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07.26.16 | 6:00 pm

Twitter says its plan is working, asks for patience

The results for Twitter's second quarter disappointed Wall Street: Analysts expected revenue of $607 million, rather than the $602 million the company actually reached. Its guidance for the third quarter—$590 million in revenue—also falls short of the $681 million hoped for by analysts.

But when it comes to Twitter usage metrics, the company can point to some signs of progress. Twitter made many tweaks to the service in recent months, most notably ditching the strictly chronological timeline in favor of using an algorithm to push relevant tweets to the top. Though change-averse Twitter users squawked about that move, it may be paying off. Twitter doesn't release many hard numbers about usage, but the company says it saw increases in monthly active users, daily active users, daily active minutes, tweet impressions, and searches—some of which were up by double digits.

Some of Twitter's biggest changes are yet to come and will arrive in the form of live video streams of NFL, MLB, and NHL games. But even if video is a hit with consumers, it will take a while before it pays off financially: As Twitter pointed out in its earnings call, it will stream only two football games in Q3. And it readily acknowledges there's plenty of work left to do.

"There's so much further to go in terms of our strength, not only as a service of importance but also a company and business of importance," said CEO Jack Dorsey on the call. "We're focused right now on what matters most."

09.26.16 | 7 minutes ago

Want to track more than steps? This new startup is pioneering an approach it calls “scientific wellness” 

Today's step count isn't a particularly useful window into your overall health, but it can be if analyzed over months alongside other biometric data. That's why a Seattle-based startup, called Arivale, is marketing a new concept called "scientific wellness," and it is planning to demonstrate its efficacy through peer-reviewed research.  

Arivale CEO Clayton Lewis, who started the company with biologist Leroy Hood, says the company aggregates wellness information, such as activity levels and lifestyle, and couples it with genetic data and clinical labs. It then assigns a coach to each customer to make actionable health recommendations by phone. To avoid regulation, the company's coaches will suggest that users see a doctor if they discover something potentially concerning ("we don't diagnose and we don't prescribe," Lewis stresses). The price tag isn't cheap at $3,500, but Lewis says it is working with employers to subsidize the cost for their workers. 

Arivale is part of a broader trend of private companies offering health and wellness coaching to make up for the lack of preventative care. But some in the medical sector see a potential downside: As ProPublica's Charles Ornstein writes, too much data can lead to potentially risky tests and procedures. 

09.26.16 | an hour ago

Do we expect to know too much when it comes to presidential candidates’ health? 

Why do we expect so much transparency from presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump when it comes to their health? It wasn't always that way. John Dickerson, a history buff and Slate columnist, recently spoke to the New York Times' "The Run-Up" podcast (a must listen for those following the election) on the history of voters demanding medical information from presidents. Some highlights: 

* After president Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack in the middle of the night, reporters were told that it was a bout of indigestion. The press soon learned the truth, but Eisenhower's press secretary, James Hagerdy, came up with a brilliant strategy to divert their interest elsewhere. The president's physician reported that Eisenhower had a "successful bowel movement," and the Associated Press printed it as "official news."

* Sen. John McCain also overwhelmed the press with too much information. He released thousands of carefully selected medical records for several hours to the media during his 2000 and 2008 bids for the presidency. 

*A president's health was once considered out of the public view, for the most part. Former presidents John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson all hid serious medical conditions from the public. 

Where would you draw the line on how much you'd want to know about a presidential candidates' health? Let me know @chrissyfarr on Twitter

09.26.16 | 2 hours ago

Reid Hoffman says he’s in a “constant state of argument” with buddy Peter Thiel over Trump

It's like a buddy movie out of the 1980s, but based in Silicon Valley and featuring a presidential election. Stanford classmates, PayPal coworkers, and longtime buddies, LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman and investor Peter Thiel are feuding over Donald Trump. Hoffman has been just as vocal in his opposition to the Republican nominee as Peter Thiel has been in support of him. 

"We're in a constant state of argument over this," Hoffman told Bloomberg TV today, adding that though he liked Thiel's speech at the Republican National Convention in July, he thinks his buddy is "inventing policies for Trump that Trump doesn't actually have." He says that fellow tech entrepreneurs often ask him whether Thiel is crazy. When asked the question, Hoffman replied, "Maybe a little."

Hoffman also discussed his biggest concern about Trump—that he doesn't have a policy plan and "no demonstrated record of public service." He added that the impact of a Trump presidency on the American economy and Silicon Valley would "range between disastrous and terrible." 

09.26.16 | 2 hours ago

Update: Twitter sale could happen in the next month 

Disney, Salesforce, and now Microsoft are all exploring a potential bid for Twitter, according to CNBC's David Faber. Sources tell the financial news outlet that a sale could be coming in the next 30-45 days. Among those not interested: Facebook.

09.26.16 | 3 hours ago

Hollywood hitmakers adapting short VR film for the big screen

Comics. Books. True-life stories. Now add VR films to the list of source material for Hollywood movies.

