Virtual Skinny: Election Day is Here!


Good to Know: Election Day is in full swing! If you were thinking of pulling a Justin Timberlake by taking a ballot selfie while in the voting booth, it may or may not be legal. It’s a state-by-state issue so check it out first with this tool. Save your “I Voted” sticker for free stuff. And, find out how to follow election results here.

vote, election day, U.S. elections


When You Keep It Old School …

Don’t count on online voting becoming a thing soon (pun intended, we slay us!).

When You’re Wondering Why Not …

In a nutshell: It’s too risky. And, don’t try the ‘well if we can bank and shop online, we should be able to vote online too’ argument. The argument fails for 2 reasons: (1) Online banking is heavy on user identity, and voting is kind of a private, anonymous thing. (2) Billions of dollars go down the drain in the form of online shopping scams every year.

When You’re trying to avoid election drama

All types of governments (looking at you Washington D.C. and Estonia) have given electronic voting a go, and they were both hackity, hacked, hacked. For the record: Non-swing states like Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Missouri and North Dakota allow limited votes via an online portal for military folks and people living abroad. But, it likely won’t go any further than that. 


Hey, Listen Up …

The FBI’s got a message for private companies. Cyber attacks aren’t going anywhere, and ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) devices are the target. The U.S.’s top watchdog uncovered a network of IoT devices called Mirai that’s wreaked havoc on an Internet service provider. The code for the Mirai botnet is public, which means that anyone who’s remotely savvy can use it to hack consumer devices and reprogram them. No word on who’s behind Mirai. 

When You Take A Timeout …

The UK  Information Commissioner’s Office is feeling itself this week. Why? Well, the office managed to get Facebook and WhatsApp to hold off on sharing UK WhatsAPP users’ data between each other in the name of displaying ads.  The office put in a FB request but not the kind we’re used to. It wants FB to do a better job in explaining to users what exactly is going on with their data on WhatsApp. But, it warned that it won’t hesitate to take action against FB if the company decides to use people’s data without first getting consent. #WarningShots 


Urban Outfitters tried it! The retailer tweeted out an ‘Election Day’ guide to its millions of followers. The guide advised its millennial clientele to take both their voter registrations cards and IDs to the polls. One word: WRONG! Fact: You never need your voter registration ID, and only some states require ID. Shady boots or nah? 


Payback is a b#@!$ Snapchat just returned the favor to Instagram. Snapchat’s taking the best from ‘Instagram Stories’: The rewind button. The feature will be available on the latest version of Snap. The company’s also throwing augmented lenses into the update too. 

Speaking of “biting” from others… Watch out LinkedIn! Facebook’s now testing out letting page admins have the ability to create job postings and receive job apps from potential employees. 

Alphabet, formerly known as Google, lowkey invested in Snapchat. But, the company’s pulling the plug on its partnership with Starbucks on drones aka ‘Project Wing.’   

Online radio streaming service Pandora’s got plans to ‘“reflect the evolving makeup of our local workforce.” To do that, the company promises to up it’s employees of color by 10 percent. That would be 45% of total employees being people of color by 2020. 

Samsung doesn’t think it’s too late to say sorry for its faulty Galaxy Note 7. 

It may not be done after all. Rumor has it that Twitter’s considering selling Vine. The microblogging site’s not saying a word so we’ll see… 

Amazon posted a job description hinting that it’s making housekeeping a perk of being a Prime Member. 


The dude who voiced AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” is switching teams. Elwood Edwards is now an Uber driver in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Virtual Skinny: Life on Planet Mars…


Good to Know: President Obama says if NASA has anything to do with it, we’ll be on Mars by 2030. 


When A Good Thing Comes to An End …

South Korean smartphone maker Samsung decided to end marketing and production of its high-end Galaxy Note 7 smartphone (except in China). Such a shame, it was a fan fave.

When You Have No Other Choice…

For weeks now, we’ve heard horror stories of malfunctioning Galaxy Note 7s (e.g., exploding phones on planes). The company recalled about 2.5 million phones thinking that’d solve everything. It didn’t. Some replacement phones still went up in flames. 

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan …

The Galaxy Note 7 was Samsung’s answer to Apple’s high-end iPhones. Now that production has ended on the phones, this throws a serious wrench in Samsung’s financial plans. And by that we mean, this whole ordeal could cost the company US $17 billion and ruin its brand reputation.

