News & Analysis

  • After Scientology, Alex Gibney takes on Steve Jobs and… HOLY SHIT THERE’S RYAN PHILLIPPE

    I’m sitting on the corner of fake Obama’s desk trying to focus on a conversation and not be freaked out by fake Mark Zuckerberg, sitting just out of my peripheral vision, cross-legged with his fake famous bare feet with his fake laptop on his fake lap mugging like a real creep. Somehow less freaky is the fake Dalai Lama and the fake Martin Luther King standing on the other side of the room. They say to never meet your heroes. When it…
  • The Apologiator: President Obama takes responsibility, again. And again. And again…

    Obama did it again: After news broke that his drone assassins killed two Al Qaeda hostages in Pakistan, including American aid worker Warren Weinstein, the president took “full responsibility” and offered his “deepest apologies.” It’s an old habit of his, running around the country and the world, taking responsibility for everything, including things he had nothing to do with. Obama learned to take responsibility for things as a kind of motor reflex, and in doing so, he’s hollowed out whatever…
  • Oracle Wage-Fixing Class Action Suit Moves Forward

    San Jose District Court Judge Lucy Koh rejected Oracle’s motions to dismiss a class action wage-theft lawsuit. Last year, Pando broke the story on Oracle’s role in the illegal Techtopus conspiracy to fix hi-tech employees’ wages and mobility. [Source: Courthouse News]
  • German intelligence agency knew NSA was spying on European leaders as early as 2008

    Germany has been one of the harshest critics of the National Security Agency surveillance programs revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. Yet a new report from Der Spiegel indicates that the NSA spied on world leaders with the help of the country’s electronic surveillance agency, the German BND. This cooperation was revealed as the result of a parliamentary investigation into the relationship between the German BND and the NSA. The inquiry showed that the NSA…
  • Appery incorporates MetaCert security API

    Appery has included the MetaCert security API, which checks links in mobile applications to ensure that malware isn’t being served over the Web, into its “cloud-based platform with visual development tools and integrated backend services.” MetaCert revealed the security API earlier this year. [Source: Appery]
  • GoFundMe, the bigot’s platform of choice, said to be fundraising at $500M valuation

    GoFundMe is reportedly raising funds at a roughly $500 million valuation to help expand its “very profitable” — and controversial — crowdfunding platform. TechCrunch’s report on the funding round is full of important information. Accel Partners* could lead the round. The valuation could change because of the success GoFundMe found as a bootstrapped company. Nothing, as per usual, is set in stone until the official press release is sent out. Yet there’s something you won’t find in TechCrunch’s report on the funding: GoFundMe’s…
  • IVP raises $1.4B fund

    Institutional Venture Partners has raised a $1.4 billion fund — its largest to date — to invest in late-stage companies. The firm now has $5.4 billion of capital under management and reportedly plans to invest between $10 million and $100 million in 10 to 15 companies every year. [Source: Bloomberg Business]
  • TWC CEO: Now is our time

    “Now is our time. Together, we will continue to prove that Time Warner Cable can and will create value for our customers, shareholders, each other, and the communities we serve. I’m proud to stand alongside you and lead the way forward.”
  • Facebook is revamping its notifications tab to make you waste even more time on Facebook

    Facebook is experimenting with a new feature that makes it easier for its users to learn about birthdays, read local news, and find other items of importance. Mashable reports that the feature will be coming to mobile users in the United States first before it debuts worldwide. Facebook confirmed the changes to Mashable and said the feature is meant to bring “additional, relevant content about everything that might be helpful to know on a particular day” to its app.…
  • Apple security comes under scrutiny at RSA Conference

    Researchers are hell-bent on disproving the notion that Apple’s products can’t be hacked, manipulated, or screwed around with like competitive offerings. First, Skycure revealed at the RSA Conference that someone could create “no iOS zones” that crash iPhones and iPads by exploiting a bug in Apple’s software. As the security researchers explained in a blog post about the crippling hack: Envision a small device, which automatically captures any iOS device in range and gets it to…
  • Google Maps has an… ‘interesting’ easter egg

    Google Maps features an easter egg which shows the robotic character from the company’s Android logo urinating on the Apple logo. Google told the Guardian that the drawing was added via Google Map Maker, which allows consumers to contribute to the navigation tool, and will be removed. [Source: The Guardian]
  • Comcast officially abandons TWC deal

    Comcast has officially abandoned the $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable that would have given the combined company control over roughly 57 percent of the United States’ broadband market. [Source: Comcast]
  • EFF explains opposition to TPP

