Biz Break: TMZ looking for an in at Uber

Top Of The Order… 

Will The Paparazzi Be There To Greet Me?: There’s no doubt that San Francisco-based Uber has, for some, become the preferred choice of urban transportation. No, it’s not as cheap as the bus, BART or the VTA, but it’s easy to use and pretty reliable. And especially in the evening, getting an Uber car to take you home after one too many can be a sensible thing to do.

And even celebrities like Uber. According to an article in the New Yorker that blew up the Internet over the Presidents’ Day weekend, TMZ is prodding for sources inside of Uber who would be willing to alert the muckraking celeb-news organization of when a Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or any and all assorted Kardashians call for an Uber ride to or from whatever VIP/bottle-service locale they frequent.

Uber is only mentioned once in the New Yorker expose, but it is a pretty telling comment. The article cited an email from a TMZ employee who asked colleagues if anyone had made any sources within Uber. And based on other incidents in the story — mostly involving payments with Sopranos-style envelopes full of cash for things like copies of the videos of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Lewis beating up his then-fiancee — TMZ is not shy about handing out cash for scoops on celebrities.

So, maybe Uber might want to think about making happy those disgruntled “independent contractor” drivers who want to be regular employees, lest one of them call up the paparazzi before he picks up J. Lo from her hotel.

Middle Innings…

Apple Pay On China’s Menu: Apple has never made a secret of how important China is to its business. During Apple’s fiscal first quarter, the Americas region accounted for $29.3 billion of Apple’s $75.9 billion in revenue, but that was 4 percent less than a year ago. Meanwhile, “Greater China” made up $18.4 billion of Apple’s quarterly sales, a year-over-year increase of 14 percent. And Apple needs China at a time when the company is facing its first decline in iPhone sales in almost a decade.

And in order to appeal to the Chinese market, Apple appears ready to launch its Apple Pay technology in China this week. A report from Reuters cited some leading banks in China as saying they would begin accepting Apple Pay for electronic payments starting Feb. 18. And Apple will be joining an already crowded market for mobile-phone based technology. Already, gaming company Tencent Holdings runs its WeChat Payment service and Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial Services operates the Alipay platform in China.

First, The NFL. Now, Omaha: Last fall, Yahoo made history when it webcast the first, live, regular season NFL game. The contest, between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars was played in London, and the stream was generally viewed as one of pretty high quality. However, the number of actual viewers remains in dispute.

Not much tops the NFL when it comes to ratings, but the odds are probably decent that Yahoo’s next historical webcast may do just that. On Tuesday, Yahoo said its Yahoo Finance will put on the first live webstream of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting, set for April 30.

This is indeed historical. Berkshire Chariman Warren Buffett is pretty old school. He still has his holding company based in Omaha. He likes industries he understands and that actually make stuff., like Fruit of the Loom and the BNSF railroad. He has, so far, preferred to keep most of the Berkshire meeting’s festivities between himself and the 40,000-or-so close, personal friends that make the sojourn to Omaha every year for the day-long event. He’s said to not really like recordings of the Berkshire’s annual meetings. And, until now, he has resisted putting such proceedings live online.

But, Yahoo finance says it has more than 75 million monthly users. Maybe Buffett got a look at Yahoo’s webstream of the Bills-Jaguars game and thought, “Hey, this Interweb thingy might work!” Then again, there are probably more Buffett fans than Bills and Jaguars fans combined. If the NFL couldn’t crash Yahoo, maybe Warren Buffett can?

Is That Price For The Floor Model?: What can you get for the modern first-grader (or other small kid) that has everything? An Apple Watch? A trip to Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting? A bag of 1,000 beads that you know are going to end up all over your floor and which you will never, ever completely clean up?

Oh no…What your little Arlo or Sadie needs is their own set of wheels. And what vehicle says, ‘I have social status’ more these days than a Tesla, and for $499, you can put your kid into a mini Tesla Model S.

And in a tip of the old-school hat, the new kiddie Tesla will be made by Radio Flyer, which is famous for those red wagons that you or your folks grew up with. Pre-orders for the mini Tesla can be made now and the “toys” will begin shipping in May. The mini Tesla is meant for kids between the ages of 3 and 8, will come in three colors, red, blue and the Henry-Ford-is-turning-over-in-his grave “midnight silver metallic.” The cars will have special lithium ion batteries and can reach a top speed of 6 miles an hour.

It will make your kid the envy of every other child on the playground. It is not known, yet, if the mini Tesla Model S comes with an apology from Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk for making you the scourge of every parent on the playground, who will then have to go home and hear 17-straight hours of ‘I wanna get a Tesla!’ coming out of their kid’s mouth.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did.

Movin’ On Up: GoPro climbed almost 13 percent, and advances also came from LendingClub, SunPower, FireEye and…Yahoo.

In The Red: Fairchild Semiconductor shares fell almost 3 percent, and other decliners included Nimble Storage, Nanometric, Natus Medical and Pandora Media.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies rose 2.4 percent to 1,424.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 2.3 percent to 4,435.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.4 percent to end the day at 16,196.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 1.7 percent to finish at 1,895.

Quote Of The Day: “How VIP do we gotta get?” — Paul McCartney after he, Beck and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters were denied entry to a post-Grammys party hosted by someone much less VIP than Sir Paul, Tyga.

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Photo:  Uber offices on Market Street in San Francisco (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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