2014 CNBC Disruptor 50

Radiohead's Thom Yorke goes off on Spotify (again)

Thom Yorke
Getty Images

The latest news on the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies upending the status quo in the markets:

Why won't Thom Yorke leave Spotify alone already?

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has made no secret of his displeasure with the Spotify business model, more or less saying that musicians can't get a fair shake through the online music platform. But he couldn't leave well enough alone, and has upped his Spotify criticism to a downright scatological level.

First, Yorke pulled the albums of his "other" band, Atoms for Peace, from Spotify. And in an interview first granted to the Mexican press and picked up by The Guardian, Yorke said: "This is is like the last fart, the last desperate fart of a dying corpse."

Oh, and the occasion for the latest Yorke rant (there were plenty of curse words we can't print in his Spotify analysis): It was Spotify's fifth birthday. Well, here's to a music service dying young, at least, if Yorke is right.

Why Airbnb needs to hire lobbyists, donate to political campaigns

Last week things were looking good for Airbnb in its ongoing battle with the world's real estate regulators. It won a court victory in New York, and even extended an olive branch, with its CEO writing a blog post about it being ready to work out deals with governments. What a difference a week makes!

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this past week demanded that Airbnb turn over all records on New York residents who rent out their dwellings on the site—15,000 of the 225,000 New Yorkers using Airbnb. (The subpoena was actually issued Friday, Oct. 4, but wasn't revealed until last week.) The New York AG says he's just trying to catch the bad actors on the site; Airbnb says there's no reason to subpoena data on 15,000 Airbnb users as a result of a few bad apples. Airbnb wrote in a blog post it won't comply with the subpoena:

"The subpoena…goes well beyond bad actors…So, we made it clear to the Attorney General's office from the very beginning that we would never agree to this type of government-sponsored fishing expedition…We remain committed to fighting it with everything we've got."

(Read more: The booming business of 3-D printing)

Airbnb CEO: 'We're in over 34,000 cities'

WhatsApp of Arabia

The major newspapers and news services of the world have been hacked by politically motivated armies of the virtual universe with increasing frequency. Now the world's most popular app (in every country but the United States,) WhatsApp, found itself in the middle of the Arab-Israeli conflict when its website was hacked this past week by a pro-Palestinian group that posted a message given the title "You Got Pwned." A group called KDMS Team claimed credit for the attack.

WhatsApp said: "Our website was hijacked for a small period of time, during which attackers redirected our website to another IP address. We can confirm that no user data was lost or compromised."

Meanwhile, a Dutch computer science student got some press last week when he claimed all chats on WhatsApp are compromised due to flaws in the app's encryption. The company's CEO Jan Koum said the claim was "sensationalised and overblown."

(Read more: Edison's light bulb isn't going anywhere)

Update: The "iSmoke" detector is real

Last week, we mentioned reports that iPod design chief Tony Fadell was planning to launch a smart smoke detector through his new company Nest Labs, home of the smart Nest thermostat.

The reports were correct. Nest Labs announced this week its Nest Protect, which retails for $129. It does more than your average, ordinary smoke detector, and may be a lot less annoying, too. A feature highlighted is the ability to wave your hand in front of a smoke detector that has signaled an alarm to make it turn off; no climbing up on ladders or chairs or swinging towels required. Nest Protect also speaks with a human voice.

Bezos and Musk battle over the universe

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk both have big dreams of pioneering a new age of space travel. But that's led to a quiet battle, with the two of them currently fighting over the rights to a lease put out by NASA for an unused shuttle launchpad. SpaceX wants exclusive use of the launch pad, while Bezos's Blue Origin wants to open the launch pad to multiple users.

Worst start-up metaphors ever: The ultimate list

Who is the Warby Parker of…flip-flops? The Yelp of…the Middle East. The Huffington Post has put together a list of the most ridiculous startup metaphors. It's like the Pinterest meets Netflix recommends meets Angie's List of… well, you get the idea.

(Read more: Crowdfund this: Medical devices)

Pulling a robot out of a hat, or vice versa

During a tour of the MIT Media Lab on Wednesday, researchers shared a bit about a project that seeks to merge the worlds of technology and magic, according to a report on Mass High Tech's TechFlash blog. Rethink Robotics' Baxter is getting a new assignment from "cyber illusionist" Marco Tempest, who has been named a Director's Fellow with the MIT Media Lab. The aim: program Baxter in such a way that the robot can perform in a magic show on stage alongside Tempest.

Learn how to pitch your startup from Twilio CEO

Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson has learned a thing or two over the years about how to pitch—and how not to pitch—a start-up to venture capitalists. He shared some of his hard-learned lessons with Forbes. Two essential elements of any presentation: Put your audience first and tell your story in a meaningful progression, a logical flow.

Uber's latest opportunistic gambit

Car start-up Uber never saw a transportation sector strike it didn't like. The latest, the Boston school-bus driver work stoppage this past week, which left 57,000 kids without a way to get to school. Uber's black cars (and regular cars and SUVs and taxis) offered free rides for families and students to and from any Boston public school, no promo codes required or questions asked, according to VentureBeat.

Aereo headed to Supreme Court?

Next stop for Aereo's ongoing battle with traditional television broadcasters: the Supreme Court? The broadcasters involved in a high-profile lawsuit with the online TV service filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court this past Friday afternoon.

In federal court in New York, Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, Comcast Corp's NBC (CNBC's owner), Fox and CBS Broadcasting are among those who have been claiming that Aereo's service amounts to stealing their proprietary content. In April, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Aereo could continue to operate while the New York litigation moves forward.

Recent news of interest to the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies:

Splitting the bill

Figuring out who owes what at the end of a meal…what a nuisance…no longer! An app from New York-based Cover lets people instantly split the bill, pay and go. According to a report from Xconomy, when users of Cover sit down to eat, they create a virtual table in the app for everyone in the group, (as long as they are also users of Cover,) and tell the restaurant staff they will pay with the app. The bill gets automatically split among the people at the table.

By Eric Rosenbaum, CNBC.com