TIME Companies

Lyft Sues Uber Exec For Allegedly Stealing Company Secrets

Lyft Gives Up Pink Mustaches To Challenge Uber In New York City
The Lyft Inc. application (app) is demonstrated on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s for an arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ridesharing wars are heating up

Ridesharing company Lyft is suing a former employee for allegedly stealing secret documents before joining archrival Uber, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Travis VanderZanden, Lyft’s former chief operating officer, downloaded private financial and product information to his Dropbox account when he left Lyft, the startup alleges in its complaint. He also tried to recruit other Lyft employees to defect to Uber, according to Lyft’s complaint. VanderZanden is now Uber’s vice president of international growth.

“We are disappointed to have to take this step, but this unusual situation has left us no choice but to take the necessary legal action to protect our confidential information,” Lyft spokesperson Paige Thelen said an emailed statement.

Lyft and Uber have had a contentious rivalry that has involved cribbing new features from one another and even ordering rides on competitors’ apps just to immediately cancel them. The two companies, along with a handful of other startups, are fighting to to disrupt urban transportation by letting users quickly hail rides via a mobile app instead of trying to find a taxi on the street.

Uber did not respond to an email seeking comment on the lawsuit.

[WSJ]

TIME apps

Microsoft Office Is Now Free for iPhones, iPads and Android

Office for iPhone Microsoft

You can now use Word, Excel and Powerpoint for free

Correction appended Nov. 7

Microsoft Office, long the standard-bearer of premium software, is now free on mobile devices, the company announced Thursday. Office users will now be able to create and edit documents in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on iPhone, iPad and Android devices at no cost. Making full use of the apps previously required a subscription to Office 365, which starts at $70 per year.

The move is a big shift for the software giant, which has continually charged for Office even as free productivity apps have proliferated in recent years. Office accounts for about a third of Microsoft’s annual revenue, according to the New York Times, so letting people access it for free is a big risk. However, the company will continue to charge for access to Office on laptops and desktops and will make some features on the mobile apps only accessible to premium users. Enterprise customers will still have to pay as well.

The free versions of Office for iPhone and iPad are available today. The Android version is available as a preview and will get a full release in 2015.

Correction: The original version of this article misstated the cost of Office 365. It starts at $70 per year.

TIME Autos

Tesla Delays Model X But Turns a Surprise Profit

US-DETROIT-AUTO-SHOW
The Tesla Model X is introduced at the 2013 North American International Auto Show . STAN HONDA—AFP/Getty Images

New SUV won't be delivered until late 2015

Tesla’s upcoming Model X SUV has been delayed again, the company announced in its quarterly earnings report. The new vehicle is now slated for release in Q3 of 2015, a delay of several months.

In a letter to shareholders, CEO Elon Musk wrote that Tesla’s difficulty rolling new products out quickly was a “legitimate criticism” of the company, but said that the car maker’s practices would not change. “We prefer to forgo revenue, rather than bring a product to market that does not delight customers,” Musk wrote. “Doing so negatively affects the short term, but positively affects the long term.”

Tesla’s revenue for the quarter missed analysts’ expectations slightly at $852 million, but was nearly double the same period last year. The company also posted a surprise profit, generating adjusted earnings of two cents per share. Analysts had expected a loss of one cent per share.

The company delivered 7,785 of its flagship Model S vehicles during the quarter. It expects to deliver 33,000 vehicles for all of 2014.

 

TIME Media

HBO Thinks It Can Grab 5 Million Cord-Cutters With New Service

The logo of Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) is seen on the exhibit floor during the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Cable Show in Washington on June 11, 2013.
The logo of Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) is seen on the exhibit floor during the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Cable Show in Washington on June 11, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

But the company doesn't think it will upset pay-TV model

HBO has made its expectations for its upcoming streaming service a bit more clear. In a quarterly earnings call for parent company Time Warner, HBO CEO Richard Plepler said that the premium cable network is looking to pull in between 4 and 5 million new customers who don’t currently subscribe to cable with its new online-only offering. In October Plepler estimated that there are 10 million broadband-only households in the U.S., a cohort he called “low-hanging fruit” that could easily be persuaded to buy HBO.

By allowing people who don’t pay for cable to access its content, HBO is engaging in a high wire act that has never been attempted before in the pay-TV industry. The company wants cord-cutters to buy its service, but it doesn’t want the people who already pay for cable to dump their subscriptions in favor of an HBO-only product. That would upset the pay-TV distributors, who currently handle customer service for HBO and often lower the subscription cost to entice new subscribers.

Plepler believes the doomsday scenario where HBO inadvertently hastens the collapse of the cable bundle won’t happen. In fact, he said the company actually sees greater potential upside in convincing more cable subscribers to add HBO to their current plans. HBO wants to add 10 to 15 million such subscribers in the coming years. “This is not binary. It’s not one or the other,” he said. “I see nothing but upside for us, nothing but upside for the consumer, nothing but upside for the distributor.”

