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Recode Daily: Uber’s new Toyota deal gives its self-driving car project some gas

Plus, Google is launching new phones, too; the Nasdaq topped 8,000 for the first time; modern architecture as the “Painter of Light” might have rendered it.

Toyota cars parked on a sales lot Joe Raedle / Getty

Toyota is preparing to invest approximately $500 million in Uber as part of an agreement to work together on self-driving cars.

Some takeaways:

  1. Uber’s valuation has remained flattish despite its rapid, continued growth and turbulence: The deal values Uber at about $72 billion, slightly higher than where SoftBank valued Uber earlier this year.
  2. Uber isn’t getting rid of its potential self-driving future: Instead, it now has a good reason to keep going with its autonomous-tech unit, which some investors reportedly want(ed) it to divest.
  3. The deal creates a new model for Uber, answering part of the ownership question. As part of the deal, Uber will integrate its self-driving technology into Toyota Sienna minivans. But: “Rather than owning and operating the fleet of self-driving vehicles,” Uber said in a blog post, “these minivans will be owned and operated by an agreed upon third party, a new business model for Uber.” [Greg Bensinger and Chester Dawson / The Wall Street Journal]

It’s almost time for Apple’s September harvest: The world’s most valuable company plans to launch three new phones that keep the edge-to-edge screen design of last year’s flagship iPhone X; there will also be updated AirPods, new iPad Pro tablets and Apple Watches with larger screens. (Some sleuths are speculating that Apple’s event will be on Sept. 12.) Rather than luring millions of new iPhone users, it seems that Apple’s goal these days is to steadily raise average prices, while expanding the total number of active devices to support sales of accessories and digital services like streaming music and video. [Mark Gurman and Debby Wu / Bloomberg]

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Meanwhile, Google will unveil its Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones at an Oct. 9 event in New York City. Excitement around the 3 XL device is muted because images and video footage of the phone’s design and hardware — even an unboxing video — have been extensively leaked. [Chris Welch / The Verge]

The Nasdaq stock index surged past the 8,000 mark for the first time, underscoring the dominant role that megacap technology shares like Netflix and Amazon have played in propelling the U.S. stock market past its global peers this year. The last time the Nasdaq crossed two 1,000-point milestones in a single year was 1999, when a fervor for tech stocks sent a score of dot-com ventures surging higher before a crash. [Akane Otani / The Wall Street Journal]

Instagram influencers are focusing their phones on the great outdoors, too — and they are affecting the environment. Some say that posting content on the wilderness inspires others to get outside; others express the very real fear that posting photos of hidden hikes and hot springs invites an influx of visitors and foot traffic that these unspoiled places lack the resources to handle. [Zoe Schiffer / Racked]

Peter Thiel isn’t ready to give up on defending President Trump just yet. Once among the most vocal of Trump supporters, the billionaire investor and Facebook board member has been conspicuously silent for the past year on issues relating to the president and his performance. At an entrepreneurship-focused event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thiel praised Trump’s honesty. “I fully understand why people think of President Trump as a rude, mean person. But I think that’s often better than telling beautiful lies about the way the country is working.” [Felipe Marques and Lizette Chapman / Bloomberg]

In: Private desks and separate areas for group work. Out: Open-office plans. Here’s a list of what’s trending and what’s ending in office design. Hello, pops of color; bye, bright colors everywhere. And here’s how Instagram made its New York City offices so Instagrammable. [Kevin J. Ryan / Inc.]

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