Snap Applies Lock-up to IPO Shares

Snap – owner of popular messaging app Snapchat – is going public on Thursday. And it expects anyone buying up to a quarter of its shares to agree not to sell them for a year.

Applying lock-ups helps companies moderate stock volatility.

A year-long lock-up period is atypically long, potentially signifying strong demand for the IPO, says Lauren Hirsch who covers the story for Reuters.

“There is at least one investor who, we’re hearing from our sources, have asked to buy a really big chunk in the Snapchat IPO, and they kind of give assurance that they are really serious and committed to the company,” Hirsch told Reuters. “They said, ‘Not only do we want to buy a large chunk, but we promise that we’ll hold it for a year.’ So, that’s really good news for Snapchat because they essentially have at least one very interested party, and a very interested party who will provide the stock with some stability when risk in any IPO is a turnover in volatility.”

Snap is targeting a valuation of between $19.5 billion and $22.3 billion for its listing on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. It is looking to price 200 million shares on Wednesday night at a range of $14 to $16  a share.

 

Netflix CEO: Co-workers Were Affected by Trump Travel Ban

Netflix employees were personally affected by U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban people entering from seven Muslim countries, its CEO said Tuesday.

Reed Hastings has been an outspoken critic of the temporary travel ban, which Trump hopes to revive in a revised form this week, and told The Associated Press on Tuesday that some of his co-workers had gotten caught up in it.

“We had Iranian and Iraqi employees who were unable to come to work,” he said on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress, the wireless industry’s biggest annual gathering held in Barcelona, Spain.

Netflix was among dozens of tech companies that publicly opposed the travel ban out of fear that it would stifle innovation.

U.S. politics has become as gripping as a TV drama but Hastings says that Netflix, the original distributor of the show House of Cards, is not planning a show based on Trump.

“Maybe someday, but it’s better to make a show about things in the past so you can have some perspective,” he said. “We let the news channels do the things that are current, while hoping to provide a relief from politics to people on both sides.”

One of Netflix’s biggest hits has been House of Cards, a fictional show about the ruthlessness of politics in Washington that first distributed in 2013, well before Trump’s rise to power.

Hastings aims to make Netflix even more global, including by creating more original content in foreign languages.

“We are focused on international expansion, mainly in Europe and Asia,” Hastings said. “It’s just the beginning of the internet. We are producing all over the globe with great success, now also in Spain, France, Germany, the U.K., Turkey, India, and even Japan, with anime shows.”

Netflix, which has some 93 million subscribers across 190 countries, is riding the success of some of its own productions, having won its first Oscar this week for the documentary White Helmets, about Syria’s humanitarian aid force.

Hastings expects the market competition to toughen, however, with traditional broadcasters increasingly moving online — especially with the gradual improvement of handset screens and connections.

“I think broadcast television is really going to move to the internet, so that current TV networks will offer their videos online, just the same as Netflix and YouTube.”

The improvements in wireless 4G and 5G technology is likely to encourage the trend of people watching movies on mobile screens. People can break up their viewing during commutes or lunch hours, personalizing the time in which they consume entertainment.

“We would like to continue to improve the mobile plans in order for everybody to enjoy unlimited video viewing,” Hastings said. “I think it’s possible because we are getting more efficient at video data, so that the networks are not congested. That would be a big breakthrough.”

Sistine Chapel Gets Full Digital Treatment for Future Restorations

The last time the entire Sistine Chapel was photographed for posterity, digital photography was in its infancy and words like pixels were bandied about mostly by computer nerds and NASA scientists.

Now, after decades of technological advances in art photography, digital darkrooms and printing techniques, a five-year project that will aid future restorations has left the Vatican Museums with 270,000 digital frames that show frescoes by Michelangelo and other masters in fresh, stunning detail.

“In the future, this will allow us to know the state of every centimeter of the chapel as it is today, in 2017,” said Antonio Paolucci, former head of the museums and a world-renowned expert on the Sistine.

Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes include one of the most famous scenes in art – the arm of a gentle, bearded God reaching out to give life to Adam.

The Renaissance master finished the ceiling in 1512 and painted the massive “Last Judgement” panel behind the altar between 1535 and 1541.

The last time all Sistine frescoes were photographed was between 1980 and 1994, during a landmark restoration project that cleaned them for the first time in centuries.

The new photos were taken for inclusion in a new three-volume, 870-page set that is limited to 1,999 copies and marketed to libraries and collectors.

The set, which costs about 12,000 euros ($12,700), was a joint production of the Vatican Museums and Italy’s Scripta Maneant high-end art publishers.

Post-production computer techniques included “stitching” of frames that photographers took while working out of sight for 65 nights from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., when the chapel where popes are elected is closed.

The project was known to only to a few people until it was unveiled in the chapel on Friday night.

The set includes the entire chapel, including the mosaic floor and 15th century frescoes by artists who have long languished in Michelangelo’s giant shadow.

More than 220 pages are printed in 1:1 scale, including ‘The Creation of Adam’ and Jesus’ face from the Last Judgement. Each volume weighs about 9 kg (20 pounds) and fold-out pages measure 60 by 130 cm ( 24 by 51 inches).

The old photos taken during the last restoration were done with film.

“We used special post-production software to get the depth, intensity, warmth and nuance of colours to an accuracy of 99.9 percent,” said Giorgio Armaroli, head of Scripta Maneant.

“Future restorers will use these as their standards,” he said, adding that each page was printed six times.

Brush strokes are clearly visible as are the “borders” delineating sections, known as “giornate,” or days. Since frescoes are painted on wet plaster, artists prepare just enough for what they can complete in each session.

The photographers used a 10-meter-high (33 feet) portable scaffold and special telescopic lens. The results are now stored in a Vatican server holding 30 terabytes of information.

