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Google isn't blowing that much money on projects like self-driving cars after all — less than 10% of its capital expenditures in 2015 were for forward-looking products outside its core.
This came out in fourth-quarter earnings for Google's parent company, Alphabet.
This was the first time Alphabet broke numbers out for the core "Google," which includes the businesses most of us think of — search, advertising, YouTube, Android, and so on — and "Other Bets," which includes long-term projects like fiber-based internet access, self-driving cars, and internet-bearing balloons.
Capital expenditures for Google's core products hit $8.8 billion last year, spent mostly on data centers and other facilities. Other Bets only accounted for $869 million in capital spending. Most of the Other Bets capex spending went to Google Fiber, which Alphabet now offers in nine cities, Google said on its earnings call.
Overall, the Other Bets group posted an operating loss of $3.57 billion on $448 million in revenue in 2015.
Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said that the company had to make some "tough calls" and that there was a "disciplined envelope" across Other Bets.
Lines like this are exactly what Wall Street, long wary of Google's moonshots, wanted to hear. Although Porat has promised investors since she started at Google that the company spent way more on its core than smart contacts and thermostats, this was the first time she could prove it.
Here's a chart from Jackdaw Research:
Porat also made sure to stress that the company is going to keep spending a bunch of money on that core, too, by highlighting a bunch of areas where its trying to innovate.
In many ways, some of Alphabet's biggest moonshots are in Google itself. From driving the next wave of computing through machine learning, capitalizing on the shift to the cloud by enterprises, building platforms like virtual reality, and pursuing the opportunities we see with the "next billion" users in emerging markets, you should expect Google to continue to invest in efforts to improve life for billions of people.
This line from Porat's prepared remarks was significant for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it shows us how Google thinks about its future growth. Google CEO Sundar Pichai proceeded to boast about its enterprise business and how machine learning and artificial intelligence have helped make popular products like Photos, Inbox, and search better and more powerful. The company has also been on a VR hiring spree.
But it also feels like a reminder to prospective employees that Alphabet's subsidiary companies, like X and Calico, aren't the only ones innovating — Look! Google's still doing cool stuff, too! We're not all about ads!
But the report also proved that ads are still a hulking business: That's how Google pulled in $19 billion of its $21.3 billion in revenue this quarter.
Starting February 3, Evernote will no longer sell or fulfill orders on the website, instead deferring that role to its partners at Adonit, Moleskine, and PFU. That means the Evernote Market's URL and brand will remain the same as it is now, but Evernote won't be engaged with any of the actual selling process.
The move reflects the company's shift in strategy to focus on its core Evernote app, instead of taking a scattershot approach by launching multiple apps and businesses. Evernote's been going through a huge transition period over the past few months, with its long-time CEO Phil Libin getting replaced by former Google exec Chris O’Neill last year, and a number of offices shutting down.
"Ultimately though, Evernote is a software company. Building and perfecting the Evernote experience is where we’ll be focusing our future efforts," John Hoye, Evernote's senior director of partnerships, wrote in the blog post.
It's a somewhat expected development, given all the change that's been going on at Evernote, but there will still be some people lamenting Evernote's pullback from the marketplace. Evernote Market was surprisingly successful since its launch in 2013, generating roughly $12 million in its first year, and accounting for 30% of the company's monthly revenue at one point.
An Evernote spokesperson told us sales in the last 3 months of 2015 were roughly in-line with those figures, indicating it may have not seen a whole lot of growth in recent years. But fans of its merchandise will still be able to buy them through partner channels.
"Evernote will no longer sell directly to consumers, but these Evernote-integrated products will be available via both online and physical channels through our partners," Evernote told us in a statement.
Netflix has always had a different method of evaluating success than traditional TV networks or movie studios. While TV giants rely on ratings so they can hawk space to advertisers, Netflix is purely subscriber-based.
