YugaByte’s new database software rakes in $16 million so developers can move to any cloud

Looking to expand the footprint of its toolkit giving developers a unified database software that can work for both relational and post-relational databases, YugaByte has raised $16 million in a new round of funding. For company co-founder, Kannan Muthukkaruppan, the new database software liberates developers from the risk of lock-in with any provider of cloud compute as the leading providers at Amazon, Microsoft and Google jockey for the pole position among software developers and reduces programming complexity. “YugaByte DB makes it possible for organizations to standardize on a single, distributed database to support a multitude of workloads requiring both SQL and NoSQL capabilities. This speeds up the development of applications while at the same time reduces operational complexity and licensing costs,” said Kannan Muthukkaruppan, co-founder and chief executive of YugaByte, in a statement.  Muthukkaruppan and his fellow co-founders know their way around database software. Alongside Karthik Ranganathan and Mikhail
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Vietnam’s new cyber security law draws concern for restricting free speech

Big tech firms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have expressed major concern after Vietnam’s government passed a law that promises to introduce tighter restrictions on free speech online. The new regulation passed this week strengthens the government’s position on censoring the internet, drawing Amnesty International to decry that it leaves “no safe place for people to speak freely” in Vietnam. Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) — a group that represents Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Line and others — furthered cautioned that it would harm the development of the country’s digital economy. Among the broad points, the new cyber security law forbids internet users from organizing with, or training, others for anti-state purposes, spreading false information, and undermining the nation state’s achievements or solidarity, according to reports. “This decision has potentially devastating consequences for freedom of expression in Vietnam. In the country’s deeply repressive climate, the online space was a relative refuge
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Pan-European seed fund firstminute hits a final fund close of $100M

New UK early stage VC firstminute Capital launched in June last year to the tune of $60m, with Atomico Ventures as it’s first cornerstone investor. They were joined by 30 unicorns founders from Europe. Last September they brought in the huge China-based company, Tencent, reaching a fund size of $85m. Today firstminute capital, the London-based pan-European seed fund announced a final close of $100m, and detailed its first batch of early-stage investments made since September. Two institutional investors have now joined. Henkel, the €60bn publicly-listed FMCG giant, is making its first investment into a European seed fund, and Lombard Odier, one of Europe’s largest private banks, also joins. The fund has three partners: Brent Hoberman CBE, Spencer Crawley and Henry Lane-Fox. Hoberman is chairman and co-founder of Founders Factory, a corporate-backed incubator/accelerator based in London, and also of Founders Forum, a series of invitation-only, but influential annual global events for
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The largest buys of tech’s Big Five: a look at M&A deals

In startup land, the mandate is to get bought, go public or die trying. And, as far as getting bought goes, one of tech’s Big Five could be a desirable acquirer. They have a lot of weight to throw around. Alphabet (the parent company of Google), AmazonAppleFacebook and Microsoft account for a titanic amount of market value — close to $3.9 trillion at time of writing. At least, that’s according to Crunchbase News’s dashboard of notable tech stocks. When challenged by one another, these hulking behemoths of the tech sector more often fight than flee. And when challenged by a scrappy upstart, it is likely that they will gobble up the talent, technology and business of any aspiring competitor. It’s the circle of life. And it’s those acquisitions we’re going to look at here. Taken together, tech’s Big Five account for a relatively small
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US startups off to a strong M&A run in 2018

With Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub this week, we can now decisively declare a trend: 2018 is shaping up as a darn good year for U.S. venture-backed M&A. So far this year, acquirers have spent just over $20 billion in disclosed-price purchases of U.S. VC-funded companies, according to Crunchbase data. That’s about 80 percent of the 2017 full-year total, which is pretty impressive, considering we’re barely five months into 2018. If one included unreported purchase prices, the totals would be quite a bit higher. Fewer than 20 percent of acquisitions in our data set came with reported prices.1 Undisclosed prices are mostly for smaller deals, but not always. We put together a list of a
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Google’s new ‘AI principles’ forbid its use in weapons and human rights violations

Google has published a set of fuzzy but otherwise admirable “AI principles” explaining the ways it will and won’t deploy its considerable clout in the domain. “These are not theoretical concepts; they are concrete standards that will actively govern our research and product development and will impact our business decisions,” wrote CEO Sundar Pichai. The principles follow several months of low-level controversy surrounding Project Maven, a contract with the U.S. military that involved image analysis on drone footage. Some employees had opposed the work and even quit in protest, but really the issue was a microcosm for anxiety regarding AI at large and how it can and should be employed. Consistent with Pichai’s assertion that the principles are binding, Google Cloud CEO Diane Green confirmed today in another post what was rumored last week, namely that the contract in question will not be renewed or followed with others.
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Google Cloud announces the Beta of single tenant instances

One of the characteristics of cloud computing is that when you launch a virtual machine, it gets distributed wherever it makes the most sense for the cloud provider. That usually means sharing servers with other customers in what is known as a multi-tenant environment. But what about times when you want a physical server dedicated just to you? To help meet those kinds of demands, Google announced the Beta of Google Compute Engine Sole-tenant nodes, which have been designed for use cases such a regulatory or compliance where you require full control of the underlying physical machine, and sharing is not desirable. “Normally, VM instances run on physical hosts that may be shared by many customers. With sole-tenant nodes, you have the host all to yourself,” Google wrote in a blog post announcing the new offering.

