Waymo reportedly applies to put autonomous cars on California roads with no safety drivers

Waymo has become the second company to apply for the newly-available permit to deploy autonomous vehicles without safety drivers on some California roads, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It would be putting its cars — well, minivans — on streets around Mountain View, where it already has an abundance of data.

The company already has driverless driverless cars in play over in Phoenix, as it showed in a few promotional videos last month. So this isn’t the first public demonstration of its confidence.

California only just made it possible to grant permits allowing autonomous vehicles without safety drivers on April 2; one other company has applied for it in addition to Waymo, but it’s unclear which. The new permit type also allows for vehicles lacking any kind of traditional manual controls, but for now the company is sticking with its modified Chrysler Pacificas. Hey, they’re practical.

The recent fatal collision of an Uber self-driving car with a pedestrian, plus another fatality in a Tesla operating in semi-autonomous mode, make this something of an awkward time to introduce vehicles to the road minus safety drivers. Of course, it must be said that both of those cars had people behind the wheel at the time of their crashes.

Assuming the permit is granted, Waymo’s vehicles will be limited to the Mountain View area, which makes sense — the company has been operating there essentially since its genesis as a research project within Google. So there should be no shortage of detail in the data, and the local authorities will be familiar with the people necessary for handling any issues like accidents, permit problems, and so on.

No details yet on what exactly the cars will be doing, or whether you’ll be able to ride in one. Be patient.

Elon Musk says ‘humans are underrated,’ calls Tesla’s ‘excessive automation’ a ‘mistake’

In a rare mea culpa for the mercurial billionaire, Tesla CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that the company has been too reliant on robots for production.

“Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake,” Musk tweeted, responding to a Wall Street Journal reporter’s tweet. “Humans are underrated.” He also talked about this with CBS News’ Gayle King, adding  “we had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts….And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

Tesla has faced mounting public pressure, amid a production slowdown for its Model 3, the lower priced car. The company recently revealed that it missed its target to produce 2500 cars a week, disappointing investors.

The uncertainty has resulted in a volatile stock. A month ago shares were trading at $340 and then slid to $252. Things have started to recover now that Musk says the company will be profitable and cash flow positive in the third quarter.

This was also revealed in a tweet that Musk wrote to The Economist.

There’s “no need to raise money,” he added. Shares closed Friday at $300.34.

The company has a market cap of $50.7 billion.

Android Auto now works without wires if you have the right hardware

Android Auto — Google’s system for powering your car’s dash display from your phone, and the company’s answer to Apple’s CarPlay — is going wireless. You can leave your phone in your bag, and it’ll still be able to push your apps and content to your in-dash screen.

Alas, there’s a catch: To get it all working wirelessly at this point, you’ll need to have some pretty specific gear.

You’ll need the right phone (Pixel or Pixel XL, Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P) and the right head unit — and for now, that means one of just a handful of units announced by JVC/Kenwood earlier this year.

The list of compatible devices will grow in time (Google says to expect more “this year”) — but if you want wireless right this second, the options are quite limited.

Solving for cross-device complexity with multi-touch attribution

I’m going to let you in on a secret: Marketers are human, too. Don’t tell anyone I told you.

Because marketers are human, we understand the richness of the customer journey, from initial inspiration or yearning to final sale. But dealing with that complexity is not always easy.

As marketers, we have more ways to reach potential customers than ever before, with new channels maturing at remarkable speed. Now it’s not only mobile, desktops and tablets that we must factor into our media plans and attribution models, but also new channels, including connected TV, smart homes, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Each channel contains different opportunities for brand exposure — whether social, display or pre-roll — and we must now contend with micro conversions that might occur along the way, increasing cross-platform complexity and the impact of remarketing efforts.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Where software innovation is needed today: Martech

A senior-level executive asked me for advice the other day. For the past 15 years, he had worked for a company that sold software to publishers and loved the challenge of helping to invent a new industry.

But as the market matured and his company was acquired, and then was acquired again, he realized that the heady days of constant innovation were over. Where should he go to get that same adrenaline rush and make a real impact?

My response was immediate: marketing tech platforms (aka martech).

This isn’t to say that publishers are no longer buying software. Quite the opposite is true. But every component of the publisher ad tech stack, from quote to billing, is dominated by clear market leaders — Salesforce, Google, Domo, Oracle — just to name a few, as is typical in mature markets. If you want to work in a field that’s wide open to new players, the sell-side ecosystem is bound to disappoint, because it’s locked up.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Marketing Day: YouTube’s top ads in March, Gmail’s coming redesign & 6sense buys ZenIQ

Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Recent Headlines From MarTech Today, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Marketing Technology:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:


Yahoo Japan buys a minority stake in a Tokyo cryptocurrency exchange

Yahoo Japan has gotten its hands on 40 percent of a Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange set to launch this fall.

The investment, made in BitARG Exchange through a Yahoo Japan subsidiary gives the company a minority stake with BitARG parent company CMD Laboratories still maintaining 60 percent ownership of the exchange. A source told CNBC the deal went for about 2-3 billion yen or around $18-$28 million.