That means that the most important economic metric for Netflix is how much a TV show or movie contributes to Netflix's ability to sign up and retain customers.
The problem is that it's a hard thing to measure, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt tells Business Insider. Hunt says to get close, the main metric the company uses to judge success is a variation on viewing hours called "valued hours."
This isn't simply a raw tally of how many hours people spent watching Netflix. It also takes into account what percentage of someone's total viewing that represents. In other words, if you watch a lot of Netflix, your hours are worth less to Netflix. This makes sense when you consider that the most vital unit to Netflix is a "subscriber."
Hypothetically, if one particular show is the only thing on Netflix a subset of subscribers watches, but they still pay every month for Netflix, then that show must be really important for them. And Netflix will consider that show valuable to the service.
But Hunt says that while this metric is probably the biggest single factor Netflix looks at, it's just one of many that make up the company's analysis.
Another crucial factor Netflix is trying to nail down is the concept of "enjoyment," or how much you liked a show. This hasn't been easy. We previously reported that Netflix has been looking to change its five-star rating system because the company thinks people tend to rate shows based on how objectively good they consider them, and not how much they enjoyed watching them.
Britain just gave a team of scientists the all-clear to proceed with research that involves genetically modifying human embryos, a controversial move that's likely to set off an ethical debate, Reuters reports.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority approved the research. Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientist at the Francis Crick Institute, and her colleagues plan to use the technique to study the genes involved in how embryos develop, not as a treatment for genetic diseases.
But some worry the work could lead to "designer" babies whose DNA has been carefully chosen to have desirable traits.
"This is the first step on a path that scientists have carefully mapped out towards the legalization of [genetically modified] babies," David King, of anti-gene manipulation group Human Genetics Alert, said at a meeting last month, AP reports.
The technique in question, known as CRISPR/Cas9, allows scientists to easily and accurately "cut and paste" DNA in living cells, to get rid of faulty genes and add desirable ones. It was first discovered in bacteria, but in the past few years, the technique has been adapted for use in many different organisms.
Scientists say the technique holds promise for curing diseases like muscular dystrophy and sickle cell anemia, which are controlled by simple genetic defects. But it could also be used to tackle more complex diseases, such as AIDS or cancer.
Niakan and her colleagues said they do not intend to use the modified embryos to treat diseases or problems in a real pregnancy — but rather to study how healthy embryos develop, which could ultimately lead to better fertility treatments.
The first gene they plan to modify is the Oct4 gene, which may be critical for the earliest stages of human fetal development, Niakan said at a press briefing in London last month, according to Reuters.
Hank Greely, a law and bioethics professor at Stanford University, applauded the decision to move forward with the research.
"This is important research that can only be done with human embryos," Greely said in a statement released by the Genetic Expert News Service. "If you are morally opposed to any destruction of human embryos for research purposes, you should oppose this research. Otherwise, you should support it."
This won't be the first time CRISPR has been used to edit human embryos. Last April, scientists in China reported they had used the technique to correct a genetic blood disorder called beta thalessemia. Those embryos were nonviable, meaning they could not survive until birth, but it was still seen as controversial.
Meanwhile, other gene editing techniques are also being developed. In November, scientists used a method known as TALENs to treat a young girl's leukemia by modifying her immune cells to help them fight off the cancer.
And therapies using CRISPR may not be far off. The gene-editing startup Editas Medicine plans to use the technique in humans as early as 2017, to treat a rare form of blindness.
In December, scientists held a meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss the merits and perils of human gene editing. They decided to allow the work to go ahead, but with important caveats in place.
With the release of its HBO Now app last year, HBO became the first cable network to dive headfirst into the “apps as TV” concept. The standalone app let you order HBO a la carte for $15 a month — no cable package required.
Now HBO has given another indication that it wants to push people toward its apps, announcing that it will release its new series, “Animals,” one day early on both HBO Now and HBO Go (HBO’s other streaming app that is tied to a cable subscription).
