The sliding Bitcoin price has provoked a fair amount of schadenfreude recently. But it hasn’t done much to dampen the spirits of the start-up investors flocking to the market.
A case in point: Coinbase has just raised $75m in what is the biggest publicly disclosed funding round yet for a Bitcoin company. Also notable is that the backers this time include the New York Stock Exchange, BBVA and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit. Read more
Machines are getting smarter all the time, but could they ever attain the quintessentially human qualities of creativity and introspection?
Demis Hassabis – chess wunderkind, games designer and one of Google’s artificial intelligence whizzkids – thinks so.
He made a rare public appearance this week, speaking on a panel of philosophers and neuroscientists at the London School of Economics, to debate whether the brain is a “predictive machine”. Read more
Soylent, the start-up which aims to replace regular meals with its low-cost nutritional drinks, has raised $20m to expand its manufacturing capabilities and develop its recipe. Read more
The damaging fall-out from emails leaked after the Sony Pictures cyber attack has spread to the technology industry, with details of Snapchat‘s business plan exposed in messages reported to be found in the inbox of Michael Lynton, Sony Entertainment CEO and Snapchat board member.
Evan Spiegel, Snapchat‘s chief executive, has reacted angrily to having what he described as his “business plans” and “secrets” spilled in an industry that places a high value on stealth. Read more
A German start-up is trying to change America’s reluctance to long-distance ride-sharing by partnering with Uber to make it more convenient, even in the sprawling US.
Munich-based carpooling is launching today in the US with an app that lets drivers offer spare seats to passengers for rides. The model has proven a hit in Europe, with multiple start-ups in the same field, but it has not taken off in the US, where cities are further apart and public transit within most cities fairly meager. Blablacar, carpooling’s French rival, told the Financial Times last week that it would not launch in the US. Read more
On Friday we reported that the European parliament is threatening to break up Google. More precisely, it is likely to approve a draft motion calling for the European Commission to consider the “unbundling” of search engines from other commercial services as one possible solution to Google’s dominance.
But would this even work in practice? The short answer is, it’s not clear.
The German MEP Andreas Schwab, a long-time Google critic who is sponsoring the draft motion, told the FT that the practicalities had still to be looked at. Read more
© Washington Post
Amazon wants to deliver your newspaper.
The Washington Post launched a new app on Thursday, initially available exclusively on Amazon’s Fire tablets, that gives readers two daily editions – morning and evening – plus breaking news updates in between.
It is the first collaboration between the companies since the Post was bought last year by Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive. An ereader version of the paper is already available on Kindle devices. Read more
Is it too early to make forecasts for 2015? Not for CCS Insight, a UK-based technology research firm, which is already confidently predicting that a major internet player will buy Netflix, and Vodafone will buy Sky, by the end of next year.
“All Web players are looking for a stronger presence in paid-for video, something Netflix has achieved with remarkable success… Yahoo, Alibaba and Google are potential suitors,” CCS says in an upcoming report. If Google does not buy Netflix, it will launch its own video streaming service in 2015, it predicts.
Further bold/foolhardy predictions below. Read more
Can two devices sort out web-enabled domestic chaos? Read more
Samsung has unveiled a prototype of a new kind of 360-degree camera that could help virtual reality move beyond its current gaming niche.
“Project Beyond” is an ambitious concept that looks a little like it belongs on top of a Google Street View car. Sixteen small cameras point out from a frisbee-sized disk, with another on the top. It can capture 3D, 360-degree video that can be streamed live to a VR headset, allowing the wearer to look around as if they were standing wherever the camera is placed. Read more
Uber’s been investing heavily in lobbying politicians around the country to allow it to operate, but new data out suggests that, at least in one respect, politicians are already big fans of the group. Read more
Taylor Swift clearly touched a nerve at Spotify last week when she pulled all of her music from the streaming service.
Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, has responded to her move by publishing a 1,800 word essay that defends the company’s business model and reveals some fascinating numbers about its growth. Read more
The Economist, the 171-year-old weekly magazine, is launching its first daily edition.
The new product, called The Economist Espresso, will be available from Friday via smartphone apps and email. It takes the form of a daily briefing that is designed to be read in a few minutes each morning, and is part of a drive to expand The Economist’s digital audience following the first circulation decline in more than a decade. Read more
As Apple readies its Watch, Jawbone is aiming for “the other wrist” with the latest update to its Up fitness tracker.
Rather than challenge the iPhone maker’s forthcoming smartwatch head on, Jawbone’s new Up3 wristband is smaller than its predecessor, packed with more sensors including heart-rate and skin temperature detectors, and costs almost half the price of Apple Watch. Read more
SoundCloud has secured its first licensing agreement with a major record label, after months of tough negotiations.
The deal with Warner Music will allow SoundCloud, which was valued at around $700m earlier this year, to unlock new sources of revenue through advertising and subscriptions. Read more
Faddish mobile apps and instant 20-something billionaires have become the public face of Silicon Valley’s latest boom. But some in the tech industry have ambitious ideas that could have a far more profound impact on the world.
In the latest Weekend FT magazine, we report on some of the ideas that will shape the future. Also: our take on life on the front lines of the tech boom, including what it’s really like to run a start-up (hint: it’s not all stock options and free food).
Spanish bank BBVA has struck up a partnership with payments start-up Dwolla as the Spanish group continues trying to figure out how to integrate new digital technology into its core banking business.
IBM and Twitter executives were not short of extravagant claims on Wednesday as they announced a partnership to apply data from the network to real-time business decisions.
For example: “It’s no longer social data, it’s world data.” Also: “People talk about the internet of things, but we’ve already instrumented the human race.” Read more
The number of California residents whose personal data was stolen by hackers jumped six-fold between 2012 and last year, with nearly half of California’s residents affected by one of the year’s many data breaches, according to a new report by the state’s attorney general.