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: 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: Wednesday Wisdom


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


When Christmas Comes Early …

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

When You Know What to Expect …

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

When You Don’t Know It All …

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

When Patience Is Still A Virtue …

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


Summer’s Over …

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

This Was Not Part of the Plan …

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

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


Please Tell Me More…

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

It’s Not Translating …

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


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

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

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

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


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

Virtual Skinny: Stand Up for Your Rights


Good to Know: Need to manage paper business cards? Mobile apps CamCard and ScanBizCards could help.


When You Take People Out GoT Style …

Last Friday, Facebook axed its Trending Topics team of humans with almost no warning. #Savage

When You Need An Explanation …

A little while back, FB was all up in the headlines for its alleged human bias in the type of stories picked up by Trending Topics. Some said the stories leaned more left than right, especially when it came to political news. Naturally, U.S. Republicans stepped in. As far as we knew, it was water under the bridge. But, not quite.

When You’ve Taken A Stand …

You may have noticed that Trending Topics no longer shows short summaries of news article. Instead, you just see the number of people talking about a topic. Well, that’s because FB decided it was better to swap out human editors for algorithms (Algorithms: Rules that tells computers what to do). The justification? FB said it’s listening to its community. And, the move “allows [FB] to scale Trending to cover more topics and make it available to more people globally over time.” 

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 9.57.39 AM

When You Can’t Fact Check …

Within about 48 hours of computers taking over Trending Topics, FB ran into some … issues. What had happened was its algorithms picked up a fake news story about Megyn Kelly being fired. Not true, Megyn Kelly is still gainfully employed by Fox News. Whoops!

When You’re Being Dragged …

FB removed the fake story, but it’s still not immune from being dragged via Twitter because some people can’t stand the change. BTW, the Zuck says it has no plans to transition from tech to media.  Journalists are calling B.S. because FB is a master at selling its users’ attention to advertisers. Could a potential #JournalistsFurtherExposesFBParty be brewing on the Twitterverse? 



B*tch Better Have My Money …

The European Union (EU) warned Apple not to call it on its bluff. In today’s ruling, the EU ordered Apple, Inc. to hand over a record US $14.5 billion (13 billion Euros) in back taxes to Ireland. This whole drams comes down to the EU believing that Ireland played faves with Apple with it came to taxes. To be clear, the EU is saying that Ireland gave Apple tax benefits for the past two decades. And, under EU law, this type of special tax treatment is a major no-no. Apple is understandably peeved about the decision. Ireland’s got Apple’s back and plans to appeal. Even, the U.S. government has piped up and is basically saying that the EU’s decision is no bueno and could hurt US-EU biz relations and even turn potential foreign business away from the EU. 

Is This Happening Or Nah?

Everyone expected a tech bust about a year ago, but it didn’t happen. HOW, Sway? We get the confusion. This time a year ago, investors were throwing money at on-demand delivery start-ups and Uber like one of Oprah’s giveaways. A crash seemed like a sure thing, but then startups got smart and started saving more and spending less on things like perks. Also, foreign investment money from countries like Saudi Arabia helped. A tech crash could still happen but probably not any time soon.


Amazon’s work schedule (especially for its technical team) is no joke … Soul crushing even. The company may finally be making a change. It’s testing out a 30-hour work week with a portion of its technical team (Monday through Thursday from 10 AM to 2 PM). The experimental group will still get the same benefits as everyone else, but they’ll be getting paid 25% less.  

Twitter is trying to do what Instagram just did to Snapchat. The microblogging site is following in YouTube’s footsteps. It wants to reward its most popular users with cash money if they create video content for the site. Twitter’s offering its top users a 70% (content creators) -30% (Twitter) split in revenue – a better deal than YouTube’s 55%-45% split. Not sure if the deal will help bring in creators though since YouTube and other similar platforms are so far ahead in the game. 


Uber said “you can’t sit with us” to Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond. Since Uber and Google are actively working on self-driving projects, Drummond decided to step down from the ride-hailing company’s board. 

Virtual Skinny: 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?

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 10.05.10 AM

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: ClickBait…


Good to Know: It’s #InternationalCatDay. BTW, over the weekend, the hashtag #FirstSevenJobs was trending thanks to @mariancall. People shared their first seven jobs. Did you? If not, it’s not too late! Take a min, reflect a little, and tweet at us (@virtual_skinny)!

world cat day


When You’re Just Looking Out (For clickbait)… 

Facebook doesn’t want its users to deal with ‘clickbait’ articles in your newsfeed.

When You Need To Use It In A Sentence …

Clickbait aka articles with headlines that leave you feeling misled, tricked, or underwhelmed after clicking the link (e.g., Headline: You won’t believe what XYZ celeb did! The Actual Content: [Insert uninteresting, mundane activity like a grocery story run].

When They’ve Heard You Loud & Clear …

Facebook users aren’t amused and complain about these annoying clickbait articles. So, FB decided to put some brainpower behind solving the problem. FB employees have narrowed down types of click bait into two groups. Category 1: ‘Curiosity gap headlines’ (see example above) and Category 2: Flat out misleading headlines.

