GigaOM Reads: A look back at the week in tech

Facebook Follies: Channeling our inner Aaron Levie (aka the always funny Box CEO), it seems that Google is making the whole world searchable with Google glasses and Facebook is adding a menu to its news feed and making it more structured.

Facebook’s news feed design was the big news of the week. Here is what we think about the new colorful icons and sorting of the feed into categories like events and music. By the way, why couldn’t they couldn’t come up with a better analogy than a newspaper?

Talking about Facebook, one has to wonder what raw nerve Nick Bilton’s piece hit that the social web giant had to come back with all its PR guns blazing. Bilton pointed out that the engagement on his posts had gone down drastically but when he paid to promote those same links, it shot up. We have a sneaking suspicion that we have not heard the last of this debate, but if you want to get a good handle on the situation, try reading this analysis by Nick O’Neill.

Mark Zuckerberg responds to press questions and photos after announcing the new Facebook News Feed redesign on March 7 in Menlo Park.

Mark Zuckerberg responds to press questions and photos after announcing the new Facebook News Feed redesign on March 7 in Menlo Park.

Billionaire Boys Club: Facebook and Google have one thing in common: the co-founders of both companies are among the richest people in the world. Not much of a surprise. As technology becomes a part of our everyday lives, it’s also no surprise that tech leaders dominated the top of the annual Forbes Billionaires list this year.

Though they were dubbed “underperformers” by Forbes (technology-based billionaires on the list saw their net worth rise by only 8%, while the entire list combined rose 15%), it’s hard to find fault in a collective fortune of $272.6 billion. But in a time of massive income inequality — 80% of Americans believe their children will be worse off than they are — are these lists still relevant?

Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google were ranked at number four and five, respectively, while Mark Zuckerberg dropped to the ninth top earner (from sixth in 2012) with $13.3 billion in his coffers. That’s a lot of 747s and James Perse hoodies.

Time Inc BuildingFortune doesn’t favor the print: Print may be on the decline, but will it die a slow death? Time Warner decided to spin off its magazine publishing arm this week instead of trying to pass off the job to Meredith Corporation, creating a new standalone company for its top mags. This further perpetuates the belief that the broken print model will be ushered into the retirement home sooner rather than later as the web produces endless amounts of content, and technology makes consuming it easier than ever.

But print does have its fans — Warren Buffett invested $344 million in newspapers last year. Does he know something we don’t? We are worried about Fortune, the magazine, for we do think they have some great pieces.

John Doerr: How Greentech Investing Adds UpVC vs VC: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venerable venture capital firm that had funded companies such as Sun Microsystems, Netscape, Genentech, Compaq, Amazon and Google, had a pretty forgettable decade. They apologized to their backers. VC Georges van Hoegaerden, writing for industry publication PE Hub, argues that the issues plaguing them and many haloed investing names are much deeper. Our colleague Katie Fehrenbacher writes a thoughtful piece on perils of righteous investing. By the way, have you read that piece about Ellen Pao and her hubby in Vanity Fair?

Mobile-palooza: You have to be really brave to pack your bags and go to Barcelona and attend Mobile World Congress. Our team members David Meyer and Kevin Fitchard did just that and both fell sick after getting back. Chetan Sharma was lucky, and that gave him a chance to recap the mobilepalooza — it is worth reading.

Freedom to Roam: If you’re dreading spending the rest of your mobile life (or at least the next 24 months) tied to one carrier, there’s good news: The White House has your back when it comes to unlocking your phone. A petition that raised over 100,000 signatures in a month has the support of the White House and a number of state senators, one of which has already drafted the Wireless Device Independence Act of 2013, which promises to legally free your devices from carrier restriction. But will it really change anything? Andrew Couts unlocks the truth.

Pandora box, treasureTaking a Bow: Pop music is filled with flash-in-the-pan tunes, but the classics never fade. Unless you’re the CEO of Pandora, Joe Kennedy, who announced this week that he needed a “recharge” after his long 10-year tenure, and will be stepping aside as soon as a replacement can be found. Does this open the door for other up-and-coming music services to make their move?

As it so happens, Apple is said to be seeking a harmonious collaboration with the “Daisy Project,” backed by Beats Electronics, while  Google has partnered with Warner Music for a Google Play subscription service and is setting the stage a YouTube-Spotify throwdown. It will be interesting to see how these companies build and structure their streaming services, especially since this will be yet another effort by Apple to get music right after Ping failed to take off.

Mapping Your Innards: Google has enabled us to visit distant locations, thanks to Street View, and gets us from A to B without much difficulty. But a team of researchers has been able to one-up those achievements by successfully mapping the human metabolism. Why should you care? Well, in the future, we might actually be able to predict how our fragile bodies will react to disease, drugs and foods, which can help make the painful experience of allergy testing and trial-by-elimination a thing of the past.

Here are some stories we recommend for this weekend.

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