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09.28.16 | 6:00 am

Facebook’s Slack rival will reportedly launch next month

The social network is about to launch its business-focused vertical Facebook at Work, reports the Information. Work, which was first announced back in 2014, will look similar to Facebook's personal offerings, but does not connect with a user's personal Facebook account. Instead Facebook at Work users will get a new Work profile and their News Feeds will allow them to join work groups, send messages, and collaborate—just like Slack. It will also be available on both web and mobile—just like Slack. Companies will reportedly be charged based on how many employees they have using the service.

[Image: Facebook]

12.02.16 | an hour ago

McKinsey predicts that affordable luxury will be big in fashion next year

According to McKinsey's recent State of Fashion Report, the affordable luxury market will continue to grow next year, as consumers trade down from the luxury market. We've seen the growth of this segment this year, as direct to consumer brands that make high quality products without the middleman markup–such as Everlane, Cuyana, and Oliver Cabell–gain in popularity.

Stay tuned for our own predictions about the fashion industry that will be released later this month. 

12.02.16 | an hour ago

Trump Tower security costs are “unsustainable” for New York City, officials warn

Two members of the New York City Council are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to use federal funds—not city resources—to pay for ongoing security and protection costs at his Manhattan residence. Trump's wife and son will continue to live at the Fifth Avenue high rise instead of moving to the White House during Trump's forthcoming term—a decision city officials say creates an undue financial burden on New York taxpayers and residents, particularly those who live in the neighborhood. Nearby businesses are also being negatively impacted.

Melissa Mark-Viverito, the council's speaker, released the following statement.

"His refusal to base transition operations out of the nation's capital has placed an unprecedented financial and logistical strain on our city and its first responders, and it is simply unsustainable. I commend the NYPD for their professionalism, but it is time for a guarantee from the President-elect that their work is not being performed at the expense of City safety elsewhere and in the future."

Mark-Viverito and fellow council member Dan Garodnick launched a petition yesterday. It already has more than a thousand signatures. 

12.02.16 | 2 hours ago

This university is sending out acceptance letters via Snapchat

Forget waiting for an acceptance letter in the mail. Potential students of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay can find out if they've been admitted to the University via Snapchat.

When a student gets an acceptance letter, they have to either screenshot the message or send the university a selfie back to let them know they've received it.

Students will still, of course, receive a traditional welcome packet in the mail, but if they're one of the members of Gen Z that's always on Snapchat, they'll likely see their acceptance there first.

[Photo: Flickr user Maurizio Pesce]

12.02.16 | 3 hours ago

Washington, D.C., officials release district’s first “inclusion report,” aim to create 5,000 tech jobs

There's San Francisco, New York, Boulder, Boston—and now, Washington, D.C. The nation's capital wants to become the country's next tech hub, but the district, where black and latino residents make up 46% and 10% of the population, respectively, also wants to serve as a national model for those other cities when it comes to building an inclusive technology economy.

Led by D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, the city's Innovation & Technology Inclusion Council this week released its first "Pathways To Inclusion Report," in which it highlights the strengths and weaknesses of its own tech industry with regard to diversity and equity. Among the council's findings: The percentage of black households with both a computer and broadband access is significantly lower than that of white households (59% vs 96%), exposing one of the hurdles for getting young students involved and interested in STEM activities and careers. Other similar lacks in resources have led to disparities in the demographic make-up of D.C.'s 30,000 tech jobs:


As a way forward, the council calls for more exposure to tech-focused internships for high school and college students, better skills-training programs at community colleges, and more access to capital for minority-owned small businesses, among other recommendations. Read the rest of the report here.

12.02.16 | 10:55 am

Leaked financials indicate that Zenefits is hemorrhaging money: report

BuzzFeed has reportedly obtained Zenefits's financial documents and things aren't so rosy. According to the report, the insurance/HR software startup saw a loss of $204.5 million in the last fiscal year, and another $100 million in the first six months of this fiscal year. During the first half of this year the company's reported revenue was $35.3 million. 

Zenefits has been at the heart of an almost yearlong scandal involving (among other things) employees systematically skirting insurance laws and regulations, which resulted in its founder stepping down. The company's turnaround hinges on dramatically increasing revenue, which is the one silver lining in the leaked docs: "Zenefits's revenue is increasing more quickly than its costs," BuzzFeed's William Alden reports, with an increase in 62% compared to the previous year and costs only increasing 12%. 

In response to the report, a Zenefits spokesperson told BuzzFeed, "We are proud of what we have accomplished this year." Read the company's full reply here.

Recently, Zenefits CEO David Sacks sat down with Fast Company and talked about how he approached the turnaround. "I know that turnarounds in tech are very hard—and they almost never work," he told us. You can read the entire interview here

12.02.16 | 10:46 am

Danish prosecutors file charges against Uber for allegedly contributing to taxi law violations

Danish prosecutors have filed charges against Uber's European hub in the Netherlands for allegedly aiding in the operation of illegal taxi services, according to the Denmark Local. The new complaint against Uber comes after the Eastern High Court upheld a ruling that said a 28-year-old Uber driver was running an illegal taxi company. That Uber driver was part of a larger case involving six taxi drivers. 