    “All of the leaked TPP chapters concerning digital policy confirm that this deal will harm users’ rights, in the United States and abroad. We cannot allow international deals that are decided through an opaque, corporate-dominated process to take hold and disempower current and future generations of Internet users. That is why we stand firmly opposed to the Fast Track bill—because it would eliminate the kind of oversight that we need to prevent such anti-user deals to pass in secret.”
  • ClassPass acquires FitMob

    ClassPass, the service which allows people to pay a flat monthly fee to access unlimited fitness and wellness classes, has acquired a competitor, FitMob. The two services will combine, though it’s not clear how the merged company will handle studios available on FitMob but not ClassPass. [Source: TechCrunch]
  • Snapchat ‘hack’ allows unlimited recording

    Snapchat imposes a time limit on recordings uploaded to its service. Now it seems that double-tapping the iPhone’s Home button while recording a video nixes this restriction, allowing people to upload content that runs as long as they want it to run, at least until the bug is fixed. [Source: The Verge]
  • KPCB seeks $973K for compensation of legal fees for Pao case

    Reuters reports that lawyers for Kleiner Perkins filed this morning to recover $973,000 in legal costs stemming from their successful defense of gender discrimination claims brought by Ellen Pao, indicating they would drop the matter if Pao agrees not to appeal the ruling. Pao has not indicated whether she plans to appeal. [Source: Reuters]
  • In defense of Chipotle, or: Why I paid $26 to have Postmates deliver me Chipotle

    Whenever you’re feeling alone and seeking the most efficient delivery system for two pounds of Mexican food, there is no substitute for the burrito. A true feat of culinary engineering, the burrito is the dietary equivalent of a hobo’s bindle, packing into a tight clump every item essential to living — as long as your idea of “the good life” requires only the simple joy of fleeting sensual pleasures. And indeed after ingesting one (or two?) of these carb-heaps the only endeavor worth immediately pursuing is to nap on a pile…
  • YouTube turns ten today. But will it survive the next ten years without losing its soul?

    Ten years ago today, a grainy, 18-second video of a young man at the zoo was uploaded to the Internet. The cinematography was suspect at best, placing the man in the center of the frame, obscuring the two elephants behind him — which would seem to defeat the purpose of the clip. After all, there’s nothing remarkable about the man in the windbreaker; elephants are much more interesting. Nor does he have anything profound to say about the pachyderms at his back, explaining that the cool…
  • San Francisco ballot initiative would require all public meetings be livestreamed

    This morning at the San Francisco’s Department of Elections, in the basement of City Hall, a ballot initiative was submitted that would change the way residents interact with their government. The first of its kind measure would compel the City to livestream all public meetings (those at City Hall and those offsite), would allow the public to submit virtual testimony during those meetings, and would force the City to make concrete time schedules for the hearing of agenda items that…
  • Twitter’s Highlights will sift through the service’s chaotic stream so you (and other companies) don’t have to

    Twitter has introduced a new feature called Highlights that makes it easier for Android users to view tweets, links, and other ephemera they might care about. Highlights attempts to gather these interesting miscellanies by analyzing who a Twitter user follows, where they’re located, and what’s currently trending on the site. It does this “up to twice a day” — not so often that people decide to turn off the feature, but often enough that users aren’t able to…
  • Comcast said to abandon TWC merger

    Comcast has reportedly decided to abandon its $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, according to a report from Bloomberg Business report informed by “people with knowledge of the matter.” Comcast could announce the deal’s end tomorrow. More on the merger’s troubles here. [Source: Bloomberg Business]
  • EU might create new tech industry regulator

    The European Union is considering the creation of a new tech industry regulator, the Wall Street Journal reports, to make it easier for European countries to keep American companies in check. The report notes that the proposal is “a long way from becoming policy.” [Source: WSJ]
  • Hulu gets Cartoon Network, Adult Swim exclusives

    Hulu has formed a partnership with Turner Communications that will provide it with exclusive access to programs from Cartoon Network and the more mature Adult Swim. It will also have access to shows from TBS, TNT, and others. The company still doesn’t have the original content of Netflix, Amazon, or HBO, but deals like this could still help it appeal to consumers. [Source: The Verge]
  • House passes cybersecurity bill that threatens privacy without clear security benefits

    The Protect Cyber Networks Act, a bill that would require companies to share threat information with the government, passed the House with a 307-116 vote on Wednesday. It will now head to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass despite widespread criticism of the bill’s ramifications and lack of clear benefits. The bill was drafted in response to data breaches at Target, Sony Pictures, and countless other companies. Instead of handling any threats themselves, the bill would require companies to…
  • Glow fertility app expands to men

    Glow, the mobile fertility application that focused exclusively on women when it debuted, has added new features that allow men to track their own fertility. It does this by asking questions — did you masturbate? were you exposed to any direct heat sources? — and scoring each response. [Source: Wired]
  • Google releases content recommendation tool

