Data Sheet—Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Good morning from San Francisco, where I had a busy evening of entertainment.
My opening act was attending a preview of Cars 3, the new Pixar film featuring the exploits of Lightning McQueen. The film was quite good and completely Pixarian, including a heart-warming, passage-of-life narrative arc. The storyline even managed to gently poke the cult of technology, stressing the virtues of hard work and empathy over technical whizzbangery.
There’s a cool story behind the preview showing, hosted by Dolby Laboratories at its gorgeous Market Street auditorium. The venue, which Dolby calls a “lab,” is an air-tight auditorium that seats two-hundred-some people. Mass transit lines run directly below the building, but Dolby has wrapped the room in steel and added other features to eliminate any outside sound, a signature Dolby move. It even designed an air conditioning system that filters air up from below the seats to eliminate the prospect of distracting HVAC units.
The demonstration is part of a newish Dolby product line, Dolby Cinema, which licenses Dolby technology to film exhibitors in exchange for a cut of box office receipts. Dolby is a highly profitable business with a high profile among its targeted customers, notably consumer device makers, and a lower profile elsewhere. Its stock has been on a tear too.
Dolby Cinema is impressive, though perhaps too impressive. The surround-sound speaker system on steroids initially was too much for my daughter’s 10-year-old ears. She got used to it though. And in case you’re wondering, she really liked the movie too.
Drip, drip, drip. Senior vice president for business at Uber, Emil Michael, left the embattled company as the fate of CEO Travis Kalanick remained up in the air. The ride service is expected to make public later on Tuesday parts of former Attorney General Holder's report on harassment and misconduct.
Banish the trolls. The New York Times is adding an artificial intelligence system to moderate comments on its stories. The software from a Google subsidiary called Jigsaw will work alongside the current 14 human moderators to keep comments clean and on topic.
Harder than it looks. Tim Cook told Bloomberg that Apple planned to make self-driving systems for cars, but not manufacture and sell its own vehicles. "We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects," Cook said. "It's probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on."
They race drones now. The Drone Racing League, a two-year-old startup focused on the small, remote-piloted aircraft, raised more than $20 million from backers including Liberty Media, which owns the Formula 1 car racing group, and the WWE.
Dueling reviews. The embargo on reviews of Microsoft's Surface Laptop expired just after the hold on iPad Pro reviews lifted. The Verge finds Microsoft's new laptop compelling, "a device that's not trying to be something new and weird, it's just trying to be the thing you want." Wired says the newest iPad is great but won't be "made whole" until Apple releases its iOS 11 software in the fall.
A nightmare ends. Startup Hello, which makes sleep tracking wearables, is shutting down after a possible sale to Fitbit fell through. The company ran a popular campaign on Kickstarter that raised more than $2 million in 2014.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Symantec and McAfee were at the top of the antivirus and computer security market a decade ago, but have long since been surpassed by a crop of upstarts. Now the two pioneers are each trying to make a big comeback, as Sarah Kuranda explains in a profile for CRN.
Just over ten years ago, Symantec was the leader in security software, grabbing one out of every three dollars spent. McAfee was in second place with a 12% share. The comebacks recognize that the world has changed and specialization is the order of the day now, as Brian Dye, executive vice president at McAfee, explains:
Even as one of the biggest players in the cybersecurity industry, we cannot cover all the threat surfaces. What we can do is be the best in the world in a few different areas.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Even Goldman Sachs’ CEO Is Falling for This Tricky Email Scam by Mahita Gajanan
Brazilian Electronics Seller Sues Intel Over Overheating Phones by Aaron Pressman
Trump’s Own Tweets Help Kill His Government’s Travel Ban, Again by Mathew Ingram
Instagram Is Cracking Down on Marketing Spam by Leena Rao
How a Little-Known iPhone App Earns $80,000 Per Month by Don Reisinger
How Google Plans to Counter ISIS Recruitment by Robert Hackett
BEFORE YOU GO
Overfishing is threatening to wipe out many species popular with human diners, including the tuna. Unfortunately a set of catch limits on bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean approved two years ago is being flouted. The next move may be a temporary moratorium on fishing the majestic 1,000-pound bluefin, which can swim up to 50 miles per hour.