When Things Are Unclear …

Samsung hasn’t figured out the issue just yet. The company thought it was a battery problem. But, that wasn’t the case. Malfunctions could have something to do with rushed production and the number of features crammed onto the phone to compete with iPhones. Moral of the story: Quality takes time.  

When They’ll Move On This…  

The holiday season is coming, which is when people usually update their phones. People want large-screen phones these days. Samsung’s got nothing to offer this year but Apple (iPhone 7) and Google’s Pixel are viable options. #Cha-Ching


When You’re Down in the Dumps…

Twitter’s future is unclear. At first, CEO Jack Dorsey didn’t want to sell the company to the highest bidder. But, reports say that he may be changing his mind. Potential buyers like Google, Apple, and Disney slowly backed away from a potential deal. But, Salesforce is still interested. While Salesforce and Twitter talk numbers, Twitter employee’s morale is all the way down. Some have even stopped showing up to work all together.  Jack just sent around an internal memo to boost employee’s spirits but no mention of a potential sale in his note.

voteWhen this is still planet earth…

This past Sunday’s U.S. presidential debate left many of us feeling like we were in another world. And, alleged Russian hacks in the form of email leaks are definitely stirring things up this election season. U.S. officials are worried that it’ll give people the perception that actual ballot boxes are also susceptible to hacks. Turns out, that’s almost impossible since the process is decentralized and is mainly offline. Perception isn’t always reality.


Dating app Hinge  just hit the ‘do-over’ button. It’s rebranded as a ‘relationship app.’ It wants users’ to swipe right for real, solid relationships. It’ll cost US $7/ month.  

Do it for the kids … U.S. telecom company Sprint is giving away one million wireless devices and service to underrepresented high school students to help ‘bridge the digital divide.’ It’s called the ‘1Million Project.’

Amazon doesn’t want to say ‘these [students] ain’t loyal.” It’s offering college students Amazon Prime benefits for US $50/year (half the normal prime price). The hope is that Amazon Prime Student turns college kids into lifelong customers.

Facebook just launched two major things: (1) Workplace, which is basically Facebook for businesses to compete against Slack. Don’t worry your personal and work accounts will be kept separate.  (2) A standalone events app.  

Google wants to make its new Google Home assistant relatable and personable so the company’s hiring creatives from places like Pixar and The Onion.

Movie company IMAX is opening its first virtual reality theater in Europe. It’ll be in Manchester, England to be exact. There’ll be ‘pods’ for single or multiple users.


AOL’s top global sales exec Jim Norton is dipping out on the company before the Verizon-Yahoo deal goes down. Norton is headed to media company Condé Nast. 

Former corporate development head for Twitter and Square Rishi Garg is joining Mayfield, a venture capital firm, as an investing partner. His focus will be on consumer companies generally (social and fintech companies included). 

Virtual Skinny: Extra, Extra…Read All About It


Good to Know:  Is Apple being a little extra? Now may be a good time to back your media all the way up. Otherwise, Apple can and will delete files from your internal hard drive. The files are downloaded to Apple’s database and served back to you when you want to take a listen. It’s all in the iTunes Terms of Use.

paul allen


When Shots Have Been Fired …

Gizmodo just went after the Facebook News curating process. Last week, Gizmodo sounded off on Facebook’s trending news team. Think young journalists groomed by Ivy League schools or private East coast universities.

When A Week Makes A Difference …

This week, Gizmodo went all the way in on Facebook News.  The news outlet chatted with a former member of the social media’s trending news team, and the person described the curating process in one word –  bias.  The anonymous source, who happens to be conservative, piped up and said that most team members lean left on the political spectrum. So naturally, conservative news stories were hard to come by on Facebook news.

When It Doesn’t End There …

The source had things to say about management too.  Facebook says its trending topics are based on algorithms that pick up on what people care about on the platform. The source says not so much. As FB tries to compete with Twitter, the source says management would often tell the team to “inject” news stories that weren’t trending at all on FB but were covered by major news publications like CNN, New York Times, BBC, etc (e.g., Black Lives Matter, disappearance of Malaysian Airline MH 370, Charlie Hebdo attacks, etc.) . Oh, and if news about FB popped up, the person claims they were told to keep it moving unless they got approval to include it.

