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Uber’s Newest Brand Advocate Is the Republican Party

Uber GOP

Here’s a not-quite-surprising story that made its way around the web today: the Republican Party is one of taxi “disruptor” Uber‘s biggest supporters…or they’re using the hot brand to raise money and increase their appeal to Millennials. Or both.

We get the basic idea behind this distant partnership. The Uber guys and the GOP hate the same regulators or, as the fundraising petition puts it, “taxi unions and liberal government bureaucrats” (because the word “bureaucrat” could never apply to conservatives who double as public employees during the day).

Anyway, the real issue here is that both the GOP and the app company want Illinois governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, to refrain from passing a pending law that would place statewide restrictions on such “sharing economy” companies. Apparently the two parties share the Gary Gnu-ish opinion that all regulations are bad regulations.

They also both like free publicity — and the Republic National Committee’s annual meeting launched today in Chicago.

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OKCupid Co-Founder on Emotional Experiments: In 20 Years, No One Will Care

OKCUPIDWe’ve all heard about Facebook‘s ill-conceived “emotional experiment” and OKCupid‘s even better follow-up. While Facebook’s research only concerned slight tweaks in the algorithm that determines which stories show up in users’ news feeds, OKCupid experimented on total strangers who would later meet each other and go on what we call “dates.”

We’re interested in the story primarily because Facebook’s response was simply a blog post that didn’t serve as a very effective piece of self-defense. OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, on the other hand, has gone all out to defend his company’s practices as the kind of thing we deal with every day as connected individuals — whether we know it or not.

Last week, to follow up on his “yes, we experimented on people, now get over it” blog post, he gave an interview to TLDR, a podcast associated with the excellent NPR show On the Media (which we encountered via the also-excellent Press Think blog).

The fourteen-minute segment is well worth a listen–especially for anyone with clients in social media.

Some key quotes and takeaways after the jump in case you can’t listen or don’t have time.

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JustReachOut Thinks It Can Beat Your Startup Pitches

Sherlock

This week, we’ve witnessed the further evolution of the “do tech startups even need PR?” debate.

Uber’s General Manager Chris Nakutis gave the concept a big thumbs down while contributor Paul Wilke of Upright Position Communications presented ways to try and dispel the sense of inherent distrust between the two parties.

Today, TechCrunch let us know that yet another company called JustReachOut wants to replace you(!) by making the email pitching process a little easier for those startup folks.

We can tell you’re curious…

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Uber General Manager: Public Relations Is a Waste of Money

uber

Last week Uber General Manager Chris Nakutis (follow him on Twitter) spoke to a group of entrepreneurs about his experience launching the e-commerce platform Short Stack–and became the latest heavy-hitter to weigh in on the “do startups need PR” debate. As you can tell from our headline, he answered in the negative.

Nakutis said that PR was not a valuable tool in growing his business and that the return on investment was not immediate or well-defined despite the good press.

Here’s the key quote: new companies “can almost jump over the PR process.”

Harsh words, but not unexpected from the tech industry. As PRNewser reported earlier, startups are leery of PR people. And they’re not alone. Read more

Apple’s PR Strategy Has Sprung a Leak

apple-logoAnyone notice a recent shift in Apple’s PR strategy?

The departure of longtime VP of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton seems to have marked the end of a certain phase in the company’s development, and way back in February 2013 the company announced plans to increase its PR spend and get more aggressive with message management efforts.

That news, along with Tim Cook’s decision to straight-up apologize for Apple Maps, clarified the difference between the new CEO and Steve Jobs (who would never admit to much of anything and held a notoriously tight grip on all communications).

Leaks are nothing new for Apple, but over the past week we’ve seen several:

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Q&A: Separating Business from Personal Politics

In case you missed it, venture capitalist/Silicon Valley money guru and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham–who helped startups like Dropbox and Airbnb achieve their impressive valuations–received a bit of negative attention from others in the tech scene over the past week for tweeting news stories about the Gaza conflict currently dominating headlines around the world. Here’s an example:

The tweets didn’t go over well with some Israeli members of the tech world. VC and sometime TechCrunch writer Roi Carthy wrote a blog post protesting Graham’s tweets and announcing his decision to stop working with Y Combinator in Israel. He spoke to Kevin Roose of New York magazine and compared Graham’s actions to those of Brendan Eich, who resigned as CEO of Mozilla after reports revealed his donations to the anti-gay marriage Prop 8 campaign:

“Due to mandatory army service, the tech industry and the army in Israel are intertwined…If you don’t recognize that, you shouldn’t be doing business with Israelis.”

The question: how can executives and other public figures avoid this potentially toxic meeting of politics and industry thought leadership?

We spoke to Stan Steinreich, CEO of Steinreich Communications, for his take.

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The FCC Has More Than a Million Net Neutrality Comments to Read

man using computerWith the deadline to file comments passed, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now has to begin the task of combing through 1,067,779 submissions from the public, a number that the FCC’s head of public engagement Gigi Sohn said is among the highest ever. Many of the comments are said to be angry and filled with foul language.

Reply comments will continue through September 10. New rules are expected by the end of the year.

According to Variety:

Much of the interest appears to have been triggered by the notion that the FCC proposal will be too weak to prevent ISPs from making deals for so-called “paid prioritization,” in which an Internet site could pay to have content like video delivered to a subscriber at a faster speed and better quality. Critics say that “paid prioritization” would lead to a Balkanization of the Internet, in which well-heeled content providers pay for “fast lanes” to gain an advantage.

Some companies like Verizon would be happy to charge companies a little extra for the privilege of having faster speeds.

“Such flexibility to experiment with alternative arrangements not only can reduce costs to end users while allowing them to access the content they demand, but also benefit [Web services] and spur continued investment in broadband infrastructure,” they wrote in a letter to the FCC.

Netflix is not.

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APOCALYPSE WATCH: This Temporary Tattoo Can Unlock Your Smartphone

temporary tattoo

Show us the nearest flip phone dealer, because this newfangled device looks like a special delivery from Lucifer himself.

Anyone catch this news from TechCrunch?

A temporary tattoo that you can place anywhere on your body (if you are into that sort of thing) will unlock your phone. No secret code. No tricks. No thumbprint. Just a mark of the beast called technology hanging out and waiting to gain access into your soul.

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Bros Behind ‘Yo’ Reveal Their Secret PR Sauce

YO

When the app that simply says “Yo” debuted a month ago, quite a few folks in media-land ran around like the proverbial headless chickens, proclaiming that the sky had finally fallen when such an obviously useless product earned so much coverage.

So how did the Yo bros score the placements that led to a million downloads in four days? They recently spoke to Ayelet Noff of Venture Beat to reveal their not-so-secret strategy.

Two words: Robert and Scoble.

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Airbnb Shows Its New Face to the World

You may have heard of Airbnb. The company (and other “sharing economy” businesses lumped together despite serving different constituencies in different industries) has struggled a bit to define itself to the public as its business is a patchwork “community” made up of people who want to share their homes and people looking for homes to be shared.

Today the company launched a new website, a new logo, and a slew of content designed to give us all a better idea of what it does–and to give the members of its community a clearer sense of identity.

First, the video explaining the logo and tying it into the brand proposition:

According to the release, the Bélo also stands for ”open windows, open doors, and shared values.”

Founder Brian Chesky explains things in a blog post after the jump.

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