Virtual Skinny: We Made It!


Good to Know: ‘Skittles are candy; refugees are people’ – Statement made by Wrigley, the makers of Skittles, after Donald Jr. tweeted a meme comparing refugees to skittles. Add that to the long list of things not to do in politics alongside posting a question to Reddit about how to strip a ‘VERY VIP’s’ email address from archived e-mails.  

skittles refugee tweet


Hope your week is starting off as awesome as ours. We’re happy to announce that the Virtual Skinny turns 1 this month! Thank you for keeping up with us. Celebrate by helping spread the word about us to your friends! Please ask five of your closest friends to join the fun and subscribe at



When You Say Yes to DriveRless …

The Obama Administration just gave a thumbs up to self-driving cars with some gentle guidance. Yesterday, President Obama penned an Op-Ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to talk about it. (Fun Fact: Pittsburgh is also where Uber’s testing out its self-driving fleet).

When This Isn’t A Free for All …

This week, the U.S. Transportation Department issued guidelines on how driverless cars can strike the right balance between being a cool, new innovation while keeping people safe on the road. But, how? The focus is less on specific regulations (Think: seat belt laws) and more on best practices like how driverless cars should respond when the technology fails, protecting passenger privacy, and protecting passengers during a crash. The government’s also looking to get data on companies’ latest systems and crashes that occur. It’s all part of the 15-point safety standard.

When You Hear Something …

That’s the sound of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets advocacy group applauding this move by the U.S. government. Its members are the usual suspects: Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., Ford Motor Co., Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and Volvo Car Corp. Tesla Motors is noticeably missing.

When You Draw The Line Somewhere…

The Obama Administration made it clear. It’ll leave things like driver’s licenses, car registrations, traffic laws, insurance, and legal liabilities to the states to handle. But, the federal government has marked its territory when it comes to laying down any law when it comes to driverless cars. 

When You’re Looking to the Future …

Director of the National Economic Council Jeffrey Zients said the future will have us all saying ‘look ma, no hands’ while freeing up commuters to relax or get some work done. Way more productive than the occasional road rage. Zients says autonomous cars ‘will save time, money, and lives.’  Ride-hailing service Lyft is right there with him. The company’s president John Zimmer predicts that most Lyft rides will be in self-driving cars by 2021.


When You Hit the Panic Button …

Over the weekend, New York and New Jersey got a major scare. First, an explosion went down in New Jersey near the a charity race (luckily no one was injured). Then, another in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. This time 29 people were injured but not seriously. Authorities sent out a ‘loud’ emergency alert to NYC residents’ smartphones letting them know to look out for the suspect – 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami. He’s since been apprehended. Investigations are under way. Meanwhile, Uber is getting slammed for surge pricing right after the NYC explosion. And, angry Internet users are leaving negative reviews of First American Fried Chicken (Rahimi’s family-owned restaurant) on Yelp.


When There are exceptions to the rules …

Skittles are to refugees as bitcoin is to dollar bills. In other words, the U.S. federal government has been pretty clear that bitcoin isn’t ‘legal tender’ aka ‘real money.’ But, that’s not a hard and fast rule. There’s one exception. Bitcoin is considered money if it’s involved in a financial crime. Anthony Murgio learned that the hard way. Murgio is alleged to have illegally run, a bitcoin exchange involved in the cybercrime ring that targeted firms like JPMorganChase. Prosecutors brought two charges against Murgio. He tried to be slick by using the ‘bitcoin aren’t funds’ argument. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan didn’t buy it and said that Murgio’s charges still stand. 


Let’s get social …

Twitter’s finally allowing its users to send out longer tweets. You’ll still have 140 characters to say what you need to but images, videos, GIFs, and polls won’t count.

Facebook’s showing more signs that it’s getting serious about its #NextBillion users. The company just brought on Anand Chandrasekaran, formerly of India e-commerce startup Snapdeal, to help lead the company’s efforts on Messenger. 

Is It Time for Another Vacation, Yet?

Google Trips is a new mobile app to help planning each day of your upcoming trip a little easier. Need information on day plans, reservations, things to do, or food & drink? It’s gotchu.  

