Pandora pulls plug on Australia, New Zealand operations


Pandora is closing its only two non-US operations.

Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Pandora is shutting down its operations in Australia and New Zealand, the only countries where the internet radio operates besides the US.

The Oakland, California-based company said Tuesday the decision to close operations in the two countries was based on a desire to focus more on growth on its home turf. The move comes amid a management shakeup at the company that included the resignation of its chief executive.

Pandora didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but told Billboard it expects to wind down operations Down Under in the next few weeks.

“While our experience in these markets reinforces the broader global opportunity long-term, in the short-term we must remain laser-focused on the expansion of our core business in the United States,” Pandora said in a statement.

Earlier Tuesday, Pandora announced the resignation of co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren. The company’s financial chief, Naveen Chopra, will become interim CEO as the company seeks a permanent successor. Also departing are two longtime executives: Mike Herring, president and former chief financial officer, and Nick Bartle, chief marketing officer. 

Pandora has been grappling with listeners moving to rivals such as Spotify and Apple Music, which allow on-demand listening to specific tracks. Tuesday’s moves, as well as an agreement last month to sell a 19 percent stake in Pandora to SiriusXM for a $480 million infusion, are aimed at helping the company better compete with the upstart music streamers that have overtaken it.

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Logging Out: Welcome to the crossroads of online life and the afterlife.

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Pinterest enables two-factor authentication for all users

The most important of these is the rollout of two-factor authentication to all users. You can receive codes via text message or through an authentication app such as Google Authenticator. You can enable 2FA through the Security page on Account Settings after it’s available to you.

Pinterest is also upgrading the Security section by listing all the devices currently logged into your account. If you see a device you don’t recognize, you can remove it from this page. Finally, the service is also emailing users when they log in from a new device.

It’s surprising it’s taken Pinterest so long to enable such basic security options, but it’s also questionable how useful they’ll be. These days, most people use just a few logins — such as Google or Facebook — to set up accounts on multiple sites. Still, it’s nice to see that more social networks are taking online security seriously.

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Rank ‘Em: The best pro sports appearances in pro wrestling

The Ball family had the Staples Center crowd buzzing Monday night after their unforgettable appearance with The Miz on WWE Raw, the latest instance in a long and storied history of figures from the professional sports world dusting it up in the squared circle.

The intertwining of professional athletes and professional wrestling goes back decades. Muhammad Ali’s bouts with Antonio Inoki and Gorilla Monsoon, as well as his guest-refereeing of the main event at the first-ever Wrestlemania, are still some of the most talked-about moments in the sport’s history. One of Ali’s most legendary adversaries, Joe Frazier, gave the striped shirt a try once, officiating one of Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes’ famous bouts.

From Lawrence Taylor headlining Wrestlemania XI, to Mike Tyson delivering Stone Cold Steve Austin his first world title, to Rob Gronkowski’s memorable charge into the ring at last April’s Wrestlemania 33, pro wrestling’s colorful history is illuminated with memorable appearances from the pro sports world.

What’s your favorite memory? Rank the best ones below:

Given LaVar’s outsized, occasionally cartoonish persona, we’re sure this won’t be the last time we see the Ball family at a WWE event.

— Brendan C. Hall

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Google hit with record $2.7B fine for abusing search dominance

Google was slapped with a 2.42 billion euro ($2.72 billion) fine by the European Union on Tuesday for prioritizing its own shopping services in its search results over rivals.

If Google does not stop this practice within 90 days, its parent company Alphabet will be charged a further 5 percent of its average daily global turnover in additional fines, Europe’s Competition Commission said in a press conference livestreamed on Facebook.

The fine comes as a result of a seven-year long investigation by the EU dedicated to finding out whether Google was favoring its own needs over the needs of European shoppers.

Now the results are in and the Competition Commission has found that the internet giant systematically abuses its dominance in search to promote its own shopping services. It also actively demotes rivals in its results through use of algorithms, making them less visible to consumers.


The EU thinks Google isn’t putting the needs of shoppers first.

European Commission

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement. “It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Google’s fine is the biggest antitrust penalty the EU has ever applied to a single company, exceeding the $1 billion fine handed to Intel in 2009. It also far exceeds the $1.2 billion estimate that experts watching the Google case predicted.

In addition to being a huge regulatory setback for Google, it also suggests the EU is not going easy on the company — bad news given ongoing investigations into Android and search advertising that the EU hasn’t yet concluded.

