Amazon’s big leadership shift and other major exec moves

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Insider Tech weekly newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:

Alexei is out on vacation this week, so it’s Jillian D’Onfro, enterprise tech editor, here to fill you in.

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This week: Jeff Bezos officially gave up the Amazon throne

AWS Andy Jassy Adam Selipsky
Andy Jassy and Adam Selipsky are in charge now

As Bezos prepares to blast into space, Andy Jassy has officially assumed the CEO title while former Tableau exec Adam Selipsky is taking his place at the helm of $54 billion cloud business Amazon Web Services.


People moves: Facebooker defecting and a Googler off to New Zealand

Fidji Simo attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Fidji Simo, who was one of Facebook’s top women execs, is taking the helm at Instacart

The leader of Facebook’s flagship “big blue” app is leaving after a decade to take over $39 billion food delivery firm Instacart.

Fidji Simo will be taking over at a pivotal time, as the startup tries to quietly build an advertising powerhousee and prepares to go public.

In a more contentious overseas move, senior Google executive Urs Hozle announced plans to jet off to New Zealand for a year, sparking outrage from workers pointing out that he’d opposed the perma-remote lifestyle for lower-level employees.

While it’s one of the first high-profile instances of post-pandemic double standards around remote work, it’s just the latest sign of internal turmoil at Google. Also this week:


Quote of the week:

Heidi Zak, ThirdLove cofounder and co-CEO; Leah Solivan, general partner at Fuel Capital; Spencer Rascoff, general partner at 75 & Sunny Ventures; and Allison Long Pettine, managing partner at Ridge Group Investments, appear on a pink background with the YPO logo repeating.
Notable YPO members include Heidi Zak, ThirdLove cofounder and co-CEO; Leah Solivan, general partner at Fuel Capital; Spencer Rascoff, general partner at 75 & Sunny Ventures; and Allison Long Pettine, managing partner at Ridge Group Investments and founding partner at Ad Astra.

“Talk about Nothing that is said in forum to Nobody under any circumstances. Never means forever.”

The internal code of conduct for a secretive and ultra-exclusive club for young CEOs. Strict rules help executives feel safe talking freely about the challenges of running their companies, prompting them to pony up thousands of dollars for membership.


Recommended readings:

12 companies Zoom could buy as it expands beyond video conferencing, according to analysts

Delivery’s richest CEO has been quietly funding 2 ghost kitchens

Former Uber execs are going after Uber and Lyft’s cheapest rides with MIT tech and public-transit partnerships

Silicon Valley continues its 2021 funding hot streak with a second straight quarter over $20 billion


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Jillian

Read the original article on Business Insider

Miami and Space – the new battlegrounds for tech’s top egos

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to David Bowie’s “Starman.”


This week: Tech egos are clashing, from the shores of Miami to the depths of space

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson
Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson

For more than a year, Silicon Valley techies have abandoned their homeland and poured into Miami in search of startup El Dorado. As Candy Cheng reports, the influx of newcomers is causing friction with the locals.

If not Miami, then space. There’s another group of brash Silicon Valley adventurers setting off for new horizons, and lucky for them, where they’re going there are no locals to clash with (we think).

Meanwhile, rival space entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson may try to beat Bezos to orbit by blasting off in a Virgin Galactic spaceship on July 4.

Elon Musk, the other space race billionaire, has yet to announce plans for his own imminent trip. But chatter has centered on a prediction from a 1953 book that describes a leader called “Elon” leading humans to Mars– seriously.

And a former Blue Origin employee has just raised $650 million to build 3D-printed rockets.

Even Palantir, the data analysis company, has a spacebound employee. Kelli Gerardi 32-year old Tik Tok star and logistics expert at Palantir, will be aboard a separate Virgin Galactic flight expected to launch in 2022.

“Less than a thousand humans have ever been to space – fewer than 100 women, only a handful of moms – and my 3-year-old is going to watch her mommy become one of them,” Gerardi told Insider.


