Tech

From dorm room to Starbucks, Rip Van Wafels is bringing Euro-inspired snack to the masses

Rip Pruisken waffled in college (we got that pun safely out of the way for now). He was a student in the Ivy League at Brown University, and had focused on academics for much of his life. His parents were physicists, and “I thought I would study some sort of cookie-cutter path of studying something that I would use post-college,” he explained. “I didn’t really consider entrepreneurship to be a viable option because I was still in that frame of mind.“ It was during a study trip to Italy that he had an epiphany. He was inside an Italian bookstore looking through business books when he suddenly realized that he had discovered a new passion. “If you can build stuff at a profit, you can build more stuff, and how cool is that? That was my aha moment,” he said. Being an entrepreneur was one thing...

Solving the affordability crisis one Chattanooga at a time

We all know the success of America’s leading startup hubs, cities like San Francisco, New York City, Boston and several others. Entrepreneurial talent, risk-seeking venture dollars, and dense human networks form an alchemy leading to wealth, jobs, and growth. The main streets and malls of the Midwest may be devastated, but you would never know that walking through the Hudson Yards development on the west side of Manhattan or in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. Despite their dizzying performance, the intense concentration of success in these zip codes does not bode well for the wider American economy. Geography and zoning ordinances prevent millions from migrating to these hubs, and for those lucky few who can make a living, high housing prices and other costs can place incredible stress ...

Gillmor Gang: Food Chain

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Michael Markman, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, April 27, 2018. Apple, Spotify meets Alexa, Is Social Dead, the coming subscription bubble. @stevegillmor, @mickeleh, @DenisPombriant, @fradice, @kteare Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor Liner Notes Live chat stream The Gillmor Gang on Facebook

Emissary wants to make sales networking obsolete

There is nothing meritocratic about sales. A startup may have the best product, the best vision, and the most compelling presentation, only to discover that their sales team is talking to the wrong decision-maker or not making the right kind of small talk. Unfortunately, that critical information — that network intelligence — isn’t written down in a book somewhere or on an online forum, but generally is uncovered by extensive networking and gossip. For David Hammer and his team at Emissary, that is a problem to solve. “I am not sure I want a world where the best networkers win,” he explained to me. Emissary is a hybrid SaaS marketplace which connects sales teams on one side with people (called emissaries, naturally) who can guide them through the sales process at companies they are familia...

Facebook’s dark ads problem is systemic

Facebook’s admission to the UK parliament this week that it had unearthed unquantified thousands of dark fake ads after investigating fakes bearing the face and name of well-known consumer advice personality, Martin Lewis, underscores the massive challenge for its platform on this front. Lewis is suing the company for defamation over its failure to stop bogus ads besmirching his reputation with their associated scams. Lewis decided to file his campaigning lawsuit after reporting 50 fake ads himself, having been alerted to the scale of the problem by consumers contacting him to ask if the ads were genuine or not. But the revelation that there were in fact associated “thousands” of fake ads being run on Facebook as a clickdriver for fraud shows the company needs to change its entire system, ...

This year’s Tribeca Film Festival uses AR and VR to explore music-making and empathy

Visiting the Immersive arcade at the Tribeca Film Festival is always challenging. Every year, there are way more virtual reality and augmented reality experiences to try out (not to mention creators to interview) than I can squeeze into just a couple of hours. This year, as always, I was only able to check out a handful of projects. They ranged from the serious and political to the playful and colorful — though even the playful projects were still exploring some ideas about creativity and human connection. Terminal 3, for example, uses augmented reality to put the viewer in the position of an interrogator with airport security: You meet and interview a Muslim traveler, and you get to choose from different questions before ultimately deciding whether or not they should be allowed into the c...

