Good morning and welcome to 10 Things in Tech. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.
Let’s get started.
1. Apple and Alphabet breeze past earnings estimates. Despite the global chip shortage, Apple’s fiscal third-quarter earnings surpassed Wall Street expectations. Take a look at the key numbers. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, also defied expectations. See those figures here.
3. Instacart’s decision to replace CEO Apoorva Mehta came after years of chaotic management. Former employees said Mehta’s “trophy hunting” approach to recruitment, a high executive turnover, and his vice-like grip on product development thwarted his ability to lead. Here’s what else we know about his ouster.
4. Elon Musk said it’s “debatable” whether Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” subscription is worth it. During the company’s earnings call on Monday, Musk said customers who pay $199 for the subscription are “betting on the future.” Here’s what else he said.
5. Instagram has introduced new protections for teenage users. Starting this week, when people under 18 join the app, their account will default to private. Additionally, a tool that detects “suspicious” adult accounts will block them from interacting with kids. More on that here.
6. Watch a drone deliver a customer’s Starbucks order. The dropoff was completed by Flytrex, a startup that is looking to revolutionize delivery services by working with major chains from McDonalds to Walmart. See the video here.
7. A Google executive in Singapore who has 40 hours of meetings a week explained how she avoids burnout. To mitigate “Zoom fatigue” and burnout, Stephanie Davis prioritizes self-care like yoga and sailing, and schedules three-minute stretch breaks on her calendar. Read her other pieces of “calendar magic.”
8. Amazon rejects speculation about bitcoin payment plans as untrue. The company dismissed a report specifying its plans to accept bitcoin and to issue its own token, but said it’s still exploring crypto. Here’s what you need to know.
9. Amazon’s companywide deal to use Workday’s HR software ended after about three years. Announced in 2017, the deal struggled because the database behind Workday’s software didn’t scale as planned to support Amazon’s workforce, sources said. More on that here.
10. NDAs create a culture of silence in Silicon Valley. To understand how nondisclosure agreements have formed Silicon Valley’s culture of secrecy, we reviewed 36 agreements shared by tech workers at companies from giants like Facebook and Google to smaller startups. Here’s what we found.
In short, and I said this on NBC LX on Thursday, the bill goes after the ‘whole enchilada’ (yes, terrible metaphor) for marijuana legalization: It would fully remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances, expunge some criminal records, tax and regulate the industry, create funds that help minority entrepreneurs, and eventually allow for interstate commerce.
This is the first time the senate majority leader has outlined cannabis reform as a top priority, and he’s joined by Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee – arguably the most powerful committee – as well as a former presidential candidate in Booker.
Though the bill will likely change significantly over the next few months, the chances it gets over the 60-vote filibuster threshold are almost nonexistent. It’s even unlikely they’ll get all 50 Democratic Senators onboard, as we’ve reported.
There’s a broader fight brewing within the industry as well as the popular activist movements that view legalization as the tip of the spear of broader police reform.
The industry’s investors and executives want access to banking. Senate Democrats and their progressive base want criminal justice reform first.
Booker drew a bright red line in a Wednesday press conference, indicating that we would stop bills like SAFE Banking, which would allow cannabis companies to access the financial system without broader legalization, from advancing ahead of criminal justice reform.
The discussion draft for the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) was released on Wednesday. The bill isn’t expected to garner enough votes to pass the Senate – and the White House has not signaled support for the legislation – but Insider looked through the 30-page document to highlight eight key points in the draft.
In a Thursday note, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic said that while de-scheduling – a key aspect of the CAOA – would be a big win for the industry, a hefty federal tax would pose a “new burden” to consumers who already have to pay high state and local taxes. Zuanic broke down the draft into 7 points and noted how each one would affect current cannabis companies.
Analysts say that the recent pullback in US cannabis stocks the day Democrats released their bill draft has created a prime buying opportunity and laid out his top four picks. “Make use of yesterday’s weakness,” the analysts said in a Thursday note, adding that investors should avoid financially stretched companies that lack “state-level depth.”
The psychedelics space has burgeoned over the past year and VCs are largely responsible for all the capital that’s flowing into the space. Insider put together a list of the top investors that have bet the most cash on psychedelics companies.
Curaleafannounced that Ranjan Kalia, former executive vice president and CFO of tech firm Virtusa Corp, would be joining the company as CFO.
