Paying for delivery is so passé, and Uber Eats knows it. Like Postmates, DoorDash and the UK’s Deliveroo, which all offer unlimited food delivery subscriptions, Uber is set to offer a monthly $9.99 pass that includes free delivery from any restaurant at any time (although just to be clear, you’ve still got to pay for the food).
The upcoming feature, discovered by reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong and confirmed by Uber to TechCrunch, would do away with the usual Uber Eats service fee. That’s generally 15 percent of an order cost, so users could stand to save a fair whack if they’re ordering Uber Eats on the reg.
And from Uber’s point of view, the Uber Eats Pass is a solid way to retain customers — if you’re already paying for a delivery service with them then you’re less likely to order elsewhere. No further details yet on when the service will roll out, but given Uber’s already-dominant position in people’s lives, the move could see it become the leading contender in the ongoing battle of food delivery apps.
Facebook isn’t the only big tech company found to be storing passwords in plain text. Google has warned G Suite users that an “error” in a password recovery implementation left some of their passwords unhashed on its internal systems since 2005 until that method was discontinued. Other plain passwords had been temporarily stored since January 2019, Google said. All those systems were encrypted, and there was “no evidence” that someone had misused the info, but it still raised the possibility that an intruder could have direct access to logins if they cracked the encryption.
The company isn’t taking any chances despite the lack of known breaches. It’s asking G Suite administrators to change passwords, and it’s automatically resetting passwords for those who do nothing. Consumer Google accounts aren’t affected by the flawed approach.
This, along with incidents at companies like Facebook and Twitter, underscores a mounting problem with internet security: poor security approaches from the past are coming back to haunt companies that have otherwise done a lot to clean up their acts. It stresses the importance of getting security strategies right the first time around. If you don’t, there’s a real possibility of headaches years down the road.
Turner Tenney is the most popular Fortnite player in the world. He plays as Tfue on YouTube and Twitch, where there’s a small red logo for FaZe Clan, the esports organization he signed with in April 2018, built into the border of his selfie box. At 21, Tfue has earned millions playing Fortnite. He has more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.65 million followers on Twitter, where his bio says simply, “Professional athlete.”
Yesterday, news broke that Tfue was suing FaZe for violating California labor laws, specifically the Talent Agency Act, and he was looking to sever ties with the organization. The esports sector of the internet promptly imploded, with FaZe trending worldwide on Twitter for hours.
a contract dispute between Tfue and FaZe has been the top trend on twitter for the last 6 hours
The complaint labels Tfue as an artist, not an athlete, in order to take advantage of the TAA, which is designed to protect entertainers in California from raw representation deals. It says FaZe essentially acted as Tfue’s agent, even though the organization isn’t a licensed talent agency, violating the state’s Labor Code.
FaZe is one of the most recognizable esports brands on the market, though it’s a strange organization when compared to its contemporaries. Many esports organizations, such as Cloud9 or Team Liquid, focus on preparing players for competitions, but FaZe is more concerned with streaming, branding and cultivating loud online personalities. The $30 million Fornite World Cup prize pool is more of an afterthought.
“It’s a little murky where they make the bulk of their awareness of branding.”
“They used to have a Call of Duty team and all that other stuff, so they have roots in being an esports org, but nowadays it’s a little murky where they make the bulk of their awareness of branding — and it’s not in esports,” said Barry Lee, a non-practicing attorney and senior agent at Evolved Talent Agency, which specializes in handling pro gamers.
The complaint alleges Tfue’s contract with FaZe allowed the organization to collect up to 80 percent of the revenue he earned from third parties, and prevented him from signing lucrative sponsorship deals.
“Tenney signed a Gamer Agreement with Faze Clan when Tenney was only twenty (20) years old,” the complaint says. “That Gamer Agreement is grossly oppressive, onerous, and one-sided.”
FaZe swiftly denied the allegations. The organization said it’s earned just $60,000 from its partnership with Tfue and hasn’t collected any cash from his tournament winnings or online escapades.
All of this will shake out in the coming legal proceedings and will likely end in a deal where Tfue gets to cut his FaZe contract short. However, the lawsuit should set new, overdue standards for the esports industry overall. Many professional players and streamers are young, some still in high school, and for years esports organizations have operated on a largely unregulated basis.
Only a few professional gaming leagues have rolled out minimum salary requirements and guaranteed benefits for players — notably, League of Legends and Overwatch — while contracts have routinely favored organizations’ financial progress over players’ best interests.
Here’s how Evolved Talent CEO Ryan Morrison described the situation to Inven Global: “When a non-esports attorney comes in and reviews an esports contract, what they usually comment is along the lines, ‘This is breaking the law in 19 different ways. None of this is okay.'”
The vast majority of professional players don’t have the experience or resources to fight for better contracts — but Tfue does.
“This whole thing has gained a lot of traction because Tfue is a big name and FaZe is a fairly big team,” Lee said. “Because of that, immediately everyone had their eyeballs on this whole story. But if it was no-name Joe with no-name esports team, people would have been like, ‘Oh, I guess that’s just another day in esports.'”