Others in the industry are not so sure. After HBO announced its intention to launch a stand-alone service, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said, “It’s going to be a challenge for them to not cannibalize what is already a really, really good business.” (NBC is a division of Comcast, the country’s largest cable provider.) Plepler said HBO continues to have a strong relationship with Comcast and intends to work closely with broadband providers to launch the new service.

Even without the cord-cutters, HBO is bringing in a lot of money. The network generated $1.3 billion in revenue during the third quarter, a 10% increase over the same period a year ago. Operating income declined 4% to $380 million. Time Warner as a whole saw revenue rise 3% to $6.2 billion for the quarter, beating Wall Street analysts’ expectations. Adjusted earnings were $1.22 per share, also beating projections.

TIME Technology & Media

Here’s How to See the Sci-Fi Epic Interstellar 2 Days Early

Christopher Nolan's latest comes out Wednesday in some theaters

Apparently, there’s a right way and a wrong way to experience Christopher Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi epic Interstellar. Set in a near future that closely resembles the 1930′s Dust Bowl, Nolan’s latest feature doubles down on its vintage feel thanks to its old-school physical format. The film was shot using film rather than the digital cameras that are quickly becoming a staple in Hollywood, and it will be distributed at hundreds of theaters using classic film projectors rather than digital ones. That change will affect how the movie looks on the big screen and even who gets to see it first when it opens early on Wednesday at some theaters.

Here’s a quick primer on the many versions of Interstellar and where you can have the best experience:

Why is Interstellar coming out in different formats?

There’s an ongoing debate in Hollywood about whether movies should be shot with digital or film cameras. Digital cameras are smaller, cheaper, more versatile and more easily allow for special effects like 3D and green screen technology. Film cameras, on the other hand, produce a well-worn, organic look that has defined the visual style of movies for a century. Nolan is a champion of the classic film format, and he shot Interstellar using a combination of 35 millimeter anamorphic film and 65 millimeter IMAX film (same for The Dark Knight Rises).

“Film is the best way to capture an image and project that image,” Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “It just is, hands down. That’s based on my assessment of what I’m seeing as a filmmaker.”

Even though Nolan continues to shoot on film, many movie theaters have thrown out their old film projectors in favor of digital ones, so even movies shot on film are often converted to a digital format before being shown. Some movie studios, including Interstellar distributor Paramount, have stopped releasing most major movies on film at all. But because Nolan has such massive clout on the heels of the Dark Knight trilogy, he was able to convince some movie theaters to show the movie on film projectors anyway.

Where can I watch Interstellar as Nolan intended?

To see the movie in all its glory, you’ll have to venture to one of the 41 special IMAX theaters that will show the movie using 70mm film projectors. These theaters will play the movie at ten times the resolution of regular theaters, and the sections shot using the IMAX cameras will fill up the entire massive screen. Around 200 other theaters will show the movie using more traditional 35mm projectors. To incentivize the use of projectors, Paramount is releasing Interstellar two days early at these theaters, on Wednesday, Nov. 5. You can find a list of theaters that will have the movie early on Interstellar’s website.

Are movie theaters happy about this?

No, because it’s extremely impractical. It was Hollywood’s movie studios that pushed theaters to make the expensive jump from film to digital in the first place. According to The Hollywood Reporter, some movie theater owners have been griping that it doesn’t make sense to drag old projectors out of storage for a single movie. One owner called the idea “a step back in time.” But others are using the unusual distribution schedule as a way to build hype for Interstellar and are ordering new projectors specifically for the film.

Will Interstellar mark a resurgence in the use of film?

Probably not. Digital movies are cheaper for studios to distribute and more reliable to operate for theaters. An increasing number of blockbuster films, such as Avatar, Skyfall and the Transformers movies are being shot using digital cameras. But the humble movie reel will continue to live on in independent theaters and could be an element of the next blockbuster Nolan dreams up, if he gets his way.

TIME Media

Why Only Taylor Swift Could Leave Spotify

Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America"
Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America" at Times Square on October 30, 2014 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images

She operates on a different plane from the rest of the music biz

Taylor Swift’s latest business move matches the retro title of her new album, 1989. The erstwhile country singer has removed her entire music catalogue from Spotify, the world’s largest subscription streaming service. Swift has already been a vocal critic of music streaming, writing in the Wall Street Journal that platforms like Spotify have contributed to the music industry’s ongoing financial decline.

The move may frustrate Swift’s fans, but it will work brilliantly for the singer, at least in the short term. The first-week sales projections for 1989 have climbed steadily, and the album is now expected to have the biggest first-week sales of any album in the U.S. since The Eminem Show in 2002. Keeping her newest LP off of Spotify and other streaming services seems to have driven fans to buy the album outright. But making music available solely on a declining format is a risky strategy that requires a Swift-ian level of clout and influence.