“The series premiere will be available to stream [on the apps] Thursday, Feb. 4, with subsequent episodes available to stream the following Thursdays ahead of their Friday night debuts on HBO,” the company writes, according to Exstreamist. “HBO’s linear subscribers will also be able to watch the series one day early each week via HBO On Demand.”
While the fine print says you can still watch the shows on your TV on-demand, the emphasis HBO puts is on the apps, and the initiative is clearly designed to entice people toward them, and away from the idea of a show playing at a specific time.
HBO’s CEO, Richard Plepler, has said that HBO wants to become "ecosystem agnostic." That means having an HBO app live wherever you are: your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV, Apple TV, Roku, and so on. What it doesn’t mean is having HBO tied to your cable subscription.
One motivating factor is likely that parts of HBO’s brand seem to hurt from their association with expensive cable packages. HBO’s hit show “Game of Thrones” has been the most pirated show in the world for four straight years. Last year, the show had more than twice the number of downloads on BitTorrent as its closest competitor, “The Walking Dead.” The thinking is that many of these pirates don’t want to pay the high price for a cable package, but perhaps would pay for HBO alone. If this is the case, it makes sense for HBO to try and raise the profile of its apps, particularly HBO Now, hopefully turning potential pirates into paying customers.
A source familiar with the matter says there's a possibility this type of release schedule could continue, but that there are no immediate plans to shift the bulk of the catalog this way.
Here is the trailer for “Animals”:
When it comes to cloud computing, everyone basically agrees it's a three-dog race: Amazon (the giant), Microsoft (hot on its tails) and Google (making a big push).
But when it comes to nabbing customers, it's unclear how well Google is really doing.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai says that Google's Cloud Platform, the cloud that competes head-to-head with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, now runs 4 million applications. So he said on the quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts.
While that's nothing to sneeze at, he was very clear in the language: this isn't 4 million different customers, it's 4 million apps.
He also didn't discuss revenues or even revenue "run-rate." Run rate is a hazy number that indicates how much revenue the company would earn in a year based on its current trajectory, and its one of the favorite ways that cloud companies like to talk about their progress.
Google is considered in the top three because it grew up in the cloud, invented a lot of cloud technology and really understands cloud computing. And 2016 will be a year that Google comes on strong, Pichai promises.
It just hired enterprise queen Diane Greene to get Google's cloud business off the ground, he mentioned on the call.
Pichai also promised that Google's cloud "is already getting significant traction. It's a strongly growing business for us," he said, and it will be one of Google's "major investment areas in 2016."
But he also acknowledged that meeting with potential customers, enterprises still want to be reassured how "committed" Google is to the cloud computing business.
Enterprise customers tell us that they aren't just listening to promises.
They have a long list of features they want in a cloud platform to make them consider it, he indicated. Plus, they also want and need enterprise friendly contracts, something that Diane Greene will no doubt have to figure out.
NetflixNetflix is ramping up its comedy slate.
The company's new show "The Characters," available March 11, gives eight rising comedians full control of their own show. So a half-hour program with no rules or restrictions. What could go wrong?
Well, from the looks of this trailer, there are some weird and unusual things in store. Netflix, which labels "The Characters" "outlaw comedy" in a press release, could have a cult hit on its hands.
The comics are: Lauren Lapkus ("Orange Is the New Black"), Kate Berlant ("The Meltdown"), Dr. Brown ("Dr. Brown"), Paul W. Downs ("Broad City"), John Early ("Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp"), Tim Robinson ("Saturday Night Live"), Natasha Rothwell (an "SNL" writer) and Henry Zebrowski ("Heroes Reborn").
There will also be guest stars including Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan of "SNL," Abbi Jacobson of "Broad City," and model/actor Tyson Beckford.
Netflix dived into sketch comedy with its original show "W/ Bob & David," starring Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, last year.
