Tech Brief: Intel Corp. to Buy Mobileye for $15.3 Billion

Washington Brief

  • In a meeting with EU Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reassured the EU leader of the federal government’s intention to uphold key portions of the transatlantic data pact known as Privacy Shield. (Reuters)
  • China’s industry minister sought to reassure foreign companies that the government’s new “Made in China 2025” manufacturing plan will treat all firms equally. The European Union Chamber of Commerce said the plan could force foreign businesses to hand over encryption and other technology to potential Chinese competitors. (The Associated Press)
  • AT&T Inc.’s 911 emergency call system suffered a brief outage in the Washington, D.C., area over the weekend, with a hardware issue causing some calls to not connect. AT&T’s emergency call system suffered a nationwide outage last week, prompting an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission. (WTOP)

Business Brief

  • Intel Corp. will acquire Mobileye, a self-driving car company based in Israel, for $15.3 billion. The two companies began partnering on autonomous vehicles last year. (TechCrunch)
  • Waymo, the self-driving car business spun out of Alphabet Inc. last year, asked a federal court to block Uber Technologies Inc.’s work on autonomous vehicles as part of a lawsuit alleging that Uber is using driverless technology stolen from Google. (The New York Times)
  • Local ridesharing services in Austin, Texas, have failed to meet demand during the South by Southwest conference, with one service going down for several hours while the fares for others skyrocketed. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft Inc. ceased operations in Austin last year in protest over a local ordinance. (BuzzFeed News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Monday
FCC Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau workshop on post-auction broadcast transition 10 a.m.
FCBA Enforcement Committee meeting on FCC process reform 12:15 p.m.
Tuesday
Free State Foundation annual telecom policy conference 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday
Senate Commerce Committee hearing on integrating unmanned aircraft systems 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on advanced materials and production 10:15 a.m.
FCBA Wireless Committee meeting with FCC eighth-floor wireless aides 12:15 p.m.
FCC Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council meeting 1 p.m.
Thursday
ITIF event on Chinese innovation 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on smart communities 10 a.m.
Friday
Open Technology Institute event on strong encryption 1:30 p.m.

 

General

China Tries to Reassure Foreign Companies over Industry Plan
Gillian Wong, The Associated Press

China’s industry minister on Saturday defended a manufacturing development plan and rejected complaints foreign makers of electric cars and other goods might be pressured to hand over technology or forced out of promising markets. Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, tried to reassure foreign companies that the “Made in China 2025” industry plan treats all companies equally.

Trump Looms Large Over This Year’s South by Southwest Gathering
Selina Wang, Bloomberg News

Donald Trump won’t be attending this year’s South by Southwest conference, which started Friday in Austin, Texas. But the president will be very much in evidence — if only in spirit — at the annual gathering of technologists, musicians and wannabe entrepreneurs.

ADL plans Silicon Valley center to fight cyberhate
Jon Swartz, USA Today

The Anti-Defamation League is opening a Silicon Valley center to combat the rapid growth in online hate speech. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt planned to make the announcement during a panel on “The State of Hate” at the SXSW tech confab tonight.

How AI Is Transforming the Workplace
Ted Greenwald, The Wall Street Journal

Move over, managers, there’s a new boss in the office: artificial intelligence. The same technology that enables a navigation app to find the most efficient route to your destination or lets an online store recommend products based on past purchases is on the verge of transforming the office—promising to remake how we look for job candidates, get the most out of workers and keep our best workers on the job.

Packed Calendar Has Investors in Holding Pattern
Adam Haigh and Samuel Potter, Bloomberg News

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.1 percent as of 10:18 a.m. in London, inching higher for a fourth session in a row. S&P 500 futures dropped 0.1 percent.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

Alphabet adds patent claim to Uber intellectual property theft lawsuit
Dan Levine et al., Reuters

Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit Waymo on Friday added a new patent claim to its intellectual property lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc and requested a preliminary injunction to stop the ride-sharing service from using what it says is proprietary information, a court filing showed. The two Silicon Valley companies are fighting over technology that is seen as part of the foundation of the future of transportation, self-driving vehicles.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

AT&T: Brief 911 outage hits customers in DC region
Tiffany Arnold, WTOP

AT&T customers in the region were unable to place calls during a brief nationwide outage on Saturday. A hardware issue caused some calls to not connect, according to AT&T.

