Aug 23, 2017

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried


Three things you probably didn't know about Dolby

When you think of Dolby, you probably think of technology to make things sound better. And, licensing its technology still accounts for about 80% of the company's roughly $1 billion in annual revenue.

However, Dolby also has been working to ramp up its products and services business, which supplies audio and video technology for cinemas and all manner of consumer devices. On Tuesday, the company invited reporters to check out some of its latest efforts at the Dolby headquarters in San Francisco.

3 things Dolby is working on that caught my eye:

Laptop speakers: Dolby showed its Atmos technology running in a cinema and on fancy home theater products, but I was most impressed by the sound that Dolby managed to cram into a tiny 13-inch Huawei laptop.

Outfitting nightclubs and remixing classic albums: Dolby has a new but growing business adding surround sound to nightclubs, having retrofitted London's Ministry of Sound and Chicago's Sound-Bar.

  • Dolby also has worked with Universal Music Group to bring its Atmos technology to Abbey Road to remix the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club." At the media event, Dolby revealed that it has outfitted a studio in Capitol Records in Hollywood and is using the technology on R.E.M.'s "Automatic for the People."
  • It's unclear how the remix will be distributed. Sgt. Pepper's was played at Dolby Cinemas in the U.S. and Canada so Automatic for the People could get a similar treatment, but in theory Universal could also release it for playback on Atmos-capable TVs via streaming or compatible Blu-Ray players.

Not just sound: Dolby is also pushing Dolby Vision, a technology for improved color and dynamic range in TVs. The technology can be found on high-end TVs, but also on a $650 set from China's TCL.

  • "We think we've made as big an impact there as we have on the audio side," Bob Borchers, Dolby's chief marketing officer, says.
#blessed: Hashtag turns 10

Today is the 10th anniversary of the first Twitter hashtag, Sara reports.

Flashback: The first hashtag was #barcamp, sent by former Google designer Chris Messina, in reference to a user-generated conferencing group he had helped create called BarCamp. Messina tweeted the hashtag as a recommendation for Twitter to create groups by automatically adding hyperlink metadata to any word that followed the "#" symbol.

  • Twitter initially rejected the idea, saying hashtags were for "nerds," but eventually adopted the hashtag into its code in 2009.

Why it matters: Hashtags have become a huge part of internet culture and language. Studies have suggested that nearly 3/4 of all internet users use hashtags to communicate. And hashtags have also spread to other internet platforms, like Facebook, which adopted the feature in 2013.

The power of #:

125 million hashtags are tweeted per day on average, according to Twitter.#ThrowbackThursday and #tbt have been tweeted 120 million times and #ootd has been tweeted over 2 million times.5 of the most-used hashtags over the past decade originate from fans tweeting during award shows. #MTVHottest, #MTVStars, #KCA, #iHeartAwards and #BestFanArmy have all been used over 3 billion times.More of the most-tweeted entertainment hashtags: #TheWalkingDead for television shows and #StarWars for movies.Some of the most popular hashtags tweeted for sporting events: #WorldCup for global sporting events, #SuperBowl for U.S. sporting events, #NFL for sports leagues, and #MUFC for teams.

Immigration policies all too real for this Y Combinator startup

Changes to U.S. immigration policies may be abstract for many people, but for one startup, it was a very real roadblock. Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel said that two of the three founders of a company in the latest cohort couldn't get the necessary visa to attend this summer's program. (He declined to provide more details about the startup to protect the founders' privacy.) A growing problem: Immigration policies are incredibly consequential for Silicon Valley — many of its most successful entrepreneurs have been immigrants or children of immigrants. And it's a particular problem for Y Combinator, which has made huge efforts recently to recruit startups internationally for its accelerator. In this latest cohort, 28% of the companies were not from the U.S., representing 16 other countries from around the world. Rule delay: President Trump's recent decision to delay the Obama-era International Entrepreneur Rule, which would have made it easier for foreign startup founders to run their companies in the U.S., has been a particular disappointment for the tech industry. One possible response: Law firm Mayer Brown is currently exploring potentially challenging the delay. The firm has reached out to Y Combinator and the tech community to learn more about its impact on the industry though there's nothing concrete under way yet, Mayer Brown partner Paul Hughes tells Axios.

The problem with Big Data

We hear all the time about how great Big Data is going to be for making sense of our world. The problem is that algorithms are only as good as their flawed human creators, and, too often, they just codify bias.

One perspective: Mathematician and data scientist Cathy O'Neil has coined the term "weapons of math destruction" for algorithms, which she notes are being used to make all kinds of key decisions regarding schooling, employment, and access to financial resources.

O'Neil gave an important TED talk on the subject earlier this year, which is definitely worth a watch.

Herbst: Newspapers' antitrust exemption request is a long shot

Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst said Tuesday that he doesn't have high hopes for the antitrust exemption newspapers want to negotiate a better deal with Facebook and Google.

"First of all, I don't think it's going to happen in the current environment," Herbst said at the Technology Policy Institute's annual conference, which David attended. "And it was bad luck for the News Media Alliance that the Democrats then just came out a few weeks later with their platform — it featured, if anything, a skepticism of concentration in all its forms."

Reminder: The Democrats' "Better Deal" package contains recommendations for strengthening antitrust laws, not weakening them as an exemption would do, albeit in an minor way.

Why it matters:

Questions are swirling about the power that the big tech platforms have over content publishers as legacy media outlets continue to struggle. It also feeds into the larger debate over whether the biggest tech firms are too powerful overall, especially when it comes to online advertising.

Take note

On tap: Samsung is due to launch the Galaxy Note 8 this morning at an event in New York...HP Inc. reports earnings after the markets close.

Trading places: Former Uber president of ride sharing Jeff Jones was named CEO of tax preparer H&R Block...GoDaddy announced that CEO Blake Irving plans to retire and will be succeeded by current President/COO Scott Wagner.

ICYMI: To mark the 9th anniversary of the original Uber idea, read the original Uber pitch deck...Google and Walmart announced a tie-up late Tuesday that will see the search giant offering Walmart products for order via Google Express shopping and Google Assistant. Google Express is also dropping membership and shipping charges in some cases...The NYT takes a look at Apple's scaled-back car ambitions, with some interesting tidbits, including that Apple once studied the use of spherical wheels to allow for more lateral movement...Backup provider Crashplan is ending its consumer service, leaving current customers to look for alternatives...Brazilian antitrust authorities are challenging AT&T's plan to take over Time Warner.

After you Login

In case you were wondering.

Ina Fried