Technology

Technology

Gingko Bioworks secures $275 million in Series D, valuing the company at over $1 billion

Boston biotech startup Gingko Bioworks has announced the raise of $275 million in Series D funding to build out its Bioworks3 production facility. The funding comes from previous investors Viking Global, Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, Cascade Investment, Bill Gates, as well as new investor, General Atlantic. The company previously raised over $154 million, bringing the total up to $429 million in the three years since launching out of Y Combinator. The new raise now puts Ginkgo’s valuation at over $1 billion, according to sources. Ginkgo started out using yeasts to create products for the flavor, fragrance and food industries and has produced probiotics in conjunction with DARPA to help U.S. soldiers stave off stomach bugs they might pick up overseas.  including creating bacteria that can...

It’s official: Disney is acquiring Fox’s film and TV divisions for $52.4 billion

We’re about to see two entertainment behemoths come together, as The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox have officially announced a deal. As a result, Disney will acquire Fox’s film and much of its TV operations for a price of over $52 billion in stock. Disney will take over the Nat Geo network, Star TV, Fox’s movie and TV studios and its stakes in both Sky and Hulu, as well as the parts of the business that focus on regional sports broadcasting. It’ll gain a majority stake in Hulu through the deal, too. Fox will retain Fox News, its basic broadcast network and its national sports channels. One of the reasons Disney already dominates the entertainment landscape is because of big acquisitions under CEO Bob Iger — Pixar, Marvel and most recently Lucasfilm. The move will bulk up Disney’...

Taiwanese media startup The News Lens lands deal with top video studio Dawin

Taiwanese digital media startup The News Lens launched only four years ago, but it quickly became one of the country’s most prolific news sources by leveraging social media to reach younger viewers. Today it took another big step by announcing a strategic partnership with Dawin, one of Taiwan’s top video and film production companies, that will help it reach a wider audience. Based in Taipei, with an office in Hong Kong, The News Lens now claims 7 million monthly unique visitors and publishes four online editions: Chinese-language sites for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia and an English-language site aimed at international readers. Its partnership with Dawin gives The News Lens access to resources like video and audio recording studios and personnel to create weekly programs and other...

Here are the deadlines for all your online holiday shopping orders

While some folks still head to the stores on Black Friday and throughout December, many of us are turning to the web for Christmas shopping. Just one complication: shipping tends to bottleneck during the holidays and some gifts simply don’t arrive on time. But we’ve sorted all that out for you. Here are the order deadlines for folks buying their gifts online who want them delivered by Christmas. Amazon (Photo: NoDerog/iStock) If you are ordering on Amazon and do not have a Prime membership, the latest date you can place your order with free shipping is December 15. If you want to splurge and pay for standard shipping, the deadline is December 18. Prime members can order as late as December 22. Also of note, Amazon recently expanded its same-day and one-day shipping offering to some 3,000 n...

Twitter says Russians spent ~$1k on six Brexit-related ads

Twitter has disclosed that Russian-backed accounts spent $1,031.99 to buy six Brexit-related ads on its platform during last year’s European Union referendum vote. The ads in question were purchased during the regulated period for political campaigning in the June 2016 EU Referendum — specifically from 15 April to 23 June 2016. This nugget of intel into Kremlin political disinformation ops that were centered on the UK’s Brexit vote has been released as part of an ongoing internal investigation by Twitter into possible Russian Brexit meddling — initiated by a request for information from a UK parliamentary committee that’s investigating fake news. The UK’s Electoral Commission, which oversees domestic election procedure and regulates campaign financing, has also written to social media comp...

INSIKT raises $50 million to lend to low-income communities

Loans can be the hardest to get for the people who need them the most. An estimated 45 million Americans don’t have a credit score and others have trouble bringing up their scores, even if they are in a better financial position than in years past. While most lenders would consider low-income families with bad credit scores to be too risky, a startup called INSIKT believes that it has better ways of assessing if people will pay them back. And after facilitating 125,000 loans in three years, INSIKT is raising $50 million to expand. The round is led by Grupo Coppel, with participation from FirstMark Capital, Revolution Ventures and Colchis Capital. INSIKT has raised $100 million to date. INSIKT has built what they believe is a better alternative to payday loans, breaking up payments into sma...

