Huawei laptops return to Microsoft’s online store after mysteriously disappearing

Microsoft removed Huawei’s laptop lineup from its online store last month, following a new executive order to crack down on the Chinese tech company. While the software giant has remained silent over whether Huawei will still be able to obtain Windows licenses for its range of laptops, the devices are now starting to return to online stores this week.

Twitter user WalkingCat noticed that Huawei’s laptops have returned, and we’ve spotted that the MateBook 13, the MateBook, and the MateBook X Pro are all available once again. The MateBook X Pro is currently listed as “out of stock,” but the rest are available to purchase again.

Huawei’s latest laptops
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

The Verge reached out to Microsoft to comment multiple times on the removal of the Huawei laptops last month, and the company refused to issue any statement. Huawei has since postponed the launch of a new Windows-powered laptop that was due to be unveiled at the CES Asia show last week. It’s not exactly clear what new laptop Huawei was planning to announce, but it did previously unveil the MateBook 14 and updated its MateBook X Pro line at MWC earlier this year.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to comment on the mysterious return of Huawei’s laptops to its online store, and we’ll update you if the company decides to talk this time.

Annie Kadavy, Russ Heddleston and Charles Hudson will tell us how to raise seed money at Disrupt SF

Just about anyone can come up with a good idea. Fewer people can execute on that idea and turn it into a prototype or MVP. But there is still one final challenge for most entrepreneurs that can prove challenging.

How do you secure that initial seed capital and take your idea to the next level?

At Disrupt SF in October, Redpoint’s Annie Kadavy, Docsend’s Russ Heddleston, and Precursor’s Charles Hudson will sit down together and chat it out on the Extra Crunch stage.

Kadavy, Heddleston and Hudson can offer a unique perspective on the process of early-stage fundraising.

Kadavy joined Redpoint in 2018 after a four-year stint at Charles River Ventures, where she sourced or led deals with ClassPass, Cratejoy, DoorDash, Lauren & Wolf and Patreon. She’s also spent time within firms like Bain & Company, Warby Parker and Uber Freight. She understands the importance of operational experience, and knows better than most how to take a company from point A to point B.

Heddleston, cofounder and CEO of DocSend, has a completely different perspective. DocSend is used to securely send and track documents, and one of the most prevalent documents on the platform happens to be pitch decks. Heddleston can tell us about what characteristics get (and keep) the attention of investors, as well as what turns them off.

Hudson, managing partner at Precursor Ventures, has been on both sides of the conference room table. He founded Bionic Panda Games, which was acquired by Zynga in 2010. He moved on to SoftTech VC (now Uncork Capital), where he spent eight years working on seed stage investments in the consumer internet space. At Precursor Ventures, he’s continuing to invest in early-stage companies that are tackling problems in new markets.

These three each have their own perspective on how to get the attention of investors and how to turn a conversation into a cap table.

“How To Raise Your First Dollars” is but one of many panels that will take place on the Extra Crunch stage at Disrupt SF. The Extra Crunch stage, much like Extra Crunch on the web, is meant to serve as a resource for aspiring entrepreneurs and VCs, offering practical, step-by-step advice on how to get to where you’re going.

We’re thrilled to have Kadavy, Heddleston and Hudson join us at the show.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 – October 4 at the Moscone Center in SF. Tickets to Disrupt SF are available here.

India’s payments firm MobiKwik kick-starts its international ambitions with cross-border mobile top-ups

MobiKwik, a mobile wallet app in India that has expanded to add several financial services in recent years, said today it plans to enter international markets as it approaches profitability with the local operation. The company is kick-starting its overseas ambitions with cross-border mobile top-ups support.

The 10-year-old firm said it has partnered with DT One, a Singapore-headquartered payments network, to enable international mobile recharge (topping up credit to a mobile account), rewards, and airtime credit services in over 150 nations across some 550 mobile operators. The feature is now live on the app.

The feature is aimed at Indians living overseas and immigrants in India, Upasana Taku, co-founder of MobiKwik told TechCrunch in an interview. Millions of Indians go overseas to pursue education or look for a job. Currently, there is no convenient way for them to either help — or receive help from — their families and friends in India when they need to top up their phones.