MedMenannounced that Tom Lynch, who had been serving as interim CEO, would be stepping into the role on a permanent basis.
Cannabis retail company Zoned Properties named Berekk Blackwell as its new COO.
Psychedelics wellness retreat company Dimensions Health Centressaid that Dr. Douglas Cook, head of neurosurgery at Queen’s University, will be joining the company as chief medical officer. Hospitality veteran Linda Griffin will be joining as managing director of hospitality.
Deals, launches, and IPOs
Michigan cannabis company C3 Industriesclosed a $25 million funding round led by Welcan Capital and Navy Capital, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $65 million.
Psychedelics company Wesana Healthannounced that it acquired therapeutic software company PsyTech in a C$21 million all-stock deal.
Florida dominates the US medical cannabis market, selling $1.2 billion worth of products in 2020, according to New Frontier Data. Trailing closely behind are Arizona and California, at $1.1 billion and $857 million in sales respectively:
Good morning and welcome to 10 Things in Tech. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.
Before we get started, we have an Insider.com update. Newsletters are now coming from our new domain, @insider.com. Be sure to add email@example.com to your address book.
Enough from us. Let’s get to it.
1. TikTok hit three billion downloads, a critical milestone only Facebook has reached. The video-snippet platform is the fifth non-game app to ever surpass the three billion install mark, showing that Facebook isn’t the only app people can’t live without. More on that here.
2. Twitter has abandoned Fleets. The company’s version of the disappearing stories made famous by Snapchat wasn’t getting enough engagement to make it worthwhile, according to Axios. Rest in peace, Fleets.
3. Fort Lauderdale wanted Elon Musk to build a commuter train tunnel, but got a $30 million Tesla tunnel instead. Emails obtained by Insider show how Musk’s The Boring Company persuaded the city to pursue an entirely different project from the one that brought them together. Here’s what went down.
4. Apple and Goldman Sachs are launching a “buy now, pay later” service. Dubbed Apple Pay Later, the service will let you pay for products over several months, according to Bloomberg. This is how it’ll work.
5. Facebook joined Amazon in requesting the FTC’s new chairwoman be removed from any investigations. In a filing this week, the company asked that Lina Khan recuse herself, citing her past criticisms of the tech industry as biased. What we know about its request.
6. Videos of Tesla’s latest full self-driving software update don’t inspire much confidence. Taken by beta testers, some videos show the cars driving smoothly, while others show Teslas swerving into medians and narrowly missing other vehicles. You can see clips here.
7. When Yahoo offered $1 billion to buy Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said he’d probably use the money to build (drumroll, please) another Facebook. Zuckerberg said he wouldn’t know what to do with the money Yahoo offered him in 2006, according to a new book. Read more excerpts from the book.
8. Bay Area renters have to make between $31 and $68 an hour to afford an apartment. Due to its tech scene, San Francisco has the highest rent in the country – and residents have to work two full-time, minimum-wage jobs to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Get the details here.
9. A leaked email shows cybersecurity startup Tanium lost its fourth chief marketing officer in five years. The latest exit comes as CEO Orion Hindawi says the company is preparing for an IPO. A look at what we know so far.
10. Snapchat salaries revealed: How much does Snapchat pay its employees? We researched how much Snap pays for jobs in product, marketing, engineering, and more. Here’s how much staffers get paid.
3. Amazon’s Prime Air drone-delivery team is experiencing more growing pains. Internal conflict, high turnover, and launch delays are threatening one of Amazon’s loftiest projects, which aims to deliver packages using fully electric drones. Here are some of its pain points.
4. Singapore-based Nestron is now shipping its futuristic tiny homes overseas. The company is introducing its artificial intelligence-powered, prefabricated tiny homes – some of which start at $34,000 – to the UK this year. Take a look inside the AI-powered houses.
5. Some of Google’s own employees told Insider the company is too large and complex and needs to be broken up. “Google is all over the place,” one senior employee said of the firm’s sprawling projects. More on their dissatisfaction here.
6. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos were spotted at the Sun Valley “billionaire summer camp.” This marks Gates’ first appearance at a major event since the announcement of his divorce from Melinda French Gates. More on that here.
