Too Late for a Turnaround. Yahoo announced quarterly results yesterday and they stunk, but that’s not the point. That’s what happens to technology companies that miss dynastic shifts. But as the complaints about CEO Marissa Mayer gain volume, and as the company lurches toward an inevitable sale, it’s worth remembering what former top executives of the company, all but one of them male, did to make the company such a mess before Mayer took over. When the company is sold, many more people will cite Mayer’s recent missteps rather than, say, Jerry Yang’s decade-old decision to spurn a Microsoft purchase. The Washington Post asks, do women in tech get pushed more onto the ‘glass cliff’? Tech turnarounds are notoriously hard, and Yale School of Management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld says women are often “given a shorter timeframe to show success.” Sure, Mayer got four years, but she was given a company that was mismanaged for at least ten.
The Newsbots Are Here. Robots are covering the Republican National Convention. That’s not an insult about network anchors; The Washington Post has sent a robot to roll across the convention floor in Cleveland (Engadget). It’s a telepresence robot, streaming to Periscope, that aims to ask questions of delegates and officials it encounters. BuzzFeed is experimenting, too, with a Facebook Messenger chatbot that queries those on its channel in Cleveland and elsewhere, and makes decisions on what to “cover” based on those inputs. Both these news organizations were famously kicked off the campaign bus by the Trump organization during the primaries; they both have live presences at the convention but they’re taking advantage of their returned access to try new things. Still, it’s humans with human memories that are emerging from the convention with data-centric stories like this one (Quartz)
Airbnb To Collect Taxes in LA. It’s unclear how legal Airbnb’s core service is in Los Angeles (that’s why new rules to clarify what Airbnb can and can’t do are being settled), but that didn’t stop the company from striking a deal with the city to collect millions in lodging taxes (Los Angeles Times). The city has included $5 million in its budget from this deal, so this has to happen, even if it puts Airbnb and the city in the strange position of sharing revenue on an activity that many believe to be against the law right now. Airbnb critics fear this “legitimizes the cheating economy”; supporters see it as a necessary step on the journey to legitimization. Either way, it’s much Airbnb here is taking a collaborative approach than the legal-centric one it is taking in its hometown San Francisco.
Uber Hits a Milestone. You can argue about whether Uber is having a net positive impact on business and society, but you can’t argue the impact it’s had on how we get around: the company just completed its two-billionth trip (The Verge)
Solving a Millennial Mystery. An oft-cited study (PDF) found that 57 percent of parents aged 26 to 31 were having children outside of marriage, and new research from sociologists at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Melbourne seeks to figure out why so many millennials are doing this. Turns out the trend doesn’t hold across all millennial subgroups; these parents “disproportionately come from a specific group of young Americans who don’t have college degrees, live in areas with high income inequality, and tend not to have very bright job prospects.” When experts talk about lowering the birth rate in developing countries, they often cite education as part of the solution. Turns out that’s true in the U.S., too.
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