A weekly podcast brought to you by The Information, a subscription tech news site doing deep dives and investigative looks at the tech and media industries. Each episode highlights some of the major happenings in tech business world, featuring the reporters at The Information. It's interviews, analysis, and wrap-ups to help give you insights into what the biggest companies in the industry are thinking.
Reporters Alex Heath and Wayne Ma discuss their exclusive reporting on Facebook's efforts to build a smartwatch and Apple's work on a mixed-reality headset. This is another Facebook vs. Apple battle worth following.
Tom Dotan and Jessica Toonkel discuss their reporting on how NBCUniversal is trying to pluck its way to streaming success, and why a merger with WarnerMedia might make sense. Then, Wayne Ma explains the logistical feats that helped Apple avoid the kind of shipping delays that plagued other companies.
This week, we bring you two of the most revealing interviews from The Information's Future of Startups conference. Expensify CEO David Barrett and Cameo CEO Steven Galanis spar over the right way to lead a startup in an extreme political climate. Then, Jessica Lessin interviews former Google CEO Eric Schmidt about antitrust scrutiny and employee activism.
The Information columnist and former Facebook executive Sam Lessin talks to Cory and helps us make sense of online communities, internet populism and the GameStop stock surge. Then, reporters Tom Dotan and Jessica Toonkel explain why ESPN is no longer the favorite child of parent company Disney.
What happens when VC firms become publishers? Tom talks with The Information's Zoe Bernard and Newcomer.co's Eric Newcomer about Andreessen Horowitz' latest moves, and startups' relationships with journalists. Then, Cory breaks down his reporting on Airbnb's efforts to keep white nationalists and hate groups off of the travel site.
Cory and Alex tell the story of the messaging app Telegram and its mysterious founder, who find themselves in the global spotlight after rapid growth recently. Can the company figure out a business model? And will it crack down further on chat groups with the potential to spark real-world violence?
Following the announcement of the new union of Alphabet employees, we dive into the rising trend of worker unionization in the tech industry. Then Cory talks to Alex about how social media companies will handle President Trump's presence on their platforms after his incitement of the riot at the Capitol.
Our year end episode features an interview with musical artist Pharrell Williams and non-profit advisor Willa Seldon who talked about their experiences as black entrepreneurs. They also shared their views on what most investors and executives who aren't racial or ethnic minorities don't understand about the headwinds that minorities face in the business world.
Their new organization supporting Black and Latinx entrepreneurs is called Black Ambition, and the website for their startup competition is www.blackambitionprize.com
As the year winds down we look ahead to what we think will transpire in 2021. Tom chats with Jessica Toonkel and Martin Peers about the tumult in media and whether Hollywood really is abandoning theaters. Then Cory talks with Zoe Bernard and Kate Clark about upcoming changes in the investing space and why financial services startups took off this year.
Amir and Cory explain what DoorDash and Airbnb's specatular debuts on the markets means about both companies and about the tech world as a whole. Then we chat with Peter Hamby of Snapchat, who hosts its popular political series Good Luck America. He talks about whether social media platforms are doing enough to root out misinformation from politicians and if Obama still is in tune with the way young people consume news.
Cory speaks with Kevin McLaughlin, our enterprise reporter and soothsayer, about the reasons Salesforce spent big to acquire Slack. Tom talked to Paris about why Generation Z is both Amazon's biggest critic and a loyal customer base.
Cory talks to Scott Wiener, a member of the California state senate, about how the future of the tech industry in San Francisco. We wrote this week about the CEOs of Dropbox, Brex and Splunk leaving the city permanently. Wiener isn't sure the trend will last. "There have been a lot of speculative predictions that I'm not sure will play out," he said.
Related: Tech CEOs Are Saying Goodbye to San Francisco
Alex talks about the struggle inside Facebook over how to deal with misleading posts from politicians. Cory gets the inside story from Nick Bastone about struggles at Alphabet's Loon, the experimental company that's tried to bring internet connectivity to rural areas.
