Russian billionaire Andrey Andreev will sell his majority stake in MagicLab, the company that owns online dating apps Bumble, Badoo and others, to private equity firm Blackstone Group in a deal that values the entire group at $3 billion, according to a statement issued Friday by Blackstone and MagicLab.
Andreev, who founded MagicLab, will step down as CEO of the company as part of the deal. Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, the dating app that markets itself as empowering women, will take over as CEO of the entire group. Before the news of this transaction, Forbes pegged Andreev’s net worth at $1.5 billion. Forbes estimates that the deal will boost Andreev’s net worth to $1.7 billion.
“My aim now is to ensure a smooth and successful transition before I embark on a new business venture in search of innovative leaders with new and exciting ideas,” Andreev said in a statement. “I wish MagicLab and Blackstone every success.”
In July, Forbes published an investigation into the work culture at Badoo’s London headquarters. Thirteen former employees described a work environment that was toxic and misogynistic. After Forbes published the article, Andreev and MagicLab announced they would launch an internal investigation into the London office.
Wolfe Herd met Andreev in 2013 while she was an executive at dating app Tinder. Shortly after, she left Tinder and sued the company, alleging her ex-boss and ex-boyfriend Justin Mateen had sexual harassed her. The suit was confidentially settled for an estimated $1 million. She launched Bumble with funding and support from Andreev, at the end of 2014. Wolfe Herd is selling part of her stake in MagicLab to Blackstone as well, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the deal.
“This transaction is an incredibly important and exciting moment for Bumble and the MagicLab group of brands and team members,” Wolfe Herd said in a statement. “We will keep working towards our goal of recalibrating gender norms and empowering people to connect globally, and now at a much faster pace with our new partner.”
On dating app Bumble, the ladies are required to make the first move. Once those women make a match, the app gives them 24 hours to reach out and start a conversation. The company launched at the end of 2014, gaining more than three million users. Now, Bumble is heading into the “friend zone” with Bumble BFF. The app uses its algorithm to help people find friendship. Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe, who was a co-founder of Tinder, joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss the new venture.
It wasn’t until my first job out of college—one in the wireless business—that I developed a passion for technology and saw how STEM impacts everything we do. This was the spark that led me to fall in love with the network engineering elements of wireless, and the more immersed I got in the industry, the more exposed and interested I was in other components of technology.
Now, as the father of a teenage daughter who’s interested in STEM subjects and potentially even computer science, I want her to find her own opportunities, discover where her passions lie, and to ensure she has the resources and encouragement to pursue them.
In the U.S., there simply aren’t enough people pursuing STEM to meet growing technology demands. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, “78 percent of high school graduates don’t meet benchmark readiness for one or more college courses in mathematics, science or English.” And then there are barriers to STEM advancement like four or six-year degree requirements for many jobs—which are remarkably difficult for most people to afford. So it’s not that surprising when people like Nasdaq vice chairman Bruce Aust say, “By 2020, there will be one million more computing jobs than there will be graduates to fill them, resulting in a $500 billion opportunity gap.”
What’s clear is we need to make it easier for people to experiment with STEM early in life, then create accessible and alternative opportunities to pursue their dreams. Equally important, we need to find ways to dramatically advance gender diversity in STEM fields to accelerate innovation around the world.
Fostering Excitement Around STEM Takes a Village
Organizations like the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS)—which I’m on the board of—partners with school districts around Western Washington State, and is an example of families, teachers, schools, and public and private sector businesses uniting to develop meaningful STEM education and advancement opportunities, because everyone involved can benefit. Hands-on learning and vocational programs like their After School STEM Academy is a great way to help students connect the dots of scientific principles in a fun way. And WABS’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers leverage Title IV funds to help students meet state and local academic standards—from homework tutoring to leadership opportunities that can turn into summer internships or jobs.
As students’ interests in STEM grow, it creates a fantastic opportunity for businesses to see passions play out through hackathons, group ideation, and other challenges. Recently, for the second consecutive year, T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge initiative—in partnership with Ashoka—called on youth aged 13 to 23 from the U.S. and Puerto Rico to submit big ideas for how they would drive change in their communities. T-Mobile received 428 entries—a 28% increase over last year—133 in the ‘Tech for Good’ category. Interestingly, one quarter of all the tech entries were focused on STEM projects and even more interestingly, 63% of all technology category applications were from young women. We saw submissions from apps to robots to video games—all with the goal of changing the world for good. Next up, we’ll announce the Top 30 teams and each of them will receive a trip to T-Mobile’s HQ for the three-day Changemaker Challenge Lab to supercharge their projects along with some seed funding. Three category winners will pitch their ideas to T-Mobile leadership for a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. To say that these young people’s ideas are inspiring is an understatement!
