5 things you should know about tech today

- September 26, 2019 3 MIN READ

You gotta have faith… 


G’day Thursday! Two more sleeps until GWS wins their first AFL grand final.

Here’s what’s going down


1. Facebook has bought a startup that lets people control T̵h̵e̵ ̵E̵m̵p̵i̵r̵e̵ computers with their minds. 
Taking a break from controlling minds and emotions with ‘on this day’ reminders, the Zuckernistas are shelling out between US$500 million and $1bn (AU$740m-$1.48bn) – Facebook won’t confirm what it paid – for “neural interface platform” CTRL-Lab, which built a wristband that intercepts brain signals to your hand and interprets them into actions on a computer, or as Facebook VR president Andrew Bosworth puts it “captures your intention”.

Here’s Boz explaining it all in a Facebook post:

“They will be joining our Facebook Reality Labs team where we hope to build this kind of technology, at scale, and get it into consumer products faster.

“The vision for this work is a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement. Here’s how it’ll work: You have neurons in your spinal cord that send electrical signals to your hand muscles telling them to move in specific ways such as to click a mouse or press a button. The wristband will decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand, empowering you with control over your digital life.”

Lord Vader eat your heart out.


2.  “America’s most hated startup” is getting plenty of love.

Techcrunch has a great profile on Stockwell, a  ̶v̶e̶n̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶m̶a̶c̶h̶i̶n̶e̶  “unmanned pantry box” venture launched three years ago by two former Google veterans as Bodega, which was widely slammed as the next Juicero, alongside being a masterclass in what many saw as everything wrong with Silicon Valley. Fast forward two years, turns out Uber and GV (the former Google Ventures) were among those tipping US$35 million into the latest round and Stockwell is now in 1000s of locations on the US west coast.

Read more here.


3. Stackla’s not Robinson Crusoe in being punted from Facebook.

While the Australian social media marketing startup launched legal action is the US last week over being blocked from using Facebook’s public data, Zuckerstan has been on a massive purge in its follow up to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, suspending “tens of thousands of apps” from about 400 developers.

Facebook’s VP of Product Partnerships, Ime Archibong, delivered his best ‘we got this/nothing to see here/move along’ in an update on social media’s giant’s investigation and response by declaring: “This is not necessarily an indication that these apps were posing a threat to people. Many were not live but were still in their testing phase when we suspended them”.

In “many cases”, the suspensions occurred because developers did not respond to their requests for information, Archibong said.

Apps were banned completely “in a few cases”, he said, adding that “we have not confirmed other instances of misuse to date other than those we have already notified the public about, but our investigation is not yet complete”.

Among those banned is myPersonality, while Facebook launched legal action against South Korean data analytics company Rankwave, and developers LionMobi and JediMobi. 

More details here.


4. US exercise bike startup priced shares in its IPO at the top end at US$29. 

The “connected, technology-enabled fitness” startup sells US$2200 exercise bikes and $4000 treadmills and has around US$915 million in revenue. The float will issue 40 million Class A shares, raising US$1.16 billion on a valuation topping US$8 billion. Peleton hasn’t made a profit in three years. “PTON” will hit the US Nasdaq overnight, with plenty watching to see how the share price goes.


5. Angel investors speak out in Sydney tomorrow 

Investible’s Trevor Folsom, Jelix Ventures founder and CEO Andrea Gardiner, Follow [the] Seed founding partner and Jayride chairman Andrey Shirben and Kylie Frazer, co-founder of Eleanor Ventures, will reveal how they invest and offer tips to founders on how to attract angel investment in a panel chaired by Startup Daily editor Simon Thomsen at the Sydney Startup Hub tomorrow Friday, September 27. The hour-long discussion at 11am is the warm up act for the Techboard’s annual Australian Angel Awards. Tickets for both events, followed by lunch, are $25 and available from Eventbrite here.


BONUS ITEM: Surely the New York Stock Exchange wouldn’t troll Adam Neumann, the WeWork founder who overnight agreed to step down as CEO and surrender his majority voting control on the company’s stock.

Of course the advice in the link, from former Navy SEAL and investment banker, Jose Cobos, who now works for the NYSE, is worthwhile for all.

So let’s just call this subtweet of the year