Uber and Lyft put the brakes on Austin operations

The allure of disruption might be appealing for making business more competitive but not when customer safety is at stake. That’s the message residents of Austin, Texas have delivered to ride-share firms Uber and Lyft after the two companies attempted to “overturn city council regulations which meant drivers had to pass fingerprint-based background checks before they could operate,” the BBC reports. That was just one part of a broader strategy by Uber and Lyft to self-regulate their drivers instead of complying to Austin’s traditional taxi laws. Uber and Lyft insist they can’t properly operate under the existing rules and so have suspended their services in Austin.

Who needs a crowdfunding consultant?

From ride sharing to crowdfunding now - the sub-sector of crowdfunding consultants to be exact. As more and more people turn to services like Kickstarter and Indegogo to fund entrepreneurial or creative projects “a cottage industry of service providers has emerged, promising assistance with everything from strategy and publicity, to communication and logistics,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The numbers are small but growing - 12% of Kickstarter projects hired an outside consultant in 2015, up from 3% in 2011 according to one study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. But crowdfunder beware - “projects that use consultants ‘don’t seem to generate any extra money as a result,’” the WSJ notes.

Ikea’s circular sustainability product line

Peak consumption and the feeling that we just own too much stuff is a growing consumer sensibility that all retailers must confront in the years to come. No surprise then that Ikea, whose head of sustainability, Steve Howard, has admitted the Western world has probably hit “peak home furnishing” is exploring more sustainable products that focus on being reused for the long run rather than discarded for new items. PSFK reports on two such products - a minimalist bike that needs little maintenance or repairs and an easy-to-use hydroponic kit for indoor gardeners - and suggests they are the shape of sustainable things to come. 

PwC builds a drone division for construction sector

Most of the media buzz so far about drones has involves cool retail delivery services and threats to airlines. The reality of automated business will likely be more mundane and more profound however and PwC’s new drone service for the construction industry is a good example. As Fortune reports the consulting giant has launched a new service to help construction and real estate companies survey land and buildings using drones. The drones will use high-resolution cameras, sensors and geo-locational devices to spot any defects and assess environmental factors - part of a “broader set of tasks relating to infrastructure maintenance, a market that PwC thinks is worth around $45 billion a year,” Fortune writes.

Intel’s Busby Berkeley drone homage

Finally today Intel has created a piece of flying art to “celebrate the FAA's loosening of restrictions on who can pilot commercial drones,” Adweek reports. The display of 100 drones flying in unison was filmed in the Palm Springs desert and is a creative first strike to show Intel’s expertise in what will be a fast-growing and disruptive business. Here’s the video, which Adweek describes as “some kind of sci-fi psychedelic Esther Williams wet dream.”   

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