Virtual Skinny: Who Run The World?


WOD (Word of the Day): Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that focuses on creating ‘intelligent’ computers that have human-like reactions. Yup, just like you see in the movies. 



When You Need to Diversify …

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dropped a discrimination lawsuit against data-mining startup Palantir Technologies. Fun Fact: Palantir’s software helped track down Osama bin Laden right before the U.S. took him out. #TheMoreYouKnow 

When You Need to Know More …

Turns out that the DOL found that Palantir has been turning away Asian applicants from engineering gigs in droves. The agency says Asian applicants were ‘routinely’ weeded out during initial stages (i.e., résumé screening and telephone interview). #PlotTwist 

When This Isn’t What You’re Used To …  

Cisco exec Barry Gee says discrimination cases involving Asians in Silicon Valley isn’t the typical storyline (these cases usually involve black and Hispanic applicants) though he admits Asians do get shut out of management roles. 

When Things Are Unclear …

So far, specific numbers to back up the DOL’s allegations are unclear. In the meantime, Palantir is denying any wrongdoing. And, the company should hope things are on the up and up because any findings of wrongdoing could cancel its federal contracts worth US $340 millie.


When You Want to See Results …

The larger tech industry continues to struggle with diversity across the board (underrepresented minorities, women, etc). The industry’s taking a page from the National Football League’s (NFL) playbook. Tech and Internet companies are applying the ‘Rooney Rule’ to help up their diversity numbers. How does it work? Companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Microsoft are using the rule to make sure that at least one woman or underrepresented minority is interviewed for a position. Could help bring in a more diverse applicant pool, but companies shouldn’t get it twisted. It’s not just about getting people interviews. The issue runs much deeper. #UnconsciousBias  

How to Not See Results …

Investor and serial entrepreneur John Greathouse thought he was giving sound advice to women in tech when he advised that they ‘create an online presence that obscures their gender’ (e.g., use your initials for  job apps or when seeking startup funding). Greathouse said women should create a ‘neutral online presence’ to avoid gender-bias.  Studies apparently show that men are less likely to find female names likeable. Greathouse learned very quickly what happens when a good deed goes wrong. Many women and some men were not having it, and immediately responded with comments, posts, blogs, etc. See here, here, and here. Moral of the story: Not a great idea to suggest workarounds a problem without making suggestions to solve the actual problem. Greathouse has since apologized. We gotta ask: Despite the backlash, does Greathouse have a point until the larger problems are fixed? Sound off in the comments!


Who Run The World?

Melinda Gates wants girls to run the tech world. She’s now turning her attention to the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math). Gates, who earned a computer science degree from Duke and previously worked at Microsoft for a decade, is concerned that the percentage of women in computer science has plummeted from 37 percent to 18 percent since the ‘80s. Her plan is to assess the problem before deciding where resources should go to bring solutions. #StrengthInNumbers  

Switching Gears …

First India and now Germany.  If you’ll remember, people were not happy when WhatsApp announced that it would start sharing its users’ data with Facebook. German regulators just threw a flag on WhatsApp’s play. They say German users didn’t give the go ahead on any of it, which violates its data protection laws. The regulators want Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp data and to hit the delete on all German users’ data collected already. Facebook plans to fight Germany on this. The company probably keep its defenses up because Italy is giving the company major side-eye on the same issue. 


Looks like folks aren’t sold yet on self-driving cars. New Kelley Blue Book survey found that 80% of survey participants said we should “always have the option to drive themselves;” 64% need to be in control of their own vehicle; and 62% just enjoy driving.


Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft have partnered up to make moves on artificial intelligence and come up with best practices for it. #TeamWorkMakesTheDreamWork 

Salesforce just threw a wrench into Microsoft’s plan to buy LinkedIn. The company is asking European regulators to put the kibosh on the deal. Something about the deal will be a threat t’o future innovation and competition.’

Snap, Inc. formerly known as Snapchat is out with its ‘Snapchat Spectacles’ complete with a wearable camera. They’re going for US $130. Add that to your holiday gifts list. 