In the Android case, the EU is investigating whether Google is crushing its rivals in the apps and services market by insisting Google services are preinstalled on all phones running Android. The company has also been accused of blocking rivals in online search advertising, which could potentially result in further fines for the Silicon Valley-based giant.

The Android case could conclude within the coming months, but there’s no word yet on the advertising case.

Google’s fines will be paid straight into the EU budget, helping to finance the European Union and reduce the tax burden on individuals in member states.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Volvo is working with NVIDIA to develop self-driving car tech by 2021

First off, Volvo has gone in halfsies with Autoliv to create a new software development subsidiary called Zenuity. Volvo and NVIDIA have announced that they’re teaming up with Zenuity to develop the next generation of self-driving vehicle systems which will be built on NVIDIA’s Drive PX AI module.

This is the same module that Tesla already uses and which both Audi and Toyota have begun developing on. The system stitches together data from its camera and radar inputs, then compares what it senses to a known high-definition map to automatically plot a safe course around oncoming obstacles. Volvo hopes to have its production vehicles using these self-driving systems available for sale by 2021.

NVIDIA also announced that it will be working with ZF and Hella, a pair of big name parts suppliers from Germany that produce vehicular camera and sensor systems, to develop a non-exclusive autonomous steering system. What’s more, NVIDIA hopes that integrating additional autonomous safety features like automatic braking will help increase the scores of AI-equipped vehicles taking the DOT’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash test safety certification.

This technology will help more than individual drivers. An increasing numbers of vehicles trading data with each other as they travel, why not have them talk to the infrastructure around them as well. “We’ll be able to project traffic patterns,” Danny Shapiro, Senior Director of Automotive at NVIDIA, said during a recent media briefing call. “We’ll be able to protect areas of potential congestion and really work with infrastructure, vehicles and navigation systems to optimize traffic flow and ultimately reduce congestion.”

“Looking through social media or websites or transit schedules, we’ll be able to detect trends and see what’s happening in communities and help people plan their journeys,” he added.

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I found a rare 1st edition of ‘The Hobbit’ on a desert island

hobbit-betterEnlarge Image

This precious volume can be yours for just 15,000 euros (about $16,760, AU$21,100) and a trip to the Greek island of Santorini.

Eric Mack/CNET

Braving the high seas to uncover buried treasure on a remote island is hard, dangerous work, but sometimes it comes easy: like when I came across a rare, leather-bound first edition of J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” on the gorgeous, luxury-gorged Greek isle of Santorini.

Finding the coveted old tome didn’t require fighting any orcs, but my loyal companions and I did embark on something of an unexpected journey before spotting the oh-so “precious” volume. The quest saw us climb straight up the island’s sheer volcanic cliffs, often holding on for dear life by only one hand … to a pole inside the crowded public bus transporting us from the port to the cliff-top city of Fira.

After the perilous climb to the top of the ancient volcanic caldera that formed the famously photogenic Santorini, we found ourselves thrown into the heat of a battle for Instagram supremacy, dodging clumsy swipes not of swords, but rather some form of modern sorcery called “selfie sticks.”

Nestled amid the crowds were many a tavern offering cool drinks and at least one quaint book shop in the basement of a side alley. The tiny space was more of a hobbit hole than a store. More sorcery was afoot within, for despite the summer swelter atop the Santorini caldera, the air inside had been magically “conditioned” to a cool state that comforted we weary travelers and preserved its ancient treasures.

Indeed, the very name of this boutique, Atlantis Books, suggested it to be a something of a hidden treasure itself. But once within, its most precious goods were displayed prominently: first editions by the likes of Hemingway, Orwell and a fellow named George Martin with the curious habit of claiming the middle initial ‘R” not once, but twice.

And there in the center of them all was the prize of every literary geek’s eye, be they man, elf or the smallest of hairy-footed heroes: a leather-bound copy of wordish wizard J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” from 1937.

But the manuscript itself was not destined to be the prize for completing this quest, for common travelers were we, unable to afford the 15,000 euro ($16,757, AU$21,100) price put upon the precious piece.

Instead, the photo alone shall have to suffice. 

In the end, although I was not able to spirit away the treasure to my distant cave in a manner befitting of the gilded outline of Smaug upon its cover, I might venture to say I won the Instagram battle with its image, if only for one day.

Can someone please go pull 15,000 Euros from the cracks in my couch at home and wire it to Greece ASAP? @atlantisbooks

A post shared by Eric Mack (@ericcmack) on Jun 22, 2017 at 5:41am PDT

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.

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