Weekend Roundup: Planes, Purchases, Poor Judgement, and Just Plain Spyin’

It’s the weekend, which means you’re going to procrastinate doing anything until Sunday at 8 PM, then curse yourself for wasting another 48 hours away from work. Please allow us to catch you up on what happened this week, including new Snap Spectacles, Facebook straight-up spying on you, Tumblr being acquired (yes, again!), the hilarious WeWork IPO, and snakes on a plane.

Where’s Sam Jackson when you need him!?

Let’s go!

Tumblr Purchased by Automattic, Maker of WordPress

Okay, so… WordPress low-key sucks. We get it. It’s not always the simplest to use, and makes blog hosting a bit too fussy. That allowed Medium to fill the competitive gap as a platform for blogging.

But with its new purchase of Tumblr, Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, might just Make Blogging Great Again. (“Make Blogging Great Again” should not be reproduced or redistributedespecially on a hat without the express written consent of Dice Insights, its Editorial staff, and DHI.) There’s also a high likelihood that a WordPress/Tumblr combo could terrify the daylights out of the folks at Medium.

Automattic reportedly bought Tumblr for a cool $3 million, which is just barely lower than the $1 billion Yahoo paid for it all those years ago. Who knew Beanie Babies would be a better investment than Tumblr? Not Yahoo.

We like this quite a bit. Tumblr got lost amidst the noise of the social media ecosystem, but it’s a really solid blogging platform. As the Facebooks of the world continually strip-mine us for personal data, it would be really great to see a return to “owning your data,” which Automattic seems keen to provide. Speaking of Facebook…

Yes, Facebook Is Flat-Out Spying on You

We’re not being snarky with this one. According to news reports, Facebook is outright spying on audio clips of Messenger users. Not only that, but the company had outside contractors transcribe those clips.

Per Bloomberg, those contractors weren’t told how audio files were gathered, only that they had to transcribe them. Facebook also didn’t tell them why they needed to transcribe the calls. Sounds pretty suspicious, huh?

In another era, we’d call this counterintelligence. But because we’re pretending this is all an effort to improve artificial intelligence, we just call it Silicon Valley. No wonder folks are deleting Facebook.

Snap is Back

Remember Spectacles, the video glasses that Snapchat sold via vending machines? Do you also remember how they sold extremely poorly, probably because point-of-view video can quickly become nauseating for viewers?

Now, would you think it better to just abandon a crappy program… or double-down and sell those devices at a premium? If your answer is “Let’s squeeze the turnips of Snapchat for all the blood they have,” we’d like to invite you to interview at Snap HQ in beautiful Venice Beach, California, for a Product Manager position (you’ll lead the “poor judgement” team).

The $380 glasses have new cameras that Snap claims are great for augmented reality, as they support depth-sensing. The glasses can take 60-second videos or still images. They come in “Carbon” (you know, black), or “Mineral” (some call it silver, but that’s not a cool word at all).

Augmented reality effects need to be added via the Snap app on your phone, so this new Spectacles experience isn’t as seamless as you may have hoped. But hey, if you’ve got $400 to spend in shoddy sunglasses that also shoot circular video, enjoy.

WeWork(ed on Making Our IPO as Weird as Possible)

The We Company, the parent company for WeWork, officially filed for its IPO this week. Its filing reads like a contract for losing money, too.

The company is unclear on how to earn a profit. In fact, the filing states that the company’s mission is to “elevate the world’s consciousness.” Profit is just an idea, man, so relax.

It’s all good for a laugh, but the document is also a really solid inside look at how tech can bamboozle you into believing the whole is greater than the sum of its parts at times, even when it’s missing parts.

VR ON A PLANE

Have you ever seen those videos of people freaking out when using VR headsets? Ever seen “Snakes on a Plane,” where everyone loses their minds because a plane has killer snakes on the loose? Do you think it’s a good idea to merge those things?!

Pepperidge Farm British Airways does, and are now offering VR headsets on trips between London and New York. It’s only for movies and other shows (i.e., documentaries and travel), the airline says, and we don’t actually know if “Snakes on a Plane” is something you can watch in VR on those trips. But imagine the possibilities if you could! The freakouts would be spectacular!

On the bright side, the headsets look kinda cool (and sort of like Wall-E, awwww), as VR headsets go. We’d also be much happier with someone placidly playing “Fruit Ninja” behind us than kicking the seat for seven hours out of boredom.

Get your act together, British Airways: Put “Snakes on a Plane” on VR. Make Airplanes Fun Again. (“Make Airplanes Great Again” should not be reproduced or redistributed without the express written consent of Dice Insights, its Editorial staff, and DHI.)

Enjoy your weekend!