When You’ve Found A Solution … 

FB’s changed up its algorithm so that publishers who dabble with the worst type of clickbait just simply won’t reach the number of FB users they’d like. But no need to go to basic, boring, and bulky headlines just yet. FB’s only going after the worst offenders.

When Others Chime in…

Last night, John Oliver dug deep into journalism and even talked ‘clickbait’ and what that means for the future of journalism.


Didn’t They Tell You That I Was a Savage?

In case you haven’t heard, Instagram hit ‘copy and paste’ on Snapchat’s Stories. That’s right … Insta pulled a boss move and copied Snapchat’s Stories feature. The basic concept is that you can post pics at the top of your newsfeed, but it’ll “disappear” after a day. Insta’s version is called ‘Instagram Stories.’ #ShockerButNotReally Turns out people seem to like it better. And business wise, Snapchat should be worried. Instagram’s got a larger audience (its 350 million daily users v. Snapchat’s 150 million users) and possibly better tools. Uh Oh!


E-commerce site tried to take on e-commerce giant Amazon. But, it didn’t work. Walmart stepped in and paid $3 billion in cash money for Now, it’s back to the Wal-Mart v. Amazon matchup. Advantage, Walmart? 

Back on! Online fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings can now legally operate again in New York. But, there’s a catch. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo says the sites’ contests are now considered a “game of skill,” which basically means NY regulators will be watching. And, the sites will have to pay new fees.  

Google is off to the races in India. The company’s winning the emerging market (ahead of Facebook and Microsoft) with its free Wi-Fi program, and that’s major! #NextBillion  

Yahoo’s going through things right now. But, it’s still got its eye on the prize. It’s launching Yahoo View, a TV watching site, with the help of Hulu. 

In more TV watching news, Comcast, Time Warner, Disney, etc. have all poured money into online companies to reach younger audiences. But not Viacom. The company hasn’t gone down the digital investments road yet. Rumor has it that Viacom has its eye on BuzzFeed. Unlikely, but anything’s possible…

Speaking of not making investments, Chinese Internet giant Alibaba has no plans to get involved with U.S. streaming service Netflix. 


Twitter just lost a member of its Comms team. Jim Prosser is heading over to marketplace lending company SoFi.

Everyone’s trying to be a tech company, including healthcare and consumer goods company Johnson & Johnson. J&J is kicking of its new tech business with the help of former Dropbox exec Marc Leibowitz.

After almost 8 years on Google’s self-driving car projects, Chris Urmson is peacing on account of he’s ‘ready for a fresh new challenge.’ 

And now that Verizon is buying Yahoo, the Internet company’s VP of global PR & Communications Anne Espiritu is ready to dip. She’s going the startup route and is joining health-care company Oscar Insurance Corp.

Virtual Skinny: Doing the Absolute Most…


Good to Know: Snapchat’s geofilters aka personalized filters could be the new hashtag. All the kids are doing it … 



When You Need to Do the Absolute Most…

Alphabet’s Google, Facebook, and Twitter teamed up for a three-week, experimental collabo by using online videos to counter terrorist and extremist propaganda on their platforms. The social platforms are targeting teens and young adults that use words like “sharia” and “mujahideen” in their posts.

When You Need More Information…

Islamist radicals and far-right groups’ extremist propaganda and violent content on the InterWebs play a major role in terrorism. So, Internet companies are fighting back. They want to figure out what messages work to keep the youth from becoming full-blown radicals.

When You’re Not Trying to Hear It …

Young people are saying ‘no’ to government-sponsored messages. And ‘definitely maybe’ to videos shading jihadist groups, the Taliban, and white supremacist groups. The videos are courtesy of organizations like U.S. based Average Mohamed, Pakistan’s Harakat-ut-Taleem, and ExitUSA.

When You’re Not Sure It’s Working …

Are the videos working? Hard to tell. But, starting a discussion is always a positive first step. And for the most part, the videos are getting people chatting online about the videos.


If They Ever Did That, I Think We’d Have a Cyber-Attack …

Remember that time someone hacked the U.S. Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) emails … Russia’s name came up as the potential culprit … Then, Donald Trump looked straight into a press camera and challenged Russians to find Hillary’s missing emails but later said ‘just kidding?‘ Of course you do, that was just last week. Well, security expert Bruce Schneier thinks things could get worse. Schneier says Russia could go after the nation’s voting machines come this November. He says the U.S. needs to get its cyber-defense game in order. And apparently, Internet voting is not the answer.


Looks like maps and driverless cars are on Uber’s 2016 vision board. The ride-hailing services just dropped a cool US $500 millie on a global mapping project so it can say “bye” to Google Maps. Oh and, Uber’s packing it in … at least in China. The company’s done competing with its Chinese rival Didi Chuxing and decided that both companies need to become one in a deal worth $35 billion. 

