Thursday, April 25, 2019

Tech: YouTube is pushing back against a new EU copyright law, which it says...

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki voiced her opposition to new EU copyright legislation in a Financial Times op-ed.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki voiced her opposition to new EU copyright legislation in a Financial Times op-ed.
Specifically she took aim at the draft directive’s article 13, which would force online platforms to censor content that breaches copyright.
Wojcicki says article 13 is an unrealistic way of policing copyright, and would deny European users access to lots of videos on YouTube.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times on Monday arguing against tough new online copyright laws the European Parliament is trying to push through.
Wojcicki specifically takes issue with article 13 of the EU’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which would force platforms like YouTube or Reddit to monitor for content that breaches copyright and take it down, or else face financial penalties. When it was first drafted, article 13 became famous as some thought it might pose an existential threat to memes.
Article 13 is part of legislation which was initially blocked in July, but the European Parliament backed the amended legislation in September. It still faces a final vote in early 2019.
In her article Wojcicki claims that enforcement of Article 13 would bankrupt YouTube’s “creator economy,” and asks that policymakers re-examine how best to protect copyright.
“While we support the goals of article 13, the European Parliament’s current proposal will create unintended consequences that will have a profound impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people,” she writes.
She says that enforcement of the law is unrealistic because it doesn’t take into account that sometimes people dispute copyright ownership. She uses the music video for “Despacito” — which has now amassed over 5 billion views since it was uploaded in January 2017 — as an example.
“This video contains multiple copyrights, ranging from sound recording to publishing rights. Although YouTube has agreements with multiple entities to license and pay for the video, some of the rights holders remain unknown. That uncertainty means we might have to block videos like this to avoid liability under article 13,” she says.
She argues that European users would miss out on videos which YouTube would be forced to censor for fear of financial risk.
Business Insider has contacted the European Parliament for comment.
You can also read Wojcicki’s article in this blog post.

Tech: Netflix’s unwillingness to bend on demands killed its chances to get major Oscar...

Netflix is taking its first major leap into exclusive theatrical releases of its original movies with Oscar contender, “Roma.” However, movie theaters like Alamo Drafthouse are pushing back.
The popular Alamo Drafthouse chain will not be showing Netflix’s “Roma.”
The Oscar contender will be one of the first original Netflix movies to have an exclusive theatrical run before it streams.
After weeks of negotiations between Netflix and Drafthouse to show the movie at its Brooklyn, New York location, the theater chain finally felt the streaming giant put too many “restrictions and guidelines” on them, a source close to the negotiations told Business Insider.
The movie will instead be shown at New York City’s IFC Center, and is locking other locations to show the movie across the country.
Netflix wants to keep its powerhouse directors happy going into Oscar season, but one of the first theatrical runs for its original movies with a big name helmer has hit a snag.
Alamo Drafthouse, one of the most prominent independently owned movie chains in the US, will not be showing Netflix’s Oscar contender, “Roma,” a source close to negotiations between the chain and streaming giant told Business Insider. A source close to Netflix confirmed that Alamo Drafthouse had passed on the movie.
At the end of October, Netflix began to dramatically change course on how it released Oscar-contending movies. Reports surfaced that for the first time Netflix would stop its “day-and-date” model — in which the movie premieres in theaters and on Netflix the same day — and give exclusive theatrical runs of around 1-3 weeks for not just Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” but two other of its anticipated movies, the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” and Susanne Bier’s “Bird Box” starring Sandra Bullock.
Alamo Drafthouse was one of the reported chains in the mix to show “Roma.” But Netflix’s terms on how the movie would be released, and how often, led to the popular chain passing on the anticipated title, according to the source.
While “Buster Scruggs” and “Bird Box” are reportedly getting around one-week runs at select theaters before they are available to stream on Netflix, the company wants to pull out all the stops for “Roma,” which out of the three has the best chance to win Oscars in the major categories, including best picture.
Along with around a 3-4 week run for the movie, Netflix is specifically looking for theaters that can show the movie with Dolby Atmos sound or in 70mm.
As even four weeks is shorter than the traditional 90-day window that the major chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark want movies to be shown in theaters, Netflix knows it cannot go to them. That leaves the streaming giant to depend on the mid-level chains and independently owned arthouses.
Alamo Drafthouse and Netflix had been in discussions for weeks about showing “Roma,” specifically at the chain’s Brooklyn, New York location, which could show the movie in 70mm. It’s one of the only theaters in the city that can pull that off.
Netflix was stringent on its terms, according to the source, which included that “Roma” have a full four-week run with all the screenings show in 70mm. The company also planned to four-wall the theaters, meaning Netflix would be renting the theater from Drafthouse. (It plans to do this at all the locations where the movies will be played.) This is an unconventional move in the industry, where typically the movie theater splits the box office with the distributor.
Though Drafthouse was willing to show “Roma” at its Brooklyn location, it does not four-wall. Also, the 70mm projector at the location is in its biggest auditorium, meaning that for four weeks the movie would take up its prime space, with Drafthouse unable to schedule in any other titles. That’s a tough ask in a time of year when every weekend a new big movie is about to hit theaters.
“Just way too many restrictions and guidelines,” the source told Business Insider.
“Roma” will now be screened in New York at Manhattan’s IFC Center beginning November 21, IFC confirmed to Business Insider. That theater does not have capabilities to show the movie in 70mm.
Alamo Drafthouse is not the only theater, outside of the majors, to pass on the Netflix offer. Business Insider has reached out to multiple arthouses that said they eventually passed on showing “Roma” due to the terms of Netflix. These include some that would have gotten the movie following its exclusive theatrical run, after the movie began streaming on Netflix December 14.
“Terms are not too high, but higher than it should be for a movie that’s streaming at the same time,” one theater owner told Business Insider.
Other theaters told Business Insider they would love to show the movie but don’t have a venue that can accommodate Netflix’s terms.
“It’s complicated by Netflix’s insistence that theaters have Dolby Atmos, an extremely expensive sound system that very few theaters can afford,” another theater owner said.