When You’re Still Shopping Around…

Facebook has always got something going on. This time, it’s focusing on hardware. The company just bought California startup Nascent Objects, creators of the ‘first modular consumer electronic platform.’ That’s nerd speak for creating a space where average non-techie folks can design and test out new products at low costs. 

Google snatched up API.AI, a company that helps build Siri-type bots that can have decent chats with humans in 15 languages including English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and German. 

In Other Good News …

Larry Ellison isn’t mincing words. Oracle’s gearing up to take on Amazon in the cloud services game. The company plans to take an aggressive approach. 

School’s back in session. And this fall, 2,000 schools in the U.S. will offer AP Computer Science courses. #ThanksObama 

The United Nations’ released a mini-documentary called Clouds Over Sidra about a young Syrian refugee. The organization quickly found out that virtual reality (VR) headsets are the ‘the ultimate empathy machine.’ VR helps people feel more connected to a subject, then they feel compelled to donate funds. 


AirBnb just bought Barcelona-based startup Trip4Real, offering a marketplace for activities during your next vay-cay. 

South African Internet firm Naspers is getting into the online classified ads game Stateside. It’s going after Craigslist – big time.


The ‘Cloud’: AKA ‘cloud computing’;  Not an actual ‘cloud’ involving condensed water vapor. But rather, the term refers to storing information on servers that are housed in remote data centers. We can access information pretty easily via the InterWebs (think DropBox). And now, businesses are getting in on the cloud because it’s reliable, secure, and cost-effective. Businesses aren’t settling for just storing their information in offsite locations. They’re also moving towards running applications and services directly from the cloud! #TheMoreYouKnow

Virtual Skinny: Friday Alert!


Good to Know: The U.S. FAA just hit the red alert button on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones. Don’t even think about turning it on during a flight on account of its explosive batteries.  Exhibit A.    



When You Make the Effort …

AirBnB is stepping its anti-discrimination policy game all the way up.  

When You’ve Been Exposed …

In Dec. 2015, Harvard University hosted its very own #ExposeParty when it dropped a bombshell of a report calling out some exclusionary behavior taking place on AirBnB.  The paper said that users with ‘African-American- sounding names’ had a hard time simply booking reservations. It’s the ole “we’re booked for those dates” excuse. #AirbnbWhileBlack

When You’ve Gotta Move Quick …

Can you say damage control? AirBnB brought in heavy-hitters like former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former director of American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office Laura W. Murphy to give their two cents on what it can do to reduce discrimination on its platform.

When You Want to Hear Solutions …

Murphy put together the 32-page report with some practical fixes. Starting Nov. 1, users must agree to treat others on the platform fairly and sans bias. Other things will happen like ‘instant booking’ so people can make reservations without first getting approval from the host. And, AirBnB plans to focus less on users’ photos and more on objective information on people’s profiles.

When You’ll Wait and See…

Verdict is still out on whether these changes will actually work. Mixed reviews from advocacy groups and even from founders of competing startups targeting people of color. But, it all raises a bigger question of Internet companies’ role in changing social attitudes and perceptions.


Out with the Old, In with the New …

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission wants to make your cable TV watching a little easier. This week, the agency put out its final proposal on those expensive cable boxes. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler doesn’t want your cable provider (think: Comcast) to force you to rent pricey cable boxes. He’d much rather the provider offer an app for people to stream content on their device of choice (Apple TV, Roku, etc.). Wheeler says the change would be good innovation. The agency is set to vote on the proposal later this month (Sept. 29). Who knows? The cable industry may finally catch up to 2016. #SorryNotSorry

Trying to Stop A Moving Train …

Fun Fact: For many years, the U.S. oversaw the basic operations of the Internet. But like most good things, that is coming to an end. The U.S. plans to transition its oversight duties to ICANN. Formally, known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The nonprofit group deals with the Internet’s daily operations. The transition is supposed to go down October 1st, but some Republicans aren’t having it. Four top Republicans just sent a letter to the Obama Administration basically saying that the switch won’t be going down on their watch. Reason for the opposition? They don’t want the U.S. to “giv[e] up control” of the Interwebs. The Internet and broader tech community says that’s not the case. The community sees it as a positive for the Internet’s global support. Republicans probably don’t have the votes to stop the transition, but it’ll at least make for good political drama heading into election season this fall.


