Why Jack really left
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Why Jack really left

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Good morning! This Tuesday, Jack Dorsey steps down as Twitter CEO to focus all his attention on his beloved bitcoin, Amazon workers in Alabama will get another unionization vote, and Budweiser has NFTs, just in time for the holidays.

Jack Dorsey’s next move

Jack Dorsey’s sudden exit from Twitter underlines the tech pioneer’s growing fixation with crypto — a passion that has forced a sudden resolution of the odd situation of a single individual leading two large tech companies.

It’s now clear that Square is Dorsey’s favorite child and needs all of his attention to advance the role it could play in popularizing bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency. Twitter’s presence in the crypto world has proven minimal, despite efforts like letting users accept tips in bitcoin and hiring Tess Rinearson to lead a crypto team.

  • "If I were not at Square or Twitter I'd be working on bitcoin," Dorsey said at a cryptocurrency conference in Miami in June.

Square has been riding the crypto wave since its Cash App added bitcoin trading almost four years ago. By 2021, 1 million Square users were buying bitcoin for the first time on Cash App, and in February the company announced that 5% of Square’s total cash was in bitcoin.

  • In June, Blockstream, the bitcoin mining company, announced that Square was investing $5 million in a solar-powered mining operation. The following month, Dorsey said Square was building “a new business” that would operate alongside divisions like Cash App and Tidal to build tools for developers, focused on bitcoin.
  • Square also helped set up the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance, which aims to defend the industry against patent trolls. And it also recently announced that it was developing its own hardware crypto wallet “to make bitcoin custody more mainstream.”

Despite those moves, Square remains a relative newbie in crypto. Bitcoin trading has juiced its revenue lately, but it’s going up against nimbler, faster-moving competitors like Coinbase and Robinhood.

  • “Jack wants all in on crypto,” Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang told Protocol. “He doesn’t want to miss the next big thing.”

One challenge for Dorsey and Square is his well-known allegiance to bitcoin, which is increasingly just one cryptocurrency among many, and not the most technically sophisticated one. Wang said Square needs “to be in the middle of smart contracts,” a technology most firmly established on the Ethereum blockchain. A coming upgrade to bitcoin called Taproot promises to facilitate smart contracts using bitcoin, but it would seem smarter to spread one’s bets.

There’s still time for Square to expand its crypto footprint, though, which makes the timing of Dorsey’s move significant. “It’s early in the marketplace,” Wang said. “This space will be won by a few players. We are in 1997 for the internet.”

— Benjamin Pimentel (email | twitter)

A version of this story first appeared on Protocol.com. Read it here.

On the schedule

A holiday shopping season like no other

The 2021 holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a bumpy ride due to supply-chain disruptions and chipset shortages. Join us at 11 a.m. PT today for a discussion on how these issues affect holiday shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond, and where the industry goes from here.

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People are talking

Amazon’s Dave Clark has high hopes for the company’s U.S. package delivery service:

  • “I think we’ll probably be the largest package delivery carrier in the U.S. by the time we get to the end of the year, if not in early ’22.”

It’s hard to staff a good machine-learning team, but Momentive’s Jing Huang thinks companies could try training employees for the work:

  • “Sometimes, growing the team internally can be the key to building an effective [machine learning] team.”

Countries should work together to address the chip crisis, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said:

  • “It’s also really important internationally to get the supply chains working well.”

The hype around NFTs is not a good reason to get into the market, according to Vincent co-founder Evan Cohen:

  • “You want to participate for the asset, not the underlying technology that powers this.”

Elon Musk replied to a tweet about a 2013 email he sent saying SpaceX should stay private:

  • “A lot has happened in the past 8 years.”

Making moves

Joe Patalano is Daversa Partners’ new managing director. Patalano’s been with the headhunting firm for over five years.

The NTIA is looking into data privacy. The agency is seeking to learn more about how privacy and civil rights affect each other, which could be the beginnings of bigger policy work in the Biden administration.

Ex-Citigroup’s Matt Zhang is starting a crypto investing firm. Former Goldman Sachs analyst Sam Peurifoy was hired as the $1.5 billion venture gets underway.

Budweiser has NFTs now, because sure, why not? They’re called Budverse Cans.

TikTok is setting up shop in Washington, D.C. It’ll be the company’s first office in the District.

Virgin Orbit announced some nominees to its board, including CEO Dan Hart and retired astronaut U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms.

In other news

The U.K. told Meta to sell Giphy. The country's Competition and Markets Authority found that the $400 million acquisition could be anticompetitive in the ad market. Meta said it disagrees with the decision and may appeal.

Frances Haugen will testify before Congress again tomorrow. She’ll talk about possible reforms some House members want to make to Section 230.

Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, get another unionization vote. The NLRB ordered another election after lots of allegations that the company interfered with the first one.

Are you going to CES? Is anyone? This year's show is happening live in Vegas, but the industry's biggest show sounds like it's going to be smaller than usual. Much smaller.

Three ex-Google workers are suing the company. The employees are alleging they were wrongly terminated for criticizing Google’s plans to work with Trump administration border security officials.

Nissan and Xiaomi are spending big on EVs. Nissan will spend $17.6 billion on EV production over the next five years. And Xiaomi wants to start mass-producing EVs in its own plants by 2024.

Amazon introduced a robot service for robots. The company launched IoT RoboRunner, which helps enterprises build apps that can be used to manage fleets of robots.

Amazon’s empire got even bigger during the pandemic. Over the past couple of years, the company has doubled the size of its fulfillment network and hired over half a million new employees, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Comfort creators” are helping people unwind. Users are increasingly looking for creators who produce content that helps them relax, rather than immediately heading to a streaming platform for comfort.

Patreon’s take on creators

Jack Conte, like a lot of tech leaders, wants creators on his platform. And his way of attracting them is twofold: build a whole new video product, and start a podcast about the creator economy.

He launched The Creator Economy podcast, which includes interviews with people who build tools that help creators grow. He also offers five takeaways from each episode, for people who are in a rush. As for his video platform, there aren’t a ton of details aside from the initial announcement that Patreon’s building a way for creators to host videos on the site. And although it might seem a little late for Patreon to launch native video capabilities, allowing creators to side-step YouTube seems like a good idea for the company.

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