Tech

Tim Bradshaw

Want to hear a Silicon Valley joke? Two geek billionaires walk into a coffee shop and nobody notices.

There’s no punchline. This actually happened a couple of weeks ago when I was in Mountain View and the co-founders of WhatsApp popped into their local for a brew. Despite being full of start-ups, nobody in the Red Rock Café seemed to recognise the pair who had just sold their app to Facebook for upwards of $16bn.

WhatsApp has almost 500m active users around the world but many in Silicon Valley’s elite only discovered the chat app when Mark Zuckerberg opened his chequebook. It’s entirely possible that, in the past year, more people here have tried Google Glass, the sci-fi headset that most outside Silicon Valley love to hate, than sent a message on WhatsApp. Read more

By Adam Palin in London

 

Education technology company 2U appears to have passed its entry exam, with shares up 7 per cent at noon on its Nasdaq debut.

 

At a share price of $13.91, the Maryland-based company – which develops cloud-based degrees with universities – is valued at $544m. Not a bad start as a listed company for one that has yet to turn a profit.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 (Getty)

South Koreans consumers will be able to jump the global queue for Samsung Electronics’ new flagship smartphone, after mobile operators put it on sale two weeks ahead of the official launch date. Read more

Machine blowing away pieces paper

It only takes a quick internet search of the terms “UPS” and “telematics” to understand why the promised benefits of big data are likely to take longer to arrive than many have been led to believe.

Among the links to technology information sites and Teamsters Union web pages is a comment from a blogger known as Denverbrown.

Addressing drivers for the US parcel delivery service UPS, it sums up the mood of workers who sometimes find themselves at the sharp end of new technologies like this: “The system should be known as Harassamatics. They tell you it’s about safety, and seat belts . . . It’s all about stealing your break time for their profit, and harassing you into a heightened state of frenzy about your job.”

Big data is facing its human moment.

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Tim Bradshaw

Ray-Bans via Instagram

Google has been working hard lately to dampen the constant, rumbling criticism of Glass. First, it issued guidelines on etiquette for its pioneering wearable gadget, warning early adopters: “Don’t be a glasshole.”

Then last week, it decided that the people buying its $1,500 headset weren’t glassholes after all, trying to dispel ten “myths” about the prototype product: Glass really isn’t a “distraction from the real world” or “the perfect surveillance device”, it insisted in a blogpost.

The ground suitably prepared, Google has now made a much more meaningful step towards mainstream acceptance: it is partnering with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley frames to make Glass fashionable. Read more

Robert Cookson

Google has fired off a new salvo in its campaign to convince the world that Glass is cool rather than creepy.

A month after telling early adopters of the wearable technology how to avoid becoming a “Glasshole”, Google is now attempting to win over the public with a Buzzfeed-style list of “The Top 10 Google Glass Myths”. Read more

Richard Waters

For its most promising new technology, IBM has been searching for problems to solve that are both deep and broad enough. Now, with a clinical trial in the US aimed at personalising the treatment of cancers, it might just have found one. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

Facebook’s chief security officer said on Tuesday the social network has united with its Silicon Valley competitors to improve cyber security, after a recent report suggested the National Security Agency may have posed as the social network to infect target’s computers.

Joe Sullivan said that Facebook was working hard to “make sure the system is robust enough that everyone should be coming in the front door with legal process and not getting information any other way”. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

By Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw

Facebook unveiled the sleek, unfolding pages of its Paper app last month to appreciative oohs and aahs from reviewers, marking a new era for the social network as design becomes more central to companies up and down Silicon Valley.

Paper was developed with a small unit of designers who wanted to break away from the site’s basic ‘blue and white’ look to create an app inspired by the National Geographic magazine. Read more

Richard Waters

You need a strong gut to invest in a market when it’s just suffered the kind of financial scandal that hit the Bitcoin world with the demise of Mt Gox.

But that hasn’t stopped Matt Cohler at Benchmark from leading a $20m investment round in Xapo, the latest entrant in Silicon Valley’s bid to assume a leading role in Bitcoin innovation. Read more