    Google has released a new content recommendation tool that suggests articles it thinks readers might be interested. It’s free for AdSense customers to use, and it’s supposed to help publishers increase their pageviews and, therefore, their advertising revenues. [Source: The Wall Street Journal]
  • Uber co-founder’s Operator wants to be your personal shopping assistant

    It’s hard for me to decide what to purchase. I’m one of those people who reads an untold number of online reviews, asks people for their recommendations, and still struggles to choose among the insane variety of available products. Based on what has been revealed of Operator, a new service that connects people with “experts” who find the right product for them, it seems like I might have found a way to avoid the crippling dilemma I face whenever I decide that it’s time…
  • Old media and new media get into beacon-based advertising with an $18M investment in Swirl

    Swirl, a company that is leveraging Bluetooth-enabled beacons to create a proximity-based mobile marketing platform for in-store experiences, has already made inroads with retailers. Stores such as Lord and Taylor, Urban Outfitters, and Timberland are using the beacon and sensor system to send real-time, location-based offers and discounts to consumers. Now, old and new media institutions alike are placing bets on the Boston-based company. Today, Swirl announced that it has raised $18 million in new funding from SoftBank Ventures,…
  • Everyone’s coming out against the Comcast-TWC merger

    Comcast and Time Warner Cable might not be able to ruin the United States’ chances of improving its slow, embarrassing Internet infrastructure after all. The Wall Street Journal reports that FCC regulators have recommended that the $45.2 billion merger be put into the hands of an administrative law judge. This would signal that the FCC believes allowing the two companies to merge wouldn’t be in the public’s interest, and make it harder for the deal to proceed. And the…
  • Facebook sees 4B video streams a day

    Facebook has become increasingly interested on the video streaming market, and it seems that its efforts have been paying off, with the company revealing in its first quarter earnings report that its users stream 4 billion videos every day. Yet the company has stayed mum on how exactly it plans to monetize those billions of video streams. [Source: Fortune]
  • Apple ships watches early

    It didn’t take long for Apple Watch preorders to slip into delivery times in late May or early June. But now it seems that people will be getting their devices sooner than expected: Apple is “working to fill orders as quickly as possible” and shipping preordered watches sooner than scheduled. [Source: BuzzFeed]
  • Funding Circle raises $150M at $1B valuation

    Here comes another unicorn. Peer-to-peer lending service Funding Circle has raised a $150 million funding round — bringing its total funding to $300 million — at a $1 billion valuation. Maybe it’s time we stopped calling them “unicorns” and started calling them “horses.” [Source: The New York Times]
  • Facebook says its latest News Feed change is for users. But as always, it’s to make Facebook more money

    I’m not precisely sure when, but at some point Facebook stopped being a mere social network and became the most important media company in the world. Moreso than every editor at the world’s biggest news conglomerates combined, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm holds enormous sway over what content digital audiences see. This is particularly true among millennials, 88 percent of whom say they get their news “regularly” from Facebook, according to a survey published last month by the American Press Institute. For that reason, publishers have become…
  • Court rules it okay to use AdBlock Plus, despite ramifications for the media

    A Hamburg court has decided consumers have a right to install the ad-blocking tool AdBlock Plus, even though it makes it much more difficult for the publishers to monetize their pageviews. The service responded to the news with a self-congratulatory blog post in which it says it wants to “reach out to other publishers and advertisers and content creators and encourage them to work with Adblock Plus rather than against us” by creating advertisements which are “actually useful and…
  • Facebook uses Hello to sneakily accomplish what Home never could (An analogy involving a frog)

    Facebook’s attempt to use the Android platform for its own purposes by releasing the Home launcher was an unmitigated failure. It changed the experience of using Android too much and offered users too few benefits. Now the company wants to use a dialer app called Hello to realize that same goal without alienating users or changing everything about their smartphone. Hello works like most other Android dialer apps. You download it, install it, allow it to take…
  • Google announces Project Fi

    Google has announced its long-rumored wireless service. Some key details: it only charges consumers for the amount of data they use; it works over WiFi as well as Sprint and T-Mobile’s wireless networks; it costs $20 for the basics and $10 per gigabyte; and it’s exclusive to Nexus 6 smartphones. [Source: Google]
  • Startups Anonymous: What Selling Drugs Taught Me About Business — Part II

    [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.] So it was late, I had…
  • Comcast draws scrutiny for Hulu ties

    The Justice Department is looking into Comcast’s relationship with Hulu, in which it acquired a stake when it bought NBCUniversal, and reports that the company told “its partners it would help make Hulu the nationwide streaming video platform for the cable TV industry.” [Source: The Wall Street Journal]
  • Amazon wants to put all kinds of junk in your trunk

    Amazon will now deliver packages to the trunk of your car — as long as you live in Germany, drive an Audi, and sign up for its experimental new service, that is. It works like this: A consumer orders something from Amazon, tells the company where their car will be parked during a certain time, and waits for an Amazon delivery person to deposit the item into their vehicle. Audi will offer one-time keyless access to the car’s trunk when…
  • Will Path sell off its social network to focus on Path Talk?