How can we start to make sense of the implications of this election for tech? Cory talks to three tech-savvy political veterans for early takeaways.
Jim Messina, CEO of the Messina Group and former campaign manager to Barack Obama in 2012
Bruce Mehlman, founder of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, a lobbying firm that works with tech companies
Betsy Hoover, co-founder of Higher Ground Labs, an firm that invests in startups focused on political technology
Will Uber and Lyft drivers become full-time employees, or something more like contractors with benefits? California's Proposition 22 will help determine the fate of "gig" work, as well as the financial fortunes of Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart. Tom and Cory break down this high-stakes battle ahead of Election Day, with some help from Uber and Lyft reporter extraordinaire Amir Efrati. We also hear from Uber and Lyft drivers on both sides of the fight, one of the most important political battles ever for the tech industry.
Nick Bastone and Chris Stern join to talk about the DOJ's antitrust suit against Google and where things go from here. And Jessica Toonkel and Tom dive in the the brief life and sudden death of the video streaming service Quibi.
Tom talks to Kate Clark about the state of funding for female-led startups, which has sunk even lower during the pandemic. We also interview Tracy Chou, founder of Blockparty and Sara Mauskopf, cofounder of Winnie, who discussed their experiences raising money for their startups. And Cory talked to Nick Bastone and Humu's Liz Fosslien to talk about why some workers feel they've become less efficient as they work from home.
Cory Weinberg talks to Tom Dotan about the success of Disney+ and why the app's importance has bred tensions at the entertainment giant. Then, Cory talks antitrust and tech culture with Maelle Gavet, a former executive at real estate startup Compass and online travel firm Booking. Gavet recently published a book about her experience with what she calls "tech's empathy problem."
Zoe talks about this week's Coinbase controversy and how different CEOs feel about taking activist stands as a company. Then Alex talks about Facebook's battle with Apple, this time over messaging and integrating into iMessage.
It seems like in Silicon Valley is starting a SPAC. Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Kevin Hartz, Chamath Palihapitiya, maybe even your roommate.
Reporters Cory Weinberg and Ross Matican trace the origins of the SPAC surge. We explain why these special-purpose acquisition companies have become so popular, some of the regulatory history, and what some of the downsides are.
In this episode, we talked to:
George Arison, co-CEO of Shift Technologies
Milos Vulanovic, associate of corporate finance at EDHEC Business School
Thomas Hennessy, co-CEO and president of PropTech Acquisition Corporation
Jay Heller, head of capital markets & IPO expansion at Nasdaq
The Information's SPAC Target List
What Private Tech Firms Should Watch Out For in SPACs
Opendoor, in Announcing SPAC, Opens Up About Losses
ChargePoint to Go Public in $2.4 Billion SPAC Deal
This week we're presenting highlights from two interviews from the WTF Summit earlier this month. Emerson Collective's president Laurene Powell Jobs discusses her group's work on voting access as well as her ownership of The Atlantic magazine. Jenna Lyons, the former creative director for J Crew, talks about starting from the ground up with her new beauty brand.
We speak to some brave souls around the world who ventured back into the movie theater. And Richard Rushfield of The Ankler joins to give his take on how well the movie industry has faired these last two weekends back and what it all means for Hollywood.
With the TikTok drama getting even messier and tech relations between the US and China at an all time low, we check in with Jessica Lessin about the latest. Then Cory talks to Kate Clark about how the payments firm Stripe has become a force in venture capital, often edging out established firms to get in on deals.
The second part of our Airbnb series looks at Domio, a startup that tried to build a business on the Airbnb platform. Paris tells us how she stumbled across the Domio story and how the company gamed loopholes in city guidelines about short term rentals. And Cory explains what the Domio saga means for Airbnb as it heads toward an IPO.
How One Rental Startup Gamed Airbnb
Kevin talks about his profile of Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO and philanthropist, which looked at how he and his company are managing during the pandemic. Especially when Salesforce's marquee event, Dreamforce, appears to be off this year. Also Tom chats with Alex about Apple's changes to ad tracking and the effect it will have on Facebook—as well as the gaming companies that rely heavily on Facebook ads.