Watch the trailer for "The Characters" here:
Suzanne Plunket/ReutersFacebook now has two one-billion-user products.
On Monday afternoon, Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp announced that one billion people use the app.
"That's nearly one in seven people on Earth who use WhatsApp each month to stay in touch with their loved ones, their friends and their family," the company said in a blog post. " But now, it's back to work – because we still have another 6 billion people to get on WhatsApp, and a long way left to go."
WhatsApp's announcement, interestingly, came right after Google's parent company Alphabet announced quarterly earnings — which beat analysts' expectations and sent the stock soaring. During the call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that another Google product — Gmail — has recently broken the one billion monthly active user mark.
Other one-billion plus Google products include Search, Android, Maps, Chrome, YouTube, and Google Play.
In contrast, Facebook has just one — its core Facebook app. Messenger has 800 million users, while Instagram has more than 400 million. It's suggested that video and search could also be reach the milestone in the not-too-distant future.
Last week, Facebook announced that on January 28, 2017, it's going to shut down its Parse service for developers, leaving many apps and the teams behind them scrambling to find a new home.
The Orbitz travel app is a Parse customer, as are Facebook's own Oculus Rift VR team and the Quip mobile word processor. So are lots of smaller developers, who relied on Parse rather than spend the cash to build the servers and software to do it themselves.
When Facebook bought Parse, it was already hosting 100,000 apps.
And so, the news of the shutdown meant that the rug was pulled out from under them.
"There goes my theory that Facebook's focus on developers and running services at scale would both improve Parse and make it stay around for a long time. Sigh. Yet another failed acquisition," said one Facebook comment.
Ali Mohsen, cofounder of Bahrain-based startup studio Level Z, told us in an email:
We still haven't decided what will be our migration plans, but definitely we are not going to use a backend as a server solution, as it may shutdown anytime like Parse did, which was a decision never expected to be taken by Facebook, as it really destroys FB relationship with developers.
Many other commenters vented, of course, on Facebook:
Parse, a Y Combinator-backed startup that came to Facebook in 2013 by way of a reported $85 million acquisition, provides a set of vital tools to help developers build and maintain slick apps for iPhone and Android phones.
Mainly, that means Parse provided a set of databases to keep track of your information across phones and operating systems, and the mechanisms for apps to send push notifications.
When Facebook bought Parse in 2013, it was facing an uncertain future and the aftershocks of a rocky IPO, and was looking to diversify its business look for the next big thing.
Now that Facebook has really nailed most of the challenges ahead and is growing like crazy, it doesn't really need that kind of broad scope. Parse could be a casualty of the social network's current success.
It's not a great move for Facebook, which spends a lot of time and energy reaching out to developers and getting them to integrate stuff like Facebook Login with their apps. Every app that integrates some kind of Facebook functionality also increases the chances that they'll see a Facebook ad, after all.
Kyle Russell/Business Insider
Parse isn't leaving customers totally high and dry, though. It's making available a whole set of free tools so you can host your own version of Parse on your own servers — a route that may be appealing to developers who are now skeptical of letting any tech company host any portion of their apps, since they could be shut down any day.
"It looks like they have some documentation on how to migrate, but I'm not totally sure what I'm going to do yet..!," says digital artist Jono Brandel, who currently hosts his app Typatone with Parse.
But many, if not most, of Parse's jilted customers turned to the service in the first place because they didn't want to run those services in-house, usually because they lack time, cash, or expertise.
Plus, using Parse on the backend and Facebook login on the front end had some additional benefits. It meant that the Parse database that contains user information automatically filled in if they logged in with Facebook. That doesn't happen with competitors.
Fortunately for developers, there are plenty of other services out there more than willing to pick up Parse's slack.
Earlier on Monday, Microsoft released a how-to guide for moving apps from Parse to the Microsoft Azure cloud, using its set of similar services. Google has Firebase, a popular Parse competitor that it acquired late last year. Amazon has its own mobile-app services. Apple is slowly but surely building its CloudKit for iPhone developers. And there are plenty of other startups providing alternatives, besides.
