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Instagram integrates video calls as Shared Stories in most recent bid for your attention


Instagram now allows users to broadcast a live Story with a friend. The feature was tested with select users in the past few months, and it’s finally out for everyone to use. Shared Stories allows users to pick anyone who’s currently watching their live broadcast to join in. Once its linked, the screen splits into two and anyone who follows each user will be able to see the combined live Story — it’ll show up as a stacked circle on the Stories timeline. A feature like this opens the door to all kinds of uses for live Stories: from interviews,…

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US government is clueless about AI and shouldn’t be allowed to regulate it


Lobbyists for Google and Amazon today appeared in Washington to caution lawmakers against legislation, taxation, or regulation that could hamper the develop of AI in America. The concern over AI has been largely fueled by speculation. When Elon Musk expressed his concerns that AI would be the most likely cause of World War III, he was predicting a dark turn. The reality of AI right now isn’t quite so dramatic, but it’s no less worrisome. Facebook and Google have been called to task over algorithms in the wake of election tampering and concerns about fake news. The algorithm – a…

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This tiny tracking gadget works anywhere thanks to 4G LTE


Tracking gadgets can be really useful when you can’t find something at home, but they aren’t too much help once you run out of Bluetooth range. A new tracker called Fynd wants to fix that, claiming to be the world’s smallest cellular tracking device and the first to use 4G LTE. It certainly is small.  I had the change to check one out in person, and it’s a bit smaller than a Fig Newton (1.77″ x 1.22″ x 0.35″). It has a couple of loops so you can slide it over a strap or pet collar, and comes with a…

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Seattle mayoral candidate wants a modern-day ‘welcome wagon’ for tech workers

Jenny Durkan (left) and Cary Moon, Seattle mayoral candidates, at Tuesday night’s debate. (GeekWire Photo)

Seattle mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan are squaring off in one of the final debates of the campaign tonight, and technology issues have been a recurring theme as they grapple with the future of a city that has become one of the nation’s biggest tech hubs.

Tech was top of mind for Moon, an urban planner, when moderator Ross Reynolds of KUOW asked the candidates to talk about constituencies they had learned the most about during the campaign after knowing relatively little about them at the outset. Here’s what she said.

I’ve been fascinated by the tech culture in our city, because so many folks moved here at the same time over the past five years, and I think there’s been an exclusion and a distance between the tech workers and other folks who’ve been here longer. So I’ve really spent a lot of time reaching out to tech workers and really understanding how much they want to be integrated in the city, what would it take for them to feel more welcome, like they belong here. Because I feel like we need to be building this city for the future.

And yes we want to be inclusive and affordable and diverse, and creative and committed to shared prosperity for everybody, and that means we have to come together across age and class and race and gender and talk about solutions. So I really am focused on how do we help the tech workers feel more welcome in our city.

In the old days, in the small town I grew up in, there was really a literal thing called the welcome wagon, where you went to newcomers in town and introduced them to the town, and showed them around, and introduced them to the coffee shops and the churches and the businesses, and I feel like we do something like that with tech workers, because they’re part of our city, too, and they want to stay here, and they want to be part of our civic culture, and I would love to work more on that as mayor and kind of build more unity.

We’ll have more coverage of comments by Durkan and Moon shortly. GeekWire is co-hosting the debate with KING 5, KUOW, and Seattle City Club.

Watch the video below.

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Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff shares his keys to success and advice on bouncing back

Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff interviews theBoardlist founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy for his ‘Office Hours’ podcast at the 2017 GeekWire Summit in Seattle. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

As the co-founder of Hotwire and Zillow Group, with stints at companies like TPG Capital and Expedia, Spencer Rascoff has had a successful career by many standards.

That’s why it was interesting to hear the Zillow Group CEO talk about his keys to success on a recent podcast hosted by Business Insider reporter Alyson Shontell aptly named “Success! How I Did It.”

Rascoff, who co-founded travel booking website Hotwire in 1999 and helped launch real estate giant Zillow Group in 2005, shared several stories about his career path during the 30-minute conversation. For example:

  • Rascoff was a nationally-ranked chess player while in grade school — “I played every weekend hardcore,” he noted.
  • Rascoff grew up in an affluent environment and didn’t experience much grit. That changed when his 17-year-old brother died in a car accident just before graduating high school. “When you lose your brother at an early age, all of a sudden you’re sort of jolted into just a different world,” he said. “Those last couple of years of high school, I kind of felt like I had to really overachieve, and I worked really hard and am still working really hard 25 years later.”
  • Hotwire faced serious adversity two years after launching. There was the dot-com bubble and the 9/11 tragedy kept many people from traveling. To make matters worse, the 9/11 hijackers used Hotwire to buy tickets to Bangor, Maine, before they flew from Bangor to Logan International. Rascoff also lost a family friend on the plane that went down in Pennsylvania; he also traveled on the United 93 Newark to San Francisco flight just a few days before. Hotwire went through big layoffs, but the core team stuck together and “worked our butts off to make Hotwire successful,” Rascoff said. It sold to Expedia for $700 million two years later.
  • Rascoff faced similar struggles when Zillow went through layoffs during the 2008 housing crash. “It was the same thing: It was cut deep and recommit the remaining employees to the mission,” he said. “In both cases, the adversity that Hotwire and Zillow faced, there was a silver lining, it turns out. It made both companies much stronger as a result, and I don’t think Zillow would have been as successful today had it not been for the adversity that we faced in ’07 and ’08.”
  • Now that Rascoff runs a $7 billion company in Zillow, he’s had to change his leadership style. “You have to take seriously this reflection that for every person at the company, you need to think about, ‘Is that the right person for the next two years in the role?’” he said.
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. (Zillow Photo)

