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Tesla’s wild market ride

Image: Daniel Oberhaus (2018) / Google Finance / Protocol

Tesla’s wild market ride

Good morning! This Tuesday, a big acquisition in the chip world, Tesla's fully bonkers stock performance, and a new way to watch movies together when we're apart.

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People Are Talking

On Protocol: Tech HR departments are failing Black and brown employees. Here's how Vaya Consulting's Nicole Sanchez describes the repercussions of speaking up against discrimination:

  • "This is one of the missteps companies have made over and over and over again — waving a flag in HR like, 'Hey people of color, underrepresented folks, come talk to us over here,' but … it can feel like a trap."

Making something "smart" shouldn't change it, Google's Alex Kauffmann said. It should just make it better:

  • "I don't want like, a computer shaped like a pen, or a computer shaped like a car. I just want a car, and I want the car to be smart. It's like, can you take a regular everyday object and give it access to smarts? Because I don't think you have to put the smarts in it."

Remember last week, when we said it's significant that the U.S. is worried about TikTok but not WeChat? Well Peter Navarro has some thoughts:

  • "TikTok and WeChat are the biggest forms of censorship on the Chinese mainland, so expect strong action on that. Expect action, action, action."

On Protocol: 19 tech companies and associations filed an amicus brief saying the Trump administration shouldn't strip foreign students of their visas:

  • "Without international students, American educational institutions face a sudden loss of critical mass — jeopardizing their ability to maintain their standards of excellence; produce research that helps keep U.S. businesses on the cutting edge of innovation; and provide the training that makes American students a strong talent pool for their future employers."

WeWork's Marcelo Claure said the company's about to be profitable, because everybody needs new kinds of office space:

  • "We have companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon who have told their employees that they can work from wherever they are. We have a lot of those employees who basically now come to a WeWork facility to use it one day, a week, two days a week, three days a week."
  • (I'm filing this one under "I'll believe it when I see it.")

The Big Story

A big bet on chips for cars

Protocol's Shakeel Hashim writes: Analog Devices announced Monday that it's acquiring competitor Maxim Integrated for $21 billion, the biggest U.S. merger announced so far this year.

Both Analog and Maxim make analog semiconductors: chips that take real-world inputs — like sound, light and pressure — and turn them into digital signals that a computer can use. Increased demand for smarter infrastructure and devices, from factories to cars, is driving demand for those chips.

  • The automotive market appears to be a particular driver of this deal. Maxim is strong in the segment, while Analog CEO Vincent Roche confessed that this is a market where Analog has underperformed. Buying Maxim is an easy way to fix that.
  • The two companies also have complementary regional profiles. While Analog is heavily reliant on Western markets, Maxim derives the vast majority of its revenue from Asia, and particularly China. With the Asian market constantly growing in importance, Maxim's customer relationships there could help Analog increase sales for its products in the region, too.

As is often the case with big deals like this, Analog claims it can achieve $275 million worth of cost synergies within two years of the transaction closing, driven by manufacturing efficiencies and lower sales costs.

But this doesn't seem like a purely financial deal. Roche highlighted how tough the competition for hardware talent is right now, with engineers increasingly choosing to go into software instead. By taking a competitor out of the market, Analog hopes that it will be easier to attract top talent.

Stocks

What in the world is happening with Tesla

Tesla's stock price has officially reached crazy territory, after another big jump-and-dip-and-jump-and-dip yesterday. It closed at $1,497.06, down about 3%, after being as high as $1773.06 … six hours earlier. It was briefly the 10th most valuable company in America!

I have no idea what to make of this stock price anymore. Here's the best I can tell:

  • With Tesla about to report earnings, and potentially about to be included in the S&P 500, a lot of people are very excited about Tesla's short-term outlook.
  • Or maybe it's none of that, it's just a bunch of kids on Robinhood betting on their favorite Joe Rogan guest: The platform was apparently signing up 10,000 new Tesla stock owners every hour yesterday. Tesla is the 10th most popular stock on Robinhood, per Robintrack.

Whatever the reason, two things are definitely happening: Wall Street is waiting for a huge correction in the price, and Elon Musk is getting richer. Like, another $2.4 billion richer. Turns out this whole "peg your comp to your stock price, then hype the ever-living crap out of your company and be friends with Kanye West" thing is a pretty winning strategy.

Yesterday was an off day for tech stocks, but in general, they continue to boom. As Moody's economist Mark Zandi told The Washington Post yesterday, "The stock market and the economy have parted ways." COVID cases are up, people are unemployed, things are closing back down, and the stock market just keeps booming.

  • Here's a good theory on what's happening from a Washington Post op-ed: The Fed has made clear that it will push to keep the market working, and suddenly everyone's desperate to not miss out.