In a translated announcement, BitARG said the exchange would benefit from the “service operation and security expertise of the Yahoo Japan Group, which will make it easier for customers to prepare for the start of the exchange service… and to improve the operation after the commencement.”

Last month, Nikkei Asian Review reported the deal was in progress, further noting that Yahoo Japan planned to use BitARG’s technology to launch its own cryptocurrency exchange in 2019.

Apple details its crackdown on leakers…in a leaked memo

In an internal memo to employees, Apple threatened severe consequences for leaking confidential company information – reminding staff that those who leak can lose their jobs, have difficult finding future employment, and even get arrested. Last year, Apple claimed to have busted 29 leakers, 12 of whom were arrested.

The memo itself was leaked, and its content was published by Bloomberg this afternoon.

Apple has always cultivated a culture of confidentially about its work, as a means of maintaining a competitive advantage over the competition.

Given how large Apple has grown over the years – the memo says there are “135,000 people” working there – it’s become more difficult to keep things under wraps. By the time a new iPhone launches, for example, people already know what to expect. That can give rivals a head start on catching up with Apple, ahead of an actual public unveiling of the device. Leaks can also impact sales of current devices, as consumers hold off on buying as they know something better is soon to arrive.

Apple more recently has had problems with leaked iOS source code, as well as leaked details about the iPhone 8 and X, Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, HomePod, and more. And that was just in 2017.

The new memo is not the first time Apple has tried to plug its leaks. Last year, the company held a meeting with employees where it discussed how it plans to prevent leaks, talked about how leakers were caught, and answered employees’ questions.

That meeting was secretly recorded and leaked to the press too.

In reality, some leaks can be harder to track or stop. A company-wide meeting or email, for instance, could be leaked by anyone.

The new memo begins by informing Apple employees that the person who leaked details about Apple’s software roadmap earlier this year was caught and fired last month:

Last month, Apple caught and fired the employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apple’s software roadmap. Hundreds of software engineers were in attendance, and thousands more within the organization received details of its proceedings. One person betrayed their trust.

The employee who leaked the meeting to a reporter later told Apple investigators that he did it because he thought he wouldn’t be discovered. But people who leak — whether they’re Apple employees, contractors or suppliers — do get caught and they’re getting caught faster than ever.

The memo then goes on to stress how damaging leaks are to the company itself, those who worked on a project, and other employees.

It reminds employees that when they’re approached by press, analysts and bloggers they’re “getting played.”

The establishment of a very us-versus-them culture when dealing with outsiders is notable because it means Apple employees may fear becoming whistleblowers. Employees will likely also fear leaking to correct inaccurate information being passed around publicly. Today, there are reports that Apple’s own comms teams won’t respond to, when asked by press – unless the report reaches a critical mass, or worse – is unflattering to Apple.

But unlike at other companies where a PM or staffer may reach out to privately correctly a detail or give background outside of official channels, Apple staff would be fired for crossing that line.

The memo also points to more examples of how Apple’s internal security has caught people who believed they could get away with it – including the person who leaked the link to the gold master of iOS 11, and those who leaked within the supply chain.

It concludes by sharing the news that 12 of the leakers in 2017 were arrested.

“Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple. In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes,” the memo read. “These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere.”

There’s a certain kind of person who will find language like this a challenge. But the majority will likely take heed.

The memo was published as an internal company blog post.

The full memo can be read on Bloomberg’s site.

Elon Musk says Tesla will be profitable in Q3 and Q4

Tesla is one of the more interesting companies for Wall Street that had an interesting couple of months this year — and it seems even tweets from Elon Musk, who said that the company will be profitable in the back half of the year, may be enough to swing its stock.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder sent a tweet very early this morning that the company would be profitable and cash-flow positive in the third and fourth quarter this year. Tesla is known for setting ambitious targets and forecasts, especially as it looks to ramp up Model 3 production to around 2,500 vehicles per week. Musk said he took direct control of Model 3 production earlier this month in a note to employees, also sent out at around 3 a.m. pacific time. Tesla’s shares were up slightly, gaining around 2% in trading today.

Tesla saw a small bump in its stock throughout the day. While it could be for a variety of reasons, Musk’s data point may have offered a small amount of clarity (and optimism) around whether the company will be able to eventually turn a profit. The tweet was fired off as a response to a story by The Economist that said the company may have to raise additional capital at some point, according to banking firm Jeffries. (It was also quite snarky.)

On Tesla’s last call to discuss the company’s quarterly results with Wall Street analysts, Musk said that the company would begin generating “positive quarterly operating income on a sustained basis,” and said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the company would be GAAP profitable. Musk said the company wanted to hit a production target of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week at some point in 2018, though did not give a specific time frame. The tweet, while fired off as a response to a story by The Economist, appears to offer another small data point as to when it might happen.

Earlier this month, Tesla fell back behind Ford in terms of its market cap as some pressure has hit the stock. Tesla has had to address a fatal crash involving its autopilot, in addition to a voluntary recall of 123,000 Model S vehicles. There is some skepticism around whether Tesla will hit its production targets from Wall Street (making cars is hard, it seems).