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Elections, IPOs and the open web

Elections, IPOs and the open web

Good morning! This Sunday, here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, including the biggest IPOs in the world to planning for virtual Burning Man.

As always, let me know what you think, and what you'd like to see more of in our weekend edition. I'm, or you can just reply to this email. Thanks! Onto the good stuff.

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The Best of Protocol

Silicon Valley could get an easy ride on child privacy if Markey is elected out, by Emily Birnbaum

  • Ed Markey has spent more than two decades in Congress fighting for children's online privacy. But his work is by no means permanent, and a lot of advocates are worried he's going to lose in this election. Emily's story is a good look at how thinking in Congress develops over time, how fragile most policies really are, and why it's so hard to make any kind of internet policy that sticks.

Comcast is looking to enter the smart TV wars, by Janko Roettgers

  • This is the new platform war: Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google and others, all angling to power your TV (or the thing you put under your TV) after you cancel cable. To the winner go the ad dollars and subscription commissions. And as Janko points out, Comcast is already a stronger player in this market than you might think.

What it's like to onboard nearly 2,000 employees in a pandemic, by Mike Murphy

  • Managing acquisitions is hard, even in the best of times. And these … are not the best of times. So any company that has acquired, or even hired, a team in the last few months should be able to sympathize with the challenges Charles Schwab faced in bringing 1,800 new employees into the fold. And there's an important lesson in here: Free corporate swag is always the right answer, no matter the situation.

Protocol's guides to the Ant and Palantir IPOs, by Shakeel Hashim

  • I know, I know, we spent all week talking about these S-1s! But Ant and Palantir are two unusual, important companies, and both sit right at the center of all kinds of tensions and debates, over the relationship between governments and tech, the U.S. and China, and much more. Also, it's very impressive how much money Palantir has managed to lose over the years.

A new lawsuit against Trump's Section 230 executive order argues it chills speech about voting, by Issie Lapowsky

  • Section 230 has gone from "a sentence of policy about content on the internet" to a blank slate onto which anyone can write all their feelings about the tech industry, online conversation and the future in general. (If someone hasn't blamed Section 230 for climate change, I mean, give it time.) After President Trump's executive order on the subject, this lawsuit, and others like it, might redefine the conversation all over again.



Stronger care … from anywhere, to anywhere

A strong healthcare system can scale to meet increasing patient demands. At Philips, we're charting a new way forward by moving care beyond the hospital's walls with advanced virtual health capabilities that expand clinical reach and increase care team capacity.

Learn more.

The Best of Everything Else

"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism" — Cory Doctorow

  • Somewhere between a book and a magazine article, Doctorow's tome will either make you nod furiously or tear your hair out for the full 109-minute read time. Either way, it's a specific and aggressive playbook against the way the world works now. And if you think you know what he means by "surveillance capitalism," you're wrong. "We need to take down Big Tech," Doctorow writes, "and to do that, we need to start by correctly identifying the problem."

Why Facebook is bad, Twitter might be a little bit good, and social media is rotting our brains — GQ

  • When Jaron Lanier talks, it's pretty much always worth listening. But this is a particularly thoughtful version of the man, seeing the good and bad and weird and important parts of the internet all at the same time. All this stuff is messy and nuanced, and Lanier weaves it all together better than most. He even kinda likes Twitter!

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman welcomes you to team antitrust — The Verge

  • In this interview, Stoppelman tries to answer a really important question: What does he actually want from antitrust reform? He's been railing against Google for years, but what's a better path forward? He has a pretty thorough idea, and it turns out to be much less "break them up!" than I expected.
  • Read also: Om Malik on why people should stop listening to Stoppelman.

Flipboard TV

  • I've long been fascinated with Flipboard, which swaps algorithms and feeds and social graphs for something more curated and interest-based. It's like the internet, minus all the chaos. And now it's trying to do the same for the video world. The product's been out for a bit, but now it's rolling out to all mobile devices. It's like YouTube, only completely different.

A clean start for the web — Tom MacWright

  • So many of the arguments and court cases happening in tech right now are actually about the future of the internet. Is it open or closed? Curated ecosystems and native apps, or open fields and PWAs? Tom MacWright makes a case for something in the middle, arguing that the web actually isn't the beautiful utopia that some people make it out to be, but that it could be again. And also that maybe one "web" just isn't enough anymore.


Dmitry Shapiro, CEO of Koji

Dmitry Shapiro has seen on pretty much every side of the social wars. He founded Veoh, an early competitor to YouTube that wound up drowning in a tide of copyright issues. He ran MySpace Music, and got a front seat to the first era of Big Social. Then he ran all things social at Google (which we'll try not to hold against him).

Now he's the CEO of Koji, a company trying to build a social network … on top of other social networks. He thinks that by betting on web technologies rather than native apps, and content over friend lists, he can build a product that goes all the places people already are.

On this week's Source Code Podcast, Shapiro and I talked about Apple and Epic, TikTok and China, the future of apps, the open web, and lots more. And, as always, he shared with us a few of the things he's into right now. One of which is very weird.

  • Burning Man. I learned about Burning Man in 1999, but had my first Burn in 2009. My wife and I have gone every year since then. Our three children were all planned around the Burn (so that my wife would have a big belly on the Playa). They have been every year since in utero. My dream is that my kids can be 18 years old and be able to say "it's my 20th Burn."
  • Alan Watts. In 2010, my dear friend John Halcyon Styn gave me a copy of "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" by Alan Wilson Watts. Since then I have become somewhat of a scholar of Watts. I've never been a collector of things, except my collection of early editions of Watts' books. In 2016, I held a Google Tech Talk titled "Zen and the myths in artificial intelligence" where I discussed how our mental models (myths) of reality are seeping into our AI models.
  • Gardening. My wife and I both love gardening, and are working on dramatically expanding our garden. During COVID this has been such an important part of keeping us grounded (no pun intended), and we are excited that our kids (6, 4 and 2) love playing in the dirt as well.
  • Fingerstyle guitar. I started playing guitar in 1987 at the age of 18. My first loves were hard rock, classic rock and blues. Over the last year, primarily inspired by Jefferson Graham's videos and Joe Robinson, I've found myself drawn toward a new style of playing. While I haven't played in a band since 1992, I find the guitar to be my meditative tool, picking one up when I need to think things through.
  • Septic tanks. In the last seven days, I have learned a few things: If your septic tank needs repair, finding reliable people to come fix it is a crapshoot (pun intended). And the old adage "if you want it done right, do it yourself" might need a modification to read more like "if you want it done right, do it yourself … after you've exhausted all other options, cashed in all your favors, and considered bribing local politicians to get a sewer line to your neighborhood." Let's just say that I now know more about septic tanks than anyone should know!

I asked Shapiro what his plans were for Virtual Burning Man this year, and all he said was that it involves the faulty septic tank. Let's just leave it at that, shall we?



Stronger care … from anywhere, to anywhere

A strong healthcare system can scale to meet increasing patient demands. At Philips, we're charting a new way forward by moving care beyond the hospital's walls with advanced virtual health capabilities that expand clinical reach and increase care team capacity.

Learn more.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to, or our tips line, Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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