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Last Week In Digital - 31st July 2017

Facebook, Microsoft, Uber, and Will.i.am all in the news last week

31Jul

Facebook to help content creators monetize

In an attempt to lure content creators onto its News Feed, Facebook has acquired content rights management startup Source3. Essentially, the acquisition - which includes all of Source3’s team and technology - is Facebook cracking down on the sharing of pirated videos or other content without the original poster’s permission. This kind of drive goes some way to ensuring that whoever creates content for Facebook can benefit financially from it without being ripped off by other users.

Facebook is already paying publishers and studios to produce video content exclusively for the News Feed, as it looks to rival Google-owned Youtube and Twitter as video platforms. According to the startup itself: ’At Source3, we set out to recognize, organize and analyze branded intellectual property in user-generated content, and we are proud to have identified products across a variety of areas including sports, music, entertainment and fashion.’ The acquisition would suggest that Facebook isn’t yet confident in its own rights management technology - Rights Manager - which it debuted two years with limited success. Youtube’s more sophisticated Content ID may have spurred the decision to acquire Source3.

Microsoft announces second version of HoloLens

In a blog post, Microsoft revealed that the upcoming second iteration of the HoloLens mixed reality goggles will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI). The move is part of the tech giant’s commitment to AI, in line with other major tech companies - Google already has its own AI chips and Apple is reportedly working on one for the iPhone, according to TechCrunch. The first HoloLens is only available to developers at present, and it is likely that the second is more of a commitment to the future of AI than a commercial product.

Fitting the device with AI processing capabilities allows it to analyze data free from the cloud, meaning faster processing times and an ability to work offline. Essentially, the AI component will allow HoloLens to be stacked with more features and services. ’This is the kind of thinking you need if you’re going to develop mixed reality devices that are themselves intelligent. Mixed reality and artificial intelligence represent the future of computing, and we’re excited to be advancing this frontier,’ Microsoft said of the chipset plans.

Grab goes after Uber in Southeast Asia

It’s been a rough year for Uber. The ride-hailing giant that once looked so untouchable has been scarred by seemingly endless internal and cultural issues, controversies, and competition. In July, Uber ceded both the Chinese and Russian markets, to Didi Chuxing and Yandex respectively. Now, it faces serious competition for Southeast Asia, with rival Grab pulling in $2 billion of new financing from, you guessed it, Didi Chuxing.

According to TechCrunch, the round ‘could expand by $500 million more with input from other existing backers and new investors,’ and the cash being poured into Grab suggests that the company has enough to defeat Uber in the Southeast Asian market. Grab is developing a mobile payments platform, too, and and it’ll be interesting to see how Uber counters after a rocky few months.

Grab CEO, Anthony Tan, said: ’We are delighted to deepen our strategic partnership with DiDi and SoftBank. We’re encouraged that these two visionary companies share our optimism for the future of Southeast Asia and its on-demand transportation and payments markets, and recognize that Grab is ideally positioned to capitalize on the massive market opportunities.

i.am+ acquires Wink

Smart home hub startup Wink has been acquired by its third owner in three years, i.am+. The ‘lifestyle technology company’ - owned by entrepreneur and musician Will.i.am - bought Wink in June to the tune of $38.7 million up front (with a $20 million commitment towards future manufacturing). At present, it is unclear what the terms of the deal are - what exactly i.am+ has bought, what happens to Wink’s products, the plan for the future, etc.

i.am+ has acquired a growing company, though, and one that is near the heart of a burgeoning market. Wink’s growth in value - last acquired by Flex for $15 million in 2015 - is part of the wider surge of interest in smart home technology, which allows users to connect various elements of their home and control them from a central hub. Wink is competing with the likes of Amazon but has strong user numbers that i.am+ will be hoping to build on (some 1.3 million connected devices). As the smart home takes shape and gets closer to the commercial mainstream, companies with a steak in it will begin to see huge growth. i.am+ will be hoping that Wink can be one of them.

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