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Uber finally gets its delivery deal

Image: Adam Zubin / Skeccio / Postmates / Protocol

Uber finally gets its delivery deal

Good morning! Hope you had a great holiday weekend. This Monday, Uber's deal to buy Postmates, Twitter's changing its programming lingo, and one Japanese town banned texting and walking.

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People Are Talking

Nick Clegg's note about Facebook's free speech policies is nonsense, Common Sense Media's Jim Steyer said:

  • "Nick should be embarrassed for putting that forward. He and Mark would flunk a fifth-grade civics class with their libertarian 'free speech trumps everything in society' argument. The first amendment doesn't apply to Facebook."

Reid Hoffman is prepared to fight President Trump not just politically, but economically:

  • "Frankly, on the political side, one of the things I've been thinking about trying to go stimulate for the next month is an anti-Trump boycott."

The social ad boycott is changing the whole business, said World Federation of Advertisers CEO Stephan Loerke:

  • "The way you allocate your media spend, where you put your ads, talks about your company. We moved from brand safety to, I think, societal safety."

On Protocol: Better data will change supply chains more than self-driving trucks will, Convoy CEO Dan Lewis thinks:

  • "Reducing empty miles, reducing wait times, optimizing the right truck for the right job and all of these efficiencies we work on are actually going to lower the cost structure of the industry and reduce waste more than autonomous vehicles will — at least for the next decade."

The Big Story

The great delivery consolidation continues

Over the years, the tech industry has learned a lesson that may not be true but is nonetheless considered gospel: To the victor go the spoils. If you want your unprofitable business to become profitable, the thinking goes, all you have to do is own that market completely. Then, something something, you get rich.

I can't think of a better way to explain Uber's $2.65 billion deal to buy Postmates, which Bloomberg reported could be announced today. (Update: It's official!)

  • To some extent, Postmates is a consolation prize. Uber's initial plan was to buy Grubhub, but it lost that battle to Just Eat Takeaway, which spent $7.3 billion to become Just Grub Take Eat Away Dot Hub Com.
  • What does Postmates give Uber? Two things: Market share in a number of big cities, and a first-place spot in LA. The combined company would also be tied for #1 in Phoenix, per Second Measure. Which is cool, I guess.

It's hard to say exactly where this leaves Uber in the immediate term, given that Postmates has single-digit market share in most cities. It's definitely good news for Postmates, though, which raised money last fall at a $2.4 billion valuation. It gets a solid win, rather than having to brave a potentially rough IPO market after two years of not quite going public.

  • What it does mean, though, is that the U.S. delivery wars are now a three-team race. DoorDash, Uber Eats, and whatever the GrubHub conglomerate turns out to be called now own pretty much the entire U.S. food delivery market. (Though, again, outside of LA that was mostly already true.)

The "consolidation will unblock the money fountain" argument does make some sense in the delivery world. Any company wants to be the default app that diners use, and the default system that servers check for new orders.

Consolidation also gives the remaining players more leverage against restaurants, drivers and diners alike – which means prices, fees and commissions could go up. Some gig workers are already expressing worry about what comes next.

  • You know who might win most from consolidation, though? SoftBank. It has big stakes in both Uber and DoorDash, so with the company in desperate need of capital, I'd expect to see it exploit that new leverage sooner rather than later.

Programming

Coding lingo continues to change

Regynald Augustin, a Twitter engineer, said he realized how many programming terms came with racist connections when he got an email that used the phrase "automatic slave rekick." Since early 2020, Augustni and another Twitter engineer named Kevin Oliver have been working on a new, more inclusive lingo, that Twitter is starting to roll out.

Twitter's starting by changing nine terms and categories: It's replacing whitelist and blacklist with allowlist and denylist; master/slave with a handful of options including leader/follower.

  • It's also trying to get rid of gendered pronouns, replacing "man hours" with "person hours" and "guys" with "folks" or "people" or "y'all." (As a longtime y'all believer, I can attest: Y'all is the best.)
  • The reaction to all of this? Some people said it's stupid, some said it's not enough, others praised the move. Which on Twitter we call "about the best you can hope for."

Twitter's engineering group pointed out that this isn't an easy switch, and in addition to code and tools it requires "updating documentation across internal resources, Google Docs, runbooks, FAQs, readmes, technical design docs, and more."

  • Twitter even built a browser extension to help flag these terms to employees who can change them.

And it's not just Twitter pushing for change. David Kleidermacher, Google's VP of engineering, pulled out of a talk he was scheduled to give at the Black Hat conference in August, saying that terms like black hat and white hat need to change.

