Virtual Skinny: Stand Up for Your Rights


Good to Know: Need to manage paper business cards? Mobile apps CamCard and ScanBizCards could help.


When You Take People Out GoT Style …

Last Friday, Facebook axed its Trending Topics team of humans with almost no warning. #Savage

When You Need An Explanation …

A little while back, FB was all up in the headlines for its alleged human bias in the type of stories picked up by Trending Topics. Some said the stories leaned more left than right, especially when it came to political news. Naturally, U.S. Republicans stepped in. As far as we knew, it was water under the bridge. But, not quite.

When You’ve Taken A Stand …

You may have noticed that Trending Topics no longer shows short summaries of news article. Instead, you just see the number of people talking about a topic. Well, that’s because FB decided it was better to swap out human editors for algorithms (Algorithms: Rules that tells computers what to do). The justification? FB said it’s listening to its community. And, the move “allows [FB] to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time.” 

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When You Can’t Fact Check …

Within about 48 hours of computers taking over Trending Topics, FB ran into some … issues. What had happened was its algorithms picked up a fake news story about Megyn Kelly being fired. Not true, Megyn Kelly is still gainfully employed by Fox News. Whoops!

When You’re Being Dragged …

FB removed the fake story, but it’s still not immune from being dragged via Twitter because some people can’t stand the change. BTW, the Zuck says it has no plans to transition from tech to media.  Journalists are calling B.S. because FB is a master at selling its users’ attention to advertisers. Could a potential #JournalistsFurtherExposesFBParty be brewing on the Twitterverse? 



B*tch Better Have My Money …

The European Union (EU) warned Apple not to call it on its bluff. In today’s ruling, the EU ordered Apple, Inc. to hand over a record US $14.5 billion (13 billion Euros) in back taxes to Ireland. This whole drams comes down to the EU believing that Ireland played faves with Apple with it came to taxes. To be clear, the EU is saying that Ireland gave Apple tax benefits for the past two decades. And, under EU law, this type of special tax treatment is a major no-no. Apple is understandably peeved about the decision. Ireland’s got Apple’s back and plans to appeal. Even, the U.S. government has piped up and is basically saying that the EU’s decision is no bueno and could hurt US-EU biz relations and even turn potential foreign business away from the EU. 

Is This Happening Or Nah?

Everyone expected a tech bust about a year ago, but it didn’t happen. HOW, Sway? We get the confusion. This time a year ago, investors were throwing money at on-demand delivery start-ups and Uber like one of Oprah’s giveaways. A crash seemed like a sure thing, but then startups got smart and started saving more and spending less on things like perks. Also, foreign investment money from countries like Saudi Arabia helped. A tech crash could still happen but probably not any time soon.


Amazon’s work schedule (especially for its technical team) is no joke … Soul crushing even. The company may finally be making a change. It’s testing out a 30-hour work week with a portion of its technical team (Monday through Thursday from 10 AM to 2 PM). The experimental group will still get the same benefits as everyone else, but they’ll be getting paid 25% less.  

Twitter is trying to do what Instagram just did to Snapchat. The microblogging site is following in YouTube’s footsteps. It wants to reward its most popular users with cash money if they create video content for the site. Twitter’s offering its top users a 70% (content creators) -30% (Twitter) split in revenue – a better deal than YouTube’s 55%-45% split. Not sure if the deal will help bring in creators though since YouTube and other similar platforms are so far ahead in the game. 


Uber said “you can’t sit with us” to Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond. Since Uber and Google are actively working on self-driving projects, Drummond decided to step down from the ride-hailing company’s board. 

Virtual Skinny: Open Up!


Good to Know: Need to kill some time on a Friday? Google ‘solitaire’ or ‘tic-tac-toe’ and get your game on…Enjoy! 

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When You’re Doing An About-Face …

Messaging app WhatsApp was hell-bent on protecting its users privacy, but things change.

When You’re Not Selling Out Completely …

To be fair, WhatsApp isn’t completely going back on its word. It just announced that it’ll be sharing ‘limited data’ (including phone numbers) with Facebook, it’s parent company. In case you forgot, FB bought WhatsApp for a whooping US $22 billion back in 2014.

When You’re Not Sure Why This Is Happening …

There are a number of reasons for the change. Better friend suggestions is one … Getting better FB ads and just having a better experience with the app generally are others … And, even helping businesses offer better customer service is also on the list. In other words, WhatsApp need to make money.

