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: Get Out the Vote!


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



When The End Is Near …  

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

When You’re Not Understanding …

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

When You Need Information, Quick…

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


There’s Always A Way …

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

That’s What We Call Dodging A Bullet …

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

Where Is Everyone?

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Virtual Skinny: 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: 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: 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: Time Flies!


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


Time for a Pow-Wow…

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

Who’s On the List?

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

What’s on the Agenda? 

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

Team Work Usually Makes The Dream Work …

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


Warning Shots … 

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

Who Does That Anymore?

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

We Want In … 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Virtual Skinny: It’s Enough Now …


Good to Know: Most of you will likely get new devices as holiday presents this year. Not sure what to do with your old ones? Amazon, Gazelle, and Best Buy have stellar recycling or trade-in programs in the U.S. 


Something Becoming Routine Isn’t Always A Good Thing…  

In fact, it can be a very bad thing. Yesterday, a horrible mass shooting took place in San Bernadino, California and claimed the lives of 14 innocent people. Per usual, U.S. politicians immediately took to Twitter to send their “thoughts and prayers.” It didn’t go over well with the American public. 


The hashtag #thoughtsandprayers started trending on Twitter but not in the way you think. Americans tweeted their frustrations with the U.S. Congress’s inaction on gun control. Their message: Simply tweeting about “thoughts and prayer” won’t change anything.  The controversial front page of today’s NY Daily News pretty much sums it up.


This latest tragedy is just another example of the increasing role Internet and tech companies are playing to either help force difficult political debates or help take action against domestic and global terrorists.  For instance, earlier today, five tech companies including Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google, and Microsoft told France that they would “define and establish an offensive strategy of counter-discourse that will specifically target the online activities” of terrorist group ISIS.


Break Me Off A Piece of that…

If Yahoo’s board decides to sell the company’s Web business, it looks like almost everyone and their Moms want a piece of the action.  Potential buyers range from private equity firms to media and telecom companies like Verizon Communications (they bought AOL earlier this year), Time Inc., and even News Corp. (owner of Wall Street Journal).  Not everyone’s jumping on the Yahoo bandwagon.  Chinese Internet company Alibaba is not interested.  Decisions should be made by the time the company’s marathon board meeting ends tomorrow.  The suspense!


German banking startup Number26 is going after Europeans with aversions to traditional banking. It’s expanding across Europe to service countries like France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia and Spain.

When a potentially better product is on your heels, you have to act quick! Global bank Goldman Sachs is creating its own version of “bitcoin” or virtual currency called SETLCoin. Trading securities and settling those trades may just get a bit easier and faster.

Spotify is world’s the #1 music streaming service, but Pandora isn’t going out like that. Pandora’s pretty popular in the U.S., but it’s putting in work to compete in a very competitive market. New strategy: Attack the Spotify-types’ “free” music model. Record labels are listening, but that message probably won’t go over well with consumers.

YouTube is forming closer ties with Hollywood. The online platform is wheeling and dealing (in a good way) to get rights for TV shows and movies to stream via its new YouTube Red Service.

Parking your own car is such a waste of time.  Don’t worry! Startup valet-parking company Luxe has got you. Start saving your coins. Depending on the U.S. city, pricing could range from US $5-7 hourly or US$15 – US$30 daily.

The Virtual Skinny: Make Room…


Good to Know:  Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving. Startups want people to stay at home, eat, drink, and be merry. This Thursday, these companies are prepared to deliver last-minute, wine, stuffing, movies, etc. straight to your door within an hour. BTW, like many people in the U.S., we’ll be busy gobbling up turkey. See you back here on Monday, November 30. 


When You Can’t Remember Your Password … 

It’s not you … It’s them. E-commerce company Amazon reset passwords for some of its users recently.


Well, if you got an email from Amazon, then you probably know that the company feared that some users’ passwords may have been inadvertently exposed to third parties. Amazon said it has “no reason” to believe that this actually happened but wanted to take precautionary measures.

Safety First … 

Amazon’s also pushing users to make sure their information is secure via two-factor authentication.  With this system, hackers would need more than just your username and password to get into your accounts. They’d also need another device like your mobile phone.


Shady “Mr. Grey…”

If you’re up to some shady things, it’s probably best to just keep your mouth shut. Around this time last year, cybersecurity firm Hold Security id-ed a Russian hacker group responsible for stealing 1.2 million credentials and over 500 million email addresses. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) got involved. According to official court documents, the FBI figured out that the hacker, known as “mr. grey,” is linked to a Russian email address. mr. grey hasn’t been shy… The group previously boasted that it could hook people up with user account information for popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. For now, FB, Twitter, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice have nothing to say on the matter.

Going Solo … 

Tor, the place where Internet users go for private and secure messaging, wants your money. The organization’s network is mainly U.S. government backed (about 80-90%), but Tor thinks that it’s time to fly solo. The project thinks that being more independent will allow it the flexibility to offer its communication services to those around the world who need increased privacy.


