Feces, cockroaches and mold: Denver venues have some of the worst food-safety violations in pro sports, new report says

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Mouse feces, live cockroaches and black mold were among the critical health violations Denver sports venues racked up in 2016 and 2017, ESPN found in a wide-ranging review of food-safety inspection reports at sports venues across the nation.

The results, shared Thursday by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, named Broncos Stadium at Mile High, the Pepsi Center and Coors Field among the worst in the U.S. for food-safety violations at professional sports stadiums and arenas.

The home bases of the Colorado Rockies, Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche were included in the study of 16,000 food-safety inspection reports from 111 health departments nationwide, ESPN said. No other Colorado venues were included on the sports network’s list.

While Denver did not have the three worst violation rates — that would be Charlotte, N.C.’s Spectrum Center (with 92 percent), the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich. (86 percent) and Dallas’ American Airlines Center (83 percent) — its largest venues, which serve hundreds of thousands of meals and snacks annually, still managed to rank in the bottom 10.

Broncos Stadium landed at No. 103 out of 107 entries, with an 80 percent violation rate. Seventy-four of the 92 inspection reports ESPN examined showed high-level violations, including the discovery of 50 rodent droppings under a pallet of beer in a warehouse area of the main kitchen.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

A Spicy Chopped Brisket Sandwich inside Broncos Stadium at Mile High in 2016.

When contacted about the ESPN report, a Broncos Stadium spokesman deferred to the venue’s main concessionaire, Centerplate.

“The health and safety of our guests is always the top priority of Centerplate and our culinary partners,” the company said in a statement. “Centerplate is committed to excellence in its operations, and continues to rigorously train their staff on proper techniques in food handling and food safety procedures. … When potential issues have arisen in our operations, they took immediate corrective action — and worked immediately to rectify accordingly and clear for operation in the presence of an inspector.”

The Pepsi Center also received strikingly low marks, clocking in at 101 of 107 venues with a 76 percent violation rate.

Its infractions included hot foods (in this case, cheesesteaks and bratwursts) being stored at 97 degrees in a warming drawer — far below the recommended temperature of 135 degrees — as well as a safety glove-wearing employee using a dirty towel to wipe counters before serving ready-to-eat waffles. On Oct. 24, 2017, a small amount of “black mold-like substance” was found in an ice machine at the Pepsi Center.

Coors Field ranked No. 99 with a 72 percent violation rate, including widespread problems with mice. In addition to “thousands of accumulated mice feces,” inspectors found “12 to 15 plastic bags of chips and chocolate chips (that) had open chew holes from mice.” An inspection quoted in the ESPN report said, “One deceased mouse was directly next to the hot water heater; one live mouse inside of pest device near the popcorn area; thousands of pest feces throughout the facility; and evidence of nesting observed at facility.”

Joe Amon, The Denver Post

Fans inside the Pepsi Center watch on as Colorado Avalanche center Alexander Kerfoot #13 (center) is congratulated by his team mates as the crowd goes wild after he scored the 6th goal of the night as the Boston Bruins go down to the Avalanche 6-3 at the Pepsi Center November 15, 2018 in downtown Denver.

Representatives for Aramark, which supplies most of the food at Coors Field and the Pepsi Center, did not respond to requests for comment.

However, the Colorado Rockies released a statement on Twitter saying the well-being of all fans is a top priority.

“We take food safety very seriously and work closely with our partners on an ongoing basis to ensure that,” the statement said. “We were made aware of each health inspection report and potential issues, all of which were immediately addressed and corrected.”

That may not be enough to fix the problem, said Denver restaurant consultant John Imbergamo.

“The city certainly should be concerned if we are generally ranked with more violations in city-owned or municipal-owned venues,” he said. “The standard language in contracts between caterers and venues says you have to maintain high levels of sanitation and maintenance to operate.”

Embarrassingly, Lower Downtown’s Coors Field is the lead example in the ESPN report. An anecdote recounts how a health inspector found a live mouse in a commercial-size bag of Cracker Jacks at Coors Field in September 2016, along with five live cockroaches in a trap in a storage room.

“Two weeks earlier, inspectors had found copious amounts of mouse droppings on a kitchen floor, in food-prep trays, inside a bin of rice and amid bags of cookies that had been chewed,” the article added.

“At least our sports teams rank high in something,” Imbergamo joked.