In response to the charges, Uber's European representative Gareth Mead, issued the following response to the Local:

"We welcome the opportunity to clarify our legal position to the prosecutor. The Uber app will continue to be available in Denmark while this process is ongoing, helping create opportunities for 2,000 drivers and their families in Copenhagen. More than 300,000 Danes have signed up to rideshare with Uber so it is encouraging that the government intends to modernise regulations, something that's urgently needed for the benefit of citizens."

12.02.16 | 10:29 am

These private luxury pop-up hotels take glamping to a whole new level

Blink, a new service from the high-end travel company Black Tomato, allows you to stay in a custom-built hotel anywhere in the world. You can pick a spot anywhere in the world—from the Moroccan desert to a salt flat in Bolivia—and Blink will set up a dome, tent, yurt, or tropical villa especially for you. There will be beds, your personal choice of bath amenities, and room service. And of course, there will be a staff on hand to make sure you're happy. 

It takes between three to five months to turn your dream into a reality. And while the prices are variable, it could cost anywhere from $65,784 for a party of six to spend three nights in Morocco to $177,600 for six to spend spending four nights in Bolivia. 

Read more on Bloomberg

[Image via Black Tomato]

12.02.16 | 10:20 am

DigitalGlobe releases first super-high-res pic from its newest satellite

DigitalGlobe sent a newly improved satellite called the WorldView-4 into orbit last month. The company produces high-resolution imagery for the government, companies across many industries, and NGOs. 

Today, it releases its first public photo from this new satellite. It is a close-up of the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Shibuya, Tokyo, which will be the site of the Summer Olympic Games in 2020. 

[Image via DigitalGlobe]

12.02.16 | 10:06 am

Unemployment rate drops to 4.6%, its lowest level in nine years

The U.S. economy created 178,000 jobs in November as the unemployment rate fell to 4.6%, its lowest point since August 2007, the Labor Department said today. 

That growth compares to job gains of 142,000 in October and 208,000 in September. 

The news sets the stage for a hike in interest rates when the Federal Reserve board meets on Dec 13-14; such an increase would be the first raise in a year. 

12.02.16 | 10:04 am

AT&T feels good about Time Warner merger after a chat with Donald Trump’s transition team: report

As a candidate, Donald Trump vowed to block the proposed mega-merger between AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc. on the grounds that it would put power "in the hands of too few." But after speaking with the president-elect's transition team recently, the telecom giant is now confident that the merger will pass regulatory muster, according to the Financial Times, which cited sources close to the company. 

Trump, of course, has been a fierce critic of CNN, which is part of Time Warner's Turner unit, so it would stand to reason that he would resist doing the network any favors. But then—let's be honest—his political rise was fueled in no small part by copious coverage on cable news, and as the old saying goes, one good turn deserves another.   

12.02.16 | 8:45 am

Morning intel: Trump appoints Mattis, veterans join #NoDAPL protestors 

Donald Trump has picked retired Marine general James N. Mattis as secretary of defense, which he announced last night in Ohio, during the first stop of his victory tour. Trump called Mattis "the closest thing we have to General George Patton."

Hundreds of veterans have started joining the Dakota Access Pipeline protestors; a total of about 2,000 veterans are expected to make their way to the protest camp. Their plan is to create a human wall to protect the protestors from the police.

Facebook is reportedly working on an automated AI tool that would flag nudity, violence, and other offensive content in Live videos. Facebook had already been testing an automated system for detecting extremist content in videos. 

• In a talent acquisition, Twitter has snapped up mobile app startup Yes, Inc., hiring its six employees and naming Yes CEO Keith Coleman Twitter's new VP of product.

• Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down yet again after more than 20 years in the role. Schultz, who was originally appointed CEO in 1987, made the decision to leave Starbucks back in 2000 but was persuaded to return 8 years later. 

12.02.16 | 7:00 am

The Obama administration has released an app that lets you tour the White House using augmented reality

The new app, called "1600" (as in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, get it?) allows anyone with a smartphone and a dollar bill to tour the White House in augmented reality. No, the app doesn't cost a buck; instead you use the dollar bill to initiate the virtual tour by pointing the app's camera at it. Announcing the app in a blog post, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said:

Today, we're excited to share a new way for you to experience 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—and all you need is a smartphone and a dollar bill. Check it out now: Download the app, point your smartphone camera at a dollar bill, and you'll see an interactive, 3D video of White House pop up–narrated by yours truly. As you experience a year at the White House–from the Easter Egg Roll to a State Arrival Ceremony–you'll see that even as seasons and people change, the White House endures as an institution of American democracy.