TechSummit Rewind 154

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

Uber will release first diversity report in next few months


A day after former Uber site reliability engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti posted a detailed narrative about unwanted sexual advances from her manager and a lackluster response from Uber’s human resources department, prompting Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick to call for an investigation. Kalanick reported more detail about the investigation and informed them that it will release its first diversity report in the next few months.

In an email to employees released today, Kalanick wrote that 15.1 percent of Uber’s engineers, product managers, and scientists are women, adding that the figure stands at 10 percent at Twitter, 17 percent at Facebook, and 18 percent at Google.

“I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do. Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time. What is driving me through all this is a determination that we take what’s happened as an opportunity to heal wounds of the past and set a new standard for justice in the workplace. It is my number one priority that we come through this a better organization, where we live our values and fight for and support those who experience injustice.”

-Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

WhatsApp launches Status Snapchat Stories clone


WhatsApp has launched Status, a new tab for sharing decorated photos, videos and GIFs that disappear after 24 hours. It’s another copycat of Snapchat Stories from Facebook, with the twist that it’s end-to-end encrypted like the messaging function.

The feature was tested for beta users in Nov., and the Status tab is rolling out now worldwide on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Users can watch updates from friends and reply privately, shoot and adorn imagery with drawings and captions and send their creations to all their contacts they’ve chosen with a persistent privacy setting. Sending media to specific friends is still done through message threads.

Status could also open up new advertising opportunities for WhatsApp, with the potential for full-screen ads in-between Statuses (a la Instagram and Snapchat).

The feature replaces WhatsApp’s AOL Instant Messenger-style away messages, which was the app’s only feature when it launched eight years ago.

Snap starts selling Spectacles online in U.S. for $130


Speaking of Snap, the company’s Spectacles camera-toting sunglasses are now on sale online in the U.S. here for $129.99. Previously, they were only available at Snapbot vending machines placed in surprise locations and a pop-up store in New York.

That pop-up store has since closed, and according to Snap, Snapbots will “continue to land in surprising locations around the U.S. following a brief nap.” Buyers should expect to wait two to four weeks to get their Spectacles once they order, and can also buy $49.99 charging cases and $9.99 charging cables (both of which are included with the Spectacles).

“Response has been positive since November’s launch so we’re now happy to be able to make Spectacles more readily available – especially for those in the U.S. who have not been able to make it to a Snapbot.”

-A Snap spokesperson

Samsung reputation tanks in U.S. after Note 7 flop


According to an annual survey from Harris Poll, Samsung’s reputation among U.S. consumers took a major hit last year after the Galaxy Note 7 recall. The company ranked 49th in the poll’s Reputation Quotient Ratings, which ranks the top 100 most visible companies in the U.S. according to public reputation. Last year, Samsung ranked third, ahead of both Apple and Google.

Amazon topped the list for the second consecutive year, followed by supermarket chains Wegmans and Publix. Other companies in the top ten include Apple, Google, and Tesla Motors (who didn’t make the cut last year). Netflix and Microsoft each ranked in the top 20 (18th and 20th, respectively), while Facebook ranked 66th.

The results are based on an online survey of over 30,000 American adults carried out between Nov. 28 and Dec. 16 of last year. The survey analyzes brand reputation based on social responsibility, vision and leadership, financial performance, products and services, workplace environment, and emotional appeal.

Google, Bing will soon prevent pirate websites from popping up in search

Google and Bing have agreed to a new voluntary code of practice in the U.K. that will make websites known to engage in illegal distribution of content less visible in search results.

The code is aimed at improving collaboration with rightsholders and accelerating the takedown process following DMCA notices.

The code will steer Brits away from pirated content and towards certified content providers for films, music, eBooks, and sports coverage.

The changes are expected to roll out by this summer.

Microsoft nabs Flipkart for Azure

Microsoft has announced a “strategic partnership” with Indian ecommerce giant Flipkart that will lead to the company adopting Redmond’s Azure cloud platform.

“Given Microsoft’s strong reputation in cloud computing, coupled with scale and reliability, this partnership allows us to leverage our combined strength and knowledge of technology, e-commerce, and markets to make online shopping more relevant and enriching for customers.”

-Binny Bansal; Flipkart CEO, in a statement

“At Microsoft, we aim to empower every Indian and every Indian organization with technology, and key to this is forging strategic partnerships with innovative companies like Flipkart.”

-Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO



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