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06.15.16 | 7:53 am

Fender now lets you personalize its iconic guitars in a few clicks

Back in 1993, Kurt Cobain convinced the legendary guitar maker to fuse a Mustang and a Jaguar to create a distinctive Jag-stang. Eric Clapton and George Harrison also had unique Fenders created for them. Now the company is delivering that customization to non-rock gods with the launch of  the Mod Shop, a new online digital design studio, that allows you to create your guitar any way that you want. Users can customize the color, tuners, fingerboard, pickups, and bridges for popular models including the Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars and the Jazz and Precision basses. 

[Screenshot: Fender]

01.23.17 | 2 hours ago

Samsung’s thriving chip business eased the pain of the Note 7 debacle, earnings report shows

• Samsung's overall operating profit was up by 50% to 9.22 trillion won ($7.93 billion) in the October-December quarter, up from 6.14 trillion won last year, fueled mainly by a strong chip business. 

After the nightmarish experience of the Galaxy Note 7 recall, the company's mobile phone business took a small but significant hit in the quarter. Smartphone sales were off 6% to 22.65 trillion won ($19.43 million). 

• Samsung's chip division killed it again this quarter with operating profit up 77% to 4.95 trillion won versus the year-earlier period.

(Samsung recalled its Galaxy Note 7 phones in October after numerous reports of the device's battery exploding.)

01.23.17 | 5:18 pm

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative buys an AI bot to surf scientific research

Doing scientific research can be slow work, often requiring digging through countless academic and/or scientific papers looking for just the right data. That's something that a number of companies are hoping artificial intelligence can address.

Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic organization started by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chanannounced it has bought one such startup, Meta. In a post on Facebook, the organization—which aims to cure all diseases—wrote that Meta "developed an AI that helps scientists read, understand, and prioritize millions of scientific papers" in an effort to surface the most important information to the researchers who need it the most. One problem Meta (and other organizations in the same space, such as Iris AI) is no doubt grappling with is how to get past the paywalls on countless publications. Meta, which has raised $7.5 million in venture funding, will be free for researchers to use, according to the post.

01.23.17 | 4:29 pm

Oracle sued for paying white guys more than its other workers 

A lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor claims that Oracle has a "systemic practice" of paying white male workers more than employees of color and women with the same job titles, according to a New York Times report. The company refuted the charge in a statement saying it was "politically motivated, based on false allegations and wholly without merit," but the Labor Department says that Oracle refused to provide routine employment data. 

The required reporting of salary information for women and men to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was mandated by an executive order signed by former President Obama. It's aimed at federal contractors (of which Oracle is one). He subsequently submitted a proposal to further help close the gender wage gap by requiring companies with 100 or more employees to report their staff's pay broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity.

Although many tech companies used to provide employment data publicly on an annual basis in effort to promote diversity initiatives and report on progress, many recently stopped when the numbers weren't budging after two to three years. 

01.23.17 | 4:25 pm

Yahoo just beat on Q4 earnings, but Verizon deal sees delays

Did Yahoo finally catch a break? Despite better-than-expected earnings today, the embattled company's stock was initially down 0.3% in after-hours trading, but it trended upward soon after. That initial hesitation may be because Yahoo's acquisition by Verizon has stalled, with the deal now expected to close in Q2. The delay comes as Yahoo is cleaning up the mess left by two massive hacks on its system that exposed over 1 billion accounts. And on that front, the news keeps getting worse: Earlier today, reports emerged that Yahoo could be facing an SEC investigation for failing to disclose the breach sooner than it did. 

Still, Yahoo reported earnings of 25 cents a share on revenue of $1.46 billion. Analysts had expected average earnings of 21 cents on $1.38 billion. Though desktop continues to decline, the company's mobile revenue grew this quarter. Its assets in Alibaba are also gaining in value.   

01.23.17 | 4:13 pm

Boom moving toward testing of its supersonic plane after successful wind tunnel test

It's still going to be a few years before any passengers get to fly supersonic aboard Denver-based Boom's all-business class jets, but the big milestone it announced today would seem to be an important step forward to eventually plying the skies at above the speed of sound

This step will allow the team to move on to building the large-scale hardware to begin testing with human pilots. This is a very substantial update for the company and a culmination of Boom's aerospace work, two years in the making.

