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Google needed to build a graph serving system

  • Word from Google has been limited to serving Knowledge Graph, but nothing has been said about the internal infrastructure which makes this happen.
  • Google needed to build a graph serving system to serve not just the complex relationships in the Knowledge Graph data, but also all the OneBoxes which had access to structured data.
  • Metaweb had built a high-quality knowledge graph using multiple techniques, including crawling and parsing Wikipedia, and using a Wikipedia-like crowd-sourced curation run via Freebase.
  • Google built SSTable and then Bigtable, which could scale horizontally to hundreds or thousands of machines, working together to serve petabytes of data.
  • The idea of a database serving an entire website running on a single server was alien to Google (myself included).
  • The first piece of the puzzle was a search project which provided a way to understand which words belonged together with a high degree of accuracy.

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A short trip to India showed me just how badly Apple is screwing up in the world's biggest democracy

  • Not so in India, where Apple has a market share of less than 3%, beaten out by Chinese brands few in the UK have heard of.
  • You can see that Indians, on average, have much less to spend on fripperies like the iPhone than people who live in the UK or the US.
  • The one person I met who owned an iPhone in India was a wealthy man who runs his own business, lives in a large apartment, and drives a 4x4, probably putting him in the top percentile of that Credit Suisse graph.
  • When I visited Kolkata, a less wealthy city than Pune, I was told the most popular phone was the Xiaomi Mi5, a well-reviewed smartphone that costs about a third of the price of an iPhone.
  • When I visited Pune's Phoenix Mall, I noticed OnePlus had a large, spacious and suspiciously Apple-like shop.

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How crowdsourcing shipping through technology will make last mile delivery cheaper

  • Like Uber and other ride hailing apps, a number of crowdsourced delivery solutions have been cropping up over the past few years to ease these pains by connecting customers directly with local couriers.
  • The crowdsourcing model is already popular among meal and grocery delivery and, seeing the success of startups like Uber, Airbnb, and GrubHub, e-commerce retailers are now eyeing it to fulfill their online orders.
  • Launched in 2015 and piloted in Seattle, Amazon Flex lets customers order and receive packages through its on-demand delivery service, Prime Now, which guarantees free one- and two-hour deliveries.
  • Deliv is a general use last mile solution offering same-day service to over 4,000 omnichannel businesses in 35 cities across the country.
  • Rather than just fulfilling ad hoc deliveries for consumers, Deliv seeks to be a long-term business partner solving companies' last mile problem — evidenced by its breakdown into Deliv Small Business, Deliv Enterprise, and Deliv Fresh for groceries.

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THE IDENTITY VERIFICATION IN BANKING REPORT: How banks should use new authentication methods to boost conversions and keep their customers loyal

  • The way incumbent banks onboard and verify the identities of their customers online is inconvenient and insecure, resulting in lowered customer satisfaction and loyalty, and security breaches leading to compensation payouts and legal costs.
  • The problem stems from the very strict verification standards and high noncompliance fines that banks are subject to, which have led them to prioritize stringency over user experience in verification.
  • But banks can't afford to prioritize stringent verification at the cost of user experience anymore.
  • If banks manage to do this, the result will be happier and more loyal customers; higher client retention and revenue; and less spending on redundant checks, compensation for breaches, and regulatory fines.
  • So, if banks figure out how to successfully digitize customer identification, this could help them not only boost revenue and cut costs, but secure a place for themselves in an emerging platform economy, where online identities will be key to carrying out transactions.

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CREDIT SUISSE: Here's why investors shouldn't assume China's economy is already recovering

  • Credit Suisse analyst Andrew Garthwaite says signs of Chinese economic growth could be a fake-out.
  • While he's seen big rallies in areas like emerging-market indexes and mining companies, he argues that the Chinese government hasn't yet added enough stimulus to the economy to loosen credit conditions.
  • Garthwaite isn't going so far as to bet against a recovery, but he says stocks that are tightly linked to China's economy have climbed too quickly, which means the rally might be premature.
  • At the same time, China was forced to tighten credit conditions as the government made big changes to the financial system and tried to handle its debts.
  • Then, as last year's slowdown got more severe, the government in Beijing relaxed lending standards to boost growth again.

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What would happen if Facebook were turned off?

