Image: Andre Francois McKenzie / Protocol
May 16, 2021
Good morning! This Sunday, here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from a wild week for Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Coinbase, to all the revelations from a new book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
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Best of Protocol
Patent trolls are circling crypto. A Square lawyer wants to defend it, by Tomio Geron
- Wild week for crypto, huh? Elon Musk changes his mind about selling cars for bitcoin, Dogecoin continues to be nuts, Coinbase's earnings were enormous and prices everywhere are tumbling. Underneath it all is a brewing fight about ownership. Who's in charge of cryptocurrencies, the tech that powers them and the spoils that result? Square's Kirupa Pushparaj is leading the charge to keep everything together.
Ticketed events, label partnerships and beat battles: How Discord wants to conquer music, by Janko Roettgers
- Discord is now a core part of the gaming world, and for its next act, it wants to do the same for music. Discord's mix of community and performance seems perfectly suited to the industry, and it's already taking off in a big way. But the bigger picture here is that Discord wants to be the virtual events platform, and it might have a shot at pulling it off.
Four big takeaways from Epic v. Apple week two, and what's yet to come, by Nick Statt and Ben Brody
- Week two of Epic v. Apple was much less juicy than week one, but ultimately probably much more substantive. Lawyers and witnesses (and occasionally Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers) spent the week burrowing deep into the parameters of video games, app stores and much more. This is a good rundown of what we learned, and what we're still waiting for.
VMware needs to transform faster. A stay-the-course CEO might help, by Hirsh Chitkara
- Two big-name enterprise tech companies got new CEOs this week: Raghu Raghuram at VMware and Bill Staples at New Relic. For Raghuram, practically a lifer at VMware, the challenge will be to help push the company faster into the future without changing what has made the company work so far. And "like this, but more!" is harder to do than it sounds.
Tech's non-compete agreements hurt workers and anger some lawmakers, by Megan Rose Dickey
- Non-competes are technically unenforceable in California, but they seem to still have a chilling effect on employees all over the industry. A new bill, the Workforce Mobility Act, tries to make it harder for employers to use non-competes at all. This bill has been around the block, but there's a chance it becomes law this time.
Shoppers already love Chinese brands — they just don't know it yet, by Shen Lu
- The Protocol | China team has been pulling on a fascinating thread in recent weeks: What do Chinese companies do to seem more palatable to consumers in the U.S. and other countries that either have bad associations with the phrase "Made in China" or simply don't want to support a Chinese brand? The answers are varied, creative and working.
A MESSAGE FROM AMAZON
A recent study from the University of California-Berkeley and Brandeis University found that when Amazon raised their starting wage to $15/hr, the average hourly wage in the surrounding area rose by 4.7% as other employers followed their lead.
Best of Everything Else
The Secret Origins of Amazon's Alexa — Wired
- This week was Brad Stone Week on the internet, as his "Amazon Unbound" book hit shelves. There was the "How Bezos beat the National Enquirer" story, the whole thing about the cow, a good interview with Stone about how Amazon and Bezos have changed over the years, Stone's story about how an exploding hoverboard might change Amazon forever and this Wired excerpt about how Alexa came to be, and the wild and unlikely process that made it work.
How the Personal Computer Broke the Human Body — Vice
- I 100% guarantee reading this story will make you sit up a little straighter and stretch your neck in the course of reading it. The internet may be breaking our brains, but computers have been breaking our bodies for even longer.
The Deadly Toll of Amazon's Trucking Boom — The Information
- You ever see those photos floating around Twitter of someone on the highway, surrounded by four or five Amazon delivery vans? They're not an anomaly: The company has responded to explosive growth by expanding its delivery network at a blistering pace, and of course, accidents have resulted. But is that Amazon's problem? It's hard to say.
The Memex Method — Cory Doctorow
- A fun, thoughtful look at what blogging means to the internet, and how everyone should think about being a "content creator" online. (Rule 1: Never, ever call yourself a content creator.) And in a funny way, you can replace "blogging" with almost any kind of product-making and find this applies to your line of work as well. What changes when you decide to have a bias toward publishing?
Inside the nasty battle between Silicon Valley and the reporters who write about it — New York Magazine
- While we're on the subject of online media, here's a great look at the ongoing battle between tech (well, mostly just a handful of VCs with a lot of Twitter followers) and the people who cover it. This is what happens when a hobby becomes a movement becomes an industry. And what happens when "go direct" becomes a mantra of that industry.
WeWork's CEO on the Future of Work — The Journal
- This is the podcast in which WeWork's Sandeep Mathrani said that wild thing about how all the best employees are desperate to return to the office. (Which, no.) But beyond that, this is a really interesting look at how WeWork is changing, and why it might be perfectly suited to where the world is going.
A MESSAGE FROM AMAZON
"Before working at Amazon, it was hard for me to pay my bills on time and save money." Going from $11 an hour at her last job to making more than $15/hr at Amazon meant Kimberly could afford a bigger place.
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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.