1. Articles from TechCrunch

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    1. Microsoft joins the open source Cloud Foundry Foundation

      Microsoft today announced that it is joining the Cloud Foundry Foundation, the non-profit behind the open source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service project that’s currently in use by about half of the Fortune 500 companies. Microsoft is joining at the Gold Member tier where it joins the likes of Google, Huawei, Ford, GE Digital, NTT, Philips and Swisscom in supporting the project.

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    2. Baidu is making its self-driving car platform freely available to the automotive industry

      Baidu is opening its self-driving vehicle platform in a bid to help drive the development of autonomous cars. The Chinese internet giant today announced its Apollo project that will see its platform, including vehicle platform, hardware platform, software platform and cloud data services, opened to help others in the industry, particularly car manufacturers, to develop autonomous vehicles.

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    3. How Winnipeg focused on local strengths to create a tech hub in central Canada

      The brick warehouses that line Winnipeg’s Exchange District look the same as they did in the mid-nineteenth century, but commodity traders and grain transporters have moved out and tech companies have moved in. While agriculture and manufacturing faced increasing pressure over the past few decades, the city has developed a tech sector that enabled Winnipeg to reinvent itself.

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    4. YouTube’s automatic captioning system can now describe sound effects

      YouTube has long had an automatic captioning system that, thanks to Google’s machine learning advances in recent years, has gotten pretty good at automatically transcribing spoken words in a video. As the company announced today, its technology is now able to take this a step further by also captioning some of the ambient sounds like [LAUGHTER], [APPLAUSE] and [MUSIC]. For now, the automatic effects captioning is actually restricted to those exactly these three sounds. The reason for this, Google says, is that these are also exactly the sounds that most video producers manually caption right now.

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    5. The mobile app gold rush may be over

      Ten years ago, Apple announced the iPhone, which soon gave birth to the App Store and the resulting broader app ecosystem. That industry has now matured, having reached critical mass, according to a new report from Flurry out this morning. While there’s still some growth to be seen — app usage is up 11 percent over last year, for example — that growth is slowing. And many app categories are now growing at the expense of others, when before, all were growing in tandem.

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    6. Honda’s NeuV is a mini electric concept car with emotional intelligence

      Honda is another carmaker focused on supplementing the driving experience with an emotional, AI-based component. The NeuV, Honda’s latest concept which it unveiled at CES on Thursday, is a city-friendly lightweight electric car that has Honda’s Automated Network Assistant (HANA), built with SoftBank, on board to help personalize the driving experience. 

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    7. The 11 biggest tech acquisitions of 2016

      Unlike IPOs, 2016 was pretty active for tech M&A. The year resulted in $612.9 billion in global tech deals, according to Dealogic, which made it the second best year for acquisitions. It nearly kept up the pace of record-setting 2015, where we saw $691.4 billion in tech transactions across the world. A confluence of factors led to consolidation amongst semiconductors and enterprise tech.

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    8. Semantic Machines hopes to best Google in the conversational AI game

      I believe it was Sartre who wisely said hell is conversational AI. Despite the best intentions of engineers, today’s machine learning really is the savior and handicap of personal assistants. Berkeley-based startup Semantic Machines might suffer the same Achilles’ heel, but its team of 18 artificial intelligence PhDs thinks it can get farther than the current state-of-the-art establishment.

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    9. BMW to open a new autonomous driving development center near Munich

      BMW has already staked its claim in the self-driving production timeline, with plans to release an autonomous electric car by 2021. To help meet that goal, the carmaker is opening a dedicated facility aimed at developing connected and automated driving tech in Unterschleissheim, Germany near Munich. The facility is designed to begin operations in mid-2017, and will host more than 2,000 employees once it’s fully completed.

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    10. 5 Unexpected Sources Of Bias In Artificial Intelligence

      We tend to think of machines, in particular smart machines, as somehow cold, calculating and unbiased. We believe that self-driving cars will have no preference during life or death decisions between the driver and a random pedestrian. And we understand that learning systems will always converge on ground truth because unbiased algorithms drive them. For some of us, this is a bug: Machines should not be empathetic outside of their rigid point of view. For others, it is a feature: They should be freed of human bias. But in the middle, there is the view they will be objective.

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    11. Death to JIRA

      A JIRA ticket comes with inevitable, built-in assumptions and ramifications. That the feature / behavior it describes is discrete. That it is ultimately binary, i.e. either complete or not. That it can be individually estimated. That it can be worked on in relative isolation. That its connections to other tickets can be modeled very simply, using JIRA’s childishly simple notion of “linked” tickets.

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    12. Heavy-hitting KKR just raised a $711 million tech growth fund

      KKR, the global investment firm, is announcing a $711 million close this morning on its KKR Next Generation Technology Growth Fund, which it plans to use to back growth-stage companies in the technology, media and telco industries in North America, Europe and Israel. It’s a new product for the firm, though you might have seen its name crop up in a good many deals this past year; that’s because it began investing it nearly year ago. Among the bets it has made are the big data analytics company Optimal+ ; the tour-booking platform GetYourGuide; the cloud integration software company ...

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    13. Why the next great SaaS company will look nothing like Salesforce

      For years, a truism in software investing was that the value of application software lies in data, not in technology. Companies like Salesforce, Workday, and ServiceNow are valuable because they are the “system of record” (SoR), or single source of truth, for their customers’ most valuable information, such as customer records or employee data. The newest crop of software applications turns this logic on its head. They mimic consumer companies by using technology as a “wedge” to gain widespread adoption and don’t even try to become systems of record. Instead, they are “systems of engagement” (SoE), meaning apps that ...

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    14. Defining our relationship with early AI

      Artificial intelligence has fascinated mankind for more than half a century, with the first public mention of computer intelligence recorded during a London lecture by Alan Turing in 1947. More recently, the public has been exposed to headlines that have increasingly contained references to the growing power of AI, whether that’s been AlphaGo’s defeat of legendary Go player Lee Se-dol, Microsoft’s racist AI bot named Tay or any other number of new developments in the machine learning field. Once a plot device for science-fiction tales, AI is becoming real — and human beings are going to have to ...

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    15. To be a top quartile SaaS grower, you need to focus on gross churn

      SaaS entrepreneurs are bombarded with blog posts with an array of metrics and variables on which they need to focus in order to build their companies. There are so many metrics that are touted: gross churn, net churn, logo churn, renewal rates, NPS score, etc. To better understand which customer success metrics most impact growth, we examined a subset of pre-IPO SaaS companies. SaaSRadar, McKinsey’s database of pre-IPO SaaS companies. Our conclusion is that gross churn, by far, is the most impactful metric.

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