Facebook Deleting Facial Recognition; Zillow Closing Home Buying Biz; Waymo Comes to NYC; Walmart Snapping up No-Code Voice App Startup

Facebook has been messing around with facial recognition for 11 years now, first dabbling in it in 2010, when they first allowed users to automatically tag people in pictures. Now, according to arstechnica.com, they will be shutting down the facial recognition system, and deleting the facial recognition templates for over a billion people. Besides regulatory scrutiny from various countries, there have been lawsuits that cost Facebook (with their newly branded parent company Meta) hundreds of millions. Don’t think they are giving up entirely of facial recognition, though. They will continue to use it to notify a user if someone uploads a photo of them, and say they will employ it to help with privacy and transparency. 

After deciding they had overbought real estate, Zillow has started shutting down its home buying business. Geekwire.com reports that Zillow Offers, the company’s iBuying program will not only be shuttered, but about 2,000 people will get pink slips. The company will apparently take a $500 million write down in the process. A statement released from the office of Zillow CEO Rich Barton said, “We’ve determined the unpredictability in forecasting home prices far exceeds what we anticipated and continuing to scale Zillow Offers would result in too much earnings and balance-sheet volatility.” Even with algorithms, Zillow couldn’t do what hasn’t been done by anyone else either lately…they couldn’t predict real estate prices closely 3-6 months into the future.

After mapping the San Francisco area to a cat’s whisker, Waymo is sending vehicles to New York City to learn the streets of Manhattan. 9to5google.com says the plan is to have the cars drive from Wall Street and the Financial District all the way up to Carnegie Hall and Central Park. Included will be Chelsea and Union Square. Some of the autonomous vehicles will even take the Lincoln Tunnel over to New Jersey. (Note that the cars will have drivers during this learning stage around NYC.) At first, you will just see the hybrid Chrysler Pacifica vans, but Waymo does plan to add in its Jaguar I-PACE EVs shortly after the Chryslers hit the streets. 

Walmart is picking up Botmock, a startup that makes software which makes it easy to build and deploy conversational apps using a NO-CODE development platform. Venturebeat.com reports that Walmart expects its business divisions to be able to build and launch their own voice and bot apps to give customers a seamless mobile or online grocery shopping experience. While Walmart’s existing conversational platform enables voice shopping via Google and Siri, this will allow them to keep customers in house with their own apps.


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