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Code/red: Square's Mythstake

Plus, Regina Dugan steps in some epic DARPA shit and David Attenborough on Homo screamius.


Myth #11: Square Had a Single Pair of Clean Underwear Left After Amazon’s Mobile Payment Announcement

How bad is Jack Dorsey feeling about Square these days? Bad enough to approve the publication of an ill-conceived blog post publicizing 10 “myths” about the company that stupidly brings them to public attention. Evidently, questions about Square’s financial performance, its strategy, its revenue streams post-Square Wallet and its future in a space that now includes the likes of Amazon was just too much for Dorsey, who sources say was a driving force behind the listicle, which argues, among other things, that Square’s business isn’t struggling — while reminding everyone that it might be. After all, what kind of company publishes such a thing? A grand statement that implies the exact opposite of the confidence it professes? Certainly not Apple, the company Dorsey so admires. BlackBerry, on the other hand. As Prof. Jeff Jarvis joked, “Smart move by Square: Post a list of all the things they are panicking about. #transparency.” Square did not respond to a request for comment.

Heaven Forbid Anyone Think We’d Ever Try to Influence a Regulator

Comcast and Time Warner Cable have withdrawn their sponsorship of a Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner honoring one of the FCC commissioners reviewing their multibillion-dollar merger, insulted that anyone might smell a conflict of interest in their $130,000 donation. Instead, the companies will donate to the foundation itself, which seems a far wiser move optically given the not exactly insubstantial controversy swirling around their merger. Whinged Time Warner Cable spokesman Bobby Amirshahi, “It’s unfortunate that our longstanding sponsorship of this fundraising event dedicated to advancing diversity in cable has been mischaracterized by a few.”

Just Put It on the Pile

No rest for Apple legal. A company shareholder has filed suit against the company, claiming he and other investors were financially harmed by Apple’s no-poaching agreements with other big tech companies. The suit, which names co-founder Steve Jobs and CEO Tim Cook among its defendants, accuses Apple of “breach of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, corporate waste and breach of the duty of honest services.” Apple declined comment on the matter.

Got a Bit of Epic Shit on Your Shoe There, Regina

“We got to do a lot of epic shit when I was at DARPA.” That’s what Google executive Regina Dugan said at our D11 conference. Turns out she wasn’t just referring to electronic tattoos and vitamin authentication. According to a recently released report by the Defense Department Inspector General, Dugan violated ethics rules by pitching products from RedX, a company she founded. “We determined that Dr. Dugan violated the prohibition against using her government position for the stated or implied endorsement of a product, service or enterprise,” the report reads. For what it’s worth, no action was ever taken against Dugan, and she disputes the agency’s findings. Said a Google spokesperson: “At no time did Dr. Dugan use her position as the director of DARPA to make any endorsement — explicit or implied.”

Turns Out Pop-Up Ads Got Onto the Web Through the Back Door

Ethan Zuckerman, principal research scientist at MIT’s Media Lab, on the creation of the pop-up ad: “It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good.”

Off Topic

Homo Screamius: David Attenborough Observes Fangirls.

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