fuelled in part by rising component costs and demand for private cloud deployments.

That’s according to Synergy Research Group’s second-quarter datacentre infrastructure market tracker, which shows a 28% increase in the amount of money spent on datacentre hardware and software over the past 24 months.

Much of this growth can be attributed to the growing demand for public cloud-enabling datacentre hardware and software. This, in turn, has benefited suppliers in this space, which are reporting 54% revenue growth over the same time period.

“We are seeing cloud service revenues continuing to grow by 50% per year, enterprise SaaS [software-as-a-service] revenues growing by over 30%, search/social networking revenues growing by over 25%, and e-commerce revenues growing by over 40%, all of which are driving big increases in spending on public cloud infrastructure,” said John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research Group.

According to Synergy’s own calculations, total datacentre infrastructure equipment revenue hit $38bn in the second quarter of 2018, with public cloud-enabling technology accounting for around a third of this spend.

The analyst house has also picked up on a sudden surge in spending on infrastructure for use in enterprise facilities, particularly where private cloud-enabling technologies are concerned.

“Growth for enterprise datacentre infrastructure has been much lower, and spending was actually in slow decline until the recent spike in server demand and pricing gave vendor revenues a boost,” Synergy Research Group said in a statement.

Within the enterprise, it is private cloud infrastructure that is driving spending, with a 45% increase since the second quarter of 2016.”

From a supplier perspective, Dell EMC is leading the private cloud market, followed by Microsoft and HPE, Synergy’s research shows, while on the public cloud-enabling infrastructure side, it is the white-label, original design manufacturers (ODMs) who are ruling the roost.

“ODMs in aggregate account for the largest portion of the public cloud market, with Dell EMC being the leading individual vendor, followed by Cisco and HPE,” said Synergy.

Rising cost of hardware

It is not just the growing demand for private cloud deployments that has caused enterprise spending on datacentre infrastructure to surge. Ongoing component shortages are also driving up the average selling price of kit, which is having an impact too.

It is a trend fellow IT analyst house Gartner has previously flagged as having a dampening effect on server shipments across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in recent quarters, as increased prices have caused some enterprises to delay server refresh projects.

Despite this, and as a direct consequence of the price hikes, the amount of revenue generated by sales of these servers has risen.

In particular, it is the supply of semiconductors, and consequently dynamic random access memory (DRAM), that appears to have hit the datacentre infrastructure market hard in recent months.

Industry watchers have attributed the shortages to a mix of issues, including the explosion in hyperscale cloud datacentres, growing demand for internet-connected devices, and the supply chain disruption caused by a series of mergers and acquisitions in the server component space.

There is also evidence, Synergy said, to suggest enterprises are also buying more expensive datacentre equipment, as they opt for systems that can handle the increasing workload complexities associated with running hybrid cloud environments.

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The 3 reasons CIOs have become cloud-first

CIOs are increasingly assured that a cloud-first strategy is the way to go. Analyst firm Gartner says global spending on public cloud services will grow 21.4 percent through 2018 to total $186.4 billion, up from $153.5 billion in 2017.

So, why are CIOs choosing to push as workloads in the cloud? There are three reasons that make the cloud attractive—and not one of them is cost.

Reason No. 1: Better holistic security

I’m sure this causes some heads to spin. How can there be better security in the public cloud than in your own data center?

Security is a function of the security professionals’ talent, those who lock down workloads and data, whether in the cloud or not. However, these days the security services found in public clouds are more advanced than what many enterprises can afford on premises, and it’s much easier to implement. That’s why security is typically better in the public cloud.

Reason No. 2: The cloud is now politically correct

Just a few years ago, the mere mention of putting workloads in a public cloud was practically like punching a coworker in the face.

Those days are over. Now you’re considered out of touch if you don’t at least consider cloud computing.

Reason No. 3: The success of others

CIOs tend to move in packs, despite the fact that they work for different companies. Many stories appeared in the tech press over the last few years about how cloud computing transformed this or that company, even if the stories sometimes were spun a bit more positively than they should have been.

Much like the rise of the PC in the 1980s, networking in the 1990s, and the web a bit later, the tech industry continues to build bandwagons and CIOs continue to jump on board. Obviously, they want to do the right thing for their company, but following the hot new technology can also be a career enhancer.

Cost is not a primary reason

Notice that cost is not the primary driver for CIOs’ move to cloud computing. Indeed, most CIOs don’t consider cost, even though there is typically a cost advantage to using cloud computing.

When it comes to CIOs, I guess the trend is your friend and it’s better to follow the crowd. At least this time, it’s a valid direction. 

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India's top digital payments firm bets on local expertise to fend off rivals

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – India’s top digital payments firm, Paytm, is betting on its local expertise and a deep pool of backers to fuel business growth and fight off global rivals in a rapidly growing market, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: An advertisement of Paytm, a digital wallet company, is pictured at a road side stall in Kolkata, India, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

Paytm, which started in 2010, became a household name in the country after a ban on high-value currency notes in late 2016 led to a cash crunch and spurred the use of digital payments.

“The fight is no more about one company, it is about ecosystem players,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm’s parent One97 Communications, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a private equity and venture capital conference organized by DealStreetAsia.

“If you have a standalone payments company, you definitely have an opportunity in the market. But there is a bigger game being played in the ecosystem level – there the revenue gets made or the value gets created,” Sharma said on Tuesday.

Paytm, which counts Alibaba Group and SoftBank Group Corp among its investors, is transforming into a financial services start-up with forays in banking, mutual funds and later insurance. Sharma has also started an e-commerce venture, on which payments are driven by Paytm.

Paytm competes with Alphabet Inc’s Google Pay and faces an expected launch by Facebook’s WhatsApp in India’s digital payments sector.

