Virtual Skinny: Get Out the Vote!


Good to Know: Time to vote for the next U.S. president. FYI, voting by text is not a thing so don’t believe the ads you’re seeing online. 



When The End Is Near …  

Take that whichever you want to … But come next Tuesday, the U.S. presidential election will be over. And, Facebook may leave its mark.

When You’re Not Understanding …

Take a look at Hong Kong’s last election. Facebook helped get young people and liberal voters out to the polls, which led to the conservative candidate crying loser tears. Analysts says this could mean something for what’s going on State-side. 

When You Need Information, Quick…

Facebook’s ‘Election 2016’ hub gives people easy access to “voting guides, registration info, news video, and other Election Day planning tools.” 


There’s Always A Way …

Not being picked up by a taxi on account of how you look is common knowledge many have experienced. When ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft stepped onto the scene, they thought they were doing their part to decrease blatant bias.  Not so fast. Turns out Uber and Lyft drivers are simply deciding whether to pick someone up or not based on riders’ names. Black men are having a particularly hard time getting rides (at least based on a study by MIT, Stanford, and University of Washington of what goes down in Seattle and Boston). Women aren’t immune either. 

That’s What We Call Dodging A Bullet …

Gregory Selden, an African-American AirBnB user, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company. Selden said an AirBnB host wouldn’t rent to him because… Well … he’s black. A federal judge put the kibosh on the suit on account of AirBnB’s policies that users agree to when they sign onto the platform. The judge says this situation’s gotta be handled privately and out of the court. 

Where Is Everyone?

Struggling Internet vet Yahoo announced plans to sell to Verizon. Soon after, the company saw its women employees leaving in droves. Not a great time since the tech industry is focused on diversity and inclusion issues. No confirmed reason for the exodus, but Yahoo’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion says they simply got better offers elsewhere. 


Only 18% of women are earning undergrad degrees in computer science, physics, and engineering. A new psychology study blames masculine geek culture. The fix on closing the gender? Less focus on Star Trek and video games and more focus on things women can relate to. And no, that does not mean making everything about the color pink and fashion.  

For the first time ever, looks like people are accessing the Web via their mobile devices rather than desktops.



LinkedIn wants to know how much bank you got with LinkedIn Salary. Don’t worry. This is for good, not evil. The company wants to help people better gauge how much they should be making for a particular role. But, nothing in life is free. To gain access to the aggregated and anonymous salary info, you gotta share yours first. 

You’ll need to know your worth because the holiday season is here. Insta’s taking advantage. The app will now let people shop till they drop with 20 brands including J.Crew, Warby Parker, and JackThreads. Don’t be shy, hit that “shop now” button. 

The holidays aren’t just about buying material things. It’s the season for giving. Check out apps like ShareTheMeal, Donate a Photo, Tinbox, Charity Mile, etc. to give back. 

What else are the holidays good for? New Year resolutions and gym memberships. And, if you’re anything like us, you’ll never use them. ClassPass is ditching its premium membership for a la carte gym classes and three-class packages. Something to consider …

Uber’s learning more about you. The latest version of the app uses a combo of your past behavior and whatever you’ve got penciled into your calendar to prompt a suggested final destination. 

Microsoft Teams  allows teams to pow wow virtually. Sound familiar? Slack seems to think so. Looks like Microsoft’s going after the chat service with ‘Teams.’ But, Slack isn’t sweating it and took out a full-page ad in the New York Times. The ad is a welcome letter with a bit of advice for Microsoft on how to play in the space. Take a look at the full letter if you have the time. #ShadeMonster 

After three years, Twitter’s got plans to shut down Vine. You’ve still got a few more months to take in some of Vine’s best video loops before it’s gone for good.  


If some of the great classic writers were alive today, what would be their go to apps? Jane Austen would’ve probably been all over Bumble looking for bae.  

Virtual Skinny: Wednesday Wisdom


Good to Know:  Here’s your Wednesday Wisdom. Working on a startup? Look for venture capital money? At the very least, avoid these 11 things to up your chances of success. 


When Christmas Comes Early …

Today is Apple Inc’s annual product launch event in San Francisco.

When You Know What to Expect …

Ever since Apple sent out its “See You on the Seventh” invites, the blogosphere’s been abuzz about what’s likely to go down today. One word: iPhone 7. The latest iPhone is said to have minor changes from the ‘6’ version with things like a touch sensitive home button. The major change: No headphone jack. Apple has gone wireless so you can listen to your jam or watch your fave show without wires getting in the way. 

When You Don’t Know It All …

Unclear how much the ‘7’ will go for in terms of price. Other than the phone, there’s rumbles about a new Apple Watch version but not much has been leaked about it. Gotta keep some things close to the vest …

When Patience Is Still A Virtue …

With no major changes to the ‘7,’ analysts are feeling underwhelmed. They suggest that you wait it out till next year for the ‘8.’ Next year’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone so they’re predicting major changes like ‘a wider display that reaches from one edge of the device to the other.’ In the meantime, the new iOS 10 software update is bringing us less text and more visuals in iMessage (i.e., stickers, funny faces, animated balloons, etc).


