This Week in Tech: Holiday Prep Edition

We’re in the final stretch of 2019, and the holiday decorations are out and the festivities have begun. Here’s what caught our attention this week as we make the most of the remaining 20 shopping days ‘til Christmas:

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Spurring a joke that nearly broke the Internet, Google’s founders and co-CEOs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, stepped down from their roles leading its parent company, Alphabet. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take responsibility for leading both entities.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the founders are stepping down at a sensitive time for Google, which has been caught up not only in the general backlash against big tech, but also internal unrest over employee claims of a secretive culture fraught with infighting.

Detective ring

This week, Vice ran a three-part series profile of Amazon’s Ring smart doorbell company, and its evolution from a startup previewed on Shark Tank, to “America’s scariest Surveillance Company.”

“Although there’s no credible evidence that Ring actually deters or reduces crime, claiming that its products achieve these things is essential to its marketing model,” writes Caroline Haskins, in detailing Ring’s partnerships with law enforcement and the policing platforms designed to tap into Ring’s video feature. The most disturbing aspect of Ring according to Haskins, however, is the fact that it is just another “node in Amazon’s network of Alexa-enabled smart home devicces.”

It’s a fascinating, in-depth piece of reporting that brings forward new insight into the strategies behind Amazon’s acquisition strategy.

A year on Reddit

On Wednesday, Reddit issued a look back at the year that was 2019, reporting continued user growth and increased views and comments. The platform’s 430 million monthly active users posted 199 million posts, 1.7 billion comments (up 37 percent)) and 32 billion upvotes (up 54 percent).

A few of the trends cited include:

  • The top 50 beauty and style communities grew between 50 and 63 percent, fueled largely by blogger beauty feuds
  • The Top 50 food communities great 35 percent year over year, with alcohol-driven cites, such as r/tequila up as much as 99 percent
  • Bill Gates’ Ask Me Anything session was the most upvoted AMA of the year, with 110,000 upvotes. (Rounding out the top three? Cookie Monster, with 75,500 upvotes, and Andrew Yan, with 69,300 upvotes)

New year, new gig?

Will one of your New Year’s Resolutions be to make a career move? Check out one Shifter’s look back at her first year with us. If you like what you read, please check out our openings, we’re hiring in Boston and San Francisco!


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