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There isn’t another CEO in the world who would give an interview to The New York Times by text message while getting a massage.
Then again there isn’t another CEO in the world like Marc Benioff, who, together with his wife Lynne, is buying Fortune sister publication TIME for $190 million. For anyone who thinks it’s a kooky idea to buy a fading newsweekly, they don’t know Benioff very well. This is a guy who with a straight face claims he got the idea to start his company, Salesforce.com, while standing on top of a dormant volcano. There was evidently still enough energy underground to spawn tens of billions of dollars in market value.
Even if the Benioffs never succeed with TIME, they’ll have accomplished a kind of cosmic payback. The technology industry has sucked the air out of journalism. Entrepreneurs like Benioff and his now fellow media mogul Jeff Bezos, owner of the The Washington Post, have transferred a tiny sliver of wealth back into an industry that needs it badly.
What will Benioff do with TIME? The words I used when I profiled Benioff’s leadership qualities a year ago suggest a path ahead. “Under Benioff’s quirky, obsessive, and dripping-with-chutzpah tactics, Salesforce is as original a product marketer as exists in enterprise (or non-consumer) technology,” I wrote. He’ll bring those tactics and a zany vision to a magazine that has been under the same ownership with Fortune for nearly 90 years.
I wish them all luck.
Vision of the future. They handed out the Emmy awards on Monday night and streaming video services were among the big winners. Amazon‘s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel became the first streaming show to win the Emmy for an outstanding comedy series and won eight awards overall, including Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan as best actress in a comedy. Netflix also tied HBO for most awards, at 23 each, with its wins including Claire Foy of The Crown for best drama actress and Crown director Stephen Daldry.
Looking to the past. President Trump hit China with additional tariffs on $200 billion of exports, but exempted Apple products, perhaps validating the mixed line Apple CEO Tim Cook has taken with the president. The company may not be spared by China’s response, slapping its own levies on $200 billion of U.S. exports. So stay tuned as there are more details to come on that score.
Do what I say. If you were hankering to give voice orders to your microwave, you may be in luck. Amazon is planning to release eight new devices with its Alexa assistant built in, including a microwave, a subwoofer, and an in-car gadget, CNBC reports. Amazon could announce at least some of the rumored new wares at an event later this month.
Road trip. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance selected Google’s Android software to run the next generation of its in-vehicle entertainment system, following a similar decision by Volvo in May. The alliance will roll out the software, including Google maps and Google’s voice-controlled digital assistant, starting in 2021.
Risky business. The first paying passenger to orbit the moon (for an undisclosed price) via a SpaceX rocket has one of the best Twitter handles imaginable: @yousuck2020. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who founded the e-commerce company Start Today, lifts off in 2023. “I thought long and hard about how valuable it would be to be the first passenger to the moon,” Maezawa said.
Ka-ching. After cracking the online payments market, startup Stripe on Monday introduced its Stripe Terminal to try and move into the ultra-competitive payments market for physical retail stores. The initial strategy is to work with online brands like Warby Parker and Glossier that are also trying to go from digital to physical stores.
Courtroom workplace. A group of workers laid off by IBM filed an age discrimination class action lawsuit against the company on Monday. “Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce,” the group said, citing statistics from a March article by ProPublica. IBM says the average age of its U.S. workforce has not changed since 2010. “Changes in our workforce are about skills, not age,” a spokesman said.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Intel has been struggling of late to cram more transistors into its microprocessors, upending the famous 1960s forecast of its co-founder Gordon Moore who predicted a doubling of chip density was possible every two years or so. The end of Moore’s Law means researchers will have to invent new computer architectures to improve performance further, according David A. Patterson. The University of California professor and Turing Award winner knows what he’s talking about: he helped invent RISC processors, a design which now dominates the field. Tekla Perry at IEEE Spectrum has a report on Patterson’s new advice to the industry to build more customized chips for specific apps like machine learning:
Today, he said, there’s a vigorous debate surrounding which type of computer architecture is best for machine learning, with many companies placing their bets. Google has its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), with one core per chip and software-controlled memory instead of caches; Nvidia’s GPU has 80-plus cores; and Microsoft is taking an FPGA approach.
And Intel, he said “is trying to make all the bets,” marketing traditional CPUs for machine learning, purchasing Altera (the company that provides FPGAs to Microsoft), and buying Nervana with it specialized neural network processor (similar in approach to Google’s TPU).
Along with these major companies offering different architectures for machine learning, Patterson says there are at least 45 hardware startups tackling the problem. Ultimately, he said, the market will decide. “This,” he says, “is a golden age for computer architecture.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
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Amazon’s Echo Show Now Displays Getty Images By Emily Price
iOS 12 Has Arrived: Here’s What to Expect and How to Install It By Chris Morris
Free Supercharging for Life? Tesla Says ‘No More’ By Don Reisinger
BEFORE YOU GO
Fish farming can be kind of gross. Salmon from Norway grow up in open-ocean cages that let waste and sometimes diseases mix with the surrounding native species. Chinese pond farms produce prodigious amounts of shellfish–and pollution. So some of the leading fish farming companies are turning landward to build new indoor facilities, like a $500 million plant Nordic Aquafarms wants to build in Belfast, Maine. It could bring salmon, at least of the farmed variety, back to Maine.