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TikTok gaining on Facebook with 1 billion downloads, according to reports – CNET

The party don’t start till you reach 1 billion.
Source: CNET

Google Duo video chat service moves to the web – CNET

Google’s answer to Apple’s FaceTime expands beyond its largely mobile roots.
Source: CNET

Korean conglomerate SK leads $600M round for Chinese chipmaker Horizon Robotics

Horizon Robotics, a three-year-old Chinese startup backed by Intel Capital, just raised a mega-round of fundings from domestic and overseas backers as it competes for global supremacy in developing AI solutions and chips aimed at autonomous vehicles, smart retail stores, surveillance equipment and other devices for everyday scenarios.

The Beijing-based company announced Wednesday in a statement that it’s hauled in $600 million in a Series B funding round led by SK China, the China subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate SK Group; SK Hynix, SK’s semiconductor unit; and a number of undisclosed Chinese automakers along with their funds.

The fresh capital drove Horizon’s valuation to at least $3 billion, the company claims. The Financial Times previously reported that the chipmaker was raising up to $1 billion in a funding round that could value it at as much as $4 billion. Such a price tag could perhaps be justified by the vast amount of resources China has poured into the red-hot sector as part of a national push to shed dependency on imported chips and work towards what analysts call “semiconductor sovereignty.”

Horizon did not specify how the proceeds will be used. The company could not be immediately reached for comments.

In 2015, Yu Kai left Baidu as the Chinese search engine giant’s deep learning executive and founded Horizon to make the “brains” for a broad spectrum of connected devices. In doing so Yu essentially set himself up for a race against industry veterans like Intel and Nvidia. To date, the startup has managed to make a dent by securing government contracts, which provide a stable source of income for China’s AI upstarts including SenseTime, and several big-name clients like SK’s telecommunication unit, which is already leveraging Horizon’s algorithms to develop smart retail solutions. Like many of its peers who are at the forefront of the AI race, Horizon has set up an office in Silicon Valley and hiring local talents for its lab.

Other investors who joined the round included several of Horizon’s returning investors such as Hillhouse Capital and Morningside Venture Capital . There were also some heavyweight new backers, such as a fund run by conglomerate China Oceanwide Holdings as well as the CSOBOR Fund, a private equity entity set up by China’s state-owned CITIC to back projects pertaining to China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” modern Silk Road initiative.


Source: TechCrunch

Mercedes-AMG GLE53 brings 429 horsepower to the Geneva Motor Show – Roadshow

The new GLE-Class’ first AMG variant will arrive in the US in late 2020.
Source: CNET

Watch Michael Cohen Testify Before Congress Right Here

On Wednesday morning, the former Trump fixer will appear before the House Oversight Committee to share everything he knows about Trump’s business practices.
Source: Wired

Beresheet lander bound for the moon hits Ctrl-Alt-Delete – CNET

The spacecraft built by an Israeli nonprofit and one of the original Google Lunar XPrize teams misses a planned move to get a little closer to the moon.
Source: CNET

Rotten Tomatoes president: We didn't change site to protect Captain Marvel – CNET

Users will no longer be able to leave a review for a movie that hasn’t yet hit theaters, among other changes.
Source: CNET

FTC settles its first case over fake paid reviews on Amazon – CNET

Fabricated reviews claimed the weight-loss supplement “blocked fat from forming.”
Source: CNET

FTC brings its first case against fake paid reviews on Amazon

The Federal Trade Commission announced on Tuesday evening that it has brought its first case against using fake reviews to sell products online. The Commission said it will settle with defendant Cure Encapsulations Inc., a New York City-based company, and owner Naftula Jacobwitz, who it accused of making false claims about a weight loss supplement and paying a third-party website to post fake reviews on Amazon.

Fake reviews are a constant nuisance for Amazon shoppers, despite algorithms designed to safeguard its review system, and the company has hit back with a series of lawsuits against websites that offer to post fake verified reviews.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Cure Encapsulations sold pills with garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit also called brindleberry that is sometimes used as a “natural” weight loss aid. Called Quality Encapsulations Garcinia Cambogia, the pills were sold only on Amazon. Jacobwitz paid a website called www.amazonverifiedreviews.com to post favorable reviews in order to boost its rating.

An exhibit from the FTC’s complaint against Cure Encapsulations Inc.

On October 8, 2014, Jacobowitz sent an email to the site’s operator saying he’d pay a total of $1,000 for 30 reviews, three per day, with the goal of increasing its 4.2 rating to 4.3, which he claimed was necessary in order to have sales. He also wrote that he wanted the product to “stay a five star.” Www.amazonverifiedreviews.com then posted a series of fake five-star reviews praising the pills. The FTC said the reviews made false claims, including that the pills were a powerful appetite suppressant, caused weight loss of up to 20 pounds, and blocked the formation of new fat cells.

The proposed settlement includes a judgement of $12.8 million, to be suspended upon payment of $50,000 to the FTC and certain unpaid income tax obligations. The settlement also bans Cure Encapsulations and Jacobwitz from making weight-loss, fat-blocking, or disease-treatment claims for dietary supplements, food, or drugs, unless they have reliable scientific evidence from clinical trials in humans. They are also prohibited from making misrepresentations about endorsements, including fake reviews, and must tell Amazon which reviews were faked and email customers who have bought the pills to give them information about FTC’s allegations.

In press release, Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said “When a company buys fake reviews to inflate its Amazon ratings, it hurts both shoppers and companies that play by the rules.”

In a statement to The Verge, an Amazon spokesperson said “We welcome the FTC’s work in this area. Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers. Even one inauthentic review is one too many. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”


Source: TechCrunch

How to stream Michael Cohen's congressional testimony – CNET

President Trump’s former lawyer will testify before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. Here’s how to watch it live.
Source: CNET

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