Tech – Daily Detroit What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:04:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Detroit Mayor Says He Won’t Ticket Airbnb Hosts, Will Review Ordinance Fri, 09 Feb 2018 15:30:07 +0000 It looks like the city administration got caught flat-footed yesterday when it became public that an ordinance change in 2017 is resulting in notices being sent to Detroit Airbnb hosts.

If you’re not familiar, Airbnb is an online service that allows people to easily list and rent out a room or a property on a short-term basis.

In a statement sent this morning, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says that the ordinance as written appears to ban all homeowners from having even their own friends and relatives stay at their homes if that friend or relative is paying rent.

Here’s the Mayor’s statement in full:

Detroit homeowners have been able to rent out a room in their homes for more than 100 years and we don’t believe the new ordinance was intended to take away that right. The ordinance as written appears to ban all homeowners from having even their own friends and relatives stay at their homes if that friend or relative is paying them rent. The public was never told that was intended.  I have asked the law department to review this question and give BSEED guidance.  

Media reports that enforcement efforts have begun under this ordinance are false. Over the last two years there have been a few enforcement actions that have involved Airbnb properties, but those tickets have arisen from other complaints or violations related to those properties.

Until the law department review is complete, BSEED will not be ticketing homeowners for renting out rooms in their own residence, whether through airbnb or otherwise.  BSEED and the administration will be working with City Council to resolve these issues. 

In response, Airbnb’s Ben Breit said the following:

We applaud the city for doing the right thing and protecting every day people who are sharing their homes to pay the bills. Airbnb has partnered with hundreds of cities to develop commonsense home sharing regulations, and we look forward to collaborating with Detroit leaders moving forward.

Two Cents: It’s good that this looks like it will be resolved. It’s bad that this made it into law — with notices being sent — before anyone picked up on it.. even the Mayor himself.

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UberEATS Food Delivery Service Launches In Metro Detroit Thu, 30 Nov 2017 10:02:15 +0000 Detroit’s a geographically spread out region. So running to your favorite restaurant to pick something up might be a bit of a chore — or time you just don’t have between shifts or when you know you’re going to have to stay late.

Now, food might just be a tap of an app away if you’re in the city of Detroit some of the more inner ring suburbs.

Today ride sharing company Uber announced that they’re launching their food delivery service UberEATS in Detroit. This is the 100th city that they have launched the service across the globe.

We grabbed a screenshot of the map that shows the service area goes as north as about Birmingham, west to Inkster Road, south to Allen Park, includes all of the Grosse Pointes, and parts of Warren.

Screenshot of the UberEATS launch service area.

There will be an event this morning at Dilla’s Donuts in downtown Detroit.

Some of the launch partner restaurants, from checking out the site ahead of time, include but are not limited to:

  • Dilla’s Delights
  • Olga’s (Multiple Locations)
  • Andiamo (Multiple Locations)
  • Hot Taco
  • Kerby’s Koney Island (Multiple Locations)
  • Joebar (Hazel Park)
  • Pop’s For Italian (Ferndale)
  • Rosie O’Grady’s (Ferndale)
  • Park’s BBQ
  • New Center Eatery
  • Detroit Shrimp and Fish
  • Good Cakes And Bakes
  • Lily’s Seafood (Royal Oak)

They’re looking to expand the number of restaurant partners they have, as well as build up the number of drivers who get paid per delivery.

On average, UberEATS charges in other cities $5 an order to the customer as well as takes as much as 30% of the ticket price from the restaurant.

It’s all through the UberEATS app. Here’s what to do to try it.

  1. Download the free standalone UberEATS app for iOS or Android or head to
  2. Login with your Uber account
  3. Find a restaurant you know and love, and pick what you want from their menu
  4. Pay with your card on file
  5. Watch as the order is picked up and delivered to you

They’re offering a code to try it with free delivery on your first two orders with the promo code DETROITEATS in the app now through December 14.

Our Two Cents: Delivery services at scale are really tough to make work in Metro Detroit. There have been a lot of local startups that have failed to gain traction, whether it’s food delivery or dry cleaning or anything like that.

What often happens, from talking to and covering when apps from other cities come here, is that they find that Metro Detroit doesn’t have too many truly dense population areas that allow for a lot of deliveries in a small area. So the numbers end up having a hard time working like they would say in Chicago or Toronto.

