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This week: Instagram has a ‘Cambridge Analytica moment’
Netflix recently began streaming a documentary about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. The film, “The Great Hack,” is a fascinating look at how the personal data of 87 million Facebook users — including their likes, dislikes and other proclivities — wound up in the hands of a British political consulting firm and how the data was then exploited by political campaigns to manipulate people by pushing their emotional buttons.
More than one year after Cambridge Analytica, we’re still only beginning to take the full measure of how vulnerable we, and our data, are — something that’s clear in Rob Price’s investigation into Instagram’s lax practices around users’ personal data. Rob’s story details how a buzzy San Francisco marketing firm called Hyp3r systematically scraped millions of posts, photos and location data belonging to Instagram users (including Stories, a type of post designed to disappear after 24 hours). The firm used the data to compile detailed profiles about Instagram users. Sound familiar?
Instagram sent Hyp3r a cease-and-desist letter after Business Insider presented the social network with its findings. And Instagram-owner Facebook has since sent out notices to other marketers warning about the verboten behavior. But keep in mind that Hyp3r was not some shady, boiler-room operation. It was a trusted, vetted, Facebook Marketing Partner. The fact that it openly flouted Facebook and Instagram’s rules for more than a year so it could misappropriate user data is a remarkable revelation — and unlikely to be the last.
Read the full story:
Instagram’s lax privacy practices let a trusted partner track millions of users’ physical locations, secretly save their stories, and flout its rules
Are you ready for WeWork’s long-awaited IPO?
The $47 billion office co-sharing company’s IPO prospectus is expected to be released any day, with a stock listing coming as soon as September.
As Troy Wolverton explains in his analysis of the top questions surrounding WeWork ahead of its IPO, there are a lot of peculiarities and red flags about this business, including whether we should even think about WeWork as a tech company or something altogether different.
This is a must-read piece before you dive into WeWork’s forthcoming S-1 filing.
You may not have heard of an Oakland, California startup called NPM, but chances are good you’re enjoying its benefits.
NPM’s coding tools and public registry power much of the software that runs the internet, allowing developers at companies like Uber and Spotify be more productive. As Rosalie Chan reports, the open source startup is undergoing a painful battle for its soul, as a new CEO tasked with making the business financially sustainable clashes with employees devoted to preserving NPM’s “coder” culture.
It’s the tale of Silicon Valley itself: The tension between tech idealism and business imperatives. The result has been layoffs, angry resignations, and paranoia about snooping on Slack conversations. And in June an anonymous rabble-rouser even sent the COO a copy of “Corporate Finance for Dummies.” Ouch.
NPM, a startup 11 million developers rely on, is tangled in a bitter cultural battle as it tries to actually make money
Other recent tech highlights:
- Stanford researchers found evidence that racial bias against venture-capital funds led by people of color increases the better the funds perform
- Google employees are being encouraged by colleagues to keep silent on Trump’s provocative tweets because they think any comments would be ‘spun’ by the far-right press
- Here are 12 of the most important executives leading Oracle’s big push to take on Amazon, Microsoft, and Google in the cloud
- There’s a boom in VC funding for fertility startups. But female founders say they still have a hard time getting men to invest.
- An Amazon Web Services VP explains why it’s been successful in convincing Microsoft customers to jump ship
And more from across the BI newsroom:
- The definitive story of how a controversial Florida businessman blew up MoviePass and burned hundreds of millions
- We talked to 7 insiders about the $27 billion Refinitiv-LSE deal. Here’s how one of the biggest data deals of the year came together.
- Disney’s new pitch to advertisers touts the power of Disney Plus and ESPN Plus to supercharge its ad offerings
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