Round up for Feb 20, ’17

In startup news, CBInsights reports Saudi Arabia’s massive Public Investment fund has reached into its deep pockets bringing loads of cash for startups.

Harvard Business review is weighing in on the innovators in Africa. “For years now, business leaders and investors from around the world have waited for the Africa Rising narrative to shift from promise to reality. The continent has understandably been the focus of increasing investment and attention since the turn of this century. With a young, urbanizing population; abundant natural resources; and a growing middle class, Africa seems to have all the ingredients necessary for breakaway growth—perhaps even outstripping the so-called tiger economies of East Asia a generation ago. Indeed, a 2010 report by the McKinsey Global Institute titled “Lions on the Move” expressly made this comparison, forecasting that consumer spending on the continent would grow by 40%, and GDP by $1 trillion, from 2008 to 2020.” Long piece but worth it.


Apparently, Trump still uses his Android phone. Obama had to surrender his Blackberry as the secret service wouldn’t trust something they can’t control. However, an ageing Android phone? Reportedly, Trump is probably still using his personal Samsung Galaxy S3. Quite a few congressmen are nervous about that and even wrote a letter raising their concerns as they believe the aging device has known vulnerabilities which could be exploited. Imagine the presidents Twitter feed in the hands of serious trouble makers. This comes after a presidential election that was arguably affected by various hacks. The DNC hack is the most damaging of all and that also involved hacking personal accounts.

GM is hitting the road with it’s plans for self-driving cars as it intends to partner up with Lyft in 2018 and deploy thousands (yes thousands) of self-driving cars. And these will all be the all electric Chevy Bolt. But this shouldn’t really come as a surprise given that GM has already bought a minority stake in Lyft for $500M. That is serious money. Combine that with GM’s Maven and to top that, early last year it bought Cruise Automation so as to have its own autonomous driving tech. Alphabet’s Waymo (formerly Google’s) already has Chrysler Pacificas to play with, but those are only 60 cars. With the full weight of GM behind autonomous driving, things are really heating up now. This isn’t just a cool cutting edge feature some cool startups and big tech companies get to play with, now the big boys are joining the game.

Linus Torvalds wants the tech industry to put up and shut up. Talking about innovation is a waste of time, in his view, and the energy is better spent getting the real things done. For around 25 years, Linus has been heading the Linux kernel development where he says the most challenging aspect of the work has been development process, not the actual code. How do you ensure the code fits together properly? How do you ensure the work done is actually worthy of being in the next kernel?
“So for all of that history what we’ve done is organize the code, organize the flow of code, [and] organize our maintainership so the pain point – which is people disagreeing about a piece of code – basically goes away.” More here.


Your CPU could be your weak point. This is what a group of researchers at Vrije University in the Netherlands have found out when they built a Java Script based attack designed specifically to break ASLR. ASLR stands for Address space layout randomization. This basically means that any program as it runs need to store operation information for it in memory, the OS gives these locations but in a randomized placement so as to make it nearly impossible for a memory targeting attack to be effective. In a somewhat oversimplified hypothetical, need to keep your password secured after decrypting it at runtime? Decrypt it to a randomized location and a memory target attack should fail. Now, this group has managed to exploit CPU hardware to gain access to the new randomized locations. More here.

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