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From: FUBHO8/31/2017 4:55:54 AM
1 Recommendation   of 14820
 
Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant
By KENNETH P. VOGEL
AUG. 30, 2017
nytimes.com
But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had been chairman of New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.

The statement disappeared from New America’s website, only to be reposted without explanation a few hours later. But word of Mr. Schmidt’s displeasure rippled through New America, which employs more than 200 people, including dozens of researchers, writers and scholars, most of whom work in sleek Washington offices where the main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.” The episode left some people concerned that Google intended to discontinue funding, while others worried whether the think tank could truly be independent if it had to worry about offending its donors.

Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google, which is now part of a larger corporate entity known as Alphabet, for which Mr. Schmidt serves as executive chairman.

Continue reading the main story

Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that “the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,” according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team — nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows — would be exiled from New America.

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To: FUBHO who wrote (14777)8/31/2017 6:26:06 AM
From: FUBHO
1 Recommendation   of 14820
 
GOOGLE Coming After Critics in Academia, Journalism...

Pattern of Threatening to Acquire Power...

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From: Tonnyman9/1/2017 7:01:15 AM
   of 14820
 
If Google has its way, soon it would become a lot easier to have your clothes washed and bread toasted just by giving voice commands.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/1/2017 11:06:05 PM
2 Recommendations   of 14820
 
Alphabet Finishes Reorganization With New XXVI Company

By Mark Bergen
Bloomberg
September 1, 2017

-- Google business to be legally separated from car, health units

-- Holding company name plays on Page’s dream of Other Bets

Alphabet Inc. is forming a new holding company designed to finalize its evolution from Google, the web search giant, into a corporate parent with distinct arms that protects individual businesses in far-flung fields like health care and self-driving cars.

The new entity, called XXVI Holdings Inc., will own the equity of each Alphabet company, including Google. The new structure legally separates Google from other units such as Waymo, its self-driving car business, and Verily, a medical device and health data firm.

Google co-founder Larry Page announced Alphabet two years ago to foster new businesses that operate independently from Google. Technically, however, those units, called the “Other Bets,” were still subsidiaries of Google. The new structure, unveiled Friday, lets the Other Bets become subsidiaries of Alphabet on the same legal footing as Google.

Google is also changing from a corporation to a limited liability company, or LLC. This won’t alter the way the business pays taxes, said Gina Weakley Johnson, an Alphabet spokeswoman. The switch is partly related to Google’s transformation from a listed public company into a business owned by a holding company. The change helps keep potential challenges in one business from spreading to another, according to Dana Hobart, a litigator with the Buchalter law firm in Los Angeles.

“By separating them, it allows the parent company to limit the exposure of the various obligations of the LLCs,” Hobart said. “For example, if one of the LLCs has its own debt, only that LLC will end up being responsible for payment of that debt.”

Corporations are often formed to raise money from public investors who expect disclosures on financial performance, and Google did that in a 2004 initial public offering. Now, it’s owned by Alphabet, so it effectively has only one investor and no public disclosure obligations. An LLC structure is better suited to this situation. Waymo is also an LLC.

“We’re updating our corporate structure to implement the changes we announced with the creation of Alphabet in 2015,” Johnson said. She called the process a legal formality that won’t affect ultimate shareholder control, operations, management or personnel at the 75,606-person company.

XXVI, the name of the new holding entity, is the number of letters in the alphabet expressed in Roman numerals. The sums of the company’s two most recent share buybacks were both derived from math equations involving the number 26.

“I still see amazing opportunities that just aren’t quite fully developed yet -- and helping making them real is what I get excited about,” Page wrote in a letter last year about Alphabet. Google accounted for 99 percent of Alphabet revenue last quarter.

The new structures were disclosed in a filing on Friday with the Federal Communications Commission. Businesses that hold FCC licenses, like Waymo and the Fiber internet service, are required to make such filings.

“As a result of the corporate reorganization, Alphabet and Google will be able to operate in a more efficient, economical, and transparent manner, allowing the companies to concentrate on their revenue generating activities,” the company said in the filing.

