The great semiconductor summit
Image: Niek Doup / Protocol
Good morning! This Monday, we have a deep dive on how retail investing and social media are changing Wall Street forever, a bunch of CEOs are gathering with the White House to try and fix the chip shortage, a look into Google's sketchy-sounding ad systems, and Microsoft might be about to do another huge acquisition.
No-fee investing isn't new. Neither is social media. But the combination of the two has burst onto the scene recently — Diamond Hands! — and promises to change the face of fintech and Wall Street forever.
The explosion in social investing is the subject of our latest Manual, which looks at all the ways the craze is changing the industry, and the people driving that change. A few key takeaways:
The Manual also includes a list of names you should get to know in this space, from newish Betterment CEO Sarah Levy to Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth (and Robinhood enemy No. 1) William Galvin. Go read it all here.
Some of tech's most powerful executives are spending part of today talking about chips with the Biden administration. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, NEC Director Brian Deese and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will run the virtual meeting, and try to figure out how to get more chips in the market.
Who's on the guest list? Executives from Alphabet, AT&T, Dell, HP, Intel, Micron, Samsung and TSMC are all among the 19 companies that will be represented, CNBC said. (Many will send their CEOs; others will send other senior execs.) The whole thing doubles as a way for the White House to promote its huge infrastructure bill, which would commit $50 billion to American chipmakers.
The Biden administration clearly wants to invest in the long-term growth of domestic semiconductor manufacturing. But the chip shortage is happening right now, it's causing huge problems and there aren't many easy fixes available.
And speaking of Zoom summits: A group of CEOs including Reid Hoffman, Ken Frazier and dozens of other leaders spent part of the weekend developing a plan to withhold investment and campaign contributions from lawmakers who restrict voting.
Google runs an ad exchange, and is a buyer and seller on that exchange. And the company has allegedly used that privileged position to make itself unbeatable in ad buying, and to make itself a fortune.
The scheme was known as "Project Bernanke," and we know about it now because of an incorrectly redacted filing in response to the Texas-led antitrust lawsuit against Google. (There's a lawyer joke to be made here, but I haven't figured it out yet.)
This is a really bad look for Google, though it has disputed the way Project Bernanke was being characterized and has vociferously denied doing things like this over the years.
Another nugget from the unredacted filing: Sheryl Sandberg herself was one of the people who signed the Jedi Blue ad-buying deal, which has sparked accusations of price fixing between ad giants. Google's Philipp Schindler signed it as well.
"The GameStop trading shot heard round the markets served to many as a wake-up call: Retail investors are all in and they're here to stay. The issue is: How will they use their power?"
Coinbase is going public on Wednesday, and New Constructs' David Trainer thinks it's hugely overvalued:
23andMe's Anne Wojcicki said the key to fixing health care is not to fix the existing system, but to follow the money:
Even with the Chinese government issuing big fines against tech companies, one Meituan employee said they'd be nuts to self-regulate:
A former Facebook employee, Sarah Zhang, said that political leaders are using the platform to mislead their citizens and Facebook doesn't really care:
Coinbase's direct listing is set for Wednesday, and it looks like a huge one. I'll send a Protocol mug to anyone who correctly guesses what its valuation will be when it hits the market.
Microsoft might be buying Nuance for about $16 billion. Bloomberg reported the two sides are in "advanced talks," and the deal could be done as soon as this week.
Biden plans to name Chris Inglis as the first national cyber director today, The Washington Post reported. Jen Easterly will reportedly be the new CISA head.
Could the Facebook Oversight Board finally rule on Donald Trump? As our friends at POLITICO report, Trump's road to victory looks like a narrow one. But you never know.
Where does a toy end and a robot begin? I submit that the Optimus Prime Auto-Converting Programmable Robot is firmly on the latter side of that line. For one thing, it's $700. It's 19 inches tall, has microphones and speakers — honestly, put Alexa in this thing and I'm sold forever — and 27 servo motors running to keep everything transforming. This thing really is more than meets the eye. Like, a lot more.
Companies all over the tech industry are making big promises and big plans for the coming decades, trying to do their part to fight climate change, promote equality and take a view of success longer than next quarter and wider than Wall Street. Our panel of industry leaders will examine these questions and more.
Are you tired of explaining the tech news of the day to your co-workers every morning? Let us do the heavy lifting and refer them to Source Code.
Send them your referral link via Slack, text, email, or carrier pigeon and we'll send you your very own Protocol mug after you refer 5 friends!
Your referral link: *|RH_REFLINK|*
Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com, or our tips line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of companies present at the semiconductor summit. This story was updated on April 12, 2021.