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Politics

Ro Khanna: 'This is not some large bailout for the startups'

Ro Khanna, in conversation with Protocol, says startups have to be included in the economic stimulus package to save jobs.

On Thursday, California Rep. Ro Khanna sat down for a Virtual Meetup with Protocol senior reporter Issie Lapowsky to explain why he thinks it is important for startups to be included in Congress' economic stimulus plan, his view on a universal basic income, and what more the FCC can be doing to address the digital divide.

Khanna said that including startups in the small-business loans will save thousands of jobs. "The affiliation rules make no sense" as they have been written, Khanna said. Currently, venture capital-backed startups may be excluded from the economic stimulus plan. Khanna said he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have all been working to convince Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to draft guidance extending the stimulus to startups.

Earlier Thursday, McCarthy told Axios that Mnuchin had agreed to "solve" the problem. "That is a big deal, if true," Khanna told Protocol. He was still awaiting new guidance from Mnuchin. "It will make a difference for thousands of jobs if this rule is changed."

"The rule waiver will allow [startups] to actually keep the employees," Khanna added. "That's my focus. It's not just saving startups, it's saving the many people employed in startups." He noted that these include both blue collar and science and technology jobs.

Khanna added that the rule waiver should include both venture capital and private-equity-backed firms. "This is not some large bailout for the startups," he said. "We're just talking about giving people a two-month loan that could become a grant to keep people employed."

When asked about his position on a universal basic income, Khanna said that while he supports government-funded mechanisms such as unemployment benefits and cash infusions, he still believes in the "dignity of work."

"People are not going to be fine with a bunch of tech leaders making money and mailing everyone a check," Khanna said. "We need something that gives them work and job opportunities." Khanna suggested expanding the earned income tax credit, supplementing workers who are not making enough, and expanding Social Security disability for people who cannot work for qualifying reasons.

He also noted that the FCC could be doing more to address the digital divide, which has become more dire as schools have switched to remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak. He said the FCC should require or incentivize tech companies to provide more internet access.

Microsoft wants to replace artists with AI

Better Zoom calls, simpler email attachments, smart iPhone cases and other patents from Big Tech.

Turning your stories into images.

Image: USPTO/Microsoft

Hello and welcome to 2021! The Big Tech patent roundup is back, after a short vacation and … all the things … that happened between the start of the year and now. It seems the tradition of tech companies filing weird and wonderful patents has carried into the new year; there are some real gems from the last few weeks. Microsoft is trying to outsource all creative endeavors to AI; Apple wants to make seat belts less annoying; and Amazon wants to cut down on some of the recyclable waste that its own success has inevitably created.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Protocol | Enterprise

Why Oracle and SAP are fighting over startups

Did someone mention a chance to burnish reputations and juice balance sheets?

New cloud-based offerings and favorable contract terms are convincing startups to switch to software from Oracle and SAP earlier in their lives than your might expect.
Jane Seidel

In the hunt for their next big-ticket customers, SAP and Oracle are trying to cast off reputations as stodgy tech providers by making a huge push to provide their software to startups.

Both companies have found themselves in choppy waters recently as potential customers have turned to the cloud, shunning the on-premises solutions SAP and Oracle are known for. That's coupled with a global pandemic that dried up demand for the expensive enterprise-grade software that drives profits at the vendors.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Is this a VC bubble, or just the new normal?

Huge deals, little diligence and hyper-fast follow-on rounds have become commonplace. For now.

Things are looking awful frothy, aren't they?

Photo: Drew Beamer/Unsplash

The VC industry is "frothy," "overheated" or "bonkers," investors say. Whether this is the new normal or unhealthy signs of an overheated market depends on your point of view — and how well your portfolio is doing.

There are signs that VC has changed all around. In recent months, deal sizes and valuations have spiked in hot deals; due diligence on startups has evaporated as investors compete to get into hot deals first; venture firms are investing much more than they normally do; there are hyper-fast follow-on rounds; and more non-traditional investors are backing early-stage startups.

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Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

COVID-19 bruised TripActions’ business. It chose to innovate.

If nobody's booking business flights through your startup, why not help people pay for their corporate takeout instead?

TripActions had to confront a world with far less travel.

Photo: TripActions

TripActions was a fast-growing startup that helped clients manage their business travel when the pandemic hit early last year. Now, almost a year later, it's also helping businesses with their work-from-home expenses.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers 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 bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

Politics

In 2020, COVID-19 derailed the privacy debate

From biometric monitoring to unregulated contact tracing, the crisis opened up new privacy vulnerabilities that regulators did little to address.

Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, says the COVID-19 pandemic has become a "cash grab" for surveillance tech companies.

Photo: Lianhao Qu/Unsplash

As the coronavirus began its inexorable spread across the United States last spring, Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, worried the virus would bring with it another scourge: mass surveillance.

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. 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. Email Issie.
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