Not only is Starbucks accepting payments via Square, the coffee conglomerate is now also selling the Square credit card reader for $10 at its retail locations. [New York Times]
Spotify has suspended its music download service in the U.K. Users can still stream music, but are sent to an unhelpful FAQ page when they attempt to purchase it. [Pocket-Lint]
Kim Dotcom says the U.S. “planted” evidence, encouraging him to keep copyrighted files on the Megaupload servers but then punishing him when he did so. [Ars Technica]
That indie Steve Jobs film, that will star Ashton Kutcher and be an inevitable flop that we will still watch anyway, is slated for release in April. Who wants to go with us? [Wall Street Journal]
The New York state comptroller is suing microchip company Qualcomm for data about its political expenditures with the hopes it can bring more transparency to corporate political spending. [New York Times]
Did we mention that winter is coming? Y Combinator is funding less startups in its winter 2013 cycle—less than 50 so far, down from 84 this summer. To reach the smaller number, the accelerator focused on predictors of failure. Turned out, they took a friendlier view of applicants they met after lunch. [Y Combinator]
Apple in Your Eye
That’s according to some number crunching from PeekYou, anyway. The company has debuted a new analytics service and, to promote the product, took the time to rank Twitter’s top 1,000 most influential tech investors. CEO Michael Hussey explained the methodology to VentureBeat:
Ashton Kutcher has found his nemesis. Entertainment Weekly‘s Inside Movies blog is reporting that Matthew Modine will play John Sculley in upcoming Steve Jobs biopic called jOBS. As Jobsian scholars will recall, Mr. Sculley was the former Pepsi CEO personally recruited by Jobs in 1983 with the pitch, “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Um, door number 2?
Jobs resigned after clashing with Sculley, who was forced out in 1993–a move we imagine will be accompanied by a triumphant classical score.
Apple in Your Eye
Airtime, the super stealth video startup from Napster cofounders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, is launching at a press event this morning at Milk Studios in NYC, and celebrities on Twitter are apparently really, really excited about it. It’s perhaps unsurprising, though, considering the company that Shawn & Sean are used to keeping: Airtime’s investors include Ashton Kutcher, will.i.am and Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun. But who knew Martha Stewart was so plugged in to the startup scene? Perhaps Nick Bilton was right about tech being the new Hollywood.
We, too, are looking forward to the launch of Airtime, but could Sean & Shawn maybe fix their website first?
Apple in Your Eye
Oh look, someone at Forbes found this vaguely sad Craigslist ad soliciting extras for a “movie on Steve Jobs” filming next week in Palo Alto. Cult of Mac and Gizmodo both conjecture that, probably based on the general paltriness of Craigslist extra trawling, the ad is for serial entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs biopic, jOBS, though it doesn’t explicitly state that.
Apple in Your Eye
Makers of the other Steve Jobs flick–you know, the one starring Ashton Kutcher–must be feeling pressure to ratchet up the publicity since Aaron Sorkin has been attached to Sony’s big-screen version of the Walter Isaacson biography.
On Friday Five Star Feature Films issued a press release announcing that when principal photography begins in June on jOBS, early scenes will be filmed “in the actual Los Altos home where Jobs grew up and in the historic garage where he and Steve Wozniak founded Apple.”
Do It For Me
One Steve Jobs biopic isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? TWO Steve Jobs biopics. At least according to Hollywood.
Though it’s been widely-rumored since late last year, a press release issued by Sony Pictures yesterday confirmed what is either your worst nightmare or dream come true, depending on how pearl-clutchy you are about the tech industry: Aaron Sorkin will be adapting Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography of Steve Jobs for Sony Pictures. We’re positive it will be every bit as packed with heavy-handed dramatic irony and “so bad it’s good” euphoria as The Social Network is.
Back in December, Bo Fishback, CEO of the peer-to-peer marketplace Zaarly, which lets you buy and sell products and services from the people around you, told Betabeat that Zaarly planned to grow its presence in New York City from two full-time employees up to 10 or possibly 30 new staffers.
For the Kansas City-based company, which has raised $15.1 million in a little over a year since it launched, it was a signal of how important New York was both as a market and testing ground. “We hope to learn what we need to know from the New York community to help us go to scale in other cities,” Mr. Fishback told us at the time, along with the news that local staff would be moving into Marc Ecko’s building at 40 West 23rd Street. Mr. Ecko is an investor, along with Ashton Kutcher, Michael Arrington, Crunchfund, and Kleiner Perkins.
But earlier today Betabeat was informed that Zaarly was closing down its New York office. “I’ve heard it’s gone,” said a source. Mr. Fishback confirmed the news, but said it was, “not really intended to be a big deal, and mostly just temporary moves,” he responded by email.
Update: Forbes reports that Pop Chips ran this same campaign in the UK before launching in that market. The British reaction to it was exactly the same and the spot was pulled after public outcry. “The reasoning seems to come straight from Oscar Wilde and P.T. Barnum (if he actually said “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”),” says Forbes. Wonder if that’s the advice Ashton is giving his startups.
Correction: Just kidding, Pop Chips PR representatives just confirmed to Betabeat that the Forbes report was wrong. The ad went was only released in the U.S. market. The Forbes blogger read the dates wrong, as well as the country. And yes, as you suspected, no one is going to come out of this looking good. Including bloggers!
Yesterday, Pop Chips unveiled its latest advertising campaign. It involved having spokesman Ashton Kutcher play a variety of characters, including an Indian immigrant named “Raj,” for which Mr. Kutcher painted his face brown and affected an over-the-top accent. Last night, shortly after Anil Dash pointed out that using brownface to hawk bags of potato chips in 2012 was a sign of ingrained racism–and criminally cheeseball–Pop Chips founder and CEO Keith Belling issued an apology on the company blog.
“our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs,” Mr. Belling wrote in all-lower case. “we did not intend to offend anyone. i take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.”