Welcome to the end of the work week. Aaron standing in today for Adam, who is traveling out to Aspen for our Brainstorm Tech conference. I'll be joining him soon. The prospect of spending many hours stuck "strapped into bad chairs, stuffed into an aluminum tube aslosh with jet fuel," as the sci-fi author Neal Stephenson once described modern air travel, has me thinking about diversions.
One obvious way to pass the time is listening to some of the insanely great podcasts that have cropped up the last few years. Here are a couple I try to catch regularly:
—Beyond Devices. This is a conversation about the week's big tech stories between Jan Dawson, an independent analyst who you'll often see quoted by Fortune and other publications, and Aaron Miller, an assistant professor at BYU's business school. Serious talk with serious analysis.
—Rocket. At the opposite end of the seriousness spectrum but equally enlightening and perhaps a bit more entertaining is this discussion of weekly tech headlines by Polygon reporter Simone De Rochefort, former tech reporter Christina Warren, and software developer (and now Congressional candidate) Brianna Wu. If you like some pop culture and more laughs with your tech news, give a listen.
—The Talk Show. This is the podcast of blogger John Gruber, of DaringFireball.net. He's been one of the great columnists writing about Apple over the past decade and describes his podcast as the "director's commentary" to his blog. The only problem here is the shows come out irregularly and can be multi-hours long. Smart and sassy, but I wouldn't use the word "disciplined" to describe Gruber.
—Here's the Thing. Not about tech at all, this is actor Alec Baldwin interviewing a wide range of other artists, mostly, with occasional other interesting people thrown in the mix. Whatever you think of Baldwin as an actor (or a dad), he's a great interviewer.
I'm sure you all out there in newsletter land have lots more good podcast suggestions. Email me your favorites using the link below and we'll run a list of best reader picks next week.
Pure play. Video streaming and cord cutting are all the rage, but there aren't many ways for investors to bet on the trend beyond buying shares of Netflix. So it may be an opportune time for Internet set-top box maker Roku to go public. One of the pioneers of the industry, Roku has hired investment bankers and wants to launch its IPO by year-end, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Back to your corners. The king and queen of online fantasy sports play, FanDuel and DraftKings, called off their royal wedding, realizing they could not overcome the reasons why they should not be joined in holy matrimony offered by the Federal Trade Commission. Antitrust regulators at the FTC objected to the union noting that it would create a fantasy sports titan with 90% market share.
Headline of the week. Super-connected tech reporter Kara Swisher sums up almost all you need to know about Uber's search for a CEO at the top of her article: "Sandberg? No. Wojcicki? No. Mulally? No. Staggs? No. Arianna? No. (And Mayer? No way.)" So, decoded not taking the job would be Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube head Susan Wojcicki, former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, former Disney COO Tom Staggs, media titan Arianna Huffington, and former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
If you can't beat them. Even without a new CEO, however, Uber is still making deals. On Thursday, the company struck a partnership with Russian Internet giant Yandex, which also runs a ride service. With $225 million invested by Uber and $100 million from Yandex, the two will create a new company to offer ride services in Russia and nearby Eastern European countries.
Gross excess. Remember those diamond-encrusted smartphones for the super rich, or at least for the tackiest among the super rich? That may be a thing of the past, as the company responsible, Vertu, is going out of business. So if you still want an Android phone made of 18-carat red gold for $50,000, you better act fast.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Beware of These Top 10 Phishing Emails. Would You Fall for Them? by Robert Hackett
‘Game of Thrones’: Follow Cersei’s Walk of Shame With Google Street View by Kirsten Korosec
Amazon May Share Your Alexa Conversations With Developers by Barb Darrow
Cisco Just Bought This Networking Security Startup by Jonathan Vanian
Amazon’s Next Echo Could Take Cues From Apple’s HomePod by Don Reisinger
AMD Says Fastest Desktop Chip Arriving Soon for Under a Grand by Aaron Pressman
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Speaking of analyst Jan Dawson, he has written a deep dive looking at Apple's increasing focus on solving health and wellness problems. Dawson got to spend time getting up to speed on the efforts in a briefing with the company this week. Without too much attention, the push that started with some features of the Apple Watch may be expanding into true medical devices, he says.
In quite a few of these areas, it feels like we’re still just scratching the surface of what can be done, especially in the medical field, where things still tend to move very slowly and where comprehensive electronic patient records are still more of a dream than a reality. But Apple is helping here by providing tools that professionals and companies with the appropriate medical pedigrees and qualifications can tap into, while focusing on what it does best.
FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE
A few interesting longer reads I came across this week, suitable for perusing over the weekend:
Did Airbnb Kill the Mountain Town?
Living the dream has never been easy in the West's most beloved adventure hamlets, where homes are a fortune and good jobs are few. But the rise of online short-term rentals may be the tipping point that causes idyllic outposts like Crested Butte, Colorado, to lose their middle class altogether—and with it, their soul.
Who Moved My Cheese, 1Password?
Long term, I’m not sure. Some of the 1Password principals have reached out to many of us in the security community and asked for some guidance to work together. That’s encouraging, and I’ll do what I can, because I really do think the core product is solid. The strong pushback is because 1Password moved my cheese, and sometimes location is everything.
The $5,000 Decision to Get Rid of My Past
I was never not collecting video games. When I was younger, it was just a matter of buying video games, and it never occurred to me to sell any or to trade them in. As I got a bit older, I liked the way they looked on my shelves. By the time I was in college, I was actively looking for the rare stuff, while using my discount and connections from my job as a video game store manager to get stuff for much cheaper than the going price online.
Contact Is More Than a Movie About Science vs. Religion
When Contact first opened, 20 years ago today, I thought it was a masterpiece. For a soon-to-be high school senior, Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel was the perfect Hollywood mix of thought-provoking ideas and spectacle. It wasn’t until years later I realized how divided fellow films fans were on the film. So I decided to look back and see what Contact has to offer in 2017.
BEFORE YOU GO
More than half of American homes rely solely on a mobile phone and now it seems the last bastion of the landline is cracking, the office phone. The Financial Post reports that KPMG in Canada just ripped out the desk phones of all its 5,000 employees, who must use cellphones or an app on their laptops to make calls now. I still miss the awesome call quality, solid-feeling receiver and clicky plastic buttons of the old 1A2 Bell telephone I had back in the day. Somehow a flimsy headset and Skype just isn't the same.