Credit Suisse estimated the value of transactions industry-wide to grow five-fold to $1 trillion by 2023.

With 95 million monthly active users, Paytm has been growing by 5 percent to 6 percent month-on-month. It aims to reach 500 million users by 2022, Sharma said.

Paytm has set a target to increase its offline merchants to 15 million by March 2019, from 9 million now.

“Paytm has gone into a network effect right now,” said Sharma, 40, whose net worth Forbes estimates at $2.2 billion.

As more customers start using Paytm, more merchants join, spurring further use, he added.

Many Paytm users have bank accounts, but it has simplified its app to reach India’s vast unbanked population, especially in smaller towns and cities. The app is also available in about 11 languages.

The Unified Payment Interface (UPI), a state-backed open platform, allows people to send money to each other and directly into bank accounts by linking mobile numbers.

The platform has reshaped the payments arena and Paytm and other mobile wallet firms are adding services to retain users.

Last month, Berkshire Hathaway Inc joined as an investor in a deal that valued Paytm at more than $10 billion, media said.

Sharma said Paytm had no need to raise more funds.

“There is an advantage of being a private company,” he said. “And we always have capital requirements three years forward in our bank. So for three years, we are sorted.”

Reporting by Anshuman Daga and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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Trump tells Apple to make products in U.S. to avoid China tariffs

(Reuters) – U.S. President Trump tweeted on Saturday that Apple Inc (AAPL.O) should make products inside the United States if it wants to avoid tariffs on Chinese imports.

FILE PHOTO: An attendee uses a new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

The company told trade officials in a letter on Friday that the proposed tariffs would affect prices for a “wide range” of Apple products, including its Watch, but it did not mention the iPhone.

Trump, speaking on Friday aboard Air Force One, said the administration had tariffs planned for an additional $267 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Trump tweeted that “Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China – but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive. Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now.”

Apple declined to comment.

The technology sector is among the biggest potential losers as tariffs would make imported computer parts more expensive. Apple’s AirPods headphones, some of its Beats headphones and its new HomePod smart speaker would also face levies.

“The burden of the proposed tariffs will fall much more heavily on the United States than on China,” Apple said in its letter.

Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Richard Chang

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Elon Musk’s Weed-Toking Goodwill Tour Isn't Enough to Save Tesla

The thing to remember about Elon Musk smoking a blunt with Joe Rogan is not that he took just one hit, or that he didn’t seem to know what a blunt was, or that he whiffed on an opportunity to show off just how useful his “not a flamethrower” can be. It’s that it came 130 minutes into his two-and-a-half-hour interview with Rogan, for the former Fear Factor host’s podcast, livestreamed on YouTube.

Two hours in which Musk got to play the most popular version of himself: the far-out thinking engineer who doesn’t conform to the status quo. Two hours in which he whoa’d Rogan with cogent breakdowns of the threat and promise of artificial intelligence, his plan to obliterate traffic with underground tunnels, and his enlightened fear of chimpanzees. Musk talked about his idea for an electric, supersonic airplane, complete with a physics lesson on how it would accomplish vertical takeoff and landing. He used math to argue that we’re all living in a simulation. He did it while remaining relatable, likeable, and interesting. And while the interview had its boring moments, it was, overall, a lot of fun.

That’s because it starred Musk at his best. As the guy who appeared on The Simpsons, turning Homer’s silly musings into world-bettering inventions. The Elon who met Stephen Colbert’s accusation of being a supervillain with a sheepish chuckle. The one who earned a cameo in Iron Man 2.

Cool Elon. Not the version who claimed that the British man involved in the rescue of the Thai cave boys is a pedophile. Not the Musk who sparked shareholder lawsuits and a reported SEC investigation by announcing he might take Tesla private, then recanted a few weeks later. Not the Musk who called a reporter a “fucking asshole” while doubling down on the pedophile claim. That’s the Musk who has seen Tesla’s stock price drop 17 percent since the beginning of the year. So for everyone who doesn’t freak out when someone takes a puff or two, the Rogan interview promised to be a reassuring appearance.

Except that Friday morning, Tesla shares dropped 10 percent in response to news that that human relations chief Gabrielle Toledano, who has been on a leave of absence, won’t rejoin the company, and chief accounting officer Dave Morton had resigned September 4—from a job he started August 6. (CNBC reports Morton was frustrated that Tesla’s leadership was ignoring his advice on the question of going private.) He was the third high-ranking finance executive to leave the company this year.

Tesla finally hit its target of making 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week in June, and Musk, true to form, immediately said they’d hit 6,000 a week this quarter. He has also said this is the quarter Tesla starts—at long last—to turn a profit. We won’t have a better idea of how Tesla is doing on production until early October, or of its financial state until early November, but these departures are just the latest evidence that the automaker is struggling.

Musk’s behavior of late hasn’t helped, of course. But a return to Fun Elon (and the emergence of Blunt Smokin’ Elon) isn’t enough to keep Tesla’s future from going up in smoke.


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Gadget Lab Podcast: Can Facebook and Twitter Be ‘Fixed?’

Facebook and Twitter went to Washington. Almost immediately afterwards, controversial Internet troll Alex Jones was kicked off Twitter. Now what? WIRED senior writer Issie Laposwky joins the Gadget Lab podcast this week to break down the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, tell us what it means for Facebook and Twitter (and Google – which didn’t send its CEO to the hearings), and to help us answer the question that’s become one of the more pressing questions in modern times: Is social media to blame, or are the humans who do terrible things on social media to blame?

Show notes: Issie wrote all about the hearings, as well as Alex Jones getting booted off Twitter, this week.

Recommendations this week: Issie recommends the Dr. Death podcast, about murderous surgeon and the health care system that failed to protect his patients. Mike recommends a podcast, too: The Bob Lefsetz podcast. Lefsetz is a music industry insider and “gadfly,” as Mike describes him; his guests are fascinating. Arielle recommends checking out the @Sweden Twitter account, the “last good thing on Twitter,” before it shuts down at the end of the month. For several years now, the account has been curated by a rotating cast of Swedes who were tasked with representing life in Sweden. Lauren recommends “Glow,” on Netflix. It’s a show about a show about women’s wrestling in the 1980’s. You won’t regret it.

Send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes is @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. You can also download an app like Pocket Casts or Radio Public, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

We’re also on Soundcloud, and every episode gets posted to wired.com as soon as it’s released. If you still can’t figure it out, or there’s another platform you use that we’re not on, let us know.

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Robinhood, the Zero-Fee Stock and Crypto Trading App, Is Planning to Go Public

Robinhood—the fintech startup that offers stock, option, and cryptocurrency trades with zero fees—is taking steps to go public, starting with the hiring of a chief financial officer.

Robinhood co-founder Baiju Bhatt, speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference Thursday, confirmed the company’s plans for an IPO and CFO hire. Both tasks will need to be handled with care. Bhatt said that Robinhood’s business model has subjected it to constant audits from the SEC and other financial regulators.

In the past couple of years, Robinhood has grown from a quixotic idea—no fees to trade stocks—to one of the more intruiging startups in the fintech space. Robinhood raised $110 million at a $1.3 billion valuation in April 2017. It’s now valued at $5.6 billion.

But Robinhood, like many tech startups planning to go public these days, is still losing money. And it’s branching out into areas like stock options and cryptocurrencies that will incur losses as Robinhood pushes for market share. “We don’t intend to make very much money on it at all for the foreseeable future,” Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev told Fortune in June.

The thing is, investors in IPOs are willing to tolerate losses as long as they will be turned soon enough into growing profits. And they’ve learned to distrust CEOs who talk cavalierly about losing money. Witness the downfall of Groupon after its manic growth failed to deliver profits, or Uber, which has had to retool its expensive global ambitions.

But given that few fintech startups have matured into companies that traditional Wall Street investors are comfortable sinking their assets into, Robinhood’s approach to the public stock market will be closely watched. In May, Robinhood’s active user accounts reached 4 million, surpassing E*Trade, a trading platform long beloved by daytraders.

Robinhood’s push into cryptocurrencies has helped it sign up more users. The company is not only helping small investors in a market that sometimes seems stacked against them, it’s looking like the most disruptive financial startup since E*Trade shook things up in the 1990s with low commissions and real-time stock quotes. Whether its expensive business model will be welcomed by IPO investors remains to be seen.

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Now That Amazon Has Joined the $1 Trillion Club, Can Anything Stop It’s Massive Growth?

It only took about a month after Apple became the first U.S. stock to have a $1 trillion valuation for Amazon to achieve the same feat.

Amazon was founded in 1994, about 18 years after Apple, but the e-commerce giant has been able to sustain more growth momentum in recent years and seems poised to surpass Apple in market value as it continues to dominate in e-commerce. Amazon is poised to see 49 cents of every dollar spent on e-commerce this year, according to eMarketer.

But the story of Amazon’s growth into a trillion-dollar company isn’t just about remaining focused on its long-stated mission of putting the needs of retail customers first. As Amazon has gotten bigger, and more successful, the company has drawn its share of criticism—particularly in the way it treats workers at its warehouses: low pay and demanding schedules that leave workers fearing punishment if they take breaks.

And Jeff Bezos’ relentless focus on the customer has gone from a powerful way to build customer loyalty to a way of wending Amazon services deeper into our daily lives. Amazon’s cloud powers many popular apps, Amazon-produced movies are playing in theaters, Amazon Prime entices us to buy more from Amazon.com, and more and more traditional retailers are partnering with Amazon as the enemy they must forge an alliance with to survive.

Amazon’s valuation popped back down below the $1 trillion level Wednesday, with the stock declining 2.2% to $1,994.82, a stock price that valued Amazon at $973 billion. But the company’s unrelenting push to expand will surely push it back above $1 trillion, and beyond. Nothing seems to be standing in the way of the company’s future growth. The question is, will customers still shop at Amazon because of its consumer-friendly approach—or because there’s really nowhere else to go?

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Amazon touches $1 trillion, on pace to overtake Apple

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) on Tuesday briefly joined Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to become the second $1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company after its stock price more than doubled in a year as it grew rapidly in retail and cloud computing.

Its shares traded as high as $2,050.50 before easing a little to end the session at $2,039.51, up 1.3 percent and just short of the milestone level of $2,050.2677.

If the online retailer’s shares keep up their recent pace, it would be a matter of when, not if, Amazon’s stock market valuation eclipses that of iPhone maker Apple, which reached $1 trillion on Aug. 2.

Apple took almost 38 years as a public company to achieve the trillion dollar milestone, while Amazon got there in 21 years. While Apple’s iPhone and other devices remain popular and its revenues are growing, it is not keeping up with Amazon’s blistering sales growth.

Amazon has impressed investors by diversifying into virtually every corner of the retail industry, altering how consumers buy products and putting big pressure on many brick-and-mortar stores.

“It says a lot about Amazon and its ever-increasing dominance of segments of the retailing world as well as the web services business,” said Peter Tuz, President Of Chase Investment Counsel In Charlottesville, Virginia. “They have a tiny share of the worldwide retail sales market so there’s a lot left to capture there.”

(Graphic: Amazon vs. Apple: reut.rs/2PwtdRg)

Amazon also provides video streaming services and bought upscale supermarket Whole Foods. And its cloud computing services for companies have become its main profit driver.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“Amazon’s a little bit more dynamic than Apple because the iPhone has become more mature. Amazon’s cloud business is an extra growth driver that Apple doesn’t have,” said Daniel Morgan, portfolio manager at Synovus Trust in Atlanta who describes Amazon’s cloud services as its “crown jewel.”

