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07.07.16 | 12:00 am

PayPal expands its lending business, looks more like a bank

PayPal's small business lending arm, Working Capital, is growing fast, doling out $1 billion in loans in just the last eight months, bringing its total amount loaned to $2 billion. The news comes just after American Express revealed its interest in building a quick-assessing loan platform aimed at small businesses. 

Small business loans platforms are hot, because traditionally such loans have been difficult to get approved. Big data and good user experience design have ushered in new technology that makes getting small business loans a lot faster and easier. But much of the innovation isn't coming from the big banks. That might be because the underwriting process is still largely manual, says Darrell Esch, head of small business lending at PayPal.  "They can do that profitably with a two or three hundred-thousand dollar loan," he said. But with smaller loans it's not practical. 

"Micro business lending is still untapped," said Esch. "It's the tech companies that can innovate around and find a way to do it affordably." Companies like PayPal, Square, and Kabbage are pushing this movement. And as they grow,  they're going to look a lot more like banks and thus represent more of a threat to the traditional players. 

10.28.16 | 32 minutes ago

Leaked Army video shows a future of urban hellscapes

The Intercept got hold of an Army video that warns of the complexities of maintaining military control in the cities of the future. The megacities of the future (population >10M), the video asserts, will be more densely populated and socially and politically complex than anything we know today. People will be stacked up—people living in high-rise apartments, at street level, and below the streets—with distinct political and social systems at each level. 

The Intercept seems to make fun of the video, but I don't see much to laugh about. Sure, the use of third-world imagery of overpopulation and political strife used by the producers (which remain anonymous) is something we've seen before. But the reason those images are relevant is because they depict present-day cities that are already well on their way to the megacity dynamic described in the video. 

10.28.16 | 32 minutes ago

Evening intel: Anthony Weiner is back, Airbnb is mad as hell  

• Once again, the Democratic Party has a reason blame all of its ills on Anthony Weiner. It turns out, those newly discovered emails that the FBI is interested came from a device shared by Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. 

Airbnb struck back against a hotel property executive who bragged on an earnings call that New York's new anti-Airbnb law would be great for business, Fortune reports.  

• Ivanka Trump is not sweating the haters who are boycotting her brand over her father's politics.

• Campbell's Soup is getting into the meal delivery business through an investment in Habit, a company that takes blood work from its users and puts them into a category called a "nutritional type."

• And finally, Space X is closer to identifying the cause of last month's rocket explosion, which destroyed a Facebook satellite. One of the rocket's pressurized oxegen-tank helium containers was breached. 

10.28.16 | 3 hours ago

Through an investment, Campbell’s Soup is getting into meal delivery

Earlier this week, I wrote about a new startup called Habit that is offering a meal delivery service. What's unique about this company—and also somewhat controversial—is the fact that it takes blood work from its users, and puts them into a category called a "nutritional type." 

This company, which has $30 million in the bank, is funded by Campbell's Soup. That certainly suggests that Campbell's has an interest in the $120 billion meal delivery space, although it's worth noting that the company acquired the founder's prior company—Plum Organics—in 2013.

Read the full article, with comments from Campbell's Soup, here.

10.28.16 | 3 hours ago

Ivanka Trump brushes off the #GrabYourWallet boycott

Last week, our Anjali Mullany published an in-depth profile about how Ivanka Trump is balancing her business with her father's presidential campaign

There's a growing contingent of women who are vocally boycotting her brand. The hashtag #GrabYourWallet has been circulating on Twitter, playing on the sexually charged comments her father made in the leaked Access Hollywood video. Women are vowing to boycott stores that carry her products, including Nordstrom and DSW.  

Today, on Good Morning America, Ivanka brushed off the boycott, saying, "Well, the beauty of America is people can do what they like, but I prefer to talk to the millions, tens of millions of American women who are inspired by the brand and the message that I've created … People who are seeking to politicize it because they may disagree with the politics of my father, there's nothing I can do to change that."

10.28.16 | 3:02 pm

Keep Collective, Stella & Dot’s sister brand, has been an unexpected runaway success

In September 2014, Stella & Dot's founders launched Keep Collective, a brand that allows women to create their own personalized keepsake jewelry with ornaments. They basically made charm bracelets–the beloved accessory of little girls everywhere–sophisticated enough for grown women to wear. As part of the company's mission to create entrepreneurial opportunities, the brand invites women to sell these products to make a commission. 

In the first year alone, Keep drove nearly $50 million in sales, and this year, it has already brought in $85 million and is on target to make a total of $100 million in 2016, Blythe Harris, the company's chief creative officer tells Fast Company. This translates to more than $25 million in commissions for sellers. 

