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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual-reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.

The post Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

The Condom Snorting Challenge Is Tide Pods' Final Revenge

The alleged teen trend exists only in the articles reporting its trendiness. What went wrong?
Source: Wired

Millions more affected in Facebook data grab video – CNET

Facebook revealed the true scope of Cambridge Analytica’s data collection, and what Zuckerberg plans to do about it.
Source: CNET

Facebook says Cambridge Analytica had data on 87 million people – CNET

The fiasco was worse than we thought.
Source: CNET

News startup Knowhere aims to break through partisan echo chambers

It’s become a common complaint that social media allows everyone to limit their news consumption to stories that reinforce what they already believe. But the team at Knowhere says it’s found a solution: News stories written by machines.

The idea is that Knowhere’s technology can eliminate some of the in-built human bias, and also pull from a wide variety of sources and write stories with enormous speed. For controversial and political news, it doesn’t limit itself to one story. Instead, it allows you to jump between versions of the story that are written from a left, right or “impartial” perspective.

“I want to establish a source of record that’s indisputably trustworthy for everyone from across all aisles,” said CEO and Editor-in-Chief Nathaniel Barling. “As a Knowhere reader what you are signing up for is the truth and the full context around it.”

At first, I wondered whether Knowhere might simply deepen the same divisions that it claims to fight. Might this approach just reinforce the idea that every piece of news should be interpreted according to our ideological leanings? Or that we can dismiss an accurate piece of reporting by, say, The New York Times because The Times has been painted as a liberal paper?

When I brought this up, Barling said Knowhere is focused on facts, even if those facts (say, the scientific consensus around climate change) are sometimes disputed for political reasons.

Barling’s father Kurt was a longtime reporter at the BBC, and Barling recalled a conversation between the two of them on this topic: “The truth doesn’t care for your politics. What we must do is evaluate all of the evidence that we possibly have available to us, then come to the most accurate conclusion regardless of political stripe.”

So the Knowhere stories that I’ve read tend to be very straightforward and focus on facts that have been corroborated by reputable publications. The left-leaning version of the article might be written so those facts add up to one narrative, while the right-leaning version might tell a different story, but they still agree on the core facts. (And some stories — including most of the ones I read in the Technology section — don’t include multiple spins, just the impartial version.)

And while Knowhere articles are created by machine learning technology (Barling’s co-founders Alexandre Elkrief and Dylan Rhodes are both data scientists), they’re all reviewed by human journalists. In fact, he said there are already eight journalists on his team, making up for half of Knowhere’s headcount — a ratio that he hopes to maintain as the company grows.

Facebook has also been making efforts to show different perspectives on a story, particularly if the story’s accuracy is disputed. When I pointed this out, Barling said, “They do recognize the scale of the issue, but they’re not well-placed to execute on it because of their philosophical stand. As you said, they don’t want to be the arbiters of truth.”

In addition to launching today, Knowhere announced that it has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from investors, including CrunchFund, Danhua Capital, Day One Ventures, Struck Capital and Abstract Ventures. (Like TechCrunch, CrunchFund was founded by Michael Arrington, and it’s backed by our parent company, Oath.)

And while it’s way too early to declare that Knowhere is succeeding at breaking down partisan bias, I’ll say that I’m pretty left-leaning myself and that I get a lot of my news and commentary from left-leaning sources — but the site’s approach and tone made me way more willing to click on the right-wing version of the story.

Source: TechCrunch

Cambridge Analytica denies accessing data on 87M Facebook users…claims 30M

Cambridge Analytica is refuting a report by Facebook today that said Cambridge Analytica improperly attained data on up to 87 million users. Instead, it claims it only “licensed data for no more than 30 million people” from Dr. Aleksandr Kogan’s research company Global Science Research. It also claims none of this data was used in work on the 2016 U.S. presidential election when it was hired by the Trump campaign, and that upon notice from Facebook immediately deleted all raw data and began removing derivative data.

The whole statement from Cambridge Analytica can be found below. We requested a comment from Facebook about the incongruencies in the two companies’ positions, but the social network declined to comment.

The he-said-she-said of the scandal seems to be amplifying as Facebook continues to endure criticism about weak data privacy policies and enforcement that led to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco that’s seen Facebook’s market cap drop nearly $100 billion.

