Jan 12, 2017

Hot in Silicon Valley: Alphabet shuts down Internet drones

Frank Eltman / AP

Google's parent company won't beam Internet access from drones

Alphabet has shut down Titan, a project whose aim was to beam internet access from solar-powered drones, tech news site 9to5Google first reported on Wednesday. The move happened quietly last year.

Why it matters: Companies like Alphabet and Facebook have become increasingly interested in finding new ways to provide Internet access, especially from the sky. Ultimately, these companies' interest in improving Internet access are fueled by the desire to make it easier for people to access their Internet services, especially in emerging markets. However, both companies are hitting bumps in the road—Facebook recently admitted to struggles with its own Internet drone, Aquila.

What's next: Alphabet continues its research and says it has shifted its focus on Project Loon—a similar attempt using high-altitude balloons—and Project Wing, which is experimenting with drone deliveries.

Once an industry darling, a food delivery startup parts with its founders

Munchery, which cooks and delivers meals, is splitting from its founders, former CEO Tri Tran and CTO Conrad Chu, shortly after hiring a new chief executive. The company also laid off 30 employees this week, according to Bloomberg.

Why it matters: So-called "on-demand" startups like Munchery went through a boom a few years ago, but many of them have since faced the harsh challenges of their complex operations and tricky business models. Less than two years ago, Munchery was inking deals with celebrity chefs, but today, it's saying goodbye to its founders.

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Coronavirus cases rise, as more Americans on cruise confirmed ill

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A U.S. public health official confirms more than 40 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan have coronavirus, while the remaining U.S. citizens without symptoms are being evacuated.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Scoop: Inside the Trump campaign's big hedge on Facebook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump campaign has invested most of its advertising budget to date on Facebook, testing thousands of versions of ads per day to maximize its spending.

But behind the scenes, a source familiar with the campaign tells Axios, the thinking has shifted: "As everyone can see, we still have strong spending on Facebook, but the percentage of our total media budget [on Facebook] is shrinking."

Trump's revenge tour has the House in its sights

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Contributor

In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.