Who Cares What I Think (WCWIT) #19 : Launch Ticker Weekend Highlights…

Jason “@jason” Calacanis’ just plain excellent record of producing some seriously decent, useful content continues in his tech news feed, “Launch Ticker”. Sign up. This is one of the only newsletters I’ve ever actually read, let alone find incredibly useful, distilled and engrossing enough to quickly shape my macro tech thoughts — daily.

1. You Gotta Fight! For Your Right! To Moooonetiiiize!

Spotify is seeking long-term contracts with record companies as it prepares for an IPO, according to the Wall Street Journal; major labels are purportedly seeking a hike in royalty rates before they will commit to lengthier terms; the report also suggests some labels want more limits on Spotify’s free option — Link

The music industry seems to be clinging to the one monetization model they understand. I’d think something more akin to Patreon or some of the up & coming blockchain rights & monetization music platforms are more appropriate here.

2. Now That’s What I Call Infotainment!

BuzzFeed splits into two separate divisions — one for news, one for entertainment; CEO Jonah Peretti emailed staff, explaining that video will no longer be a single team, but rather the remit of both new groups; Ben Smith will oversee BuzzFeed News, while Ze Frank will head up BuzzFeed Entertainment Group — Link

Oh thank god. At least I hope this is what it sounds like, ie. a conscious transition from info and tainment in 24/7 digital pop journalism. Honestly pleasantly surprised here, as this was one arena I saw few avenues to design our way back out of the sub-prime press bubble we’ve been rapidly inflating since about 2012.

3. Don’t Unfriend Me, Bro

Singapore is to prevent civil servants from directly accessing the internet at work; the new rules are due to be implemented in May next year, and are seemingly aimed at preventing hacks of sensitive data; staff at government agencies will still be able to access the web from personal or some work-issued devices — Link

Idon’t really see this panning out. You can really legislate away the new modus operandi of human civilization — even just in trying to partition personal and professional use. This will either have disastrously stagnant effects in the public sector — or none at all, for reasons Corey Doctorow puts best.

4. Buncha Sneaky Snakes, I Tell You What

A joint investigation by Australia and Canada finds Avid Life Media were in violation of privacy laws at the time of the Ashley Madison hack; the parent firm inappropriately retained identifying information, even after user accounts were deleted; the company has agreed to comply with a set of recommendations — Link

Y’all need Jesus. But seriously, this just feels so so… just. It’d be one thing if AM was for abused spouses to find a way out of their situation by connecting with a supportive life line — or escape from Scientology — or even arranging ethical green card marriages. But it wasn’t, so this feels fine.

It’s not fine for a company to break their T&C this way, so we’ve definitely got to keep the core issues at the fore…. but, god, is it tempting to laugh.

5. Fitbone… Jawbit… Yeah, Nah

International Trade Commission rules Fitbit didn’t steal trade secrets from Jawbone; represents the latest judgment as Jawbone has sought to block Fitbit from selling its devices the US — Link

Woof. Jawbone. What are you guys doing? I’d seen and heard some truly exciting research & development, over there, a couple of years ago, but, honestly, I have seen almost nothing new com out in that time. I know their are whispers of acquisition, so very curious to see what happens with the wealth of talent currently at Jawbone HQ.

6. So Crazy, It Might Just Work

Microsoft updates Word Flow keyboard for iOS; adds a Bing search function, allowing users to find GIFs, photos and contacts for easy insertion into messages and more — Link

This keyboard looks like something I could NEVER get used to, like T9 on those Nokias we all had in middle/high school. If it does somehow work intuitivele, after a learning curve, of course, this could be major towards solving some UX problems I’ve been seeing on the horizon… May just test & pair with a hacked together app connecting this keyboard to MYO coughMinorityReportcough.

7. YouTube on the BoobTube

YouTube is adding a content tab to the top of TV-based apps, according to Engadget; various smart TVs and games consoles are purportedly getting the update, along with Roku and Chromecast streaming devices — Link

This may signal good things for TV manufacturers. I was going to say that televisions are doomed to a quick death, but a nice, big, backlit screen should have use for a while yet. This rings especially true given the knowledge that a sizable portion of Americans still access dial up internet. Public Broadcast Networks should be scared though — the industries paleolithic strategic play showcased in a recent skewering of NBC’s handling of their “broadcast” of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brasil.

8. Is This Some Kind of Sick Joke?

Zen List (iOS) provides users with a to-do list that focuses on one task at a time; makes use of stacking to show just the current job, while a swipe up allows users to peek at the next one — Link

Am I the only one around here who would be absolutely insensed with a git-r-done tool not letting me see everything I need to do, for my own good? I show you what’s for my own good, ya no good zen hippie jerk! This… This feels like irony.

9. The Dark Social Network Rises

YouTube plans to launch social and multimedia publishing feature Backstage by year’s end, VentureBeat reports; will initially be limited to popular personalities; will allow text posts, image sharing, polling, more, viewable by the creators’ subscribers; will allow Backstage-only videos — Link

Hahaha, ohhhhh kay Google. If you really, really need us to use G+, we’ll give this a try. This is at least stemming from a platform with organic use, draw, sensible monetization plans around the corner… Not too pessimistic about this, just heart-warming to see their dream of a legit social network refuses to die.

