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Microsoft is pulling out of an investment in an Israeli facial recognition technology developer as part of a broader policy shift to halt any minority investments in facial recognition startups, the company announced late last week. The decision to withdraw its investment from AnyVision, an Israeli company developing facial recognition software, came as a result of an investigation into reports that AnyVision's technology was being used by the Israeli government to surveil residents in the West Bank.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp.’s agreement to acquire 5G software maker Affirmed Networks Inc. valued the company at about $1.35 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.Microsoft announced the deal on Thursday without disclosing financial details.Microsoft already serves telecom customers and struck an agreement with AT&T Inc. last year with the aim of moving more the carrier’s network to its platform. Microsoft has been building its cloud computing operations through acquisitions. In 2018, it bought privately held GitHub for $7.5 billion.Affirmed Networks also held talks with Samsung Electronics before its deal with Microsoft came together, one of the people said.Pete Wootton, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment on the price. A representative for Affirmed Networks also declined to comment. Samsung didn’t respond to a request for comment.Microsoft shares fell 4.1% Friday to close at $149.70.The introduction of 5G is just starting, with test projects by carriers such as AT&T generally limited to select big cities. Nationwide U.S. coverage may take years. But tech giants and telecom industry incumbents have been angling for a slice of the market for edge computing and going after big corporate customers. The White House has made 5G a linchpin of its tech policy, particularly as it tries to suppress the global expansion of China’s Huawei Technologies Co.The networking industry is transitioning away from expensive fixed purpose machines that take care of specific parts of the job of managing the flow of data to software that resides in remote data centers. The aim is to make the things cheaper and more flexible.Affirmed Networks helps build virtual networks for telecom customers using 5G technology. It was founded in 2010 and had raised about $240 million in funding, according to Pitchbook Data. It raised financing just last month at a $1.35 billion valuation, people familiar with the matter said.Affirmed Networks said on Thursday that it was replacing its chief executive officer with one of its founders, Anand Krishnamurthy.Affirmed Networks, based in Acton, Massachusetts, is backed by investors including Qualcomm Ventures and Centerview Capital Technology Management, the venture arm of investment bank Centerview Partners, as well as by Lightspeed Management, CRV and Bessemer Venture Partners,(Updates with line on Samsung’s interest in fourth paragraph, adds share price in sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The decision marks a policy change for the Redmond, Washington-based software maker, which has aimed to shape how the technology industry approaches facial recognition. Microsoft has laid out principles to guide its own development of the technology, saying it should perform without bias and must not impinge on democratic freedoms. Civil liberties groups have said police use of facial recognition could lead to unfair, arbitrary arrests and limit freedom of expression.
Earlier this year, Microsoft made waves in the corporate community by coming out with one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging strategies to reduce carbon emissions from the company's operations. Part of that plan was a $1 billion fund that would invest in climate change mitigation technologies -- specifically focused on decarbonization. According to sources -- and a LinkedIn profile search -- it appears that Brandon Middaugh is taking point on the investment fund.
