Technology

Why it matters: From the Valley to D.C., Big Tech players like Facebook, Google and Amazon are under more scrutiny than ever as new technology develops and privacy and antitrust concerns grow in lockstep with companies’ ambitions.

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Report: Nokia exploring merger or asset sales

Photo: Nokia

Finnish network gear-maker Nokia has hired advisers to consider merger possibilities, asset sales or other strategic alternatives, according to a report Wednesday from Bloomberg.

Why it matters: Although Nokia has been struggling amid intense competition, it is one of only a handful of companies that make gear for 5G and other cellular networks, an area of increasing geopolitical focus and concern.

Microsoft says PC unit will fall short of guidance due to coronavirus

Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Microsoft does not expect its PC unit, which includes Windows and Surface, to meet its previous quarterly revenue guidance due to the impact of the coronavirus on computer production, the company said in a Wednesday statement.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ina Fried: It's PC supply, not demand, that is below expectations, as the supply chain — much of which is in China — has been slower to return to full production.

The megatrends that will shape the 21st century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

An enormous amount of change has been crammed into the first two decades of the 21st century — but what’s coming next will break every speed record.

The big picture: The world is being buffeted by rapid yet uneven advances in technology that will revamp work and what it means to be human. At the same time, fundamental demographic changes will alter democracies and autocracies alike while the effects of climate change accumulate, physically redrawing our globe.

Report: Full list of Clearview AI's law enforcement clients stolen

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Controversial facial recognition startup Clearview AI told its customers that its complete list of clients, which includes law enforcement agencies all over the country, was stolen in a data breach, The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: An intruder gaining access to Clearview's client list will likely trigger alarm bells for both would-be customers and privacy advocates, who have already denounced the company following a New York Times report on Clearview culling more than 3 billion images from websites like Facebook to create its database.

Why Amazon's bigger Go grocery stores matter

An Amazon Go store in Seattle. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

With the opening of its first large-format cashier-less grocery store in Seattle on Tuesday, Amazon is on its way to further expanding its physical footprint across U.S. cities.

The big picture: Amazon’s 2017 purchase of Whole Foods was never the end of its grocery ambitions — or its fight to win a bigger share of the whopping $700 billion per year American grocery industry. With its own network of stores, Amazon could attract shoppers looking for cheaper prices than Whole Foods and dramatically grow its brick-and-mortar reach.

San Jose approves first step to connect 50,000 unserved residents to broadband

Street scene in San Jose, California. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.

The San Jose City Council approved the first batch of community grants as part of the city's Digital Inclusion Fund intended to connect unserved residents to broadband.

Why it matters: The Digital Inclusion Fund was established a year ago during negotiations with 5G providers wanting to erect small cell antennas on city infrastructure. A portion of lease revenue collected from telecom companies goes into the fund — along with significant private funding — to help connect unserved residents.

Google to invest $10 billion in state operations

Google Chicago Headquarters in Fulton Market in Chicago, Illinois this month. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images.

Google is doubling down on investments in offices and data centers around the country, pledging Wednesday to spend $10 billion this year on top of the $13 billion in 2019 it spent expanding its footprint across the country.

The big picture: Google is growing its presence across the country as lawmakers and state attorneys general scrutinize its power.

Tech can't remember what to do in a down market

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Wall Street's two-day-old coronavirus crash is a wakeup alarm for Silicon Valley.

The big picture: Tech has been booming for so long the industry barely remembers what a down market feels like — and most companies are ill-prepared for one.

Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block steps down

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Keith Block is stepping down as co-CEO of Salesforce, leaving co-founder Marc Benioff as the sole chief executive of the company once again.

The big picture: Block, who joined the company in 2013 from Oracle, was promoted to co-CEO less than two years ago to give Benioff more time to focus on other interests. Block will stay on as an adviser to Benioff, the company said.

Meanwhile: Salesforce separately agreed Tuesday to buy Vlocity, which makes cloud-based apps that run on Salesforce's signature platform, for $1.33 billion.

With no Mobile World Congress, product announcements start rolling in

Inside the Mobile World Congress (MWC) pavilion in Barcelona, Spain during the dismantling of the stands following the cancellation of the fair due to the coronavirus crisis and company cancellations. Photo: David Zorrakino/Europa Press via Getty Images

With the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, many tech companies now have lots of products to announce and no physical place to do it. The result has been a flurry of press releases and webcasts designed to replace planned in-person gatherings. In the last 24 hours or so, Intel, Sony and Huawei have all announced new products and components.

Why it matters: The show was to have been a key launching point for a number of products, including several high-end 5G-capable phones.

"Facebook: The Inside Story" paints a revealing portrait of the tech giant

Penguin Random House

Tech writer Steven Levy's new book, "Facebook: The Inside Story," goes on sale on Tuesday. He told Axios his reporting for the 583-page tome, which he started working on in 2015, took a dramatic turn after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and revelations following the 2016 election.

Why it matters: Since Levy already had a seat inside the company when its broader problems arose, he was on the frontlines as Facebook scrambled to address an onslaught of challenges posed by policymakers in Washington and elsewhere.

Exclusive: Global trust in the tech industry is slipping

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The backlash against Big Tech has long flourished among pundits and policymakers, but a new survey suggests it's beginning to show up in popular opinion as well.

Driving the news: New data from Edelman out Tuesday finds that trust in tech companies is declining and that people trust cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence less than they do the industry overall.

House Democrat takes aim at tech liability shield over false ads

Rep. David Cicilline. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

The chair of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is preparing a bill that would remove liability protections from tech platforms that don't take down false political ads, Bloomberg Law reported Monday.

The big picture: Facebook's policy of not fact-checking political ads has angered Democrats, and tinkering with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes internet platforms from lawsuits over user-posted material, has become an increasingly popular threat for lawmakers looking to bring Big Tech to heel.

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