It’s that time of year again: Next Monday, July 11, we kick off our annual gathering of top executives, entrepreneurs, and investors at the Aspen Institute in Colorado.
This will be my sixth year participating in Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech conference, and I’m sure it will be different from every year in the past. The very nature of technology—and our economy and everything else in our lives—is that it is constantly changing. Just one year ago, we wouldn’t have thought that Netflix shows would be available on Comcast. Or that Donald Trump would become a viable presidential candidate. Or, even less believable, that raw cookie dough would turn out to be bad for you. (But it tastes sooo good!)
There are two constants, however, when it comes to our three-day pilgrimage to Aspen. First, I am always excited by the stellar and diverse lineup of participants, both on and off stage. This year, I will be interviewing leaders of Magic Leap, The Walt Disney Co., and Legendary Entertainment, among others. (Any burning questions for any of them? Send me an email or Tweet please.) My colleagues will lead discussions with the CEOs of Dropbox, DraftKings, Girls Who Code, Cisco Systems, Intel, PayPal, TaskRabbit, Virgin Galactic, WeWork, Airbnb, and more. Oh, yeah, and we just announced that the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green will be there too! (Some sessions will be livestreamed at Fortune.com, so check out the entire schedule.)
The other constant is that I always fly to Denver and then drive to Aspen. This is mostly due to my ridiculous fear of flying, but it has become a ritual I look forward to every year. Our conference isn’t just about techies getting together to talk about their most recent valuations—not that this would be the best year for that conversation anyway. For those of us fortunate enough to go, it is also an opportunity to think and brainstorm about the tech industry’s role in the world at large. Driving through the awe-inspiring Colorado mountains is a great way to get those conversations started, at least in my head. And yes, I do realize that flying is, statistically speaking, safer than driving.
Mainstage presentations from Brainstorm Tech 2016 will be livestreamed on Fortune.com. Put them on your schedule.
BITS AND BYTES
BlackBerry gives up on Classic smartphone. The Canadian company had hoped to entice people with a return to its iconic physical keyboard 18 months ago. It has since released several Android devices, some of which sport that feature. The move will allow BlackBerry to put more resources into its swelling security software lineup. (Reuters, New York Times)
Comcast calls truce with Netflix. After years of bad blood, the video programming pioneer’s content will be streamed (eventually) through the cable company’s X1 set-top boxes. (Fortune)
Twitter estimates Chinese user count at 10 million. Considering the government’s strict censorship of the Internet, that’s a lot of users. But it’s far less than the 35.5 million number some previously cooked up. (Fortune)
Business software purveyor Epicor gets new owner. Private equity firm KKR is paying a reported $3.3 billion to take over the company, extending a string of recent M&A activity among software companies. (Wall Street Journal)
Foxconn division files for Hong Kong IPO. The Taiwanese contract manufacturer’s cable and connector group generated $2.33 billion in revenue last year, making it the largest supplier in mainland China. It is expected to raise between $500 million and $1 billion. (Wall Street Journal)
Skype catches up to Google Hangouts. Microsoft’s new group video chat tool can accommodate up to 10 participants before the organizer is forced to sign up for other Microsoft software. (Fortune)
Can artificial intelligence help prevent blindness? Google thinks its software could help detect conditions such as macular degeneration far earlier, when they can be treated more effectively. Its DeepMind subsidiary is teaming up with Britain’s national health agency to test the thesis. (Fortune)
Facebook poaches Tesla exec. Rich Heley, who led the electric vehicle company’s product technology strategy, will join former Google engineer Regina Dugan in the social networking company’s new Building 8 research lab. The group is dedicated to expanding Facebook’s hardware product lineup. (Bloomberg)
Google asks judge to sanction Oracle lawyer who spilled Apple secrets. In a June 29 filing, the tech giant renewed its push to punish Annette Hurst, who in the course of an epic intellectual property trial, blabbed in open court that the search giant pays Apple $1 billion a year to include its search bar on the iPhone.
Google claims this information was supposed to be kept under wraps as a result of a protective order from the court.
Was the decision to spill it part of a tactical decision to hurt Google? Read the story.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Twitter Adds Former Facebook CTO to Its Board, by Kia Kokalitcheva
Why Shares of These Three Apple Suppliers All Lost 6% Tuesday,
by Aaron Pressman
Millions of Android Devices Were Infected by a Chinese Advertising Firm, by Robert Hackett
Snapchat Needs to Figure Out How to Serve Both the Youngs and the Olds, by Mathew Ingram
Drones Help This Third-Generation Farmer Take Better Care of His Land, by Signe Brewster
ONE MORE THING
These CIOs don’t have tech degrees. Drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. tapped statistician Aarti Shah, a 22-year-old company veteran, as its CIO. While she has analytics experience, she has never held a position in the information technology group. While not unprecedented, this tactic is becoming more common—especially among leaders with experience in customers service. (Wall Street Journal)