The ESPN report also compared the average number of high-level violations per inspection to the average for restaurants and other food outlets at the 82 venues for which it had community data, via Hazel Analytics. In that comparison, sports venues generally did better in food-safety inspections than the restaurant industry at large — which was also the case in Denver.

The comparison is an attempt to “compensate for such jurisdictional differences” as the frequency of inspections, the diligence of inspectors and differing laws. The Denver area’s restaurant-industry average of 1.5 high-level violations per inspection was generally higher than the ones at the Pepsi Center (1.27 per inspection), Coors Field (1.14 per inspection) and Mile High (1.05 per inspection).

Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment, which conducts food safety inspections, visits vendors on a risk-based frequency, judged in part on compliance with regulations, said communications manager Jeremy C. Garland.

“We conduct follow-up visits for re-inspections until violations are corrected,” Garland said. He noted that the city does not hold contracts with food vendors at sports venues; rather, it’s the venue’s owners and operators, such as the Pepsi Center’s Kroenke Sports Entertainment. “Shutting down a vendor would be necessary if they posed an imminent health hazard to the public. This could result from an observation such as no water or no hot water available for hand washing.”

It’s important to note that more than one vendor often provides food at individual venues, Imbergamo said. In the case of the Pepsi Center, Aramark provides general concessions while Levy Restaurants handles sit-down dining.

“Lumping them all into one is kind of a challenge,” Imbergamo said. “When you’re doing something like this, you want to make sure you’re differentiating.”

The high incidence of violations at sporting venues should not reflect on the cleanliness of Denver’s restaurant scene as a whole, Imbergamo added.

“Nobody compares the food at Broncos Stadium with the food at a high-end Denver restaurant, and I would say the same thing applies to health inspections,” he said.

The National Association of Concessionaires, which described annual food and beverage sales at pro-sports venues as a $2 billion industry, said the trust of its customers is its No. 1 concern.

“Training in safe food preparation and handling, routine surprise inspections from local health officials, and ongoing third-party audits are just a few of the measures in place to safeguard public health,” the association said in a statement provided to The Denver Post. “When there are issues, they are identified and immediately corrected, often in the presence of an inspector.”
Nearly 50 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne disease in the U.S. each year, according to an estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compare local and national sports-venue results in the “What’s Lurking in Your Stadium Food?” article at espn.com.

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Distinguished VCs back wholesale marketplace Faire with $100M at a $535M valuation

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A slew of venture capitalists known for high-profile exits — Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures, Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures, Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital and Alex Taussig of Lightspeed Venture Partners — have invested in Faire (formerly known as Indigo Fair), a 2-year-old wholesale marketplace for artisanal products.

A quick glance at Faire suggests it’s a combination of Pinterest and Etsy, complete with trendy, pastel stationery, soap, baby products and more, all made by independent artisans and sold to retailers. Faire has today announced a $100 million fundraise across two financing rounds: a $40 million Series B led by Taussig at Lightspeed and a $60 million Series C led by Y Combinator’s Continuity fund. New investors Founders Fund, the venture firm founded by Peter Thiel, and DST Global also participated. The business has previously brought in a total of $16 million.

The latest financing values Faire at $535 million, according to a source familiar with the deal.

If you’re feeling a little bit of déjà vu, that’s because a similar startup also raised a sizeable round of venture capital funding, announced today. That’s Minted . The 10-year-old company, best known for its wide assortment of wedding invitations and stationery, raised $208 million led by Permira, with participation from T. Rowe Price. Though Minted is first and foremost a consumer-facing marketplace, it plans to double down on its wholesale business with its latest infusion of capital, setting it up to be among Faire’s biggest competitors.

Like Minted, Faire leverages artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to forecast which products will fly off its virtual shelves in order to to source and manage inventory as efficiently as possible. The approach appears to be working; Faire says it has 15,000 retailers actively purchasing from its platform, including Walgreens, Walmart, Sephora and Nordstrom — a 3,140 percent year-over-year increase. It’s completed 2,000 orders to date, garnering $100 million in run rate sales, and has expanded its community of artists 445 percent YoY, to 2,000.

The company, headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Ontario and Waterloo, was founded by three former Square employees: chief executive officer Max Rhodes, who was product manager on a variety of strategic initiatives, including Square Capital and Square Cash; chief information officer Daniele Perito, who led risk and security for Square Cash; and chief technology officer Marcelo Cortes, a former engineering lead for Square Cash.

