Benner on Tech: Cable Consolidates, Uber Does Some Poaching

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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Cable consolidation didn't die with Comcast's scuppered bid for Time Warner Cable. It just became a cross border game.

The European cable company Altice agreed to pay $9.1 billion to control the U.S. broadband company Suddenlink Communications; the New York Times says Altice has also approached Time Warner Cable about a possible deal.

So, yes, the government is very worried about creating a U.S. monopoly in cable and broadband Internet access. But those fears can't change the fact that cable companies feel they need scale to be competitive. The Comcast blow up showed them that companies would have to be a little more creative about dealmaking to become huge, powerful behemoths.

Uber Hired Some People

Uber announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon back in February to work on self-driving car technology. Less than three months later it seems that the deal has gone awry. A person at Carnegie Mellon told the Verge, "They took all the guys that were working on vehicle autonomy -- basically whole groups, whole teams of developers, commercialization specialists, all the guys that find grants and who were bringing the intellectual property." Maybe academia moves too slowly for Uber's go-go startup culture? Maybe those developers were dying for a taste of startup life (and a piece of startup equity)? Either way, it seems like collaborating with Uber won't be boring.

Twitter Let People Pay to Harass its Users

Trolls run rampant on any large public forum, but you'd think Twitter would have some control over its sponsored content. (You know, the tweets that are essentially ads that the company injects into our feeds.) But a white supremacist troll named Andrew Auernheimer used sponsored tweets to send racist messages to women and minorities. In another instance of sponsored tweet abuse, someone pretended to be a feminist campaigner named Caitlin Roper and posted promoted tweets telling transgender people to kill themselves.

As the Verge put it: "As it stands, anybody with a Twitter account, a credit card, and some luck bypassing Twitter's automated filters can send a violent or hateful message to the people it will harm the most." Twitter told the Verge that it promptly took down the abusive content.

That makes me wonder how different groups, such as Twitter, its users and its potential, legitimate advertisers, define "prompt."

Trouble for Cisco?

BuzzFeed obtained documents that seem to show the company altered sales records and used a fake customer name to get around Western sanctions against selling tech equipment to Russia’s military. Cisco denied the allegations and said the buyer names on some accounts were wrong due to errors.

Camp Google

The company's ultra-elite conference for tech and finance people is back, and it's being held at the Verdura Resort in Sicily from July 26 to 30. (BuzzFeed)

Shopify's IPO

Investors clamored for shares of this small businesses software company, which ultimately sold 7.7 million shares for $17 apiece and raised $131 million. Bloomberg says the shares had previously been offered at a range of $14 to $16 a share.

Earnings Roundup

Salesforce.com said first quarter earnings per share beat expectations, and the company raised its guidance for the full year, which underscored the company's appeal as a potential takeover target. (Bloomberg)

NetApp, a data storage company, said its quarterly profit fell 32 percent and that it will lay off about 500 workers. (Wall Street Journal)

Ventureland

Leap, a private bus startup in San Francisco, suspended operations after receiving a cease and desist notice from the California Public Utilities Commission. (the Verge)

Spotify is adding podcasts and video to its streaming music service in an attempt to fend off its mega-competitors Apple and Google. (Bloomberg)

Twilio kicked off the TwilioFund, a $50 million investment fund to support businesses that build on Twilio’s communications and intelligence platform.

UberX drivers in Australia must now pay the national 10 percent Goods and Services Tax. (BuzzFeed)

Linkin Park started a venture firm called Machine Shop Ventures, which has already invested in Lyft, Shyp and Robinhood. (CNN Money)

Formation 8 had a first close on a new, dedicated hardware fund that could ultimately hit $100 million. It's also raising a seed fund. (Fortune)

Marc Andreessen and his wife Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen worked with Hewlett-Packard to donate almost $170,000 in computer equipment to public libraries in Ferguson and Baltimore. (USA Today)

People and Personnel Moves

Ilya Fushman has joined Index Ventures. He previously built out Dropbox for Business and the company's developer platform.

Chamath Palihapitiya, the founder of  Social+Capital Partnership and the highest-profile member of the next generation of venture capitalists, talks about why he didn't sell to Kleiner Perkins. (Fortune)

Fred Humphries, Maria Cino and Susan Molinari are among the top lobbyists who fight for tech interests in Washington D.C. (Re/code)

Security Watch

A Chinese professor and five other Chinese citizens were accused by the U.S. of participating in a multi-year scheme to give stolen information about American companies' tech designs to the Chinese government. (New York Times)

Anti-National Security Agency pranksters who formed a group called We Are Always Listening secretly planted tape recorders around New York City and published snippets of private conversations. (Wired)

The group's website says:

Eavesdropping on the population has revealed many saying “I’m not doing anything wrong so who cares if the NSA tracks what I say and do?”

Citizens don’t seem to mind this monitoring, so we’re hiding recorders in public places in hopes of gathering information to help win the war on terror.

Media Files

Online media companies have become hugely influential, but when you evaluate them for quality the results are mixed. (New York Review of Books)

News and Notes

Silicon Valley will implode if it can't stop lying to itself and to the world, argues former ValleyWag scribe Sam Biddle. (GQ)

Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by brain signals are being created by engineers at Johns Hopkins University. (New York Times)

Tech is attacking problems for the rich and the young. Unlike in the past, when devices like PCs got cheap and improved the lives of all, it seems unlikely that a lot of today's innovations will have a similar impact on the masses, argues Farhad Manjoo. (New York Times)

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