Yunan joins to explain why the TikTok saga and the US government's decision to ban the app, unless it sells to an American company, has hurt the reputation of Zhang Yiming, the CEO of the app's parent company ByteDance. And Cory speaks to Kate about Headspin and the case of the company that had to give back some of its capital to investors after its revenue projections proved to be wildly off base.
Once a Hero, TikTok’s Founder Is Under Attack in China
Startup HeadSpin to Return Funding After Probe of Financial Statements
It was a big week for tech and politics as the four leaders of the major US tech companies testified in front of the House Antitrust subcommittee. We spoke to Alex Heath and Chris Stern about which CEOs weathered the questions from lawmakers best and where the antitrust investigations go from here. Then Cory speaks to Anissa Gardizy about delivery startup GoPuff and the problems its skyrocketing growth has caused for its neighbors.
Cory Weinberg interviews Steven Galanis, the CEO of Cameo, a fast-growing startup that allows major and minor celebrities can send messages to fans. Steven discusses Cameo's growth story, why this is a "new golden age" of consumer apps, and why Apple's app-store monopoly should get government scrutiny.
Paris Martineau discusses her reporting on problems at the secretive healthcare initiative Haven, and what the turmoil tells us about its benefactor Amazon. Four Information reporters give their takes on which companies are ripe for acquisitions.
Nick Bastone gives us an update on the digital advertising industry and compares the trajectories of Google and Facebook during the second quarter. Jessica Lessin gives her take on whether it matters that the annual Sun Valley conference was called off this year because of the pandemic.
We talk with John Redgrave, the CEO of content moderation startup Sentropy about the challenges of curbing hate speech online. Then Cory checks in on the state of the travel industry with Jon Staff the CEO of vacation startup Getaway.
Alex joins to talk about how Facebook went from hero to heel as America careened from the coronavirus pandemic to the Black Lives Matter protests. Then Chris Stern discusses the state of the anti-trust investigations pending against big tech companies and the behind the scenes role Pierre Omidyar is playing in advancing the cases.
Facebook's Month of Whiplash
The Tech Billionaire Marshaling the Fight Against Big Tech
As part of our Juneteenth episode, we're focusing on how tech companies and tech products can contribute to major policy changes. We talk to Catherine Bracy, executive director of the Tech Equity Collaborative, about why tech companies should fight for racial justice through property tax reform. Then we hear from Nykidra Robinson, who runs Black Girls Vote, which helped drive higher voter turnout in Baltimore's primary election this year with a virtual election party.
Tech companies: It’s time to show that Black lives really matter to you
Tech Took On Voter Turnout. It’s Still Working On It
We talk to Wayne Ma about Apple's attempts to have robots handle the manufacturing process at their factories and why it hasn't worked. Then we speak with Kate Clark about the federal paycheck protection program loan and the startups that took advantage of it.
Special guests this episode included David Bourne, a scientist at the Robotics Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University and Jonathan Wasserstrum, the CEO of SquareFoot.
What Apple Learned From Automation: Humans Are Better
After Chaotic Start, Federal Loan Program Helped Startups Avoid ‘Deep Layoffs’
Cory talks with two black women in tech to see what tech companies have done and still need to do to address racial inequality. Sherrell Dorsey, a journalist and entrepreneur and the founder of The Plug, has been cataloguing the responses from tech companies showing support for the black community. Sarah Kunst, a venture capitalist at Cleo Capital, explains the importance of firms funding more diverse founders.
Zoe and Cory join to discuss how the pandemic has hit the job market in tech. Zoe talks about the phenomenon of job postings that turn out not to be real. And Cory gives some historical context around how the current job losses in tech compare to previous recessions.