Loads of content plus a social platform could equal a potential Disney acquisition of Twitter. The social media platform lost a controversial user. Venture capital investor Marc Andreessen decided to call it quits on the Twitterverse. He’s apparently feeling ‘free as a bird.’ #PunIntended 

Music streaming service Spotify has also got buying on its brain. Soundcloud could be it’s next target. If it works out, it’s music to Soundcloud’s ear since the company’s been struggling and looking for a way to exit stage left. Meanwhile, Spotify’s finally saying hello to Japan, the world’s second largest music market (worth over US $2.5 billion). #BetterLateThanNever 

Queen B (aka Beyonce) just made her first foray into tech with a US $150,000 investment in Sidestep, an app for buying concert ‘merch’ that also helps you head straight to the counter to pick up your new swag. 

What Was Trending This Week … 

Mary J. Blige can add host to her resume. Mary’s hosting ‘The 411’ on Beats 1. This week, she interviewed Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton then the R&B singer sang to Hillz about police brutality. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but check out the full interview here. Happy Friday!


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?

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 10.05.10 AM

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: Pokemon Go To The Polls…


Good to Know:  Hillary Clinton had jokes at a campaign rally in Virginia. She dropped this doozy on the crowd, “I don’t know who created ‘Pokemon Go’  … But, I try to figure out how we get them to have Poke-mon Go-To-The-Polls.” Good one, Hillz! Don’t worry. Google’s got you. Search “register to vote,” and Google will make things easy by returning details on the process, requirements, and deadlines to register. 


When Chaos Ensues …

As if the world isn’t already a crazy place, part of Turkey’s military took it up a notch late last week and had plans to overtake the country’s current government.

When You’re Old School…

Turns out that faction of the military botched the whole operation. How? Well, they took an old school approach involving shutting down roads, trying to take over parliament, and attempting to capture President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They also ‘tried it’ by taking over traditional media outlets (e.g., the country’s state-run television).


When You Forget About The Other Options …

Turns out the military forgot about this little thing called social media. But who can blame them? Turkey’s aversion to social media is well-documented as it’s tried to block citizens’ access to social media in the past. But, in a fantastically ironic move, President Erdogan reached the masses by tweeting and updating his Facebook status. He even had his people communicating via WhatsApp and addressed the nation via FaceTime. He encouraged citizens to take to the streets and fight back. The coup failed; but unfortunately, 294 people lost their lives.  


When People Are Giving You #SideEye …

Last week, Facebook (FB) put out numbers on how it’s doing in the diversity department. Well, the company still tilts heavily towards white and Asian employees (52 percent and 38 percent, respectively). #Shocker #NotReally The company’s head of global diversity pulled a “what had happened was” and blamed FB’s lack of progress on the public school system. Basically, FB is sticking to the “pipeline” story since computer science isn’t a required class in many public high schools. But, people aren’t buying what FB is selling. Silicon Valley vet and director of engineering at Slack Leslie Miley is calling B.S. Well, his exact words were that FB’s story is “f*@#% insulting.” Miley says all FB can simply change up its recruitment process. 

When Your Bounceback Game Is Strong like pokemon…

Thinking of launching a startup? Don’t give up. Venture capitalists are still doling out dolla dolla bills to back certain companies, but you’ve just gotta meet a higher standard these days. Investors shelled out $15.3 billion to startups between April and May of this year. Looks like software companies are investors new faves. ProTip: Don’t describe your upstart as the ‘Uber or Facebook’ of pretty much anything. 


Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer is likely on her way out. She’s allegedly not making key decisions when it comes to selling the company. If and when she does leave, it’ll cost the company a pretty penny. 

The Bumble dating app let’s women make the first move in a world of swiping left or right, but ‘Ohlala’ is allowing women to make a bit of change for a night out. The German app is all about “instant paid dating.” Some say it’s the “Uber for escorts” while others says it’s the “TaskRabbit for emotional labor.” #TomatoTomahto … 


The #KimExposesTaylorParty kicked off last night on Twitter. Then, T-Swift cried over spilt tea. Wildly entertaining, but it calmed down just in time for us to get serious on #NelsonMandelaDay. In honor of the day, tell us:  What would you do to change the world?

The Virtual Skinny: Time Flies!


Good to Know:  ‘ILI’ is described as the first wearable translation device. Seems like a bomb product, right? But then, this happened. #MarketingFail 


Time for a Pow-Wow…

Tech leaders and White House officials are getting together today to talk terrorism. 

Who’s On the List?

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, presidential counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and reps from Twitter, Apple, Google, and Facebook allegedly.