Tech: What you need to know in advertising today

Everything that you need to know in advertising today, from marketers’ reactions to Vice Media to Amazon’s competition with Roku in streaming video. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday, Vice Media’s revenue is expected to be flat relative to last year, at $600 to $650 million. The report also outlined the company’s dip in Comscore traffic and challenges growing its advertising business, which relies on selling advertisers sponsored content that mimics editorial articles.
In short, living up to its eye-popping $5.7 billion valuation is proving to be a challenge for Vice. On Thursday, Disney, which is one of Vice’s biggest backers, said it had taken a $157 million write-down on its original $400 million investment, equivalent to a 40% decline.
Click here to read about what marketers are saying about Vice Media.
In other news:
‘His comments are illogical’: Analysts say Disney CEO Bob Iger’s plan to raise Hulu prices is out of step with customer demand. On Disney’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday, CEO Bob Iger said he saw “price elasticity” around Hulu with Live TV, the company’s digital-TV bundle. Analysts don’t agree.
Amazon’s got its eyes set on yet another market — and one high-flying upstart should be worried. In the broader streaming-video market, Amazon is emerging as the chief rival to Roku, according to a note from Morgan Stanley.
Facebook just launched a standalone video app called Lasso and it’s basically the exact same thing as TikTok. Lasso is a social video app that caps posts to 15 seconds and lets creators add their favorite songs to play in the background.
‘We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world’: Victoria’s Secret fires back at critics who say it excludes plus-size shoppers. The brand has frequently come under fire for excluding plus-size customers from its ad campaigns and only featuring rail-thin models.
SAP is buying Utah-based startup Qualtrics for $8 billion — days before it’s scheduled to IPO. Qualtrics is a Utah-based startup that helps companies gather feedback and refine their products.
Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon has agreed to purchase Fortune magazine for $150 million in cash, reports the Wall Street Journal. After selling Time to Salesforce cofounder Marc Benioff in September, Meredith still has Money and Sports Illustrated up for sale.

Tech: Konga’s acquisition reveals how innovation and startups suffer under economies with weak infrastructure

Konga’s acquisition shows how entrepreneurs face an uphill task trying to push startups in economic environments where grave infrastructural gaps exist. Konga’s acquisition shows how entrepreneurs face an uphill task trying to push startups in economic environments where grave infrastructural gaps exist.Before understanding Konga’s decline, it is important to first appreciate that the business, despite being a little too ambitious in a difficult market, was no less a viable project from a business perspective.Konga did not prove its model in a few cities before bullishly rolling out across Nigeria in its effort to win market share.On the 3rd of February 2018, there was a collective sigh of sadness around Nigeria as Konga, West Africa’s largest e-commerce platform was acquired by Zinox Group—a local ICT conglomerate.The sigh was not for the acquisition itself, which in fact has kept Konga from completely going under, but for the fact that five years after its founder, Simdul Shagaya birthed the business, what seemed like a disruptive player in Nigeria’s business ecosystem had slowly tapered off. By 2014, two years after the company’s establishment, Simdul earned himself a place on the Forbes list of “10 Most Powerful Men in Africa.” Such was his foresight and such was the respect accorded to the idea of Konga.Entrepreneurs face an uphill task trying to push startups in economic environments where grave infrastructural gaps exist. While innovators in the private sector can inspire economic growth through FDIs, they cannot replace the role of the government in creating infrastructure for innovation to thrive.For one to understand how it all started to go wrong for Konga, this is a good starting point. Here was a solid innovation with a lot of promise, but which, following a few years of boom, began to stutter under the weight of economic shocks and infrastructural deficits. Before understanding Konga’s decline, it is important to first appreciate that the business, despite being a little too ambitious in a difficult market, was no less a viable project from a business perspective. At the time of Konga’s inception, e-commerce sales raked in over $2 trillion globally, and the sector was projected to grow to $4.48 trillion by 2021.In Nigeria, 18 million people were using smartphones, 91.6 million of them were on the Internet, and over 16 million of them had Facebook accounts. What is more, Nigeria was Africa’s biggest market. In other words, for Konga, the numbers looked good.Also Read:  Econet is shutting down Kwese TV as we know it, proving just how hard it is to build a pay-TV platform in AfricaIt was no surprise that Konga was able to secure about $130 million from two venture capital firms, one of which was Omidyar Network, a global funder which have also invested in other Nigerian startups like BudgIT, Andela, and Flutterwave. So why did Konga stutter after what seemed like a bright start? Did it try to expand too fast? Patrick Okigbo III, a Nigerian business analyst, says that this was where the cracks emerged. Konga did not prove its model in a few cities before bullishly rolling out across Nigeria in its effort to win market share.The company amassed huge operational costs by setting up warehouses across Nigeria to be able to serve its customers, it built its own order-fulfilment infrastructure against a background of a highly price-sensitive mass-market.If there was ever a chance that the company would survive the pilling overhead cost and break even, it was denied such a fighting chance by Nigeria’s low economic tide which began in the fourth quarter of 2015. Collapsed oil prices in a rentier state like Nigeria meant that the economy took a sharp decline, squeezing household income, and inevitably the decline of many businesses—of which Konga itself was not left out.In a price sensitive industry which it operates in, not only did people’s spending habits become restricted but they would feel comfortable shopping in places where prices were not fixed in order to strike a bargain.Also Read: There are about 207 private equity firms in Sub-Saharan Africa and this is how they’re investingYet an even more insidious though unspoken challenge was security. Often when infrastructure is discussed, transport, telecom, ICT, are the first to come to mind, yet without security, businesses lose money in Nigeria.For example, the March 2017 killing of the deliveryman of Jumia, a rival e-commerce business in Rivers State must have partly accounted for the closure of the Pay-on-Delivery (PoD) option, added to complaints by sellers who were worried that people returned goods without reasonable justifications.Konga would also retrench 60% of its workforce soon afterwards in order to minimise its operational cost. At any rate, whatever problems the removal of PoD must have stopped, it would have nonetheless wiped out a sizeable percentage of its customer base as a good number of people are either not too literate to handle card transactions or are still too wary of the risks.The point has to be reiterated, however, that there is no substitute to providing basic and decent infrastructure, if entrepreneurs and businesses where to thrive anywhere.In the absence of a decent nationwide infrastructure, Konga had expanded its operations to capture a larger market share as quick as possible. In doing so, it tried to play the role of a business and a government at the same time. It could have survived on a leaner business model if Nigeria had an efficient postal service system which businesses like Amazon and Ebay leverage on in Europe and America and other advanced economies. Instead, with the comatose state of the Nigerian Postal Service, Konga had to go out of its way to build its own postal infrastructure known as KOS.They also had to build a warehouse to keep the goods between time of arrival and delivery to final destination. In the end, their operations became overstretched and untenable.The story of Konga is a reminder that without a strong infrastructure base, every startup suffers. And every innovator finds themselves ascending a high, if not unclimbable mountain.Obinwanne Okeke is the chairman and CEO of Invictus Group of Companies, a conglomerate involved in agriculture, construction, oil and gas, real estate, renewable energy, and telecoms.

