Courtesy of a $1.2 million support grant from the Knight Foundation, Black Tech Week is expanding with year-round programs. The event, produced by Miami's Code Fever, has the dual goal of providing opportunities for black entrepreneurs and turning South Florida into a robust tech hub. Knight's cash—doled out over the next three years—will go toward a new program called "Black Tech Weekend," which will take place year-round. The first one starts on Feb. 23. Read the full announcement here. CZ
Black Tech Week is getting too big to fit into just one week
Mobile game giant Seriously goes Hollywood with its first animated short, Boot Camp
Will the next big entertainment franchise be about a bunch of slugs? Seriously, the Santa Monica-based mobile game company certainly hopes so. Today the company is launching its first animated short, Boot Camp, based on its hit game Best Fiends. The short is being distributed via the Best Fiends app, and follows the comedic shenanigans of slugs Hank and Roger as they prepare to join the Slug Army and fight the Fiends.
The progression from mobile game to short film is in keeping with Seriously's manifesto, which is to reverse-engineer Hollywood IP by starting with games and moving into short films, video, and perhaps, ultimately, a feature film. The company, which was founded in 2014 by two former Rovio executives and recently became profitable, brings a Hollywood touch to its games, with plenty of emphasis on character development and narrative, and music. This formula has helped fuel the success of Best Fiends, which has been downloaded over 70 million times and has over 2 million active daily users.
Boot Camp is every bit as much of a Hollywood production as the game it is based on. The slugs are voiced by Pamela Adlon, Mark Hamill, Kate Walsh, and other stars. And its music was similarly composed by Heitor Pereira, who wrote the music for the Despicable Me movies. The short even has an Emmy-award-winning writer-producer in J. Stewart Burns of The Simpsons.
(post by Nicole LaPorte)
Schick to shave into Gillette’s and Harry’s market with new online subscription service
Schick is hoping to cut into Gillette's market with a new online subscription service that could rival Harry's and Dollar Shave Club and a blade that fits onto a Gillette handle but costs less. The website, SchickHydro.com, just launched offering a subscription service with shipments of Hydro Connect blades that work with either Gillette's Mach 3 or its pricier Fusion line.
As cheaper online subscription services continue to shave into its market share, Gillette's parent company Proctor & Gamble announced it would slash prices by 12% on average and put a new focus on its cheaper products. Sounds like a win for consumers who are tired of shelling out big bucks just so they can look like a smooth-faced, aerodynamic Olympic diver instead of a lumberjack and/or retirement-era David Letterman.
[Photo: Johan via Wikimedia Commons]
Uber accused of ripping off millions of passengers
The ride-hailing company was slapped with a class-action lawsuit in federal court in New York on Wednesday, reports Fast Company's Ruth Reader. According to the complaint, UberX riders are being charged based on different, less-efficient routes than the ones its using to calculate what it pays drivers—and the result is higher fares. According to the lawsuit, Uber pockets an additional $7.43 million per month from UberX drivers thanks to its upfront pricing.
Watch Rocket Lab send the Electron into space in its first test flight
The small-scale satellite launch company Rocket Lab, one of our Most Innovative Companies in the space industry, has completed a test flight of its Electron rocket. Powered by electricity instead of liquid fuel, and with an engine that is manufactured using a 3D printer, the Electron represents a new model for the space business—one in which launches take place with far greater frequency than they do today.
The test, which was performed from the company's private New Zealand launch pad, had been delayed for several days due to weather. It's the first of three test flights before Rocket Lab begins taking commercial payloads into orbit.NR
Jony Ive has just been appointed the head of the best art school in the world
Apple's design guru will take up the role of chancellor of the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London in July, reports Business Insider. The RCA is 180 years old and for the last three years has been named the world's best institution for art and design. Ive's unpaid role will see him help govern the college. In a statement, Ive said:
"I am thrilled to formalize my relationship with the RCA, given the profound influence the college has had on so many of the artists and designers that I admire. Our design team includes many RCA alumni, who embody the fundamental values of the college. I look forward to advising both the college and students, hoping that my experience proves useful in their work."