When You’re Trying to Be Open …

WhatsApp understands that this privacy policy change doesn’t look good, but it wants users to know that it’s encryption game is still hella strong. But if you’d rather be excluded from this narrative all together, you’ve got a couple of options. You can opt-out right away or within a month if you’ve already agreed to the app’s new terms.



Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

This week, rapper Frank Ocean released his long, looooooooong awaited album called, Blonde. Ocean released his latest work independently and got his work to the masses via iTunes and Apple Music. Turns out this is a nightmare scenario for record labels. If artists aren’t happy with their record label contracts, what’s stopping them from putting out music on their own then turning to music streaming services for distribution? Well, the answer is nothing (assuming the artist is no longer under contract). Record labels are shaking in their boots. We’ve even heard that Universal Music Group is banning ‘streaming exclusives’ for its artists. Ocean’s the first to break away from a major record label and do something like this. Now the question is … Who’s next? Bey? Drake?  How much longer before music labels are a thing of the past?  


See Something, Say Something …

Before we all started hating EpiPen maker Mylan for it’s ridiculously high prices for the live-saving allergy treatment, actress Mellini Kantayya learned about the whole thing via her Facebook friends back in July. Kantayya launched an online petition called ‘Stop the EpiPen Price Gouging, which went viral. Then, others jumped in on the ‘social’ discussion. Robyn O’Brien, founder of, started the ‘EpiGate’ hashtag. And just like that, the #EpiGate turned into one of the biggest news stories of the summer. Never underestimate the power of social media…


Presidents and Wanna Be Presidents …

Check out this 11-minute video and President Obama’s Yosemite National Park visit in VR (formally known as virtual reality). The video is courtesy of Facebook-owned Oculus and VR content studio Felix and Paul Studios. Or skip the video and check out the President watching himself in VR. 

President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama watches a virtual reality film captured during his trip to Yosemite National Park earlier this year, in the Outer Oval Office, Aug. 24, 2016. Personal aide Ferial Govashiri sits at her desk at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

These days you gotta meet people where they are … That’s why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are forking over $$$ for ads on Snapchat. Video ads are where it’s at to reach America’s youth.

Cars You Drive and Those That Drive Themselves…

Somehow Uber managed to drain US $1.27 BILLION dollars in just 6 months. In Uber’s world, it’s literally a drop in the bucket. Price competition from Lyft and drivers’ subsidies are partly to blame. Speaking of Uber drivers, retirement plans are in their future (sort of). Uber’s linked up with robo-advisor Betterment to set up drivers with IRAs or Roth IRAs.

When you did it first … Singapore’s nuTonomy just became the first company to get the world’s first self-driving taxis on the road. Still in test mode but still a very big deal. Uber and Google are working on it but aren’t there yet. 

Add Amazon to the automotive list. It’s launched a new hub to help those in the market for new rides compare specs, prices, and get smart before making a purchase. It’s all about building that ‘automotive community.’

How to Avoid Being Hangry …

More on Amazon … It’s taking a cue from Walmart. Shop groceries with the online retailer and then pick up your loot at a nearby drive-in location. No more wasting time by waiting for those deliveries at your door. Yay! That’s the plan at least… Amazon’s still testing things out.  

Southern Global Hospitality…

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for home sharing service AirBnB as of late. It’s been dealing with some heavy subjects like racism and discrimination on the app. But, not every host on the app is a jerk. Over 300 hosts are taking in people for free that have been devastated by the natural disasters in Italy, Louisiana, and Cali. It’s all part of the company’s disaster response program. #GoodWork

Keep Me Entertained …

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. First Instagram, now Apple.  The iPhone maker is working on a video feature reminiscent of Snapchat.

Pandora just got a new partner, and it makes sense. The Root’s Questlove and the music streaming service are doing a lil collabo called “Questlove Supreme,” a weekly radio show. The ‘black nerd version of NPR’ kicks off on Sept. 7.

Introducing, a social network for all things concerts. 

So, North Korea’s apparently working on a Netflix-type service called ‘ManBang.’ Interesting move since a ton of North Korean citizens aren’t even allowed to access the InterWebs. Things that make you go hmmm…

So Not Entertaining …

Internet trolls truly outdid themselves this week. If you remember, not too long ago the Cincinnati Zoo had to unfortunately take down Harambe (one of its gorillas). People were outraged and started trolling not only the zoo but it’s director on social. Things got so bad, the zoo said ‘screw this, we’re out.’ It got off of social.  