Summer’s Over …

Time to get serious.  Twitter’s board of directors is huddling up this Thursday. On the agenda? To sell or not to sell. Twitter’s been struggling to perform well. In other words, it’s trying to grow its user-base and bring in more dolla bills. Co-founder and board member Evan Williams said the company needs to “consider the right options.” Looks like the options are selling to whoever can afford an US $18 billion company (Google, Apple, 21st Century Fox or News Corp. could be potential buyers). Option B? Another round of staff layoffs. The struggle is real …

This Was Not Part of the Plan …

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg surprised everyone when he headed to the continent. And by the continent, we mean Africa. The Zuck’s first stop? Lagos, Nigeria where it was biz mixed with a bit of fun: He visited a kids coding camp called the CcHub, had a Q&A with local entrepreneurs, sat down to dinner with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, and even crashed a Nigerian hip hop video set. Zuckerberg said ‘Nigeria’s tech story is “under-appreciated across the world.” But, some local techies aren’t buying it. They are unimpressed by Zuck’s visit and want FB to build a true partnership with Africa’s tech community.

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.51.37 AMScreen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.53.58 AM


Please Tell Me More…

Looks like Zuck’s got big plans for Africa, but he learned during his trip that he had a f*@# problem. Back stateside in Florida, a SpaceX rocket ship exploded and took down one of FB’s satellites used to beam high-speed Internet to Africa. Yikes!

It’s Not Translating …

According to reports, “democracy,” “human rights,” and “hunger strike,” are not in the Cuban government’s vocabulary. The government’s been blocking people’s text messages containing those words. Unclear how long this alleged filtering has been going on … 


Snapchat’s ditching its ‘local stories,’ the features that let’s you see what’s happening in big cities. It’s cut the ‘small team’ responsible and is now eyeing live events as a replacement. 

You’ll soon be able to search the Google machine by outfits. The upcoming feature, “Shop the Look,” will pull up outfits published by fashion bloggers in search.

Pandora plans to launch two new music services (US $10 Spotify type service so you and your tunes will always be together whenever and wherever & US $5 that’s a slight upgrade from its free web radio). Still waiting on when the official public announcement will go down since Pandora’s still trying to finalize things with music label partners. 

Box (the business version of DropBox) just worked on a collabo project with IBM called Box Relay to custom build work processes. 


Demonetization: Think YouTube. The process of not allowing certain YouTube videos to make money off of ads because of its ‘unfriendly’ content. The company’s been in the demonetization game since 2012, but YouTube video makers didn’t know about it until last week. Turns out YouTube’s software isn’t perfect, and some legit and friendly videos got caught up in the mix. Unfortunately, some YouTube video makers haven’t been making their ‘pay-pah.’

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.” 

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 9.57.39 AM

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! 

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 10.08.51 AM


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: 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.

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. 

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?

Tragedy Strikes In Orlando

Social media outpour after gunman takes the lives of 50 people in Orlando, Florida. 

This past Saturday, a gunman walked into Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub, and opened fire. Authorities identified Omar Saddiqui Mateen, an American born, 29-year old male, as the perpetrator.  Mateen claimed about 50 lives and injured 53 more. In a shoot out with law enforcement, Mateen was shot dead.

Why did this happen?

The attack is being called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Shortly after the massacre, President Obama said at a press conference “…we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate.” As the investigation advances, law enforcement will be looking to Mateen’s computers, phones, devices, and social media presence to determine the motive behind his horrific act.

What do we already know?

As of now, we know that the U.S. FBI had its eye on Matten over the past few years. The first encounter took place in 2013 after co-workers reported him to the FBI based on beliefs that Mateen could have terrorist ties. A year later, the FBI uncovered a potential connection between Mateen and Moner Mohammad Abusalha, an American suicide bomber. Neither of those investigations panned out, and the FBI cleared Mateen. Authorities believe Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS based on a 911 call he placed from inside the night club’s bathroom. However, Mateen’s father – Seddique Mir Mateen – does not believe that his son’s actions had anything to do with religion but simply his disapproval of the gay community.

How did people react?

Shortly after the attack, Facebook launched its Safety Check feature for users in Orlando. Then, many people, including celebrities and politicians, immediately took to social media to pray for the victims and their families.  U.S. presidential candidates tweeted and shared their thoughts on the attack via other social media platforms.

In a series of tweets, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent prayers and thoughts to those affected.


Republican candidate Donald Trump continued his call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. and said that the country’s current leadership is weak and ineffective.


Earlier today, Hillary responded with the following:


What needs to happen next?

The Orlando event tops the list of mass shootings that have occurred in recent U.S. history. After every highly publicized, gun-related tragedy, there’s an outcry to end gun violence. Do you think the U.S. has finally reached breaking point? Let us know what you think.


Virtual Skinny: Cheers!


Good to Know: Cheers to the weekend! If you’re a basketball fan, you’re going to want to know this. The NBA just rolled out a chatbot via Facebook Messenger to keep you current on what’s going on during this year’s finals match up between Lebron and Steph. 



When You’re The New Target … 

First, Pandora. Then Spotify. Now YouTube.