There are local startups that serve very focused areas, and although there is GrubHub in town, it often just doesn’t have a depth of choices.

Uber has almost infinite money to throw at problems like this, so they might be able to make it work here.

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Google Moves Sales Office From Birmingham To Downtown Detroit Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:23:38 +0000 Google is moving more than 100 jobs to downtown Detroit. They’ve signed a lease for nearly 30,000 square feet in the new District Detroit as part of Little Caesars Arena.

The office, at 52 Henry Street, will open in 2018.

The workers coming down will be mostly sales and customer service folks. Not to mention, they will have very visible sign frontage on the recently completed arena that is home to the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Pistons, and numerous concerts.

“The city of Detroit has a rich history of culture and innovation, and we’re excited to be a part of its world class talent and world class companies. Our new space will not only provide room for future growth, but will also give us the opportunity to contribute to the dynamic economic and community activity happening in Detroit,” said Danielle Russell and Guy Schueller, Co-Site Leads for Google Birmingham.

In a follow up with Daily Detroit, we were told that as far as Google goes, no tax incentives from the city were involved and Google did not ask for any.

Elsewhere in Michigan, Google has a large Ann Arbor presence. That is where most of their technology work happens in the state with more than 450 employees. They just expanded their footprint there in September.

PR, Revenue Win: This is more of a public relations and revenue win for the city of Detroit than a win for the region as this is just a shift between localities in the same area. Having a big “Google” sign downtown is an attractive thing to most.

On the revenue side, the tax rate for non-residents is 1.2% and many of these jobs are high paying, so at $90,000 or so a year with bonuses with 100 employees, the city could be pocketing an extra $100,000 annually (or more, depending on number of city residents who pay double that rate, etc.) in additional income taxes.

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You Can Now Be Fancy With Shinola Headphones. Here Are Three Reviews. Wed, 15 Nov 2017 01:59:07 +0000 Detroit’s newest pony in their stable of fancy goods with a connection to Detroit are headphones.

Revealed earlier today, they range from $195-$650 and come in over the ear, on the ear, and two in-ear styles. They’re all named “The Canfield,” much like one of their signature watches and a street in Midtown neighborhood of Detroit.

Before we get started, I really wish they had given names to the different types. This makes writing about them confusing.

The over and on the ears come with steel components and lambskin ear pads. The all models have an inline cord microphone.

The in-ears are made in collaboration with a startup called Campfire Audio out of Portland and will be available in December. There will be two options available, one that costs $195 and the other $495.

Available today are the over the ear and the on ear Canfields. As someone who produces a podcast, the slang of “In the cans” referring to if you can hear something in your headphones isn’t lost on me.

The on the ear Canfield headphones range from $495-$550, and the over the ear model ranges $595-$650.

Final assembly of the headphones happens in Detroit, and they’re apparently “tuned and tested” here as well.

They’re pretty. But are they worth it, if you’re really into sound? We’re not fancy enough to get sent a test set so here’s a roundup of initial reviews.

The Verge: “Shinola’s watches are stylish and well-made — they look like high-end mechanical watches. But the reality is that they’re quartz watches (which get as cheap as, say, a Swatch) inside a really nice package. Shinola’s bet is that the style and story of something matters as much or more to many customers than the function … That bet really comes into focus when you see the price on these headphones …. Those aren’t outrageous prices for headphones, but you can find models that sound great and look just as good for far less.” Full Verge review here.

CNET: “..the Shinola featured more of a “smile” curve to its sound signature — something more readily associated with Beats headphones. The bass was a little too prominent — “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads, for example, was bassier than I’d ever heard before. Competition is tight and by charging at least $200 more than its B&W competitor, the Canfield On-Ears may struggle. The in-ears look quite promising, however, and we look forward to hearing them as well.” Full CNET review here.

Gear Patrol: “I tried both on-ear and over-ear headphones and was struck by the weight and natural noise isolation of each. They felt substantial, in a good way, with naturally heavy ear cups that created a surprisingly strong seal on my ears. Even on the on-ear headphones, the noise isolation was pretty phenomenal — I couldn’t hear my colleagues talking across the table. They were comfortable, too. I listened to a few curated rock playlists on Tidal and thought they sounded great, but I’m no audiophile.” Full Gear Patrol review here.