Tech: Samsung’s foldable phone might arrive in March for a whopping $1,770

Citing industry sources, South Korean news agency Yonhap News says the phone will be released with the 5G edition of the Galaxy S10.
Samsung will reportedly release its foldable smartphone in March, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap news.
Yonhap reports that the name of the phone would be, “Galaxy F,” a name which has been rumoured for the device before.
It also says that “industry watchers” guess the phone will cost $1,770.
Samsung is reportedly getting ready to release its highly anticipated foldable phone in March 2019 for over $1,700, South Korean news agency Yonhap reports.
The book-like folding display was first unveiled by Samsung a week ago. While the display was dubbed “Infinity Flex,” Samsung didn’t reveal the name for the phone itself. Yonhap’s report says it will be named the “Galaxy F,” which was already rumoured to a potential name for the device along with “Galaxy X.”
Read more: Take a look at this video of Samsung’s new foldable smartphone in action
Citing industry sources, Yonhap says Samsung will launch the folding phone alongside the 5G edition of its Galaxy S10 phone.
It also says that “industry watchers” estimate the phone’s sale price at around 2 million won, equivalent to $1,770. The CEO of Samsung DJ Koh reportedly said last week that Samsung will ship at least 1 million of the devices.
The reports are still largely speculative, and Business Insider has contacted Samsung for comment.

Tech: The world’s biggest tech investor will target a $21 billion IPO in December

The IPO is set at 2.4 trillion yen, roughly $21 billion dollars, making it one of the biggest IPOs ever.
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is launching an initial public offering (IPO) of its mobile division in December.
The IPO is set at 2.4 trillion yen, roughly $21 billion, making it one of the biggest floats ever.
SoftBank is known for its investments in tech, many of which are done through its Saudi-backed Vision Fund.
SoftBank has been granted approval for an initial public offering of its telecoms division at 2.4 trillion yen ($21.04 billion), a filing showed on Monday.
A new entity called SoftBank Corp will list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in December 19, and the price will be set on December 10.
The company is selling 1.6 billion SoftBank Corp shares at 1,500 yen each, with the parent company holding on to a 66.5 % stake. An anonymous source told Reuters that more than 80% of the shares will be offered to domestic retail investors.
The IPO is already being reported as one of the “biggest IPOs ever.” SoftBank is famous as an investor in tech, with its $98 billion Vision Fund injecting huge amounts of capital into companies such as Uber and WeWork.
The float will give SoftBank an additional injection of cash as chief executive Masayoshi Son looks to power more tech deals.
Read more: SoftBank’s Saudi-backed Vision Fund is raising another $4 billion
SoftBank’s shares took a big hit in October due to its ties to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
In November SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son decried Khashoggi’s murder but defended the Vision Fund, roughly half of which is backed with money from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Tech: Facebook won’t force employees to settle sexual harassment claims privately thanks to the...

Facebook changed its company policy to eliminate required arbitration a day after Google made the same change.
Facebook is ending a policy of required arbitration in cases of sexual harassment at the company.
The policy requires employees to give up their right to sue.
This change came a day after Google also ended the practice, following demands from employees protesting sexual misconduct.
Forced arbitration has become a sensitive issue and has been interpreted as a way for companies to shield themselves from sexual misconduct claims being made public.
Facebook is putting an end to required arbitration in cases of sexual harassment, allowing employees to pursue claims in court.
Facebook announced the policy change in an internal message to staff on Friday. It also changed its policy on office relationships — now executives at a director level or higher must disclose if they are dating somebody at the company.
The change came a day after Google changed its policy to end required arbitration, which was a demand made when 20,000 Google staff walked away from their desks to protest sexual harassment at the company.
The Google protest followed a New York Times report which revealed high-level executives were credibly accused of sexual misconduct and had been allowed to leave the company with huge exit packages.
Read more: Here’s the memo Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent to employees on the changes to Google’s sexual-harassment policy after the walkout
The organisers behind the Google protest hailed Facebook’s decision on Twitter:
Required arbitration forces employees to settle disputes privately, precluding them from taking suits to court. The process has been criticised as being weighted against employees, and making it harder for people to band together in class actions. Facebook’s move means its employees now have a choice between going to an arbitrator or making their claims public in court.
Other Silicon Valley companies have got rid of required arbitration in the past, including Uber in May and Microsoft in December 2017.
“There’s no question that we’re at a pivotal moment,” Facebook’s vice president of people Lori Goler told the Wall Street Journal.
“This is a time when we can be part of taking the next step,” she added, and confirmed that while Facebook staff haven’t staged protests like their counterparts at Google, sexual harassment has been a growing topic of discussion at the company.
Business Insider contacted Facebook for comment.

