Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

12.01.16 | 5:13 pm

Illumina spinout Grail is seeking to raise $1.7 billion for large-scale clinical trial: sources

Grail, a spinout company of the DNA-sequencing giant Illumina, has a very bold mission: to develop a blood-based screening test for cancer. 

The company is now seeking to raise $1.7 billion, say three sources familiar with the matter, to fund a large-scale clinical trial in the United Kingdom involving 500,000 people. One person familiar says the buy-in for the round is set at a $200 million-minimum, and the company has also received a term sheet from an investor in Asia. Initially, the company had sought to raise $1 billion. 

Grail's CEO, Jeff Huber, is a former Google executive.

The underlying science is nothing new: We know that dying fragments of tumor cells circulate in the patient's blood stream. Companies like Guardant Health will take a blood sample from a patient with late-stage cancer to monitor how they're responding to treatment. But it's never been applied to early-stage cancer detection, a far more challenging prospect. Grail is convinced it can do it through an ultra-deep sequencing approach.

The company declined to comment. This post has been updated with more details. 

03.01.17 | an hour ago

Whither the Twitter egg?

Today is a great day for anyone with an aversion to trolls or poultry. Twitter has revealed some new tools for combating harassment, and one of the features lets users filter out tweets from anyone without a profile picture. In other words, if you're a Twitter user who faces regular abuse from trolls, you can use this option to put a stop to the reign of foulmouthed egg avatars getting all up in your space. The tweets will still be there, but you won't have to see them in your notifications.

"We're also introducing new filtering options for your notifications to give you more control over what you see from certain types of accounts, like those without a profile photo, unverified email addresses or phone numbers. Many people requested more filter options for their notifications, and we're excited to bring these to everyone on Twitter."

There are other new features, too, including algorithms that help Twitter identify accounts behaving in ways that indicate abuse (such as tweeting multiple unsolicited things at non-followers). It's all part of Twitter's big promise to finally get serious about abuse. We're not sure if any of this will work, but we're eager to see what else Jack and company can come up with. 

[Photo: Flickr user Alice Carrier]

03.01.17 | 2 hours ago

Microsoft unveils first third-party mixed-reality headset

While the company would love it if you bought a $3,000 HoloLens, it knows developers and enterprises may want alternatives from other companies. That's why, last year, it said it was working with Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and 3Glasses on third-party headsets that work with PCs powered by the same Windows mixed-reality system that runs HoloLens.

Today, Microsoft unveiled (and, yes, it's a terrible, though descriptive name) the first of those, the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Development Edition, as well as software development kits. The headset will be available to developers later this month. Microsoft didn't say how much the device would cost, but because it requires being tethered to a powerful PC, it would likely be far cheaper than a HoloLens, which carries its operating system onboard.

03.01.17 | 3 hours ago

Here’s what an NYC taxi union had to say about that Travis Kalanick video

Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, released a statement responding to a video that showed Uber's Travis Kalanick clash with a driver. Desai says Kalanick wasn't just being cranky, but that the altercation was "a reflection of the anti-worker philosophy that Travis Kalanick has used to build his entire empire." 

03.01.17 | 3 hours ago

Google is done with its fancy Pixel laptops for now

After a couple of tries at making high-end Chromebooks, Google is putting its Pixel laptop line on hold. Hardware VP Rick Osterloh told reporters at Mobile World Congress that the company has stopped producing the current Pixel laptop, and has no plans to make another (though he later hedged by saying the company has nothing to announce right now).

Google still sells the Pixel C, an Android tablet with an attachable keyboard dock. But given Chromebooks' newfound support for Android apps, the door seems open to a Chrome OS device in the laptop-tablet hybrid spectrum at some point. In the meantime, other PC makers seem eager to fill the void.

03.01.17 | 10:39 am

Trump’s Congress speech: more tweets, lower ratings

Given President Trump's obsession with crowd size, he has reasons to be both encouraged and discouraged by some new data related to last night's speech, when he addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time. According to Twitter, the speech was the most tweeted joint session or State of the Union speech in history. The event topped out at 3 million tweets, compared to Obama's SOTU from last year, which hit 2.6 million tweets.