Accelerating Innovation Through Gender Diversity and Inner-Sourcing
Women aren’t typically well represented in many STEM-focused industries. Gender diversity is crucial to designing and building innovative solutions around the world, including T-Mobile’s products and services. At least half of our customers are female, and of the more than 50,000 employees who make up T-Mobile, 42% identify as female. If our product and technology employees don’t represent the diversity in our community, we stand to lose relevance in the market. By making diversity and inclusion a thoughtful, premeditated, sustained, and structural part of our recruitment and retainment of employees—including network engineers, software developers, data scientists, and other STEM professions—we’re able to foster a stronger company culture and build more innovative, customer experience obsessed products and services.
Let’s not forget that plenty of STEM-related jobs don’t include “engineer”, “developer”, or “scientist” in the job title across fields that intersect technology and digital customer experiences. One way we’ve cultivated the right talent at T-Mobile is “inner-sourcing” existing employees. For instance, through our Team of Pros program (TOPs), we provide opportunities for our frontline retail and customer care employees to apply for a 6 to 9-month program in a product management capacity to learn and work directly with engineering teams to ensure a tight coupling between what customers really want and the products, apps, training, and troubleshooting resources we design and develop. This is a great opportunity for our frontline employees to pivot into full-time STEM-related roles within T-Mobile corporate, without the need to pursue a formal technology-oriented education.
Championing STEM to Create a Better World
We live in a world where technology is omnipresent however connected, collaborative, and continuous STEM education isn’t equally accessible, and gender diversity is not well represented. To address pervasive global issues like climate change, resource inequality, economic stagnation, disease prevention, and others, we need diverse people who understand technical processes and technologies to work together to develop effective solutions. For those of us fortunate enough to reach a level of financial stability in STEM fields, we owe it to the future of our world to give back by leading and inspiring today’s and the next generation of technology leaders.
Cody Sanford is T-Mobile’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, leading the company’s digital transformation strategy fueling the Un-carrier revolution. He is responsible for spearheading the development of a product-centric technology organization that leverages the power of people, process and technology to bring to life T-Mobile’s innovative experiences for customers and frontline employees. Under Cody’s leadership, the Product & Technology organization is driving T-Mobile’s digital transformation, with an industry-leading software dev shop, expansion into adjacent products and services categories, and a leadership role in delivering open source innovations that solve large customer pain points.
Many people in the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have begun to question why the STEM workforce doesn’t reflect the diversity of society at large. In this talk, Jess Vovers tackles some key questions: What is diversity? Why does it matter? Why does STEM lack diversity? And what can we do about it? Jessica Vovers is a PhD candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne, with a focus on sustainable solvents. When she’s not painting herself blue, she’s usually playing video games or riding her bike. Jess advocates for diversity in STEM through her work with Science Gallery Melbourne and mentoring with Curious Minds. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
EHang, a Chinese company that is preparing to launch what could be the first autonomous air taxi service, filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on the Nasdaq with a $100 million offering of depository shares.
In January, EHang became the first company to receive approval from Chinese aviation regulators to establish a pilot air taxi service. EHang is planning an initial cross-river route in its home city of Guangzhou using a two-seat, 16-rotor autonomous passenger vehicle called the EHang 216. The company is hoping to expand to other major cities in China, where crushing traffic congestion makes the prospect of an aerial alternative tantalizing, as well as internationally.
While it’s been developing its passenger vehicles, EHang has made a name for itself, and some money, by staging light shows with hundreds of coordinated small drones, as well as selling surveillance drone systems. According to Derrick Xiong, a cofounder of the company and its chief marketing officer, the light shows have given EHang valuable experience that is helping it to perfect software that will be capable of coordinating a large network of passenger-carrying vehicles. “When we build a three-dimensional transport system, we need to be able to control thousands of aircraft,” he told Forbes in a phone conversation last month.
Xiong says that in addition to air taxi services, the company has customers in China who want to use its passenger drones for sightseeing in scenic locations in the mountains or on the coast, as well as interest in Norway to use them to transport workers and supplies to offshore oil platforms.
Another market: speedy delivery of organs for transplant. In 2016, the U.S. biotech company United Therapeutics said it would order up to 1,000 of EHang’s first passenger drone, the one-seat EHang 184, to transport manufactured lungs and other organs its developing.
United Therapeutics and its subsidiary Lung Biotechnology have pumped $17 million into EHang in return for 2.9 million preferred shares, EHang’s F-1 filing says. The company has already delivered 38 passenger drones to customers and has a backlog of 28 orders, according to the filing.
EHang disclosed a net loss of $5.5 million for the first six months of 2019, up 42% from the same period in 2018, on $4.7 million in revenue, off 15.6%, as a rise in sales in its passenger and cargo drone businesses was undercut by a decline in its light show and surveillance drone operations. The company has raised $52 million in venture capital from funds including GGV Capital and ZhenFund.
