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From: Tonnyman9/1/2017 7:01:15 AM
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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
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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 14823
 
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 14823
 
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 14823
 
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 14823
 

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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From: FUBHO9/19/2017 5:51:18 PM
1 Recommendation   of 14823
 
Why Is Google Hiring 1,000 Journalists To Flood Newsrooms Around America?


by Tyler Durden
Sep 18, 2017 10:40 PM


zerohedge.com


So what do you do when you fail to elect your chosen candidate and your former political allies and mainstream media turn against you by painting you not as the 'progressive', open-minded, friendly tech company that you used to be but as an evil, racist, Russian-colluding corporate villain intent upon destroying all that is sacred in the world? Well, you just buy the media, of course.

As Poynter notes today, after a series of public relations debacles in recent weeks, from the firing of James Damore to news last week that Google's algos served up some fairly disturbing keywords to potential advertising buyers (e.g. " Why Do Black People Ruin Neighborhoods"), Google is ramping up its media presence with the announcement that the Google News Lab will be working with Report For America (RFA) to hire 1,000 journalists all around the country.
Many local newsrooms have been cut to the bone so often that there's hardly any bone left. But starting early next year, some may get the chance to rebuild, at least by one.

On Monday, a new project was announced at the Google News Lab Summit that aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. Report For America takes ideas from several existing organizations, including the Peace Corps, Americorps, Teach for America and public media.

Unlike foreign or domestic service programs or public media, however, RFA gets no government funding. But they are calling RFA a national service project. That might make some journalists uncomfortable – the idea of service and patriotism. But at its most fundamental, local journalism is about protecting democracy, said co-founder Charles Sennott, founder and CEO of the GroundTruth Project.

"I think journalism needs that kind of passion for public service to bring it back and to really address some of the ailments of the heart of journalism," he said.

Here's how RFA will work: On one end, emerging journalists will apply to be part of RFA. On the other, newsrooms will apply for a journalist. RFA will pay 50 percent of that journalist's salary, with the newsroom paying 25 percent and local donors paying the other 25 percent. That reporter will work in the local newsroom for a year, with the opportunity to renew.

Of course, while the press release above tries to tout the shared financial responsibility of these 1,000 journalists, presumably as a testament to their 'independence', it took about 35 seconds to figure out that the primary funder of the journalists' salaries, RFA, is funded by none other than Google News Lab.

Meanwhile, as a further testament to RFA's 'independence, we noticed that their Advisory Board is flooded with reputable, 'impartial' news organizations like the New York Times, NPR, CBS, ABC, etc....

That said, as Jeff Bezos found out this morning, you can buy the media outlet but that doesn't necessarily mean you can buy their loyalty (see: Did WaPo Break The Law When It Disciplined A Writer For This Negative Article On Jeff Bezos?)....

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From: Glenn Petersen9/20/2017 8:11:37 PM
1 Recommendation   of 14823
 
HTC is halting trade of its shares in anticipation of expected takeover

All eyes on Google

by Vlad Savov @vladsavov
The Verge
Sep 20, 2017, 7:27am EDT



Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge
________________________________

HTC, one of Taiwan’s premier tech brands and a true pioneer in the development of the Android hardware ecosystem, has today announced it is about to halt trading of its shares tomorrow in anticipation of a “major announcement,” as first reported by Bloomberg’s Tim Culpan. Earlier this month, the company was rumored to be in the final stages of negotiating a takeover with Google, and today’s news appears to be setting the stage for that buyout becoming official. Or it could be some anonymous asset-holding company buying up what’s left of HTC, but the exciting scenario is definitely the one that involves Google.

The official HTC response to the reported Google negotiations was issued today in a boilerplate statement of “HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation.” But the facts of HTC’s situation speak for themselves: the company has been operating at a loss for well over a year and, in spite of the excellence of its latest U11 flagship, wasn’t looking likely to survive much longer without outside assistance.

Google and HTC already have a close working relationship, having collaborated on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones of last year. The latest rumors point to HTC also producing the 2017 Pixel, though LG is expected to take over responsibility for building the second-gen Pixel XL. In any case, acquiring HTC is almost a no-brainer for a Google that is intent on developing and expanding its own hardware division. Google previously owned Motorola for a brief period of time and seemed intent on the same goal, but that plan ultimately unravelled. What has happened since then is that Google re-hired the Motorola chief it once had, Rick Osterloh, and founded a separate hardware team under his stewardship. Claude Zellweger, the one-time chief designer of HTC Vive, is also now at Google, working on that company’s Daydream virtual reality system.

It’s not immediately obvious what, if anything, Google would be acquiring from HTC. It could be just the smartphone business or just the Vive VR division, with a total takeover of the entire company presently being considered the less likely scenario. It’s also peculiar that HTC would give advance notice of halting trading — these moves are usually done immediately and designed to prevent shareholders from being freaked out by unfavorable news and rushing to sell off their stock. Is HTC foreshadowing unsavoury news for its stockholders? The most damaging thing for them would probably be the loss of the Vive VR unit, which has the greatest potential for growth.

Putting together a history of collaboration, similar goals in promoting VR and advancing smartphone design, and the favorable price of HTC’s current shares makes an HTC buyout the logical move for Google. Of course, the thing that spoiled the Google-Motorola relationship — namely, Samsung’s objection to Google invading its territory — could still pose an issue, though if Google’s going to proceed with making Pixel phones, it’s of only academic importance whether it owns the manufacturing company or not.

We’ll have to wait and see the exact details of HTC’s major announcement, which should coincide with the stop in share trading tomorrow.

theverge.com

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