“Our mission at Faire is to empower entrepreneurs to chase their dreams,” Rhodes wrote in a blog post this morning. “We believe entrepreneurship is a calling. Starting a business provides a level of autonomy and fulfillment that’s become difficult to find for many elsewhere in the economy. With this in mind, we built Faire to help entrepreneurs on both sides of our marketplace succeed.”

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

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Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.

The post This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores appeared first on Digital Trends.

Powering customer journeys in the age of AI

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Technology has been the cornerstone of economic growth around the world for hundreds of years. It has underpinned the last three industrial revolutions and is now the driving factor in today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution — marked by emerging technologies in a variety of fields.

Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence is one of the key technologies driving this new revolution. As described in the 1950s by the father of modern computer science, Alan Turing, “What we want is a machine that can learn from experience.” His paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” is the earliest description of neural networks and how computer intelligence should be measured. While the concept of AI isn’t new, we’re only on the cusp of seeing AI drive real business value in the enterprise.

Businesses today are trying to augment and improve their customer, partner and employee experiences by leveraging AI. However, what many have yet to realize is that AI is only as good as the APIs that support it.

For example, we’re seeing the rise of conversational commerce, where consumers can interact with businesses and their services via digital voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri. Two very important things occur here. First, the voice assistant uses AI and machine learning technology — or algorithms that are trained using massive amounts of existing data — to understand voice commands. Second, the voice assistant acts on those commands by calling back-end services with APIs that do the actionable work. This can include getting product information from a database or placing an order with the order management system. APIs truly bring AI to life and, without them, the value of AI models cannot be unlocked for the enterprise.

The AI problem

Many businesses are beginning to deploy AI-based systems. According to Gartner’s recent survey of more than 3,000+ CIOs, 21 percent said they are already piloting AI initiatives or have short-term plans for them. Another 25 percent said they have medium- or long-term plans.

However, many businesses are adopting AI as a point solution to help customers with queries via a chatbot or with making recommendations via an AI and machine learning-based platform. These point solutions don’t have the ability to influence the entire customer journey. The customer journey in today’s digital world is complex, with interactions spanning many different applications, data sources and devices. It is very hard for businesses to unlock and integrate data across all the application silos in their enterprise (e.g. ERP, CRM, mainframes, databases) to create a 360-degree view of the customer.

So, how do businesses go about unlocking these information systems to make AI a reality? The answer is an API strategy. With the ability to securely share data across systems regardless of format or source, APIs become the nervous system of the enterprise. As a result of making appropriate API calls, applications that interact with AI models can now take actionable steps, based on the insights provided by the AI system — or the brain.

How APIs can bring AI to life

The key to building a successful AI-based platform is to invest in delivering consistent APIs that are easily discoverable and consumable by developers across the organization. Fortunately, with the emergence of API marketplaces, software developers don’t have to break a sweat to create everything from scratch. Instead, they can discover and reuse the work done by others internally and externally to accelerate development work.

Additionally, APIs help train the AI system by enabling access to the right information. APIs also provide the ability for AI systems to act across the entire customer journey by enabling a communication channel — the nervous system — with the broader application landscape. By calling appropriate APIs, developers can act on insights provided by the AI system. For example, Alexa or Siri cannot place an order for a customer directly in the back-end ERP system without a bridge. An API can serve as that bridge, as well as be reused for other application interactions to that ERP system down the road.

At their core, APIs are developed to play a specific role — unlocking data from legacy systems, composing data into processes or delivering an experience. By unlocking data that exists in siloed systems, businesses end up democratizing the availability of data across the enterprise. Developers can then choose information sources to train the AI models and connect the AI systems into the enterprise’s broader application network to take action.

Using AI to enhance the customer journey

As AI systems and APIs get leveraged together to build adaptive and actionable platforms, the customer journey changes dramatically. Consider this scenario: A bank offers a mobile app that targets customers looking to buy or sell a home. In the app, customers can simply point at the property they are interested in and immediately rich data comes together via APIs to provide historical information on property sales, nearby listings and market trends. Customers can then interact with an AI-powered digital assistant on the app to start the loan application process, including getting lender approval and mortgage rates. All the data captured from the mobile app can then feed the mortgage origination process to reduce errors and provide a fast and superior experience to the customer.