Yandex (YNDX) rolled out a project called Helping Hand, which will manage transportation, medicinal deliveries, and food and other essential commodity supplies to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic may be taking a toll on markets right now but this temporary phase offers investors a window to buy equities that have a record of performing better than the broader markets.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- We live in troubling times. Millions are suffering from anxiety, distress and loneliness as they deal with the uncertain health and economic consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic. If ever there was a moment for the world of Nintendo, this is it.Enter “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” the latest version of Japanese giant Nintendo Co.’s virtual-life simulation game. Released last Friday for use on the company’s Switch gaming system, it has seemingly come out at the perfect time for those seeking much-needed escapism.Animal Crossing is one of Nintendo’s core storied franchises. This new version is the fifth game in the main-line series, which was first launched in 2001. In the latest iteration, gamers start out on an island, playing out a make-believe life, complete with assorted activities from fishing to collecting insects, while also socially interacting with cute cartoon animals. There are no virus outbreaks here and no dangers in social mixing. Indeed, social-media sites such as Twitter are teeming with players posting their favorite Animal Crossing scenes, showing off their dressed-up characters and tricked-out living-room furnishing,with the screenshots serving as a welcome respite from the dire real-world news posts.The enthusiasm is showing up in the sales numbers. While demand for most consumer discretionary items is faltering, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is breaking records. The title has become the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game in history for multiple countries, according to international sales reports. Gaming media magazine Famitsu says the title sold 1.88 million copies in just three days in Japan. And major U.S. retailers are now sold out of the more expensive Switch hardware model due to the success of the game.The video-game industry as a whole is surging as stay-at-home restrictions force consumers to find suitable in-home entertainment options. But Nintendo’s family-friendly offerings seem uniquely suited for this moment; consumers may be increasingly attracted to the company’s more wholesome games, versus more graphic, violent fare. Nintendo owns many of the most valuable video-game franchises in the world that fit the feel-good bill — including Mario, Zelda and Metroid.Animal Crossing is giving a boost to Switch just as Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. prepare to launch their next-generation gaming consoles later this year, at which point other games for use with that cutting-edge technology may gain favor. Nintendo’s Switch was released three years ago and will be at a relative disadvantage on that front. However, the industry has never been about technical specs. It always comes down to the quality and experience of the games.After a price drop in recent months, Nintendo’s stock now trades at more attractive valuation of 18 times its fiscal 2021 earnings. Animal Crossing’s success is more evidence the company’s beloved brands and customer loyalty are more powerful than ever, revealing its prospects may be brighter than believed.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Let's dive into three blue chip tech stocks that might be worth buying at the moment as the Fed and the U.S. government try to provide a boost to the economy as the coronavirus spreads...
Google, Amazon and Microsoft are the landlords. Amidst the coronavirus economic crisis, startups need a break from paying rent. Revenue has stopped flowing in, capital markets like venture debt are hesitant and startups and small-to-medium sized businesses are at risk of either having to lay off huge numbers of employees and/or shut down.
Microsoft today announced that it has acquired Affirmed Networks, a company that specializes in fully virtualized, cloud-native networking solutions for telecom operators. With its focus on 5G and edge computing, Affirmed looks like the ideal acquisition target for a large cloud provider looking to get deeper into the telco business. According to Crunchbase, Affirmed raised a total of $155 million before this acquisition, and the company's more than 100 enterprise customers include the likes of AT&T, Orange, Vodafone, Telus, Turkcell and STC.
Here are five technology stocks including Microsoft (MSFT) for millennials looking to retire comfortably and capitalize on COVID-19 induced sell-off.
(Bloomberg) -- Gaming is experiencing an unprecedented boom right now, but behind the scenes, the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the $150 billion industry in subtle yet significant ways -- delaying crucial development, squeezing out smaller studios and disrupting the pipeline of new games heading into 2021.As with other sectors, Covid-19 has cleared the 2020 calendar by torpedoing marquee events like the Game Developers Conference this month and the biggest of them all, E3, in the summer. The litany of cancellations is especially painful for a business that, like the film industry, relies on flashy annual gatherings to launch big-name titles, connect publishers with creators and raise the profile of indie studios aspiring to become the next Rockstar Games.Shares in some game makers like Nintendo Co. have trended upward over the past week alongside a steep increase in playtime with government-ordered lockdowns around the world. But David Amador, who runs a one-man operation called Upfall Studios out of Lisbon, has a different perspective.