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Apple confirms acquisition of VR startup Spaces

Apple is acquiring Spaces, a virtual reality firm that recently pivoted from creating theme park attractions to bringing traditional video conferencing software to VR headsets.

Why it matters: Apple has shown continued interest in both virtual and augmented reality and has been reportedly testing headsets internally, but it has yet to release such a product publicly.


Details: Apple confirmed the acquisition to Axios with the statement it usually offers in such cases. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

  • The company declined to comment further or say whether it will continue to offer Spaces' video conferencing software.
  • Spaces posted a thank-you note to users on its website, but didn't offer additional details.

The big picture: Axios featured Spaces in an article last month on tech companies that were pivoting in the wake of the pandemic.

  • The company had raised substantial funding around the premise of creating destination virtual reality experiences that could go in theme parks or shopping malls.
  • With the pandemic putting that business in limbo, Spaces shifted its energy and created software that uses VR headsets to allow people to have more immersive experiences with Zoom and other video conferencing services.

Apple's acquisition of Spaces was first reported by Protocol.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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