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SoftBank snarfs ARM in US$32B deal

One acquisition, one world domination plan, one alleged cybercriminal and one premium-grade dingbat. We’ve got them all in our tech roundup this week.


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The biggest news this week — indeed, perhaps this year — is SoftBank’s US$32 billion purchase of ARM. ARM is a relatively low-key technology company with a focus on low-power microprocessors, whose intellectual property is found in vast swathes of the world’s mobile devices. Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank, which also owns U.S. telco Sprint, gains a rich trove of IP for the deal, for which it paid a huge premium — ARM’s revenues last year amounted to around $1.5 billion.

So why the purchase? It gives a behemoth company with mobile at the heart of its business a war chest of patents in that market. Now, any company wanting to make a mobile device has to deal with a firm owned by SoftBank.

The deal also places the Japanese tech giant perfectly in the race to the Internet of Things, as it controls not only large chunks of the network that these Things will use to communicate, but also a lot of the software and hardware IP that will go inside them. It’s a steep price, and it’s a gamble, but SoftBank is playing a long game with its ARM purchase.

Elon Musk wants to drive you around the city

Tesla owner Elon Musk has released the firm’s new ‘master plan,’ following on from the first, unveiled a decade ago. On the menu are a compact SUV, pickup truck, heavy-duty semi cargo-hauling trucks and “high passenger-density urban transport” (that’s buses, to you and me). All these new vehicles will drive themselves, he says. Can you hear all those truckers and bus drivers’ teeth grinding?

DOJ lands $1B online pirate. Arrrr.

In a month where the last video cassette machines will be produced (wait, what? VCR was still a thing?), the world’s biggest digital pirate is facing $1B in charges for copying movies and music. Ukraine-based Artem Vaulin has been a very naughty boy, according to the U.S. Justice Department, operating Kickass Torrents, which has become the biggest source of pirated media.

It’s the 69th most-visited site on the Internet, according to the DoJ — or at least it was. The alleged piracy kingpin gave himself away through some basic operational mistakes, which let authorities track him by his IP address alone. First rule of operational security: don’t set up a fan page for your law-breaking website using Facebook.

Dingbat of the week

This week, the dingbat of the week award is a no-brainer, for someone with no brain. Stand up and take a bow, Milo Yiannopoulos, tech editor of the ultra-conservative website Breitbart and gleeful troll, who Twitter outed as the source of a targeted online hate campaign against Ghostbuster star Leslie Jones. She was hit with a barrage of abusive, racist tweets from multiple social media users, and Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey took an interest. The company gathered enough evidence to conclude that Yiannopoulos, with his 388,000 followers, was behind it.

He doesn’t have those followers now, because Twitter terminated his account, although it’s worth pointing out that he was terminated for targeting another user, rather than for any abuse he may have levelled himself. Plenty of the accounts that posted abusive messages about her are still up. So we may need an awful lot of dingbat trophies this week.

Image courtesy of ARM Holdings

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