Microsoft attempts to spin its role in counterfeiting case

Earlier this week Eric Lundgren was sentenced to 15 months in prison for selling what Microsoft claimed was “counterfeit software,” but which was in fact only recovery CDs loaded with data anyone can download for free. The company has now put up a blog post setting “the facts” straight, though it’s something of a limited set of those facts. “We are sharing this information now and responding publicly because we believe both Microsoft’s role in the case and the facts themselves are being misrepresented,” the company wrote. But it carefully avoids the deliberate misconception about software that it promulgated in court. That misconception, which vastly overstated Lundgren’s crime and led to the sentence he received, is simply to conflate software with a license to operate that software. With...

Apple is reportedly building an insane ’16K’ VR headset

Apple has long been rumored to be working on a pair of augmented reality glasses, but a report today suggests that they’re looking to compete with Google, Microsoft and Facebook in the virtual reality space as well. CNET reports that Apple has its eye set on the 2020 release of a wireless headset that combines AR and VR technologies. The report also gives specific details for the project internally referred to as T288. Namely, sources told CNET that the headset will have an 8K display for each eye and will connect wirelessly to a dedicated “box.” Vrvana’s Totem headset One of the general assumptions many in the market had been operating under was that Apple might “skip” entertainment-focused VR altogether in favor of approaching the lifestyle-focused AR technologies that put a digital laye...

Facebook shrinks fake news after warnings backfire

Tell someone not to do something and sometimes they just want to do it more. That’s what happened when Facebook put red flags on debunked fake news. Users who wanted to believe the false stories had their fevers ignited and they actually shared the hoaxes more. That led Facebook to ditch the incendiary red flags in favor of showing Related Articles with more level-headed perspectives from trusted news sources. But now it’s got two more tactics to reduce the spread of misinformation, which Facebook detailed at its Fighting Abuse @Scale event in San Francisco. Facebook’s director of News Feed integrity Michael McNally and data scientist Lauren Bose held a talk discussing all the ways it intervenes. The company is trying to walk a fine line between censorship and sensibility. These red warnin...

DNA analysis site that led to the Golden State Killer issues a privacy warning to users

As more details emerge about the arrest of the man suspected to be the Golden State Killer, it’s clear that one of the most infamous unsolved cases of all time was cracked using a popular free online genealogy database. The site, known as GEDmatch, is a popular resource for people who have obtained their own DNA through readily available consumer testing services and want to fill in missing portions of their family tree to conduct further analyses. Compared to a polished service like 23andMe, GEDmatch is an open platform lacking the same privacy and legal restrictions that govern user data on more mainstream platforms. To home in on their suspect, investigators used an intact DNA sample taken at the time of a 1980 Ventura County murder linked to the serial killer. The team uploaded data fr...

This soft robotic arm is straight out of Big Hero 6 (it’s even from Disney)

The charming robot at the heart of Disney’s Big Hero 6, Baymax, isn’t exactly realistic, but its puffy bod is an (admittedly aspirational) example of the growing field of soft robotics. And now Disney itself has produced a soft robot arm that seems like it could be a prototype from the movie. Created by Disney Research roboticists, the arm seems clearly inspired by Baymax, from the overstuffed style and delicate sausage fingers to the internal projector that can show status or information to nearby people. “Where physical human-robot interaction is expected, robots should be compliant and reactive to avoid human injury and hardware damage,” the researchers write in the paper describing the system. “Our goal is the realization of a robot arm and hand system which can physically interact wit...

T-Mobile is reportedly much closer to a merger deal with Sprint

It looks like a potential merger deal between T-Mobile and Sprint, two of the major telecom companies in the U.S., is getting closer and now has set valuation terms, according to a report by Bloomberg. The deal could be announced as soon as Sunday, according to a report by CNBC. The proposed tie-up of the two companies was called off in November last year, but now that deal appears to be coming closer, with T-Mobile’s backer valuing Sprint at around $24 billion, according to Bloomberg. As part of the deal, Deutsche Telekom AG will get a 69% voting interest on a 42% stake in the company, according to that report. (Both reports, however, disagree on the valuation — with CNBC citing a $26 billion valuation.) This deal seems to have been a long time coming, and consolidates two of the four maj...