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Friday, September 25, 2020
Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite Amazon Amazon announced two new Fire TV products during its big online hardware event on Thursday. Amazon's Fire TV gadgets compete directly with Roku and Apple TV, offering people access to popular apps like Disney+, Netflix, Hulu and more.  Amazon says people are spending more time in front of TVs than ever before due to the spread of coronavirus. It sees the TV as a the center of the household and wants to get even more features in front of users to keep them coming back. The new features may help it compete more aggressively against Roku, which still has a 50% market share of global connected TV streaming hours with strong growth opportunities, according to an analyst note from Deutsche Bank in August. The new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite will be the first of Amazon's streaming gadgets to offer a redesigned home screen when they launch next week, although the changes will come to existing Fire TV devices beginning in the first quarter of 2020, too. Here's what you need to know. Easier to find stuff to watch, new user profiles
All-new Amazon Echo Amazon Amazon unveiled on Thursday an all-new Echo smart speaker lineup with a revamped, orb-like design. The new design will be featured across four different Echo speaker models: the "regular" Echo, the cheaper and smaller Echo Dot, the Echo Dot with a built-in clock and the Echo Kids' edition, which has designs like cute animal characters. The regular Echo will cost $99, the Echo Dot will cost $49.99 and the Echo Dot with the clock will cost $59.99. The new devices are the linchpin of Amazon's Echo and Alexa strategy, offering relatively affordable speakers that give customers access to a host of Amazon services and features from music to shopping. Amazon also said the new Echo speakers will have a special processor called the "AZ1 Neural Edge processor" that can help run applications and power speech recognition on the device. Amazon said this will make the speakers respond faster and more accurately to your voice. The announcement was part of Amazon's annual hardware launch event, where the company previews a suite of products ahead of the the holiday shopping season. You can see all of Amazon's announcements from Thursday here.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff praised Oracle chief Larry Ellison's efforts to break into the social media space with a potential TikTok partnership.  The enterprise software maker was approved for a deal in principle over the weekend to partner with the rapidly growing social media app, allowing it to avoid a U.S. shutdown. Oracle said it will become TikTok's secure cloud provider and will become a minority investor with a 12.5% stake in the company. Benioff said that the coroanvirus pandemic should be driving new urgency at companies, and praised Ellison's boldness in buying a consumer-focused social media network -- a company far outside of Oracle's historical expertise. "I'm so impressed by seeing them and everyone else make these aggressive moves," Benioff said Wednesday on CNBC's "Closing Bell." "Because I'm mostly worried about the companies that aren't making aggressive moves. I'm calling CEOs who are friends of mine who are in paralysis and who aren't making moves, and I'm saying, Look, you've got to get into participation. You've got to get out of paralysis and into participation. Larry Ellison is the master of relevance. This is a move to make him relevant. This is so important."  Securing the deal could help position
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica, center, arrives at the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 20, 2018. Henry Nicholls | Reuters LONDON — Alexander Nix, the former chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, has been banned from running limited companies in Britain for seven years.  The U.K. Insolvency Service announced the decision Thursday, saying Nix permitted companies to offer potentially unethical services to prospective clients. The 45-year-old, who lives in West London, has agreed not to take any holding company directorships from early next month. Limited companies in the U.K. restrict the liability of the people that run them, and are similar to corporations in the U.S. In addition to being a Cambridge Analytica director, the Eton-educated entrepreneur was also a director at parent company SCL Elections. The Insolvency Service said the ban was issued on the basis that Nix caused or permitted SCL Elections to offer "unethical services" including bribery and honeypot stings, voter disengagement campaigns, the obtaining of information to discredit opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns.  Cambridge Analytica became infamous after it emerged the company had improperly gained access to the sensitive user information of as
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Toru Yamanaka | AFP/Getty Images LONDON — Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced Thursday that he will commit 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of his own resources to invest in European start-ups. Speaking at a virtual talk hosted by start-up event organizer Slush, Ek said he would use the funds to make "moonshot" bets in the continent, focusing on deep technology — new tools that are focused on scientific innovation. Among the sectors Ek is looking to invest in are health, education, machine learning and biotechnology. "I want to do my part; we all know that one of the greatest challenges is access to capital," Ek said, adding he wanted to achieve a "new European dream" — akin to that of the American Dream — over the next decade. According to Forbes, Ek is worth $3.6 billion, indicating he's earmarking roughly a third of his own wealth for the investments. Ek spoke of his frustration with the number of European tech companies being bought up by U.S. rivals, as well as a brain drain of talented entrepreneurs leaving the region for Silicon Valley. One of the most notable examples of
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., arrives for a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images LONDON — Facebook's much-anticipated Oversight Board has confirmed that it is planning to launch ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 3 after being criticized for a perceived lack of action.  The board will rule on appeals from Facebook and Instagram users and questions from Facebook itself, although it will have to pick and choose which content moderation cases to take due to the sheer volume of them. Following a report from The Financial Times, a spokesperson for the independent Oversight Board told CNBC that it expects to start in mid to late October.  "We are currently testing the newly deployed technical systems that will allow users to appeal and the Board to review cases. Assuming those tests go to plan, we expect to open user appeals in mid to late October." They added: "Building a process that is thorough, principled and globally effective takes time and our members have been working aggressively to launch as soon as possible."  While
