A last waltz for Yahoo and AOL, and Elon’s crypto comedy show

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Serge Gainsbourg’s “Requiem pour un con”

This week: A last waltz for Yahoo and AOL

Yahoo Jerry Yang and David Filo in 2007

With all the big news this past week about Donald Trump’s Facebook account, Apple’s courtroom battle with Epic, and the Bill and Melinda breakup, you might have missed another important development in tech: the sale of Yahoo and AOL.

Iconic is an apt description for both Yahoo and AOL. The companies helped create the internet as we know it today, with decades-long histories that have spanned the administrations of about a half dozen US presidents and just as many transitions of technology standards. (Remember the ubiquitous 3.5 inch AOL floppy discs?)

As Insider columnist Adam Lashinsky writes, the slow decline that befell both companies is the result of a long list of causes. Yahoo’s fall from grace is particularly instructive when you consider all the trends the company recognized early on but never capitalized on, allowing other companies to steal the show. Lashinsky writes:

“It bought a Web 1.0 company called GeoCities that could have been the next MySpace or Facebook but wasn’t. The same goes for Flickr, the preeminent photo-sharing site of its day later outshone by Instagram. It even beat Google to the punch by acquiring the original search-based ad auction company, Overture, only to be overwhelmed by its competitor.”

Read the full story here:

Yahoo escaped a slow death inside Verizon to teach us one final lesson about the internet

Elon’s crypto comedy show

elon musk dogecoin pumping stocks 4x3

Elon Musk, the self-declared Imperator of Mars, is due to host comedy show “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, a must-see TV event that has apparently, and fittingly, fueled a surge in the price of dogecoin – a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke.

As Insider’s Margaux MacColl reports, the venture capital world is getting serious about the crypto boom, especially with the news that Andreessen Horowitz is launching a $1 billion crypto fund.

Of course, there’s a risk that blockchain tech could obviate the need for VCs altogether. Instead of giving away equity in their company in exchange for a venture firm check, a crypto startup could simply issue its own currency through an “initial coin offering” and raise capital all by itself.

Now that’s a crypto joke that VCs might not find very funny.

See also: Elon Musk is pumping stocks, cryptocurrencies, and the energy of 49 million loyal followers to dizzying heights. Experts break down the risks of his incessant tweets, from legal trouble to losses for small investors.

Snapshot: Blast off

It looks like something from a new action movie, but there are no special effects in this video of Britain’s Royal Marines training with a jet pack.

A Royal Marine in a jetpack launches from a fast boat to board a Royal Navy ship.
A Royal Marine in a jetpack launches from a fast boat to board a Royal Navy ship.

The “Jet Suit” made by the UK’s Gravity Industries is still experimental and the British military has not committed to buying the technology. But the video, based on three days of training drills conducted by 42 Royal Marines, offers a fascinating glimpse of how jet packs could be used for military operations.

In the video, a Jet Suit-equipped Royal Marine blasts off an inflatable raft and lands on the deck of a nearby ship. He then throws down a rope ladder to let fellow soldiers board the vessel, part of a maritime operation known as “visit, board, search and seizure.” Trust me, you’ll want to watch this video.

Vernacular watch: “Separation contract”

By now you’ve probably heard that Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, the First Couple of tech, are getting divorced. Instead of a prenup the pair have something called a separation contract, an incredibly detailed private document created without court involvement that couples draw up when they want to live apart. There’s at least $146 billion in net worth at stake, much of it earmarked for philanthropic causes, so while the terms of the contract will likely remain private, the ramifications could be widespread.

Recommended readings:

Google’s new security default for all users is part of its path to eliminating passwords entirely, according to a product exec

Leaked financials: Sequoia-backed grocery delivery unicorn Getir is in talks to raise a pre-IPO round at a $7 billion valuation

Melinda French Gates has an investment firm called Pivotal Ventures that is a quiet powerhouse in the venture industry.

Peloton just recalled its treadmill, but customers reported injuries and safety concerns as early as January 2019

5 top VCs reveal the favorite cybersecurity startups in their portfolios, after investors pumped a record $7.8 billion into the industry last year

Meet Elizabeth Yin, the VC reforming the industry by openly sharing what may be some of venture’s ugliest secrets

Not necessarily in tech:

The wealthy invested in ‘hidden gem’ locations during the pandemic, propelling property prices in smaller cities to new heights

Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

Verizon’s data dreams, denied

Hi and welcome to the Insider Advertising newsletter, where we break down the big news in advertising and media news, including:

Jitters inside Verizon Media Group;

JetBlue picks a new agency;

Peloton malfunctions.

