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06.06.16 | 11:24 am

BuzzFeed refuses Trump ads, compares him to cigarettes

BuzzFeed has decided to nix an ad agreement it had with the RNC over Donald Trump's continually inflammatory comments, reports Politico. CEO Jonah Peretti emphasized that this business decision had nothing to do with the site's editorial side and promised that it would not affect its coverage of the candidate.

Last April, the media company inked a deal with the GOP that would let the party run numerous political advertisements during the Fall election cycle. But now BuzzFeed has had a change of heart.

As Peretti wrote in a memo to his staff:

Since signing this advertising deal, Donald Trump, as you know, has become the presumptive nominee of his party. The tone and substance of his campaign are unique in the history of modern US politics. Trump advocates banning Muslims from traveling to the United States, he's threatened to limit the free press, and made offensive statements toward women, immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and foreign nationals.

He concluded, "We don't run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won't accept Trump ads for the exact same reason."

10.26.16 | 2 hours ago

Snapchat wants a $4B IPO in 2017

The hot Los Angeles video messaging app company has already chosen Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to lead the offering, Bloomberg reports. Snapchat has gradually opened its platform to advertisers, who have lined up, and paid high dollar, to advertise to app's young audience. 

Bloomberg's sources say the IPO could value Snapchat in the $25 billion to $35 billion range. One person said it could go as high as $40 billion. Based on current valuations, a Snapchat IPO would be the biggest for a social media company since Twitter went public in 2013.

10.26.16 | 2 hours ago

Twitter’s testing reply tweets that don’t count usernames against the 140-character limit

If you use Twitter much, you've no doubt been frustrated by the fact that when you reply to someone's tweet, their username–@something–counts against the 140 characters you have to send a pithy response. That's especially a problem in a thread with numerous people since those characters can add up fast, restricting how many bon mots you can use to add your two cents.

That convention may be out the window soon. Techcrunch is reporting that Twitter is testing a new system in which user names don't count against the 140 character limit in replies. It's not clear when this would be rolled out to everyone. Count me, even as a Twitter purist, who's eager for this one, just as I was for not counting embedded images against my precious 140 characters.

10.26.16 | 2 hours ago

Like the Pixel phone’s camera? Thank Alphabet’s X moonshot factory

Here at the Wall Street Journal's WSJ.D conference, Astro Teller, the "captain of moonshots" at Alphabet's X lab, says that if you judge his group by the impact of its works in progress—such as self-driving cars—you're doing it all wrong. That's because X's mission is to get wild ideas up and running, and then "graduate" them by spinning them off into entities that can steer them through to commercial availability.

As an example, he gave a product I didn't even know that X had a hand in: Google's new Pixel phone, which has received excellent reviews for camera quality. Turns out that X had a low-profile group working on computational photography. When it became clear that it made more sense to pursue it as a smartphone technology than for a standalone camera, the team went to work on the Pixel phone—and their effort paid off, even though X didn't get the glory.  

10.26.16 | 3 hours ago

Apple needs ‘a little more time’ to get AirPods ready for market

We've been very bullish on the AirPod headphones since their announcement in September. Not so much for the audio and the wireless capabilities, but for their potential as a vehicle for Siri. Apple said in September it would release the product in late October but now says it needs some more time—it didn't say how much time—to get the product ready for customers. 

In the wake of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 nightmare, such conservatism sounds like a good thing. Still, it begs the question: What exactly is wrong in the AirPods that's preventing them from going on sale? Apple isn't saying. I've had a little bit of hands-on time with the product, but not enough time to see any serious pairing or software issues. Let's hope the Apple engineers work out the problems in time for the holiday season. 

10.26.16 | 3 hours ago

Why the heck does Donald Trump have a Walk of Fame star, anyway? It’s not the reason you think

Following news this morning that Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was smashed to pieces by an ax-wielding vandal, I couldn't help but wonder why the face of The Apprentice has been honored with a star in the first place. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which bestows the sidewalk honors, has generally not been kind to the reality TV genre. A few years ago, it made it a point to mention that it doesn't even have a category for reality TV after Kanye West complained that his reality-star wife, Kim Kardashian, didn't have a star. 

So why Trump and not Kim? According to Ana Martinez, the Walk of Fame's spokeswoman, it's not the reason you think. "He was selected for his producer job for his Miss Universe shows," she tells me in an email. 

Still, Trump was honored in 2007, at the height of his Apprentice fame, so the timing is curious. Either way, the chamber said it will repair the star immediately.  

[Photo: Flickr user halbag]

10.26.16 | 4 hours ago

These original 1999 emoji are now officially little tiny works of art

New York's Museum of Modern Art has a cute new collection: the original set of 176 emoji symbols. The 12 pixel x 12 pixel images were a gift from the Japanese carrier Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. The emoji were first developed under the supervision of Shigetaka Kurita and produced for cellphones in 1999. 

The character set and others like it quickly became all the rage in Japan, but emoji didn't catch on in the United States until they were added to Apple's iPhone 12 years later. Here's more about the collection

[Photo Courtesy of MoMA. Shigetaka Kurita. Gift of NTT DOCOMO, Inc.]

10.26.16 | 4 hours ago

Marc Benioff doesn’t want to talk about his exciting vision for Twitter

A couple of weeks ago, it looked like there was a meaningful chance that Salesforce would buy Twitter. It didn't happen. Here at the Wall Street Journal's WSJ.D Live conference, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff sounded both wistful that the deal didn't happen and accepting of the fact that it was not to be.

