Big Tech's big Texan problem
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Big Tech's big Texan problem

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Good morning! A clash over social media moderation in Texas leaves many platforms in and out of the state with more questions than answers.

Texas’ social media ruling is a big deal

On Friday, the Fifth Circuit upheld a state law prohibiting platforms with more than 50 million active users from moderating content based on viewpoint. The decision unleashes a ton of questions for tech companies operating both in and out of the state. Protocol’s Issie Lapowsky has some answers.

Can platforms just block Texas? The short answer is: no. The law, HB 20, states that platforms can’t censor users based on where they live.

  • That said, it’s unclear whether a state can actually force companies to do business there. As Stanford professor Daphne Keller tweeted in May, “If Texas can do this, can Connecticut make In-N-Out finally open a local franchise?”

Will this affect app store compliance? Potentially. If platforms allow users to post hateful and vile speech because of the law — which seems likely — they risk being out of compliance with app stores’ terms.

  • This has already happened to Parler and Truth Social, but might have a different impact on the Facebooks and Twitters of the world.

Is there a way to meet in the middle? Though the law makes companies take a hands-off approach to extremist speech, it does allow platforms to implement ways for users to opt out of seeing that kind of content. So, maybe, but it would require some new technical investment.

NetChoice and CCIA, the plaintiffs in the case, have to wait to see if the Supreme Court comes to their rescue. That’s a big if, however, and could take a while. For now, several companies are likely to continue their content moderation practices and risk the potential lawsuits in Texas.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Adobe’s biggest competition

Figma made a name for itself in the design software space as an alternative to Adobe’s suite of products, which many think are stuck in the past. But now that Adobe’s scooped it up, there’s just one tool left to stand up against the giant.

Canva and Adobe are now in a two-horse race. Unlike with Figma, Canva’s product tools are more-directly aimed at Adobe’s user base, my colleague Joe Williams writes

  • That seems to be working; Canva was last valued at $40 billion. For reference, Figma was valued at around $10 billion ahead of the Adobe deal.

But professional designers aren’t likely to make the switch to Canva, Joe points out. For one thing, Adobe is what designers learn when they go to school. It made “design” an industry, and getting people out of that mindset will be tough.

  • Canva might also be diluting its market value. It just released a word processing product and new collaboration tools, but is still missing email, a critical enterprise tool.
  • That will make it hard to convince IT departments that they need to ditch Microsoft and Google for Canva.

And there’s plenty of room for other horses. Design tools aren’t usually as entrenched in companies as email or collaboration tools, which means there’s plenty of appetite for design software to take Adobe’s place at the top. Plus, marketers, influencers and business owners who don’t have the time — or budget — for Adobe’s products need something to fill the gap. But whether Canva is it remains to be seen.

— Sarah Roach

In come the fatFIRE-ers

Some tech workers are done with quiet quitting and are ready to start thinking about working hard again, amassing big piles of cash, retiring early and Scrooge McDucking it for the rest of their lives. And it's all possible, if you believe in the fatFIRE movement.

It’s like “work hard, play hard,” but with money: You make a ton of money, spend a ton of money, and retire with tons of money, Workplace editor Meg Morrone writes.

  • FIRE is an old financial acronym that stands for financial independence/retire early. In other words, save cash in your early years so you don’t have to work later in life.
  • But when you throw “fat” in front of it, you’re spending big and retiring big. One tech worker in New York City, for instance, “FIREd” after investing and paying off debt.
  • FatFIRE is yet another discussion that emerged as a result of the pandemic. “New generations entering the workforce have created ways of looking at what a career can and should look like,” said Cara Brennan Allamano, who works at HR platform Lattice.

The concept is a bit of a headache for HR leaders. Working hard to make lots of money early on could keep employees engaged, but it may cause burnout and other issues down the line.

  • “Amassing a large amount of money when you are unable to enjoy it doesn’t seem like a sensible approach,” GoTo CHRO Jo Deal told Meg.
  • Happiness for some people means a fat paycheck. But if the paycheck is from a job they don’t really like, don’t expect the fatFIRE-ers to produce great results.
  • But there are going to be fatFIRE believers regardless of what HR leaders think. One HR professional said working with those employees could be mutually beneficial as long as both the employee and manager are clear on what that’ll look like.

— Sarah Roach

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

As capital gets more expensive, accelerating cash flow is critical. But for many businesses, ignoring customer experience in AR processes puts the brakes on payments. Check out our report detailing what 1,000 C-Suite execs have to say about customers and AR.

Learn more

People are talking

The U.K.’s financial regulator warned citizens to be cautious of FTX:

  • “This firm is not authorized by us and is targeting people in the UK … you are unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong."

JPMorgan's Takis Georgakopoulos said demand for crypto as a payment method has dropped:

  • “We saw a lot of demand for our clients, let’s say up until six months ago. We see very little right now."

Making moves

Zendesk shareholders voted to approve its $10.2 billion sale to a group of private equity firms, which will take the company private during the fourth quarter of this year.

Spencer Tucker joined Yuga Labs as its first chief gaming officer. Tucker previously worked at mobile game developer Scopely and Gree International Entertainment.

Scott McCormick is Foursquare’s new CISO. McCormick last worked at infosec company Reciprocity and HackerOne.

Stuti Bhargava is OneSpan’s first chief customer experience officer. Bhargava most recently worked in customer success at Immersive Labs.

Ryan Breslow is now CEO of health startup Love. Breslow stepped down as CEO of Bolt in January.

TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen, founders of Amazon acquired-PillPack, are leaving the company by the end of the month as it continues to shake up its health care operations.

In other news

Amazon's foray into NFL streaming is paying off so far. The company saw the "biggest three hours for U.S. Prime signups ever" during last week's Thursday night game, according to GeekWire.

Indonesia passed a data protection bill that includes fines of up to 2% of a company's annual revenue and jail time for misusing data.

Apple's raising prices of apps and in-app purchases in some parts of Europe, Asia and South America. Inflation, interest rates and high energy costs have hit currencies in those areas.

The U.S. military ordered an audit of its own online influence operations over concerns that their use could erode U.S. credibility.

Opendoor is struggling. The company lost money on 42% of transactions in August, and even more in some key markets like Los Angeles (55%) and Phoenix (76%).

Uber introduced a new tool that lets companies track emissions when employees take business-related rides.

India’s government and its central bank asked Google to introduce strict checks to curb illegal digital lending apps in the country.

Kiwi Farms was hacked, exposing some passwords, emails and IP addresses. It’s unclear who is behind the attack.

Uber’s breach last week should serve as a reminder for businesses that multifactor authentication is not a security panacea.

The Indy 500 for drones

The main purpose of the Drone Racing League is to entertain. And with drones flying at 90 mph, trailed by colorful lights, being entertained is a given.

But it’s also much more than that: The league announced last week that it's partnering with Google Cloud to collect data that can be used by developers to optimize drone and pilot performance. While optimizing the drones is obviously a plus for the game, the league also uses race data to make drones better for enterprise and humanitarian work.

A MESSAGE FROM VERSAPAY

As capital gets more expensive, accelerating cash flow is critical. But for many businesses, ignoring customer experience in AR processes puts the brakes on payments. Check out our report detailing what 1,000 C-Suite execs have to say about customers and AR.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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