EHang was founded in 2014 by Xiong, who had just returned to China after earning an MBA at Duke, and CEO Huazhi Hu, a software developer who had built an emergency dispatch system for the Beijing Olympics.
The EHang 216, which the company is manufacturing in Austria in collaboration with FACC, a maker of composite airframe parts, has a range of roughly 10 miles and a top speed of 99 mph. The company says it has safely conducted over 2,000 flight tests of the 216 and the 184, including in high winds.
Since June 2018, EHang has been operating a pilot drone food delivery service in Guangzhou the supermarket chain Yonghui within a roughly 6-mile radius of a store in the center of the city. Xiong said that the service had successfully completed 30,000 deliveries to distribution points where customers come to pick up their order.
It’s also launched a drone cargo delivery service with DHL-Sinotrans between an industrial park in Guangzhou and a DHL hub 5 miles away in Dongguan.
The share offering is being underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Needham & Co. and Tiger Brokers.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel for free here: https://sc.mp/subscribe-youtube Chinese firm shows off its pilotless air taxi for the first time in Europe. Developed by Chinese drone company Ehang and Austrian aeronautics company FACC, the Ehang 216 was tested in Vienna, Austria on April 4. The flying taxi’s speed can reach up to 130 kilometres per hour and fly for 40 minutes. The flying taxi is expected to cost 200,000 euros (US$224,000). The autonomous flying car industry is rising, with aerospace giant Airbus and Boeing aiming to offer such service. However, regulations have yet to be made for this kind of transportation.
Microsoft has always been a software company. It’s what make it the most valuable company on earth (twice), and it’s what makes it so interesting that the company has been making some serious hardware for a few years now. And when I say serious hardware, I mean it’s seriously good. I’m not a Windows user, and you’d have to pry my MacBook Pro out of my cold, dead hands if you tried to make me switch, but I will freely admit: Microsoft has some serious design chops.
New Surface Devices
Take, for example, the slate of new products the company introduced yesterday, like the updated versions of the Surface Laptop, including a 15-inch model. The Surface Laptop 3, as it’s called, also finally gets USB-C, which is long overdue. It’s impressive, but it’s not even close to the highlight of the event, at least from the standpoint of innovation.
That would be the introduction of two new dual-screen devices, the Surface Neo and Duo. It’s actually not even a new concept. Microsoft worked on a similar product called Courier back in 2008, though it canceled the project two years later without ever it being released.
The Surface Duo.Courtesy Microsoft
The most interesting thing about the smaller of the two devices, known as Surface Duo, is that it’s a Microsoft product that runs Android. Which is because it’s a foldable smartphone, though Microsoft really doesn’t want you to call it a phone.
But it is. It’s a foldable smartphone, which unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, avoids the messy technical problems of foldable screens. Instead, this one has two screens and opens like a book. Instead of focusing on futuristic display technology that isn’t quite ready for prime time, Microsoft is focusing on the user experience.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella told Wired magazine that “The operating system is no longer the most important layer for us…What is most important for us is the app model and the experience.” Which is probably why it doesn’t run Windows Mobile.
The larger device, known (at least for now) as Surface Neo is a dual-screen device with a moveable keyboard that attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly. You can place it over one of the screens, and it covers about two-thirds of that screen, leaving space for a virtual touchpad (at the bottom) or what Microsoft calls Wunderbar (at the top). The latter feature is sort of like a giant version of Apple’s Touch Bar.
The Surface Neo. Courtesy Microsoft
What’s really interesting about Microsoft’s strategy here is that the device will run a variant of the company’s operating system known as Windows X, which will also reportedly power future dual-screen devices from Dell, Asus, Lenovo, and HP.
This incarnation finally begs the question of whether the world needs a dual-screen device, and if so, for what?
Interestingly, both devices will be able to run different apps across both screens, or in some cases, span both displays, opening up a range of potential uses. For example, Microsoft points out that you can arrange the displays back to back to present PowerPoint slides on the front, while viewing your notes on the reverse side.
And, according to Georg Petschnigg, CIO of WeTransfer and the CEO of Fifty Three–the developers of the popular Paper app–the Duo especially has major creative potential. “Mobile creation and productivity has great potential. I would not be surprised if Google and Microsoft invest in a new App Store based on Android for the Duo,” Petschnigg told me.
A Real Challenge to Apple?
In fact, I think you could argue Microsoft has done something that many tech observers and creative entrepreneurs (like me) would have never thought possible: transitioning from making boring software like spreadsheets and email servers, to a company that now rivals Apple in terms of design and user experience.
Microsoft won’t actually start selling either device until the holiday season in 2020, more than a year away at this point. Normally, tech companies keep innovative new products under wraps until they’re almost ready to ship, but in this case Microsoft is putting it out there for the world to see.