Startups to watch

Li Jin, Hans Tung, Gabby Cazeau, and Mike Duboe on a purple background.
Li Jin, Hans Tung, Gabby Cazeau, and Mike Duboe.

Insider asked dozens of top VCs to name the most promising Startups of 2021. They were asked to nominate startups they had invested in as well as ones where they had no financial ties. And they delivered an exciting list of companies, across all stages from newly launched to unicorns, each thriving for different reasons.

In our first on a series of stories of the Most Promising Startups of 2021, we present a list of 46, many of whom were named by multiple VCs as being companies to watch this year.

Read the full story:

46 of the most promising startups of 2021, according to top VCs


Snaphot: Polaroid’s life lesson

Yesterday’s innovative breakthrough is today’s retro tchotchke, and the miniaturized version of Polaroid’s classic instant camera is a fun, and instructive, reminder of the olden times.

The tiny plastic Polaroid Go spits out photos that gradually, over a period of 10 to 15 minutes, develop all by themselves. Once upon a time, that was a big deal – it meant you didn’t have to take your film to be developed at a shop and then wait a couple of days to get prints of your photos.

The Polaroid Go

For today’s digital generation, there’s nothing special about being able to view pictures right away, of course.

But perhaps the Polaroid has something better than mere nostalgia to offer Gen Z.

Scarcity is an increasingly foreign concept to those living in a time of super-low interest rates, bottomless social media feeds, on-demand streaming movies, and smartphone cameras that take infinite selfies. With a film camera – even a toy-like instant camera – you only get a finite number of pictures. Each shot needs to count. Imagine that.


Recommended readings:

‘I was pregnant and then I wasn’t.’ How a miscarriage led a startup employee to build a company that’s now funded by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six.

VMware is in an all-out sprint to grow its $1 billion security business, doubling its engineering staff to compete with cyber giants like Microsoft and Cisco

Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens loses second exec in a month

This pitch deck persuaded Softbank to make its first banking tech investment, sending Zeta’s valuation rocking to $1.45 billion

IBM salaries revealed: How much the $132 billion tech giant paid software engineers, business analysts, and more in 2021

Top executives at Magic Leap are leaving the company in the biggest leadership shakeup under CEO Peggy Johnson


Not necessarily in tech:

Subway cofounder Fred DeLuca ruled the company like a demigod and pursued wives of franchisees. How one man sent the world’s biggest fast-food chain into a tailspin.


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

Uber is draining its cash-burning Pool

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Dr. Lonnie Smith “Why can’t we live together” (featuring Iggy Pop)


This week: Uber is draining its cash-burning Pool

Dara driving

After what seems like an eternity, I’ve recently started using ride-hailing services again and venturing beyond the 5-block radius around my house. The Uber app worked just as it did when I last opened it – except that the UberPool option was no longer available.

Uber and Lyft both halted shared rides during the pandemic. And as Tom Dotan reports, the famous option allowing you to travel alongside garrulous and (often) drunken strangers in exchange for rock-bottom fares, may not be coming back to Uber – at least not in the way it used to be.

  • Say goodbye to those 50% discounts. The low rates were a good way to grab market share, but not sustainable given that UberPool was burning close to $1 billion a year.
  • Uber may also limit the pool feature to certain routes or certain times of day.

It’s all in keeping with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s ruthless focus on the bottom line.

Read the full story here:

Uber insiders say the company is quietly killing off UberPool as we know it and a new more expensive version of the service will replace it.


Hey boomer, wanna look cool to your kids?

The hot new app for Gen Z launched this week and rocketed to the top of the download charts. The photo-sharing app is called Poparazzi and it’s gaining buzz by taking a sledgehammer to ossified social media norms.

A decade ago, Snapchat stole a generation of young users from Facebook by making photos disappear. For Poparazzi, the social media shackle to liberate users from is the selfie. As Insider’s Margaux MacColl writes:

The app, created by Alex Ma and his brother Austen, encourages you to become “your friend’s poparazzi” instead posting pictures of yourself.

