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The Future Investment Initiative FII conference in Riyadh. Photo: Fayes Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

In the middle of a continued moral reckoning in the tech industry, a number of the major public companies announced their quarterly earnings this week, with mixed results. Here are five stories in tech news you may have missed.

Catch up quick: Facebook is reportedly building a lip-syncing app for teens to rival Tik Tok; Saudi Arabia signed business deals worth $50 billion at the Future Investment Initiative; conservative political apps are taking off; Vancouver has hot and cold relations with Chinese investments; and stock trading on Alexa is not as simple as it sounds.

Facebook is reportedly building a lip-syncing app for teens to rival Tik Tok (TechCrunch)

  • Why it matters: Facebook is notorious for trying to thwart competitors by building its own version of their social apps. Its lip-syncing app project also reminds us that the company continues to grapple with teenagers' decreasing interest in its flagship social network.

Saudi Arabia signs business deals worth $50 billion at Future investment Initiative (CNN)

  • Why it matters: Saudi Arabia signed agreements with international companies despite a number of business names bailing on its conference this week over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has poured Saudi money into domestic tourism projects and global tech companies as part of an effort to diversify the economy.

Conservative political apps are taking off (The New York Times)

  • Why it matters: Facebook and YouTube have been accused of creating a hostile environment toward right-learning viewers, which has prompted Republican consultants to build apps with chatrooms and news feeds for conservative groups. And like the big social networks, these apps do collect data about their users.

Vancouver’s hot and cold relations with Chinese investments (Bloomberg Businessweek)

  • Why it matters: Vancouver was the first major Western city to experience the tidal wave of Chinese cash — and its unforeseen aftermath. But now, officials say a substantial proportion of the money stems from corruption or crime. High housing prices and an economy distorted by wealthy outsiders is giving rise to anger. British Columbia’s left-leaning government is now focusing on policies meant to restrain the arrival of Chinese money.

Stock trading on Alexa is not as simple as it sounds (Axios)

  • Why it matters: This is a big task for Alexa, which is notorious for mishearing verbal commands. Buying stocks via home assistant won't be a one-step process anytime soon. That's a good thing, since any errors in making investment transactions could be more disastrous than, say, accidentally ordering too many dollhouses.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
32 mins ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.

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