Plus: A sneaker store becomes a unicorn, Brandless struggles to turn a profit, and Google workers clash with their employer over hate speech on YouTube.
The National Security Agency obtained info on US calls and text messages without authorization … twice. The latest incident, which was unearthed by the American Civil Liberties Union, happened last October — after the NSA said it purged hundreds of millions of metadata records. The incident highlights long-standing privacy concerns regarding the organization’s massive phone surveillance program, which critics have said gives the NSA unnecessary insight into people’s private information.
According to the Journal, the NSA is considering shutting down its call data collection system because it “is now viewed by many within the intelligence community as more of a burden than a useful tool, in part due to the compliance issues.”
[Dustin Volz / Wall Street Journal]
Sneaker exchange StockX is now worth $1 billion. Recode first reported on advanced talks for the unicorn funding round in April. On Wednesday the company announced $110 million in financing as well as a new CEO: top eBay executive Scott Cutler. With this new influx of cash, StockX joins 177 other active US unicorns.
It’s the first of several online marketplaces that trade sneakers to make the cut, but similar sites have attracted also attracted millions in venture capital funding, according to the New York Times. “The rise of these online marketplaces is now pushing sneaker retailers and brands to rethink the potential of resale sites — once deemed a quirky niche for enthusiasts — as serious distribution channels,” the Times reports.
[Erin Griffith / New York Times]
Softbank’s investment in generic packaged goods startup Brandless has been a rocky union. Brandless CEO Tina Sharkey stepped down in March due to tensions with the giant tech investor, which was urging Brandless to cut costs — which included laying off 13 percent of the company’s workforce — in order to turn a profit. The move also points to larger hardships for the direct-to-consumer company, which launched in 2016 and has faced increased competition from traditional retailers like Target, which have created and built up their own low-cost generic brands.
[Zoë Bernard / The Information]
Some Google employees want the San Francisco pride parade to ban their employer in protest over how it handles hate speech on YouTube. The group of about 100 Google employees wrote a letter to the parade’s board, saying that the company has taken too long to improve its policies, which have caused YouTube to become a breeding ground for racist and homophobic content as well as conspiracy theories. The parade committee responded by saying that Google would still participate in the parade Saturday, as it’s “historically been a strong ally to LGBTQ+ communities.
According to an internal Google memo obtained by the Verge, the company has also warned employees not to protest Google during the parade, if they are marching with the company in an official capacity.
[Josh Eidelson / Bloomberg]
Author: Rani Molla