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06.17.16 | 1:30 pm

Samsung mimics Apple’s camera ads–because it can

I had an awkward moment earlier this week when I was shooting photos for a story at Apple's developer conference. I was using a Samsung Galaxy S7 camera. I had an iPhone 6s in my pocket. I used the S7 because it simply shoots clearer, sharper images. It shoots images that you can't tell are shot by a smartphone. The iPhone 6s camera is pretty damn good, and I expect the iPhone 7 camera to be a big leap forward. But for now, Samsung rules. That's why you can't call "foul" on Samsung's new ads, which mimic Apple's "shot on iPhone" slogan with "captured by Galaxy S7." It's a little cheeky of the Samsungers (who have a history of trolling Apple), but in this case they can back it up with real results.  


12.02.16 | 44 minutes ago

Washington, DC 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., wants to become the country's next tech hub. But the district, whose black and latino residents make up 46% and 10% of its 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 released today its first "Pathways To Inclusion Report," in which it highlights the strengths and weaknesses of its own tech industry, regarding 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 | 2 hours ago

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' 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 | 2 hours ago

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 | 3 hours ago

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 | 3 hours ago

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 | 3 hours ago

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 | 3 hours ago

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.

12.02.16 | 6:53 am

Twitter’s new VP of product is Keith Coleman, CEO of Yes, Inc.

Twitter has acquired the consumer mobile app startup and its six employees, and all will be taking on product and design roles at the company as part of the deal, reports Recode. Coleman will be Twitter's new VP of product, a role which has been vacant for six months. As part of that role, Coleman will be overseeing the core Twitter app and service, which Recode notes is seen as one of the hardest jobs in Silicon Valley due to the struggles the company has had to grow its user base.

12.02.16 | 6:42 am

Instagram has revealed its most popular accounts and trends of 2016

And young female celebrities dominated the top spots, reports Mashable. Here are the top Instagram accounts by followers of 2016 (so far):

• Selena Gomez: 103 million

• Taylor Swift: 93.6 million

• Ariana Grande: 89.6 million

• Beyoncé: 88.9 million

• Kim Kardashian: 87.8 million

• Cristiano Ronaldo: 82.3 million

• Kylie Jenner: 79.5 million

• Dwayne Johnson: 71 million

• Kendall Jenner: 68.9 million

The most-liked post on Instagram was this one from Selena Gomez:

when your lyrics are on the bottle 😛 #ad

A photo posted by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

Other big Instagram trends of 2016 include:

• the Oscars were the most-Instagrammed awards show

• Disney theme parks were the most-Instagrammed locations

• Halloween was the most-Instagrammed day

• Clarendon was the most-used Instagram filter

12.01.16 | 7:26 pm

Illumina spinout Grail wants to build “richest database of cancer biology”

Grail, the Illumina spinout that is developing an ambitious blood test to detect cancer in the earliest stages, announced today a trial called CCGA. The goal is to perform extremely broad and deep sequencing of the genome of 10,000 people, and combine that with clinical and phenotypic data over five years. 

A company spokesperson shared that Grail's team hopes this will be the "richest database of cancer biology and human health ever created."