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05.13.16 | 7:52 am

Facebook, Microsoft, GM and others team up to form green energy group

The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) group includes dozens of companies that will collectively seek to promote the development of 60 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2025, says IndustryWeek. If they achieve their goals it will be enough to replace the energy obtained from all of the coal power plants that will close in the U.S. in the next four years. It is hoped that the REBA initiatives will provide smaller companies with an easier way to buy their energy from clean providers. Announcing the initiative, Brian Janous, director of sustainability at Microsoft said:

"Much of the activity so far has been in the form of PPAs [power purchase agreements] and that's an efficient way to secure renewable energy, but it's challenging for small companies. We have a long way to go, and the only way we're going to get there is collaboration. We need utilities to come in as aggregators and provide new opportunities."

09.30.16 | an hour ago

Newsweek suffers “massive” cyberattack after publishing investigative report about Donald Trump

Newsweek was the victim of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack last night after it published a critical article about Donald Trump, reports Talking Points Memo. The magazine's cover story this week detailed how Donald Trump's companies allegedly violated the Cuban embargo. 

Yesterday, after the article was published, Newsweek began experiencing the attack, which made the site temporarily inaccessible. Fast Company reached out to the magazine for more information. Editor-in-chief Jim Impoco provided this statement: 

Last night we were on the receiving end of what our IT chief called a "massive" DDoS (denial of service) attack. The site was down for hours at a time when Kurt Eichenwald's story detailing how Donald Trump's company broke the law by violating the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, was being covered extensively by prominent cable news programs. Our IT team is still investigating.

The website seems to be back up and running

09.30.16 | 2 hours ago

Nutanix IPO offers glimmer of hope amid drought

For Nutanix, an enterprise data storage company, the IPO delay was worth the wait. After putting its public offering on hold last winter, after market conditions grew stormy, Nutanix raised $238 million yesterday in its Nasdaq debut. The San Jose, California-based company, which had initially priced the 14 million shares it hoped to sell at $13-$15, reset prices at $16 based on investor demand.

That promising public start may convince other technology companies to move forward with IPO plans, especially as Nutanix is not yet profitable. The company is growing fast, with revenue up 84% to hit $445 million for the fiscal year ending July 31, but continues to operate at a loss. Wall Street's warm reception suggests that other high-growth companies that have yet to turn a profit may benefit from a similar welcome. 

During peak trading today Nutanix shares rose to $29.80, valuing the company at over $4 billion.

09.30.16 | 2 hours ago

The horrifying story behind the battery that powers your smartphone 

A disturbing deep dive by the Washington Post today traces the pipeline of cobalt from underground mines in Congo to manufacturing centers in Asia, where the mineral is used as an ingredient in the lithium batteries that power mobile devices and laptops.   

An estimated 100,000 miners, including children, work in punishing and dangerous conditions to excavate the material, the Post found investigation found, which may end up powering devices and computers made by the world's biggest brands, including Apple and Samsung. Congo is the source of 60% of the world's cobalt. The Post, to its credit, did not shy away from asking Amazon—owned by current Post owner Jeff Bezos—about the source of cobalt that powers its Kindle devices. The company did not respond to direct questions, but said it conducts audits to make sure its manufacturing partners comply with its policies. 

Read the Post's full investigation here.  

09.30.16 | 3 hours ago

The man leading Hillary Clinton’s get-out-the-vote effort is a Silicon Valley CEO

Donnie Fowler, the founder and CEO of Dogpatch Strategies, a consulting firm that works with tech firms, has been picked by the Democratic National Committee with leading the effort to get voters to the polls for Hillary Clinton on November 8. He told Politico that the main difference between the campaigns is that Donald Trump is great at marketing but lacks a sales team—"nobody to go to the voter and make the sale. And Hillary has a very deep and sophisticated sales team."

Of course, Fowler is not such a strange choice given his pedigree—he's the son of longtime DNC chairman Don Fowler and he's worked on plenty of presidential campaigns going back to Al Gore's failed effort in 2000.

09.30.16 | 10:38 am

Yahoo hack not directly “state-sponsored,” says security firm

According to Arizona-based security firm InfoArmor, the recently reported massive Yahoo hack wasn't directly carried by state-sponsored hackers but by a commercial group that sold the data both to a government-sponsored buyer and to spammers.

The organization, which InfoArmor calls Group E, is a "group of professional blackhats from Eastern Europe," the company says. The group hasn't made the data available on darknet marketplaces, despite claims on some forums to offer Yahoo data for sale, according to InfoArmor. 

09.30.16 | 9:00 am

Morning intel: Microsoft zeroes in on AI, FCC expands scope of emergency alerts

• The Rosetta spacecraft ended its pursuit of Comet 67P today, when it landed on the comet after a mission spanning 12 years. Read more and check out the images Rosetta snapped.