Judging from the email in my inbox and the buzz on Twitter, Google's Firebase looks to gain — or regain, from lapsed customers — the most ground in the market as a solid alternative, especially since, like Parse, it's free to use.
"The Firebase solution seems logical at this point until [Apple's] CloudKit cloud solution is more matured," Alvin Lawson, developer at fitness startup Sweat Society, told us in an email.
Still, it's resulted in a lot of existential angst for startups, who now have to choose between building their own infrastructure to handle the needs of their mobile apps, or going with another provider who could pull the rug out from under them at any moment.
And at least developers have a year to figure out their next move, since Parse is giving a nice, long window before it's "retired."
"I mean as far as things getting sunset ... Parse looks like it's taking a very diligent approach," Brandel says.
Flickr/Maurizio PesceGoogle just fired back at Facebook in the increasingly heated video battle the two companies are waging.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Monday that viewers of Google-owned YouTube watch hundreds of millions of hours of video every day.
That's hundreds, plural.
And it's basically Pichai's way of reminding investors that YouTube's audience watches far more video that Facebook users watch on the social network.
Facebook has been ramping up its video effort, with more than 8 billion daily video views on its service. Much of these video views are autoplay videos, which Facebook counts as a view if the video plays in a user's feed for more than three seconds.
Last week Facebook revealed for the first time the total hours of video watched every day: 100 million hours a day.
That's an impressive number, but it's still well short of YouTube.
Of course, Pichai didn't specify how many hundreds of millions of hours of daily video viewing it has. But previous reports suggest it is quite a bit.
The New York Times reported in December 2014 that people watched more than 300 million hours of videos on YouTube every day. Then, a person familiar with YouTube's numbers told Business Insider that watch time had swelled past 500 million hours a day in July. YouTube has also said that its watchtime has been growing 60% year-over-year.
Gmail now has more than 1 billion monthly active users, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Alphabet's earnings call Monday afternoon. That's up from 900 million in May 2015.
Pichai noted that the milestone was crossed last quarter and that six other Google consumer products also have more than 1 billion monthly active users: Search, Android, Maps, Chrome, Youtube, and Google Play.
He hinted that "rapid" mobile growth contributed to the new Gmail figure.
A lot of tech companies have begun to break out active users among their various products. Facebook is famous for this and earlier today boasted that Whatsapp crossed the 1 billion monthly active user mark and that a number of its other products, including video, search, Instagram and Messenger, were on the same trajectory. Facebook's platform has 1.59 billion monthly active users as well.
Here are Google's full earnings results.
Apple is showing signs of possibly moving away from Amazon Web Services, and instead building its own data centers to power its online products, Morgan Stanley wrote in a note on Monday.
The note said that Apple is planning to open three new data centers over the next two years, bringing its total to seven worldwide. That would be roughly 2.5 million square feet of data centers, or nearly 40% of the 6.7 million square feet AWS used by the end of 2015.
"We believe this build is a signal that Apple is increasingly likely to move away from AWS in the next 18-24 months," the report said.
It also pointed to the fact that Apple indicated higher data-center expenditures for the upcoming year, and the size of Apple's services revenue, which includes iTunes and App Store purchases, growing to $31 billion last year as evidence of a stronger push toward its own cloud infrastructure.
If true, this move could have a pretty sizable impact on AWS's revenue, as Apple is expected to spend roughly $1 billion on AWS this year, accounting for almost 9% of the cloud-computing service's 2016 sales estimates, the note said.
In the most recent quarter, AWS had $2.4 billion in revenue, up 69% from the same period of last year. For the full year, it generated $7.8 billion in revenue, and said it's expected to generate roughly $10 billion in 2016.