Similarly, millions of people come to India in search for a job. The new functionality from MobiKwik will allow their families and friends to top up their mobile credit as well. Taku said there is no processing fee for customers as MobiKwik is absorbing all the overhead expenses.

For MobiKwik, mobile recharge is just the entry point to assess interest from users, Taku added. “This is the first service we are launching. We will eventually add other essential services as well. Mobile recharge will offer us good data points and will help us understand different markets,” she added.

MobiKwik is also studying different regulatory frameworks in overseas markets and holding conversations with stakeholders, she added.

The announcement comes at a time when MobiKwik is inching closer to profitability, a feat unheard of for a mobile wallet app provider in India. The firm, which claims to have grown its revenue by 100% in the last two years, expects to be profitable by this year and go public by 2022. (Interestingly, MobiKwik was looking to raise a big round at $1 billion valuation two years ago — which never happened.)

In the last one year, the firm has expanded to offer financial services such as loans, insurances, and investment advice. MobiKwik competes with a handful of payment services in India including Paytm, PhonePe, and Google Pay that either support, or fully work on top of a government-backed payment infrastructure called UPI. In April, UPI apps were used to carry out 782 million transactions, according to official figures.

The big numbers have attracted major investors, too. With $285.6 million in funding, India emerged as Asia’s top fintech market in the quarter that ended in March this year.

Instagram makes it easier to take back hacked accounts

Instagram is finally addressing a huge problem on its platform: hacked accounts. 

The company says it is making a series of changes that will make it easier for people to regain access to a hacked account. The update comes almost a year after Mashable first reported that a wave of bizarre hacks had hit Instagram users, leaving them little recourse to get their accounts back.

With the newly announced changes, which are currently being tested ahead of a wider rollout, Instagram will allow users to access its account recovery tools directly in the app, even if a hacker has changed their account information. So when a person is unable to login to an account, Instagram will prompt users to enter information associated with your account like your email address or phone number. (Users can also access this via “need more help” in the app’s login screen.)

Instagram's new in-app recovery process.

Instagram’s new in-app recovery process.

Image: Instagram

From there, Instagram will send a verification code you can use to access your account. Instagram will also remove any other devices logged into your account, so a hacker who has access to your email will be unable to use the recovery code. 

This may sound fairly straightforward, but these changes address significant issues with Instagram’s previous account recovery process. Because hackers often changed the email, phone number, or username associated with an account, it could be incredibly difficult if not impossible for the actual account owner to navigate the automated support system. 

Users have reported Instagram sending recovery emails to the address of their hackers, for example, or inexplicably telling them it could not verify their identity even though they provided the information requested. This caused some people to resort to more elaborate schemes, such as reporting a hacked account for impersonation or leaving voicemails for Instagram support. 

This new process will hopefully make those kinds of moves a thing of the past, as Instagram says its goal is to move the entire account recovery process in-app. Additional support will still be available to those who need it though, according to an Instagram spokesperson.

Notably, this new process will also apply to people whose accounts have previously been hacked and unable to regain access.

Additionally, Instagram says it’s addressing another major issue often associated with hacked accounts: username theft. Because accounts that have short or original names are considered valuable and desirable, they often face a disproportionate amount of hacking attempts. Hackers will often change a username in order to scoop it up for a fresh account or sell it on shady forums. 

Now, Instagram says that a previously used username will not be available for anyone else for several days in order to make it more difficult for hackers to steal valuable usernames. (The company isn’t disclosing exactly how long names will be inaccessible to others but a spokesperson says it will be “multiple days.”)

While it’s unlikely these changes will put a stop to hacking attempts, or the massive business of buying and selling stolen accounts, it could make life more difficult for hackers — at least until they find new ways to circumvent Instagram’s policies. But it should also give users more power to get their accounts back.

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Cisco’s Take on Making the World a Better Place

I attended Cisco Live last week, and one of the things that impressed me was how many amazing things the company has been doing that have nothing to do with products, services or revenue.

Most companies have a philanthropic budget and donate, but they don’t really seem to care if the money makes a difference. For most, philanthropy is more about uplifting their image than making a difference.

This was driven home on my flight home. I was flying Alaska Airlines when I found myself stranded in Seattle. It happened because the plane — which I know Alaska’s CEO flies in — left 20 minutes early, leaving around five of us, one of whom was disabled, stranded in Seattle. I can’t get the image out of my head of that stranded disabled guy and his poor wife, who pushed his wheelchair at a run between gates.