Rather than a perfectly curated Instagram grid, a user’s profile consists of unedited photos that others have taken. Poparazzi also eschews traditional social-media metrics: There’s no follower count or likes, only total “views” on a user’s photos and the number of emoji reactions to their posts.

So if your kids have made you feel like an out-of-touch dinosaur, now you can flip the script on them and turn them on to the hot new app – if they’re not already using it.


Snapshot: Amazon’s decompression chamber

There are phone booths, trade show booths, restaurant booths, and now, there are Amazon “zen” booths.

The compact cubicle pictured below is a “mindful practice room” designed to provide Amazon warehouse workers with a private place to relax and meditate during breaks.

Amazon AmaZen booth

The meditation booths are part of an initiative rolled out by Amazon to provide physical and mental wellness resources for warehouse workers – a key pillar of departing CEO Jeff Bezos’ vow to make Amazon “Earth’s safest place to work.”

The introduction of the zen booths has been anything but peaceful though. Ever since they were spotted by Vice, the booths have been lampooned as”dystopian” coffin-sized “despair closets,” by various critics and publications that have noted the famously grueling conditions Amazon warehouse workers endure on the job.


Quote of the week:

Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and former member of Microsoft's board of directors.
|

“I felt like I was being silenced. I was just disappointed Satya Nadella would let that happen.”

– Harvey Mudd College President and former Microsoft director Maria Klawe, in an exclusive interview with Insider’s Ashley Stewart, said she was forced off the software maker’s board after an awkward on-stage interview with CEO Satya Nadella, in which Nadella famously said women employees should rely on “faith”in the system for pay raises.


Recommended readings:

Europe’s most valuable startup, Klarna, is raising fresh cash from mega-investor SoftBank at a valuation above $40 billion

Colonial Pipeline’s $4.4 million ransom payment caught the government crime fighters beating the hackers by surprise. They thought they were winning.

Startup valuations have reached a record high. The average late-stage company is now a $1 billion unicorn, PitchBook says.

We identified the 181 most powerful people at Intel as new CEO Pat Gelsinger tries to turn around slowing growth at the chip giant. Here’s our exclusive org chart.

The world’s billionaires, CEOs, and politicians didn’t get to schmooze at Davos this year. Does the elite confab still make sense after the pandemic?

He took his boss’ money and then his head, police say. The disturbing story of the assistant accused of murdering and decapitating a tech CEO in New York.


Not necessarily in tech:

An economic theory called ‘reallocation friction’ may explain why employers are having a hard time finding workers – and why a full recovery could be years away


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

A last waltz for Yahoo and AOL, and Elon’s crypto comedy show

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Serge Gainsbourg’s “Requiem pour un con”


This week: A last waltz for Yahoo and AOL

Yahoo Jerry Yang and David Filo in 2007

With all the big news this past week about Donald Trump’s Facebook account, Apple’s courtroom battle with Epic, and the Bill and Melinda breakup, you might have missed another important development in tech: the sale of Yahoo and AOL.

Iconic is an apt description for both Yahoo and AOL. The companies helped create the internet as we know it today, with decades-long histories that have spanned the administrations of about a half dozen US presidents and just as many transitions of technology standards. (Remember the ubiquitous 3.5 inch AOL floppy discs?)

As Insider columnist Adam Lashinsky writes, the slow decline that befell both companies is the result of a long list of causes. Yahoo’s fall from grace is particularly instructive when you consider all the trends the company recognized early on but never capitalized on, allowing other companies to steal the show. Lashinsky writes:

“It bought a Web 1.0 company called GeoCities that could have been the next MySpace or Facebook but wasn’t. The same goes for Flickr, the preeminent photo-sharing site of its day later outshone by Instagram. It even beat Google to the punch by acquiring the original search-based ad auction company, Overture, only to be overwhelmed by its competitor.”