Morgan Stanley didn't give a clear reason for Apple's possible departure from AWS, but it could be because of the two companies' increasingly competing nature across the app market and content-streaming business. Apple might think it's safer and more efficient to run its own data center, too.
But it would also be a decision that runs in contrast to what a lot of other big companies are doing lately. In addition to the smaller startups that accelerated AWS's growth, more big companies — like Netflix, General Electric, and Capital One — are moving their workload to AWS and shuttering their own data centers.
It's why some investors believe there will be an "Amazon tax" in the future, where companies will be expected to pay AWS a fixed fee every year, as they increasingly rely on AWS to run their services.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
I was out shopping with my nieces (aged 8 and 10) at the weekend and we went into our local branch of Wilko, the discount hardware store, because for some reason the girls are really into pens, paper, and stationery right now.
While they were checking out the ballpoints, I saw these scientific calculators:
The pink one is £3.75 and the "regular" one is just £3. What's more, the pink one appears to be less advanced with only 136 functions compared to the regular's 224.
And still, there's a 25% premium for the pink one.
I tweeted it out, because I thought it was a comically inept example of the way products for women are priced higher than equivalent products for men, an issue that was in the news last week due to a survey by The Times of men's and women's equivalent products. It reminded me of the "Bic for Her" story, when Business Insider discovered in 2012 that pens marketed at women cost 70% more than those targeted at the general market.
One of my followers pointed out that the calculator isn't specifically marketed at girls, only that it's pink. Anyone can buy the pink one.
That might be technically true.
But I think it ignores the reality of marketing and girls. And if you're a parent who wants your daughter to take a healthy interest in maths, then a pink calculator might be just the thing. Everyone knows this — that's why Wilko sells them.
So I did some more poking around on Wilko's website, and found this:
Both pink calculators cost more than their equivalents. The two Casio models are very similar in terms of their computing power. But the pink one has a 17% extra price tag.
So that made me wonder whether Casio sold the pink calculator in an identical non-pink model, and what the prices of those were. To Casio's credit, it sells the FX 85GT Plus in both pink and blue for an identical price, £10 each:
The price differential only shows up in Wilko's shop and online.
The company did not respond to a message requesting comment, but we will update this story when we hear back.
There is one variable here: The two similar Casios that Wilko is selling are not identical. The pink one has a solar cell battery whereas the black one does not. But that doesn't explain why the pink Wilko own-brand calculator is more expensive than the black/silver one, when the pink Wilko one does not have a solar battery and the black/silver one does. Sure the products aren't identical, so there may be a non-pink explanation for the price differential. It's just unfortunate that if your girl likes numbers and things that are pink, it's going to cost you more.
So, if you believe that the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are biased against girls from an early age, then this evidence will be helpful to your argument.
It can take many years for the young and talented to get recognized in the advertising industry.
That's why each year Business Insider puts out a call for the 30 most creative people in advertising who are under 30. The people in this year's rankings aren't all huge names just yet, but they are rising stars and could probably all come up with a wacky way to persuade you to buy a chocolate teapot, if they felt like it.
We constructed our list based on agency and peer nominations, our own research into their awards and campaigns, and their seniority and potential to flourish in the industry. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination and congratulations to our winners.
(One creative listed in these rankings turned 30 between the time of nomination and publication. On this occasion we allowed a grace period, as the list was published later than usual this year.)
The Zika virus is quickly expanding its reach, particularly in the Americas. So far its spread has drawn concern from the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and US President Barack Obama.
The virus, transmitted via mosquitoes, has been identified in the US but only in people who've recently traveled to Zika hot spots. Once infected with Zika, only about 20% of people ever show symptoms, which most commonly include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. There is no vaccine or treatment available for the virus. One reason Zika is troubling is because it has been linked with birth defects. After some mothers showed symptoms of the virus during their pregnancy, their babies were born with abnormally small brains, a condition known as microcephaly.
