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07.14.16 | 4:26 pm

Oof . . . Hillary Clinton makes a Pokémon Go joke

03.28.17 | an hour ago

House just voted to allow ISPs to sell your browsing history and data without notifying you

As expected, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted Tuesday evening to adopt a resolution to invalidate FCC rules that let consumers decide how their data is shared by internet providers. Once signed by the president (and it will be signed), the move would essentially give ISP giants like Comcast and Verizon free rein to collect and sell sensitive data about you without giving you a chance to say no. The vote was 215-205.

The broadband privacy rules were originally introduced under Obama with the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order, championed by then-chairman Tom Wheeler, and were approved in October 2106. 

The resolution, which was originally introduced by Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, passed the Senate last week. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee introduced the companion bill in the House.

03.28.17 | 4 hours ago

Maybe Travis Kalanick should’ve thought harder before leaving Trump’s advisory council

Uber revealed in its long-awaited diversity report today that 15% of its U.S. employees are here on H-1B visas. That is a significant portion of its workforce. To me, this revelation further calls into question whether CEO Travis Kalanick should have declined participation in President Trump's economic advisory council. He left the council earlier this year after critics took his participation as an explicit endorsement of Trump policies. Now, Trump has drafted an executive order that would change work visas in a way that would require companies to try to hire Americans first, though nothing has been enacted. Given Uber's stake in the foreign workforce, Kalanick's departure seems like a missed opportunity to weigh in on these kinds of programs.

Uber's ratio of employees with H1-B visas is comparable to that of IBM, one of the biggest receivers of permits for specialty foreign workers. Roughly 12,300 of IBM employees are in the U.S. on an H1-B visa, according to an annual report from

Photo: Flickr user Abhijit Bhaduri

03.28.17 | 3:09 pm

The YouTube ad backlash might not be hurting Google as much as you think

Shares of Alphabet dipped last week after companies like AT&T and Verizon started pausing their campaigns because their ads were being placed next to extremist YouTube videos, but the stock has already started to bounce back—even as brands like Starbucks, Walmart, and many others piled on. But not everyone thinks this is going to be a huge deal to Google in the end. Why? Because Google (and digital advertising giants in general) gets most of its ad revenue from small and mid-size brands. Citing research from GroupM estimating that only 30% of digital ad spending comes from big brands, analyst Michael Nathanson wrote last week that the digital ecosystem is especially resilient for that reason:  

"[W]hile major advertisers like P&G or agencies like Havas can publicly protest, they do not have the same impact on a Google or a Facebook as they have on a CBS or NBC. In other words, if a major brand marketer or agency moves money to TV and out of digital, the TV industry will see the benefit whereas the digital industry might not truly feel it." 

Worth noting: Nathanson's note was written before the big ad revolt led by PepsiCo and others that we wrote about on Friday. Plus, 30% is still a sizable chunk of revenue. But it's a reminder that Google has a lot of size to spare.  

Photo: Flickr user jm3 on Flickr

03.28.17 | 3:00 pm

Jack Dorsey’s Square expands into the U.K.

Square started offering its payments technology to small businesses in Canada in 2012, later adding Japan and then Australia to its geographic footprint. Now the Jack Dorsey-led company is looking to Europe: Today its signature credit card reader became available in the U.K., launching with a splash at a London bar. Square says it hopes to appeal to the 5 million U.K. businesses that don't yet accept card payments. 

03.28.17 | 2:23 pm

Payday loan rival Elevate Credit files for an IPO

Elevate Credit, a Texas-based online lender that serves non-prime borrowers, revived its IPO plans on Monday after a year of delays. The company had previously filed to go public last January, but abandoned the process, citing the souring market climate. 

Post-Snap, the public markets look much more inviting—and more rational. A strong showing on opening day would value Elevate at $487 million, over $100 million less than the valuation the lender was seeking last year.

Elevate plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange, offering 7.7 million shares at $12 to $14 each. 

03.28.17 | 1:46 pm

Uber’s diversity report highlights a resource group for its “Jewbers”

Uber has finally released its diversity numbers, something it had previously said it didn't want to do but has now acquiesced following weeks of scandal. There's a lot to dig into—most glaringly that the company is 63.9% male and 49.8% white. 

