Tech 2.0 for Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 4/24/2013 1:33 pm

One of the worst-kept secrets in central Iowa is now official. State and local officials in Altoona are welcoming Facebook. The social media giant is opening a new, state-of-the-art data center in the city. Facebook VP of Engineering Jay Parikh says Altoona is really going to benefit from the Facebook project.

Jay Parikh/Facebook VP of Engineering, “There's more than one billion people around the world who today who use Facebook and use the services that are on Facebook to connect and share with their friends. So over the last couple of years, we have been building out our infrastructure to support this growth that we've achieved over the last couple of years, several years, and Altoona, once it's actually complete, will join the fabric of our infrastructure that goes into powering all of Facebook.”

Facebook is investing nearly $300-million in the Altoona project, which is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs and dozens of full-time operations jobs. The company evaluated several other sites before choosing the Iowa location.

Shares of Netflix are soaring and investors can thank Kevin Spacey. Netflix bet on an original series called "House of Cards," starring the Oscar-winning actor. It reportedly cost $100 million to produce just two seasons. That bet is paying off. Netflix signed up more than two-million new U.S. streaming subscribers in the first quarter. Sales topped one billion dollars. Shares jumped 25-percent in premarket trading Tuesday at the news. Netflix is rolling out more original programming this year.

Tired of striking out at the singles bars? Then you might want to try a Virgin America flight. The airline has launched a new service that allows passengers to send a drink to someone on the plane who's caught their eye. It's done through the airline's in-flight entertainment system. Passengers pinpoint their designated person with Virgin's digital seat map, browse the menu and have a drink, snack or meal sent over. You can even follow up with a text through the seat-to-seat messaging system. Virgin launched the service this week to mark the start of its L.A. to Las Vegas service. But it's available on all of its U.S. flights. Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson introduced the new feature in a video. He said the chances of deplaning with a plus-one are at least 50 percent.
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