Geek Beat: Snap, Amazon & Uber

The tech and investing world is picking apart Snap’s filing for its Initial Public Offering in March, the Amazon Echo continues to learn new skills, and Uber dreams of a fleet of flying cars. These are the stories we cover in this week’s “Geek Beat” on Hawaii News Now’s “Sunrise” morning show.

Snap, formerly known as Snapchat, has revealed the details of its IPO, including its ambition to raise $3 billion on a valuation of more than $22 billion. Although the five-year-old company is best known for its “disappearing photos” app, the SEC filing describes Snap as “a camera company.” Snap also had to disclose its weaknesses, including slowing user growth, and strong competition from Facebook’s Instagram, which has basically copied most of Snap’s most distinctive features.

The Amazon Echo, one of the most popular home voice assistants, is benefitting from a growing community of independent developers who are creating new “skills.” From checking stock prices to playing rainforest sounds to accessing city services, this accessible piece of hardware ($50 for the Echo Dot) is getting smarter every week.

Finally, Uber has taken a big step towards building Uber Elevate, a future fleet of flying cars, announced last fall. This week, the disruptive transportation company hired a NASA engineer to work on the project. Mark Moore had worked for NASA for 30 years and was a year away from retirement, but the dream of flying cars was apparently too compelling. In 2010, Moore had himself proposed a way to achieve the dream in a whitepaper — a document that Uber says inspired its Elevate plans.

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