You might even say it’s putting the world–and companies like Apple–on notice.
Looking closely at the attitude of Tim Cook’s Apple to the macOS powered laptops, you’d be forgiven in thinking that the MacBook Pro has already been moved to legacy status. The intense and almost obsessive focus on thin and minimalist design, coupled with restricting choice and denying Mac owners long-term flexibility, has pushed the still-useful and beloved laptop family out of the public’s gaze.
First up is the obsessive drive to make its laptops thinner and lighter. Yes, the resulting devices look lighter and I’m sure that focus groups presented with alternate designs will choose the prettier one, but a laptop is not phone, nor is it a tablet. You need a certain amount of size to enjoy the experience, to have space for powerful chips, to handle the cooling requirements, to allow for new technology, and to guarantee reliability.
may have a significant share of the market, but where are the gaming options? They’re all using Windows 10, with access to a wide range of graphics cards, super processors, and fast refreshing densely packed 4K screens.
Apple has decided on the one true way to use your laptop, and has forced that through. If you want to do something outside of that definition, then the closed nature means you are out of luck.
Take the removal of the SD Card reader. Photographers are a notable demographic in MacBook Pro ownership and regularly tote a ridiculous number of cards around. It was an easy matter to pop these into their primary machine as required. Nope, that’s not the way forward that Apple sees it, so the SD card reader is removed.
And frankly, for a professional machine, the answer of using an external card reader in the USB ports or connecting through the camera is an embarrassment. And that’s before it leads to counting the number of available USB ports.
Apple CEO Tim Cook presents new products, including new Macbook laptops, during a special event at… [+]
Finally, there’s Apple’s attitude towards the Mac machines in general, and the flagship MacBook Pro laptops specifically. While Tim Cook and his team are happy to sell them, and happy to remind developers about the machines, when it comes to the consumer events, the MacBook Pro is simply left in the wings.
Apple’s September event is the key consumer event for the year. It sets the tone for the year to come, it focuses the attention of the public on Apple’s core devices, and that was the iPhone and the Apple Watch. The side order of iPad was a kick in the teeth for those waiting for the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The obsession of preserving September for just the iPhone and any supporting peripherals weakens the MacBook Pro. And yes, Apple has the option of an event in October where the MacBook Pro can be revealed, but I suspect that even if the 16-inch MacBook Pro is given a public reveal (rather than a humbling ‘launch by press release’) the priority at the october event will be the iPad Pro.
Apple CEO Tim Cook presents new products, including new Macbook laptops, during a special event at… [+]
Tim Cook’s Apple is in the middle of a move towards software and services. At some point that means the focus on the iPhone and the iPad as standalone hardware will fade away and they will become little more than conduits for content. It means that there will come a point where Apple does not have to keep up with other platforms and manufacturers that are pushing the limits of technology – there are some would say that Apple is already following this model given the lack of change in the iPhone over the last few years.
What does that future look like? It looks a lot like the present day MacBook Pro. Unloved by management but continuing to perform vital tasks in the ecosystem; unnoticed by consumers who are lured into more profitable machines with software lock-ins and walled gardens that offer Apple’s accountants a thirty percent rake on everything; and unable to respond to competitors who are developing laptops and desk-bound machines for a new generation.
I am known for my strong views on mobile technology, online media, and the effect this has on the public conscious and existing businesses. I’ve been following this space for over ten years, working with a number of publishers, publications and media companies, some for long periods of time, others for commissions, one-off pieces or a series of articles or shows. As Scotland’s first podcaster, I continue to be a prominent voice in the rise of podcasting and new media online, and picked up a British Academy (BAFTA) nomination for my annual coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, alongside contributions to Radio 5 Live, the BBC World Service, presenting Edinburgh local radio’s coverage of the General Election. You’ll find me on Twitter (@Ewan), Facebook, and Google Plus.
QC Ware, a Palo Alto, California, startup that offers quantum computing-as-a-service, announced this week that it’s opened up a public beta of its quantum cloud service, called Forge. With this offering, the company joins IBM, Rigetti and D-Wave as another entrant into the growing market for quantum cloud services, but unlike those companies, QC Ware is focused on software development rather than building its own quantum computers.
“We’re specifically focused on finding ways to accelerate hard enterprise problems,” says CEO Matt Johnson.
Through Forge, customers can gain access to a library of the quantum algorithms that QC Ware has spent the past years developing in collaboration with its customers. Quantum algorithms take advantage of the fact that unlike a traditional computer, where a bit is always represented as a “0” or a “1,” a quantum bit, or “qubit,” can exist indeterminately as one or the other while a computation is being run. This enables a quantum computer to perform particular types of computation much faster than a regular computer.