10. Ordering James Bond’s Hair Product…

Artificially intelligent media platform company Veritone raises up to $50M from Acacia Research ($20M convertible, $30M in earn-outs); makes every frame of video and second of audio searchable: for brand logos, faces, phrases, more; raised $65M to date — Link

This. This. Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis.

11. Wolf of Wallstreet Bot 9000

Research pipeline optimization startup SigOpt (YC W15) raises $6M Series A led by A16Z; employs machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to optimize processes for algorithmic trading, risk modeling, scientific research, more; raised $8M to date — Link

This looks… promising. The really fantastic thing about tech companies in this space, like SigOpt and ETR, is that, sure, traders who use the most robust data and cutting edge models will make some bread — but that very competition towards that edge, will beget unprecedented market transparency.

As everyone races to act on the most accurate and connective information sets — that action will telegraph the state of the market to all. We can eventually avoid bubbles, no matter how idiotic the regulatory incentives towards abject destruction surround the space. Noice.

12. You Can’t Sit With Us, Hololens

HTC Vive is the leading platform for augmented and virtual reality developers, according to a survey by the Virtual Reality Developers Conference; 49% are developing for Vive, 43% for Rift, 34% for Gear VR, 29% for Cardboard, 15% for Daydream, 13% for PlayStation VR, 9% for HoloLens — Link

The popular kids in VR. This is actually pretty pivotal information. Aside from the branding disaster of the Google GLASS, the device just had zero developers making the thing useful for anything but making your face 500% more punchable. Really impressed with Vive’s lightweight play panning out, ahead of Rift — so far…

13. Back on the Blockchain Gang

Four major banks partner on blockchain-based transaction clearing and settlement system; UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander and BNY Mellon will pitch to central banks with plans to commercialize in 2018; system aims to make bank and other institutional transactions cheaper and more efficient — Link

Yeah. Like y’alls had a choice in the matter. Cynicism aside, this bodes well, pointing to some financial stability to come. I wonder how Western Union will survive the transition? I’m glad they exist, but those fees they charge hard working people sending money to struggling family abroad are ludicrous, so, if they grow some agility towards more transparent and rapid pace markets, happy to keep ’em round.

14. Ugh, Progress Is, Like, So Annoying!

Steve Wozniak says Apple will annoy many users if the next iPhone doesn’t include a 3.5mm headphone port; multiple reports indicate the port will be replaced by a Lightning port; Wozniak says USB-C is the future, Bluetooth needs higher quality audio transfer — Link

Idon’t get this. At all. I mean, sure, in 1990, if a company arbitrarily retools their product to inject some causeless obsolescence, I can understand having a hard time seeing that as anything beyond some good ole fashioned cronyist vertical integration abuse.

But this is the singularity, y’all. Seriously though, technology is advancing and having a new headphone port in order to make all the things work more better just sounds like progress to me. One area I am actually having trouble getting behind, is charging and listening at the same time… How? I do that A LOT, so… back to two holes then?

15. I Have Users! Tons! They’re All in… Canada, So You Probably Wouldn’t Know Them…

US appeals court upholds dismissal of suit accusing BlackBerry of fraudulently inflating stock price by overstating prospects for the Z10 phone; court found no plausible claim but sent case back to lower court, giving plaintiffs an opportunity to amend claim with new evidence — Link

D’awww. Poor Blackberry. I can’t believe that placing Alicia Keys as your czar of growth, or whatever, didn’t turn everything around! What, is this not 2006, and do pop pianists not make great c-level strategic decisions?

If they went a bit harder after the encryption play, they might find more than just those legally obligated to use their phones buying in.

Funding Roundup Week-To-Date

10 Deals: $238,850,000

Fundation
provides online lending platform for banks:$100M Credit Facility from Goldman Sachs.
Veritone
AI for media technology: $50M undisclosed from Acacia Research Corporation.
Panopto
provides enterprise and education video platform: $42.8M undisclosed from Sterling Partners.
 
DroneDeploy
software platform for commercial drones:$20M Series B from Scale Venture Partners.
 
SigOpt
optimization platform for enterprise data analysis:$6.6M Series A from Andreessen Horowitz.
 
Prenav
uses drones to capture data about infrastructure:$6.5M Seed from Crosslink Capital.
 
SkyGiraffe
enterprise mobility platform: $6M undisclosed from SGVC.
Bitfinder
creates indoor air filter AWAIR: $4.5M Series A from Altos Ventures.
 
Fusion Coolant Systems
applies CO2 cooling and lubricating to metal cutting: $1.25M Series B from Mints.
 
Dragos 
provides access to ICS cybersecurity professionals: $1.2M Seed from DataTribe.
If we missed anything, post a comment on our public sheetor email fundings@launch.co.

Again, definitely, definitely subscribe to J-Cal’s Launch Ticker for more information, less uninformed exposition, updated daily @launchticker.com

Tweet me at @ElizabethHunker to yell praise / threats / dadaist riffs at me on this post, or life in general.