When You’ve Gotta Respond …

FB is denying everything. It put out a statement saying there are rules in place “to ensure consistency and neutrality” with its Trending Topics section.   A spokesperson said it also doesn’t suppress political viewpoints. Now, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee that oversees media and consumer issues is like “Facebook, what’s good?” It’s fired off a letter to FB about its practices.


Reclaiming “Basic…”

If you’re known to go off in the comments section on Reddit, you may want to reconsider. Researchers at the University of Southern California say that the longer you comment, the more basic you sound. Apparently any more than an hour, and you run the risk of your posts being “shorter” and “less sophisticated.”  They study is specific to Reddit so no word yet on how this goes on Facebook or Twitter.


Take our poll! Let us know what you think!

THE STREETS ARE TALKIN’ is a new app that says it’s for local journalists and storytellers.

Content publishers want a piece of that Snapchat action.  They’re allegedly ponying up some “Benjamins” to get a spot on the app’s Discover feature. Snapchat’s being mum on this.

Uber and Lyft said “nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye” to Austin, Texas.  Residents voted against Proposition 1, which was intended to do dial back on some regulatory protections the city put in place last December (2015). Turns out Austin residents do want fingerprint-based background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers. Residents also weren’t feeling the $8.6 million marketing campaign the companies pushed to do away with the regulations. Uber and Lyft say they already use legit background check services and fingerprints aren’t reliable. So for now, they’re done with Austin.

If you build it, they will come. Amazon’s created a new service called Video Direct to go head-to-head with YouTube. Amazon wants content creators to upload their works for its Amazon Prime audience.

Virtual Skinny: We Can Be Your Motivation…


Good to Know:  Does your LinkedIn profile bring all the recruiters to the yard? If not, you’ll need three things: a strong headline, a well-written summary, and keywords. #MondayMotivation 



When Presidents Are Just Like Us … 

It’s his last year in office, and President Obama is telling us how he really feels. This time, he’s talking cable set-top boxes. Obama is not here for providers forcing you to rent old-school cable boxes from them.

When You Want to Know More…

Last Friday, he went on the record and made a public statement about the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s pending proposal to increase competition in the cable set-top box market.  Obama thinks consumers are spending billions of dollars every year to rent those damn boxes and don’t even have a say in what they get. He’d like to see the market open up to innovative players like Internet and tech companies (e.g., Google, Amazon, and Apple).

When People Come For You …

The U.S. cable market is not happy with Obama’s latest revelation. Given Obama’s close ties to the tech industry, companies like AT&T say that Obama is simply giving a little shine to his political squad.

When You Let Your Haters Be Your Motivator…

While the cable market cries over spilled milk, the Obama Administration has filed its official comments re the FCC’s proposal. The Administration wants a “measured and balanced” plan to get the market competitive again. Based on the president’s 2016 State of the Union address, this is all part of the course.


If You Stay Ready, You Never Have to Get Ready …

Looks like Verizon is prepping for the new cable set-top box market. It’s coming out with “Mallard,” a new device (complete with new interface features) to change-up how it offers cable and Internet services to FIOS users.

The European Union’s Back At It Again …

With an antitrust probe into Google.  The company’s coming under fire in a couple of different ways. First, News Corp is the latest to question whether the Google machine’s search and news services are legal. And, EU regulators are gunning for mobile operating system Android. The EU thinks Google should let phone makers and operators do what they want. In other words, EU regulators are not cool with Google requiring phone makers to pre-load Google apps rather than allowing them to choose their own “app” adventure.


Amazon v. Netflix v. Hulu: Which Streaming Service Should You Got With? Check It Out …

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 10.10.38 AM


In 2005, Mark Zuckerberg was just another “bro.” At the time, he described Facebook as “an online directory for colleges.”  He’s come a long way …

IRL, Brazil’s government is getting ready to impeach its president Dilma Rousseff for cookin’ the country’s books for her 2014 re-election.  The government’s lower chamber had no problem saying yes to Rouseff’s ousting. The Senate is up next. Meanwhile, Netflix is prepping for an original series based on Brazil’s political drams. The new show will be created by Jose Padilha, formerly of another Netflix original, “Narcos.” #MentalNotes #AddtoQue

What’s the Amazon version of “Netflix and Chill?” While you’re thinking about that, Amazon’s becoming more open. It’s going with a $9/month video-only subscription to compete with the ‘Flix.