Asked about his success and advice for others, here’s what Rascoff had to say:

“I’ve always looked 10 years my senior and tried to find somebody at my company to think about if I want that person’s life, their whole life.

Usually, younger people earlier in their career look at a senior person and they look at their compensation, and I’m advising not to do that. If you’re an associate in the marketing department, look at the VP of marketing and say, ‘Do I want her or his work-life balance, respect in the community, intellectual stimulation of their job, title’ — sure, compensation, yes, but sort of the whole package.

That’s the path you’re on. You could wake up in the blink of an eye and end up in that world — if you don’t like that trajectory, then find some other path.

The other advice I’d give is something that [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg has been very articulate and eloquent about, which is this whole ‘Your career as a jungle gym not a career ladder.’ It’s something that I found in my career. So what does that really mean? It means that you’re on a particular path and then willing to go off to the side. So in my case, for example, I was running supplier relations — relations with the hotel industry — and then I moved over to a marketing role where I really had no experience or background, and then I moved over to a finance role where yet again I had no direct experience. And so it was kind of like one step to the side to take two steps forward, one step back to take three steps forward, and charting this very kind of circuitous route, which is unique to this generation.

Our parents and our grandparents had a much simpler career path — just sort of do the time and you’ll get promoted eventually. That’s not the way it works now. So you have to build your own career path and be willing to take some steps to the side in order to take steps up.”

You can listen to the full conversation at Business Insider.

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Watch live: Seattle mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan face off in debate


On Nov. 7, Seattle will elect a new mayor to guide the city through a period of unprecedented growth, driven largely by the booming technology industry.

Tonight, candidates Cary Moon — an urban planner — and Jenny Durkan — a former U.S. Attorney — are going head-to-head in one of the last debates before election day. The winner will be charged with addressing the city’s housing affordability crisis and transportation and traffic woes — two of the most visible manifestations of Seattle’s population boom. She will also be expected to bridge the growing chasm between the city’s business community and government.

Taking place at Starbucks’ corporate headquarters, the debate will be moderated by KING 5 political reporter Natalie Brand and KUOW’s Ross Reynolds.

Seattle mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon share views during a debate Tuesday night. (GeekWire photo)

Watch the live stream above (to be posted at 6:25 p.m.) and stick around until the end for a special post-debate show hosted by KING 5’s Chris Daniels and me. We’ll interview both candidates, take questions from social media, and connect them with audience members. Let us know if you have any questions you’d like asked. There are important issues percolating as the election nears.

Cary Moon, Seattle mayoral candidate, at Tuesday night’s debate. (GeekWire photo)

The Seattle City Council’s new income tax on high earners is an example of one issue driving a wedge between some members of the tech community and the city’s famously progressive lawmakers. The Council is also considering regulations to curb Airbnb and a head tax on each employee at the city’s biggest companies.

The leaders behind the new taxes say big business needs to pay its fair share to address the homelessness crisis in Seattle, which has been exacerbated by the rapidly rising cost of housing, driven by an influx of well-paid newcomers.

Many of those issues came to a head last month, when Seattle’s largest private employer announced plans to open a second headquarters in another city. Amazon — and the tech industry it represents — is a lightning rod in Seattle.

GeekWire is tracking these issues closely and tonight we are co-hosting the debate with KING 5, KUOW, and Seattle City Club.

If you want to join in the discussion, tweet with the hashtag #SeaMayor, comment on KING 5’s Facebook Live stream or share comments here on GeekWire. And some of the Tweets here:

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HashiCorp raises a $40M Series C round as more businesses realize they need help with the cloud

Armon Dadgar (L) and Mitchell Hashimoto, co-founders and co-CTOs, HashiCorp (HashiCorp Photo)

Moving your applications to the cloud isn’t always as easy as those selling cloud services would like you to believe. That’s creating a market for startups like HashiCorp, which announced Tuesday that it has raised $40 million in new funding.

The Series C round was led by GGV Capital and Redpoint Ventures, with earlier investors Mayfield and True Ventures participating. The new haul brings HashiCorp’s total funding to $74 million, and CEO Dave McJannet said in a release that the company plans to increase the number of sales and support staff on its roster.

HashiCorp is following a well-worn path in enterprise computing, developing and maintaining a variety of open-source projects while selling a supported enterprise version to companies that lack the skills or patience to implement the projects. The commercial products help companies run their applications across multiple public clouds and on-premises infrastructure, and Microsoft struck a partnership with the company earlier this year to make HashiCorp’s Terraform infrastructure management product easier to access in Microsoft Azure.

