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Farhad’s and Mike’s Week in Tech: More Ugly News for Uber

Author: FARHAD MANJOO and MIKE ISAAC / Source: New York Times

Farhad: Hello, Mike! Usually we start off with some kind of dad joke but today there’s no time. We have a huge tech story to get to, one that will deeply affect my life and the lives of all of our readers: Taylor Swift is finally putting all of her music back on all streaming services, including Spotify. Hurrah!

Mike, what’s your favorite Taylor song?

Mike: Hmm, I’m gonna have to go with “Telephone.” Or maybe “The Greatest.” That’s Taylor Swift, right?

Farhad: Yeah, I know, it’s so hard to pick just one. But seriously: This is an interesting development. Taylor famously ditched Spotify a couple years ago, arguing that the service’s free, ad-supported tier devalued music. (Spotify also has a paid service, but she didn’t let her music on there, either, out of spite, I guess.) Spotify has since adopted a few policies to address this concern, including a “windowing” system that allows labels to keep their newest hits off Spotify’s free service. So maybe that changed Taylor’s mind?

The other possibility: It’s a way to mess with Katy Perry, whose new album is releasing this week. Remember, the two have bad blood. Celebrities — they’re just like us!

Mike: Ooh, I like “Bad Blood” too. I used to have to play that by opening the music video on YouTube on my phone, then jack into my car stereo. It was very inconvenient. This makes it a lot easier.

Also of note: Taylor Swift is a shrewd businesswoman. She knew how much leverage she had to force change in Apple Music and Spotify, and she’s used her catalog to do so. Perhaps coming back to Spotify now isn’t a concession, more a victory lap.

Farhad: On to some smaller tech news. After President Trump announced last week that he would pull the United States out of the worldwide global warming deal known as the Paris Agreement, lots of tech companies balked.

But I guess those wounds heal quickly. Bloomberg reported this week that many tech C.E.O.s will visit the White House this week for the first meeting of the American Technology Council. That’s the group headed by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, which is looking to modernize government through tech. So much for tech joining the #resistance, eh?

Mike: I go back and forth on this sort of thing. On the one hand, I think there’s merit in the idea that engagement with a group — even one as clearly obstinate as the Trump administration seems to be — can be a method of changing opinions. I imagine the biggest names in information technology would have at least some sway inside the beltway.

That said, do we have any proof that these meetings make any difference whatsoever in changing their opinions? Travis Kalanick, Bob Iger, Elon Musk —…

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