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Re/wind: Google Becomes Alphabet, Tinder Twitter Drama and More

Also, more details on NBCU and Vox Media/BuzzFeed.

Shutterstock / Ken Wolter

Google gave itself a new holding company, Tinder swapped CEOs after some spectacularly bad social media-related decision making and NBCUniversal acquired stakes in two new media companies. Here’s what happened this week on Re/code:

  1. Google restructured its company in a big way. Alphabet is now the holding company headed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and the company’s various businesses are divided into subdivisions of Alphabet. Sundar Pichai is now the CEO of Google, Inc., the largest of the divisions that contains the company’s core business operations. Why the changes? Money, money and money. What do they mean? No one’s sure, but here’s a breakdown of possible implications.
  2. Late Tuesday night, Tinder responded to a Vanity Fair story about hookup culture by tweeting a lot of dumb stuff about journalistic ethics and how much Tinder changes lives in fascist countries. The next day, IAC said it was booting Tinder CEO Chris Payne and replacing him with co-founder and former CEO Sean Rad.
  3. NBCUniversal announced its deal with Re/code proprietor Vox Media — a $200 million investment that sets the latter’s value at over $1 billion. Meanwhile, BuzzFeed is also getting $200 million from NBCU at a $1.5 billion valuation.
  4. On this week’s episode of “Re/code Decode,” investor Chris Sacca came on the podcast to talk with executive editor Kara Swisher about why he thinks Jack Dorsey should be the next CEO of Twitter. Walt Mossberg talks about smartphone subsidies and Jason Del Rey discusses the rise of “buy” buttons.
  5. Embattled smartphone maker HTC is paring its staff by 15 percent and cutting expenses by 35 percent, the latest casualty of the mobile hardware war between Samsung and Apple.
  6. High-priced “phablets” like Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and the iPhone 6 Plus were last year’s biggest phone craze. This year, they could be a liability for makers, particularly Samsung, as competitors like Motorola and Xiaomi are churning them out for hundreds of dollars less.
  7. Last year, Disney bought Maker Studios, a video network that specializes in building stars for platforms such as YouTube. Disney paid a surprising $500 million with a potential extra $450 million in performance bonuses. It turns out Maker has had trouble meeting the goals for the big payout, and some executives might leave before the end of the year.
  8. Apple’s diversity report showed that it has made some strides in hiring women and people of color, but that the needle has barely moved overall. Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson says the new boards of the soon-to-be-split HP are sufficiently diverse.
  9. Why did media stocks tank so dramatically last week? Look at this chart illustrating pay TV subscriber growth and you’ll see exactly why.
  10. Software is eating everything. That’s what Andreessen Horowitz says, its what developers say and it’s really the conventional wisdom of the tech industry at this point. A problem? Software security is generally garbage, and companies simply saying “trust us” pose a huge long-term risk to consumers.

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