Why, Maybe, Not To Upgrade Your Phone This Year—Data Sheet
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Peloton priced its IPO, then plummeted. eBay’s top executive exited. Once-sizzling SoftBank is sinking. The verdict is in on WeWork: It is not a technology company. Supersized talent agency Endeavor yanked its offering.
There’s so much to choose from I’m going with none of the above and instead sharing a few small items to start your day:
* Being super-hyped has dramatic downsides. Chinese car maker NIO now trades for less than $2 per share. It had been billed as a Tesla killer, but as this Bloomberg piece points out, it is more WeWork than Tesla. NIO had it all: a hot entrepreneur, important investors, high-level recruits. Now it has almost nothing.
* I noted recently that when I went into an Apple store some time ago the sales clerk convinced me I didn’t need to upgrade my phone. Kudos to Apple for empowering its retail employees with such truth-telling latitude, even if a longer-term business problem means its phones don’t need to be replaced. (This understanding is part of Apple’s services push.) I was intrigued with similar honesty behind this piece by New York Times gadget reviewer Brian Chen explaining that he no longer feels compelled to recommend upgrades, either, just because Apple comes out with a new phone. “Last year’s iPhones don’t feel outdated,” he writes. “Phone reviews do.”
* All of Hollywood will be devouring this masterful interview Maureen Dowd conducted with Disney CEO Robert Iger. Dowd clearly is a fan, but there are genuine insights here about management, acquisitions, relationships (including Iger’s partnership with Steve Jobs), and Iger’s matter-of-fact description of how Disney came close to but decided not to buy Twitter. (The latter has created something of a news cycle of its own.)
* Microsoft made good on a commitment to invest from its own balance sheet on affordable housing in its own region. This is refreshing because Microsoft isn’t couching its loans in fuzzy terms around “purpose” but rather in a rational, self-serving manner that assumes that what’s best for its community is best for its business.
On Twitter: @adamlashinsky
Market meshugas. Starting where Adam declined to go, after pricing its shares at $29, Peloton Interactive pedaled in reverse on Thursday as the stock lost 11% in its debut. CEO John Foley tells Fortune he didn't want to be accused of staying private for too long. "I feel like if we would have waited any longer we might have been painted with the same brush, so it felt like this was the right time," he says. That's not the mood of super agent and Endeavor Group CEO Ari Emanuel, who decided to delay his company's IPO.
A handy clip n' save 2019 IPO highlights table, suitable for settling bar bets and other wagers:
Zoom Video +122%
Beyond Meat +517%
(Data: IPO Scoop)
Limits of growth. Electronics retailer Best Buy revealed plans to diversify into health care-ish products and services for senior citizens, building on the elder care alert business GreatCall it acquired a year ago. "We’re looking at a population that is aging incredibly rapidly. It’s massive," CEO Corie Barry told reporters.
Stealing back to the way I used to be. Keeping up with data breach news (it's been a strangely quiet beat of late–did all the hackers take the summer off?), food delivery service DoorDash admits that the personal info of about 5 million customers and workers was stolen. And Dunkin Donuts is getting sued by the New York Attorney General for failing to properly address or disclose a 2015 hack attack. (I'd sue them for impersonating a doughnut shop, but that's just me.)
Cutting through the fog. Meanwhile on the "dogs and cats living together" beat, Microsoft said it's adding the voice-controlled Google Assistant to its Xbox One video game console. Microsoft added Amazon Alexa support to Xbox last year. In legal news at Microsoft, the company is waging a court battle to be allowed to notify a major cloud customer of a secret government order to hand over the customer's data.
Zoom zoom. The Mario Kart franchise has a few more miles to race. Nintendo's new Mario Kart Tour game for mobile phones was downloaded over 10 million times in its first 24 hours of availability, breaking the all-time record set by Nintendo's Pokemon Go title three year ago.
Get your popcorn ready. Looking forward to On the Rocks, one of the first movies Apple commissioned for its video streaming service? Well, you may get a chance to see the Sofia Coppola-directed flick starring Rashida Jones and Bill Murray in an actual movie theater. Apple is hoping to avoid angering Hollywood by giving its movies a healthy exclusive window in theaters before putting them online, the Wall Street Journal reports.
FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE
A few longer reads that I came across this week that may be appealing for your weekend reading pleasure:
How TikTok Holds Our Attention (The New Yorker)
On the popular short-video app, young people are churning through images and sounds at warp speed, repurposing reality into ironic, bite-size content.
The Unsolved Case of the Most Mysterious Song on the Internet (Rolling Stone)
Twelve years ago, a catchy New Wave anthem appeared on the internet with no information about who wrote or recorded it. Amateur detectives have spent thousands of hours since trying to figure out where it came from — with little luck. Inside the question that’s been driving the internet crazy for years.
The creed of compromise (Aeon)
Don’t throw in the day job to follow your dream. Join the bifurcators who juggle work-for-pay and their work-for-love.
David Lynch’s Universe Knows No Bounds (Surface Magazine)
With a new gallery exhibition at Sperone Westwater in November, director and artist David Lynch discusses storytelling, consciousness, Transcendental Meditation, and his initial infatuation with becoming a painter.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
You install a new app, buy a new phone, really, do virtually anything tech-related, and you're asked to consent to terms of service that opt you in for some serious sharing of your data. Out in the real world, there's plenty more surveillance and tracking that goes on without anyone's consent. NYU professor Finn Brunton and Cornell professor Helen Nissenbaum have had enough of that. But their answer isn't to "opt out" more–it's to obfuscate. They offer a number of practical examples of how to bury your digital tracks, explaining:
If obfuscation has an emblematic animal, it is the family of orb-weaving spiders, Cyclosa mulmeinensis, which fill their webs with decoys of themselves. The decoys are far from perfect copies, but when a wasp strikes they work well enough to give the orb-weaver a second or two to scramble to safety. At its most abstract, obfuscation is the production of noise modeled on an existing signal in order to make a collection of data more ambiguous, confusing, harder to exploit, more difficult to act on, and therefore less valuable. Obfuscation assumes that the signal can be spotted in some way and adds a plethora of related, similar, and pertinent signals — a crowd in which an individual can mix, mingle, and, if only for a short time, hide.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
OnePlus 7T Review: A Great Android Phone at an Even Better Price By Aaron Pressman
BEFORE YOU GO
The fourth and final season of The Good Place premieres on Sept. 26 on NBC, as we get our last look at Eleanor Shellstrop and her pals Chidi, Tahani, and Jason. Fortune's Paula Bernstein spoke with show creator Mike Schur and all you Eleanor-Chidi shippers may end up disappointed, if I'm reading between the lines correctly.
"You can't write anything with fan satisfaction in the front of your mind—if you do that, you'll invariably screw something up," Schur says. "You just have to execute the story you think makes the best ending, and hope it feels satisfying for the people who've been there from the beginning."