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Code/red: Of Course Mysterious Amazon Device Is a Smartphone

Plus, social media prenups and the curious timing of Tony Bates’s GoPro appointment.


Amazon Smartphone Will Ship With Advanced Hyperbole Support

Amazon will unveil a new device later this month, and sources familiar with the company’s plans tell Code/red that it is indeed a smartphone. In a brief video published Wednesday, Amazon teased the device it will showcase at a June 18 event, showing people marveling at something just off-camera at waist level and saying things like “woah,” “it moves with me,” “I’ve never seen anything like this” and “I would use that a lot.” Presumably those are all responses to the device’s display, which uses a sophisticated parallax effect to create depth of field and the illusion of 3-D — either that or this is simply a video of Amazon customers discovering their genitals for the first time.

Tech CEOs: Surveillance Reform Law Probably More Effective With Actual Surveillance Reform

So the USA Freedom Act? You know, the bill meant to reform the National Security Agency’s surveillance efforts? Silicon Valley says it’s far too weak. In a letter to the Senate today, the CEOs of nine prominent tech companies, including Tim Cook of Apple and Satya Nadella of Microsoft, called for stronger surveillance reform. “In the next few weeks, the Senate has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership and pass a version of the USA Freedom Act that would help restore the confidence of Internet users here and around the world, while keeping citizens safe,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, the version that just passed the House of Representatives could permit bulk collection of Internet ‘metadata’ (e.g. who you email and who emails you), something that the Administration and Congress said they intended to end.”

Quartz Editor Would Like Cheap Amazon Phone

Dan Frommer, Quartz: “The real question is how cheaply Amazon will price its phone, and more importantly, its mobile service. With such strong competition from Apple and Samsung, there are few reasons for anyone to buy an Amazon phone other than price.”

Fab CEO: Say Hello to Bullshit

Fab founder and CEO Jason Goldberg: “Bullshit hateful rumors of @fab shutting down are just that. Bullshit hate. We’ve got years of money & a sound plan. Proof in time.”

GoPro and Tony Bates: A Case of Curious Timing

Former Skype CEO Tony Bates is joining GoPro as president after being passed over for the top job at Microsoft earlier this year. And the timing of his appointment, which also includes a board seat, seems a little curious. GoPro hasn’t yet gone public, though it has filed documents to do so. Why did Bates wait until after those documents were publicly filed to join the company? And why did GoPro offer him the gig between filing and pricing its IPO? Certainly, it’s more than a little unusual for a company to appoint a No. 2 executive after it has already filed its initial IPO paperwork and pitched bankers. Perhaps Bates wasn’t GoPro’s first choice …

Tesla Branding Team Easily Entertained

Tesla founder Elon Musk: “A friend asked me at a party, ‘Hey, what are you going to call the third-generation car?’ Well, we got the S and the X — we might as well make it the E. And then it kind of stuck, even though we were just kidding. … Things are pretty dry in the trademark world.”

WhatsApp Co-Founder Still Recovering From Last Zuckerberg Interaction

What’s it feel like to sell your company to Facebook for $19 billion? WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton still isn’t quite sure. “More than anything you are numb and dumbstruck,” Acton said at last night’s StartX event. “There’s a flotilla of lawyers around you, 96 hours of being in a conference room. By the end of it, it’s just hazy. I don’t think I really grasp it all just yet. … It only got real in early February when Mark [Zuckerberg] put a number in front of us and we were like ‘Oh shit, we’ve got to pay attention to this.'”

Mad Prime Membership Includes Unlimited Sarcasm

Stephen Colbert: “I’m not just mad at Amazon. I’m Mad Prime. Because I just found out they are deterring people from buying books by Stephen Colbert.”

How Much Did Twitter Pay for Namo Media? Not $100 Million.

Twitter made another investment in its mobile advertising business today, acquiring native-ad outfit Namo Media for an undisclosed price that I’m told was under $100 million.

Apple to TBWA\Chiat\Day: What’d You Do With Those World-Changing Crazy Ones?

Peter Burrows, Bloomberg: “Apple has shifted to producing more of its own television advertisements instead of relying on agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, underscoring how the longtime partnership responsible for the company’s most memorable ads is fraying. … The shift to more in-house campaigns shows that Apple, grappling with slower demand after years of surging growth, is seeking a fresh approach to regain advertising as one of its key competitive advantages.”

Social Media Prenup Popular Among Idiots

Lauren Effron, “Good Morning America”: “A typical social media clause will state that couples can’t post nude photos, embarrassing photos or photos or posts that are likely to harm a spouse’s professional reputation, Carrozza said. Her clients don’t pick and choose between what’s acceptable for Facebook versus Instagram, but do more of a blanket provision for all social media.”

Comparative Religions 101

Benedict Evans: “For Google, devices are dumb glass and the intelligence is in the cloud, but for Apple the cloud is just dumb storage and the device is the place for intelligence.”

Pfff, I See That Stare Every Day on 280

Nintendo had been hoping players would share videos of their races in the latest Mario Kart game to its own social network, Miiverse. But instead, the social Web is going nuts on YouTube and Twitter for an accidental meme: The terrifying death stare Mario’s brother Luigi gives other racers after he knocks them out of the way.

Off Topic

What happens when you boil Coke and a cyclist GoPros a bikejacking.

Thanks for reading. Got a tip or a comment? Reach me at, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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