A lot of CEOs have no empathy for their partners, customers or investors and are all about their own compensation, and that explains to a large degree why so many companies are in antitrust trouble, starting with Facebook and ending with Apple.

In the context of my experiences both with Cisco and Alaskan Airlines, I’d like to compare Cisco’s CEO to the more common NPE CEOs we generally see. This is in the hope we can shift from NPE CEOs to CEOs who can help fix the mess of a world we live in.

I’ll close with my product of the week: the latest robotic vacuum from Roomba, which is my new standard in robotic vacuums.

The Problem With NPEs

An NPE is a narcissistic psychopathic executive and we are sadly up to our necks in them. I’d go down a list, but I’d rather avoid pissing off a bunch of them at once because many think that abuse of power is one of their rights (and I don’t want to be on the wrong side of that again this week).

You can pretty much pick them out rather quickly. NPEs have a spouse who is arm candy, they are defined largely by what they own, they are known for being cruel to subordinates, they use layoffs as a primary tool, and when they leave their jobs they also leave behind huge messes.

I was once at a table where I was the only guy and I was surrounded by women sales reps. All were stunningly beautiful, intelligent mothers, yet they still were top performers in their respective firms. All were divorced as a result of their executive spouses having cheated.

NPEs treat their spouses as jewelry and typically can’t spell fidelity. They are master manipulators who can wine and dine like nobody’s business. If they want something from you — be it sex, sales, a commitment or kids — they are the most exciting and wonderful folks to be around. When they get into power or get what they want, they are also the biggest assh*les you’ll ever meet.

When it comes to customers or investors they really don’t care. What they are focused on is their appearance (image), their conquests, and making sure others envy them. Loyalty in any form isn’t in their lexicon, and making the world a better place isn’t even remotely on their to-do list. In fact, I believe that if they had a choice between getting the car they wanted and ensuring the world would be around after they died, they’d choose the car.

The problem as I see it is that we hold these people up as positive examples, particularly when they are CEOs, and then wonder why so many companies we depend on behave badly. Rather than holding NPEs up as people we admire, I think we should treat them like an existential threat. Their lack of empathy makes them a huge danger to the rest of us, and as CEOs — particularly collectively — that danger is at scale.

Cisco’s Chuck Robbins: A Better Example

I know several CEOs, some of whom I consider friends. Chuck isn’t one I know well, but he is my standard for how a CEO should behave.

For instance, rather than starting his efforts on diversity at the bottom, where virtually everyone else does, he started at the top.

Doing Diversity Right

When you start a diversity effort at the bottom, you instantly create a nearly impervious glass ceiling, because immediately your top executive team will rightly conclude that diverse employees are a threat. This is because your executive team is likely white and male, and like musical chairs, someone is going to have to give up his job if the team is going to be diverse.

Typically they give the program lip service while ensuring that none of their direct reports are diverse to avoid the threat. They talk diversity but they’ll throw their body at any effort that makes diversity a threat to their job. (Let’s be clear — if you or I were in that spot, self-preservation would suggest we’d do that too.)

If you start at the top, the executive team already is diverse, and the only threat then comes from not doing the job well. You can give the effort more than lip service because your group already is diverse and there is no additional threat resulting from diversity. Race and sex have no real impact on your exposure.

If a firm argues that it is pro-diversity yet its board and executive team are not, it is full of crap. It is just giving the effort lip service or effectively saying diversity is fine for the peons at the bottom of the company but not fine for the royalty at the top. This showcases both that it thinks little of the rank-and-file employee and has no real interest, other than optics, in diversity.

Effective Philanthropy

A professor whose name I don’t recall put forward an interesting theory when Bill Gates retired and focused exclusively on philanthropy. He argued that Bill would have been far more effective had he used his power as CEO and chairman of Microsoft than he would as the richest guy in the world focused on philanthropy because, regardless of Bill’s wealth, Microsoft was more powerful.

Steve Jobs once said, and he practiced it, that corporate philanthropy was stupid because people don’t invest in companies for their philanthropy, they invest in them to make a return. If they wanted to be philanthropic, they would rather target causes important to them than have a company do it for them.

