Hi friends! Greg here. You may remember me from hits like “Greg has grabbed Lucas’s newspaper while he’s on vacation.” Now we have “Greg Occupying Lucas’ Newspaper While He’s On Vacation, Part II” the straight-to-DVD sequel that no one really approves of. The animation is worse and half the cast didn’t come back, but maybe we’ll introduce a talking dog or something. Who knows!
(Editor’s note: There will be no talking dog.)
Before we dive in, one note: Brian Heiter’s really-really cool robotics column, Actuator, has been becoming a newsletter since December 2. Sign up here! And while you’re at it, sign up for Week in Review so you never miss an update.
Let’s know the big news of this week.
Unity announced this week Big acquisition. This is actually the biggest ever.
The company is planning to spend $1.6+ billion to acquire the tech side of New Zealand’s Weta Digital, the renowned VFX studio co-founded by Peter Jackson. Unity will be responsible for the engineering teams, digital assets and ridiculously deep inventory of custom tools Weta Digital has spent the last 20 years building. In the meantime, the visual effects artist will rebrand into a new thing called Weta FX, which in turn will license the tool back from Unity.
If your first reaction is “Wait what?” Well, you are not alone! The news was surprising enough that I was really blown away that it didn’t leak.
I’m told that the 275 or so engineers who join Unity from Weta Digital will be in New Zealand. Unity has thousands of employees spread across offices around the world, so a distributed workforce is nothing new to them.
So why Weta Digital?
Unity SVP Mark Whitten told me that, basically, he sees a need to simplify manufacturing in 3D over the next few years. The word “metaverse” was dropped several times in our conversations. Weta Digital over the past few decades has made things that build things, so he probably spent more time on these problems than anyone else.
Wheaton is also a big fan of the way all of Weta’s devices work together through the magic of the cloud:
“What [Weta Digital’s] The tools are… actually it’s the pipeline,” Whitton says. “Each individual tool is powerful individually, but they all work really smoothly together in this pipeline. If you make changes to one particular tool, it shows up right when you go to another particular tool. Lighting, or compositing in equipment. Groups of people can work together really, really easily.”
“Then what we will do,” he continues “is that these cloud capabilities are directly tied to where the artists are and where they are trying to do their work – inside Maya, or inside Houdini, Or inside unity.”
Also, eventually opening up these tools will raise the curiosity of just about everyone in TV/movie, and I’m sure Unity wouldn’t mind snatching up the next “Mandalorian” or “Westworld” that might have otherwise been made with Unreal .
Youtube will hide dislike count on all videos: The title says it all, really. The company says this is to end “dislike attacks,” in which groups of users work together to pile on dislikes. As you might expect, when it comes to replacing a feature that has worked a certain way over the years, user feedback is hot, with many saying it among the top 10 most disliked videos. Two are from YouTube’s own account.
Discord clarifies a cryptic crypto tweet: After Discord CEO Jason Citron tweeted an image hinting at a possible crypto wallet integration on the popular chat platform, most of the user base responded with a heartfelt “oh hell no”… to others for their cancellation. Optional paid subscriptions to the service as an incentive. Citron later clarified that Discord does not currently have plans to ship the concept, with the company telling Nerdshala that the screenshot was from an internal hackathon project.
Robinhood disbands: An attacker was able to perform social engineering into Robinhood’s customer support system, managing to obliterate millions of customer email addresses and names as well as a few hundred dates of birth. While this isn’t the most sensitive information from a company like Robinhood, that’s not a good thing — as Jack Whitaker points out, “this is exactly the kind of information malicious hackers can use to facilitate further attacks against victims.” such as targeted phishing emails.”
While most of the content on our site is free, a piece of it lives in the premium section we call Nerdshala+ – and that piece is really, really cool! Here are some of the highlights of this week:
Airbnb’s Brian Chesky on one thing he’d do: No one knew what was happening in this pandemic. But, looking back over the past two years, what would Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky have done differently if given the opportunity? Jordan Crook just asks, covering everything from Airbnb’s office-to-office plans to what the company is working on next.
How Zapier’s homepage converts customers: You only get so much time and screen real estate to convince a visitor to become a customer. Why do successful startups do the things they do from their homepage? Demand Curve’s Joy Noble breaks down some of the things Zapier does right, element by element.
Expansify’s CEO on why/how the company is going public now: The wonderful Ryan Lawler sat down with Expensify Founder/CEO David Barrett to discuss “why the company decided to go public now, why it chose a traditional listing as opposed to a SPAC or direct listing, and how it has shaped the expense management category.” Sees what happened. The post-COVID corporate journey begins.”