Rocket launch and robots – with these two things happenings this week, I am once again struck with how the future is very much here. But the road to getting there is far from smooth. Even as tech companies like Google race against traditional car companies to produce a self-driving car, a recent Senate report discusses the security dangers of connected cars. Meanwhile the path to a reusable rocket was derailed by the most natural of elements – rough seas with waves reaching three stories in height. Finally, unless we can teleport materials or 3D print everything from emails (and even if we can, we still need raw materials), we still have to contend with port shutdowns such as the one happening right now in the US West Coast ports amid labor disputes. The last prolonged shutdown was in 2002 and cost an estimated $1B a day.
Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail:
- Radar trouble and high winds plague SpaceX Falcon 9’s two tries at launch; finally launches on Wednesday but nixes ocean platform landing due to rough seas
- Google-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics debuts “Spot”, a robot that stays upright even when repeatedly kicked
- IBM’s Watson to learn Japanese in partnership with telecommunications company Softbank
- Apple is investing $850M on a solar farm that will power its new headquarters
- Acquisitions/Mergers: Yelp buys online food delivery service Eat24 for $134M; Expedia to buy rival Orbitz for $1.34B
- Alibaba Group’s AliExpress to enter Indonesia’s e-commerce market invests in smartphone; Group also invests $590M stake in smartphone maker Meizu Technology Co.
- eBay will send off Paypal with $5B in cash as part of spinoff details
- Pinterest is reportedly adding a buy button, feature may roll out within 6 months
- Hugo Boss’ biggest shareholder Permira further reduces stake in company to 14% from 32%
- Earnings: Gap raises full-year guidance despite declining sales in January, citing strong growth at Old Navy; Hermés lowers annual sales growth for 2015 to 8%