Things went from bad to worse when we learned that also this week, Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was hacked. It’s been a rollercoaster summer for the celeb who was the target of vicious racist attacks on Twitter. We thought things calmed down, but that was a mistake. Hackers got access to some explicit pics of Leslie and her passport info then posted them to her official website (complete with racial remarks). The website’s been taken down, other celebs rallied behind Leslie, and the Department of Homeland Security is investigating. #DoBetter 


Tech magazine Wired is losing another exec. Mark McClusky turned in his two-week notice and will be heading back to Sports Illustrated to run its digital division.

Virtual Skinny: Inter-Webs…


Good to Know: Time to celebrate … The Inter-Webs turn 25 years old today! Still waiting on that quarter-life crisis. 

happy bday


When You’ve Turned Over a New Leaf (Sort of) …

If you’ve been following U.S. politics, then you’ve probably noticed that Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is trying to do better. He’s trying to stay on script and talk more policy. Top of the list? Immigration

When You Still Want to Build That Wall …

Trump unveiled his immigration plan last week, and it went further than just building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He talked a lot about “extreme vetting” for those wanting to immigrate to the U.S. 

When You’re Not Sure What This Means …

‘Many people’ are wondering (see what we did there?) what this meant for H-1B work visas, which is a big deal in the tech world. It’s unclear, but Trump has said in the past that he would want to reform the H-1B program to stop ‘rampant abuse.’ He’s even called out Disney as a major culprit.

When You’re Confused… 

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley and the tech world are still not feeling Trump even with his new approach. With the exception of entrepreneur Peter Thiel, even Silicon Valley Republicans are staying clear of the Donald. They’re either backing down-ticket candidates. throwing their money at Hillz, or sitting the election out all together. #InterestingTimes 



Nope, Not On My Watch …

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are not pleased with a proposal from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency thought it would be a good idea to ask foreign U.S. visitors arriving on visa waivers to voluntarily hand over their social media account info. It’s all in the name of id-ing potential terrorists. Internet companies said ‘no way Jose.’ The proposal would spell major trouble for social media and free speech generally in the U.S.of A. Not to mention, it would send the wrong message to other countries that they should do the same. #SorryNotSorry


What to do after retirement? Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant retired from the NBA this year. Now, he’s getting into investments. Bryant and his partner Jeff Stibel announced that they’ve launched a US $100 million venture capital fund called Bryant Stibel. They’re looking to invest in tech, media, and data companies. Not really a surprise, Bryant and Stibel have been lowkey investing in companies since 2013. 

Tired of your Spotify or Pandora? Amazon’s stepping into music streaming service ring. The service is still in the works, but rumor has it that it’ll cost around US $5/ month. Oh and there’s a catch, the service will only work with Echo hardware aka ‘Alexa.’ Now that Alec Baldwin/Missy Elliott commercial is starting to make sense. #PepRally 

Ride-hailing service Lyft wanted out of the biz. It tried to sell to the likes of Uber and for US $9 billion. But, Uber said “too rich for my blood” … It was willing to do $2B and not a penny more. It wasn’t just a money issue … CEO Travis Kalanick didn’t think it’d be a good idea on account of the Feds (i.e., antitrust issues). 

While we’re on Uber, ICYMI, it’ll start letting real people into its self-driving cars. To be specific, it’ll start by testing out 100 Volvos in Pittsburgh, PA. But don’t worry, there’ll be a human at the wheel in case things start to go left

Daydream is no longer falling asleep beneath the flowers. It’s the name of Google’s new service for virtual reality films and programs. The company’s throwing millions of dollars at the service and at Inter-web stars for content. 


Amazon Web Services former marketing vet Adam Selipsky is going to be the top guy at software company Tableau.

Dropbox CFO Vanessa Wittman is walking away from her post due to health reasons. She’ll be replaced by financial deputy Ajay Vashee in September. 

Virtual Skinny: Extra, Extra!


Good to Know: Extra, Extra! Read all about it … The Virtual Skinny is happy to announce a brand new section called ‘Guide Me! We know tech and Internet stuff can be a lot so we want to help you dig a little deeper.  Check out our latest infographic. If there’s something you want to know more about, drop us a line at or “at” us (@virtual_skinny).


When You Need to Have A Difficult Conversation …

Turn to Twitter. According to a Pew Research Center study, A LOT of tough conversations about race have happened on Twitter over the last year.

