Connect with us

Tech

Australian PM slams ‘arrogant’ Facebook for banning news content

Published

on

Australian PM slams 'arrogant' Facebook for banning news content

Australia’s prime minister on Thursday slammed Facebook’s “arrogant,” retaliatory move to yank news content from its site — as he and other leaders refused to bow to pressure from Silicon Valley.

“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” PM Scott Morrison wrote on his own Facebook page.

The prime minister tore into Facebook the same day the social media giant issued an immediate ban on media content across its platform down under — resulting in emergency services and government pages, including the Queensland and South Australia state health departments, also going dark.

The sweeping move — which came without warning — was in response to legislation passed by Australia’s House of Representatives that would make Facebook and Google negotiate with media companies and pay for news content that gets distributed on their sites.

The bill is headed for a vote in the Senate and is expected to pass next week.

“We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code,” Morrison promised.

He added, “These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behavior of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.

“They may be changing the world, but that doesn’t mean they run it.”

Morrison also hinted that he’s rallying global support to take action against Facebook. 

“I am in regular contact with the leaders of other nations on these issues,” he wrote.

The prime minister has already been in contact with Narendra Modi, his counterpart in India, which has the most Facebook users in the world, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The two leaders shared a phone call on Thursday afternoon.

Facebook, which has 17 million users in Australia, and Google take a combined 81 percent of online advertising in Australia.

The country’s Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Thursday also vowed to move forward with the legislation despite the media blackout.

“We’ll be proceeding with the code,” he told Australia’s ABC News. “We want Google and Facebook to stay in Australia, but we’ve been very clear that if you do business in Australia, you need to comply with the laws passed by the elected parliament of this nation.”

In a blog post early Thursday, William Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand, defended the platform’s decision for an all-out news blackout after the bill cleared the House.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” he wrote. “It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

Facebook’s sudden action has sparked fierce criticism, including from its own former chief executive, Stephen Scheeler, who headed Facebook Australia and New Zealand.

“It shouldn’t have happened. But unfortunately it did,” Scheeler told The Australian. “But there’s no good answers … But at Facebook nobody ever loses their jobs.”

“I’m a proud ex-Facebooker, but over the years I get more and more exasperated. For Facebook and Mark it’s too much about the money, and the power, and not about the good,” Scheeler added. “Imagine if a Chinese company for example had done this, we would be up in arms. All Australians should be quite alarmed by this.”

Scheeler, who resigned in 2017, also urged Australians to boycott the site and called for “more regulation” of the social media giant.

Google and Facebook have waged war against the proposed “News Media Bargaining Code,” with the search engine titan saying it could give bigger companies an “unfair advantage” over its free services.

“The law is set up to give big media companies special treatment and to encourage them to make enormous and unreasonable demands that would put our free services at risk,” Mel Silva, a Google Australia managing director, wrote in an August letter.

Google has also threatened to shut down its search engine in Australia if the bill gets passed — though Fletcher noted that the tech giant took a more conciliatory approach to making deals with publishers.

On Wednesday, Google agreed to make “significant payments” to News Corp. — which owns The Post and the Wall Street Journal — in order to provide its news content as part of a three-year deal.

The financial terms weren’t disclosed, but a source close to the situation pegged it at tens of millions of dollars.

Fletcher told ABC that said the proposed law is “about having a diverse, well-resourced media sector in Australia.

“That’s an important part of our democratic process,” he said. “May not seem so important perhaps in Silicon Valley but it’s very important to the Australian government and the Australian people.”

Meanwhile, Facebook said it erroneously restricted so many pages because the draft law didn’t clearly define news content.

For instance, Save the Children Australia, the Hobart Women’s Shelter, and the Kids Cancer Project had their pages pulled from the platform, as did the Brisbane City Council, South Australia Health and the Bureau of Meteorology.

By the evening local time on Thursday, some of these pages had already been restored.

A spokesperson said it would work to restore access to certain pages.

“The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.”

With Post wires

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

MachineMetrics raises $20M to meet industrial analytics demand

Published

on

MachineMetrics

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Industrial analytics and machine monitoring platform MachineMetrics today announced that it closed a $20 million series B funding round led by Teradyne, an industrial automation and robotics company. Bill Bither, MachineMetrics cofounder and CEO, says that the new capital will be used to scale the company’s sales, marketing, and customer operations; expand its partner ecosystem; and enhance capabilities at the edge.

Manufacturing is undergoing a resurgence as business owners look to modernize their factories and speed up operations. According to ABI Research, more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses around the world by 2025, up from under 4,000 warehouses as of 2018. Oxford Economics anticipates 12.5 million manufacturing jobs will be automated in China, while McKinsey projects machines will take upwards of 30% of these jobs in the U.S.

MachineMetrics’ platform aims to streamline machine data collection and production analytics to deliver insights. It offers plug-and-play connectivity to standardize, process, and analyze data at the source, providing the visibility ostensibly needed to avoid downtime and production losses.

