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05.25.16 | 1:30 pm

Americans sent at least 260 million sexts last year

The CTIA released its annual data usage survey this week, reporting that Americans used 9.6 trillion MB of data in 2015 (more than double what they used in 2014). The survey also found that Americans sent more than 2.1 trillion texts in 2015. Naturally, we said to ourselves, yes, but how many sexts did Americans send in 2015? We dug up this APA study from 2015 that found that 82% of Americans sexted at least once in the past year, and then did a bit of math… 

09.30.16 | 6:47 pm

People are already lining up to go to Mars, and SpaceX thinks that’s “so awesome”

In a tweet earlier today, the head of comms for Elon Musk's SpaceX said the company has received hundreds of emails from people volunteering to go to Mars since it unveiled its ultra-ambitious Earth-to-Mars road map earlier this week. Of course, I'll commit to anything by email, too, as long as it's far enough off in the future. That reminds me—don't I have a wedding tonight?  

09.30.16 | 5:12 pm

Empire just launched its own fragrance

Timed to coincide with the third season of the show, Empire just launched its own fragrance. Fans of the hit Fox show can smell like Cookie (rose, orchid, and violet) or Lucious Lyons (bergamot, amber, tobacco). Naturally, the bottles are ridiculously blinged up. 

Fox has been very creative in its Empire beauty collaborations, releasing a branded Deborah Lippman nail polish set and a CoverGirl collection.

09.30.16 | 5:03 pm

The cable TV industry isn’t exciting enough for a trade show anymore

After 65 years, the INTX trade show—formerly called the Cable Show—is shutting down, according to DSL Reports. The annual confab of cable industry executives, engineers, and technicians was apparently suffering from a drop in attendance. The event tried to spice things up in 2014 by rebranding itself as the Internet and Television Expo.

Thirty years ago, cable television was the apex of media technology, but it feels decidedly less buzzy in the age of apps, smartphones, and Elon Musk's rocket ships.

Here's a farewell note from INTX's website.

09.30.16 | 4:40 pm

Where are all the SpaceX naysayers?

It was no surprise that space fans were pumped about Elon Musk's plans to go to Mars, which he delineated at the International Aeronautical Congress in Mexico on Tuesday. (Full disclosure: I was among the enthralled.) Since then, there has been plenty of excitement following the talk, with noted nerds from Bill Nye to Neil deGrasse Tyson expressing enthusiasm for the endeavor. 

Even NASA offered support, saying in a statement, "This journey will require the best and the brightest minds from government and industry, and the fact that Mars is a major topic of discussion is very encouraging."

But there's been a notable lack of skepticism for a plan that still relies on such wild speculation. For instance, how would humans survive the massive amount of radiation they would be exposed to on the journey to Mars? How will the spaceship return back to Earth? (An important question, since the first explorers might have a reason not to stay.) And importantly, who is going to fund the endeavor? 

Any critics out there, feel free to hit me up on Twitter at LizSegran

09.30.16 | 4:33 pm

How to hold an anti-Airbnb parade—New Orleans style!

New Orleans residents opposed to Airbnb-style short-term rentals are planning to call attention to the issue on Sunday with a time-tested Crescent City tradition: a neighborhood parade featuring the Treme Brass Band.

Vacation rentals have been controversial in the tourist-heavy city, where the City Council is slated to vote on legislation regulating such offerings on Thursday. Many residents saying they raise rents and pull houses and apartments out of an already tight housing market, while filling residential neighborhoods with rowdy visitors. Others say Airbnb and similar sites enable them to continue to afford rising rents, flood insurance payments, and other costs in the gentrifying city.

09.30.16 | 4:00 pm

Emergency alerts just became better—but there’s still work to be done

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to increase the character count of wireless emergency alerts (WEAs)—such as the one New Yorkers received last week—from 90 characters to 360 characters. The FCC also tweaked the rules to fine-tune geotargeting, offer Spanish-language alerts, and allow for embedded links and phone numbers.

But the alerts still won't include embedded photos, though it seems this is something the FCC is working on. One approach that might work better is an app-style interface, according to Bob Iannucci, a Carnegie Mellon professor doing research on improving WEA. As I wrote recently

The CMU team is advocating for a new interface that would better reflect how we consume information in this day—say, an app with a stamp of approval from Homeland Security ensuring the messages are authentic. "Once it is cast as an app, the possibilities of having it evolve more quickly and incorporate rich media and so on becomes something that's much more realizable," Iannucci said. WEA alerts could then be made to look more like what users are familiar with, like a web page.

