Japan's Mitsubishi, U.S. partner to invest $1.8 billion in data centres: media

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T) plans to set up a joint venture with U.S. data centre operator Digital Realty Trust (DLR.N) and build around 10 data centres in Japan by 2022 for 200 billion yen ($ 1.8 billion), the Nikkei said on Saturday.

The logo of Mitsubishi Corp is pictured at its head office in Tokyo, Japan August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon – RC1E7B85B0E0

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi expects the centres to help meet growing demand for information storage from customers of California-based Digital Realty and generate sales of around 20 billion yen to 30 billion yen in 2022, the business daily reported, without citing sources.

The two companies could invest an additional 300 billion yen in the medium term, the Nikkei reported.

Mitsubishi could not be reached for comment.

Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Tom Hogue

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Facebook pushes ad overhaul before 2018 U.S. election: executive

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc has begun overhauling how it handles political ads on its platform and may put some changes in place before U.S. elections next year, Facebook’s chief technology officer said on Wednesday.

U.S. congressional and state elections set for November 2018 present a deadline of sorts for Facebook and other social media companies to get better at halting the kind of election meddling that the United States accuses Russia of.

“We are working on all of this stuff actively now, so there is a big focus in the company to improve all of this on a regular basis,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said in an interview.

“You’re going to see a regular cadence of updates and changes,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference that Facebook is hosting about virtual reality technology.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said last month that the company would begin treating political ads differently from other ads, including by making it possible for anyone to see political ads, no matter whom they target. U.S. lawmakers had begun calling for regulations.

Disclosures by Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google that their products were battlegrounds for Russian election meddling last year have turned into a crisis for Silicon Valley.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is in Washington this week meeting U.S. lawmakers.

Moscow has denied allegations of meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Implementing changes is tricky, Schroepfer said, because Facebook does not want to stifle legitimate speech and because of the volume of material on Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2 billion users and 5 million advertisers.

“We’re investing very heavily in technical solutions, because we’re operating at an unprecedented scale,” he said.

Facebook is also using humans. The company said this month it would hire 1,000 more people to review ads and ensure they meet its terms.

Schroepfer, 42, has been Facebook’s CTO since 2013 and previously was director of engineering. He also sits on Facebook’s board of directors.

Facebook has dealt with problematic user-generated content in the past, he said.

“We don’t want misuse of the platform, whether that’s a foreign government trying to intercede in a democracy – that’s obviously not OK – or whether it’s an individual spewing hate or uploading pornography,” he said.

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Kim Coghill

Tech

The Russian Startup for Trading Stocks and Gold With Cryptocurrency Has Stopped Accepting U.S. Investors

In the world of startups, there’s never a dull moment. Just when you think you’re cruising along with incredible momentum, a curveball out of your control can cause you to adjust in mid-stride and navigate macro-headwinds.

Valentin Preobrazhensky had a simple and brilliant idea in December 2013. He wanted to develop a peer-to-peer marketplace to increase the transparency and lower the deal costs of home loans in emerging markets so that more investors could enter, and banks could more efficiently sell loans off of their balance sheets at a fair market value.

With a background in hedge funds and marketplace software development, he launched AIBanks, rebranded to LA Token earlier this year, which has become one of the most interesting cryptocurrency startups. By 2016 he had built real traction around the platform. 25 investors and seven banks had successfully completed over 1,000 transactions through the platform.

And just when it seems that nothing can slow this entrepreneur and his team down the industry gets a dose of regulatory reality that forces them to make some on the fly adjustments in the last 24 hours as the SEC uncovered two major unrelated frauds that sent yet another ripple through the cryptocurrency markets.

Preobrazhensky and his fans now face some notable skeptics like the Financial Times and plenty of other real-time decisions to navigate as LA Token announced today that it will no longer sell tokens to U.S. investors on the heels of the breaking news overnight and fraud cases filed against two other ICOs by the SEC.

The drama leading up to the announcement

LA Token, which stands for “Liquid Asset Token Protocol,” was explained to me as a mechanism that makes sure that the link between a token and underlying asset is legally and technically enforceable. It enables a peer-to-peer contractual rights transfer between the two parties.

The first trade of tokenized Apple stock occurred on the platform this past August 19, and spawned the opening of the company’s ICO a week later. In just three days, the company attracted over $ 10 million from approximately 3,000 contributors. The money is being used, according to Preobrazhensky, to fund the full platform trading development to allow global real estate assets to be tokenized and traded through the platform.

The second and third rounds of LA Token’s ICO attracted an additional $ 7 million in the last 30 days to allow for the development of the debt and commodities exchanges. They were poised to close out the final round of their ICO in the coming week with a hard cap of $ 40 million.

This would allow them to fund the development of the full release of complimentary exchanges for trading rare works of art and other more illiquid hard assets without a middleman.

In a video chat via Whatsapp this week, a spokesperson told me, “We have a solid core business, team, and value proposition. We believe we can capture up to $ 400 billion of the total trading volume in the market by 2020 and over $ 1.2 trillion of the trading volume by 2025 through our platform.”

Several big names also believe him and are on the board or advisory team, including Cecilia Mueller Chen (former COO of UBS, chief compliance officer at China Construction Bank and chief regulatory officer at Deutsche Borse), Mike Jones (former CEO, MySpace), and Anish Mohamed (Hyperloop and HSBC advisor).

Why this story matters

LA Token is interesting because it’s setting out to build a bridge between “the crypto economy and real economies” according to the company’s website. It does this by providing a decentralized exchange that enables investors to trade non-bank and non-digital (hard) assets, from Apple or Tesla stock to rare works of art, using cryptocurrencies.