“A trio of partners — myself, [Eric] Fogg, and Jacob Lauzier — came together on the concept roughly six years ago in an effort to capitalize on emerging technology that has essentially created a language that allows shop operators to read how their machines are functioning,” Bither told VentureBeat via email. “I met Fogg at a Valley Venture Mentors meeting, a local startup mentoring program, soon after he sold document imaging vendor Atalasoft [to Kofax for $5.5 million in 2011], and we began looking at challenges we could undertake together … Soon after founding MachineMetrics, we brought on a third partner, Jacob Lauzier, the company’s CTO, who brings to that post a background as a user interface designer and web application developer.”

Above: MachineMetrics’ cross-platform dashboard.

Image Credit: MachineMetrics

With MachineMetrics, customers can connect sensors or older equipment with digital and analog interfaces (including Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and cellular) that can be configured and managed remotely through a web interface. The platform’s data engine transforms machine data into standard structures across different types of equipment, including data items such as custom sensor values, machine status, modes, alarms, overrides, load, speeds, feeds, and diagnostics.

Transformed data from MachineMetrics is aggregated and warehoused in a provisioned cloud environment, where customers can layer operational data and annotations on top to quantify modes like setup, production, and maintenance. The platform can also run analytics and AI and machine learning models to analyze data at the edge. For example, customers can deploy and manage algorithms to send alerts to factory workers or stop machines prior to equipment failure.

In addition to this, MachineMetrics offers an app building platform with capabilities like real-time dashboards, historical reporting, rules-based workflows, and text and email notifications. Users can create their own operator UI and apps, bring in a third-party elements like quality or work instructions, customize operator visuals for various roles, or publish data from the cloud directly into Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and other cloud service providers.

Improving analytics

Eighty-one percent of industrial internet of things implementations fail, according to McKinsey. And MachineMetrics’ own findings show that average machine utilization in manufacturing rate hovers around 24%, a low mark that has the potential to limit production. Bither says that the main culprits are process inefficiencies, unplanned maintenance, machine failures, and capital expenditure budgets.

“These machines, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, produce hundreds of data points every millisecond, yet this data is not being captured or analyzed to improve efficiency despite all of the innovations in robotics and automation,” Bither said. “In order to get value from the data, specialized analytics need to be built, which is challenging without a common data structure. IoT platforms … are built to serve all industries, and therefore cannot solve actual manufacturing problems without custom system integration and application development … For example, in discrete manufacturing, there are hundreds of different OEM machine builders with no consistent standard of connectivity.”

Beyond its analytics platform, what MachineMetrics brings to the table is a dataset, collected over the last half-decade, of trillions of data points capturing millisecond-level changes on various machines, Bither says. This allows MachineMetrics to pinpoint problems on machines and prevent failures from happening using physics modeling and machine learning.

MachineMetrics

To date, 50-employee MachineMetrics has issued hundreds of remote stoppages of machines via its fleet of edge devices, Bither claims, resulting in the prevention of thousands of bad parts and tool failures. “MachineMetrics’ data science analyzes the why and how of the machine breakdown, using the extremely fine-grained data we collect from the machine’s motors. Over time, patterns emerge for each type of failure — allowing us to create a simple thresholding algorithm to stop the machine in its tracks whenever we see the earliest indicator,” he said. “Customers eliminate waste and can increase production without buying new industrial machines [and] harness the data we collect from the factory floor to make operational improvements across the board.”

MachineMetrics has indirect competition in production intelligence software provider Datanomix, predict maintenance platform Augury, and edge app development platforms Tulip and FogHorn. But business boomed during the pandemic as enterprises embraced digital transformation. MachineMetrics nearly doubled in revenue over the past 12 months and has hundreds of customers with thousands of users, according to Bither, spanning small manufacturing operations to large OEMs.

“Overall, the pandemic didn’t create a need for MachineMetrics — it accelerated it. Companies that relied on generic IoT solutions have learned lessons in the downfall. They are now eagerly investing in vertically focused solutions to drive value today,” Bither said.

The latest funding round brings Boston, Massachusetts-based MachineMetrics’ total raised to $37.7 million. Ridgeline Ventures and existing investors Tola Capital and Hyperplane also participated in the company’s series B.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

Continue Reading

Tech

BrowserStack, a cross-browser web testing platform for DevOps, raises $200M

Published

on

BrowserStack, a cross-browser web testing platform for DevOps, raises $200M

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


BrowserStack, a website testing platform for developer operations (DevOps) teams, has raised $200 million in a series B round of funding.

The funding, which gives the company a valuation of $4 billion, comes as businesses across every sector have had to embrace digital transformation due to the global pandemic. Accordingly, this creates the need for more tools to test software and accelerate the rate at which new features go to market, with the cloud playing an integral role in this process.

“Enterprises today need to release software with speed and quality to remain competitive,” BrowserStack cofounder and CEO Ritesh Arora told VentureBeat. “We replace the need for teams to own and manage an in-house test infrastructure. This means development teams can focus on building quality software at speed, rather than maintaining an in-house testing infrastructure that is complex to build and impossible to scale.”

