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Re/wind: The Verizon-AOL Deal, Google's Self-Driving Car and More

A look back at a busy week in tech.

iStockPhoto / Jason Doiy

Facebook unveiled its straight-to-platform publishing tool with a group of high-profile partners, Verizon bought AOL for a few billion dollars, Google announced its self-driving cars are coming to Northern California roads and lots more happened this week. Here’s the lowdown:

  1. Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion this week in a deal that Verizon hopes will give it better technology to stream mobile video. AOL might be spinning off the Huffington Post, Verizon desperately wants to be more than just a “dumb” telco and AOL’s two biggest execs — Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington — now work for the phone company in a very, very strange turn of events.
  2. Is Facebook’s in-service content hosting project going to kill smaller digital media publishers? What’s even the point of Facebook’s Instant Articles? Why should I care? These questions, and more, answered.
  3. After battling reports challenging the safety of its self-driving cars, Google said those same vehicles — which look like bizarro-world Volkswagen Beetles — are going to start test-driving on roads in Northern California this summer, with a number of restrictions in place to start. Also, Google lost its PR chief, Rachel Whetstone, to Uber, where she’ll be replacing former Obama adviser David Plouffe.
  4. Two big funding announcements: Embattled Uber competitor Lyft raised an additional $150 million, $100 million of which came from activist hedge fund manager Carl Icahn. Also, the digital signature software company DocuSign raised $233 million at a $3 billion valuation.
  5. Amazon’s going to let more merchants into its Prime program by easing some of the requirements to join (namely, these merchants won’t have to store their stuff in Amazon’s warehouses), and Walmart is testing a $50-a-year Prime competitor.
  6. Re/code co-executive editor Walt Mossberg has now spent a month with the Apple Watch, and he thinks the device is pretty neat, but that it has more promise than utility right now.
  7. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has returned to work after the tragic death of her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, on vacation in Mexico a couple weeks ago.
  8. Joyus founder Sukhinder Singh Cassidy penned an op-ed for Re/code arguing that the story of women in tech extends beyond bias and discrimination; it also includes significant achievement.
  9. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this week that he’s on board with the EU’s plan to standardize Internet laws, known as the Digital Single Market. “Sometimes you’re trying to conform to 20 different versions of different kinds of laws,” Zuckerberg said. “It would make it easier for companies to offer services.”

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