And as companies start to report earnings, with the full weight of coronavirus effects finally showing up in the numbers, it's going to be interesting to see how the market responds. But I couldn't even begin to guess what'll happen.

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

In the face of COVID-19, many healthcare providers turned to remote patient monitoring and virtual visits to continue caring for vulnerable patients while minimizing risk of virus transmissions and reducing the strain on scarece hospital resources. At Philips, we're pioneering stronger care networks with technologies we've spent decade innovating - and we believe our homes are destined to play a central role in the healthcare system of the future.

Read more.

TV

Netflix and virtually chill

Protocol's Janko Roettgers writes: Universal remote-maker Caavo is launching a new free service called Watch With Friends, that lets you binge Netflix together with your buddies, wherever they may be sheltering-in-place. "We wanted to create a new way to watch TV together," said Caavo CEO Andrew Einaudi.

  • Watch-together apps have been booming during the pandemic, but most only work with Chrome browsers. Caavo got its service to work with Roku and Apple TV, and it even comes with a mobile companion chat feature. "We are looking to expand to more devices," said Einaudi, adding that the company will also add support for Amazon Prime and Disney+.

Caavo remains unusually good at figuring out how to connect disparate hardware, but its decision to move beyond its own devices is what's really intriguing here. The startup's $399 remote for AV enthusiasts was a neat trick but an odd product, and neither it nor its $100 follow-up, the Control Center, really caught on. Caavo lost Best Buy as a retail partner last year, and has been awfully quiet since.

Einaudi promised that the company will continue to support the Control Center, including with a major upcoming firmware update. But he also admitted that the hardware business has been a tough nut to crack, and that the company may be looking to develop additional software products, and possibly even partner with bigger hardware manufacturers. "Our philosophy has always been: Don't build hardware if you don't need it," he said.

Which makes us wonder: Which TV brand will be the first to license Watch With Friends, and try to build their own one box to rule them all?

Making Moves

Michael Kratsios is the new Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at the Department of Defense. (What a title!) He's still the country's CTO, and now has a huge amount of oversight over U.S. tech policy and spending.

Li Di is the new CEO of Xiaoice, the newly spun-off AI chatbot business that was created inside Microsoft. Dr. Shen Xiangyang is the company's chairman, and Chen Zhan runs its Japan division.

Michael Lofthouse has resigned as CEO of Solid8 after he was caught on video shouting racist obscenities.

In Other News

  • SoftBank is considering either selling Arm or taking it public, The Wall Street Journal reported — though Marcelo Claure said a floatation is at least a year away. With a huge shift in the chip business underway, you know who one particularly disruptive buyer would be? Apple.
  • Google is in talks to invest $4 billion in Jio Platforms, Bloomberg reports. That would use up a lot of Google's new $10 billion India fund in one go — and would mean Jio had raised a truly ridiculous $19 billion this year.
  • Did you know Eric Schmidt hosts a hand-selected group of people in Big Sky, Montana for a super-secret, super-exclusive retreat? He's been doing it every year since 2018. Tech Transparency Project has some details. If you've been, I want to hear all the details.
  • Twitch unbanned President Trump, after a two-week suspension. The @donaldtrump archives and 129,000 followers are back, but there hasn't been any new content on the platform since the reinstatement.
  • Don't miss this story about Facebook's "advertiser councils," from The Financial Times. They've helped the company keep partners close — but are now causing trouble. (Also, if you don't already know Carolyn Everson, the marketing VP running these councils, you should.)
  • The White House has a high-tech plan to stop leakers, which includes "authorship attribution software" that uses lots of writing samples to figure out who's writing anonymous stories. It … apparently didn't work.
  • The podcast wars are heating up: SiriusXM spent $325 million buying Stitcher, Scripps' podcast company. The dream of a single podcast app is dying.
  • Google won't use Fitbit health data to target ads, it said, in an effort to placate the EU's antitrust authorities. Which makes you wonder what exactly Google does want from the acquisition.

One More Thing

fwd: fwd: lucky pitch deck

Schemes to get attention from investors get ever wilder. But this might be my favorite yet. Biz Carson has the story of an email titled 'fwd: fwd: lucky pitch deck' that has been passed around VC circles. This email had EVERYTHING: unicorn GIFs, vague promises of good luck, a mysterious Calendly link. Will Dialup, the startup hunting for investors, succeed? Who knows. But it'll live in startup lore forever because of this.

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

In the face of COVID-19, many healthcare providers turned to remote patient monitoring and virtual visits to continue caring for vulnerable patients while minimizing risk of virus transmissions and reducing the strain on scarece hospital resources. At Philips, we're pioneering stronger care networks with technologies we've spent decade innovating - and we believe our homes are destined to play a central role in the healthcare system of the future.

Read more.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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