    Path might sell off its social networking application to KakaoTalk, a mobile chat service popular in Asia, “multiple sources familiar with the deal” tell Recode. The deal is said to be motivated by the popularity of Path’s social service in Indonesia, where the majority of its 30 million active users live. This would give KakaoTalk more influence in its most important market while also allowing Path to ditch a service that never gained much traction in Western markets. Path’s…
  • Jeb Bush loves the NSA surveillance programs

    “I would say the best part of the Obama administration has been his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced. Even though he never defends it, even though he never admits it, there has been a continuation of a very important service, which is the first obligation of our national government is to keep us safe.”
  • A man shot his Dell

    Here’s a unique way of trashing a computer: A Colorado Springs resident shot his Dell computer eight times after it showed the Blue Screen of Death multiple times. After he was told to go to court — the law isn’t fond of people unloading guns in populated areas — he said it was “glorious” and that he has no regrets. [Source: Ars Technica]
  • Zenefits reportedly raising at $3B valuation

    Zenefits is reportedly raising a new funding round at a valuation between $3 billion and $4 billion. It’s looking to raise “somewhere between $300 million and $500 million” from “the usual suspects” of late-stage financing. The company makes on-boarding and human resources software that is offered to businesses for free; it makes money from insurers. [Source: TechCrunch]
  • Senators ask regulators to deny Comcast-TWC merger

    “We believe that Comcast-TWC’s unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans—inhibiting US consumers’ ability to fully benefit from modern technologies and American businesses’ capacity to innovate and compete on a global scale.”
  • Facebook shifts News Feed algorithms

    Facebook has changed the algorithms that determine what shows up in its users’ News Feeds to emphasize posts from friends and demote items their friends have “liked.” The company warns that, because of this change, “post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.” [Source: Facebook]
  • Homeland security chief to RSA conference attendees: “Consider a tour of service for your country”

    The 24th annual RSA Conference is underway at San Francisco’s Moscone Center and, depending on your personal level of background paranoia, it’s either a dream or a nightmare. I’m posting this from the Press Working Room on the open WiFi network, so there’s every chance the security experts in attendance will have read these words before my editor does. Still, the conference is a far cry from DefCon or the Black Hat Conference — more collared shirts for one thing, and fewer…
  • Listen again to this week’s PandoLIVE

    In this week’s episode of PandoLIVE, Sarah and I were joined by Dan Raile to talk about Airbnb’s fight to the death with the City of San Francisco. We also discussed episode two of Silicon Valley and the upcoming RSA conference. And Indian food. And Destiny’s Child. Listen to the whole thing below…
  • As Moore’s Law turns 50, is there any way to save it from dying? Is it worth saving?

    April 19, 1965: Before Facebook, before Apple, and even before Intel, there was Fairchild Semiconductor. Launched in 1957 by the so-called “Traitorous Eight” — who left Shockley Labs after the unhinged paranoia of its founder William Shockley became too much for his engineers to take — Fairchild was the prototype for every Silicon Valley firm of the past five decades. Along with inventing the integrated circuit, which has arguably done more to shape modern living than any other invention of the past…
  • You shrink, they grow: The little-told story behind the un-sexy fitness tracker that actually works

    It’s rare to find an app that’s top of the App Store charts, funded by top VCs, in a hot category like the Quantified Self, is profitable, has rabidly loyal users, and that is almost never, ever talked about by the tech press. That’s MyFitnessPal. I use MyFitnessPal multiple times every day and have for years, but I didn’t read about it on a tech blog or see it on stage at a conference. I heard about it from my…
  • Most Americans don’t think government transparency matters a damn

    Americans aren’t convinced government transparency will help journalists do their jobs, make government officials more accountable, or allow citizens to have more influence over the government’s actions, a new Pew report claims. People want more transparency; they just don’t think it will change much. Pew sought to discover how Americans view the government’s efforts to make more data about its activities, its assessments of various industries, and other areas of interest available to the public. It mostly found…
  • Homeland Security’s heading to Silicon Valley

    The Department of Homeland Security plans to open a satellite office in Silicon Valley from which it can work more closely with technology companies to “improve cyber security” and “recruit people to work for the government.” It’s not clear when the satellite office will open. [Source: The Daily Beast]
  • Twitter bolsters anti-harassment tools

