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Facebook’s new reality in Washington

Facebook’s new reality in Washington

Good morning! This Sunday, here's the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from the latest in tech's political dealings to what it's like to be a founder in hard times.

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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.

Best of Protocol

How founders are finding new ways to grab investor attention, by Biz Carson

  • I love talking to people about slide decks, because everyone feels strongly and everyone disagrees. To some, decks are the perfect form of information presentation; others would rather stab themselves in the eye than see another PowerPoint slide. Biz's story, about a company that raised $20 million using Notion pages as its pitch document, and the other companies and founders looking for even funkier ways to stand out, at least makes clear that the deck is no longer the only way to win.

Facebook is infuriating Republicans. So why isn't that helping with Democrats? By Emily Birnbaum

  • Republicans keep saying that Facebook (and other social platforms, but especially Facebook) favors liberals. So then why won't Nancy Pelosi meet with Facebook? And why is she telling other House Democrats not to? Emily digs into why being mad at Facebook has become a bipartisan issue, and the tricky dance Facebook's having to do to fix that.

Here are the top political donors from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Only one is backing Trump, by Issie Lapowsky

  • One way to look at donation records is as a statement of values. Another is to see them as a betting game, as leaders try to back the horse they think is going to win — and the one that might be best for them in the long run. (The horse metaphor's a little tortured, but you get what I mean.) Issie's look at where Big Tech's biggest donors are putting their money is fascinating on both levels.

Coursera's co-founder thinks Zoom doesn't work for learning. So she built an alternative, by Biz Carson

  • I have yet to talk to anyone who thinks Zoom School is a great setup. It works, it's something, but it can't be the final form of remote learning. Daphne Koller, the co-founder of Coursera and now the founder of Engageli, a video platform for education, sees it the same way. And she makes an interesting case that face-to-face school is a great source of data and feedback, and virtual school can be the same. Or maybe even better.

Microsoft's Xbox launch lineup shows how it wants to change the business of games, by Seth Schiesel

  • First, it is an outrage that Halo Infinite is not a launch title for the next generation of Xbox. But in looking through what is coming on day one, Seth makes an important point: Microsoft is competing not just in the quality of games it'll have available, but in the way it sells and distributes those games. Maybe you don't need as many smash exclusives when your customers can get them all for $15 a month.



Strengthening healthcare interoperability and cybersecurity in the Covid era

A stronger healthcare system means connecting people, data and technology for a frictionless experience across care settings. At Philips, we're developing interoperable solutions that seamlessly transfer data so clinicians can stay focused on what matters most: the patient.

Learn more.

Best of Everything Else

Cloud gaming's history of false starts and promising reboots — Polygon

  • This one's a fun "everything old is new again" tale, and a smart reminder that there's much more to making tech that works than having a good idea. Cloud gaming has been around for years and many companies have attempted to get it right. Even now, in a time when it feels like cloud gaming is obviously here to stay, it remains effectively a brand-new, niche technology.

How Airbnb pulled back from the brink — The Wall Street Journal

  • What happens when your company almost dies? Airbnb's Brian Chesky has been more forthcoming than most over the last few months about exactly how perilous things were at Airbnb at the beginning of the pandemic and what it took to steady the ship. I suspect most of you can resonate with Chesky saying, "I did not know that I would make 10 years' worth of decisions in 10 weeks."

Transitions — Ryan Caldbeck, Medium

  • Everyone who runs a company, sits on a board or interacts with tech founders in any way — so, uh, probably all of you — should read Ryan's post (and the internal emails he includes) about what it looks and feels like on the inside when things aren't going smoothly. It's a thoughtful, brutal story, that he said he wrote in the hopes others might learn from it, or at least read it and feel less alone.

The man who speaks softly — and commands a big cyber army — Wired

  • Even if you don't know Paul Nakasone's name, you better believe he knows yours. (And your home address, social security number, likes and dislikes, and approximate current location.) As the four-star general leading both the NSA and Cyber Command, he's one of the most important and consequential people on the internet. What he's doing to change the American cyber strategy will matter to every business and person in the country.

How Mark Zuckerberg learned politics — The Wall Street Journal

  • After so many years of trying to stay out of the fray (remember when everyone thought he was going to run for President?), Mark Zuckerberg appears to have finally acknowledged Facebook's place in the political realm and become an active figure in Washington. And in doing so, he also appears to have made everyone even angrier.

When you browse Instagram and find former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's passport number —

  • Lots of people post their boarding passes on Instagram. (Or at least used to.) They even conveniently hashtag them #boardingpass, just to make things easier for hackers. This is a delightful story about what happened when one very important person posted theirs, and also a terrifying cautionary tale about what information can be gleaned from a number as innocuous as your Qantas confirmation.


Tumblr CEO Jeff D'Onofrio

Tumblr's had a complicated few years, with multiple owners and multiple business plans. And that's not to mention all the standard reasons social networks have had to change and adapt over the last few years. Now, though, under new owner Automattic, Tumblr believes it has a new lease on life.

Jeff D'Onofrio has been running Tumblr since 2018. He joined me on the Source Code Podcast this week to talk about social networking, content moderation, blogging, anonymity and what Tumblr can learn from TikTok and Instagram. He also, as always, shared a few of the things he's into right now.

  • Making his own pasta. "Sounds boring, yes, but you haven't tasted it! The KitchenAid pasta attachments are excellent. The latest creation is ravioli, which took a bit of practice, but my family loves it. I make it with homemade pasta sauce, a recipe handed down in my family for generations … it's a secret recipe so I'm not sharing."
  • The It Was Said podcast. "I'm a history lover, so I've been listening to Jon Meacham's fantastic new podcast, which analyzes some of the most important speeches in our history, many of them timely, from Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech to Edward R. Murrow's 'Fight for Free Press' to Hillary Clinton's 'Women's Rights are Human Rights.'"
  • Studying Gen Z. "Particularly the effects of the pandemic, unrest and generally chaotic times that we find ourselves in. I have two teenagers, one a senior in high school. I can't imagine missing out on junior and senior prom, social activities, birthdays, applying to colleges without visiting them and the stress and uncertainty for their futures. I've been thinking about how Tumblr can help them through this with communities like studyblr, escapes from the never-ending stream of negative news and activism for those who seek to change the world."
  • The U.S. election. "Of course. I've been amazed at the early vote turnout, but also disturbed at how long people have to wait in line to vote. The system is terribly broken when, for instance, black voters are 74% more likely to have to wait 30 minutes or more to vote. Clearly we can do better, and we need to leverage technology to improve this situation."
  • Fishing. "I took up fishing this summer, something I probably never would have done if not for the pandemic. We spent most of our summer in beautiful northern Vermont, fishing a bit on Lake Champlain with my son. It was a great way to tune out of everything and just spend 1:1 time with him. We are learning how to catch bass, which baits to use, where to fish, etc. Not something I'd ever imagine doing before, but it is a calming escape from … 2020."



Strengthening healthcare interoperability and cybersecurity in the Covid era

A stronger healthcare system means connecting people, data and technology for a frictionless experience across care settings. At Philips, we're developing interoperable solutions that seamlessly transfer data so clinicians can stay focused on what matters most: the patient.

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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