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05.27.16 | 6:45 pm

Jaunt CEO steps down as VR heavyweight hunts for growth-oriented replacement

Saying it was time to hand the baton to someone else, Jaunt's Jens Christensen is stepping aside as the head of one of the most important VR companies, one that has raised $100 million in funding, including a $65 million round led by Disney.

As reported first by Fast Company, Jaunt's co-founder and CTO, Arthur van Hoff, will take over as interim CEO while the Silicon Valley-based company hunts for a full-time, growth-oriented chief executive.

05.26.17 | an hour ago

More details revealed about Sergey Brin’s giant airship

A new report from the Guardian provides details about Google cofounder Sergey Brin's lofty ambition to build "the world's largest aircraft." Descriptions of the project say the humongous floating device looks like a zeppelin. According to anonymous sources, Brin has been working on this project for years and has been funding it personally. 

The purpose of these ships, which are currently being tested with helium as the lifting gas, will be to both provide humanitarian aid supplies around the world as well as serve as a luxurious "air yacht." One source tells the Guardian the price tag for the personal project is currently between $100 million and $150 million. This follows earlier reporting from Bloomberg saying that Google has been secretly building and testing airships at a NASA hangar.

05.26.17 | 2 hours ago

Facebook, Google, and Snap team up for government surveillance reforms

Three major tech companies are teaming up. It's not a Voltron reboot (although, it could be!) but a joint effort between Facebook, Google, and Snap demanding reform of a government surveillance program, according to a report by Axios

The tech companies want increased government oversight of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is supposed to be used to monitor the internet habits of foreign citizens outside the United States, but might pick up the browsing habits of American citizens, too. Wikimedia has just been cleared to sue the NSA for their FISA-approved Upstream program on the the grounds that it was in fact monitoring its communications, even if inadvertently. The tech giants are also seeking greater ability to disclose the requests they receive under the law and ideally to "reduce the likelihood of collecting information about non-U.S. persons who are not suspected of wrongdoing." Read more at Axios, but the NSA might know if you do.

05.26.17 | 3 hours ago

Republicans want to make it legal to spam your voicemail

The Republican National Committee is backing a petition that would allow political campaigns and businesses to get around current anti-robocall laws by allowing them to leave messages on your voicemail without your phone ever ringing, reports the Washington Post. In order to do this, robocall centers would use what's known as server-to-server communication, which basically lets them plop a voicemail into your inbox without actually needing to call you. The RNC and supporters say this robocall method doesn't violate anti-robocall laws at all because a person's phone never rings, or as the RNC puts it: This method is "win-win for callers and their intended recipients."

05.26.17 | 6:35 am

Amazon just opened two drive-up grocery stores

The stores, located in the SODO and Ballard neighborhoods of Seattle, allow customers to order Amazon Fresh products (aka groceries) online at home, jump in their car, drive to one of the AmazonFresh grocery stores, and just sit there while an Amazon employee brings their order out to their car and then puts it in the trunk. Amazon is calling the new drive-up service AmazonFresh Pickup.

Geekwire gave the new service a spin and found it worked relatively flawlessly the first time they tried it. One of the most interesting observations was that Amazon will use license plate recognition from sensors built into a sign by each AmazonFresh parking bay to instantly recognize which customer is pulling up so they can be matched with the right order.

05.26.17 | 6:26 am

It’s more dangerous to work in a Tesla factory than other automotive factories

That's according to a new report that analyzes data from three years of federal records, reports the Verge. According to the report, the Fremont, California-based Tesla factory:

• had injury rates 31% higher than the industry average in 2015.

• 8.8 workers were injured per 100 workers. That's compared to 6.7 injuries per 100 workers across the industry. The Fremont factory has 10,000 workers.

• For 2016, Tesla's injury rates were 8.1 per 100 workers.