In the second quarter the unit accounted for 55 percent of Amazon’s operating income and 20 percent of total revenue, according to Morgan.

Apple started trading in December 1980 but its stock did not truly start to take flight for another 25 years, spurred by the iPhone, the breakthrough device that left competitors in the dust.

Amazon – founded as an online book-retailer in Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ garage in 1994 – started trading on May 15, 1997 at $1.50 on a split-adjusted basis.

By October 2009 it had risen to $100 and the stock hit $1,000 for the first time on May 30, 2017. It has held above that level since Oct. 27, 2017.

Just 10 months later, on Aug. 30, Amazon shares hit $2,000 for the first time, just $50 per share away from giving the company a $1 trillion market value.

(Graphic: Analyst Price Targets: reut.rs/2NHwHQq)

The stock is up 74.5 percent year to date. In comparison, Apple has risen about 35.0percent in 2018.

Analysts expect Apple’s revenue to jump 14.9 percent in its fiscal year ending in September, according to Thomson Reuters data, a hefty rise but still far short of Amazon’s expected revenue growth of 32 percent for 2018.

Reporting by Sinéad Carew in New York and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas and Phil Berlowitz

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Jon Kyl Will Take McCain's Senate Seat

On Tuesday, Arizona’s governor appointed former Republican senator Jon Kyl to fill the US Senate seat vacated by the late John McCain. The appointment could spell even more government scrutiny for tech giants like Facebook and Google—even though Kyl has only committed to serving until the start of the next Congressional session in January, though he may stay through 2020.

While McCain, who passed away on August 25, never focused his energies on the practices of technology platforms, Kyl has taken up the cause in his private endeavors, particularly as the head of an internal probe at Facebook into whether the platform is biased against conservatives, which was announced in May.

The results of that investigation have not been made public, and it is still ongoing. A Facebook spokesperson said that Kyl would leave the audit, but that it would continue with the team from law firm Covington and Burlington that he had led. Kyl did not immediately return a request for comment. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, also held meetings with Facebook executives about the question of liberal bias as part of the inquiry.

Kyl’s appointment comes just one day before representatives from Twitter, Google, and Facebook are set to testify again before the Senate over concerns about privacy, political bias, and anti-competitive practices. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will also tomorrow appear separately before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to address similar concerns.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing is slated to focus on “foreign influence operations use of social media platforms,” but tech executives will likely also face questions about whether their platforms are biased against certain political viewpoints.

Over the next several months, Jon Kyl will arguably be the senator best-equipped to ask such questions, having ostensibly spent the summer examining Facebook’s treatment of conservative viewpoints, both internally and on its platform. In late August, The New York Times reported that an extremely small group of Facebook employees have internally argued that the company isn’t welcoming to conservative viewpoints.

In recent months, a number of conservative lawmakers, including President Trump, have also accused tech companies like Google and Facebook of suppressing right-wing content, and have questioned whether they should be regulated as a result.

In April, for example, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, half a dozen Republican lawmakers questioned whether the social network had suppressed content produced by conservative commentators Diamond and Silk. Just last week, President Trump accused Google of purposely favoring negative coverage about his administration in its news product.

The belief that tech companies intentionally censor certain political beliefs is also increasingly held by voters, especially Republicans, according to a Pew Research Center survey released in June.

For years, conservatives on Capitol Hill have alleged that prominent tech companies are biased against their beliefs. They often cite a 2016 Gizmodo article as evidence, which reported that Facebook employees suppressed the reach of conservative outlets in its trending product. But while Silicon Valley is notoriously a hub for liberal tech workers, many lawmakers’ specific accusations have largely been unfounded. Still, their complaints highlight the amount of power over Americans’ speech and access to information that a handful of California companies have consolidated.

Kyl appears well-poised to ramp up the questioning over whether Google and Facebook can keep that power while avoiding more government oversight. Aside from his experience with Facebook, the senator also has a history of pushing for the regulation of some internet activities. In the early aughts, he was one of the first lawmakers to advocate for the criminalization of some categories of online gambling and he ultimately helped to pass the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Act.

As a lobbyist at Covington and Burlington, where Kyl has worked since declining to seek reelection in 2013, he has represented clients like Walmart, Georgetown University, and the conservative political organization Judicial Crisis Network. His clients have also included some technology companies, like San Diego-based Qualcomm.

Kyl has also busied himself with more than just auditing Facebook this summer. In a sign of his deep commitment to conservative interests, Kyl has also been guiding Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, through his Senate confirmation hearings.

As Kyl’s fellow senators mull over proposed legislation like a national privacy law, that commitment may also increasingly mean towing the Republican line on regulating big tech. No one is poised better to lead the effort than Kyl.

UPDATED: 9/4/2018, 4:52 PM EST: This story has been updated with comment from Facebook


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In India, Google races to parry the rise of Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO/MUMBAI (Reuters) – Google retains only a slight lead over Facebook in the competition for digital ad dollars in the crucial India market, sources familiar with the figures say, even though the search giant has been in the country far longer and has avoided the controversies that have dogged its rival.

A woman walks past the logo of Google during an event in New Delhi, India, August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Facebook’s success has shaken Alphabet Inc’s Google, led by an Indian-born CEO, Sundar Pichai, who has made developing markets a priority.

Google officials in India earlier this year were alarmed to learn that Facebook Inc was likely to generate about $980 million in revenue in the country in 2018, according to one of the sources. Google’s India revenues reached $1 billion only last year.

Facebook and Google declined to comment on Indian revenue figures or the competition between the two companies.

