The White House has recruited David Recordon, a Facebook engineering director since 2009, as director of information technology. In his new role, Recordon will “ensure that the technology utilized by the White House is efficient, effective, and secure,” according to a statement. As Yahoo Tech notes: “Recordon’s appointment is part of a recent effort by the Obama administration to grow its dedicated tech staff.”
At least for the moment, Yahoo is washing its hands of China. The tech giant is in the process of shutting down its Beijing research center, and laying off upwards of 300 employees, sources tell The Wall Street Journal. “The layoffs are the latest in a series of cost-cutting measures by Chief Executive Marissa Mayer,” WSJ writes. “The CEO is under pressure to rein in expenditures.”
Cablevision Systems is the first cable operator to sign for HBO Now, the standalone streaming service. It will be available to Optimum Online customers in the New York metro area. Prices were not revealed, but it is $14.99 per month on Apple TV, which has a three-month exclusive window to coincide with the next "Game of Thrones" season in April. Other cabler operators have been in discussion with HBO, including Cox.
Guardian US is backing off many of the bolder accusations it made against secret-sharing app Whisper earlier this year. “Guardian US claimed that Whisper was tracking users’ locations without their permission, effectively spying on them, and that it had updated its terms of service to notify users it was doing this in response to Guardian US reporting,” Buzzfeed reports. Now, as the paper admits, the relevant IP address data is “a very rough and unreliable indicator of location,” i.e., it couldn’t really be used for spying.
For the sake of Katie Couric, ABC and Yahoo are expanding their partnership to include a daily segment on “Good Morning America,” Variety reports. The bits will be built around other personalities from Yahoo, too, but primarily Couric, the tech company’s global news anchor. “The deal is designed for both sides to expand the reach of their content as media audiences become more splintered.”
Taking a page from Apple, Google just opened its first-ever branded shop in London. “The store, to be called The Google shop, will sell the company’s range of Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecast TV services,” The Telegraph reports. Without using its famous name, the search giant tested a “Chromezone” shop, in 2011.
Like Vice and some other enterprising publishers, Thrillist has launched an internal ad agency. Its called The CoLab, and, as Adweek reports, it’s working with brands to create native activations and content. “Its move to create an in-house agency echoes a growing trend in the industry: More digital media companies are opening up internal shops to handle the demand for branded content.”
Silly as they might seem, emojis are shaping modern communication habits. As such, The New York Time’s Damon Darlin thinks America needs its own version of the Japanese-created symbols. “They are essentially a foreign language that we have tried to adapt for the English language and American customs,” Darlin writes. “The Japanese vocabulary is most notable for what it fails to offer Americans … For example, there is no middle-finger hand signal.”
The CEO and president of TheBlaze are leaving Glenn Beck’s cross-channel news network to start their own digital brand. Chris Balfe and Joel Cheatwood are building a digital media startup “that will reflect some of the lessons learned while at TheBlaze,” CNNMoney reports, citing sources. “The startup is currently in stealth mode while the two men talk with potential partners.”
From Google to Facebook, consumer tech giants feature prominently in a long list of U.S. companies urging the Supreme Court to strike down laws banning same-sex marriage. “In a friend-of-the-court brief … hundreds of banks and other corporations argue that states that still prohibit gay unions ‘hamper employer efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible in those states,’” Bloomberg reports. Other tech companies on the list include Amazon.com, Apple, eBay, Pandora and Twitter.