Amazon is still hustling late into the year. They announced the acquisition of wireless camera company Blink. There is also more information about Amazon’s plans to get into online advertising… Google and Facebook should be concerned.
Uber gets another life-line as SoftBank purchases a 30% stake in the company.
Microsoft is making a push to replace traditional passwords with bio-metric solutions like iris scanning. It does sound less complicated, but there is something about having a IR laser blasting my eyeball that fills me with unease.
- Amazon buys Blink wire-free connected camera startup
Amazon has acquired Blink, the wireless security camera company that launched back in 2014 and then subsequently closed a million-dollar Kickstarter campaign. The deal was announced today, and for the moment will see Blink continue to operate as-is, with no changes to the company’s line-up. That includes the recently announced Blink Video Doorbell.
- SoftBank Succeeds in Tender Offer for Large Stake in Uber
SoftBank Group Corp. won its bid to buy a major stake in Uber Technologies Inc. at a steep discount to the company’s previous valuation in a deal that gives the world’s biggest tech investor sway over the most valuable U.S. startup.
Uber investors and employees tendered shares equal to about 20% of the company in an offer by a SoftBank-led consortium that values Uber at $48 billion—a roughly 30% discount to its most recent valuation of about $68 billion, people familiar with the matter said.
The group will end up acquiring slightly less: SoftBank itself will own about 15% of Uber, and other members of SoftBank’s bidding group will get a stake of around 3%, one of the people said.
- What Amazon’s Alexa economy pays the people building its skills
Wilson unexpectedly joined a new Alexa economy, a small but fast-growing network of independent developers, marketing companies and Alexa tools makers. They’re working to bring you voice-activated flash briefings, games and recipes through Amazon’s Echo speaker, Alexa’s primary home. By doing so, they hope to define the 3-year-old Alexa platform and make money from voice computing’s surging popularity.
Two years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much to do on Alexa and the market for making Alexa skills was worth a mere $500,000. Now, with more than 25,000 skills available, the market is expected to hit $50 million in 2018, according to analytics firm VoiceLabs. That’s dwarfed by the mobile app economy, with global sales of over $50 billion, but Alexa is growing at a far faster rate.
- Amazon is planning a push into digital advertising in 2018, challenging Google and Facebook
Digital advertising was a $209 billion business globally in 2017, according to media buying research firm Magna Global. And it’s only increasing: The company predicts the industry will grow 13 percent to $237 billion next year. The U.S. is currently the most lucrative market, where advertisers spent $40.1 billion on digital advertising during the first half of 2017 alone, according to digital ad industry group Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Although Amazon doesn’t break out revenues from its advertising business, eMarketer estimates Amazon was the fifth-largest digital advertiser in the U.S. in terms of revenue this year. Still, it makes up a little more than 2 percent of the market. It’s leagues below industry leaders Google and Facebook, which take home more than 70 percent combined, according to a recent estimate from analysts at Pivotal.
But advertisers have been searching for a third large competitor in order to lower prices and force Google and Facebook to be more open about sharing user data. Amazon could be a major player, if only based on the sheer volume of consumer insights it has thanks to its robust e-commerce business.
- Oracle: A Classic Case Of Cannibalization
If cloud computing is classified as a disruptor, Oracle (ORCL) is definitely the flag bearer for the incumbents that are being disrupted. One of the pioneers of the information technology industry, Oracle had conceded its dominance to the likes of Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) in the cloud computing space.
Although Oracle’s total cloud revenues were up 60% in 2017 and have more than doubled in the last two years, they are at best substituting for the decline in its traditional revenue streams – software, hardware, and services. Revenues of new software licenses were down 32%, hardware revenues were down 34%, and service revenues were down 21% in the last five years. Hence, the total cumulative growth in revenues over the last five years is merely 1.64%. In fact, sales in 2017 were marginally lower than that in 2015 and 2014. Despite the scrimpy growth rates, the stock is up over 90% since May 2012. Shareholders are rewarded generously by increase in dividends and share repurchase programs over that period as well.
- Goldman is reportedly getting into bitcoin and crypto trading
The bank is said to be in the early stages of setup, which means hiring and figuring out the logistics, including how the bank will hold the assets and keep them secure. The ultimate goal, Bloomberg claimed, is to begin trading by June 2018.
“In response to client interest in digital currencies, we are exploring how best to serve them,” the bank told Bloomberg in a statement.
The move would make it the first major bank to embrace trading bitcoin and cryptocoins, which have surged in value in 2017, with bitcoin itself getting close to the $20,000 mark before falling this week. It’s current price is $14,633, according to Coindesk, a huge jump on $998 on January 1 2017.
- Blockchain Pumping New Life Into Old-School Companies Like IBM
That’s creating new opportunities for some of the old warships of the technology world, companies like IBM and Microsoft Corp. that are making the transition to cloud services. And products that had gone out of vogue, such as databases sold by Oracle Corp., are becoming sexy again.
“All of these things will get a new life because of blockchain,” said Jerry Cuomo, vice president of technology for IBM Blockchain. “Our sales team loves blockchain because a customer that is buying blockchain rarely walks out of the store with just blockchain. They walk out with multiple things in their cart.”
I am sharing this article because it is a great example of media bias. “All of these things will be new life” because nobody is buying IBM software and Oracle DBs.
- Microsoft says it’s time to kill the traditional passwords system
Windows Hello allows users to log in with their iris, thus the new system is slightly better than the passwords. In a blog post, Bret Arsenault, corporate vice president for Microsoft and chief information security officer highlighted the reason why it’s time to kill the traditional passwords system.
According to Microsoft, Windows Hello is more convenient and easier to use. The software giant also claims that at least 70 percent of the Windows 10 users with biometric-enabled devices prefer Windows Hello over the password authentication system.
“We are encouraging users to try it, and see for themselves that it is easier to use than passwords. I think one of the fears that people have is that new technology is just going to be more complicated, and not realize that we’ve pushed to make it simpler and better,” says Rob Lefferts, director of program management for Windows Enterprise and Security at Microsoft.
Photo: Tristan Gassert