NEW DELHI, INDIA – OCTOBER 9: Co-founder and chief executive of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg gestures as he announces the Internet.org Innovation Challenge in India on October 9, 2014 in New Delhi, India. Zuckerberg is on a two-day visit to India aimed at promoting the internet.org app, which allows people in underdeveloped areas to access basic online services. (Photo by Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Today Facebook announced the 87 million figure as a maximum number of people potentially impacted and said it would notify those users with an alert atop the News Feed. It also rewrote its Terms of Service today to clarify how it collects and works with outside developers, and announced sweeping platform API restrictions that will break many apps built on Facebook but prevent privacy abuses. Zuckerberg then held a conference call with reporters to give insight on all the news.

Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied assertions about interactions with Facebook data, but Facebook hasn’t backed down. Instead, Facebook has used Cambridge Analytica as an example of abuse it’s trying to combat, and as a justification for cracking down on developers both malicious and benign around the world.

Cambridge Analytica responds to announcement that GSR dataset potentially contained 87 million records
Today Facebook reported that information for up to 87 million people may have been improperly obtained by research company GSR. Cambridge Analytica licensed data for  from GSR, as is clearly stated in our contract with the research company. We did not receive more data than this.

We did not use any GSR data in the work we did in the 2016 US presidential election.

Our contract with GSR stated that all data must be obtained legally, and this contract is now a matter of public record. We took legal action against GSR when we found out they had breached this contract.When Facebook contacted us to let us know the data had been improperly obtained, we immediately deleted the raw data from our file server, and began the process of searching for and removing any of its derivatives in our system.

When Facebook sought further assurances a year ago, we carried out an internal audit to make sure that all the data, all derivatives, and all backups had been deleted, and gave Facebook a certificate to this effect.

We are now undertaking an independent third-party audit to demonstrate that no GSR data remains in our systems.

Source: TechCrunch

Our digital future will be shaped by increasingly mobile technologies coming from China

Since the dawn of the internet, the titans of this industry have fought to win the “starting point” — the place that users start their online experiences. In other words, the place where they begin “browsing.” The advent of the dial-up era had America Online mailing a CD to every home in America, which passed the baton to Yahoo’s categorical listings, which was swallowed by Google’s indexing of the world’s information — winning the “starting point” was everything.

As the mobile revolution continues to explode across the world, the battle for the starting point has intensified. For a period of time, people believed it would be the hardware, then it became clear that the software mattered most. Then conversation shifted to a debate between operating systems (Android or iOS) and moved on to social properties and messaging apps, where people were spending most of their time. Today, my belief is we’re hovering somewhere between apps and operating systems. That being said, the interface layer will always be evolving.

The starting point, just like a rocket’s launchpad, is only important because of what comes after. The battle to win that coveted position, although often disguised as many other things, is really a battle to become the starting point of commerce.  

Google’s philosophy includes a commitment to get users “off their page” as quickly as possible…to get that user to form a habit and come back to their starting point. The real (yet somewhat veiled) goal, in my opinion, is to get users to search and find the things they want to buy.

Of course, Google “does no evil” while aggregating the world’s information, but they pay their bills by sending purchases to Priceline, Expedia, Amazon and the rest of the digital economy.  

Facebook, on the other hand, has become a starting point through its monopolization of users’ time, attention and data. Through this effort, it’s developed an advertising business that shatters records quarter after quarter.

Google and Facebook, this famed duopoly, represent 89 percent of new advertising spending in 2017. Their dominance is unrivaled… for now.

Change is urgently being demanded by market forces — shifts in consumer habits, intolerable rising costs to advertisers and through a nearly universal dissatisfaction with the advertising models that have dominated (plagued) the U.S. digital economy.  All of which is being accelerated by mobile. Terrible experiences for users still persist in our online experiences, deliver low efficacy for advertisers and fraud is rampant. The march away from the glut of advertising excess may be most symbolically seen in the explosion of ad blockers. Further evidence of the “need for a correction of this broken industry” is Oracle’s willingness to pay $850 million for a company that polices ads (probably the best entrepreneurs I know ran this company, so no surprise).