Cory joins to discuss Mark Zuckerberg's announcement that Facebook is fully embracing the work from home office. We explore the reasons tech is rushing to adopt the policy and whether it will have a big effect on cities. Then Tom gives the backstory on Kevin Mayer, TikTok's new US CEO. He explains what it means for Disney to lose its top streaming executive and the challenges Mayer will face coming to the controversial Chinese company.
Chris Stern gives us an update on the ongoing battle to win the Pentagon's cloud computing contract. He explains why Amazon is still fighting to win the account back from Microsoft in the courts. And how Oracle fits into the puzzle.
Microsoft’s Secret Ally Against Amazon in Cloud Deal: Oracle
Amir joins to talk all things ride hailing, including why Uber and Lyft had to undergo massive layoffs. We also explain how Uber's side businesses like food delivery and bikes are on diverging paths during the crisis.
Uber Discusses Plan to Lay Off About 20% of Employees
Tom and Jessica Toonkel talk about the chaotic world of the movie industry as theaters across the world remain shuttered. We discuss what it will take to get people to feel comfortable again going to theaters and whether the movie industry will finally change from its hard set ways of not making new releases available to rent at home.
Pandemic Forces Studios to Think Outside the Box on Movie Releases
Studios Look to Offload Movies to Netflix, Amazon
Cory joins to talk about the major layoffs at Opendoor. We also discuss how Brian Chesky is leading Airbnb through this bleak period in the company's business and if it stands a chance of going public this year.
Kevin talks about the problems that Azure has had providing service to its customers. It's cropped up before the pandemic, but the surge in use during the work-from-home era has made things even more complicated.
Outbreak Strains Microsoft’s Cloud, but Issues Began Earlier for Customers
Zoe breaks down the new strange world of video conference etiquette. We discuss how the new remote lifestyle has raised a handful of questions about the proper way to interact over video chat. And she explains why an etiquette coach said you technically don't have to wear pants when you're on a Zoom conference (or any video conference for that matter).
Etiquette in the Age of Zoom
Nick Bastone dives into the way Apple has tried to manage the work-from-home era, where employees have to keep the secret products under wraps while working in a non secretive location
How Apple is Working From Home
Jessica Toonkel talks about why Spotify decided to go on a spending spree to get into the podcasting space. We discuss how this can actually pay off for the company and how long it could take to show results.
Priya dives into how Amazon has become one of the central pieces holding things together as large swaths of the country remains under stay-at-home orders. We also discuss whether Amazon's increasing role as a utility servicing the nation will change the way people view the company—and what it means for regulatory efforts.
Amazon’s Retail Power Could Grow During Pandemic
We talk to Shai Oster, our Hong Kong bureau chief, about his experience leaving the country as the coronavirus began threatening from China. Then returning to Hong Kong once the US started seeing the effects. He gives us a look at what life looks like after the quarantining ends and people attempt to return to normal.
The first of our special midweek podcasts during the COVID-19 pandemic looks at Airbnb. Cory explores the company's decision to give guests full refunds on trips that had to be cancelled because of travel restrictions during the crisis.
Please reach out to email@example.com if this situation has happened to you if you have any thoughts as a guest or host.
Airbnb’s Longstanding Ties to Hosts Frayed by Crisis
Martin talks about the effects of the market downturn in response to the global pandemic. And we discuss which companies are the most affected and how long it will take for investors to regain confidence in the markets again.
Market Crash Pressures Softbank's High-Risk Investment Strategy
As Prices Fall, Private Equity's Deal Appetite Could Grow
Kate talks about the messages that investors are giving to their portfolio companies about the coronavirus and how to prepare for an economic downturn.
VCs Brace for Fundraising Delays Amid Outbreak
Jessica Lessin talks about Disney's surprise appointment of a new CEO, Bob Chapek and what it means for Bob Iger in his new role as executive chairman. Priya discusses the future of Amazon Go.
Despite Stepping Down as Disney CEO, Iger Will Still Be In Charge
Buyer Beware: Why Retailers Should Think Hard About Amazon ‘Go’ Partnerships
Cory interviews New York Times journalist Conor Dougherty about his new book on the California housing crisis and the role tech has played in causing it (and trying to solve it). Then Jessica Lessin talks to Robin Murdoch of Accenture about autonomous vehicles as part of our sponsored series with the firm.
