Source Code: Your daily look at what matters in tech.

source-codesource codeauthorDavid PierceNEWSLETTER LayoutWant your finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in tech? Sign up to get David Pierce's daily newsletter.64fd3cbe9f
×

Get access to Protocol

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

I’m already a subscriber
Protocol Source Code
What matters in tech, in your inbox every morning.

Up and to the right

Image: Greg Ory / Ataur Rahman / Protocol
Stock market up arrow

Good morning! This Wednesday, markets are booming, Antony Blinken has a China plan and Twitter's about to start blue-checking again.

(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Source Code every day.)

Housekeeping

We're off tomorrow for the holiday, and you'll get this week's issue of the Index newsletter on Friday. (It's a good one.) We'll be back with your regularly-scheduled programming on Sunday. In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, stay safe and send me all your favorite recipes and Black Friday purchases!

The Big Story

Everything is booming

The numbers, they're good! The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed yesterday at $30,046.24, its highest ever, after the Biden administration was allowed to start the transition processes, Janet Yellen looked set to become the new treasury secretary and a vaccine looked well within reach. The S&P 500 closed at $3,635.41, also its highest ever. The world may still feel weird and bad, but the markets are feeling good about the future.

In fact, numbers everywhere are up and to the right. Bitcoin passed $19,000 for the first time in three years. Stripe, already Silicon Valley's biggest startup, is reportedly in talks to raise money at a valuation as high as $100 billion.

  • Elon Musk also solidified his spot above Bill Gates on the billionaires list, in case you're wondering: Tesla was up more than 6% yesterday, tacking another $6.6 billion onto his net worth, according to Forbes. (Though Forbes also has a fun story about how complicated it really is to understand Musk's wealth.)

The tech industry continues to dominate the markets. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook recently accounted for almost a quarter of the S&P 500's market cap, The Wall Street Journal notes, after a huge surge in tech stock prices during the pandemic.

  • But all that growth makes some investors nervous about what happens if tech falls out of favor — which might already be happening, at least a little.
  • The tech-heavy Nasdaq index underperformed the Dow and S&P 500 yesterday. Tech's likely got the vaccine to thank for that: As normality looks in sight, investors are pivoting out of their stay-at-home bets and going big on airlines, banks and energy companies.

There's a new normal coming politically, economically and culturally. Nobody knows exactly what it looks like, but the markets like what they can see so far.

Politics

Tech's role in Biden's foreign policy

Anna Kramer writes: Antony Blinken is here to fix your China problem. Chinese supply chain and national security questions could be among 2021's biggest headaches for tech, and Biden's pick for secretary of state will be the man in charge of forging a new U.S.-China relationship.

Blinken's known as a multilateralist centrist, a man interested in problem-solving through coalitions and international institutions. What does that mean for his take on China?

  • He'll work to exert influence over the Chinese government through mutual alliances. He's described China as a "common challenge" for India and the U.S., so you can expect he'll be interested in U.S.-India partnerships that challenge Chinese tech strength.
  • Biden's foreign policy approach to China may still be more aggressive than some tech companies would like under Blinken, who has called the Chinese government and others like it "techno-autocracies."
  • And then there are his close ties to the tech industry. Blinken co-founded WestExec Advisors, a consulting firm that worked with Google's Jigsaw unit and, according to The American Prospect, Schmidt Futures. The Prospect also reports that Blinken's continued to informally work with Google executives, while Fast Company reported that he's advised Facebook, too. In other words, a lot of people in tech now have a direct line to the Truman Building.

Don't forget Biden's other national security picks, all of whom will play a role in determining rules and trade relationships for tech companies not just in China, but across the globe.

  • Jake Sullivan, Biden's new national security advisor, also sees China as a threat, but he's seemingly not interested in repeating Trump's confrontational style. He co-authored an article last year instead urging "vigilance" and "competition" in U.S.-China relations.
  • Linda Thomas Greenfield, Biden's pick for U.N. ambassador, is a deeply-respected career diplomat focused on strengthening international relationships, not breaking them down.