Read more

09.30.16 | 3:48 pm

Afternoon roundup: Costco to pay for selling fake Tiffany rings, Philippines president likens himself to Hitler

• California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that allows cars with no drivers or driver controls to test in certain areas, a big gain for autonomous vehicle companies. 

• Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte seemingly compared himself to Hitler, saying he'd be "happy to slaughter" 3 million drug addicts. 

• Newsweek's website was hacked and temporarily inaccessible in the wake of a cover story on Donald Trump's alleged violation of the Cuba embargo.

• Enterprise data storage company Nutanix had a strong IPO yesterday, raising $238 million in its NASDAQ debut.

A federal jury says Costco should pay up to the tune of $5.5 million after selling customers fake Tiffany diamond engagement rings. Buyer beware.

09.30.16 | 3:11 pm

GlaxoSmithKline to pay $20 million fine over bribing of foreign officials 

Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay $20 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after an investigation into whether a Chinese subsidiary bribed foreign officials in the form of gifts and travel to increase product sales. 

The company didn't confirm or deny the findings, but agreed to provide status reports to the SEC for the next two years. 

09.30.16 | 2:43 pm

California approves testing of driverless cars—this time, no driver required

The state previously allowed autonomous-car testing on public roads, provided a driver was in the driver's seat and the car was equipped with a steering wheel, a brake pedal, and an accelerator. Now, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that permits testing of cars without drivers or driver controls in specific locations. 

Specifically, the tests will be permitted "only at a privately owned business park designated by the [Contra Costa Transportation] authority, inclusive of public roads within the designated business park, and at a GoMentum Station located within the boundaries of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station."

[Photo: Google]

09.30.16 | 1:17 pm

Newsweek suffers “massive” cyberattack after publishing investigative report about Donald Trump

Newsweek was the victim of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack last night after it published a critical article about Donald Trump, reports Talking Points Memo. The magazine's cover story this week detailed how Donald Trump's companies allegedly violated the Cuban embargo. 

Yesterday, after the article was published, Newsweek began experiencing the attack, which made the site temporarily inaccessible. Fast Company reached out to the magazine for more information. Editor-in-chief Jim Impoco provided this statement: 

Last night we were on the receiving end of what our IT chief called a "massive" DDoS (denial of service) attack. The site was down for hours at a time when Kurt Eichenwald's story detailing how Donald Trump's company broke the law by violating the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, was being covered extensively by prominent cable news programs. Our IT team is still investigating.

The website seems to be back up and running

09.30.16 | 1:05 pm

This week in fintech

Money tech can be hard to follow, iterative, and boring. To spare you from having to read about it yourself, we put together a list of some of the launches, funds raised, and headlines that hit this week: 

MasterCard launched a developer API to give businesses the ability to accept MasterPass, its digital payment knockoff of Apple Pay. 

• Online-only bank Simple re-emerged into public consciousness with the launch of shared accounts

• Millennial-focused investment app Robinhood debuted a new $10 monthly membership that gives customers extended investment hours and fast access to additional capital. 

• International remittance app Remitly raised $38 million and is expanding further into Latin America.  

• ClearExchange, the company that big banks are partnering with to compete with peer-to-peer payment app Venmo, signed on Citibank this week. So far, the peer-to-peer network includes Wells Fargo, J.P Morgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Bank of America, and Capital One.  

09.30.16 | 12:47 pm

Nutanix IPO offers glimmer of hope amid drought

For Nutanix, an enterprise data storage company, the IPO delay was worth the wait. After putting its public offering on hold last winter, after market conditions grew stormy, Nutanix raised $238 million yesterday in its Nasdaq debut. The San Jose, California-based company, which had initially priced the 14 million shares it hoped to sell at $13-$15, reset prices at $16 based on investor demand.

That promising public start may convince other technology companies to move forward with IPO plans, especially as Nutanix is not yet profitable. The company is growing fast, with revenue up 84% to hit $445 million for the fiscal year ending July 31, but continues to operate at a loss. Wall Street's warm reception suggests that other high-growth companies that have yet to turn a profit may benefit from a similar welcome. 

During peak trading today Nutanix shares rose to $29.80, valuing the company at over $4 billion.