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Netflix will press start on video game 'expansion' with games for smartphones, tablets

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Mobile video games will be the focus of the Netflix's video game initiative. These future mobile games will be included in members' subscriptions at no additional cost, the Los Gatos, California-based streaming TV provider company said in its second quarter 2021 shareholder letter Tuesday. "We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV," the company said. "We're excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games. Netflix:The 50 best TV shows to watch right now: 'Never Have I Ever' Season 2 in July Streaming TV:Can you have too much of a good thing? Netflix last week hired video game executive Mike Verdu as its vice president of game development. He had previously been at Facebook-owned VR company Oculus, where he oversaw games. Prior to that, he had worked at Electronic Arts and Zynga. The company is in "the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity," Netflix said, noting its Black Mirror Bandersnatch "choose your own adventure" film and "Stranger Things" video games. This news about video games comes as Netflix sees its growth slowing. Worldwide, Netflix added 1.5 million new subscribers in the April-June period, beating their own 1.2M forecast. But the net TV provider lost 430,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada during the period. In the same period a year ago, Netflix added 10 million new global subscribers with about 2.9 million new additions from the U.S. and Canada. And the company's forecast of 3.5 million new subscribers expected for the current quarter (July-Sept.) is below what analysts hoped (5 million or more). "The pandemic has created unusual choppiness in our growth and distorts year-over-year comparisons as acquisition and engagement per member household spiked in the early months of COVID," the company said. Netflix shares were down 1% in after-hours trading. As for growing competition in the streaming market, Netflix pointed to the Warner Media-Discovery merger and Amazon's acquisition of studio MGM of "the ongoing industry consolidation as firms adapt to a world where streaming supplants linear TV." Such consolidation not affected Netflix's growth "much, if at all," the company said. "While we are continually evaluating opportunities, we don't view any assets as "must-have" and we haven't yet found any large scale ones to be sufficiently compelling to act upon.


Nvidia Stock's Surge Makes Chip Maker 10th-Biggest U.S. Listed Company

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

The post-pandemic boom in the semiconductor business has powered Nvidia Corp. into the top 10 U.S. public companies, joining the likes of Apple Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Shares of the Santa Clara, Calif., firm have risen nearly 80% over the past year, giving it a market value of around $453 billion. That is more than rivals Intel Corp. and Broadcom Inc. combined. Nvidia makes processors that power gaming and cryptocurrency mining. Chip shares have risen in part thanks to a pandemic-induced global shortage of semiconductors that has driven up the prices of everything from laptops to automobiles.


Watch Robots Make Pizzas From Start to Finish at an Automated Pizzeria

#artificialintelligence

Four years ago in Mountain View, California, a team of robots was cranking out pizzas on a production line that was almost fully automated. The first robot pressed a ball of dough into a flat circle, a second squirted tomato sauce onto it, and a third spread the sauce over the whole crust. Then a human stepped in to add the toppings, but a fourth robot put the pizzas in the oven and a fifth sliced them up when they were done. That operation, called Zume Pizza, has since discontinued its pizza-making operations and shifted its focus to systems for food packaging, production, and delivery. But the idea of robots taking over repetitive food preparation work has only gained traction, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Netflix's plan to jump into video games puzzles Wall Street

The Japan Times

Netflix Inc.'s foray into gaming is raising more eyebrows than excitement among analysts. Though there's long been speculation that Netflix might move into video games, Wednesday's news that it had hired an executive to lead the effort -- and would start adding titles to its streaming platform in the next year -- came as a surprise to many. The Los Gatos, California-based company doesn't have the infrastructure or the expertise to create or support top-tier games, analysts said. And that capability won't be easy to build. "They don't have a game catalog -- they haven't cultivated a base of gamers in their audience," said Lewis Ward, research director for gaming at IDC. "And they don't have an internal studio or infrastructure to handle a service."


