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Recode Daily: Alexa, your random laughter is creeping us out

Plus, Snap braces for another round of layoffs, Travis Kalanick launches his own fund, and Coke adds life.

A Halloween skull between two speakers The Yorick Project /

Amazon thinks it has a solution to a freaky problem: Reports of Alexa-powered devices like Amazon Echo creeping users out by laughing unprompted. It quickly became a meme, of course. The solution? Changing the prompt that needs to be spoken in order to elicit laughter from the wannabe human. Sleep well! [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

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Snap is preparing for another round of layoffs, its largest to date. The company’s engineering team is expected to take the bulk of the cuts. Last fall, Snapchat’s parent company laid off about a dozen employees from its hardware division, and earlier this year it laid off a few dozen employees during a restructuring, including some on its content team. The company, which has been public for just over a year, has been dinged in the past for excessive spending; investors don’t seem worried about this latest move. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Uber founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is starting his own investement fund, called 10100, which will focus on “large-scale job creation.” Fresh off selling almost a third of his Uber shares to SoftBank Capital, Kalanick certainly has cash to spare: That transaction valued each share at $33, which meant Kalanick stood to gain almost $1.4 billion. Meanwhile, Uber, which posted an annual loss of $4.5 billion this month, is seeking $1.25 billion for its second leveraged loan, and has sidestepped banks to approach loan investors directly. [Johana Bhuiyan / Recode]

Univision CEO Randy Falco is stepping down at the end of the year; on Tuesday, the company canceled its repeatedly delayed plans for an IPO. The Spanish-language broadcaster is searching for new leadership and undertaking a business review that could lead to cost cuts in the range of $200 million, with significant layoffs possible. [Shalini Ramachandran and Keach Hagey / The Wall Street Journal]

Magic Leap still hasn’t released a product, but the augmented-reality startup has raised $461 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment fund. The company has raised more than $2.3 billion in funding to date. The Magic Leap One “Creator Edition” is supposedly going to see a 2018 release. [Lucas Matni / TechCrunch]

VC Peter Thiel, who seems to be at the center of nearly every issue that roils Silicon Valley, tends to run toward controversy even as his Silicon Valley peers try to make themselves inconspicuous. Thiel gave a rare interview to the New York Times from his new midtown Manhattan apartment, which is so far up in the clouds that it literally looks down on Trump Tower. Topics discussed: His cooling relationship with President Trump, tech’s involvement in politics and literally moving away from Silicon Valley. [David Streitfeld / The New York Times]

Here’s what longtime tech journalist Farhad Manjoo learned from unplugging from digital media platforms and relying solely on print for his news. The stunt was “life-changing,” he says, concluding that digital has broken how we process information. And here’s a counterpoint to Manjoo’s essay, positing that “the tech backlash has gotten ridiculous” and reminding us why we all fell in love with tech. [Farhad Manjoo / The New York Times]

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This is cool

Coke adds life.

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