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Jack Smith IV

Jack is a reporter covering tech business in NYC, Silicon Alley founders and funding, trends in tech innovation and venture capital investment.
suggested reading

Oyster Launches a Lit Mag For Their Erudite E-Readers

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There’s something about ebook reading that’s still icky for some finicky readers who fancy themselves intellectuals. Maybe it’s that the ~handfeel~ of an iPad doesn’t stand up to the deckled edges of a Penguin Classics Deluxe edition, or that there’s no street cred from reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century if no one in Caffe Reggio can see the book jacket. But that doesn’t mean these readers can’t be won.

Oyster, an app that’s most often described as being “Netflix for Books,” is launching a literary magazine called The Oyster Review.

The new digital mag is the first brainchild of writer, editorial remixer and famed Internet Person Kevin Nguyen in his new role as Editorial Director for Oyster. Mr. Nguyen joined the startup a few months ago after he was poached from Amazon, where he put together the Best of the Month picks as a books editor. Read More

Office Space

‘Q’ Replaces Your Office Manager With an iPad

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In the past 10 years, digital tools, economic devastation and common sense have pressured companies of all sizes to cut down on the number of employees who are assigned to take care of the office. Unfortunately, jobs like cleaning the kitchen and buying more grinds for the shitty coffee maker are being offloaded onto people that have nothing to do with stocking the supply closet — like social media managers or operations staff.

Managed by Q (or “Q” from here on out, for the sake of decency), is a NYC-based service that turns all of those concerns into, of course, an app. Read More

Rise of the Drones

Buying Drones For Holiday Gifts? The Government Has a Warning or Two

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It doesn’t matter if you’re still floundering on Thanksgiving plans: the holiday season is definitely upon us (yes, already) and you’re going to be out shopping soon enough. If Weird Al’s bizarre Radio Shack commercial is any indication, small quadcopters drones are going to be a hot item for dads who’ve already upgraded their spoiled kids to the iPhone 6 Plus already.

In advance of the holiday drone-buying onslaught, the United States and the U.K. are attempting to educate people about the laws surrounding their drone usage. After all, small drones inhabit a funny legal grey area between model planes and small aircraft — a distinction that gets more fuzzy if you plan on using them to pick up some freelance aerial photography gigs. Read More

Sorry/Not Sorry

Uber CEO Tweetstorms Empty Apology For His Executive Threatening Journalists

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For a company that is struggling with its “asshole” public image, Uber has had a baaaad 24 hours.

A recap: At a private event, Uber Senior Vice President Emil Michael told Buzzfeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith that in order to deal with bad press, Uber could run opposition research secretly on contentious journalists, dox them, target their friends and family, and quietly expose the private details of their lives. Then, Mr. Michael said that Pando founder Sarah Lacy should be held responsible for sexual assault committed against women by cab drivers, all because she encouraged people to use Lyft for reasons of Uber’s (suddenly obvious) misogynistic corporate culture.

Just in the past hour or so, Mr. Kalanick took to Twitter to issue an apology, though it doesn’t look like Uber is going to be changing the way it does business. It’s nice to see that he’s taking personal accountability enough to issue the apology on his personal social accounts, but it doesn’t nearly approach the ideal move: giving those same journalists that his executive threatened more access to his typically opaque and shady company. Read More

uber it

Uber Executive Says Sarah Lacy Is Personally Responsible For Sexual Assault Against Women in Cabs

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It seems like just yesterday we were all talking about Uber trying to absolve themselves of their asshole image in the public opinion. Because that was just yesterday. It was also fun while it lasted, but it didn’t even last the whole day.

Last night, Buzzfeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith published a series of remarks made by Uber Senior Vice President Emil Michael over dinner. Mr. Michael suggested that the proper response to hostile journalists would be to spend a million dollars on an opposition research team which would dig up details on the private lives of those journalists in order to harass and target their families. Read More

uber? But I just met her

Uber CEO Is Suddenly Concerned About Looking Like an ‘Asshole’

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Uber has a #brand problem: everyone loves to use them, but they wreak havoc on local governments and piss off local taxi drivers everywhere they go. Now, you can hire a veritable tech PR army to deal with local squabbles and wars with other companies, but there’s one problem no flack is cut out to solve: a CEO who is an unsalvageable jerk.

In an expansive profile, San Francisco Magazine waxes skeptical over Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s new attempts to shed his “asshole” image. The profile says that Mr. Kalanick is suddenly being more careful about his rhetoric, musing that during the interview, he was on his best behavior and was “dressed not like the slick cutthroat capitalist that many claim him to be, but like a dad.” Read More

Privacy is Dead

People Trust Social Media Less Than Any Other Form of Communication

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No matter how much Facebook messes with our emotions and pressures us to give up our data to their advertisers, they’ve hardly done anything serious enough to drive us away. Most people trump it up to apathy — we don’t care how much we’re violated if we get to use the service for free. But a new study poses another possible answer.

Last week, Pew Research Center released a report on privacy in the “post-Snowden era” and how Americans see government surveillance, social media sites and advertisers. Unsurprisingly, 91 percent of everyone surveyed believe “consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.” Read More

Rise of the Drones

Drones Are the Hot New Frontier For Top Law Firms

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At the rate we’re going, drones are going to be a part of everything. Forget wedding photography and earth-porn GoPro videos — major real estate firms, agriculture companies and delivery giants are looking at small fleets of quadcopters for the future of their business. Unfortunately, no one understands exactly how to do that right now without running afoul of the Federal Aviation Administration.

This week, massive international law firm Hunton & Williams opened their “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Unit,” which is basically a small legal task force for helping Hunton’s clients — which include titanic institutions in energy and finance — deal with slowly incorporating drones into the way they do business. Hunton clients have been coming to them often enough to ask for advice that they need to dedicate full-time resources to drone-specific issues. Read More

Rise of the Drones

Amazon Is Hiring Drone Pilots For Their Delivery Service

(Photo via Amazon)

Every college graduate has poured through entry level job listings that ask for “5+ years experience” and wondered, probably aloud and to his or her nagging family, “How is anyone supposed to get experience if every job already requires experience?” Listen, consider yourself lucky — consider how that conversation goes for drone pilots, whose entire industry didn’t even exist five years ago.

Amazon has open job listings for a “Flight Operations Engineer” who would be based in Cambridge, England. In the truly meaningless fashion of job boards, the job requires “5+ years of relevant aviation experience.” Read More

Rise of the Drones

The FAA Says Drone Laws Will Be Ready by the End of the Year

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Back in 2012, when it was becoming clear that the sky would someday be filled with little quadcopters delivering our packages and peaking in our windows, Congress told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that they had to get it together and have a plan for drone legislation ready by September 15, 2015.

It turns out, we may find out what the FAA has in store in the next month or two. FAA official Jim Williams said during an annual program review that by the end of the year, we’ll finally get a glimpse at FAA’s master plan for how drones will be regulated and controlled in American airspace. Read More