Google finance head joins Postmates board ahead of anticipated IPO

Google’s vice president of finance, has joined Postmates’ board of directors, the latest sign that the on-demand food delivery startup is prepping to take the company public.

Postmates announced Friday that Kristin Reinke, vice president of Finance at Google, will join the San Francisco startup as an independent director.

Reinke has been with Google since 2005. Prior to Google, Reinke was at Oracle for eight years. Reinke also serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Economic Advisory Council.

Her skill set will come in handy as Postmates creeps towards an IPO.

Earlier this year, the company lined up a $100 million pre-IPO financing that valued the business at $1.85 billion. Postmates is backed by Tiger Global, BlackRock, Spark Capital, Uncork Capital, Founders Fund, Slow Ventures and others. Spark Capital’s Nabeel Hyatt tweeted the news earlier Friday.

“Postmates has established itself as the market leader with a focus on innovation and route efficiency in the fast‐growing on‐demand delivery sector. Given their strong execution, accelerating growth, and financial discipline, they are well positioned for continued market growth across the U.S.,” said Reinke. “I’m thrilled to join the board.”

The startup has been beefing up its executive quiver, most recently hiring Apple veteran and author Ken Kocienda as a principal software engineer at Postmates X, the team building the food delivery company’s semi-autonomous sidewalk rover, Serve.

Kocienda, author of “Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s  Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs,” spent 15 years at Apple focused on human interface design, collaborating with engineers to develop the first iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes to stand trial in 2020

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the now-defunct biotech unicorn Theranos, will face trial in federal court next summer with penalties of up to 20 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Jury selection will begin July 28, 2020, according to U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila, who announced the trial will commence in August 2020 in a San Jose federal court Friday morning.

Holmes and former Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were indicted by a grand jury last June with 11 criminal charges in total. Two of those charges were conspiracy to commit wire fraud (against investors, and against doctors and patients). The remaining nine are actual wire fraud, with amounts ranging from the cost of a lab test to $100 million.

According to Bloomberg, Holmes’ legal team plans to argue that The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou “had an undue influence on federal regulators,” and “went beyond reporting the Theranos story.”

“The jury should be aware that an outside actor, eager to break a story, and portray the story as a work of investigative journalism, was exerting influence on the regulatory process in a way that appears to have warped the agencies’ focus on the company and possibly biased the agencies’ findings against it,” her attorneys wrote, per Bloomberg. “The agencies’ interactions with Carreyrou thus go to the heart of the government’s case.”

Theranos, founded in 2003 by then 19-year-old Stanford dropout Holmes, raised more than $700 million from private market investors in what’s been referred to by the Securities and Exchange Commission as an “elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.”

Theranos first came under scrutiny in October 2015, when Carreyrou published his first of many investigative pieces questioning the efficacy of Theranos’ blood-testing technology. At the time, Theranos was one of the most buzzworthy companies in Silicon Valley, boasting a valuation of $9 billion and the support of high-profile investors like Tim Draper and Rupert Murdoch.

Theranos, as a result of Carreyrou’s reporting, was discovered to be a threat to public health. Its technology, as it turns out, was a long way from processing an expansive range of laboratory tests from just a few drops of blood.

According to The Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors have collected more than 2 million pages of evidence for the defense teams. Holmes, despite ample evidence, has maintained her innocence since the grand jury indictment last year.

Following criminal charges, Holmes stepped down from Theranos last year; shortly after, the company ceased operations. Carreyrou, for his part, released a best-selling book, ‘Bad Blood,’ documenting Theranos’ secrets and lies. A documentary chronicling Holmes’ and Theranos’ rapid rise and fall was released by HBO in 2019. A Hollywood production starring Jennifer Lawrence as Elizabeth Holmes is reportedly in the works.

Facebook SDK bug crashed apps like Timehop

A malfunction in Facebook’s Software Development Kit that lets apps add Login With Facebook, sharing, and other features caused apps that integrate it like Timehop to repeatedly crash for about three hours. TechCrunch received a tip that developers were getting tons of user complaints and crash reports starting around noon pacific today due to a problem with the Facebook for iOS SDK. TechCrunch’s testing verified that products like Timehop, Joytunes’ Simply Piano, Momento GIFs, and more kept breaking when users access Facebook features or in some cases just opened the app.

This is a big issue for Facebook because it relies on these apps to drive user lock-in. If people use Facebook to log into or share from other apps, they’re less likely to delete their account. But if the Facebook developer platform screws up like this morning, developers could instead highlight sharing via Twitter or SMS, and divert ad buys to other platforms. Most problematically, the bug could push developers to other login platforms like Google’s or Apple’s new Sign In With Apple.

[Update: 3:45pm PT: Facebook has fixed the bug and apps integrated with the SDK are starting to work normally again. A Facebook spokesperson tells me “We started to work on the issue as soon as it was reported to us, and it has been resolved.” Facebook engineer Ram Sharma posted that “Our engineering team worked to resolve this issue as soon as it was discovered. It is now mitigated and app function should be restored.” Developers confirm the bug has been fixed. The rest of this article remains as originally published.]

Facebook SDK Bug

The bug was initially submitted to Facebook’s developer forums by Ryan Layne. These crashes thwart normal usage of other apps, costing their developers ad views and in-app purchases, or leading their users to uninstall or abandon them.

Timehop Facebook SDK Crash

Hitting the Connect Facebook button on Timehop causes the app to crash. Developers in Facebook’s bug reporting forum pile on saying their apps are breaking

The situation highlights the increasing centralization of the web as more and more companies depend on a small number of mobile, hosting, and social platforms. Earlier this month, a Google Cloud outage knocked down Snapchat and Discord. While these tools make it simpler to start a company or launch an app without having to build everything in-house, they introduce platform risk. Beyond technical outages, there’s also the concern that a platform could use its insights to copy its clients, or block them if they compete with the gatekeeper too vigorously as Facebook has done to chat and social media apps in the past.