Recode Daily: Elon Musk wants earthlings to buy Teslas online — without a test drive
Plus: A list of US data brokers that are buying and selling your personal information — and how to opt out; Steven Spielberg doesn’t want another Roma to happen at the Oscars; how not to fall for viral scares like Momo.
SpaceX launched an unmanned Crew Dragon craft from Florida to the International Space Station on Saturday morning — “a milestone for CEO Elon Musk’s goal of enabling humans to live on other planets, and a big win for NASA’s gamble of partnering with private industry.” Meanwhile, Musk’s latest terrestrial challenge is persuading mainstream consumers to purchase Tesla cars online the way they buy books or clothes. “Tesla needs the savings it will get from closing stores to cut the price of its Model 3 sedan — the Silicon Valley automaker’s bid to go from niche to mass market — down to $35,000 while still achieving profit.” [Dana Hull and Julie Johnsson / Bloomberg]
Google has rejected calls to remove the Saudi government app Absher from its Google Play app store; the app allows Saudi citizens to interact with the state, but it also lets men track women and control where they travel, including setting up SMS alerts for when women use their passports. Democratic Rep. Jackie Spier and 13 colleagues in Congress wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook demanding that the app be removed; they called Google and Apple “accomplices in the oppression of Saudi Arabian women” for hosting the app. Google reviewed the app and concluded that since it does not violate the terms of service, it can remain. [Bill Bostock / Business Insider]
Fast Company has assembled a list of 121 data brokers that are routinely buying and selling your personal information in the US. The companies range from lesser-known organizations that help landlords research potential tenants to “the quiet giants of data,” including some big names in people search, like Spokeo, ZoomInfo, and Intelius. Enabled by a new Vermont law that requires companies that buy and sell third-party personal data to register with the Secretary of State, FC reporters got a rare inside look at “a bustling economy that operates largely in the shadows, and often with few rules”; they also provide some advice on removing yourself from a company’s databases. [Steven Melendez and Alex Pasternack / Fast Company]
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg is speaking out against streamed films like Netflix’s Roma being eligible for Academy Awards. At the upcoming annual post-Oscar meeting, Spielberg — an Academy governor representing the directors’ branch and a staunch advocate for the theatrical experience of a movie over streaming — will argue that Netflix and the like don’t play by the same rules as their analog studio competitors, and should only compete for awards in the Emmy arena. Traditional movie studios are rattled that Roma came so close to winning the Academy’s top prize; among their complaints: Netflix, which doesn’t report box office, spent up to an estimated $50 million in its massive Oscar push for Roma, compared to Green Book’s $5 million spend. “While studios may have knives out for Netflix, the streaming behemoth isn’t their only concern. Other streamers are coming. Amazon Studios is changing its release parameters to a more flexible model; Disney +, AT&T, and Apple hover on the horizon.” [Anne Thompson / IndieWire]
The future of retail is here: An Evening with Code Commerce, hosted by Senior Commerce Editor Jason Del Rey and Editor-at-Large Kara Swisher, returned to Shoptalk last night in Las Vegas. Discussions ranged from how Lord & Taylor is trying to reinvigorate and revolutionize the department store, to Poshmark’s flourishing platform that’s both a retailer and a social community — independent of more traditional networks like Facebook or Twitter. Watch the full sessions with Hudson’s Bay CEO Helena Foulkes, Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra, and Tim Armstrong, former CEO of Oath and current founder and CEO of a new commerce venture, The DTX Company.
Here’s the full roundup from Las Vegas:
Lord & Taylor lives in retail’s “middle” ground — and that’s a hard place to survive. Lord & Taylor’s flagship store closed last year. The problem? “It is handicapped by its positioning in the marketplace,” says parent-company CEO Helena Foulkes. [Kurt Wagner]
Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra credits Marie Kondo and the social experience for his company’s boom. Even he is surprised by our new willingness to resell our clothing. [Theodore Schleifer]
Tim Armstrong wants to create Coachella, but for retailers. What does that mean? Armstrong is getting into the events business. We think. [Kurt Wagner]
Top stories from Recode
Lyft’s IPO filing shows how founders create their own supremacy in Silicon Valley. Believe in Logan Green and John Zimmer. Or don’t. [Theodore Schleifer and Rani Molla]
Two years after going public, Snap’s problems are still all about growth. A redesign of the Snapchat app and a shift to programmatic ads threw it off course. [Kurt Wagner and Rani Molla / Recode]
Can the media business be saved? A “Spotify for news” is not the answer, says News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern, on the latest Recode Decode. Chavern’s organization advocates on behalf of 2,000 print and online media outlets. [Kara Swisher]
After an “identity crisis,” Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya says he’s taught himself how to be happy again. “To all the people that worked for me and whose money I took, you’re fucking welcome,” he said on Recode Decode. [Kara Swisher and Teddy Schleifer]