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Podcast: Here comes the antitrust hearing, plus Affirm CEO Max Levchin

Our weekly podcast, this time with Max Levchin, who says there's a future in fintech for any company users can trust.

This week on the Source Code Podcast, Emily Birnbaum on the big tech CEO hearing and section 230 silliness, Tom Krazit on Slack's antitrust fight with Microsoft, and Affirm CEO Max Levchin on why every tech company wants to be your bank.

For more on the topics in this episode:

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People

Beeper built the universal messaging app the world needed

It's an app for all your social apps. And part of an entirely new way to think about chat.

Beeper is an app for all your messaging apps, including the hard-to-access ones.

Image: Beeper

Eric Migicovsky likes to tinker. And the former CEO of Pebble — he's now a partner at Y Combinator — knows a thing or two about messaging. "You remember on the Pebble," he asked me, "how we had this microphone, and on Android you could reply to all kinds of messages?" Migicovsky liked that feature, and he especially liked that it didn't care which app you used. Android-using Pebble wearers could speak their replies to texts, Messenger chats, almost any notification that popped up.

That kind of universal, non-siloed approach to messaging appealed to Migicovsky, and it didn't really exist anywhere else. "Remember Trillian from back in the day?" he asked, somewhat wistfully. "Or Adium?" They were the gold-standard of universal messaging apps; users could log in to their AIM, MSN, GChat and Yahoo accounts, and chat with everyone in one place.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

People

The future of the cell phone, according to the man who invented it

Martin Cooper on 5G, AI, and why sometimes in tech it's helpful to have an enemy.

Martin Cooper with his original DynaTAC cell phone.

Photo: Ted Soqui/Getty Images

Martin Cooper helped invent one of the most consequential and successful products in history: the cell phone. And almost five decades after he made the first public cell phone call, on a 2-pound brick of a device called the DynaTAC, he's written a book about his career called "Cutting the Cord: The Cell Phone Has Transformed Humanity." In it he tells the story of the cell phone's invention, and looks at how it has changed the world and will continue to do so.

Cooper came on the Source Code Podcast to talk about his time at Motorola, the process of designing the first-ever cell phone, whether today's tech giants are monopolies and why he's bullish on the future of AI.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

People

One man’s plan to build a new internet

Dfinity Chief Scientist Dominic Williams comes on the Source Code Podcast.

Dfinity's founder and chief scientist, Dominic Williams.

Photo: Dfinity

Much is wrong with the internet we have now. But what does better look like?

Dominic Williams, the founder and chief scientist at Dfinity, thinks he has an answer. It's called the Internet Computer, and it builds on top of the internet's most basic protocols to create a new generation of the web that doesn't exist on a bunch of private networks controlled by tech giants, but is run by the network itself. It's zero-trust and unhackable and yeah, you guessed it, it's blockchain. But blockchain that works "at web speed," Williams said.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

People

‘Everyone's in the space industry. They just don't know it yet.’

Dylan Taylor, CEO of Voyager Space Holdings, comes on the Source Code Podcast to talk about the big business of space travel.

Thanks to companies like SpaceX, the space business is heating up fast.

Photo: SpaceX

A few hundred people have been to space. Just shy of 250 have been to the International Space Station, and all of two dozen have been on the moon. Pretty soon, though, all of those numbers are about to get a lot bigger.

The space industry is booming, as companies and governments alike vie to create new ways to get people into orbit and new things to do once they get there. They're trying to figure out what space tourism might look like; how to design a space hotel; what life might look like on Mars; and how to train a whole lot of astronauts in a really short time. And, eventually, how to bring the cost of a ticket down to something more than a handful of people can afford.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

People

How MeWe is building a better Facebook

MeWe CEO Mark Weinstein comes on the Source Code Podcast to talk privacy, regulation and how to beat Facebook by being absolutely nothing like Facebook.

MeWe looks a little like Facebook — but it wants to act completely differently.

Image: MeWe

Many have tried to take on Facebook over the years, and none have succeeded. But Mark Weinstein thinks he might have a shot. Weinstein is the CEO of MeWe, and while he's not crazy enough to think he can completely take down the Big Blue app, he's pretty sure he can win over a few hundred million of its users.

MeWe has some things in common with Facebook — it has a news feed, you can post pictures and status updates, there are lots of groups — but its business model and view of the world couldn't be more different. It has no algorithmic timelines, no personalization and no ad business. It's up to 13 million users now, twice the number it had a year ago, and Weinstein thinks it's only just beginning to take off.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

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