For QC Ware’s customers, those algorithms can be integrated to suit their needs, and once it’s ready, Forge can run them either on a high-performance computer capable of simulating quantum operations or on an actual quantum computer. Customers will be able to choose to run on machines owned by D-Wave, IBM or Rigetti.
Despite rumors earlier this week that Google was able to achieve “quantum supremacy” on a particularly hard problem (meaning that its quantum system may have solved a problem faster than a classical computer), most experts agree that the achievement of a real quantum advantage (where a quantum computer solves a meaningful problem faster than a traditional solution) is still between three and ten years away. That said, companies across many different industries, such as J.P. Morgan or Volkswagen, are already investigating how quantum advantage can improve their businesses once they arrive. Gartner estimates that 20% of organizations will be budgeting for quantum products by 2023.
“If you look at Wall Street, for instance, and look at the five largest banks—all of those banks have a quantum computing program running at this point,” says Johnson.
Johnson cofounded QC Ware in 2014, having become enamored with the idea of quantum computing after meeting a group of researchers at NASA Ames talking about it a couple of years earlier. He says that for him, part of wanting to get moving on developing quantum software was “the allure of commercializing a technology that I thought was going to be really important to commercial industry but also to the government.” The company has raised $8.2 million in venture backing so far, and according to Johnson is close to being cash-flow positive.
A large part of the commercialization that drew Johnson into this industry involves the development of quantum algorithms. Right now they can be simulated on a regular computer, but once hardware has achieved quantum supremacy, they’ll run significantly more quickly. The idea behind developing quantum algorithms now is so organizations don’t have to play catch-up once quantum supremacy arrives.
One of the challenges, though, is that while classical computers all run on the same basic architecture, there are currently multiple competing quantum computing architectures—and as the hardware develops, it’s likely to turn out that the best architecture to use may well depend on the problem at hand. Which is why QC Ware’s head of simulations (and Forbes Under 30 alumnus) Robert Parrish is actively involved in developing hardware-agnostic software stacks.
“It’s very unclear at the moment which one of these technologies is going to succeed first and which is going to be the right one to use for a given problem,” he says.
Forge customers will be able to experiment with this themselves, as the cloud service will enable them to make use of several different types of quantum hardware. Potential customers will have an opportunity to have a 30-day evaluation of the service that includes one minute of quantum computing time, after which they’ll have an opportunity to subscribe to it. Pricing for the service starts at $2,500 for one hour of quantum computing time—a bargain compared to the tens of millions of dollars it currently costs to develop or purchase quantum hardware. In offering these services, the company believes it will move quantum computing closer to a useful reality.
“Practical quantum advantage will occur,” Johnson said in a statement. “Most experts agree that it’s a matter of when, not if. The way to pull that horizon closer is by having the user community fully engaged in quantum computing application discovery.”
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time. More Information: https://iqoqi.at/en/current/news/689-…
Newly unsealed court documents have revealed a secret legal battle between Microsoft and one of America’s leading prosecutors focused on chasing Chinese technology companies breaking U.S. law.
U.S. attorney Alexander Solomon—who also happens to be the lead prosecutor on two criminal cases involving Huawei—just scored a big victory in that tussle, forcing Microsoft to keep quiet about a demand to hand over customer emails.
That request was originally filed in August 2018 and was followed by a gag order. Both were kept secret until Wednesday, when it emerged Microsoft was told to hand over emails, text messages and voicemails belonging to two employees at one of its unnamed enterprise customers. Microsoft said that while it could provide the data, it should be allowed to inform executives at that unnamed company. It asked the government to lift a gag order that had prevented it from informing anyone. As revealed in a Microsoft blog post and court documents unsealed Wednesday, the software giant lost that fight, though it will appeal.
Nothing was said about why the government wanted those emails. But there are numerous indications the data grab is related to America’s fight against Chinese businesses’ breaches of U.S. law.
To start, the prosecutors in the case are both leading high-profile cases into various offenses committed by Chinese nationals and businesses against the U.S. And one, Alexander Solomon, is the lead prosecutor in two cases in which Huawei is at the center.
The biggest is the one in which Huawei stands accused of illegally exporting equipment to Iran from the U.S. via a subsidiary called Skycom, and then repeatedly lying about the deals. Not only were Huawei, its U.S. business and Skycom charged, so was the daughter of the Huawei CEO and the current CFO, Wanzhou Meng, who is currently fighting extradition from Canada. Huawei has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Huawei entities were, in January this year, charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (lEEPA), a law that Trump recently used to enforce sanctions on Iran. As per court documents detailing the order on Microsoft, the two employees of the unnamed customer are suspected of similar crimes, namely wire fraud, money laundering and breaches of lEEPA.
