#DeleteUber incident heralds new political era for tech companies

Protest, participate or pass?

We’re just over a week into the new administration and the wave of protests and debate over some of President Trump’s executive actions have already swept up some leading tech firms. The most visible example involved Uber and Lyft, whose fortunes seemed to go in opposite directions following a protest at John F. Kennedy airport over President Trump’s move to ban or at least greatly slow the entry of people from certain Middle East countries.

As the protests spooled up at JFK, unionized taxi drivers joined the fray with an hours-long boycott of the airport. Uber quickly reacted by saying there would be no surge pricing for anyone needing to Uber to or from JFK. That move prompted a tweet praising Uber from Trump advisor Roger Stone, which almost immediately hatched a backlash against Uber, and the hashtag “#deleteuber” began to trend.

Meanwhile, Lyft’s founders issued a terse statement condemning President Trump’s actions and announced a million-dollar donation to the ACLU. Both companies rely heavily on immigrants, who see the driving services as a simple and effective ingress into the American economy. All you need is a car, insurance, a smartphone and a driver’s license. GPS may help as well.

Uber quickly tried to pivot with a $3 million immigrant defense fund, but the incident starkly illustrated how tech firms hoping to stand on the political sidelines can suddenly find themselves in the game. All of this activity took place in mere hours, highlighting how quickly political sentiments and now political action can sweep across social media and our many other avenues of near instant mass communication.

It will be interesting indeed to see how the fortunes of companies both aligned and opposed to Trump’s policies fare as time goes on.

Lucky number is… Seven?

Apple investors are hoping strong sales of the flagship iPhones will give a boost to earnings for the last quarter of 2016, which Cupertino is expected to announce tomorrow. There’s also hope it could signal a reverse in the decline of iPhone sales reported last quarter.

Apple, of course, doesn’t comment ahead of time – or really, at any time – on their fiscals, so we’ll have to wait and see if those hopes pan out, but an analyst told C-NET that it seems a new trend regarding smartphones is developing. Instead of upgrading to the latest and greatest each year, Mark Moskovitz says more people are now using the same smartphone for several years – or until it breaks. Does that sound familiar? Let us know in comments or our YouTube poll.

A giant in an 8-bit wonderland

And some sad news today from the gaming world. Video game icon NAMCO says its founder, Masaya Nakamura, passed away on January 22nd. Namco was founded as an amusement ride company in 1955, but focused on nascent arcade video game tech in 1977. Pac-Man debuted in 1980 and the company took off, turning out hits like Galaga, Dig Dug and Pole Position, among many others we gladly poured our quarters into. Nakamura was 91 years old.

If you feel like chasing some ghosts in his honor, we’ve a link to play Pac-Man online for free here.

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