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06.08.16 | 7:09 am

How messed up is Silicon Valley’s housing crisis?

Pretty messed up, as this report from the Wall Street Journal shows. When someone proposed building a new football stadium in Santa Clara, San Jose took "the rare step of publicly opposing the project, saying it would add far too many jobs, exacerbating the region's housing shortage." As Vox points out:

The really strange thing is that the city's officials aren't being irrational. The Silicon Valley region has added about 385,000 new jobs over the past five years and approved a bit fewer than 60,000 housing units. That means it really is in an upside-down economic universe where creating new jobs can be construed as bad for many existing residents of the area.

10.28.16 | 19 minutes ago

N.Y.C. becomes first city in U.S. to pass wage protection for freelancers

The "Freelance Isn't Free" bill aimed at protecting freelance professionals in New York City from clients who don't pay or pay late, was passed unanimously by the New York City Council yesterday. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign it into law, and it would go into effect 180 days later.

The law mandates that employers pay freelancers in full within 30 days after they render services. It is still not determined whether the protection will extend to freelancers residing outside New York who work for N.Y.C.-based companies.

One of the chief complaints of freelance professionals is getting paid on time. As many as 7 out of 10 freelancers encounter this costly problem, according to the most recent survey from Upwork/Freelancers Union. The survey estimates as many as 38% of New York City's workers are independent contractors.

10.28.16 | an hour ago

Facebook mimics Snapchat again with its new messaging camera

It's happening again—Facebook is mimicking Snapchat with its new product. Just like Instagram Stories was considered a copy of Snapchat Stories, Facebook is testing a new camera and messaging features that ape its rival, including facial masks and photos or videos that disappear if you don't respond within 24 hours, reports Recode. Facebook says that the new features let users "share moments as they happen and express yourself more" . . . and, they're hoping, have fewer reasons to use Snapchat.

[Image: Facebook]

10.28.16 | an hour ago

Morning intel: WhatsApp’s privacy policy in Europe, Tesla’s solar roof reveal

• European regulators have asked WhatsApp to stop sharing user data with Facebook, to ensure WhatsApp's new privacy policy complies with European laws. 

• Speaking of privacy: The FCC just ruled that AT&T, Comcast, and other broadband providers can no longer collect user data without getting permission—a big step forward for online privacy advocates. 

Soylent is reformulating its powder, after finding that the new version was inducing stomach issues in customers similar to those caused by Soylent's bars

• Both Microsoft and Apple released new computers this week. Here's how Apple's new MacBook Pros compare to Microsoft's new Surface Studio, according to Fast Company's Mark Sullivan, who said Microsoft was the clear winner in terms of innovation.

• ICYMI: Vine is dead. What platform will Vine creators flock to now? After the news broke, PornHub offered to buy Vine because, as VP Corey Price said, "six seconds is more than enough time for most people to enjoy themselves."

• Coming up today: Tesla is unveiling its solar roof at 5:30 p.m. PT, a first look at what will come of the Tesla-SolarCity acquisition. 

10.28.16 | 3 hours ago

Now Soylent is pulling its powder from shelves after customers get sick

First it was Soylent's Food Bars that were making customers vomit, causing it to halt sales and shipments. Now, it's the Powder that is making a "handful of customers" extremely ill, prompting them to pull the product from shelves, according to a blog post on Thursday. Soylent says that "for the past several weeks, we have worked aggressively to uncover why people were having these negative experiences" and has failed to uncover any "food pathogens, toxins or outside contamination." Yet it has been able to isolate the problem to Powder 1.6, since customers who tried the earlier versions didn't get sick. 

Soylent says it is reformulating the Bar and Powder, sharing its findings with the Food and Drug Administration, and expects both products to be ready in the first quarter of 2017. So far, it hasn't heard complaints about Soylent Drink or Coffiest.

[Image: Soylent]

10.28.16 | 12:13 am

In historic victory for online privacy, FCC rules that broadband providers need permission to track users

In a huge victory for internet privacy advocates, the FCC ruled on Thursday that broadband giants like AT&T and Comcast can no longer collect and give out data on their users without first getting their permission. Currently, those companies can track their users' activity online—including the websites they visit and apps they use—unless they're told to stop doing so.  The 3-2 decision was historic because it marks "the first time" the agency has passed such online protections, reports the New York Times. Previously, such privacy rules only applied to phones and cable TV.

10.27.16 | 11:39 pm

Pornhub just offered to buy Vine because “six seconds is more than enough”

Soon after it was announced on Thursday that Twitter was shutting down Vine, adult site Pornhub VP Corey Price expressed his interest in buying the platform. In a letter obtained by CNET, Price wrote Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that in light of Twitter's troubles, "you and your stakeholders could benefit from a cash infusion from the sale of Vine." He also promised to "restore Vine to its NSFW glory," adding that clips "of porn in six seconds is more than enough time for most people to enjoy themselves."

