TC Roundup: Facebook Is Apparently Building a Human-Powered Personal Assistant

14 Jul, 2015

New reports suggest that Facebook is working on a personal assistant service baked into Messenger called Moneypenny. But unlike Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortanaa, this isn't a virtual helper—it's a real human service at the other end.

The Information reports that the new service, known internally as Moneypenny, will allow users "to ask real people for help researching and ordering products and services, among other tasks." Three sources have described the new service to the website, explaining that it is currently being tested internally by employees. (Gizmodo)

Apple Pay launches in Britain, with hiccups: Apple introduced mobile payments in Britain on Tuesday, hoping to make a splash with consumers familiar with using cards for tap-and-go purchases, as resistance from hold-out banks and stores appeared to evaporate.

Starting Tuesday, Apple Pay is set to be available in 250,000 sites, from Tube stations to coffee shops, supermarkets and travel services, making it more widely available than when it was first introduced in the United States nine months ago. (Reuters)

Google Takes Stricter Approach to Costs: Google Inc. is slowing down as it grows up. With revenue growth ebbing, profit margins shrinking and shares flat, Google is curbing hiring and seeking ways to run its sprawling empire more efficiently, according to recruiters, venture capitalists and others familiar with the matter.

New Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat, who joined the company in late May, is active in the effort. Ms. Porat, who reduced expenses and reallocated capital while CFO of Morgan Stanley, is involved in an internal audit examining costs, revenue and accounting systems, according to one of the people. She is looking to make her mark on what has become a more stable but more complex company, another person said. (The Wall Street Journal)

Nokia confirms plans to return to mobile phone market: Nokia has confirmed that it plans to re-enter the mobile phone business, and is looking for a hardware partner with which to launch a new device by late next year.

Nokia sold its phone business to Microsoft in April 2014, after years of declining sales. Its Lumia range of smartphones and tablets are now sold under the Microsoft brand. (Telegraph)

China's Tsinghua prepares $23 billion bid for U.S. chip maker Micron: sources: China's state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd is preparing a $23 billion bid for U.S. memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc, in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company, people familiar with the matter said.

The technology conglomerate is prepared to bid $21 per share for Micron, a 19.3 percent premium to the stock's close on Monday. The offer could come as early as Wednesday, a person close to Tsinghua told Reuters, although a Micron spokesman said it had not received an offer. (Reuters)