9. Salesforce and Amazon are becoming each other’s best allies in the battle against Microsoft. The partnership brings them so many benefits that analysts even suggested an (admittedly unlikely) way they could be even stronger together: Merging the two companies.
The Epstein book came to light through a circuitous and unusual path: A self-described “enigmatic rock chick” living in Manhattan’s East Village found it on the sidewalk in the late 1990s.
Denise Ondayko, a former musician who now lives in the Bay Area, said she was walking down Fifth Avenue when she spotted a black address book on the ground. Flipping through, she found addresses and phone numbers for members of the Trump and Kennedy clans, and iconic chroniclers of wealth such as Robin Leach. She decided to hold onto it, slipped it into a box, and forgot about it.
In May 2020, Ondayko and a relative were cleaning out an old storage unit she had rented in Michigan when the long-buried book emerged from a box of odds and ends. Thumbing through it – and seeing the dozens of entries for Epstein’s myriad properties – the relative immediately recognized who the owner was.
Spotify has benefited from Joe Rogan’s unfiltered style – but not everyone at the company is a fan. Some employees are frustrated with his controversial show, and say he’s making the company so much money it refuses to rein him in:
Rogan, who has a $100 million licensing deal with Spotify, is one of the most powerful figures in media, and one of the most controversial. On his show, he’s aired COVID-19 misinformation, laughed as a guest described sexual harassment, and hosted a prolific conspiracy theorist three times.
Spotify, which owns the exclusive rights to stream “The Joe Rogan Experience,” has stood by him, despite removing a few dozen episodes from his archive. But some of the company’s employees have been irritated by Spotify’s largely hands-off approach and have pushed leadership to rein Rogan in. Spotify hasn’t budged.
In the 25 years that Dawn Fay has been in the recruiting business, she’s seen a hot job market several times. But nothing, she says, comes close to the frenzy she’s seeing right now, as the economy begins to boom in the wake of the pandemic. “There is so much movement in the market,” Fay, a senior district president at the staffing firm Robert Half, said. “The churn is amazing to see.”
“Churn” may be something of an understatement: It’s downright chaos at HR departments across the US. So many Americans have quit their jobs this spring that the resignation rate has skyrocketed to a two-decade high. And people aren’t just looking to switch employers – some are jumping into new professions altogether, while others are climbing the ladder at their current workplace.
The result is an economy-wide game of musical chairs – a wholesale transformation of the job market that has left employers scrambling to retain employees and attract new ones. Call it The Great Reshuffle.
Young Presidents Organization, or YPO, is an ultra-exclusive social group that offers business leaders a chance to speak openly about what it’s really like running a company:
Founded in 1950, YPO has a reputation as a fraternity for ultra-rich white men who inherited their family’s business, and, for a time, it was.
But over the years, it has recruited more entrepreneurs, who tell Insider that the exclusive club is worth the price of admission: a $7,950 upfront fee and chapter dues ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 annually. Plus, the club’s secrecy doesn’t hurt.
Confidentiality is required by a code of conduct, and members say that clandestine atmosphere is part of the appeal. Executives can unload about work or their personal lives, trusting that nothing will slip out. In fact, the group’s code of conduct has an often-repeated line – “Nothing, Nobody, Never” – that serves as an unofficial slogan.
Take a look at the organization that boasts 30,000 members worldwide:
2. Instacart poached Fidji Simo from Facebook to be its next CEO. In August, Simo will take over the role from Instacart founder Apoorva Mehta, who is transitioning into the position of executive chairman of the board. More on that here.
3. Square is building a hardware crypto wallet. The payments firm wants to make bitcoin more mainstream. More on the plans.
5. Trump’s presidency drove a wedge between Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. A new book claims the execs often disagreed over how to tackle Trump’s hate speech and misinformation on the platform. Read more from the book.
5. Dodge is making an electric muscle car that will debut in 2024. Future models will be able to hit 62 mph in as little as two seconds – rivalling the Tesla Model S Plaid, currently the world’s quickest production car. Here’s what we know about the car so far.
6. Uber and Lyft could be avoiding $135 million in Canadian taxes every year. By taking advantage of lax financial disclosure requirements and classifying drivers as contractors, the companies could be skirting millions of dollars worth of taxes. Get the full rundown here.