Regardless of 1989’s blockbuster status, music fans are buying fewer albums each year. Total album sales were down more than 7% in 2013, despite a jam-packed year for pop that included releases by Katy Perry, One Direction, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and a surprise LP from Beyonce that practically broke the Internet. The slide worsened in the comparatively quiet first half of 2014 as album sales dipped another 14%, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Taylor Swift blames streaming services for this ongoing decline, but that’s a short-term view of the industry’s financial woes. Album sales have been in freefall since 2000, when Napster made stealing music much simpler than buying it. U.S. album shipments declined from about 13 billion that year to about 4 billion in 2010, the year before Spotify arrived on American shores, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. It’s true that Spotify and other streaming services have caused a decline in digital album sales, but there’s no evidence that records bought via the iTunes Store were ever going to make up for revenue lost from the collapse of the CD market.

The simple fact is young people no longer buy albums as casual entertainment. YouTube, of all places, is the most popular way for teenagers to listen to music. Albums are bought by diehard fans who want to support an artist and casual followers who want to participate in a cultural event. Swift deftly played to both audiences in the runup to 1989, hosting a set of secret listening sessions for her biggest fans around the country and crafting a narrative of creative rebirth around the album that created a curiosity about her new, pop-focused sound. 1989 is the musical equivalent of the Super Bowl—even people who don’t actually care that much about the game will tune in just to be part of the conversation.

But only the biggest of stars can even attempt to make an album release a cultural event, and the strategy doesn’t always pay off. Lady Gaga and Kanye West each had 2013 LPs that explored new soundscapes and were promoted with headline-garnering spectacles, but the albums failed to match the sales of their predecessors. Beyonce’s surprise release was a smash hit by modern standards, partially because it wasn’t streamable on Spotify, but it still hasn’t managed to surpass her first or second albums in sales. Selling records in the digital era is hard, and it’s only going to get harder for people not named Taylor Swift.

For most artists, especially those sandwiched between indie obscurity and mega-stardom, there are no greener pastures to retreat to. These musicians have to follow fans where they are, and that’s on streaming services. Total on-demand music streams on platforms like Spotify and YouTube in the U.S. totalled 70 billion in the first half of 2014, a 42% increase over the previous year, according to Nielsen. Removing music from these services en masse would likely result in the return of rampant piracy on peer-to-peer networks, a practice that was cut in half between 2005 and 2012, according to NPD, years in which we saw the rise of streaming.

Still, Swift alone is so important that Spotify can’t simply let her remain off the service. The company has launched a social media campaign trying to rally Swift fans to compel her to return, but it’s a hollow tactic that appeals to sentiment instead of economics. A better strategy would be providing more evidence that Spotify can generate significant revenue for individual artists or adding more premium features to encourage users to adopt the paid version of the service (Swift’s back catalogue is still available on Beats Music, which is pay-only). It’s possible that Swift’s exodus will force Spotify to retool its business model in a way that’s beneficial to all artists.

But musicians that try to directly mimic Swift’s tactics may be in for a rude awakening. Taylor Swift can bail on Spotify for the same reason the Beatles didn’t put their albums on iTunes until 2010: They can both float above industry headwinds, release their music in the format of their choosing and watch fans follow obediently. Few others have the same luxury.

Read next: Find the Perfect Taylor Swift Lyric for Your Mood

TIME productivity

9 Apps to Help You Completely Organize Your Life

The Google logo is seen at the company's offices on August 21, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry—Getty Images

Google—and some rivals—want to tame your inbox, calendar and more

Email was supposed to make our lives easier. Instead it’s become a dumping ground for travel itineraries, receipts, social-­media updates, work documents and ­invitations—to say nothing of actual spam. (According to a recent study, most professionals spend almost a third of their workweek just wading through email.) Tech companies have made a sport of vying to tackle data ­deluge—not just in email but in everything from your calendar to your to-do lists—as consumers increasingly complain about information overload.

The latest entrant: Google, which set the standard for streamlined email with Gmail a decade ago. On Oct. 22, the search giant unveiled Inbox, a free smartphone app that acts as a kind of intelligent filter for the unending tide of emails. The app automatically separates receipts, social updates and promotions into distinct categories that can be tackled separately (or ignored completely). Users can “snooze” emails to complete them at a set time or when the user arrives at a designated location—home, for ­instance—as indicated by the phone’s GPS.

(For TIME’s full review, click here.)

“People were trying to run their lives from this email inbox, but that was really a lot of work,” explains Alex Gawley, product director for both Inbox and Gmail. The resulting software is a lot like a cross between the old Gmail and Google Now, the company’s digital personal assistant.

