Protocol Source Code
What matters in tech, in your inbox every morning.
Image: Apple

What really matters to Apple today

Apple event

Good morning! This Tuesday, Apple's launching some new stuff, TikTok's inching closer to a not-quite-sale, Google's upping its climate ambition, and Microsoft has a surprising new plan for data centers.

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

The Big Story

What to watch for at Apple's launch event

Today's Apple event would usually be the iPhone launch, but there's no "usually" in 2020. Instead it looks like Apple's set to launch a new Apple Watch, a new iPad Air, and a smattering of other hardware. (Including potentially a new HomePod, which personally I'd put next to "yet another confusingly named Xbox model" on the list of things I don't care about.)

But forget about the hardware. When you watch today's event, here's a list of more important things to look out for. Which ones Apple mentions will be telling — which it leaves out even more so.

  • Apple One: This is the Everything Bundle, with Music and News and iCloud all for a single monthly price. (The name's even showing up in the code of Apple Music.) Apple's been building toward something like this for a while, and it could be the star of the show.
  • The Pluses: Apple hasn't talked much about News+ or TV+ in recent months, after making a big deal about them being the future of their industries. (I'd lump Apple Arcade into this category too, actually.) Is Apple going to keep pushing on original content and big-name partnerships, or let these fade away?
  • Podcasts: At some point, everyone said, Apple will embrace its role as the podcast industry's biggest player. And Apple's been making small moves in the space, but I wouldn't be surprised to see an announcement of Podcasts+ or something like it.
  • Siri: Have you noticed that after so many years of talking non-stop about Siri, Apple doesn't really bring up its voice assistant anymore?
  • Cheaper gateways: Pushing into services means Apple's going to have to find ways to get its hardware into more people's hands. A really great $500 iPad Air goes a long way; Bloomberg reported a cheaper Apple Watch could also be coming.
  • Developers: I'd peg this one as the least likely to get stage time, but Apple's been slowly changing the way it deals with developers both in its app review policies and in how it's implementing new privacy rules. It might be worth addressing it publicly.

The event kicks off today at 10 a.m. PT, and you can watch it on YouTube.


(Almost) everybody wins with the TikTok deal

We still don't know exactly what the Oracle-TikTok tie up will really look like. But we have got a few more details about what's going on with it over the last 24 hours:

  • Oracle does plan to be TikTok's "trusted technology partner," largely in an attempt to take care of national-security concerns over user data.
  • Oracle wouldn't buy TikTok under this agreement, though The New York Times reported it would likely get a stake in this company.
  • Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that the proposal included TikTok committing to creating TikTok Global, headquartered in the U.S., with 20,000 new jobs. TikTok already said it's going to create 10,000 jobs in the U.S. and has a big office in Culver City, so this isn't particularly surprising, but the company had been considering putting its HQ in London.

Again, all this could come to nothing. But I'd bet on the deal being approved: Trump has been publicly supportive of Oracle making a deal, and this process has been political since the very beginning, all the way back to Microsoft's first public statement thanking Trump for his involvement.

But expect some controversy if the deal goes ahead. Remember, the White House would be getting something far short of what Trump demanded in his executive order. It said no American company could do business with TikTok as long as it's owned by ByteDance. Which would actually seem to prohibit a deal like this one?

  • Josh Hawley, for one, also doesn't think the Oracle deal satisfies security concerns, and suggested an easy alternative: "ByteDance can still pursue a full sale of TikTok, its code, and its algorithm to a U.S. company," he wrote to Mnuchin, "so that the app can be rebuilt from the ground up to remove any trace of CCP influence." That, or "effectively ban the TikTok app in the United States altogether," he added.
  • Indian officials are reportedly unimpressed with the deal too, with The Economic Times reporting that privacy and security concerns will need to be addressed before India revokes its ban.

And also: The deadline is approaching for a potential WeChat ban, too, with nary a peep so far. You better believe Tencent's watching what happens the next couple of days.


Google's big climate-change ambitions

This is my kind of one-upmanship. The biggest companies in tech are all pushing to have the best climate plan, and Google just upped the ante:

  • Sundar Pichai announced yesterday that Google plans to "operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy" by 2030.
  • It also purchased enough carbon offsets to eliminate "Google's entire carbon legacy." The company has been carbon-neutral since 2007, Pichai wrote, but this move goes back to the company's beginning. "We're pleased to be the first major company to get this done, today," Pichai wrote. Your move, everybody else!
  • The company's also working with partners to improve energy use in other places. Hard to have a carbon-free office, or make a sustainable product, when cities and manufacturers can't access clean energy, you know?

The policy matches what a group of 2,302 Googlers asked for last fall, and definitely puts Google ahead of most of the tech industry. But one thing's increasingly clear across the whole tech world: These next 10 years are going to bring more focus than ever on climate issues, because everybody has big goals to hit by 2030.