    Twitter will now automatically “identify suspected abusive Tweets and limit their reach” in an effort to prevent harassing messages from reaching their intended targets. Its support team will also be able to prevent some users from accessing their accounts for a limited time in what BuzzFeed refers to as a “time-out” for harassing other users. [Source: BuzzFeed]
  • Atlassian acquires BlueJimp

    Atlassian has acquired BlueJimp, a French startup behind the Jitsi video-conferencing tool, to improve its HipChat workplace communications tool. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Atlassian has committed to continuing development the open source version of Jitsi. [Source: TechCrunch]
  • Indiegogo project creator sued by his own PR firm

    The man behind an Indiegogo project that raised around $5.3 million for a low-cost electric bicycle has been sued… by his own public relations firm. The firm claims it was never paid for the work it did on the project, and Yahoo reports that the creator has been accused of fraud because the claims made about the bike are dubious at best. [Source: Yahoo]
  • Aereo to pay $950K to cable companies

    Aereo will have to pay $950,000 to the cable companies that led to its demise. That’s actually a small amount compared to the $99 million copyright claim the broadcasters made. The settlement will resolve all litigation between the startup and cable companies. [Source: Bloomberg Business]
  • Uber partners with Capital One to give cardholders a discount and hook them on ride-hailing

    Capital One will give cardholders a 20 percent credit towards the cost of using Uber’s ride-hailing service until April 2016, and cover the cost of new users’ first two rides until the end of June 2015, according to a Bloomberg Business report. The partnership is the latest of Uber’s efforts to combat the idea that its service is too expensive for the average consumer. The most obvious of those efforts is the attention paid to UberX, UberTaxi, and…
  • There’s a vulnerability in 1,500 popular iPhone apps that allows attacks on your data

    Researchers have discovered that more than 1,500 popular applications carry a vulnerability that could allow man-in-the-middle attacks to snoop on their data. Your iPhone, or at least the apps on it, might not be as secure as you thought. The vulnerability was caused by a bug in an older version of the AFNetworking tool used by many popular applications. It was introduced in January and fixed on March 26, but developers continue to use a compromised version of…
  • Latin American activists join the chorus of criticism against Zuckerberg’s Internet.org

    India isn’t the only country to greet Internet.org with mounting skepticism –activists across Latin America are also suspicious of the Facebook-led effort to bring affordable but limited Internet access to the developing world. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a collection of criticisms from activists in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and other Latin American countries. Many of them focus on the same claim: Internet.org threatens net neutrality. Here’s how the EFF summarizes those complaints: Internet.org users…
  • China’s Cybernaut launching $200M venture fund with Russia’s Skolkovo Foundation

    China is moving into Russia’s hi-tech sector, filling in as western investors flee. Cybernaut, a Chinese fund with $5 billion in assets, has announced a $200 million venture with the Skolkovo Foundation, a state agency in charge of creating the Silicon Valley of Eurasia outside Moscow.  The new fund will invest in companies “in the sphere of IT and robotics as well as space technology and telecommunications.” [Source: Moscow Times]
  • Baltimore police use stingrays thousands of times

    Baltimore police have used stingrays, the devices that emulate cell towers to collect information from a target’s phone, more than 4,300 times, the Baltimore Sun reports. This disclosure is one of the largest in the nation, as stingray use is often done in secret, at least partly because law enforcement officials sign non-disclosure agreements before using them. [Source: The Baltimore Sun]
  • Netflix prepares to crush your childhood memories

    Netflix has confirmed that it has ordered a 13-episode season of “Fuller House,” the “Full House” sequel that nobody ever asked for. The show will include some cast from the original series, and will debut in 2016. [Source: The Verge]
  • Google tweaks search algorithms

    Google has tweaked its search algorithms to favor websites with mobile-friendly designs and punish those which refuse to join the rest of the world in the 21st century by updating their website to work better on smartphones. The move is likely to be welcomed by consumers, but businesses affected by the change are losing their collective shit. [Source: The New York Times]
  • Future Pulitzer categories

    Earlier today the finalists for the 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced. Over the years, the awards have resisted change, despite the web, social media, and other cultural and technological movements having led to new, innovative, and often suspect storytelling forms and practices. But change is inevitable, even for the most traditional institutions. We can only imagine what the Pulitzer categories might look like ten years from now, after big brands and big social media firms have all but overtaken the…

  • Unicorn v. Leviathan: The battle between Airbnb and San Francisco rages on

    “Brian Chesky’s audacity is fabulous..his obsession with detail and practicality doesn’t confine or compromise his dreaming but rather makes what could so easily be noble but abstract ideas functional and real.” – Jonathan Ive, Time 100 Last week, as Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People of 2015′ issue was slotted onto magazine racks across the nation’s groceries and airports, I got to see the some of that global influence in action. The place was San Francisco City Hall, and the influencer…
  • LIVE NOW: This week’s PandoLIVE (Listen LIVE)

