Weekend update: Facebook slips up, data security in the news (again), Google changes the game and San Francisco excitement

This week's most disruptive and exciting tech and business news, features and analysis as written by the Innovation Enterprise team


The tech world would not be what it is if it stopped for even a moment, and this week has been no exception.

Facebook has had yet another rocky one, as even though it finally launched the Oculus Rift S, it was unable to shake reports of conflict in the Oculus design room. It then ended the working week on a spectacular low when it was revealed that a security failure had left between 200–600 million users' passwords in plain text, searchable by more than 20,000 employees. Amazon took a step toward bolstering the startup ecosystem when a leaked email revealed that the retail giant has begun testing its Pro-Rata program to link up startups with private investors, while Bill Gates urged that AI be used for education and medicine rather than being weaponized.

Meanwhile, it has been an interesting week for tech's smaller players with investors turning their gaze (and opened their wallets) in the direction of San Francisco. PagerDuty, one of the Bay Area's tech 'unicorns', announced plans to go public and expand into Atlanta – raising questions over whether or not the city's once seemingly-bottomless talent pool is drying up. Evolv Technologies was another San Francisco-based company that enjoyed a fruitful week when it raised $10m in a Series A funding round and acquired Sentient Ascend.

Speaking of San Francisco, our flagship festival DATAx is coming to the City by the Bay this May, so check out 10 reasons why data professionals need to attend the data extravaganza (and you can book tickets here).

How blockchain could end data theft

Data security is fast becoming top concern for even those who have just glanced at any newspaper in the last year, so it is understandable that it is keeping industry leaders up at night. Our long-time contributor Gary Eastwood proposes that blockchain is the solution to data theft.

"We must look beyond Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency if we are to accept blockchain as a technology in its own right," writes Eastwood. "Blockchain offers us a level of security through tokenization that doesn't exist in any banking institution in the world today."

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Using big data to study customers in different age brackets

When marketers start to implement big data to better understand their customers, one of their first goals should be gathering more data to get better insights into the behavioral differences of customers in different age groups.

"Without knowing how much each demographic contributes to the data ecosystem, you might not be able to reserve enough data storage space for them," writes Ryan Kh in his in-depth analysis of the area. "The problem is that differences in data consumption across each age group are much larger than many brands expect."

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Google's ad violations land it a $1.7bn EU fine

Google faced a great deal of controversy week when it received its third fine from the EU in two years to the tune of €1.49bn ($1.7bn). This time the tech giant was in hot water for advertising violations when the European Commission accused Google of abusing its monopoly and forcing out its competitors.

"Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anticompetitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules," said EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager. "The misconduct lasted more than 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition."

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How the IoT is redefining retail

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to transform the smart shopping industry as customers enjoy an increasingly connected ecosystem of devices that streamline their purchase decisions, while retailers optimize and automate their supply chains. Nathan Sykes looks at the ways this is starting to redefine the retail industry.

"Optimized staffing data : The IoT will also assist managers in meeting demand. They'll have a better understanding of which days and times are likeliest to see the greatest amount of traffic. Never under-or-overstaffed, their stores will always run at peak performance."

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Google Stadia brings game streaming to Chrome, Android and smart TVs

Prior to the colossal EU fine, things were looking much better for Google this week when it introduced a new cloud game streaming service which is already being hailed as one of the most disruptive moves in the gaming industry – ever. Dubbed 'the Netflix for gaming', Stadia will bring better-than-console quality games to Chrome, Android and smart TVs without the need for lengthy download time or high-end hardware.

"Using Google's vast experience, reach and decades of investment, we're making Stadia a powerful gaming platform for players, developers and YouTube content creators – of all sizes," said Google in a blog post announcing the release. "We're building a playground for every imagination."

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Top places to visit while attending DATAx San Francisco

Ahead of San Francisco's first ever DATAx, the editorial team has curated our list of all the unmissable things to see and do while chilling in the City by the Bay, from the top attractions that are absolute musts, to the more unique places that may just inspire your inner (or outer) geek.

Our top spots include Alcatraz prison, Fisherman's Wharf, the Museum of Craft and Design and Chris Cosentino's Cockscomb restaurant. For the attendees wanting something a bit more whacky, one of our solid favorites is the Musee Mechanique, home to more than 200 coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines.

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