The weekly tech tl;dr -– 20th May 2016

The Big Story

At Google I/O this week, the tech giant announced that its Google Home will compete with the Amazon Echo. Tilo Frank tweeted: “For half of #Google‘s #IO2016 I was giddy, for half of it I was scared.”

Top News

Coming to a pantry near you: Amazon’s private label groceries which will include coffee, tea, baby food, and laundry detergent. Paul Baumgart commented: “I’m glad Amazon is refactoring ‘brands.’ I never wanted to have an emotional relationship with my packaged goods.”

Berkshire Hathaway took advantage of Apple’s dive by buying $1 billion in Apple shares. Steve Schaefer says “Carl Icahn moves out, Warren Buffett moves in to Apple shares.”

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, just announced plans to launch a carpool program with Waze. Are they “out ubering uber?” Chris Moose asks.

Tech Drama

Hugh Van Vuuren, founder of Xfund filed a complaint against his cofounder. Meredith Jones says the “#venturecapital spat devolves into name calling.”

Oracle CEO Safra Catz told a Google general counsel: “Thou shalt not steal.” Nat Welch comments: “I mean, just… what? Has anyone ever explained competition to Catz?”

LendingClub disclosed a Department of Justice investigation that could have huge implications for the company’s business model. Stephane Dubois says “Nothing ruins your crowdlending day like a DOJ probe.”

Funding news

Apple makes nice with China by investing $1 billion in ridesharing startup Didi. Dave Pell believes that “Didi will use Apple’s $1 billon investment to rebrand as Puffy.”

Russian Runa Capital raises $135 million to invest in startups globally. Allan Martinson calls the venture capital firm “One of the most professional Russian players.”

Paris startup Shift Technology raises $10 million with the goal of helping insurance companies combat fraud. Eliza Dabney tweets: “Watch out insurance fraudsters!”


2015 was a good year for mergers, and 2016 has a long way to go if it’s going to catch up. TechCrunch attributes the slowdown to a higher interest rates and a higher bar for acquisitions, among other factors. Daniel Newman thinks “perhaps these businesses should focus more on building Dragons.”

Dan Freed tweets that “Warren Buffett backs Gilbert’s Yahoo bid.” Buffett is financing Gilbert’s offer in the second round of bidding for Yahoo’s assets.

ARM Holdings PLC, a smartphone chip developer, paid $350 million for Apical LTD, a UK company that focuses on machine learning. Jamie Nimmo says the deal is a “bet on future of robotics.”


Boatflex is a Danish startup helping people set sail. The company uses “the best aspects of Uber and Airbnb,” tweets Gigster.

Just because one startup founder’s journey reflects that of a Greek hero doesn’t mean they all will. Dr. Sven Jungman says: “Let’s stop obsessing about the myth of #startup founders’ hero #narrative

Skype founder Niklas Zennstroem tells founders to act like ducks. Why? Because ducks are “calm on the surface but maybe paddling underneath the water,” Prasad KR tweets.

IT Professionals

Kimberly Clark names Suja Chandrasekaran, former Walmart CTO and CDO, as CIO. Cynthia Stoddard gives Chandrasekaran “huge congrats.”

Retiring baby boomers, difficulty hiring Millennials, and a skills gap in tech has CIOs turning to the gig economy. “40% of all workers in America are part of the gig economy,” says Stephanie Walkenshaw.

Panelists at the MIT Sloan CIO Conference said that the best CIOs remove friction. Jennifer Tejada comments: “C-levels can stay ahead of the digital transformation curve by removing friction between the customers and business.”