When Things Are Changing …

Social media (Twitter in particular) has really shifted how people engage in ‘big cultural conversations.’ No more water cooler talk. Social platforms are the new hot spot for intimate chats.

When Everyone Needs to Engage …

The numbers show that black people (1 in 4) are more likely to engage in discussions about race than white people (1 in 12) on social. Subjects where race comes up ranges from the presidential election to major current events. Remember Freddie Gray, Charleston Church Shooting, Sandra Bland, and even this year’s Grammys?

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When You Gotta Sound Off…

To what extent do you think these tough conversations on social media will have an impact on race relations and culture in America? Let us know what you think in the comments!


When You’re being extra … 

Internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel isn’t letting up on the whole Gawker scandal. ICYMI, Thiel was pissed at the online media company for outing him before he was ready to publicly come out as a gay man. They say revenge is best served cold … or by later secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker for releasing some explicit footage of the former wrestler. Hogan, bankrolled by Thiel, won the case and forced Gawker’s bankruptcy. Thiel then gave a speech at this year’s U.S. Republican National Convention. And now, he’s put pen to paper for a New York Times op-ed on the importance of maintaining individual privacy in a digital world. He’s even touting a new bill in U.S. Congress called the ‘ Intimate Privacy Protection Act’ aka the ‘Gawker Bill.’ Thiel says the bill, which would make it illegal to share private, illicit images of someone online (aka revenge porn), is supported by both parties. He says it’s all about maintaining ‘individual dignity online.’ But, Recode thinks otherwise. They say Thiel is trying to be the judge and jury of what journalism is and should be. #JournalismWars    


Apple is throwing money at China and wants to do more research and development in the country. 


AirBnB’s got the whole home rental thing down. Now, it’s moving into new territories for your traveling needs; namely – restaurant reservations and city tours. Say hello to ‘AirBnB Trips.’ It’s just in test mode for now. But, expect the new app to be ‘off-isch’ this November. 

Speaking of trying out new things… Snapchat wants to get into Google’s original biz of search. The ‘disappearing chats’ app just bought search and discovery app Vurb that let’s you figure out what’s around you. Vurb relies on things like Yelp reviews to help you make decisions. The purchase price? About US $100 milli. #ChumpChange

The bad news is Google’s finished and done with Hangouts on Air. Other than President Obama and Pope Francis, who knew Google had a live streaming service? #KanyeShrug The good news? It’s hit to ‘restart’ button on its approach to messaging with ‘Google Duo,’ a new video app alternative to FaceTime. Works with both iOS and Droids.

Amazon’s got plans for its original content. Jill Soloway, creator of award-winning Transparent, is working on a musical comedy for Prime. The company’s tapped the Office’s John Krasinski to play Jack Ryan for an upcoming original series. And, Amazon’s giving its original shows away for free via Facebook and YouTube.

While we’re on things to watch, we’re looking forward to the release of Hidden Figures, a film about three black women mathematicians who broke barriers at NASA in the 60s. It stars Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer. #HistoryLessons

Virtual Skinny FinTech: Stick the Landing



When You Stick to the Plan …

Even though Britain said yes to Brexit, it’s still got lofty goals to be the center of all things fintech. (BTW, Brexit means that time Britain voted to leave the European Union then immediately regretted it).

When You Keep On Keeping on…

Two years. That’s how long it’ll take for Britain to exit stage left (if it actually happens). It’s also the deadline that Britain’s Competition Market Authority (CMA) is giving British banks to stop being stingy with their customers’ data.

When You Know What’s Up…

CMA is very aware that bank fees can be…excessive. Customers are paying up but aren’t getting what they deserve. Enter fintech companies. CMA is drinking the ‘fintech koolaid’ and wants banks to share customer data with fintech startups and third party apps. Bank customers must approve first of course.

When ‘Many People Are Saying It…’

CMA thinks by 2018, fintech will not only help save British bank customers money and get them better services but also earn the economy the top spot in “fintech” around the world.

When You Need to Watch Your Back…

About that Brexit thing. No one knows exactly how Britain saying ‘bye’ to the EU will play out. But, Germany’s taking full advantage. It’s on a full on recruitment mode to get fintech companies based in London to hop on over to Deutschland. Do you blame them?


