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Code/red: Sucks to Be Square

Plus, remembering when Apple's diversity data was a trade secret and AOL is for old people.


  • Cisco reports earnings and perhaps some bad news as well (see below).

Amazon Primed to Charge Into Square Space

“A representative from Square couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.” That’s the third line in this Wall Street Journal story about Amazon Local Register, the new mobile payment service the retailer rolled out this morning. But it really should be the first. Because that representative is likely chugging Mylanta at the thought of competing against Amazon in the point-of-sale service space. Sure, Amazon is late to a party Square’s been hosting for years. But that hardly matters. Amazon has brand recognition. It has well-established merchant relationships. It’s comfortable with thin margins and happy to trade profits for growth. Most importantly, Amazon takes a decades-long view on new markets. It enters them to win. To wit, the promotional transaction rate it’s offering merchants who sign up before Oct. 31 — 1.75 percent to Square’s 2.75 percent. That’s until January 1, 2016, when it rises to 2.5 percent — which is still lower than Square’s rate. If Square isn’t screwed, it’s certainly poised to be.


Remember when Syria was knocked off the Internet for two days back in 2012 and the State Department blamed it on the Syrian government? According to Edward Snowden, it was the NSA that caused the outage when it messed around with a core router at one of Syria’s major Internet service providers.

Oh, I Thought He Was Toweling Off

Gizmodo’s Matt Novak on Wired’s Snowden cover: “‘What if we literally have ed snowden making love to an American flag? That sounds like a good idea, run with that.'”

Is It Time for Cisco’s Summer Workforce Rebalancing Already?

Is John Chambers getting ready to swing the ax again at Cisco? Sure sounds like it. Rumors of layoffs have been circulating for weeks, and now Globes claims Cisco will sack 300 employees in Israel as part of a larger global workforce purge it will almost certainly describe as a “rebalancing.”

Internal Screwed Up-Ness? At Yahoo, We Just Call It Company Culture.

Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield: “[At Yahoo] it was so hard to get the resources that we needed. I think we missed out on so many opportunities where Flickr could have been a lot bigger and more successful than it was as part of Yahoo — because of Yahoo’s internal screwed up-ness.”

Yeah, Great Work You Insensitive, Soulless Clicksuckers

Cristina Everett, deputy managing editor of entertainment at New York Daily News digital: “Thank you to everyone who did a great story [sic] with keeping our stories SEO strong with the * Robin Williams dead at 63 * header for the first 24 hours. Starting tomorrow morning, we can scale back on the robot talk (meaning no death header) just as long as the stories continue to *start* with his full name and include buzzy search words like *death, dead, suicide, etc.*”

Remember, You’re Talking to the Guy Who Pissed Away $6 Billion on aQuantive

Steve Ballmer on his $2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers: “It’s not a cheap price, but when you’re used to looking at tech companies with huge risk, no earnings and huge multiples, this doesn’t look like the craziest thing I’ve ever acquired.”

Apple Feeling Much Better About Itself Now That Diversity Data Is No Longer a Trade Secret

Apple released its workplace diversity statistics Tuesday morning, reiterating a message sadly well established by the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter: Silicon Valley is run largely by white and Asian guys. Apple, like all those other companies before it, says it feels bad about that and, in a letter from CEO Tim Cook, professes to be “committed to transparency” and “advancing diversity.” Which is wonderful to hear. And a welcome change. Because up until this week, Apple had point-blank refused to release its workforce diversity data. Indeed, it successfully shot down a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from CNN seeking it, arguing it was a trade secret. Now, to be fair, this was standard procedure at the time. Google, Microsoft, HP and IBM handled similar FOIA requests in pretty much the same way, and CNN wasn’t able to squeeze workplace diversity data out of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, either. But that just speaks to a larger point: This conga line of “look, we are making diversity an important business issue!” pronouncements is pretty ironic coming from companies that up until this spring appeared to be doing everything they could to hide the dramatic imbalances in diversity that are so rife within them.

Four Out of Five Frightened Elderly People Prefer AOL

Walt Hickey, FiveThirtyEight: “Five percent of Americans don’t use the Internet because they’re afraid for their safety or because they think they’re too old. That’s your AOL market right there.”

Any Six-Year-Old Could Have Told You That

Jordan Pearson, Vice: “Researchers at Beijing Jiaotong University made some of the Web’s most popular search engines, including Google, Bing and Baidu and So in China, take an IQ test with a set of questions designed to gauge their knowledge. Then, they gave the same test to a bunch of kids aged six to 18 and compared the results. As it turns out, the Internet’s ‘smartest’ search engine, So, is only about half as smart as a six-year-old.”

Off Topic

The Muppets perform the Beastie Boys’ “So What’cha Want” and a Lego version of “The Walking Dead” Season Five trailer.

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments and Hemingway hamburgers to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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