Business News at a Glance
Posted January 14, 2018 9:42 p.m. EST
Big Bets on AI Open a New Frontier for Chip Startups, Too
For years, tech industry financiers showed little interest in startup companies that made computer chips. How on earth could a startup compete with a goliath like Intel? But then came the tech industry’s latest big thing — artificial intelligence. AI, it turned out, works better with new kinds of computer chips. Suddenly, venture capitalists forgot all those forbidding roadblocks to success for a young chip company. Today, at least 45 startups are working on chips that can power tasks like speech and self-driving cars, and at least five of them have raised more than $100 million from investors.
Detroit Auto Show May Be Celebrating an Era About to End
Automakers have reason to celebrate as they gather this week at the Detroit auto show. They just ended 2017 with sales in the United States topping 17 million vehicles for the third year in a row. But a closer look suggests that the industry may be headed for choppier waters than the hoopla in Detroit would indicate. While sales are healthy, consumers are actually buying fewer new vehicles. Purchases by individual customers at dealerships declined slightly in both 2016 and 2017. Some automakers are offsetting lower consumer purchasing by selling more cars to fleets like rental-car companies.
Don’t Listen to Washington, Tourist Organizations Try Telling Foreigners
According to the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, the number of international visitors to the United States in the first half of 2017 fell 4 percent from a year earlier. Those in the travel industry point to many factors, including the messages coming from the Trump administration — the latest example being President Donald Trump’s vulgar comment about Haiti and African nations. This week, the U.S. Travel Association plans to announce that industry groups are forming the Visit U.S. Coalition in an attempt to combat the slump through advocacy, lobbying, advertising and other methods.
From Vanity Fair to South of France — and Backing a News App
Graydon Carter, the former editor of Vanity Fair, is not staying idle. Carter said he was exploring a suite of new ventures, the first of which is set to debut Monday. Zig, an app that aims to simplify users’ consumption of news, is Carter’s first public project since he left Vanity Fair last month. It resembles an Instagram of news: a feed of photographs culled from stories around the web, with the material tailored to a user’s interests. The idea, said Joshua James, one of the founders, is to deliver useful news without making readers slog through a dozen sites.
‘Jumanji’ Tops Box Office for a Second Week
An unspectacular week at the box office led Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” back to No. 1. The action movie took in $27 million from Friday through Sunday to bring its domestic total to $283 million after four weeks. “Jumanji” also topped the Chinese box office and has made over $550 million worldwide; its success has cemented Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson as box office near-guarantees. “The Post,” a well-reviewed recounting of The Washington Post’s efforts to release the Pentagon Papers, took in $18 million in its first week in wide release, good for second place.