Lies, Fairytales, and Fallacies…

Chip and pin cards (we’ve covered this; those cards you dip instead of swipe) were supposed to protect us from thieves. But, it’s not as safe as you think. Payment technology company NCR just unveiled a way for fraudsters to still get at your money. Apparently, they’ve used their genius for evil to figure out how to make chip cards seem cardless. Then, it’s off to the races. Retailers are thinking, ‘more reason not to buy those EMV card reader machines.’ But, it’s not all a lost cause, even with this security flaw, chip and pin cards are still slightly safer than regular ole swipe cards



Thanks to Square Capital aka Square’s lending business, the company’s stock is wayyy up. It should feel blessed. Square Capital doles out loans to the company’s existing merchants in exchange for a piece of merchants’ sales. It’s all love all around (for now). Merchants love that they can get loans fast (within a few days) and low default rates. Investors love it too. But, to keep growing, Square Capital will have to do something else (e.g., handing over $$$ to non-Square merchants). 

The war on cash in Boston is on its way. Boston area eateries like Sweet Green, Amsterdam Falafelshop, and Clover Food trucks want to go cash-less. They’ve picked up on the trend that young people are choosing plastic over paper when it comes to payment.cashless But, a little known law in Massachusetts makes it illegal to turn down cash. The law and how it’s enforced is all very wishy-washy. But, seems like shops are willing to take the risk. 

Been Around the World, Uh Huh 

India’s mobile phone game is strong (smartphones are up 220 million making it the second largest market in the world). Should be good news for financial inclusion but not so much. Not many rural and underbanked folks are using their phones for banking or payment. And, taxes for use aren’t helping. But, the Indian government won’t be giving up on this. 

The Nigerian Central Bank likes to walk the road less traveled when it comes to remittances (transferring money across borders from one country to another). The rest of the world wants to cut down costs on remittances. But, no. Not Nigeria. It’s going the opposite way. No secret that Nigeria’s economy is struggling. So to ‘maintain the exchange rate’ it’s up-ing the price on remittances. 

In other news dealing with the continent, the Brookings Institute (U.S. think tank) says more regulations protecting consumers will help grow financial inclusion and innovation in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria. Interesting since, a lack of banking regulations is a major reason money transfer service M-PESA is a success in Kenya … 

Australia’s postal service is looking to the future. It’s looking into applying blockchain technology to the mail – mainly for identity reasons. 

Virtual Skinny: No Judgment Zone


Good to Know: Been watching the Rio Olympics? There’s about two weeks left. We hear it’s best to stream.  


When You’re the Outlier …

Post the Republican and Democratic National conventions, opinion polls are showing that it’ll be Hillary over Trump come this November. But, app maker Ric Militi says otherwise.

When You’re Confused …

Militi, creator of Zip Q&A, says based on what he’s seen on the app, he’s calling the U.S. presidential race for Trump.

When You’re A Judgment-Free Zone …

Militi says the discrepancy between opinion polls and his app comes down to anonymity. He says his app allows people to answer questions and express their feelings without anyone knowing their identity. He says people feel free to say what they want without being judged and labeled for their opinions.


When You Need Answers …

What do you think? Is Militi onto something? Tweet us with you think @virtual_skinny. #My6WordOpinion


Play Your Cards Right…

Tech companies are going public like they used to, but employees still want to cash in on their company shares. Private tech startups are hearing them loud and clear and are trying to do right by their employees. Pinterest and SpaceX are leading the way. Employees can sell their ‘startup shares’ – with strings, of course. 



Message him maybe? President Obama just copped himself a Facebook Messenger account. The goal is to “meet people where they are.”

Snapchat’s filters aren’t always a hit. The app released its “anime-inspired” filter, and it didn’t go well. Asian users took to Twitter to call out the app for its “yellowface” app. A similar reaction happened back in April when Snapchat put out its Bob Marley app in honor of 4/20. People were not ok with it on account of “blackface” and all. Snapchat took the filter down a couple of days later. But, we gotta ask! When will they learn? 


Speaking of filters gone bad … BuzzFeed’s saying that Twitter filtered out abusive comments during Q&A sessions with President Obama and celeb Caitlyn Jenner. This all allegedly went down while former CEO Dick Costolo was CEO. Costolo said it never happened. The issue? Twitter may be treating celebs differently than regular folks on its platform. Celebs, maybe they aren’t just like us after all… 

Facebook’s on a mission. First, the company kicked off its take down of clickbait. Now, it’s changing up its secret algorithm sauce to show people more content they care about to keep them informed. That’s right… Keep ‘em coming back for more. 