Google is now pushing back, attempting to lure customers with better ad-buying tools and more localized services. The revamped strategy mirrors initiatives that have succeeded in boosting the time Indian consumers spend with Google services.

The battle in India reflects an epic challenge for Google in developing markets around the world that are crucial to the company’s long-term growth – many consumers in those country’s are gravitating to Facebook and it’s siblings, Instagram and WhatsApp, at the expense of Google search and YouTube, and advertising dollars are quick to follow.

“Facebook is a far more user-friendly platform even though they haven’t created features specifically for Indian advertisers,” said Vikas Chawla, who runs a small ad-buying agency in India.

Facebook ads, compared with those on Google search or YouTube, tend to transcend language barriers more easily because they rely more on visual elements, said Narayan Murthy Ivaturi, vice president at FreakOut Pte Ltd, a Singapore-headquartered digital marketing firm. Pinpointing younger consumers and rural populations is easier with Facebook and its Instagram app, he and other ad buyers said.

And Facebook is succeeding in India, which boasts the fastest-growing digital ad market of any major economy, despite internal turmoil and political controversy. It has been without a country head for the last year, and has faced a series of incidents in which rumors circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp have prompted mob violence.

Facebook and Google between them took 68 percent of India’s digital ad market last year, according to advertising buyer Magna. Media agency GroupM estimates digital advertising spending will grow 30 percent in India this year.

The Facebook phenomenon is evident close to home for Google. During a recent lunch period, six out of 10 people who walked out of Google’s Bangalore offices while looking at their phones told Reuters they were checking WhatsApp. All 10 said they regularly used Whatsapp.

Eight Indian ad buyers interviewed by Reuters were divided on whether Facebook would overtake Google in Indian ad revenue. That such a question would even be debated explains why Pichai, Google’s chief executive, has pressed to flip the company’s approach to emerging markets.

“India is the most important market for the ‘Next Billion Users’ initiative,” Caesar Sengupta, the head of the effort, told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual “Google for India” event in New Delhi last week.

A man walks past a Google hashtag during an event in New Delhi, India, August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW TACTICS

For many years Google designed its services for early adopters of new technology, who tended to be in Silicon Valley, said Nelson Mattos, who oversaw Google’s Europe and Africa operations for several years. Great products would then find a broad global audience.

“Over time, as you saw the growth of Facebook, the importance of WhatsApp and other tools in these new markets, and not the same adoption of Google, the company started to realize that maybe they had to change that approach,” Mattos said.

Shortly after taking the helm three years ago, Pichai mapped a new strategy for places such as India: More services tailored to locals; more marketing on radio, billboards and TV; more local staff and start-up investment.

Google’s India workforce has more than doubled since to more than 4,000 employees, or about eight times Facebook’s presence, according to a tally of LinkedIn profiles and company statements.

Its products evolved too, becoming easier to use with low data plans. Smartphone apps such as Files Go and Tez – rebranded last week as Google Pay – were aimed at Indians.

“There’s definitely a sea change,” said Asif Baki, a user researcher at Google who oversees two-week “immersion trips” in developing markets for senior executives and staff.

The efforts are bearing fruit. Indian users during the first half of this year spent more time on Google services than on Facebook services, according to estimates from audience measurement firm Comscore. Over a similar period a year ago, Facebook came out on top.

Extending those gains to the ad business is a work in progress. A handful of Google executives, including leaders for display ads and small business advertisers, traveled to India earlier this year in a previously unreported trip to better understand the needs of Indian clients.

The visit spurred them to consider ideas such as enabling advertisers to reach users only in a particular Indian state, since language and literacy vary greatly around the country, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

At the New Delhi event, Google unveiled a plan to bring Indian newspaper content online, to increase the supply of search results – and ads – available in regional languages. 

Google still has to reckon with other issues. Small businesses in emerging markets are less likely to have websites, a foundation for Google ad campaigns but unnecessary for Facebook.

Executives met with one Indian merchant who recorded product videos on YouTube then messaged the links to potential customers on WhatsApp, said Kim Spalding, the company’s general manager and product lead for small business ads. 

    Facebook, meanwhile, is already on to commercializing such behavior. Just weeks ago, it began charging for text-based marketing features on WhatsApp, with video ads expected to launch next year.

Reporting by Paresh Dave and Sankalp Phartiyal; Additional reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bangalore; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Alex Richardson

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Google Is Taking Down Tech Support Scammers

Google is taking action against the tech support scams that advertise on its platform.

The tech giant is making a commitment to removing misleading ads. Google told the Wall Street Journal it removed more than 100 ads every second for violating some part of its policies. Now, it’s also implementing a verification program to further combat bad actors.

The program is meant to ensure that only legitimate third-party tech support companies will be able to advertise on Google. The company announced it will also restrict the category globally in a blog post Friday.

The move comes after an investigation from the Wall Street Journal found fraudulent tech support ads masquerading as larger companies like Apple. Scammers would utilize Google’s advertising system to create misleading ads. The ads would display a link to Apple’s website, but the number in the ad would direct to a call center that the Wall Street Journal says “engages in tech-support scams.”

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As Tesla shares fall, Amazon takes over as most shorted U.S. stock

NEW YORK (Reuters) – With Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) shares briefly dipping below the $300 level on Thursday, the electric carmaker ceded its seat as the most shorted U.S. stock to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), according to data from financial technology and analytics firm S3 Partners.

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Tesla short interest in dollars, calculated using the number of shares sold short and the share price, stood at $9.93 billion, on Thursday, just shy of $9.95 billion for Amazon, S3 Partners data showed.

Analysts said investors were still shorting Tesla shares, or taking positions that amounted to bets the stock would keep declining. Short-sellers aim to profit by selling borrowed shares, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price.

