Virtual Skinny: Run and Tell That … 


Good to Know: Calling all U.S. citizens: Have you registered to vote? Facebook just launched its first voter registration drive. Just log onto your account. There’s literally no excuse so run and tell that! 


When You’ve Been Keeping A Secret and have to tell… 
Yesterday, Yahoo announced that about 500 million email accounts were hacked courtesy of a ‘state-sponsored’ attack. That’s 300 million more than the company originally thought. This is probably the largest data breach of all time. Kind of a big deal …
When You Need More Deats … 
Turns out the hack went down back in 2014, but Yahoo just learned about it in recent months (allegedly). The good news? Unprotected passwords and banking info weren’t stolen. The bad news? The list of stolen information is longer and includes things like: protected passwords, security questions and answers, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, etc. #NoBueno.
When You Need To Protect Yourself … 
Go ahead and change the password to your Yahoo email account like yesterday (especially if you haven’t done so since 2014). Avoid ‘weak’ passwords like ‘Password123;’ Password managers such as 1Password and LastPass can help. Once that’s done, think through your log in information for sensitive accounts like your online banking. If your previous Yahoo email password and/or security Q&As could be remotely similar, go ahead and change those passwords too.  We know … SUCH a headache! #BetterSafeThanSorry
When It’s All Bad … 
Yahoo users aren’t the only ones that need to worry.  This is a massive data breach that’s caught the attention of pretty much everyone and their moms.  And, Yahoo’s reported US $4.8 billion sale to Verizon could be on the line. Can Yahoo catch a break or what?


When It’s Been Another Tough Week … 
The killings of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Terence Crutcher and Charlotte, North Carolina’s Keith Lamont Scott has left many feeling disheartened and outraged by the ongoing issue of police officers’ use of force against civilians. People are calling for transparency so we can all have an honest discussion. San Francisco-based nonprofit startup Bayes Impact is working on a new data tool to track ‘violent encounters between officers and civilians.’ Turns out the data on these incidents to date are terrible. Even the FBI’s numbers are off to say the least when it comes to homicides committed by police. Bayes Impact is asking California police departments to record ‘use of force’ incidents (i.e., shooting or assault that leads to death or serious injuries) on its platform called Ursus. Gotta start somewhere …
When You Need A Court Date … 
Not too long ago, messaging app WhatsApp put its users on notice that it would start sharing users’ data with Facebook. It had money from ads on the brain when it made the change. Many people were not happy. Two Indian college students Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi were so peeved that they went ahead and filed a court action law suit against Facebook. In the name of privacy and security, they want the Delhi High Court to tell Facebook to change the WhatsApp privacy policy back to the one we all knew and loved. WhatsApp says privacy and security are non-issues since it’s got end-to-end encryption for messages sent over the platform. 
When You’re Not the Only One Taking Things Back.. 
Google’s Allo is a new messaging app . When the company first introduced its version of  WhatsApp, it made some pretty big statements about privacy and security. We were promised an end-to-end encrypted Incognito Mode. The company also said messages wouldn’t be stored forever but just for a short time. This week, we learned that’s not the case. Messages sent while in the Incognito Mode will be stored by default, and it’s up to the user to actively delete messages. Before you rush to judge, Google says it made the change for a good reason:  To make a quality ‘smart reply’ function, which won’t work well if there’s no data available.


LinkedIn helps you get a job and now it wants to help you keep it with LinkedIn Learning. The feature relies on courses to help sharpen people’s skills in areas like business, creative, and technology.
Speaking of getting your learn on, MIT’s letting people learn first and pay later for grad level courses through MOOC platform edX.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan made a huge announcement this week.  They’re following in the footsteps of Bill and Melinda Gates and plan to donate US $3 billion to figure out how to cure diseases within the next decade.
Apple may or may not be in acquisition talks with ‘supercar’ company McLaren
Japan just added ‘priests’ to the growing list of people we can get on-demand. Who knew?


