clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Recode Daily: The bizarre story of the most popular photo on Instagram: An egg

Plus: PG&E files for bankruptcy after being found liable for $30 billion in wildfire costs; whoever owns the Instagram account of that brown egg is sitting on a social media goldmine; the rise of the Swiss Army gadget.

A picture of a brown egg, balanced on its bottom. Instagram

A picture of a brown speckled egg is officially more popular than every other picture ever posted to Instagram. The photo was posted just 10 days ago, but the Instagram account that posted the egg picture, @world_record_egg, inexplicably has 4.5 million followers despite posting just this one — yes one — photo. The account’s owner is still anonymous but appears to be sitting on a gold mine. It seems possible that @world_record_egg will sell a sponsored post to a brand hoping to ride the bizarre popularity wave that the egg has created over the past 24 hours to get in front of the account’s millions of followers. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

[Want to get the Recode Daily in your inbox? Subscribe here.]

PG&E said it will file for bankruptcy in California after the cost of recent wildfires left it with potential liabilities of $30 billion or more, gutting its share price and prompting the departure of its chief executive officer. The San Francisco-based utility company’s equipment was found to be responsible for many of the fires that killed scores of people in 2017. PG&E started searching for a new leader after Geisha Williams resigned as CEO on Sunday; general counsel John Simon will take the helm in the meantime. The departure of Williams, who took over as CEO in March 2017, follows a catastrophic three months for PG&E, which has seen two-thirds of its market value wiped out since the deadliest wildfire in California’s history, called the Camp Fire, began in November. [Mark Chediak and Kiel Porter / Bloomberg]

New York City filed a lawsuit against a ring of real estate brokers for using Airbnb to illegally rent out apartments in five Manhattan buildings. In the largest suit of its kind ever brought by the city, Metropolitan Property Group is accused of using a complex web of 18 corporate entities and fake identities on Airbnb to convert 130 apartments into de facto hotel rooms, booking some 75,000 guests and taking in nearly $21 million. The lawsuit underscored what critics of Airbnb have long argued: That commercial operators use the platform to essentially turn residential apartments into illegal hotels for tourists, taking units off the market for New Yorkers and aggravating the city’s housing shortage. [Luis Ferré-Sadurní / The New York Times]

The Trump administration proposed new rules allowing drones to fly over populated areas and at night without a special permit, amid concerns in recent weeks about the threat drones pose to air travel after two London airports were disrupted by drone sightings. Under the proposals drafted by the Federal Aviation Administration, small unmanned aircrafts under 0.55 pounds could fly over populated areas without additional restrictions, and the FAA would require drones to have an “anti-collision light” that is visible for at least three miles. There are nearly 1.3 million registered drones in this country and more than 116,000 registered drone operators. [David Shepardson / Reuters]

Autonomous vehicle startup Zoox named veteran Intel executive Aicha Evans as its new CEO, making her one of the most high-profile black women running a Silicon Valley tech company. Evans succeeds Zoox co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay, who was removed as CEO by the board last August after the company had completed a $500 million round that valued the company at $3.2 billion. Zoox, which has about 700 employees, is betting it can develop both the self-driving software and an entirely new electric vehicle for a robot taxi service. Evans, an engineer, said she was attracted by Zoox’s focus on urban services and its approach to building a vehicle rather than retrofitting cars made for drivers into driverless vehicles. [Tim Higgins / The Wall Street Journal]

Who is MacKenzie Bezos? Her impending divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after 25 years of marriage has made the award-winning novelist — and her private life — a public fascination. She was an integral part of its origin story, agreeing to leave their life in New York City and driving to Seattle in 1994 while Bezos sat in the passenger seat, working on the nascent company’s business plan; she was Amazon’s first accountant and was involved in its transformation from a small online bookseller to the e-commerce behemoth it is today, the second company in American history to be valued at more than a trillion dollars. Empires like Amazon and Apple are not created by a “lone genius” man in a vacuum; they are the product of a mix of luck and contributions from an entire team — including from a founder’s spouse. [Jonah Engel Bromwich and Alexandra Alter / The New York Times]

Because much of the White House residence staff is on furlough because of the government shutdown, now in its 25th day, President Trump ordered delivery from fast-food chains for a visit by Clemson University’s national-champion football team. The players were greeted by a spread from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, along with pizza — “great American food,” as Trump described it. Here are the costs of the longest government shutdown in history, by the numbers. [Mike Murphy / MarketWatch]

Top stories from Recode

Google employees are launching a social media blitz to pressure tech giants on workplace harassment issues. The group wants tech companies to stop restricting workers’ right to take companies to court over employer-related issues. [Shirin Ghaffary]

Facebook makes a $300 million pledge to help journalists — just like Google did last year. The internet giants make billions from ads. They want news publishers to sell subscriptions instead. [Peter Kafka]

The future of voice assistants like Alexa and Siri isn’t just in homes — it’s in cars. Voice assistants are more habit-forming in cars than on smartphones. [Rani Molla]

This is cool

The rise of the Swiss Army gadget.

The most comprehensive recap of CES, by Steven Sinofsky.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.