Chips on chips
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

It’s time to make semiconductors sexy

Source Code

Good morning! The semiconductor industry has an image problem. And that's not good for Samsung, Intel and others that are looking to fill thousands of chips jobs in the next few years.

Chip work rocks

No one thinks semiconductor jobs are cool, which is somewhat fair. “How’s work at Google?” sounds much better than “How's work at the chip fabrication plant?” But chip work needs to get big because Congress is betting on it, Protocol’s Anna Kramer and Max Cherney report.

Almost 30,000 chip jobs are about to open up pending new money from Congress’ CHIPS Act (the legislation’s been delayed). But filling those roles is already proving difficult: Many people in the U.S. aren’t familiar with semiconductor work. That needs to change.

  • New chip fabs from Samsung, Intel and others are on track to open sometime in 2024, and they need homegrown talent to fill those factories.
  • But because chip work is unpopular around here, engineers from Taiwan and other countries with talent in the semiconductor industry will likely need to immigrate to the U.S. Given the U.S.’s track record with immigration, that’s going to be tricky, too.

The good news is that chip work is lucrative and exciting. Young U.S. workers just need to understand that.

  • Proximity to chip companies helps. Anna and Max spoke with one worker who got into semiconductor work through programs at his university that act as pipelines into the industry.
  • Exposing students to chips in the same way they’re taught about engineering or coding could also push more people into the field.

Training enough U.S. workers for these new semiconductor jobs is a hurdle. But Anna told me a common refrain among academics and companies alike: try to make chipmaking sound just as exciting as any other job at a Big Tech company. And start ’em young. "[The semiconductor industry] needs a PR makeover, essentially, to entice people to see it as cool and sexy. People need to understand that it's not a boring manufacturing job. It's extra creative and challenging. That involves getting people really young, which isn't really being done yet," Anna told me.

Read the full story here.

— Sarah Roach (she/her/hers)

Acquisition discounts

Robinhood’s shares were rocked by rumors that it might be exploring an acquisition to crypto exchange FTX. Though both companies denied it, this could be the start of more mergers and acquisitions industrywide.

The once high-flying Robinhood has fallen from grace. Its share prices have plunged about 29% since April when Goldman Sachs downgraded it to sell, and shares are down 90% from the company’s all-time high of $85 per share. Given the state that Robinhood is in, FTX — or anyone with enough cash — could scoop it up at a decent price. That is, if FTX could convince its founders to sell.

With slumping tech stocks and a looming recession, more deal activity could be on the horizon. As valuations tumble, other firms could be looking to take advantage and buy at lower prices.

  • Zendesk, for example, rejected a $17 billion acquisition in February. The all-cash transaction would’ve valued the company around $127 to $132 per share.
  • But after its share prices tumbled in early June, investment firms agreed to buy the company for $10.2 billion in cash, or $77.50 per share, a 34% premium on its closing price on Friday.

Cash is king, so those deals may proliferate. Stock deals will be trickier: Companies may be reluctant to swap their own shares for another business if they think their stock is too cheap. This makes the tech acquisition market, as Protocol Fintech editor Owen Thomas told me, “easier and harder, simultaneously!”

— Nat Rubio-Licht (they/them/theirs)

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People are talking

Paolo Dellacha said De Nora is ready to go public no matter what happens to the market:

  • "It is the beginning of a new journey, and we are not scared about the current market turbulences."

David Sullivan wants companies to keep an eye on the Digital Trust and Safety Partnership industry reports:

  • “I think that hopefully will help shape people’s understanding of how trust and safety work.”

Making moves

Backstage Capital cut the majority of its staff, downsizing from 12 to three people.

Siemens is buying Brightly Software for $1.6 billion. The company was previously owned by Clearlake Capital.

Jeffrey Snover is leaving Microsoft after 22 years. Snover was the CTO of Modern Workplace Transformation.

Peter Riering-Czekalla joined Apple’s Industrial Design team. Riering-Czekalla was previously the chief design officer at Molekule.

Giles Peyton-Nicoll is a new design director at Spotify. He was previously a design leader at Twitter.

André Andonian joined Analog’s board. Andonian leads a consulting firm and worked at McKinsey before that.

Daniel Hurwitz joined WeWork’s board of directors. Hurwitz has 35 years of experience in retail real estate.

In other news

Amazon is doing two Prime events this year: One in mid-July and another in the fourth quarter.

Every board member of Digital World Acquisition got subpoenaed. The Justice Department and SEC are already looking into Truth Social.

Tesla’s return-to-work plan is reportedly not going well. The company doesn’t have enough desks or parking spots to go around, and the Wi-Fi signal is weak.

Airbnb's party ban is permanent. It was originally a COVID-related ban on house parties and events.

Facebook is reportedly removing posts saying that abortion pills can be mailed. It's also banning some users who make those posts.

Everyone's trying to add more EV chargers. The White House said companies are dropping about $700 million to help build EV charging stations around the U.S.

A California judge wants a new trial on the damages that Tesla owes a Black former employee, who turned down a $15 million settlement, for allegations of racial discrimination in the company’s factory.

VC funding hit its lowest level since 2020. Deal activity between the first and second quarter dropped 23%.

GreyNoise is shutting down for two weeks to help employees “decompress from the pandemic.”

Stardust might hand out user data without a warrant. The astrology-centered period tracking app is one of Apple’s top three downloaded free apps.

Sales of the morning-after pill are spiking. One Amazon storefront saw Plan B sales rise to 6,000 units on Friday, up from 1,000 the day before.

Passing on your passwords

What happens to your email account when you die? What about your password manager? Many platforms offer “legacy contacts,” so you can bequeath your account to someone after you die. But as experts told The Wall Street Journal, you have to put in a little bit of work to make sure everything’s in order and so you don’t leave your relatives in the lurch.

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