Benioff told the Journal's Dennis Berman that Salesforce had "a very exciting vision of what we would do with Twitter." But he said that Salesforce wasn't used to potential acquisitions leaking, and was surprised by the negative reaction of investors to the very idea of it buying the company.

A Twitter acquistion that shareholders hated was a non-starter, he said: "It has to be a collaborative effort running the company–that is the new world, by the way." For the same reason, he wouldn't make a decision that would rile employees, customers, or partners.

And oh, what was Salesforce's exciting vision for Twitter? "It's meaningless to talk about it," he told Berman. "I don't want to inflame the shareholders. If the shareholders say let it go, I'll let it go."

10.26.16 | 2:47 pm

Cleveland Clinic names its top medical innovations for 2017

Cleveland Clinic has released its annual list of its anticipated top medical breakthroughs of the coming year. Here are the top five:

* The microbiome. No surprises there. We are filled with bacteria, with the average number ranging anywhere from 30 trillion to 50 trillion. That bacteria plays a huge role in human health, with the gut microbiota becoming the subject of extensive research in recent years. 

* Diabetes drugs that reduce heart disease and death. Two new drugs were recently approved to treat diabetes: Novo Nordisk's liraglutide and Eli Lilly's empagliflozin, which are showing some early, positive signs in helping patients with diabetes avoid heart disease. 

* CAR-T therapy for leukemia and lymphoma. Through T-cell therapy, scientists want to use the human immune system to fight diseases like cancer.

* Liquid biopsies to find cancer. Already, oncologists are taking cancer patients' blood to monitor and track the progression of the disease, and how it's responding to treatment. It's an alternative to costly and invasive tissue-based biopsies. 

* Automated car safety features and driverless capabilities. Makes sense, given the current rate of 38,000 fatal road accidents each year. Will new technologies, like adaptive cruise control and lane assist, be the new seat-belts? 

Read the rest here.

10.26.16 | 1:46 pm

Oculus wants to help teach you how to win at making VR content

You'll hear it almost every time someone in the know talks about the future of the consumer virtual reality industry: The hardware is good and getting better, but there's not enough content.

That's why Facebook-owned Oculus has teamed with Kaleidoscope–which runs a global VR film festival competition–on DevLab, a new initiative that is showcasing the work of 28 promising VR content creators. Some already have impressive VR work under their belts, like Arnaud Colinart, who made the award-winning Notes on Blindness, while others have experience in traditional filmmaking. And some have yet to make their names. 

DevLab will bring the creators together, and they will show their work at an event at Facebook on December 2. Some will get their projects funded for full-scale production. The initiative is expected to expand next year.

10.26.16 | 1:41 pm

Microsoft looks sexy again, and, at the moment, a little more innovative than Apple

After seeing the lineup of products Microsoft just announced it's hard to deny that the company's hardware group has got its game on. Microsoft has brought the Surface design approach to the desktop with the new Studio all-in-one, which has a screen that kneels down into a "drawing board" mode on the desktop. The Studio can also be controlled with a new kind of rotary input device called the "Dial" that sits on the display calling up digital menus on the touch screen around its base. 

Apple is at a very different place in its history than Microsoft and its Surface line. But, I think, Microsoft gets points for taking some shots at offering people—in this case designers and other creative types—some new ways of doing their daily work. Microsoft, starting with last year's Surface Book, has been wooing the creative community that has long been Apple's domain. A year from now we'll know a lot more about how Microsoft has fared at winning those hearts and minds. 

In the meantime, the people in the Surface Group, led by Panos Panay, seem like they're having fun. They're taking risks, not just coldly calculating market wants and answering with incremental features that already exist in other products. Meanwhile, in Cupertino, Apple will hold a press event to announce some new Macs tomorrow. We're already fairly sure we'll be seeing cool new OLED touch bar that will digitize the line of function keys at the top of the keyboard. Apple is still a deeply innovative company. I'm just glad to see that Microsoft is making a game of it. 

10.26.16 | 1:39 pm

Exclusive: Leonardo DiCaprio and Elon Musk tour a Gigafactory in this clip from the new doc “Before the Flood”

The National Geographic documentary will be streaming through November 6th. Head over to Co.Create to see the clip of Leo and Elon's chat. 

10.26.16 | 1:18 pm

Kai-Fu Lee: Sorry, Zuck, you need a partner in China

WSJ.D Live's panel on what U.S. tech giants can learn from Asian companies featured Kai-Fu Lee, a legendary computer scientist who's currently investing but has spent stints at Apple, Google, and Microsoft. When his fellow panelist Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital brought up the energy Mark Zuckerberg has put into engaging with China—which has included not only frequent visits but, famously, learning Mandarin—Lee praised Zuckerberg's efforts but went on to throw a wet blanket over the whole idea of Facebook having a real shot at catching on in China, at least in its existing form.

"China has evolved into a totally different market with a different software stack," he said. (In the case of social networking, that stack consists of WeChat, which is as dominant in its home country as Facebook is here.) Instead of entering China on their own, Lee advises that Facebook and other Western internet companies "find a Chinese partner to handle all the challenging external-facing government PR issues, as well as package the product and run with it."

For titans like Facebook, he acknowledged, "this is really hard to swallow." But he made a pretty compelling case that it's their only real option.