The 90s comeback game is so strong. Super Mario is coming to the iPhone. mario

Alphabet (formerly known as Google) is teaming up with Chipotle to deliver burritos via drone. Virginia Tech will be the first test-site because it’s FAA approved. 

You can now hail a ride from Lyft or Gett directly from Google Maps

Norway is calling out Facebook for removing its Prime Minister’s post of the Pulitzer-prize winning ‘napalm girl’ photo during the Vietnam war.

Snapchat just hired Morgan Stanley to take out a new line of credit. The Information is reporting that the company’s gearing up for an IPO. Maybe, maybe not … 


While we’re on Snapchat, the company just hired former White House strategic communications advisor Rachel Racusen. Racusen is Snapchat’s new Director of Communications . 


IPO: Known as ‘initial public offering.’  The first time when a private company releases stock to the public. Reasons for an IPO vary (e.g., to raise money to grow the company more or to allow the company’s owners and employees to make money off of their company stock).

Virtual Skinny: Inter-Webs…


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

happy bday


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

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

When You Still Want to Build That Wall …

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

When You’re Not Sure What This Means …

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

When You’re Confused… 

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



Nope, Not On My Watch …

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Virtual Skinny: Extra, Extra!


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


When You Need to Have A Difficult Conversation …

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

When Things Are Changing …

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

When Everyone Needs to Engage …

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

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When You Gotta Sound Off…

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


When You’re being extra … 

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Virtual Skinny: Play It Live …


Good to Know: Amazon Prime Day is almost live … July 12 – Save the date to get your deals.


When You Need Time for Self-Care …

The unjust killings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers amplified America’s old struggle with racial injustice but raised new questions too. What to do about violent live videos on social media?

fb live

When Real-Life Tragedy is Live …

Castile’s fiancee, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the immediate aftermath of Castile being shot in the arm by a cop on Facebook Live.  But, within a couple of hours of courageously streaming her personal tragedy, Facebook took the video down.

When Something Is Not What It Seems …

Facebook claims the video was taken down because of a ‘technical glitch,’ but put it right back up complete with a “graphic content” label. But, since the launch of Facebook Live, we’ve seen hours of footage containing violent content ranging from a terrorist hostage situation to a man threatening police. Those images remained on the site without warning. #SideEye


When You’re Not Sure How to Handle It …

Facebook and Twitter’s Periscope are trying to figure out live video as they go. Social media platforms usually have community standards to uphold but are unsure how to honor those standards with live, real-time video. Both companies are testing out ways to monitor videos for offensive content.

When You Need to Think On It …

How graphic is too graphic? Should social media platforms draw the line in what types of content should be live streamed? Sound off! We want to know your thoughts.


Time for Some Relief …

Noticed anyone talking about catching Pokemon? Well, that’s because Pokemon Go is now all the rage. Nintendo is making a huge comeback and delving into the mobile gaming space with its latest game.  The game relies on your phone’s GPS and clock to turn you into a “Pokemon hunter.”  The game is well on its way to surpassing Twitter with its number of daily active users (at least on Droids). So, go ahead – download the game on your iPhone or Droid device and see what the fuss is about … Just make sure not to get robbed or find any dead bodies.  


Does fasting leading to increased work productivity? Employees at San Francisco-based startup Nootrobox seem to think so. Looks like “biohacking” is the new thing.

AirBnB is getting ready to clean up at the Rio Olympics thanks to less than ideal conditions in Brazil, the home sharing site already has 35,000 active listings and 55,000 scheduled guests just for the Games. #NotBad 

Back to live streams … Twitter (with the help of the CBS network) plans to live stream the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions. Fire up your Twitter feed and get your popcorn ready … 

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: 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: Fri-yay!


