America’s largest companies push for federal online privacy laws to circumvent state regulatory efforts – gpgmail


As California moves ahead with what would be the most restrictive online privacy laws in the nation, the chief executives of some of the nation’s largest companies are taking their case to the nation’s capitol to plead for federal regulation.

Chief executives at Amazon, AT&T, Dell, Ford, IBM, Qualcomm, Walmart, and other leading financial services, manufacturing, and technology companies have issued an open letter to Congressional leadership pleading with them to take action on online privacy, through the pro-industry organization, The Business Roundtable.

“Now is the time for Congress to act and ensure that consumers are not faced with confusion about their rights and protections based on a patchwork of inconsistent state laws. Further, as the regulatory landscape becomes increasingly fragmented and more complex, U.S. innovation and global competitiveness in the digital economy are threatened,” the letter says.

The subtext to this call to action is the California privacy regulations that are set to take effect by the end of this year.

As we noted when the bill was passed last year there are a few key components of the California legislation including the following requirements:

  • Businesses must disclose what information they collect, what business purpose they do so for and any third parties they share that data with.

  • Businesses would be required to comply with official consumer requests to delete that data.

  • Consumers can opt out of their data being sold, and businesses can’t retaliate by changing the price or level of service.

  • Businesses can, however, offer “financial incentives” for being allowed to collect data.

  • California authorities are empowered to fine companies for violations.

There’s a reason why companies would push for federal regulation to supersede any initiatives from the states. It is more of a challenge for companies to adhere to a patchwork of different regulatory regimes at the state level. But it’s also true that companies, following the lead of automakers in California, could just adhere to the most stringent requirements which would clarify any confusion.

Indeed many of these companies are already complying with strict privacy regulations thanks to the passage of the GDPR in Europe.


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Peloton’s 29 secret weapons – gpgmail


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about a new e-commerce startup, Pietra. Before that, I wrote about the flurry of IPO filings.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@Gpgmail.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

What’s new?

Peloton revealed its S-1 this week, taking a big step toward an IPO expected later this year. The filing was packed with interesting tidbits, including that the company, which manufacturers internet-connected stationary bikes and sells an affiliated subscription to its growing library of on-demand fitness content, is raking in more than $900 million in annual revenue. Sure, it’s not profitable, and it’s losing an increasing amount of money to sales and marketing efforts, but for a company that many people wrote off from the very beginning, it’s an impressive feat.

Despite being a hardware, media, interactive software, product design, social connection, apparel and logistics company, according to its S-1, the future of Peloton relies on its talent. Not the employees developing the bikes and software but the 29 instructors teaching its digital fitness courses. Ally Love, Alex Toussaint and the 27 other teachers have developed cult followings, fans who will happily pay Peloton’s steep $39 per month content subscription to get their daily dose of Ben or Christine.

“To create Peloton, we needed to build what we believed to be the best indoor bike on the market, recruit the best instructors in the world, and engineer a state-of-the-art software platform to tie it all together,” founder and CEO John Foley writes in the IPO prospectus. “Against prevailing conventional wisdom, and despite countless investor conference rooms full of very smart skeptics, we were determined for Peloton to build a vertically integrated platform to deliver a seamless end-to-end experience as physically rewarding and addictive as attending a live, in-studio class.”

Peloton succeeded in poaching the best of the best. The question is, can they keep them? Will competition in the fast-growing fitness technology sector swoop in and scoop Peloton’s stars?

In other news

Last week I published a long feature on the state of seed investing in the Bay Area. The TL;DR? Mega-funds are increasingly battling seed-stage investors for access to the hottest companies. As a result, seed investors are getting a little more creative about how they source deals. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and everyone wants a stake in The Next Big Thing. Read the story here.

Rounds of the week

Time to Disrupt

Don’t miss out on our flagship Disrupt, which takes place October 2-4. It’s the quintessential tech conference for anyone focused on early-stage startups. Join more than 10,000 attendees — including over 1,200 exhibiting startups — for three jam-packed days of programming. We’re talking four different stages with interactive workshops, Q&A sessions and interviews with some of the industry’s top tech titans, founders, investors, movers and shakers. Check out our list of speakers and the Disrupt agenda. I will be there interviewing a bunch of tech leaders, including Bastian Lehmann and Charles Hudson. Buy tickets here.

Listen

This week on Equity, gpgmail’s venture capital-focused podcast, we had Floodgate’s Iris Choi on to discuss Peloton’s upcoming IPO. You can listen to it here. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Spotify.

Learn

We published a number of new deep dives on Extra Crunch, our paid subscription product, this week. Here’s a quick look at the top stories:




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How Pivotal got bailed out by fellow Dell family member, VMware – gpgmail


When Dell acquired EMC in 2016 for $67 billion, it created a complicated consortium of interconnected organizations. Some, like VMware and Pivotal, operate as completely separate companies. They have their own boards of directors, can acquire companies and are publicly traded on the stock market. Yet they work closely within the Dell, partnering where it makes sense. When Pivotal’s stock price plunged recently, VMware saved the day when it bought the faltering company for $2.7 billion yesterday.

