Biz Break: Facebook’s Safety Check connects Brussels after attacks

Top Of The Order: 

Facebook Connects With Brussels: It’s easy to joke about Facebook and all the stuff that gets put up on the social media site that, let’s be honest, can be pretty ridiculous at times. And Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg can sound a little corny when he goes on about Facebook’s mission to connect people around the world.

But there are times when Facebook does something that truly serves the greater good, and on Tuesday, that was the company turning on its Safety Check feature following the terrorist bombings in Brussels that killed at least 30 people. Safety Check allows Facebook users that are in an area affected by something such as a natural disaster or a terrorist attack to alert their friends and contacts that they are safe. Facebook first activated Safety Check after a terrorist attack following the attack in Paris last fall, and has used it after several natural disasters since the service made its debut in 2014.

Belgian authorities were requesting people use social media services such as Facebook and Twitter to let family members and friends know there whereabouts due to phone systems being overloaded in Brussels.

Middle Innings:

Sony’s VR Is Closer to Reality: Sony on Tuesday began taking pre-orders for its PlayStation VR kit, which won’t start shipping until October. The kit includes the VR headset, two Move controllers, the PlayStation 4 camera and a copy of “PlayStation VR Worlds” game, and will cost $399. Another pre-order just for the VR headset will start March 29.

Cisco’s Robbins Makes His Mark: It might have slipped through the cracks, what with everything going on with Apple on Monday, but Cisco Systems launched a pretty sizable reorganization of its engineering operations. And since Cisco, well, engineers a lot of the gear that drives Internet and networking traffic, it’s a move that shows Chief Executive Chuck Robbins is looking to make his imprint on the company in the wake of almost two decades under the leadership of John Chambers.

The nuts and bolts of Cisco’s re-organization are that its engineering department will now consist of four units: networking, cloud services and platforms, security, and applications and Internet of Things. All four units will report directly to Robbins. Also, Kelly Ahuja, who ran Cisco’s service provider business, is leaving the company.

Netflix Stands By A Star: Remember that controversial “Rolling Stone” interview that actor Sean Penn did with drug kingpin “El Chapo” Guzman last October? Penn caught a lot of flack over that, and may not be through it all yet. But there was someone else involved, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who helped broker the meeting between Penn and Guzman. And the Mexican government is investigating del Castillo for possible money-laundering of Guzman’s assets. Del Castillo has refuted all charges.

Where does Netflix come in? The online video-streaming leader is preparing to launch a new, Spanish-language series later this year called “Ingobernable” starring del Castillo as the first lady of Mexico. Since del Castillo’s involvement in the Penn-Guzman meeting became public, there have been concerns about whether Netflix would keep her on with the “Ingobernable” cast, and if the show will even be able to shoot in Mexico.

For now, Netflix officials say they are sticking with del Castillo, and are going ahead with their plans for “Ingobernable”. The company has made a big push into Latin America with Spanish-language programming and is looking to produce more such series in the region as well.

In other, potentially unfortunate Netflix news, the company has set a May 27 premiere date for Adam Sandler’s new movie, “The Do-Over”.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Tuesday…

Movin’ On Up: 

Gains came from Medivation, Inphi, Depomed, Oclaro and Impax Laboratories.

In The Red:

Decliners included Infinera, SolarCity, QuinStreet, LendingClub and Chegg.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies rose 0.3 percent to 1,604.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.3 percent to close at 4,821.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped by 0.2 percent to 17,582.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index ended the day just off its opening point of 2,049.

Quote Of The Day: Actually, today’s quote is a tweet, from cartoonist Jean Plantureux, in the French newspaper Le Monde. Plantureux draws under the name Plantu:


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Photo:  The Belgian flag is projected on the European Union Commisson building in tribute to the victims of Brussels following triple bomb attacks in the Belgian capital that killed about 35 people and left more than 200 people wounded Tuesday. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)


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