Google to Spend $13B on US Data Center and Office Construction This Year
- Pichai said that 10,000 new construction jobs will be created in Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia, and that when the new facilities open their doors "tens of thousands" of new employees will be added to Google's permanent payroll.
- The company will build new data centers in Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, and Texas, while expanding existing locations in Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Ashburn, Virginia, as part of its major internet infrastructure expansion in 2019.
- At about the same time, the company announced that after getting Taiwan to amend a law standing in the way of its using renewable power, it was installing 40,000 solar panels to generate 10MW, making the island nation the site of its first renewable project in Asia.
That's a Wrap: J.J. Abrams Posts Photo From Last Day of 'Star Wars: Episode IX' Filming
- Abrams directed and co-wrote The Force Awakens, the first new Star Wars film in more than a decade, as well as the first to be released by Disney, which acquired the series when it bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion.
- Force Awakens marked the return of original-trilogy stars Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill, and earned nearly a billion dollars in the United States, allowing it surpass Avatar as the highest-grossing domestic film of all time.
- While 2016’s prequel Rogue One was a smash hit, last year’s Solo was the lowest-grossing modern Star Wars film, barely making more than $200 million in the United States.
- The movies have earned more than $4 billion combined, according to Box Office Mojo, making it the second-most popular movies series of all time, behind Disney’s Marvel films.
- We’ll find out Episode IX‘s place in the new Star Wars box-office order when it opens December 20.
AI Weekly: Trump’s American AI Initiative lacks substance
- The U.S. joins many other countries that have launched national AI guidelines and policies — Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.K. Most have already outstripped — or come close to outstripping — the U.S. with respect to the amount of funding they’ve set aside for AI research.
- (The latter last year formed a 38-person commission to investigate how machine learning and algorithmic decision-making might disrupt society, and it plans to release a report with recommendations by 2020.) Meanwhile, Singapore’s Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data and the U.K.’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation have been tasked with developing a common set of AI ethics standards and frameworks for their respective governments.
Facebook may face multi-billion dollar fine for Cambridge Analytica scandal
- Facebook privacy revelations since the Cambridge Analytica scandal include making the posts of 14 million users public despite the users sharing the posts with only a limited number of contacts, giving tech companies access to users' personal data, and making the private photos of millions of people public.
- The FTC has the authority to fine Facebook at least $70 billion based on the scope of its violations, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and other consumer groups told the FTC in a letter last month.
- In addition to a fine, EPIC's letter last month urged various structural remedies for the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other privacy violations.
- Among other things, EPIC said that Facebook should have to divest WhatsApp and Instagram, comply with "fair information practices," stop collecting personal data from people who don't use Facebook, and change the company's governance structure.
Opendoor files to raise another $200M at a $3.7B valuation, documents show
- Opendoor, the company that aims to bypass real estate agents and brokers by providing an online platform — by way of a mobile app — for people to buy and sell properties direct, has filed papers in Delaware indicating that it would like to raise around $200 million more, at a valuation of about $3.7 billion.
- The shares are described as a “Series E-2”, which likely means this is an extension on OpenDoor’s last round, from September 2018, of $400 million.
- That itself was an expansion of a previous E round that OpenDoor had raised in June 2018 of $325 million.
- If you’re buying, we make it incredibly easy to tour hundreds of Opendoor homes so you can find the perfect one.” It also has created a streamlined process to cut down the paperwork and work that agents do around transactions.
Trump's national emergency declaration is a 'slap in the face to military families'
- President Donald Trump's plan to declare a national emergency will divert $3.6 billion earmarked for US military construction projects—possibly hospitals and infrastructure improvements—to fund a portion of his long-promised wall along the southern border, a move that experts say is an affront to military families.
- Trump will use a legal provision that allows the president to redirect unobligated military construction funds—money that has been appropriated by Congress and set aside for specific projects but not yet issued—in the event of a war or national emergency.
- In addition to the $3.6 billion in military construction funds, the White House has identified $1.375 billion in the appropriations bill the president plans to sign to avert the shutdown, $600 million from the Treasury Department's forfeiture funds, and roughly $2.5 billion from Pentagon funding for counterdrug activities, some of which will be reprogrammed from other Defense Department accounts, Mulvaney said.
China's Didi is laying off 15% of its staff
- Chief executive Cheng Wei made the announcement during an internal meeting Friday morning as he told management that Didi will scale back its non-core businesses and step up investments in key areas, including safety technology, product engineering, offline driver management and international operations.
- The sources did not specify which of Didi’s business units are affected by the layoff but said Didi will add 2,500 new hires by the end of the year to work on company priorities, which will give the company a total headcount of about 13,000 staff around the world.
- Earlier this week, Chinese tech news portal 36Kr reported that Didi lost $1.6 billion in 2018 and spent $1.67 billion on subsidies for drivers.
- According to an internal memo Cheng made in September, Didi lost 4 billion yuan ($590 million) in the first half of 2018 and the company had not been profitable for six years.
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi to lay off 15% of its workforce
- Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is planning to lay off about 2,000 people, or 15 percent of its workforce, this year, a source familiar with the situation said Friday.
- That confirmed earlier Chinese media reports that Didi CEO Cheng Wei said in an internal meeting Friday that the company is preparing for difficult times.
- Didi is ultimately planning to hire about 2,500 employees this year in areas such as safety, technology and offline management operations, according to the source familiar with the matter.
- Didi is one of the most valuable start-ups in the world and bought Uber's China operations in 2016.
- On Wednesday, Chinese tech news site 36kr, citing leaked internal financial statements, said Didi lost 10.9 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) last year and spent 11.3 billion yuan on driver subsidies.
- That was a marked acceleration from the company's 2017 loss of 2.5 billion yuan, according to the report.
Nvidia Jumps on Sales Forecast Projecting Return to Growth
- predicted stronger fiscal 2020 sales than analysts had estimated, raising optimism the company can quickly return to growth when it clears a buildup of unused gaming chips.
- The chipmaker also forecast a 20 percent decline in the current quarter, suggesting Nvidia sees a big boost in sales coming later in the year.
- Chief Executive Officer Jensen Huang is trying to convince investors that the stall in the company’s sales is a short-lived trend and that the broader use of graphics chips in everything from cars to data centers will restore growth that has doubled the size of his company since 2016.
- The company projected sales of $2.2 billion, plus or minus 2 percent, in the fiscal first quarter.
- Nvidia, biggest maker of processors for computer graphics cards, last month warned that it hadn’t met its targets for the fiscal fourth quarter, citing weaker gamer demand and slower orders from data center operators.
Why Amazon canceled HQ2 in New York City and what it means for everyone involved
- Amazon is canceling HQ2 in New York City.
- The company announced in November that it would build a new headquarters in New York.
- Amazon claimed it would provide "25,000 full-time high-paying jobs," as well as a $2.5 billion investment in New York's Long Island City neighborhood.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio were supportive of Amazon coming to the city.
- Amazon would have received an estimated $3 billion in tax incentives.
- The company cited local opposition as a reason for canceling its New York plans.
- Governor Cuomo's office estimated HQ2 could have created over 107,000 total jobs, as well as $27.5 billion in city and state tax revenue over the next 25 years.
- However, the company will move forward with its plans to build a headquarters in Northern Virginia, as well as an operations center in Nashville.