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09.23.16 | 12:44 am

Oculus founder said to fund pro-Trump, anti-Clinton meme machine

In Silicon Valley, most of the big money people are backing Hillary Clinton. Billionaire VC Peter Thiel, who backs Trump, has been one of the main exceptions. Now, it seems, add Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey.

Whether trying to be stealthy, or perhaps wanting to be discovered, Luckey, according to the Daily Beast, has been putting his Facebook wealth—Zuck's company bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014—behind an organization that promotes pro-Trump/anti-Hillary "shitposting" memes.

"The 24-year-old told the Daily Beast that he had used the pseudonym 'NimbleRichMan' on Reddit with a password given to him by the organization's founders," the publication wrote. "Luckey insists he's just the group's money man—a wealthy booster who thought the meddlesome idea was funny. But he is also listed as the vice-president of the group on its website."

Oculus did not respond to an after-hours Fast Company request for comment. 

07.28.17 | 2 hours ago

Would you pay Twitter $99 per month for shameless self-promotion? 

Recently, there's been talk of Twitter opting for a subscription model to capitalize on its existing base of power users. After all, for a company that has repeatedly struggled to maintain consistent user growth—as Twitter exhibited yet again during its Q2 earnings yesterdayit may be a fool's errand to keep banking on user growth as a revenue stream

In the meantime, Twitter rolled out a feature that appears to be a step in that direction: An invite-only beta program that automatically promotes tweets and profiles for a monthly fee of $99. Twitter will amplify tweets at random, which means it requires no extra work from users. The intended audience here seems to be brands and small businesses—but you can imagine power users or #thinkfluencers being willing to shell out for some self-promotion. 

07.28.17 | 2 hours ago

Tobacco stocks just went up in smoke after the FDA proposed cutting cigarette nicotine

Tobacco companies got a big surprise today when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that it was planning to make their product less likely to kill people. The FDA is working to cut the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, Bloomberg reports. The logic behind the move is pretty straightforward: If nicotine is no longer addictive, people are more likely to stop smoking, which would make them less likely to die from smoking-related causes.

"The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes—the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement announcing the move. 

As the FDA notes, tobacco use causes more than 480,000 deaths every single year in the U.S., and costs society nearly $300 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity. Also, it's pretty gross.

The surprise move sent tobacco company stocks plummeting, because Wall Street knows that if cigarettes are less addictive people might actually stop buying them, which is bad for profits (but good for the people who are not dead).

07.28.17 | 2 hours ago

Here’s a map of the most popular business jargon in every state (all of it is terrible)

Do you work where the "magic happens" (Hawaii)? Or are you more in the "eye of the tiger" zone (Michigan)? Textio, the service that uses AI to help recruiters write better job postings, scoured its database of a quarter-billion job listings to surface the most prevalent corporate clichés by state—then came up with this map:

Click to enlarge

07.28.17 | 3 hours ago

With Starbucks closing Teavana, maybe tea just isn’t the next craft coffee

Everyone is always looking for the next big thing. A few years back, "craft tea" was supposed to be just that. Boutique tea shops began popping up around the world, and it seemed to have a vibe similar to the rise of third-wave coffee. Kevin Rose, for example, has long been a lover and advocate for tea.

But yesterday Starbucks announced it was closing all of its 300-plus Teavana locations, which may be a harbinger for this niche market. In its earnings report, Starbucks explained that "mall-based Teavana retail stores have been persistently underperforming."

Despite the fact that business is booming for the coffee giant, the segment that accounts for the 300-plus Teavana stores saw a decrease in revenue compared to 2016, as well as a marked increase in operating loss. In short, tea isn't the hip moneymaker Starbucks thought it could be. While this case is specific to Starbucks, I myself have anecdotally noticed the decline of hip tea-only vendors, while a market report from September of last year warned that the specialty tea market in the U.S. and Canada was "sluggish."

Of course, it should be noted that the tea market is huge—in fact, it's global consumption numbers are much bigger than coffee, according to Statista. But the craft part of it, which has received much fanfare for years, may just not be the next big thing. At least not for Starbucks. 

[Photo: Starbucks]

07.28.17 | 3 hours ago

Watch an international team of astronauts get launched into space

Hopefully NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency like each other, because they are about to spend at least the next four months together living in very tight quarters on the International Space Station. The new roommates are getting launched into space at 11:41 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA reports, and we can watch the Real World: Space Station unfold live on NASA TV this morning. (Watch here.)

Before fighting over closet space and fridge shelves at the ISS, the trio will travel for six hours in the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft before docking to the space station's Rassvet module at 6 p.m. ET, with NASA TV coverage of the docking beginning at 5:15 p.m. They will be greeted by Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer (who probably already called dibs on the good bunks). 