Both points have merit. Clearly Steve was incredibly successful with Apple, and Bill’s impact on making the world a better place has been muted by the limitations of his foundation. To overcome that Bill has brought in others, and collectively they have done more, but I think Chuck has taken philanthropy to a very different level.

He has taken the strength of Cisco, begun to add partners, and focused on things that can be fixed — like homelessness in Silicon Valley or the lack of skills at scale — and made significant progress. Put differently, rather than focusing on problems, he has set goals to fix them, and created a model that should have real potential to get the job done.

He has people putting themselves at risk to establish communications after disasters. They fly in with specialized vehicles, much like the National Guard does, to make sure that communications systems are functioning so that first responders know where they need to be to save lives. His focus isn’t on image, it is on driving real change.

It isn’t about looking like you care — it is about making real progress, and measuring on fixing things. Chuck gets this. If more did, we’d see far more progress on critical issues like pollution and climate change then we do now.

Wrapping Up

I still can’t get the picture of that disabled guy and his out-of-breath spouse out of my head, and I’m thinking I may never fly Alaskan Airlines again. Imagine the difference if the CEO had come out, held the plane, and helped that disabled guy into it. I and everyone else who saw it would be singing the airline’s praises.

Stop and think — when was the last time you heard about a CEO doing something like that, as opposed to engaging in insider trading, having an illicit affair, ripping off his or her own company, or treating employees, customers or investors badly?

If we want fewer NPEs we need to praise the executives who give a crap, so in my effort to walk that talk, I’m pointing out Chuck Robbins’ efforts to fix diversity and homelessness, fund disaster response and more as something we should admire and praise. The guy is truly working to make the world a better place, and if every CEO worked for that as he does, it would be.

We need it to be.

Rob Enderle's Product of the Week

I’ve had a lot of robotic vacuums over the years and most of them have been more toy than practical utility. I started with Roombas, which initially weren’t really vacuums at all, more sweepers, and they’d initially bounce around the room like a blind gerbil that had too much coffee.

They often seemed more interested in marring the walls and furniture than cleaning up anything, but they did pick up most of the visible dirt and hair. They also got stuck a lot, they had very limited dirt storage, and you still had to run a real vacuum if you wanted the room to look clean.

Well the line has come a long way since then, and the Roomba i7+ with automatic dirt disposal is near the top of line. (There is an even better Roomba S9+ with more suction that is also better in corners, but I haven’t tried it yet.)

Unlike those early models the i7+ is a vacuum, it is relatively smart (it hasn’t gotten stuck yet in the three weeks I’ve had it), and its big feature is that it self-empties into a receptacle. Now the receptacle does have a vacuum cleaner bag in it, so it isn’t as easy to use as one of the vacuums where you just empty the container.


The Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum

The Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum


However the bag contains the dust, and I find that when I empty a bagless vacuum my sinuses act up (like a lot of you I’m allergic to dust mites). So far, with the bag that doesn’t happen. I’d prefer bagless but I’m OK with the bag for that reason. I’ve typically had to empty my old Samsung robotic vacuum weekly and haven’t yet had to empty this thing in the three weeks I’ve had it.

There are two downsides to this: One is that when the vacuum self-empties it is loud, making running it at night somewhat problematic, and the other is that at around US$1,000 this thing isn’t cheap. A lot of us work, though, and can have it run during the day.

I’d rather pay more for something that works than less for something that doesn’t. This outperforms the Neato and Samsung Robotic vacuums I also have. So, because the Roomba i7+ with automatic dirt disposal is the way I think all these robotic vacuums always should have been made, it is my product of the week. (Oh, and we named it after our cat Winston. So far, we haven’t mixed them up.)

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob.

What a Facebook breakup would mean for investors

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Without question, the powerful long arm of the law is gearing up to take a big swing at the many out-to-lunch tech nerds that call Silicon Valley home. But while breakup talk around tech’s largest players such as Google and Amazon begin to swirl, it’s Facebook (FB) that perhaps is the most hot button name of them all.” data-reactid=”15″>Without question, the powerful long arm of the law is gearing up to take a big swing at the many out-to-lunch tech nerds that call Silicon Valley home. But while breakup talk around tech’s largest players such as Google and Amazon begin to swirl, it’s Facebook (FB) that perhaps is the most hot button name of them all.