Good to Know: It’s Fri-yay! If you’re in a meeting, you’re likely killing time on your phone. Telenor, Swedish telecom company, just put out a new vid to show how disruptive your phone activities could be if your texts, emails, etc. came to life. Check it out here


When You’d Like Them To Make It Rain …

Uber drivers are trying to get paid. They’re asking the company to either add or at the very least test a “tip button” on the app. On account of the company not paying drivers wages and all.

When You Gotta Go And Make Things So Complicated …

Uber isn’t feeling the idea at all. Its resistance comes down to fairness. The company thinks it’d be unfair for some drivers to get more tips than others. And more, importantly, they think the change would encourage discrimination.

When You Assume Things … 

Uber says drivers could assume that under-served areas won’t tip well and could stay clear of those areas all together.  BTW, drivers are sick and tired of waiting for you. So, Uber’s willing to drop its 5-minute wait time to 2 minutes and charge you for it by the minute. Uber says “we’ve seen that two minutes is usually sufficient time for riders to determine whether they need a car.” #TimeIsMoney


When You Get the Head Nod …

The U.S. House of Representatives gave the thumbs up on amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).  The updated version would require law enforcement to get search warrants before getting all up in your e-mails and other online docs. U.S. Senate’s got next.


The Tech Sector is here for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He’s raked in US $4.6 million from the tech sector, compared to Hillary’s US $2.6 million. 

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Amazon is crushing it out in these streets. Its profits are on the up and up for the first quarter of the year. The company’s pushing streaming service Amazon Prime, and its cloud business is pulling in US $10 billion this year. And, it’s also been on a hiring rampage. The e-commerce company hired about 80K people alone last year.

Twitter is the app formerly known as a “social networking” platform. It’s now calling itself a “News” app.

We feel like Internet companies are telling us to pack our bags and get outta dodge.  Google’s getting into the travel biz with its new app called “Trips,” to help keep track of your trips and make recommendations.

Speaking of travel, Priceline’s CEO Darren Huston is stepping down. The company’s board uncovered Huston’s relationship with an employee.  Since he’s married, the board didn’t think an affair was a good look. He’s resigning with no stock options to show for it. It’s been a tough week for alleged and actual cheaters. #Lemonade, anyone?

Virtual Skinny: When Life Hands You Lemons …


Good to Know:  Make Lemonade aka the title of Beyonce’s latest album released exclusively on Tidal over the weekend and nearly broke the Internet. It’s coming to iTunes soon. Side note: Know the difference between Rachael Ray and Rachel Roy before making the decision on whether to fire off emojis of lemons and bumble bees. 


When You’ve Got A Brilliant Idea …

Frustrated with public transportation? Not to worry, Tesla founder and all-around genius Elon Musk says he’s got a solution.


Please, Tell Us More …

At a conference in Norway, Musk hinted at autonomous vehicles aka self-driving cars as the answer to curbing cities’ density problem.  Think a hybrid between Uber and public buses.

When Mums The Word…

Musk didn’t want to spill too much tea but did say that these new vehicles would take people to their intended destination rather than bus stops.  Cities around the globe like Lausanne, Switzerland, and Zhengzhou, China are already testing out something similar.


When You Throw Out the White Flag …

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is stepping away from its fight with Apple.  Late last Friday, the DOJ backed out of its NY suit against the iPhone maker. Apparently, it no longer needs the court’s help in forcing Apple to break into the iPhone involved in a drug-related investigation. It simply got the passcode from someone else. This comes after the U.S. government paid over US $1 million to unlock another iPhone in the San Bernardino situation. And, that’s what we call being resourceful, folks. #MondayMotivation

When You Want to Make Peace, Not War …

Beyoncé’s hubby, Jay Z, isn’t the only one looking to make peace. Rivals Microsoft and Google are calling a truce. Both companies agreed to stop throwing regulatory shade at each other. Moving forward, they’d like to compete on their products and not by legal complaints. Microsoft has even withdrawn existing regulatory complaints. #FairEnough

When You Don’t Quite Have the Numbers …

Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper piped up to some reporters and put us on notice. His team is looking into just how many innocent people are getting swept up in the government’s Internet surveillance aimed at foreign suspects. Clapper’s comments aren’t unprovoked. A group of 14 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Reps put in the request.


