Summary of “Can Lyft “Nice” Its Way to the Top of the Ridesharing Heap?”

Thanks to the internet’s outrage at Uber and a well-timed Lyft donation of $1 million to help the ACLU fight Trump’s travel ban, Lyft surpassed Uber in app downloads for the first time that weekend.
As of early 2018, Lyft still has only around 27 percent market share in the U.S., according to credit card analytics firm Second Measure-but that’s way up from the 15 percent share the company commanded before #deleteUber happened.
The initial version of Uber was an upscale black-car service to let Travis Kalanick and his friends “Roll around San Francisco like ballers.” Lyft began as a way to help college kids without vehicles carpool home for the holidays.
Early marketing worked extra hard to sell Lyft as a feel-good company: Sit in the front seat! Give your driver a fist bump! Laugh at this goofy pink mustache! But beneath the branding there were features showing that Lyft really did care about more than its own bottom line, such as the ability to tip drivers and a mentor program that paired each new driver with an experienced one before they hit the road. Zimmer himself drives on Lyft every New Year’s Eve to better understand the driver experience, and his time behind the wheel is going up as the company expands, not down.
These drivers, as they sang Lyft’s praises or griped about Uber’s poor treatment during rides, helped frame the way passengers viewed the two companies.
Lyft says it is an ardent supporter of public transit-cofounder Green was the youngest member of the Santa Barbara County transit board when he was in college, and the company has many partnerships with local governments to ferry people to transit hubs or replace rarely used bus routes with subsidized Lyft rides.
In 2017, about 40 percent of Lyft rides occurred in the carpooling service Lyft Line in cities where the feature was available, up from 30 percent the previous year.
Even some of Uber’s controversies may not be unique-in January, a current or former Lyft employee anonymously claimed that workers at the company had improperly looked up passengers’ location data, similar to Uber’s notorious “God View” mode.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Seductive Confinement of a Weighted Blanket in an Anxious Time”

On its Facebook page, Gravity posted a video showing, on one side, a person restlessly freaking out in bed under a comforter, and, on the other, a perfect sleeper under a Gravity Blanket.
Weighted blankets and vests have been used for decades as therapeutic aids for children with developmental disorders, and as tools for calming anxious dogs and cats.
There are some studies on the scientific workings of weighted blankets, although a few of them were funded by companies that produce weighted blankets.
Its site now features testimonials from customers who are “Kind of addicted” and who compare the blanket to “Advil PM for your whole body.” In the slightly disturbing sleep diary I kept during my first week with the blanket, I wrote, “I am still working but bed will be nice later. Maybe the worst thing is being conscious at all.”
On a recent weekday, the top two new releases in Amazon’s blanket section were weighted blankets from companies other than Gravity.
Gravity doesn’t sell its products on Amazon, but there are plenty of products with names like “Weighted Blanket Gravity Blanket for Adults.” It seems possible that the company’s name will become the generic term for the category, in large part because “Gravity Blanket” has a catchy and definitive ring.
A couple of nights ago, my boyfriend, whom I had been accidentally slugging with spare heavy corners-the blanket is only big enough for personal use-helpfully suggested that I put the Gravity Blanket under the sheets and not on top of them.
The blanket enacts a fantasy of immobilization that is especially seductive in a world of ever-expanding obligations-to work, to monetize, to take action, to perform.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Story of Dave Dahl and His Killer Bread”

Another confesses, “We tell perfect strangers about it in the bread aisle at our Safeway! They always take our word for it and buy it.” What kind of sliced bread inspires such fervor? Dave’s Killer Bread has become a prism through which people see their own comeback narratives, be it from addiction, or homelessness, or being in abusive relationships.
The tale of Good Seed has been so thoroughly indoctrinated into Dave’s Killer Bread culture that, even today, the employees I’ve talked to and Dave tell the story nearly verbatim.
He met his then-girlfriend, Michelle Bain, when he was still that caricature, Dave of Dave’s Killer Bread. His rough past and the years in prison had made it hard for Dave to form long-term relationships with women.
Dave stopped getting paid hourly and became president of the Dave’s Killer Bread brand, which came with a much larger paycheck.
Ladd Justesen, who met Dave in 1998 during that last prison stint, was hired as a personal assistant but soon became Dave’s driver, chauffeuring him around town in the black Escalade so Dave could work or relax during these commuting breaks in his hectic schedule.
Just over five years after its birth, Dave’s Killer Bread had grown so big that Glenn and Dave had to either sell a share of the company to afford to keep growing or leave it a fairly small regional business.
Part of the sale of Dave’s Killer Bread included a negotiation for life story rights; after all, Dave’s tale is synonymous with the company’s.
For the rest of his life, the story of Dave’s Killer Bread would have been erased from his timeline.

The orginal article.

Summary of “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018”

Every year since 2001 we’ve picked what we call the 10 Breakthrough Technologies.
What we’re really looking for is a technology, or perhaps even a collection of technologies, that will have a profound effect on our lives.
A new project in Toronto, called Quayside, is hoping to change that pattern of failures by rethinking an urban neighborhood from the ground up and rebuilding it around the latest digital technologies.
Sectors such as medicine, manufacturing, and energy could also be transformed if they were able to implement the technology more fully, with a huge boost to economic productivity.
A pilot power plant just outside Houston, in the heart of the US petroleum and refining industry, is testing a technology that could make clean energy from natural gas a reality.
Net Power is a collaboration between technology development firm 8 Rivers Capital, Exelon Generation, and energy construction firm CB&I. The company is in the process of commissioning the plant and has begun initial testing.
Net Power’s technology won’t solve all the problems with natural gas, particularly on the extraction side.
Of all the clean-energy technologies in development, Net Power’s is one of the furthest along to promise more than a marginal advance in cutting carbon emissions.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Winn-Dixie and Tops grocery stores are close to bankruptcy”

Bloomberg reports that Winn-Dixie parent Bi-Lo and Tops Friendly Market could both declare bankruptcy this month, an ominous shakeout in a grocery industry that is bracing for new competition from Amazon and its newly acquired Whole Foods subsidiary.
Dig a little deeper and the situation is more complicated: Both companies are wheezing under heavy debt loads after being acquired by private equity firms.
Tops was sold by Koninklijke Ahold to Morgan Stanley Private Equity in 2007, and then in another leveraged deal to the company’s management in 2013.
PE firm Lone Star Funds bought Bi-Lo in 2005, saw the company through a bankruptcy in 2009, and then helped fund the acquisition of Winn-Dixie.
The classic PE playbook is to buy a company with borrowed money, take out enormous loans, and pocket the proceeds.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, from 2013 to 2017 PE firms received $100 billion in debt-funded payouts, while PE-owned companies defaulted on $49.2 billion worth of loans.
Last week the footsteps of doom in the grocery sector got louder: Amazon announced the launch of two-hour Whole Foods delivery in four US cities, free for Prime members.
“Free two-hour grocery delivery is ludicrously convenient, perhaps the most convenient thing Amazon has come up with yet. And why should we consumers pay for huge dividends to Kroger shareholders?”.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change – Om Malik”

The collective outrage over Facebook and its actions might result in a lot of talk, but it won’t really change Facebook, its ethos, and its ethics.
Just look at these charts and you start to see why Facebook is addicted to growth and engagement.
Time spent on Facebook means that’s attention not spent on Twitter, Snapchat, or anyone else who dares to compete with them.
I don’t think this change of heart on the part of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg is not altruistic.
The VPN data also allows Facebook to better target its ads – much like how Google Mail and Google Chrome allows Google to better target what ads you see.
Facebook needs to find more high-value customers in the hordes of users in Asia, Africa, and LatAm.
Facebook’s ultimate goal is to make it expensive to buy hyper-personalized advertising – which is the Mount Olympus of advertising – and I am not surprised that Facebook is thinking about releasing touch screen smart speakers.
Facebook is about making money by keeping us addicted to Facebook.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Banks Could Control Gun Sales if Washington Won’t”

To be clear: Those three banks won’t let you use your credit card to buy Bitcoin, but they will happily let you use it to buy an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle – the same kind of gun used in mass shootings in Parkland; Newtown, Conn.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Las Vegas; and Sutherland Springs, Tex.Visa, oddly enough, is the card of choice of the N.R.A.: There is actually an N.R.A.-branded Visa card issued by First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha.
Here’s a variation on the same theme: What if the payment processing industry’s biggest customers – companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, CVS and others that regularly talk about “Social responsibility” – collectively pressured the industry to do it? There’s a chance that some of the payment processors would stop handling gun sales.
At least two executives said a reason that they haven’t been more outspoken yet is that they fear reprisals from the N.R.A. and other gun supporters – not just in the form of boycotts that could affect their bottom line, but also actions that could imperil the safety of their employees.
Critics of using the finance industry to influence gun sales might argue that such a move would be discriminatory against gun retailers.
Gun sellers are not a protected class, like age, race, gender, religion or even political affiliation.
Another critique is that it is impossible to prevent every shooting, no matter how guns are restricted.
The most troubling aspect of having the finance industry try to restrict gun sales is that it would push the most dangerous guns into an untraceable world where sales would depend on cash.
Lloyd’s of London is the favored insurance company for gun shows.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Better climate science has opened the door to lawsuits against Big Oil”

These lawsuits are also a sign that the science connecting climate change to damaging events has greatly improved.
Though scientists still warn that it’s inaccurate to speak of weather events being “Caused” by climate change – weather always has multiple causes – better climate models, more powerful computers, and refined methodologies now allow researchers to quantify how climate change has increased the likelihood or severity of heat waves, droughts, deluges, and other extreme events.
Combined with attribution science, the two fields form a sort of climate forensics, enabling communities to point to an ostensibly natural disaster, find the fingerprints of climate change, and trace them back to an Exxon or BP. If the current volley of lawsuits over adaptation costs are successful, they will likely be followed by others: Phoenix might sue over deadly heat, Boulder over its shrinking ski season, or Houston over torrential rain.
“Advances in the science of extreme weather event attribution have the potential to change the legal landscape in novel ways.” The better attribution science gets, the easier it will be to argue that governments should have foreseen climate risks and prepared for them – and to hold them liable if they fail to.
The new lawsuits from Santa Cruz, New York, and elsewhere may fare better, according to Michael Burger, the executive director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.
If the new round of lawsuits go to trial, there will be a bitter fight over these two links in the causal chain: that these companies contributed to climate change, and that climate change is causing these particular harms.
In a petition filed last month in a Texas district court, the company accused the California communities of “Abusive law enforcement tactics” designed to stifle the company’s “First Amendment right to participate in the national dialogue about climate change and climate policy.” Seeking depositions and documents, Exxon also accused the communities of failing to tell bondholders about the climate risks cited in their lawsuits.
It’s standard practice for fossil fuel companies to push back fiercely against attempts to hold them accountable for climate change, but it’s easy to see why the current round of lawsuits would be worrisome.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why A.I. Researchers at Google Got Desks Next to the Boss”

A growing number of tech companies are pushing research labs and other far-reaching engineering efforts closer to the boss.
A year ago, the Google Brain team of mathematicians, coders and hardware engineers sat in a small office building on the other side of the company’s campus.
“Any C.E.O. thinks a lot about where people are sitting – who they can walk around and have casual conversations with,” said Diane Greene, who oversees Google’s cloud computing team and sits on the board of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Google is placing big bets on the A.I. being explored by researchers like Mr. Goodfellow.
These big companies are trying to duplicate the vibe of a Silicon Valley start-up, where the boss is next to everyone.
Ms. Greene, who was the chief executive of the software company VMware, said she had always made a point of sitting beside the top engineers because they saw the company’s future.
After Facebook went public and started a big push for revenue, important members of the ad team moved next to the boss, said Antonio García Martínez, who wrote a book about his experiences inside Facebook.
The boss is also showing them how important they are to the company.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Case Against Google”

In other words, it’s very likely you love Google, or are at least fond of Google, or hardly think about Google, the same way you hardly think about water systems or traffic lights or any of the other things you rely on every day.
Shivaun would sit at her computer, exhausted, Googling phrase after phrase – How do you lift a Google website penalty? Who at Google reviews mistakes? Google and deindexed and phone number and help – hoping that some magic combination of words might yield a new solution.
Skyhook’s accuracy “Is better than ours,” one Google manager speculated in an internal email later revealed in a lawsuit filed by Skyhook against Google.
Skyhook sued Google, and though one suit was dismissed, Google ended up paying $90 million to settle a patent-infringement claim.
Yelp complained – to Google and later to the F.T.C. – but Google said the only alternative was for Yelp to remove its content from Google altogether, according to documents filed with federal regulators.
In 2013, Google adjusted how it displayed images so that rather than directing people to Getty’s website, users could easily see and download Getty’s high-definition images from Google itself.
TradeComet.com, which operated a vertical-search engine for finding business products, initially prospered by buying ads on Google, but as the site grew, Google “Raised my prices by 10,000 percent, which strangled our business virtually overnight,” the company’s C.E.O. at the time, Dan Savage, said when he filed an antitrust lawsuit in 2009.
Whereas a decade earlier someone searching for steakhouses would have seen a long list of websites, now the most noticeable results pointed to Google’s own listings, including Google maps, Google local search or advertisers paying Google.

The orginal article.