Russia sanctioned and SpaceX looks back to the stars: It’s The Daily Crunch

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday our daily guided tour of the biggest tech stories from the past 24 hours will appear here on To get The Daily Crunch in your inbox every day of the week, sign up here.

Russia gets a parting gift from Obama, SpaceX wants to move back to more controlled explosions, plus internet matrimony. All that and more in The Daily Crunch for December 30, 2016. And if you’re one of the growing number of ailing wearable companies, maybe think twice before bickering in public.

1. White House sanctions Russia for election hack

The White House may be getting new leadership early next year, but the Obama administration isn’t coasting: the U.S. Government just announced new sanctions it’s imposing on Russia for its role in the U.S. election hacks for the 2016 Presidential race.

The sanctions include blocking GRU officials from traveling to the U.S., and extraditing 35 Russian intelligence operatives. It’s ‘too little, too late’ according to most observers, however – the ideal time for this to come down would’ve been sometime before voting.

2. SpaceX is prepping for its return to launch

Launches for SpaceX have been on hold ever since a Falcon 9 rocket blew up on a launch pad during pre-flight routines. The issues seem to have been identified, according to the company, and it’s looking to get FAA clearance for a potential first launch back with Iridium, bringing that company’s satellites to orbit ideally sometime between January 7 and 9. The remaining hurdle of FAA clearance is a doozie, however.

3. IPOs were few in 2016, but they worked out well

Tech startups going public were down considerably – back to 2009 financial crisis levels, almost. But the ones that did go public did very well, and the investment scene has also changed to allow later stage companies to stay private and continue to raise for longer. Global economic worries probably also dampened the market, and it’s not clear that those will get any better in 2017.

4. Facebook hedges on biometrics case

Facebook is doing everything it can to avoid being entangled in an Illinois court case that has plaintiffs accusing it of violating local laws related to facial recognition. The social network is basically disagreeing with every definition of anything related to facial recognition tech and biometrics to avoid being found responsible for having broken the state rules. Someone definitely doesn’t want to face the music.

5. Serena Williams agrees to marry social media site co-founder

Superstar international pro tennis champion Serena Williams is marrying that guy who co-created the self-professed “front page of the internet.” Alexis Ohanian proposed to Williams and she accepted, according to her announcement on r/isaidyes, a subreddit dedicated to proposals. I guess that’s cute, but Reddit’s still mostly a disaster.

6. Jawbone and Fitbit trade jabs over dropped lawsuit

Like two schoolyard rivals bitterly teasing one another, Jawbone and Fitbit have been trading on-record jabs since Fitbit dropped its lawsuit against Jawbone. Guess what: neither of you is in very good shape right now so maybe focus on that instead of on bashing each other in court filings.

7. Uber and Lyft defend names and faces policy

Uber and Lyft have been accused of having discrimination problems, with drivers opting not to pick up passengers based on race and names, but in a letter to Sen. Al Franken, both denied their use of real names and profile pictures as a way to prevent fraud and ensure safety for all parties. It makes sense, but that discrimination problem still needs a fix that goes beyond posting a policy against that kind of behavior.