The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

“While there was some short covering the week after the tweet, there has still not been any significant net Tesla short covering on the Street,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at S3 in New York.

“Any traders who have closed down their positions to realize some profits have been replaced by new ones looking for continued price weakness,” he said.

Tesla shares whipsawed this month after Chief Executive Elon Musk on Aug. 7 tweeted he planned to take the company private, only to abandon the idea by Aug. 24.

Tesla closed down 0.6 percent at $303.15, on Thursday. The stock drifted as low as $288.20 in intra-day trade as recently as Aug. 20, but it has not closed below $300 since July 31. Tesla rose as high as $387.46 following Musk’s initial tweet about the going-private plan.

Since the Aug. 7 tweet, the dollar amount of Tesla shares sold short has dropped by 16 percent, while that for Amazon has climbed by 32 percent, S3 Partners data showed.

Amazon shares rose above $2,000 for the first time on Thursday and the company is just shy of a $1 trillion market capitalization.

S3’s Dusaniwsky, however, said that with Tesla shares near the $300 level, the company could reclaim top spot for the most shorted U.S. stock, where it had stood since early May.

“A $300 Tesla price may be a signal of increased short selling since when Tesla’s stock price dipped below $300 per share in March, shares shorted climbed from 30.0 million to 41.6 million in just over two months,” said Dusaniwsky.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Netflix (NFLX.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O), are some other top shorted U.S. stocks, as some investors have bet the high-flying technology names are due for a pullback.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Alden Bentley and David Gregorio

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New OpenStack cloud release embraces bare metal

OpenStack is getting bigger than ever. It now powers more than 75 public cloud data centers and thousands of private clouds at a scale of more than 10 million compute cores. But it’s always been hard to upgrade from one version of OpenStack to another, and it’s been hard to deploy on bare metals. With OpenStack 18, Rocky, both problems are much easier to deal with now.

The open-source OpenStack cloud, like its ancestors, has always run well on diverse hardware architectures — bare metal, virtual machines (VMs), graphics processing units (GPUs), and containers. Bare metal was always a bit tricky. OpenStack Ironic, its bare metal provisioning module, is bringing more sophisticated management and automation capabilities to bare metal infrastructure. Nova, which provisions compute instances, now supports creating both virtual machines (VM)s and bare metal servers. This means it also supports multi tenancy, so users can manage physical infrastructure in the same way they manage VMs.

Also: Open-source community has an integration problem: OpenStack

Other new Ironic features include:

  • User-managed BIOS settings: BIOS (basic input output system) performs hardware initialization and has many configuration options that support a variety of use cases when customized. Options can help users gain performance, configure power management options, or enable technologies like single root input/output virtualization (SR-IOV) or Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK). Ironic also enables users to manage BIOS settings, supporting use cases like Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and giving users more flexibility.
  • Conductor groups: In Ironic, the “conductor” is what uses drivers to execute operations on the hardware. Ironic has introduced the “conductor_group” property, which can be used to restrict what nodes a particular conductor (or conductors) have control over. This allows users to isolate nodes based on physical location, reducing network hops for increased security and performance.
  • RAM Disk deployment interface: A new interface in Ironic for diskless deployments. This is seen in large-scale and high performance computing (HPC) use cases when operators desire fully ephemeral instances for rapidly standing up a large-scale environment.

Julia Kreger, Red Hat principal software engineer and OpenStack Ironic project team lead, said in a statement, “OpenStack Ironic provides bare metal cloud services, bringing the automation and speed of provisioning normally associated with virtual machines to physical servers. This powerful foundation lets you run VMs and containers in one infrastructure platform, and that’s what operators are looking for.”

This isn’t just theory. It works. And it heading into production.

James Penick, Oath’s IaaS architect (Oath is AOL and Yahoo’s parent company), said Oath is already using OpenStack to manage “hundreds of thousands of bare metal compute resources in our data centers.” He added, “We have made significant changes to our supply chain process using OpenStack, fulfilling common bare metal quota requests within minutes.”

That’s good, but it’s not good enough.

“We’re looking forward to deploying the Rocky release to take advantage of its numerous enhancements such as BIOS management, which will further streamline how we maintain, manage and deploy our infrastructure,” Penick said.

Also: How to install OpenStack on Ubuntu Server with Devstack TechRepublic

That’s great, but many OpenStack users are already saying, “Maybe I’ll install this in 2021.”

Upgrading OpenStack isn’t easy. But OpenStack Rocky’s Fast Forward Upgrade (FFU) feature is ready for prime time, and it’s all set to help users overcome upgrade hurdles and get on newer releases of OpenStack faster. Now, FFU lets a OpenStack on OpenStack (TripleO) user on Release “N”, and they can quickly speed through intermediary releases to get on Release “N+3” (the current iteration of FFU being the Newton release to Queens). You can’t jump all the way to Rocky, but you can a lot closer to it more quickly than you ever could before.

Other new features are:

  • Cyborg provides lifecycle management for accelerators like GPUs, FPGA, DPDK, and SSDs. In Rocky, Cyborg introduces a new REST API for FPGAs. These floating point chips are used machine learning, image recognition, and other HPC use cases. This enables users to dynamically change the functions loaded on an FPGA device.
  • Qinling is introduced in Rocky. Qinling (“CHEEN – LEENG”), a function-as-a-service (FaaS) project. This delivers serverless capabilities on top of OpenStack clouds. It also enables developers to run functions on OpenStack clouds without managing servers, VMs or containers — while still connecting to other OpenStack services like Keystone.
  • Masakari, which supports high availability by providing automatic recovery from failures, expands its monitoring capabilities to include internal failures in an instance, such as a hung OS, data corruption, or a scheduling failure.
  • Octavia, the load balancing project, adds support for UDP (user datagram protocol). This brings load balancing to edge and IoT use cases.
  • Magnum, a project that makes container orchestration engines and their resources first-class resources in OpenStack, has become a Certified Kubernetes installer. This makes it easier to deploy Kubernetes on OpenStack.