Home-sharing service AirBnB is already in India, but now it’s taking market domination more seriously. Turns out India’s travel market could be worth a whopping US $40 billion within 5 years.  How do we sign up?

When will this whole ordeal come to an end? Verizon may be the likely buyer of Yahoo. #OverIt

The Virtual Skinny: Just Say Yes..


Good to Know:  Where did I put my phone?! The U.S. government is working on implantable memory chips so we don’t forget things – ever. It’s tested the chip out on those who suffer from brain injuries. 


Setting Yourself Up … 

Online music service Pandora just swooped up Rdio, a bankrupt music subscription service, for $75 million. Rdio’s intellectual property rights and technology included.

When You Start Trash Talking …

Pandora says it plans to “offer an expanded Pandora listening experience by late 2016…” No one really knows what that’s going to look like, but people are reading between the lines.  Pandora fired shots at Spotify and YouTube’s ways of letting people listen to unlimited music for free by calling the practice “unsustainable.”  All signs point to Pandora looking to create an Apple Music-type subscription service to go along with its current radio offerings.

Mending Difficult Relationships…

Unlike Apple Music, Pandora has always had a complicated relationship with music labels and publishers.  It all comes down to dolla dolla bills. Labels and publishers think Pandora’s been short-changing them since it came on the scene.  But, Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews wants to fix the relationship for the sake of the company’s future. He says, “[e]stablishing productive and collaborative partnerships with music makers puts Pandora in the strongest possible position to deliver on our long‐term vision.”


When You’ve Been Shut Down … 

Fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings are not getting their way. Soon after the New York Attorney General fired off letters to both companies asking them to stop operating in the state, the fantasy sports companies ran to a state court. They asked the court to tell the AG to get off their backs.  But, the court wasn’t having any of that and denied their request.  Verdict’s still out on whether their sites are illegal or not under U.S. federal law. The companies now have a November 25th court date.

When SomeThing Brings Up Old Drams … 

In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, U.S. lawmakers are calling on Internet and tech companies to give law enforcement access to encrypted devices.  In the name of protecting consumers’ privacy, Internet and tech companies upped encryption on their devices after the Edward Snowden government surveillance leaks. U.S. lawmakers note that these days bad guys are turning to things like apps and video game systems (e.g.,Playstation 4) to communicate. Basically, lawmakers say that law enforcement needs access to encrypted devices because they can’t stop what they can’t see.


Earlier this year, e-commerce marketplace eBay and payments company PayPal went their separate ways. Now, billionaire investor Carl Icahn has chosen sides. He dumped his entire eBay stake for PayPal.

Need a ride to the game? Ride-hailing app Uber’s got you.  It’s trying out a new partnership with the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars.  The company’s experimenting with offering rides along with discounted tickets to Jaguar games.

Daily deals company Groupon is shutting down more offices.  This time, it’s bowing out of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway. 

It’s been a hot second since Twitter announced that it was replacing its “stars” with “hearts” for users looking to “like” tweets.  But, the “hearts” may not be working out.  It’s being reported that Twitter is tinkering with emojis instead.  BTW, Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year isn’t a word but the “crying laughing” emoji.

Local recommendation service Angie’s List said thanks but not thanks to IAC/InterActiveCorp’s offer.

The Virtual Skinny: Money, Money, Money …. MON-NAY!


Good to Know:  Looking for holiday gift ideas? Forget clothes and the latest tech gadgets. What about gifting someone an investment? Startup SparkGift  is working on that. 


I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind… 

Banks, Internet companies, and tech companies don’t want you messing around with cash or even your credit card the next time you make a purchase.  At this year’s Money 20/20 conference, bank JP Morgan Chase (Chase) and Internet vet Google made two huge announcements.

Are You Going To Tell Me Or What? 

Chase just launched its own mobile wallet, Chase Pay.  Google, on the other hand, debuted Android Pay (its upgraded version of Google Wallet) this past September and is looking to get more people like you to use it via loyalty rewards programs.