Now for the bad news: Early Nielsen ratings suggest the event drew a smaller TV audience that Barack Obama's first joint session speech in 2009. According to Variety's Oriana Schwindt, Trump's speech drew a 27.8 household rating, 17% lower than Obama's speech, which drew an overnight household rating of 33.4 eight years ago.

03.01.17 | 9:56 am

Siri is a little confused about Mother’s Day this year

Don't panic, Americans. You didn't forget Mother's Day. But if you ask Siri for a reminder, you may be led astray. Thanks to an apparent glitch, some Apple iPhone users are reporting that Siri is giving them the wrong date for Mother's Day. Some are being told it was Sunday, February 12, while others are being told it's Sunday, February 11, 2018. In reality, it's Sunday, May 14—in the United States, anyway. For the record, February 12 was Mother's Day in Norway.

Here's a nice video demonstration.

I reached out to Apple to ask about the glitch and what may be causing it. I'll report back if I hear back. In the meantime, the best part about this whole thing is how Hallmark has immediately capitalized on it with a direct link to Mother's Day greeting cards. Relax—you have plenty of time.

03.01.17 | 7:27 am

Snapchat built a drone so you could take selfies from the sky

With just one day to go until Snap's IPO, the New York Times reports that the company has built a drone that "could help Snap's users take overhead videos and photographs, and then feed that visual data to the company." However, it's unknown if the drone will ever be released as a consumer hardware product–a la Snap's Spectacles–or if it will amount to nothing more than an R&D experiment.

03.01.17 | 6:21 am

Facebook brings its real-time suicide prevention tools to Messenger and Live

The tools will allow anyone to report a message or live stream that contain talk of suicide, reports TechCrunch. The suicidal individual will then receive real-time support through a set of suicide prevention AI-based resources including the option for them to quickly reach out to a friend for help, contacting a helpline, or seeing tips about how to work through difficult times.

"The AI is actually more accurate than the reports that we get from people that are flagged as suicide and self injury. The people who have posted that content [that AI reports] are more likely to be sent resources of support versus people reporting to us," Facebook product manager Vanessa Callison-Burchold told BuzzFeed News.

Though suicide on Live and Messenger is rare, in January a 14-year-old girl and a 33-year-old man killed themselves in separate incidents while streaming on Facebook Live, reports USAToday

[Image: Facebook]

03.01.17 | 6:00 am

Facebook just launched its first Apple TV app

Facebook Video allows users to watch videos from friends, liked pages, and the top live videos currently streaming. While the app is free, you need a Facebook account to use it.

[Image: Facebook]

03.01.17 | 5:57 am

Here’s why Keds is aggressively expanding in Asia

Keds, the women's sneaker brand born and bred in the U.S., recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. But as it heads into its next century, it's setting its sights on Asia. 

While in the U.S. many fashion brands are nixing their brick-and-mortar stores, Keds is focusing on opening 50 stand-alone stores throughout the region, including Korea, Japan, and China. They've even hired Korean pop star Krystal—the Taylor Swift of Asia—to be the face of the brand. "We're experimenting with a mix of online retail, physical stores, and events, and we'll bring all of our insights back to the U.S.," says Emily Culp, Keds' CMO, who has been spearheading this expansion. 

Culp believes that Asia is a prime market for Keds at this moment because the company has identified an increased fascination with American culture and history in the region lately. Keds is in a good position to play up its position as part of Americana. Keds was also the first athletic shoe ever created for the female foot and asserts its identity as a staple of female empowerment in its marketing. This message has been resonating with Asian women. 

03.01.17 | 5:54 am

Here’s what the Samsung Galaxy S8 looks like

Mobile phone leaker extraordinaire Evan Blass posted what seems to be an official press image of Samsung's next flagship (and the rival to Apple's upcoming iPhone 8).

03.01.17 | 5:47 am

Travis Kalanick pens “profound” apology to Uber driver who complained about drop in pay

Following a leaked video showing the Uber CEO dismissing an Uber Black driver's complaints about Uber slashing the rate per mile paid by the company in a heated argument (via TechCrunch), Kalanick has posted an apology to the driver on the company's website:

By now I'm sure you've seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead . . . and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.

It's clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we've received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I've been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.

I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.