Weekly Briefing

The US government, Google's "Project Dragonfly" and now MoviePass are all utter disasters

Without hesitation, it can be assumed that the US government is still a crap-show with Donald Trump suing his former aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman, over her new memoir and with Puerto Rico officials finally admitting that more than 1,400 people died from Hurricane Maria — a major increase from the 64 initially reported.

In other news, Elon Musk announced his plans to take Tesla private on Twitter, which might land himself in hot water with the SEC if he doesn't follow through with his plans and Waymo is now testing a taxi-like last-mile service in Phoenix with local transit employees. Finally, with Apple and Google releasing new wellbeing features in their respective operating systems, it's almost like they're admitting they helped cause the issue of smartphone addiction.

MoviePass has finally imploded on itself, but is quick to get back on its feet

MoviePass is still in the news and is being labelled as a spectacular disaster — the company doesn't have a feasible financial plan but is somehow resilient enough to still be around — facing major struggles with users and keeping the service afloat, but somehow coming out on top each time. The service is getting rid of the recently-added surge pricing and instead will limit users to seeing three movies per month in hopes of becoming quickly profitable, but it is hoping users will see less movies than that. But, we have to give it to the company — its managed to breathe new life into the theatre industry and has forced competitors to introduce similar services to retain customers.

Number of the week

Waymo, Google's autonomous car company, could be valued at more than $175 billion because of its entry into the logistics and licensing sectors, according the Morgan Stanley. Other firms value the company at lower values, with RBC Capital Markets coming in at $119 billion and UBS at $135 billion.

There's some assumptions included in Stanley's model, including the just-launched taxi share pilot in Phoenix and a focus on delivering goods instead of people.

In case you missed it

🔥Prisoners in California are working with firefighters for around $1 per hour to put out the wildfires throughout the state, but due to state laws, convicts will never be allowed to receive EMT licenses, a requirement to enter that job field.

🔎 Following the news that Google is building a censored search engine for China titled "Project Dragonfly", employees found themselves pissed and saw it as a betrayal of the company's values. Google reacted to employees by cutting off their access to information about the project and becoming radio silent about the commotion.

🌮 Companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and more boast a variety of free food options on-campus to employees, but though that's a perk for employees, local businesses and cities are suffering as a result. Now, cities are pushing back against the "free food movement" by restricting the construction of company cafeterias.

🛍 Amazon is in the business of connecting buyers with sellers but, after a while, it knows what customers want and can produce the products directly, reaping in on the profit. With more than 100 of its own brands, there's large chance you've already purchased a product from the ecommerce conglomerate under names like Spotted Zebra, Good Brief, Wag and Rivet.

📸: Wikipedia

Jayson DeMers is a fraud, Doug Ford will cut Toronto City Council in half and MoviePass is in trouble

There’s lots going on this week in Toronto with Doug Ford threatening to cut the size of the city council in half but city staff are prepared to challenge this on terms of freedom of representation. In a international scope, MoviePass is facing a lot of trouble making money and went dark last week as a result of bankruptcy, Starbucks is facing a challenge in China as a new competitor pops up and Walmart is hoping to battle Amazon and Netflix by launching its own video streaming service at a lower price than the rest.

Read More

There's such thing as 'vomit fraud', Lime hit six million rides and $117,000 is now low-income in SF

I've taken a couple weeks off due to some personal complications and since I'm back, I'm taking this opportunity to do a little revamp of this weekly newsletter in a way that's more bite-sized and brief, two things I've been failing at recently. There's lots going on in the world and because I'm already covering issues happening in my home city on a different part of this website, I'm going to try to keep them to a minimum on here. With this in mind, there's lots going on this week, including something called "vomit fraud" and the fact that Snapchat is discontinuing its cash-transfer feature because it was only used by hookers and prostitutes.

Read More

Lyft acquires the company behind Citi Bike, Amazon is getting into prescription drugs and more shootings in Toronto

It seems like companies are venturing into new industries more than ever before, with Amazon purchasing prescription drug company PillPack for a reported $1 billion and Lyft announcing its acquisition of Motivate, the company behind the likes of New York City’s Citi Bike program. While both of these acquisitions are both seemingly normal in nature, they signify that both companies are trying to expand their footprint even more into people’s lives, so it’s only a matter of time before we find out how well these companies scale.

Read More

There's been a string of murders in Toronto and Justin Trudeau won't be in Ottawa for Canada Day

Toronto has seen a dangerous string of unrelated murders over the last 24 hours and though the Toronto Police raided a gang’s headquarters in the city, not all suspects have been caught and the investigations are ongoing. John Tory has promised the city’s full support to the police force. On a more positive note, Justin Trudeau has announced that instead of spending Canada Day in Ottawa, he’ll be splitting his time between southwestern Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon (that’s a lot of flying!).