Ok? Go On …  

Chase Pay works a little differently from Android Pay and other mobile payments.  Rather than tapping your smartphone to pay, you’ll display a QR code at checkout. Or, you can pay by just taking a picture of your bill according to a demonstration video. Chase Pay should work with most iPhones and Droids.  Back to Google:  Its Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy wasn’t exactly forthcoming with details about the two-month old Android Pay.  But, we do know that there are about a million account holders. Google is teaming up with Coke on a rewards program.  The Internet company’s looking for other companies to work with to up Android Pay usage.

random fact …

Millennials (18-34 year olds) apparently can’t live with out banking apps, which came in second only to social media. The source? Market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey and venture capital firm Foundation Capital.


You Know What Happens When You Assume Things … 

Austrian Max Schrems may be wrong about his prediction that the U.S. and European Union (EU) won’t be able to reach a new agreement on how U.S. companies may legally transfer Europeans’ personal information across borders.  Schrems played a key role in the EU Court of Justice throwing out a 15-year old agreement to allow for just that. The court basically said that the U.S. is all up in Europeans’ private info and has zero chill when it comes to Europeans’ privacy. But, things may be moving in the right direction. The U.S. and EU have agreed in principle on a new framework.  There are some things to work out though (e.g., setting boundaries on the U.S. government in how they access Europeans’ data). No deadline yet on when a new agreement will be reached. Baby steps … Meanwhile, Schrems still says the EU can’t get the job done.

Hold Up, Wait A Minute …

Investors are putting the brakes on handing out cash to bitcoin startups.  Things have definitely cooled off since earlier this year when investors showered bitcoin startups with $373 million. Two potential reasons: (1) They are waiting to see returns on their investments since some startups have already gone bust; (2) The virtual currency bitcoin’s price is pretty volatile and has gone down by almost 10 percent since the start of the year. Basically, bitcoin has lost it’s “cool factor” to the blockchain – the underlying technology behind bitcoin that let’s people see exactly how their virtual coins are spent.


Online marketplace for artists and crafters Etsy is getting into on-demand delivery. Say hello to Etsy ASAP. It’s starting with the NYC area. Same day and next day delivery for 20 bucks.

Dear Upstate NY College Students, We know you work hard and party harder. Let’s get you home safe.  Love, Uber.  Uber is focusing on its designated driver role as it looks to expand into the upstate NY area.

Someone hacked UK telecom company TalkTalk. Irish police arrested a 15-year old boy who is allegedly responsible (at least in part). 

In more UK tech related news … Oxford is besting Cambridge in number of investments poured into startups coming out of each institution. 

Wrap it up … Payments company Square is still losing money. Chinese Internet company Alibaba is the comeback kid on Wall Street.  All eyes are on Twitter and Apple today.

The Virtual Skinny: Everything’s Good Like It’s Post To Be…


Good to Know:  We all love to post pics of our wonderful travels. Maybe next time stick to posting pictures of breathtaking landscapes and not of your actual boarding pass.  We hear it’s not that hard for savvy people to extract information from your ticket’s barcode (e.g., full name, origin and destination cities, frequent flyer number, etc).  Don’t say we never told you.


Giving ‘Em The Heisman…

When it comes to their daily contests, fantasy sports websites FanDuel, Inc. and DraftKings, Inc just said access denied to their employees wanting to use either site to get their bets on for cash money.

When SomeOne (ALLEGEDLY) Ruins It For Everyone …

The companies’ decision is in response to the fall out that ensued after DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell went online and self-reported that he prematurely released lineup data in advance of NFL games.  Haskell later pulled in $350K after betting on competitor FanDuel’s site that same week.  Everyone (except for DraftKings and FanDuel) yelled “flag on the play.”  Now, employees with both companies are banned from playing fantasy for money on either site.  We wonder how the other employees feel about this …

clean Up On Aisle Three… 

FanDuel and DraftKings’s current mood: damage control (especially after the New York Attorney General fired off a letter to the companies requesting information about the case).  Both companies fully admit that they know how bad all of this looks and are making moves to fix the situation.  FanDuel recruited former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to lead an internal review of company practices and make recommendations on ways to tighten up their ship. It’s also looking to set up an advisory board led by Michael Garcia, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who knows a thing or two about sports scandals. Garcia was a top investigator for FIFA.  DraftKings put together its own legal team to looking into “one of their employees” but aren’t naming names.