    It’s Monday, it’s 5pm Pacific time so that must mean it’s time for another episode of PandoLIVE. Tonight we’re talking about Airbnb’s tussles with the city of San Francisco, what we learned from last night’s second episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley and the latest news from our upcoming Pandoland conference. Listen live right here.
  • Judge throws out evidence gathered by agents posing as Caesars Palace Internet repairmen

    It’s a scene right out of Oceans Fourteen: The FBI deliberately cuts off Internet service to a gambler’s hotel room in order to force him to call for maintenance service. The repair man, of course, is actually an undercover agent who, acting without a warrant, uses his visit to the room to surreptitiously gather evidence of the suspect’s illegal gambling operation. Unfortunately for the feds, things don’t work the same in real life as they do in the movies. Where…
  • 92B pounds of electronic waste thrown out last year

    Researchers claim some 92 billion pounds of electronic waste were thrown away last year. As the folks at Gizmodo put it: “That’s more than seven Great Pyramids’ worth of crapped-out Blackberry phones, forsaken Toshiba TVs, and human misery.” Consumers in the US were responsible for about 16 billion pounds — roughly 17 percent — of that waste. [Source: Gizmodo]
  • “It’s sexist, but it’s about friendship”: Episode 2 of “Silicon Valley” Season 2, reviewed

    Like last year, I’m reviewing every episode of Silicon Valley, Season 2. Read last week’s recap here. There’s one gag from last night’s Silicon Valley everyone will be talking about this week — and by “everyone” I mean a handful of wantrapreneurs and people like me who are paid to write about the show. That gag is aptly named, “Bro.” Bro is an app developed by the cousin of Pied Piper’s sometime CTO Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani). It lets users send “Bro” to anyone else who…
  • Reed Hastings: Netflix and HBO are like the Yankees and the Red Sox

    “It will be like the Yankees and the Red Sox. I predict HBO will do the best creative work of their lives in the next 10 years because they are on war footing. They haven’t really had a challenge for a long time, and now they do. It’s going to spur us both on to incredible work.”
  • Google search history is now downloadable

    Ever wondered how often you searched for vague medical symptoms, popular television shows, or places to eat? Now you’ll be able to find out, because Google has made it so anyone can download their personal search history as a bunch of handy-dandy JSON files. [Source: Google Operating System]
  • Synopsys to acquire company that discovered Heartbleed

    Synopsys announced today that it plans to acquire Codenomicon, a security startup whose researchers independently discovered the Heartbleed bug that undermined much of the Web’s security. Terms weren’t disclosed. [Source: Synopsys]
  • Uber to face discrimination lawsuit

    A federal judge has ruled that Uber must face a discrimination lawsuit brought against it by consumers who claim the company’s policy not to allow service dogs into drivers’ vehicles is unfair to blind people. Uber has two weeks to issue a response to the complaint. Another transit startup, Leap, is facing a similar complaint because it ripped out the wheelchair accommodations built into the busses purchases for its service. [Source: Reuters]
  • BuzzFeed deleted posts due to ‘advertiser complaints’

    Gawker has published an internal BuzzFeed memo showing that of the 1,112 posts the site has deleted, three were removed due to “advertiser complaints.” The posts were pulled for different reasons: one because it criticized a Twitter account run by BuzzFeed at the time; one because Axe body spray complained; and one because it was written by someone who had previously done work for Microsoft as part of BuzzFeed’s creative division. [Source: Gawker]
  • Spark, Forerunner, Base and more: Announcing the first batch of Pandoland 2015 startup judges

    Since announcing details of Pandoland’s $100k of real investment startup competition we’ve had a flood of entries from entrepreneurs hoping to join us in Nashville in June. We’re seeking the ten very best companies in the world who’ve raised less than $1 million in capital so far and are serious about taking their business to the next step. If you haven’t submitted yet, the deadline is fast approaching. Nowhere else will you’ll find such an incredible panel of judges, all on one stage,…
  • Russian hackers exploit vulnerabilities in Flash, Windows, to spy on gov’t officials

    Researchers at the FireEye security company have issued a report stating that Russian hackers took advantage of vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Windows to conduct surveillance on military contractors, diplomats, and other targets. FireEye identifies the hackers as members of APT 28, an “advanced persistent threat” believed to have been active since at least 2007, and outed in October. It reached this conclusion via “correlation of technical indicators and command and control infrastructure” between APT 28’s efforts and…
  • Twitter expands DMs

    Twitter has made it easier for people to send direct messages to each other. Users can now choose to accept DMs from anyone, and messages can be sent to large companies (the New York Times offers United Airlines as an example) even if the #brand isn’t following Joe Schmo. One of the worst aspects of Twitter’s service, in other words, just got a little more tolerable. [Source: NYT]
  • Apple wants to stop climate change

