Code/red: Amazon Gives Warner Bros. the Hachette Treatment
// HAPPENING TODAY
- Netflix VP Chris Libertelli, AT&T SVP Jim Cicconi and a handful of academics are talking net neutrality at the Aspen Institute.
- E3 continues.
- Uber is a bit smugger than usual (see below).
- Target is holding its first annual meeting since that ugly data breach last year.
Amazon Taps Lord Business to Handle Warner Bros. Contract Negotiation
Are Amazon’s hardball contract negotiations with its suppliers petulant gamesmanship or pathology? These days, it’s getting harder to tell. Back in May, Amazon slowed delivery of a number of Hachette titles and made others unavailable for preorder as it struggled to gain the upper hand in a pricing confrontation with the publisher. Now it’s using similar strong-arm tactics on Warner Bros., refusing to offer preorders of forthcoming DVDs like “The Lego Movie” and “Transcendence.” As one Amazon customer complained on the retailer’s forums, “Amazon may be digging their own grave if they keep this up. I don’t really care whose ‘fault’ it is, other sites don’t seem to have this problem. It is eerily reminiscent of the pressure Wal-Mart puts on suppliers. … not a good pattern.”
Caveat: As a “Restless Genius” and “Ultimate Thinking Machine,” I am Not Impressed by Much
Ray Kurzweil: “I chatted with the chatbot Eugene Goostman, and was not impressed.”
Action camera company GoPro expects to raise up to $427.2 million in its forthcoming IPO, offering 17.8 million Class A shares priced between $21 and $24 each for a valuation of up to $3 billion. In an unusual twist, the company plans to make up to 1.5 percent of those shares to the public available through the Loyal3 social IPO platform.
London’s Anti-Uber Protest Actually Wildly Successful Uber Membership Drive
Well done, London taxi drivers, well done. Your anti-Uber protest may have succeeded in turning Trafalgar Square into a giant parking lot, but it also spiked new customer registrations for the transportation network’s London service. “Today we’re seeing an 850 per cent increase in sign-ups compared to last Wednesday,” Uber’s U.K. manager Jo Bertram said in a statement. “The results are clear: London wants Uber in a big way. Unsurprisingly, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), which is stuck in the dark ages, is intent on holding London to ransom and causing significant economic impact to Londoners today.” Maybe CEO Travis Kalanick was right to throw dirt on the taxi industry at our Code Conference last month. “We’re in a political campaign, and the candidate is Uber and the opponent is an asshole named Taxi,” Kalanick said. “Nobody likes him.” That may well be true today if you’re trying to find a cab in London.
Tumblr Founder Just Like a Shorter LeBron James, Except Not at All
President Barack Obama on Tumblr founder David Karp: “You wouldn’t know it, but you’re like Lebron or Durant. You don’t have the same physiques, but there are only going to be so many Zuckerbergs or Gateses who are able to short circuit the traditional path.”
Jerry Brown’s Apple Joke More Ironic Than Previously Thought
Hardly surprising. The European Union’s decision to investigate whether Ireland has been offering improper tax breaks to Apple has been met with indignation in Cupertino. “We have received no selective treatment from Irish officials,” the company said in a statement. “Apple pays every euro of every tax that we owe.” And to be fair, a 2013 Senate investigation into Apple’s tax practices did reach the same conclusion. This, despite the fact that investigators discovered that three of Apple’s Irish subsidiaries claim to have no responsibility to pay income taxes to any country, and one which reported $30 billion in income over the past four years didn’t file an income tax return for any of it. “I don’t know how you got to have Apple to have so much of their business in Ireland,” California Governor Jerry Brown recently joked at Enterprise Ireland, an event for Irish startups doing business in San Francisco. “We thought they were a Californian company, when you look at their tax returns they’re really an Irish company. … it’s called creative accounting.”
Cinema Etiquette: No Popcorn Fights, Keep Your Shoes On and Don’t Be a Glasshole
Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League: “We’ve been talking about this potential ban for over a year. Google Glass did some early demos here in Austin and I tried them out personally. At that time, I recognized the potential piracy problem that they present for cinemas. I decided to put off a decision until we started seeing them in the theater, and that started happening this month.”
You Wouldn’t Be Comparing WWDC to a Cement Conference if Steve Jobs Were Still Around …
Horace Dediu, Asymco: “[WWDC] was, in essence, a cement conference. A new building material was introduced along with the methods for using it and the tools for shaping it. Perhaps some observers expected to see skyscrapers and interstate highways presented, and thus were disappointed. But they should not have had such expectations. A cement conference is esoteric. It’s about the rudiments which, when combined with imagination, ingenuity and a lot of work, generate livable spaces.”
Bitcoin: Like PayPal With Neckbeards
Michael Gulmann, Expedia’s vice president of global product: “I remember when PayPal was a strange thing — you’d use an email address to send money from one person to another. Now PayPal is fairly mainstream. The path Bitcoin is on is in some ways what PayPal was on. At first it seems strange, something that only the technocentric crowd uses, but it’s going to become more mainstream.”
Could Have Been Worse. Could Have Said Surface.
Emily Dreyfuss, Wired: “‘Dad, what’s that?’ the child asked, pointing at the Donkey Kong cabinet. ‘It’s like a big iPad,’ his father said. Chris Kooluris shakes his head mournfully at this memory. ‘That is just sacrilege,’ he says.”