How it works

Founded in 2011, BrowserStack helps developer and quality assurance (QA) teams test their software on thousands of device, browser, and operating system combinations to identify any bugs — both manually or automatically. The company, which has amassed an impressive roster of customers, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Spotify, says it has 15 data centers around the world, ensuring developers benefit from minimal latency wherever they are.

The crux of the issue is this: a website might work just fine on the latest version of Chrome installed on the most recent Android flagship from Samsung, but what about Firefox on an old version of Windows? All the potential permutations of hardware and software configurations make it difficult for developers and testers to constantly check that their software will work well for all users, which is where BrowserStack’s cloud-based testing platform comes into play, and includes automated Selenium testing for desktop and mobile browsers.

Above: BrowserStack

For companies looking to test prototype or other “work-in-progress” web and mobile apps away from the public stage, BrowserStack also supports testing in local development environments.

“We support every development and testing environment used by developers,” noted Arora. “Local testing allows developers to test applications hosted behind firewalls by creating a secure tunnel between the developer’s environment and BrowserStack’s platform”

On the enterprise side, BrowserStack offers advanced administrative controls, single sign-on support for user authentication, and data governance via network controls. On top of this, BrowserStack offers fairly deep analytics, which can be used to evaluate the performance of software testing automation, for example, while businesses can dig down into metrics around build times and coverage to ensure that they’re testing for the right device / browser combinations.

UsageAnalytics Enterprise

Above: BrowserStack: Usage analytics

Testing times

The broader software testing market was estimated to be a nearly $46 billion industry last year, a figure that’s set to more than double within six years.

BrowserStack had previously raised $50 million at its series A round of funding more than three years ago, and its latest cash injection was spearheaded by Bond, with participation from Insight Partners and Accel. Elsewhere, BrowserStack rival LambdaTest secured $16 million in funding earlier this month, which followed a few months after another notable competitor called Sauce Labs upped its investment from asset firm TPG.

So what is driving demand for such platforms? Well, it seems that the global pandemic has left an indelible mark on just about every company and industry — BrowserStack and its cloud-based brethren are no different.

“Covid has forced every single organization globally to look at work-from-home and remote working options,” Arora said. “This led to a large number of companies looking at cloud solutions to replace their on-premise infrastructure. Covid has also led to the acceleration of digital transformation across sectors, as companies look for ways to scale and increase velocity without relying on their in-house systems.”

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

Continue Reading

Tech

Worker engagement and communication platform Sense raises $16M

Published

on

Worker engagement and communication platform Sense raises $16M

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Sense, an AI-powered worker engagement and communication platform backed by Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV, has raised $16 million in a series C round of funding.

The raise comes as the San Francisco-based company reports demand for its platform has “doubled” over the past year, with businesses rethinking their hiring and engagement philosophies to stand out among the competition.

“Traditionally, companies in the highly-skilled, knowledge worker sectors used to face challenges in finding the right candidates,” Sense cofounder and CEO Anil Dharni told VentureBeat. “Today, there is a famine of candidates regardless of the sector. Sectors such as retail, hospitality, and healthcare are struggling to attract and engage with candidates.”

Working capital

Founded in 2015, Sense helps recruiters and staffing agencies broadcast messages to workers, giving key information on new assignments or requesting feedback. According to Dharni, Sense can reduce the time-to-hire figure by between 40-80%, thus lowering the cost and “improving the quality of candidate experience” for businesses of all sizes.

Through its message studio, HR can send messages and reminders, dispatch surveys, and automate all of this by setting up filters and triggers around key events such as the day before a worker is schedule to being a new job. An integrated chatbot allows them to engage with workers before, during, and after a gig has finished, providing them with key information and even fielding questions.

Above: Sense: Chatbot

A core component of the Sense platform is its analytics, which enables businesses to track worker engagement and satisfaction, with stats around message delivery and open rates, chatbot metrics, link clicks, and more.

Frame 1

Above: Sense: Analytics

The Amazon factor

While Sense was once focused exclusively on contractors, it has extended into the broader full-time workforce through targeting industries such as retail, hospitality, logistics, and warehousing. So this means that as well as working in the past with big-name staffing agencies such as Adecco and Apex Systems, Sense now claims retail heavyweights such as Amazon and Sears among its client base.

“Over time, we have discovered that the problems of finding great people and retaining them exists both in the contractor / temp worker front as well as in full-time workers,” Dharni said. “On the general employees side, Sense focuses on companies that have high volume hiring and have a large number of full-time hourly workers. Similar to temporary workers, talent in these industries have high candidate drop-off rates and worker attrition.”

Prior to now, Sense had raised around $23.5 million, including its GV-led series B round of funding two years ago. With its latest cash injection, which saw GV return alongside Avataar Venture Partners and Accel, the company is now well-financed to serve its growing array of enterprise customers.

“Enterprises are realizing that there aren’t enough workers for them to attract and are having to rethink the way they hire,” Dharni  said. “Speed to hire, while lowering the cost of acquisition, has become the number one priority for all enterprises.”

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

Continue Reading

Trending