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FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows a Yahoo logo on a smartphone in front of a displayed cyber code and keyboard on December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows a Yahoo logo on smartphone in front of a displayed cyber code and keyboard

Verizon’s privacy problem

Privacy concerns are casting a big shadow over the ad world. It’s top of mind for every advertiser with Apple now limiting access to user data. It’s one of the big presenter buzzwords at this week’s IAB NewFronts, digital media’s big annual showcase.

And it’s loomed over Verizon, which just sold off its media and adtech properties, ending a years-long effort to stitch together its user data with content and tech to take on Google and Facebook for digital advertising.

  • Advertisers expressed frustration way back that Verizon wasn’t delivering on its promise to marry data and content (and they themselves were nervous about the approach backfiring in light of privacy concerns).
  • Verizon also lost its biggest champion of the vision, Tim Armstrong, and ended up writing down the value of its media properties and abandoning its streaming video service Go90.
  • Ultimately, it never dented Facebook and Google’s dominance – Verizon captures just 1% of the digital ad market.
  • “The whole premise was flawed – in the long term you can’t use consumer data without the perception of violating consumer data,” Brian Weiser, global president of business intelligence at WPP’s GroupM, told Insider. “The end of this effort was always very clear.”

It’s not been a great time for other companies that bet big on adtech.

JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neo
JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neo’s with new Mint business class.

JetBlue restarts its engines

JetBlue picked a new Omnicom ad agency as it seeks to cut costs and convince pandemic-weary consumers to return to the skies.

JetBlue is known for its unconventional ads to stand out as a lower-priced alternative. It offered customers discounts for stealing its own bus stop ads or sitting on a flight with a crying baby, for one.

But these are different times, and ones that will likely call for a decidedly different approach to its advertising.

Read the rest: JetBlue hired a new ad agency as it looks to rebrand itself in the pandemic

Peloton Tread+.
Peloton Tread+.

Peloton malfunctions

Peloton is facing backlash after reports that its accidents involving the Tread+ led to 38 injuries and one child’s death.

Bethany Biron spoke with 5 Peloton customers who experienced Tread+ issues dating back to January 2019. From her story:

Cary Kelly, a seasoned marathon runner, says she lost her footing two minutes into a workout on her Peloton Tread+ in May 2019.

When she fell, she says she landed facedown on the treadmill. According to Kelly, the machine then propelled her prone body backward so forcefully her legs broke through the wall. Unable to move, she says she remained stuck in this position as the treadmill belt continued moving beneath her, tearing into her skin on her face and neck.

“It seemed like a million minutes, like I was there forever,” Kelly told Insider.

By the time Kelly was able to extract herself, she says her body was covered in burns and her legs riddled with bone fractures, confirmed by X-ray scans after the accident. Kelly says the injuries made it difficult for her to walk and impossible for her to run for months.

Read the rest here: Some Peloton customers reported treadmill malfunctions, injuries, and safety concerns as early as 2019 – and said Peloton’s response was sluggish

Other stories we’re reading:

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

– Lucia

Read the original article on Business Insider

Verizon sells its media business

Hi and welcome to Insider Advertising for May 4. I’m senior advertising reporter Lauren Johnson, and here’s what’s going on:

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Tips, comments, suggestions? Drop me a line at LJohnson@insider.com or on Twitter at @LaurenJohnson.

5G verizon

Verizon just sold AOL and Yahoo for $5 billion, and the new company will be known as ‘Yahoo’ going forward

Read the story.

Kasper Rørsted

Adidas is requiring some ad agencies to pay back more than 10% of their earnings, squeezing small firms

Read the story.

clubhouse:tiktok house 2x1

A startup promised influencers the Hollywood dream, replete with a mansion. But some insiders say its CEO bullied talent, made misogynistic comments, and treated their personal lives like ‘a game.’

Read the story.

More stories we’re reading:

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow! You can reach me in the meantime at LJohnson@insider.com and subscribe to this daily email here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Deleting Yahoo Answers is a disastrous idea. For history’s sake, we need to preserve our digital record.

FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows a Yahoo logo on a smartphone in front of a displayed cyber code and keyboard on December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Yahoo Answers is shutting down on May 4.

  • Yahoo Answers is shutting down and deleting its content by June 30.
  • When Big Tech deletes websites, humanity loses valuable knowledge and collective memory.
  • We need to preserve our collective digital memory for future generations.
  • Raphael Tsavkko Garcia is a Brazilian journalist and holds a PhD in Human Rights from the University of Deusto.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Starting today, April 20, users can no longer post questions or answers to Yahoo Answers. On May 4, the site will shut down. By June 30, all of its content will be deleted. That’s 16 years of content that generated knowledge, memes and, of course, misinformation. Verizon, owner of the website, cited falling popularity and changes in the company’s focus as the main reasons for the end of the service. Users will be able to download their own data, but all the rest will vanish on June 30.