What Else Is Going On? 

Say What You Wanna Say … 

If it’s a negative comment about Facebook’s initiative that seeks to bring Internet access to emerging markets via a basic mobile app, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn’t listening.  The initiative is offering an app to Internet users in emerging markets called “Free Basics,” which includes select services like Facebook and Wikipedia. Some skeptics say that this goes against net neutrality – the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally and that Internet users should have access to all content they want to reach.  The Zuck spoke on a Vanity Fair panel and had a few choice words to defend his company’s work.  He said that net neutrality is really about price discrimination and not about access. Zuckerberg says research shows that Web access can decrease poverty levels so he just wants people in those markets to understand the Internet’s value.

Change of Plans…

Amazon-rival just did an about face.  The newcomer e-commerce site burst onto the scene with a different business model by charging peeps $50 for membership. The fees were supposed to be its revenue generator.  More specifically, membership fees were intended to help the company undercut Amazon’s pricing within the next five years. Jet founder Marc Lore said they were just kidding with the fees.  The company’s merchant’s weren’t into their way of doing business so changes had to be made, which means customers will see less of a discount in purchases.  Questions are being raised about Jet’s ability to compete with Amazon given this move. Lore doesn’t seemed worried.  He says the company is working on alternative solutions and is exploring new partnerships with potential luxury manufacturers.

Stranger Danger … 

Security firm Dell SecureWorks wants LinkedIn users to be careful whose connection requests they accept.  The firm just put out a report on 25 fake LinkedIn profiles.  Turns out these profiles likely belonged to Iranian hackers looking to bamboozle people into revealing personal information about themselves (FYI the technical term for this is “social engineering”). Dell SecureWorks say that these hackers are mostly portrayed as people in the Middle East in the telecom or defense industry. LinkedIn has since taken down the fake profiles.  In more hacker-related news,  LoopPay – a company with ties to Samsung – has been breached.  Reports indicate that Chinese hackers are to blame.  Samsung says there’s no evidence indicating that its own systems have been compromised.

The Streets Are Talkin’

Amazon is getting crafty and taking on Etsy with its new online arts and crafts marketplace called Handmade at Amazon.

A few weeks back Mark Zuckerberg put the kibosh on rumors about a ‘dislike’ button. Facebook is said to be testing a new “reactions” feature consisting of a wide range of emoticons to supplement the ‘like’ button.

Alphabet (formerly known as Google) made its official debut this week with a fresh domain name  It also owns  True story.

Exceptions can be made. Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter doesn’t usually permit crowdsourcing funds for charity.  But, it broke rank for Syrian refugees and teamed up with the White House to raise $1 million.




The Virtual Skinny: Hello September


Good to Know: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is preggers with twins! She doesn’t plan to take much of a maternity leave. Mazel! 


Legal Woes like Woah … 

Uber drivers’ lawsuit against the ride hailing app just got interesting.  A U.S. district judge just gave the drivers a pretty big status upgrade — a class action status upgrade that is.

Give Me the Deats …

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen said that Uber’s drivers may ban together to sue the company on whether they should be considered full-fledged employees or independent contractors. Oh, and the tips. The drivers also want tips that were allegedly never sent their way.

So, What? 

In the short term, a class action suit means that Uber drivers are now in a better position to negotiate a settlement.  In the long term, it’s hard to say.  If the drivers are eventually determined to be employees, it could spell trouble for Uber and other sharing economy companies like Lyft and Handy that rely on contractor models. Basically, the companies would be on the hook for payrolls taxes, Social Security, workers’ comp, etc.  We’ll wait and see.

What Else Is Going On?

All Eyes on You … 

Google’s antitrust issues in Europe are well-documented, but now, other countries are jumping on the bandwagon. India, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina to name a few. These countries are taking a close look at Google from its financials to its competitiveness when it comes to search and online advertising.  In happier news, Google just got a new logo. It’s first major logo change since 1999.  Learn more about it here.

