Just a reminder that the same crew bringing you Login serves up tech news throughout the day in the Axios technology stream. And there's been a whole lot of news, of late.
Facebook is stepping up its offensive to respond to questions about the role it played in Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The move comes as it prepares to testify on Capitol Hill, Axios' David McCabe and Sara Fischer report.
Why it matters: Facebook is investing in full-page ads, new policies, and C-suite lobbying efforts as it stares down a crisis that imperils its reputation with Congress and its relationship with the public. In contrast, Google and Twitter have kept a lower profile in response to the same investigation.
Internal frenzy: Top brass are closely involved in the effort to address the questions swirling around the Russia probes.
The bottom line: This is an unprecedented response for Facebook at an unprecedented moment. "I've never seen anything quite this like," tweeted Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Wednesday juxtaposing Facebook's ad with a Wall Street Journal story on the controversy.
Sara and David have more here.
WeWork may have recently sold its investors on a $20 billion valuation thanks in part to "energy and spirituality," but it's also developing actual tech that could enhance its office rental business. As part of a recent partnership with Mastercard, the company is testing payment technology that could make it easier for workers to pay for desks or conferences rooms by the minute, or for the snacks they purchase at the office, Kia reports.
Desk appeal: WeWork wants to use technology to make office life easier and more efficient. That's also why it's helping customers design their own offices, testing technology to track office traffic patterns, and developing office management tools.
How it works:
Google's product introductions Wednesday showed that its hardware effort has matured significantly, though its hardware business still has a lot of growing up to do.
Yes, but: The business model remains largely the same. Among carriers, only Verizon will sell the Pixel phones directly, with those who want to use another provider will need to get the device unlocked from Google. That's fine, but not the way most people in the U.S. buy their phones.
Plus: Google's actions seemed to back up the notion it isn't just trying to undercut the competition. Its $159 Pixel Buds are priced the same as Apple's competing AirPods and, at $399, the high-end Google Home Max speaker is actually $50 more than Apple's forthcoming HomePod.
Dig deeper: You can get a more of my thoughts on Google's hardware strategy in this Cheddar interview I did on Wednesday.
A growing number of consumers are embracing apps that mine their online saving and spending habits, and then recommend better financial decisions. Mint, Expensify, and Venmo are helping millions of users move money, invest, and plan their future.
The bigger picture: The firms making these apps collect, store, and then sell their users' anonymized data, an industry previously controlled solely by traditional banks. Now, such fintech firms and banks are in the early stages of a war for control of the consumer financial data, and the billions of dollars in fees that they earn.
What the war is about: The most valuable commodity in the modern economy is information — just ask Google and Facebook. Banks sit on a treasure trove of the most valuable type of information: financial data. Enter the fintech companies, offering a range of different services in an effort to get their hands on the same data.
Axios' Christopher Matthews has more here.
Microsoft president Brad Smith will be in North Dakota today as the company looks to expand efforts to bring computer science education and tech training to areas beyond the tech hubs.
What's happening: In North Dakota, Smith will be appearing with Gov. Doug Burgum, a former Microsoft executive who ran the company's significant operations in Fargo after Microsoft acquired Burgum's former company, Great Plains Software.
The six-state pilot will also see Microsoft step up its philanthropic commitments and community involvement, sources said. Other states that are part of the program are: Wisconsin, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and Washington state.
Axios reported last week that two former 500 Startups partners are raising a $50 million to invest in startups at the pre-seed stage. Then came an announcement that a new pre-seed fund called Afore Capital was launching with a $47 million debut fund.
Yes, but: What is "pre-seed" and why is the term showing up more and more?
Short answer: Today's seed rounds are yesterday's Series A rounds, and pre-seed is the old seed.
Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva has more here.
Trading places: Marni Walden, the longtime Verizon executive who spearheaded the Yahoo acquisition, plans to leave the company by February ... Communications director Richard Eckel, who joined Microsoft with the acquisition of Ray Ozzie's Groove, left the software giant earlier this week. I hear he's headed to Amazon to work on Alexa efforts. Although he may be leaving one Seattle-area company for another, Eckel is staying in the Boston area. Who knows, maybe that will end up being HQ2.
ICYMI: The European Commission ordered Luxembourg to collect nearly $300 million in back taxes it says are owed by Amazon. Separately, the EC is taking Ireland to court for failing to collect $15 billion it says that country failed to collect from Apple, Business Insider reports ... Sonos introduced the $199 Sonos One, a smart speaker that works with Amazon's Alexa for now, with plans to support Google's Assistant next year and perhaps others down the road as well, WSJ says ... Per Reuters, a bipartisan group of lawmakers plans to introduce a bill as soon as today to limit the amount of surveillance that the federal government can do without a warrant. The ACLU said the bill offers some improvements but urged Congress to further strengthen the safeguards before passage.