Do it for the kids. YouTube’s under fire for allegedly pushing junk food ads on the kids’ version of its video platform. Two children advocacy groups have filed complaints with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Talk about trying to bring someone back down to Earth …  Earlier this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to Twitter for the first time to brag about his other company, Blue Origin. The aerospace company successfully launched and landed a rocket-ship. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, must’ve been feeling some kind of way. Musk gave the ultimate back-handed compliment:  First, he congratulated Bezos but then quickly implied that SpaceX did it first.

Amazon’s e-commerce rival just pulled in $350M and is expected to add $150M more. The company says most of it will go to marketing, customer support, and growing its team. Who needs a job?

Three ex-Goldman Sachs bankers are trading in their designer suits for jeans and hoodies. The former bankers recently joined Uber adding to the growing trend of people opting out of Wall Street for tech companies.  In more Uber news, the company’s pulling together a ‘Safety Advisory Board,’ to help the company navigate its consumer safety issue. It’ll focus on the U.S. first before taking the show worldwide.

The Virtual Skinny: Go Time …


Good to Know: ‘Tis the season for giving. Turn to Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance to avoid being scammed by an online charity this holiday season. 


Re-Thinking Your Approach … 

U.S. company Shotspotter wants to use its technology to help cities around the globe better respond to terrorist attacks like the ones we’ve seen in Paris, Beirut, Mali, Mumbai, Kenya, etc.

What Does It Do? 

The technology, which is currently deployed in 90 cities around the world, relies on Internet-enabled microphones to hone in on specific areas where there’s gunfire or explosions. In a matter of 30-45 seconds, authorities are alerted of a potential attack. The company wants to expand beyond 90 cities so its teamed up with General Electric.  Both companies think that incorporating the technology into street lamps is the best way to go for full coverage of entire cities. Understandable … GE’s been on its “smart cities” mission for a while and already has “smart” streetlights.

Why Not Cover the Entire Globe? 

David Bray, an executive in residence at Harvard University, wants to see a Shotspotter-style system created worldwide. Bray thinks including Shotspotter-type microphones in devices like cellphones would do the trick. But, for that idea to work, governments need to partner with private companies like Google.  The Internet company declined to comment. We’re thinking this raises all sorts of red flags for people’s privacy. Also, it probably isn’t a good look for government surveillance, which isn’t a fan favorite for Internet and tech companies.


When You Make Light of a Pretty Serious Situation …

Brussels is on a high terrorist alert and issued a city-wide lockdown over the weekend. After the Paris terrorist attacks, authorities are still on the hunt for suspects in Belgium. Yesterday evening, Belgian police asked citizens to step away from the Twitter-verse to avoid tipping off suspects about their armed operations. Belgian citizens didn’t exactly follow orders. They turned fear into humor by kicking off a tweet-storm about their pet cats with the hashtag #BrusselsLockDown. On a serious note, Belgian police carried out 22 raids and ultimately arrested 16 people.  Police are still unsure of suspected gunman Salah Abdeslam’s whereabouts.

Decisions, Decisions … 

Austrian student Max Schrems will keep going after Facebook (FB).  Schrems is partly responsible for the European Court of Justice recently throwing out the US-EU Safe Harbor, a longstanding data transfer agreement between the U.S. and European Union. Schrems has got major problems with FB’s privacy policy.  An Austrian court has already let him file a personal suit against FB because of it. But now, he’s looking to team up with 25,000+ people for a class action against the social media company.  He just needs the go ahead from the court. Meanwhile, FB says it’s done nothing wrong.

When Someone’s Got Your Back … 

Ever tried watching a video on YouTube but can’t? You’ve probably seen some variation of the following: “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by [insert media company, network, artist, etc. here].” Under U.S. copyright law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act specifically), sometimes a video take-down (like what you see on YouTube) is legit; but other times, it’s not. The law isn’t exactly intuitive, and regular folks, who aren’t well-versed in the law, can be intimidated by the process.  They often choose not to fight back against take down requests by rightsholders such as music labels, media companies, networks, etc. Google is sick and tired of YouTube content creators being unfairly targeted under the law so it wants to help out.  The company wants a select few to fight back and is prepared to financially support their legal woes up to US $1 million.


Does our pact mean nothing to you? Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer asked her execs to take a pledge to stand by the struggling company for three to five years.  It may not be working. Rob Barrett, Yahoo’s head of media strategy and operations, turned in his walking papers, making him the latest employee to dip out on the company.

What do you do when your daily deals company is on a financial decline? Pen a blog post comparing your company to a drug, of course. Andrew Mason, Co-founder and former CEO of Groupon, says “Groupon is powerful like morphine is powerful … If you use it too much, you’ll overdose and die. But take it in moderation and it can do wonders.” Interesting …

Google backed out of China five years ago after refusing to keep up with the country’s self-censorship policies. But, a lot can change in five years. China’s a pretty big market for Internet companies, and Google wants back in.  The company plans to launch a country-specific version of Google Play in China.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is placing big bets on Nest – one of its acquisitions worth $3.2 billion.  With devices and products such as “smart” thermometers and smoke detectors, Nest is the company’s way into the smart home market.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan will soon welcome their first child, a daughter.  The Zuck is taking two months of paid paternity leave. We care because gender norms is a hot topic in the tech industry.