Posts with «venture capital» label

Amazon launches an accelerator to boost generative AI startups

Amazon may not be known for making generative AI, but it's eager to help others get their technology up and running. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is launching a generative AI accelerator that will help the "most promising" startups flourish. The 10-week program provides credits for AWS use, access to mentors and other experts and networking events. At the end, startups pitch their work to potential investors and customers.

While the accelerator is open to all generative AI startups, AWS recommends that candidates have at least a basic product ready with some interest from customers. Sign-ups are available worldwide through April 17th, and Amazon makes clear that there are no limits on how the AI is being used — it can be used for everything from the legal world through to discovering new medicines.

The company hopes the accelerator will serve as a "catalyst" that advances innovation in generative AI. At the same time, it's not subtle about the potential for increased business at AWS. Runway used the cloud computing platform for an artist-oriented AI that contributed effects to Everything Everywhere All At Once. Firms that blossom as a result of the program may rely that much more on AWS as demand grows.

Amazon only has a limited amount of in-house generative AI at the moment. Its Create with Alexa tool lets you generate children's stories on an Echo Show smart display, for instance. However, it also faces less pressure to create its own products than tech rivals like Google and Microsoft. It still stands to profit as long as there's plenty of demand for AWS tools, and might see inspirations for its own AI work.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Buy an Xbox Series S and Amazon will give you $40 credit on Cyber Monday

If you've been waiting for the best possible deal on an Xbox Series S console, today is the day. For Cyber Monday, Amazon is offering a $60 discount (20 percent) plus a $40 coupon that can be applied to future purchases. That effectively gives you a $100 discount (33 percent) off the regular $300 price for today only — a great deal on a very good console. 

Buy Xbox Series S at Amazon - $240 (with $40 credit)

When the Series S came out, we called it the "next-gen starter pack" and gave it a solid 85 score. Even though it doesn't support gameplay in 4K, it plays incredibly smoothly and has a svelte look that will fit into any decor. Thanks to the FPS boost technology added to the Series S and X, older games, including many made for Xbox One, will look and perform better with faster frame rates.

Unlike the Series X, the Series S only plays digital titles, with no slot to insert physical game media. It's a great option if you have an Xbox Game Pass membership, though, which costs $10 per month for the Console tier, and $15 per month for the Ultimate tier. Either level unlocks a library with hundreds of game to download and play, while also granting discounts to many titles you might want to buy outright.

Another caveat is that the Series S has less SSD storage, with 512GB on-board compared to the 1TB for the Series X. If you like to keep plenty of titles on hand, you'll either need to shuffle them between the main disk and USB-C storage, or purchase Seagate's $200 expansion card. All told, though, it's a great option for casual console gamers, particularly considering all the backward-compatible Game Pass games — just keep in mind that the sale ends today. 

Medium founder and CEO Ev Williams is stepping down

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams is stepping as CEO of Medium. Williams announced the decision on Tuesday. Writing on Medium (where else?), he said he’s handing the company over to Tony Stubblebine, the CEO of

Stubblebine may not be a household name, but the two have a long history together. Before Williams went on to create Twitter with Jack Dorsey and a few others, he and Stubblebine worked at Odeo, the podcasting startup Williams founded in 2005 with Noah Glass. “Tony is a builder, a writer, an open-minded thinker, and a keen businessperson,” Williams wrote of his replacement. “I’m confident Medium will benefit greatly from his vision, integrity, energy, and pragmatic leadership.”

Williams will continue to advise Medium as the chairman of the company’s board of directors. “To be clear, Medium’s story is far from over,” he said. “The team today is probably the most capable I’ve seen at this company. I’m excited to see what they do.”

As for what’s next for the serial entrepreneur known as “Ev” to many of his peers, he plans to spend the immediate future “learning as much as I can about things I don’t know a lot about.” To that end, Williams says he will start a new holding company or research lab.

In handing over the operations of Medium to someone else, Williams leaves the company fighting to stay relevant. In a 2014 interview with The New York Times, he promised his startup would change the web. “Right now, the internet rewards speed and quantity, and we wanted to make a place where quality matters,” he told the outlet. 

And for a time, it did feel like Medium had managed to create a place where thoughtful people could post smart writing. However, between a series of strategic missteps involving the company’s business model and the emergence of competitors like Substack, Medium doesn’t feel as essential as it once did. And it now falls on Stubblebine to chart a course forward for the company.

Recommended Reading: The failures of startup founders take over TV

Welcome to the age of peak tech TV

Alison Herman, The Ringer

From The Dropout to WeCrashed, our televisions are about to be flush with stories about notorious startup founders. Does the prevalence of these stories signal a change for the real-life Silicon Valley? "When companies stop competing for funding and funds start competing to finance them, it’s easy for things to get out of hand," Herman writes.

Inside Pornhub

Nathan Munn, The Verge

A former content moderator offers an inside look at Manwin Canada, or what would become known as MindGeek, the operator of Pornhub and many other pornographic websites. 

The scientific methods of J. Kenji López-Alt

Allecia Vermillion, Seattle Met

If you frequently reference Serious Eats for your at-home culinary exploits, chances are you've run across a science-heavy analysis from J. Kenji López-Alt. In his upcoming book, he's applying this approach to the wok, but this profile goes much deeper than one set of recipes and techniques. 