Netflix’s ‘Making of a Murder’ was a huge hit. Now, the documentary’s main subject Brendan Dassey just got his conviction overturned. 

If you’re a gamer, Spotify’s got something for ya! The music streaming service just launched a new portal dedicated to video game music. Enjoy! 

Ride-hailing service company Lyft just told GM, “your money’s no good here.” It’s turned down GM’s advances to buy out the startup.


Co-founder of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, has been trying to get us to sleep and take care of ourselves for a while now. She even wrote a book about it. But, now she’s done talking. Huffington said she’ll no longer be the head EIC of the online media company. She’s now heading up Thrive Global, a “corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform.” Think wellness type stuff for corporate employees.

Bill Maris, founder and CEO of Google Ventures, thinks he’s done all he can to get the company’s investing arm on the right track.  He’s decided to leave the company on a high note to spend time with his fam.  Maris will be leaving GV in the hands of David Krane, Google’s former PR guy.

Virtual Skinny: ClickBait…


Good to Know: It’s #InternationalCatDay. BTW, over the weekend, the hashtag #FirstSevenJobs was trending thanks to @mariancall. People shared their first seven jobs. Did you? If not, it’s not too late! Take a min, reflect a little, and tweet at us (@virtual_skinny)!

world cat day


When You’re Just Looking Out (For clickbait)… 

Facebook doesn’t want its users to deal with ‘clickbait’ articles in your newsfeed.

When You Need To Use It In A Sentence …

Clickbait aka articles with headlines that leave you feeling misled, tricked, or underwhelmed after clicking the link (e.g., Headline: You won’t believe what XYZ celeb did! The Actual Content: [Insert uninteresting, mundane activity like a grocery story run].

When They’ve Heard You Loud & Clear …

Facebook users aren’t amused and complain about these annoying clickbait articles. So, FB decided to put some brainpower behind solving the problem. FB employees have narrowed down types of click bait into two groups. Category 1: ‘Curiosity gap headlines’ (see example above) and Category 2: Flat out misleading headlines.

When You’ve Found A Solution … 

FB’s changed up its algorithm so that publishers who dabble with the worst type of clickbait just simply won’t reach the number of FB users they’d like. But no need to go to basic, boring, and bulky headlines just yet. FB’s only going after the worst offenders.

When Others Chime in…

Last night, John Oliver dug deep into journalism and even talked ‘clickbait’ and what that means for the future of journalism.


Didn’t They Tell You That I Was a Savage?

In case you haven’t heard, Instagram hit ‘copy and paste’ on Snapchat’s Stories. That’s right … Insta pulled a boss move and copied Snapchat’s Stories feature. The basic concept is that you can post pics at the top of your newsfeed, but it’ll “disappear” after a day. Insta’s version is called ‘Instagram Stories.’ #ShockerButNotReally Turns out people seem to like it better. And business wise, Snapchat should be worried. Instagram’s got a larger audience (its 350 million daily users v. Snapchat’s 150 million users) and possibly better tools. Uh Oh!


E-commerce site tried to take on e-commerce giant Amazon. But, it didn’t work. Walmart stepped in and paid $3 billion in cash money for Now, it’s back to the Wal-Mart v. Amazon matchup. Advantage, Walmart? 

Back on! Online fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings can now legally operate again in New York. But, there’s a catch. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo says the sites’ contests are now considered a “game of skill,” which basically means NY regulators will be watching. And, the sites will have to pay new fees.  

Google is off to the races in India. The company’s winning the emerging market (ahead of Facebook and Microsoft) with its free Wi-Fi program, and that’s major! #NextBillion  

Yahoo’s going through things right now. But, it’s still got its eye on the prize. It’s launching Yahoo View, a TV watching site, with the help of Hulu. 

In more TV watching news, Comcast, Time Warner, Disney, etc. have all poured money into online companies to reach younger audiences. But not Viacom. The company hasn’t gone down the digital investments road yet. Rumor has it that Viacom has its eye on BuzzFeed. Unlikely, but anything’s possible…

Speaking of not making investments, Chinese Internet giant Alibaba has no plans to get involved with U.S. streaming service Netflix. 


Twitter just lost a member of its Comms team. Jim Prosser is heading over to marketplace lending company SoFi.

Everyone’s trying to be a tech company, including healthcare and consumer goods company Johnson & Johnson. J&J is kicking of its new tech business with the help of former Dropbox exec Marc Leibowitz.

