Members of Congress know as little about what the NSA’s up to as American citizens do. [The Guardian]
Here, have some unsolicited advice about how to solve the tech talent shortage from airplane aficionado Henry Blodget. [Business Insider]
Barry Diller has finally unloaded Newsweek onto IBT Media, but is keeping the Daily Beast in the IAC fold. [L.A. Times]
The Obama administration has vetoed a product ban on Apple that would mean the company couldn’t sell certain types of iPads and iPhones in the U.S. [New York Times]
“A part of a burgeoning Twitter subculture known as Weird Twitter, he is speaking in a purposefully nonsensical code that is meant to satirize the growing presence of corporate brands and marketers on the popular social network.” This is going to be a long week. [Wall Street Journal]
Apple and Google execs probably won’t be going on a long-weekend together anytime soon, but Eric Schmidt acknowledged that the two companies are in ”constant business discussions on a long list of issues.” No word if that involves any trust falls. [Apple Insider]
Paul Greenberg, the CEO of CollegeHumor, is leaving the comedy website. Cofounder Ricky Van Veen announced that two execs from fellow IAC company Electus will assume the position. [AllThingsD]
Here’s a how-to guide on the ways developers rip off Apple’s App Store. [Daily Dot]
Kickstarter-backed smartwatch project Pebble has announced 275,000 preorders and has shipped nearly 100,000 devices to backers. [TNW]
Netflix is in talks with the producers of Arrested Development for another season. [Vulture]
Apple’s iWatch is coming: The company has applied to trademark the device in Japan. [Reuters]
IAC’s beleaguered CityGrid Media unit, which contains Urbanspoon and CitySearch, is laying off 130 people–or about two-thirds of its staff. It previously went under another round of staffing reductions last October when 15 percent of its workforce was axed. [TechCrunch]
Instagram suffered a widespread spam attack over the weekend. Users reported seeing pictures of a “miracle fruit” in their feed with a link to a phony BBC article about it. Facebook reports that it’s now all under control. [GigaOM]
Groupon wants you to really like them again so they’re introducing a new feature called Reserve, a new daily deal redeemable at high-end restaurants in 10 cities, including New York. [USA Today]
Led by Mark Zuckerberg, around 700 Facebook employees marched in San Francisco’s gay pride parade Sunday. [Wall Street Journal]
Over The Aereo
Aereo, the online service that lets users livestream local channels, announced today that it will be rolling out service to Boston, its second major metropolitan area. Starting May 15, customers in the Massachusetts area who have pre-registered for the free service will start receiving their invites to try it out. On May 30, membership will available to all 4.5 million people in the Boston area.
Nearly 30 channels will be available for streaming, including the city’s network affiliates, specialty channels (i.e. PBS Kids, The Country Network) and some Spanish-language networks. The Boston market extends beyond Massachusetts and includes parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. Aereo has been staffing up in Boston and has several engineering job openings listed on its Career page.
Love in the Time of Algorithms
Good news, singletons: you can now spend your Bitcoins to help you get laid. OKCupid has begun accepting the popular decentralized digital currency as a form of payment. Payments will be accepted via Bitcoin wallet website Coinbase, according to an announcement on its blog.
Betabeat first reported two weeks ago that the IAC-backed site was considering accepting Bitcoins after a Reddit user posted a screenshot from an alleged OKCupid representative claiming that the company was looking to expand its payment options.
The Chat-rooming Classes Today, seemingly every tech reporter in the business tuned into Jason Calacanis‘s “This Week in Startups,” presumably in the hopes that Mr. Calacanis would tell all re: the allegations of abuse against Michael Arrington. But as familiar names chattered away in the chat room, Mr. Calacanis had little to say beyond comparing himself to Obi Wan. That would make Mr. Arrington Anakin Skywalker, of course; Mr. Calacanis said he taught him how to be powerful in media, and “I regret that.”
As for the allegations themselves, Mr. Calacanis was quick to say he wouldn’t be commenting on whether they were true, citing his lack of direct knowledge. (He did, however, openly discuss the time that Mr. Arrington called a PR honcho “the c-word,”
thereby outing someone who’d never mentioned the incident publicly!) [Correction: Mr. Calacanis first mentioned the incident and the PR exec (Brooke Hammerling) by name in the comments of his Facebook post, prompting Ms. Hammerling to confirm the story, also in a Facebook comment.] All in all, it sounds like he (kinda sorta) regrets getting involved. He apparently thought writing a Facebook note wouldn’t go very far. “I thought that that would be a place where it just lived there,” he said. (Paging Randi Zuckerberg!) “I got a little P.T. Barnum in me and I feel like me commenting on all this stuff actually detracts from it,” he added.
Love in the Time of Algorithms
Bitcoin, the popular decentralized digital currency, is having a moment. Its worth topped $106 this morning, Bloomberg Businessweek called it the “global economy’s last safe haven,” and a smattering of online retailers are beginning to the accept the unregulated crypotcurrency.
Multiple sources have told Betabeat that IAC shuttered Hatch Labs–its incubator for building mobile tools, apps, and platforms–on December 31st. Hatch Labs closed both its fifth floor offices in the IAC building on 18th street and in Los Angeles.
“After exploring several strategic options for Hatch Labs, IAC stopped investing in the company, and their operations were subsequently discontinued,” IAC said in response to questions. “IAC is still funding and exploring options for a few of the assets that came out of Hatch Labs.”
Hatch Labs’ New York space is already occupied by other IAC entities. (The only exception is Blu Trumpet, which was spun out as an independent company in 2011, but remains in the Frank Gehry building.) When we stopped by the office last May, it had all the accoutrements of your standard startup accelerator, including a ping pong table and drawers full of free snacks.
Over The Aereo
Hey, look: It’s some actual news out of CES, which has absolutely nothing to do with Evernote-integrated refrigerators! New York-based, Barry Diller-backed TV-streaming service Aereo has been teasing an expansion for some time now, and in a speech today from CEO Chet Kanojia, the company made its move.
The service will roll out to 22 new cities, including Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C, starting in the late spring. Aereo will continue its “Try for Free” program in each of the cities, so would-be cord-cutters can get a taste, but it’ll be invitation-only at first.
Healthy Hills? Everyday Health, the SoHo-based and more successful version of WebMd, has acquired EQAL, the creators of Lonelygirl15 and the owners of LaurenConrad.com. Everyday Health’s ad revenue grew 40 percent in the first quarter, compared to WebMD’s decline of 20 percent. This coincides with Everyday Health’s announcement that they’re moving beyond YouTube and launching a version of it’s web show “Recipe Rehab” for ABC stations around the country.
Diller Brings Back Dog Ben Silverman’s multimedia entertainment studio Electus, part of Barry Diller’s IAC, just sold ten episodes of a new show starring Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife Beth to CMT. “Dog and Beth are not only great television characters,” said Electus CEO Chris Grant, ”They are the best bounty hunters in the world, and this show is a natural evolution of their life story.”