Tech: 10 things in tech you need to know today

SAP will buy Qualtrics for $8 billion, Facebook drops forced arbitration, and Google employees want the firm to end racial discrimination.
Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday.
German enterprise software giant SAP is to buy feedback company Qualtrics for $8 billion, just days before its IPO. Qualtrics was on track for an IPO that would have valued the company at $4.8 billion in the middle of its price range.
Facebook has followed Google and dropped forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases involving employees. The move follows an unprecedented global protest from Google employees earlier this month.
Famed tech investor Mary Meeker is aiming to raise about $1.25 billion for her new growth fund. Meeker, a longtime partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, recently split off from the firm to create her own growth fund.
Apttus is scrambling to calm employees and partners following accusations of sexual misconduct against its former CEO. David Murphy, the chairman and interim CEO, told staff on Monday that he had to address the concerns of people like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Japan’s SoftBank plans to take its mobile unit public at a $21 billion IPO. The unit will be listed on December 19.
Roku’s investors may not have been pleased with the company’s third-quarter earnings report, but CEO Anthony Wood insists that everything’s going just fine. Despite beating expectations, investors found the results disappointing, sending Roku’s stock down 12% in after-hours exchanges Wednesday.
Medium founder Ev Williams needs more money for the blogging service, which he says is still not profitable. He said: “We are coming out of this phase where it was assumed that the best quality journalism is free in unlimited quantities.”
Alibaba had the biggest online shopping day of all time, nearly tripling every company’s 2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined. Alibaba made e-commerce history on Sunday, with $30.8 billion in sales over the last 24 hours as part of the company’s massiveSingles’ Day celebration.
After a victory on sexual harassment, the Google walkout protesters have turned their attention to racial discrimination. They say Google must address issues of “systemic racism and discrimination.”
Twitter is struggling to curb fake Elon Musk accounts promoting cryptocurrency scams. Cryptocurrency scammers are pretending to be Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter, and some of their tweets are being promoted onto timelines through Twitter’s ad service.
Have an Amazon Alexa device? Now you can hear 10 Things in Tech each morning. Just search for “Business Insider” in your Alexa’s flash briefing settings.

Tech: Death toll rises to 31, thousands of homes destroyed in 3 dangerous wildfires...

