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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Public Transit Agencies Think Rewards Programs Can Bring Back Riders

Following the example set by airlines, Uber, and Lyft, public transportation officials are creating frequent-flier-like systems to goose ridership.
Source: Wired

What Is Credential Dumping?

Modern network intrusions thrive on a counterintuitive trick: stealing passwords from computers that hackers have already compromised.
Source: Wired

Week-in-Review: Alexa’s indefinite memory and NASA’s otherworldly plans for GPS

Hello, weekenders. This is Week-in-Review where I give a heavy amount of analysis and/or rambling thoughts on one story while scouring the rest of the hundreds of stories that emerged on TechCrunch this week to surface my favorites for your reading pleasure.

Last week, I talked about the cult of Ive and the degradation of Apple design. On Sunday night, The Wall Street Journal published a report on how Ive had been moving away from the company to the dismay of many on the design team. Tim Cook didn’t like the report very much. Our EIC gave a little breakdown on the whole saga in a nice piece he did.

Apple sans Ive


Amazon Buys Whole Foods For Over 13 Billion

The big story

This week was a tad restrained in its eventfulness, seems like the newsmakers went on 4th of July vacations a little early. Amazon made a bit of news this week when the company confirmed that Alexa request logs are kept indefinitely.

Last week, an Amazon public policy exec answered some questions about Alexa in a letter sent to U.S. Senator Coons. His office published the letter on its site a few days ago and most of the details aren’t all that surprising but the first answer really sets the tone for how Amazon sees Alexa activity.

Q: How long does Amazon store the transcripts of user voice recordings?

A: We retain customers’ voice recordings and transcripts until the customer chooses to delete them.

What’s interesting about this isn’t that we’re only now getting this level of straightforward dialogue from Amazon on how long data is kept if not specifically deleted, but it makes one wonder why it is useful or feasible for them to keep it indefinitely.  (This assumes that they actually are keeping it indefinitely, it seems likely that most of it isn’t and that by saying this they’re protecting themselves legally, but I’m just going off the letter.)

After several years of “Hey Alexa,” the company doesn’t seem all that close to figuring out what it is.

Alexa seems to be a shit solution for commerce, so why does Amazon have 10,000 people working on it, according to a report this week in The Information? All signs are pointing to the voice assistant experiment being a short term failure in terms of the short term ambitions though AI advances will push the utility.

Training data is a big deal across AI teams looking to educate models on datasets of relevant information. The company seems to say as much. “Our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems use machine learning to adapt to customers’ speech patterns and vocabulary, informed by the way customers use Alexa in the real world. To work well, machine learning systems need to be trained using real world data.”

The company says it doesn’t anonymize any of this data because it has to stay associated with a user’s account in order for them to delete it. I’d feel a lot better if Amazon just effectively anonymized the data in the first place and used on-device processing the build a profile on my voice for personalized . What I’m more afraid of is Amazon having such a detailed voiceprint of everyone who has ever used an Alexa device.

If effortless voice-based e-commerce isn’t really the product anymore, what is? The answer is always us, but I don’t like the idea of indefinitely leaving Amazon with my data until they figure out the answer.

Send me feedback
on Twitter @lucasmtny or email
lucas@techcrunch.com

On to the rest of the week’s news.

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context.

  • NASA’s GPS moonshot
    The U.S. government really did us a solid inventing GPS, but NASA has some bigger ideas on the table for the positioning platform, namely, taking it to the moon.It might be a little complicated but unsurprisingly scientists have some ideas here. Read more
  • Apple has your eyes
    Most of the iOS beta updates are bug fixes, but the latest change to iOS13 brought a very strange surprise, changing the way the eyes of users on iPhone XS or XS Max look to people on the other end of the call. Instead of appearing that you’re looking below the camera, some software wizardry will now make it look like you’re staring directly at the camera. Apple hasn’t detailed how this works but here’s what we do know here.
  • Trump is having a Twitter party
    Donald Trump’s administration declared a couple months ago that it was launching an exploratory survey to try and gain a sense of conservative voices that had been silenced on social media, now @realdonaldtrump is having a get together and inviting his friends to chat about the issue. It’s a real who’s who, check out some of the people attending here.

Amazon CEO And Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos Speaks At Air Force Association Air, Space And Cyber Conference

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

  1. Amazon is responsible for what it sells:
    [Appeals court rules Amazon can be held liable for third-party products]
  2. Android co-creator gets additional allegations filed:
    [Newly-unsealed court documents reveal additional allegations against Andy Rubin]

Extra Crunch

Our premium subscription service had another week of interesting deep dives. TechCrunch reporter Kate Clark did a great interview with the ex-Facebook, ex-Venmo founding team behind Fin and how they’re thinking about the consumerization of the enterprise.