So are you interested in these?

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Michigan Grows Our First “Unicorn” Tech Company Valued At More Than $1 Billion Wed, 18 Oct 2017 17:19:07 +0000 The concept in venture capital circles of a “Unicorn” — a privately held company that’s valued by investors at more than a billion dollars — is something that hasn’t touch the mitten state up until now.

However, according to a press release, the Ann Arbor-based Duo Security has raised another $119 million in a Series D round of investment at a valuation of $1.17 billion.

The company, headed by Dug Song, has 500 employees in offices here in Michigan as well as in Austin, Texas; San Mateo, California and London in the United Kingdom.

About 350 employees are based out of their Ann Arbor headquarters.

According to Fortune, up until now there have been no so-called Unicorns in the state of Michigan.

So what does Duo do? They provide digital security services for businesses with a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. Their big product currently is a two-factor “Trusted Access” app that can roll out for between $3-$9 per user per month above a free tier for companies smaller than 10 people.

They have more than 10,000 customers including big names Etsy, Facebook, K-Swiss, Paramount Pictures, Random House, Yelp, and Zillow.

A quote might hint at the power of connecting Ann Arbor and Detroit in a meaningful way. After all, the technology center around San Francisco is actually made up of a series of cities.

Here’s what Song told Techcrunch:

“In the same way the synergy between San Francisco and San Jose created Silicon Valley, a resurgent Michigan is being driven by regional collaboration between Ann Arbor and Detroit … We look at the current momentum occurring in Detroit as an opportunity to further accelerate the development of the tech community regionally and look forward to contributing to the city’s revitalization in any way we can.”

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REPORT: Google Moving Office To Downtown Detroit, Doubling Size Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:08:12 +0000 More and more, downtown Detroit is where technology companies want to be in Metro Detroit.

The latest addition? Google.

According to a report being circulated by the Associated Press (CNBC link), a Google spokesman has confirmed that the Detroit area Google office is moving from suburban Birmingham to Detroit, along with 100 employees.

They expect to double the physical size of the office, which focuses on the automotive industry, from the current 17,000 square feet they occupy.

There’s no word on exact timing or where they will go.

Earlier this year, Microsoft pulled a similar move. Amazon also has a local office downtown.

Where would you put 34,000 square feet of Google employees in the greater downtown Detroit area?

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Panel On Coworking On Thursday, October 5 Thu, 28 Sep 2017 20:23:58 +0000 One of the hotter trends in Detroit’s business district is coworking. It’s where there’s shared space, or dedicated offices, but housed or built around a community.

This kind of flexible space has been key to many companies coming to Detroit, establishing a beachhead, and then expanding.

On October 5, the Detroit Regional Chamber is hosting an event at 8 a.m. to talk about the subject. On the panel, moderated by Crain’s Detroit Business reporter Annalise Frank, will be:

  • Amanda Lewan, Co-Founder and CEO, Bamboo Detroit
  • Matthew Piper, Green Garage Detroit
  • Kyle Steiner, Community Director, WeWork Detroit

The event, put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber, is $30 for members or $50 for non-members. More here.

We took a couple of minutes to talk about the upcoming event. The conversation is below from our Daily Detroit News Byte. You can subscribe for free in Apple Podcasts here.

Note: Bamboo Detroit is an occasional advertiser on Daily Detroit, but had no input or knowledge we did this story.

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This Self-Driving Car Could Be Mass Produced Right Here In Metro Detroit Wed, 13 Sep 2017 17:02:37 +0000 Although Silicon Valley is making a play for Detroit’s crown as the automotive headquarters of the world, Detroit’s not going down without a fight.

Autoblog is reporting that driverless car startup Cruise Automation, purchased by General Motors for $1 billion last year, has a production-ready, mass-produceable self driving car. It’s going to be a version of the Chevy Bolt EV that’s assembled at the Orion Assembly Plant.

Per a Medium post, Cruise Automation CEO and Founder Kyle Vogt says:

“This isn’t just a concept design — it has airbags, crumple zones, and comfortable seats,” Vogt writes. “It’s assembled in a high-volume assembly plant capable of producing 100,000’s of vehicles per year, and we’d like to keep that plant busy.”