Businesses haven’t truly realized the full potential of AI systems at a strategic level, where they are building adaptive platforms that truly create differentiated value for their customers. Most organizations are leveraging AI to analyze large volumes of data and generate insights on customer engagement, though it’s not strategic enough. Strategic value can be realized when these AI systems are plugged into the enterprise’s wider application network to drive personalized, 1:1 customer journeys. With an API strategy in place, businesses can start to realize the full potential AI has to offer.

US intelligence community says quantum computing and artificial intelligence pose an ’emerging threat’ to national security

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It’s not often you can put nuclear weapons, terrorism and climate change on the same list as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, but the U.S. government believes all pose an “emerging threat” to its national security.

Several key agencies in the U.S. intelligence community were asked what they saw as long-term threats faced by the country in the next decade and beyond, and the future of “dual-use technologies” took center stage.

Agnostic technologies like encryption, autonomous and unmanned systems, AI and quantum computing rank at the top of the agencies’ “worry list” for fears that they could be used to cause harm, rather than advance society. While all can be used for good — to secure data, to survey a dangerous area, or simply to save time and effort — the government says that all can have disastrous effects if used by an adversary.

For example, the government says that, “adversaries could gain increased access to AI through affordable designs used in the commercial industry, and could apply AI to areas such as weapons and technology,” and that “quantum communications could enable adversaries to develop secure communications that U.S. personnel would not be able to intercept or decrypt.”

The list of emerging threats also includes information operations — such as those purportedly carried out by adversarial nation states in the run up to recent elections — may engage in “advanced information operations campaigns that use social media, artificial intelligence, and data analytics to undermine the United States and its allies.”

A list of “dual-use” technological threats faced by the U.S. (Image: Government Accountability Office)

It’s no surprise that the government fears the unknown: warfare in this day and age has adapted beyond recognition, with nation states targeting one another with literal “cyber-bombs” and disinformation campaigns, sowing seeds of doubt rather than lobbing bombs over borders.

“As such, the nature of warfare has evolved to include ‘gray zone’ conflict—defined as the area between war and peace — where weaker adversaries have learned how to seize territory and advance their agendas in ways not recognized as ‘war’ by Western democracies,” the government watchdog wrote. Notably, the U.S. pointed its finger specifically at China and Russia — with Iran a close third — for “pursuing gray zone strategies to achieve their objectives without resorting to military conflict.”

And the U.S. knows it has to keep up with the range of threats, or face weakening on the world stage.

“The challenge for the United States and its allies will be to develop responses faster than adversaries through a better understanding of the strategic environment,” the government said. That might be tougher than it seems, given that senior government officials said the U.S. has been “strategically surprised” by how fast the threats have evolved.

“The nature of conflict has changed, and so the United States must evolve,” the government said.

This early GDPR adtech strike puts the spotlight on consent

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What does consent as a valid legal basis for processing personal data look like under Europe’s updated privacy rules? It may sound like an abstract concern but for online services that rely on things being done with user data in order to monetize free-to-access content this is a key question now the region’s General Data Protection Regulation is firmly fixed in place.

The GDPR is actually clear about consent. But if you haven’t bothered to read the text of the regulation, and instead just go and look at some of the self-styled consent management platforms (CMPs) floating around the web since May 25, you’d probably have trouble guessing it.

Confusing and/or incomplete consent flows aren’t yet extinct, sadly. But it’s fair to say those that don’t offer full opt-in choice are on borrowed time.

Because if your service or app relies on obtaining consent to process EU users’ personal data — as many free at the point-of-use, ad-supported apps do — then the GDPR states consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous.

That means you can’t bundle multiple uses for personal data under a single opt-in.

Nor can you obfuscate consent behind opaque wording that doesn’t actually specify the thing you’re going to do with the data.

You also have to offer users the choice not to consent. So you cannot pre-tick all the consent boxes that you really wish your users would freely choose — because you have to actually let them do that.

It’s not rocket science but the pushback from certain quarters of the adtech industry has been as awfully predictable as it’s horribly frustrating.

This has not gone unnoticed by consumers either. Europe’s Internet users have been filing consent-based complaints thick and fast this year. And a lot of what is being claimed as ‘GDPR compliant’ right now likely is not.

So, some six months in, we’re essentially in a holding pattern waiting for the regulatory hammers to come down.

But if you look closely there are some early enforcement actions that show some consent fog is starting to shift.

