From the Editor

Protocol turns 2: Read our favorite stories

Mark the occasion by diving back into some of our favorite pieces from our first two years.

Cake with Protocol logo

Happy birthday to us!

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Protocol turns 2 this weekend, and in some parallel universe in which we very much do not live, we’d be gathering the team together in a conference room today for an awkward toast with lukewarm champagne and some cake that nobody really wants to eat.

Remember office celebrations like that? I don’t miss them. Except, I kind of miss them. And I wish we could have one today because we have a lot to celebrate.

We launched Protocol on Feb. 5, 2020, just a few weeks before the world shut down. It was not the best moment for launching … anything. But two years later, Protocol is not just surviving but thriving. We’re now producing daily coverage, newsletters and events in six — and soon to be seven — specific coverage areas: Enterprise, Fintech, China, Workplace, Entertainment, Policy and, next month, Climate. Our readership is exploding. And our team is getting bigger and deeper with each passing day. Protocol now has more than 40 journalists covering the people, power and politics of tech, with nearly 20 additional colleagues on the business side making it all possible: And there’s a lot more still to come.

So, yeah, I wish we could celebrate together today in a (very large) conference room. But since we can’t do that, I’m going to mark the occasion by diving back into some of my favorite Protocol pieces from our first two years.

I’ll paste my list in below. I’d love to hear about your favorites too. Please drop me a note at Thank you, and thanks for reading Protocol.

An oral history of #hugops: How tech’s first responders built a culture of empathy, by Tom Krazit

  • When something breaks on the internet, the people who know how to fix it just want to give their colleagues a hug — even if they're rivals.

Concern trolls and power grabs: Inside Big Tech’s angry, geeky, often petty war for your privacy, by Issie Lapowsky

  • Inside the World Wide Web Consortium, where top engineers battle over the future of your data.

I helped build ByteDance’s vast censorship machine, by Shen Lu

  • "I wasn’t proud of it, and neither were my colleagues. But that’s life in today’s China."

Lasers and molten tin: Inside Intel’s plans for the world’s most advanced chip-making process, by Max A. Cherney

  • After years of manufacturing struggles, Intel has gone all-in on extreme ultraviolet lithography to make its most advanced chips. The technology is theoretically precise enough to hit your thumb with a laser pointer from the moon.

A 19-year-old built a flight-tracking Twitter bot. Elon Musk tried to pay him to stop, by Veronica Irwin

  • “I’ve put a lot of work into it, and $5k is just really not enough.”

Bad broadband maps are keeping people offline, and everybody knows it, by Ben Brody

  • The center of Maine’s lobster industry shows how much work towns must do to convince anyone they have poor internet access.

How Discord (somewhat accidentally) invented the future of the internet, by David Pierce

  • Discord's founders just wanted to create a way to talk to their gamer friends. They created something much bigger.

Brownsville, we have a problem, by Anna Kramer

  • The money and will of Elon Musk are reshaping a tiny Texas city. Its residents are divided on his vision for SpaceX, but their opinion may not matter at all.

How Dapper Labs scored NBA crypto millions, by Tomio Geron

  • The company behind CryptoKitties, the first glimmer that consumers might get excited about blockchain-backed digital goods, is poised to hit the mainstream with NBA Top Shot.

The cry-laughing emoji has absolutely earned this, by Becca Evans

  • Is it always sincere, or even trendy? No. Does it serve its purpose? Absolutely.

How ‘Big Buck Bunny’ — a movie you've probably never heard of — became an internet legacy, by Janko Roettgers

  • Video engineers have turned to “Big Buck Bunny” as the open-source movie blueprint. Used for video codec development, Netflix’s streaming testing and more, it’s a case study in how art and open source can work together.

LA is a growing tech hub. But not everyone may fit.

LA has a housing crisis similar to Silicon Valley’s. And single-family-zoning laws are mostly to blame.

As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers, whose high salaries put them at an advantage in both LA's renting and buying markets.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

LA’s tech scene is on the rise. The number of unicorn companies in Los Angeles is growing, and the city has become the third-largest startup ecosystem nationally behind the Bay Area and New York with more than 4,000 VC-backed startups in industries ranging from aerospace to creators. As the number of tech companies in the region grows, so does the number of tech workers. The city is quickly becoming more and more like Silicon Valley — a new startup and a dozen tech workers on every corner and companies like Google, Netflix, and Twitter setting up offices there.

But with growth comes growing pains. Los Angeles, especially the burgeoning Silicon Beach area — which includes Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey — shares something in common with its namesake Silicon Valley: a severe lack of housing.

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Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

While there remains debate among economists about whether we are officially in a full-blown recession, the signs are certainly there. Like most executives right now, the outlook concerns me.

In any case, businesses aren’t waiting for the official pronouncement. They’re already bracing for impact as U.S. inflation and interest rates soar. Inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 — the highest increase since November 1981 — and the Federal Reserve is targeting an interest rate of 3% by the end of this year.

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Nancy Sansom

Nancy Sansom is the Chief Marketing Officer for Versapay, the leader in Collaborative AR. In this role, she leads marketing, demand generation, product marketing, partner marketing, events, brand, content marketing and communications. She has more than 20 years of experience running successful product and marketing organizations in high-growth software companies focused on HCM and financial technology. Prior to joining Versapay, Nancy served on the senior leadership teams at PlanSource, Benefitfocus and PeopleMatter.


SFPD can now surveil a private camera network funded by Ripple chair

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a policy that the ACLU and EFF argue will further criminalize marginalized groups.

SFPD will be able to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks in certain circumstances.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ripple chairman and co-founder Chris Larsen has been funding a network of security cameras throughout San Francisco for a decade. Now, the city has given its police department the green light to monitor the feeds from those cameras — and any other private surveillance devices in the city — in real time, whether or not a crime has been committed.

This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a controversial plan to allow SFPD to temporarily tap into private surveillance networks during life-threatening emergencies, large events, and in the course of criminal investigations, including investigations of misdemeanors. The decision came despite fervent opposition from groups, including the ACLU of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which say the police department’s new authority will be misused against protesters and marginalized groups in a city that has been a bastion for both.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.


These two AWS vets think they can finally solve enterprise blockchain

Vendia, founded by Tim Wagner and Shruthi Rao, wants to help companies build real-time, decentralized data applications. Its product allows enterprises to more easily share code and data across clouds, regions, companies, accounts, and technology stacks.

“We have this thesis here: Cloud was always the missing ingredient in blockchain, and Vendia added it in,” Wagner (right) told Protocol of his and Shruthi Rao's company.

Photo: Vendia

The promise of an enterprise blockchain was not lost on CIOs — the idea that a database or an API could keep corporate data consistent with their business partners, be it their upstream supply chains, downstream logistics, or financial partners.

But while it was one of the most anticipated and hyped technologies in recent memory, blockchain also has been one of the most failed technologies in terms of enterprise pilots and implementations, according to Vendia CEO Tim Wagner.

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Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.


Kraken's CEO got tired of being in finance

Jesse Powell tells Protocol the bureaucratic obligations of running a financial services business contributed to his decision to step back from his role as CEO of one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kraken is going through a major leadership change after what has been a tough year for the crypto powerhouse, and for departing CEO Jesse Powell.

The crypto market is still struggling to recover from a major crash, although Kraken appears to have navigated the crisis better than other rivals. Despite his exchange’s apparent success, Powell found himself in the hot seat over allegations published in The New York Times that he made insensitive comments on gender and race that sparked heated conversations within the company.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

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