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Everything you need to know about tech and the Biden administration

​Joe Biden

Good morning! This Sunday, here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from the first days of the Biden administration to the lingering questions of the Trump years.

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The best of protocol

Big Tech gets a win from Biden's sweeping immigration actions, by Emily Birnbaum

"It's not OK": Elastic takes aim at AWS, at the risk of major collateral damage, by Tom Krazit

  • I love open-source drama. And this is a good one: Elastic changed the way it manages software, just to pick a fight with AWS. AWS says, OK, we'll just take it from here. Nobody's out of bounds, but everybody is mad.

Facebook's Oversight Board won't save it from the Trump ban backlash, by Issie Lapowsky

  • Does Facebook want to make sure it was right to ban Donald Trump from its platform, or does it just want some PR cover for making the decision? How the new Facebook Oversight Board rules — and just as important, how it goes about deciding — will say a lot about what governance looks like at the world's largest social network.

Inside Christian Klein's determined bid to remake SAP, by Joe Williams

  • Imagine you've worked at a company for 20 years. Half your life! That company is, by all accounts, not doing great. Suddenly, you're alone in the CEO role, and you realize the only thing to do is to try to change the company entirely. Oh and you're about to have your second kid any minute. Ready, go!

Expensify CEO David Barrett: "Most CEOs are not bad people, they're just cowards", by Ben Pimentel

  • David Barrett is not known for being shy about his opinions. And a few months after he sent an email to millions of Expensify users telling them to vote for Joe Biden, he told Ben that he thinks any CEO trying to be neutral or apolitical is basically full of it. (Spoiler: He didn't say "it.")

Everything you need to know about the Roblox direct listing, by Hirsh Chitkara

  • Roblox is a fascinating company trying to make the metaverse real and growing like crazy in the process. It had planned to IPO in December, but crazy IPO bounces from DoorDash and Airbnb convinced it to change plans. We've got everything you need to know about the company before it lists next month.



From commerce to content and from Big Tech to Big Government, leading technology analyst Benedict Evans has a knack for seeing the future. At this event, he'll debut and discuss his 2021 trends and predictions for a tech industry — and a world — in the middle of huge change. Join us for this event on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 11 a.m. ET.

RSVP today.

The best of everything else

Inside Cyberpunk 2077's disastrous rollout — Bloomberg

  • The story of Cyberpunk, in which huge ambition never quite squared with reality, is one that every company should learn from. How do you build a culture that's fun and takes care of people, but also hits deadlines? How do you tell your users and partners when something's gone wrong? These are questions for everybody. (And thank your lucky stars most new products aren't nearly as hyped as Cyberpunk.)

He may hold the winning ticket in tech and Silicon Valley knows it — CNN

  • You could make a compelling case that Mukesh Ambani is the single most important person to the next era of tech. That's not even a new take: Why do you think tech companies fell all over themselves to invest in Jio last year? This is a good primer on Ambani, and on how India is poised to change the tech industry completely.

FAA files reveal a surprising threat to airline safety: the U.S. military's GPS tests — IEEE Spectrum

  • The world runs on GPS. Want proof? Look at what happens when the military decides to jam GPS, just to see what happens and how to respond. That happens more often than you might think, and with potentially serious consequences. I'll never look at that blue Google Maps dot the same way again.

Palantir's God's-eye view of Afghanistan — Wired

  • This story — an excerpt from Annie Jacobsen's new book "First Platoon" — brings a whole new definition to the term "God View." The surveillance happening silently above us all, and the software making life-and-death decisions based on what it sees, should make you think differently about everything from tiny drones to huge satellites.

Olivia Rodrigo's "Drivers License" hit No. 1 in a week. Here's how. — The New York Times

  • If you haven't heard this song, well, I don't know how. You must not have been on TikTok or Instagram or Spotify or really anywhere on the internet. (It's good, by the way!) And the story of this surprise smash is actually a window into how the music business — and pop culture — works in 2021.

The unauthorized story of Andreessen Horowitz — Newcomer

  • My two cents is that this whole tech vs. media debate is about 40,000% overheated and mostly misses the point on all sides, but a lot of companies should be thinking about these questions. What does it mean to "go direct" or "own your narrative"? What is the job of the press? What does a great story look like? And, most importantly, shouldn't you be on Clubhouse more?

One person’s opinion

Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone

Martin Cooper (everybody calls him Marty) has been in the tech industry for about as long as there has been a tech industry. At Motorola, he led the team that invented the cell phone, and he made the first public cell phone call in 1973. Since then, he's been on the forefront of all things wireless and radio (though he's not particularly bullish on 5G, at least not for regular people).

Marty was the guest on this week's Source Code podcast and, as always, we asked him to share a few things he's been into recently.

  • "I read a substantial excerpt from a forthcoming novel called '2134' [launching in April]. The book is a depressing scenario of how World War III might start. The specific technologies involved are not realistic, at least to an engineer, but the principle of technology getting out of control is scary, especially to an optimist like me."
  • "I invented a webcam that would allow a Zoom or other virtual participant to look directly at the webcam but appear to be looking at the person she's talking to. I believe that people that are so much involved in virtual meetings don't look natural when they naturally look at the people on the screen."
  • "I watched and listened to the presidential inauguration. Forgetting about politics and divisiveness, which is hard to do, my patriotic instincts were aroused. I loved it. But I did observe that Jennifer Lopez sang verses of Woody Guthrie's 'This Land is Your Land' but left out his verses of the misery people in the dust bowl and elsewhere were encountering. I still loved what she did with it."
  • "I was interviewed several times and gave two speeches [where] I spoke about the educational digital-divide and how to solve it. I received valuable feedback from both audiences and interviewers that enhance my message for future opportunities. The best idea was characterizing the role of teachers in the future as 'fine-tuners' of the education of individual students rather than lecturers teaching in siloed subjects."
  • "I encountered an invention by Nikola Tesla that allowed creation of a valve with no moving parts that was unidirectional for fluids. Figuring this out was an 'Aha' experience. (Like, why didn't I think of that?) I like to have at least one of these every day, but the only way to guarantee this is to deal with interesting people every day."


From commerce to content and from Big Tech to Big Government, leading technology analyst Benedict Evans has a knack for seeing the future. At this event, he'll debut and discuss his 2021 trends and predictions for a tech industry — and a world — in the middle of huge change. Join us for this event on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 11 a.m. ET.

RSVP today.

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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