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Regulators, assemble

Regulators, assemble

Your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from the new face of the FTC's fight against tech to a look at what it's really like to work at Amazon.

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Best of Protocol

Lina Khan will be the new chair of the FTC, by Ben Brody

  • This was definitely the story of the week. Khan is young, progressive, influential in tech circles and absolutely ready to go toe-to-toe with the tech industry on antitrust issues. And, by the way, the fact that she was confirmed so easily shows just how bipartisan the techlash really is.

It's the golden age of databases. It can't last, by Joe Williams

  • There has never been a better time to be a database company. There's money everywhere, customers everywhere, new opportunities all over the place. But as quickly as the market has expanded, it might contract, and leave some once-hot companies in the lurch.

China's $2.4 trillion shopping festival is more competitive than ever, by Shen Lu

  • Friday was the peak day for China's midyear shopping bonanza, known as 618. Usually it's just a way to see how big the shopping numbers will be (last year: $2.4 trillion), but this year the specter of China's antitrust crackdown weighs heavily on 618, and the day serves as evidence of how that threat is already changing the industry.

A VC unicorn: Candice Morgan on being GV's first diversity partner, by Biz Carson

  • As far as she knows, Candice Morgan is the only person in the industry with her job title: equity, diversity and inclusion partner. She has plenty of advice for other firms looking to hire the same, for startups trying to bake DEI into their cultures from the beginning and on what the industry as a whole needs to do better.

OK Google, meet Alexa: Interoperability emerges as key antitrust issue, by Janko Roettgers

  • Lots of regulatory questions about tech are starting to circle the same issue: companies that either by force or finance exclude their competitors. Whether it's Apple's anti-steering rules that don't let developers point users to the web or Google's refusal to allow Assistant and Alexa to work on the same device, the question of a fair and open playing field is an increasingly central one.


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Best of Everything Else

The Amazon That Customers Don't See — The New York Times

  • Amazon is an incredible logistics machine, and won't shut up about being "customer-obsessed." But like the tunnels under Disney World where life for employees feels very different than the shiny streets above, the system behind the sheen is a ruthless and unflinching one, and things only got more complicated during the pandemic.

Airbnb Is Spending Millions of Dollars to Make Nightmares Go Away — Bloomberg

  • Be warned: This story might make you nervous to travel. It's a deep look into Airbnb's safety team, which springs into action when something goes awry — both to help Airbnb users and to try to avert PR disasters. When tech meets the real world, things get tricky.

DuckDuckGo's Quest to Prove Online Privacy Is Possible — Wired

  • We've asked this question a lot recently: Is it possible to build a product that is both "the privacy option" and also just a better product? DuckDuckGo's Gabriel Weinberg is absolutely convinced the answer is yes, and is determined to spend the next few years proving it.

Bitcoin Beach: What Happened When an El Salvador Surf Town Went Full Crypto — Bloomberg

  • The whole country of El Salvador is pushing to make bitcoin an official national currency, and it surely won't be the last. What's in store for anyone who tries? Some huge, life-changing opportunities … and some tricky trade-offs.

Star Trek + Design

  • This has been around a while, but resurfaced this week: a compendium of Star Trek furniture and decor, and where it came from in real life. If you're redecorating your home office or redoing your conference room, start here. Just saying.

Beyond the Meme: Ever Given, Supply Chains, and the Physical World — Future

  • There's a lot to read on Andreessen Horowitz's new site, but this was one of the best early pieces: a reflection from Flexport's Ryan Petersen on supply chains, globalization and what it really means to "connect the world" in a meaningful way. What if you could search the real world like you search the internet?


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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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