And investors would be wise to realize that because of the high likelihood of some form of regulation (or breakup) befalling Facebook, the next 10 years for the stock may look quite different than the free-wheeling past 10 years.

Not only has Facebook amassed a dominating market share in social media via its namesake site and Instagram (Snapchat who?), but it has seemed the most out to lunch on addressing its problems. In fact, it could be argued that Facebook has lost complete control on how to protect user data and abuses on the platform.

Got deep-fake videos anyone?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“This is a company that dominates social media and stifles competition (it bought Instagram and squelched Snap). And it has shown time and again it has next to no control and little understanding of its platform,”&nbsp;wrote Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, who indeed has his pulse on what’s happening inside Silicon Valley.” data-reactid=”19″>“This is a company that dominates social media and stifles competition (it bought Instagram and squelched Snap). And it has shown time and again it has next to no control and little understanding of its platform,” wrote Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, who indeed has his pulse on what’s happening inside Silicon Valley.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“It has also been disingenuous about its problems and about fixing them. Its platform has led to deaths around the globe.&nbsp;It says it isn’t a media company, but its most prominent feature is called a News Feed. (Right.) Facebook Live is a mess. Facebook caused problems with our elections. How much? Who knows? Facebook doesn’t. What about the next election? Who knows? Remedy:&nbsp;Break it up,” wrote Serwer.” data-reactid=”20″>“It has also been disingenuous about its problems and about fixing them. Its platform has led to deaths around the globe. It says it isn’t a media company, but its most prominent feature is called a News Feed. (Right.) Facebook Live is a mess. Facebook caused problems with our elections. How much? Who knows? Facebook doesn’t. What about the next election? Who knows? Remedy: Break it up,” wrote Serwer.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Yahoo Finance will be exploring the breakup of big tech and its impact on investors via a special series on Yahoo Finance&nbsp;The First Trade&nbsp;called “The BreakUp.” So, tune in at 9 a.m. ET. The series began Monday morning.” data-reactid=”21″>Yahoo Finance will be exploring the breakup of big tech and its impact on investors via a special series on Yahoo Finance The First Trade called “The BreakUp.” So, tune in at 9 a.m. ET. The series began Monday morning.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Suffice it to say, not everyone shares Serwer’s views on the need to smash up Facebook.&nbsp;Yahoo Finance senior columnist Rick Newman&nbsp;doesn’t think Facebook deserves a pass by any means, but argues breaking up the company won’t solve much.” data-reactid=”22″>Suffice it to say, not everyone shares Serwer’s views on the need to smash up Facebook. Yahoo Finance senior columnist Rick Newman doesn’t think Facebook deserves a pass by any means, but argues breaking up the company won’t solve much.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 30: The Facebook logo is displayed during the F8 Facebook Developers conference on April 30, 2019 in San Jose, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered the opening keynote to the FB Developer conference that runs through May 1. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 30: The Facebook logo is displayed during the F8 Facebook Developers conference on April 30, 2019 in San Jose, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered the opening keynote to the FB Developer conference that runs through May 1. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 30: The Facebook logo is displayed during the F8 Facebook Developers conference on April 30, 2019 in San Jose, California. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered the opening keynote to the FB Developer conference that runs through May 1. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“A breakup certainly wouldn’t make Facebook cheaper for consumers, since the service is already free. The basic idea seems to be carving off Instagram and WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, to serve as competing social-media networks. But the three services are different and one is not a natural substitute for the other. Besides, Facebook users can ditch the service with virtually no effort — or just stop using it — and they don’t seem to be doing that. In Facebook’s&nbsp;latest quarterly results, the number of American users remained steady and revenue rose,” Newman&nbsp;wrote.” data-reactid=”34″>“A breakup certainly wouldn’t make Facebook cheaper for consumers, since the service is already free. The basic idea seems to be carving off Instagram and WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, to serve as competing social-media networks. But the three services are different and one is not a natural substitute for the other. Besides, Facebook users can ditch the service with virtually no effort — or just stop using it — and they don’t seem to be doing that. In Facebook’s latest quarterly results, the number of American users remained steady and revenue rose,” Newman wrote.