Yes, we’re still waiting on the outcomes of major consent-related complaints against tech giants. (And stockpile popcorn to watch that space for sure.)

But late last month French data protection watchdog, the CNIL, announced the closure of a formal warning it issued this summer against drive-to-store adtech firm, Fidzup — saying it was satisfied it was now GDPR compliant.

Such a regulatory stamp of approval is obviously rare this early in the new legal regime.

So while Fidzup is no adtech giant its experience still makes an interesting case study — showing how the consent line was being crossed; how, working with CNIL, it was able to fix that; and what being on the right side of the law means for a (relatively) small-scale adtech business that relies on consent to enable a location-based mobile marketing business.

From zero to GDPR hero?

Fidzup’s service works like this: It installs kit inside (or on) partner retailers’ physical stores to detect the presence of user-specific smartphones. At the same time it provides an SDK to mobile developers to track app users’ locations, collecting and sharing the advertising ID and wi-fi ID of users’ smartphone (which, along with location, are judged personal data under GDPR.)

Those two elements — detectors in physical stores; and a personal data-gathering SDK in mobile apps — come together to power Fidzup’s retail-focused, location-based ad service which pushes ads to mobile users when they’re near a partner store. The system also enables it to track ad-to-store conversions for its retail partners.

The problem Fidzup had, back in July, was that after an audit of its business the CNIL deemed it did not have proper consent to process users’ geolocation data to target them with ads.

Fidzup says it had thought its business was GDPR compliant because it took the view that app publishers were the data processors gathering consent on its behalf; the CNIL warning was a wake up call that this interpretation was incorrect — and that it was responsible for the data processing and so also for collecting consents.

The regulator found that when a smartphone user installed an app containing Fidzup’s SDK they were not informed that their location and mobile device ID data would be used for ad targeting, nor the partners Fidzup was sharing their data with.

CNIL also said users should have been clearly informed before data was collected — so they could choose to consent — instead of information being given via general app conditions (or in store posters), as was the case, after the fact of the processing.

It also found users had no choice to download the apps without also getting Fidzup’s SDK, with use of such an app automatically resulting in data transmission to partners.

Fidzup’s approach to consent had also only been asking users to consent to the processing of their geolocation data for the specific app they had downloaded — not for the targeted ad purposes with retail partners which is the substance of the firm’s business.

So there was a string of issues. And when Fidzup was hit with the warning the stakes were high, even with no monetary penalty attached. Because unless it could fix the core consent problem, the 2014-founded startup might have faced going out of business. Or having to change its line of business entirely.

Instead it decided to try and fix the consent problem by building a GDPR-compliant CMP — spending around five months liaising with the regulator, and finally getting a green light late last month.

A core piece of the challenge, as co-founder and CEO Olivier Magnan-Saurin tells it, was how to handle multiple partners in this CMP because its business entails passing data along the chain of partners — each new use and partner requiring opt-in consent.

“The first challenge was to design a window and a banner for multiple data buyers,” he tells TechCrunch. “So that’s what we did. The challenge was to have something okay for the CNIL and GDPR in terms of wording, UX etc. And, at the same time, some things that the publisher will allow to and will accept to implement in his source code to display to his users because he doesn’t want to scare them or to lose too much.

“Because they get money from the data that we buy from them. So they wanted to get the maximum money that they can, because it’s very difficult for them to live without the data revenue. So the challenge was to reconcile the need from the CNIL and the GDPR and from the publishers to get something acceptable for everyone.”

As a quick related aside, it’s worth noting that Fidzup does not work with the thousands of partners an ad exchange or demand-side platform most likely would be.

Magnan-Saurin tells us its CMP lists 460 partners. So while that’s still a lengthy list to have to put in front of consumers — it’s not, for example, the 32,000 partners of another French adtech firm, Vectaury, which has also recently been on the receiving end of an invalid consent ruling from the CNIL.

In turn, that suggests the ‘Fidzup fix’, if we can call it that, only scales so far; adtech firms that are routinely passing millions of people’s data around thousands of partners look to have much more existential problems under GDPR — as we’ve reported previously re: the Vectaury decision.

No consent without choice

Returning to Fidzup, its fix essentially boils down to actually offering people a choice over each and every data processing purpose, unless it’s strictly necessary for delivering the core app service the consumer was intending to use.