    “We don’t want to debate climate change. We want to stop it. […] We’ve made real progress in reducing the impact of the things we control directly—our offices, retail stores, and products. But there’s still a lot of work to be done to reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chain. And it’s our responsibility to lead that effort.”
  • Google updates Android Wear

    Google has updated Android Wear, the software platform used by its partners to create wearable products, with new features meant to help it compete with the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch. Among the updates are a handwriting recognition tool to convert squiggles to emoji, an always-on watch face, and more. [Source: Google]
  • Comcast and Time Warner try to convince the DOJ that competition is bad for consumers

    Comcast and Time Warner Cable want to become one, and both companies will meet with Justice Department officials to find “potential remedies” to concerns about the proposed $45.2 billion merger, according to the Wall Street Journal. The meetings come shortly after Bloomberg Business reported that antitrust lawyers at the Justice Department plan to advise against the merger “out of concern that consumers would be harmed” if the companies band together. Funnily enough, both companies have recently…
  • Mt. Gox lost most of its Bitcoin years before it shut down in 2014

    A report claims that most of Mt. Gox’s bitcoins disappeared long before the beleaguered exchange shut down in 2014 and was embroiled in controversy. Mt. Gox shut down after it neared bankruptcy, allegedly lost almost $365 million worth of Bitcoin, and its chief executive used the exchange’s funds to pay for his rent, a 3-D printer, a robot, and a racing version of the Honda Civic. As WizSec, the self-proclaimed Bitcoin security specialists investigating Mt. Gox’s shutdown, said…
  • Joke gets researcher barred from flight

    A researcher who joked about hacking the computer on a United Airlines flight was detained by the FBI after he got off the plane and, later, prevented from boarding another flight later that weekend. Turns out that neither the federal government nor commercial airlines appreciate jokes about messing with the machinery on board a flying death machine. [Source: Ars Technica]
  • Nokia’s heading back to the consumer market

    Nokia plans to return to the consumer market in 2016, according to Recode, which also reports that the company is working on virtual reality technology. It previously abandoned the consumer market after a disastrous partnership with Microsoft convinced it to tie the Windows Phone albatross around its neck and leap into the ocean of indifference, where it drowned. [Source: Recode]
  • Tesla almost sold to Google

    Bloomberg Business reports that Elon Musk negotiated a deal with Google chief executive Larry Page to sell off Tesla, which was nearing bankruptcy, in 2013. Tesla then posted its first quarterly profit, and it remains independent today, a little over two years after the negotiation. [Source: Bloomberg Business]
  • The War Nerd: The Art of Turf War

    There’s a war on now in South African cities, but no one’s calling it what it is. South Africans, mostly Zulu, are attacking shops run by foreigners, driving the aliens (mostly Zimbabwean, Somali, Nigerian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi) out of their neighborhoods. You can call these “riots” if it makes them seem smaller and safer, but the truth is, this is war. This is what war looks like, most of the time. Like most wars, this one is undeclared, chronic, unresolvable,…
  • Your Saturday viewing: Here’s Pando’s full interview with SoulCycle co-founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice

    Last month in New York, our guests for PandoMonthly were SoulCycle co-founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice. In a wide ranging interview, hosted by Pando’s Sarah Lacy, the two founders told how the company went from a business plan scrawled on a napkin to the hottest exercise trend in America. Even if you have no ambitions to build a health or fitness startup, the interview is packed with insight on how to build a consumer brand, how to scale without losing your…
  • With $120M now in the bank and an ex-Hulu CEO at the helm, Vessel is a video startup that might just work

    As the streaming content space becomes more and more crowded — with new offerings from Apple, YouTube, and Tidal (LOL) joining existing players like Spotify and Deezer — many platforms have looked to differentiate themselves by offering exclusive content. After all, this is basically the entire value proposition of Tidal. And it would be very surprising if Apple, which has already created huge windfalls for artists — and itself — through iTunes exclusives, did not incorporate a similar model for its upcoming revamp/overhaul…
  • Alas, poor Snapchat, I knew thee well – The unicorns are dying, according to Owler

    Owler, a tracking company that offers a service it calls competitive intelligence, is stepping out of its comfort zone of monitoring companies in similar industries, and, quite frankly, veering away from the entire concept of intelligence, with a new report that claims to look into the future to predict which unicorns are going to fail. Surprisingly, the company’s morbidly titled “Dead Unicorn Study” is not a work of Brony fan fiction but a breakdown of the privately held companies worth…
  • eBay is first Valley giant to comply with Kremlin server law