End-to-end encryption: A way to protect information being sent over communication platforms (e.g., WhatsApp) so it can only by read by the people involved in the chat. Third parties won’t be able to access the conversation.  In other words, end-to-end encryption is technology’s way of saying: “This is an ‘A’ and ‘B’ conversation so ‘C’ your way out.’ #Boom 

Virtual Skinny FinTech: Stick the Landing



When You Stick to the Plan …

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

When You Keep On Keeping on…

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

When You Know What’s Up…

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

When ‘Many People Are Saying It…’

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

When You Need to Watch Your Back…

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


Lies, Fairytales, and Fallacies…

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



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

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

Been Around the World, Uh Huh 

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

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

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

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

Virtual Skinny: Smile! You’re On Candid Camera


Good to Know: Placing stickers or plastic slides over laptop cameras is definitely a trend due to privacy and security concerns.  If FBI Director James Comey does it, then perhaps it’s worth jumping on the bandwagon. 


When You Call It Like You See It …

Last night, the Associated Press (AP) went right ahead and called the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton. Note to the AP: citizens in six states including California still have to cast their votes in today’s primary.

When It’s Not Over Till It’s Over … 

Hillary’s team immediately took to Twitter and sent out a clear message: We’re flattered, @AP, but we’ve got primaries to win. CA, MT, NM, ND, NJ, SD, vote tomorrow!

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 12.46.13 PM

When It’s all hands on deck … 

Calling all the “Bernie tech bros” aka the young white college-educated men in Silicon Valley that make up a good portion of Bernie’s base. You could say Bernie Sander’s campaign is version 2.0 of Obama’s 2008 campaign – heavy on online grassroots. Bernie supporters are tech savvy and like what they hear in terms of Bernie’s plans to disrupt Washington D.C.  They’re keeping the fight alive by relying on social media platforms and tools.


Make It Better … 

Uber’s trying to do right by its drivers. The ride-hailing service company just added a few new features for drivers’ benefit (e.g., drivers get will ride discounts when they participate on the platform as passengers and instant pay is now a thing). Even if you’re not an Uber driver, you’ll want to know about one feature:  The company plans to expand its new $5 or $10 penalty fee to more cities. Bottom line is just make sure you don’t keep the Uber driver waiting longer than 2 minutes.


Spotify just brought on Lady Gaga’s former manager Troy Carter as its Global Head of Creator Services. The music streaming company wants Carter to write a “bad romance” with artists, songwriters, and record labels.  And by bad, we really mean “good.” #RelationshipGoals

Attention iOS users: Sharing pics and videos on Insta just got a whole easier.  Launching the app isn’t even needed.

Verizon is willing to put up US $3 billion for Yahoo’s Internet parts.

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.

Virtual Skinny: Space(d) Out …


Good to Know: American astronaut Scott Kelly came back down to Earth after spending 340 days in space. And in other space news, NASA continues to work on bringing the Internet (high speed networks) to galaxies far, far away



When You Need To make space…

Google, Inc. wants to come in between us and the Zika virus. It is throwing resources – as in volunteer engineers and about US $1 million in grant money – to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

When You Need A Reminder …

Zika, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and has been linked to causing microcephaly in newborns, has been wreaking havoc across the Americas for a minute now. So much so, that the World Health Organization gave it the official “public health emergency” stamp. Note: Microcephaly tends to cause newborns to have unusually small heads, which leads to other defects.

When You’re Coming Up with Solutions, Not Problems …

Google wants to create an open source platform intended to map out the virus’ spread and i.d. potential outbreaks by looking at things like travel and weather patterns and other data points. Why stop there? Well, it’s not. The Internet industry vet also wants people to learn more about the virus via a new web-based campaign among other things (i.e., develop a vaccine since one doesn’t currently exist).


When You Just Need to Get Used To It …

We’ll probably be talking Apple v. FBI for a while.  This week, both sides took their arguments to U.S. Capitol Hill.  And now, FBI Director James Comey is saying “our b.” During a hearing, Comey admitted that the FBI made the wrong decision by changing the Apple ID password linked to one of the San Bernardino shooters’ phones – a “180” from the agency’s previous statement.