Want to check the new OpenStack out? You can download Rocky today.

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Micron Technology plans $3 billion expansion of Virginia plant

(Reuters) – Chipmaker Micron Technology Inc said Wednesday it plans to spend $3 billion over the next 12 years to expand a plant in Virginia about 40 miles (64 km) west of Washington, D.C.

FILE PHOTO – Memory chip parts of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology are pictured at their booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra told Reuters in an interview the expansion aims to meet increasing demand for chips in automobiles, which are gaining more computer power for features such as collision avoidance systems or lane departure warning systems. The company expects that market to double to $6 billion by 2021.

“Think of the automobiles of the future as data centers on wheels,” he told Reuters.

The money will be spent to build about 100,000 square feet of additional “clean room” space for making memory chips at Micron’s existing Manassas, Virginia factory, which employs about 1,500 people. Micron expects the expansion to create 1,100 permanent jobs for engineers and technicians once complete.

Boise, Idaho-based Micron, the world’s fourth largest semiconductor firm by revenue according to research firm Gartner, differs from much of the chip industry in that it still makes its own chips rather than farming the work to contract factories and that it still makes many of its chips in the United States. It also makes chips in Singapore, Japan and Taiwan, but only performs assembly and test work in China.

The company has become a prominent point in trade relations between China and the United States. Micron in 2015 rejected a takeover bid made by a state-backed Chinese company as China was trying to build out its chip industry, a development that the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer highlighted in a report in March about China’s trade practices.

Micron later alleged in a U.S. lawsuit that a different Chinese firm stole its trade secrets. That firm in turn sued Micron in a Chinese court alleging Micron violated its patents, and the Chinese court banned some of Micron’s chips while the trial proceeds.

U.S. officials brought up Micron’s story during trade talks with Chinese trade officials earlier this month, according to two people familiar with the talks.

Mehrotra said the decision to expand in Virginia “really does not have anything to do with the recent discussions with China on various trade matters.” Instead, he said, Virginia was chosen for expansion because it has been making chips for 15 years there for car makers, who demand higher levels of durability and reliability than gadget makers.

“We have a deep culture in the Manassas facility of supporting the demanding requirements of these customers,” he said.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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Brussels loans Nokia €500m to fund European 5G research

Finnish networking and comms giant Nokia has been awarded a €500m (£453.6m) loan by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to further accelerate its research and development around the next-generation 5G mobile network standard.

Backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), part of the European Commission’s (EC’s) Investment Plan for Europe, or Juncker Plan, the loan will provide much-needed support to Nokia as it develops its 5G proposition – an area where European firms are widely regarded as having fallen behind their counterparts in Asia and North America.

Nokia proposes to deliver an end-to-end 5G network proposition, from the radio access network (RAN) to internet protocol (IP), as well as optical and packet core networks, service platforms, and other software and services associated with 5G, making it capable of acting as a one-stop shop for mobile network operators (MNOs).

“We are pleased to land this financing commitment from the EIB, which shares our view of the revolutionary nature of 5G – and the realisation that this revolution is already under way,” said Nokia CFO Kristian Pullola.

“This financing bolsters our 5G research efforts and continues the broader momentum we have already seen this year in terms of customer wins and development firsts, supporting our relentless drive to be a true leader in 5G – end to end.”

EC vice-president Jyrki Katainen, who is responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said: “Ensuring that Europe embraces and benefits from new technologies requires sustained investment. That is where the Investment Plan for Europe can play a crucial role.

“I am delighted that, with today’s agreement, the plan is contributing to Nokia’s research and development activities across multiple European countries to advance the development of 5G technology.”

Viavi vice-president of wireless, Li-Ke Huang, said: “The US, China and South Korea have invested early and heavily to try to establish a leadership position in the ‘5G race’. This investment from the EIB is a crucial show of 5G support in Europe, and a demonstration of the region’s commitment to developing next-generation networks.

“Sustained backing from private, public and governmental bodies is essential to ensuring that Europe continues to be a major player in cellular communications.

“In order to be granted enough spectrum and gain the necessary support from regulators and governments, operators and vendors in Europe need to demonstrate that 5G development can solve existing problems in today’s networks.”

Huang said that the strength of its mobile ecosystem through the likes of Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson meant Europe was still in a strong position to drive development of 5G networks, with support from governments, universities, consultancies, R&D specialists and the wider industry.

“Continued financial investment, along with collaboration and knowledge-sharing, will help to promote 5G development across the continent,” he added.

Earlier in August 2018, Nokia revealed that it would charge a flat fee of €3 per device to license its 5G patents, substantially undercutting rivals such as Ericsson and Qualcomm. The move has been read as an attempt to reduce the chances of it getting into legal battles with smartphone manufacturers, as well as to increase the attractiveness of its 5G portfolio.

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Instagram Adds 2FA, Account Verification in Security Update

Social media platforms’ struggle with safety and security is like a game of Whac-A-Mole. One day, the threat is coordinated bot activity; the next, it’s SIM hijackers stealing the identities of regular users. In an effort to protect Instagram users from those and future threats, the company announced today a set of features designed make Instagram feel “safer,” including ways to protect your own account and to verify whether the accounts you follow are genuine or not.

