Weekend takeaway: 10 tech stories you need to read right now

23 Jan 2015

Ten nuggets of knowledge to take away for the weekend, including 80 tech start-ups have been valued at US$1bn, the internet of things, and the beautiful Andromeda Galaxy.

1. The mythical world of unicorns – 80 tech start-ups today valued at over US$1bn

The cachet of a US$1bn valuation is proving irresistible to tech start-ups and there are now at least 80 tech start-ups in the world that are valued at more than US$1bn, according to a cover story in Fortune magazine.

From Uber to Airbnb, SpaceX and Slack, you are nothing if you are not valued at more than US$1bn, apparently. There is even a more rarefied class – the decacorn – companies valued at US$10bn and more.

A report in Fortune entitled The Age of Unicorns points to a headiness not seen since 1999.

Earlier this week, fears of a bubble bursting were renewed when the latest figures from the US National Venture Capital Association revealed that venture capitalists pumped US$43.3bn into US start-ups in 2014, the most since investors piled US$105bn into dot-com companies in 2000.

2. Schmidt sees a super-connected future, where internet is no longer a thing

Internet search giant Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt sees a future immersed in technology, with internet, as we know it, dead.

3. Gigglebit: Andromeda Galaxy in all its glorious, detailed, star-spangled beauty

With Gigglebit, we turn the spotlight on humorous and/or amazing content about science and tech, such as this incredible high-definition image of a galaxy far far away.

4. The digital revolution needs a trust revolution, tech leaders tell Davos

Only with radical transparency and a public-private partnership with governments will trust be restored in the internet, tech leaders said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

5. Kim Dotcom’s MegaChat aims to be a ‘Skype killer’

Entering public beta for the first time, Kim Dotcom’s MegaChat communications platform is aiming to be a ‘Skype killer’ by offering encrypted messaging with existing storage and file services.

6. Breaking drones: Drug-laden drone crashes near US-Mexico border

A 21st-century drug mule – in the form of a drone – came to an unfortunate end as it crashed at the US-Mexico border after failing to carry the weight of six packets of cocaine and crystal meth.

7. Twitter changed while you were away, with new tweet recap feature

Immediacy has always been microblogging site Twitter’s bread and butter, but a new recap feature could help extend a tweet’s lifetime.

8. Microsoft stuns tech world with its HoloLens vision and one OS to rule them all

Microsoft is leaner and focused and this past week revealed one OS to rule them all plus two new pieces of hardware: a holographic headset called HoloLens and a new large-screen Surface Hub for collaboration.

9. Microsoft: Windows 10 will become one of the largest internet services on the planet

Software giant Microsoft said Windows 10 won’t be just an operating system but one of the largest internet services on the planet. A year after release it will be free as an upgrade for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 users.

10. Ireland’s ISP performance quietly monitored through Steam game downloads

Steam, the online gaming platform created by Valve, has been quietly monitoring the world’s internet service providers (ISPs), including those in Ireland, to show which ones rank top in each country.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years