Read the full story here:

Yahoo escaped a slow death inside Verizon to teach us one final lesson about the internet


Elon’s crypto comedy show

elon musk dogecoin pumping stocks 4x3

Elon Musk, the self-declared Imperator of Mars, is due to host comedy show “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, a must-see TV event that has apparently, and fittingly, fueled a surge in the price of dogecoin – a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke.

As Insider’s Margaux MacColl reports, the venture capital world is getting serious about the crypto boom, especially with the news that Andreessen Horowitz is launching a $1 billion crypto fund.

Of course, there’s a risk that blockchain tech could obviate the need for VCs altogether. Instead of giving away equity in their company in exchange for a venture firm check, a crypto startup could simply issue its own currency through an “initial coin offering” and raise capital all by itself.

Now that’s a crypto joke that VCs might not find very funny.

See also: Elon Musk is pumping stocks, cryptocurrencies, and the energy of 49 million loyal followers to dizzying heights. Experts break down the risks of his incessant tweets, from legal trouble to losses for small investors.


Snapshot: Blast off

It looks like something from a new action movie, but there are no special effects in this video of Britain’s Royal Marines training with a jet pack.

A Royal Marine in a jetpack launches from a fast boat to board a Royal Navy ship.
A Royal Marine in a jetpack launches from a fast boat to board a Royal Navy ship.

The “Jet Suit” made by the UK’s Gravity Industries is still experimental and the British military has not committed to buying the technology. But the video, based on three days of training drills conducted by 42 Royal Marines, offers a fascinating glimpse of how jet packs could be used for military operations.

In the video, a Jet Suit-equipped Royal Marine blasts off an inflatable raft and lands on the deck of a nearby ship. He then throws down a rope ladder to let fellow soldiers board the vessel, part of a maritime operation known as “visit, board, search and seizure.” Trust me, you’ll want to watch this video.


Vernacular watch: “Separation contract”

By now you’ve probably heard that Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, the First Couple of tech, are getting divorced. Instead of a prenup the pair have something called a separation contract, an incredibly detailed private document created without court involvement that couples draw up when they want to live apart. There’s at least $146 billion in net worth at stake, much of it earmarked for philanthropic causes, so while the terms of the contract will likely remain private, the ramifications could be widespread.

Recommended readings:

Google’s new security default for all users is part of its path to eliminating passwords entirely, according to a product exec

Leaked financials: Sequoia-backed grocery delivery unicorn Getir is in talks to raise a pre-IPO round at a $7 billion valuation

Melinda French Gates has an investment firm called Pivotal Ventures that is a quiet powerhouse in the venture industry.

Peloton just recalled its treadmill, but customers reported injuries and safety concerns as early as January 2019

5 top VCs reveal the favorite cybersecurity startups in their portfolios, after investors pumped a record $7.8 billion into the industry last year

Meet Elizabeth Yin, the VC reforming the industry by openly sharing what may be some of venture’s ugliest secrets


Not necessarily in tech:

The wealthy invested in ‘hidden gem’ locations during the pandemic, propelling property prices in smaller cities to new heights


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

Hurricane Apple and Hurricane Travis, a tale of two storms

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Digital Underground’s “Freaks of the Industry” (RIP Shock G)


This week: Hurricane Apple and Hurricane Travis, a tale of two storms

tim cook apple mark zuckerberg facebook

For nearly a year, internet companies have been bracing for Hurricane Apple. The imminent update to the iPhone’s software (technically, iOS 14.5) will require smartphone apps to get permission from users before tracking them and collecting data – a change that could devastate the highly targeted advertising business that social media companies rely on.

Maybe we’re just in a calm-before-the-storm moment, but, less than a week before the Apple update is expected, the internet companies in its path are remarkably calm.