After almost 8 years on Google’s self-driving car projects, Chris Urmson is peacing on account of he’s ‘ready for a fresh new challenge.’ 

And now that Verizon is buying Yahoo, the Internet company’s VP of global PR & Communications Anne Espiritu is ready to dip. She’s going the startup route and is joining health-care company Oscar Insurance Corp.

8.3.2016 – Virtual Skinny FinTech: Move It or Lose It


Good to Know: We want to get your thoughts. Take our poll below! 


When You Can’t Beat ‘Em …

Join ‘em. Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and US Bank are all jumping on the instant cash bandwagon.

When You Don’t Really Have A Choice …

Their hands have been forced. In the U.S., moving money between bank accounts is slow AF. Mobile services like PayPal’s Venmo and Square Cash handled the issue…Customers love it … Now U.S. banks don’t want to get left behind. 

When Your Age is Showing …

Banks have tried to pull an Instagram by offering their very own money transfer apps. Think Chase QuickPay. But, it isn’t quite the same ‘copy and paste’ job Instagram just pulled on Snapchat (read more on that later this week in our Internet & Tech edition).  They want customers to believe that their apps are just as ‘hip and cool’ as the Venmos of the world with the help of star-power ads. But, some people aren’t buying it.

When You’re Not Leading From Behind…

The U.S. is playing ‘follow the leader’ with the rest of the world when it comes to faster payments. Note to self: The U.S. is doing the following. So, the Federal Reserve Board’s ‘Faster Payments Committee’ is telling banks to ‘pick up the pace’ on money transfers.

When You Need to Make A Move …

Meanwhile everyone and their moms in the financial ecosystem (including financial OGs like Mastercard and Visa) are in an arms race to build the “payments network of the future.” Mastercard snatched up a huge chunk of Vocalink, a UK biz with a mobile and internet payment network, and Visa’s strategically linked up with Paypal.

When You’re Just Happy to be Here …  

Since people are still using the cash money and writing checks, there’s lots of opportunity to get in on the instant payments action. It won’t be easy for banks to catch up with Venmo and other peer-to-peer apps that are hybrid payment and social platforms. But, at least U.S. banks are making moves.


Now that banks are stepping up their instant payments game, are you willing to give up your current money transfer app (i.e., Venmo, Square Cash, etc) and give your bank’s app a go?


Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That …

The U.S. is still trying to get consumers to dip their credit cards rather than swipe them. Turns out chip and pin cards aka EMV cards aka cards that keep us waiting at checkout for life are way more secure and help cut back on fraud. That’s great and all, but we hear that making just two purchases daily for a year with an EMV card adds up. It’s literally 85 minutes of our lives that we’ll never get back just waiting to check out. No bueno! Even retailers want to avoid installing EMV card readers because long lines aren’t good for biz. Only 28% of all U.S. merchants require dips v. swipes. Shopping at places that take Apple, Android, or Samsung Pay may be a better, faster option. Meanwhile, some of us will continue to struggle with the process.

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And The Winner Is…

We hope China’s been practicing it’s surprise face and pageant wave. The U.S. Department of Commerce just crowned Asia’s largest economy as the 2017 Fintech Leader. Expect China to lead the world in payment exports. 

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word …

Banks in Africa are are like that ex who took you for granted but now wants to make things right. Sure, they did the basics like setting up infrastructure but didn’t go the extra mile to take care of everyone’s needs. Banks on the continent dropped the ball on figuring out mobile money services and left potential bankers out of the loop. Now that fintech startups have stepped in to offer way better services that can help way more people, the banks are seeing the error of their ways. To right their wrongs, banks are teaming up with startups like MFS Africa and Nomanini to reach untraditional young consumers.


Hong-Kong based Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex told us its system had been compromised. Like thieves in the night, hackers allegedly made off with a cool US $65 million in real money. The exchange is looking into the breach. In the meantime, Bitcoin’s value dropped by 7.8 percent earlier this week.

China’s got a trust problem with its charity organizations. Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma wants to use blockchain technology to make sure charities are using donations for the right purposes. Alibaba’s Ant Financial is leading the effort on this. Transparency FTW …

The charity world is pretty old school when it comes to donations. It’s all about those cash money donations. But, you can only give what you have. So, if people are short on dolla bills, charities are SOL. DipJar wants to change that up by allowing people to donate with credit or debit cards for “impulsive, on-the-spot giving.”

