Weekly Roundup: Apple’s auto rumors, GoPro’s new devices and CZI’s $3B pledge
This week, Yahoo came clean about a 2014 hack, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan announced a huge investment to cure disease, rumors swirled around possible car tech purchase targets for Apple and the AI startup space continued to heat up with a few chat bot acquisitions. These are the top stories of the week.
1. We got our hands on all of Apple’s new hardware. A few consensus include that with two new finishes, virtual buttons and water resistance for the iPhone 7, Apple is teeing up for the future. Apple’s AirPods indicate its hardware-first approach to becoming a true audio platform. While they’re reliable, they’re far from audiophile quality. The Apple Watch has finally grown into itself with the launch of the Series 2. The second iteration delivers on all the qualities a decent sport watch should have. macOS Sierra officially became available, too. While this may not be the most exciting update, it signifies that after 15 years and 13 major updates, the Mac is now a mature platform.
2. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative took to Facebook Live to announce its pledge to invest $3 billion over the next decade to help cure, prevent, or manage disease across the world. The money comes from the $45 billion organization Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan started to advance human potential and equality.
3. Rumors abound in Apple’s autotech sector. Apple is said to be in acquisition talks with car manufacturer McLaren and Lit Motors. McLaren told the BBC that the company isn’t having any investment discussion with Apple right now, but the NYT wrote that Apple and McLaren have been talking about a potential investment. McLaren’s statement could mean that it’s an acquisition instead of an investment, it has closed, or the discussion has ended. Time will tell which way Apple will turn.
4. GoPro debuted three new hardware devices including the GoPro Hero 5 and the new Karma Drone. But these products feel more like iterations than revolutions, even two years after the company’s major release. Despite a huge amount of enthusiasm and great marketing, one can’t ignore the sense that GoPro may be having trouble turning the page.
5. The plot thickens for Rothenberg Ventures, the SF-based venture firm that has been involved in an ongoing SEC inquiry. The firm is being investigated on the claims of deceptive financial practices including wire fraud and bank fraud, among other financial mismanagements. Now, the situation has attracted the attention of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s General, says one source. A claim now states that Mike Rothenberg allegedly wired $5.2 million from Silicon Valley Bank without investor permission.
6. Another day, another hack. Yahoo confirmed it’s working with law enforcement to investigate a data breach which affected account info of “at least” 500 million users. Yahoo says that the user account information was stolen in 2014 by a state-sponsored actor. The stolen information includes people’s names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, passwords.
7. Airbnb filed a $555 million round with the SEC led by Google Capital and TCV. However sources close to the deal say Airbnb has not yet closed the round, and that the company has the capacity to increase the ceiling to the a $850 million figure. If all goes according to the company, Airbnb would become the fourth most valuable private startup.
8. Facebook came clean on a slight error in how it presented video view time on its platform. A mismatch in how average video view time is calculated and how it is defined — resulting in that number being reportedly inflated by half or more, for a short period of two years.
9. While it’s hard to believe that it took this long, Twitter officially cut down on what counts toward your 140 characters. As a refresher, that means media like photos, videos, GIFs, polls and Quote Tweets no longer eat into your character count. But links still do. Yay?
10. Big tech companies are eating up AI startups. Google acquired API.AI, a company helping developers build conversational, Siri-like bots. Amazon also made an individual hire of Navid Hadzaad, formerly of chat bot building platform Angel.ai (once known as GoButler). Hunger for AI tech only proves that tech is ready to unlock new potential when it comes to voice.
11. An IT error gave the world a glimpse of North Korea’s online ecosystem – and it’s pretty meager. An Uber app security engineer noticed that North Korea had set itself to allow domain administrators to request a list of its national top-level domains. Engineer Matthew Bryant had set up a script to watch for this and it was automatically copied. There are only 28 .KP domains registered.
12. It came to light that Palmer Luckey, creator of the Oculus Rift, was the money man behind a group of Trump supporters calling themselves Nimble America. They dedicated the non-profit to proving “that shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real” and their primary goals were (or are) to disrupt online conversations and create funny pictures of Hillary Clinton. It’s not surprising that technologists would use their power to harm or confuse people. But doing so using a “shitpost” is.
13. Police use-of-force data is finally coming to light. Until recently, data proving the systemic racism that results in the police killings of unarmed black people has not been widely available to the public. But this week, the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Kamala Harris and Y Combinator-backed nonprofit Bayes Impact unveiled URSUS, a statewide tech initiative to collect police use-of-force data from over 800 police departments.