Silicon Valley is in an uproar over a proposed new executive order that would overhaul existing foreign worker visa policies. The Trump administration's goal apparently is to prioritize the hiring of American workers and change the way U.S. companies can recruit skilled professionals from other countries. Policy should "prioritize the protection of American workers," the draft reportedly states. [More...]
BlackBerry, Microsoft and the Ever-Smarter Connected Car BlackBerry last week announced that its turnaround was finished, and Microsoft finally provided some information on its new connected car deliverables. One strange thing was that after CEO John Chen excitedly pointed out that BlackBerry had displaced Microsoft in Ford, he then announced a strategic initiative to work more closely with Microsoft on BlackBerry's own market-leading QNX car OS. [More...]
Hackers Targeted DC Police Cams Days Before Inauguration A ransomware attack darkened the video surveillance system of the District of Columbia's police department eight days before the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Video storage devices for 70 percent of the CCTV system reportedly were unable to record anything between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15, as police techies scrambled to combat malicious software found on 123 of 187 networked video recorders. [More...]
Can the TV Industry Sustain Falling Prices? Every year in advance of the Super Bowl, there are big sales on TVs, and this year is no exception. It also could be a milestone, as TVs could be bottoming out. TV prices are near a record low, yet sales continue to slip. In the long run, that won't be good for the industry or consumers. There was an "abrupt weakening of global demand for TV sets," IHS Markit concluded last year. [More...]
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Google saw employees worldwide gather to protest Donald Trump's dangerous refugee executive order late on Monday. The protests were supported by the company, and both CEO Sundar Pichai and Sergey Brin spoke at the protests, encouraging the demonstration.
It's a testament to Silicon Valley and the temperament of the tech industry's employees that this even happened at all, and a rare hopeful glimpse in troubled times.
In the same vein, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella are also speaking out about the ban and its impact, in internal communications to employees that the companies are also providing publicly. The messages vary depending on the character of the executive, and you can see their ordinary speaking patterns and tendency towards being demonstrative or not shine through, but at this point it's pretty much universally tech vs. Trump when it comes to this ill-conceived order.
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Uber just made a big announcement about its future plans for autonomous ride-hailing: Daimler is the first partner for its open self-driving vehicle platform, which will see it offer ride hailing services and network operations to any car maker that wants to own and operate autonomous fleets. It'll be interesting to see if auto OEMs prefer to do this, or to build their own service offerings.
Lego is getting into the social network game! It's probably not going to be as much of a growth rocket ride as Snapchat, but it sounds smart and like a virtual extension of what you used to do as a kid with your own Lego in person anyway.
Only around 5 percent of the people who download Super Mario Run, Nintendo's first in-house mobile game, are also buying it. But those conversion numbers are good in the mobile world. The question will be whether Nintendo can also comfortably judge success by the mobile industry's standards.
Y Combinator's winter class has a new member: The American Civil Liberties Union. It's joining to find out how to best utilize the huge influx of donations it received this past weekend towards growth from the growth experts. Interesting, to say the least.
Tech takes on Trump's executive order on immigration. All the details on how that went down this weekend in The Daily Crunch for January 30, 2017. And the White House website just keeps deleting very important sections.
This past weekend saw a broad outpouring of opposition from the tech industry to Trump's immigration actions issues via executive order, which barred refugees from entering the country and initially even blocked some legitimated visa holders from entering.
The big story on the tech front wasn't just that industry leaders and companies came out in public opposition of the order barring refugees from Muslim majority countries, but that they did so in an evolving manner over the course of the past few days, strengthening their response in answer to calls to do so both external and internal. As someone watching it develop up close, I can tell you it was evidence that outcry can make a difference, and did, in the case of many of these companies and their policies. Keep it up.
The fight between Silicon Valley and Trump might just be beginning, however – reports indicate that the White House could be changing H-1B visas, again via executive order, which will place pressure on the means many tech companies use to bring in talent from abroad. Don't expect this to make it easier, which is what many companies are calling for – and hitting SV in its ability to build and retain talent is hitting it where it hurts.
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Google will be offering $4 million, including $2 million contributed by employees and $2 million in matching funds from the company itself, to organizations including the ACLU, ILRC, IRC and UNHR to help combat the effects of the immigration order. This was a prime example of a company digging in to a position opposed to the order, after initial Google response focused on the immediate legal impact to the 187 employees directly affected.
The ACLU rose to its highest donation total for a weekend ever, and took in around five times what it normally does in one year over the course of a couple of days. That was helped in part by a chorus of tech leaders who offered to match any donations being made by individuals around the world.
Lyft also committed $1 million to the ACLU, to be distributed over the next four years, as one of the strongest early responses. this likely helped provoke Uber to make more aggressive measures, including establishing a $3 million legal defense fund for affected drivers, but Lyft still saw a groundswell of support from users, and a #DeleteUber social media campaign saw many switch ride sharing providers in an effort to pressure Uber into distancing itself from the Trump administration.
Another company putting its money where its mouth is Airbnb, which is offering up free housing to anyone barred from entering the U.S. as a result of the executive order. Aibrnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted the offer, and Airbnb told TC it's going to use its existing disaster response program to help supply the free housing.