Going deeper, those staff at the Microsoft customer are being investigated for working for one multinational corporation and conspiring with another to violate the lEEPA. They did so “by sending and attempting to send U.S. origin goods to [a company] in [a foreign country], in contravention of U.S. sanctions,” according to a court filing.
The name of the customer remains a mystery. It’s unlikely to be Huawei, though. That’s because Microsoft was asked to hand over the emails of two “low-level employees in one business unit of a multinational, publicly listed Microsoft customer.” Huawei is not publicly listed; its private ownership has, in fact, been the subject of much speculation. Though it claims to be owned by its employees, academics have suggested that’s misleading.
The prosecutor, Solomon, is also leading a case against Chinese professor Bo Mao, who has been accused of stealing technology from a California company for a Chinese company, reportedly Huawei. Mao has pleaded not guilty on a single charge of wire fraud.
Huawei hadn’t responded to a request for comment on the above cases. Microsoft also hadn’t provided comment. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
Microsoft’s fight with the U.S.
But Microsoft had a lot to say in court filings and a blog post about the government’s attempts to completely silence the maker of the Windows operating system.
It argued that 20 years ago, the government would go directly to the company that controlled the data, not its cloud-based tech supplier. Microsoft said it was “disturbing” that governments were now going to tech companies instead. And it therefore should be allowed to at least tell employees at an affected company about a government data grab, as long as it wouldn’t jeopardize an investigation. “The government cannot justify such a total ban on Microsoft’s speech,” the company’s lawyers said.
Dev Stahlkopf, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel, said the company would “continue to stand up for the principle that our customers are entitled to know when the government obtains their data.”
“Absent extraordinary circumstances, government agents should seek data directly from our enterprise customers, and if they seek our customers’ data from us, they should allow us to tell our customers when demands are made,” Stahlkopf added.
“We believe strongly that these fundamental protections should not disappear just because customers store their data in the cloud rather than in file cabinets or desk drawers.”
Microsoft has also been vocal about restrictions on American companies doing business with Huawei. Company president Brad Smith recently said the U.S. should revisit the ban preventing Microsoft and others from letting Huawei run American software.
I’m associate editor for Forbes, covering security, surveillance and privacy. I’ve been breaking news and writing features on these topics for major publications since 2010. As a freelancer, I worked for The Guardian, Vice Motherboard, Wired and BBC.com, amongst many others. I was named BT Security Journalist of the year in 2012 and 2013 for a range of exclusive articles, and in 2014 was handed Best News Story for a feature on US government harassment of security professionals. I like to hear from hackers who are breaking things for either fun or profit and researchers who’ve uncovered nasty things on the web. Tip me on Signal at 447837496820. I use WhatsApp and Treema too. Or you can email me at TBrewster@forbes.com, or email@example.com.
Sun Tzu meets software in mid-August at downtown Denver’s Crawford Hotel. The floors are terrazzo. The chandeliers are accented with gold. And Dean Stoecker, the CEO of data-science firm Alteryx, has summoned his executives for the annual strategy session he calls Bing Fa, after the Mandarin title of The Art of War. “Sun Tzu was all about how you conserve resources,” says Stoecker, 62. “How do you win a war without going into battle?”alteryx
Stoecker knows something about conserving resources. He cofounded Alteryx in 1997, when the data-science industry scarcely existed, and spent a decade growing the firm to a measly $10 million in annual revenue. “We had to wait for the market to catch up,” he says. As he waited, he kept the business lean, hiring slowly and forgoing outside investment until 2011. Then, as “big data” began eating the world, he raised $163 million before taking Alteryx public in 2017. The stock is up nearly 900% since, and Stoecker is worth an estimated $1.2 billion.
“People ask me, ‘Did you ever think it would get this big?’” he says. “And I say, ‘Yeah, I just never thought it would take this long.’ ”
Alteryx makes data science easy. Its simple, click-and-drop design lets anyone, from recent grads to emeritus chairmen, turn raw numbers into charts and graphics. It goes far beyond Excel. Plug in some numbers, select the desired operation—say data cleansing or linear regression—and presto.
There are applications in every industry. Coca-Cola uses Alteryx to help restaurants predict how much soda to order. Airlines use it to hedge the price of jet fuel. Banks use it to model derivatives. Data analysis “is the one skill that every human being has to have if they’re going to survive in this next generation,” says Stoecker. “More so than balancing a checkbook.”
Alteryx’s numbers support that forecast. The company, based in Irvine, California, generated $28 million in profit on $254 million in revenue in 2018, and Stoecker expects to hit $1 billion in annual sales by 2022.
Stoecker grew up the son of a tinkerer. His father built liquid nitrogen tanks for NASA before quitting his job to sell “pre-cut” vacation homes in Colorado. He made them himself. “It was literally just him nine months of the year, and he would cut wood for 50 buildings,” Stoecker recalls. As a teenager he joined his father, and by the time he arrived at the University of Colorado Boulder to study economics, he was able to pay his own way.
