Today’s Top Stories
— Tesla’s Gigafactory Is About More Than Electric Cars: How high do Elon Musk’s ambitions go?
— Your Street Belongs to Waze: The navigation app gives the fastest route. Not everyone’s happy about that.
— BuzzFeed Cancels Seven-Figure Ad Deal, Blames Trump Policies: Like it or not, the company walks its talk.
— Supreme Court Grants Suit Against Google Class-Action Status: Another legal case against the search giant moves forward.
— Would You Like an AK-47 With That T-Shirt? Kalashnikov rebrands.
Tesla’s Gigafactory Is About More Than Electric Cars
Whether he’s thinking about colonizing Mars or slicing two years off his deadline to deliver half a million electric cars, Tesla’s Elon Musk doesn’t think small. So as Tesla prepares to open the “Gigafactory” for Tesla batteries in Nevada later this year, it’s easy to wonder whether his ambitions go beyond merely dominating the next generation of transportation (Fortune). When completed, the factory will double the world’s lithium-ion battery production. Tesla’s CTO JB Straubel says the purpose of the factory is “to reinvent battery manufacturing” and not only for electric cars, but also for Tesla’s grid battery initiative for homes. There’s more power, Musk says, in building “the machine that builds the machine.” Five hundred thousand electric cars by 2018 is as big, hairy, and audacious a goal as most people can imagine; seems like that’s just the beginning of what Musk hopes to build in Nevada.
Your Street Belongs to Waze
When it’s humans against the algorithm, bet against the humans. Residents in Takoma Park, Md., fought back when Google’s traffic app Waze began sending hundreds of cars an hour through their narrow street (Washington Post). They put up signs. When those didn’t work, they went rogue, posting false reports of accidents, police activity, or other blockages. It took Waze about two weeks to catch on and cancel their accounts. Municipalities are fighting back, too: in Portland, officials put up barrels to keep cars out of a street that had been redesigned for bikes only. Yet public roads are for the public, regardless of how residential and narrow they are, and Waze’s 50 million users help each other get from A to B faster than they would otherwise. This is yet another case of a new technology useful to many having unintended collateral damage.
BuzzFeed Cancels Seven-Figure Ad Deal, Blames Trump Policies
BuzzFeed had a deal to run $1.3 million in ads for the Republican National Committee. Now it doesn’t (Politico). In a letter to employees, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti wrote that Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, advocates policies toward Muslims and immigrants that are “directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States.” This comes from the business side of the operation at BuzzFeed, although the editorial side and the Trump campaign have been at odds. An RNC spokesman retorted, “Space was reserved on many platforms, but we never intended to use BuzzFeed.” Regardless of whether the ad buy was for real or whether you agree with BuzzFeed’s position, this is a high-profile example of a company trying to align its mission with its practices.
Supreme Court Grants Suit Against Google Class-Action Status
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Google’s motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit (Reuters) claiming the company deceived advertisers as to where ads placed through its Adwords service would go. That means a September ruling from a U.S. Court of Appeals still holds and the case will go forward. The suit, which goes back to 2008, was brought by California advertisers unhappy to learn that their ads appeared not only alongside relevant search results but also in less ideal places, like error pages and parked domains. Google’s argument was against the class-action aspect of the suit. It still has to fight the merits of the suit itself, as it’s doing in so many venues right now.
Would You Like an AK-47 With That T-Shirt?
How would you rebrand the most deadly brand in the world? Russian rifle maker Kalashnikov is responding to a changing market by focusing on civilian purchases (New York Times), because military purchases are “saturated.” It was counting on the U.S. market as its primary target, but American sanctions over Russian military moves in Ukraine have made the company redirect its efforts on its domestic market. Come September Russians will see a Kalashnikov-brand clothing line, and by the end of the year there will be 60 retail stores that sell clothes and rifles. The company may do better with the t-shirts than the weapons: national gun control laws in Russia are tougher than in the U.S.
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