Posted Jun. 9, 2017 at 6:30 a.m.

Tech wrap: 2K Yahoo job cuts; robotics firm Boston Dynamics sold; Buffett lunch auction; new NASA astronauts (+ video)

Published: 2017-06-09 06:30:51
Updated: 2017-06-09 06:30:51

Bulldog Bulletin

The latest Bulldog wrapup of science and technology news:

  • Verizon's first move with Yahoo is to ditch 2,100 jobs
  • SoftBank buys robotics leader Boston Dynamics from Alphabet
  • Warren Buffett auctions off lunch to raise money for charity
  • NASA picks 12 new astronauts from crush of applicants

The details:

  • Verizon's first move with Yahoo is to ditch 2,100 jobs

About 2,100 jobs are on the chopping block as Verizon prepares to combine Yahoo and AOL for a digital advertising offensive.

Yahoo's shareholders on Thursday approved the $4.5 billion sale of its key businesses to Verizon. The deal is expected to close by Tuesday. AOL and Yahoo will cut 15 percent of the 14,000 workers they now employ, or about 2,100 jobs, said a person familiar with the matter who requested not to be identified discussing the cuts.

Verizon has a simple goal in buying Yahoo's core business: It wants to challenge Google and Facebook in the huge and lucrative field of digital advertising. But Verizon faces its own challenge in doing so, given that it will be competing against a slew of other companies also looking to break in.

Verizon wants to become a strong third choice for advertisers by adding Yahoo's popular sites and billion users worldwide to its own media business, which includes AOL and Verizon's home-grown go90 video service. It can place ads on those sites, and can also combine data from visitors to those sites with AOL's ad technologies and sales teams, and possibly also personal data from Verizon mobile customers such as location and other information, in order to better target ads at individuals.

Verizon has programs that use mobile-customer data for targeted ads and may combine that with data gathered by AOL and Yahoo. Verizon says customers can choose whether to participate.

  • SoftBank buys robotics leader Boston Dynamics from Alphabet

Japanese internet, solar and technology company SoftBank Group Corp. is buying robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics from Alphabet Inc., Google's parent.

Terms of the deal, announced Friday, were not disclosed. SoftBank, which offers the Pepper companion robot, said the purchase underlines how robotics is a key part of its business.

Boston Dynamics makes various robots, including Big Dog and Spot, complex machines that walk and trot on four legs, as well as Atlas, which walks on two legs like a human. Atlas has arms and can open doors and lift items.

Under Friday's deal, SoftBank is also buying from Alphabet a company called Schaft that develops humanoids and came out of the University of Tokyo.

SoftBank bought British semiconductor company ARM Holdings, an innovator in the "internet of things," last year.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said robots will help solve problems that have been beyond human capabilities.

"Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution," he said. "I am thrilled to welcome them to the SoftBank family and look forward to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling," Son said of Boston Dynamics.

SoftBank, the first carrier to offer the Apple iPhone in Japan, includes U.S. carrier Sprint and Yahoo Japan in its group business.

  • Warren Buffett auctions off lunch to raise money for charity

The winning bid for a private lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett may top several million dollars in an online auction to benefit a California homeless charity that wraps up Friday night.

For the 18th consecutive year, Buffett is auctioning off a lunch to raise money for the Glide Foundation, which helps homeless people in San Francisco. The chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has raised nearly $24 million through the auctions. Last year's winner paid $3,456,789, which tied the record set in 2012.

Buffett has praised the charity for the work it does helping people. Buffett became a believer in Glide's work after his first wife, Susie Buffett, showed him what the group was doing for the poor and homeless. Susie Buffett had volunteered for the San Francisco charity before her death in 2004.

"Everyone that has experienced Glide comes away a believer," said Buffett.

Glide provides meals, health care, job training, rehabilitation and housing support to the poor and homeless.

This year's eBay auction began Sunday and runs through Friday at 7:30 p.m. PDT.

Buffett says the only topic that's off limits in the lunch conversation is what Buffett might invest in next, and the 86-year-old says he usually gets a wide range of questions.

  • NASA picks 12 new astronauts from crush of applicants

NASA chose 12 new astronauts Wednesday from its biggest pool of applicants ever, hand-picking seven men and five women who could one day fly aboard the nation's next generation of spacecraft.

The astronaut class of 2017 includes doctors, scientists, engineers, pilots and military officers from Anchorage to Miami and points in between. They've worked in submarines, emergency rooms, university lecture halls, jet cockpits and battleships. They range in age from 29 to 42, and they typically have led the pack.

[VIDEO: Watch the entire new class as introduced at NASA press conference at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gU5HAM4XSE ]

"It makes me personally feel very inadequate when you read what these folks have done," said NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot.

Vice President Mike Pence welcomed the group during a televised ceremony at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. He offered President Donald Trump's congratulations and noted that the president is "firmly committed to NASA's noble mission, leading America in space."

Pence assured the crowd that NASA will have the resources and support necessary to continue to make history. He said he would lead a resurrected National Space Council to help set the direction of the program.

Under Trump, "America will lead in space once again, and the world will marvel," Pence said.

More than 18,300 people threw their hats into the space ring during a brief application period 1 ½ years ago. That's more than double the previous record of 8,000 set in 1978, when the space shuttles were close to launching.

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