The Queensland government has announced it wants to widen its 15% tax rebate under the post-production, digital, visual effects (PDV) incentive to include digital games, alongside film makers who do post-production and post-visual effects in the state. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the move would incentivise more games projects and game developers to bring their business to the state. "By adding this new games' incentive, local and international studios will be further motivated to outsource the creation of valuable game titles to Queensland, while our own locally based developers will be supported to create original games content right here," she said. In addition, the state government said it would move to lower the threshold to access the PDV and games incentive from AU$500,000 to AU$250,000. "Across the state, we have a growing base of talented specialists and studio facilities in the post-production, visual effects, animation and games space, and supporting this continued growth, particularly during this recently prolific time for the screen industry, is exactly what this incentive was devised to do," Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich said.
In kicking off its annual 11.11 global shopping event, now in its 13th year, Alibaba Group CMO Chris Tung took the opportunity to highlight that the main focus for this year's shopping event would be sustainability. "We are making sustainability at the heart of the festival," he told media during a virtual press event. "We believe that behavioural change is essential to ensuring a sustainable future, which is why as the creator and leader of the 11.11 festival, Alibaba aims to play an important role in driving those positive changes." Arguably the world's largest shopping event, the 11.11 event has more than 290,000 participating brands, over 14 million deals, and more than 900 million consumers in China. For the first time, the Chinese tech giant has created a dedicated vertical to showcase energy-efficient and low-impact products. This will entail issuing 100 million yuan worth of "green vouchers" to customers, which Tung believes will "incentivise shopping decisions that are environmentally friendly".
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has reiterated its call for Google to implement a mandatory search engine "choice screen" after finding the company's dominance in the online search market has harmed competition and consumers. A choice screen is a setup page that presents consumers with a selection of search engines to use, rather than sending consumers to a preset default search engine. "Choice screens can give consumers the opportunity to make an informed choice about the search engine they use. Choice screens can also help reduce barriers to expansion for competitors to Google, who may offer consumers more options for alternative search engines around issues like privacy and how personal data is collected and used," ACCC chair Rod Sims said. The call was made as part of the competition watchdog's third interim report [PDF] for its five-year Digital Platforms Inquiry, which specifically looked at the market dominance of Google Search.
Cloud communications firm Twilio this afternoon reported Q3 revenue that topped Wall Street's expectations, and a surprise profit, and an outlook for this quarter's revenue that was higher as well. The one apparent blemish in the quarter was that the company's Dollar-Based Net Expansion Rate was 131%. That was down from 137% in the prior-year period. The report sent Twilio shares down 11% in late trading. "We had a terrific Q3, and we're really exicted about our set-up for Q4," said CFO Khozema Shipchandler, in an interview with ZDNet via Zoom following the report.
Intel announced a new pact with AT&T that will see the company provide silicon for the deployment of the telecom's virtualized radio access network (vRAN). The partnership was unveiled alongside a slate of other announcements at the Intel Innovation event. President of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer Andre Fuetsch said AT&T's rollout strategy will leverage Intel's product portfolio, noting that the two companies have been collaborating for years in transforming AT&T's 5G core and RAN. Dan Rodriguez, vice president of the Network Platforms Group at Intel, told ZDNet that the partnership will give AT&T "the flexibility to bring automation and cloud-like capabilities into its network, along with optimizations for performance, cost and operational efficiency." Google Cloud was involved in the announcement as well, with Intel debuting a "deep collaboration" on an ASIC-based IPU they codenamed "Mount Evans."
Abacus.AI, the two-year-old startup that is developing "hybrid" neural network forms of deep learning, on Wednesday announced the company has obtained $50 million in venture capital financing in a Series C round, lead by private equity firm Tiger Global Management. The company now has received $90.3 million in financing. Tiger Global is joined by returning investors Coatue Management and Index Ventures, as well as Alkeon. "A large chunk of it will goes to R&D and engineering and science," explained Bindu Reddy, co-founder and CEO of the company, in an interview with ZDNet via Zoom. "We continue to want to be the best of breed in AI and ML platforms."
How do you solve the age-old data integration issue? We addressed this in one of the first articles we wrote for this column back in 2016. It was a time when key terms and trends that dominate today's landscape, such as knowledge graphs and data fabric, were under the radar at best. Data integration may not sound as deliciously intriguing as AI or machine learning tidbits sprinkled on vanilla apps. Still, it is the bread and butter of many, the enabler of all cool things using data, and a premium use case for concepts underpinning AI, we argued back then.
An autonomous boat taxi, years in the making, has now made it to the waterways of Amsterdam. The self-driving boat, dubbed Roboat III, is the creation of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the Senseable City Laboratory, and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions. First developed and tested in pool environments back in 2015, Roboat has undergone extensive redesigns to become a full-scale, autonomous'taxi' service for city residents. Last year's version, Roboat II, was a blocky, eyesore-yellow model, two meters in length, that was able to carry two passengers. Despite its appearance, the technology behind the boat -- including sensors and mapping technologies -- meant that the boat was safely able to navigate itself for three hours with an error margin of 0.17m.
Microsoft has announced the creation of a new tool designed to help businesses track their sustainability efforts -- or lack thereof. The new Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is an extensible SaaS solution that provides a comprehensive and automated sustainability management for organizations at any stage of their sustainability journey. Microsoft said the tool was designed to enable organizations to "streamline data connections and more easily and effectively record, report and reduce their emissions on a path to net zero." The SaaS solution centralizes the data available and is meant to help enterprises set industry-aligned sustainability targets while also providing "actionable insights and reduction strategies to expedite their sustainability journeys." "Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is a comprehensive, end-to-end digital solution that helps organizations record their environmental footprint, report on progress internally and externally, and reduce their emissions, but it's not just about making changes based on what's being reported," said Kees Hertogh, general manager of global industry product marketing at Microsoft.
Today, Informatica is going public, once again. The company, which went private in a $5.3 billion deal back in 2015, expects to raise $841 million on this round. Informatica's emergence from private equity comes as the company has transitioned to a cloud-first business where subscriptions have climbed to nearly half of overall revenue. Informatica's journey into private equity has been a familiar one: a company seeks to transform its core business without the pressure of having to deliver quarterly results to Wall Street. It's a well-trod path that has been followed by a wide range of household names, and most recently in the data world, Cloudera.