Voices

‘London’s Lonely Unicorn,’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while wishing you could get hit by Steph Curry’s mouthguard…

The New York Times: How China Won the Keys to Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

Yesterday, Disney opened Shanghai Disneyland. With a price tag of $5.5 billion and real estate four times as large as the California Disneyland, the opening was a huge deal for everyone involved. For Disney, the park is a result of decades spent building a relationship with the Chinese government. For China, it’s by far the most high-profile partnership the government has ever made, and with arguably the quintessential American media brand to boot. It’s even a big deal for the U.S. government: President Obama sent a letter to Disney CEO Robert Iger stating that the park was “a promise of our bilateral relationship.”

But the park didn’t come without costs. As this fascinating article reveals, Disney, a company known for being extremely controlling, had to make some serious concessions: The park had to be as much—if not more—about Chinese culture than Disney, and Disney only owns a 43 percent stake. The company also had to apologize profusely for Kundun, a Disney-funded film from 1997 that told the story of the Dalai Lama and almost permanently ruined the relationship between the two parties.

But for Disney, the potential revenue outweighed any hits to its brand, finances, or “soul,” for lack of a better term. With the Chinese economy flourishing and the Chinese government warming up to new partnerships, don’t be surprised when more American companies bend the knee in the name of greater profits.

Bloomberg: London’s Lonely Unicorn: Two Frugal Expats and Their Billion-Dollar Startup

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

Does a company have to be truly revolutionary to succeed? Or can it thrive by tweaking, refining, improving what’s already familiar?

Anytime I discover a new fin-tech startup, those questions pop into my head. Money is money. Banks are banks. The fundamentals of basic monetary exchange haven’t really changed that much over the past few hundred years.

TransferWise, London’s first unicorn, is currently battling accusations from competitors and critics who claim that the currency-exchange startup saving people money on international transactions isn’t really doing anything unique. But as co-founder Taavet Hinrikus puts it, “Giving people access to a better deal is pretty revolutionary.”

If you look at PayPal, Mint, Venmo, and Betterment, he might have a point.

The New York Times: Hillary Supporters Can Now ‘Go Public’ on Facebook

Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief

When I was a senior in high school, you still needed a college email address to get a Facebook account. And once I got that email address four months before my freshman year at Sarah Lawrence College, it was mayhem. I friended everyone. Everyone friended me. It was a digital orgy, and the “Sarah Lawrence Class of 2010″ Facebook group was our Roman bathhouse.

What does this have to do with Hillary? Well, as a result of that special time, half of my friends on Facebook are people I went to college with, even if I never actually met them in person. And let me tell you, Sarah Lawrence College puts the LIBERAL in liberal arts. Starting in October, my feed was basically a Bernie Sanders rally. Which made it quite difficult when I made the pragmatic choice to support Hillary, calculating that she’d have a greater chance of enacting positive change, since Bernie wouldn’t have a chance in hell of getting his platform passed.

I tried some pro-Hillary posts, and it did not go well. The Bernie Bros and Broettes descended upon me quickly, and I had flashbacks to Thanksgiving with my crazy uncles. And so I receded, only discussing my Hillary support in small, closed-off groups. As Jess Bennett reveals, I wasn’t alone.

Wired: The New iMessage Is Great. But Why on Earth Isn’t It on Android?

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

Apple unveiled the new iMessage this past week, complete with features that mimic the playfulness of Snapchat and Facebook. One example: Now if you text “I’m sorry,” the message will shrink shamefully. One thing it’s missing, however, is integration with Android.

Besides the fact that green text bubbles are more annoying than the friendly blue iMessage bubbles, Wired takes a look at why it’s a missed opportunity in the market for Apple. The company has always benefitted from controlling both the software and the hardware, creating a pretty seamless and user-friendly experience. However, as apps like Facebook Messenger have shown, it’s increasingly important for software to follow users regardless of the hardware they’re using. In this instance, it appears Apple could be falling behind.

The New York Times: Filibuster for Gun Limits Plays Out on Social Media

Selected by Erin Nelson, marketing editor

Politicians are increasingly taking to Twitter to not only communicate with a young and tech-savvy general populous, but to move forward an actual political agenda.

Last Wednesday, senator Christopher S. Murphy live-tweeted as his Democratic colleagues and he held the senate floor to push for a vote on tighter gun control legislation. He was joined by an active online community who pledged support in the form of hashtags: #filibuster and #holdthefloor. In the end, Murphy got what he wanted, and Twitter reaffirmed its active role in American politics.

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