Speaking of the Googler, navigational app Waze just released a new bomb feature called Child Reminder to make sure people don’t forget their kids in the car. 

Interior design app Homee didn’t make the cut on Shark Tank, but Tinder co-founder Sean Rad happened to catch its episode. Rad decided to pony up hard cash for Homee. He’s its first investor. As they say, any publicity is good publicity … 

Fresh off of exposing Taylor Swift’s B.S., Kanye West has made it clear that he’s done with Apple’s B.S. too. Word on the street is Apple wants to buy music service Tidal owned by West’s bestie Jay-Z. West tweeted “Apple give Jay his check for Tidal now and stop trying to act like you Steve.” And by Apple, we think he means Tim Cook. #ShotsFired  

The Rio Olympics start this Friday. But if you’ve been paying attention, you know that many people (including athletes) will be skipping it on account of Brazil’s issues with Zika, its water supply, and general turmoil. Even if you won’t be in Brazil, Google’s is bringing the favela (aka slum) experience to you via Street View. 

One more thing about the Olympics … Those that are going have much to complain about including an ‘uninhabitable’ Olympic Village and maybe even worse no access to Pokemon Go. #Messy  


In the wake of the Verizon-Yahoo deal announcement, Verizon’s Marni Walden and AOL head Tim Armstrong got together at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, CA HQ. The message to Yahoo employees was positive, but everyone’s well aware there’ll be issues joining both companies. A new company structure and potential unforeseen costs to name a couple. 

Founder of CODE2040  Laura Weidman Powers is headed to Washington. For six months, she’ll be taking on the role as senior policy adviser to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.  Diversity and inclusion in tech and entrepreneurship generally are at the top of her “to-do” list.  

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is writing a second book tentatively called “Option B.” It’ll be about resilience. Sandberg has had to show quite a bit of it after the tragic and untimely passing of her husband last year. 

Virtual Skinny: Pokemon Go To The Polls…


Good to Know:  Hillary Clinton had jokes at a campaign rally in Virginia. She dropped this doozy on the crowd, “I don’t know who created ‘Pokemon Go’  … But, I try to figure out how we get them to have Poke-mon Go-To-The-Polls.” Good one, Hillz! Don’t worry. Google’s got you. Search “register to vote,” and Google will make things easy by returning details on the process, requirements, and deadlines to register. 


When Chaos Ensues …

As if the world isn’t already a crazy place, part of Turkey’s military took it up a notch late last week and had plans to overtake the country’s current government.

When You’re Old School…

Turns out that faction of the military botched the whole operation. How? Well, they took an old school approach involving shutting down roads, trying to take over parliament, and attempting to capture President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They also ‘tried it’ by taking over traditional media outlets (e.g., the country’s state-run television).


When You Forget About The Other Options …

Turns out the military forgot about this little thing called social media. But who can blame them? Turkey’s aversion to social media is well-documented as it’s tried to block citizens’ access to social media in the past. But, in a fantastically ironic move, President Erdogan reached the masses by tweeting and updating his Facebook status. He even had his people communicating via WhatsApp and addressed the nation via FaceTime. He encouraged citizens to take to the streets and fight back. The coup failed; but unfortunately, 294 people lost their lives.  


When People Are Giving You #SideEye …

Last week, Facebook (FB) put out numbers on how it’s doing in the diversity department. Well, the company still tilts heavily towards white and Asian employees (52 percent and 38 percent, respectively). #Shocker #NotReally The company’s head of global diversity pulled a “what had happened was” and blamed FB’s lack of progress on the public school system. Basically, FB is sticking to the “pipeline” story since computer science isn’t a required class in many public high schools. But, people aren’t buying what FB is selling. Silicon Valley vet and director of engineering at Slack Leslie Miley is calling B.S. Well, his exact words were that FB’s story is “f*@#% insulting.” Miley says all FB can simply change up its recruitment process. 

When Your Bounceback Game Is Strong like pokemon…

Thinking of launching a startup? Don’t give up. Venture capitalists are still doling out dolla dolla bills to back certain companies, but you’ve just gotta meet a higher standard these days. Investors shelled out $15.3 billion to startups between April and May of this year. Looks like software companies are investors new faves. ProTip: Don’t describe your upstart as the ‘Uber or Facebook’ of pretty much anything. 


Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer is likely on her way out. She’s allegedly not making key decisions when it comes to selling the company. If and when she does leave, it’ll cost the company a pretty penny. 

The Bumble dating app let’s women make the first move in a world of swiping left or right, but ‘Ohlala’ is allowing women to make a bit of change for a night out. The German app is all about “instant paid dating.” Some say it’s the “Uber for escorts” while others says it’s the “TaskRabbit for emotional labor.” #TomatoTomahto … 


The #KimExposesTaylorParty kicked off last night on Twitter. Then, T-Swift cried over spilt tea. Wildly entertaining, but it calmed down just in time for us to get serious on #NelsonMandelaDay. In honor of the day, tell us:  What would you do to change the world?

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.”