    The Kremlin has been tightening the screws on Russia’s once-anarchic Internet space, and Pierre Omidyar’s eBay has reportedly become the first Silicon Valley company to step forward and agree to the Kremlin’s top demand: storing Russian users’ data on servers in Russian territory, where it can be more easily accessed by the state security services. According to the Russian daily Kommersant, eBay’s head of Russia operations, Vladimir Dolgov, met earlier this month with the deputy head of
  • Don’t fear the down round: What HBO’s Silicon Valley gets right and wrong about negotiating a lower valuation

    While the unevenness of the jokes in last Sunday’s season two premiere of HBO’s Silicon Valley, “Sand Hill Shuffle,” really can’t be debated, the viability of one of the episode’s major plot lines definitely warrants further examination. No, it’s not the plot line about how plunking down your testicles on a conference room table will get you a better valuation. (Let’s hope that’s not behind the recent unicorn wave…Some of us have eaten lunch in those conference rooms.) It’s the…
  • Justice Department lawyers to recommend block of Comcast-TWC merger

    Antitrust lawyers at the Justice Department are planning to recommend that regulators prevent Comcast and Time Warner Cable from merging. They are said to be planning this recommendation “out of concerns that consumers would be harmed” if the companies merge. [Source: Bloomberg Business]
  • FTC solicits ‘sharing economy’ opinions

    The Federal Trade Commission has asked consumers to weigh in on the so-called “sharing economy” and how regulators can balance their needs with allowing companies like Uber and Airbnb to develop their services. The FTC will also examine the sector in a workshop. [Source: The Washington Post]
  • Oregon tries to lure Google Fiber

    Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed a bill that “exempts ‘gigabit’ Internet service like Google’s from a thorny property tax that dates to the 1970s and was originally intended for microwave towers” in an effort to lure Google’s Fiber service to Portland and nearby municipalities. [Source: Ars Technica]
  • Zuckerberg: It’s better to have free Internet access than to have a ‘free’ Internet

    Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has responded to recent allegations that the company’s Internet.org initiative potentially undermines net neutrality. In a Facebook status update (where else?) Zuckerberg claims that Internet.org has already brought connectivity to more than 800 million people across nine countries. At least, that’s the number of people who can use the service, not the number who have used it. The update follows criticisms from tech companies across India, several of which have severed relationships with Internet.org in the last…
  • Dutch prosecutors investigate Uber

    Dutch prosecutors are investigating Uber because it has allegedly provided “an illegal taxi service in violation of a court order.” The company was told to suspend its UberPop service in December; since then, “dozens” of drivers are said to have offered “illegal taxi services” to consumers. [Source: Reuters]
  • Twitter’s general counsel talks abuse, policies, and more

    “Twitter is composed of the expressions of hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life and from around the planet. At times, that expression is uplifting, inspirational, thought-provoking and, indeed, world-changing. At other times, it can be confounding, frustrating, provocative and even profoundly offensive to a great many of our users. All of this is a reflection of the diversity of people and opinions around the world.”
  • Vessel raises $57.5M

    Vessel, the streaming video service meant to offer early access to YouTube stars’ videos founded by Hulu’s former chief executive, has raised $57.5 million. The company previously raised $75 million in June 2014; its service made its public debut just a few weeks ago. [Source: The Guardian]
  • Instagram takes a smarter stance on the female body, but it still has work to do

    Instagram has updated its community guidelines to make it clear what will be allowed onto its photo-sharing service and what’s likely to be deleted on sight. The rules are similar to before, but an Instagram spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the “language is just stronger” than it was in older versions. The updated guidelines make it clear that Instagram won’t tolerate harassment, and will also take the high road when it comes to weed, allowing people
  • Match.com puts passwords at risk

    Match.com has put “millions” of passwords at risk by failing to properly implement HTTPS on its home page, which could allow hackers to execute man-in-the-middle attacks against the dating service’s users. The issue was discovered in early March; it still hasn’t been fixed. [Source: Ars Technica]
  • SEC looks into LA school’s iPad program

    We already knew the Los Angeles United school district’s iPad program was a disaster. Now we also know that the Securities and Exchange Commission has made an informal inquiry into the program meant to determine if it “complied with legal guidelines in the use of bond funds.” [Source: Los Angeles Times]
  • UberPool is better for the environment…than Uber’s normal service

    Uber claims the UberPool ride-sharing service saved an estimated 120 metric tons of carbon emissions in San Francisco between February 20 and March 20. That estimate is based on a few assumptions: that most UberPool riders were in a Toyota Prius, that each of those vehicles is getting its advertised mileage, and that every rider would have taken different routes had they ridden separately. Here’s Uber’s math (emphasis theirs): The miles savings estimate for San Francisco is the…

The Week in Review