Big Tech &
Spotify confirms it paid $56 million for Parcast, taking its total podcast acquisition value to $400 million (2 minute read)
Spotify has confirmed the $56 million cost to acquire Parcast, a story-based podcasting studio that it purchased last month. This is the third podcasting studio that Spotify has purchased in less than two months. Spotify purchased Gimlet and Anchor earlier this year for a confirmed amount of $344 million. In the Q4 shareholder letter, Spotify had notified investors that it had budgeted $500 million for similar purchases in 2019, so there may still be more acquisitions on the way. Podcasting is a major focus for Spotify and they are developing solutions to maximize ad revenue from the platform.
The We Company, better known as WeWork, files confidentially for IPO (3 minute read)
The We Company, formally known as WeWork, is joining the growing list of tech firms that have filed to go public this year. WeWork provided co-working spaces, and the name change represents its widening focus. The We Company includes WeLive, a branch that provides flexible residential offerings, and WeGrow, an educational unit. Between 2017 and 2018, The We Company doubled both its revenue and losses. The exact details of the IPO submission remain confidential.
The World Just Witnessed the First Entirely Virtual Presidential Campaign (7 minute read)
Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was elected in a landslide decision on Sunday. The former entertainer and comedian conducted his entire campaign online and through media, with no public contact with the electorate and only debating with other candidates towards the end of the campaign period. Voters were addressed through YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and appearing on TV. The virtual campaign allowed Zelenskiy to run without a clearly defined policy. He vaguely alluded to positions on policy issues and solicited advice from voters on his campaign website. His final platform was published online a few days before the election and contained only a few general sentences regarding major issues. It is hoped that the novice politician, who is from outside the existing political system, may be able to bring reform throughout the country.
AI researchers want to study AI the same way social scientists study humans (3 minute read)
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of AI technology is that we do not understand how the algorithms that we end up with work. While we know that the technology works and we are starting to depend on their use, it is still a mystery as to how these decisions are being made. A group of researchers are now arguing that AI behavior should be studied similar to humans and other animals by using empirical observation and experimentation. The interactions and effects of humans living and interacting with AI should be studied as we are moving into an age where we are becoming a giant human-machine system.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Stackprinter (GitHub Repo)
Stackprinter provides more talkative crash logs for Python. It is able to provide similar output to an interactive debugger but through a log file. While it is not a fully-grown error monitoring system, it is able to give an output that is more helpful than Python’s built-in crash messages.
Micronaut (GitHub Repo)
Micronaut is a JVM-based full stack microservices framework designed for building modular, easily testable microservice applications. It aims to provide all the tools necessary to build microservice applications while avoiding the downsides of frameworks like Spring, Spring Boot, and Grails. Example Micronaut applications are available.
New data will give insight into Facebook’s influence on elections (2 minute read)
Facebook has announced a new set of research projects that will look into the company’s impact on democracy. More than 60 academics will have access to privacy-protected Facebook data through various APIs. Facebook will not be involved in selecting the academics that will be approved for the projects nor will it interfere with the research going forward. The research is important as the use of social media for spreading misinformation, political advertising, and other polarizing messages has been rising and its effects have yet to be quantified.