Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Microsoft is being far more transparent about the face of its workforce, but Google remains mum about why it wants U.S. regulators to free up more wireless airwaves. Thanks to the reader who pointed out the wonky link in the Fortune story list from Monday’s edition. I’ve included the right one at the top of today’s “Bookmarks.”
What’s behind Google’s secretive wireless ambitions? The search giant wants the government to open access to spectrum that today goes mostly unused by the big wireless carriers. How strongly does it feel about this? It has met with the FCC at least 10 times since 2013 to advocate the idea. The likely mission: alternative short-range networks for municipal parks or other public spaces that will supplement its emerging Internet access services. Wall Street Journal
Microsoft’s dismal diversity record. There isn’t much to be proud of in its latest (albeit far more complete) report card, The company is still 60.6% white, and 71% male. A bright spot: the software giant does somewhat better than its high-tech peers when it comes to racially and ethnically-diverse leadership. Fortune
Spam on your wrist? Apple isn’t even officially exhibiting at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, but mobile-marketing company TapSense is talking up a new service for beaming advertisements and other offers to the forthcoming Apple Watch based on location. Reuters
Synching up on wireless charging. Two of many would-be standards organizations are combining their efforts, a move meant to speed adoption. Re/code
NetSuite poaches former Microsoft, Oracle marketing executive. High on the priority list for new CMO Fred Studer (who used to lead strategy for the Dynamics CRM product line)—help the cloud business software company win more business with big businesses. eWeek
RESEARCH & PREDICTIONS
Fewer retail breaches, more records stolen. The number of annual security incidents among retailers is off about 50% since 2012. (Hurray!) But IBM researchers report number of records stolen last year rose 43% to 61 million records—and that’s not counting the Target or Home Depot data thefts. ZDNet
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
Eye-opening round for recruiting site Glassdoor. A $70 million infusion led by Google Capital and Tiger Capital brings total funding to $160 million. About 2,000 companies use the site for recruiting. But you’re probably familiar with the site’s insider “ratings” of companies by employees. TechCrunch
$30 million for advanced threat intelligence. The ever-changing nature of security threats is overwhelming, but iSight Partners keeps track of them for seven of the top 10 U.S. banks and three of the top four credit-card issuers. (It doesn’t say which ones.) It starts the New Year with a Series C round from Bessemer Venture Partners.
MY FORTUNE.COM BOOKMARKS
Is Facebook channeling the power of Siri? With new acquisition, maybe By Benjamin Snyder
IPOs raised $249 billion in 2014, and the fundraising frenzy could continue by Laura Lorenzetti
GM is bringing shopping into the car By Ben Geier
Consumer Electronics Show: Hidden tech gems to look for By Cyrus Sanati
Startups should pay close attention to Reddit ‘notes’ By Dan Primack
FOR YOUR INNER TECHNOPHILE
Algorithms that can ‘see’ images on the Web
Computers can’t really “see” the content of images on the Web. They can only read the text that’s attached to them. In Fortune’s recently published “Shape the Future” package, staff writer Erin Griffith reports on how that’s changing.
Thanks to smartphones, photos are the new language of the Web. Each day people upload 1.8 billion new images to the Internet. The only problem with all that pic-sharing? The Web’s entire infrastructure is built around text. (Even Google’s image search function relies on text to identify images.) So how do we search, sort, browse, and navigate a rapidly growing sea of images? We teach our computers to actually see them. As you can imagine, that’s no small challenge.
Nor is it new. Academic researchers built a “convolutional neural network” architecture in the 1980s, but those early computer-vision algorithms weren’t very powerful (or useful) running on conventional processors. Programming them to run on modern graphics processors—the kind used by video games rendered in 3-D—changed everything. That happened around 2009. “A super-nerdy discipline in academia is now becoming an important way of understanding the Internet,” says Shaun Zacharia, chief technology officer of TripleLift, a startup that’s using computer vision to optimize digital ads. TripleLift is one of many companies that are pulling the Web’s billions of untagged, unsearchable images out of the dark.
For example, Google Ventures-backed Clairifai developed an algorithm that analyzes several hundred images per second for clients such as social networking companies, real estate listing sites, and e-commerce firms. Clairifi’s technology can identify an image, categorize it, and group similar images together. Other startups take computer vision into the real world: Body Labs, based in New York, creates digital 3-D models of bodies, which the U.S. Army is now using to improve armor for female soldiers. Floored, also based in New York, turns 3D models of building interiors into interactive graphics so that potential clients can “experience” a piece of real estate through a “video flythrough,” or, if they choose, a virtual reality headset.
The race is on for our computers to apply their new image-reading skills. In the minute it took you to read this article, another 1.25 million images were uploaded to the Internet.
For more stories from Fortune’s Shape the Future report, click here.
ONE MORE THING
Yes, Virginia, the Supreme Court still prefers paper. Oh the irony. As the pace of technological change accelerates, the nation’s highest judges are dealing far more frequently with issues of digital privacy, cybersecurity and intellectual property. Internally, it is adopting technology at a “measured pace” and won’t get to test electronic filing or automated scheduling until at least 2016. Gigaom
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
National Retail Federation: Technology showcase. (Jan. 11 – 14; New York)
IBM ConnectED: Collaboration and digital experience. (Jan. 25 – 28; Orlando, Florida)
IBM Interconnect: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26; Las Vegas)
Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3; Phoenix)
Microsoft Convergence: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19; Atlanta)
IDC Directions 2015: Innovation in the 3rd Platform era. (March 18; Boston)
Cisco Leadership Council: CIO-CEO thought leadership. (March 18 – 20; Kiawah Island, South Carolina)
Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1; Las Vegas)
Knowledge15: Automate IT services. (April 19 – 24; Las Vegas)
RSA Conference: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24; San Francisco)
Forrester’s Forum for Technology Leaders: Win in the age of the customer. (April 27 – 28; Orlando, Fla.)
MicrosoftIgnite: Business tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8; Chicago)
NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7; San Jose, California)
EMC World: Data strategy. (May 4 – 7; Las Vegas)
SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7; Orlando, Florida)
Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)
Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 – 20; Boston)
HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 – 4; Las Vegas)