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05.23.16 | 9:18 am

Uber CEO wants to “turn every car into a shared car”

"We can turn every car into a shared car–the next frontier is the Uber commute," said company CEO Kalanick on Monday at a conference in Brussels, after meeting with regulators at the European Commission. "Is there a way that someone could pick up a neighbor on the way to work? We have the technology for it, but there are also regulatory frameworks we have to work with. Why can't these folks get a little more incentive?"

Uber often talks about its vision for ubiquitous carpooling. At a press conference hosted by the public transportation advocacy organization American Public Transportation Association earlier this year, David Plouffe, Uber's chief advisor and board member, said, "Where we'd like to see this go is that you just have neighbors driving neighbors."

That's also where Alphabet, which began piloting a carpooling service in San Francisco last week, would like to go.  Alphabet's app goes so far as to actively discourage professional drivers, limiting trips to two per day (to and from work, presumably).

09.26.16 | an hour ago

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 on unveiling the 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 troubled automaker boasted in a release. "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 | an hour ago

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 raising new funds in part 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 | 2 hours ago

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 | 2 hours ago

The NAACP wants Clinton and Trump to be asked about affordable broadband at tonight’s debate

A number of leading civil rights groups and technology organizations, include the NAACP and the Center for Democracy and Technology, want NBC News' Lester Holt to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump a question about affordable broadband at tonight's debate. In a letter today, they write:

"In the same ways that trains, highways, and telephones have long powered the way we do business and share ideas, internet infrastructure is our country's economic driver for the 21st century. With this in mind, voters must understand the presidential candidates' plans for broadband access." 

While Clinton has prioritized the issue, calling for every household to have it by 2020, Trump hasn't said anything about it, notes Politico's Morning Tech newsletter.

09.26.16 | 2 hours ago

Square is doing its best to speed up chip-card transactions

The new credit cards with embedded chips may be a whole lot more high-tech secure than their mag-stripe predecessors, but paying with one can be so excruciatingly slow that it sure doesn't feel like progress. 

"The big guys aren't faring all that well," says Jesse Dorogusker, hardware lead at payments company Square, of large merchants who process chip-card sales using conventional payment terminals. "You do a lot of waiting, a lot of standing. There's an odd UI and weird noises. That's posed a nice opportunity for us."

Square, which designed its own mag-stripe/chip/contactless reader and developed all the associated software, is announcing that a new version of its firmware, which is rolling out as an automatic update, cuts the time of a chip transaction from 5.7 seconds to 4.2 seconds—a 25% improvement over what was already swifter-than-usual performance by chip-card standards. Its ultimate goal: three seconds.

Dorogusker told me that Square expects technologies such as Apple Pay and Android Pay to win in the long term, but for now, it's obsessed with speeding up chip-card transactions. "A second and a half is a second and a half," he says. "Some people might not sweat it. But standing at the counter awkwardly in a new way when it used to be faster and better is not cool."

09.26.16 | 3 hours ago

Dov Charney: I’m not buying American Apparel back

In an interview with Business of Fashion, Dov Charney tells the publication that he's moving on from American Apparel and has no intention to buy back the company he founded in 1989.

After he was ousted in 2014 in the midst of scandal, he was replaced by CEO Paula Schneider. But last week, Schneider handed in a letter of resignation, hinting that American Apparel might soon be sold and that a new owner might interfere with her plans to get the company back in fighting shape. 

The Business of Fashion story suggests that Charney will not be the buyer. 

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

09.26.16 | 3 hours ago

Morning intel: Live-streaming the debate, Didi gets into bikes, Roku launches 5 new models

• Tonight's Clinton/Trump face-off has already been dubbed the "debate of the century." Here's how to live-stream it and stay tuned for our live coverage tonight on FastCoNews

• Chinese taxi-hailing giant Didi just invested in a new startup called Ofo, which lets people borrow bikes.

• The New York Times is among a group of investors putting $500,000 into TheSkimm, the fast-growing newsletter aimed at young women, reports Recode.

Roku had its biggest product launch ever this morning, unveiling five new models include TVs ranging from tube sets to high dynamic range, 4K/UHD screens, reports Fast Company's Sean Captain. 

09.26.16 | 4 hours ago

African elephants will likely be extinct when our kids are adults

Did you know that thee United States is the world's second-largest ivory market, after Asia? The thriving trade in elephant tusks has resulted in a spike in poaching in Africa. There are only 400,000 on the continent, but 30,000 to 40,000 are killed every year, the latest African Elephant Status Report says. This is the steepest decline in 25 years.

According to ThinkProgress, climate change is accelerating the extinction of the African elephant population. Temperature change and changes in water supply and vegetation all impact elephants. 

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

09.26.16 | 7:36 am

Up, up and away! Uber researches vertical-takeoff planes for short-haul city rides

Speaking at the Nantucket Conference over the weekend, Uber products head Jeff Holden told the audience that Uber is seriously looking into creating flying vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles to usher people around cities in as few as 10 years, reports Recode. Holden says VTOL aircraft would allow people to travel short distances around a city "in a three-dimensional way" and that taking to the skies was "an obvious thing to look at." He imagines landing pads on top of buildings, which would reduce commuting times and congestion dramatically. Holden envisages a flying VTOL Uber as just another way the company could work toward its goal of eliminating personal car ownership. "[VTOL technology] could change cities and how we work and live," he said.

[Photo: USAF via Wikipedia]

09.26.16 | 7:15 am

Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing seeks new transportation market: bicycles

The Chinese taxi-hailing giant, which is in the final stages of acquiring Uber's business in China, has made an investment in a new startup called Ofo, which lets people borrow bikes, reports TechCrunch. In China 30 million students ride bicycles every day. Ofo is tapping into that large market pool by allowing those students to hire a cheap bicycle for the day. Though exact specifics aren't known, Didi's investment in Ofo is said to be "tens of millions" in size and will provide the foundation for "a multi-layered partnership."

09.26.16 | 6:57 am

Here’s how to live-stream tonight’s presidential debate

Who knows what could come out of their mouths? The good news is you have plenty of options for viewing all the one-liners, quips, and slips as they happen, reports Recode. Here are all the ways you can watch the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which begins at 9 p.m. ET tonight.

Mobile apps

• The CBS News app will have full coverage across platforms including iOS, Android, games consoles, and more.

NBC will have coverage of the event through its multi-platform NBC News apps.

• Not to be left out, ABC will live-stream the event through its ABC News apps.

• Reuters will be live-streaming the debate through its mobile app.

Social media

Facebook will be offering free streams via Facebook Live from various news organizations including ABC News, BuzzFeed, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, the New York Times, PBS, Telemundo, and Univision.

Twitter will be offering free streams of Bloomberg's coverage of the debates on its website here. You won't need a Twitter login to view the stream.


• Besides live streams on the major network news sites, a host of news organizations will be live-streaming the debate on their YouTube channels, including Bloomberg, Fox News, NBC News, PBS, Telemundo, and the Washington Post.

[Photos: Flickr users Max GoldbergABC/Ida Mae Astute]

09.26.16 | 5:50 am

Check out the BBC’s new “holographic” TV

The British broadcaster made the TV using a standard 46" flat screen television with an acrylic pyramid built above it, reports the BBC. The finished product projected "holograms" onto the acrylic pyramid, giving an appearance something similar to R2D2's Princess Leia hologram in Star Wars. The BBC has no plans to commercialize the product right now. Instead it was just an experiment to see what television technology might be like in the future.