“Despite the technology and communication channels at our disposal, nothing really beats the face-to-face meeting,” Amador said. “It’s an increasingly challenging market and being able to talk to customers in a casual environment and having them play our games helps a lot.”A serendipitous encounter two years ago at Gamescom, Europe’s premier gaming showcase, secured Amador a license to develop for the Nintendo Switch platform, he said. Missing events like the postponed Nordic Game Jam this year, “it’s hard to know the damage of people we won’t meet or deals not closed.” He works with freelancers when developing his games, and the trickle-down effect of missed opportunities for studios like his is a shortfall of work for designers and artists.Read more: The Virus Is Interrupting Supply Chains From Watches to Lobsters“For smaller publishers or indies like me, a chance conversation can lead to big things,” said Iain Garner, who runs Another Indie, a 12-person game publisher based in Taipei and the Chinese city of Xiamen. Like Amador, Garner was able to secure a much sought-after development license after meeting the right person at GDC, and his studio’s action game Sinner made it onto Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox Game Pass service after exhibiting at a crowded booth.He now plans to shift budget originally planned for shows to online ads and trailers. “I am not worried about us going under because of this, but I am quite sure we will take a hit overall,” he added.At a time when Valve Corp.’s Steam online gaming service is breaking records and global gaming publishers are registering increased demand due to millions of people stuck at home, the systems designed to build those companies’ future success are faltering.One game project that Upfall Studios was doing work for has been put on hold because its developers weren’t able to demo it at GDC and haven’t yet managed to pitch it remotely. Two other developers Amador has collaborated with are also struggling to secure remote calls with publishers.Before the coronavirus grew into a global pandemic, it was already interrupting the supply chain for game art and assets, as many big publishers rely on outsourcing to art studios in China, which was first to suffer the effects.Read more: Even Virtual Goods From China Are Taking a Hit From CoronavirusSuper Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai wrote in industry magazine “Famitsu” last week that the release of additional content for his blockbuster series would be delayed due to the coronavirus. Private Division, a unit of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., said last month that its Outer Worlds action role-playing game would also be late arriving on Nintendo Co.’s Switch due to the pandemic.One major Chinese mobile game publisher had lined up a series of meetings for E3 and GDC and is now having to recreate those via much less efficient online calls, according to a person informed who asked not to be named discussing private plans. Japanese studios in particular, the person said, have insisted on meeting and signing contracts in person, pushing more projects into limbo until after virus-containment measures are relaxed.The boss of a game studio that often produces so-called AAA titles for major publishers said that the biggest business opportunities every year were on the sidelines of trade shows. Meeting dozens of prospective clients at hotels near convention centers, developers thrash out the deals that lead to game releases months down the line, said the person, asking to remain anonymous.Several of Japan’s leading game studios have tried and struggled with online tools for pitching remotely, according to multiple executives. The biggest problem, they said, is difficulty in establishing trust with new partners. This is having an impact on game platforms, which can’t expand libraries as fast as they’d like, publishers who have to fill mid- to long-term game release pipelines and indie developers who can’t secure business, they said. The executives asked not to be identified discussing non-public strategy.Complicating matters, new consoles from Microsoft and Sony Corp. slated for the end of the year mean even more development work for already hard-pressed studios, said Billy Pidgeon, analyst at Go Play Research. “EA, Activision, Ubisoft and others track games on a profit/loss basis to determine whether they will be completed on time” and they don’t hesitate to cancel ones they deem to have a low chance of profitability.For now, big publishers are assuring the public that the spread of the coronavirus disease, known as Covid-19, isn’t hampering them too badly. Ubisoft Entertainment SA said in a statement that “At the moment, the impact of COVID-19 on Ubisoft productions is minimal and has not affected our release schedule for the upcoming fiscal year.” The longer-term effects, however, are difficult to quantify.“There’s really little visibility into that right now, given we don’t know how long this will last, how effective they can be remote and how complete games are already,” said Matthew Kanterman of Bloomberg Intelligence.(Updates with developer’s comment in the seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
An international group of nearly 400 volunteers with expertise in cybersecurity formed on Wednesday to fight hacking related to the novel coronavirus. One of four initial managers of the effort, Marc Rogers, said the top priority would be working to combat hacks against medical facilities and other frontline responders to the pandemic. Also key is the defense of communication networks and services that have become essential as more people work from home, said Rogers, head of security at the long-running hacking conference Def Con and a vice president at security company Okta Inc.
WHO's initiative to develop crucial and competent software in a bid to fight the pandemic-related challenges is expected to boost players in the technology space going forward.
The U.S. government and Senate reached an agreement to inject $2 trillion of stimulus to boost the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus-induced turmoil.