While Alibaba’s trying to figure out this blockchain situation, IBM seems to be way ahead of them. The tech company is all set to kick off the first major implementation of the technology for its business. IBM’s figured out how to use the technology to settle financial disputes between partners and customers. #NBD

One last thing on the checkout process, Venmo’s no longer for just easily reimbursing your friends. It’s branching out into checkout services for retail apps. Buying things you probably don’t need just got easier…

Virtual Skinny: Doing the Absolute Most…


Good to Know: Snapchat’s geofilters aka personalized filters could be the new hashtag. All the kids are doing it … 



When You Need to Do the Absolute Most…

Alphabet’s Google, Facebook, and Twitter teamed up for a three-week, experimental collabo by using online videos to counter terrorist and extremist propaganda on their platforms. The social platforms are targeting teens and young adults that use words like “sharia” and “mujahideen” in their posts.

When You Need More Information…

Islamist radicals and far-right groups’ extremist propaganda and violent content on the InterWebs play a major role in terrorism. So, Internet companies are fighting back. They want to figure out what messages work to keep the youth from becoming full-blown radicals.

When You’re Not Trying to Hear It …

Young people are saying ‘no’ to government-sponsored messages. And ‘definitely maybe’ to videos shading jihadist groups, the Taliban, and white supremacist groups. The videos are courtesy of organizations like U.S. based Average Mohamed, Pakistan’s Harakat-ut-Taleem, and ExitUSA.

When You’re Not Sure It’s Working …

Are the videos working? Hard to tell. But, starting a discussion is always a positive first step. And for the most part, the videos are getting people chatting online about the videos.


If They Ever Did That, I Think We’d Have a Cyber-Attack …

Remember that time someone hacked the U.S. Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) emails … Russia’s name came up as the potential culprit … Then, Donald Trump looked straight into a press camera and challenged Russians to find Hillary’s missing emails but later said ‘just kidding?‘ Of course you do, that was just last week. Well, security expert Bruce Schneier thinks things could get worse. Schneier says Russia could go after the nation’s voting machines come this November. He says the U.S. needs to get its cyber-defense game in order. And apparently, Internet voting is not the answer.


Looks like maps and driverless cars are on Uber’s 2016 vision board. The ride-hailing services just dropped a cool US $500 millie on a global mapping project so it can say “bye” to Google Maps. Oh and, Uber’s packing it in … at least in China. The company’s done competing with its Chinese rival Didi Chuxing and decided that both companies need to become one in a deal worth $35 billion. 

Speaking of the Googler, navigational app Waze just released a new bomb feature called Child Reminder to make sure people don’t forget their kids in the car. 

Interior design app Homee didn’t make the cut on Shark Tank, but Tinder co-founder Sean Rad happened to catch its episode. Rad decided to pony up hard cash for Homee. He’s its first investor. As they say, any publicity is good publicity … 

Fresh off of exposing Taylor Swift’s B.S., Kanye West has made it clear that he’s done with Apple’s B.S. too. Word on the street is Apple wants to buy music service Tidal owned by West’s bestie Jay-Z. West tweeted “Apple give Jay his check for Tidal now and stop trying to act like you Steve.” And by Apple, we think he means Tim Cook. #ShotsFired  

The Rio Olympics start this Friday. But if you’ve been paying attention, you know that many people (including athletes) will be skipping it on account of Brazil’s issues with Zika, its water supply, and general turmoil. Even if you won’t be in Brazil, Google’s is bringing the favela (aka slum) experience to you via Street View. 

One more thing about the Olympics … Those that are going have much to complain about including an ‘uninhabitable’ Olympic Village and maybe even worse no access to Pokemon Go. #Messy  


In the wake of the Verizon-Yahoo deal announcement, Verizon’s Marni Walden and AOL head Tim Armstrong got together at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, CA HQ. The message to Yahoo employees was positive, but everyone’s well aware there’ll be issues joining both companies. A new company structure and potential unforeseen costs to name a couple. 

Founder of CODE2040  Laura Weidman Powers is headed to Washington. For six months, she’ll be taking on the role as senior policy adviser to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.  Diversity and inclusion in tech and entrepreneurship generally are at the top of her “to-do” list.  

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is writing a second book tentatively called “Option B.” It’ll be about resilience. Sandberg has had to show quite a bit of it after the tragic and untimely passing of her husband last year.