— With assistance by Brian Womack, and Edvard Pettersson

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-01/alphabet-wraps-up-reorganization-with-a-new-company-called-xxvi

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From: JakeStraw9/8/2017 2:38:52 PM
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Is Google Looking To Beef Up Its Smartphone Efforts?
benzinga.com

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From: FUBHO9/15/2017 11:34:47 AM
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The Silicon Valley Backlash is Heating Up

By Eric Newcomer
September 15, 2017, 6:00 AM CDT

Hi all, it’s Eric. Big tech is falling out of political favor. This week, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith convincingly argued that the tides are turning against Google, Facebook and Amazon. The article, “There's Blood in the Water in Silicon Valley,” is worth a read. As Ben points out, Steve Bannon is leading the charge from the right, calling for Google and Facebook to be regulated like public utilities. Bernie Sanders is helping to push the anti-tech charge from the left. Populists on both wings want to kneecap big tech.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) for the technology giants, there isn't a coherent, unified critique of their behavior. The grievances come in many forms and from many camps. They include:
  • Simmering 99 percenters angry over tech's growing power
  • Mounting antitrust concerns
  • Animus from ad-dependent media companies
  • Bias charges from right-wingers without a seat at the table in Silicon Valley
  • Complaints, especially from Democrats, about Russian interference in the election, particularly via social media
  • An effort to reckon with gender discrimination and harassment at male dominated engineering companies
  • Accusations of fake news and clickbait all around.
The situation keeps getting worse.

Cont... bloomberg.com

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From: JakeStraw9/15/2017 12:18:38 PM
3 Recommendations   of 14820
 
Upcoming versions of Google Chrome will let you permanently mute sites, block autoplaying videos
techcrunch.com

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From: Glenn Petersen9/15/2017 5:00:12 PM
   of 14820
 
Google Has Spent Over $1.1 Billion on Self-Driving Tech

By Mark Harris
IEEE Spectrum
Posted 15 Sep 2017 | 15:00 GMT



Photo: Waymo
__________________________

Google has never publicly shared how much it spends on its self-driving cars. At first, Project Chauffeur was hidden away in Google’s ultra-secret X moonshot program. When that went public, its costs were bundled together in a vague “Other Bets” category that includes the company’s fiber Internet service, home automation, and life science spin-offs.

Now, a court filing in Waymo’s epic and ongoing lawsuit against Uber has accidentally revealed just how big a bet Google placed on autonomous vehicles. Between Project Chauffeur’s inception in 2009 and the end of 2015, Google spent $1.1 billion on developing its self-driving software and hardware, according to a recent deposition of Shawn Bananzadeh, a financial analyst at Waymo.

Bananzadeh was testifying as part of the lawsuit, in which Uber stands accused misappropriating trade secrets and violating patents from Waymo, Google’s self-driving-car offshoot. Because Waymo has yet to commercialize any of its technology in a meaningful way, the company thinks any damages in the case should be calculated on the basis of how much it spent building the technology in question.

When asked by an Uber lawyer how an estimate for developing one of the trade secrets, number 90, was arrived at, Bananzadeh replied: “My understanding is that it is a cost that captures the entire program spend from inception to the period of time where it stops.” He later clarified that meant from 2009, when Sebastian Thrun got the go-ahead for the project from Larry Page, to the end of 2015.

Throughout Bananzadeh’s deposition, every dollar amount was redacted to protect Waymo’s confidential commercial information. Every time, that is, except in the Uber lawyer’s very next question: “The calculation that was the basis of the $1.1 billion cost estimate for Trade Secret 90 is the same calculation that was done for Trade Secret 2 and Trade Secret 25?”

Waymo had apparently given an identical $1.1 billion cost estimate for each of the trade secrets being discussed. Bananzadeh was unable to provide a clear answer as to why that might be, except to say, “Insofar as it is part of the entirety of this self-driving system…. therefore, all of the costs of the program since inception… are what then informs that number.”

Waymo’s position seems to be that all of its trade secrets are inextricably linked to the whole self-driving car project, and any damages should reflect that fact.

In a filing, Otto Trucking called Waymo’s damages theory “entirely speculative” and “over the top,” and called on the court to forbid Waymo from offering any evidence or argument beyond the actual damages it has incurred.

Though $1.1 billion is unquestionably a massive figure, it actually seems quite reasonable compared to the recent over-heated market for self-driving car acquisitions. In March 2016, General Motors paid a billion for San Francisco–based Cruise Automation, a company that was a seller of after-market semi-autonomous vehicle kits. In February of this year, Ford invested the same amount in a joint venture with Argo AI, a two-month-old Pittsburgh start-up headed by a former Google self-driving car engineer. The largest self-driving acquisition to date, however, was Intel’s $15.3 billion purchase of Mobileye in March. The Israeli company had originally provided vision-based semi-autonomous technology for Tesla vehicles.