What’s on the Agenda? 

(1) How to make things easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to I.D. terrorist groups online. (2) Ways to make things that much more difficult for militant and terrorist groups to recruit peeps via social media.  (3) Specifically, how to use technology to throw militant operatives off of their violent radicalization and recruitment game.

Team Work Usually Makes The Dream Work …

But, tech companies have a tough balance to strike. While they want to seem cooperative, they also don’t want to appear too friendly with governments.  Post Edward Snowden leaks, companies helping governments with surveillance is just not a good look.


Warning Shots … 

Pretty much everyone and their moms in the tech world are jazzed up about next-gen products. But, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is letting tech companies know that they should tread lightly.  The agency  wants companies to watch how they are collecting and using massive amounts of users’ data aka “big data.”  The FTC definitely understands that “big data” could have some important social benefits (e.g., proving people’s creditworthiness for loans), but it wants companies’ to make sure they are doing what they can to decrease social biases.

Who Does That Anymore?

If it’s up to social network Facebook, you should just forget about making regular calls and text messages.  Facebook Messenger has now got over 800 million users. The company not only wants to take over how you communicate with your peeps, but it’s got a virtual assistant feature in the works to help with your scheduling, shopping, etc.  Pretty cool …

We Want In … 

When you see an opportunity, jump on it immediately! That’s exactly what crowdfunding platform Indiegogo is doing with its new “enterprise crowdfunding” consulting service. Crowdfunding has typically been reserved for artist-types and pretty much anyone with a slightly weird but innovative idea.  Big brands like Brookstone want to be innovative too and are eyeing crowdfunding platforms. Why? Two reasons: (1) Major brands want to learn a thing or two about crowdfunding, and (2) crowdfunding platforms are a good place to scout out potential products/partnerships. Basically, a win-win situation.


It’s the same thing Netflix does every night … Try and take over the world. This week at a mega tech conference in Las Vegas, the streaming service announced that it’s now live in over 130 counties. #BizGoals

The new year may be off to a very rough start for some Yahoo employees. The company’s expected to let go of at least 10% of its workforce.

Going … going … GONE! Looks like the fashion deal site Gilt Groupe may have been a victim of its own flash sale model.  The company sold yesterday for $250 Mill to Hudon’s Bay, the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue. The sale price is a mark down from the $286 Mill that Gilt previously raised.

Social scrapbooking site Pinterest is getting serious about increasing its diversity. The company just brought on Candice Morgan help step its game up.

Turns out giving young people Internet access via mobile devices is a recipe for success. And, these days India’s the place to be for Internet companies. That’s exactly why Tinder is setting up shop in Delhi.

And ICYMI, Twitter is trying to keep its users so the platform’s playing around with a 10,000 word character limit instead of the 140 we’re used to… Some people think this is no bueno.  We could see a change in the next couple of months.

The Virtual Skinny: Ohh, Watch Me


Good to Know:  Who says you can’t become more cultured via the Internet? 


When It’s Time to Rally …

For the first time in a long while, the price of virtual currency bitcoin is on the up and up. Wednesday morning the value of a single bitcoin skyrocketed above $500 on some bitcoin exchanges but ended the day at $400. Still not bad …

When People Start to Question You … 

Bitcoin has only been around for about 6 years so naturally people were skeptical. First, we heard that it was popular among criminals. And to top that off,  Mt. Gox, Bitcoin’s largest exchange, managed to lose hundreds of millions of dollars before going bankrupt. People kept their distance and what was once a hot ticket got downgraded to a basic fad.

When You’re On An Upswing …

Over the past few weeks, things are looking up for bitcoin thanks to growing interest from China and Wall Street. Banks and financial service companies are especially interested in the blockchain, the technology behind the virtual currency.

When You’re Getting Ahead of Yourself … 

In the past, bitcoin has fallen just as fast as it’s risen. Though people are geeked up about bitcoin’s future, there are still some issues (e.g., majority of people aren’t using bitcoin in their day-to-day, and there’s still its link to activities that aren’t legit).  But, the glass should always be half full, right?


If It Ain’t Broke … 

Coming off its successful defeat of San Francisco’s (SF) Proposition F (a proposal that would’ve restricted short-term rentals in the city), homesharing service AirBnB is taking its show on the road.  In SF, the company kicked off its Anti-F campaign and relied on thousands of volunteers to defeat the proposition.  Things worked out so now the company thinks it can use the same playbook in cities around the world where it faces similar regulatory issues.

