Tech companies continued to rally against Trump’s immigration ban, Android Wear 2.0 finally launched, Airbnb bought up another company and Zenefits laid off 45 percent of its workforce. These are the top stories of the week.
1. More than 100 companies filed an amicus brief voicing opposition to President Trump’s immigration ban executive order. Among them are Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, SpaceX, Airbnb and Twitter. The brief was tied into the case brought by the states of Minnesota and Washington. The Trump administration appealed the case to the 9th Circuit after a federal judge in Seattle halted the immigration ban, where it was then shut down.
2. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced it is donating $3.6 million to fight the San Francisco Bay housing crisis. A majority of the funding will go to Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto to address current hardships caused by the housing shortage. In addition, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, the nonprofit medical research org created by the pair, announced it is giving $50 million to 47 disease research initiatives.
3. Starting next month, the FBI will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act requests by email, and will instead require a fax or snail mail. The decision to revert to archaic tech is troubling, but for FOIA filers, another layer of obfuscation is just business as usual. However, the portal’s new terms of service will let you send an unlimited number of requests.
4. Google officially launched Android Wear 2.0, the biggest update to the company’s wearable OS since its launch in 2014. The updated version feels a lot like the next logical evolution, and the OS is launching on two new flagship watches from LG.
5. Jawbone has run out of money. The fitness band maker that originally started out in headsets and speakers will stop selling consumer hardware in favor of a new business model and manufacturing health devices. Jawbone is also trying to raise more money for this new endeavor.
6. Former Democratic campaigner John Podesta has spoken up about the WikiLeaks email hack that occurred in the final month before the 2016 election. TechCrunch spoke with him about cybersecurity, fake news and Russia.
7. Airbnb is growing. Just after the company bought payments startup Tilt for $50 million, we learned that Airbnb is also acquiring Luxury Retreats, a service that focuses on high-end homes, for a price believed to be around $200 million.
8. Just a few days after announcing Jay Fulcher as its new CEO, Zenefits laid off 45 percent of its workforce. The company said it simply had to cut costs, and is going to centralize its operations group in Arizona.
9. Mike Rothenberg, the VC who came under scrutiny after a SEC investigation and several fraud allegations, is reverting the branding of Frontier Tech Ventures back to Rothenberg Ventures.
10. Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial looks to be on the cusp of a global M&A spree. The company is reportedly close to raising nearly $3 billion in debt financing in order to bankroll more acquisitions.
11. It looks like the U.S. IPO landscape may be heating up in 2017 after all. A Chinese photo-sharing app called Kuaishou is planning to go public in the U.S. later this year. Sources tell us the Instagram-like app has more than 40 million DAU against 100 million MAU, and was recently valued at around $3 billion.