Jun 26, 2017

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Another week. This one can't possibly be as crazy as last week. Right? Right???

John Deere Labs chief, on setting up shop in SF

John Deere has quietly opened its first technology office in the Bay Area, a hip little spot on Second Street in San Francisco's South of Market tech corridor.

For now, labs chief Alex Purdy has the place largely to himself, along with visiting colleagues. But he has room for 8-12 and is looking to hire in the areas of computer vision and machine learning.

Though relatively unknown in the tech industry, Deere has been a pioneer in self-driving technology, having had tractors capable of moving themselves for years now. It's just been doing the work from places like Des Moines, Iowa and Champaign, Ill.

But, Purdy says, Deere was already spending a lot of time in the Bay Area meeting with various partners. "We found ourselves renting hotel rooms quite a bit," said Purdy, a former Boston Consulting Group principal who joined Deere about a year ago.

By opening an office here, the company hopes to bring a little bit of the heartland to San Francisco, with plans to put a harvest simulator in the lobby.

"We've actually had three or four people knock on the glass," Purdy said, all asking "are you selling tractors here?"

The challenge to big tech in the AI war

Big tech is spending big in R&D, some of which is going toward artificial intelligence-related projects that many assume will win the AI wars. But it's not just about the technology and data: A startup's ingenious business model can be a tremendous equalizer. As Bloomberg Beta's James Cham tells us:

"So we need to find new companies that aren't just building great software, or executing against newer technical architectures. Instead, we are looking for startups that are answering questions that big companies can't deal with. I'm looking for the next fierce founder who deeply understands the technical aspects of AI, while being economically savvy enough to create a new way of doing business."

Kim has more here.

Tech marks LGBTQ Pride in its own nerdy way

Uber and Lyft colored their cars and routes in rainbow colors this past weekend, while Google Maps included directions to (and route maps of) the Trans March, Dyke March and Pride Parade.

Of course, lots of tech companies (Apple, Salesforce, Google, etc) marched in parades in San Francisco, New York and other cities that celebrate LGBTQ Pride on the last weekend in June. Google also transformed its booth at the Cannes Lions festival into a Pride celebration. And Twitter employees marched carrying signs with LGBTQ-themed tweets.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, visited the Heartland Pride Festival in Omaha, posting a picture and noting the Nebraska constitution banned gay marriage until recently. "Omaha is more welcoming, but we still have a long way to go," Zuckerberg wrote.

Apple veterans reminisce on the iPhone's 10th anniversary

There were four reviewers that got their hands on the iPhone before its 2007 release. As the iPhone turns 10, David Pogue, Walt Mossberg, Ed Baig and Steven Levy got together to collectively look back at that moment, and the decade that has followed the launch of the iPhone.

"We had two days between the time our review came out and the thing went on sale," remembered Baig. "I have never been more popular in my life. I wish I had this thing in high school, you know?"

If that isn't enough iReflection, the Wall Street Journal has a 10-minute documentary with former Apple executives Scott Forstall, Tony Fadell and Greg Christie offering their reflections on the milestone.

Sandberg takes on U.K. encryption skirmish

Sheryl Sandberg met with British Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Friday to tout Facebook's efforts to keep terrorists off its platform. Rudd has called for Facebook's WhatsApp to make its encrypted messages — like some allegedly sent between suspects in the recent Westminster attack — available to law enforcement. Sandberg again declined to do so, according to reports.

Encryption battle: Messages encrypted end-to-end are unreadable, even to the companies. That's led some to call for a "back door" that law enforcement could use to access messages, which the companies have resisted. (In Brazil, WhatsApp has been getting into skirmishes for years with local judges who want it to decrypt messages.)

The bigger picture: Encryption proponents say there's no real middle ground — that you can't have a back door and stay secure. Dealing with extremist activities online is one of the thorniest political problems for tech. That's why Apple used a ton of its capital fighting back against the FBI during the San Bernardino case and why Facebook is aggressively promoting their counter-extremism efforts.

Take Note

On Tap: Cisco Live starts today and runs through Wednesday. (For more on where Cisco is headed, check out this story from last week.)

Trading Places: Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren is planning to step down as CEO, according to Recode. ... Nest industrial designer Rocky Jacob is leaving for luxury goods maker LVMH, also per Recode. ... Former US Attorney Preet Bharara is joining his brother's media firm, Some Spider Studios, according to the New York Times.

ICYMI: Justin Caldbeck is out at Binary Capital amid allegations of sexual harassment; also leaving is Matt Mazzeo, who had recently joined the VC firm from Lowercase Capital. ... Pearl Automation, an auto firm started by ex-Apple engineers, is shutting down. ... Ad agency Leo Burnett got a Cannes Lion award for its awesome "Ostrich" ad for Samsung showing how VR could give flight to the flightless birds. ... The Justice Department is trying to get the Supreme Court to take on a key case in which U.S. law enforcement is seeking to force Microsoft to hand over email stored overseas.

After you Login

I rarely watch golf. And never willingly. But this shot from Jordan Speith and the epic celebration that followed are worth a watch.

Ina Fried