“It makes sense to break up companies when they have near-monopoly market share, they provide poor or overpriced service, and they have the power to bully or eliminate potential competitors,” he wrote.

<h2 class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But what about the tech stocks?” data-reactid=”36″>But what about the tech stocks?

Investors shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that just because the government moves at a snail’s pace — meaning tech regulation may be a ways off — that the stock prices of Big Tech won’t be hurt near-term.

“High-growth technology stocks face two key risks: regulation and valuation. Rising market concentration and the political landscape suggest that regulatory risk will persist and could eventually weigh on company fundamentals,’ cautions Goldman Sachs strategist David Kostin.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Kostin’s research shows that when government has attacked Big Tech in the past (think Microsoft (MSFT) antitrust situation), financial results and stock prices have come under pressure.” data-reactid=”39″>Kostin’s research shows that when government has attacked Big Tech in the past (think Microsoft (MSFT) antitrust situation), financial results and stock prices have come under pressure.

“Uncertainty surrounding potential litigation is high, but historical precedent suggests that investors should reduce exposures to targeted companies in the event of an antitrust lawsuit. The impact of regulation on today’s stocks will be case-dependent, but three commonalities stand out among the historical examples (1) valuations and share prices declined between lawsuit filing and resolution, (2) the cases took years to resolve, and (3) sales growth slowed following resolution.” Kostin explains.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance” data-reactid=”50″>Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.” data-reactid=”56″>Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.

New York is poised to legalize electric scooters and bikes

New York, a longtime holdout in the dockless electric scooter boom, appears poised to finally allow scooter-sharing companies like Bird and Lime to operate on its roads. Lawmakers in the state capital of Albany have reached a deal to lift the ban on throttle-based scooters and bikes, and if Governor Andrew Cuomo signs off, New Yorkers may soon see the electric-powered vehicles zipping down their streets in droves.

The bill would change state law to legalize e-bikes and scooters, but would require cities to opt in and would give localities the opportunity to decide for themselves how to regulate the vehicles. This would appear to satisfy some lawmakers who opposed legalizing scooters for reasons of safety and sidewalk obstruction.

The measure is part of a last-ditch effort by lawmakers to pass numerous bills before the legislative session ends on Wednesday. If it passes, it would then go to Governor Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law. Cuomo supports legalizing e-scooters and bikes, but a spokesperson said the governor is still reviewing the latest proposal.

Even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has criticized e-bikes as dangerous and ordered the New York Police Department to crack down on food delivery workers who use them, appears to be in support. “We appreciate this commonsense legislation that clarifies the rules around e-bikes on our streets,” a spokesperson for de Blasio told The Verge. “Safety for everyone on our roads is our priority, and we look forward to working with legislators and communities as we develop plans to implement the new law.”

New York has remained a scooter-free zone despite the phenomenon’s rapid growth around the globe. As other cities grappled with how to regulate and manage the sudden appearance of hundreds (or thousands) of scooters on their streets, New Yorkers have been blissfully unaware of the joys and pitfalls of playing host to the two-wheeled devices.

But that’s about to change. On one hand, New York City could be a natural fit for these scooter companies, which have been valued at as high as $2 billion. New York is a city with a booming public transit system that millions take every day, but it’s also filled with gaps. A recent report showed that 24 percent of the city’s subway stations — many located in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens — were inaccessible to many of the city’s residents.

Meanwhile, food delivery workers have borne the brunt of the city’s enforcement of the ban. While pedal-assisted e-bikes are legal to ride in New York City, throttle-powered vehicles favored by the delivery workers are not, and delivery workers, most of them immigrants, routinely face fines of $500 and having their bikes confiscated by the NYPD.

The shift won’t come over night. The city still needs to work out its own rules for the scooter companies, which will likely include a pilot program and permitting process similar to San Francisco’s and Chicago’s. And it’s unclear how the city will approach delivery workers who have been fined and had their bikes confiscated under the current rules.

But that hasn’t stopped the scooter startups from declaring victory. “We are just one step away from better transportation options for New Yorkers,” said Phil Jones, who runs government relations for Lime, “and there is momentum to cross the finish line.”

A diversity and inclusion playbook

You’d be hard-pressed to find a tech company that said it wished it had waited longer to implement on diversity and inclusion efforts. The examples of tech companies “doing it right” in this industry are few and far between, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. And for those that want to try, there’s a clear playbook to follow.

