As we celebrate our first birthday, we thought this was a good time to look back on some of our favorite Protocol stories from the last 12 months. Some broke big news, some illuminated people and stories we needed to know more about, and all are great and important tales. We hope you enjoy these highlights from our first year.
- The PayPal Mafia gets all the credit, but it turns out an old-school company has an awful lot to teach people about how to build the future. GE may not be the giant it once was, but its influence is still everywhere.
- Babel Street's tech became a recurring story this year, led by this investigation into how the government tracks its citizens, and how a complicated system makes that possible. And profitable.
- Diversity gets talked about too often in purely quantitative terms: percentages in certain levels, representation across the board. But as our reporting uncovered, the struggles for women at tech companies continue long after they're hired.
Tesla vs. Mustang: The future of Ford is here, by Mike Murphy
- The future of cars is about ... cars, certainly. But as Ford is discovering, the future of cars is also about reinventing an entire ecosystem of related businesses. Making an electric car fun to drive is only part of the battle: which might also explain why it's going to be so hard to beat Tesla.
- With so much antitrust action coming against Big Tech, it's tough to know what's real and what's posturing. This group is doing some of the Hill's most real work.
- Kelsey Hightower's story is both inspirational and unusual, and his career says a lot about what a more diverse, more effective tech industry looks like. Hightower's also working hard to make that happen.
Silicon Valley's new extreme: The 2:30 a.m. tech bus from Salida, by Lauren Hepler
- There are a lot of ways to understand what's been happening in Silicon Valley — and why a lot of people and companies are thinking about leaving — but the tech employees forced to live hours away from the city they work in tell the story pretty effectively.
- While so many companies are fleeing the Bay Area, Google is staying. Actually, it's doubling down. But there's a thin line between investing in your community and steamrolling it — and a few very important people are trying to keep Google on the right side.
How COVID-19 rewrote Y Combinator's Winter 20 Demo Day, by Biz Carson
- It's been a weird year to be a startup, huh? There are good lessons for founders, investors and frankly everyone in what happened at Y Combinator this year, as it tried to figure out how to maintain a community and help guide startups through a pandemic.
- Everything about the way we interact online changed this year. And while Zoom became 2020's buzziest chat company, Discord might be the closest to actually perfecting what it means to live a virtual life.
- As tech companies told us a lot this year, it's always an election season on the internet. And more than ever, data — who has it, how they get it, how it's used, how much you can trust it — is a huge part of the process. But data, as one company spent millions of dollars learning, is a tricky thing in the real world.
- Cyberpunk 2077 was supposed to be great, and was decidedly not great. The new Flight Simulator, on the other hand, was even better than advertised, and was also an indicator of how the cloud and big data are going to change how games work.
How Google kneecapped Amazon's smart TV efforts, by Janko Roettgers
- One of the most forceful antitrust accusations against Google is that the company spends a lot of money to cement its dominance and bullies partners into helping it do so. This story — about how Google uses Android as a weapon — encapsulates that perfectly.