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Code/red: Uber Receives Daily Affirmation From Stuart Smalley

Plus, Android One's slow start in India, a Lyft investor happily slags Uber and He-Man's best one-liners.


Al Franken to Uber: You’re Threatening, You’re Arrogant and Doggone It, People Fear You

Well, that didn’t take long at all. An Uber executive’s suggestion that the company create an opposition research team to discredit its media critics and growing concerns about its ability to track the whereabouts of its users have invited an inquiry from Capitol Hill. In a letter sent Wednesday to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. — chairman of the Senate subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law — worried aloud about the company’s “troubling disregard for customers’ privacy” and pressed it to explain its data collection and preservation practices. Evidently he too is curious about the breadth of the “legitimate business purposes” loophole through which Uber allows itself to access driver and rider data.

Really? How Sad …

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on the company’s new alliance with Mozilla: “This is the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years.”

Apple-GT Soon to Be Case Study in Harvard Business School Disaster Preparedness Textbook

Daisuke Wakabayashi, the Wall Street Journal: “The Apple-GT marriage was troubled from the start. GT hadn’t mass-produced sapphire before the Apple deal. The New Hampshire company’s first 578-pound cylinder of sapphire, made just days before the companies signed their contract, was flawed and unusable. GT hired hundreds of workers with little oversight; some bored employees were paid overtime to sweep floors repeatedly, while others played hooky.”

Android One Not Exactly Taking India by Storm

Google’s Android One initiative was supposed to encourage widespread adoption of the company’s Android mobile operating system in emerging markets like India. But so far it seems to be falling short of that goal. Import data reviewed by the Economic Times suggests that less than a half million Android One handsets have been brought into India since Google debuted Android One a month ago. That’s a piddling three percent of the total number of smartphones imported into the country during that period. The reason: Google’s decision to initially limit Android One handset sales in India to online only, a move that so displeased the country’s big retailers that many have refused to stock them. If Android One is going to bring Android to “the next five billion,” as Google once claimed, the company needs to embrace brick-and-mortar distribution in countries like India where it figures so prominently.

Danger, Jack Ma, Danger!

Alibaba founder Jack Ma isn’t letting the exuberance — rational or otherwise — that fueled the company’s record IPO cloud his vision. In a speech at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, Ma said Alibaba must remain nimble and aggressively innovative because complacency could kill it. “Even two months before the IPO, people didn’t think we would make money,” Ma said. “Now the problem is people think we are too good — we can do anything. This is the most dangerous moment.”

Why, Lyft Investor Would Be Happy to Comment on Uber Scandal! Thanks for Asking!

PayPal co-founder and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has a lot to say about pretty much everything — Twitter, hippies and monopolies, which are awesome. Hardly surprising then to learn that he also has a thing or two to say about the scandal sloshing about Uber like a septic spill. “[Uber is] the most ethically challenged company in Silicon Valley,” said Thiel, whose opinion was not at all influenced by his investment in Uber competitor Lyft. “Sometimes the people who break the rules win and sometimes they push it too far. And I think Uber’s right on the cusp of going simply too far on many of these things.”

Report: Apple Probably Going to Sell 30 Million Units of Device It Hasn’t Shipped Yet

By the time the Apple Watch debuts next year, 10 percent of folks who own an iPhone 5 or later will likely buy the wearable. This according to Morgan Stanley, which figures first-year Apple Watch sales will peak at around 30 million units in 2015 — at the top end of current analyst estimates.

Late Night TV: So Let’s Give a Warm Welcome to the Uber Scandal

Seth Myers on the Uber scandal: “It’s comments you make in public when everyone is listening and recording what you’re saying that don’t reflect your actual views. That’s true for all of us. The truth is always worse than what we say in public. In fact, if you publicly said you wanted to spend a million dollars digging up dirt on journalists, I would have said, holy crap, Uber is murdering journalists.”

Uber Scandal and Colonoscopy Mentioned in Same Glorious Sentence

Media critic Jack Shafer: “If I had not been busy today with a colonoscopy, I would have written a column about: ‘Yeah, why shouldn’t Uber investigate unscrupulous, rotten journalists? Just be upfront about it.’ That’s the column I would have written today if I hadn’t been busy on the doctor’s gurney. I don’t think anybody wrote that, did they?”

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s Your Catastrophic App Store Bill

Sex Pistols founder Johnny “Rotten” Lydon: “I wasted 10,000 fucking pounds in the last two years on apps on my iPad. I got into Game of Thrones, Game of War, Real Racing, and I just wanted to up the ante. And like an idiot I didn’t check myself.”

Off Topic

Feminist Hacker Barbie (background here) and He-Man’s Best One-Liners.

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments, Off Topics and Air Umbrellas to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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