The fascinating innovation is that in the very complicated and volatile world of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies, LA Token seems to have zeroed in on a trillion-dollar niche. They aim to become a bridge to merge the two worlds of centralized banking and Wall Street trading with the wild west of decentralized cryptocurrency investors for a potential healthy marriage of opposites.

This is definitely a story to watch in the coming weeks. As entrepreneurs, we can all relate to the roller coaster ride and highs and lows–and I look forward to watching seeing how Preobrazhensky stays level-headed with his team to navigate stormy waters.

A disclosure: I don’t own any LAT in my portfolio. I am not a registered investment advisor or qualified in any way to provide investment advice. Investing in cryptocurrencies is highly risky and volatile.

Tech

Facebook to give Russia-linked ads to U.S. Congress on Monday

NEW YORK – Facebook Inc said it plans on Monday to turn over to the U.S. Congress copies of some 3,000 ads that the social network says were bought on Facebook likely by people in Russia in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. election.

Last month, in response to calls from U.S. lawmakers, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg pledged to hand over the ads to congressional investigators who are looking into alleged Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election, but he had left the timing unclear.

The materials would be delivered on Monday, Facebook said on Sunday.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has become a primary platform for internet political ads because it has a wide reach and gives advertisers powerful targeting capabilities. For that reason, it may possess valuable clues for U.S. investigators.

Facebook has already provided information about Russia-linked ads to U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also investigating alleged election meddling, a source said last month.

Moscow has denied any meddling in last year’s U.S. election, in which Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Facebook said on Sunday it would provide to Congress copies of the ads it has found, as well as related data such as whom the ads were targeted at and how much each ad cost.

The materials would be turned over to the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, and to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook said.

The $ 100,000 in ads linked to Russia focused on amplifying divisive U.S. social and political messages, Facebook said last month. Some ads mentioned Muslim support for Clinton, promoted in-person events and weighed in on the Black Lives Matter protests against police shootings, according to media reports.

The emergence of Facebook as a battleground for government-sponsored propaganda has become a major challenge for the social network’s corporate image.

Zuckerberg, in Facebook posts last month, disclosed a series of steps he said the company would take to prevent governments from manipulating it and said he had earlier been wrong to dismiss the possibility of Facebook being used in such a way.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, has likened digital political advertising to the “Wild, Wild West,” and he and others have called for legislation to impose disclosure requirements similar to what is required in the United States for political ads on television.

Reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Vivek Kundra, Salesforce Executive and Former U.S. CIO, to Speak at GTEC

This session will explore key considerations for the implementation of cloud computing in the public sector, and why a ‘cloud-first strategy’ is …


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Samsung says new U.S. offices are its ‘biggest investment in Silicon Valley’ to date

samsung-new-office-silicon-valley

Samsung officially opened the doors to its new 1.1-million-square-foot Silicon Valley offices Thursday, more than 30 years after its arrival in the San Jose tech corridor in 1983.

The building will house various research labs dedicated to semiconductors, LEDs and displays, staff in sales and marketing, and other support areas, the company said.

“[We are] laying the groundwork for a more aggressive pace of growth over the next several decades,” said Samsung’s chief executive, Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon, at the grand opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the company’s president of its U.S.-based device solutions operations, Jaesoo Han, said that the move “represents a major milestone as we open our most strategically important Samsung facility in the U.S., and also our biggest investment in Silicon Valley.”

samsung-office

Samsung also announced that it has established a $ 1 million STEM College Education Scholarship Fund. In its own words:

Deserving university students who are currently enrolled in STEM-focused programs at a California State or University of California school will benefit from this program, beginning with a $ 50,000 gift to San Jose State University this year. Each scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses for one year.

But the announcement of the new office has been largely overshadowed by news in virtual reality today: We reported that the Samsung Gear VR will launch as a consumer product this November for $ 99. (You can read our full roundup from today’s Oculus event here.)

Earlier this week, Samsung unveiled its new fonts-inspired Serif TVs, and shared more about how it relies on startups to stay ahead on technological innovation.

If you happen to be passing through the area, Samsung’s new building certainly looks worth checking out.

More information:

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Samsung says new U.S. offices are its ‘biggest investment in Silicon Valley’ to date

samsung-new-office-silicon-valley

Samsung officially opened the doors to its new 1.1-million-square-foot Silicon Valley offices Thursday, more than 30 years after its arrival in the San Jose tech corridor in 1983.

The building will house various research labs dedicated to semiconductors, LEDs and displays, staff in sales and marketing, and other support areas, the company said.

“[We are] laying the groundwork for a more aggressive pace of growth over the next several decades,” said Samsung’s chief executive, Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon, at the grand opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the company’s president of its U.S.-based device solutions operations, Jaesoo Han, said that the move “represents a major milestone as we open our most strategically important Samsung facility in the U.S., and also our biggest investment in Silicon Valley.”

samsung-office

Samsung also said that it has established a $ 1 million STEM College Education Scholarship Fund. In its own words:

Deserving university students who are currently enrolled in STEM-focused programs at a California State or University of California school will benefit from this program, beginning with a $ 50,000 gift to San Jose State University this year. Each scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses for one year.

But the announcement of the new office has been largely overshadowed by news in virtual reality today: we reported that the Samsung Gear VR will launch as a consumer product this November for $ 99. (You can also read our roundup from that event here.)

Earlier this week, Samsung unveiled its new fonts-inspired Serif TVs, and shared more about how it relies on startups to stay ahead on technological innovation.

More information:

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