WaPo Labs launched its Social Reader news app in 2011 to much fanfare and hope that the development team — a part of The Washington Post Co. — had found a way to highlight quality news content on social networks. At first, things looked good: The service soared to more than 20 million users in its first year as it splashed notable articles that friends were reading across users’ Facebook news feeds.
Then Facebook changed its algorithm, and Social Reader started to fade.
So the team buckled down and began work on a new product. The result, called Trove, launched Wednesday for Apple devices and hopes to offer the best of curated news, social media and news personalization in one product.
The product marks a fresh start for the firm. WaPo Labs has been renamed Trove following the sale of The Washington Post and other holdings of The Washington Post Co. to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos. Trove, Slate, Foreign Policy magazine and the social marketing firm SocialCode were not included in the sale. Those properties are a part of The Post’s former parent company, renamed Graham Holdings.
The new app relies on curation — from experts, friends and a bit of algorithmic magic — to serve up the news that’s most interesting to Trove users. The product’s greatest strength comes from that curation concept: Anyone can curate a topic, and anyone else can follow the lists of top articles, called Troves.
Topics can range from the broad — boxing, for example — to the very niche. Users can name their own Troves to reflect their passions. One famous curator at the launch, chef Spike Mendelsohn, is handpicking articles he likes on “Farm to Table,” for example.
Vijay Ravindran, Trove’s chief executive and chief digital officer of Graham Holdings, said Trove may be a better tool for news discovery than Twitter or Facebook, because it lets users more easily see what their friends and chosen experts are reading and commenting on without having to sift through anything.
— Hayley Tsukayama
Verizon said Wednesday that federal, state and local authorities asked it to hand over user data 321,545 times in 2013.
The company’s transparency report said the vast majority of requests, about 164,000, came from law enforcement subpoenas, followed by about 71,000 court orders. In 2013, Verizon fielded 7,800 requests for real-time information about a person’s outbound and inbound calls — but of those, only about 1,500 were actual wiretap requests leading to the surveillance of a call’s content.
The report also shows a growing government appetite for location data. Last year, the company saw 35,000 requests for such information. About 3,200 constituted “tower dumps,” or information on all the calls logged by a cell tower within a certain time frame. This information can be used to track a suspect’s movements and behavior. According to a congressional probe, law enforcement agencies made 9,000 tower-dump requests last year — meaning Verizon was the recipient of more than a third of them.
Verizon said that the number of overall requests it received last year was greater than the figure for 2012, although this is the first time the company has produced a transparency report.
Verizon is the second telecom operator to publish a transparency report, after the California-based network operator Credo Mobile. AT&T also has promised to release a transparency report but has not issued one.
— Brian Fung
● Activist investor Carl Icahn has raised his stake in Apple. In a post on his Twitter account, Icahn revealed that he has poured another $500 million into Apple stock during the past two weeks. He had already owned about 4.7 million Apple shares, worth more than $2.5 billion. Icahn is urging Apple to spend $50 billion buying back its own stock during the current fiscal year ending in September.
● Child car seats would for the first time have to protect children from death and injury in side-impact crashes under regulations the government proposed. The proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would upgrade standards for child seats for children weighing up to 40 pounds to include a new test that simulates a side crash. The agency estimates that the standards would prevent the deaths of about five children and injuries to 64 each year.
● Fidelity Investments asset management head Ron O’Hanley will leave the company at the end of February, executives said, after a cautious stint running a key unit of the family controlled business since 2010. O’Hanley, 56, helped reverse a tide of net withdrawals by investors from the unit that offers Fidelity’s best-known vehicles such as its $111 billion Contrafund. Performance has improved on many products, including its $16 billion Magellan Fund, where O’Hanley oversaw a manager change in 2011.
● Ten of the 11 economy cars crash-tested by the leading insurance industry group failed a new safety standard for front-end collisions. Only the Chevrolet Spark earned an “acceptable” grade on the test, in which 25 percent of the front end, on the driver’s side, strikes a 5-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph. The Honda Fit, Fiat 500, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, Toyota Prius C and Mitsubishi Mirage all received “poor” grades, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mazda 2, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta earned “marginal” scores. None of the subcompacts earned a “good” mark.
● Target said it will no longer offer health-care coverage for its part-time workers. The discounter cited new options available through health-care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. Target, based in Minneapolis, said the majority of its part-time workers who have been eligible for its health-care insurance coverage don’t enroll. It said less than 10 percent of its workforce of 361,000 employees participate in the part-time plan. The retailer said it will stop covering the part-time workers beginning April 1.
● 8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims released.
● 10 a.m.: Weekly mortgage rates and existing home sales for December released.
● Earnings: Lockheed Martin, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, United Continental.