Dangerous wildfires are raging California. The Camp Fire has charred 109,000 acres, the Hill Fire burned 4,500, and the Woolsey Fire scorched 83,000.
The death toll from the still-raging California wildfires has risen to 31 after six more bodies were recovered on Sunday, the Butte County sheriff said.
The Woolsey and Hill fires are burning on the outskirts of LA, and now stretch more than 100 square miles across the area, authorities said.
The Camp Fire in northern California destroyed an entire town in less than a day and has killed at least 29 people. Authorities said it was 25% contained by Sunday morning.
The flames are being fueled by dry, hot conditions as well as strong winds.
California wildfires are becoming so frequent and pervasive that officials there say there’s almost no need for the term “wildfire season” anymore.
Three dangerous wildfires are raging in California.
The Butte County Sheriff announced on Sunday that six additional bodies were recovered, bringing the death toll of all three fires to 31 so far, and it’s expected to rise, fire officials told The Associated Press.
The Camp Fire, in northern California, started Thursday morning and quickly charred the entire town of Paradise, which is home to 27,000.
The flames grew so fast — at a pace of 80 football fields per minute — that four people were burned to death in their cars, the Butte County sheriff Korey Honea told the Associated Press. One deceased person was found near a vehicle.
Authorities announced Saturday that two people were found dead in Malibu after the Woolsey and Hill fires raged over 100 square miles of Southern California.
As of 7 a.m. PT on Sunday, the Camp Fire had burned 109,000 acres and was 25% contained.
More than 6,700 structures were destroyed. The Camp Fire is now considered the most destructive wildfire in California history in terms of the number of structures destroyed.
To the south, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, two smaller fires also started Thursday and are now creating havoc for drivers and forcing homeowners to flee. The Woolsey and Hill Fires are burning through parts of Ventura and LA counties. The flames have threatened the homes of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and shut down stretches of the 101 freeway.
By Sunday morning, CalFire reported the Woolsey Fire had burned over 83,000 acres and was 10% contained, and the Hill Fire had burned over 4,500 acres and was 70% contained.
Inside the city limits of LA, another smaller fire broke out Friday morning in Griffith Park near the zoo. Firefighters scrambled to reach the area by helicopter since the area was not accessible by truck. The fire scorched about 30 acres before it was fully extinguished Friday.
Southern California fire officials say the flames have burned at least 180 structures. They say that number is likely to increase.
Already this year, 7,578 fires have burned across California, fueled by hot, dry conditions and aggressive winds.
Camp Fire kills at least 29 people
The Camp Fire started about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. So far, more than 6,700 structures have burned, and thousands more are threatened.
According to the Butte County sheriff’s office, five of the people whose deaths have been confirmed were found near Edgewood Lane in Paradise, California, in or near “vehicles that were overcome by the Camp Fire.” The sheriff’s office was not yet able to identify those victims because of their burn injuries. Other residents ran from the fire, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the county is working with anthropologists from California State University at Chico to help identify bone fragments among ash in the area.
Fire officials told the Associated Press that 228 people were still unaccounted for in the massive wildfire.
The blaze has destroyed more than 6,700 buildings, nearly all of them homes, as it grew to 170 square miles, Cal Fire said.
Cal Fire spokesman Bill Murphy warned that gusty winds on Monday could spark “explosive fire behavior,” according to The Associated Press.
California Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Butte County because of the Camp Fire Thursday, and sent a letter to President Donald Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking for federal assistance.
Smoke from that fire is blanketing wide swaths of Northern California in a gray haze. On Friday morning, people in San Francisco woke up to the smell of smoke and poor air quality, and some donned masks to protect their lungs.
Federal air monitors have suggested that older adults, children, teens, and people with heart and lung conditions should limit their time outside because of the high number of dangerously small pollutants in the air. The air in San Francisco right now is as bad as Beijing, CBS reported.
Hill and Woolsey fires swallow 100 square miles in Ventura and LA counties
Authorities announced Saturday two people were found dead near Mulholland Highway in Malibu Los Angeles County sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said.
The bodies were found in a driveway in celebrity-studded Malibu, The Associated Press reported. Benedict did not explain further, saying detectives are investigating.
Late Friday night, fire officials downgraded the Hill Fire to 4,500 acres burned in Ventura County, and mandatory evacuation orders are in place for people at the Point Mugu Naval Base and California State University Channel Islands, among other areas. The blaze was 70% contained as of Sunday morning.
The Woolsey Fire (the one that forced Kim and Kourtney Kardashian out of their homes) has charred 129 square miles, and CalFire said the blaze was only 10% contained as of 7 a.m. PT on Sunday.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in areas including Malibu, Topanga, and Thousand Oaks (the same city where a mass shooter killed 12 people on Wednesday), the LA Times reported.
“Imminent threat! Malibu lakes residents must leave area immediately,” the LA County fire department wrote on Twitter Friday morning.
Shortly after noon on Friday, the City of Malibu said on its website that the “fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu. All residents must evacuate immediately.” LA County Sheriff’s Deputies were knocking on doors there, telling everyone in the star-studded beach town to get out.
You can view the full evacuation orders on the Ventura County Emergency Information site and the LA County Woolsey Fire site.
As a result of the blazes, 250,000 people in Ventura and LA counties had been evacuated as of Friday night, the Times said.
By Friday evening, about 75% of the Ventura County city of Thousand Oaks had been abandoned, fire officials said according to the Associated Press.
Firefighters are racing to keep flames from charring people’s homes, but as the LA Fire Department’s Eric Scott pointed out on Twitter, some houses are better protected than others, since green vegetation can help keep flames back.
On Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the two fires broke out, acting Gov. Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Read More: Why wildfire season is getting longer and stronger
The fires forced the 101 freeway to shut down in a couple different areas.
In Ventura County, a nine-mile southbound stretch from Wendy Drive to Lewis Road where the Hill Fire raged, was closed. In LA County, a section of the freeway from the Mulholland Drive/Valley Circle Boulevard exit to Reyes Adobe Road was closed to traffic both ways after flames from the Woolsey Fire jumped across the highway.
Many of the Ventura County public schools closed on Friday, as well as Pepperdine University, Moorpark Community College, California State University Channel Islands, and Cal Lutheran University.
Wildfire “season,” in California used to run from late summer through the fall, since autumn’s Santa Ana winds help blow flames around.
But as the planet heats up, unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions are becoming more common. So fire officials in the state are succumbing to the idea that fires may not be limited to any specific season anymore.
Bryan Logan and Kelly McLaughlin contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Tech: The CEO of SAP spent months convincing this startup to ditch its IPO...

The CEO of SAP says of the $8 billion Qualtrics buyout: “This is the No. 1 most transformative thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
SAP announced on Sunday that it was acquiring IPO-bound startup Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash.
Qualtrics was on track for an IPO that would have valued the company at $4.8 billion in the middle of its price range.
But McDermott, who had been talking with Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith for months, was insistent, and eventually came up with an offer that the startup couldn’t refuse.
Qualtrics offers comprehensive market research and data analysis cloud software that complements SAPs offerings.
Not only is it a fast-growing company, but it was also profitable, all of which helps SAP justify its premium price.
SAP announced on Sunday that it was acquiring IPO-bound startup Qualtrics for $8 billion cash.
Qualtrics was on the verge of its IPO — it was even on its roadshow with potential investors this past week. It had expected to raise about $495 million in its IPO and at the midpoint of its $18-to-$21 price range, it would have been valued at $4.8 billion.
And the roadshow was going well, said Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith in a press conference with SAP CEO Bill McDermott on Sunday. All signs pointed to a very successful first day of trading and beyond, because Qualtrics had been cash-flow positive for most of its history even amid its rapid growth, and it was reporting a net profit, said Smith. It had earned $289.9 million in revenue in 2017, up 52% from its $190 million in revenue in 2016 and reported a net income of $2.5 million, up from $12 million in losses in 2016.
“Our IPO was going extremely well,” Smith said on the call. “We were the only show on the road last week and it was going as well as any IPO of … a cash positive high-growth company.”
“We chose to be here,” Smith said of the acquisition.
SAP Bill McDermott doubled down on the idea, saying, “Ryan is being modest. I happen to know this was going to be the most successful IPO of 2018. He’s oversubscribed.”
All of that helps to explain why SAP is paying quite a premium for Qualtrics, which was valued at $2.5 billion at the time of its last private fundraising.
The two said on the phone that SAP had been in talks with Qualtrics for “a few months,” with Smith claiming that McDermott “really chased it down.”
With Qualtrics, McDermott is buying growth in the oh-so-important cloud software market. SAP is best known for its financial software, known to the industry as enterprise resource planning (ERP). It is the world’s largest supplier of ERP software, competing with the likes of Oracle.
But SAP is also going head-to-head with just about every other big cloud software player as well, including market and sales software. Qualtrics complements SAP’s flagship offerings, the same way that LinkedIn complements Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) strategy.
Qualtrics is itself the leader in online market research software. And it has been repositioning itself into a new market that Smith has dubbed “experience management.” By that, he means helping companies get a complete world of their perception and performance, as seen by customers, employees, partners, and anyone else whose opinion matters for your business.
McDermott says of the Qualtrics deal that “this is the No. 1 most transformative thing I’ve ever been involved in.”
He explained the premium price tag in a more practical matter, too. “This is less of a multiple than others in the industry have done, but it’s the largest as far as the growth that we could realize from it. We’d have to do a whole lot of tuck-ins to do what we have one in one move here.”
He is, perhaps, referring to the surprise huge acquisition in the enterprise software world of IBM’s blockbuster planned purchase of Red Hat for $34 billion. Pound-for-pound, it definitely seems that SAP is paying less than IBM did to achieve growth of its own.

