5 Biggest Things In Tech You Missed This Week: 2/13/16


(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five big things that happened in the world of technology this past week and why they’re important for your business (and mine). Did you miss them?

1 – Twitter changes its timelines and introduces new video ads placed at the top of users tweets.

From TechCrunch: Twitter is unveiling a new video ad unit called First View. Advertisers opting for a First View position will essentially jump to the front of the queue in Twitter’s ad network, getting the top ad spot the first time a person opens Twitter, for a period of 24 hours. At launch, First View will be video only — pushing Twitter’s drive to expand its offerings in rich media. A spokesperson says Twitter is considering expanding to other Tweet types in the future.

And from Fast Company: By attempting to push up “high-value” tweets, Twitter is also addressing a common complaint about the service: Almost a decade into its existence, it can still be a challenge for newcomers to figure it out. 

Why this is important for your business:

With these changes, Twitter is altering how your followers are seeing your messages and ads. If you use Twitter as a primary means for communication and advertising you’ll need to adjust your strategy. It may be time to invest in a “first view” position for your most important ads – and you will want to adjust to a world that is more and more dependant on video communications. And just how “high value” are your tweets anyway? Going forward, this will make a difference.

2 – Zenefits’ CEO resigns amid regulatory scrutiny.

From Time“The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong. As a result, (former CEO) Parker (Conrad) has resigned,” writes (new CEO) David Sachs. “In order for us to move forward as a company, we cannot seek to hide or downplay the problem.” Zenefits, a three-year-old San Francisco startup that provides businesses with free human resources software as a lure to become their insurance broker, has faced significant legal challenges to its business tactics. That included a brief ban from operating in Utah over state laws against providing customers with insurance rebates.

Why this is important for your business:

Zenefits has been a Silicon Valley darling for good reason – the company has an innovative platform for accomplishing most human resources tasks and is integrated with a system for providing affordable healthcare insurance to its thousands of small and medium sized companies. I have a many clients that have migrated their confidential employee data to Zenefits recently and who are now keeping a wary eye on the company’s direction and future prospects.

3 – The government tells Google its software could be considered a legal driver.

From EntrepreneurU.S. vehicle safety regulators have said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver under federal law, a major step toward ultimately winning approval for autonomous vehicles on the roads.

Why this is important for your business:

Don’t believe in self-driving vehicles? Believe it. And with this recent move by the Federal government look for quicker advances that will bring self-driving cars to the market that will provide alternatives transport for your employees and less costlier ways to ship goods too – all within the next decade.

4 – Facebook says it will start automatically captioning video ads.

From Advertising AgeAccording to Facebook’s own research, 80% of people react negatively when mobile video ads begin playing loudly in content feeds and blame the platform as well as the brand. But on the other hand, it found that 41% of videos are meaningless without sound. To reduce the negative noise without silencing ads’ effectiveness, the social network plans to begin automatically putting captions in video ads running in its news feed, which play automatically with the sound off by default. Facebook will roll out the automatic video ad captioning first in the U.S. and Canada for ads in English.

Why this is important for your business:

I think Facebook’s on to something – I hate when ads automatically load and yell at me. Having a caption may make them more appealing. And I bet your prospects do too. Your online advertising strategy will of course include a significant video component to it (at least if you want to stay competitive). And Facebook’s experiment may open the door to getting even more bang for your video advertising dollar.

5 – Hackers steal 101,000 taxpayers’ login info from the IRS.

From the IRSThe IRS recently identified and halted an automated attack upon its Electronic Filing PIN application on IRS.gov. Using personal data stolen elsewhere outside the IRS, identity thieves used malware in an attempt to generate E-file PINs for stolen social security numbers. An E-file pin is used in some instances to electronically file a tax return. No personal taxpayer data was compromised or disclosed by IRS systems. The IRS also is taking immediate steps to notify affected taxpayers by mail that their personal information was used in an attempt to access the IRS application. The IRS is also protecting their accounts by marking them to protect against tax-related identity theft.

Why this is important for your business:

Ho-hum, another day, another government data breach. Look, those guys have the resources to protect themselves and they’re getting hacked left and right (this is the second time in a year that the IRS has been attacked). Your business doesn’t have those kind of resources and you’re probably even more exposed. Get cyber insurance. Invest in a good technology firm to monitor your network and train your people. Or better yet – move your data to a reputable, well-financed cloud service where you can minimize (but never eliminate) your risk of a data breach.

Oh, and a few geeky scientists have discoveredsomething called “gravitational waves” that could unlock how our universe was created. Almost forgot.


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