Benner on Tech: Bitcoin Rules and Ideas for Twitter's Turnaround

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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Longtime, long-suffering Twitter investor Chris Sacca penned an 8,500-word blog post about what Twitter can do to turn itself around. Despite what you may have heard, it’s not a screed. He writes, “I am not here to slam the company nor the team. I am not an activist investor.” For the most part, this is true.

The takeaway is that Twitter has been utterly unable to tell its story to investors and that it has had a hard time creating a service that appeals to a broad audience. I agree with both of those points 100 percent and would note that neither is a devastating critique. The company can change both of those things.

The bulk of the post goes into specific things that Sacca thinks the company can do to play to its strength as a real-time social network, becoming its own form of live broadcast entertainment.

Separately, he appeared on CNBC yesterday to say he thinks that Twitter would be an “instant fit” if it were bought by Google. So even though he says he isn’t an activist investor in real life, he did sort of play one on TV.  

Malone Eyes More Deals

As John Malone helps to usher in an era of cable and broadband consolidation, he’s eyeing ways to bundle up studios and small channels as well. The industry legend told the Wall Street Journal that Lions Gate Entertainment could be an important player as content production and distribution companies do deals; he also said Lions Gate could buy Starz.

New Bitcoin Rules

New York's Department of Financial Services released rules that regulate digital currencies in the state of New York. Companies will have to get a so-called Bitlicense to operate in the state and have a compliance officer who makes sure that all applicable rules related to digital currencies are followed. New York is seen as something of a bitcoin pioneer, especially when compared with other states, and this move is being closely watched. In a speech delivered yesterday, New York’s outgoing superintendent of financial services, Ben Lawsky, said:

Ultimately, we think regulation is important to the long-term health of the virtual currency industry.  Building trust and confidence among consumers is crucial for wider adoption. It also helps attract additional investment.

Dropouts

The Wall Street Journal looked at how college dropouts are thriving in San Francisco’s startup scene, in part because they’ve recreated so many aspects of college life. They live together in dorm-like squalor, and they form tight communities over Facebook, Twitter and at hackathons before they ever arrive in the city.

Not long ago, dropping out of school to start a company was considered risky. For this generation, it is a badge of honor, evidence of ambition and focus. Very few dropouts become tycoons, but “failure” today often means going back to school or taking a six-figure job at a big tech company.

Well Worth a Read

Sheryl Sandberg wrote a moving Facebook post in memory of her husband Dave Goldberg, who died last month. Not much more to say. Her words are powerful enough.

Ventureland

Coupang, a Korean e-commerce company, just received a $1 billion investment from SoftBank that values the company at around $5 billion. (New York Times)

Postmates is raising more than $50 million in a round led by Tiger Global that should value the company at around $400 million. (the Information)

Felix Capital has raised $120 million to fund fashion and lifestyle companies, and its backers include the European Investment Fund, Unilever and Facebook executives David Marcus and Julien Codorniou. (Wall Street Journal)

Uber is celebrating its five-year anniversary, and the New York Times magazine marked the occasion by diving deep into the company’s battle with the French government. (New York Times)

People and Personnel Moves

Sean Mills is now Snapchat’s head of original content. He was previously president of NowThis and the Onion. (Business Insider)

Jason Child will join Jawbone as chief financial officer. He was previously the CFO at Groupon, where Brian Kayman, the current vice president of tax and treasury, will serve as interim CFO. (Re/code)

Companies

Amazon got a letter from 19 Amazon Web Services customers, including Hootsuite and Tumblr, who want more information about the cloud service’s energy use and carbon footprint. (Wall Street Journal)

Apple is recalling some Beats Pill XL speakers that are at risk of overheating and creating a fire safety risk. The company will release new tools that should help software developers create better apps for the Apple Watch. (New York Times) If you want to use HomeKit accessories when you’re away from home you’ll need to own an Apple TV. (9to5Mac)

Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin wrote a shareholder letter asking investors to support the company’s so-called “moonshots,” referring to big, risky projects that don’t always pan out. (USA Today)

Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman says the tech industry is undergoing a tectonic change that will yield more consolidation. When HP splits into two companies on Nov. 1, Whitman will oversee the enterprise business, which will focus on cloud computing, security, software and mobility. (Bloomberg)

IBM acquired Blue Box Group, a managed private cloud provider. Deal terms weren’t disclosed.

Samsung delayed the debut of its mobile payments product until September. (Bloomberg)

Yahoo will stream the NFL’s first live-streamed, regular season game. On Oct. 25, viewers around the world can watch the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Buffalo Bills, for free. (Bloomberg)

Media Files

CBS will offer a standalone Showtime streaming service for $10.99 a month starting in early July. It will be available only on Apple’s iPad, iPhone and Apple TV. (Bloomberg)

Spotify wants us to stop listening to music according to genre and to let the service present us music that suits our moods and activities instead. (New York Times)

Tidal is offering a $4.99-a-month student price tier along with a Ticketmaster integration that lets users see artist tour dates and buy tickets through the service. (9to5Mac)

Security Watch

Hackers stole $39 million after they accessed IRS records, stole personal data and then filed for fraudulent tax refunds. (USA Today)

California law enforcement agents will need a warrant or wiretap order to search a person’s electronic devices, according to a bill that was recently passed by the state Senate. (LA Times)

News and Notes

NASA is working with Verizon to monitor civilian and commercial drones from phone towers. (Guardian)

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