Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
Tons of news this week! We highlight happenings at Facebook, Uber, and Amazon, Twitter’s COO resigning, and Nest’s competition from Honeywell.
Facebook Update – Accidentally Launches SnapChat Competitor, Hires PayPal President to Lead Messaging, Makes Ad Targeting More Transparent for Users
A few big stories came out of the Menlo Park headquarters of Facebook this week.
First, a big whoopsie! On Monday, Facebook accidentally released its second SnapChat clone, dubbed Slingshot, into the iTunes App Store. The company quickly pulled the app down.
A few hours later, the leading social network hired PayPal President David Marcus to head up the company’s messaging division, eventually work on making money from these products, and hopefully avoid accidental product launches.
Finally, the company announced that it will give users more control over the ads served to them on the social network. Next to every ad will be a link that help users understand why the ad was served and what they can do to either remove it or see more like it.
The Zuck is busy these days.
Uber Update – Raises Money at $17B Valuation, Causes Taxi Strikes in Europe
Whoa. Ride-sharing service Uber just raised $1.2 billion at a $17B pre-money valuation. This valuation is significantly higher than last summer, when the company raised $258 million at a $3.4B valuation. For the finance nerds out there, here’s an in-depth analysis from valuation king Aswath Damodaran that claims Uber is overvalued.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers across Europe halted traffic in protest of Uber, causing ruckuses in London, Paris and Berlin. Drivers argue that Uber should be forced to follow the same license and fare rules as taxis, and are punishing riders in the process.
Twitter COO is Done
Twitter COO Ali Rowghani is now former Twitter COO. He’s gone and announced it via Twitter.
Many suspect that Rowghani wasn’t making enough progress in growing the user base and improving the product. Others were irked when a Wall Street Journal article called him the co-CEO and when he sold $9.9 million in Twitter stock right after the lockup period ended. Regardless of the reason, Twitter is moving on.
Amazon Makes Push into Subscription Payments and Free Music Streaming for Prime Subscribers
Amazon is taking a stab at PayPal by extending its “Login and Pay” service to facilitate recurring payments for subscriptions, such as a monthly phone bill. The company is testing this feature with mobile phone operator Ting to process its customers’ monthly payments.
Additionally, Amazon is encroaching on Pandora’s and Spotify’s turf by launching a free music service for Amazon Prime members. While the service has access to only about a million songs (compared to over 20 million for Spotify and Rdio), Prime members can listen ad-free and download and listen offline.
Honeywell Takes on Nest with Smart Thermostat
Like Nest, Lyric will learn your habits and preferences to automatically set the temperature to your preferences and you can control the thermostat manually or via an iPhone or Android app. Unlike Nest, Lyric uses geofencing (instead of motion sensors) so the AC can kick in when you’re a mile away, the thermostat reads local weather conditions and adjusts accordingly, and Honeywell is already in 150 million homes worldwide.
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.