News & Analysis

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    Sources: Andy White, Vegas Tech Fund partner, latest to go in Tony Hsieh’s housecleaning

    I’m hearing from various sources close to the Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Downtown Project that Andy White, a high profile partner in the Vegas Tech Fund, has been “let go” from the fund. I’m using those quote marks until I can get on the record confirmation of the circumstances behind White’s departure but the unconfirmed word in Vegas is that White was the latest firing in Hsieh’s downtown bloodletting. The departure comes just weeks after the surprise shuttering of…
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  3. sickweather

    “Follow Ebola” is everything wrong with the Internet

    Have you tweeted the word “Ebola” over the past few weeks? If so, then chances are you’ve received an automated @ reply from an account called Follow Ebola. The Ebola bot message reads, “hey <your name> I see that you are tweeting Ebola, check out zpr.io/GDgy for up to the minute #Ebola info.” So that’s pretty annoying, right? It’s bad enough to spam people, let alone to spam them over a serious public health crisis. But it gets worse.…
  4. elsewhere

    Amazon’s “sitting on” $83M worth of unsold Fire Phones

    Amazon is sitting on $83 million worth of Fire Phones, the well-received but little-understood smartphone it released earlier this year, Ars Technica reports. At this point the idea that the Fire Phone is a flop isn’t empty speculation — it’s a plain fact. [Source: Ars Technica]
  5. the-fog-of-twitter

    Twitter’s last minute Twitpic save and the fragility of online data

    The strange tale of Twitpic’s closure is finally over. According to Twitpic CEO Noah Everett, Twitter has acquired the moribund startup’s domain name and photo archives to make sure all the images shared via the service will remain available, allowing a large chunk of Twitter’s history to survive after Twitpic’s (delayed) demise. It’s good to know that so many images won’t disappear because the company that hosted them was unable to sell itself off before now. But I can’t…
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  7. Head in sand

    Why WalMart’s decision to shut out fight Apple Pay will backfire (updated)

    (* See update below *) Much was made over the weekend about measures taken by several large retailers, including CVS, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven and the grandaddy of them all, WalMart*, to avoid supporting Apple Pay. The retailers, which have their own mobile payment solution in the works, elected to disable NFC support on the payment terminals in their stores, rendering Apple Pay, and also Google Wallet and all contactless credit and debit cards useless. It’s a frustrating move, no…
  8. facebook platform

    In an attempt to increase its influence over the media, Facebook makes publishers an offer they should refuse

    Last week, I wrote that all the handwringing over Facebook’s influence on the media distracts from the amount of control Google holds over the world’s information, allowing the company to continue its efforts to manipulate the press and assert control over the media without protest. Now that criticism of Facebook seems a little more appropriate. The New York Times reports that Facebook has approached publishers with a proposal to send stories directly to its service, allowing them to be saved to…
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    FCC plans $10M fine for wireless carriers

    The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine YourTel and TerraCom $10 million for leaving their customers’ Social Security numbers, addresses, driver’s licenses, and other personal information insecure by storing it on a public server from 2012 to 2013. [Source: FCC]
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  11. Overheard

    “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”

    — Elon Musk

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    The biggest CIA-drug money scandal you never read

    With the release of the new Gary Webb film “Kill The Messenger” and the sudden renewed interest in what goes on in that dark underbelly of the US Empire — drug running, money laundering, death squads, assassinations of lives and of reputations — I’m reminded of the incredible life and death of Nicholas Deak, the CIA’s Cold War banker hailed in Time magazine as “the James Bond of the world of money” until the mid-1980s, when his…
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    Ex- tech banker runs for Governor by almost drowning a child, vowing not to actually fight children

    In a moment of carelessness while watching TV last night, I failed to hit the TiVo’s fast forward button quickly enough and ended up watching a campaign ad for a Neel Kashkari, a challenger to California Governor Jerry Brown. Thank God I did. As a tech-friendly candidate, Mr Kashkari has a lot going for him: As this gushing Wall Street Journal profile tells us, he previously worked as a Goldman Sachs banker, specializing in researching technology companies. He’s also…
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  15. Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 6.11.37 PM

    Embattled Whisper CEO suspends editorial staffers as investigation into privacy scandal continues

    seAs the Guardian newspaper continues its investigation into Whisper’s use of user data, CEO Michael Heyward has suspended members of his editorial team, pending completion of a full inquiry into the allegations. The suspensions, which sources say include Editor in Chief Neetzan Zimmerman, come as Senator Jay Rockefeller has asked for Whisper executives to attend a meeting with his powerful Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. In a statement issued late Friday afternoon, Heyward appeared to confirm…
  16. tech-tv-entertainment

    Qello is quietly building a “Netflix for music films” — and maybe building the future of digital video

    So what will be the big buzzword of 2015? I’m placing my bets on “OTT.” OTT stands for “Over-the-top” and it refers to video and audio streaming services that don’t directly involve a cable company. For example, when HBOGO announced its standalone service this week, the savvy set of observers called it “going OTT.” We know the big players like Netflix and Hulu. But there’s one company that’s quietly becoming a major force in the OTT landscape and it’s helping to shape the…
  17. Alice in Wonderland

    Why I don’t believe in “cinematic” VR

    [Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Armando Kirwin, a former film maker now working on the future of entertainment. The post went through PandoDaily’s usual editorial process. Mr. Kirwin was not paid for this post.] I’m not an expert on cinema. I helped make about a dozen Hollywood films, worked with a VP at Paramount Pictures, and eventually joined Chad Hurley (founder of YouTube) at MixBit. Lately lots of people are talking about virtual reality being the future of cinema,…
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  19. wannabe-jihadis

    The War Nerd: How do you deal with wannabe jihadis? An upgrade to business class

    KUWAIT CITY—It’s been a busy week for Canada’s home-grown jihadis. Monday, October 20: Martin Rouleau, a French-Canadian convert to Islam, ran down two Canadian soldiers with his Nissan Altima, then led the RCMP on a chase that ended when he rolled the Nissan, came up out of the wreck waving a kitchen knife, and got himself shot to death “like he wanted to.” Wednesday, October 22: Michael Zehaf-Babeau, also Quebecois and a recent convert, shot a soldier standing…
  20. music-trouble

    Pandora just posted record revenues. So why is its stock down 41 percent since March?

    For years, Pandora has been lumped with Spotify when talking about the profitability struggles of streaming music services. But while it still hasn’t been able to turn profits quarter-in and quarter-out, yesterday’s earnings statement may mean the service has finally turned a corner. In its third financial quarter, Pandora’s adjusted profits doubled to 9 cents a share on its largest revenues yet. While the company still posted an operating loss of $2 million, that’s a huge improvement over the previous quarter when…
  21. Slap on wrist

    JustFab settles deceptive marketing claims with CA district attorneys, pays $1.8M fine

    JustFab is on the short list of the most valuable private tech companies in LA. But the subscription ecommerce giant’s rise to this lofty perch hasn’t been without its share of controversy. The company added to that list today with the announcement of a settlement with two California district attorneys following allegations of deceptive marketing. The issue, according to a joint statement released today by the District Attorney’s (DA) offices of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz, centered around…
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