When You’ve Watched One Too Many Episodes of ‘Lock Up…’

Earlier this week, Brazilian law enforcement picked up Diego Dzodan, Vice President of Facebook Latin American, in Sao Paulo. By now, it’s pretty much the same story, different script: Criminal activity (drug trafficking in this case) + law enforcement wanting information + WhatsApp denying law enforcement’s request = Judge Ordering WhatsApp to fork over the info.  Well, the company stood its ground and said it doesn’t have access to what the police wants, which led to Dzodan’s arrest. FB isn’t pleased, particularly since WhatsApp operates as a separate entity.  Meanwhile, over in Germany, FB is under fire for being too big and abusing its power with regards to user data.


uberMoto, Uber’s motorbike hailing service, is now a thing in Bangalore, India. The company responsible for putting ride-hailing apps on the map is stepping its international expansion game all the way up.   It’s shelling out US $250 million to get into areas like the Middle East and Africa. As of today, Uber’s now live in Pakistan.

Kenyan smartphone app, The Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek), is making eye screening easy for schools located in rural areas of the country.

Tired of seeing pics of your friends’ kids every two seconds on FB? France may be the place for you.  The government’s telling parents in the country to stop posting pics of their kids on FB in the name of protecting their privacy and security. Seems like it could be a win-win for everyone involved.

Watch out, Skype and Google Hangouts … New chat app Slack is coming for you with its soon to be launched video and voice feature. Side note: Slack is killing the fundraising game! The startup has raised over a billion dollars in just a year.  #Impressive

Not so great news for SurveyMonkey employees … The cloud-based polling service is working to better its business offerings and will drop about 100 employees along the way.

BTW, new app No More Voicemail wants people to talk less and text more #YesPlease

Virtual Skinny: Super Tuesday!


Good to Know: Happy Super Tuesday! All eyes are on U.S. citizens residing in 12 states today. They are headed to the polls to vote on who could potentially be the presidential nominees for both the Republicans and the Democrats. While Democratic candidates Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders duke it out, Donald Trump is rumored to take the day on the Republican side. Btw, Trump is already winning on Twitter. 

super tuesday


When You Gotta Take the “L” …

Apple – 1; U.S. Government – 0 … In the midst of all the drams between Apple and the U.S. government over the San Bernardino attacks (remember?), the government wants Apple to hand over iPhone info related to a drug case in NY. The federal magistrate judge in the case said the government’s argument is no bueno.


If you want to get into specifics, the government is betting on a very old law (we’re talking written in 1789 old) called the All Writs Act, which the government says allows it to require things not already covered by existing law.  The judge wasn’t buying it and basically told the government to take it down several notches. In other words, the government doesn’t have that much power.

Kind of a Big Deal …

Even though the drug case has nothing to do with San Bernardino and what the judge said is limited to that particular situation, it still raises questions about what this could mean for the mega-blowout over San Bernardino. Hmmm….

Speaking of …

Since we’re on San Bernardino, here’s a quick update. Late last week, Apple met its court deadline and submitted its docs to dismiss the government’s case. This week, companies like Google, Facebook, and even Microsoft are stepping up to the plate to file their own court doc aka amicus brief aka a brief filed by someone with “skin the game” to support Apple’s position.  In the meantime, Apple’s top lawyer Bruce Sewell is at on U.S. Capitol Hill today to tell the nation’s lawmakers that they respect the victims and their families and have zero tolerance for terrorists. But, the government has put it in an impossible position when it comes to protecting iPhone users. Sewell and the company want Congress to discuss this issue before any decisions are made.


Devil’s in the Details …

Weeks ago, the U.S. and European Union agreed on how companies should protect Europeans’ info that U.S. companies shuttle back and forth across borders. Now, they’ve released the official text of the new framework called the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. Let’s just say that this framework ups the ante in what companies need to do when it comes to their privacy policies and sharing people’s info with third parties. If you happen to be a European resident that uses the Internet, turns out you’ve got more power to bring legal action against U.S. companies if you feel it’s necessary to do so.