  • Snapchat on Thursday forecast strong revenue growth of up to 85% for its current quarter, despite “anticipated disruptions” of the iPhone update. Snapchat also noted that it now has more Android users than iPhone users– something that should mitigate the impact of Apple’s privacy change.
  • Facebook, which has more to lose from the Apple upgrade than anyone, is busy talking about nifty new audio features to compete with Clubhouse.
  • But one not-so-widely noted development from Facebook this week was the rollout of new ways for marketers to aim ads at its audience of 2 billion viewers based on the types of videos being watched – sports, pet and animals, business, etc. That sounds a lot like old-fashioned “contextual” advertising, which doesn’t require collecting user data. Maybe Facebook’s future is a reversion to the past?

There’s another big development looming for tech companies: the post-pandemic reopening. And it’s already causing some hiccups.

  • Netflix reported first-quarter subscriber numbers that fell short of expectations. Netflix blamed last year’s “big Covid-19 pull forward” – basically, a surge of signups from homebound consumers that’s made it tougher to find new subscribers today. Netflix also cited the lack of fresh content, as lockdowns have made it harder to produce new movies and shows.
  • Uber and Lyft are having trouble finding drivers to operate their rideshare services as vaccinated people start going out again and demand picks up.

Perhaps one of the most interesting wildcards to watch as the pandemic fades will be what happens to the food delivery business that’s been booming during the lockdowns. The return to restaurants and in-person dining will affect not just the DoorDash and Gubhubs of the world, but also the so-called ghost kitchens – shared, delivery-only kitchen facilities where restaurant workers prepare food for online orders.

travis kalanick cloudkitchen nightmare 2x1 alternate

One of the pioneers of the ghost kitchen business is former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Since his controversial exit from Uber, Kalanick has helmed a company called CloudKitchens that has expanded to dozens of cities. Insider’s Meghan Morris spent weeks reporting on CloudKitchens, and the result is fascinating look at Kalanick’s second act.

CloudKitchens’ employee ranks are made up of numerous Kalanick loyalists from the Uber days, and many of the company’s corporate values are literally the same catchphrases that became infamous at Uber including “always be hustlin'” and “super pumped.” While Kalanick’s methods may be controversial, there’s no denying that he was instrumental in making Uber the global juggernaut that it is. For better or for worse, history may be repeating itself

Read the full story here:

Travis Kalanick’s stealth $5 billion startup, CloudKitchens, is Uber all over again, ruled by a ‘temple of bros,’ insiders say


Quote of the week:

“The work got harder when everyone went remote, but life got harder, too. It’s been really stressful.”

Dustin Moskovitz Asana

– Asana cofounder Dustin Moskovitz discusses his company’s office-centric plan for employees after the pandemic ends, in an exclusive interview with Insider.


Snapshot: Amazon Salon

Amazon has gone from selling books online to delivering groceries to your doorstep, producing movies and building flying drones. So why not open a hair salon?

According to the company’s announcement, visitors to Amazon Salon will be able to do things like use augmented reality technology to experiment with different hair colors before deciding on a style and buying hair care products on Amazon Kindle tablets during their treatments.

Amazon Salon

There’s only one Amazon Salon and you’ll need to go to London’s Spitalfields neighborhood to try it.

Don’t expect Amazon employees to get hands-on with your hair – a team of professional stylists from the city’s Neville Hair & Beauty Salon will handle that part. Still, given Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ thing for robots, it doesn’t take a big leap of imagination to envision future haircuts that don’t involve human hands at all.


Recommended Readings:

Internal memo shows one tactic Amazon uses to force a set number of employees out every year

Opinion – Why the ‘trillion-dollar’ markets touted by SPAC startups don’t always add up

Swedish health startup Kry is said to be closing in on a massive funding round that will push its valuation to $2 billion

Startup founders, VCs, and lawyers open up about the dark world of dirty term sheets, where shrewd investors screw them over

Google’s college-alternative programs have already trained 50,000 people. Silicon Valley hiring needs to catch up.

22 companies Microsoft is most likely to acquire next


Not necessarily in tech:

HR was built on bias. Now it’s facing an evolution.