Reaching Milestones … 

Facebook is kicking butt and taking names. Its third quarter earnings were better than expected. The social network pulled in $4.5 billion in revenue during that time. What did we learn? Its users are up to 1.55 billion, and most of them are using FB via their phones (mobile advertising accounted for $3.4 billion of the $4.5 billion).   FB’s spending more than previous quarters as it looks into virtual reality and ways to bring Internet access to everyone in the world. But don’t worry, it’s still focused on the main business. Things with FB are good and all, but people want to see how Instagram is doing. FB’s making ’em wait for those numbers.

Eye Spy…

For once how the government is looking at what you do online isn’t about the U.S. Yesterday, the United Kingdom (UK) revealed new plans for government to keep its people safe.  Business groups, Internet, and tech companies are worried about undermining people’s privacy and their trust in companies’ products. Under this UK proposal, things like allowing government to see which websites people are checking out would be A-OK. Also, the UK could force communication service companies to hoard their customers’ web browsing information for one year.  The U.S. is giving the UK major side-eye because this proposal wouldn’t fly State side.  Other major issues: The UK could require that companies stop encrypting devices and that they hack into suspects’ devices for info.  It’s a lot to digest, and that’s just the watered-down version of the bill.


Yesterday, ex Twitter engineering manager Leslie Miley posted a no holds barred explanation of why he left the company. In a nutshell, the company wasn’t doing much in the diversity department.  Now, Rev. Jesse Jackson wants Twitter to release numbers on just how many people who fall into the underrepresented category have been laid off. 

Uber surge pricing can be the worst. Gett, a London-based startup, “gets” how you feel so it’s refunding Uber riders’ their surge fees. It’s not exactly what you think. To compete with Uber, Gett is running a promo in New York City.  New Yorkers would need to sign up on and send their Uber surge receipts into Gett.  In return, the company sends potential customers company credit in that amount for free rides.

Sports fantasy site FanDuel has run into some legal issues recently, and it isn’t making as much money off of its contests anymore. Overexposure may be to blame so FanDuel is reigning in its advertising spending.  It has no plans to go public anytime soon and definitely won’t be merging with competitor DraftKings.

Travel site Expedia is stepping its game up and purchased AirBnB competitor, HomeAway, for $3.9 billion.

Google’s putting out its low-cost smartphone, Android One, in the Indian market.  Android One is a lesser version of Google’s mobile operating system Android.

Dating app Tinder’s CEO Sean Rad says contrary to popular belief, most of its users (80% to be exact) are looking for something serious.


The Virtual Skinny: Hello, It’s Me


Good to Know:  Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart is coming back to TV but only via the Interwebs. He has a four-year deal to do shows for HBO’s online platforms.  


 When You Give No Types of “Effs…”

San Francisco (SF) residents gave the city’s Proposition F, otherwise known as the AirBnB Initiative, a big thumbs down.  Prop F would’ve limited short-term rentals in the city to only 75 nights/year.  Also, it would’ve encouraged people to dime out their neighbors and companies violating the law.

This Is NOT A Fire Drill …

To defeat the proposal, AirBnB launched an $8 million full court press called the Anti-F campaign.  The rental platform unleashed seasoned organizers and volunteers (including 138,000 members of the AirBnB community) to pound the SF pavement to turn voters against Prop F. Unofficially, about 55% of voters checked no on their ballots.

When You Pull Off The “W…” 

AirBnB is happy because the proposition would’ve caused issues for the $25.5 billion company both in the U.S. and abroad. And, residents are happy because they can continue to freely rent out their homes to supplement their incomes.  After all, prices for SF housing are no joke, partly thanks to the technology boom in the city. This year’s average rent for a studio apartment in the city is $2,828.month, and the median home price is $1,097,000 (up 17% from last year). Yikes!

Taking A Victory Lap …

AirBnB plans to brief reporters on the results today.  But, the company can’t celebrate for too long. It’s hit roadblocks in Santa Monica and Berlin, and the company has attempted to compromise with authorities by saying yes to paying taxes in cities like Paris. If the company wants to go public, it’ll need to sort out all of the legal and policy stuff first.


It’s Better To Give Than To Receive … 

For Internet companies these days, that’s the motto.  Marc Benioff, CEO of cloud computing company Salesforce, says including corporate giving into your business strategy is a must.  Salesforce takes the 1-1-1 approach, meaning the company annually donates 1% of its equity, 1% of employee time, and  1% products to communities where Salesforce employees live. Benioff had a lot to tell the New York Times, but the key takeaways for businesses and its leaders? Do good in your community, have a heart, stand up for equality, and try not to stress too much.  Other companies that are taking this to heart? is gifting San Francisco organizations fighting for racial justice in the U.S. criminal, prison, and educational systems with $2.35 million in grants to help the cause. And, Kickstarter’s CEO Yancey Strickler is still sounding off on staying true to the crowdfunding sites’s core and “not selling out” on its values by going public.


Yesterday, Twitter changed things up on us and decided it preferred hearts over stars. The social platform replaced the star intended for users to “favorite” tweets with a heart. Turns out this change happened because the star was confusing for folks new to Twitter. Apparently you can’t have more than one favorite thing (tell that to Oprah and Maria von Trapp). We’ll see if the heart brings in the new blood Twitter hopes to see.

Not All Hearts Aflutter… 

In other news, former Twitter Engineer Manager Leslie Miley left the company and then wrote about his less than diverse experience.  He says he’s happy to have been part of a platform that gives a voice to underrepresented groups but takes many … and we mean many issues with how the company handled increasing its low diversity numbers (3% of engineering and product personnel at Twitter are African-American/Hispanic and less than 15% are women). From a lack of communication with the company’s black employee resource group to a questionable suggestion for a name analysis tool to track job candidates, Miley uses examples to show how Twitter leadership just doesn’t get it. But, Miley thinks CEO Jack Dorsey is the man to fix the problem.

who’s the boss? 

Ride-hailing app Uber has a lot on its plate. Ready? First, the company’s still in the midst of the employee v. contractor battle.  Uber drivers say they should be considered employees, but CEO Travis Kalanick insists that Uber isn’t their direct boss. Kalanick is giving the “boss” title to its algorithmic software that matches drivers and riders. New York University Data and Society research team begs to differ.  The team says the algorithm manages drivers the same way a human would.

Second, Uber wants regulators and policymakers to ease off on the company because it gives people jobs (1.1 million around the world) and puts money in their pockets ($3.5 billion this year for U.S. drivers alone).

Third, competition is getting tough in the ride-hailing app game so Uber is reportedly exploring the idea of luring new drivers with promises of bank accounts and same day payments.

Fourth, Chinese regulators have a proposal that would be hugely problematic for Uber, but the company’s still full steam ahead on its plan to be in 100 Chinese cities in 2016. Speaking of expansion, Uber’s putting up $250 million to get into North Africa and the Middle East.


Who has time to reply to e-mails anymore?  No worries, Gmail’s got it handled. Through machine learning, Gmail will generate responses on your behalf via “Smart Reply.

Pinterest Shop is coming to your phone soon.

Don’t be scurred. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is letting media execs know that they shouldn’t worry about what his company’s doing but should instead focus on themselves. Industry’s ‘TV Anywhere,’ which lets users watch network TV shows online, isn’t catching on with folks.

OfferUp, an online classifieds apps aka the potential ‘Craigslist Killer,’ just put $90 million in its bank. The currently free app has seen consistent user growth over the past three years and processed $2.9 billion worth of transactions this year alone.

Facebook’s really getting into artificial intelligence and is trying to build software that works like our brains.  If its software can beat the strategy game Go, then FB is headed in the right direction.

Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder of daily deals site Groupon, is no longer the company’s top guy effective immediately. Lefkofsky is now chairman. He’s been replaced by its Chief Operating Officer Rich Williams.

Social video game provider Zynga keeps losing users, and its Chief Financial Officer David Lee just dipped out.



The Virtual Skinny: Wakey, Wakey!


Good to Know:  Restaurateur Danny Meyer wants to get rid of tipping in the U.S. 


When You Actually Just Don’t Have Time … 

Twitter’s Co-Founder and two-time CEO Jack Dorsey is about his business (or two). Dorsey just put the world on notice that he’s going public with his other company, Square – maker of … well, those small white plastic “squares” often plugged into smartphones when people want you to pay them what you owe them.