Get it directly from the source. Google’s now selling cardboard virtual reality viewers on its online sore. US $15 for a single and US $25 for a double. No need to make that McDonald’s run for their limited edition of ‘Happy Googles.’

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told his investors that the app’s users are watching about 8 billion videos a day (same as Facebook!). But, the “Damn Daniel” vid is no longer one of them.   A group hacked into the creator’s Twitter account and hit the delete button on the viral vid. All we can say to that is … #Damn

Israeli startup Skyfi is trying to beat Facebook and Google to the punch on offering global web access. The company’s working on a “self-correcting antenna” to transform small satellites into transmitters around the globe.

When it comes to startups, we don’t hear much coming out of the Middle East. But, online e-commerce company Souq is changing that by raising major moo-lah, about $275 million and counting in funds.

Virtual Skinny: “FBI, Step Back!”


Good to Know:  The Oscars are coming up. Pretty much everyone’s pulling for Leo DiCaprio to take home his first little gold man. Now, there’s a game to help him do just that. Leo’s on a rampage!


What We’re Not Gonna Do Is … 

Remember the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA a couple of months back? Well, the U.S. government wants Apple to “unlock” the attackers’ iPhones so they can get some info. But, Apple said “nah.”

When You’ve Gotta Pull Rank …

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and Apple couldn’t settle their differences in closed door discussions so a federal district court judge stepped in at the DOJ’s request.  The FBI said they couldn’t access the information they needed off one of the attackers’ phones so Judge Sheri Pym issued an order earlier this week to get Apple to help out law enforcement.  #SetItOff

When You Use Fighting Words …

Apple CEO Tim Cook was not pleased with how the government took the issue public. So, he fired off an 1,100 word “customer letter.” In a nutshell, the letter says that what the U.S. is asking Apple to do is not right. Cook wants everyone to know that encryption is key to keeping users safe and secure. He admits that not even Apple employees can access people’s phone data. That’s how serious the company is about users’ security and privacy.  And, this letter is basically his attempt to “rally the troops” and get everyone talking about this important issue. #KnowledgeIsPower

When You’re Either With Me Or You’re Not … 

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum , and your fave resident whistleblower Edward Snowden are rallying behind Apple and its stance against this whole thing.  But of course, everyone has their critics. U.S. Republican presidential hopeful doesn’t understand who [Apple] thinks they are and says the company is “disgraceful.”

When You’re Not Sure What’s Coming Next … 

Things are just getting started. Think tons of articles and opinion pieces, possible action from Congress in terms of legislation and maybe even a Supreme Court battle.


Well, That’s Interesting … 

Since we’re on the topic of the U.S. government trying to get access to people’s info … Turns out the NSA isn’t hoarding troves of your information like most people think. A new declassified NSA report says that the information it collects from online companies is usually limited to email to, from, or about its target. Hmmmm…


Ride hailing app Uber is shelling out a billion dollars annually just to play in China.

Uganda voted to elect its next president this morning.  Citizens tried to access social media (Twitter & Facebook) but couldn’t. Turns out the country’s electoral commission requested to block the services. #UgandaDecides

In routine fashion, Yahoo let go of more of its employees this past Wednesday. And, it also shut down several of its digital magazines.

Sports network ESPN may be coming to a streaming service near you.

Google Express now delivers fresh food but only if you happen to live in select areas like Los Angeles or San Francisco. In more Google news, the time may soon come to ditch your Rosetta Stone, the number of language on Google Translate just went over the 100 mark.

Back to deliveries for a hot sec … Amazon is growing its on-demand delivery service by quietly hiring drivers to join the team.

Shop Snapchat soon, according to the company’s board member Joanna Coles.

Say hello to Twitter’s new Gif button (and we’ve learned that’s Gif with a “hard G’) … Also, Twitter just lost another user. Who? God, apparently.