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1. Mozilla lays off 70 as it waits for new products to generate revenue
In an internal memo, Mozilla chairwoman and interim CEO Mitchell Baker specifically mentions the slow rollout of the organization’s new revenue-generating products as the reason for the cuts. The overall number may end up being higher than 70, as Mozilla is still looking into how this decision will affect workers in the U.K. and France.
“Mozilla has a strong line of sight to future revenue generation, but we are taking a more conservative approach to our finances,” Baker wrote. “This will enable us to pivot as needed to respond to market threats to internet health, and champion user privacy and agency.”
2. Apple buys edge-based AI startup Xnor.ai for a reported $200M
Xnor.ai began as a process for making machine learning algorithms highly efficient — so efficient that they could run on even the lowest tier of hardware out there, things like embedded electronics in security cameras. This acquisition makes sense, as Apple clearly intends for its devices to operate independent of the cloud when it comes to tasks like facial recognition, natural language processing and augmented reality.
3. The US government should stop demanding tech companies compromise on encryption
In a tweet late Tuesday, President Trump criticized Apple for refusing “to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements” — referring to a locked iPhone that belonged to a Saudi airman who killed three U.S sailors in December. Zack Whittaker explains why the government’s argument is a red herring. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
4. Mojo Vision’s AR contact lenses are very cool, but many questions remain
The company’s latest demos involve holding a lens or device close to the eye in order to get a feel for what an eventual AR contact lens would look like.
5. Google Cloud gets a premium support plan with 15-minute response times
The premium plan, which Google will charge for based on your monthly Google Cloud Platform spend (with a minimum cost of around $12,500 per month), promises a 15-minute response time in situations when an application or infrastructure is unusable in production.
6. Amazon’s fresh $1B investment in India is not a big favor, says India trade minister
A day after Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos announced that his company is pumping in an additional $1 billion into its India operations, the nation’s trade minister Piyush Goyal said he wasn’t impressed.
7. Companies take baby steps toward home robots at CES
CES is slowly, but steadily, starting to take robotics more seriously. (Extra Crunch membership required.)