13 TechCrunch Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week

This week, tech companies geared up for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere with a bunch of fun Easter eggs like this phonesaber from Google, WhatsApp was ordered to shut down in Brazil, and we got more information about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. These are our best stories of the week.

1. A judge in Sao Paulo ordered WhatsApp, the single most used app in Brazil, to shut down for 48 hours. Brazilian telcos have been lobbying for months to convince the government that WhatsApp’s voice service is unregulated and illegal, and have blamed the app for driving millions of Brazilians to abandon their cell phone lines. The ban has since been lifted. In response to the ban, Telegram experienced a huge boost of new users.

2. We talked to Caitlyn Fox, chief of staff of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, about the strategy for Priscilla and Mark’s philanthropic foundation – and it looks just as much like a startup as a charity.


3. Google released its 2015 “Year In Search” list, and this year, basketball player Lamar Odom, the terrorist attacks in Paris, and action game Agar.io made the list of the most popular queries.

4. Chinese investors and other domain prospectors have been buying up numeric and short-character dot coms. Guest contributor Alan Dunn questions if this is a fad or history in the making. 

5. Hacker collective Anonymous targeted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after the real estate tycoon called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

6. Megan Rose Dickey wrote that intersectionality could be key in the solution to the tech diversity crisis in “Dear White People, You Suck At Diversity.”

7. Ron Miller wrote an analysis of Adobe’s record revenue and how it proves that successful business transformation is possible.

8. Sarah Buhr and Josh Constine reported that you can now order “Transportation” in Facebook Messenger starting with Uber, and soon Lyft.

9. The University of California said it will be investing $250 million in startupsemerging from the University of California system.” The investment will be part of a fund focused on students, professors and alumni of the 10 UC schools, with a particular emphasis on startups in the life sciences, technology, energy, agriculture and materials sectors.

10. Google CEO Sundar Pichai penned an open letter supporting Muslim tolerance in a Medium post titled “Let’s not let fear defeat our values.” Pichai wrote: “I feel we must speak out — particularly those of us who are not under attack. Everyone has the right to their views, but it’s also important that those who are less represented know that those are not the views of all.”

Sundar Pichai

11. The United States FAA launched its long-expected drone registration program mandating that US drone owners will have to register their drones with the government for a $5 fee starting Dec. 21.

12. Romain Dillet reported that Netflix is re-encoding its entire catalog to reduce bandwidth.

13. Apple promoted Jeff Williams to COO and put Phil Schiller in charge of the App Store.