Here are the 24 countries and territories where the virus had been transmitted locally as of Wednesday:
Rovio"Angry Birds," the game that involves firing birds with a catapult, has now been downloaded an incredible four billion times, according to Rovio, the Finnish startup behind it.
It's the most downloaded freemium game in the world, and a game that people from all walks of life have spent hours and hours playing obsessively.
Headquartered in Espoo, Finland, Rovio has recently appointed a new man to the helm of its games division in a bid to inject to energy into the company.
Wilhelm Taht, formerly Rovio's head of external products — which encompasses the likes of "Angry Birds Transformers" and "Angry Birds Go!" — was appointed executive vice president of Rovio Games at the start of the year.
He sat down with Business Insider during his visit to the Mobile Games Forum (MGF) in London — where the company has a handful of its 470 employees.
Early on in the interview, Taht reels off a few of his tactics that he believes will help Rovio get to a better position.
"We’re doubling down on existing performers. We’re trying to age up the audience across our games portfolio quite significantly. We’re trying to innovate and we're trying to develop new IP."
In order to attract an older audience, Taht said Rovio will focus on new genres and creating new products. He added that the company could take a slightly more "edgy" approach to its existing products in order to pull in older users.
Founded in 2003, Rovio has struggled to capitalise on the success of "Angry Birds" since it launched in 2009. None of the other games in its portfolio have come close to the "Angry Birds" franchise in terms of download numbers or revenue, leading critics to believe the company may be little more than a one-hit-wonder.
"Brands ebb and flow over time and our goal is to have other IPs as well," said Taht. "But our goal is also for 'Angry Birds' to stay alive for a very long period of time. I think it has some unique traits."
Taht realises that "Angry Birds" has lost some of the traction it had two or three years ago but he's optimistic that the new $80 million (£56 million) "Angry Birds Movie" will help build brand awareness when it's released in May, adding that he's seen it multiple times and that it's good comedy for all.
Beyond "Angry Birds," one game in the Rovio portfolio that's apparently gotten off to a good start since launching last autumn is "Nibblers." Taht said he was unable to reveal download numbers at this stage but on the Google Play Store it has 4.5/5 stars, based on 36,544 votes. Gaming website Pocket Gamer gave the game 8/10 in its own review.
In the new game, a gang of fish climb out of the sea to explore the islands around their watery home, searching for fruit and dodging lizards to advance through 200 levels.
"It [Nibblers] was a quiet, soft release," said Taht. "It's started to scale up and we’ve significantly increased user acquisition over Q1. Does it have the traits and all the components that can create IP on the level of Angry Birds? I don’t know. I think it can grow fairly big with time and effort."
He added: "Very few brands grow to the level of Angry Birds."
In terms of funding, acquisitions, or an IPO, Taht said: "We’re not in selling mode. We have no need to raise any funding at this time."
Instead, it looks as though the company wants to rely on the money people pledge through in-app purchases. Nearly all of Rovio's games are currently free to download with the option to make in-app purchases.
Melia Robinson/Business InsiderIt's no secret a lot of people don't like the now widely used term for billion-dollar technology companies, unicorns.
The word came about when technology startups with a billion-dollar valuation were thought to be rare and special, just like the mythical beast.
But one of the issues critics have with the term unicorn is that technology companies with valuations over $1 billion (£700 million) are now fairly common, with 13 in London and dozens in Silicon Valley.
Their popularity has risen so much in recent months that some sceptics have suggested we just name them "horses" or "donkeys."
These same sceptics will most likely be saddened to hear that a new animal name for technology startups was floated Monday by the boss of a New York-headquartered venture-capital analysis firm.
Writing in his daily newsletter, CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal said 2016 would "be the year of the rabbits."
CB InsightsRabbit in this usage is an acronym describing real actual businesses building interesting tech. The term came about because Sanwal thinks there will be a new group of technology startups that aren't unicorns but aren't unicorpses either.
(A unicorpse, by the way, is the term given to a dead unicorn.)