The logo of video-sharing website YouTube is displayed on a smartphone on November 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Thomas Trutschel | Photothek via Getty Images YouTube will start showing users in the U.K. and Germany fact-checking panels on some video searches, expanding on its efforts to tackle misinformation in Europe. In the coming days, the Google-owned video-sharing service will start displaying information and links from third-party publishers on queries related to issues like elections and the coronavirus pandemic. The feature was first rolled out in Brazil and India last year, and later launched in the U.S. in April. At the time of its launch in the U.S., YouTube and other platforms were coming under fire over the spread of false claims about Covid-19 online. Conspiracy theories linking the virus to next-generation 5G mobile networks, for example, led to cell towers being set ablaze in the U.K. Meanwhile, a video containing bogus anti-vaccine claims spread like wildfire on Facebook, YouTube, IAC-owned Vimeo and Twitter. A study published by King's College London in June showed that people using sites like Facebook and YouTube to find information about the virus were more likely to
The TikTok app icon sits displayed on a smartphone in front the national flags of China and the U.S. in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. Hollie Adams | Bloomberg | Getty Images GUANGZHOU, China — TikTok owner ByteDance has applied for an export license in line with Chinese regulations, as it pushes for a deal with Oracle and Walmart for the video-sharing app's U.S. operations to avoid a shutdown in the country. The application was submitted to the Beijing municipal bureau of commerce, ByteDance said in a statement in Chinese on Thursday. The company said it was waiting for a decision. But the statement did not mention the pending deal in the U.S. nor the exact technology it was looking to get a license for export.  ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by CNBC. Last month, China updated its list of technologies subject to export restrictions to include technologies for "recommendation of personalized information services based on data analysis." This appeared to relate to TikTok's core recommendation algorithm that suggests videos to users and is seen as a reason behind the app's popularity.  ByteDance
Tesla is suing the U.S. government and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over the Trump administration's tariffs on items Tesla imports from China. The electric-car maker wants the court to declare two batches of Trump administration tariffs to be void, and refund Tesla the tariffs it paid with interest, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of International Trade. The specific tariffs at issue are known as List 3 and List 4. List 3 went into effect on 2018 and currently places 25% duties on $200 billion of imported goods from China. List 4 went into effect in 2019 and currently consists of a 7.5% tariff on $120 billion of Chinese imports. Both lists contain hundreds of very specific items, ranging from raw materials to electronic components. The lawsuit did not describe which items Tesla paid tariffs on, nor how much it paid. Tesla and the U.S. trade representative didn't immediately return requests for comment.  The U.S. trade representative's "imposition of List 3 and List 4 duties was arbitrary and capricious because USTR did not provide meaningful opportunity to comment, failed to consider relevant factors when making its decision, and failed to draw a rational connection between
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc., gestures while speaking during a discussion on artificial intelligence at the Bruegel European economic think tank in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. Pichai urged the U.S. and European Union to coordinate regulatory approaches on artificial intelligence, calling their alignment critical. Geert Vanden Wijngaert | Bloomberg | Getty Images Google is rethinking its long-term work options for employees, as most of them say they don't want to come back to the office full-time. 62% of Google employees want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day, according to a recent survey of employee office preferences the company released this week. So Google is working on 'hybrid' models, including rearranging its offices and figuring out more long-term remote work options, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview with Time Magazine Wednesday. "I see the future as being more flexible," Pichai said in Wednesday's interview. "We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don't see that changing. But we do think we
Google Maps Covid-19 overlay Google Google on Wednesday announced a new feature in Google Maps that will show you how many Covid-19 cases there are in particular geographic regions. It pulls in information from Johns Hopkins, the New York Times, and Wikipedia and displays a color-coded map with the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people in a specific area. It will work in 220 countries and territories. This means you can open Google Maps to see outbreaks in your area, which could be helpful if the disease spreads more rapidly in the fall and winter. You can also use it to see if there might be an outbreak brewing in a particular area before you make holiday travel plans. Google Maps Covid-19 layer Google The feature is rolling out for iPhones and Android phones this week. That means you might not see it today, but you should in the coming days. Just keep looking for a Google Maps update. How to use Google Maps to track Covid-19 Google Maps Covid-19 layer Google Once you get the update,
Doug Hirsch, Co-Founder and C0-CEO of GoodRx. Heidi Petty | CNBC Shares of GoodRx, a company that finds users prescription drugs at a discount, jumped 40% in its public debut Wednesday on the Nasdaq.  The stock began trading at $46 per share, up from its IPO price of $33 per share, boosting its market cap to about $17.6 billion. Shares were up as much as 50% early Wednesday afternoon, trading under the symbol "GDRX" on the NASDAQ. Founded in 2011 by Facebook veteran Doug Hirsch and software entrepreneur Trevor Bezdek, GoodRx offers users a free list of discount cards and coupons to cut down costs of their prescription medication. The company collects fees from the pharmacy benefits managers it works with. It's the latest tech company to go public in a busy month for IPOs, following Snowflake, Unity and Amwell. Data analytics company Palantir is expected to go public in a direct listing on Sept. 30. GoodRx revealed in its filing to go public last month that it has been consistently profitable since 2016, a rare feat for tech start-ups going public.  The company said it earned $55 million in profit for first