When People Are Giving Major Side Eye … 

Ok, so two things: (1) Square isn’t profitable just yet – its revenues totaled $560 million the first half of this year and losses during the same time came out to about $78 million (apparently, not great). (2) This isn’t exactly prime time for tech-related initial public offerings (IPOs) because investors seem a little over it (only 22 tech IPOs happened this 3rd quarter compared to 53 same time last year), and other companies like Chinese Internet company Alibaba have been struggling with stock prices. If you want in, Square’s stock price may start out at $18.56 per share (at the very least).

i’ve got this…

Moving forward, Square wants out of its less than profitable deal with Starbucks. Also, the company is pretty open about the fact that Dorsey will sporadically be forced to play favorites and give his other responsibilities (aka Twitter) more love. But, he still controls an impressive 24.4% of Square  so he can’t be too neglectful.  Square’s leader wants to empower your local business to accept any type of payment – cash, cards, bitcoin, etc. He also plans to commit 10% of the entire company to help artists, musicians, and local businesses in underserved areas through the Start Small Foundation.  This guy! 

What Else Is Going On?

Sometimes, It’s Good To Be Bad …

Internet companies want hackers to use their skills for good, not evil. Protecting and securing your online information is a major issue that companies (not just Internet companies) want to figure out, especially after big names like Sony Pictures, Target, Home Depot, and T-Mobile via credit agency Experian took some major hits thanks to hackers. This crafty group has even created a black market where bad guys and even governments pay top dollar for not yet widely known flaws in systems.  But, companies like Facebook, Yahoo, PayPal, etc. are luring hackers from the dark side  with monetary rewards for those who can spot vulnerabilities in a company’s system before it’s forced to say “Code Red” due to a breach.  There’s also Google’s Project Zero, which is made up of top-notch hackers to uncover bugs in Google’s system and across the entire InterWebs.

It’s Complicated 

Earlier this year, Taylor Swift rocked the music industry when she removed her entire catalog of work from streaming service Spotify.  She made very public statements about how online music services like Spotify aren’t fairly compensating artists for their work. These days, it’s Tay Tay’s world, and we’re all just living in it (No hate. No shade). Naturally, people listened. Other artists like Aloe Blacc (you know him for the “Wake Me Up” song) backed her up and even made visits to U.S. Members of Congress to air his grievances.  Turns out Spotify shouldn’t be blamed. The real culprit? America’s music licensing system:  It’s a hot mess.  Basically, many people can own different parts to a song. When a song is uploaded to a streaming service, information about who owns what isn’t included. That makes it very hard for services like Spotify to determine who is owed what. These services end up paying the record labels to settle the score, but the money doesn’t always trickle down to the artists. Ok, that’s enough …


Are you into fantasy sports websites?  Did you recently get a call from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)?  If you answered “yes” to both, then you’re likely a DraftKings customer.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are getting involved in fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings’ alleged insider trading drama. DOJ is putting in calls to DraftKings’ users to ask about their experience with the service. The agency wants to figure out whether fantasy sports sites are legit or just unregulated gambling.

The Streets Are Talkin’

Thanks to new chip-enabled credit cards in the U.S., Netflix says it on boarded less than a million new subscribers – way below its anticipated numbers – in the third quarter. Something about the switch to new cards caused “involuntary churn” since the old cards on file no longer worked. Analysts aren’t buying it. That’s Netflix’s story, and it’s sticking to it.  On the upside, Netflix wants to be “edgy” and is stepping up its documentary game. We also hear its film Beast of Nations is Oscar-worthy.

In the midst of layoffs this week, Twitter brought on former Googler Omid Kordestani to join the team as its Executive Chairman. Kordestani tweeted about his excitement..

Must be something in the water. LivingSocial just handed 200 employees pink slips. Daily deals are no longer working out for the company so it’s moving towards more “experience-based services” (e.g., haircuts, massages, etc.).

Who knew Amazon had a travel marketplace called Amazon Destinations? Probably explains why the company shut it down with a quickness after only six months.

LinkedIn is changing up company referrals.  The professional network just released a new product appropriately named “Referrals” to make it easier for your connections to refer you for that open position at their companies.

Female executives at GoDaddy make 4 percent less than male execs according to the company in its newly released diversity report.

Did someone say diversity? AirBnB  promises to hire someone (a “Head of Diversity”) to help the company do better.