Odds and Ends 

Still a year away from launch, Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenbergs Quibi keeps adding talent

Video won’t start rolling on Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new bite-sized streaming service with the billion-dollar backing until the end of 2019, but talent keeps signing up to come along for their ride into the future of serialization. The latest marquee director to sign on the dotted line with Quibi is Catherine Hardwicke, who will be helming a story around the creation of an artificial intelligence with the working title “How They Made Her,” according to an announcement from Katzenberg onstage at the Variety Innovate summit. Whistle called “Benedict Men”…

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Odds and Ends 

Payment service Toss becomes Koreas newest unicorn after raising $80M

South Korea has got its third unicorn startup after Viva Republica, the company beyond popular payment app Toss, announced it has raised an $80 million round at a valuation of $1.2 billion. This new round is led by U.S. firms Kleiner Perkins and Ribbit Capital, both of which cut their first checks for Korea with this deal. Others participating include existing investors Altos Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, KTB Network, Novel, PayPal and Qualcomm Ventures. The deal comes just six months after Viva Republica raised $40 million to accelerate growth, and it takes…

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Headlines 

This smart motorcycle helmet features a futuristic AR display Future Blink

Image: David Ryder/Getty Images We’re still getting used to the idea of a store where there’s no checkout, but Amazon isn’t standing still. It’s just launched a new, much more compact version of its cashierless Go stores. Jeff Bezos is more than happy to dive into a new market and start disrupting it, but Amazon’s success is due to how the company keeps relentlessly pushing an idea in new directions. That’s why we don’t just have one type of Go store anymore. SEE ALSO: Apple’s coolest keyboard trick became even…

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Headlines 

Amazon’s cashier-less shopping tech is being tested on a larger store

Larger Amazon Go-powered stores are being tested.Image: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images Amazon’s cashier-less shopping tech could come to a full supermarket. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the tech giant is experimenting with its Amazon Go technology at a larger store. SEE ALSO: What it’s like to shop at Amazon Go At the company’s seven Amazon Go stores in Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco, shoppers scan in with their mobile devices, then pick their product and walk out.  The technology uses a mix of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep…

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Headlines 

Steve Carell became Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to troll Donald Trump on ‘SNL’

Saturday Night Live saved its best Donald Trump jokes for guest host Steve Carell. While the latest episode’s cold open sketch ripped Trump’s favorite propaganda network, Fox News, Carell put on a bald cap and transformed himself into Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos. His three-minute message is ostensibly a broad overview of where Amazon is at now that its HQ2 locations in New York and northern Virginia have been selected. But really, this video is just an extended string of Trump burns, targeting his hair, his Twitter addiction, his…

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Odds and Ends 

In venture capital, its still the age of the unicorn

Howie Xu At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting. But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the herd? Does this indicate an irrational exuberance…

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Odds and Ends 

Amazon says it will add 1,000 more employees in the UK, bringing the total to 28,500, bucking the Brexit chill

A lot of uncertainty hangs over the U.K. as it continues its slow march out of the European Union, but today one of the world’s biggest companies announced plans to expand its presence in the country. Amazon today said it would add another 1,000 workers in the U.K., including establishing its first corporate and R&D office in Manchester. Amazon said it also plans to add more people to its R&D bases in Edinburgh and Cambridge — respectively known for developing search technology as well as the AI technology that powers…

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Odds and Ends 

These are the most successful companies to emerge from Y Combinator

The round was impressive for a couple of reasons: The founders are a pair of 22-year-olds that had set out to build a virtual reality company before pivoting to payments, and they had only completed Y Combinator, a well-known Silicon Valley startup accelerator, the year prior. Today, YC has released the latest list of its most successful companies since it began backing startups in 2005. Ranked by valuation and/or market cap, Brex, sure enough, is the youngest company to crack the top 20: Airbnb: An online travel community and room-sharing…

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Headlines 

This robotic bartender is coming soon to an airport near you

Recently uncovered documents show that Amazon was actively pitching its facial recognition technology to ICE.Image: Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Amazon would really like U.S. law enforcement to use its facial-recognition software, despite how its employees feel. According to internal documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, Amazon met with officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over the summer in order to pitch facial-recognition technology known as Rekognition. SEE ALSO: Here’s how to set up a VPN and protect your data In June 2018, Amazon Web Services sales…

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Headlines 

Beaten by Amazon and Walmart, Sears faces the end after 125 years

The company, once a staple of the American lifestyle, is expected to file for bankruptcy after years of losses I dont understand the point of Sears, I just buy everything online, said 23-year-old Lyft driver Shannon Dickey as we pull up to the abandoned storefront of Sears that sits at the top of Ross Park Mall, nine miles north of downtown Pittsburgh I think their old catalogs are cool, but I just dont understand the point of Sears. Founded in 1893, Sears was once a staple of the American lifestyle.…

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Odds and Ends 

Amazon introduces APL, a new design language for building Alexa skills for devices with screens

Along with the launch of the all-new Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device with a screen, Amazon also introduced a new design language for developers who want to build voice skills that include multimedia experiences. Called Alexa Presentation Language, or APL, developers will be able to build voice-based apps that also include things like images, graphics, slideshows and video, and easily customize them for different device types – including not only the Echo Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm…

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Odds and Ends 

Bernie Sanders Ramps Up Amazon Battle With New Bill Demanding Living Wage for Workers

Sanders said in a statement. [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest person on earth, has become a symbol of that inequality and greed, the statement continued. While Mr. Bezos is worth $155 billion and while his wealth has increased $260 million every single day this year, he continues to pay many Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer funded programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing just to get by. The announcement comes after the Vermont senator The proposed legislation,…

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Odds and Ends 

Walmart reportedly recruits ex-Epix CEO in bid to build video service

According to new reports, Walmart has enlisted the services of Mark Greenberg to help build a subscription video streaming service. Rumors have been floating around for some time now, that the retailer is looking to go head to head with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime video, and Greenberg — who left the role of CEO at Epix in September — is well-positioned to help. The service would reportedly function apart from Vudu, the a la carte video service Walmart purchased in 2010, as a bid to bolster its…

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Headlines 

Twitter rips awful Forbes take about replacing libraries with Amazon

Libraries are amazing and bad takes in Forbes are not.Image: Mark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock There are bad takes, and then there’s the take by Forbes contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas (who also serves as Chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University) that local libraries should be replaced by Amazon book stores.  Among the reasons Mourdoukoutas offers are: libraries don’t have as many public events as they used to because of school auditoriums; people go to places like Starbucks to hang out and work and read now instead of their library; and…

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