Pivotal went public last year, and sometimes struggled, but in June the wheels started to come off after a poor quarterly earnings report. The company had what MarketWatch aptly called “a train wreck of a quarter.”

How bad was it? So bad that its stock price was down 42% the day after it reported its earnings. While the quarter itself wasn’t so bad, with revenue up year over year, the guidance was another story. The company cut its 2020 revenue guidance by $40-$50 million and the guidance it gave for the upcoming 2Q19 was also considerably lower than consensus Wall Street estimates.

The stock price plunged from a high of $21.44 on May 30th to a low of $8.30 on Aug 14th. The company’s market cap plunged in that same time period falling from $5.828 billion on May 30th to $2.257 billion on Aug 14th. That’s when VMware admitted it was thinking about buying the struggling company.


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VMware says it’s looking to acquire Pivotal – gpgmail


VMware today confirmed that it is in talks to acquire software development platform Pivotal Software, the service best known for commercializing the open-source Cloud Foundry platform. The proposed transaction would see VMware acquire all outstanding Pivotal Class A stock for $15 per share, a significant markup over Pivotal’s current share price (which unsurprisingly shot up right after the announcement).

Pivotal’s shares have struggled since the company’s IPO in April 2018. The company was originally spun out of EMC Corporation (now DellEMC) and VMware in 2012 to focus on Cloud Foundry, an open-source software development platform that is currently in use by the majority of Fortune 500 companies. A lot of these enterprises are working with Pivotal to support their Cloud Foundry efforts. Dell itself continues to own the majority of VMware and Pivotal, and VMware also owns an interest in Pivotal already and sells Pivotal’s services to its customers, as well. It’s a bit of an ouroboros of a transaction.

Pivotal Cloud Foundry was always the company’s main product, but it also offered additional consulting services on top of that. Despite improving its execution since going public, Pivotal still lost $31.7 million in its last financial quarter as its stock price traded at just over half of the IPO price. Indeed, the $15 per share VMware is offering is identical to Pivotal’s IPO price.

An acquisition by VMware would bring Pivotal’s journey full circle, though this is surely not the journey the Pivotal team expected. VMware is a Cloud Foundry Foundation platinum member, together with Pivotal, DellEMC, IBM, SAP and Suse, so I wouldn’t expect any major changes in VMware’s support of the overall open-source ecosystem behind Pivotal’s core platform.

It remains to be seen whether the acquisition will indeed happen, though. In a press release, VMware acknowledged the discussion between the two companies but noted that “there can be no assurance that any such agreement regarding the potential transaction will occur, and VMware does not intend to communicate further on this matter unless and until a definitive agreement is reached.” That’s the kind of sentence lawyers like to write. I would be quite surprised if this deal didn’t happen, though.

Buying Pivotal would also make sense in the grand scheme of VMware’s recent acquisitions. Earlier this year, the company acquired Bitnami, and last year it acquired Heptio, the startup founded by two of the three co-founders of the Kubernetes project, which now forms the basis of many new enterprise cloud deployments and, most recently, Pivotal Cloud Foundry.


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At a Glance: Dell UltraSharp U3419W Curved USB-C Monitor Review


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Product titles are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes you can figure out exactly what a product’s special features are just from the product’s name, and other times it takes a bit more research. Dell’s UltraSharp U3419W Curved USB-C display falls into the former of these two categories. This indicates that this display utilizes a curved panel that measures 34 inches diagonally, that it was created in 2019, and that it is part of Dell’s UltraSharp business-oriented product line. The USB Type-C reference in the product name, however, takes a bit more thought.

Design & Features

Many business-oriented displays today come with built-in USB ports, but not many monitors feature a USB-C port due to its relatively recent introduction. At first, you may think this isn’t a big deal, but USB-C is more than just another USB port. In addition to transferring data relatively quickly, this port can also be used as a video connection and as a charging port for systems that need up to 90W of power.

This is a standard feature of the USB-C interface and it’s likely to become more widely used in the future as more devices are designed to take advantage of it. But as of now, relatively few products do. Still, it’s nice to see companies starting to implement USB-C as a display option.

As mentioned in the intro the display uses a curved panel, which helps to create a more immersive gaming and work environment. This panel has a resolution of 3440×1440, and as an IPS panel it offers excellent viewing angles up to 178 degrees in all directions. Dell factory-calibrates these displays to cover 99 percent of the sRGB color spectrum, which would mean it has superior overall color accuracy than the majority of displays on the market today. Our sister site, PCMag, tested the color accuracy of an UltraSharp U3419W Curved USB-C display first-hand using a Klein K10-A colorimeter and the SpectraCal CalMAN 5 software, which returned results that exceeded Dell’s specifications by covering 100 percent of the sRGB color space.