Today, Roth Kirschenbaum Films (R/K)—whose producers helped bring Alice in Wonderland, The Huntsman, and Maleficent to the silver screen—announced they plan on developing a full-length theatrical movie based on Invasion, an award-winning short VR film.

Although there is no script and no time frame for the project yet, it will be a collaboration between R/K and Baobab Studios. It will be written and directed by Eric Darnell, who directed Antz and all three Madagascar movies.

Kane Lee, Baobab's head of content, told Fast Company that his studio plans on releasing more VR content for Invasion, but that the full-length project will be a standard animated theatrical film. 

09.26.16 | 2:26 pm

Disney is reportedly toying with the idea of buying Twitter

The Walt Disney Company has begun working with a financial adviser to decide whether it should bid on Twitter, reports Bloomberg. It joins the ranks of Salesforce, which is also reportedly thinking about acquiring the social network.

What would Disney want from Twitter? Well, it's a content creator—one of the oldest and biggest content companies around—so Twitter would serve as a new distribution medium. So it's not a crazy idea, but it does make for a juicy story. 

09.26.16 | 1:51 pm

Shoppable hotels? West Elm announces a new chain

Shinola just announced that it's building a hotel in Detroit. And today, home furnishing company West Elm says it wants to get into the hotel business together with DDK, a hospitality management and development company. 

In 2018, it will be opening properties in Charlotte, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Detroit, Michigan; Savannah, Georgia; and Nashville, Tennessee, with more locations to be announced. 

Much like West Elm stores, each location will feature local design elements, but presumably these hotels will include furniture that guests will be able to buy. 

[Image via West Elm]

09.26.16 | 1:38 pm

This is me using the Donald Trump filter on Snapchat

Millennials remain one of the most coveted voting demographics for the presidential candidates. One way to reach them is by speaking their language. Donald Trump is trying to do just that today with a nationwide Snapchat filter repping tonight's debate. 

Here's my face behind the filter:

As you can see, I'm thrilled. 

09.26.16 | 12:10 pm

VW trying to rehab image with futuristic electric car concept

When you're responsible for one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent memory, it can take a lot to get people to forgive and forget. But that seems to be just what Volkswagen is hoping its new electric car concept, known as the modular electrification kit (MEB), can achieve.

VW is planning to unveil its first car based on the system at the Paris Auto Show in October, and it wants people to "Think New." 

"This one-of-a-kind concept car signals the Volkswagen brand's entry into a new era: because the vehicle is as revolutionary as the Beetle was seven decades ago before it evolved into the world's best-selling car of the century. The concept car has the potential to make history with its completely new vehicle concept."

The big deal, especially when it comes to helping people forget the emissions scandal, is that the new car could boast a range of more than 300 miles per charge, which would make it one of the industry leaders.

09.26.16 | 12:10 pm

Fear of famine isn’t the only reason VCs are raising boatloads of money

Venture capitalists are raising lots of money this year not just because they're worried about money drying up in some sort of market correction. They're also raising new funds because traditional sources of cash—like university endowments—are flush, according to Bloomberg

In 2015, University endowments hit $529 billion, up 53% over the preceding five years, the report says. That can mean more money for venture capitalists. As Bloomberg notes in its report, Emory University wraps up 18% of its endowment in both private equity and VC. Furthermore, investing in venture capital can lead to big returns for universities. Yale, which in 2015 invested 16% of its endowment in VC funds, gained 93% on its investments, Fortune reported earlier this year. 

09.26.16 | 11:27 am

Laugh all you want—here’s why Snap’s new Spectacles glasses might just succeed

Ever since Snap (formerly known as Snapchat) unveiled its first hardware product—Spectacles video-sharing glasses—on Saturday morning, plenty of people have cracked jokes that include the inevitable Google Glass punchline. Well, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel just might succeed with his new toy, explains Co.Design's Mark Wilson, with his focus on fun. 

"Fun is certainly not the only reason Snap is getting into wearables. But fun is why they'll be a hit, at least compared to other techie glasses like Glass. Rather than attempting to disguise the wearable as a normal pair of glasses, or position it as a serious product, the company is embracing the sensational side of the concept. It's an approach that sounds a lot like its app: if there's one company that's capable of making you look like an idiot in public for fun—making faces at your own camera and totally not caring that you do—it's Snap."

[Image: via Spectacles]

09.26.16 | 11:13 am

Delayed equipment slows SolarCity’s progress on new factory amid corruption scandal

The state of New York is being slow to fund the equipment needed for a new SolarCity factory in Buffalo, according to a new report. SolarCity representatives say they're working with the city to place a larger than originally anticipated equipment order, according to Politico. In the meantime, the new 1-million-square-foot factory sits empty.

The progress report comes as the project's lead, the currently suspended CEO and president of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros, is being accused of corruption. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Southern New York says Kaloyeros unfairly awarded construction contracts to favorite developers. Meanwhile, SolarCity is considering an acquisition by electric carmaker Tesla—adding further complexity to a jumbled situation.