Google’s new app is hardly the only option, though. Here’s a quick look at several others trying to become your digital assistant:

To tame email…

Inbox; iOS, Android
Google tries to streamline email—again. The app highlights information like flight-departure times and friends’ changes of phone numbers. It’s free but currently available by invite only.

CloudMagic; iOS, Android
Searching for emails on a phone can be a grindingly slow process. CloudMagic replaces built-in email apps to provide speedier search.

Boxer; iOS, Android
Boxer applies the interface of popular dating apps like Tinder to email, allowing users to run through messages using gesture-based controls. Swipe to delete messages or send automated responses.

To subdue your calendar…

Sunrise Calendar; iOS, Android
This app has an easy-to-use interface and allows users to add thousands of unique calendars, like sports teams’ schedules. It uses a three-day view rather than the typical weeklong span to cut down on clutter.

Tempo; iOS
Tempo is aimed at people who have to attend a lot of business meetings. It automatically culls details from email threads and the Internet to provide briefings for upcoming rendezvous.

UpTo; iOS, Android
Switching among various digital calendars can be a hassle. UpTo allows users to easily choose the most pertinent events from the calendars of friends and brands (TV schedules, for instance) to add to their own schedules.

And for everything else…

30/30; iOS
This simple task manager lets users divide their days into small increments of focused work (30 minutes by default) punctuated by regular breaks.

Any.Do; iOS, Android
Simple task lists can be accessed across devices with this service. The app encourages users to plan their day and set time or location-based reminders each morning.

Asana; iOS, Android
A task manager built with collaboration in mind, this app allows up to 15 members to collaborate on projects, assigning specific tasks and due dates.

Read next: The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week

TIME stocks

Space Company’s Stock Plummets to Earth After Rocket Explodes During Liftoff

The company whose rocket exploded in a massive fireball about 200 feet in the air Tuesday is taking a beating on the stock market. Shares for Orbital Sciences are down 15% in early morning trading after the company’s unmanned spacecraft, the Antares, malfunctioned just moments into its attempted journey to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Orbital stock was trading at about $25.50 around noon.

As TIME’s Jeff Kluger points out, the failed launch could be devastating for Orbital, which has been launching spacecraft for decades. The company is competing fiercely with the likes of Elon Musk’s upstart SpaceX to win NASA contracts to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Orbital is seeking to extend its contract, and this accident won’t help matters.

TIME Earnings

Facebook Spent $21 Billion on a Company That Just Lost $232 Million

Social Networks Facebook WhatsApp.
Facebook next to the WhatsApp logo on iPhone on February 25, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Marie Waldmann—Photothek via Getty Images

WhatsApp barely even generates revenue, but Zuckerberg doesn't care

Facebook’s pricey purchase of WhatsApp, which closed at a whopping $21.8 billion, turned heads earlier this year because few thought the startup was making much money. Turns out, WhatsApp has actually been losing money. A lot of it.

The mobile messaging platform, which had 450 million users when the acquisition was announced, posted a loss of $232 million in the first six months of 2014, according to a new Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The company’s primary revenue source is a $0.99-per-year subscription fee that only kicks in after the first year of use — the app doesn’t show users any ads. Apparently that fee doesn’t amount to much—WhatsApp generated $15 million in revenue in the first half of 2014, according to the SEC filing.

Most of the company’s massive loss came from stock sales and issuing stock options to employees, but even when just accounting for day-to-day operational activities, the company doesn’t make money. WhatsApp had a net loss of $139 million on revenue of about $10 million last year.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, of course, knew all of this before busting out his checkbook. Still, Zuckerberg’s not at all apologetic about spending such a large sum on such a tiny business. “This may sound a little ridiculous to say, but for us, products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about 1 billion people using them,” he said Tuesday during a quarterly earnings call with Facebook investors. “Once we get to that scale, then we think that they will start to become meaningful businesses in their own right.”

In addition to WhatsApp, Zuckerberg noted Instagram and Facebook’s search function as platforms that have the potential to reach one billion users and become huge money faucets. And he emphasized that Facebook is planning to make more big-ticket bets in the future. The company shocked investors when it said on that Tuesday call that its expenses will increase by as much as 70% year-over-year in 2015 because of a ramp-up in staff and, most likely, acquisitions. Facebook’s shares slipped more than 6 percent on the news.

In some ways, Zuckerberg’s willingness to spend huge sums barging into new sectors echoes Jeff Bezos’s plan to expand Amazon’s reach into an increasingly broad set of categories, like movie streaming and smartphones. The difference is Facebook has built a robust and still-growing advertising business that constantly defies Wall Street’s expectations, so it has room to roam. The social network’s ambitions will only grow from here.

Read next: This Is the Single Craziest Number in Facebook’s Earnings Report

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