Instagram

First, all users will soon be able to use a more robust form of two-factor authentication to log into Instagram. Previously, Instagram offered two-factor authentication with a code sent via SMS—better than nothing, but insufficient to protect all Instagram users from having their accounts compromised. (Users with “valuable” handles may be more vulnerable to scams like SIM hijacking, where hackers access a person’s phone number and use it to log into their accounts and steal their usernames.) Now, the platform will allow integration with third-party authenticators, like DUO Mobile and Google Authenticator, which supply two-factor codes locally and provide an additional layer of security against account hacking.

Instagram

To help users differentiate between real and fake accounts, Instagram will now make it easy to look up information about individual accounts, including the date the account was created, its country of origin, and a record of username changes over the past year. You’ll also be able to see any ads the account is running and similar accounts with shared followers. To surface this information, tap the three dots on an Instagram profile page and select the new tab, “About This Account.” The feature will roll out first to accounts with large followings—celebrities, public figures, influencers—and later to all Instagram accounts.

Lastly, accounts with large numbers of followers will now be able to request verification from Instagram. The platform already gives blue checkmarks to some celebrity users and brands—WIRED’s Instagram, for example, has one—but the verification process is mysterious, and Instagram hasn’t previously let users request verification. The new verification process involves a request form along with a place to upload a photo of a government-issued photo ID.

Post Mates

Instagram says the new changes are part of a roadmap to help the platform feel safe, and to empower users to follow genuine accounts over fake ones.

“Keeping people with bad intentions off our platform is incredibly important to me,” Instagram’s co-founder and CTO, Mike Krieger, wrote in a blog post today. “That means trying to make sure the people you follow and the accounts you interact with are who they say they are, and stopping bad actors before they cause harm.”

The platform is also hoping not to repeat the same mistakes of its parent company, Facebook, which has struggled to keep fake accounts, misinformation campaigns, and untrustworthy pages off its platform. In the past few weeks, Facebook has removed millions of fake accounts in the past year, and which are becoming harder to trace on the platform.

Instagram is, of course, a different beast. As it grows, it will have to face hard decisions about how to create community and trust on a global platform of over a billion users. Checkmarks and two-factor authentication aren’t the end of that story. But they’re a good place to start.


More Great WIRED Stories

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Tesla shares dip 3 percent after Musk abandons buyout

(Reuters) – Shares in Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) fell just over 3 percent on Monday after it abandoned a plan to take the electric carmaker private, with some analysts suggesting it should either replace Chief Executive Elon Musk or appoint another strong senior manager.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla superchargers are installed at the Quinte Mall in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, May 6, 2018. REUTERS/David Lucas/File Photo

The billionaire entrepreneur said in a blog post late on Friday that consultations, done with the help of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, had shown most of Tesla’s existing shareholders opposed the deal that he proposed on Twitter three weeks ago to widespread shock on Wall Street.

Tesla’s shares, already down nearly 15 percent from a peak on Aug. 7 when Musk tweeted that he had “funding secured” for a buyout at $420 a share, initially fell more than 5 percent in European and premarket trading in New York.

They recovered, however, to stand down just 3.4 percent lower at $312 by 7.40 e.t..

A series of notes from Wall Street analysts questioned Musk’s credibility going forward in the face of a possible investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into the factual accuracy of an Aug. 7 tweet that funding for the buyout deal was “secured”.

“Musk’s involvement in the company is critical, but now more than ever a solid #2 – someone with strong operational background that can help Tesla move from ideas to execution – is crucial,” analyst Joseph Spak from RBC Capital Markets wrote in a client note.

Tesla said on Sunday it was not searching for a chief operating officer.

“While we are always looking for highly talented executives (…) there is no active COO search,” a spokesman said by email.

With Musk’s idea for a buyout backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund now off the table, attention was zeroing in on Tesla’s efforts to become profitable, its cash reserves and what steps Musk could take to raise fresh capital.

Tesla had $2.78 billion in cash at the end of the second quarter, after a record $718 million loss.

In early August, before the buyout plan was made public, Tesla reiterated a forecast that it would achieve a profit in the third and fourth quarters, under normal accounting rules, and Musk said the company would not need to raise more cash.

A Tesla spokesman on Sunday referred to those previous comments.

“With its long term mission intact but short term growth shaky, serious gaps in execution skills and a board under pressure for not assuming its duties, now may be the time for third parties to get involved, be it from technology or even oil,” Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois told clients.

One of Tesla’s biggest challenges is ramping up production of its latest vehicle, the Model 3, which is critical to its profitability goals.

Monday’s fall would still leave shares in the company 27 percent above a low of $244.59 hit on April 2, a day before the electric carmaker released its production and Model 3 deliveries report for the first quarter.

TAPPING CAPITAL MARKETS

Investors in Tesla’s bonds and convertible debt had also already shown skepticism that the tens of billions of dollars needed for the buyout would materialize, unconvinced by Musk’s tweet or subsequent blog post in which he could only make the case for going private and not list clear backing.

Analysts have suggested a capital raise may be required soon to boost investor confidence but investment bankers who are not working for the company said over the weekend it would also contradict Musk’s promise that Tesla is adequately funded.

This week would also be an inopportune time for a capital raising, given that many bankers and investors are away ahead of the Sept. 3 Labor Day holiday. 

“We see the company raising $2 billion in 4Q18, through convertible debt, which may prove a challenge if there still is an ongoing SEC case open,” Cowen and Co analyst Jeffrey Osborne wrote in a client note.

The high price investors have put on Tesla’s shares has allowed Musk to expand U.S. production, invest in building out a vehicle charging network and start work on new models including a small sport utility vehicle, a new Roadster and a semi-truck even as the company burned cash.

Tesla earlier this year announced plans to build a battery and vehicle assembly complex in China. Musk said earlier this month that the company’s “default plan” would be to fund that expansion by borrowing money from Chinese banks.

Additional reporting by Helen Reid, writing by Joseph White and Patrick Graham; editing by Paul Simao and Jan Harvey

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