Which also means giving app users the ability to opt out of ads entirely — and not be penalized by not being able to use the app features itself.

In short, you can’t bundle consent. So Fidzup’s CMP unbundles all the data purposes and partners to offer users the option to consent or not.

“You can unselect or select each purpose,” says Magnan-Saurin of the now compliant CMP. “And if you want only to send data for, I don’t know, personalized ads but you don’t want to send the data to analyze if you go to a store or not, you can. You can unselect or select each consent. You can also see all the buyers who buy the data. So you can say okay I’m okay to send the data to every buyer but I can also select only a few or none of them.”

“What the CNIL ask is very complicated to read, I think, for the final user,” he continues. “Yes it’s very precise and you can choose everything etc. But it’s very complete and you have to spend some time to read everything. So we were [hoping] for something much shorter… but now okay we have something between the initial asking for the CNIL — which was like a big book — and our consent collection before the warning which was too short with not the right information. But still it’s quite long to read.”

Fidzup’s CNIL approved GDPR-compliant consent management platform

“Of course, as a user, I can refuse everything. Say no, I don’t want my data to be collected, I don’t want to send my data. And I have to be able, as a user, to use the app in the same way as if I accept or refuse the data collection,” he adds.

He says the CNIL was very clear on the latter point — telling it they could not require collection of geolocation data for ad targeting for usage of the app.

“You have to provide the same service to the user if he accepts or not to share his data,” he emphasizes. “So now the app and the geolocation features [of the app] works also if you refuse to send the data to advertisers.”

This is especially interesting in light of the ‘forced consent’ complaints filed against tech giants Facebook and Google earlier this year.

These complaints argue the companies should (but currently do not) offer an opt-out of targeted advertising, because behavioural ads are not strictly necessary for their core services (i.e. social networking, messaging, a smartphone platform etc).

Indeed, data gathering for such non-core service purposes should require an affirmative opt-in under GDPR. (An additional GDPR complaint against Android has also since attacked how consent is gathered, arguing it’s manipulative and deceptive.)

Asked whether, based on his experience working with the CNIL to achieve GDPR compliance, it seems fair that a small adtech firm like Fidzup has had to offer an opt-out when a tech giant like Facebook seemingly doesn’t, Magnan-Saurin tells TechCrunch: “I’m not a lawyer but based on what the CNIL asked us to be in compliance with the GDPR law I’m not sure that what I see on Facebook as a user is 100% GDPR compliant.”

“It’s better than one year ago but [I’m still not sure],” he adds. “Again it’s only my feeling as a user, based on the experience I have with the French CNIL and the GDPR law.”

Facebook of course maintains its approach is 100% GDPR compliant.

Even as data privacy experts aren’t so sure.

One thing is clear: If the tech giant was forced to offer an opt out for data processing for ads it would clearly take a big chunk out of its business — as a sub-set of users would undoubtedly say no to Zuckerberg’s “ads”. (And if European Facebook users got an ads opt out you can bet Americans would very soon and very loudly demand the same, so…)

Bridging the privacy gap

In Fidzup’s case, complying with GDPR has had a major impact on its business because offering a genuine choice means it’s not always able to obtain consent. Magnan-Saurin says there is essentially now a limit on the number of device users advertisers can reach because not everyone opts in for ads.

Although, since it’s been using the new CMP, he says a majority are still opting in (or, at least, this is the case so far) — showing one consent chart report with a ~70:30 opt-in rate, for example.

He expresses the change like this: “No one in the world can say okay I have 100% of the smartphones in my data base because the consent collection is more complete. No one in the world, even Facebook or Google, could say okay, 100% of the smartphones are okay to collect from them geolocation data. That’s a huge change.”

“Before that there was a race to the higher reach. The biggest number of smartphones in your database,” he continues. “Today that’s not the point.”

Now he says the point for adtech businesses with EU users is figuring out how to extrapolate from the percentage of user data they can (legally) collect to the 100% they can’t.

And that’s what Fidzup has been working on this year, developing machine learning algorithms to try to bridge the data gap so it can still offer its retail partners accurate predictions for tracking ad to store conversions.

“We have algorithms based on the few thousand stores that we equip, based on the few hundred mobile advertising campaigns that we have run, and we can understand for a store in London in… sports, fashion, for example, how many visits we can expect from the campaign based on what we can measure with the right consent,” he says. “That’s the first and main change in our market; the quantity of data that we can get in our database.”