In the U.S., it’s illegal to take a pic of your election ballot. Snapchat wants to make “ballot selfies” a legal thing. In official court docs, the company told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit that states banning pics in the election box is a First Amendment violation. In other words, a “ballot selfie” is simply free expression.

Speaking of elections, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is taking his campaign to California. First stop? The Bay Area where he’ll talk business, trade, and economic growth. Trump should expect a tough crowd.

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Area 120 is Google’s soon to be in-house, startup incubator, intended to stop entrepreneurial employees from peacing out on it.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn’t want you to text and tweet, and it’s going after Twitter users that brag about doing just that.

Tweeting and Uber-ing is just fine, but you’ll probably soon have to tip your Uber driver.

Virtual Skinny: Diamonds and Pearls…


Good to Know:  Let your life shine bright like a diamond by spring cleaning with these organizational apps


When We’ve Lost Another Great One …

STUNNED is what we all were after learning that 57-year old, legendary pop star Prince passed away yesterday. No official word yet on the cause. So far, reports are citing his recent hospitalization for flu-like symptoms Regardless, it was a sad day for not only music lovers but the world.  Insanely private, Prince was incredibly humanitarian. #YesWeCode, an initiative to teach people of color how to code, is just one of his many social contributions.  #RIP #Prince


When It’s Time to Pay Tribute …

Pretty much everyone, including celebs, took to social media to share their condolences.   Hit Broadway shows, namely Hamilton and the Color Purple, paid special tributes. But for us regular folks who wanted to stream his music, you probably had a hard time finding his work online.

When You Want To Stream “Diamonds and Pearls…” 

It’s no secret that Prince was no fan of YouTube and Spotify. In 2015, he pulled most of his work from streaming services and decided to work exclusively with Tidal, a streaming service owned by rapper turned mogul Jay Z aka Beyoncé’s hubby.  Tidal’s mission is to be more artist-friendly by giving them more money for each music stream and allowing artists to have more control over their work on the service. Prince, being protective of his image, was on board.

When Not All Hope Is Lost …

Even if you’re not a Tidal subscriber, you can still find ways to stream some of Prince’s music. Check it out here.


Ugh, Not This Again …

The European Union doesn’t play when it comes to Google and alleged antitrust violations. It has officially charged the company with “abusing its power” with the Android operating system.  Apparently, Google requiring phone makers to pre-install some of its apps like Google Search and Google Chrome is no buneo. Kind of a big deal since Android is a monkey maker for the company, bringing in $11 billion in ad sales alone last year.

When You’re Ready to Settle …

A bunch of Uber drivers in Massachusetts and California sued the company over their employment status. The drivers wanted to be considered employees, but Uber was like nah, they’re just independent contractors. The employee v. independent contractor status matters when it comes down to benefits. But, looks like a judge won’t have to decide either way. Uber settled the case for US $100 million, of which $84 million is reserved for the drivers. That amount could increase depending on whether the company’s value continues to grow. Uber agreed to change up some of its practices and help set up a drivers’ association in each state. Copy cats, anyone?


The FBI shelled out US $1.3 MILLION to crack that San Bernardino iPhone. That’s more than the FBI Director James Comey’s total compensation for the remaining seven years of his tenure. Yikes!



Feel more like a local on your next trip with AirBnB’s “Guidebook.”

Twitter users came for Snapchat after the company released its Bob Marley filter in honor of 4/20 aka the unofficial weed “holiday.” They weren’t here for virtual blackface. So, Snapchat put out a factual statement claiming that it works with Bob Marley’s estate on the feature. No apology needed.

While we’re talking Snapchat, looks like MTV Cribs is coming back via the app.

The Shade Room thinks Facebook (FB) is being shady. The popular gossip publisher, a place where people can “go in” on the latest pop culture news, had its fair share of drams this week. It was booted off FB for alleged copyright violations. The publisher, which got its start on Instagram and now has over 4 million followers, says it had no warning.  #TheShadeOfItAll

In other FB news, the social media platform could soon allow you to cash in on your posts with “tip jar.”

Wedding season is upon us. If you’re getting married (Mazel!), HoneyFund is here to help you get those coins together for your honeymoon.