Power to (certain) people
Good morning! Twitter offering perks and check marks to people who pay is akin to Citizens United, allowing people and companies with money to buy ever more influence. And though none of this is a foregone conclusion, if you’ve used the internet, you know how these things go.
It’s not Elon Musk’s Twitter. It’s the people’s Twitter. At least, that’s what the world’s richest man is pitching with his reworking of Twitter Blue and verification on the platform. But Musk’s promise of “[p]ower to the people” for $8 per month raises questions about what kind of power and which people — and how they’ll wield it.
The new Twitter Blue will be its own feudal system, Protocol's Brian Kahn writes. Charging people for certain features on Twitter is itself automatically limiting who can access them. But it’s not the cost that delineates the haves from the have-nots; it’s the features themselves.
- Musk tweeted that the perks include “priority in replies, mentions & search.” This is ostensibly to weed out spam, though if you saw the number of bitcoin scams in my open DMs already, you would know this is bullshit.
- He also said Twitter Blue users will have the ability to post longer video and audio, and sources told The New York Times that Twitter is working on a way for people to pay to be able to DM what the company deems Very Important Tweeters.
Those who pay for Twitter Blue are paying for power. Including the check mark as a perk is a nice troll and all, turning a derisive symbol into something that can be bought with cash rather than cachet. But it’s the other features that will consolidate power in paying customers’ hands.
- Getting priorities in replies and mentions means Twitter Blue users will drive discussion.
- On a basic level, it’s easy to imagine gangs of verified trolls piling up in politicians’ mentions to bury good-faith discussion.
- It’s also possible that enterprising sowers of disinformation will find a way to get verified as, say, the White House, given the Biden administration is still undecided on whether it should give Musk [checks notes] the people’s money for a blue check mark.
But Twitter Blue also offers tech leaders a chance to further shape the world.
- Those leaders already have enormous influence through their companies in shaping how the world works. Twitter Blue would allow them to consolidate power and messaging.
- Priority in search also means those already able to broadcast their views to a wide audience and be the loudest voices in any conversation on the platform will widen the gulf even further.
Musk approvingly retweeted crypto investor Erik Voohrees saying “charging $8 for premium Twitter experience means Twitter becomes the product again, instead of you. And if $8 is too much, you're free to remain as the product.” And that pretty neatly sums up the new Twitter world order.
On the chopping block
Elon isn’t the only one planning big cuts to his workforce. (Twitter's are supposed to happen by 9 a.m. PT this morning.) If you’re not scaling back, you’re in the minority of HR chiefs, according to a new Pulse Survey from PwC.
How broad are cuts right now? Four out of five chief HR officers across sectors told PwC they were reducing their workforce “to a great extent,” Protocol Allison Levitsky reports.
- That’s not just layoffs: the 81% of CHROs who said they were cutting staff included those who are doing so by offering early retirement, not backfilling positions as employees leave, and freezing hiring. The number of execs who said they were doing layoffs has declined since PwC’s August survey, according to PwC’s workforce strategy partner Julia Lamm.
- Companies have been so “panic-stricken” about finding talent in the last two and a half years that these methods of getting rid of employees have fallen out of focus, Lamm said.
Amid the cuts, companies are still hiring. The so-called labor market paradox that surfaced in PwC’s Pulse Survey in August — where companies were both cutting staff and staffing up — is still in effect.
- This time around, 44% of execs said they expected to continue hiring for “specific skill sets” in order to support growth in the next 12 to 18 months.
- “They’re being more cautious,” Lamm said. “They’re looking to rebalance their workforce to make sure they have the skills they need for the future.”
Read more: 81% of CHROs say they’re cutting head count
Heat pumps to the rescue?
The Biden administration announced $9 billion in funding Wednesday to improve home efficiency, which could help support the installation of up to 500,000 heat pumps. There are some major challenges facing the technology that money can be used to tackle, Protocol’s Lisa Martine Jenkins writes.
We need heat pumps to help decarbonize home heating and cooling. The electricity-powered systems — which keep homes comfortable by pushing heat into the home in the winter and pulling it out in the summer — will be crucial in weaning the world off of fossil fuels.
But there's a challenge: Installing the units on a timeline in keeping with net zero goals will require both a robust supply chain and well-prepared labor force.
- Neither of these are fully in place in the U.S. — but the Defense Production Act and Inflation Reduction Act represent opportunities to build them out.
Heat pump supply chains need to be more resilient. The U.S. currently relies largely on foreign suppliers of heat pumps, leaving the White House’s goal vulnerable to supply chain complications like those brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- The DOE is planning to devote an initial $250 million, which isn’t part of the $9 billion, to encourage more heat pump manufacturing.