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

A startup fever is sweeping Silicon Valley

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:

I’m your host Alexei Oreskovic. Hit me up with your thoughts, tips, rants and raves at aoreskovic@businessinsider.com.

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd’s “Samba Triste”


This week: Startup fever in Silicon Valley

Spring is here, arms are getting jabbed across the country, and in Silicon Valley the mood is feverish.

Every day brings news of big-ticket startup funding deals, eye-popping valuations, and fresh stock listings. It’s not as if Silicon Valley was struggling to attract capital before. But with the tech business having proven surprisingly impervious to the pandemic, an emboldened industry now seems convinced that the re-opening will bring only more good times.

silicon valley VC speed funding 4x3

A bad case of FOMO has gripped investors, super-charging the pace and value of dealmaking.

  • As Becky Peterson reports: “When a startup raises a smaller round at a lower valuation, whether it’s out of necessity or just a strategic choice, fast moving investors can interpret that decision as a sign of weakness.”
  • MindPortal, a startup working on a brain computing interface, received reach-outs from more than 100 VCs and angel investors during the week of Y Combinator’s Demo Day; six wanted to wire cash after 30 minute conversations.
  • Due diligence – the process by which VCs vet the companies they’re considering investing in –is not always very diligent in this overheated of environment.

And SPACs are blooming. The proliferation of blank-check companies have opened up a new pathway for startups to reach the public markets.

And because the funding frenzy means such a big range in the quality of startups and investors, Insider has embarked on a big project to separate the wheat from the chaff. The result is the Seed 100, in which Insider’s VC/startups team worked with Tribe Capital to analyze data on 1,000 seed-stage investors to identify the 100 VCs who have mastered the art of early stage investing.

Read the full story here:

The Seed 100: The best early-stage investors

seed 100 thumb 4x3


From the curious file…

The Putin bundle: Russian smartphone users will now have the privilege of using software produced by their comrades. A new law stipulates that phones, TVs and laptops sold in the country must come pre-installed with a selection of Russian-made apps alongside foreign apps. Some locals have apparently taken to calling it the “law against Apple.”

Elon’s Space Junk: Stargazers in Seattle and Portland recently were entertained with what seemed like a surprise meteor shower. It turns out the bright lights streaking across the sky were debris falling off of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched earlier in March.

Hold the confetti: Stock trading app Robinhood has been criticized for the animated on-screen confetti explosions that occur after users make a trade, with critics saying it turns investing into a gambling-like game. Robinhood strenuously disagrees, but says it will indulge the critics by replacing the confetti with “new, dynamic visual experiences that cheer on customers through the milestones in their financial journeys.


Snapshot: Buckle up for Suborbital flight

Virgin Galactic unveiled a shiny new spacecraft on Tuesday. The VSS Imagine is the latest version of a spacecraft that will eventually carry tourists into suborbital space. Virgin Galactic said it will begin ground testing and glide flights this summer.

Virgin Galactic VSS Imagine
Virgin Galactic VSS Imagine

Hundreds of people have already paid Virgin Galactic between $200,000 and $250,000 for tickets to suborbital space, though the company recently pushed back the expected departure date for these trips to “early 2022.” Virgin’s first spacecraft, the VSS Enterprise, was destroyed in a fatal crash in 2014.


Recommended Readings:

Developers say that the firestorm over controversial developer Richard Stallman is a moment of reckoning for the open source industry

Amazon’s new cloud CEO is in the perfect position to strengthen AWS’s friendship with Salesforce, his former employer

Deliveroo goes ‘from hero to zero’ after tanking 30% at its London IPO as investors get tough on gig-worker rights

VC Keith Rabois has a new side hustle in Miami as a Barry’s Bootcamp instructor

After gaining millions of followers for videos poking fun at Silicon Valley culture, this woman quit her tech job to be a comedian full-time


Not necessarily in tech:

Famed lawyer Tom Girardi and ‘Housewives’ star Erika Jayne flaunted their life of excess. Now, with accusations of a Ponzi scheme, they may lose it all.


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider