Newley's Notes

Newley’s Notes 124: Uber and SoftBank; How to Neuter your Smartphone; Mr. Rogers Breakdancing

2018 03 06 water

Edition 124 of my email newsletter went out on Sunday.

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What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

🚗 — Uber Battles Ride-Sharing Startups in SoftBank ‘Family.’ The story, which I wrote with my colleague Mayumi Negishi, went online a few hours ago. It begins:

SoftBank Group Corp., the world’s biggest technology investor, has poured some $20 billion into ride-sharing companies around the globe, including Uber Technologies Inc.

Now, those companies are spending at least some of SoftBank’s money to battle each other.

In Japan, Uber is gearing up to fight China’s Didi Chuxing Technology Co., which is planning to enter the market after an investment by SoftBank of around $10 billion.

In India, Uber is facing off with local champion ANI Technologies Inc.’s Ola, in which SoftBank has about a 30% stake and a board seat. SoftBank invested $7.7 billion in Uber for a 15% stake this year.

Uber and Ola are also grappling in Australia, where Ola started operations in February. Uber in Southeast Asia is trailing Singapore’s Grab Inc., whose president joined from SoftBank in 2016 following its $750 million investment in the company.

Click through to read the rest.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

1. Ding Dong, Amazon’s here. The Seattle titan bought video doorbell startup Ring, as our WSJ story said, in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Following Amazon’s move into groceries — don’t forget about Whole Foods, after all — it now looks to be strengthening its smart homes business:

The latest deal plays to Amazon’s efforts to control the devices that power smart homes, an area in which it is becoming a dominant player. Certain Ring doorbells and cameras already connect with its virtual assistant, Alexa.

Package theft has become an increasing problem for e-commerce companies as consumers order more online. Amazon has responded with solutions including package lockers and apartment buildings’ package hubs. Late last year, it launched its Cloud Cam security camera combined with its “Amazon Key” product, which allows its delivery drivers to deposit packages into customers’ homes via a smart lock system.

2….And speaking of Amazon, is it being used for money laundering? Patrick Reames, an (actual) author, discovered that someone had apparently been using his name to launder cash, cybersecurity pro Brian Krebs reports:

Reames said he suspects someone has been buying the book using stolen credit and/or debit cards, and pocketing the 60 percent that Amazon gives to authors. At $555 a pop, it would only take approximately 70 sales over three months to rack up the earnings that Amazon said he made.

3. How to make your smartphone less addictive. In this Vox video, Tristan Harris, a former product pro at Google, provides tips for making our devices less like miniature slot machines.

(TLDR: eliminate automated alerts, make the screen less colorful, and only keep genuinely useful apps on your home screen.) For more, check out the essays on Harris’s website.

4. More than half of Americans favor regulating Big Tech. That’s according to new poll from Axios and SurveyMonkey showing the number of citizens who are “‘more concerned'” government will not go far enough to regulate tech” has risen from 40% in November. The big picture:

That’s a seismic shift in the public’s perception of Silicon Valley over a short period of time. It shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but it also reflects a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, as well as the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.

5. Why speeding is so much more dangerous than you think. A fascinating video explanation, using a real world example and some equations, showing why driving at 100 miles per hour, say, is so much more perilous than 70 miles per hour.

🏀 Stat of the week

Over the past 30 days, House of Highlights has done more video views on Instagram (662 million) than the official ESPN (206 million) and SportsCenter (316 million) accounts combined, according to social media analytics company CrowdTangle.

That’s from a Recode story on the insanely popular House of Highlights, an Instagram account where 23-year-old Omar Raja posts NBA videos and commentary.

🕺 1 Silly/Awesome Thing

Mr Rogers breakdancing. In this video from 1985, a 12-year-old named Jermaine Vaughn guides Mr. Rogers. More on the episode is here.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


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