1. It’s hard to ignore the absolute PR disaster that Uber experienced this week. The best piece that we read on this – and probably that we read all week – is John Biggs’ TechCrunch rant that talks about the controversy alongside general challenges with journalism.
But, as Modern Luxury reminds us, the story behind Uber and the bull case for the company’s future is very strong. They’ll weather this storm and continue to roll out services that prop the on-demand economy.
2. More about being spied on… the NSA reform proposals officially died last week in the Senate. The procedural motion to bring a vote on the bill fell two votes short. For those interested in politics, there were strange bedfellows on this law; Tea Party hero Ted Cruz joined with New England liberal Patrick Leahy to sponsor the legislation. Outlook for reform any time soon: dismal, says Alex Wilhelm of TechCrunch.
3. We’re approaching the holiday shopping season kick-off, so it’s time to think about how technology can help make that experience less painful. TIME breaks down the “5 Best Apps for Dominating Black Friday.” One way, ParkWhiz – an app that helps locate and reserve parking ahead of arriving. If you drive in and around urban areas or events, ParkWhiz is a must. As TIME put it… ParkWhiz is so good, it “feels wrong.”
4. There are three documents that every freelance or IT startup should have, according to Ted Devine of TechInsurance in Developer.com. So make sure you have strong client contracts, acceptance policies and complaint resolution policies – lest you risk running into trouble down the road. Insurance to protect against threats is inexpensive, Devine notes, so make sure you have that as a back up as well.
5. Propllr client OptionsCity got some attention from the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky this week. OptionsCity recently upgraded its flagship product to be more modular, a move that makes it more convenient for customers to pick and choose the right products and the company to push out updates to said software. (It also just bought another options-trading technology company, Optionshop – busy folks over there.)
6. Some new analysis by the Wall Street Journal shows that TechStars graduates between 2007 and 2010 are nearly equally likely to be acquired, still be active or have failed (roughly 33% chance of each). YCombinator does not release company-by-company results, though the WSJ expected results there to be similar.
This is much better than the success/failure rate of many other businesses. Notoriously difficult to run, 50% of restaurants fail within three years and 60% fail within five years, according to researchers at Cornell and Michigan State University. So, startup founders, be happy: running a successful startup is easier than starting a restaurant, and the pay-off can be much better.
7. ZocDoc is a “frat house” and unkind to female employees, says former employee. A part of us likes that these stories are becoming commonplace – it shows that there is a rising level of intolerance towards what Businessweek dubbed the “Silicon Valley Tech Bro.” But – if we are seeing these stories in a few months, we’ll start to grow more concerned. Let’s not become numb to these stories and move towards a more inclusive community. As Star Cunningham wrote in Entrepreneur, diversity is a winning formula.
8. Calling shenanigans: Google data says that nearly half of people between the ages of 25 and 34 use their smartphones to shop while waiting in line at the store. The data/statistics geek in us wonders how the question was asked. If asked, “Have you ever used your phone to shop while waiting in line,” then we could buy it. But all the news stories we’ve seen on the topic suggest that it is a frequent occurrence among the 50%. From anecdotal evidence, that is hard to believe.
9. Propllr Founder Josh Inglis talks about PR and content marketing on MeetAdvisors. Josh’s main takeaway: you can do it. Companies that don’t think they can afford an agency can still put together a DIY PR program; it’s not rocket surgery.
10. Skiplagged is a new startup that is trying to find the cheapest fare to any city – even if that means you book a multi-stop flight and deplane before the final flight. Now, United Airlines and Orbitz are suing them. The airlines are not happy because it means that those final flights may become less and less filled, meaning the economics changes. But UAL and Orbitz sound like relics of an older time.
In the Bloomberg article, UAL calls the practice “unethical.” Wake up UAL: agreeing on a price for a group of products and me using less of them is not unethical. This is reminiscent of taxis, hotels, etc. fighting their losing battles against technology. Instead of fighting, why don’t you come up with a better solution for consumers.
Happy Thanksgiving week to everyone. Stay warm!
The Propllr Team