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Timely Takeover: Flywheel Raises $12 Million to Take Back the Streets from Uber

uber taxi

For the past couple of months, Uber has lost about all of its fanfare and applause in exchange for a few million middle fingers.

As you have seen in the PRNewserverse: we had a sexist PR promo for “hot chicks,” Emil Michael’s horrific implosion, the CEO’s apology-ish, and public opinion on why a “the press sucks” strategy really doesn’t work. In short, it’s been an #UberFail.

The timing couldn’t be better for Flywheel, a taxi hailing app, which has decided to get its real estate back with a $12 million Series-C fundraising grab.

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Waggener Edstrom Study Says ‘Wearables’ Are Here to Stay

google glassssssss

We’re still not quite sure what to make of wearable technology. Many tech companies and their firms want to tell us that it’s the next big thing, and we feel like we should probably get some sort of fitness tracker when we plan our New Year’s resolutions. But doubts remain: last week, investors had a minor freakout over Google founder Sergey Brin’s decision to appear at a “red carpet event” without a bulky camera on his face.

A new study from Waggener Edstrom, however, tells us that the wearable tech market is just getting started. One research firm predicts that it will be ten times as large in 2018 as it was last year.

You can click here to download the full paper, and we have some takeaways after the jump.

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Angry Tech Exec’s Note to NYT Reporter Must Be Seen to Be Believed

Last night we learned that the stereotypical tech execs featured on HBO’s Silicon Valley were not so far from reality.

You probably noticed that lots of journalists were tweeting/writing bad things about Uber yesterday, especially after reports of easy employee access to the “God View” tool that allows the company to track every one of its riders.

Turns out that a few (allegedly) high-ranking “technologists” have even less respect for “the media” than, say, your average Fox News opinionator.

Last night, New York Times tech writer Mike Isaac shared an anonymous hatemail received from a self-described “tech executive” who thinks the media deserves a bit of comeuppance:

Read the whole thing if you have time — it’s more than slightly insane. Highlights after the jump.

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Uber CEO Apologizes

If you were waiting for Uber chief Travis Kalanick to apologize for last night’s BuzzFeed reveal, his statement arrived this afternoon in the form of fourteen tweets. Most of them are of the standard “his comments do not represent our ethos” variety. Here’s the most important and obvious one:

He added a personal apology to journalist Sarah Lacy, though a few of our fellow bloggers noted his inability to count to fourteen:

Tweets 12 and 13 in the series talk of how “folks who make mistakes can learn from them” in reference to SVP of business Emil Michael but strongly imply that he will not be fired.

We can only speak for ourselves here, but words without actions generally don’t amount to much.

Snapchat Wants to Make Your Money Disappear

…but they’re not going to keep it, silly!

Last night we saw the first “official” ad for Snapchat’s new cash-transferral service called Snapcash. Tell us if it makes any sense to you:

Unfortunately, this clip won’t disappear after ten seconds.

Still confused? Don’t worry — the company explained very little about the new product and its revised privacy policy in a pair of what we might call press releases.

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Home Depot Crisis Comms Plan: Blame Microsoft

Home Depot

On Friday we told you that Home Depot was in need of some serious reputation cleanup in aisle 1 after a second story concerning digital privacy breaches went public: hackers stole approximately 53 million shoppers’ email addresses by targeting self-checkout lanes.

Now it seems the company has developed a strategy to follow its ho-hum “we’re sorry” statement: blame Windows.

9t05Mac dove into an earlier Wall Street Journal report on the event to find this tidbit:

“…the hackers were able to jump the barriers between a peripheral third-party vendor system and the company’s more secure main computer network by exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, the people briefed on the investigation said.”

This report comes at a particularly bad time for Microsoft.

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The Atlantic Wants ‘Tech in the Home’ Pitches


Here’s an interesting tidbit from The Atlantic Technology Channel this morning: the magazine is looking for great stories about adventures with tech in the home.

It’s true that this call for pitches is really aimed at freelance writers, but given the fact that home tech is one of the industry’s hottest forward-facing topics at the moment (arguably second only to wearables), it could certainly be a great opportunity to work with journalists who specialize in that subject.

From the post:

“We want to hear your stories about homes, about the physical and digital spaces where you live, about what draws you to them, and the defining rituals that happen within their walls.

Remember: Technology doesn’t just mean the Internet and gadgets—we want your adventures in architecture and systems and ways of thinking.”

They don’t want your standard formatted pitch. Also:

“We hope you’ll do a little searching before you pitch to see if the concept you’re looking into has been done before—not just by us, but by anybody.”

So this is a challenging one. But the resulting series would be a great place to showcase home tech products in action and their practical effects on everyday life.

Silicon Valley Has Some of America’s Slowest Internet Connections

silicon valley

TODAY IN IRONY: When a city in America earns a reputation, it will generally be embraced or immediately changed.

Philadelphia, with more than its share of unfriendly people in the world, is called “the City of Brotherly Love.” There’s New York, where very few people actually taste the Big Apple. There’s Dallas (or Fort Worth) where people assume everyone drives to work … on the horse resting right outside the bait and tackle shop.

And then, there’s San Francisco — a liberal utopia in the minds of some, a homogenous setting with arms wide open for others.

The city is also known for nearby Silicon Valley: birthplace of technology, epicenter of innovation…and one of the worst places in the country for Internet reception.

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Eric Schmidt Finally Explains How Google Works

The animated video that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt shared on (of course) Google+ this morning is really a piece of content marketing promoting his new book How Google Works, written with the help of advisor/former SVP of Products Jonathan Rosenberg and Director of Executive Communications Alan Eagle.

A more appropriate title might be “How Business Works in the Age of Google.” Still, it’s a useful clip that reinforces some lessons crucial to both communications teams and their clients. And it’s short at just over three minutes.

The video confirms a few things we know:

  • Influencers are everywhere
  • Truly “smart creative” ideas win the day
  • Businesses and agencies alike need to facilitate a culture that encourages risk-taking and “innovation”

For PR, the key message is to be nimble: the act of relying on any rigid business plan or the words of a single, big-name advisor will probably not help a given company or agency achieve its goals. Sharing, communication and consensus are key.

What do we think?

Tech Journo Tells PR to Maybe Back Off a Bit

shutterstock_112692424The always-excellent Digiday published a great piece today. Titled “Confessions of a Tech Reporter,” it might be better labeled “Tips for Tech PR.”

The primary issue is that many tech founders seem to think that they are “entitled to coverage,” so they make unrealistic demands of their PR teams (be they in-house or third party).

We get it — over at yer old AgencySpy, we get a whole hell of a lot of press releases announcing product launches and hiring moves from companies that don’t produce ads — they just make the software that helps you measure those ads. And they’re looking for clients. Here’s a particularly misguided quote from the post:

“Once a PR person said, ‘It sounds like you’re not after any new readers’ when I declined to cover her random client.”

Well, you obviously shouldn’t say that.

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