Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:
- Intel’s $20 billion comeback plan
- Microsoft’s executive org chart
- Mark Zuckerberg talks misinformation
I’m your host Alexei Oreskovic. Hit me up with your thoughts, tips, rants and raves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Blur’s “Bettlebum.”
It’s been a long time since Intel and Microsoft – the much-feared “Wintel” duopoly of old – dominated business headlines and captivated the world’s attention in the same 24-hour period.
And yet this week felt like a return to the ’90s as the two tech giants’ latest moves had the industry buzzing. Let’s start with Intel, the fallen chip champion, which unveiled a big comeback plan on Tuesday.
- After losing its chip manufacturing edge, Intel has been stuck in a business-model identity crisis. Should it split its manufacturing and design operations? Should it produce chips for other companies? Should it outsource its own production? Intel CEO Pat Gelisinger, just one month in the top job, gave his answer on Tuesday: Yes to all of the above!
- Intel will double down on chip manufacturing, pouring $20 billion to build two new fabs in Arizona. The fabs will produce the most advanced chips for Intel, and for outside customers – a shrewd move that allows Intel to benefit from US and European anxieties about dependence on China, and to (eventually) tap into all the new chip buyers that have created today’s shortages.
- But Intel will also use outside contract manufacturers, like TSMC, to produce some of its own chips. There’s something for everyone, though it still may not be enough to bring back Intel’s glory days, as Rosalie Chan reports.
Microsoft meanwhile has already gone through its reinvention. Under Satya Nadella’s now seven-year reign as CEO, the company has thrived by focusing on business customers and cloud computing.
- That’s why so many people were scratching their heads on learning that Microsoft is considering plunking down $10 billion to buy Discord, a video game streaming platform. The potential deal falls into an odd basket of headscratching acquisitions (and near-acquisitions) by Nadella that include Minecraft, Linkedin and a failed effort to acquire TikTok.
- Perhaps unconsciously, Nadella channeled his predecessor former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Creation, creation, creation” he told Bloomberg in an interview last month, describing his view that internet creators will drive growth in the cloud business. Nadella’s phrasing, if not his delivery, was reminiscent of Ballmer’s meme-famous war chant from two decades ago of “Developers, Developers, Developers!”
- To get inside Microsoft, check out our exclusive org chart of the company’s 175 most powerful people.
Goodbye Vocl, Hello Frank. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s social network hasn’t launched yet, but it’s already gone through a name change. Frank, as the service will be called, has nothing to do with frankfurters or Frank Sinatra. The name signifies the site’s antipathy to political correctness and its devotion to “forthright and sincere” expression.
WeWork’s SPAC Shaq attack. The office space sharing business has only gotten uglier in the 18 months since WeWork scrapped its IPO, with the pandemic turning downtown business centers into ghosttowns. But WeWork will get its public listing after all, thanks to the SPAC boom. The company will merge with BowX Acquisition Corp, a blank-check company that counts basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal as an advisor, in a deal that values WeWork at $9 billion – about one quarter of its $47 billion valuation in 2019.
Better than Zoom. Coronavirus vaccines have put the end of lockdowns in sight. But for those who’ve decided they actually enjoy staying indoors, the cloisered life won’t have to mean taking a vow of celibacy according to London-based Raspberry Dream Labs. The company is developing a virtual reality set up that delivers sounds, visuals and scents, as well as haptic pulses that provide a sense of being touched. Pandemic or not, the company believes the future of intimacy is remote.
“I don’t think we can expect that any platform will find every instance of harmful content. I think we should hold the platforms to be responsible for building generally effective systems of moderating this content.”
– Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Thursday’s Congressional hearing responding to a question about whether he should personally be held liable for damages caused by misinformation on Facebook.
Not necessarily in tech:
Apollo’s hard-driving culture is extreme even by Wall Street standards, and it’s burning through young workers. Here’s why $450,000-plus pay and rules to ban weekend emails aren’t enough to keep them happy.
Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.