He’s not wrong. This past September, players from Denial Esports sued the team’s CEO over $35,000 in unpaid salaries and fees, though the story barely made a blip on the esports radar. Tfue, meanwhile, has been enjoying an explosive popularity spike since signing with FaZe in April 2018. He’s joined the ranks of wildly successful streamers like Ninja, who made $10 million in 2018 via streaming and sponsorship deals. Ninja has 20 million subscribers on YouTube, he was on the cover of ESPN Magazine, and he isn’t currently signed to a team. He did, however, post a video of himself reacting to the Tfue lawsuit just hours after the news broke.
Whether folks are on the side of Tfue or FaZe, the lawsuit itself is spurring conversations across influencer and esports spaces alike.
“What I think this whole lawsuit is going to result in is that teams are going to be a lot more careful about being compliant with state law,” Lee said. “Because I think their legal counsel was not experienced in this type of state law and wasn’t aware that they were in violation of it.”
Now that Tfue’s lawsuit is at the forefront of the esports narrative, leagues and organizations no longer have the option of ignoring a longstanding problem. In esports, contract disputes are the new battle royale.
“It will be good for players,” Lee said. “I’ve been researching this whole issue, just to bring up to teams and to bring it up to the esports leagues to get the teams to change things on a league level, so that everybody gets a change in one go, rather than us hammering one contract at a time. Now that this broke out, it gives me something easier to talk about.”
The lawsuit also dredges up an age-old debate about whether professional gamers are athletes, performers or something else altogether. Remember Tfue’s Twitter bio? He says he’s a “professional athlete,” but his legal team seems to disagree with that description.
Tfue’s lawyers could have made their case with the Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act, a law that’s more restrictive than the TAA, banning sports teams from acting as representatives for their players, full-stop. However, the fact that Tfue’s lawyers went the “artist” route highlights the nebulous nature of esports, where players are often professional competitors and online entertainers in equal measure.
Or, in Tfue’s case, not so equal.
“The Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act is more for athletes, and if you look at how battle royale players have been monetizing, they’re esports players, but the way they make the bulk of their money is as influencers,” Lee said.
“That’s just way too much money for what they do.”
If Tfue’s legal team had relied on the Miller-Ayala Act, it would have been too easy for FaZe clap back with a breakdown of his earnings, which stem mostly from his work as an influencer and streamer. Legally, as a Fortnite streamer, Tfue is an entertainer first, not an athlete.
“The TAA essentially says that any agency contract, and all that stuff, has to be approved by the California Labor Commission,” Lee said. “Tfue alleges that 80 percent of the money he made was taken by FaZe as their cut, technically that can be deemed unconscionable. That’s just way too much money for what they do.”
Huawei’s consumer business CEO Richard Yu reportedly said the company’s own mobile OS will debut as early as this fall. Huawei hasn’t confirmed plans to launch its OS, and Yu supposedly shared the information in a private WeChat group. But that timeline wouldn’t be surprising given the recent US trade restrictions and Google’s subsequent decision to suspend Huawei’s Android support.
It’s no secret that Huawei has been developing its own mobile OS, or that it was doing so in case it were ever cut off from Android. With that hypothetical situation becoming a reality, Huawei’s need for its own OS appears more urgent than ever.
It isn’t surprising that Huawei could have its system up and running soon, as it’s been in development for years. Huawei does still have access to the Android Open Source Project, but we don’t know whether its OS will be based on that, or if it will be entirely different. As Engadget’s Cherlynn Low pointed out, software isn’t Huawei’s strong suit, so even if it can get its backup OS running by this fall, chances are it won’t meet customers’ expectations.
Customer engagement service Freshworks, which you may still remember under its old name of Freshdesk, today announced that it has acquired Natero, a customer success service with some AI/ML smarts that helps businesses prevent churn and manage their customers.
The acquisition, Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham told me, will help the company complete its mission to provide its users with a 360-degree view of their customers. As Mathrubootham stressed, Freshdesk started out with a focus on customer support and then added additional functionality for marketers and other roles over time. Today, however, companies want this full 360-degree view of a customer and be able to offer differentiated service to their top customers, for example. In many ways, the acquisition of Natero closes the loop here.
“The acquisition extends our ‘customer-for-life’ vision to all teams, including account and customer success managers who require up-to-date customer usage and health data to proactively engage those accounts at risk of churn or ready to buy more,” Mathrubootham said.
Natero founder and CEO Craig Soules echoed this and noted that the only way to do this is to have a rich customer model at the core of these efforts. “More and more people wanted to take data from Natero and take it to sales tools,” he said when I asked him about how his company will fit into the Freshworks portfolio — and why he sold the company. “We Freshworks, we saw a company that was going into this direction and that was doing customer success for a very long it. […] It felt like a very natural fit to leverage this customer model.”
Mathrubootham also noted that Freshworks was actually a Natero customer so when Natero got to the point where it was looking for more capital to expand this focus on its customer model, the two companies started talking.
Natero will continue to exist as a stand-alone product, but it will also become part of the Freshworks 360 suite, Freshwork’s integrated customer engagement suite.
Ahead of today’s acquisition, Natero had raised a total of $3.3 million. That’s not a lot for a startup that launched back in 2012, but Soules noted how he was able to fund the company’s expansion through revenue. The two companies did not disclose the acquisition price.