News Briefs November 2019

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Texas Border Business

Facebook’s new ‘private’ messaging app wants to track your location 24/7, monitor your battery, and even detect if you’re working out

Facebook’s new messaging app Threads is intended as a way to message your very closest pals — but for an app that plays up privacy and intimacy, it sure asks for a lot of information. The Silicon Valley tech giant announced Threads as a companion messaging app to Instagram, letting you send messages and status updates just to the people you’ve designated your “Close Friends” on the photo-sharing app. Think of it as a spun-out Instagram inbox, but with a few more features. Threads — and its maker Facebook — ask for a significant amount of data about everyone who uses it, from continuous, 24/7 access to your physical location to your movement and whether you’re working out, and even your battery level. Source: Business Insider 

Walmart is reportedly looking to sell its exclusive personal-shopping service that’s said to be losing $15,000 per member each year

Walmart is seeking possible buyers for Jetblack, its members-only personal-shopping service started by Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss. According to documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal, Jetblack was hemorrhaging money to the tune of $15,000 annually per member — which across its 600 active members totals upwards of $9 million. The deficit is largely a result of the service’s promise to provide the cheapest value on goods — ranging from toilet paper to designer dresses — even when procuring them meant Jetblack had to purchase items at a higher price for a loss, the Journal reported. Jetblack first began working with shoppers in New York City in May 2018, with the vision of being a one-stop-shop for busy, affluent mothers. Source: Business Insider 

Netflix to make movies in Italy with Berlusconi’s Mediaset

U.S. streaming service Netflix (NFLX.O) has struck a deal with Italy’s top commercial broadcaster Mediaset (MS.MI) to produce films in the country, the two companies said on Tuesday, as they try to grab new viewers in a competitive market. At an event in Rome to present the accord, the company behind hit shows “The Crown” and “Stranger Things” also announced it would open offices and pay tax in Italy, in a boost to local authorities which have pursued big international tech companies on charges of dodging tax. Source: Reuters 

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Sony just officially announced the PlayStation 5, and it’s launching during the 2020 holiday season

The PlayStation 5 is officially scheduled to launch during the 2020 holiday season, confirming months of rumors surrounding Sony’s next-gen video game console. Jim Ryan, the president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, made the announcement Tuesday via the PlayStation Blog, and he shared new information about the console’s controller. Though Sony has already released a few details about the next-gen PlayStation, the company had shied away from calling it the PlayStation 5. The PlayStation 5 is now set to launch at the same time as Microsoft’s next-gen video game console, codenamed Project Scarlett. Source: Business Insider 

Google buys 40 acres of farmland in Silicon Valley so it can grow trees for its campuses

Google has purchased 40 more acres of land in Silicon Valley, but it’s not to build more office space. The Alphabet-owned company spent $2.1 million on 40 acres of land in Gilroy, Calif., according to a recent report by the San Jose Mercury News. The intent is to use the property as a tree farm to produce foliage for its existing and new campuses, a company spokesperson told CNBC. The latest purchase comes as the company prepares to build its massive, second headquarters in San Jose, Calif., which will span 6 million square feet and includes about 15 acres of parks and green space. The project, whose plans will be finalized in December, is expected to house 20,000 employees. Source: CNBC

Toys R Us relaunched its website on Tuesday, but you can’t actually buy anything directly from the site. 

Toys R Us is back online with Target’s help — but you can’t actually buy anything on its website. Instead, when shoppers are ready to make a purchase, they will be redirected to, which has teamed with Toys R Us to power the new site. While users can’t actually shop, they can browse “in-depth product reviews” and “hot toy lists to help shoppers pick out the perfect toys and gifts for kids of all ages.” Orders will be fulfilled by Target, and customers will be able to select from delivery options including same-day pick-up, free two-day shipping, and same-day delivery with Shipt, a third-party logistics partner. Customers will also have access to Target loyalty programs like Target Circle and RedCard. Source: Business Insider 

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