Weekly Roundup: FCC’s plan to revoke net neutrality, Uber defends tracking practices
Two new unicorns are born, Uber faces two lawsuits, and the FCC unveils its proposal to revoke net neutrality. These are the top tech stories you need to know this week, and you can sign up to receive this post as a newsletter delivered to your inbox on Saturdays.
1. FCC details plan to roll back net neutrality rules
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, newly appointed by President Trump, announced his intention to rescind the net neutrality rules created by the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order. He called the 2015 Open Internet Order “an aberration” that “puts the federal government at the center of the internet.” The agency enacted a preemptive strike against critics with a “Myth Vs. Facts” sheet, which we’ve torn apart here. Want to say something to the FCC about all this? Here’s how to make your voice heard.
2. Uber defends tracking techniques and is hit with ‘Hell’ lawsuit
Uber pushed back on allegations that it tracked former users even after they deleted the app from their iPhones. The practice, called fingerprinting, even earned CEO Travis Kalanick a scolding from Tim Cook. Uber claims the tracking is a common industry practice used to prevent fraud.
We saw this one coming. Uber was also hit with a lawsuit regarding its “Hell” program that was reportedly used to track Lyft drivers. The plaintiff, Michael Gonzales, drove for Lyft during the time Uber allegedly used the software. He’s seeking $5 million in a class action lawsuit.
3. Uber must hand over information about its acquisition of Otto to Waymo
In the latest in the Waymo vs. Uber lawsuit, a court ruled that Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of the legal battle, must turn over information about Uber’s acquisition of Otto to Waymo. But Waymo operations haven’t been distracted by the case. The company began its first on-demand self-driving service test in Arizona.
4. Robinhood has joined the unicorn club
The zero-free stock-trading startup confirmed that it has raised a $110 million Series C at a $1.3 billion valuation led by DST Global. “Our investors are saying ‘we haven’t ever seen a finance company that’s managed to grow like an Internet company,’ ” says Robinhood co-founder Baiju Bhatt.
After eight years carefully cultivating an intelligent question and answer community, Quora raised an $85 million Series D round co-led by Collaborative Fund and Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund. The two big drivers of the rapid value increase have been user growth and positive early results from its ad tests.
More consolidation in the ride-sharing space occurred as on-demand ride sharing company Gett bought Juno for $200 million. The deal will bring on all of Juno’s existing business, from its network of licensed drivers through to its employees and founding team.
Amazon blew past expectations and AWS saw substantial growth, accounting for $3.7 billion for the quarter. Alphabet also beat expectations, showing that hardware and cloud bets are paying off as the company extends beyond search. Microsoft met expectations with $23.6 billion in revenue, with Azure revenue up 93%. GoPro’s financials improved due to the Karma drone and some cost reductions. Twitter, which desperately needed a Q1 hit, somehow managed to deliver despite decreasing user growth and declining business.
Chromebook sales are soaring, but Apple and Microsoft are fighting back: For the most part, companies are taking different but overlapping approaches to getting computing devices in the hands of students. For the time being, Google has won the battle for market share with the Chromebook, but the war is far from over.
How to make Twitter profitable: For better and sometimes for worse, Twitter is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Twitter has arguably played a critical role in at least two of the defining political upheavals of our era: The Arab Spring and the election of a political outsider, Donald Trump, as president of the United States. Here’s one person’s proposal to monetize Twitter.
Who will be the Pixar of augmented reality? In the wake of Facebook’s launch of a new AR Camera Effects platform, the augmented reality space is going to drastically change. While the platform appears easy to use, venture capitalists might be wise to take a few swings at ex-Disney or DreamWorks employees building AR startups.