05.26.17 | 6:00 am

A high-profile women’s group just severed ties with Uber over its treatment of women

The Anita Borg Institute, a diversity nonprofit that aims to advance women in the technology sector, sent Uber a letter announcing it was severing ties with the company, Recode reports. According to the letter, the ABI is concerned about the continuing allegation of the treatment of women in Uber's workplace. The move is a blow to Uber as it's a vote of no confidence in the company's ability to clean up its act, despite the fact that Uber has launched an internal investigation (conducted by former Attorney General Eric Holder, no less) into sexism at the company.

05.26.17 | 5:43 am

Instagram Direct gains links and new orientations

Direct, the private messaging portion of Instagram's app, has gained two much-requested features, Instagram revealed in a blog post. First, users can now share links in Direct, and, second, video and photo uploads in direct now support both portrait and landscape orientations, so there's no need to crop your shared media anymore. Direct's new features are available in the iOS today, with Android support coming soon.

[Image: Instagram]

05.25.17 | 5:18 pm

Farewell, Bachman: The best of Silicon Valley’s dumb dope-smoking startup incubator

Alas, Bachmanity is over, my friends. That is to say, Erlich Bachman (aka T.J. Miller) will not be returning for the next season of Silicon Valley. Well, at least we'll have the memories . . . and the memes and the moronic moments. 

• "My head is so far up my own ass I can see the future."

• "No, this is all wrong. I am sensing a general lack of vision. Your muffins smell like shit. So do your ideas. One of you is the least-attractive person I've ever seen. I'm not gonna say who. Should we leave, or should you?"

• "What kind of monster puts artisanal butter in the freezer?"

• "I know what binary is. Jesus Christ! I memorized the hexadecimal times tables when I was 14 writing machine code, okay? Ask me what 9 times F is. It's fleventy-five. I don't need you telling me what binary is, just like I don't need you thinking about soup or taking pictures of it."

05.25.17 | 3:44 pm

Watch Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard commencement address

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard, from which he dropped out of to start Facebook, to deliver the commencement address on Thursday afternoon.

Rather than use Facebook Live, Harvard is broadcasting the address via YouTube. You can watch the address (which is still taking place right now) below:

05.25.17 | 3:39 pm

Luxury fitness retailer Bandier is racing to the West Coast

In the midst of the retail downturn, Bandier is doing something right. It launched in 2014 with a Southampton store that served as a kind of Barney's for luxury activewear. It has quickly expanded to include a robust online presence, and four stores plus a flagship in New York City that double as a fitness studio and event space. The success of these stores comes, in part, from the fact that the brand thinks of them as community centers where people can gather and relax together, rather than just buy leggings. It also helps that Bandier offers plenty of exclusive products and does collaborations with unexpected designers, such as street artists. 

A year ago, Bandier raised $4.5 million from Simon Ventures, but is already in the midst of closing another round of funding to continue growing. It hopes to put down roots in L.A. later this year and expand its e-commerce presence, which currently drives 45% of its total business. 

05.25.17 | 3:13 pm

Russian hacker leaked Democratic data to GOP operative, says report

Guccifer 2.0, the hacker persona widely believed to be a front for Russian intelligence, leaked Democratic voter turnout predictions to a Republican political consultant, reports The Wall Street Journal. The consultant, Aaron Nevins, published the files on his blog, and Guccifer 2.0 sent a link to famed Republican operative Roger Stone, according to the report.

At least one campaign consultant, who helped flip a House seat from Democratic to Republican, adjusted advertising tactics based on the leaked data, though it's naturally impossible to know if that affected the election's outcome. Guccifer 2.0's tactics match predictions from cybersecurity experts, who suspected Russian hackers might leak documents to political parties and candidates as well as to the media in efforts to influence elections. 

05.25.17 | 3:01 pm

Federal court slams Trump’s travel ban: It “drips with religious intolerance”

In by far the harshest ruling yet on the Trump administration's proposal to restrict travel from six Muslim-majority countries, the 4th circuit court stated today that the ban is "steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group." In upholding the injunction against the ban, the court went on to say that "the text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination."

The court also stated that the president shouldn't have absolute power in these types of situations:

"Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edit that stands to cause irreparable hard to individuals across this nation," a statement from the court reads. "Laid bare, this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims."