TechSummit Rewind 148

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Tech industry reacts to Trump’s travel ban


The tech industry has responded to President Trump’s executive order banning entry to the United States from seven countries.

Several big names, including early Twitter investor Chris Sacca, started a trend offering to match donations to those that donated to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Other executives followed, including:

  • Stripe CEO Patrick Collison
  • Nest founder Tony Fadell
  • Union Square Ventures partners Fred Wilson, Joanne Wilson, Amy Batchelor, & Brad Field
  • USV partner Albert Wenger
  • Ziggeo CEO Susan Danziger
  • Homeberw Venture partners Hunter Walk and Satya Patel
  • Intercom CEO Eoghan McCabe
  • Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield
  • Xamarin co-founder Nat Friedman
  • Sequoia Capital’s Mike Vernal
  • Charles River Ventures partner Izhar Armony
  • Facebook advertising head Andrew Bosworth

Google has also created a $2 million crisis fund that can be matched by donations from employees benefitting the ACLU, Immigrant Resource Center, International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps.

Uber will create a $3 million defense legal fund to cover legal, immigration, and translation costs for drivers affected by the ban.

Lyft CEO Logan Green pledged that his company will donate $1 million to the ACLU over four years.

For more coverage of the ban, check out Grasswire’s coverage.

Lyft surges to top 10 on Apple’s App Store following #DeleteUber campaign


Lyft’s app has surged in the App Store thanks to the “Delete Uber” campaign that took place on social media over the weekend. People were angry that Uber appeared to be taking advantage of a taxi strike at New York’s JFK Airport to promote its car-hailing service. The company tweeted that surge pricing at JFK was switched off, shortly after the NY Taxi Workers Alliance called for a shop on pickups at the airport in response to what they said was the “inhumane, unconstitutional ban of Muslim refugees and travelers.”

The Alliance asked all drivers, Uber included, to not pick up at JFK on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 6pm to 7pm to protest Trump’s immigration and refugee ban.

Angry feedback from that Uber tweet launched the #DeleteUber campaign on Twitter, where users called out the company for their actions and CEO Travis Kalanick for serving as an economic advisor to President Trump.

Lyft started Saturday with a ranking of #39 in the Free Apps chart for iPhone. By the end of the weekend, it shot up to #7.

Fitbit laying off six percent of its staff



Fitbit will be reducing its global workforce by six percent after a disappointing fourth quarter.

We’re expected to learn more during their earnings call later today, but a preliminary statement details the loss of 110 jobs in a “reorganization of its business” designed to “create a more focused and efficient operating model.”

Starbucks unveils virtual assistant that takes your order via messaging/voice


Starbucks is embracing the trend towards voice-based computing with My Starbucks barista, a new feature in the coffee shop’s mobile app that allows customers to order and pay for their food and drinks by speaking. This includes being able to modify their drink order, as if they were speaking to an actual barista. Additionally, the company is launching an Amazon Alexa platform, which lets customers re-order their favorite items by speaking to an Alexa-powered device.

“The Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between our barista and customer, so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility. Our team is focused on making sure that Starbucks voice ordering within our app is truly personal and equally important was finding the right partner in Amazon to test and learn from this new capability.”

-Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks chief technology officer

The feature uses artificial intelligence to process incoming orders through a new messaging interface in the Starbucks app. Here, customers can also interact with the virtual assistant by messaging their order chatbot style. The assistant can also confirm which location you want to order from, and help process the payment.

According to Starbucks, the new assistant will initially only be available to a thousand iOS customers nationwide during a limited beta test, with a phased rollout planned through this summer. The Android version will then follow later in the year.

The “Starbucks Reorder Skill” for Amazon Alexa lets customers re-order their usual items by saying “Alexa, order my Starbucks.” This will require customers to have the Starbucks mobile app installed on their device, and an account set up where they’ve designated their favorite order.

Dropbox brings its Google Docs competitor out of beta

Dropbox Paper

Dropbox’s Paper collaborative editing software is launching globally today. The minimal document editor and writing toll is the focal point, while Dropbox’s other services and features now plug into and augment the expect Paper experience.

“We fully expect Paper to be used in environments where people are using Microsoft and Google products. That’s the rule, not the exception.”

-Rob Baesman, Dropbox head of product

According to Baesman, Paper is “one part online document, one part collaboration, one part task management tool, one part content hub.”

“At Paper, teams can create, review, organize content in a flexible work space.”

-Rob Baesman

Dropbox is also throwing in some new features to Paper that signal the software’s direction. One of these features, still in beta, is the ability to collect work into separate “projects.” These projects now have special viewing and filtering options that help them be categorized easier and tracked over time. You can also assign employees to projects and set due dates, like task-management software products Asana and Trello.

Another aspect is Dropbox’s Smart Sync, which turns a company’s entire Dropbox account into accessible folders on the desktop file system on Windows or Mac. This allows employees to perform work without having to jump back and forth to a browser window.

Paper is available for everyone in the 21 language markets supported at launch today, but administrative features will require a Dropbox Business or Enterprise plan. Smart Sync is free for business customers through its early-access program.

DraftKings receives Malta gaming license


DraftKings has gotten a Controlled Skill Games License from the Malta Gaming Authority, which runs gaming in the small island nation.

Since Malta is a part of the European Union, DraftKings can now use this license to expand into some other EU countries without any further licenses or permits.

DraftKings hopes to start offering contests in Germany and Malta sometime this quarter.

Hinge testing Audrey personal assistant service to help you get more dates


Dating app Hinge has been testing Audrey, a personal assistant that will message your matches for you and schedule your dates.

“We know the back-and-forth of getting to the first date can be frustrating, if not futile. That’s why we’re introducing Audrey.”

-Hinge, in an internal site

According to the site, you need to select the people you’re interested in. Then, Audrey will reach out and introduce you to those people. If the feeling is mutual, she will schedule a date on your behalf. Audrey will also provide “data and feedback” along the way to help you find your perfect match.

The service is currently in beta testing in New York.



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