Binge Watching Will Never Be The Same Again … 

Say goodbye to major blockbusters like Hunger Games and Transformers on your Netflix account.  The online streaming service won’t be renewing its agreement with Epix, which owns a catalogue of big blockbuster films. Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says it makes perfect business sense because those titles are also available via other platforms and service.  Rather, Netflix is opting for more original content with new works coming from stars like Rickey Gervais, Adam Sandler, and Idris Elba (and no, we don’t think he’s “too street” to take on new roles (looking at you Anthony Horowitz – apology not accepted)!

They’re Coming For You …

While Netflix is turning its attention to original content, Amazon is making some changes to its video service.  The e-commerce company turned online content provider is offering users the ability to now download videos and watch them offline via Amazon Prime. Talk about game changer!

International Takeover … 

Despite its recent issues, Twitter is moving full steam ahead with its international expansion.  The social platform has put together a team in its Jakarta office to help acquire new users from Indonesia’s market of 250 million people and up revenues while they’re at it. This new team will be tasked with business development and marketing to bring in new media partnerships, increase advertising sales, and focus on public policy issues.

Work, Werk, or Maybe a Bit of Both… 

Looks like luxury brands want brilliant tech minds just as much as tech wants fashion.  Ian Rogers, creator of Beats 1 – Apple’s online radio station – is heading over to LMVH as its Chief Digital Officer to help luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Moët & Chandon and Bulgari fully transition to e-commerce and social media.

The Streets Are Talkin’ 

Instagram now wants you to communicate via private and group messages. #KeepingItYoung

ASOS, British online retailer, is losing its top boss. Co-founder and CEO Nick Robertson is leaving the company after 15 years.  While reasons for the departure are not yet known, what is known is that the company took a hit after the announcement.  The company’s shares are down 3.7 percent.  Oy!

The Virtual Skinny: Making Waves


Good to Know:  No more lame texts.  Magisto Shot, an app related to FB messenger, wants to bring you what its founder Oren Boiman calls Video 2.0.  Basically, Boiman wants to bring back body language, facial gestures, etc. through video messages. We’re interested. 



Earlier this week, Jay Z launched his new music streaming service, Tidal.  To be fair, it’s actually a re-launch.  Hova through one of his companies, Project Panther Bidco, put up $54 million to purchase Tidal from its former owner Stockholm based company Aspiro. 

Ok, And? 

We know what you’re thinking … what makes this any different from Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or other existing music streaming services?  Tidal is being marketed as offering high definition music streaming services as well as access to HD music videos and industry news courtesy of the company’s editorial team.  Unlike Spotify, there is no “free” option. Basic service will cost about $10 and premium service twice that amount at $20.  #RICH

Why Should I Consider It? 

During the Tidal press event (which according to popular opinion was a bit off), big name artists like Rihanna, Kanye West, Madonna, Daft Punk, and Beyonce (obvi) to name a few are supporters of Tidal.  It’s reported that these artists will stream exclusively on the platform.  Even Taylor Swift who caused an uproar not too long ago by pulling her entire catalog of music from Spotify wants in (1989 is still out of the question though).  Other than personal and professional relationships to lock in these artists, it looks like Tidal’s promise to pay these artists more per stream than other existing services is a good selling point for their participation.  #TIDALforALL   

Don’t Knock It Before You Try It? 

Tidal is offering a 30-day free trial.  Interested? Try it out and let us know how you feel.  Tweet us at @Briefed_me!

What Else is Going On?

In Other Music News … 

Apple and Beats are teaming up for its very own music service to rival Spotify and now Tidal. This service is in addition to its  iTunes Radio. Pricing will be on par with its competitors since Apple was unsuccessful in securing a $2 markdown from $10 to $8.  Also, on the global scene, Alibaba is making good on its promise to be the world’s largest digital empire.  The Chinese e-commerce site just secured a digital distribution deal with BMG, a German music rights group. BMG exec Hartwig Masuch sees this deal as a huge opportunity, “Internet and paricular mobile media are quickly providing an answer to the music industry’s long-time challenge of how to monetize the vast untapped potential of the Chinese market.”