Read More

Fraudster Elizabeth Holmes is starting a new business, Ontario sees the highest voter turnout since 1999 and no NAFTA deal is better than a bad one

You've probably heard about Theranos before; the startup run by Elizabeth Holmes that aimed to make blood tests simple and painless but turned out to be a massive fraud scheme. Well, Holmes is now seeking to start a new company and is asking for funding which she, oddly enough, actually get. This just goes to prove that all you need to be successful in Silicon Valley is a poker face. In other news, Apple has been served with a lawsuit over the butterfly keyboard that it released in 2015, citing a higher-than-normal breakdown rate as the main driver. Finally, the province of Ontario is being led by Doug Ford now (yelp!) so we're accepting condolences at this time.

Read More

Singapore built a town just for self-driving buses and because of the US, Mexico is having a gun crisis

There's still lots of businesses rushing to implement the changes required under GDPR, a new set of laws in the EU that govern everything people do online and how businesses are allowed to use their data. If it sounds like hard work to abide by, that's because it is, and many businesses are failing to comply as a result (even though they had more than two years to make the appropriate changes). These regulations are good for consumers because it limits what information is allowed to be collected by businesses and requires disclosure of the data collected, something that might prove very popular in Canada and the US as we see how our neighbours across the pond reap the benefits of tighter laws.

Read More

Nobody's ready for GDPR, Car2Go is shutting down in Toronto and the US Government lost track of 1,500 children

There's still lots of businesses rushing to implement the changes required under GDPR, a new set of laws in the EU that govern everything people do online and how businesses are allowed to use their data. If it sounds like hard work to abide by, that's because it is, and many businesses are failing to comply as a result (even though they had more than two years to make the appropriate changes). These regulations are good for consumers because it limits what information is allowed to be collected by businesses and requires disclosure of the data collected, something that might prove very popular in Canada and the US as we see how our neighbours across the pond reap the benefits of tighter laws.

Read More

Free public transit can work, as evident from Estonia

There's been numerous debates before about whether transit should be free, and there's numerous benefits associated with it: not only does it reduce pollution, but better access means a stronger job market and health benefits too. Stockholm, for instance, is home to a large amount of fare dodgers who illustrate how this wouldn't be an issue if taking the subway was free and paid for indirectly instead of each time you ride. German cities are trialling it too, to cut down on pollution in the country.

Making public transit fare-free will always be a huge issue, because though the middle and lower class would welcome the change, there's always going to be someone opposing the move.

Read More

Google embraces AI in all its products

The highlight of this week is Google's annual I/O event where they announce major projects they've been working on, and this year they did not disappoint. In keeping with its embrace of AI, the company announced Google Duplex, a service that has the capability of making calls to businesses and other people while sounding completely natural. Snapchat is releasing a redesign of its redesigned app, and there have been sadly three bombings in Indonesia this week carried out by suicide bombers.

Read More

Some doctors have found loopholes to do illegal crimes and nutrition labels are coming to fast food joints

There's quite a bit going on this week with Google hosting their annual I/O event tomorrow and Ford, Wynne and Horwath hitting it off in the first Ontario election debate. But there's also several larger international stories this week that deserve attention too, like the headlining one highlighting the Toronto Star's investigation into doctors doing illegal things in the US like rape, then coming to Canada without having to disclose that information, or São Paulo's metro system spying (quite literally) on its customers without their knowledge.

Read More

SmartTrack isn't like it was supposed to be and Sprint and T-Mobile are merging

There's been so much that's happened this week in the world that it's hard to sum it all up. Zuckerberg finished his testimony a couple weeks ago and Facebook is now in high-speed mode to fix the damage it's done, but it might be too late for that now. There's a small town in the northernmost part of Alaska where the temperatures are rising so fast, algorithms thought the data collected was fake and there's a huge nation-sized mass of plastic floating around in the Pacific Ocean that's a good look at how our world will end up if we don't curb our waste now. In local news, Toronto voted for SmartTrack to be built, but it's nothing like how it was supposed to look or be designed.

Read More

With all eyes on Facebook, nobody is paying attention to how Google handles data

I won't hide the fact that I'm really bad at sending out these email blasts because, to be completely honest, I am. Recently I've learned how difficult it can be to manage all the fuss in life, but that's exactly what I had planned for this email to do for all of you. Once again, here is your email brief for the week, along with my promise to send these more often, as initially promised.

Read More

Elizabeth Holmes lost her voting rights at Theranos and Uber bought a bike-share startup

I accidentally skipped the email last Monday, but I'm back. This week there's been a lot of news with Facebook being accused of political interference (again) and Snapchat laying off 10 percent of its staff after having an unsuccessful year. The most important news, however, is that electricity costs could rise for communities where bitcoin mining companies set up shop.

Read More

Bitcoin companies are making power more expensive

I accidentally skipped the email last Monday, but I'm back. This week there's been a lot of news with Facebook being accused of political interference (again) and Snapchat laying off 10 percent of its staff after having an unsuccessful year. The most important news, however, is that electricity costs could rise for communities where bitcoin mining companies set up shop.

Read More