Tech: America’s highways and roads are crumbling — here are the 10 states that...

Here are the 10 states that have the worst road quality in the US, as ranked by lvl5, a startup that’s building HD maps for self-driving cars.
Roads in the US need some serious help.
Even though states and the federal government spend over $400 million a year maintaining and building new roads, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 report found that 32% of urban streets and 14% of rural roads were in poor condition. Overall, US roads received a D on the study’s report card.
If roads were a pass/fail class in college, they would be failing.
On Tuesday, lvl5 — a company founded by ex-Tesla engineers that’s building HD maps for self-driving cars — dug deeper into the problem and published a list of US states ranked by road quality.
The company analyzed over 15 million photographs captured by its iPhone dashcam app, Payver, which pays users — typically Uber or Lyft drivers — up to $0.05 per mile to record their driving using their cell phone. To rank the states, lvl5 measured four distinct areas: road paint fading, pavement cracking, potholes, and surface flatness.
Think your state has the most pothole-stricken pavement in the country?
If you live in Florida, have no fear. According to lvl5, your state has the best road quality around. Hawaii had the second best roads, followed by Washington state in third place. Lvl5’s full findings can be found here.
Below, we’ve listed the 10 states that have it the worst:
10. Maine
9. New York
8. Wisconsin
7. Rhode Island
6. Illinois
5. Kansas
4. Ohio
3. Indiana

Tech: Gerard Butler shares chilling photo of his home the California wildfires devastated and...

Actor Gerard Butler shared a devastating image of his Malibu home on social media, which has been destroyed by the Woolsey Fire in California.
Actor Gerard Butler shared an image of his Malibu home on social media, which the Woolsey Fire in California has destroyed.
The photo shows Butler in front of his home, which is completely burned down.
He also thanked the LA Fire Department and urged people to donate to help firefighters.
Three dangerous fires are burning across the state of California, destroying thousands of homes and lives.
Actor Gerard Butler, one of the many celebrities who had to evacuate, shared a photo of his home, which was destroyed by the Woolsey Fire in southern California that started on Thursday. His Malibu home was destroyed.
“Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating. Heartbreaking time across California,” Butler said.
On Sunday, Butler shared a tweet about the devastation along with a chilling photo of what used to be his home:
He thanked the Los Angeles Fire Department and urged people to donate to support the “brave men and women” fighting the fires.
Read more: At least 25 people dead, thousands of homes destroyed in 3 dangerous wildfires burning across California
Butler also uploaded videos on his Instagram story that showed his former house burned down to the metal framing.
“Welcome to my home in Malibu,” he said, as smoke poured out of piles of rubble that used to be his home. “Wow.

Tech: Google’s new $150 Home Hub does a lot of things you probably don’t...

