Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Orange backs voice-enabled AI specialist; Spotify hits bum note in first earnings report; France-IX exchange gets it on with Epsilon.
Cambridge Analytica, the UK company at the center of a media storm over its misuse of Facebook users' personal data, has decided to call it a day, saying that the "siege of media coverage" has driven away "virtually all" of its customers and suppliers. As the BBC reports, however, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said that it would be continuing with its investigation into the company's activities. In any case, it appears that some of the key executives at Cambridge Analytica had already hatched an escape plan. The Daily Telegraph reports that Alexander Tayler and Julian Wheatland, who had both helped run the company, set up as directors of a new company, Emeradata Limited, in August of last year. (See Facebook: The Sick Man of Silicon Valley and Eurobites: Cambridge Analytica Feels the Heat.)
Orange (NYSE: FTE) is one of a group of investors putting $100 million in new funding on the table for SoundHound, a Californian voice-enabled AI specialist that is looking promote its Houndify (really?) platform across a range of sectors, including automotive and consumer products. Other investors in the group include Samsung, Tencent and Daimler.
In other Orange news, Dr. Helmut Reisinger has been promoted from within to become the new CEO of Orange Business Services, succeeding Thierry Bonhomme, who will act as special advisor to the chairman and CEO of Orange, Stéphane Richard, before retiring later this year. Most recently Dr. Reisinger was executive vice president of Orange Business Services' International division, responsible for enterprise business activities. The appointment is part of a wider executive reshuffle at Orange, which also sees Orange Spain CEO Laurent Paillasso becoming group deputy CEO. (See Dr. Helmut Reisinger Named CEO of Orange Business Services.)
Spotify , the Swedish music-streaming company, reported its earnings for the first time as a public company Wednesday, but, as the BBC reports, shareholders didn't much like what they heard. Shares in the Daniel Ek-led company fell by around 9%, even though losses in the quarter to the end of March had narrowed to €41 million ($49 million) from €139 million ($166 million) during the year-earlier period. Revenue was up 26% on the previous year, at €1.139 billion ($1.36 billion). Fewer than half of Spotify's subscribers are paying for the service, and some industry observers believe Spotify is offering too many discounts to those who are prepared to pay for the ad-free (or "Premium") version.
Internet exchange France-IX Services has teamed up with Epsilon Telecommunications in a bid to make it easier for service providers to connect to peering points across France. Epsilon's partners will now be able to connect directly to each of the France-IX member communities in Paris and Marseille from its "Infiny by Epsilon" on-demand connectivity platform.