Security robots are being used to ward off San Francisco’s homeless population

Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business? One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city’s Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there — causing some people to get very upset. Silicon Valley game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted yesterday her dismay at the move, saying, “I’m sorry for being so frank but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness.” I’m sorry for being so frank, but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness. Every time I travel to San Fran my heart breaks from seeing all the homelessness in a city with so much wealth a...

Gfycat wants to fix your low-fidelity GIFs with machine learning

We all love to share GIFs — and there are plenty of ways to do that, through online portals or keyboards — but often times because there is so much content, you’ll end up surfacing up a lower-fidelity GIF. There can be plenty of copies of the same video clips as a GIF, or maybe it’s just difficult to capture and upload, but Gfycat hopes that it can be solved at a technical level. Gfycat is now making a big push on the technical front to make those GIFs look better and more discoverable as creators look to continue to upload content, regardless of what kind of quality or fidelity they are. And it’s more of a video problem than an image recognition problem, CEO Richard Rabbat said. “We have scaled [through] creators through word of mouth, and they are just getting excited about Gfycat and [c...

Comcast reiterates a shifting promise of ‘no paid prioritization’

Comcast has promised before that it does not and will not engage in paid prioritization, and today the company has reiterated that stance — after being called out for having apparently weakened it over the last year. Over the last few years, Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer David Cohen has written several times on the topic of net neutrality. In 2014, when the current rules were pending, he wrote pretty unambiguously: No paid prioritization – We agree, and that is our practice… We don’t prioritize Internet traffic or have paid fast lanes, and have no plans to do so. Shortly afterwards, in response to feedback, he doubled down on that statement: To be clear, Comcast has never offered paid prioritization, we are not offering it today, and we’re not consid...

Samsung refreshes its Notebook 9 laptop line

They say Christmas season gets earlier every year, and the same seems to apply to CES. The year’s biggest tech show is a little less than a month away, yet Samsung’s already showing off what’s likely to be two of its bigger debuts for the show. Both are updates to the company’s solid Notebook 9 line of Windows PCs. No surprise on that front — CES tends to be a laptop-focused show for the company. In recent years, it’s saved big mobile device launches for its own standalone press conferences. As with Microsoft’s Surface line, the Notebook 9 offerings can be somewhat tricky to navigate, but thankfully this year’s new additions don’t muddy the waters any further. Rather, they’re just updates to existing offerings. There’s a 13- and 15-inch version of the standard Notebook 9 offering, and an u...

SoundCloud resuscitates home screen with personalized playlists

After laying off 40% of its staff and securing $169 million in emergency funding, SoundCloud’s first product push is a much needed step in the right direction. It’s filling its home page with personalized playlists and best of collections from top genres rather than other content like it’s feed. The hope is to make SoundCloud instantly accessible to new users and a more reliable place to discover fresh songs for long-time loyalists. In my recent deep-dive into SoundCloud’s strategy, I outlined its need to differentiate itself from Spotify by focusing on its $5 tier of ad-free access to independent music, legally grey remixes and DJ sets you can’t find elsewhere, and helping artists earn money beyond royalties through commerce. In line with that strategy, today’s redesign lets SoundCloud hi...

Exec who reportedly said Netflix doesn’t believe Danny Masterson’s accusers no longer works there

The Netflix executive who reportedly told one of Danny Masterson’s alleged rape victims that the company doesn’t believe them is no longer employed there. Andy Yeatman, Netflix’s director of global kids content, was fired on Monday, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Netflix confirmed in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that Yeatman is no longer with the company. Yeatman told The Hollywood Reporter that “I am proud of Netflix’s values and I condemn sexual violence in the strongest possible terms. I have always believed the victims voices should be heard and that every victim should get the justice they deserve. My heart goes out to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or harmed in any way.” According to a Huffington Post article published on Dec. 4, Yeatman made the remarks during a ch...