Stronger care … from more efficient operations

In a defining moment for healthcare, it's even more crucial to deliver patient-centered care efficiently. At Philips, we are committed to providing intelligent, automated workflows that seek to improve patient care. More efficient healthcare means stronger, more resilient healthcare.

Learn more.

People Are Talking

Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser still really doesn't want the company sold to Nvidia:

  • "The sale of Arm to Nvidia will destroy the very basis of Arm's business model which is to be the Switzerland of the semiconductor industry dealing in an even-handed way with its over 500 licensees. Most of them are Nvidia's competitors. Among them are many U.K. companies. Assurances to the contrary should be legally binding."

The best model for the future of work is not the office, it's the internet, Brex CEO Pedro Franceschi said:

  • "We should approach Remote more like how YouTubers think of producing content for an audience. Or how gamers think of having online social experiences with other players. Or how open-source developers consider high levels of autonomy not a bug, but instead a requirement to produce high-quality, complex software."

On Protocol: Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick is bearish on game streaming, for price reasons but also connectivity ones:

  • "You still have to get into the hands of the consumer. They're beholden to whatever technology exists wherever they live. You may be out on the cloud, but if they're on a phone line, they won't be able to avail themselves of what you're distributing."

The Stop Hate For Profit campaign is back on, with a new focus on Instagram and a lot of celebrities on board:

  • "These posts will include a 24-hour Instagram 'Freeze' on September 16th in which everyone involved will refrain from posting on Instagram for that day. The Week of Action will end on September 18th, with a call to urge people to vote and demand that Facebook stop undermining our democracy."

Making Moves

Nicole Gavel has joined Waymo as its new head of business development and strategic partnerships. She joins from a biz-dev role at Lyft, and was at Google for years before that.

Amazon's staffing up its e-bike delivery team. It hired Justin Ginsburgh, a co-founder of Citi Bike, and Alex Vickers, a Jump and Uber veteran, to help run the team. Another local delivery option coming soon?

Facebook bought a 400,000 square foot office in Bellevue, for $367.6 million. The sprawling 6-acre campus is just outside Seattle, and was supposed to be REI's new HQ.

In Other News

  • A former Facebook employee wrote a 6,600 word internal memo, published by Buzzfeed News, accusing the company of having failed to stop governments from abusing the platform. The author claims employees have too much power with not enough oversight, saying "I have blood on my hands."
  • Ireland paused its probe into Facebook's EU-to-U.S. data transfers, after the company requested a judicial review. That means transfers can continue, for now.
  • IBM is said to have discriminated against older workers when it laid off thousands of people between 2013 and 2018, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 86% of those considered for layoffs were older workers.
  • Amazon launched a "Shop and Deliver" program for Flex workers, basically allowing Flex drivers to become Instacart shoppers for Whole Foods. Bloomberg speculates that might be because it doesn't have to pay a Flex driver $15 per hour to pick and pack groceries.
  • On Protocol: Airtable raised $185 million at a $2.5 billion valuation. It also announced that it will let developers build their own custom apps on top of Airtable, adding a bit of code back into the no-code software.
  • Verizon bought TracFone for almost $7 billion. TracFone's 21 million customers will make Verizon the country's biggest prepaid player in the industry, ahead of T-Mobile and AT&T.
  • Microsoft partnered with Abnormal Security. It will sell Abnormal's products to its enterprise clients, while Abnormal will move to Azure. As The Wall Street Journal reports, that's a similar agreement to an Amazon-Apptio partnership from earlier this year.
  • Nikola responded to that short-seller report. When rebutting Hindenburg's claim that Nikola made a video of a moving truck by rolling it down a hill, Nikola said it "never stated its truck was driving under its own propulsion in the video." Bloomberg reports that the SEC is now examining the company.
  • Lambda School now offers "lookalike hiring," where recruiters say "we want someone like that last person you gave us," and Lambda finds a good match. Though based on the replies to the announcement, that name might change soon.
  • Customs and Border Protection proudly seized "2,000 counterfeit AirPods." One problem: They were legitimate OnePlus Buds, not counterfeit AirPods. In a later statement, CBP said the headphones "appeared to violate Apple's configuration trademark."

One More Thing

Hey, it's cheap real estate

It worked! Two years after sinking an entire data center 117 feet into the sea off the coast of Scotland, a team of Microsoft employees pulled the thing up and found that actually, the water might be the perfect place for a data center. Plus, another upside: It's a lot more photogenic than those rows and rows of racks.



Stronger care … from more efficient operations

In a defining moment for healthcare, it's even more crucial to deliver patient-centered care efficiently. At Philips, we are committed to providing intelligent, automated workflows that seek to improve patient care. More efficient healthcare means stronger, more resilient healthcare.

Learn more.

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

Recent Issues

The best of Protocol

The confessions of SBF

Your holiday book list

A tale of two FTXs