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I wanted to ask Noam Bardin, CEO of Google-owned traffic map app Waze, one thing when we met for lunch Thursday at a 1-star Chinese restaurant in San Francisco: To what extent does Google Maps traffic data benefit from Waze users and vice versa?
Not at all, says Bardin.
The reason is a bit technical but also explains why Google would own two apps to do pretty much the same thing. Waze is crowdsourced and moderated by its volunteer users. It began its life as an independent app and still behaves that way. Google Maps takes data from users of the Google-created Android mobile operating system and is professionally managed by Google. “That’s why we don’t commingle data with Google,” says Bardin. “We have to comply with app store rules. They have to comply with OS rules.”
With 130 million active monthly users globally, Waze is a big business built on hyper-local ads. Think gas stations, banks, and restaurants. Google doesn’t disclose revenues for Waze, which has 545 people, mostly in New York and Israel, where the company was founded. But Bardin says Waze is big. “If we were a private company, we’d be going public,” he says.
Waze’s latest jam is carpooling. It matches neighbors and co-workers who primarily commute from suburbs to cities. And it has structured the nascent business in a way that drivers can charge riders the IRS-allowed 58 cents per mile and only collect money twice a day, meaning they don’t record an accounting gain. Waze itself doesn’t take a commission for the rides, though Bardin doesn’t rule it out in the future.
I’m a Google Maps guy because I don’t like the noise of Waze, precisely the “gamification” aspects its users love. But both are magical free services that make people of a certain not-so-advanced age sound really old when they tell their children about once having used paper maps.
On Twitter: @adamlashinsky
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.
Unplugged. Make that one less company chasing the electric car dream. High-tech vacuum maker Dyson said Thursday it's abandoning its effort to make a vehicle. "We simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable," founder James Dyson told his staff.
Twofer. There's a changing of the guard at European software giant SAP. After nine plus years, CEO Bill McDermott is resigning and will be replaced by Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein as co-CEOs, the company said on Friday. Both are long-time execs at SAP.
If all you have is a hammer. A top federal regulator offered his opinion on Thursday that digital currency Ether should be treated as a commodity, not as a security. Of course, that regulator, Heath Tarbert, heads the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, not the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Avoidance is the best policy. Third quarter PC shipments jumped 5%, the biggest gain since 2012, market research firm Canalys said. But the 71 million machine quarter may have been an anomaly, as companies rushed to move product before getting slapped with tariffs in the U.S.-China trade war.
Undo. The Chinese drone race that the Drone Racing League is broadcasting on Oct. 16, mentioned in my essay yesterday, will have Chinese pilots, but it took place in Ohio, not in China.
FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE
A few longer reads that I came across this week that may be appealing for your weekend reading pleasure:
Is Amazon Unstoppable? (The New Yorker)
Politicians want to rein in the retail giant. But Jeff Bezos, the master of cutthroat capitalism, is ready to fight back.
A Day in the Life of Architect David Rockwell (Wall Street Journal)
From designing Nobu Downtown to creating Broadway sets, the architect’s wide-ranging practice involves seeking out each project’s narrative thread.
The Billion-Dollar High-Speed Internet Scam (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Elizabeth Pierce impressed investors with hefty contracts for fiber—until they learned she was the only one who’d signed them.
Margaret Atwood: ‘I’m simply the messenger’ (Financial Times)
The Canadian novelist on being a ‘bad’ feminist, the trouble with memoirs—and how it feels to see your dystopia come true.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Essential, the gadget maker founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, leaked pictures of an upcoming new phone this week that looks almost bizarrely thin and long. The building hype has also marked the reemergence of Rubin after a year of silence in the wake of a New York Times story accusing him of sexual misconduct while at Google. Wired's Lauren Goode examines the question of whether the product can be separated from the man, or, more generally, whether tech devices can be seen apart from the reputations of the companies that make them.
Now, it’s nearly impossible to disassociate Amazon’s Ring DIY camera kit from its role as a police surveillance tool. It’s difficult to disentangle Amazon’s consumer bonanza days, like Prime Day, from stories about the stress being put on the company’s logistics workers—not to mention the global environment. Facebook now makes a home video portal with cool AR features, but its reception in your home probably depends on how your roommates or family members feel about Facebook’s privacy policies, its role in politics, its position as a veritable vacuum for your personal data. Apple often boasts about its polished and impeccable industrial design, but it has accomplished this by making it nearly impossible for consumers to repair their own products or, God forbid, try to leave its ecosystem.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Pinterest Says It’s Using A.I. to Dramatically Reduce the Amount of Self-Harm Posts Users Are Seeing By Lisa Marie Segarra
A.I. Remains a Disruptive Force in Finance—Even for Fintechs By Bernhard Warner
Why WeWork’s Failed IPO Might Not Mean Disaster for SoftBank After All By Erik Sherman
Amazon Says Its Delivery Drones Won’t Crash Into You or Your Clotheslines. Here’s Why By Bernhard Warner
Apple Is Selling Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Controller. But What About Sony? By Don Reisinger
FORTUNE Analytics: Management Insiders Forecast a 2020 Recession By Lance Lambert
BEFORE YOU GO
While Adam ponders mapping, I have been thinking about the stars this week. I'm on the local school committee in my town and we named a just-opened elementary school after astronaut Sunita Williams (who grew up in our town). Suni, an impressively inspiring and charismatic speaker, is in town this week for the dedication. On Thursday night, she told an audience of our youngest students that she and NASA were planning Mars missions that would be ready for them to take some day. But first, she's heading back to space to test a new Boeing rocket next year. Fly safe, Suni!
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.