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Boardroom’s sister company, Boardroom Sports Holdings, features investments in emerging sports teams and leagues, including the Major League Pickleball team, the Brooklyn Aces, NWSL champions Gotham FC, and MLS’ Philadelphia Union.

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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
June 23, 2024
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.

Backbone, the maker of a mobile gaming controller, announced a collaboration with Post Malone on a limited Backbone One controller. I’ve been reviewing a few Backbone controllers on my iPhone and Google Pixel. My review will be coming very soon!

A peek into today’s edition: 

  • The Sphere hosts its first-ever business-focused event
  • Anthropic‘s new AI model is here
  • Nvidia made history (again) this week

How the HPE Discover 2024 Keynote Took Over the Las Vegas Sphere

I spent the first half of the week in Las Vegas with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) for the information tech leader’s annual conference that brings together its partners, customers, analysts, and other businesses in its network. There was a lot of chatter about HPE Discover 2024 since the event’s keynote was hosted at Sphere, marking the first time the high-end, tech-powered venue hosted a business-focused event since it opened its doors in the fall of 2023.

I spoke to a few executives from HPE and Sphere about how this opportunity came about. Here is what I learned.

From Conception to Reality

Jason Newton, HPE vice president of global marketing, told Boardroom that HPE and Sphere started seriously working on the keynote production in August 2023, before the venue had even opened in late September. The new location for the company’s marquee corporate event not only opened the doors to one of the most buzzed-about locations in Sin City, but also allowed HPE to expand its programming and attendance. Typically, HPE hosts the keynote in one of the large halls in the Venetian, which can only accommodate about 5,500 guests. With the upgrade to Sphere, HPE welcomed approximately 14,000 attendees to its keynote, bringing a whole new experience to its network.

“Our creative director, executive producer, and writer were essential to giving us a beautiful framework to tell our story,” he said.

Newton described the Venetian halls as blank, concrete canvases that would need complete transformations, so his team found it more fun than challenging to put some creativity behind Sphere. To refresh your memory, Sphere’s Atrium is a 5.7 million-square-foot space with 17,600 seats and a 160,000-square-foot LED screen. The Exosphere is covered in 1.2 million LED pucks, making it the largest LED screen on Earth, and it can display more than 1 billion different colors.

“Sphere is a blank canvas for brands to showcase their creative vision, and the possibilities are endless. Our team at Sphere Studios – which is our immersive content studio dedicated to creating experiences exclusively for Sphere – works closely with brands, and it was such a collaborative process between the Sphere and HPE teams,” Chandra Allison, executive vice president of sales and service at Sphere, told Boardroom. “From how content was created for the venue to how the technology was utilized, it all came together seamlessly during the keynote to create such an impactful experience.”

The Keynote

HPE’s keynote also marked my first time in Sphere, and the best way I could put it is that it felt like I was in a supersized version of a virtual reality and mixed reality headset. The keynote kicked off with a video that showcased the power of AI before HPE President and CEO Antonio Neri took to a small stage that was magnified by closer camera angles of him displayed on the LED screen behind him.

“Big moments require big venues. Welcome to my living room,” Neri said jokingly to kick off his presentation.

Like most keynotes, Neri ran through HPE’s biggest announcements, most notably a new partnership with NVIDIA where the pair will co-develop a suite of AI solutions under the brand NVIDIA AI Computing by HPE. NVIDIA Founder and CEO Jensen Huang joined Neri on stage to discuss and celebrate the new deal.

“Generative AI and accelerated computing are fueling a fundamental transformation as every industry races to join the industrial revolution,” Huang said in a statement. Never before have NVIDIA and HPE integrated our technologies so deeply – combining the entire NVIDIA AI computing stack along with HPE’s private cloud technology – to equip enterprise clients and AI professionals with the most advanced computing infrastructure and services to expand the frontier of AI.”

Throughout the 75-minute keynote, various graphics and logos took over the LED screen, which was surprisingly complementary and less distracting than I expected. The immersive audio was strong, and if I hadn’t been able to see attendees sitting below me in lower tiers, I probably could have gotten fully engulfed in the screen in front of me.

Why HPE?

Since its onset, Sphere has been intentional about the type of entertainment and programming it brings to the venue. To date, there have mainly been musical residencies and immersive tours, but all of that is changing. HPE isn’t the only one cementing a first-time program in the arena. Later this week, Sphere will be hosting the 2024 NHL Draft, which will be the first event televised live from the venue.

Next month, the venue is hosting a special Fourth of July celebration in partnership with Verizon.

“We have always envisioned Sphere as a powerful platform for companies to educate and demonstrate in new and innovative ways,” Allison said. “One of the things that makes Sphere so unique is how many different stories we can tell — we can host such a wide range of events, from concerts to original cinematic experiences to marquee sports and corporate events.”

For HPE, this opportunity was all about creating something new.

“It’s been said that people rarely remember what you say, but they always remember how you made them feel,” Newton said.

As the company unveiled a first-of-its-kind, marquee partnership, Sphere served as a perfect backdrop to help convey a new reality that HPE and NVIDIA anticipate it will bring.

  •  That’s not the only project coming to a stop. The Information reported that Apple is shifting its focus to release a more-affordable Vision Pro model instead of building a more expensive successor. The Big Tech giant is on the hunt to find components for its flagship headset to start shipping cheaper models by the second half of 2025.
  • Anthropic debuted a new AI model, Claude 3.5 Sonnet, the first release in its 3.5 model family. The new platform also comes with an early version of Artifacts, a feature that appears in a window alongside chats that builds on responses, whether that is a code, game, or graphic, for example.
  • NVIDIA briefly became the most valuable company on Tuesday when its market cap hit roughly $3.35 trillion. This marked the first time a company other than Microsoft or Apple had held the top spot since February 2019, when Amazon’s valuation was up there.
  • McDonald’s is ending a partnership with IBM and halting its AI-powered drive-thru ordering service at more than 100 locations by the end of July. After two years, the fast food chain is going back to the drawing board to find broader voice-ordering solutions.
  •  The Federal Trade Commission is suing Adobe and two of its executives for deceptive prices and making it too hard for customers to cancel their subscriptions.
  • TikTok announced a new AI dubbing feature called Symphony Digital Avatars that will let users tap into generative AI to create avatars of creators and stock actors for branded content. Elsewhere, challenges to the TikTok ban will officially see a court for the first time on Sept. 16.
  • Meta announced a six-month lifestyle app accelerator for developers who want to create Quest-based platforms that leverage AI, mixed reality, and hand-tracking tech. Selected developers will get grand funding, mentorship, Meta Quest 3 dev kits, and much more.

Ilya Sutskever, former OpenAI chief scientist, announced a new venture called Safe Superintelligence Inc. I’m going to bet that the new company will announce an AI chatbot-related product to compete with OpenAI by the end of the year.