Stepping Up to the Plate …

Tech industry leaders are jumping into social issues in the aftermath of Indiana’s new law.  What law? Well, ICYMI the state’s Republican Governor Mike Pence recently signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The issue is this new law could potentially lead to discrimination against the LGBT community. Arkansas passed a similar bill.  In a joint statement out today by many tech leaders, the group said, “To ensure no one faces discrimination and ensure everyone preserves their right to live out their faith, we call on all legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.”  Sidenote: Pence is rumored to be considered a 2016 presidential run.  This should be interesting …

Other Woes …

It’s that time of the year again and the tech community is not pleased.  April 1 marks the period where U.S. immigration accepts H-1B wok visa applications.  In recent years, demand has always outpaced supply when it comes to potential employees and their employers securing these visas.  This year won’t be any different.  There are 85k visas available, and the U.S. government expects to reach this cap in just five days.  Immigration reform can’t come soon enough …

The Streets Are Talkin’

Amazon is expanding its service offerings with “Home Services.”  This service will make it easier for shoppers to reach local service providers (e.g., TaskRabbit, Dish satellite-TV service, etc.).   Also, the Web company recently announced its “Dash Button,” which allows consumers to place orders for essential household items by simply pushing a button. #ThatWasEasy #MaybeTooEasy

As Heidi Klum says, “one day you’re in, next day you’re out.”  And, it looks like Meerkat is out and Periscope (Twitter’s answer to the app) is in.

The Virtual Skinny: Spring Is Springing?


Good to Know:  SxSw is in full swing, and tech companies are naturally making big announcements from Yahoo’s on-demand passwords available only in the U.S. to the premiere of “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” documentary.  Too many cool things, we can’t even stand it!  


It’s Finally Here … 

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission released its long awaited Open Internet rules.

Maybe Legal or Maybe Not? 

For weeks, we’ve all known that the 313-page Order would go into detail on three rules – no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization.  In other words, Internet service providers (ISPs) may not block access to lawful, online content or services.  ISPs will also not be able to slow down Internet traffic to certain types of content.  And lastly, ISPs cannot be monetarily compensated to permit faster access to particular types of content, services, and applications.  While we’ve been expecting these rules for several weeks, the Order also raised legal uncertainties that are open to various interpretations.  One particular section under scrutiny is the “just and unreasonable” provision.

Anything You Can Do, We Can Do Better…

Well, now that the Order is out, the Republican led U.S. Congress is set to grill the Commission’s Chairman Tom Wheeler in a number of hearings this week.  Expect questions about how the Order evolved from a hybrid approach to its current state, particularly since the change happened soon after President Obama’s endorsement of Title II.  Congress thinks it can do better on net neutrality rules.  As they say, only time will tell.

What Else Is Going On This Week?

2015 = The Year of Apple?  

Last week, we predicted that April would be an Apple takeover but now this may just extend the full year.  According to media reports, Apple is planning on launching a TV streaming service this September.  The tech company is said to be in talks with Walt Disney and Fox but no so much with NBC given its current rift with Comcast, NBC’s parent company.  This streaming service is likely to drive sales of its hardware products – iPhone, iPad, Apple TV to name a few.

It’s Not All Good News … 

Though Apple Pay debuted with a bang, banks who were once singing its praises are now not so privately complaining about the service.  Banks are complaining about increased fraud rates, but industry experts say it may not be all on Apple Pay but the banks have something to do with it.   The vulnerabilities in the system seem to be happening because Apple Pay’s “onboard” system is kept deliberately simple, requiring basic credit card information.  In turn, the banks chose not to take extra security precautions nor did it require Apple to offer more detailed customer information.

Should I Post This on My FB?

The social network is clarifying its policies on what content it may remove if its deemed too sensitive (e.g., nudity, terrorism, hate speech).  In justifying this clarifications, FB’s Chief Mark Zuckerberg says the company is simply complying with “lawful government orders” to remove certain types of content.  FB also released new data on government requests to remove content, and the numbers in the latter half of 2014 decreased for the earlier part of last year among Western countries.

The Streets Are Talkin’

Are you sick of hearing about all things Apple?  Well, we promise this is that last mention for the week, but rumor has it that the company is working on a car project.  Code name – Titan.

Uber’s Chief Financial Officer Brent Callinicos is stepping down.  Nothing controversial from what we gather.  Callinicos just wants more family time with his wife and kids.

Pinterest just got a huge influx of cash.  The only scrapbooking service is now valued at $11 billion after raising $367 million in its latest round of financing.