10.27.16 | 7:19 pm

Evening intel: Mac attack, GE’s big bet, hacker gets jail time for nude photo heist

• A day after Microsoft set the world ablaze with its much-hyped Surface product launch, Apple (remember them?) struck back by unveiling some shiny new MacBooks Pros.

• A hacker who stole nude photos of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, and Kate Upton is getting 18 months in prison. H/T Variety.

General Electric is in talks to buy the industrial-services company Baker Hughes Inc., according to those chatty "people familiar with the matter" who always seem to talk to the Wall Street Journal. The acquisition would be GE's biggest ever, WSJ reports.

• Alphabet investors are a little concerned about what Google's business model will look like—or sound like, rather—as the company shifts to voice-based services.

• And finally, what do fossilized dinosaur brains actually look like? See for yourself.

10.27.16 | 6:32 pm

Alphabet investors are worried about voice search push and talent retention 

On Alphabet's third-quarter earnings call, multiple investors asked how Google will continue to capitalize on search ads as it moves toward voice search through Google Home and Google Assistant products. If consumers are asking a screen-less device to look something up, there's no ad for them to see. What will voice ads sound like? Will they draw the same kind of money that display and video ads do? Google CEO Sundar Pichai says only that his team will be thoughtful about it. 

Another question that popped up: Is the Alphabet structure good for retaining top talent? Alphabet changed its stock-based compensation this year so that it could rise or dip based on the division's performance. Employees in some of Alphabet's more daring endeavors might not be keen to take on that risk. Questioning Alphabet's ability to retain key talent isn't off base. This year, Otto, a self-driving truck startup composed of 15 former Google Maps and autonomous vehicle project employees, was acquired by Uber for $680 million. On the call, Pichai said he's comfortable with how the company approaches creating a culture of innovation.

10.27.16 | 6:17 pm

Microsoft’s great week just got even better with LinkedIn’s 3Q earnings

Amid all the talk this week about Microsoft's sexy resurgence, the software giant just got more good news. LinkedIn's third-quarter earnings report—perhaps its last before Microsoft completes its $26 billion acquisition of the company later this year—shows all the arrows pointing in the right direction. More users. More revenue. What more could Redmond ask for? Below are some of the key highlights. 

10.27.16 | 4:17 pm

Amazon shares tumble as Q3 earnings miss expectations

Amazon's Q3 earnings results just went live, and the picture is not as rosy as analysts had expected. While quarterly revenue hit $32.71 billion, which beat expectations, the company missed on earnings per share. EPS was $0.52 compared to estimates of $0.78. Amazon shares are dropping in after-hours trading. 

Here's a rundown of the key numbers:

10.27.16 | 4:17 pm

Alphabet shares soar on better-than-expected earnings as mobile video strategy pays off

Much to the delight of investors, Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., reported earnings of $9.06 per share on revenue of $22.45 billion. Analysts were expecting EPS of $8.64 on revenue of $22.05 billion. 

"Mobile search and video are powering our core advertising business and we're excited about the progress of newer businesses in Google and Other Bets," writes CFO Ruth Porat in the third-quarter earnings statement.  

Operating expenses as a percentage of revenue were down 1% compared with Q3 2015. The company also appears to be mitigating expenses within its experimental catchall segment, succinctly titled "other bets." Revenue for its "other" category was up 39% year-over-year. Meanwhile, losses shrunk from $980 million in Q3 of last year to $865 million for Q3 2016. Alphabet's stock shot up 2% in after-hours trading before coming back down to this afternoon's closing price.  

10.27.16 | 3:28 pm

Today we got the touch-screen Mac that Apple wants to build

How long have people been wondering if Apple would ever build a Mac with a touch screen? Well, the question has been on some folks' minds for at least eight years. (I know because that's when Steve Jobs told me that adding touch to Macs didn't make sense.) And it currently provides fodder for Microsoft's Surface Book ads.

But the best way to think about Apple's new 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models, which dump function keys in favor of the Touch Bar, is that they're the company's first touch-screen Macs. It's just that the touch screen in question is supplementary to the main display and positioned where your fingers already spend most of their time.

In 2010, Jobs said that conventional touch screens are "ergonomically terrible" and that "your arm wants to fall off" after extended use of one. The Touch Bar integrates touch input into Macs without requiring Apple to backtrack on that stance. Which means it's classic Apple—a new feature that's both unique and a response to an industry trend.