Where tech companies seem to go wrong is around implementing one-off initiatives such as unconscious bias training, employee resource groups or hiring a head of diversity and inclusion. Alone, these initiatives are not effective. But implementing those together, along with other initiatives, can create lasting change inside tech companies.

More than 10 years ago, Freada Kapor Klein, co-founder of Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center for Social Impact, published her groundbreaking book, “Giving Notice,” about the hidden biases people face in the workplace. In it, Kapor Klein laid out five key strategies as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing inclusion within tech companies. In order for it to be effective, companies must implement every single initiative.

This approach, which is applicable to this day, entails instituting policies practices and principles; implementing formal and informal problem-solving procedures; devising customized training based on organizational needs; ask more specific questions on employee surveys and break down data demographically; and ensure accountability from the top.

Policies, practices and principles

Cleo, the London-based finech, has quietly taken debt financing from US-based Triplepoint Capital

Cleo, the London-based “digital assistant” that wants to replace your banking apps, has quietly taken venture debt from U.S.-based Triplepoint Capital, according to a regulatory filing.

The amount remains undisclosed, though I understand from sources that the figure is somewhere in the region of mid-“single digit” millions and will bridge the gap before a larger Series B round later this year. Cleo declined to comment on the fundraising.

However, sources tell me that the need to raise debt financing is partly related to Cleo Plus, the startup’s stealthy premium offering that is currently being tested and set to launch more widely soon. The new product offers Cleo users a range of perks, including rewards and an optional £100 cash advance as an alternative to using your bank’s overdraft facility. The credit facility is, for the time bring at least, being financed from the startup’s own balance sheet, hence the need for additional capital.

The new funding also relates to Cleo’s U.S. launch, which began tentatively around a year ago. This has been more successful than was expected, seeing Cleo add 650,000 active U.S. users to date. The U.S. currently makes up over 90% of new users now, too. Overall, the fintech claims 1.3 million users have signed up to the Cleo chatbot and app, with 350,000 active in the U.K.

Accessible via Facebook Messenger and the company’s iOS app, Cleo is an AI-powered chatbot that gives you insights into your spending across multiple accounts and credit cards, broken down by transaction, category or merchant. In addition, Cleo lets you take a number of actions based on the financial data it has gleaned. This includes choosing to put money aside for a rainy day or specific goal, sending money to your Facebook Messenger contacts, donating to charity, and setting spending alerts and more.

Meanwhile, alongside Triplepoint, Cleo is backed by some of the biggest VC names in the London tech scene — including Balderton Capital, Entrepreneur First, Moonfruit co-founders Wendy Tan White and Joe White, Skype founder Niklas Zennström, Wonga founder Errol Damelin, TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus and LocalGlobe.

First Amendment constraints don’t apply to private platforms, Supreme Court affirms

In a case closely watched for its potential implications for social media, the Supreme Court has ruled that a nonprofit running public access channels isn’t bound by governmental constraints on speech.

The case, which the conservative wing of the court decided in a split 5–4 ruling, centered around a Manhattan-based nonprofit tasked by New York City with operating public access channels in the area. The organization disciplined two producers after a film led to complaints, which the producers argued was a violation of their First Amendment speech rights. The case turned on whether the nonprofit was a “state actor” running a platform governed by First Amendment constraints.

In a decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the conservative justices ruled that the First Amendment constraints didn’t apply to the nonprofit, which they considered a private entity. Providing a forum for speech wasn’t enough to become a government actor, the justices ruled.

Nowhere is the internet or social media discussed in the ruling, but the idea that the decision could be used to penalize social media companies was raised by groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The groups argued that too broad of a decision could prevent other private entities like YouTube and Twitter from managing their platforms by imposing new constraints them. The Internet Association, a trade group, said last year that such a decision could mean the internet “will become less attractive, less safe and less welcoming to the average user.” But today’s decision seems to assuage those concerns.

The liberal justices on the court, in a dissenting ruling, argued instead that the terms under which the nonprofit ran the channels for the city should have bound it to First Amendment constraints. The nonprofit, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “stepped into the City’s shoes and thus qualifies as a state actor, subject to the First Amendment like any other.”