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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Prime Down: Amazons sale day turns into fail day

Update: Here’s how to get around Amazon’s error. Use smile.amazon.com. TechCrunch confirmed this workaround works. It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, visitors are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page. Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem…

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‘The Expanse’ is officially saved and headed to Amazon

Image: alcon entertainment Another day, another streaming service swooping in to rescue a TV series that couldn’t cut it on cable. For weeks, fans of Syfy’s The Expanse have been held in suspense over the show’s abrupt cancellation and subsequent hints of a pickup, a la Brooklyn Nine-Nine. That suspense is now at an end, thanks to Jeff Bezos. SEE ALSO: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ is another testament to the brilliance of Mike Schur The Amazon founder and CEO summed up the situation succinctly during an appearance at the International Space Development…

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Amazon Alexa spouted conspiracy theory when asked about chemtrails

Ask Alexa about chemtrails, and she’ll tell you it’s a government conspiracy. Seriously. “Chemtrails: Trails left by aircraft are actually chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for a purpose undisclosed to the general public in clandestine programs directed by government officials,” my Amazon Echo responds when asked “What’s a chemtrail.” SEE ALSO: Alexa now understands casual time-based music requests — but there’s a catch Image: Mashable Screenshot Let’s be clear, here. Chemtrails are not “biological agents deliberately sprayed” by “government officials,” despite what the popular conspiracy theory…

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Alexa has literally lost her voice as users report outages and unresponsiveness

Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant seems to be down this morning. We’ve been hearing reports over the last hour of either delayed responses or just total loss of connection. While Amazon doesn’t have a status page for its consumer products, Down Detector is reporting a huge spike in Alexa-related complaints over the last hour. For example, Alexa is giving me replies like “I’m not sure what went wrong”, “sorry, something went wrong”, or a loud chime followed by “sorry, your echo dot lost its connection” and the red ring of sadness. The problem…

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Would Delivery Drones Be All That Efficient? Depends Where You Live

If the idea of swarms of delivery drones dropping packages all over our cities started out as a joke, for some reason the punchline hasn’t landed yet. Amazon applied for a patent in 2015 for a command center, like a beehive, plopped into your city, which isn’t a worrying metaphor at all. Google has its own program in the works, which at least for the moment involves delivering burritos. Again, if this is a joke, it’s got a very long fuse. Forget about the insane logistics of such a system…

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Amazon is stepping into healthcare

Jeff BezosImage: ROB LATOUR/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK Alexa, make healthcare better.  Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is finally publicly stepping into the healthcare industry. Amazon has teamed up with banking giant JPMorgan and holding company Berkshire Hathaway to start a healthcare business, the companies announced on Tuesday.  SEE ALSO: Amazon Music Unlimited is getting even more unlimited Per typical tech company fashion, the initiative’s goal is to disrupt an old industry by providing technological solutions and, in turn, simplify and decrease the expenses of the process for consumers. The new initiative does not have…

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