Wait! What? 8/21: Target’s Vigilante Troll, Amazon’s Big Oops and an Airport Powered by the Sun

Credit: ThinkStock
Credit: ThinkStock

Greetings PR-aficionados! What’s that? Yes, it has been a while. Since we last spoke, a lot has happened, including the addition of our new General Manager, Annemiek Hamelinck, who’s been doing a truly stellar job of leading our troop of misfits. The tech scene has been crazy, and we’re going to catch you right the heck up.

It’s time for our latest installment of “Wait! What?”

  • You’re simply THE BEST!” is what Tina Turner might say about the hilarious vigilante that took to social media, posing as Target and defending the company’s decision to remove gender distinctions in some sections of its stores. We laughed ‘til we cried and really appreciated this moment of faux justice.
  • Holy company culture, Batman! If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you might not know that Amazon is having some issues – of the miserable employee variety. The New York Times published an expose looking at the company’s intense, and unforgiving culture. Amazon – you should probably take a look at our Instagram for some happy-employee inspiration.
  • On a more positive note, an airport in India has announced it will be completely powered by solar panels. Us clean tech geeks are excited to see solar tech being used on such a large scale and hope there is more to come! Yeah…no joke here. Sometimes we can be serious, OK?!
  • Now, I know my ABC’s… Although the announcement of Alphabet as Google’s parent company has been clogging up your browser for the past two weeks, we’re more interested in the smaller, mind-bogglingly futuristic companies that fall under the umbrella, like the forever young anti-aging biotech company Calico, and of course, the infinitely inventive Google X.
  • “Why does the GPS say that he’s driving away from us…?” is normally the first thing that comes to mind when the name “Uber” pops up. This time, however, it’s all about the rumored IPO, which was mentioned in a document leaked to Reuters. Of course, the company chose not to comment on the rumor, but the cat is out of the bag (which would be a terrible thing to happen in an Uber, by the way).

So now you’re all caught up on this week’s big tech stories and hopefully have something cool to bring up at brunch this weekend. Tweet us your fave stories of the week @blancandotus!

Wait! What? 6/26: T-Swift and Apple shake off dispute, #LoveWins for brands

This is really, really colorful. (Thinkstock Photos)
This is really, really colorful. (Thinkstock Photos)

While you were recovering from the season finale of Game of Thrones, we were scouring the web for our favorite tech stories of the week. Take a break from your “Jon Snow’s not dead” debate – because it’s time for this week’s Wait! What?

  • Seriously, Taylor, we’re going to let you finish. Taylor Swift stood up to “The Man” so to speak by threatening to withhold her 1989 album from Apple Music…and then giving it back almost immediately when they responded with a very neutral letter. Victorious PR stunt?
  • Safety first, then teamwork. We are fascinated with Samsung’s new safety truck that features a video feed of the road ahead. It’s lane change time, y’all!
  • Speaking of driving, Uber is well on its way to a PR meltdown in France.
  • Even though few people actually own them, media can’t stop talking about smartwatches, because they’re futuristic and cool. So, how can marketers handle the challenge of the smartwatch? Embrace push notifications, be adaptive and create an ownable experience for publishers.
  • And finally, on a serious note, we are absolutely thrilled that the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states! Now check out these awesomely supportive tweets from brands that know what’s up.

That’s all – join us next week for a fresh new batch of news at the heart of PR and technology.

Wait! What? 4/3: Pranks, Posts and Periscoping

(Uber)
(Uber)

We can’t slide into the weekend without taking a moment to consider some of the truly baffling things tech companies did this week. And with April Fools Day, you can be sure shenanigans were at an all time high. So we have no time to waste:

  • As an April Fools Day prank, Uber jokingly announced Uber Boat. Just in case you were interested in recreating any Gilligan’s Island fantasies you might have.
  • Plenty of companies thought pranks involving selfies would be funny. Can we all agree they weren’t that funny?
  • In a staggering example of not getting it – Jeb Bush went around this week defending a controversial bill while hitting up Silicon Valley for cash. Is there a phrase for the opposite of preaching to the choir?
  • Microsoft announced plans to remove “Do Not Track” as the default setting in their upcoming browsers. I am sure this will go over well with the Internet.
  • While we’ve all had a lot of fun Periscoping and Meerkatting through life these past few weeks, we may be in for quite a shock when our phone bills come in. These hot new apps chew through data like nobody’s business.