07.28.17 | 10:28 am

Microsoft has an AI-powered answer to Google Photos

Two years after the launch of Google Photos, Microsoft is building similar artificial intelligence features into its own Photos app for Windows 10. A preview version of the app, spotted by Windows Central, can show photos of specific people using facial recognition, and can also search for categories, colors, months, and other generic terms. Microsoft hasn't officially announced these features, but they'll likely arrive later this year with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Even then, Microsoft will have more catching up to do. Last month, Google Photos added photo printing, suggestions on who to share photos with, and a way to automatically share all your photos with a trusted contact. And as of May, Google's service had reached 500 million users.

07.28.17 | 10:08 am

Three things to watch for when the Tesla Model 3 launches tonight

In just a few short hours, the keys to the car industry's future will be handed over to the 30 customers who were first in line to buy Tesla's new Model 3. The car is Tesla's first foray into affordability, with the initial price point starting at about half the cost of Tesla's previous models, or around $35,000—although with an expected $7,500 U.S. tax credit, that price falls to $27,500. Tesla boss Elon Musk has made a few announcements about the new compact car that will seat five adults, but he may have a few surprises up his sleeve. Here are three things to watch for when the Tesla 3 launches tonight: 

1. Autopilot

Model 3s will come with the hardware for Autopilot—Tesla's partially self-driving system—already installed in its cars, but it's unclear when that feature will be fully functional and which features customers will have to pony up additional funds for. As Bloomberg notes, Musk has hinted that some of the most exciting self-driving features, like automatic lane changing, would be available around the time that the Model 3 was ready for launch (aka now). 

2. Impressive Efficiency

Some sleuths over at Electrek think they've found the average efficiency of Tesla's vehicles buried in its website coding—237 Wh per mile, which would make the Model 3 extremely efficient if not one of the most efficient electric vehicles in the U.S. The car has a range of 215 miles (346 kms) on a charge.

3. New Model S and Model X

Bloomberg thinks that Tesla might not only unveil its Model 3, but also roll out updated versions of its Model S and Model X cars. Adding new features to their more expensive models is a way for the company to make sure potential buyers are still drawn to their ultra-luxury cars. 

Setting up for Model 3 handover tomorrow night …

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

07.28.17 | 9:53 am

Sir Patrick Stewart, I forgive you for being in the zero-rated “Emoji Movie”

To no one's surprise, Sony's animated Emoji Movie is being savaged by critics. It currently holds a zero rating on Rotten Tomatoes and will likely join the ranks of such box-office bombs as Monster Trucks. From the moment I first heard that Patrick Stewart lent his enviable voice to the film as a poop emoji, I was disappointed—so disappointed, in fact, there is no emoji to express it. 

But Patrick, I forgive you. I watched you explore the galaxy through seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, saw you bring the house down in Becket's Waiting for Godot, and respect the hell out of your Shakespearean chops. This a small blemish in an otherwise stellar career, and I know great things are on the horizon. Make it so, Patrick.   

[Photo: Maximilian Bühn, CC-BY-SA 4.0]

07.28.17 | 9:31 am

Emerson Collective’s Laurene Powell Jobs takes a majority stake in the Atlantic

Laurene Powell Jobs, founder of the Emerson Collective, is buying a big chunk of the Atlantic magazine and website. Current owner David Bradley announced the change in a memo, which was obtained by Axios. The two will be co-leading for a while and then Powell Jobs will take the reins, according to the announcement. The deal affects only the Atlantic publication—Bradley will continue to lead other subsidiary properties, including Government Executive Media Group and Quartz.

07.28.17 | 9:03 am

Uber CEO watch: GE’s Jeffrey Immelt is reportedly on the short list of candidates

With HP's Meg Whitman having publicly withdrawn herself from the Uber pool (pun intended), the list of people being considered to take over for Travis Kalanick is getting shorter. Per Bloomberg, that list includes fewer than six people at this point. Among them is Jeffrey Immelt, the current chief executive of General Electric, who said last month he is stepping down from the multinational conglomerate after 16 years.   

07.28.17 | 7:52 am

Hackers will try to infiltrate voting machines this weekend, but in a good way

The Def Con hacking convention in Las Vegas will host its first "hacker voting village" event this weekend in which hackers will get their hands on more than 30 pieces of election equipment ranging from voting machines to digital poll books, reports Reuters. They'll then be able to do anything they want to the machines from trying to inject malicious code into them to literally tearing them apart to mess with the hardware inside. The goal of the event is to raise awareness about how elections can be manipulated through hacking.

07.28.17 | 5:27 am

Meg Whitman shoots down Uber CEO rumors

The HP CEO took to Twitter to make it clear she's not going anywhere.