Funding the electric car revolution
Good morning! Private companies have pledged $700 million to boost EV charging infrastructure throughout the U.S.; Max Levchin thinks that BNPL is booming; and read the first story in our “How I Decided” series, where we ask business leaders about the biggest decisions they’ve had to make.
Show me the EV charging money
A bunch of companies are about to drop bank on EV charging stations, which climate editor Brian Kahn told me is “good.” For less cynical people, that means “great!”
Companies pledged $700 million to build EV charging stations, with Volkswagen and Siemens committing most of that money. That private funding means everyone’s getting more serious about building a lasting, reliable charging network.
- The money will help manufacture about 250,000 EV chargers a year. That doesn’t necessarily mean all those chargers will be on the streets next year, but it’s a start.
- Some of that funding is going toward building 10,000 ultra-fast chargers, which Brian told me is the most exciting part. “No one wants to sit around waiting for two hours for their car to charge so they can drive to the grocery store,” he said.
But where will these stations be built? That will measure the real impact of these commitments, but so far there’s no word on where the new chargers will go.
- Are they going to places with an already strong charging network, or are they going to areas that lack access? Companies could give existing charging stations a face-lift in California’s big, expensive cities where EVs are already the norm, for example. But it may be money better spent in low-income or rural areas that currently lack access.
- Amazon just won approval to build EV chargers in a county in Wisconsin, a state that only has about 900 charging ports right now. That’ll help get more people buying EVs.
We’re going to need a lot more cash for a true EV revolution to happen (a real investment would be billions of dollars a year). Still, Brian said, “this is a really good first step.”
— Sarah Roach (she/her/hers)
BNPL is doing just fine
The buy now, pay later landscape has changed since last year’s boom. Along with increased scrutiny from regulators, inflation and layoffs are causing fears that a recession is on the way. But Max Levchin isn’t worried.
BNPL is still growing, even amid mounting economic concerns, Levchin said in an interview with Protocol Fintech reporter Ben Pimentel. As people worry about where to spend their money, BNPL offers a sense of “cash-flow flexibility.”
- Demand has already been off the charts for Affirm. Last quarter, the active consumers grew 137% year-over-year. And as inflation drives up the price tags of everything from groceries to housewares, Levchin doesn’t expect momentum to slow, giving a “natural tailwind for all lenders.”
- “Rising prices are generally a boon for lenders because people look at something and say, ‘My salary hasn't caught up to inflation, yet I still need to buy the thing that I need to buy. I'm gonna have to spread the payment for this,’” Levchin said.
Though Apple Pay Later might seem like yet more competition, Levchin takes it as a sign that BNPL is booming. Plus, Apple Pay Later not charging late fees is good for buyers, and “really good for the industry,” he said.
— Nat Rubio-Licht (they/them/theirs)
A change of pace
After nine years of offering invoice factoring for businesses, Bluevine CEO Eyal Lifshitz decided to sell the product that he launched the company with to FundThrough, opting to focus on checking accounts and lines of credit.
Coming to that decision wasn’t easy, given that the product brought in nice profits. But offering a product for midmarket and bigger businesses just wasn’t Bluevine’s “North Star,” Lifshitz told Protocol Fintech reporter Ryan Deffenbaugh.
“The first realization we had was that the product wasn’t great,” he said.
Read more about how Lifshitz decided to sell in this week’s “How I Decided.”
— Nat Rubio-Licht (they/them/theirs)
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People are talking
Eric Schmidt said there are no rules for taking down misinformation, but there should be:
- “Who knows what harmful but legal content is? How do you decide?”
NASA’s Lori Garver said people used to get mad at her for supporting SpaceX:
- “Senior industry and government officials took pleasure in deriding the company and Elon in the early years.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wants Apple and Google to take TikTok off their app stores:
- "TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing."
Pave bought Advanced-HR from Morgan Stanley. Advanced-HR created the compensation tool Option Impact.
Samsung bought Cynora, which creates OLED screens, for about $300 million.
ServiceTitan bought Schedule Engine, a home services booking provider, for an undisclosed amount.
Ben Silbermann is stepping down as CEO of Pinterest. Google Commerce executive Bill Ready is taking on the role.
Krishna Vedati is Byju’s new head of global growth and strategic initiatives. Vedati last served as the CEO of Byju's-owned Tynker.
Byju’s also cut over 600 jobs at Toppr and WhiteHat Jr. The company delayed payments on its $1 billion acquisition of Aakash, too.
Matthew Beesley is replacing Andrew Formica as Jupiter's CEO. Beesley said he just wants to “sit at the beach and do nothing.” Same!
Verizon’s Debika Bhattacharya and AT&T’s John Nolan joined MEF’s board. Microsoft and Lumen execs are already on it.
Bradford Shellhammer is joining Reverb as chief product officer. Shellhammer is the co-founder of Fab.com and former VP of Buyer Experience at eBay.
In other news
Tesla laid off hundreds of workers on its Autopilot team and closed a California facility.
Reid Hoffman is spending millions to push out far-left Democrats in hopes of bringing in more moderate candidates who can beat Trump.
Happy birthday, iPhone! To celebrate the iPhone’s 15th birthday, The Wall Street Journal followed the life of someone born on the day of its launch.
Investors want Microsoft to be public about financial and tax information. A resolution pushing for transparency was filed ahead of Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting.
Meta says it didn’t mean to take down some posts related to abortion pills. The company found “some instances of incorrect enforcement” and is working to fix it.
Google built a new division called Google Public Sector, which will focus on bringing Google Cloud tools to public institutions. It'll have its own board and CEO.
What does the future of the metaverse look like? NFTs and brands will likely have a big hand in it. Blockchain gaming, however, not so much.
The FTC sued Walmart for allegedly turning “a blind eye" to fraud worth hundreds of millions on its money transfer services.
The ones who keep their jobs after mass layoffs describe the feeling of “survivor’s guilt” as they take on the task of holding their companies together.
Your data point of the day: The job titles with the biggest salaries for cloud professionals include directors ($235,000), executives ($231,000) and architects ($196,000)
Everything happens so much
Ten years later, everything really has happened so much; retweets, replies and quote tweets of the classic tweet act like a catalog of recent history as people resurface it in connection to major moments. For example, there's this one that's likely referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and this one that's probably referencing Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry in 2019.
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Correction: This was updated to reflect that Matthew Beesley is replacing Andrew Formica as Jupiter's CEO, not Juniper.