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Data Sheet—Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Good morning, Aaron in for a vacationing Adam today.

Failure is in vogue. Well, at least the recognition that since almost everyone is going to fail at something at some point in their lives, we ought to learn how to deal with failure. In Silicon Valley, the mantra is fail fast, the better to figure out what to do next and not fail. Entrepreneurs in New York City even held a panel recently called “Failing to Succeed.”

But in the real world, failure can have real consequences. The chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, Intel’s only real competitor for the CPUs that run personal computers, ran into a wall over the past decade as it got distracted trying to crack the mobile market. Dragged down by debt from the purchase of graphics chip maker ATI, the company lost billions of dollars and laid off hundreds of employees.

Still, like a beautiful mansion that’s fallen into disrepair, AMD had the foundation and the bones to be great again. The company recruited some top leadership talent, including current CEO Lisa Su, from across the chip industry and forged a new strategy. Su junked the company’s plans to make a bunch of also-ran chips and aimed higher. It took a few years, but now those plans are coming to fruition and it looks like Su’s revived chip line up will be a winner.

It wasn’t always a straight path to success, though, as I learned when I dug into the AMD turnaround story. The day the first of Su’s new chips arrived at AMD’s Austin headquarters for testing last year, it was DOA. A design flaw missed by computer simulations had made its way onto the tiny silicon chip. Su had bet the company on the new design, and there wasn’t a lot of time to spare. But taking up a NASA mantra from Apollo 13, Su told her team “failure was not an option,” and they overcame the problem in a few days. For a five-year chip design project, that’s certainly failing fast.

Aaron Pressman


Make it stop. In a scary sequel to the WannaCry cyber attack last month, a new variant of ransomware called Petya hit Windows-based computers around the world on Tuesday. Sightings have come in from the U.S., Australia, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. The attacks may have originated from hackers who breached a little-known Ukrainian tech firm called MeDoc and infected a software update sent to customers on June 22.

No stopping in sight. Facebook has reached 2 billion active users, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday. “We’re making progress connecting the world, and now let’s bring the world closer together,” Zuck wrote. As part of that mission, the social networking site also disclosed that it had deleted 66,000 posts identified as hate speech over just the past two months.

This must stop. Despite Zuckerberg’s achievement, an investigation by ProPublica of the internal rules and algorithms Facebook uses to censor some posts but not others found possible signs of discrimination. In some cases, Facebook will “protect the people who least need it and take it away from those who really need it,” University of Maryland law professor Danielle Citron told the news web site.

Stopping the status quo. Homebrew, a venture capital firm founded in 2013 by ex-Twitter and Google executives, is planning to raise money for its next fund via a bitcoin-like digital currency, a technique known as an initial coin offering, or ICO. “We’re going to raise our next fund using an ICO, how about that,” Satya Patel, co-founder and partner, said at CB Insights’ Future of Fintech conference.

Stop asking for more money. Prepared food delivery service Blue Apron slashed the price range for its upcoming traditional initial public stock offering. The company will price shares from $10 to $11 each, down from an earlier range of $15 to $17.

Stop staring at me. Apple acquired SensoMotoric Instruments, a company that specializes in eye-tracking technology useful for virtual reality and augmented reality applications. The company helps power devices, like glasses and headsets, which can follow people’s gaze and has worked with Oculus Rift and RedBull’s e-sports lab in recent years.


As various tech giants race to develop self-driving cars, they must deal with a patchwork of state laws regulating the nascent industry. But that could all change soon, as lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have started debating more than a dozen proposals to regulate the autonomous vehicle market at the national level.

Recode reporter Tony Romm covered a hearing on Tuesday led by Rep. Bob Latta to discuss the legislative approaches. The Ohio Republican explained why Congress needed to step in:

From the front bumper to the back bumper — whether it’s a pickup truck or a car or a van — how the vehicle works and is designed should be the province of the federal government as has been the case for more than 50 years.


The Global App Market Could Hit $6.3 Trillion by 2021 by Jonathan Vanian

Lawyers Rally to Save ‘McMansion Hell’ from Zillow’s Copyright Claim by Jeff John Roberts

Qualcomm Chairman’s Focus Spans Apple Phones to Robotic Avatars by Aaron Pressman

Microsoft Expands Paid Leave for Family Caregivers by Barb Darrow

Meet the Woman Who Just Hit Google With a $2.7 Billion Fine by Valentina Zarya

Google Stock Loses $5.8 Billion After the EU’s Massive Fine by Lucinda Shen

Uber, Lyft Release New App Updates to Win You Over by Polina Marinova


As a longtime digital packrat, I have hundreds of old files on my current computer, many of which I can’t even open with modern software. Stories written a decade or more ago using word processing software programs long since abandon may be lost to the dustbin of history.

But New York Times reporter J.D. Biersdorfer has a solution for me and my ilk in a recent column, offering a plethora of apps and web sites like that can help crack the code of old file formats. I knew I saved those files for a reason.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.