Amazon's 'Fallout' series set to start production this year

The Fallout streaming TV series based on the Bethesda's post-apocalyptic game from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's Kilter Films is moving along smartly, Deadline has reported. Production is set to start this year with Nolan directing the series premiere. Amazon Studios also revealed that Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel) and Graham Wagner (Silicon Valley) have been hired as showrunners.

"Fallout is one of the greatest game series of all time," Joy and Nolan said last year. "Each chapter of this insanely imaginative story has cost us countless hours we could have spent with family and friends. So we’re incredibly excited to partner with Todd Howard and the rest of the brilliant lunatics at Bethesda to bring this massive, subversive, and darkly funny universe to life with Amazon Studios."

Fallout (the game) takes place in a wasteland caused by a 2077 nuclear war. While that has the makings of a pretty grim series, it'll reportedly feature plenty of ironic humor and callbacks to B-movie nuclear fantasies as well. The series is part of a big overall deal inked by Nolan and Joy with Amazon Studios, which licensed the rights to Fallout back in 2020. So far, there are no details on the plot or who might star in the series.

Seagate now offers a 2TB expansion card for your Xbox Series X/S

You finally have a way to upgrade the high-speed storage in your Xbox Series X or S with more than 1TB of extra space. Seagate has introduced a 2TB Storage Expansion Card that, for the Series X, effectively triples the capacity for next-gen games. It will cost $400 when it arrives in early December — nearly as much as the console itself — but might be worthwhile if you bristle at the thought of deleting games to make space.

There's also an option for those who need just a slight bump. Seagate is launching a 512GB card in mid-November, with pre-orders open now for $130. That's still not a trivial expense, but it could be compelling if you either have an Xbox Series S (and want to keep costs down) or just want a little more breathing room on a Series X.

The high prices are, for now, difficult to avoid. As with the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X/S requires external storage as fast as the built-in SSD if you're going to run the latest games. That leaves vendors like Seagate little choice but to use cutting-edge NVMe drives. It won't be surprising if prices drop as the costs of the technology come down, but that might not happen for a while yet.

Apple Watch Series 7 pre-orders open on October 8th

Apple has announced when you'll be able to snag an Apple Watch Series 7. Pre-orders start this Friday, October 8th. The device, which starts at $399, will be available one week later on October 15th.


A ‘Destroy All Humans! 2’ remake is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

One year after releasing a full remake of cult classic Destroy All Humans!, THQ Nordic plans to modernize its 2006 sequel as well. During its recent publisher showcase, the company announced Destroy All Humans! 2 - Reprobed (yes, that’s the actual name of the game). It’s coming out “soon” on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

Developer Black Forest Games is remaking the PlayStation 2 and Xbox title completely from scratch in Unreal Engine 4. The studio says the new game will feature local two-player split-screen co-op, and a “much larger” open world for players to explore. The 2006 original was game in the series developed by Pandemic Studios before the developer was acquired by EA in 2007 and subsequently shut down in 2009.

Steve Wozniak's latest moonshot is a private space company

Steve Wozniak has started a company called Privateer Space. The Apple co-founder announced the private space firm on late Sunday. Unfortunately, other than to promise his company would be “unlike the others,” Woz didn’t provide many details on the venture.

A Private space company is starting up, unlike the others.

— Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) September 13, 2021

A teaser Privateer released on YouTube mentions the startup was co-founded by former Apple engineer Alex Fielding. Wozniak and Fielding have collaborated frequently over the years. Back in 2002, they co-founded a company called Wheels of Zeus (WoZ), which worked on GPS smart tags. Wozniak later sat on the board of directors of Ripcord Networks, the robotics startup Fielding founded after Wheel of Zeus shut down in 2006.

On its website, Privateer says it will have more to share at the upcoming AMOS tech conference in Maui, Hawaii that’s scheduled to start on September 14th. What's clear is Woz and company are about to enter a highly competitive market that is dominated by billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. That's not an easy space to succeed in. 

'Overwatch' gets 120Hz options on Xbox Series X and S

Overwatch just received an important visual upgrade if you're an Xbox Series Xor S owner. Blizzard has released a patch that, among the usual fixes and tweaks, optimizes the graphics for Microsoft's latest consoles. You now have a "Preferred Mode" option that lets you prioritize resolution, frame rate, or a balance between the two — and the improvements could be substantial regardless of the system you own.

The "Resolution" mode focuses on sharpness at the potential expense of image quality, topping out at 4K and 60Hz on the Xbox Series X and 1440p (also 60Hz) on the Series S. "Balanced," as the name implies, prefers image quality while maintaining a strong resolution, hitting 1440p at 60Hz on the Series X and 1080p at that speed on the Series S. "Framerate," meanwhile, pushes the game to a highly responsive 120Hz while sacrificing both image fidelity and resolution (1440p on Series X, 1080p on Series S). You'll need a TV with 120Hz or variable refresh rate support to benefit from that last mode, of course.

There's no mention of a corresponding PlayStation 5 update at this stage, unfortunately, although it's more likely to be a matter of "when" than "if."

It's not a true overhaul, but the update could still make a huge difference for Overwatch. The character-driven team shooter depends on lightning-quick reaction times, and 120Hz could make the difference between landing a snapshot and meeting an untimely end. As it stands, this is now one of the handful of console games with a 120FPS mode — worth considering if you refuse to compromise on frame rate just because you're playing on the couch instead of your PC.