  • "The need for language change has nothing to do with the origins of the term black hat in infosec," he tweeted on Saturday. "Those who focus on that are missing the point. Black hat / white hat and blacklist / whitelist perpetuate harmful associations of black=bad, white=good."

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

Stronger Care….from anywhere, to anywhere

At Philips, we're pioneering stronger care networks with technologies we've spent decades innovating. With connected care solutions from telehealth to at-home monitoring, today's healthcare workers can face today's greatest challenges with smarter virtual tools. See how our telehealth technologies help doctors and nurses deliver care from anywhere, to anywhere.

Learn more.

Investing

What one founder learned from other people's pitch decks

For Justin Mitchell, the CEO of Yac, his adventures in other people's pitch decks started with an email address. When Hey first came out, Mitchell was early on the waiting list, but justin@hey.com was already taken. So rather than take jmitch or justinmitchell, Mitchell decided to use the new service for a new project. He registered pitch@hey.com, and tweeted that he'd offer feedback to anyone who sent their pitch deck to that address.

  • Lots of people did. Mitchell said he's seen decks from companies in a wide range of industries, from all over the world. "One is a robot that makes salads!" he told me. There's also a founder hoping to help garment workers get sewing machines. In between, there are lots of mobile apps and productivity tools and the like.
  • Mitchell said it's been good networking, good marketing for his own product (he sends all his feedback through Yac videos), and occasionally good product-spotting. "I have a couple of them all set aside that are like: I actually want to do intros to a couple of my investors," he said.

I asked Mitchell if he's been giving the same feedback over and over, and he said there are a few things everyone seems to hear from him:

  • Care more about branding. "I'd get into a deck and I'm like, it doesn't look like you spent time on this," Mitchell said. "It's not that expensive to have a good logo."
  • Don't squander your first slide. "I always draw with a red pen: logo here, tagline underneath it. That's the first slide. You don't need an image behind it. You don't need a photo of you and your buddy. Logo and a tagline."
  • Keep it simple. Mitchell said he's seen too many complicated flowcharts, too many over-designed slides, too many slides in general. "I would rather it be readable and incredibly easy for my eyes to just glance over and understand what you're saying," Mitchell said. "I'm never like, 'Oh, I'm so glad they made it blue and red.'"

As for what Mitchell himself has learned? He said mostly that he's been underestimating the opportunity for tech outside of Silicon Valley. He said the folks reaching out for help are largely not Americans, and that more than once he's seen things that "were so unbelievably disconnected from my world, but so needed."

Coming up this week

Now that the EARN IT Act is past its first Judiciary Committee vote, conversation over the bill and encryption in general is likely to heat up.

Fortune's Brainstorm Health conference starts tomorrow, with two days of talks about how the pandemic is changing, you know, everything.

In Other News

  • Don't miss this story from Vice about how police cracked and monitored an encrypted messaging service called Encrochat, in order to track murders, drugs and more.
  • Peter Thiel, after so vocally supporting Trump in and after the 2016 campaign, is so far much quieter in the 2020 run. According to The Wall Street Journal, that's because he thinks Trump's going to lose.
  • The U.S. government is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars with Palmer Luckey and Anduril, as it seeks to build "a virtual border wall" on the Mexico border. The tech reportedly works really well.
  • Remember when Jio Platforms was done raising money? Just kidding! Now it's raised another $253 million from Intel, which desperately wants to be part of India's 5G plans.
  • Speaking of Jio: It did what all super-rich startups do, and launched a video chat app. JioMeet looks like a complete knockoff of Zoom, right down to the icons, with plenty of features and unlimited free calls.
  • Could you keep your finger on your phone for 70 straight hours? Apparently some people can, according to the results of the Finger On The App game created by MrBeast and MSCHF. After almost three days, four people won — and got $20,000 each. (Though not everyone's sure it was a fair race.)

One More Thing

Walking and texting … and arrested?

This week, the city of Yamato, Japan will start enforcing a new law that makes it illegal to use your phone while you're walking. It's a totally toothless ban, since there's no penalty for getting caught. (I've always thought a fun penalty would be that you have to hand your phone over to a stranger who then gets to text anyone in your contacts.) But it's still an interesting development: A few places, like Honolulu, outlaw using your phone while crossing the street, but Yamato wants people to stop using their phones in motion at all. Pretty soon, when we're walking, we're going to have to look up. At the street. Sounds awful.

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

Stronger Care….from anywhere, to anywhere

At Philips, we're pioneering stronger care networks with technologies we've spent decades innovating. With connected care solutions from telehealth to at-home monitoring, today's healthcare workers can face today's greatest challenges with smarter virtual tools. See how our telehealth technologies help doctors and nurses deliver care from anywhere, to anywhere.

Learn more.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce. 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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