As an entrepreneur, my job is to predict the future. When reflecting on what I’ve learned thus far in my journey, it’s become clear that two truths can guide us in making smarter decisions about our digital future:

Every day, retailers, advertisers, brands and marketers get smarter. This means that every day, they will push the platforms, their partners and the places they rely on for users to be more “performance driven.” More transactional.

Paying for views, bots (Russian or otherwise) or anything other than “dollars” will become less and less popular over time. It’s no secret that Amazon, the world’s most powerful company (imho), relies so heavily on its Associates Program (its home-built partnership and affiliate platform). This channel is the highest performing form of paid acquisition that retailers have, and in fact, it’s rumored that the success of Amazon’s affiliate program led to the development of AWS due to large spikes in partner traffic.

Chinese flag overlooking The Bund, Shanghai, China (Photo: Rolf Bruderer/Getty Images)

When thinking about our digital future, look down and look east. Look down and admire your phone — this will serve as your portal to the digital world for the next decade, and our dependence will only continue to grow. The explosive adoption of this form factor is continuing to outpace any technological trend in history.

Now, look east and recognize that what happens in China will happen here, in the West, eventually. The Chinese market skipped the PC-driven digital revolution — and adopted the digital era via the smartphone. Some really smart investors have built strategies around this thesis and have quietly been reaping rewards due to their clairvoyance.  

China has historically been categorized as a market full of knock-offs and copycats — but times have changed. Some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies have come out of China over the past decade. The entrepreneurial work ethic in China (as praised recently by arguably the world’s greatest investor, Michael Moritz), the speed of innovation and the ability to quickly scale and reach meaningful populations have caused Chinese companies to leapfrog the market cap of many of their U.S. counterparts.  

The most interesting component of the Chinese digital economy’s growth is that it is fundamentally more “pure” than the U.S. market’s. I say this because the Chinese market is inherently “transactional.” As Andreessen Horowitz writes, WeChat, China’s  most valuable company, has become the “starting point” and hub for all user actions. Their revenue diversity is much more “Amazon” than “Google” or “Facebook” — it’s much more pure. They make money off the transactions driven from their platform, and advertising is far less important in their strategy.

The obsession with replicating WeChat took the tech industry by storm two years ago — and for some misplaced reason, everyone thought we needed to build messaging bots to compete.  

What shouldn’t be lost is our obsession with the purity and power of the business models being created in China. The fabric that binds the Chinese digital economy and has fostered its seemingly boundless growth is the magic combination of commerce and mobile. Singles Day, the Chinese version of Black Friday, drove $25 billion in sales on Alibaba — 90 percent of which were on mobile.

The lesson we’ve learned thus far in both the U.S. and in China is that “consumers spending money” creates the most durable consumer businesses. Google, putting aside all its moonshots and heroic mission statements, is a “starting point” powered by a shopping engine. If you disagree, look at where their revenue comes from…

Google’s recent announcement of Shopping Actions and their movement to a “pay per transaction model” signals a turning point that could forever change the landscape of the digital economy.  

Google’s multi-front battle against Apple, Facebook and Amazon is weighted. Amazon is the most threatening. It’s the most durable business of the four — and its model is unbounded on two fronts that almost everyone I know would bet their future on, 1) people buying more online, where Amazon makes a disproportionate amount of every dollar spent, and 2) companies needing more cloud computing power (more servers), where Amazon makes a disproportionate amount of every dollar spent.  

To add insult to injury, Amazon is threatening Google by becoming a starting point itself — 55 percent of product searches now originate at Amazon, up from 30 percent just a year ago.

Google, recognizing consumer behavior was changing in mobile (less searching) and the inferiority of their model when compared to the durability and growth prospects of Amazon, needed to respond. Google needed a model that supported boundless growth and one that created a “win-win” for its advertising partners — one that resembled Amazon’s relationship with its merchants — not one that continued to increase costs to retailers while capitalizing on their monopolization of search traffic.

Google knows that with its position as the starting point — with Google.com, Google Apps and Android — it has to become a part of the transaction to prevail in the long term. With users in mobile demanding fewer ads and more utility (demanding experiences that look and feel a lot more like what has prevailed in China), Google has every reason in the world to look down and to look east — to become a part of the transaction — to take its piece.  

