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Data Sheet—Friday, May 5, 2017

Here’s some heartwarming news to start your digital day. One of the technology industry’s most innovative and digitally disruptive powerhouses has an old-fashioned marketing sensibility. Airbnb is funding a new print magazine.

The idea isn’t as whacky as it sounds. First, digital insights drive the project. Airbnbmag—not a particularly visually pleasing name, for what it’s worth—which the San Francisco company is producing in conjunction with print magazine stalwart Hearst, relies on user searches on Airbnb to decide which stories to pursue. The popularity of searches for “Cuba,” for example, eased the decision to write about the Caribbean country.

Moreover, Airbnb’s youthful CEO, Brian Chesky, understands the value of print. “There’s the possibility that it can be saved,” he told The Wall Street Journal “It isn’t ephemeral, as opposed to content on a feed that expires.”

Hell, yeah, Brian! Print just feels good, and if you can get readers to look at it advertisers just might appreciate the feeling too.

The Airbnb-Hearst JV isn’t a new concept. The companies aren’t saying who’s funding what, but rest assured their goals are different. Airbnb is marketing itself; Hearst is trying to make money. They’re selling copies at airports for $4 an issue, and they’re pitching ads too. But airbnbmag will mostly be a freebie that the company’s “hosts”—its delicately chosen word for the non-hotelier property owners who “share” their “homes” in exchange for money—can display for their “guests.”

There’s nothing wrong with giving away a magazine, by the way, if marketing one’s company is the goal. I hope Hearst and Airbnb run the table here and show the value of stories well told, non-digital publishing and, yes, the durable qualities of print.

Incidentally, if you want to dive deeply into the story about Airbnb, buy a copy of Leigh Gallagher book, The Airbnb Story. It’s available in print, e-book, and the spoken word.

Adam Lashinsky


You have the right to remain silent. After the New York Times uncovered a covert program at Uber known as Greyball to help the ride service avoid local authorities, prosecutors are investigating whether the company broke any laws. Uber has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury for records connected to the software, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. Separately, Uber and Google faced off in court on Thursday over charges of stolen secrets, but Judge William Alsup took no immediate action.

Medium Blue. IBM has seemingly been on the comeback trail for years. It just reported its 20th consecutive quarter of declining revenue. Now one of the company’s most ardent backers, legendary investor Warren Buffett, says he’s losing faith and has sold one-third of his stake. “I’ve revalued it somewhat downward,” Buffett tells CNBC. “IBM is a big strong company, but they’ve got big strong competitors, too.”

The future of TV. YouTube announced it would back 40 original series and movies over the next year, partnering with name brand stars like Ellen DeGeneres and comedian Kevin Hart. Snapchat has also been signing deals with media and news companies for short videos to run on its messaging app popular with teens. But Facebook decided to get out of the content business in virtual reality, closing its well-regarded Oculus Story Studio.

Future of TV, Part II. Back in the world of traditional TV, after all of the major cable and satellite service providers reported first quarter results, analyst Craig Moffett tallied the numbers and found a net 762,000 people dropped service–cut the cord–the most ever for the three-month period. “For the better part of fifteen years, pundits have predicted that cord-cutting was the future. Well, the future has arrived,” Moffett writes.

Wrongful death. The families of three victims in the 2015 San Bernardino shooting are suing Facebook, Google, and Twitter claiming that the social networks aided the terrorist attack by helping the Islamic State propagate its extremist messages.

From your curator. Senior writer Aaron Pressman here. Today marks the end of my first week compiling all of the news and interesting tidbits for this newsletter to go with Adam Lashinsky’s excellent essays. As you may have noticed, I’ve been playing around with formats and topics. Please let me know if you have any feedback via the email or Twitter link below.

Aaron Pressman


Efforts to improve personal productivity by using less technology have been picking up steam to counter the growing challenge of phone-induced distractions.

Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport, who writes about the movement on his blog, Study Hacks, sees an analogy to the “Steampunk” movement in science fiction.

“I don’t quite yet understand the full contours of this steampunk productivity movement, but its basic motivation is clear: when we can embody our work in a clear, visual, physical manner, we can accomplish more, and do so with more satisfaction,” he writes. “The answer to our economy’s distressingly stagnant non-industrial productivity numbers, in other words, might not be faster chat tools and better-featured shared documents, but instead a return to a more analog and hands-on relationship with our work.”


Here’s What’s Disturbing About the FBI Director’s Comments on WikiLeaks by Mathew Ingram

Apple’s iPad Is Still Leading the Crashing Tablet Market by Don Reisinger

More Than Half of Americans Have Cut Landline Phone Service by Aaron Pressman

HBO Is Going to Pull Its Shows From Amazon’s Streaming Service by Jennifer Calfas

Windows 10 S Means No Google Search for You by Barb Darrow


Everyone wants to be healthier and one way to improve fitness is to ride a bike to work. Boston Globe tech columnist Hiawatha Bray tried two electric-assisted bikes this week, including one with high-tech wheels developed by MIT. Watch him scale Bunker Hill in Charlestown. And have a great weekend.
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.