Google takes a step back from running the Kubernetes development infrastructure

Google today announced that it is providing the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) with $9 million in Google Cloud credits to help further its work on the Kubernetes container orchestrator and that it is handing over operational control of the project to the community. These credits will be split over three years and are meant to cover the infrastructure costs of building, testing and distributing the Kubernetes software.

Why does this matter? Until now, Google hosted virtually all the cloud resources that supported the project, like its CI/CD testing infrastructure, container downloads and DNS services on its cloud. But Google is now taking a step back. With the Kubernetes community reaching a state of maturity, Google is transferring all of this to the community.

Between the testing infrastructure and hosting container downloads, the Kubernetes project regularly runs more than 150,000 containers on 5,000 virtual machines, so the cost of running these systems quickly adds up. The Kubernetes container registry has served almost 130 million downloads since the launch of the project.

It’s also worth noting that the CNCF now includes a wide range of members that typically compete with each other. We’re talking Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Oracle, SAP and VMware, for example. All of these profit from the work of the CNCF and the Kubernetes community. Google doesn’t say so outright, but it’s fair to assume that it wanted others to shoulder some of the burdens of running the Kubernetes infrastructure, too. Similarly, some of the members of the community surely didn’t want to be so closely tied to Google’s infrastructure, either.

“By sharing the operational responsibilities for Kubernetes with contributors to the project, we look forward to seeing the new ideas and efficiencies that all Kubernetes contributors bring to the project operations,” Google Kubernetes Engine product manager William Deniss writes in today’s announcement. He also notes that a number of Google’s will still be involved in running the Kubernetes infrastructure.

“Google’s significant financial donation to the Kubernetes community will help ensure that the project’s constant pace of innovation and broad adoption continue unabated,” said Dan Kohn, the executive director of the CNCF. “We’re thrilled to see Google Cloud transfer management of the Kubernetes testing and infrastructure projects into contributors’ hands — making the project not just open source, but openly managed, by an open community.”

It’s unclear whether the project plans to take some of the Google-hosted infrastructure and move it to another cloud, but it could definitely do so — and other cloud providers could step up and offer similar credits, too.

Sonos releases new speaker Amp, partners with Sonance for in-wall speakers

Sonos is doubling down on the custom in-home audio market with new products and partnerships. The company today announced a new version of the Sonos Amp and a partnership with Sonance that will result in three architectural speakers — in-wall, in-ceiling and outdoor — that Sonos says will gain additional functionality when paired with a Sonos system.

Sonos is also announcing upcoming Control APIs that the company says will make it easier to integrate Sonos into the ever-evolving smart home. This jibes with Sonos’ long-standing approach of working with other platforms to offer its customers as many services as possible.


The new Amp allows owners to use traditional home audio speakers with a Sonos system. Connect a turntable or stream media with just the Amp and power a set of bookshelf speakers. According to the spec sheet, the Amp has enough power to push most high-end bookshelf speakers.

The Amp replaces the Connect:Amp. The new version is more powerful, works with more platforms and is more expensive at $599 rather than $499. This new version outputs 125 watts per channel at 8 ohms; it can power four speakers instead of two. The additional power makes the Amp more versatile than its predecessor, too. Sonos says the Amp can be used to add stereo sound to a TV (thanks in part to HDMI Arc support) or add wireless rears to a Sonos theater setup. Or, two Amps can be used to add a complete surround sound system. Multiple Amp units can be stacked or mounted in a rack.

The Amp works with AirPlay 2 and with Alexa when used in conjunction with an Amazon Alexa-enabled Sonos device like a Sonos One or Beam.

With a product like the Amp, Sonos has a new offering for those customers looking to integrate the convenient Sonos line into their high-end home theater setup. That’s a serious market, too, and the company’s new partnership with Sonance shows Sonos is committed to addressing the home audio enthusiast while building products to compete with Apple and Amazon.

Together, they will produce in-wall speakers that when used with a Sonos Amp will offer additional functionality. The company stopped short of detailing the added functionality. These speakers are set for an early 2019 release.

This is Sonos’ first large announcement after going public on August 2.

Box builds a digital hub to help fight content fragmentation

The interconnectedness of the cloud has allowed us to share content widely with people inside and outside the organization and across different applications, but that ability has created a problem of its own, a kind of digital fragmentation. How do you track how that piece of content is being used across a range of cloud services? It’s a problem Box wants to solve with its latest features, Activity Stream and Recommended Apps.

The company made the announcements at BoxWorks, its annual customer conference being held this week in San Francisco,

Activity Stream provides a way to track your content in real time as it moves through the organization, including who touches it and what applications it’s used in, acting as a kind of digital audit trail. One of the big problems with content in the cloud age is understanding what happened to it after you created it. Did it get used in Salesforce or ServiceNow or Slack? You can now follow the path of your content and see how people have shared it, and this could help remove some of the disconnect people feel in the digital world.

As Jeetu Patel, Box’s Chief Product and Chief Strategy Officer points out, an average large company could have more than a thousand apps and there is no good way to connect the dots when it comes to tracking unstructured content and getting a unified view of the digital trail.

