May 15, 2022
Gif: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol
Good morning, and happy Sunday! Here’s your weekly roundup of what’s been happening this week.
Your stock portfolio is down. Your company’s stock is way down. Or maybe your startup is staring down a short runway, with that Series Whatever round looking increasingly implausible? That safe haven of crypto is anything but. Hell, maybe you just got laid off.
Just a week ago, there were hints that the industry could soon be in a tough spot. Now, it’s fair to say it’s firmly in one.
It is, of course, different this time. (It’s always different this time, isn’t it?) Perhaps most importantly — especially compared to the dot-com crash — technology has spread its tentacles into industries and organizations far beyond chipmakers and software vendors. Tech infiltrated everything, and in the process boosted valuations and market caps to eye-bulging levels — levels we became accustomed to.
Now, those valuations are tumbling. Blame it on … well, you know this by now. A chain of events started with COVID-19 and an economy whipped up by stimulus and low interest rates, then came problems like supply chain woes and a chip shortage, oil prices soared because of the war in Ukraine, inflation across the board followed, the Fed decided to increase interest rates in response, and … well, here we are.
Tech, looming large over the stock markets, was bound to feel the impact hard. And right on cue, Saudi Aramco pushed Apple off the top spot as the world’s most valuable company. Call it a blip? A correction? The end of times?
Predicting the future is, obviously, a fool’s errand. And when it comes to a downturn, so much of what’s happening is out of our control: government responses, public and investor sentiment and — probably the most interesting element — the complex and often unexpected interactions of the financial world. (A couple of years ago I doubt we’d have thought that a crypto sell-off would fuel stock market sell-offs, but some people think that’s happening to some degree now. Say an “oof” for Coinbase, caught in the middle.)
There is, of course, plenty you can do to prepare. In the short term, maybe you’re freezing hiring or making some layoffs. Perhaps you’re rethinking your targets and strategy for the year, or plotting a pivot? And some of you might be thinking even further ahead, to what bets made now could pay off come the rebound. (There’s always a rebound. Right?)
The truth is that we don’t know what happens next. That feeling in your stomach is thanks to uncertainty, and however much you do to prepare, the current situation could still throw you a curveball or seven. The nerves are good, if you handle them right: Let them fuel your creativity and tendency to action, be ready to act, and try not to let them eat up your energy.
But for now, it’s Sunday. The markets don’t reopen for almost 24 hours. So, you know, let your mind wander a little. Hang out with the family. Pour yourself a drink this afternoon. Because there’s probably going to be plenty of work to do over the coming weeks.
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This week, Apple finally killed the iPod. And for many of us, that device was a revelation. So we asked you what other devices changed your life — and you responded. Here are some of our favorites:
Mark Zuckerberg on his big metaverse bet: 'I feel a responsibility to go for it.' — Janko Roettgers
Mark Zuckerberg sat down with Janko this week for an exclusive conversation about the company’s investments in the metaverse, how it compares to Facebook’s transition to mobile a decade and a half ago, why Meta’s social VR world Horizon is a walled garden for the time being and how he eventually wants to open the doors to those platforms over time. This is pretty much essential reading.
'TC or GTFO' may be a sign that Silicon Valley’s money obsession has gone too far — Sarah Roach
Over a third of posts on Blind include someone’s total compensation. Is that promoting pay transparency for the people who really need it? Or is it just the latest way for Silicon Valley workers to stoke their egos? Sarah dug into what’s been driving the trend.
She's not your 'Crypto Mom': Hester Peirce's fight with the SEC — Benjamin Pimentel
SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce is celebrated in memes as “Crypto Mom.” She’s considered crypto’s staunchest ally on a regulatory body that’s become the industry’s nemesis. Ben sat down to talk to her, and while she thinks “Crypto Mom” is an off-target moniker and a flawed portrait, she also explained why she wants the SEC to break its “unhealthy dynamic” with the crypto industry.
You’re thinking about EV prices all wrong: Here’s the math — Brain Kahn
So you want an EV but you think it’s too expensive? Allow us, if you will, to point out that you might be doing the math wrong. If you buy a new car on finance like most people do, the monthly cost of ownership is actually much more of a bargain than you might think. Brian neatly laid out in this piece why the economics of electric car ownership beats internal combustion hands down in most states.
Surveillance AI needs fake data to track people. These companies are supplying it. — Kate Kaye
You’ve probably heard of synthetic data, even if you haven’t used it yet. But while synthetic data suppliers promise that the fake data they provide can reduce bias in AI, which is obviously a good thing, it can also be used to build controversial technologies used to monitor people’s behavior and interpret their emotions and body language. Kate has the story, which is worth a read.
What can make even the best AI strategy fail? — Kevin McAllister
Quite a lot, as it turns out! Organizational unreadiness, lack of investment in trust and poor data quality can all hinder even the best-laid plans, according to our Braintrust. Read this to make sure you avoid those kinds of pitfalls.
Clarence Thomas wants to check Big Tech. Texas could be his shot. — Issie Lapowsky
For years, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been openly itching for a case that would give the court an opportunity to rein in Section 230 protections. Now, Texas’ controversial social media “censorship” law could give him an opening. Issie explained why.
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Thanks for reading! Have a great Sunday, see you tomorrow!