US national security, climate change, startup HR, and launching in the Midwest


This post is by Danny Crichton from TechCrunch


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Reminder: Extra Crunch Event Discounts for Summer Party

TechCrunch’s annual Summer Party is just around the corner next week — come meet all the staff at the Park Chalet beer garden on the Pacific Coast in San Francisco this Thursday evening. We handed out 50 free tickets to EC subscribers this past week by email, but if you weren’t able to snag one, be sure to use your event discount (part of the annual EC subscription offering) by emailing your member customer service representative at extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

How US national security is holding the internet hostage

I have written quite a bit about CFIUS, the inter-agency process for reviewing venture capital investments and company acquisitions made by foreigners. Now, our special correspondent Mark Harris explores a much less well-known group known as Team Telecom who has been actively reviewing — and denying — additional fiber bandwidth beneath the Pacific

Continue reading “US national security, climate change, startup HR, and launching in the Midwest”

Powering the brains of tomorrow’s intelligent machines


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Sense and compute are the electronic eyes and ears that will be the ultimate power behind automating menial work and encouraging humans to cultivate their creativity. 

These new capabilities for machines will depend on the best and brightest talent and investors who are building and financing companies aiming to deliver the AI chips destined to be the neurons and synapses of robotic brains.

Like any other herculean task, this one is expected to come with big rewards.  And it will bring with it big promises, outrageous claims, and suspect results. Right now, it’s still the Wild West when it comes to measuring AI chips up against each other.

Remember laptop

Screen Shot 2019 07 19 at 6.13.46 AM

Continue reading “Powering the brains of tomorrow’s intelligent machines”

Tiny UK startup takes on Google’s Wing in the race to a drone traffic control system


This post is by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch


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A future where drones can easily and cheaply do many useful things such as deliver packages, undertake search and rescue missions, deliver urgent medical supplies, not to mention unclogging our roads with flying taxis seems like a future worth shooting for. But before all this can happen, we need to make sure the thousands of drones in the sky are operating safely. A drone needs to be able to automatically detect when entering into the flight path of another drone, manned aircraft or restricted area and to alter its course accordingly to safely continue its journey. The alternative is the chaos and danger of the recent incidences of drones buzzing major airports, for instance.

There is a race on to produce just such a system. Wing LLC, an offshoot of the Alphabet / Google-owned X company, has announced a platform it calls OpenSky that it hopes will become the

Continue reading “Tiny UK startup takes on Google’s Wing in the race to a drone traffic control system”

How US national security agencies hold the internet hostage


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Team Telecom, a shadowy US national security unit tasked with protecting America’s telecommunications systems, is delaying plans by Google, Facebook and other tech companies for the next generation of international fiber optic cables.

Team Telecom is comprised of representatives from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice (including the FBI), who assess foreign investments in American telecom infrastructure, with a focus on cybersecurity and surveillance vulnerabilities.

Team Telecom works at a notoriously sluggish pace, taking over seven years to decide that letting China Mobile operate in the US would “raise substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks,” for instance. And while Team Telecom is working, applications are stalled at the FCC.

The on-going delays to submarine cable projects, which can cost nearly half a billion dollars each, come with significant financial impacts. They also cede advantage to connectivity projects that have not attracted Team Telecom’s attention –

Continue reading “How US national security agencies hold the internet hostage”

How US national security agencies hold the internet hostage


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Team Telecom, a shadowy US national security unit tasked with protecting America’s telecommunications systems, is delaying plans by Google, Facebook and other tech companies for the next generation of international fiber optic cables.

Team Telecom is comprised of representatives from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice (including the FBI), who assess foreign investments in American telecom infrastructure, with a focus on cybersecurity and surveillance vulnerabilities.

Team Telecom works at a notoriously sluggish pace, taking over seven years to decide that letting China Mobile operate in the US would “raise substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks,” for instance. And while Team Telecom is working, applications are stalled at the FCC.

The on-going delays to submarine cable projects, which can cost nearly half a billion dollars each, come with significant financial impacts. They also cede advantage to connectivity projects that have not attracted Team Telecom’s attention –

Continue reading “How US national security agencies hold the internet hostage”

The Comfortably Dumb


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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The most recent issue of my weekend newsletter, in which I conveyed my disinterest in engaging with products equipped with surveillance-type technologies, elicited quite a reaction from the readers. I was personally shocked by the number of people who were in agreement with my desire to have devices that eschew the add-ons from big technology companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon. Honestly, I was expecting to be tarred and run out of town by people screaming, “Luddite!” 

