First Read Tech

Tech tips the scales against tipped employees … Cuomo lashes out against Senate Dems … and more of today’s tech news

A restaurant delivery person in action in January. | Shutterstock
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Tech tips the scales against tipped employees
The Restaurants Opportunities Centers United brought tech into the fight over New York’s tipped wage, dropping a study alleging that online ordering and delivery services have encouraged eateries and other businesses to turn employees into independent contractors and to use gratuities to cover workers’ pay. (Crain’s New York Business)

Cuomo lashes out at state Senate Dems
Gov. Andrew Cuomo vented his frustrations over the scuttled HQ2 deal, implying that Sen. Michael Gianaris’ nomination to the Public Authorities Control Board was a form of “government corruption” – a statement which an aide later walked back. (New York Daily News)

Filling the HQ2 vacancy
Savanna, the landlord of One Court Square, suffered a huge letdown when Amazon decided to pull out of its planned second headquarters in Long Island City. Now, Savanna is close to securing a replacement for part of the vacancy by leasing space to St. Louis-based health care company Centene Corporation. (Crain’s New York Business)

Trump’s Twitter goes to court
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York will hear a case against President Donald Trump for blocking critics on Twitter. In January, a Virginia court ruled that government officials can't block constituents on social media accounts they use for official business. If the 2nd Circuit interprets the law differently, the issue could find its way to the Supreme Court. (Axios)

Upstate startups win Air Force competition
Two central New York startups – Go Figure, from Utica, and SkyTubeLive, from Oneida – won prizes of $200,000 and $100,000 respectively,  from the AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day and IDEA NY business accelerator competition in Rome. (The Oneida Daily Dispatch)

Instacart to cut more than 200 jobs
Instacart will lay off 237 part-time employees in New York City as a result of the company winding down a five-year partnership with Whole Foods after the grocery store chain’s acquisition by Amazon. (Crain’s New York Business)

Facebook defends privacy practices in D.C.
A judge on Friday heard arguments from Facebook and the District of Columbia regarding the D.C. government’s lawsuit arguing the company harmed district residents by failing to protect their data. Facebook asked the court to dismiss the case; the judge said she will decide whether to do so by the end of April. (The Hill)


It’s time for Cuomo and de Blasio to invite Amazon to Manhattan
Google’s commitment to a massive expansion in New York demonstrates the Big Apple’s appeal to big technology companies. On the coattails of this great news, it’s time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to reach out to Amazon and invite the company to Manhattan. (Jonathan Trugman, New York Post)

Owning a car will soon be as quaint as owning a horse
Car-sharing continues to increase, new innovations emerge all the time, and all manner of autonomous technologies are inevitable. Private car ownership declined globally last year, and it is a trend that I believe is going to accelerate faster than people think. (Kara Swisher, The New York Times)


Startup founders head east
Silicon Valley has long been the epicenter of tech talent and investor cash, but some startup founders are making the move to New York City. Worries about finding skilled workers and seed money in New York City have waned, and the city has perks like subsidized office space and proximity to their customers in the finance, health care, and retail industries. (The Wall Street Journal)

The grassroots coalition that took on Amazon and won
Both praise and blame are being accorded local politicians for killing HQ2, but the behind-the-scenes coalition of community-based organizations from across New York City and a relentless campaign in schools, offices, homes, bodegas, and on street corners throughout Queens played the crucial role in sending Amazon packing. (The Guardian)

What even is Airbnb anymore?
For years, the phrase “getting an Airbnb” meant one thing: staying in the apartment or spare room of a stranger, likely at a bargain price compared with nearby hotels. Now, amid endless speculation about when it will launch its IPO, the meanings of that phrase have multiplied. (Quartzy)


Investor steps into spotlight
FirstMark, Rick Heitzmann’s New York investment firm, has kept a relatively low profile. Now, two companies that FirstMark invested in years ago, Pinterest and Postmates, have filed paperwork to go public and are likely to be embraced by Wall Street, making it time,  Heitzmann says, for FirstMark to tell its “story.” (The New York Times)

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