• Microsoft is restructuring to bulk up its AI research: The company is combining its research group with the division responsible for Bing and Cortana, creating a 5,000-person team focused on artificial intelligence research. 

• Yesterday, the FCC put off voting on a proposal to make set-top boxes optional. But one thing the FCC did vote in favor of was to increase the length of emergency alerts to 360 characters, as well as include photos and phone numbers (and, later this year, embedded links). 

• Volvo is setting up a self-driving car R&D center in Silicon Valley, where it will station 70 engineers, according to BuzzFeed News.

• Google's suite of enterprise apps—Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive—will now be referred to as the G Suite. Google is also introducing enterprise-focused updates like Team Drives, a collaborative take on Google Drive.

• Following the NJ Transit train crash yesterday—which killed one person and injured about 100—New Jersey's Hoboken station is still not operational. The cause of the crash is still unclear, though officials are not reporting any more fatalities. 

09.30.16 | 8:32 am

In China, ride-sharing wars spill over into bicycles

Competition in China's ride-sharing market has been fierce, so fierce that Uber gave up its battle with homegrown rival Didi Chuxing in August. Now the battle for urban transportation in China is expanding from cars to bicycles as investors plow a combined $200 million into Beijing-based bike-sharing services Ofo and Mobike. 

Didi Chuxing backs oFo, which recently raised $100 million-plus and is now valued at more than $500 million. Mobike, also coming off a $100 million round, has raised funding from traditional investors, including Asian-focused private equity firm Hillhouse Capital, which also backs Airbnb.

09.30.16 | 8:03 am

After 12 years of chasing it, Rosetta crash-lands on a comet

The Rosetta spacecraft crash-landed on a comet after 12 years of chasing it across the universe, said the European Space Agency today. When Rosetta landed, scientists at the control center in Germany embraced and clapped, reports Reuters. And ESA director general Jan Woerner expressed his appreciation on Twitter:

Here's the video:

And here's the sequence of images captured by Rosetta just before it landed, via the ESA:

09.30.16 | 7:15 am

More trouble on the horizon in Europe for WhatsApp in the wake of its flip-flop on sharing data

Earlier this week, officials in Hamburg ordered Facebook to stop collecting data on WhatsApp users in Germany in the wake of the messaging app's controversial decision to change its mind and start sharing such data with Facebook.

Now the U.K.'s data protection watchdog seems poised to take action, reports TechCrunch. In an interview with BBC's PM program on Radio 4 on Thursday, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said her office is probing the data-sharing arrangement after hearing from lots of angry WhatsApp users: "There's a lot of anger out there. And again it goes back to promises, commitment, fairness, and transparency. We have launched an investigation into the data sharing, remembering that in 2014 when Facebook bought WhatsApp there was a commitment made that between the two companies they would not share information."

09.30.16 | 7:04 am

Report: The next iPhones could feature OLED screens

The rumors could be true about the next iPhone, dubbed iPhone 8, looking radically different. To date, all iPhones use LCD display technology but the next one could feature OLED displays, according to a Bloomberg report that Apple is in negotiations with Sharp to produce organic LED displays for its next line of smartphones. For non-device geeks, OLED is superior to LCD in that it has better contrast ratios due to its lack of a backlight and much less power drain. Currently, the only Apple device to use the technology is the Apple Watch, notes 9to5Mac

09.30.16 | 6:42 am

To protect endangered species, rangers are applying the technology used in online poker

Protecting endangered species from poachers has been a losing battle in recent years—the number of African elephants plummeted by 20% between 2006 and 2015 due to a increase in ivory poaching—so  conservationists and researchers are turning to some high-tech tools to help them. They are using artificial intelligence and game theory algorithms used in online poker to help track down poachers. 

"We're trying to predict future poacher attacks or where poachers may strike next based on what we have observed in the past on our patrols," Milind Tambe from the University of Southern California, whose team is developing technology dubbed the Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS), tells Reuters.

09.30.16 | 6:21 am

Blue Origin will test its “crew escape” system during its rocket launch next week

Blue Origin, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's commercial spaceflight company, will test its "crew escape" system during the next launch of its New Shepard rocket on October 4 at 10:50 a.m. (EST), which will be live-streamed on its site. "A solid rocket motor fires for two seconds, quickly separating the crew capsule away from the booster," says the narrator in a video describing the procedure, reports "Once away, the capsule enters a standard descent profile, deploying drogue and main parachutes before coasting down to a landing." 

Below is the New Shepard capsule containing its in-flight escape motor:

[Image: Blue Origin]