Snapchat's parent company files for $3 Billion U.S. IPO

Snap Inc., the parent company behind Snapchat, just filed for an initial public offering. They're the first American social media company to file for IPO so since Twitter did more than three years ago.

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After record-breaking donations and members, ACLU signs up for the Y Combinator startup accelerator

The ACLU raised $24M over the weekend of the #muslimban, six times its usual annual average, and now it is joining the Winter 2017 class at Y Combinator, a startup accelerator that has emerged a mixed bag of great and terrible companies, which has had to contend with controversy over its ties to Peter Thiel. Read the rest

Silicon Valley technology firms meet to plan legal challenge of Trump #MuslimBan

A group of tech firms will meet today to plan the filing of an amicus brief in support of lawsuit to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump's “Muslim Ban.”

Trump's order was issued on Friday, and restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries in which Trump has no business interests. Adjacent Muslim-majority nations in which Trump does have business interests were left untouched by the ban. Administration staffers took great pains to keep the orders secret from other government officials, and from the public, until it went into effect.

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Big Motorcycle wants to make fixing your own bike a crime

Nebraska is one of five states considering Right to Repair laws that would require companies to provide manuals and parts so that people could fix their own stuff, or get their stuff fixed by independent service centers, and the lobby groups for ATVs and motorcycles are pissed. Read the rest

Financial Times columnist advocates imprisoning dirty corporate executives

Rolls Royce just arranged for a "deferred prosecution" with UK prosecutors over revelations that it had committed jailable offenses by bribing overseas officials in order to secure their business; under this arrangement, prosecutors have allowed Rolls Royce to pay to have the prosecution halted and to have their executives immunized from criminal repercussions for their actions. Read the rest

HP's Nonpology

The "nonpology" is a corporate standard: a company does something terrible, and then it tells you it's sorry that you found its behaviour upsetting. But HP's October 2016 public statement on its secret, aftermarket attack on its customers' property has made important advances in the field of nopologyology.

The secret to success in local politics: steal from the people, but not too much

In a new paper in Progress, Oxford economist Vuk Vukovic argues that the key to re-election in local politics is to be just corrupt enough: giving lucrative contracts and other benefits to special interests who'll fund your next campaign, but not so much that the people refuse to vote for you. Read the rest

After shutting down to protect user privacy, Lavabit rises from the dead

In 2013, Lavabit -- famous for being the privacy-oriented email service chosen by Edward Snowden to make contact with journalists while he was contracting for the NSA -- shut down under mysterious, abrupt circumstances, leaving 410,000 users wondering what had just happened to their email addresses. Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg sues over 100 Hawaiians to force them to sell them their ancestral land

In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg (who insists that privacy is dead) bought 100 acres of land around his vacation home in Hawaii to ensure that no one could get close enough to spy on him. Read the rest

Judge rules that winning casino baccarat by taking note of asymmetries in card-backs is cheating

In July 2012, professional poker-player Phil Ivey won $4.8M from the baccarat tables at Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 17 hours; on other occasions, he took a total of $9M out of the Borgata: he did it by asking the house to deal Gemaco Borgata cards, whose backs contained minute asymmetries in their patterns. By asking the dealer to turn some cards upside down, Ivey's partner, Cheng Yin Sun, was able to track them as they moved through the deck. Read the rest

Indicted Dieselgate VW execs advised not to leave Germany, lest they be extradited to the USA

The five Volkswagen executives who were criminally charged in the USA for their role in the Dieselgate scandal have been advised not to travel to the USA because they are liable to arrest there: they've also been told that leaving Germany is risky because they might be arrested and extradited to the USA. Read the rest

Inside this Star Wars blanket's box, a card informing you that you've just waived your right to sue

When you open the box for a Storm Trooper snuggie blanket, you'll discover a card telling you that by buying the blanket, you've waived your right to sue the manufacturer and will subject yourself to binding arbitration if your blanket gives you cancer or burns you to death or any of the other bad things textiles can do. Read the rest

CVS is making a generic epipen: $110/2 pens

The price of Epipens -- purchased annually by people with severe allergies and stocked in the first-aid cabinets of schools, businesses, and ambulances -- more than quintupled in a decade, thanks to the tactics of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (daughter of Senator Joe Manchin [D-WV]), who took home a 671% raise for her work, which raised this lifesaving technology's pricetag beyond the reach of many people, who turned to low-cost DIY alternatives. Read the rest

Why the Trump era is the perfect time to go long on freedom and short on surveillance

My new Locus column is "It’s Time to Short Surveillance and Go Long on Freedom," which starts by observing that Barack Obama's legacy includes a beautifully operationalized, professional and terrifying surveillance apparatus, which Donald Trump inherits as he assumes office and makes ready to make good on his promise to deport millions of Americans and place Muslims under continuous surveillance. Read the rest

The average FTSE 100 boss earns as much in 2.5 days as his (yes, his) median employee earns in a year

The great recession and austerity have been very good to the chief executives of Britain's biggest companies: according to the High Pay Center, the average compensation for FTSE 100 CEOs rose 10% in 2015, to £5.5m -- meanwhile, UK workers' wages have stagnated year on year, averaging £28,200. Read the rest

When robots take routine middle-class jobs, those workers drop out of the workforce

In Disappearing Routine Jobs: Who, How, and Why? economists from USC, UBC and Manchester University document how the automation of "routine" jobs (welders, bank tellers, etc) that pay middle class wages has pushed those workers out of the job market entirely, or pushed them into low-paying, insecure employment. Read the rest

Chinese social media went a-flutter at this photo of an apparent App Store clickfarmer

This year-old photo of a woman seated at a wall of Iphones went viral on Chinese social media, where it was identified as a clickfarmer whose job is to repeatedly install apps on multiple phones in order to inflate their App Store ranks. Read the rest

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