Benner on Tech: A Bump in the Road for Internet.org

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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Things weren’t supposed to be so complicated for Internet.org.

The Facebook project was, simply put, an attempt to bring the Internet to everyone. But groups in countries around the world have written an open letter that calls the initiative a threat to the open Internet for people who have limited or no way to get online.

It is our belief that Facebook is improperly defining net neutrality in public statements and building a walled garden in which the world's poorest people will only be able to access a limited set of insecure websites and services. Further, we are deeply concerned that Internet.org has been misleadingly marketed as providing access to the full Internet, when in fact it only provides access to a limited number of Internet-connected services that are approved by Facebook and local ISPs. In its present conception, Internet.org thereby violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy and innovation.

A Search Deal

Twitter and Google struck a deal to make tweets searchable on mobile devices. Now all of those tweets you’ve carefully muted can dominate your search results. I guess the idea is that people searching for, say, an auto body shop will see auto repair-related tweets and think, “I must sign up for this service and share updates about my car with the world.” Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier explains why the deal in its current incarnation probably won’t boost Twitter’s user numbers.

A Streaming Deal

The Verge got its hands on an old licensing contract between Spotify and Sony Music. Even though the two-year agreement (with the option to renew for a third year) is from 2011, it’s an interesting look at the complex world of streaming rates. It also shows that Spotify was willing to pay Sony $25 million in advances over two years, and it gave the music company $5.5 million in free advertising for the first two years. Spotify was also willing to amend the contract so that Sony always had more favorable terms than its competitors. Even if artists aren’t making money off of streaming music, it seems like their record label is doing just fine.

Lending Pain

PayPal is paying $25 million to settle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s claims that the company illegally signed customers up for a credit product called Bill Me Later. The CFPB said the company made it difficult for customers who joined to take advantage of deferred interest payments to not get hit with those fees later.

Must-See TV

Some television geniuses are working on a show called "94110," which is about "six leading technology executives living, learning, and loving together in San Francisco’s Mission District." Yes, this is a true thing. And the show’s head of marketing and communications, Scott Vermeire, thinks all the negative neighborhood attention the show has gotten is just fine. "I think it's all buzz. I’ve seen buzz at launch like this, I've never seen it this early in development,” he told the Verge’s Nitasha Tiku. An actual finished TV show many never materialize, but Tiku nailed her audition for the role of venture capitalist.

Etsy Earnings

Etsy shares fell 17 percent after the company reported a quarterly revenue number that fell short of Wall Street estimates. The stock has been on a tear since the company went public, in part driven by the dearth of tech IPOs.

Ventureland

Airbnb is making software for property managers, pushing the company deeper into the professional vacation rental business. (Wall Street Journal)

Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com, bought a company that makes e-commerce tools called WooCommerce. (Re/code)

MuleSoft, a business software company, raised a $128 million round and is now valued at $1.5 billion. (Fortune)

Pinterest introduced a video-like ad. (TechCrunch)

People and Personnel Moves

David Lee is leaving SV Angel, an influential Silicon Valley startup investor. (Wall Street Journal) Topher Conway is now co-managing partner of the firm. (TechCrunch)

Maria Renz, a 15-year Amazon veteran, was just named technical adviser to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos. (Re/code)

Mike Kail has stepped down as chief information officer at Yahoo and will be replaced by Laurie Mann, who is currently senior vice president of search products at the company. (Wall Street Journal)

Frank Gibeau, the head of Electronic Arts’s mobile-games division, is leaving the company. (Wall Street Journal)

Companies

Facebook is expanding messenger video calling to almost every country. (VentureBeat)

Google will soon unveil a new photo sharing and storage service that’s separate from the Google+ social network. (Bloomberg) The company is being sued by people who think the YouTube app for kids is actually filled with inappropriate content. (Washington Post)

Pandora bought Next Big Sound, an analytics company that focuses on the music industry. (VentureBeat)

Yahoo shares fell almost 8 percent on fears the IRS could complicate the company’s efforts to spin out its stake in Alibaba. (Bloomberg)

Security Watch

The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank had its domain name servers hijacked, exposing it to phishing and malware attacks. (Bloomberg)

Debit card data theft is soaring as hackers prey on ATM machines. (Wall Street Journal)

News and Notes

Mastercard has created a peer-to-peer payments product. (Fortune)

The New York Stock Exchange has released a bitcoin price index. (CoinDesk)

Hillary Clinton’s e-mails will be released by the State Department beginning in January 2016. (Politico)

Tech company earnings have been recently lauded, but some of the results were more hype than substance. (Wall Street Journal

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at mlamagna@bloomberg.net