The company was founded in 2012 by two graduates of the University of Washington’s computer science program; co-CTOs Armon Dadgar and Mitchell Hashimoto. Now based in San Francisco, Hashicorp has added some big customers this year, including Adobe, Barclays, and Comcast, it said in a press release.

Here’s a video of Hashimoto speaking at our Cloud Tech Summit earlier this year on how to make sure security doesn’t get lost in a rush to adopt DevOps principles.

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Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess: Want to expose the money behind online political ads? Think local

Mayor Burgess at the annual Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce meeting. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

With each day, it seems we learn more about the shadowy world of political advertising on digital platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. As multiple investigations into the 2016 presidential election already indicate, it’s a world urgently in need of transparency.

In the US Senate, some lawmakers are rightly pushing for new legislation that would require social media companies to publicly disclose who’s buying online political ads, the cost of those ads, and who those ads are targeting. It’s a shame we don’t have such a federal law already, but federal regulation isn’t the only available answer to this problem.

In Seattle, under a municipal law that dates to 1977, we already regulate political advertising on digital platforms. That’s not because the writers of this law predicted the advent of the Internet. It’s because they defined political advertising as any advertising that uses a “means of mass communication” in order to appeal “directly or indirectly” for votes, financial support, or “other support” during any local election campaign.

Whether it came about from farsighted word choice or just plain luck, our legal language clearly applies to local political ads that are purchased on digital platforms with the aim of influencing Seattle voters. And while Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, was still seven years away from being born when this bit of municipal code was laid down, our law’s language now offers some straightforward answers to the novel challenges his amazing mass communication machine has created for our democracy.

For example, Seattle’s municipal code requires commercial advertising businesses like Mr. Zuckerberg’s to maintain, in a manner that’s “open for public inspection,” the names and addresses of people purchasing political ads that target Seattle elections. It also requires the company to disclose “the exact nature and extent of advertising services rendered” (which, in the world of social media, would include ad targeting information). In addition, the law says the public must be allowed to inspect “books of account” showing the amount and manner of payment for these ad services.

Seattle’s law also contains an outright ban on “concealment” of the identity of any political ad purchaser and it says that a failure to properly disclose the money trail behind political ads can be met with up to a $5,000 fine for each violation.

In other words, if a journalist, an election watchdog, or anyone else in Seattle wants to follow the trail of digital media ad money as it relates to our local elections, they can walk right into the Seattle offices of Facebook, Google, or Twitter (“during normal business hours,” as the law says) and ask for an extensive accounting — just as interested parties already do when tracking political ads purchased on our local television stations.

The existence of this law also makes clear that Americans don’t have to wait for Congress to act on this issue, nor do we need to rely on the hope that digital platforms will police themselves. Nothing is stopping other cities and states from following our lead — either by searching their own election codes for laws that apply to digital publishers, or by creating new laws.

Imagine a spreading constellation of local demonstration projects taking on the under-regulated world of online political advertising. It would be great to see. To be sure, this isn’t the only type of transparency we need to prevent the growing list of online actions that attempted to exert influence on our 2016 presidential election. Sensible, urgent action from lawmakers in Washington, DC remains essential. But if Seattle’s municipal government can force Facebook, Google, and Twitter to open their political ad books — and if other cities, counties, and states can do the same — then the message will be clear: the federal government should, too.

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Why Did Russian Jews Support the Bolshevik Revolution?

When the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd on Oct. 25, 1917, the vast majority of Russia’s Jews opposed that takeover. Five years later, when the USSR was created at the end of a treacherously bloody civil war, the situation was reversed—not, as the Hebrew cliché has it, out of the love of Mordecai, but out of hatred of Haman.

It is difficult to paint a precise picture of the political views of Russian Jews at the time of the Revolution for the simple reason that we have relatively little precise information on the subject: from 1905 to 1917 the Jews voted in elections for the four parliaments (called Dumas) that were created in response to the 1905 Revolution. None of these elections were based on universal suffrage, first and foremost because women could not vote, and so we have no firm data whatsoever on the views of half of the Jewish population. Moreover, the franchise was more and more restricted as the years went by, and so the number of Jews voting for and being elected to the Duma went down, rather than up, during the twelve years of the parliaments’ existence. Twice in 1917 the Jews voted again, this time with female suffrage, but we still lack data on a very significant chunk of the Jewish population.

Continue reading “Why Did Russian Jews Support the Bolshevik Revolution?” at…

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Today on Jewcy: The ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ director is both Maori and an M.O.T.

Taika Waititi is Hollywood’s new darling; the indie filmmaker has gone from making dark comedies in New Zealand to directing Thor: Ragnarok, the latest Marvel mega-flick. And he’s also been in the news as a minority in the film industry; a profile in the New York Times Magazine this past week, for example, talked about his Maori background, an aspect of his identity he publicly emphasizes, and often incorporates into his work.

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