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13 TechCrunch stories you don’t want to miss this week

TechCrunch TechCrunch 1/07/2016 Anna Escher

This week, Airbnb sued the city of San Francisco, details about a fatal Tesla autopilot crash came to light and Facebook changed the News Feed again. Here are the top tech stories of the week.

1. Airbnb is taking to court its beef with the city of San Francisco. The company filed suit this week over a new law that requires Airbnb to verify that its hosts have registered with the city before showing online ads for their homes. The suit aims to block the law from going into effect as scheduled on August 1.

2. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into a recent fatal crash of a Tesla Model S that occurred while the company’s Autopilot feature was activated. Following the news, Mobileye (the company helping power the carmaker’s Autopilot feature) said Tesla’s auto-braking tech wasn’t designed for the scenario behind this crash, which involved a laterally crossing vehicle.

3. On the social side of the tech world, Facebook changed the News Feed once again. This time, the News Feed will prioritize friends above publishers. Still, the best way to improve your News Feed is to teach it. Hide and unfollow what’s boring or annoying. Like something if you actually like it. Twitter added stickers to photo uploads, and they’re actually pretty cool. Google+ turned five this week, and is somehow still alive.

4. We learned that Apple is in discussions with Tidal about acquiring its music streaming app, which offers exclusives and early releases from big artists like Beyoncé and Kanye West. If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em.

5. Kleiner Perkins officially pulled off a $1.4 billion fundraise. The VC giant is definitely not losing its mojo.

6. Buzzfeed got its hands on a stock purchase offer arranged by Palantir for its employees. The docs showed that the company asked current and former employees to agree to a host of stipulations. Among them, Palantir asked former employees to renew their non-disclosure agreements, agree not to solicit Palantir employees for 12 months and promise not to sue the company or its executive. It looks to us like Palantir may finally be preparing for an IPO. 

7. Spotify and Apple are back at it again. It appears that Apple has rejected Spotify’s latest update to its app, citing business model issues. Shortly before that, Spotify turned off billing within the Spotify iOS app altogether, cutting off free users’ ability to upgrade and even shutting off existing premium mobile users’ payments.

8. Hillary Clinton announced a tech platform at an event in Denver. Almost immediately, the proposal began to generate criticism. The controversial part isn’t the section on encryption, net neutrality or any of the other divisive policy issues that plague the tech industry. Instead, it’s the section on student debt that’s drawn the strongest critique.

9. The Google-backed undersea cable between the U.S. and Japan went online. The $300 million FASTER cable between Japan and the U.S. West Coast is 9,000 km and can deliver up to 60 Terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth.

10. Google introduced Project Bloks, a new hardware platform that teaches kids how to code.

11. On the startup front, a company called Modern Meadow that manufactures livestock-free leather, raised $40 million.

12. It’s no secret in the tech world that Twitter is in trouble. John Mannes speculated about what could happen if larger tech companies bought up the little blue bird. Google, Microsoft, News Corp.? Does anybody want Twitter? 

13. CDN network Akamai published an interesting report that concluded the global average connection speed is up 12 percent from last quarter, to 6.3 Mbps (a 23 percent increase year over year). Who’s in the lead for fastest connection speed? South Korea.

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