Boom in November unveiled the design of the XB1, a one-third-sized model of the 45-passenger supersonic jet it eventually expects will be able to fly passengers from, say, New York to London, in three-and-a-quarter hours. Richard Branson's Virgin Group has options on the company's first ten planes, which are hoped to come off production lines in the early 2020s. Today, it said that completion of the wind tunnel tests–the "culmination of [its] aerospace work, two years in the making," pave the way for building the XB1.

01.23.17 | 2:54 pm

Was Hillary Clinton supposed to be on the cover of the upcoming Vogue? 

Long before the editors of Vogue magazine chose to put British Prime Minister Theresa May on the cover of the April issue, the magazine had another politico in mind: Hillary Clinton. The idea to have Clinton on the cover of the upcoming "power" issue was ultimately tabled in the wake of her election defeat—it's not clear if that was Clinton's decision or the magazine's—and the editors spent weeks scrambling to find a replacement, sources tell us. (Obviously, those Melania Trump rumors prompted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour's meeting with then president-elect Trump in December were wrong.) But if you know anything more, please reach out

[Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons]

01.23.17 | 1:48 pm

Google PR wins the prize for best email of the day

Every corporate communications email should be this fun. In response to a far-out rumor that it is considering an acquisition of Condé Nast, Google put out a very imaginative rendition of the standard "We don't comment on rumors and speculation" statement: 

"You seem Wired into the latest chatter. We got some Backchannel from a New Yorker that this gossip was en Vogue. When your question came in and we Reddit, it made us quite Epicurious because your stories have some Allure. But Self-ishly we don't comment on rumors (Glamour-ous or otherwise). Bon Appétit!"

WWD reported this morning that Condé could be exploring a sale. While Google's name came up, such a deal would seem highly unlikely. Then again, somebody at Google sure seems familiar with Condé Nast's brands.

01.23.17 | 12:46 pm

Reid Hoffman: More than 50 percent of Silicon Valley billionaires have “apocalypse insurance”

The LinkedIn cofounder tells the New Yorker that a huge share of his fellow tech moguls have acquired some refuge in New Zealand and other remote parts of the world (and even the U.S.) to hide away, in case things really get bad in the next few years. Per the story, "Doomsday Prep for the Super-rich,"

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent investor, recalls telling a friend that he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. 'Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?' the friend asked. … New Zealand, he discovered, is a favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm. … I asked Hoffman to estimate what share of fellow Silicon Valley billionaires have acquired some level of 'apocalypse insurance,' in the form of a hideaway in the U.S. or abroad. 'I would guess fifty-plus per cent,' he said, 'but that's parallel with the decision to buy a vacation home.' …

01.23.17 | 12:44 pm

The massive Aetna-Humana merger was just blocked on antitrust grounds

A federal judge has blocked Aetna's proposed $37 billion takeover of Humana, calling it anticompetitive. The merger would have created an industry-changing health insurance colossus at a time when the industry's regulatory future is uncertain. Aetna already pulled out of most Obamacare exchanges this year, following through on a threat it made to the DOJ, which has thwarted a number of mega mergers over the last few years. Read more from Bloomberg.

01.23.17 | 11:13 am

These stunning hi-res images of planet Earth will make you temporarily forget Earth’s problems  

NOAA just released the amazing first images from its new GOES-16 weather satellite, which launched in November and is capable of sending back more vivid pictures than its predecessors

The first images show a breathtaking sweep of the Western Hemisphere and kind of make you forget—at least for a short while—that things are a bit of a mess down here right now. NOAA says the higher-resolution images will help the agency make more accurate weather forecasts. 

Check out the full image set here.

01.23.17 | 10:53 am

Get ready for more music streaming exclusives

A lot of people hate them, but exclusive music deals are turning out to be a pretty good business model for the emergent streaming industry. And we're probably going to see more and more of them. Case in point: Sprint is reportedly buying a 33% stake in Jay Z's Tidal, and according to sources cited by MarketWatch, the deal will include a "$75 million a year marketing fund that will be used to obtain and promote exclusive content from artists." Read the full story here

[Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Live Nation]

01.23.17 | 10:29 am

WhiteHouse.gov has scrubbed the site of pages dedicated to net neutrality and open government 

As part of the Trump administration's makeover of WhiteHouse.gov since Friday, it has deleted the Obama administration's climate change page, tweaked the FLOTUS page (after we noted that it included a reference to Melania Trump's QVC line of jewelry), and an LGBTQ rights page. Now, it's also scrubbed pages devoted to net neutrality, open government, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, notes Politico.