Instead, the sentiment seems to have struck a chord, especially with many in my generation, which suggests that it is raising a question that should have been asked a long time ago. One long-time reader put it this way: “I’ve been toiling in this industry my entire adult life — what hell hath we wrought?” 

Whether it is a television, a speaker, or a camera, it is hard Continue reading “The Comfortably Dumb”

Netflix will roll out a lower-priced subscription plan in India


This post is by Manish Singh from TechCrunch


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Netflix said on Wednesday that it will roll out a cheaper subscription plan in India, one of the last great growth markets for global companies, as the streaming giant scrambles to find ways to accelerate its slowing growth worldwide.

The company added 2.7 million new subscribers in the quarter that ended in June this year, it said today, far fewer than the 5 million figure it had forecasted earlier this year.

The company said lowering its subscription plan, which starts at $9 in the U.S., would help it reach more users in India and expand its overall subscriber base. According to third-party research firms, Netflix has fewer than 2 million subscribers in India.

Netflix started to test a lower-priced subscription plan in India and some other markets in Asia late last year. The plan restricts the usage of the service to one mobile device and offers

Continue reading “Netflix will roll out a lower-priced subscription plan in India”

Amazon sells over 175M items during Prime Day 2019, more than Black Friday & Cyber Monday combined


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Amid worker protests and antitrust investigations, Amazon’s Prime Day sales event carried on as usual — and that means it again set new records for the online retailer. This time, Amazon says Prime Day 2019 was bigger than both Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, as Prime members purchased more than 175 million items during the event.

While last year’s Prime Day 2018 became the biggest sales day in Amazon history, it’s getting harder to directly compare one Prime Day sale with another, because Amazon keeps stretching them out.

Prime Day 2019, for example, was a full 48-hour sale, up from 36 hours last year and 30 hours the year before.

What we are able to tell, however, is that people will continue to shop as long as there are bargains being offered. During Prime Day 2018’s 36-hour sale, Prime members bought 100 million items. During this year’s 48-hour

Continue reading “Amazon sells over 175M items during Prime Day 2019, more than Black Friday & Cyber Monday combined”

Uber riders now earn rewards for shopping during their trip with new Cargo app


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Uber is launching a new shopping app with commerce partner Cargo, a startup it signed an exclusive global partnership with last year. The app will feature items curated by Uber including products like Nintendo Switch, Apple hardware, Away luggage, Glossier cosmetics and more, and will be available to download for Uber riders making trips in cars that have Cargo consoles on board. The Cargo app will also provide in-ride entertainment, including movies from Universal Studios available to purchase for between $5 and $10 each (with bundle discounts for multiple movies), which are then viewable in the Movies Anywhere app.

Uber riders will also benefit by receiving 10 percent of their purchase value back in Uber Cash, which they can then use either on future trips, or on other purchases made through the Cargo app while riding. Uber drivers also benefit, earning 25 percent of the value of items purchased

Cargo App Home Screen

Continue reading “Uber riders now earn rewards for shopping during their trip with new Cargo app”

Uber riders now earn rewards for shopping during their trip with new Cargo app


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Uber is launching a new shopping app with commerce partner Cargo, a startup it signed an exclusive global partnership with last year. The app will feature items curated by Uber including products like Nintendo Switch, Apple hardware, Away luggage, Glossier cosmetics and more, and will be available to download for Uber riders making trips in cars that have Cargo consoles on board. The Cargo app will also provide in-ride entertainment, including movies from Universal Studios available to purchase for between $5 and $10 each (with bundle discounts for multiple movies), which are then viewable in the Movies Anywhere app.

Uber riders will also benefit by receiving 10 percent of their purchase value back in Uber Cash, which they can then use either on future trips, or on other purchases made through the Cargo app while riding. Uber drivers also benefit, earning 25 percent of the value of items purchased

Cargo App Home Screen

Continue reading “Uber riders now earn rewards for shopping during their trip with new Cargo app”

Amazon amends seller terms worldwide after German antitrust action


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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Amazon has agreed to make a raft of changes to the business terms it offers sellers on its marketplaces following an intervention by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO).