Amir talks about the companies that have invested the most in self-driving car technology in the past decade. Kate explains why Sequoia is doubling down on seed investing and why that category is getting more competitive.
Chris Stern joins from Washington DC to talk about how Republicans have become Facebook's biggest supporters on the Hill in the face of increasingly antagonistic Democrats. Kevin discusses the legacy of Ginni Rometty the outgoing CEO of IBM.
Priya and Kevin Dugan talk about the ways companies going public try to get bankers to become clients in order to win the job. Kate explores Lambda School, a coding school that has a different way of approaching tuition, and the controversy around it.
Nick Bastone and Jessica Lessin talk about David Drummond's tense relationship with Google Venture and his lasting legacy at Alphabet.
Drummond Departure Puts Spotlight on Google Venture Arm
Google Reckoning With History of Interoffice Romance by Top Execs
This week, we talked about Amir's exclusive story that outlined Uber's many business problems, including UberPool, and Amazon's Twitch, which is grappling with a declining user base and falling short of advertising revenue goals.
Alex dives into Facebook's massive hardware plans in AR and VR and the executive, Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, who's heading the endeavor. Nick and Kevin talk about Google Cloud and the long-shot effort to beat Amazon and Microsoft.
Amir joins to talk about DoorDash's money-losing business and Uber's report on sexual assaults. Alex Heath talks about his investigation of Magic Leap's business and the disappointing sales for its AR headsets.
Story links: Doordash https://www.theinformation.com/articles/with-public-debut-looming-doordash-projected-450m-2019-loss
Magic Leap https://www.theinformation.com/articles/dented-reality-magic-leap-sees-slow-sales-steep-losses
Ashley breaks down where the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination stand regarding the tech industry. Martin joins to talk about the math of Disney's acquisition of Fox's assets and why it's clear that it seriously overpaid.
Producer Jason Blum explains why we've still got a few more years of big money flowing into Hollywood before business realities set in. Also why Apple should consider buying a studio and why most movie budgets have gotten smaller while TV shows have ballooned in price.
Beejoli talks about the future of cable channels during the streaming era and what it's like working for the "old" part of the business. Cory gives the latest on Airbnb, including a scoop on its money-losing second quarter and its departing chief operating officer.
Beejoli and Tom discuss the latest battle in the streaming wars as WarnerMedia unveiled HBOMax. Nick makes his first appearance to talk about how Google has tweaked its hiring strategy to focus less on culture fit.
We interview Thomas Middleditch and Zach Woods, the stars of HBO's Silicon Valley. Ahead of the final season premiere on October 27, they reflect on how the tech industry has changed during the course of the show's run, how they searched for the humanity in the Valley, and why they think the show sticks the landing.
Cory Weinberg talked to Lauren Cummings of Morgan Stanley, Will Connolly of Goldman Sachs and Scott Stanford of Acme about the future of the IPO, why direct listings make sense for some companies and whether Softbank will stick with companies it has backed as they go public. This on-stage interview took place at our annual Subscriber Summit at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park on October 17, 2019.
Jessica Lessin spoke to Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta about the company's growing ad business, potential regulations on gig-workers, and how he discovered that Amazon had bought its biggest customer Whole Foods. This on-stage interview took place at our annual Subscriber Summit at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park on October 17, 2019.
Jessica Lessin spoke to Facebook executive Fidji Simo about the future of the Facebook app, its slowing growth and the struggle to protect users while maintaining principles of free speech. This on-stage interview took place at our annual Subscriber Summit at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park on October 17, 2019.
Nick recaps his conversation with Rich Barton and explains why the Zillow CEO is embracing ecommerce despite the heavy investments. He also discusses whether Microsoft's commitment to the surface has paid off. And why Apple's reliance on China may heavily influence its reaction to the protests in Hong Kong.