“We integrate with over 1400 applications, and as we integrate with those applications, we thought if we could surface those events, it would be insanely useful to our users,” he said. Patel sees this as the beginning of an important construct, the notion of a content hub where you can see the entire transaction record associated with a piece of content.

Activity Stream sidebar inside Box. Photo: Box

But Box didn’t want to stop with just a laundry list of the connections. It also created deep links into the applications being used, so a user can click a link, open the application and view the content in the context of that other application. “It seems like Box was a logical place to get a bird’s eye view of how content is being used,” Patel said, explaining Box’s thinking in creating this feature.

A related feature is a list of Recommended Apps. Based the Box Graph, and what Box knows about the user, the content they use, and how it’s interconnected with other cloud apps, it also displays a list of recommended apps right in the Box interface. This lets users access those applications in the context of their work, so for instance, they could share the content in Slack right from the document.

Recommended Apps bar inside Box. Photo: Box

For starters, Recommended Apps integrations include G Suite apps, Slack, Salesforce, DocuSign and Netsuite, but Patel says anyone who is integrated with the web app via the API will start showing up in Activity Stream.

While the products were announced today, Box is still working out the kinks in terms of how this will work. They expect these features to be available early next year. If they can pull this off, it will go a long way toward solving the digital fragmentation problem and making Box the content center for organizations.

AirTM raises $7 million to fight hyperinflation

If you want to convert Netflix gift cards into dollars on a PayPal account, you usually have to find someone willing to do the same transaction in the other direction. It can quickly go wrong if you never receive your money.

Meet AirTM, a service that makes it easier to convert any form of money into any other form of money. You can deposit money using banks, gift cards, cash through Western Union and other equivalent services, cryptocurrencies and more. You can withdraw money through any of those protocols as well. AirTM is raising a $7 million Series A with BlueYard leading the round.

While many of you probably don’t see why you’d use a service like this, AirTM’s users in Venezuela are willing to pay high fees to convert their bolívars into anything else. Multiple years of hyperinflation have turned everyone’s savings into piles of bills that are worth close to nothing.

AirTM accounts aren’t bank accounts. When you create an account, you get an e-wallet in AirUSD. You can deposit and withdraw money as well as send and receive money. Depending on your payment method, you’ll get different fees.

For instance, there’s a huge supply of money from PayPal, which means that you’ll pay quite a lot to deposit money using PayPal and convert it into AirUSD.

While AirTM sounds great for money laundering, the company is a registered money service business and follow anti-money laundering and know-your-customer requirements. The company is just getting started as it manages $9 million in monthly transaction volume with 4,000 daily active users. But it’s clear that it has the potential of creating an alternative to traditional banking in countries with volatile currencies.

Sinemia takes aim at MoviePass again, with new $9.99 plan

Sinemia continues its campaign to take advantage of MoviePass’s high-profile struggles and win over the better-known movie ticket subscription service’s customers. Today, it announced a new plan priced at $9.99 per month.

MoviePass, after all, recently announced that it would be keeping its monthly subscription price at $9.95, but limiting subscribers to three movies per month (with discounts on additional tickets).

The new Sinemia tier also includes three tickets each month, but it has the additional benefit of allowing subscribers to buy tickets for any 2D, non-IMAX screen, and to buy those tickets in advance. MoviePass, in contrast, is rotating the available movies each day, and it requires subscribers to buy their tickets at the theater, on the same day as the screening.

Just a couple weeks ago, Sinemia announced a refer-a-friend program that rewards subscribers who convince their friends to leave other subscription services. The company makes no secret of the fact that it’s targeting MoviePass in particular — in today’s announcement, it describes the new plan as one that “matches MoviePass’ latest.”

Sinemia offers a variety of other options, ranging from $3.99 per month for one ticket, to $14.99 for three tickets, with IMAX and 3D access.

Deliveroo offers free OpenClassrooms courses to riders

If you’re a rider on Deliveroo, you can now follow courses on OpenClassrooms and get certificates of achievement for free. You get a free Premium Solo account, which is worth €20 per month ($23.44).

You’ll find courses in French, English and Spanish on many technical and non-technical topics. For instance, you can learn a programming language, UI or project management skills. But you can also follow courses on marketing, leadership and more.

OpenClassrooms is a freemium platform, which means that anyone can access courses for free. But a premium account lets you access additional materials and more features to study at your own pace. You also get certificates of achievement when you go through an entire course.

This isn’t groundbreaking news for Deliveroo riders, but it’s good to see that the company wants to take care of its “partners” with perks — I’m sure they’d rather become employees with traditional benefits.

As long as you’ve worked with Deliveroo for the past three months, you can renew your free Premium Solo subscription. It is limited to some countries for now. In the future, Deliveroo and OpenClassrooms plan to offer Premium Plus subscriptions with grants.

This subscription tier lets you sign up to a path that leads to a diploma and a job. It usually costs €300 per month and replaces traditional universities for those who want to work on the side. It takes months or even years to complete a path.

OpenClassrooms received a $1 million grant from Google.org to develop this program. They pitched the idea to Google’s charitable arm in order to help freelancers learn new skills. As part of this project, OpenClassrooms will create new courses on accounting, business opportunities and other useful skills for freelancers. Deliveroo is the first platform to benefit from this program.