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Ditching Silicon Valley for climate tech

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Good morning! There’s a big migration happening in Silicon Valley, but it’s not to Austin or Miami or anywhere on a map. Employees are leaving their jobs and pivoting to climate tech. That’s very good for the planet, and it’s good for the workers, too.

The tech-to-climate-tech pipeline

Changing the world and chasing exciting opportunities are the ethos of Silicon Valley. Now it seems that people are doing both.

Tech workers are leaving their Big Tech jobs to work on fixing the climate. Climatebase, a talent directory for climate jobs, has been used by more than 500,000 people to find and apply for climate tech jobs since its launch in 2020. And it extends all the way to the top.

  • Chris Sacca and Bill Gates both invest heavily in initiatives meant to help mitigate climate change.
  • And Mike Schroepfer recently stepped down as CTO of Meta to focus his energy on the climate crisis.

Many workers are itching to make a real impact, they told Protocol’s Michelle Ma.

  • “We’re in the first chapter of climate tech. Every opportunity to innovate is much more impactful and much bigger,” Jonathan Strauss, co-founder of Climate Draft, told Michelle. His company connects top tech talent to venture-backed climate tech startups looking to grow.
  • Malak Abu Sharkh, a former supply chain manager at Apple, left to work at Charm Industrial, a startup focused on carbon capture. “I didn’t find that exciting,” she said. “I find carbon reduction work exciting.”

Though Big Tech is trying to do its part with its own climate initiatives, some workers don’t see that as being enough. And with tons of money and interest rolling into climate tech, now might be the time to jump aboard. “What I think is compelling to a lot of folks about the climate mission, in addition to it being more tangible and less contrived, is that it’s usually very much intertwined with and inextricable from the financial interests and incentives of the right climate tech company,” Strauss said.

Read the full story here.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Why AppLovin wants Unity

Video game software company Unity can get bought by AppLovin or merge with ironSource, but it can’t do both.

AppLovin offered to buy Unity yesterday in a deal that would value Unity at about $20 billion. It’d be a tough deal to pass up, but it comes with strings attached.

  • Unity would have to give up its proposed $4.4 billion acquisition of ad tech and monetization company ironSource if it accepts a deal with AppLovin. And while Unity would control 55% of the new company’s shares and CEO John Riccitiello would remain in charge, Unity would only have 49% of the voting rights. Unity said it received the offer and would evaluate it.
  • AppLovin would clearly be at a disadvantage if Unity follows through with the ironSource purchase; ironSource is an AppLovin competitor, and any merger with Unity would improve one or the other’s competitive advantage in the digital advertising and gaming markets.
  • Eric Seufert, editor of the trade blog Mobile Dev Memo, called the proposed transaction “musical chairs on mobile,” saying, “This merger would marry two scaled ad networks with a formidable source of in-app games advertising supply.”

Regardless of where Unity goes, consolidation was inevitable.

  • Apple made key changes to iOS’s data-tracking rules last year meant to improve privacy for users. Those changes drove some ad tech firms out of the market. Even larger companies like Unity have struggled with the changes, in part because Apple’s new opt-in privacy measures have made it more difficult to track the effectiveness of ads that drive user acquisition in mobile gaming.
  • Seufert said these mobile app mergers have been predictable for some time now; Apple’s new rules just accelerated the process. AppLovin, for example, has been busy — it’s already purchased mobile ad and gaming companies including MoPub, Adjust and Machine Zone.

Unity’s either going to make AppLovin’s or ironSource’s life a lot easier soon. If it goes with AppLovin, it’ll become a major player in mobile gaming and the ad channels that support it, but it might also be giving up some control over its future in the process.

— Sarah Roach

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People are talking

Mark Cuban doesn’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to the metaverse yet:

  • “Now, will there be? It’s going to be hard to standardize things. And to make it interoperable, at least for the foreseeable future.”

Making moves

Lauren Tropeano and James Rosenstock are joining Skillshare as chief people officer and CFO, respectively. Tropeano comes from DraftKings, and Rosenstock’s from WWE.

Chadwick Ho is Sabre’s new chief legal officer. Ho is a former Hulu general counsel.

Mollie Vandor Forer is Pinterest’s new head of browse product. Vandor Forer was previously a senior product manager at Twitter.

In other news

Elon Musk has sold tons of Tesla stock in the past week. Over six SEC filings dating to Aug. 5, he sold close to 8 million Tesla shares worth about $6.9 billion.

BeReal's hugely popular, but how long will it stay that way? We looked at whether close connections on social media are something users want or think they want in the long term.

Microsoft's trying to cut down on spending. It also reportedly laid off the team focused on bringing back consumers.

Facebook turned over information to help police in an abortion case. It handed law enforcement the chats of a mother and daughter in Nebraska after getting a warrant.

Joe Biden signed the chip subsidies bill, providing more than $52 billion to boost chip production in the U.S.

Micron's investing $40 billion in U.S. chip manufacturing, with the help from the aforementioned Chips act, which the company says will create 40,000 jobs.

A former Twitter employee was convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia. He faces 10 to 20 years in prison.

The DOJ is reportedly preparing to sue Google over anticompetitive practices in its ad business.

Australia’s thinking about a CBDC. Its central bank is running a yearlong program that explores launching a digital currency.

Taking a geothermal risk

The tech industry loves a transformative idea, even if it's unproven on a wide scale. And Kathy Hannun had a big one: drilling into the Earth’s crust to access thermal energy for home use.

Though geothermal tech for individual houses was already commonplace in countries like Sweden, it was practically untapped in the U.S. So Hannun left her job at Alphabet’s X innovation lab to pursue it. Five years later, Hannun said, the company is growing as fast as can be. In an interview with Protocol, Hannun talks about her decision to place a big bet on such a risky idea.

Read the full interview here.

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Chip shortage could undermine national security: To ensure American security, prosperity and technological leadership, industry leaders say the U.S. must encourage domestic manufacturing of chips in order to reduce our reliance on East Asia producers for crucial electronics components.

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