But there's another section of the diversity website that's a bit … bizarre. Uber highlights select resource groups for Uber employees who come from diverse backgrounds, writing a few sentences about each. There is "Women of Uber," which is self-explanatory; "UberVETERANs," again pretty clear cut; also "Los Ubers" for Hispanic and Latino employees. All that makes sense. 

Then there's "Shalom." Its goal is "to make the world a little smaller, by connecting Uberettos and Jewbers from all backgrounds."

There's also UberHUE for black employes. Both names seem like weird ways to broadcast the company's diversity efforts, especially since Urban Dictionary defines "uber jewber" as "someone that exudes extreme jew-like tendencies."

03.28.17 | 12:48 pm

Open Sesame: Google Home, Alexa, and Siri Can Open Smart Locks Now

Apple, Amazon, and Google are waging a war for voice assistant supremacy, but August, a leading maker of smart locks, is playing the role of Switzerland.

Today, August announced that by adding support for Google Assistant (after already supporting Apple HomeKit with Siri and Amazon Alexa) its lock is the first on the market to work with all three major voice control platforms. August lock owners can lock (or unlock) their doors or check their lock's status using Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri. 

03.28.17 | 11:22 am

Etsy and the future of home-based microbusinesses

Although Etsy isn't the largest platform for independent e-commerce sellers (1.7 million active users), it does attract a certain kind of person. And, as its 2017 U.S. Seller Census reveals, most of them are female, 97% run their shops from home, more than three quarters are one-person operations, and only 32% use it as a side hustle from their traditional jobs. These microbusinesses could be a significant driver of economic growth, and Etsy aims to foster that by announcing the creation of the first Congressional Microbusiness Caucus. It will be chaired by representatives from both parties with the hope of shaping public policy and clarifying the distinction between microbusinesses, which have fewer than 10 employees, and small businesses, which can have upwards of 500.

For more details, download the report – Crafting the Future of Work: The Big Impact of Microbusinesses.

03.28.17 | 10:59 am

Amazon’s drive-through grocery store gets a name, but still no date

Amazon's innovative grocery store concept, which we first reported about in February, is officially a real thing—it's called AmazonFresh Pickup. But there's still no date for a public grand opening.

Only available in Seattle for now (and initially for Amazon employees), the concept is simple but effective: You place an order online, drive to the store, pull into a parking space, and an employee loads the groceries into your car. The web page announcing AmazonFresh Pickup says that orders can be placed as little as 15 minutes prior to pickup.

Today's announcement comes on the heels of reports that the fully automated AmazonGo convenience store will delay its opening due to technical difficulties.

03.28.17 | 10:55 am

Here’s how much one industrial robot can affect U.S. employment

Researchers from M.I.T. and Boston University have released a report looking at the effect of industrial robots on wages and the U.S. workforce between 1990 and 2007. The results are rather disturbing. Per Bloomberg, industrial automation has had the most measurable impact on the lower half of the wage distribution and thus is probably contributing to income inequality in a real way. According to the researchers' estimates, one robot per 1,000 workers reduces the employment-to-population ratio by about 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by about 0.25-0.5%.

The full report is behind a paywall on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research, or you can read Bloomberg's analysis here.

Photo: ICAPlants via Wikimedia Commons

03.28.17 | 9:45 am

Watch Spider-Man swing into Avengers action in the new “Homecoming” trailer

Although we got our first glimpse of Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man back in Captain America: Civil War last summer, and took in a teaser for his feature debut last December, today's trailer is the most insightful look so far at Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film's poster, unveiled yesterday, prominently featured the Avengers building in the New York skyline. As promised, the Avengers, and Tony Stark/Iron Man, in particular, figure heavily in the trailer and the eventual movie as well.

03.28.17 | 9:43 am

Get ready to see commercials before your Periscope videos

That's right: Twitter said today it's adding pre-roll ads on Periscope videos, which means content creators will have more options to monetize their videos and viewers will have more time to do whatever it is they do during commercial breaks. Per a blog post by Periscope's group product manager, Mike Folgner, the ads will play on live-broadcasted videos and replayed ones. So it really is just like TV.  

"For creators and publishers that use Periscope to go live on Twitter every day, these pre-roll ads present a new way to monetize their video content. For marketers, they have a new source of brand-safe video advertising beyond what was previously available, including ads during live streaming programs from select premium publishers, Promoted Tweets with Periscope video and custom Amplify campaigns with premium content creators."

Read the full post here

Image: Periscope/Twitter