Sanwal wrote: "With 152 (unicorns), there will of course be some flameouts or those that run into issues. These are not riskless bets after all."
He continued: "While it's 'fun' in a schadenfreud'y way to claim some absurd number of unicorns will falter in 2016, it misses out on the fact that 2016's climate may force many of these unicorns to become RABBITs."
When I posted a screenshot (above) on Twitter, Mark Scott, the European technology correspondent for The New York Times, jokingly said it "seems legit," adding that he planned to buy every website with "rabbit" in the URL.
Derek Du Preez, an editor at Diginomica, simply wrote: "I can't cope."
Last October, Mark Suster, an entrepreneur who sold his business to Salesforce before becoming a venture capitalist, questioned the valuations being achieved by many of today's technology startups.
The Upfront Ventures general partner published a blog post in which he predicted what would happen to the venture-capital market in 2016.
In Venture Outlook 2016, Suster wrote, "Our late-stage, privately held technology market is clearly in a bubble," adding: "We're doomed to repeat history. Boom and bust." Suster said the "over-heated private tech markets will cool" in 2016, though he concedes that he had been saying that for the past two years.
"Either we've discovered magical beans and elixir or perhaps we've gotten ahead of ourselves on valuation," Suster said.
Bill Gurley, a venture capitalist at Benchmark Capital, is another outspoken critic of tech's funding landscape. "I do think you'll see some dead unicorns this year," he said in 2015.
For the first time, Amazon is calling itself a "transportation service provider," as seen in its annual 10-K filing.
The company makes the classification in the "cost of sales" portion of the report (emphasis added):
Cost of sales primarily consists of the purchase price of consumer products, digital media content costs where we record revenue gross, including Prime Video and Prime Music, packaging supplies, sortation and delivery centers and related equipment costs, and inbound and outbound shipping costs, including where we are the transportation service provider.
In last year's report, the company simply said "inbound and outbound shipping costs, including sortation and delivery centers, and related equipment costs."
This change is significant following months of reports about Amazon taking steps to build its own delivery and logistics business to take full control of its fulfillment process.
In this week's earnings call, CFO Brian Olsavsky tried to assuage the fears of partners like UPS and FedEx by saying that even though it is building its own logistics business, it's not trying to replace anyone — just supplement them.
Despite that assurance, Baird Equity Capital sees this new turn of phrase as an indication that Amazon could be after its next $400 billion opportunity after all.
Analyst Colin Sebastian writes that the "tidbit" adds "further credibility to our view that Amazon will be creating a logistics service that ultimately competes with existing providers."
Although he doesn't expect Amazon to launch a full-fledged logistics business now, he thinks it's moving in that direction:
We continue to expect Amazon to add logistics primarily to meet its own growth, but over time, and in incremental fashion, we believe it is likely that Amazon will offer this expertise to third parties to help subsidize those costs.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
Google's drone tests in the New Mexico desert are part of a secret effort called SkyBender, according to The Guardian.
They are taking place at the Spaceport America facility in the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Business Insider reported in November.
The tests involve multiple drones and 5G millimeter wave wireless transmitters, according to the report, which obtained information about the effort through a public-records request.
The wireless technology is capable of transmitting multiple gigabits of data per second, and could help establish a network of high-flying drones that provide internet connectivity to people on the ground.
Google has installed a special flight-control center and is renting 15,000 square feet of space in a hangar that was built for Virgin Galactic, The Guardian reports.
The SkyBender tests are the latest of several air- and space-based initiatives that Google is working on, including Loon, which uses air balloons to beam internet access down to earth, Project Titan, which uses drones to deliver internet access, and Project Wing, which involves drones delivering packages.
Earlier this week, Google responded to concerns about a separate airborne test, likely related to Project Loon, telling federal regulators that its plans to test high-altitude wireless transmitters across the US did not pose any health or environmental hazards.