Sam Lessin and Andrew Kortina on their voice assistant’s workplace pivot

“…The thing is, developing an AI assistant capable of booking flights, arranging trips, teaching users how to play poker, identifying places to purchase specific items for a birthday party and answering wide-ranging zany questions like “can you look up a place where I can milk a goat?� requires a whole lot more human power than one might think. Capital-intensive and hard-to-scale, an app for “instantly offloading� chores wasn’t the best business. Neither Lessin nor Kortina will admit to failure, but Fin‘s excursion into B2B enterprise software eight months ago suggests the assistant technology wasn’t a billion-dollar idea.…�

Here are some of our other top reads this week for premium subscribers. This week, we talked a bit about asking for money and the future of China’s favorite tech platform.

Want more TechCrunch newsletters? Sign up here.


Source: TechCrunch

Equity transcribed: Investing elsewhere with Revolution’s Clara Sieg

Welcome back to the transcribed edition of the popular podcast Equity. Kate Clark had the hosting reins this week and welcomed Revolution’s Clara Sieg to the studio.

They discussed the trend of investors backing companies from “second-tier” markets like Austin, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle, etc. Just how do cities become tech hubs? It’s a special kind of recipe, Sieg says. A city must have a great university, or a few, nearby to provide a constant flow of talent. They need some big corporations around for the same reason. They need a healthy community of angel investors ready and willing to get things going.

Sieg: Fundamentally in these second and third tier markets, an idea on the back of a napkin doesn’t get funded, so you really have to bootstrap to a certain degree and prove out really economics before you can unlock capital. Typically the companies that we’re investing in at the Series A, Series B level are a little bit farther along than their brethren would be in the Bay Area or New York.

Valuation expectations are just lower so you own more of a company for a smaller check-in. Inherently, if it’s an exit, that is a better outcome for you and it’s just cheaper to scale companies in those markets. Employee retention is better, cost of living is lower, so the capital required to scale these companies and that’s coming in after you and diluting you is less.

Clark: So when Steve Case founded Revolution, was he coming at it from the perspective of like, “This is obviously good business?” Which it is, to invest in these companies, or was it coming from a perspective of like, “It’s not fair that companies in these areas just don’t have access to capital like we do here in the Bay Area?”

Sieg: Neither, really. I think our investing approach in the early days, and what we still focus on today is what is now commonly referred to as disruption, right? Historically, Zipcar was basically disrupting the rental car market, and it was not really thought of as a great venture-backable opportunity in the early days. That’s obviously changed now, transportation is a huge piece of what venture capitalists focus on, but from day one, we focused on sleepy, incumbent markets where technology can be an enabler of a new business model that makes it better, faster, cheaper for the consumer, or the business that it’s serving, and where you can change the margins in the business to create a market leader that incumbents then either have to own or that can be a large standalone company.

Want more Extra Crunch? Need to read this entire transcript? Then become a member. You can learn more and try it for free. 


Source: TechCrunch

Volkswagen's electric ID R race car set a new Goodwood Hill Climb record – Roadshow

Volkswagen’s electric ID R race car smashed a 20-year-old record at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Source: CNET

Firefox’s ad-free premium browser will cost $4.99 a month

Last month, Mozilla revealed that it would offer a paid version of its popular Firefox browser. Now a page on Mozilla’s site confirms it will cost $4.99 per month for ad-free access to some as yet unnamed journalism websites.
Source: Digital trends

Porsche's new 911 RSR makes its debut at Goodwood – Roadshow

Based on the 991.2 GT3 RS, it’ll start racing in the 2019-2020 World Endurance Championship season.
Source: CNET

Killer deals on Dell XPS and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 laptops continue this weekend

Dell and Lenovo have stepped up their game this summer with big discounts on ThinkPad X1 and XPS 13 through 4th of July weekend. If you’re in the market for a new laptop for work or play, now is the time to buy.
Source: Digital trends

Moon landing 50th anniversary: How Apollo 11 fired up the space race – CNET

It’s been five decades since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Here’s a look at that achievement — and what lies ahead.
Source: CNET

40 years ago Sony's Walkman changed the way we listened to music – CNET

The Walkman was just as big a change in the way we listened to music as the iPod was in the early 2000s.
Source: CNET

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