The regulator instigated an investigation in November last year after receiving a large number of complaints from sellers pertaining to Amazon’s German marketplace, amazon.de: The largest of the company’s five European marketplaces.

Among the changes the ecommerce giant has agreed to make are amendments to its liability provisions towards sellers to bring it into line with European standards for b2b relations, and changes to account termination and blocking to remove its unlimited right to do so without justification — meaning ordinary account terminations will in future require 30 days notice.

In a statement, Amazon said:

We are making several changes to the Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement to clarify selling partner rights and responsibilities. The changes will become effective August 16th.

Continue reading “Amazon amends seller terms worldwide after German antitrust action”

Europe is now formally investigating Amazon’s use of merchant data


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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European regulators have announced a formal antitrust investigation of Amazon’s use of data from third parties selling on its ecommerce platform.

Commenting in a statement, competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager said: European consumers are increasingly shopping online. Ecommerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour. I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon’s business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules.

The move is not a surprise as Amazon was already on the radar of Vestager’s department.

Last fall it emerged the regulator was making preliminary enquiries about Amazon’s use of third party sellers’ data — to try to determine whether or not merchants selling on its platform are being placed at a competitive disadvantage vs

Screenshot 2019 07 17 at 12.25.32

Continue reading “Europe is now formally investigating Amazon’s use of merchant data”

Final tickets to our 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party


This post is by Emma Comeau from TechCrunch


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One of Silicon Valley’s most fun and enduring traditions — the 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party — takes place on July 25. If you don’t have a ticket yet, know this: We just released the last batch of tickets. Once they’re gone, that’s it. No party for you. Don’t miss out on a night of fun and opportunity — buy your ticket today.

The Park Chalet, San Francisco’s coastal beer garden, provides a picturesque setting (ocean views anyone?) for a casual evening celebrating the early-startup spirit. Hang out and enjoy local craft beer, cocktails, delicious food and great conversation with other fearless tech entrepreneurs.

TechCrunch parties provide a relaxed way to connect and network, and they’re known as a place where startup magic happens. Who knows? You might meet your future co-founder or funder. Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith, founders of Box, met one of their first investors at a

Continue reading “Final tickets to our 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party”

Amazon Prime Day sees competition from more than expected number of retailers


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Amazon’s Prime Day continues to gain competition from rival retailers piggybacking on the annual event with their own sales. Ahead of this year’s Prime Day, RetailMeNot had forecast that this year’s sale would see competition from 250 retailers. Today, the firm upped this figure to over 300, saying it found that more retailers than earlier estimated have decided to run their own counter-sales.

As of 9 AM on the second day of Prime Day — Tuesday, July 16, 2019 — RetailMeNot says it has counted over 300 unique retailers running Prime Day-related offers. This is up from the 275 retailers it had uncovered yesterday afternoon, and up from the 250 it had forecast.

For comparison’s sake, Prime Day 2018 saw competition from 194 retailers; the year before that, just 119. And only 27 retailers ran counter sales back in 2016.

The rival sales come from retailers both large and small

Continue reading “Amazon Prime Day sees competition from more than expected number of retailers”

Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick are again Prime Day’s best selling devices (so far!)


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Amazon Prime members again snapped up loss leaders like the Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa Remote on the first day of Amazon Prime Day 2019, which has now been stretched out to a 48-hour sale. This is the third year in a row that the entry-level Alexa smart speaker, the Echo Dot, has been a Prime Day bestseller. The Fire TV Stick was a top seller last year, too, and sold well in years past — including in 2016, when it emerged at the overall best-selling device globally on Prime Day.

Amazon never provides hard numbers on Prime Day sales, but claims “millions” of these devices — the Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick combined — were sold on Monday to customers worldwide during the first day of Prime Day 2019.

Last year, Amazon claimed customers bought “millions” of Fire TV Stick devices alone, for comparison’s

echo show 5

Continue reading “Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick are again Prime Day’s best selling devices (so far!)”

Large retailers saw 64% increase in sales on Monday, thanks to Amazon Prime Day


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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It’s no longer a winner-take-all scenario for Amazon Prime Day — in fact, that hasn’t been true for years. As soon as other large retailers realized they could piggyback on Amazon’s annual sales event to boost their own revenues from counter-sales, they’ve been doing just that. According to new data from Adobe Analytics out this morning, large retailers have already seen a big jump — a 64% increase — in their U.S. e-commerce spending thanks to Prime Day on Monday, July 15, when compared with an average Monday.

That’s up quite a bit from the 54% increase seen by these large retailers (those with over a billion in annual revenue) last year, the report notes.

Smaller retailers did well yesterday, too. Niche retailers with less than $5 million in annual revenue saw a 30% increase in their online sales on Monday, due to more people shopping online for deals.

Continue reading “Large retailers saw 64% increase in sales on Monday, thanks to Amazon Prime Day”

Amazon adds Hindi to the Alexa Skills Kit


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


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Users of Amazon’s voice assistant will soon be able to talk to Alexa in Hindi. Amazon announced today that it has added a Hindi voice model to its Alexa Skills Kit for developers. Alexa developers can also update their existing published skills in India for Hindi.

Amazon first revealed that it would add fluent Hindi to Alexa last month during its re: MARS machine learning and artificial intelligence conference. Before, Alexa was only able to understand a few Hinglish (a portmanteau of Hindi and English) commands. Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist for Alexa, told Indian news agency IANS that adding Hindi to Alexa posed a “contextual, cultural as well as content-related challenge” because of the wide variety of dialects, accents and slang used in India.

Along with English, Hindi is one of India’s official languages (Google Voice Assistant also offers Hindi support). According to Citi Research, Amazon

Continue reading “Amazon adds Hindi to the Alexa Skills Kit”

Amazon adds Hindi to the Alexa Skills Kit


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Users of Amazon’s voice assistant will soon be able to talk to Alexa in Hindi. Amazon announced today that it has added a Hindi voice model to its Alexa Skills Kit for developers. Alexa developers can also update their existing published skills in India for Hindi.

Amazon first revealed that it would add fluent Hindi to Alexa last month during its re: MARS machine learning and artificial intelligence conference. Before, Alexa was only able to understand a few Hinglish (a portmanteau of Hindi and English) commands. Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist for Alexa, told Indian news agency IANS that adding Hindi to Alexa posed a “contextual, cultural as well as content-related challenge” because of the wide variety of dialects, accents and slang used in India.

Along with English, Hindi is one of India’s official languages (Google Voice Assistant also offers Hindi support). According to Citi Research, Amazon

Continue reading “Amazon adds Hindi to the Alexa Skills Kit”

What to expect from tomorrow’s antitrust hearing featuring big tech


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Tomorrow, representatives from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple will testify before Congress in the second hearing organized as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust investigation into the world’s largest technology companies.

While the first hearing focused on the ways technology companies busted the traditional news business, this one promises to look at the “impact of market power of online platforms on innovation and entrepreneurship,” according to the committee.

Unlike the previous hearing, which featured representatives from media outlets and industry trade organizations attacking or defending the ways in which online advertising had gutted the news business, this latest outing led by Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline will have actual tech company execs on hand to answer congressional queries.

One section of the testimony will feature Google’s economic policy head, Adam Cohen; Amazon’s associate general counsel, Nate Sutton; Facebook’s global head of policy, Matt Perault; and Kyle Andeer, Apple’s

Continue reading “What to expect from tomorrow’s antitrust hearing featuring big tech”

Hello HomePod. So Long Sonos & Bose


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Sonos founder John MacFarlane’s vision of a connected speaker that could wirelessly stream music was too seductive to resist for a broadband and connectivity junkie like me. Even before the product evolved from a concept to design, I was sold on the idea of Sonos and what it represented. For years, the company’s speakers have been the preferred way of listening to music in my tiny apartment. But it is time to say goodbye to Sonos — though, not for the reason you might think.

Yes, most of my Sonos gear is over a decade old and needs an upgrade. And I’m told their new speakers look nicer and sound better than ever (of course, they only need to sound as good as the high-def stream on Spotify). But I am not going to be upgrading with Sonos. This has nothing to do with their core product. The problem is that they are bundling the speakers with voice assistants, specifically Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Yes, you have to turn on these features and enable them for use, but I remain highly suspicious of what can be done surreptitiously. You can blame it on a growing mistrust of the big tech, and their decision making processes. Continue reading “Hello HomePod. So Long Sonos & Bose”