The brand has been successful by tapping into its existing customer and seller bases, and understanding that there was a place in the market for this kind of personalized jewelry at a reasonable price point. (Pieces start at $7.)

10.28.16 | 1:56 pm

What Tim Cook said about putting touch screens on laptops in 2013

At an Apple press event in 2013, Cook stood in front of a slide of a road sign with a tangle of black road. He was talking about his competitors in the personal computer market, like Microsoft.

"The competition is different . . . they are confused," Cook said. "They chased after netbooks. Now they are trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs . . . "

Well, the only way to turn a PC into a tablet is by giving it a touch screen. And Apple did just that by adding the Touch Bar to the new MacBook Pros announced yesterday. It could go further and add a full-on touch screen to Macs in the future. Cook continued:

"Who knows what they'll do next."

Microsoft answered that question this week when it got so confused that it introduced a desktop PC (the Surface Studio) with a touch screen display.

10.28.16 | 1:55 pm

Here’s the letter the FBI just sent to Congress, saying it uncovered new evidence in the Clinton email probe

In a bombshell announcement that is sure to shake up the presidential campaign, the FBI said that it will conduct a new investigation of emails from Hillary Clinton's private server. In a letter to members of Congress, FBI Director James Comey said that the bureau had recently "learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation" while looking at an "unrelated case." Noting that he had just been briefed on the new evidence on Thursday, he continued: "I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation." 

Back in July, Comey came under fire from Republicans after announcing that the FBI had closed its investigation into the matter with no charges, especially because he said that Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of emails. 

As soon as the letter was revealed this afternoon, Republican nominee Donald Trump told a cheering crowd of supporters in New Hampshire that Clinton was "corrupt" and informed them of the development. And after weeks of complaining about a "rigged" system set up to defeat his candidacy, Trump added: "It might be not be as rigged as I thought. I think they're going to right the ship, folks. I think they're going to right this yet."

Here is the letter that Comey sent to Congress today:

10.28.16 | 1:06 pm

Facebook offers advertisers a way to exclude ethnic groups

It's hard to say exactly how marketers might use the feature, but according to ProPublica, Facebook offers them a way to exclude serving ads to people in specific "ethnic affinities."

If this tool is used to discriminate against people seeking housing, ProPublica wrote, it would be illegal under federal rules.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Fast Company request for comment. But the social networking giant told ProPublica, "We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law."

10.28.16 | 1:01 pm

That $999 kit that makes your car semi-autonomous isn’t happening

George Hotz, the first person to ever jailbreak the iPhone, promised last month that his self-driving car company,, would by the end of the year release a product that adds semi-autonomous capabilities to Honda Civics and some Acura cars.

Today, he ditched that plan after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter expressing concern over the safety of the product. Hotz announced the news on Twitter using the account:

10.28.16 | 12:53 pm

Amazon finally brings Prime to China

In its continued attempt to dominate the globe, Amazon has launched its Prime service in China, reports Bloomberg. This means Chinese Prime subscribers will be able to get free shipping on both domestic and overseas goods (for overseas, the transaction has to exceed 200 yuan—around $29—to be eligible).

Amazon has been looking toward non-U.S. markets to expand its footprint. Other countries offering Prime include India and the UK. China, however, may prove a difficult market to conquer with the e-commerce space already heavily saturated with heavy-hitters like Alibaba and Wal-Mart. 

10.28.16 | 12:20 pm

Hackers don’t need a gun to take down your drone

There's been plenty of discussion about whether irresponsible drone pilots pose a risk to airplanes or first responders. But what if the flying cameras start to fall out of the sky because of ones and zeros?

Researchers have shown it's possible for hackers to take control of a drone and even make it fall out of the sky, Ars Technica reports. And as Recode notes, different researchers recently showed that it's possible to remotely take over control of a number of different off-the-shelf drones.

So while we're unlikely to see hackers hijacking the flying devices any time soon, it's worth remembering that people upset with drones don't need no stinking gun to knock them out of the sky.

10.28.16 | 12:16 pm

Uber drivers in London are now entitled to workers’ rights

A tribunal in London today decided that Uber drivers are entitled to workers' rights such as paid holidays and the minimum wage.

Uber has argued that its drivers are their own employers, and that its app merely connects them to work—a setup that excludes the company from following laws such as those establishing a minimum wage that apply only to employees.

The London case was brought by one current and one former driver, but it exposes Uber to legal action from about 42,000 of its drivers who are based in London. It did not address the question of whether the drivers have been paid the minimum wage, but rather whether they are entitled to it.

Uber plans to appeal the decision.