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Weekly Roundup: Obama imposes sanctions on Russian intelligence, Snapchat and Oculus eat up startups


This year, Donald Trump’s U.S. election triumph sent Silicon Valley into a spiral of uncertainty, Facebook addressed its fake news problem, the IPO landscape saw little action and the UK separated form the EU. Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc. and launched its Spectacles hardware product. Twitter is still fighting its abuse problem, Yahoo suffered two massive breaches and Samsung phones exploded. We chronicled tech in 2016 in full here, and you can see the rest of our year end series here. 

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1. The Obama administration announced that it will impose sanctions on Russian intelligence services and officials in response to the hacks of American political institutions during the election season. The real question is whether or not this even matters – as the election is already over.

2. Snapchat acquired Cimagine, a four-year-old Israeli startup whose augmented reality platform lets you visualize products you want to buy in an intended location. The deal closed for an amount reported between $30 million and $40 million.

3. It’s Google’s world and we all just live in it. Cyanogen, the ambitious startup that aimed to build a better version of Android than Google, is closing up shop. The company that once claimed it was “putting a bullet through Google’s head,”  has laid off staff, let go of its CEO and now it is shutting down its services and nightly software builds on December 31. But its lineage will live on. 

4. Snapchat wasn’t the only one to make an acquisition this week. Oculus snapped up a startup called The Eye Tribe, which has developed $99 eye tracking device developer kits for computers, and software that can bring gaze-based interfaces to smartphones (and potentially VR headsets).

5. Amazon’s drone delivery ambitions are nothing new. But patent filings discovered this week show new “airborne fulfillment centers” or, warehouses in a zeppelin that send delivery drones to your door. The airborne fulfillment centers, or AFCs, would be stocked with inventory and positioned near a location where Amazon predicts demand for certain items will soon spike.

6. Internet-connected devices may start helping in criminal cases, and one of Amazon’s always-listening Echo devices may be a key witness in a recent one. Police in Bentonville, Arkansas issued a warrant to Amazon, asking the company to hand over data from an Echo device to help prosecute a suspected murderer. Amazon has so far declined to hand over information in the case.


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