The test vehicles are already being produced at the Orion plant.

Even though it’s going to be awhile before self-driving cars hit the road full time, producing the cars of the future here in Michigan is good news. The rest of the story is on Autoblog here.

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New Report Says Detroit’s Rocket Fiber Has The Fastest Internet Speed In Town Fri, 08 Sep 2017 19:13:48 +0000 Sometimes, David beats Goliath.

At least when it comes to internet speed, The 2017 U.S. Market Report by Ookla puts locally-owned Rocket Fiber at the top of the Detroit market for fixed line (internet with a wired connection to a house or business) service ahead of much larger players.

According to the report, Rocket Fiber’s download speeds average at 60.09 Mbps for downloads and uploads at 28.23 Mbps.

A new metric for the Ookla report is “speed score,” which aims to quantify the overall experience using the internet Service Provider. It incorporates low-end, median and top-end performance for both download and upload speed.

Nationally, Rocket Fiber came second only to Google Fiber on a city-by-city basis.

Rocket Fiber, founded in 2014, focuses on customer service and flat-rate pricing at $70 a month. However, their service area is extremely limited as of this writing and focused on the greater downtown Detroit area. But they have plans to expand.

Comcast’s XFINITY service is dominant as far as market share in the area because of their wide service area and in many parts of town it’s the only player available when you want a certain internet speed.

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Comcast’s Low Income $9.95 Internet Program Expands To Include Seniors In Detroit Thu, 24 Aug 2017 00:47:27 +0000 We are currently in the digital age, however there is still a huge gap between those who have access to internet and those who don’t.

At last count, 39% of households in Detroit do not have internet of any kind. And if you don’t have internet and know how to use it, you don’t have a shot at moving up in the modern world.

Comcast’s Internet Essentials has been providing low-income households the opportunity to sign up for internet for $9.95 a month. It’s found a measure of success compared to other cities in Detroit. The city is eighth in the country for adoption of this service, with 13,000 low-income households being signed up for the service.

Today rolled out some enhancements to the existing program.

Comcast is currently running a five city pilot program that offers this reduced cost internet to low-income senior citizens. They will be expanding the pilot program to twelve cities, and Detroit is one of them.

The other cities include Boston, Miami, Palm Beach, Florida, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, California, and Seattle. There are three more cities to be announced this year.

The company will be increasing the speed of internet service up to 15 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up. This is the fourth time in six years that they have increased the speed. This enhancement will improve streaming quality in the home, especially if you have multiple devices connected to the internet at once.

Additionally, customers will have 40 hours of free WiFi outside of their home through the 18 million Xfinity Wifi hotspots.

During the announcement Comcast also gave away 100 laptops and six months of free internet to the seniors who were present.

Having access is one thing. But then you need to know how to use it. To that end, Comcast is also investing in two Detroit non-profits to help provide education and training.

“Now with the extension to low-income seniors it goes even further. This is an important part of the strategy, and you’re going to see the city continue as well,” said Duggan at the event today. “I love the $35,000 contribution that comcast is doing to upgrade the internet access at this rec center. We’re going to do more WiFi connections, we just did it to the Rosa Parks Transit Center. We’re going to be doing it to rec centers across the city and we’re going to create more locations where people who can’t afford to have internet access at home will be able to go to public locations.”

Comcast will be upgrading the Technology Corridor at the Joseph Walk Williams Community Center, where today’s announcement was held. This upgrade will include new computers, smart boards, and other equipment. There will also offer digital literacy training classes for people at the community center.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit will also be receiving money that will help with digital literacy training for 6,000 youth. Comcast will also be sponsoring a computer lab at the Boll Family YMCA.

If you are interested in signing up for Internet Essentials the requirements are as follows:

To enroll you must be 62 or older, receive federal or state assistance, and live in Detroit; or be a family in Michigan where Comcast service is available with at least one school-age child who is eligible for the free and reduced lunch program; or receive federal Housing and Urban Development assistance in Michigan where Comcast has service.

The service is $9.95 a month. You can also purchase an internet ready computer for $150.

You can sign up for the program here.

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