It’s official: The best Go player in the world is Google’s AI
Google's DeepMind AlphaGo artificial intelligence has won the second game in a three-part match against the world's top Go player, Ke Jie. The victory comes after AlphaGo beat Jie in the first match earlier this week. Experts had thought it would take AI decades to learn how to beat the best Go players, reports Reuters. MG
The U.K. has stopped sharing Manchester bombing info with the U.S.
British police have taken the radical step to stop sharing information about the terror attack in Manchester with U.S. intelligence agencies, the Guardian reports. The decision was made after a series of leaks from U.S. intelligence to the press about the ongoing terror investigation. A spokesperson for the U.K. police said:
"We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement, and security partners around the world. When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses, and their families. This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter-terrorism investigation."
Did Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body slam a reporter today? Update: He did.
At an event in Montana this afternoon, Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs tried to ask congressional candidate Greg Gianforte a question. A violent-sounding tussle then ensued, which resulted in Jacobs getting his glasses broken.
Gianforte is a tech entrepreneur who sold a company to Oracle for $1.5 billion, catalyzing the state's startup boom.
"You just body slammed me and broke my glasses," Jacobs can be heard saying in audio posted by the Guardian. "Get the hell out of here," says a voice that sounds like Gianforte.
Gianforte's campaign released a statement confirming the altercation, and blamed the incident on "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist."
Here's the Guardian's audio:
Update: A camera crew from Fox News Channel witnessed the altercation and confirmed Ben Jacobs' account:
"Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter."
Second update: Greg Gianforte has received a citation for misdemeanor assault, the Gallatin County sheriff tells Politico.
Here's part of the statement from the sheriff. Gianforte will have to appear in court between now and June 7. pic.twitter.com/ybPWp5EyD3— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) May 25, 2017
Casper is the latest company to pull ads from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News
On Wednesday, amid controversy over Sean Hannity's promotion of a conspiracy theory about Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich's death, several companies pulled their ads from his highly rated show. First, Cars.com removed its ads, saying in a statement: "The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn't mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content. We don't have the ability to influence content at the time we make our advertising purchase. In this case, we've been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity."
Later in the day, Peloton, the indoor exercise bike company, announced that it has decided to pull its ads from the show.
And now Casper, the mattress startup, says that it is also pulling its ads from Hannity, a spokesperson tells Fast Company: "We have reviewed our programmatic television media strategy with our agency partners and reassigned this allocation." MB
The latest Republican health care plan would leave 23 million uninsured over the next decade, says the CBO
An independent analysis of the Republican plan to replace Obamacare was released on Wednesday afternoon, highlighting the impact of the bill on Americans. These are some of the most significant findings:
*The plan would leave an additional 23 million Americans without health insurance over the next decade.
*It would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over the same period of time. That's a slight difference from the first version of the bill, which would have left 24 million people without health insurance over the same time period, and would have reduced the deficit by $337 billion.
*Premiums would decline on average.
*People who live in states that allow insurers to drop specific benefits could see huge increases (to the tune of thousands of dollars) for maternity and mental health services, substance abuse services, and pediatric dental care. EP
Trump wants to be able to hack your drone
The Trump administration wants federal agencies to be able to track, hack, or even destroy drones that pose a threat to law enforcement and public safety operations, The New York Times reports.
A proposed law, if passed by Congress, would let the government take down unmanned aircraft posing a danger to firefighting and search-and-rescue missions, prison operations, or "authorized protection of a person." The government will be required to respect "privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties" when exercising that power, the draft bill says. But records of anti-drone actions would be exempt from public disclosure under freedom of information laws, and people's right to sue over damaged and seized drones would be limited, according to the text of the proposal published by the Times. The administration, which would not comment on the proposal, scheduled a classified briefing on Wednesday for congressional staff members to discuss the issue.
The proposed rules come after repeated reports of drones behaving badly at locations like airports and sporting events, and after a drunk federal employee crashed his drone on White House grounds. ISIS has also been using civilian drones as weapons in Syria and Iraq, and there's no reason to think terrorists wouldn't try similar things in the U.S. (Given those concerns, last month the Pentagon restricted civilian drone flights over military bases.) The new White House proposal could also address the existing upheaval around who, if anyone, regulates hobbyist drones, and would likely be a boon to the growing industry dedicated to hacking drones out of the sky.
[Photo: DroneDefender Battelle] SM