This display also features a pair of 2W built-in speakers for basic audio playback. The reviewer at PCMag reported that these speakers sounded a little soft but otherwise sounded decent.

Conclusion

Dell set its UltraSharp U3419W Curved USB-C monitor with an MSRP of $1,099.99, but it’s commercially available today from Dell for $849.99. Considering this price tag and the display’s features, the monitor comes off as a little overpriced for its features. Competing displays such as Dell’s own UltraSharp U3219Q and Acer’s Nitro XV3 offer superior color accuracy and a higher resolution at similar price points. I’d still recommend the UltraSharp U3419W Curved USB-C as a solid display for business use, but at its current price point, you will need to do a little research ensure it’s the best option available when you go to buy.

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Epic Win: AMD’s 64-core 7nm Epyc CPUs Leave Xeon Lying in the Dirt


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AMD has launched its 7nm “Rome” series of Epyc server CPUs, with up to 64 cores, 128 threads, 225W TDPs, and a maximum clock speed of up to 3.4GHz. While third-generation Ryzen has lit up the enthusiast boards and driven extremely strong channel sales in the last month, the server market is where AMD truly wants to play. The server market, in many respects, is where it’s at.

And while corporate launches are basically an invitation for a company to make aggressive claims in the friendliest environment on Earth, the specific claims that AMD is making are eye-opening. AMD claims that Epyc sets no fewer than 80 new world records for CPU performance as measured in a wide range of industry-standard benchmarks, with the Epyc 7742 delivering 97 percent higher performance than Intel’s Xeon Platinum 8280L in peak SPECint 2017. Additional performance claims are shown below:

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Image by Anandtech

Some of these gains will be familiar to those who have followed AMD’s 7nm Ryzen unveils. Just as Ryzen will shortly reach up to 16 cores on desktop, Epyc will now field up to 64 cores. The addition of 256-bit AVX2 registers to the Ryzen design means that AMD CPUs now offer up to 4x the floating-point performance of Epyc 1. Intel isn’t going to have an easy time of countering this — Cascade Lake is already in-market for the year, and Cooper Lake will drop in early 2020. This is why Intel CEO Bob Swan started acknowledging that his company expects a more competitive AMD several months ago. The writing has been on the proverbial wall.

Single-threaded workloads have an average improved IPC of 1.15x at the same frequency, while 32-core / 64-thread workload uplift is even higher, at 1.23x. The maximum gain AMD saw from IPC and efficiency improvements on a 32-core CPU was up to 1.4x, though this should be considered an unusual result. As previously reported, Epyc includes 128 PCIe lanes, PCIe 4.0 support, and can load up to 8TB of DDR4-3200.

The company is trying to make a lot of hay over its 2S deployment capabilities, claiming that a 2S AMD Epyc configuration offers a 44 percent lower TCO (total cost of ownership), allows for a 45 percent reduction in total servers (thanks to higher CPU counts) and offers 83 percent more performance (thanks to a combination of higher core counts and higher performance). AMD is arguing that their single-socket configuration offers I/O and overall performance equivalent to a dual-socket Xeon. Depending on the application and scenario, they may well be right. Intel’s dual sockets top out at 56 cores, AMD can do a single-socket 64-core system.

This approach has historical merit. Back in the early 2000s, AMD’s Opteron was a strong server competitor for Xeon from the beginning, but it was particularly strong in markets that used multi-socket systems. AMD’s “glueless” server architecture allowed it to attach cores directly to each other using HyperTransport, while Intel CPUs were connected to — and severely bottlenecked by — a common, shared, front-side bus. Single-socket servers were already quite popular in the early 2000s, but while the 2S and 4S markets were smaller, they were extremely lucrative. AMD eventually took approximately 20 percent of the server market from Intel in 2005 – 2006 before its decline began, but its earliest and largest successes were in the high core-count servers where its products had the greatest advantage over Intel in terms of relative feature sets.

The situation today is not identical, but it is analogous. Again, we see AMD putting in particular effort to make certain its top-end parts are difficult or impossible for Intel to match. A 2S AMD Rome deployment packs up to 128 cores. The Cascade Lake-AP servers that Intel sells are BGA-only and by all accounts, exceptionally expensive. Unless you use Cascade Lake-AP, you’re limited to 28 cores in an Intel socket. AMD can sell you 64.

Anandtech has a detailed review of the Epyc 7nm launch hardware, and the results fully live up to the expectations. Even in AVX-512 applications intended for the HPC market, dual Epyc 7742 is capable of matching dual Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 CPUs.

87250v212Epyc2

Image by Anandtech.

