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Re/wind: Singapore's Tech Moment, Uber's Looming 1099 Battle and More

A rundown of what happened this week in tech.


This week in the tech industry, the California Labor Commission ruled against Uber, more details emerged about the economics of Apple Music, a music exec left to run his helicopters startup and the government fined AT&T $100 million for misleading consumers. Here’s all that went down:

  1. On Wednesday, the California Labor Commission found in favor of an Uber driver, ruling that she qualified as an employee of the company, not an independent contractor. The decision itself is nonbinding. But it sure doesn’t help Uber in its long-running battle to keep drivers designated as contractors, and retain all the tax and insurance benefits that bestows. In a guest column for Re/code, two authors from the Institute for the Future argued the employee-contractor debate goes way beyond Uber. In better news for Uber, the San Francisco district attorney dropped charges against a driver accused of assault and the company poached yet another Google executive, former Google Maps boss Brian McClendon.
  2. Re/code’s Liz Gannes traveled to Singapore in April and learned about the huge strides the country is taking to make itself a tech powerhouse for generations to come. The government is operated much like a corporation, with support for entrepreneurship baked into its policies and its education system.
  3. Twitter announced a live events feature that sounds suspiciously like what Snapchat already unveiled, and investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal walked back remarks he made to the Financial Times by saying he’d support interim CEO Jack Dorsey if he took the job permanently (which is looking unlikely anyway). Also, Twitter investor Chris Sacca seems as unhappy with the company’s CEO transition as he was with Twitter before they fired Dick Costolo.
  4. When you sign up for Apple Music, where is your money going, exactly? The company is paying out around 71.5 percent of revenue generated to the music labels, a bit higher than the industry average in order to compensate for its free three-month trial. It’s that same gratis trail that convinced Taylor Swift to remove her music from Apple’s service.
  5. The fallout from Sony’s December hack isn’t over: Wikileaks published a new trove of documents this week, including sensitive information linked to a bribery investigation.
  6. Speaking of hacks, the cybersecurity firm FireEye says it has identified the Chinese group behind the devastating government breach that exposed the data of millions of federal employees.
  7. The Federal Communications Commission proposed fining AT&T $100 million for allegedly misleading customers about its unlimited data plans. It’s the largest-ever such penalty, but the figure could be reduced after further review. The FCC says the company has been slowing network speeds for customers with unlimited contracts without telling them.
  8. In an interview with Re/code, Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey discussed why Google Cardboard is lame, how the VR market is different from smartphones and why the company is cool with a gamer-heavy audience for its first set of customers.
  9. Wearables maker Fitbit successfully went public this week, with its stock rising more than 50 percent to about $30 a share by the end of its first day of trading. The company is now worth around $4 billion.
  10. The COO of Warner Music, Rob Wiesenthal, is leaving his job to spend more time with his Uber-for-helicopters startup, Blade.

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