Put them all together, and you've got a team of leaders uninterested in the Trump era of "America First." Hopefully that means we can all spend a lot less time thinking about TikTok.

A MESSAGE FROM SYNCHRONY

Contactless payments are no longer a nice to have.

At Synchrony, we understand the challenges of running a business. Our financial and technology solutions, like touchless payment tools, help you offer your customers more tailored experiences, so they keep coming back.

Learn more about our solutions.

People Are Talking

On Protocol: Twitter's Christine Su said the goal for her user safety team isn't as simple as fixing everything:

  • "The point is not to make the entire world a safe space: That's not possible. The point is to empower people and communities to have the tools to heal harm themselves and to prevent harm to themselves and put them in control."

Fred Wilson didn't hate that VC-bashing New Yorker story as much as some others did:

  • "The idea that capital alone can create a strong company is a flawed idea that the VC industry pursued with a lot of passion for most of the last decade. The flameout of WeWork and the tarnished stories around other 'fundraising as a strategy' startups will hopefully put an end to that approach of building companies, but I won't hold my breath until that happens."

The Georgia runoffs are already a mess on social media, and a group of Senators urged Susan Wojcicki to do more about it:

  • "We urge you to immediately remove all election outcome misinformation and take aggressive steps to implement prohibitions, as other social media companies have done, regarding outcomes in future elections."

Making Moves

Microsoft will open a datacenter region in Sweden next year, powered by renewable energy, and plans to help re-skill 150,000 people in the country as part of the process.

Netflix is betting on New Mexico. It plans to spend $1 billion with ABQ Studios in Albuquerque, and will expand the studio to make it among the largest production facilities in the country.

Piruze Sabuncu is the newest partner at Square Peg. She was a longtime Stripe exec and did a brief stint at Next Billion Ventures, and will be investing across Southeast Asia.

In Other News

  • Mark Zuckerberg agreed to a News Feed proposal from Facebook staff to increase authoritative news sites' weighting in the Facebook algorithm post-election, The New York Times reports. Separately, The Information reports that Facebook has around 112,000 people on a "political whitelist," meaning their posts can't be fact-checked. And YouTube temporarily suspended and demonetized OANN for spreading COVID misinformation.
  • On Protocol: Republicans are flooding the Georgia runoffs with millions of dollars in digital dark ads. Facebook and Google's political ad ban has pushed all digital spending for the Georgia runoffs onto platforms, including Hulu, that offer no transparency at all.
  • Facebook and Amazon were told to pay their digital services tax in France, the Financial Times reports. France's truce with America over the taxes is over, with no international taxation agreement agreed, and the country wants this year's payments.
  • Big Tech collectively occupies more office space than exists in New York City, reports The Wall Street Journal. The footprint has grown this year, even amid the move to remote work, and is part of the reason commercial real-estate stocks are booming.
  • Gig economy companies might be allowed to pay their workers in equity. The SEC proposed a pilot program that would allow up to 15% of a gig worker's compensation to be paid in stock, which could allow them to benefit from the overall company's success — for those who can afford to take a lower salary.
  • India banned AliExpress, alongside 42 other apps predominantly from China. The government said the apps threaten the "sovereignty and integrity of India."

One More Thing

How to join the blue checkmark club

Getting verified on Twitter is awesome. You get more characters in your tweets, you get to be in a group chat with Jack Dorsey, all your tweets get 50 extra likes and there's even an edit button. Wait, no — actually, nothing happens when you get verified. But if you want a blue checkmark, your chance is coming back! Twitter released a new set of verification guidelines and plans to restart the process in 2021. Make sure your Wikipedia page is up to date.

A MESSAGE FROM SYNCHRONY

SYNCHRONY

Contactless payments are no longer a nice to have.

At Synchrony, we understand the challenges of running a business. Our financial and technology solutions, like touchless payment tools, help you offer your customers more tailored experiences, so they keep coming back.

Learn more about our solutions.

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

Recent Issues