($1 = 0.9450 euros)

Sistine Chapel Gets Full Digital Treatment for Future Restorations

The last time the entire Sistine Chapel was photographed for posterity, digital photography was in its infancy and words like pixels were bandied about mostly by computer nerds and NASA scientists.

Now, after decades of technological advances in art photography, digital darkrooms and printing techniques, a five-year project that will aid future restorations has left the Vatican Museums with 270,000 digital frames that show frescoes by Michelangelo and other masters in fresh, stunning detail.

“In the future, this will allow us to know the state of every centimeter of the chapel as it is today, in 2017,” said Antonio Paolucci, former head of the museums and a world-renowned expert on the Sistine.

Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes include one of the most famous scenes in art – the arm of a gentle, bearded God reaching out to give life to Adam.

The Renaissance master finished the ceiling in 1512 and painted the massive “Last Judgement” panel behind the altar between 1535 and 1541.

The last time all Sistine frescoes were photographed was between 1980 and 1994, during a landmark restoration project that cleaned them for the first time in centuries.

The new photos were taken for inclusion in a new three-volume, 870-page set that is limited to 1,999 copies and marketed to libraries and collectors.

The set, which costs about 12,000 euros ($12,700), was a joint production of the Vatican Museums and Italy’s Scripta Maneant high-end art publishers.

Post-production computer techniques included “stitching” of frames that photographers took while working out of sight for 65 nights from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., when the chapel where popes are elected is closed.

The project was known to only to a few people until it was unveiled in the chapel on Friday night.

The set includes the entire chapel, including the mosaic floor and 15th century frescoes by artists who have long languished in Michelangelo’s giant shadow.

More than 220 pages are printed in 1:1 scale, including ‘The Creation of Adam’ and Jesus’ face from the Last Judgement. Each volume weighs about 9 kg (20 pounds) and fold-out pages measure 60 by 130 cm ( 24 by 51 inches).

The old photos taken during the last restoration were done with film.

“We used special post-production software to get the depth, intensity, warmth and nuance of colours to an accuracy of 99.9 percent,” said Giorgio Armaroli, head of Scripta Maneant.

“Future restorers will use these as their standards,” he said, adding that each page was printed six times.

Brush strokes are clearly visible as are the “borders” delineating sections, known as “giornate,” or days. Since frescoes are painted on wet plaster, artists prepare just enough for what they can complete in each session.

The photographers used a 10-meter-high (33 feet) portable scaffold and special telescopic lens. The results are now stored in a Vatican server holding 30 terabytes of information.

($1 = 0.9450 euros)

Wendy’s Installing Self-ordering Kiosks at 1,000 Locations

In an effort to save on labor costs and increase efficiency, fast-food chain Wendy’s will install self-ordering kiosks in about 1,000 of its locations in the United States.

According to David Trimm, a spokesman for the Ohio-based company, franchises that want the kiosks will, on average, install three of them, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported.

“They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it,” said Darren Tristano, vice president with Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch. “They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk.”

The company says it will see a return on the investment in kiosks within two years.

The company said the kiosks could help ease crowding during peak demand. For those who prefer ordering from a human, there will still be staff available to take orders, according to the Associated Press.

The kiosks have already been tested at Wendy’s stores in central Ohio.

Wendy’s is not the first retailer to explore self-ordering kiosks, as convenience store Wawa rolled them out in 2012.

The longevity of the kiosks, however, is unclear. Tristano says they may find themselves out of a job as ordering and payment move to smartphones.

The prospect of machines putting humans out of work is a controversial topic. The French presidential candidate from the Socialist Party has suggested a tax on machines that put humans out of work.

That idea has found support from Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.

Wendy’s Installing Self-ordering Kiosks at 1,000 Locations

In an effort to save on labor costs and increase efficiency, fast-food chain Wendy’s will install self-ordering kiosks in about 1,000 of its locations in the United States.

According to David Trimm, a spokesman for the Ohio-based company, franchises that want the kiosks will, on average, install three of them, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported.

“They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it,” said Darren Tristano, vice president with Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch. “They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk.”

The company says it will see a return on the investment in kiosks within two years.

The company said the kiosks could help ease crowding during peak demand. For those who prefer ordering from a human, there will still be staff available to take orders, according to the Associated Press.

The kiosks have already been tested at Wendy’s stores in central Ohio.

Wendy’s is not the first retailer to explore self-ordering kiosks, as convenience store Wawa rolled them out in 2012.

The longevity of the kiosks, however, is unclear. Tristano says they may find themselves out of a job as ordering and payment move to smartphones.

The prospect of machines putting humans out of work is a controversial topic. The French presidential candidate from the Socialist Party has suggested a tax on machines that put humans out of work.

That idea has found support from Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.

High Tech Animal Collar Helps Reveal Pet Emotions

Many dog and cat owners think they know what how their animals are feeling. While that may be true, an animal collar or jacket, equipped with sensors, could give them even more information about the emotional state of their pet. The sensors provide data on things like body temperature and heart rate. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

High-tech Animal Collar Helps Reveal Pet Emotions

Many dog and cat owners think they know what how their animals are feeling. While that may be true, an animal collar or jacket, equipped with sensors, could give them even more information about the emotional state of their pet. The sensors provide data on things like body temperature and heart rate. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

High-tech Animal Collar Helps Reveal Pet Emotions

Many dog and cat owners think they know what how their animals are feeling. While that may be true, an animal collar or jacket, equipped with sensors, could give them even more information about the emotional state of their pet. The sensors provide data on things like body temperature and heart rate. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

How to Make Drones Behave in Flight

Unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, have become a staple of everyday life. As more take to the air, the issue of how to avoid collisions between drones and aircraft, and other drones, is becoming a serious problem. As VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists are working on solutions.