News & Analysis

  1. Small Business

    Big companies like Target aren’t the only ones leaving customer information vulnerable to thieves

    A week can’t pass without a company revealing that information about millions of consumers’ credit cards, email addresses, and other personal data has been stolen. Some data breaches are more high-profile than others — Target’s and Home Depot’s hackings come to mind — but new thefts are being disclosed on a near-constant basis. Large companies aren’t the only ones vulnerable to attack, either. A report from the Guardian, citing the findings of a McAfee study, reveals that 90 percent of small-and medium-sized…
  3. bitcoin_accepted

    Paying for Uber with Bitcoin? Braintree opens up bitcoin payments to its thousands of merchants

    Two of the biggest forces in modern payments collided today as Braintree announced broad availability of its bitcoin payments product via a previously announced partnership with Coinbase.  The integration was initially announced in September, with subsequent news from PayPal that limited use by its merchants to digital goods transactions like media, software, and in-app purchases. Today’s update means that, effective immediately, “any merchant that uses Braintree for credit card payments [can now accept bitcoin payments]” according to a Braintree spokesperson.…
  4. elsewhere

    Kim Dotcom’s encrypted communications service debuts

    MegaChat, an encrypted communications service from the founder of the Megaupload and Mega digital storage lockers, has made its public debut. The service claims to offer secure communications directly from Web browsers, but others have been wary of such claims in the past, given the vulnerabilities in many browsers. [Source: The Guardian]
  5. highschool

    Illinois schools warn parents they might ask for children’s Facebook passwords

    Authorities often struggle when it comes to handling digital issues. Responding to the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack has befuddled the federal government, law enforcement can’t deal with online harassment, and prosecutors often over-react to digital mischief. But the State of Illinois is determined to outdo all of them when it comes to foolish responses to online harassment. Schools in the state have warned parents that children who bully others on sites like Facebook can be forced to hand over the passwords…
  7. uber

    Uber says Uber-commissioned study says Uber drivers make bank

    Uber has released a study it commissioned to show that its “partner drivers” — the contractors who ferry around Uber customers until chief executive Travis Kalanick uses his billions to replace ‘em with self-driving cars — make more money from less work than their cab-driving counterparts. In other words: Uber says an Uber study finds that drivers are well-paid. Success! [Source: Uber summarizing an Uber study into Uber]
  8. Stir M1 Desk

    The iPod-inspired Stir desk just got smarter, more customizable, and less expensive

    When former iPod designer J.P. Labrosse first announced his idea for a piece of intelligent office furniture with Apple-esque styling, there was understandable skepticism in the market. Would there really be demand for a $4,000 stand-up desk that “breathes” like a living creature? The answer, after nearly a year worth of rabid sales to individuals and Fortune 500 companies alike, appears to be yes. The Stir Kinetic Desk even won a Popular Science Innovation of the Year award,…
  9. facewhatsappbook

    The era of third-party apps is ending, as security risks prompt WhatsApp and Snapchat to shut down their APIs

    An era is ending. There was a time when many tech companies would allow outside developers to make applications based on a larger service. Developers rushed at the opportunity and made independent apps for Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other social tools. But, over the last few years, these companies have stopped supporting this software. Twitter was among the first to clamp down on that independent software. The company announced in 2012 that it would limit the number of users an…
  11. google-car-bumper-sticker

    Google’s plan to enter the wireless market is the precursor to a dystopian future

    Google is getting into the wireless business. Reports from the Information and the Wall Street Journal indicate that later this year the company plans to sell access to Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks, much like companies such as Boost Mobile or FreedomPop do. Some within the telecom industry fear Google’s entrance might exacerbate the price war currently taking place between carriers, which generally only differentiate their services by fiddling with price tags. (Most carriers offer “good enough” services in many…
  12. elsewhere

    Taxes and the sharing economy

    Fast Company has a piece on how many members of the so-called “sharing economy” — particularly Airbnb owners — face a far more confusing tax situation come filing time than these companies let on. [Source: Fast Company]
  13. secret

    Startups Anonymous: The Secrets of a Startup Founder

    [This is a weekly series that brings you raw, first-hand experiences from founders and investors in the trenches. Their story submissions are anonymous, allowing them to share openly without fear of retribution. Every Wednesday, we’ll run one new story chosen by Dana Severson, who operates StartupsAnonymous, a place for startups to share, ask questions, and  answer them in story-length posts, all anonymously. You can share your own story here.] We entrepreneurs keep a lot of…
  15. eBay

    Activist effect: eBay to be split into three parts, laying off 7% and giving Icahn another board seat

    The unbundling of eBay that began with a protracted dispute with activist shareholder Carl Icahn could see the company split into three units, rather than just two, management announced today. The move would result in a standalone PayPal, as well as independent eBay Marketplaces and eBay Enterprises businesses. “Enterprise is a strong business and a leading partner for large retailers, managing mission critical components of their e-commerce initiatives,” the company said. “However, it has become clear that…
  16. WAshDC

    Google, Facebook, and Apple all spent more than ever on lobbying in 2014

    In a sign indicating the ever-growing ties between Big Tech and Washington, Google gave $16.83 million to federal regulators and lawmakers last year, according to an analysis by Consumer Watchdog of records filed with the Clerk of the House. That’s up from the $14.06 million the company spent on lobbying in 2013, setting a new corporate record for the search giant. Among tech companies, Google led the pack in lobbying expenditures, edging out Comcast which spent $16.80 million. Facebook, Apple, and Amazon also spent…
  17. windows-10-free

    Microsoft begs consumers for another chance with free Windows 10 upgrade

    It looks like Microsoft wants Stockholm syndrome to be the main sales driver for Windows 10. The company has announced that the upgrade will be available to consumers for free — at least for the first year, after which Windows 10 users will be asked to pay for the operating system. That seems like it’s just long enough for Windows 10 users to forget that they never paid for the upgrade, while also convincing them that it’s better to…
  19. uber

    Uber reportedly raises $1.6B in convertible debt

    Uber is said to have raised $1.6 billion in convertible debt from Goldman Sachs’ clients. This is in addition to the $1.2 billion it raised earlier this year — and the $600 million it’s trying to convince hedge funds to add to that round. The funds (all $3.4 billion of it) are expected to be used to fuel Uber’s international expansion. [Source: Bloomberg]
  20. amazon-elements

    Amazon nixes its branded diapers and mobile payments app

    Amazon is pulling two of its more ambitious products — its line of branded eco-friendly diapers and a mobile payments application — after both received lukewarm receptions from its customers. The diapers brand, Elements, which was meant to show that Amazon could develop its own physical products and sell them to consumers at a lower cost than its competition, was around for under two months. Amazon is offering those who purchased the diapers a $25 gift card to its online marketplace. The…
  21. I heart marketing

    Shocase shuns traditional VC, raises $17M from individuals to build a marketers-only professional social network

    There’s no “right” way to fund a startup. That includes the decision of whether to bootstrap or fundraise, whether to raise from angels or venture capitalists, and whether to join an incubator, accelerator, or studio. The answer to each of these questions is contextual and unique to every company and founder. When Ron Young set out to build Shocase, a social network for the marketing industry, he deliberately avoided the VC community. His goal was to retain as much ownership in…

The Week in Review