10 things in tech you need to know today

Laura Cavanaugh / GettyFacebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Good morning! Here is the tech news you need to know this Friday.

1. Bitcoin was all over the place on Thursday. It reached an all-time high above $US19,500 (£14,455) on Coinbase’s GDAX exchange, whereas data from Markets Insider showed a record print of $US16,623 (£12,322). Its price on GDAX shed more than $US4,000 (£2,965) in less than an hour at one point during the day.

2. Uber rival Lyft is now offering rides in self-driving cars in Boston. The autonomous vehicles have human backup drivers ready to take the wheel if any problems arise.

3. The hugely popular gaming store Steam has stopped accepting bitcoin payments for games, saying the cryptocurrency is too volatile. Steam, owned and operated by Valve Corporation, rivals Sony’s PlayStation Network as the world’s biggest gaming service, with 67 million monthly active players versus Sony’s 70 million.

4. Apple released its year-end list of top US apps for iPhones and iPads. Facebook, Google, and Snapchat claim 11 of the top 20 spots, including Bitmoji, YouTube, and Instagram.

5. Instagram is reportedly separating Direct messages into its own separate, Snapchat-like app. The new standalone app is reportedly just a test, for now, and will start rolling out Thursday for iOS and Android users in six test countries: Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay.

6. Pinterest has hired Facebook’s corporate development director, Gary Johnson, to lead its efforts around acquisitions and partnerships. Johnson worked on some of Facebook’s biggest deals, including its WhatsApp acquisition.

7. Uber’s licence has been suspended in the British city of Sheffield. Sheffield City Council stripped the taxi-hailing app of its licence on November 29 after it failed to respond to requests about the management of Uber. Uber is legally allowed to continue operating until December 18. If it chooses to appeal the decision then it can continue until the appeal is heard.

8. Oracle CEO Safra Catz is joining Sheryl Sandberg and Jack Dorsey on Disney’s board.The company currently has 12 members on its board.

9. Tech companies are paying $US200 (£148) per hour to hire models for holiday parties.They want cleavage and short-shorts.

10. BuzzFeed is about to make a third of its UK staff redundant. Twenty-three journalists will be let go.

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