Alphabet Swaps Project Loon Leaders After Six-Month Stint for Latest CEO
Mark Bergen, Bloomberg News

Tom Moore, a satellite veteran brought in to lead Google’s Project Loon unit, has stepped down after about six months. Alastair Westgarth, who headed wireless antenna company Quintel, is taking the spot.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Intel buys Mobileye in deal valued at $15.3B to expand in self-driving tech
Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

First they partnered, and now comes the acquisition: the computing giant Intel has confirmed that it is acquiring Mobileye, a leader in autonomous driving technology, for $15.3 billion — the biggest-ever acquisition of an Israeli tech company. Specifically, “Under the terms of the agreement, a subsidiary of Intel will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Mobileye for $63.54 per share in cash, representing a fully-diluted equity value of approximately $15.3 billion and an enterprise value of $14.7 billion,” the company noted in a statement.

Waymo Asks Court to Block Uber’s Self-Driving Car Project
Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times

Waymo, the self-driving car business spun out of Google’s parent company last year, asked a federal court on Friday to block Uber’s work on a competing self-driving vehicle that Waymo claimed could be using stolen technology. Waymo also filed testimony from employees and a Google security engineer describing how Anthony Levandowski, a former Google executive, discussed Uber’s interest in the technology and systematically stole proprietary company documents.

Austin’s Uber Replacements Flunked An Important Test During SXSW
William Alden, BuzzFeed News

Austin’s homegrown ride-hailing services, which sprung up after Uber and Lyft left the city in protest of a local rule, had hoped to ace the task of shuttling the global tech and media elite around the SXSW Conference and Festivals here this weekend. But these apps — which claim Uber can be replaced, and that there’s no “secret sauce” behind its spectacular success — failed a major stress test during their moment in the spotlight last night.

Uber Gears Up to Block Bid to Form a Union in Seattle
Greg Bensinger, The Wall Street Journal

Before accepting rides on his Uber app each day, Seattle driver Fasil Teka must first choose whether to listen to company-run podcasts on voting rights, collective bargaining and city council hearings. He and other drivers in the city have received text messages, meeting invites and phone surveys from ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc. in an attempt, the company says, to sway them against unionizing.

Uber Deal Giving Drivers $1 Each Fails to Win Over Judge
Joel Rosenblatt and Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg News

Uber Technologies Inc. failed to persuade a judge to approve a settlement offering 1.6 million California drivers an average of $1.08 each to dispense with alleged labor-code violations that their lawyer earlier claimed might have been worth billions of dollars. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson issued a tentative ruling rejecting a deal aimed at resolving one of the dozen-plus U.S. lawsuits challenging the company’s contractor-based business model.

Has Uber’s day of reckoning arrived?
Fredrick Kunkle, The Washington Post

Uber has been burning capital for some time now. This includes not just real money but also that intangible commodity known as goodwill.

California wants to give driverless cars their learners’ permits
Charlie Wood, The Christian Science Monitor

Nearly 30 companies are testing automated cars on California’s roads, led by the original self-driving car advocate, Google. Until now, regulations have required an alert human to sit behind the wheel, ready to take over at any time, and that the technology must serve testing, not commercial purposes. On Friday, the state released proposed Department of Motor Vehicle amendments that lay the legal ground for cars to operate with no driver.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

EU reassured on U.S. privacy directive: source
Julia Fioretti, Reuters

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross gave no indication of any plans to change U.S. privacy protections underpinning a pact enabling billions of dollars of data flows during a meeting with the EU digital chief, a source said on Friday. U.S. President Trump’s administration has stoked concerns in Brussels that it may undo some of the privacy protections put in place by the previous administration that were crucial to a transatlantic pact allowing companies to store EU citizens’ data on U.S. servers.

FISMA 2016: White House claims progress against cyberattacks
Shaun Waterman, Fedscoop

The White House Office of Management and Budget released fiscal 2016 statistics on cybersecurity measures and incidents at U.S. agencies Friday, using new methodologies that make comparison with prior years essentially impossible, but nonetheless saying the government had made progress. For the first time, agencies were required to report only incidents that affected their operations, and to break those incidents down based on the attack vector used.

