The FBI announced today that a startup founder and former SpaceX employee was arrested in San Francisco for allegedly operating Silk Road 2.0. According to the FBI, Blake Benthall's online drug bazaar was netting millions of dollars worth of bitcoin every month while he simultaneously worked at SpaceX.
Amazon is pushing hard to satisfy their customer's demand for same-day delivery. And thanks for Uber and Lyft's aggressive price war, on-demand taxi startups just might make it possible. According to a Valleywag source and the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is now testing out delivering packages with Uber and Flywheel.
Update: The CEO sent an email (below) confirming the layoffs Thursday morning. A source tells Valleywag that LivingSocial just announced 20 percent layoffs at the company. The "online marketplace" for local deals raised $934.7 million in venture capital. Earlier this year the company invested heavily in recruiting for its Los Angeles office, but the source says that office will be closed. I reached out to LivingSocial to confirm the layoffs and will update when I hear back.
We already know tech's diversity reports are dismal. Now a black female engineer who works at Google adds a narrative to the corporate numbers that are so easy to dismiss. In eight years at the company, she has cycled through harassment, isolation, being passed over for promotions, and surrendering her identity to fit in.
The subprime lending market that plunged America into the Great Recession is back and as unscrupulous as ever. Instead of mortgages, this time a bubble has formed around auto loans, and reliably ruthless Uber is in the thick of it. Two "partners" in Uber's vehicle financing program are under federal investigation, but Uber hasn't slowed its aggressive marketing campaign to get drivers with bad credit to sign up for loans.
Even though the sexual harassment suit against Tinder has already been settled, the IAC-owned startup is still facing fallout from the HR nightmare. Justin Mateen, the Tinder CMO who allegedly called his former coworker and girlfriend a "whore," was quickly forced to resign. Now Forbes reports that Tinder founder Sean Rad has been driven out as CEO.
Silicon Valley has some of the country's more dizzying gaps in income inequality. Wealthy enclaves are built besides some of the Valley's poorest neighborhoods, leaving family services underfunded and municipalities writing laws that punish the poor. Now their own congresswoman is calling out tech CEOs for not doing enough to help:
Amazon has joined the chorus of companies releasing diversity statistics. Their report, released Halloween day, reveals that 63 percent of their workers are male and 40 percent are racial minorities. But Rainbow PUSH says Amazon was "intentionally deceptive," as they padded numbers with warehouse employees.
San Francisco got little right with their Airbnb-legalizing legislation. The home-renting startup has been accused of illegally lobbying to get the bill passed. Airbnb also helped regulators write portions of the law. Now HomeAway, the Airbnb competitor that runs VRBO, is suing to get the law overturned because it was designed with only one company in mind.
When Ed Lee was appointed mayor of San Francisco in early 2011, he quickly spearheaded the passage of a Mid-Market neighborhood tax break. It was sold to the public as a way to keep high-profile startups like Twitter in town and revive the chronically-struggling neighborhood. But a report for the city's controller's office indicates the tax break hasn't been quite so successful.
Wealthy tech executives like investing in sports team for the same reason they like investing in restaurants: it guarantees them a seat. And YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley just bought a front row view of the Los Angeles Football Club, alongside co-owners Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, motivational maniac Tony Robbins, and more.
A few weeks in the White House has imbued chief technology officer Megan Smith with a newfound respect for Silicon Valley's number one enemy: regulation. While Larry and Sergey try to dismantle healthcare law, the former VP of Google X is complimenting "talented regulators" in The New York Times Magazine.
Facebook's team of mad data scientists caught flak this summer for experimenting on their users' emotions. But the company has a proud history of turning people into unwitting research subjects. For at least six years, the social network has been mining the political preferences of its users without their consent. The company will pull personal political data for the 2016 election as well, but this time Facebook will share its findings.