Data Sheet—Wednesday, August 30, 2017
I got to thinking Tuesday about the importance of leadership.
One of the world’s most successful and yet mysterious companies in the world, Samsung Electronics, has been operating without its leader for months and likely will continue to do so for some time to come. What makes Samsung so mysterious is that it’s not altogether clear who leads the company or what its leaders do. The company follows an avowedly Confucian model of consensus-driven decision-making, values bone-crushingly hard work, and shows tremendous deference to the founding Lee family, despite its lack of a controlling interest in its shares.
Can Samsung thrive with its de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee, in jail? It has so far, and this week it answered critics by making a large semiconductor investment, its first big deal since Lee’s imprisonment. Samsung has strong leaders who aren’t named Lee. Whether or not they can steer the company in his absence will be the top question facing Samsung.
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One of the world’s most controversial companies, Uber, gets a new leader Wednesday when Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi takes over as CEO. By all accounts, Khosrowshahi is the antithesis of Uber’s previous CEO, Travis Kalanick, who nevertheless led Uber most of the way to where it is today. The company isn’t a fraction the success that Samsung is, which is why all the more reason it needs a strong leader who can salvage what’s right and jettison what’s wrong.
One company with a legacy of excellence will go it alone. Another with a track record of great promise followed by repeated disappointments gets a new chance. It’s like a business version of the cycle of life. It continues.
One way to do it. Messaging service Kik, valued privately at over $1 billion, isn’t going public on the stock market. The startup will instead go the digital currency route and try to raise $125 million in an initial coin offering. If successful, Kik would be the first “non-blockchain social media application” to do an ICO, Reuters says. But for the second day in a row, we have a warning about scam ICOs. The Securities and Exchange Commission cautioned that some crooks are using digital currencies to pull off the old pump-and-dump scheme.
Anything you can do. Google moved to match Apple in the realm of augmented reality applications. The search giant released software tools to help Android developers create AR apps, which impose virtual images on top of real world items. Apple has its own similar tool set called ARKit for iOS developers and this week highlighted some of the early efforts.
All eyes on Cupertino. I don’t think Apple has ever released the number of people who watched one of its keynote addresses live, but I wonder if some could rival the Super Bowl (trivia fact: 114 million last year). With the next big keynote only days away, the leaks are pouring out. Bloomberg reports that the new flagship iPhone won’t have a home button and will include new gesture controls. And while a new Apple TV box that can offer 4K resolution movies is expected, Apple is still battling Hollywood over the price of 4K movies, the Wall Street Journal says.
The Matrix here we come. Another pair of tech giants is going to work more closely together, according to the New York Times. Amazon and Microsoft are planning to allow their respective voice-controlled digital assistants, Alexa and Cortana, to connect to each other. Insert your favorite AI-gone-amuck movie reference here.
Gnip, gnop. With Advanced Micro Devices hot on its tail, Intel announced new CPU chips aimed at workstations, such as possibly Apple’s upcoming Mac Pro. Chips in the new Xeon-W line will include as many as 18 cores and run at up to 4.5 GHz.
Almost done. The Federal Communications Commission will be accepting public comments for just one more day on its plan to rollback net neutrality rules. After almost 22 million comments have come in, the agency’s twice-extended deadline hits at midnight tonight.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Ate at that new restaurant because it had great reviews on Yelp? They may have been faked. It’s an age old problem that Yelp and other sites try to screen out.
But a new study from researchers at the University of Chicago finds that machine-learning software programs can write fake reviews that are “effectively indistinguishable” from reviews written by actual people. UChicago computer science professor Ben Zhao, one of the co-authors, tells Business Insider thinks such programs could undermine faith in all kinds of written content, including the news:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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Here’s How MLB Uses Videoconferencing for Its Biggest Games by Barb Darrow
Why Wall Street Is Excited About Fitbit’s Ionic Smartwatch by Aaron Pressman
Twitter Is Loving Chelsea Clinton’s Subtle Jab at Ivanka Trump by Valentina Zarya
BEFORE YOU GO
After 13 years in orbit around the second-largest planet in the solar system, you’d be running out of gas, too. Now the end is near for NASA’s amazing Cassini probe. The last pictures from Cassini will come on September 14 and within about a day the probe will sink into Saturn’s atmosphere and burn up. So long and thanks for all the fish, Cassini.