Diagram: Google

Google has tried to be as flexible as possible, letting the
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Google says over 8 million people use its free WiFi service at railway stations in India

Back in 2015, Google launched an initiative to bring free WiFi to India’s railway stations and today the U.S. tech giant announced that the program has passed its target of reaching 400 stations, attracting a base of eight million users in the process. The milestone was hit today when Dibrugarh station in northeastern state Assam went online. Google gave some insight into the scale of the program’s reach when it revealed that over eight million people use the railway-based WiFi each month. On average, the firm said, users consume 350MB in data per session with half going online via the WiFi program at least twice per day. In another sign of scale, Google began to monetize the initiative earlier this year by offering high-speed connections for a price. The standard option includes ads to develop revenue for Google and its partners, which include Indian Railways and RailTel. Reaching million users and
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Evernote is spinning out its Chinese business and it plans to take it public

Here’s a unique approach to Western companies doing business in China. Today, Evernote — the U.S. note-making service — span out its China-based unit into an independent entity with “full autonomy” over its business and services. Evernote introduced its Yinxiang Biji China-based service in 2012, but now it is transitioning to a minority shareholder with the Chinese management team taking day-to-day control. As part of its move to independence, Yinxiang Biji has raised an undisclosed Series A round from the Sequoia CBC Cross-border Digital Industry Fund. The terms are not disclosed, but Raymond Tang, CEO of Yinxiang Biji, said ownership of the business is split roughly equally between Evernote, the Chinese investors and the startup’s management team — while Yinxiang Biji itself has raised “several hundred million RMB.” (For comparison, 100 million RMB is roughly $15 million.) Evernote and Yinxiang Biji have inked a two-year deal that will see them cross-license
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A friendly reminder: Don’t put passwords in Trello

A new bit of research from David Shear at security firm Flashpoint found that there are hundreds if not thousands of open Trello boards containing passwords, login credentials, and other potentially sensitive stuff including employee on-boarding documents. He and Brian Krebs reported the boards to Trello although some folks have already been notified by well-meaning hackers who wrote “Change your password” on some of these public boards. “One particularly jarring misstep came from someone working for Seceon, a Westford, Mass. cybersecurity firm that touts the ability to detect and stop data breaches in real time,” wrote Krebs. “But until a few weeks ago the Trello page for Seceon featured multiple usernames and passwords, including credentials to log in to the company’s WordPress blog and iPage domain hosting.” Another Trello board made at Red Hat in 2017 offered passwords to a pair of online test servers. Trello worked with
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Android P Beta 2 brings updated system images and 157 new emojis

A month after releasing the first beta version of Android P at I/O (and right in the middle of Apple’s own developers conference), Google has just released Beta 2 of its upcoming mobile operating system. The update is available to users enrolled in Google’s developer program, who have access to a Pixel device. Those who’ve already download Beta 1 will get the new version automatically.

The latest build features new system images and tools designed to help developers create apps for the upcoming version of the mobile operating system. Adaptive Battery is on-board here, leveraging DeepMind to decide which apps should get the most system resources. App Actions helps developers make their apps more prominent in places like Search, the Google Assistant and the Google Launcher, while Slices provides a way to offer elements of an app without having to open it up. 

Also of note is the addition

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Four years after release of Kubernetes 1.0, it has come a long way

On June 6th, 2014 Kubernetes 1.0 was released. At the time, nobody could have predicted that 4 years later that the project would become a de facto standard for container orchestration or that the biggest tech companies in the world would be backing it. That would come later. If you think back to June 2014, containerization was just beginning to take off thanks to Docker, which was popularizing the concept with developers, but being so early there was no standard way to manage those containers. Google had been using containers as a way to deliver applications for years and ran a tool called Borg to handle orchestration. It’s called an orchestrator because much like a conductor of an orchestra, it decides when a container is launched and when it shuts down once it’s completed its job. At the time, two Google engineers, Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, who would
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Washington sues Facebook and Google over failure to disclose political ad spending

Facebook and Google were paid millions for political advertising purposes in Washington but failed for years to publish related information — such as the advertiser’s address — as required by state law, alleges a lawsuit by the state’s attorney general. Washington law requires that “political campaign and lobbying contributions and expenditures be fully disclosed to the public and that secrecy is to be avoided.” Specifically, “documents and books of account” must be made available for public inspection during the campaign and for three years following; these must detail the candidate, name of advertiser, address, cost and method of payment, and description services rendered. Bob Ferguson, Washington’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit yesterday alleging that both Facebook and Google “failed to obtain and maintain” this information. Earlier this year, Eli Sanders of Seattle’s esteemed biweekly paper The Stranger requested to view the “books of account” from both companies, and another
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Europe’s top court takes a broad view of privacy responsibilities around platforms