A collision course for Google and the retailers it relies upon for revenue was on the horizon. Search activity per user was declining in mobile and user acquisition costs were growing quarter over quarter. Businesses are repeatedly failing to compete with Amazon, and unless Google could create an economically viable growth model for retailers, no one would stand a chance against the commerce juggernaut — not the retailers nor Google itself. 

As I’ve believed for a long time, becoming a part of the transaction is the most favorable business model for all parties; sources of traffic make money when retailers sell things, and, most importantly, this only happens when users find the things they want.  

Shopping Actions is Google’s first ambitious step to satisfy all three parties — businesses and business models all over the world will feel this impact.  

Good work, Sundar.

Source: TechCrunch

Smartsheet co-founder’s next project is a robotic rock picker-upper

A co-founder of Smartsheet, the enterprise collaboration startup that just filed for an IPO, is taking a hard right turn into the world of agriculture robotics. Brent Frei tells GeekWire that he has been working on an automated system for clearing rocks from land. It’s a bit unexpected, but far from a bad idea.

While doing a little farming work with his kids last year, including the less than stimulating task of picking up big rocks and throwing them in a tractor-trailer, it occurred to him that this was precisely the kind of thing that an automated platform would be good at.

There are some semi-automated solutions, but nothing simple enough that you could just plop it on a few acres and tell it “go grab all the rocks this big or bigger.”

Why not apply to this all the tech that’s going into watering, growing and picking? It seems at the very least he might make something that he himself could use, so he started TerraClear in October to create a “Roomba for rock picking.”

It’s still a ways off even from prototype stage, but it’s a great example of how wide open the world is to new applications of computer vision and robotics if you keep your mind open.

Source: TechCrunch

Join us for a live-stream race: ‘PC Building Simulator’ vs. building a real PC

PC Building Simulator is tearing up the Steam Charts. With that in mind, we wondered if someone could build a real PC faster than a virtual one. Join us right now for a live-stream to find out.

The post Join us for a live-stream race: ‘PC Building Simulator’ vs. building a real PC appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

Southeast Asia fashion startup Zilingo continues its meteoric rise with $54M Series C

Many will rightly say that raising money as a startup in Southeast Asia is no easy thing, but up-and-coming online fashion service Zilingo sure doesn’t seem to have problems on that front.

Fresh from raising an $18 million Series B round last September, Zilingo has announced its $54 million Series C to take it to $82 million from investors to date.

The round was led by new investor Sofina — an investor in Flipkart-owned fashion site Myntra among others — and existing backers Burda and Sequoia India. Zilingo’s other existing investors, including Tim Draper, SIG, Venturra, Beenext and Manik Arora, all took part, with Amadeus Capital joining the party, too.

Raising this much money is rare over the life cycle of any startup in Southeast Asia, but to do it in less than 2.5 years after launching your product is unprecedented.

E-commerce is a hot space in the region, but few companies have made the jump to Series B and beyond with success; in order to make the leap, Singapore-headquartered Zilingo has gone about things in a different way from others in its immediate space.

Beyond consumer sales

The company started in Thailand in 2015, when it was founded by Ankiti Bose (CEO) and Dhruv Kapoor (CTO). Bose, a former analyst with Sequoia India and McKinsey, had the idea of bringing traditional sellers online after visiting Bangkok and marveling at the rich variety of fashion items being sold at street markets.

Now, however, the company has risen above online sales to a position as a platform that caters to merchants, retailers and brands for both B2C and B2B sales. That’s been enabled by an early focus on providing basic services for retailers beyond just an online storefront.

We noted when we first wrote about Zilingo that the company offered a seller management tool which handled processes like inventory management, stock and sales for small retailers who might not already be digital. Aside from boosting touch points with merchants, its key target, these services have evolved over time and become both an additional revenue generator and an important defensive moat for Zilingo’s business, while, not to mention, providing insight and direction for product development.

Zilingo’s e-commerce site sells directly to consumers in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, and it ships internationally to four more countries. Its tech team is in India while it has supply bases in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia, but it has pushed on.

With financial services from third parties, a “style hunter” that aggregates upcoming trends from fashion watchers and icons, product sourcing and content and photography services, the targets have expanded to include professional fashion sellers, SMEs, brands and B2B buyers located outside of Southeast Asia.