After graduating in 1979, Stoecker earned his M.B.A. from Pepperdine, then took a sales job in 1990 at Donnelley Marketing Information Services, a data company in Connecticut. There he met Libby Duane Adams, who worked in the firm’s Stamford office. Seven years later, the pair founded a data company of their own, which they cumbersomely named Spatial Re-Engineering Consultants. (A third cofounder, Ned Harding, joined around the same time; Stoecker, who came up with the idea, took the lion’s share of the equity.)
SRC’s first customer, a junk mail company in Orange County, paid $125,000 to better target its coupons. “We were building big-data analytic cloud solutions back in 1998,” says Stoecker, when many businesses were barely online and terms like “cloud computing” were years away.
SRC was profitable from the outset. “We didn’t spend ahead of revenue. We didn’t hire ahead of revenue,” says Adams, sitting in a remodeled 1962 Volkswagen bus at Alteryx headquarters, theoretically a symbol of the company’s journey. “We never calculated burn rates. That was a big topic in the whole dot-com era. We were not running the business like a dot-com.”
In 2006, as part of a pivot away from one-off consulting gigs, SRC released software to let customers do the number-crunching themselves. They named the software Alteryx, a nerdy joke for changing two variables simultaneously: “Alter Y, X.” Stoecker made Alteryx the company name, too, in 2010.
The market was still small. To grow revenue, “we just kept raising the price of our platform,” Stoecker says. In the beginning, Alteryx sold its subscription-based software for $7,500 per user; by 2013 it was charging $55,000. The next year, as Stoecker felt demand growing, he slashed prices to $4,000. Volume made up for the lower rate. Today Alteryx has 5,300 customers. “We immediately went from averaging eight, nine or ten [new clients] a quarter to north of 250,” he says.
Although data mining and data analytics is a long-established field, encompassing a slew of startups as well as giants like Oracle and IBM, “we see almost no direct competition,” Stoecker insists.
“It’s a pretty wide-open field,” says Marshall Senk, a senior research analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading. “The choice is you buy a suite from Alteryx or you go buy 15 different products and try to figure out how to get them to work together.”
Inside Alteryx’s offices, Stoecker pauses in front of a time line depicting his first 22 years in business. “The good stuff hasn’t even occurred yet,” he says. “I’m going to need a way bigger wall.”
I’ve been a reporter at Forbes since 2016. Before that, I spent a year on the road—driving for Uber in Cleveland, volcano climbing in Guatemala, cattle farming in Uruguay, and lots of stuff in between. I graduated from Tufts University with a dual degree in international relations and Arabic. Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org with any story ideas or tips, or follow me on Twitter @Noah_Kirsch.
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Poor Barry Thompson is about to get fired, and you’re the unfortunate one shouldered with lowering the ax. You might not feel sorry for Barry given he’s virtual. But the idea is that firing him in VR will help prepare you if you ever need to terminate someone who isn’t made of pixels.
Barry is the creation of Talespin Studios, a VR company that develops virtual- and augmented-reality training programs for Fortune 500 partners including Farmers Insurance and telecom and finance companies. The company introduced Barry to demonstrate its “Virtual Human Technology.”What it looks like to fire an employee in VR
“The premise behind the software is giving employees a safe space to practice challenging interpersonal situations, while using AI to create emotionally realistic characters to stimulate and challenge them,” says Kyle Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Talespin.
The company, which is based in Southern California and The Netherlands, built Barry using speech recognition, AI, natural language processing, gamified scoring, dynamic feedback and enterprise learning management system, or LMS, integration. He can fluidly converse with the real person wearing the VR headset, display realistic emotion and understand context.
The highly realistic-looking Mr. Thompson has gray hair and bags under his eyes and looks like he’s probably put a whole lot of years into the company. His reaction to the bad news varies depending on how you handle the situation. In some scenarios, he gets angry and yells, in others he cries. If you handle his firing well, he calmly accepts the news..
“Users that elicit the more dramatic or emotional responses from Barry can learn from the experience and try to do better next time,” Jackson says.
Talespin virtual humans give trainees the chance to practice other challenging interpersonal situations with colleagues and co-workers, such as giving managerial feedback, negotiating and making a sale.
In one sales scenario, for example, the CEO of a company you’re trying to sell your firm’s services to has her arms crossed, looks away as you explain why you’re there, and says you won’t get the full time requested for the meeting. You have to rely on your training to overcome her disinterest and unlock different parts of the conversation where you can be successful.
“The immersive properties and rich, consistent contextual cues associated with VR improve the quality and speed of initial learning,” according to Training Industry. “One strength of VR is that it can be implemented in such a way as to target [both] the behavioral skills system and the cognitive skills system.”