With its new Google Home Hub smart-home device, Google wants to run your life — or at least your home.
With its latest smart-home device, Google wants to run your life — or at least your home.
The Google Home Hub, which debuted last month and costs $150, is the first Google Home device with a screen. It’s intended to serve as a hub for all your smart-home devices, a place to watch YouTube videos, and a visual portal into your schedule, the weather, and nearby traffic.
Oh, and it has Google Assistant built in too.
I’ve been using the Home Hub in my home for the past few weeks, living with it and using it like my other Google Assistant products. Here’s what I’ve found.
The Google Home Hub is smaller than you think it will be.
The one thing that most surprised me about the Google Home Hub is its size. The device, which has a 7-inch touchscreen display, is less than 5 inches tall and 7 inches wide (or 188 millimeters by 178.5 millimeters). At first, its small size seemed like something of a mistake on Google’s part — after all, we’re in an era where everyone is making their displays as large as possible. But once I got the Home Hub into my home, I saw the value in making the device that size: It fits anywhere. The Home Hub has a small footprint, so it fits nearly anywhere you want it to, like a nightstand, a kitchen counter, or even on the bathroom vanity, if you’re so inclined. Plus, it’s good-looking. I’ve been testing the charcoal version, and it fits in perfectly with my kitchen, which has gray cabinets and white countertops.
Its display isn’t super high-end, but I had no issues with it.
The Home Hub has an LCD display, which is generally considered slightly inferior to the high-end OLED displays of devices like Google’s new Pixel 3 phone. That said, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the display so far. It’s bright and sharp, and everything from photos to videos looks great on it. One nice feature of the Home Hub display is the ambient EQ light sensor that lives directly above the screen. When that sensor detects it’s dark in a room, it will dim the display or shut it off. This is a nice feature if the Home Hub is in a spot like your living room and you dim the lights to watch a movie — and especially nice if you keep it on your bedside table.
I actually found myself wishing the Home Hub had a camera.
Google purposely didn’t include a camera on the Home Hub to make it more versatile. No camera means people will feel more comfortable putting it in their bedroom, or bathroom, or any other room in their home — at least, that’s what Google hopes. While that’s a noble decision, I was surprised that I found myself wishing it did have a camera, if only so I could video chat with my family. My family lives across the state from me, and two of my siblings have Pixel phones, meaning I use Google Duo, Google’s video-chat app, pretty often. The other night, I was video chatting with them and my niece and nephew while cooking dinner, and I would have loved to be able to take the call on the Home Hub sitting on my kitchen counter instead of on my phone, which was propped at an odd angle and has a pretty small screen. That said, most people probably won’t feel the same way I do. No camera means zero likelihood of a hacked camera — and more privacy for you and your family.
The Home Hub can do more than you probably need it to.
The Home Hub can do a lot of things, like play YouTube videos, show you directions, display recipes, and control your smart home. It quickly became part of my morning routine to use the Home Hub to look at my commute, my schedule for the day, and the weather. (The Home Hub will show you a visual forecast and read it aloud, which is much more helpful than just a spoken forecast from Google Assistant.) But there were a lot of Home Hub uses that I didn’t really find myself needing:
I didn’t enjoy listening to music on it. Perhaps it’s because I had a Google Home Max in the same room, but the Home Hub’s speakers sounded thin and weak compared with the impressive sound of the Home Max.
I never found the time to watch YouTube videos on it. At this stage in the game, most of us are oversaturated with screens, and the Home Hub was a prime example of that. While it can play YouTube videos, so can my phone, and I didn’t often think to turn to the Home Hub when I wanted to watch something — it was second or third on the list after my phone and laptop. I could see the Home Hub being great for people who avidly watch cooking or makeup tutorials, but I never had an instance where my phone wasn’t an easier option.
If you don’t have a maxed-out smart home, you’re wasting its potential. At first, I thought the Home Hub would be great for me because I already have several other Google Home devices in my house: the Max and two Home Minis. But they don’t require me to have a hub — they work just fine without one. I live in a pretty small apartment, and I’m not allowed to have a lot of smart-home devices, like outdoor security cameras, but I’m sure that if I had a Nest, or a video doorbell, or a security camera, or smart lighting, a hub would be a dream come true. As it is, it feels as though I’m wasting a chunk of the Home Hub’s potential.
But you can also just use the Home Hub as a smart photo frame, and that’s OK too.
The best feature of the Google Home Hub, hands down, is the ability to use it as a digital photo frame. I know, I know. Photo frames seem so mid-aughts. We’ve moved past that technology, right? Well, maybe not. What makes this Home Hub feature so great is that it pulls images of people and places you’ve preapproved from your Google Photos account. The device will automatically eliminate ones that are blurry or are of things like receipts. The photos show up when you’re not using the device — it’s one of the “ambient modes.” But you can also have the display show a full-screen clock or an art gallery. The Home Hub doesn’t just show an endless slideshow of random images. Over time, I’ve noticed the device displaying collages or side-by-side images with the same subject. I didn’t tell it to do that — it just figured out that I might like to see two photos of, say, my sister’s dog, right next to each other. I have noticed the feature gets tripped up from time to time. My niece and nephew looked very similar as newborns, and sometimes Google Assistant thinks it’s showing me a few photos of the same baby when it’s not. Otherwise, however, it’s been pretty accurate. The reason this feature has been my favorite is simple: It consistently brings me joy, and it makes the people who visit my apartment happy too. My parents and sister have all visited me in the past few weeks, and they’ve been delighted by the family photos scrolling by on the display. The Home Hub will often show me a photo I’ve forgotten about or an image from a vacation, and it makes me happy every time.
So should you buy the Google Home Hub?
There are two types of people who should buy a Home Hub: those who have a maxed-out smart home, and those who don’t yet own a single smart-home device. My reasoning with the former category is that the idea of the Home Hub is to take the hardest thing about setting up and maintaining a smart home — the countless individual apps you need to control everything — and put it in one easy-to-use location. Being able to watch a live feed from your security camera, or tapping the screen to control the lights, would be a game-changer. On the other end of the spectrum are people embarking on their first smart-home product, or their first device with a smart assistant. The Home Hub is great for that too, because it acts as a jumping-off point: You can start with the hub, then add other devices as you go. And if you learn how to use a smart speaker on the Home Hub, adding a Google Home Mini or Home Max down the line will be that much easier. I fall somewhere in the middle, and because of that, the Home Hub felt like a bit of an extravagance. I felt as if I were able to use only 50% of its capacity and that a lot of its potential use cases were wasted on me. But I can’t deny that the Home Hub made me happy on a daily basis, thanks to the Google Photos ambient mode, the on-screen weather, calendar, and traffic, and the additional nifty features, like the auto-dimming display. I even noticed that when I had a reservation at an Italian restaurant, Google Assistant adopted an Italian accent to tell me the details. For all that, $150 doesn’t seem like too big a price to pay. Note: All the photos in this review were shot with the Google Pixel 3.

Tech: 3 red states just expanded Medicaid —here’s what the midterm election means for...