Russian Espionage Piggybacks on a Cybercriminal’s Hacking
Michael Schwirtz and Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times

To the F.B.I., Evgeniy M. Bogachev is the most wanted cybercriminal in the world. The bureau has announced a $3 million bounty for his capture, the most ever for computer crimes, and has been trying to track his movements in hopes of grabbing him if he strays outside his home turf in Russia.

GOP senator reports hacking attempts after WikiLeaks criticism
Joe Uchill, The Hill

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) reported Saturday that he was facing hacking attempts on “basically every device, every platform, personal and govt” following his recent criticism of WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks aids doubters of Russian election hacking
Morgan Chalfant, The Hill

WikiLeaks is helping to cast doubt on the conclusion of intelligence agencies that the Russian government was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee, in what appears to be the latest disinformation campaign orchestrated by Moscow. The site leaked a trove of purported CIA hacking tools this week and zeroed in on what it called the agency’s effort to “misdirect attribution” of cyber attacks to other nations, including Russia.

What the CIA WikiLeaks Dump Tells Us: Encryption Works
Anick Jesdanun and Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press

If the tech industry is drawing one lesson from the latest WikiLeaks disclosures, it’s that data-scrambling encryption works, and the industry should use more of it. Documents purportedly outlining a massive CIA surveillance program suggest that CIA agents must go to great lengths to circumvent encryption they can’t break.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Looking for something voters can agree on? Repeal the Durbin amendment. Recent polling shows that by a 2-1 margin voters think the Durbin amendment should be repealed. It is a failed policy, with retailers pocketing an extra $42 billion at their customers’ expense. Get the facts about retailers’ broken promises from EPC.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Time for the Government to Get Out of the Songwriting Business
Josh Kear, Morning Consult

As one could imagine, spending two decades as a songwriter in the music industry comes with a number of challenges. You can certainly anticipate the struggles involved with writing a hit song, finding the right performer to sing it and getting it played on the radio.

Resist the Internet
Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Search your feelings, you know it to be true: You are enslaved to the internet. Definitely if you’re young, increasingly if you’re old, your day-to-day, minute-to-minute existence is dominated by a compulsion to check email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.

Unlimited data plans offer boon to consumers
Troy Wolverton, Siliconvalley.com

In the wireless industry, it’s back to the unlimited future. Years after three of the big four carriers ditched their unlimited data plans, all the major companies are offering plans that promise users they can access the mobile internet as much as they’d like.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Across party lines, a majority of voters identify the Durbin amendment as a price control. History has taught us price controls rarely work as intended and the Durbin amendment is another example of failed policy. It’s time to end the merchant markup once and for all. Learn how to take action now.

Research Reports

Standard Business Reporting: Open Data to Cut Compliance Costs
Hudson Hollister et al., Data Foundation

For companies as well as agencies, open data offers significant efficiencies by reducing processing time and costs. First, if government agencies standardize data fields and formats for the information they collect, rather than expressing that information as unstructured documents, reporting companies’ software can automatically compile and report it, reducing manual labor.

AT&T’s Digital Redlining Of Cleveland
National Digital Inclusion Alliance

A mapping analysis of Federal Communications Commission broadband availability data, conducted by Connect Your Community and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, strongly suggests that AT&T has systematically discriminated against lower-income Cleveland neighborhoods in its deployment of home Internet and video technologies over the past decade. Our analysis, based on newly released FCC Form 477 Census block data for June 2016, provides clear evidence that AT&T has withheld fiber-enhanced broadband improvements from most Cleveland neighborhoods with high poverty rates – including Hough, Glenville, Central, Fairfax, South Collinwood, St. Clair-Superior, Detroit-Shoreway, Stockyards and others.

Briefings

Tech Brief: Airbnb Hints at 2018 IPO

Airbnb Inc. Chief Executive Brian Chesky hinted that the company will likely go public in 2018. Chesky said he always considered the preparation of an initial public offering to be a “two-year process,” and said Airbnb is currently halfway through that process.

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