  • They tended not to redistribute their liberated minutes to other websites and social networks, but chose instead to watch more television and spend time with friends and family.
  • Several weeks after the deactivation period, those who had been off Facebook spent 23% less time on it than those who had never left, and 5% of the forced leavers had yet to turn their accounts back on.
  • Consider the choice faced by the treatment group when the deactivation period is over: to rejoin the network or remain off while the rest continue to like and share.
  • New netizens naturally gravitated to the social network used by most of their friends and family, which reinforced Facebook’s advantages—in much the same way that a booming city attracts new residents because of the opportunities created by the large pool of people already there.
  • Such ruts are hard to spot in real time, and there may well be net value in a Facebook-like network.

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Steve Jurvetson tells all: about his new $200 million fund, his new partner, his new shopping list, and more

  • Steve Jurvetson is staging a comeback, disclosing today that his new San Francisco-based, early-stage venture firm Future Ventures, has raised $200 million for its debut fund.
  • Jurvetson has famously funded companies that seemed dangerously futuristic and capital intensive at the time, including Space X and Tesla.
  • She even helped start up Airbus Ventures before joining DFJ, where she worked with Jurvetson on deals like the “clean meat” company Memphis Meats and Orchid, a San Francisco-based startup that’s developing a a surveillance-free layer on top of the internet.
  • Soon after Jurvetson left the firm, Saenko also split, spending six months at Khosla Ventures before rejoining him in November, when they began putting together a pitch deck in earnest for Future Ventures .
  • Asked about Future Ventures’s investors, Jurvetson says they are “people who know what I’m doing and want to invest in that — tech CEOs, other VCs, hedge fund [investors] —  people who’ve known me for decades.

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Crowdsourced delivery explained: making same day shipping cheaper through local couriers

  • Crowdsourced delivery, also known as crowdsourced shipping, is an emerging method of fulfillment that leverages networks of local, non-professional couriers to deliver packages to customers' doors.
  • And with the option of on-demand or scheduled delivery, companies can meet their customers' demands for instant gratification (which is particularly prevalent among younger, digital-first consumers), while also ensuring that packages are delivered when someone is home — eliminating the additional time and costs involved with multiple delivery attempts.
  • Despite these benefits, the startup nature of many crowdsourced delivery services comes with inherent challenges, such as the high per-delivery costs of ad-hoc shipments, which are often absorbed by the retailer as customers become less and less willing to cover delivery fees.
  • Since 2014, the crowdsourced delivery startup has been processing same-day deliveries for Macy's, using the retail titan's existing ship-from-store program to pick and pack orders.

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Thomas the Tank Engine’s Sales Go Off Track. What Mattel's 18% Stock Drop Means for the Economy

  • The major U.S. toymaker revised down its estimated revenue this year, thanks in part to declining sales of two franchises, Thomas and Friends and American Girl.
  • During its annual presentation to investors and analysts, Mattel CFO Joe Euteneuer warned that gross sales in 2019 would be flat with 2018 figures, the fifth time in the past six years that Mattel’s revenue has either been flat or down on year.
  • Euteneuer explained that, while sales of Barbie and Hot Wheels toys would increase this year, those at Thomas and Friends and American Girl would “offset” those gains, declining again in 2019.
  • That raises the question of whether the causes of the slowdown at toymakers like Mattel and Hasbro go beyond the Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy—such as the prospect that American families are cutting back spending on items like toys that are normally seen as routine, if not essential (at least to the younger family members).

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President of United States reposts video from winner of Infowars meme contest

  • President Trump tweeted a video today from a YouTuber known for winning an Infowars meme contest.
  • Trump didn’t call out Donktum or Donktum’s channel specifically (although there is a watermark on the video), but far-right personalities like Mike Cernovich and Scott Adams congratulated Donktum on the newfound attention.
  • Trump has tweeted images and videos that originated with the far-right online community before, sometimes provoking controversy.
  • Trump found himself under international criticism last year after retweeting anti-Muslim videos originally posted by a far-right UK group, Britain First.
  • Prior to that, Trump tweeted a video of himself wrestling the CNN logo.
  • Prior to his video being tweeted out by the president, Donktum gained some recognition for winning Infowars host Alex Jones’ NPC Meme contest in November 2018.
  • The NPC (non-playable character) meme was popular among the far-right community on sites like Twitter and 4chan.

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