When You’re Not In The Money…

The music industry has zeroed in on YouTube because even though everyone and their moms constantly stream music videos on the platform, artists aren’t seeing those streams translating into dolla dolla bills. In other words, they’re seeing less direct income from YouTube in comparison to the niche vinyl records market.

When You’re Doing The Best You Can … 

YouTube says it’s doing what it needs to do to pay artists. In the past decade, the platform has shelled out about US $3 billion to artists across the globe. And, the platform has rolled out new services and features to get people paid (i.e., subscription service YouTube Red and Content ID). And, YouTube is renegotiating music licenses contracts with record labels.

When It’s Just Not Enough … 

The music industry wants more to be done so it’s calling on the United States Congress to change the current copyright law, namely the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA basically protects YouTube and other platforms that host third-party content if they follow certain requirements. Click here to learn more about the DMCA. The music industry says that the current DMCA is no bueno because it allows the YouTubes of the world to host illegal content. Even if the platforms take down unauthorized works, it’ll just pop up again when another user posts it to the site. The industry is pulling out all the stops and got big name artists like Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Billy Joel to sign letters asking for changes to the law.

When You Can’t Take It Too Far … 

The DMCA applies to more sites than just the YouTubes of the world. We’re talking blogs, fan sites, etc. So, everyone’s gotta be careful with what they ask for when it comes to changing the law. Also, you should know that the problem isn’t just in the U.S. The European Union is in the middle of changing their copyright laws, and EU reps want YouTube to pay artists more money. Oy!


Getting Ready to Rumble Over the Valley … 

This week, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta, made it clear that Hillary is working hard to win over the tech community. While gaining the tech community’s support is a work in progress, Podesta says the current list of Hillary’s tech supporters is impressive. He says we’ll find out whose on the list soon enough.  Meanwhile, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich just backed out of hosting a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump will be hosting a rally in San Jose, CA tonight.


Uber and Lyft want to bring your Walmart groceries right to your door.  They’re teaming up with the retailer for a grocery delivery service. The partnership is in test mode, and the cities of Denver and Phoenix are up first.

Internet platforms are all about giving users control. Facebook’s taking that mission to heart with the latest experiment with its Safety Check feature. Instead of letting its staff launch the feature during times of crises, FB wants to give users control to let their friends and fam know that they are A-OK.

More people are using Snapchat on a daily basis than Twitter. That’s Snapchat’s 150 million active users in comparison to Twitter’s less than 140 million.

Twitter may be planning a Golden State Warriors-style comeback.  Word on the street is that microblogging site has its eyes on Yahoo. Twitter’s instant news platform plus Yahoo’s large audience could be the perfect match to get Twitter back in the social media game.  Discussions are still early.

Speaking of perfect matches, Tinder is rolling out its transgender-friendly feature next month. CEO Sean Rad said “[t]here’s a transgender community on Tinder, and we haven’t done enough to give them a good experience.”

Virtual Skinny: Friday Fave


Good to Know: Want to delete your fave dating app? Just deleting the app from your phone won’t do the trick. Take these steps to delete your profile and avoid any awkward encounters or questions.



When It’s The Same Story, Different Source … 

Facebook is having one of the worst weeks ever. More info has leaked about its editorial team and “Trending Topics” section. This time it’s courtesy of The Guardian.

When It’s More Of The Same … 

The Guardian obtained a leaked internal document intended to give FB’s editorial staff guidelines on how to determine what news is trending and what’s not. The docs confirms things that we’ve already heard. FB’s new team relied on 10 major new sources, staff can “inject” a story into Trending Topics even if it actually isn’t trending on the network, and new stories about FB are kind of off limits. A couple of things here: (1) FB’s VP Tom Stocky said earlier this week that the company does not insert stories artificially” and (2) FB leads users to believe the stories are picked by algorithms, but there’s actually quite a bit of human involvement.  Hmmm … Whoops!

When It’s Time to Deny, Deny, Deny … 

FB responded and said that the Guardian’s doc is out of date and isn’t the current practices of the company.  FB’s VP of Global Operations Justin Osofsky responded with an official blog post of how “Trending Topics” actually works. He says the team relies on 1,000 new sources (not just 10). Osofsky says the team also uses an RSS web crawler to I.D. hot topics. And, he says that FB’s not about suppressing political views even if they are conservative.

When You Don’t Want No F&^#@! Problems …

Mark Zuckerberg is in full on damage control. He put out a lengthy FB status about the situation. He says the company is investigating the matter but has not found any wrongdoing yet. Also, he wants to pow-wow with conservatives and others to put this whole thing to bed. 


When Amazon Isn’t Your Fave … 

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not a fan of Amazon.  He thinks the company has a “huge antitrust problem.” It all comes down to the fact that Amazon’s Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post (WaPo). Trump is under the impression that Bezos is using WaPo to influence politicians and ultimately avoid paying taxes. #Interesting


Pitching your startup to venture capitalists – the latest thing you can do on Snapchat.

Basketball legend Magic Johnson is leaving payment company Square’s board.  Who knew? Johnson’s kicking off his fund for urban development.