Just like with the end of Orkut or GeoCities, Yahoo Answers will delete the content generated by millions of users, including unique knowledge that feeds search engines. More than a debate about fake news, this is a debate about memory and the need to save the content and knowledge produced by humanity – even if that content doesn’t seem worthy or relevant now.

Many Twitter users compared the end of Yahoo Answers to the burning of the Library of Alexandria. That might seem exaggerated, but if you look at the sheer number of websites and services that have been deactivated in past years and had their content deleted, the comparison starts making sense.

We are talking about an archive of millions of questions, answers, comments, and interactions that could help researchers understand trends and social/cultural patterns from over a decade of content. Once it’s deleted, a precious archive will be lost.

When other services, such as Fotolog, Google+, or Friendster, were shut down, huge amounts of data were lost. I’ve never used Fotolog, but it was a huge hit in Brazil when I was a teenager, and I know of friends and acquaintances who have lost pictures they never stored anywhere else. Photos of friends and relatives and both happy and sad moments are now gone forever.

Lost in time?

Websites disappear all the time, and with them, years of accumulated knowledge and material that, at the very least, serve as the basis for future ethnographic and anthropological studies that might help us understand our own history. As a researcher myself, I have had a hard time digging up content from long-gone pages, conversations in forgotten groups, and material that was never backed up. I have had to rely on interviews with people who often couldn’t remember details because their archives were all online and had vanished.

If someone forgot to pay a hosting service, or a particular site went bankrupt, or the terms of use changed and old content was deleted without notice, huge caches of information disappear.

Sometimes we like to think that, unlike previous societies, we are now able to record everything. We think future generations will have full access to anything they’d like to know about the current society. But it’s not that simple.

Setting aside the issue of bias in the information preserved, we can’t even begin the conversation about dealing with bias and misinformation in historical data if we can’t access files from even just ten years ago. There is a growing issue of dated, inaccessible file formats, and storage devices such as USBs and CDs are becoming obsolete. But above all, society as a whole is not good at keeping records and backing up our memory.

Despite being riddled by far-right content, Yahoo Answers has created its own internal culture, with many of its answers becoming famous memes; its demise will be an immense loss to the entire internet culture. We can understand social transformations and have an overview of what was trending at a particular moment in time through the countless memes born of silly, funny, and often stupid questions and answers – but now all of that will be lost.

We don’t care about preserving history

We have a propensity to not care about our history and collective memory. Take Geocities for example. When Yahoo decided to shut it down in 2009, there were at least 38 million pages hosted on the site, with an archive dating back to 1994 when the internet was still taking its first steps. The amount of knowledge lost with its shutdown is immeasurable.

The end of services like Geocities and Yahoo Answers is indeed equivalent to burning thousands or millions of books. Today it may not seem like a blog of a teenager’s diary – or dumb questions posed to strangers – is something of value, but in 50, 100, or even 500 years, this content can serve as the basis for important historiographic studies. These artifacts can help future generations understand today’s society and how people of this moment think. It is through small pieces of information, whether personal diaries or historical narratives, that the memory of an era is built or reconstructed.

The danger of losing websites, services, and social networks is that we are losing knowledge. It doesn’t matter if many answers hosted by Yahoo are not exactly correct (or even if many are just jokes), there’s tons of data stored that gives us marvelous insight into people’s minds. Even the mistakes are an interesting way to understand how people think – the quality of education systems, class differences, cultural backgrounds, etc.

To delete such an archive for whatever reason – be it for change of focus, lack of popularity or, like many speculate, because people are abusing it to spread misinformation – is evidence that large tech companies aren’t interested in keeping our history and records safe.

A better alternative

The first step to save this archive is to exert collective pressure over Yahoo to not delete the content, but rather memorialize it. Rendering a full archive to static HTML and keeping it online would be a minor cost to a company such as Verizon, Yahoo’s owner.

But the issue extends beyond Yahoo Answers. We must think in big initiatives such as Archive.org, a nonprofit working to build a digital library of the internet. Projects like this should be expanded and better funded to keep large archives such as Yahoo Answers alive. We cannot trust Big Tech to keep our collective memory alive.

We need to put pressure on large companies to not simply delete content, but also, we need to foster a movement of activists, users, universities and other institutions to create services capable of maintaining internet archives.

We might not miss the content immediately, but years down the road, we’ll all benefit from saving these large archives of knowledge.

Read the original article on Business Insider