This is literally one of the most Intel-friendly benchmark runs you could possibly arrange. With AVX-512 on an optimized Intel rig, the 7742 is merely just as fast at a fraction of the price. Without those AVX-512 optimizations, AMD is 1.43x faster. Overall, AMD is offering 50-100 percent more performance than Intel in the server market, at a 40 percent lower price tag. According Anandtech, there is simply “no contest.”

Intel can cut its prices, to be sure. Beyond that, it has limited maneuverability. Ice Lake servers will not arrive for another year. Pricing on these cores is simply amazing, with a top-end Epyc 7742 selling for just $6950, or roughly $108 per core. An Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 has a list price of over $10,000 for a 28-core chip, just to put that in perspective. If you want a 32-core part, the Epyc 7502 packs 32 cores, 64 threads, higher IPC, and an additional 300MHz of frequency (2.5GHz base, versus 2.2GHz) for $2600 as opposed to the old price of $4200 for the 7601. AMD doesn’t segment its products the way Intel does, which means you get the full benefits of buying an Epyc part in terms of PCIe lanes and additional features. AMD also supports up to 4TB of RAM per socket. Intel tops out at 2TB per socket, and slaps a price premium on that level of RAM support.

In short? Epic Epyc win. Analysts are predicting the company’s market share in servers could double by mid-2020. Dell, Lenovo, and HPE have servers in the works. Epyc 1 was a test shot and a pipecleaner. Epyc 2, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day — but once constructed, it dominated the geopolitical landscape of the ancient world for centuries. Intel had best hope its rival’s new CPU doesn’t live up to the reputation of its namesake.

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Nvidia Woos Creatives With New RTX Studio Laptops


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When Nvidia rolled out its RTX family of GPUs last year it was all about gaming. The new Ray Tracing (RT) cores aimed to create more realistic game experiences, assisted by inferencing (AI) cores that enabled the acceleration of low-noise ray tracing. This year at SIGGRAPH, Nvidia is touting how RTX is making progress with creative professionals. Specifically, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Boxx are rolling out 10 new RTX Studio laptops, adding to the 17 previously announced. The new crop makes Turing GPU performance much more accessible to a wide range of users.

Dell Precision 7540 delivers an RTX laptop, for a priceThe new laptopsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce span both Nvidia’s family of consumer and professional RTX GPUs, with some sporting GeForce RTX models (2060, 2070, and 2080) and others Quadro RTX (3000, 4000, 5000) versions. Models with the Quadro RTX 5000 also offer up to 16GB of graphics memory — a real boon for those training large AI models, among others. Nvidia touts up to 7x performance compared with the MacBook Pro, but I suspect Apple will be coming out with some speedier GPU options in its MacBook line soon. Here’s a round-up of the ten new Nvidia Studio laptop models:

  • Lenovo Legion Y740 Laptop Studio Edition, which features up to GeForce RTX 2080 GPUs within 17- and 15-inch laptops, available later this fall.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad P53 and P73 mobile workstations support up to Quadro RTX 5000 GPUs within 17- and 15-inch systems. The ThinkPad P53 is available now; the ThinkPad P73 will be available starting August.
  • Dell Precision 7540 and Dell Precision 7740 mobile workstations, available today, are configurable with up to Quadro RTX 5000 GPUs.
  • HP ZBook 15 and 17 mobile workstations feature Quadro RTX GPUs, with the 17-inch model configurable with up to a Quadro RTX 5000.
  • BOXX GoBOXX SLM mobile workstations are available with a Quadro RTX 3000 GPU in the 15-inch system and either Quadro RTX 4000 or 3000 in the 17-inch system.

Creative Apps Move to Support RTX

Nvidia also announced that more than 40 creative and design applications have in some way embraced RTX — using the dedicated RT and AI cores for new features and performance enhancement. To make optimal use of those applications, Nvidia has also updated its GeForce Experience driver manager to offer the option of Studio Drivers, in addition to Game Drivers.

As someone who games on my main video editing machine, the new driver options can be a bit confusing. I installed the Studio edition of drivers for my 1080, but then when I launched a game it warned me that I didn’t have the most recent drivers (the Game drivers are a newer version). It isn’t clear to me if it is possible to have a driver set that is optimized for both gaming and creative apps, and if not, what the tradeoffs are between them.

RTX Doesn’t Come Cheap

From a quick check of current pricing on one of the new models — the Dell Precision 7740, a solid configuration that includes an RTX 3000 (the only RTX model available on the web site) prices out at over $3,000 after discount. The 6GB RTX 3000 is priced at a $300 premium over the non-RTX Turing-based T2000. So, just as with skepticism over the initial game support of RTX last year, I expect some wait-and-see until there are more specifics on exactly how extensively RTXSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce has been integrated into common creative applications before there’s a huge wave of adoption.

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