An interesting ruling by Europe’s top court could have some major implications for data mining tech giants like Facebook and Google, along with anyone who administers pages that allow platforms to collect and process their visitors’ personal data — such as a Facebook fan page or even potentially a site running Google Analytics. Passing judgement on a series of legal questions referred to it, the CJEU has held that the administrator of a fan page on Facebook is jointly responsible with Facebook for the processing of the data of visitors to the page — aligning with the the Advocate General’s opinion to the court, which we covered back in October. In practical terms the ruling means tech giants could face more challenges from European data protection authorities. While anyone piggybacking on or plugging into platform services in Europe shouldn’t imagine they can just pass responsibility to the platforms for ensuring they are
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Udacity and Google launch free career courses for interview prep, resume writing and more

Udacity today announced a new partnership with Google that will make a number of career courses freely available to recent graduates and mid-career professionals. The free career courses, which mark a first for Udacity, will focus on helping employees improve their chances of getting a job, no matter whether that’s a first job or we are talking about a mid-career course change. The two companies trialed this approach with the “Networking for Career Success” course, which launched in March. At the time, they made that course available to 60,000 Grow with Google scholars and it’s now part of the 12 courses Udacity and Google are launching together. The new courses cover a wide swath of topics that range from helping you refresh your resume and write a cover letter to giving you tips for optimizing your GitHub profile and strengthening your LinkedIn Network. But there also are more technical topics,
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The new Gmail will roll out to all users next month

Google today announced that the new version of Gmail will launch into general availability and become available to all G Suite users next month. The exact date remains up in the air but my guess is that it’ll be sooner than later. The new Gmail offers features like message snoozing, attachment previews, a sidebar for both Google apps like Calendar and third-party services like Trello, offline support, confidential messages that self-destruct after a set time, and more. It’s also the only edition of Gmail that currently allows you to try out Smart Compose, which tries to complete your sentences for you. Here is what the rollout will look like for G Suite users. Google didn’t detail what the plan for regular users will look like, but if you’re not a G Suite user, you can already try the new Gmail today anyway and chances are stragglers will also get
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Google’s Hangouts Meet will soon be compatible with hardware from Polycom and Cisco

G Suite is about to get a slew of new integrations. Hangouts Meet, for example, is Google’s designated video conferencing solution for businesses, but while it’s easy enough to use, most businesses have already invested in similar solutions from the likes of Polycom and Cisco — or they have opted for Microsoft’s Skype for Business as their go-to service. Soon, however, businesses will get more options as Google today announced that anyone on those systems will now be able to join a Hangouts Meet video call, as well. These integrations will go live in the coming weeks. “Nothing’s more frustrating than hosting a meeting and having trouble getting people to join because of issues with technology—it can interrupt workflows and slow down productivity,” Rany Ng, Google’s director of product management for G Suite, writes in today’s announcement. “We want to make it easier for businesses to use meeting solutions, like
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This DIY smart mirror is small, stunning and full of features

Several years ago Google X engineer Max Braun published a medium post on a smart mirror he made and now he’s back with a new version that’s smaller and smarter. This is a smart mirror I can get behind though I still find smart mirrors completely frivolous. He published his project on Medium where he explains the process and the parts a person would need to build their own. This isn’t a project for everyone, but Max gives enough instructions that most enterprising builders should be able to hack something similar together. I recently reviewed a smart mirror and found it a bit silly but still useful. Ideally, like in Max’s smart mirrors, the software is passive and always available. Users shouldn’t have to think about interacting with the devices; the right information should be displayed automatically. It’s a balancing act. At this point, smart mirrors are little more than
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Google quits selling tablets

Google has quietly crept out of the tablet business, removing the “tablets” heading from its Android page. Perhaps it hoped no one would notice on a Friday and by Monday it would be old news, but Android Police caught them in the act. It was there yesterday, but it’s gone today. We (well, Romain) called tablets dead in 2016, which was probably a little premature, since over 160 million of them shipped last year — but even so, it’s not much of a life they’re living. Google in particular has struggled to make Android a convincing alternative to iOS in the tablet realm, and with this move has clearly indicated its preference for the Chrome OS side of things, where it has inherited the questionable (but lucrative) legacy of netbooks. They’ve also been working on broadening Android compatibility with that OS. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that
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Google reportedly backing out of military contract after public backlash

A controversial Google contract with the U.S. military will not be renewed next year after internal and public outcry against it, Gizmodo reports. The program itself was not particularly distasteful or lucrative, but served as a foot in the door for the company to pursue more government work that may very well have been both. Project Maven, as the program was known, essentially had Google working with the military to perform image analysis on sensitive footage like that from drones flying over conflict areas. A small but vocal group of employees has repeatedly called the company out for violating its familiar (but now deprecated) “Don’t be evil” motto by essentially taking a direct part in warfare. Thousands of employees signed a petition to end the work, and several even resigned in protest.

But more damaging than the loss of a few squeaky wheels has

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