Talespin isn’t the only company creating VR training content for workers. Thousands of Walmart employees have donned Oculus Go virtual reality headsets for a training program created by Strivr, which also counts Verizon, Fidelity and United Rentals among its customers.
“When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation,” Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of Walmart US Academies, said when announcing the program last year.
Or, as Talespin’s Jackson puts it, “Virtual humans can help us become better humans.”
Now, can someone please hook Barry up with a new job?
We buy our own products and put them under the same testing methodology so that you can easily compare them. Unlike most websites, we do not get our products directly from the manufacturers, which means our units aren’t handpicked and actually represent what you would buy yourself. We spend a lot of time comparing the products side-by-side to validate our results and we keep them until they are discontinued so we can continually go back and make sure our reviews are always accurate.
You don’t have to spend a small fortune to get a decent monitor. Whether you’ll be using it for schoolwork, the office, or gaming, there are budget monitors that can fit any need. Cheaper monitors are usually smaller, though, and most of them have 1080p resolutions, which isn’t ideal for everyone.
We’ve reviewed 71 monitors, and below you’ll find our picks for the top 5 budget models that are available for purchase in 2019.
Dell P2417H: The best cheap monitor
Dell P2417H – RTINGS.com
The Dell P2417H is the best budget monitor that we’ve tested so far. This 24”, 1080p monitor delivers decent picture quality, and has a great response time and low input lag, perfect for casual gaming. This is also a good monitor for office use, as it has great ergonomics, so it’s easy to place in an ideal viewing position and it looks great when viewed at an angle, thanks to the IPS panel.
This is a pretty bare-bones monitor, with very few additional features. There is a built-in USB hub, with two ports on the back, and two ports on the side, which can be very convenient. It doesn’t have any extra gaming features, like FreeSync, but it has low input lag and a great response time, so it’s still a good choice for casual gamers.
Unfortunately, like most IPS monitors, the Dell P2417H doesn’t look as good in a dark room, and it can’t get very bright, which might be an issue if you’re in a bright room.
If you like the Dell P2417H but want something even smaller and more portable, check out the Dell P2217H. This monitor is a slightly smaller variant of the other Dell, and it offers nearly identical performance.
The small size of this monitor is great for mobile professionals, as it’s relatively compact and easy to carry. There’s no quick release on the stand, though, which isn’t ideal. This monitor has the same inputs as the larger model, including the useful built-in USB hub.
Unfortunately, it has slightly worse black uniformity than the P2417H, which isn’t great for dark room viewing. Otherwise, this is a decent monitor for most uses.
If you want better gaming performance than the Dell P2417H and Dell P2217H offer, the ViewSonic XG2402 is the best cheap gaming monitor that we’ve tested so far. This monitor delivers decent overall picture quality, and it has excellent motion handling and low input lag. This monitor also has a great selection of inputs, and has a built-in USB hub on the back, similar to the two Dells.
This monitor delivers a great gaming experience. It has an excellent 144Hz refresh rate, and it has an impressive response time, so your favorite games have very little blur behind fast-moving objects. This monitor also supports FreeSync variable refresh rate technology, even when connected to a recent NVIDIA graphics card.
Unfortunately, this monitor’s TN panel isn’t great for dark room viewing, and the image degrades when viewed at an angle. Overall, though, this is a great budget gaming monitor that should please most gamers.
Samsung C27F398: The best budget gaming monitor for a dark room
Samsung C27F398 – RTINGS.com
Variable Refresh Rate: FreeSync
If you want a larger monitor with good dark room performance on a budget, check out the Samsung C27F398. This 27”, 1080p monitor delivers decent overall picture quality, with very good motion handling and great low input lag. The VA panel on this monitor delivers much better dark room viewing than the ViewSonic XG2402, as it produces deep, uniform blacks.
This monitor delivers a good overall gaming experience. It supports AMD’s FreeSync variable refresh rate technology, even when connected via DisplayPort to a recent NVIDIA graphics card. This monitor is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, though, which might disappoint some gamers.
Unfortunately, like the ViewSonic, the image on this monitor degrades when viewed at an angle, which isn’t ideal for some uses. Overall, though, it’s a good budget gaming monitor.
The Dell U2415 is the best budget office monitor that we’ve tested so far. It delivers decent picture quality, okay motion handling, and low input lag. The 1920×1200 screen is a bit better for multitasking, and the stand has great ergonomics, so it’s easy to place the screen in the ideal viewing position.
Like most IPS monitors, this one has great wide viewing angles. This is great for sharing your screen with someone else, like clients or coworkers. This monitor gets decently bright and has good reflection handling, so there shouldn’t be any issues seeing the screen in a bright room.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as good when viewed in a dark room, as it has mediocre contrast and bad black uniformity. Overall, though, it’s a good office monitor for most people.
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