A larger workforce is also required to install those heat pumps. The DOE also said it’s putting together a discussion between “labor, businesses, and other key stakeholders” to determine how best to spend another $260 million, also not part of the $9 billion, on workforce development for energy efficiency.
Read more: The path to more heat pumps
Sponsored content from SkyBridge
Valuations have become less hype-driven and more realistic; the amount of time spent on due diligence has increased substantially; and every founder needs to directly, clearly, and concisely answer the question, “Does this project have any real-world utility, and does it create economic value?”
People are talking
Pateron Chief Product Officer Julian Gutman thinks video is the next big step for creators on Patreon:
- “It’s the biggest modality of sharing we have on the platform. It’s the format of the internet today.”
Uber whistleblower Mark MacGann told reporters at Web Summit that Uber’s culture appears to be improving, but he doesn’t have faith in its current business model:
- “My message to Uber is: 'you've done well, [but] you can do it so much better [because] the current model is absolutely not sustainable.”
- “I felt like saying, ‘Welcome to the club.’”
It's a big day for Twitter, with 3,700 or so staff expected to lose their jobs by by 9 a.m. PT this morning. The company has temporarily closed its offices in preparation, and is already facing a class-action lawsuit over the layoffs.
And the cuts keep coming. Stripe is laying off 14% of its staff, its co-founders said yesterday, as the fintech startup must start "building differently for leaner times." And Lyft will lay off about 700 employees, or 13% of its workforce. It’s the second round of layoffs for Lyft; the company let go of 60 people in May.
Amazon is pausing hiring for its corporate workforce "for the next few months."
Affected and need a job? AWS, TikTok, Automattic, and others are still hiring!
Megan Quinn stepped down as Niantic COO. “I joined Niantic to help build an exec team,” she told Protocol’s Janko Roettgers via email. “There’s an incredible leadership bench in place now that gives me the flexibility to spend more of my time on my personal investing and broader board portfolio.” She remains on Niantic’s board
Jaime Waydo is the new chief technology officer at WHOOP, a fitness wearable company. Patrick Carroll is also the new chief medical officer at the company. Waydo previously worked at Apple and autonomous vehicle company Cavnue, while Carroll worked at Vida Health and Hims & Hers.
Meta India head Ajit Mohan is leaving the company to join Snap. TechCrunch reports he will serve as the president of the company’s Asia-Pacific business.
Twitter canceled Chirp, its developer conference, which was slated to take place in San Francisco on Nov. 16. Not exactly surprising.
In other news
A growing list of advertisers are pausing spending on Twitter. Concerns with how content will be moderated are among the reasons, The Wall Street Journal reports.
And Elon Musk is attempting to save $1 billion per year on infrastructure spending at Twitter, Reuters reported.
Block beat earnings expectations, with strong growth largely fueled by its Cash App business. Traders sent shares up more than 12% after-hours Thursday.
Coinbase reported 8.5 million transactions in the third quarter, down from 9 million the quarter before. The “Street was expecting a train wreck, and it was slightly better than feared,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told Protocol’s Ben Pimentel.
Instagram creators will be able to mint and sell their own NFTs. Meta is testing the feature on a small group in the U.S. so far.
Nvidia introduced a new AI ecosystem that will help develop speech AI models in multiple languages. Meta and Google are building similar products.
The Meta Oversight Board will issue guidance on how Meta should handle referrals from so-called Internet Referral Units, the divisions within police departments that refer content to be taken down from tech platforms.
Protocol analyzed the text of China’s Xi Jinping’s National Congress address. China’s president emphasized decarbonization, economic self-sufficiency, and strengthening China’s military.
Where is Do Kwon? The co-founder of Terraform Labs who is thought to be on the run may now be in Europe, Bloomberg reports.
Confessions of a meme stonker
Alexander Hurst turned $15,000 into $1.2 million during the pandemic. But, like many recreational investors, he found it hard to stop — beating himself up about the gains he failed to capitalize on, rather than celebrating the wins, and eventually losing it all. "If I had invested wisely and carefully into safe, dividend-yielding assets that I could borrow against to buy a place to live, I could most likely have financed a modest, middle-class lifestyle indefinitely. It could have been a perpetual writing grant to myself," he writes in a confessional piece for The Guardian. "Instead, I became more frantic than I had ever been when I had far less."
Sponsored content from SkyBridge
The VC correction is proving once again that valuations are not an indicator of success. While money continues to flow, the crypto winter and VC slowdown have forced even the most committed Web3 venture capitalists (and their investors) to proceed with more caution.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.