This week saw some major tech feuds: Uber vs. Lyft, Taylor Swift vs. Spotify, and Pirate Bay vs. the police to name a few. TechCrunch also brought you coverage of the new Amazon Echo, the latest from Tinder and the new Microsoft/Dropbox partnership. These are our best stories of the week (11/1-11/7).
1. Amazon launched a new product called the Echo, a connected speaker that is always on and always listening for your voice commands, pegging itself as a virtual assistant that can respond to you with information or by triggering a task. But we must be reminded that Amazon is not in the business of telling you what the weather is going to be like. Greg Kumparak called the Echo out for what it really is: a device that makes it easier for Amazon to sell you things.
2. A lot of news has been circulating around Spotify this week, including pop icon Taylor Swift’s decision to revoke her music from the popular streaming service. Ingrid Lunden reported that in Europe, Spotify royalties are taking over iTunes earnings. Streaming-1, downloads-0. Spotify has also updated its Connect feature, now enabling you to use your phone or tablet as a remote control for the tunes playing on your desktop. This #firstworldproblem has been solved.
3. The final founder of The Pirate Bay was found and arrested. So far, we know that Fredrik Neij is facing jail-time and a hefty fine back in his homeland, Sweden. In 2009, he and the two other founders of the file-sharing site were found guilty of copyright infringements and had gone into hiding. Neij is the last of the three to be arrested.
4. Ron Miller gave us a thoughtful analysis of the roll of innovation in the digital transformation. He describes the road block that many companies are facing during this fast-paced digital era, and provides a few case studies and strategies that businesses can draw from to move past this initial panic and become more innovative.
5. Some changes are happening over at Tinder as the social dating app rolls out two new paid features: “Undo” enables users to go back on an accidental swipe left, and “Passport” connects you with matches outside of your general region. Sean Rad was demoted from his CEO title at Tinder, but will remain at the company as president and board member.
6. Microsoft and Dropbox announced a partnership. The deal will see Dropbox better support Microsoft’s Office suite, and a better editing experience of Office docs from the Dropbox mobile app; accessing Dropbox docs from Office apps; sharing Dropbox links of Office apps; and the creation of first-party Dropbox apps for Microsoft’s mobile offerings.
7. Vik Singh, CEO of Infer, gave us an analysis of how LinkedIn is becoming more and more of a sales platform, and what this could mean for companies like Salesforce. He points out that through LinkedIn, you can educate and advocate for your customers rather than just sell to them, while having clear access to valuable information about them. While LinkedIn claims that companies like SalesForce and Marketo aren’t competitors, it is certainly beginning to close in on the space in a way that these other companies cannot match.
8. Danny Crichton breaks down Slack’s sales growth in “Fundraising Acceleration Is The New VC Investment Thesis.” He argues that the company, which has seen some of the fastest growth rates of SAAS companies and is now valued at $1.12 billion, is an embodiment of the fundraising acceleration thesis.
9. More news from Facebook: The social network giant announced that it is open sourcing Proxygen, the C++ HTTP libraries (including an HTTP server) that it uses internally, which could affect a wide range of developers. Mark Zuckerberg held his first public Q&A and answered questions about forced Messenger app downloads, organic page reach, and women in tech. Facebook also launched a new tool called News Feed Settings that shows the friends and Pages that post the most, and allows users to unfollow over-sharing friends without actually unfriending them.
10. It was election week and we addressed the continuing integration of tech and politics in relation to the housing crisis. We heard from David Chiu in a piece where he discussed San Francisco’s short-term rental solution. Also regarding the housing crisis, Kim-Mai Cutler wrote an article explaining that after geography, the constraints to more housing are largely political. She also provided a helpful guide to the key races to watch during election week.
11. Uber is in the spotlight again, for two incidents. On Halloween, a 26-year-old woman from Baltimore wracked up a $326 Uber bill on a routine ride due to surge pricing, resulting in her inability to pay rent. She raised more than $500 on GoFundMe.com to correct her mistake. Uber and Lyft are also at it again, as Lyft takes its former COO and now Uber employee Travis VanderZanden to court, accusing him of stealing private company documents including confidential strategic product plans, financial information, forecasts, and growth data. VanderZanden replied to the accusations, calling them an “audacious attack on his reputation.”
In other news, we published a gallery of never-before-seen photos of Steve Jobs, China built anti-drone laser technology designed to shoot down low flying drones, and Google’s Cloud Platform team decided to go all in on Docker technology with the alpha launch of its Google Container Engine, a service for building and running Docker container-based applications on its cloud platform.