“Now the challenge is to be as accurate as we can be without having 100% of real data — with the consent, and the real picture,” he adds. “The accuracy is less… but not that much. We have a very, very high standard of quality on that… So now we can assure the retailers that with our machine learning system they have nearly the same quality as they had before.

“Of course it’s not exactly the same… but it’s very close.”

Having a CMP that’s had regulatory ‘sign-off’, as it were, is something Fidzup is also now hoping to turn into a new bit of additional business.

“The second change is more like an opportunity,” he suggests. “All the work that we have done with CNIL and our publishers we have transferred it to a new product, a CMP, and we offer today to all the publishers who ask to use our consent management platform. So for us it’s a new product — we didn’t have it before. And today we are the only — to my knowledge — the only company and the only CMP validated by the CNIL and GDPR compliant so that’s useful for all the publishers in the world.”

It’s not currently charging publishers to use the CMP but will be seeing whether it can turn it into a paid product early next year.

How then, after months of compliance work, does Fidzup feel about GDPR? Does it believe the regulation is making life harder for startups vs tech giants — as is sometimes suggested, with claims put forward by certain lobby groups that the law risks entrenching the dominance of better resourced tech giants. Or does he see any opportunities?

In Magnan-Saurin’s view, six months in to GDPR European startups are at an R&D disadvantage vs tech giants because U.S. companies like Facebook and Google are not (yet) subject to a similarly comprehensive privacy regulation at home — so it’s easier for them to bag up user data for whatever purpose they like.

Though it’s also true that U.S. lawmakers are now paying earnest attention to the privacy policy area at a federal level. (And Google’s CEO faced a number of tough questions from Congress on that front just this week.)

“The fact is Facebook-Google they own like 90% of the revenue in mobile advertising in the world. And they are American. So basically they can do all their research and development on, for example, American users without any GDPR regulation,” he says. “And then apply a pattern of GDPR compliance and apply the new product, the new algorithm, everywhere in the world.

“As a European startup I can’t do that. Because I’m a European. So once I begin the research and development I have to be GDPR compliant so it’s going to be longer for Fidzup to develop the same thing as an American… But now we can see that GDPR might be beginning a ‘world thing’ — and maybe Facebook and Google will apply the GDPR compliance everywhere in the world. Could be. But it’s their own choice. Which means, for the example of the R&D, they could do their own research without applying the law because for now U.S. doesn’t care about the GDPR law, so you’re not outlawed if you do R&D without applying GDPR in the U.S. That’s the main difference.”

He suggests some European startups might relocate R&D efforts outside the region to try to workaround the legal complexity around privacy.

“If the law is meant to bring the big players to better compliance with privacy I think — yes, maybe it goes in this way. But the first to suffer is the European companies, and it becomes an asset for the U.S. and maybe the Chinese… companies because they can be quicker in their innovation cycles,” he suggests. “That’s a fact. So what could happen is maybe investors will not invest that much money in Europe than in U.S. or in China on the marketing, advertising data subject topics. Maybe even the French companies will put all the R&D in the U.S. and destroy some jobs in Europe because it’s too complicated to do research on that topics. Could be impacts. We don’t know yet.”

But the fact of GDPR enforcement having — perhaps inevitably — started small, with so far a small bundle of warnings against relative data minnows, rather than any swift action against the industry dominating adtech giants, that’s being felt as yet another inequality at the startup coalface.

“What’s sure is that the CNIL started to send warnings not to Google or Facebook but to startups. That’s what I can see,” he says. “Because maybe it’s easier to see I’m working on GDPR and everything but the fact is the law is not as complicated for Facebook and Google as it is for the small and European companies.”

Apple to add hundreds of jobs in Boulder as part of nationwide expansion

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Apple will bring hundreds of jobs to Boulder over the next three years as part of a nationwide expansion, the company announced Thursday.

Apple’s plans includes planting workforces in a handful of cities, which includes a $1 billion, 5,000-job campus in Austin, Texas.

Plans for Boulder are a bit less grand. A company spokesperson declined to say how many people are employed in Boulder, and how many more will be added to Apple’s payroll, but graphics included in the news release show there are between 100 and 250 jobs here today. That will grow to between 250 and 500 by 2023.

The spokesman, Colin Johnson, declined to answer more questions or provide additional information, preferring to let the company’s release “speak for itself.”