That wraps it up – hopefully you survived April Fools without getting pranked too hard. Check back next week for more tech and PR news.

Wait! What? 2/6: Google places its bets on driverless cars and tech attends its version of the Oscars

This week was chock full of tech news, from Google’s ride-share service to the winners of this year’s Crunchies, the past seven days didn’t disappoint. Don’t worry, next week we’ll have another Kim Kardashian video to share…(just kidding). Here’s what made the headlines this week:

  • Last night, the who’s who of the tech industry switched out of their hoodies and into three piece suits (okay maybe at least a button up) to attend the Crunchies Awards. For reasons we won’t try to understand, the Kim Kardashian app
    Credit: Steve Jurvetson
    Credit: Steve Jurvetson

    beat out Buzzfeed for the “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” Award.

  • Snapchat removed their “Best Friends” feature that allows you to see who your friends are swapping selfies with. Stalkers and girlfriends everywhere flipped out…but don’t worry the photo app promises it will be back.
  • From iPod to iPhone, iPad to iWatch, and now iTube?! Apparently, Apple is in talks with TV programmers to launch its own Web TV service.
  • Because Google is Google and likes to do everything under the sun…the tech giant is preparing to offer it’s own ride-hailing service – and is upsetting Uber in the process.
  • Ever wonder what the Internet will look like in 5, 10 and 15 years? Well, the NCTA does. They say 5 years from now, everyone in the world will be able to use the Internet (and be able to get their weekly dose of Wait! What?)!

Did we miss anything juicy that rocked your world this week? Send us a tweet @BlancandOtus. See you next Friday for another edition of your favorite weekly roundup!

Wait! What? 11/26: Where tech and turkeys collide

"It's been an honor serving you, Mr. President." - Turkey (Thinkstock)
“It’s been an honor serving you, Mr. President.” – Turkey (Thinkstock)

It’s been a short week leading up to Thanksgiving, but that didn’t stop us from cooking up five juicy news bullets for your gobbling pleasure. Already regret writing that.

  • While you gather with friends and loved ones this weekend to reflect on all that you’re thankful for, we can tell you with certainty what Lyft is thankful for: Uber’s PR nightmare. The ride-share service reported its biggest week for rides ever following one of Uber’s roughest.
  • New ammo for the age-old white vs. dark meat debate: turkey lobbyists (real thing) only allow white turkeys to be presidentially pardoned, meaning brown and black turkeys are doomed to serve their duty to the American people in political obscurity. #THANKSMICHELLEOBAMA
  • Speaking of turkeys, now you can vote via Twitter on which one should spend the rest of its days in genteel luxury in Virginia, and which should end up on Obama’s Thanksgiving table… May the odds be ever in their favor.
  • We all know creating trash is central to American values, but one startup is determined to ensure our turkey scraps don’t go to waste. You can thank the cloud, Big Data and several other buzzwords.
  • If department stores have taught us anything, it’s that Christmas basically starts right after Halloween – so hurry up and finish that turkey because ’tis the season to be shopping. PSFK’s 2014 Gift Guide includes unique wearables and smart gadgets like posture sensors that essentially scold you for slouching. Our favorite is the stress tracker that tells you when…you’re stressed…? We need it!

Still not satiated? Connect with us @BlancandOtus to stay on top of the latest in tech and media, although personally, we’re going cold turkey on it until Monday. Enjoy the break!