The midterms will have a big impact on healthcare. Three states voted to expand Medicaid, while two others adopted new anti-abortion measures.
The 2018 midterm elections will have some big healthcare consequences.
Democrats won control of the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate. That means Washington gridlock could prevent any big legislative changes.
Also likely off the table is repeal of the Affordable Care Act or big cuts to Medicaid, which were narrowly defeated in the Senate last year.
“We continue to believe a split Congress is the best case scenario for the healthcare sector because it likely means legislative gridlock for the next two years,” Cowen analysts Eric Assaraf and Rick Weissenstein wrote in a note Wednesday. “Most notably, it likely puts Obamacare repeal efforts on the shelf until at least 2020, to the relief of hospitals and Medicaid managed care companies.”
Some of the biggest healthcare changes will likely come on the state level. Voters in three states voted to make more low-income people eligible for their state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. Democratic victories in governor races in states like Wisconsin and Kansas could lead those states to expand Medicaid, too.
Read more: Midterm key takeaways: Trump’s message flops, and Democrats set the stage for 2020
In other states, voters rejected major changes to the way healthcare is paid for and administered, and passed new anti-abortion measures. Here’s a roundup of the results.
Three red states voted to expand Medicaid.
Residents of Idaho and Nebraska voted to to broaden access to their state Medicaid programs to more low-income people, in line with actions taken by 34 other states and Washington, DC under the Affordable Care Act. A similar proposal in Utah is projected to pass, with 54% of the vote, but ballots are still being counted in the state. If voters in all three states choose to expand eligibility for Medicaid, roughly 325,000 more people could gain access to the health program, according to Avalere. In Montana, voters rejected a proposal to raise taxes on tobacco products and make Medicaid expansion permanent, with 55% opposing it. That means the state’s Medicaid expansion is scheduled expire next year.
Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana.
Several states took up the issue of both recreational and medical marijuana. In the end, Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana, while North Dakota voted down a measure that would legalize its use recreationally. Michigan, however, became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana.
Alabama and West Virginia supported new anti-abortion measures.
Voters in Alabama and West Virginia supported measures to explicitly ban abortion in their state constitutions. Both already have abortion bans in state law as well, according to, though the bans can’t be enforced because of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Alabama’s Amendment 2 passed with the support of 59% of voters. The tally was closer in West Virginia, where 51.7% voted for Amendment 1. Oregon, meanwhile, rejected a proposal to prohibit the use of public funds for abortion, except in cases where a doctor determines that the procedure is necessary, or in cases where federal law requires the state to pay for an abortion. The measure would have stopped the state’s Medicaid program from covering abortions for low-income women. About 64% of voters opposed the Oregon measure.
California rejected limits on payments to dialysis providers.
One of the biggest fights in healthcare went down in California. Voters there rejected a proposition that would limit the amount of money dialysis providers make, after heavy spending by the industry. About 62% of voters opposed the measure. Dialysis helps patients whose kidneys aren’t working properly filter impurities out of the blood (healthy kidneys would remove those impurities). The process can be expensive — Medicare nationally spends $34 billion a year on the treatment. If Proposition 8 had passed, DaVita, one of the largest providers of dialysis, would have lost $450 million a year, California Healthline reported. About $111 million had been raised to defeat the bill, the Washington Examiner reported. Of that, DaVita contributed $66 million while rival Fresenius has contributed $33 million. DaVita, Fresenius, and American Renal gained in the stock market on Wednesday.
Massachusetts defeated a ballot measure to limit the number of patients assigned to nurses in hospitals.
Massachusetts voters soundly rejected Question 1, which would have placed limits on the number of patients nurses are assigned in the hospital. About 70% voted against the proposal. The idea was that by limiting the number of patients, it could keep nurses from getting overwhelmed and improve care. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed the measure. “Question 1 would set a safe maximum on the number of patients nurses can treat, so that patients can receive the quality care they deserve,” Sanders said in a statement. Hospitals opposed the measure, arguing that the limit would lead to increased medical costs and less flexibility, in part because they’d need to hire more nurses.
Maine voted down a proposal to increase taxes to pay for care for seniors.
Maine voters rejected a measure that would have increased taxes to fund care for elderly people in their homes. About 63% opposed the proposal. Maine’s Question 1 would have levied a 3.8 percent tax on income above $128,400. The money would be used to pay for in-home care for all people 65 and over who need it in the state. The measure would have raised taxes on about 10 percent of Maine residents, and generated about $310 million a year, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Oklahoma, Georgia, and Nevada also had healthcare issues on the ballot.
Voters weighed in on a number of other healthcare measures across the country. In Oklahoma, the vote was too close to call on a proposal to let places like Walmart and Costco give eye exams. Forty seven other states allow the practice. Georgia passed a ballot referendum that would help nonprofits in the state provide housing for those living with mental illnesses. Nevada voters passed a proposal to make medical equipment — like oxygen tanks and wheelchairs — exempt from taxation.

Tech: Xbox will get mouse and keyboard support November 14 and ‘Fortnite’ is one...

In addition to the long awaited Xbox One keyboard and mouse support, Microsoft announced plan to acquire game studios Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.
Microsoft announced that the Xbox One console would support mouse and keyboards on November 14, and that it was partnering with Razer to create a special line of keyboard and mouse products.
Microsoft also said it planed to acquire game development studios Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.
Microsoft’s Xbox One console will officially get mouse and keyboard support on November 14, the company said on Saturday at its XO18 event.
Eight games including Fortnite will be ready to support keyboard and mouse support on the Xbox console in November, with several other game developers committed to support the feature after that. And Microsoft says it is partnering with gaming hardware company Razer to offer a special “Designed for Xbox” mouse and keyboard that will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Microsoft had previously said it would offer keyboard and mouse support, but it was not clear until now when the feature would arrive.
The news was among several announcements Microsoft made at the XO18 event. Microsoft also said it planned to acquire two small game development studios — Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.
“These two creative teams will continue to operate autonomously and bring their unique talents, IP and expertise to Microsoft Studios as they build new RPG experiences for our players and fans,” Microsoft said. It did not provide financial terms of either acquisition.