Thursday’s announcement comes 11 months after Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed plans to open a major office outside California on the heels of a massive tax cut on overseas profits, which prompted the company to bring about $250 billion back to the U.S.

The company said it will also open offices in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, Calif., each employing at least 1,000 workers over the next three years. Apple also pledged to add hundreds of jobs each in New York; Pittsburgh; Boston; and Portland, Oregon.

“They are just picking America’s most established superstar cities and tech hubs,” said Richard Florida, an urban development expert at the University of Toronto.

Apple has more than 1,000 employees in Colorado, Johnson confirmed. In addition to Boulder, there are retail stores in Lone Tree, Cherry Creek, Aspen, Colorado Springs, Broomfield and Littleton, according to a Google directory.

Johnson declined to say if the new jobs will be office- or retail-oriented. There are several job listings for developers (but also retail workers) in the Denver metro.

“The speculation I hear among the brokerage community is that this is going to be a software development kind of office,” said Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Chamber. “We’re not talking about retail to my knowledge.”

Rumors have persisted all year that the company would establish a significant office space, Harald said, along with chatter about tech peers Amazon and Facebook setting up shop in Boulder, too.

The whispers about Amazon, at least, have proved true. The retail powerhouse took over 1900 15th St. for its advertising engineers in August.

A stealth approach “seems to be par for the course for some of these larger tech companies,” Harald said. “The important takeaway (from today’s news) is they have at least confirmed they have identified Boulder as a location for growth. It’s an affirmation of the tech talent here, of the innovation ecosystem here, the things we’ve talked about for many years.”

Apple’s scattershot expansion reflects the increasing competition for engineers in Silicon Valley, which has long been the world’s high-tech capital. The bidding for programmers is driving salaries higher, which in turn is catapulting the average prices of homes in many parts of the San Francisco Bay Area above $1 million. Many high-tech workers are thus choosing to live elsewhere, causing major tech employers such as Apple, Amazon and Google to look in new places for the employees they need to pursue their future ambitions.

“Talent, creativity and tomorrow’s breakthrough ideas aren’t limited by region or ZIP code,” Cook said in a statement.

Cities around the country offered financial incentives in an attempt to land Apple’s new campus, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another, as Amazon had before deciding to build huge new offices in New York and Virginia.

Amazon could receive up to $2.8 billion in incentives in New York, depending on how many it ultimately hires there, and up to $750 million in Virginia. Apple will receive up to $25 million from a jobs-creation fund in Texas in addition to property-tax rebates, which still need approval. The figure is expected to be a small fraction of what Amazon received.

The government incentives offered to Apple seem “more in the line of normal business site selection” compared with Amazon’s public “shakedown,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Center.

“There’s a growing backlash in the country against the entire process of subsides and relocation inducements,” Muro said. “That said, the Apple numbers for a very significant increase in jobs are much less eye-popping than the Amazon numbers.”

The spots where Amazon and Apple decided to expand were obvious choices, based on an analysis released earlier this year by CBRE Research. Washington, D.C., ranked as the third best place in North America for tech talent, behind Silicon Valley and Seattle. New York ranked fifth and Austin sixth. No. 4 was outside the U.S.: Toronto.

The new Austin campus, with about 3 million square feet (nearly 280,000 square meters) of office space, will be about a mile from another large office that Apple opened five years ago. Apple currently employs about 6,200 workers in Austin, making it the company’s largest hub outside Silicon Valley even before the expansion.

The new jobs are expected to mirror the same mix Apple already has at its Cupertino, California, headquarters, ranging from jobs in technology and research that pay well over $100,000 to lower-paying positions in customer call centers. Austin Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Phil Wilson described jobs that Apple will be adding as “mid-skill” and “good-paying.”

Virtually all of the jobs in Seattle and San Diego will be in technology — a field where six-figure paychecks plus stock options are standard. The jobs in Culver City, about eight miles from Hollywood, will also be in digital music and video, two areas Apple is expanding in to boost its subscription entertainment offerings.

While much of the $250 billion overseas profits has been earmarked for buying back company stock and paying higher shareholder dividends, Apple pledged in January to finance more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. It also committed to creating more than 20,000 more U.S. jobs during that same time frame. After adding 6,000 jobs, Apple said it now has 90,000 U.S. workers and is on track to fulfill its expansion pledge on schedule.