8. A senior Google exec will reportedly work remotely after opposing it for staff. Urs Hölzle is moving to New Zealand to work remotely, a decision that sparked outrage as he had opposed remote work for lower-ranking employees. More on Google’s remote-work drama.
9. Amazon is struggling to get Aetna and other health plans to cover its medical-care service. Securing health-insurance coverage would be a crucial milestone as Amazon Care seeks to expand to more people and companies. Here are the roadblocks it’s facing.
10. Our flow chart explains Amazon’s controversial system for fixing or ousting employees. As part of our investigation into the company’s employee review program, we created a chart that takes you through each step in the process. See our exclusive chart here.
When Sierra Tishgart appeared to push her cofounder, Maddy Moelis, out of the company, Great Jones employees launched an uprising, arguing they saw “no successful path forward” with Tishgart as their leader. But the mutiny didn’t go as planned:
By September 2020, all six of the full-time staff had quit.
How, exactly, did Great Jones’ staff implode so spectacularly? Emails reviewed by Insider depict a war between two estranged friends over the future of the company, with a group of big-name investors and advisors providing ammunition on both sides. But employees caught in the middle just saw an image-obsessed boss whose poor management and decision to oust her well-respected cofounder during a pandemic left them no choice but to resign.
“It just got super ugly,” an employee who led the operations team said, adding that her mental health suffered because of Tishgart’s leadership. “I had hit my breaking point. I was, like, ‘I can’t see a path forward in which I can work with this person.'”
Here’s what we know about the founders’ infighting:
In the summer of 1988, Bill Gates took a helicopter to Les Arcs ski resort in the French Alps for an international sales meeting for Microsoft. He was in the mood to let loose.
One night, Gates joined his employees for drinks in a Swiss chalet and partied until the sun came up, recalled Dan Graves, a former Microsoft export manager. At about 5 in the morning, Graves nearly tripped over Gates, who was lying on top of a woman out on the lawn. The pair were “just snuggling,” Graves told Insider.
It’s not the kind of story most people think of when they imagine Gates, with his oversized glasses, boyish haircut, and nerdy persona. Till very recently, he was better known for quirky Reddit AMAs, publicly advocating for COVID-19 vaccines, and pumping billions into philanthropic work, alongside Melinda, his wife of nearly three decades.
Take an inside look at a different side of Bill Gates:
In an Insider survey of 1,000 employed Americans across the country, 72% of respondents who are returning to an office after working remotely said they’re feeling burned out – compared to 60% of those who have been going into the office consistently:
Ariane Ollier-Malaterre studies the future of work, focusing specifically on how people set boundaries between their personal and professional lives. She answered my call from Canada, excited to share some of her research findings – despite that she had the day off.
This blurring of boundaries is a trap Ollier-Malaterre knows that others will fall into as well. She is especially worried now that many people are returning to the office after more than a year of working remotely. She keeps picturing a nightmare scenario in which employees commute to the office, spend a full day there, and then return home just to continue answering emails and calls.
“It would be the worst of both worlds,” for employers and employees, Ollier-Malaterre said.
Read more about what she’s calling the post-pandemic “burnout wave”:
Over the past decade, Paul Weiss has boosted its profits with the help of legal fees from its large private-equity client, Apollo Global Management. The account also changed the law firm’s culture, insiders say, and opened it up to criticisms about its independence:
The relationship has pumped up the law firm’s sizable earnings and lifted its dealmaking profile, leading to nearly 100 mergers and acquisitions in which Paul Weiss advised Apollo and its affiliates.
But there has also been a cost to the cozy relationship, according to interviews with 13 people who have worked in its corporate department over the past decade.
Insider also interviewed dozens of others, including current and former Paul Weiss attorneys, consultants, and recruiters, as well as competitors, to offer an account of how Paul Weiss became so involved in Apollo’s business – a relationship one former firm lawyer likened to a plot line in the TV show “Mad Men,” when executives at a fictional ad agency scrambled to please its Big Tobacco client, Lucky Strike.
It’s Patricia Kelly Yeo’s last week with us here on Insider’s healthcare team! In her final few weeks, she went deep on what’s happening in women’s health.
On the heels of Ro’s announced deal to buy Modern Fertility, we started wondering what the future of women’s health looks like: Is it possible to grow a startup focused on something like fertility, or contraception? Or is the fate ultimately to become an acquisition target?