Google’s Payday Loan Ads, Slack’s Platform Play, and Lyft’s Me-Too Settlement Offer

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Photo: Stallio

Google Cancels Payday Loan Ads
 The argument about payday loans has heated up (Freakonomics devoted an episode to it recently) and Google has taken a side. Kudos to Google for making a thoughtful, truly “don’t be evil” business decision yet still let people search for “payday loans” if they want to. Starting in July, the search-and-advertising giant will no longer accepts ads (NYT) for loans with short terms (60 days and less) and high interest rates (36 percent and more). Response was what you’d expect: advocates hailed it, a trade group called the move “discriminatory and a form of censorship.” You can argue the pros and cons of payday loans, but you can’t ignore the bigger issue this reveals: plenty of desperate people who have actual jobs still can’t even get from paycheck to paycheck without assistance.

Embrace’s Health Care Innovations
 How has Embrace helped 200,000 babies stay warm and stay alive? Find out in our latest video spotlight, and learn about Embrace’s one-for-one model that could save even more lives.

Slack’s Is Becoming a True Platform
 Wildly successful communication tool Slack has found ways to integrate itself with sundry other services; now it’s releasing a feature that lets you log in to other services using your Slack account (VentureBeat). The initial lineup of services is small (only six companies), but it is a telling data point on Slack’s journey to being the umbrella under which more and more everyday business collaboration takes place. People spend so much time in Slack and have such an intense relationship with it that it could become your “work identity” in the way Facebook has become your “social identity.” Companies like Google and Facebook that have succeeded as identity players got there via massive scale. Slack has only about 3 million daily active users (LinkedIn’s daily actives are estimated to exceed 100 million), but usage of Slack is quickly growing and becoming more intense. The services Slack lets you log into are all collaborative and productive, the sorts of apps that will make people use Slack even more and make it more useful to do more work under a Slack-centric identity. It’s very early days, but this bears watching.

The New Way To Fight Parking Tickets: Open Data
 I Quant NY reports on how the NYPD systematically ticketed legally parked cars before open data revealed the problem, costing legal parkers millions of dollars a year. The obscure law revealed by the data might not be a good idea — “in NYC you can park in front of a sidewalk pedestrian ramp, as long as it’s not connected to a crosswalk” — but it is the law. The story of open data getting parking tickets dismissed is interesting, even to non-data nerds, but the more important question worth following is whether such discoveries via open data will lead to policy changes.

The High Cost of Discrimination
 If you want to discriminate, it don’t come cheap: According to a research report from a group that opposes HB2, North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law could cost the state $5 billion a year. Most of that sum would be the loss of federal education funding. That precipitous amount might not sway many NC legislators who voted for the law: most of them represent rural districts that will not be as affected by the cuts as large cities will.

Lyft Wants a Settlement, Too
 Lyft may be a distant #2 in the ride-hailing business to Uber (at least when it comes to valuation), but it’s an aggressive fast follower when it comes to proposed court settlements. A day after Uber agreed to a non-union guild in New York (our coverage here), Lyft offered to pay $27 million to settle a class-action suit (LA Times) filed by California drivers who want to be classified as employees. That’s more than twice the company’s original offer, which a judge had rejected because it did “not fall within the range of reasonableness.” No word yet how reasonable U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria might consider this new offer.

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