The Top 100 Software Companies of 2021

#artificialintelligence

The Software Report is pleased to announce The Top 100 Software Companies of 2021. This year's awardee list is comprised of a wide range of companies from the most well-known such as Microsoft, Adobe, and Salesforce to the relatively newer but rapidly growing - Qualtrics, Atlassian, and Asana. A good number of awardees may be new names to some but that should be no surprise given software has always been an industry of startups that seemingly came out of nowhere to create and dominate a new space. Software has become the backbone of our economy. From large enterprises to small businesses, most all rely on software whether for accounting, marketing, sales, supply chain, or a myriad of other functions. Software has become the dominant industry of our time and as such, we place a significance on highlighting the best companies leading the industry forward. The following awardees were nominated and selected based on a thorough evaluation process. Among the key criteria considered were ...


Off the Couch: Database Maker Seeks $160 Million In IPO

#artificialintelligence

Couchbase plans to sell 7 million shares at about $20 to $23 each, netting the NoSQL database vendor about $160 million for its upcoming initial public offering (IPO), the company announced today. The Santa Clara, California company, which filed its S-1 form last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is planning to go public in the near future. Its stock will be traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol "BASE." Couchbase is an open source, document-oriented database that stores data in JSON. The database supports distributed operations and ACID transactions, and features a SQL-like query language called N1QL.


Proving Grounds for AI Self-Driving Cars - AI Trends

#artificialintelligence

In a less conventional approach, some self-driving car makers or tech firms are using unusual proving grounds. For example, a start-up firm called Voyage (a spin-out of Udacity) is using Ford Fusion's outfitted with self-driving car gear and trying their vehicles out in a gated community of mainly retirees. The Villages Golf and Country Club in San Jose, California, provides a testing ground for Voyage. The speed limit there is just 25 miles per hour, and the roads are relatively tame. Residents can summon a Voyage self-driving car via a smartphone app and use it for door-to-door transportation within the community.


Hitachi Vantara acquires data governance player Io-Tahoe

ZDNet

Santa Clara, CA-based Hitachi Vantara, a unit of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi Global, announced on June 23rd that it had acquired data governance player Io-Tahoe, based in New York. Io-Tahoe had been a unit of Centrica, a UK-based energy services company operating under brands including British Gas and Centrica Hive. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The Io-Tahoe platform's capabilities will become part of Hitachi's Lumada DataOps portfolio. ZDNet spoke with Hitachi Vantara's Chief Product Officer and General Manager, Radhika Krishnan, who explained that the Io-Tahoe technology will compliment Hitachi Vantara's existing platform and accelerate development of its data management prowess by as much as three years.


Lidar company Quanergy to go public via $1.4B SPAC deal – TechCrunch

#artificialintelligence

Quanergy Systems, the Sunnyvale, California-based lidar company, said Tuesday it has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition fund CITIC Capital Acquisition Corp., a Chinese blank-check firm affiliated with the country's largest state-owned investment conglomerate. The deal, which puts an implied valuation on Quanergy at $1.4 billion, is expected to close in the second half of 2021. After closing, the transaction will inject the lidar company with around $278 million in pro forma net cash, including $40 million in private investment in public equity (PIPE) funding. Lidar is an essential component of most autonomous driving systems -- the notable exception being Tesla's stack, which is attempting to develop a pure vision-based system to support its pursuit of automated driving (Tesla vehicles are not autonomous today and have what is considered a Level 2 advanced driver assistance system). Quanergy is a developer of solid state silicon lidar units, which pulses a low-power laser through an optical phased array to measure the distance and shape of objects.


The 10 Hottest AI Startups Of 2021 (So Far)

#artificialintelligence

We're only halfway through 2021, but the current crop of hot startups dedicated to artificial intelligence shows how far AI has come in accessibility and use in the workplace and the field. And these startups prove that unlocking innovations in AI isn't a goal reserved for the largest tech giants. CRN has collected 10 of the hottest AI startups that use their technology to automate tasks in the office and improve interactions with employees and customers. While tech giants including IBM, Microsoft and Palo Alto Networks spend millions to develop AI offerings and acquire companies to boost their portfolios -- there appears to be plenty of venture capital and innovative work happening among startups. As CRN found, innovative work is happening not just in familiar startup ecosystems like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv, but also in the suburbs of Detroit.