The idea is no longer just about bringing the long tail of market sellers online, but instead to enable increased efficiencies for all. That means organization services, financial products and sales for the long-tail merchants, but trend analysis, B2B sales/sourcing and more advanced options to the more sophisticated end of brands and larger retailers.

Zilingo co-founders Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor

“We realized that the long tail is a good way to start, but if you want to build the biggest player in this space, then you have to have all the supply,” Bose told TechCrunch. “The reason they’d stay with us is because they have a dependence with us.”

Bose said that Zilingo doesn’t pressure its merchants to use Zilingo.com for consumers sales — although it is obviously preferential — which means it has a potential that allows it to start working with those who are on rival services, which chiefly includes Rocket Internet’s well-funded Zalora business.

So a brand using Zalora for sales, for example, might source its products or materials from sellers on Zilingo. Further down the line, Zilingo could use that relationship to persuade it to open a Zilingo.com store.

That has seen revenue skyrocket. While Bose isn’t revealing exact sales figures, she said that revenue has grown “over 10X” in the last 12, months with more than 10,000 sellers and two million products now on the Zilingo.com platform.

That jump is primarily thanks to a move into Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, the emergence of B2B sales — i.e. labels or merchants using Zilingo to buy fashion items to then sell to consumers — and some of the optional, paid-for services such as loans or credit. Now, Bose said, the once-core B2C business from Zilingo.com accounts for just 40 percent of the revenue.

That platform strategy goes some way to explaining why investors are doubling down on the business despite a “bloodbath” — as Bose puts it — in the B2C fashion commerce space in Southeast Asia.

Zalora is the big player, while others include JD.com-backed Pomelo and Singapore’s Love Bonito, both of which have raised low double-digit USD rounds to move into brick and mortar retail. Zilingo, meanwhile, has transcended the sales race by building a product that can live without a dependency on its Zilingo.com e-commerce service.

Looking to U.S. and Europe

The company is putting that to the test this week with the launch of a B2B service for U.S. and Europe-based fashion sellers and labels.

ZilingoAsiaMall.com is a destination where smaller retailers and other B2B buyers can source fashion items from Southeast Asia-based resellers for similar prices to that which top global fashion names enjoy, but without the commitment of massive order volumes.

Zilingo Asia Mall

“Major global fashion brands source most apparel from Asia at $1.5/piece for massive quantities of over a million pieces,” a Zilingo representative explained. “We saw how Zilingo could leverage its existing Asian supply chain network built from its consumer business to drive value for the American and European fashion businesses. ZAM has figured out how retailers can source quality, current products at $2/piece for quantities as low as 200 and also make it an easy experience.”

“Some 49 percent of all exports globally in fashion come from ASEAN, China and Bangladesh [so] we are basically sitting at the source,” Bose told TechCrunch.

“Merchants want to buy from our B2B platforms and sell on B2C channels, Zilingo could be one of them,” she added. “It’s a high-margin profitable business and we want to scale that up.”

Future plans

Zilingo said it still has its Series B round in the bank, so that, combined with this newest funding, gives it quite the war chest for investment.

Aside from pushing its international strategy, the company plans to add more tech services to its merchant ecosystem while also expanding its Zilingo.com e-commerce site deeper into Southeast Asia. The Philippines is top of the list, but opening up in Vietnam and Malaysia is also on the planner.

The company will also continue to build its brand and market share in its existing Southeast Asian markets. There’s a particular focus on Indonesia where it recently signed actress Pevita Pearce to front its first TV ad campaign.

As for raising more money right after the Series B, Bose said that the timing felt right.

“The logic behind raising this round is that Southeast Asia is heating up but fashion doesn’t have a big leader because Zalora is stumbling, but it is also the only high-margin vertical in e-commerce,” she said.

“When things are going well, there’s momentum, and we figured that we might as well use that because this is a fantastic time to be running a startup in Southeast Asia — people are taking the region seriously,” she added, referencing increased investments from Tencent and Alibaba.

Unbelievably, Zilingo closed the Series C round “weeks” after its Series B, according to Sequoia India managing director Shailendra Singh. Bose explained that investors had begun to see the results of the B2B push and were keen to double down right there and then.

Luckily for the rest of the market, there are no imminent Series D plans at this point… apparently.

Source: TechCrunch