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Data Sheet—Wednesday, September 21, 2016

GoPro hasn’t had an easy time as a public company. Since its IPO two years ago, its share price has tanked about 60%. But you wouldn’t know it by the energetic cheers at the company’s recent press event in Lake Tahoe, where it finally unveiled its long-awaited drone, the Karma.

GoPro’s compact cameras have long been a favorite among athletes (and wannabe athletes). Like Nike, it is an aspirational brand—consumers not only want GoPro cameras, they want GoPro T-shirts and backpacks and hats and water bottles. And its leader, Nick Woodman, isn’t just its CEO. A surfer bro himself, he’s the leader of the thrill-seeking, selfie-taking pack. Woodman says the secret sauce boils down to one thing: The company is all about positivity. “Get out there and live a big life, everybody,” he told the audience at the company’s product launch event earlier this week. “That’s what it’s all about.” The crowd—mainly journalists, financial analysts, and a lot of athletes—ate it up. (And yes, they were mostly male—hence the term “GoBros.”) Here’s my on-scene report with some video, naturally.

Of course, it takes much more than broad, life-loving slogans to sell a hardware product to the masses. And GoPro’s future relies on its ability to keep churning out new products that its customer base has to have. After all, getting consumers to shell out hundreds of dollars for a gadget whose only function is to capture video—something today’s smartphones can do pretty well—isn’t easy. Even the latest drone, which the company says is much more than a drone, will have ample competition. Still, many consumer brands would kill to have the kind of cultish-like following GoPro garners.

At the launch in Lake Tahoe, attendees lined up to fly the new drone. Fulfilling my journalistic duty to try everything I write about, I lined up too. Unfortunately for me, I crashed the Karma right after it took off. A few minutes and a replaced blade later, I tried again. This time was much more successful. But would I buy the drone for its $1,000 ticket price? I don’t know. Then again, I’m not a GoBro.

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Michal Lev-Ram is a senior writer at Fortune. Reach her via email.

BITS AND BYTES

Google gets the message. The success of the Internet giant’s latest attempt at a messaging app, called Allo, will weigh heavily on artificial intelligence. The service is “smart” enough to do things such as help make decisions (like picking a restaurant for a group of people debating dinner plans via text) or suggesting responses based on what someone is typing. Building share against Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, though, will be tough. (Fortune)

This billionaire’s company makes warehouse robots for Target and Coca-Cola. Rick Cohen made his fortune distributing products to grocers like Stop & Shop, Safeway, and Target—his company C&S is the world’s biggest wholesale grocery supplier. Now, one of his newer ventures, Symbiotic, is disrupting the way products are shelved and distributed using fully autonomous robots. Target and Coke are customers, and Walmart is starting a test. (Wall Street Journal)

Watch out, Silicon Valley, GE is hiring software developers like crazy. The industrial giant has expanded the staff at the GE Digital operation in San Ramon, Calif., by 40% this year to 1,700 workers, and it’s poaching talent from everyone from Cisco and SAP to Google, Apple, and Facebook. (Wall Street Journal)

You can buy Galaxy Note 7 smartphones again. Wireless carriers Verizon and Sprint are taking orders after U.S. consumer protection officials greenlighted a new batch of the devices. More than 2.5 million products from the initial production run were recalled over fire safety concerns linked to the batteries. (Reuters)

Microsoft is at it again with $40 billion buyback. The software giant has spent more than $140 billion to repurchase shares in recent years—this latest program is the same size as one it undertook in 2013. The company expects to complete it before the end of this year. (Wall Street Journal)

Google gets another extension from the EU. It will get another few weeks (until Oct. 7) to respond to antitrust complaints involving how it sells the Android mobile operating system. This is the third extension Google has received. (Reuters)

THE DOWNLOAD

Why Accenture’s plan to “edit” blockchain is such a big deal. Blockchain is not just about money—it’s about ideas as well. That’s why a new plan to “edit” the blockchain, announced by Accenture on Tuesday, is causing a stir among fintech purists who see it as a betrayal of what the technology is all about.

A closer look at the Accenture news suggests the company’s invention, which it is trying to patent, is significant but not because of any philosophic debate over whether it’s OK to edit the blockchain. Instead, the news matters because it’s another sign blockchain is becoming part of mainstream banking.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Microsoft Opens First Data Centers in Germany, by Barb Darrow

Here’s How Much the iPhone 7 Cost to Manufacture, by Don Reisinger

Europeans Will Get Free Mobile Roaming After All, by David Meyer

ONE MORE THING

Feds, NYSE question John McAfee’s latest scheme. The eccentric millionaire—the subject of a dark new documentary—is trying to assemble a new cybersecurity powerhouse by merging his company MGT Capital Investments with anti-spyware firm D-Vasive. But the SEC is asking questions and NYSE won’t let MGT list new shares to finish the deal. (Fortune, San Jose Mercury News)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.

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