• Lyfted documents? Uber and Lyft, two ride-sharing companies that are both expanding rapidly and trying to take business away from traditional taxis in cities across the nation, have never been on the best of terms. Their rivalry just found its way into the courts, as Lyft has sued its former chief operating officer Travis VanderZanden, who moved over to Uber as its vice president of international growth. Lyft claims in the lawsuit filed in state court in San Francisco that, when he left, VanderZanden took with him more than 1400 of Lyft’s confidential business documents. The documents, Lyft says, are among its most sensitive and include “historic and future financial information, strategic planning materials like marketing plans and product plans, customer lists and data, international growth documents, and private personnel information.” VanderZanden allegedly backed these documents up to his phone and his computer before he left. Lyft claims that this action amounts to breach of VanderZanden’s confidentiality agreement and fiduciary duty to the company, and says it has forensic evidence to support its allegations. A Lyft spokeswoman told CNET, “We are disappointed to have to take this step, but this unusual situation has left us no choice but to take the necessary legal action to protect our confidential information. We will not tolerate this type of behavior.” Uber hasn’t yet responded to the complaint.
  • Going native. Banner ads have been on the Internet since—well, since there was an Internet. They’re a standard item on nearly any website. But New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo says that banner ads’ day has come and gone. According to Manjoo, banner ads are clunky and unattractive, they distract the user from his or her Web experience, and practically no one reads them anyway. “The history of the banner ad is a cautionary tale for today’s hot start-ups,” Manjoo writes. “It is a story of what happens when you try to monetize an invention too quickly, before it has gained a wide enough foothold with an audience to create a sustainable, symbiotic business model.” Manjoo says the shift from computer-based websites to mobile apps is going to be the final straw that ends the era of the banner ad. He thinks “native ads” may end up as the ultimate replacement for banner ads. These are pieces of advertising that look like regular content on an app or website. A Levi’s ad on Instagram, Manjoo points out, looks like a regular Instagram posting. A Facebook sponsored story looks like any other post. A promoted tweet looks like a tweet. It’s much less annoying, but as Manjoo acknowledges, it’s easy for an unsuspecting reader to miss the distinction between editorial and advertising content. This blurring has even attracted attention from the FTC, which has warned that deceptive native advertising may be illegal.
  • Boxing out. Twitter has moved the “tweet box” or “compose box” on twitter.com, where users can compose and post tweets, from the left side of its page to the top of the timeline. This seemingly small change appears calculated to make the box more visible and easier to use, thus encouraging more tweets. In the same vein, the box used to include the bland phrase, “Compose new tweet,” but now it says, “What’s happening?” Mashable says that makes it sound a lot more like the phrase found in Facebook’s status box, “What’s on your mind?”