Good magazine is back after taking a year off to test a Reddit-like aggregation site. “As more publishers look to infuse social networking and other UGC elements with their traditional editorial models, GOOD may serve as a reminder of the importance of keeping focused on the core product,” Folio reports. Says Casey Caplowe, co-founder of GOOD: “We had gone in the direction of a social network and ultimately felt it wasn’t doing everything we wanted.”
In the UK, former Cosmopolitan editor Sam Baker and BBC radio personality Lauren Laverne are launching The Pool a multimedia company for women. “The pair have signed up a string of well-known journalists and writers to contribute,” The Guardian reports. “Between them, The Pool’s core contributors have around half a million followers on Twitter, which will be used to promote the site.”
Mattel is developing a Wi-Fi-enabled Barbie that will be able to analyze childrens’ speech and respond with relevant answers. For the new Hello Barbie, the brand is relying on ToyTalk – a company that creates conversational characters for children. “ToyTalk already produces popular animated conversational apps … that encourage young children to engage in complex dialogue with a menagerie of make-believe characters,” The New York Times reports.
Setting a high bar for benevolence among tech elites -- and the brands they represent -- Tim Cook has vowed to leave the vast majority of his fortune to charity. The decision “is an example of the increasingly public philanthropy of the world's richest people,” Reuters notes. “Billionaire financier Warren Buffett is encouraging the very wealthy to give away at least half their worth in their lifetimes through the ‘Giving Pledge.’”
Members of the FTC are denying media reports that the agency all but ignored a staff recommendation to sue Google in 2012. “Contrary to recent press reports, the commission’s decision on the search allegations was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel,” they explain in a blog post.
The White House is bringing in tech veteran Jason Goldman to serve as its first-ever chief digital officer. Reporting directly to chief of staff Denis McDonough, Goldman will oversee digital outreach by heading up an “amped-up” Office of Digital Strategy, Politico reports. “Goldman’s résumé includes Google, Medium and Twitter, where he worked directly with co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone, serving as the first ‘head of product.’”
This coming season, the NFL plans to sell the streaming rights to at least one game. “The decision was made Monday at the league’s owners meetings and could reflect a turning point in the league’s history,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “For this upcoming season’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Buffalo Bills game in Week 7, the NFL will sell the rights to a digital distribution company, be it Youtube, Facebook or another company.”
Spotify is facing more pressure to change its “freemium” model. Following protests from Taylor Swift, Universal Music Group is using licence negotiations with Spotify to force its hand. The music giant is “privately arguing that [Spotify’s free service] is not sufficiently distinct from the its paid-subscription tier,” The Financial Times reports. “The disagreement has exposed a sharp difference in strategy between two of the industry’s most important companies.”
As digital trends continue to transform (decimate?) the profession of journalism, Chris Lehmann recounts his traumatizing experience at Yahoo News. As the head of its blog network, Lehmann describes a life led by algorithms, air-headed press reps, and even more misguided managers. Applying his term to the present day, Lehmann writes: “Yahoo’s present, blinding moment of self-devouring synergy is but the logical culmination of all the counter-journalistic practices that so transfixed company management during my tenure there.”
Across emerging markets (where U.S. tech giants see their future), a majority of consumers see the Web as negative influence on morality. That’s according to new research from Pew, which examined technology use in 32 developing nations. On the bright side, “they saw its advantages when it came to education, and to some extent, valued its effects on personal relationships and the economy,” TechCrunch reports.