Uber shelled out a reported $680 million for self-driving truck maker Otto in August 2016, sight almost unseen. But it’s the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of Otto, and in particular its lidar technology, that are at the heart of Waymo’s case against Uber. Otto’s founder, Anthony Levandowski, allegedly had a draft contract for the purchase of the company before he even quit Google.

By spending its money earlier than others and mostly in-house, Google’s billion-dollar investment now looks relatively modest—almost a bargain. Waymo has, by far, the most sophisticated self-driving software. It has simulated over a billion miles of driving, and its cars have had the most self-driving experience on real streets (over 3 million miles in multiple cities).

The court case seems to suggest that Waymo has also built up an enviably solid platform of intellectual property. So, undesirable as this peek into its books might be for Google today, the company should pride itself on demonstrating that in-house R&D can still make a lot of financial sense.

spectrum.ieee.org

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To: JakeStraw who wrote (14783)9/16/2017 9:16:19 AM
From: TimF
   of 14820
 
Unfortunately -

However, at the same time, Google is disabling some of its protections against autoplay for mobile users. On Chrome for Android, it’s removing the ‘block autoplay’ setting that’s currently available, and it will also remove autoplay blocking on mobile when the Data Saver mode is enabled.

The company says that, by doing so, it will make this new “muted autoplay” more reliable. In reality, though, that means if you’ve already taken a specific action to block autoplay videos on mobile, you might actually see them play more often as a result of the changes if you’re not careful.

techcrunch.com

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From: Savant9/18/2017 11:14:36 AM
1 Recommendation   of 14820
 

Alphabet Inc.'s Google has proposed overhauling its shopping search results so that rivals can bid for space to display products for sale, as part of the tech giant's efforts to comply with the European Union's antitrust order, according to people familiar with the matter.

Under the proposal, Google would bid against rivals to display products for sale in the space above its general search results, according to the people. Google would set itself a price cap that it wouldn't be able to bid above, but competitors could do so if they wished.

The European Commission fined Google a record EUR2.42 billion ($2.89 billion) in June for discriminating against rival comparison-shopping sites in its search ranking. The regulator ordered the company to revamp its search results by late September so that it treats its competitors' offerings and its own shopping service equally. The changes would have to apply in all European countries where Google offers its shopping service.

Google submitted a plan to the EU in August that sketched out how it would amend its search results to comply, but declined to provide more details at the time.

A Google spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday.

"The [European] Commission can confirm that, as required by the commission decision, it has received information from Google on how the company intends to ensure compliance with the commission decision by the set deadline," a commission spokeswoman said Monday.

Should Google's proposed remedies fall short, the EU could hit it with penalties of up to 5% of average daily global revenue for the period it is deemed to be not complying.

The proposal is similar to one offered by Google several years ago as part of settlement talks with the previous EU antitrust chief, Joaqu?n Almunia. Those talks crumbled under pressure from complainants and politicians in France and Germany, paving the way for EU regulators to fine the company and demand changes.

Google's final binding offer in February 2014, which the EU made public, would have meant results pages that displayed Google shopping ads would also include shopping results from rivals. Those results would have appeared in a shaded box next to Google's shopping ads, according to screenshots the EU published at the time.

Now, complainants are again objecting to Google's proposed remedies.

"While we have yet to see details of Google's proposal, it seems unlikely that Google could have devised an auction-based remedy that does not fall far short of the equal treatment standard stipulated by the [commission's] decision," said Shivaun Raff, chief executive of Foundem.co.uk, a comparison-shopping website that was the first company to file a formal antitrust complaint about Google to the EU.

The auction-based remedy could force Google's competitors to bid away the majority of their profits to Google, Ms. Raff said. Google could set a high price cap for its own bids, pushing the bids of competitors higher.

Rivals can still file complaints to the EU if they find Google's remedies to be insufficient. Should the commission agree with their concerns, it could then penalize Google for not complying.

Last week, Google announced it would appeal the EU's decision, though the company still has to comply while any legal action is ongoing.

Reuters was the first to report the details of Google's latest proposed remedies.

Write to Natalia Drozdiak at natalia.drozdiak@wsj.com
=============
*EU would prolly complain, even if Google gave the space away for free...protectionism @ its finest

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