News & Analysis

  1. Activity Trackers

    My doomed three month love affair with activity trackers

    There’s a tan line on my wrist where a Jawbone UP band was once fastened. On the other side of my desk I see my discarded Fitbit. There’s dust on the strap. “We had some good times, you and I,” I think. But I feel no compulsion to put it on. That’s not who I am anymore. It started gloriously. I found myself enthralled at the end of April, walking around the Pando office with a sleek black Fitbit on…
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    I’m not freaking out about OKCupid’s “human experiments.” Here’s why you shouldn’t either

    Complaining about Facebook has become almost a sport at this point, but for a couple weeks in June and July, the disdain for the social network hit never-before-seen levels after it admitted to manipulating user emotions by tinkering with its News Feed algorithm. The furor has largely died down, and most Facebook quitters I know have begrudgingly rejoined the service. But it’s opened up a larger conversation about keeping tech firms’ ethically and legally accountable for how they use algorithms or design to…
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    Watch the full PandoMonthy fireside chat with Spark Capital’s Bijan Sabet

    A lot of VCs are full of bluster and bombast, with larger than life personalities informed by working in one of the toughest businesses around. But perhaps befitting an investor based in a land of more modest returns like Boston, Spark Capital’s Bijan Sabet, is a creature of humility. Soft-spoken but brutally intelligent, the early Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare investor shared wicked insight on a number of topics at our most recent PandoMonthly in New York, including: what’s kept Boston from becoming…
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    Lucy: A loony utopian fantasy of smartening up the human race

    A lot of critics are kicking about the new hit film Lucy because it isn’t scientifically accurate. Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press makes the case: So let’s start with the enticing premise of Luc Besson’s “Lucy,” starring Scarlett Johansson: Human beings only use 10 percent of their brain capacity. Imagine what it would be like if we could access all of it? Well, wow. It would be sort of like … nothing new. Because, it turns out, in real…
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  7. Home for Sale Sold

    Can the Zillow-Trulia merger finally disrupt the home buying process? Brokers should be terrified to find out

    As if traditional offline real estate brokerages weren’t already looking over their shoulder in fear of online listing portals – and they were – the situation just got markedly worse this morning with the online giant Zillow announcing plans to beef up through the acquisition of its nearest competitor Trulia. The $3.5 billion all stock deal is expected to close in Q1, with Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff expressing doubt that it will face any regulatory pressure. The move will result…
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    As outrage grows, Reason editor rejects proof, denies that magazine denied the holocaust

    Over the past two weeks, Pando’s Mark Ames has written a series of articles exposing the repugnant past of Reason magazine. The timing was appropriate: Reason — the house magazine of American libertarianism — recently backed the “Reboot” conference in San Francisco, an event designed to win more Silicon Valley folks over to the libertarian cause. As Mark explained, by downplaying the movement’s racist history and up-playing its pro-disruption, anti-government side, Libertarianism has attracted growing support in a city where the past is, at best, an…
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    Goodbye, Ticket Cake: Another Vegas Tech Fund company bites the dust

    Oh man. Another of Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Tech Fund investments has bitten the dust. Ticket Cake, an online ticketing startup, has just posted a farewell video to users on YouTube having apparently not been able to make its business model work. According to DTLV.com, the company had $1.5m in ticket revenue and over 300 event organizers. Ticket Cake is just the latest Vegas Tech Fund companies to flame out or move out. Ecomom collapsed following the…
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  11. Vyper

    Hyperice turns to Kickstarter to help everyday athletes train and recover like the pros

    It’s rare that amateur athletes and weekend warriors get access to cutting edge fitness technology at the same time as the pros. More typically, the best in class training and recovery gear is limited for use by elites of sport, only years later to trickle down to the rest of us – often in a watered down form. But Hyperice is flipping that script. Two years after introducing the first ever portable ice compression device – a product that is…
  12. Radio Free Strawberry

    Why Apple may spend $30M to buy “Pandora of talk radio” app Swell

    Sources tell Re/Code that Apple is close to finalizing deal to buy Swell, a news and podcast curation app for $30 million. Billed by some as the “Pandora of talk radio,” Swell creates playlists drawing in content from iTunes, NPR, ESPN, and others that are personally tailored to users’ tastes. Like YouTube, Amazon, Spotify, and every other company looking to take control of the heavily fragmented streaming music market, Apple wants to build a broad ecosystem of audio products. This…
  13. snowdenfeature

    Buzzfeed editor: We stand by fired staffer’s reporting on Edward Snowden

    Earlier this week, Buzzfeed fired writer Benny Johnson for plagiarizing 41 of his pieces from other online sources. As I wrote yesterday, Johnson made news back in January when he cited anonymous Pentagon sources saying they wanted to kill NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. With Johnson now fired for dishonesty, we can no longer assume that Buzzfeed had in place sufficient editorial checks to ensure that Johnson’s anonymous sources were legitimate. That doesn’t just put Johnson’s reporting in doubt, but also…
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    Tor received over $1.8m from the US government last year, including $830k from military spies

    Earlier this month, Pando’s Yasha Levine revealed that almost everyone involved in Tor was (or is) funded by the US government. The revelation was particularly alarming given Tor is the tool recommended by privacy advocates, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, as a way to keep communications hidden from government eyes. Now, according to tax documents released this week, we learn that the Tor Project received over $1.8m from the US government in 2013. Of that, $256,900 came directly from the State Department,…
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    Former Orlando Predators owner redirects domain name to police list of current Orlando predators

    Today in actually pretty funny revenge pranks… The former owner of the Orlando Predators has been accused of getting revenge on a football league by redirecting his team’s website to a police list of sexual predators. According to a lawsuit first reported by Court House News, former Predators owner, David Pearsall, was so angry at his team being kicked out of the Arena Football One league that he redirected orlandopredators.com (owned by the league) to the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators website.…
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    I’m Ira Glass, Host of This American Life, and This Is How I Work

    “I’d been doing radio over a decade when I discovered the world of wireless lav mics, which you pin on your interviewee as they teach in front of a classroom, shake hands on the campaign trail, go about their lives. Most radio people don’t use these but they’re like a crazy magic trick. ” — Lifehacker
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    Buzzfeed staffer who claimed Pentagon sources threatened to kill Snowden is fired for dishonesty

    Benny Johnson, a former writer at Glenn Beck’s the Blaze, has been fired from Buzzfeed for 41 instances of plagiarism (gotta love those odd-numbered lists!). In an apology note published on Buzzfeed, editor Ben Smith wrote: We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site. Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or…
  20. Fraud

    Meet the Russian hacker that helps advertisers defraud their AdWords competitors

    What kind of chutzpah does it take to use Google’s own gmail and YouTube services to defraud the company’s cash cow AdWords business? Apparently the kind that is possessed by a Russian hacker going by the pseudonym “GoodGoogle.” (It’s no less bold to use Google’s trademark in your name.) According to a recent blog post by KrebsonSecurity, GoodGoogle is among the most established AdWords fraudsters as a two year old operation that uses a botnet, custom software, and manual…
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    Gawker no longer even trying to pretend it’s not grotesquely hypocritical on tax

    Earlier today, Gawker’s Valleywag blog expressed its outrage that Google is still paying barely any taxes on its revenue. The piece appears to be part of a concerted campaign by Gawker to shame wealthy tax dodgers. On Tuesday, writer Hamilton Nolan wrote an essay attacking those who avoid tax as “unpatriotic.” Much as it pains me to agree with anything on Gawker, their implied argument is a compelling one. If companies and entrepreneurs want to enjoy the huge…
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The Week in Review