Julia van Broek, Christine Pai, Colette Keane and Victoria Stevenson contributed to this post. It takes a village. 

Wait! What? 11/21: Robot takeover, outrageous in-flight Wi-Fi charges and … a Mercury landing?

"Come to me, minions." (Thinkstock)
“Come to me, minions.” (Thinkstock)

In celebration of Friday and slightly warmer weather around the country (I said slightly), here’s the latest and greatest in tech news. Break out your snuggy, grab some hot cocoa and enjoy:

  • The European Space Agency is looking into landing on scorching-hot Mercury for its next mission. Landing on a comet is so two weeks ago.
  • After spending six years of acting like humans in a Tennessee home experiment, robots are ready to start planning their takeover.
  • Google rolled out “Suggested for you” for more personal and relevant news. If only that came ad free.
  • Facebook Groups got its own app, making it simple to create, join and navigate between groups with a few taps. (Don’t worry, you can still use the feature with Facebook’s original app.)
  • One man racked up a terrifying $1,171.46 bill for in-flight Wi-Fi on a flight from London to Singapore. Another sad reminder that airlines can’t be trusted…or ahem, to read the fine print.
  • Uber and Spotify teamed up to spice up your commute. Uber drivers everywhere are rejoicing that Taylor Swift will not be available.

There you have it! You are ready for the weekend. Check back in next Friday for your weekly dose of juicy tech news. In the meantime, send any other cool stories our way @BlancandOtus.

Wait! What? 10/17: Google hires a camel, brands face off in the Digital Pizza Wars

Credit: BabelTravel / Flickr
Credit: BabelTravel / Flickr

From Uber taking tweets personally to Google taking hump-day a little too seriously, here’s a little recap for those of you who missed this week’s excitement in tech:

  • Who’s ready to re-live the glory days? Snapchat plans to up the ante and launch several ‘Our Campus Stories’ at once. Don’t expect to see keg stands and wild frat parties though…Snapchat will be moderating all the submissions.
  • Pizza Hut is playing digital catch-up with archrival Domino’s, which has been dominating the U.S. pizza delivery market and social landscape. Proof that companies who don’t put mobile first often come in last.
  • If we learned anything this week, it’s to not tweet bad things about Uber. Driver Christopher Ortiz learned that the hard way and got banned from their service—though Uber later reversed their decision and apologized.
  • Forget Street View, the new rage is Desert View. Google thinks strapping a camera onto a camel and making him trek across the desert will be useful…
  • Twitter can now actually tweet. A newfound partnership with Soundcloud will enable users to play music straight off their feeds. Theoretically it will play more than just bird sounds.

Those were the stories that caught our eye this week. What have you been reading? Tweet us the best, worst and weirdest in tech @BlancandOtus.

Wait! What? 6/6: Netflix and Verizon do battle, Uber is apparently worth zillions

Credit: Tinder, Inc.
Credit: Tinder, Inc.

While you were busy checking out the features you’ll never use on iOS 8 and realizing an Apple a day no longer keeps the doctor away, other tech happenings were underway. Some you may have missed:

  • Social apps find new ways to make you less social keep you glued to your phone longer: Instagram introduces more editing features, because asking your friends if Valencia or Amaro will get you more likes just wasn’t enough, while Tinder has a moment.
  • Wait, what? $17 billion edition: Uber gets $1.2 thousand million in funding at a massive valuation to continue its march towards ending car ownership, and killing cabs.
  • The road to solar is…the solar-powered road?: If crowdfunding success is any indication, solar roadways conceived by a badass couple from Idaho (yes, looking at you Silicon Valley selfie app company) might reinvent the future of energy.
  • The net neutrality awkwardness between ISPs and content providers gets awkward-er: Netflix and Verizon fire shots at each other as the Orange is the New Black creator blames the Can You Hear Me Now? creator for slow playback.

What piqued your interest this week? Connect with us @BlancandOtus or drop a line below.