Microsoft thwarts Russian hackers targeting GOP critics of Trump


Microsoft Corp. has detected and seized web domains created by cyber-attackers linked to the Russian military, in a potential attempt to manipulate and disrupt the U.S. midterm elections. The shadowy group, known as Strontium, created domains that mimicked organizations such as the International Republican Institute and Hudson Institute so intended victims would believe they were receiving emails or visiting real sites, Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog post. Microsoft said it's sifting through evidence of the group's intentions after getting a court order to take over those domains, effectively disrupting the hacking campaign. The two targeted institutions are conservative bastions, which at times have been at odds with Russia or U.S. President Donald Trump. Russia rejected Microsoft's accusations that it was attempting to influence upcoming U.S. elections, which will determine control of Congress, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified diplomatic official. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Slack valuation rises to $7.1 billion after private equity deal


Workplace chat software maker Slack Technologies continued its fervent pace of fundraising with a $427 million round of investment. The deal, led by private equity firms Dragoneer Investment Group and General Atlantic, values the business at about $7.1 billion, the San Francisco-based company said on Tuesday. Just under a year ago, an investment from SoftBank Group Corp. valued Slack at $5 billion. The latest deal brings Slack's total funds raised to $1.27 billion. The company said more than 8 million people use the service every day, and 3 million of those users generate revenue for the business. But Slack faces stiff competition from Microsoft Corp.'s rival service, Teams. Another onetime competitor, Atlassian Corp., decided to shut down its business-chat programs, HipChat and Stride, and sell assets to Slack in July. Atlassian took a stake in Slack at the time of the deal and said it would Continue reading "Slack valuation rises to $7.1 billion after private equity deal"

What lies beneath: Jockey tops Viral Video Chart


The top video this week is from Jockey -- but it's not about underwear. Instead the video, which earned twice the views of the No. 2 viewed spot, shows people overcoming hardships to realize their dreams. The theme: it's what's underneath that counts. There are two newcomers to this week's chart -- Trident's "Vibes," which showcases some nifty animation and job website Indeed, which proves that the job hunt can actually end up sunny. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Amazon is ready to take on Apple and Spotify in streaming music


Amazon is turning up the volume in the music business. The world's largest online retailer will mount the first national TV campaign for its music-streaming service, featuring ads with songs from Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar and Queen. They're part of a larger effort that will extend to billboards, online video and radio, and to three countries -- the U.S., U.K. and Germany. Music has ascended the priority list at Amazon because of the popularity of the company's Echo speakers and the virtual assistant Alexa. Music is one of the most common requests of Alexa, and listening hours have doubled over the past year, the company said. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Tearful Elon Musk tells NYT nobody reviewed his bombshell Tesla funding tweet


Elon Musk said no one saw or reviewed his tweet about the plan to take Tesla private before he posted it, The New York Times reports, citing an interview in which the billionaire frequently teared up and discussed the personal strain of leading the electric-car maker. Musk, Tesla's chief executive officer and chairman, typed the tweet as he drove himself to the airport on Aug. 7, the newspaper says, citing Musk. The tweet read: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured." In an hourlong sit-down with the newspaper, Musk also detailed his frequent use of the sleep-aid Ambiena drug he's discussed using before, and whose well-known side effects include sleepwalking. "It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien," he told the newspaper. Continue reading at AdAge.com

MoviePass just made it harder, again, to see movies


MoviePass has changed its terms yet again, making it even tougher for subscribers to see films. On Thursday, the company said in an email that the number of films would be narrowed to six, though a weblink listed seven movies. That followed an earlier announcement that members would be limited to three films for $9.95 a month, ending an earlier offer that let subscribers see a picture every day. MoviePass, owned by Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc., is trying to stem the cash drain sparked by the stampede of fans who signed up for the service. Chief Executive Officer Mitch Lowe said Thursday the restaged plan includes studio first-run films and independent releases. Ticket choices may could be restricted further based on the popularity of the movie and available showtimes. Continue reading at AdAge.com

Kroger selects Arizona for self-driving grocery delivery pilot


Kroger is bringing self-driving grocery delivery to Arizona. The largest grocery chain in the U.S. will start delivering groceries in autonomous-capable Toyota Prius cars starting Thursday at a Fry's Food location it owns in Scottsdale. To start, there will be a driver in the vehicle, though the second phase of the test -- slated to begin late next month -- will include unmanned autos, according to a spokeswoman for the grocer. Kroger announced in June a partnership with the Bay Area autonomous vehicle startup Nuro to test the delivery of groceries in unmanned road vehicles that can steer from the store to a customer's home. The grocer, which operates nearly 2,800 stores, has said unmanned cars would help cut down on delivery times and the costs associated with sending bags of food directly to customers' houses. Continue reading at AdAge.com