Oct 9, 2017

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

I'm headed to Seattle where I will be moderating a chat with Stripe's John Collison at the GeekWire Summit on Wednesday.

J.D. Vance: How to jump-start the Midwest startup scene

"Hillbilly Elegy" author-turned-venture-capitalist J.D. Vance moved back to Columbus earlier this year with the goal of trying to figure out how to attract more money and talent to Ohio's fledgling startup scene.

Why? States in the middle of the country collectively get less than a quarter of total U.S. venture capital dollars, but they're the ones that most need that investment. That's what Steve Case's Revolution, where Vance is now a partner, wants to fix with its "Rise of the Rest" effort.

What's happening: This week Case and Vance are traveling to four midwestern regions — central Pennsylvania; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Indianapolis; and, Columbus — that haven't benefitted from the investment boom that's largely occurred in coastal tech hubs.

What to watch: Axios' Kim Hart will be tagging along with the Revolution crew as they explore how these cities are trying to remake themselves, and what it will take to really jumpstart their economic engines. Look for her dispatches from the road here in Login.

For our Monday Q&A, here are some highlights from Kim's chat with J.D.:

What's been the most striking thing to you about Columbus' startup scene since moving back?

I was a little surprised at how advanced the local startup scene was already. The last time I'd lived in Columbus was when I was a student at [Ohio State University]. I've been really impressed by what the folks had already built and it obviously builds on some of the themes that we've been talking about for a long time...The big headline thing is that CoverMyMeds [a health care software company] had a $1 billion exit. I didn't know there was a $1 billion startup company in Columbus.

What is the biggest misperception that tech leaders and investors have of Columbus and communities like it?

Generally, that there isn't a whole lot going on there. Folks in Silicon Valley recognize that it has a lot of network density and obviously a lot of great companies in the Bay Area, but there's a perception that these mid-sized cities don't have a lot going on. Maybe they don't have exciting talent, or exciting companies — and that's just not true.

What are communities like Columbus not doing that they should be doing more of in order to attract the kind of investment and talent needed?

I don't think there is any one component that the city is ignoring. It's just a matter of accelerating and amplifying their existing work. For example, the Columbus region is home to 20 Fortune 1,000 companies. We need to create more opportunities for the long-established companies to engage and collaborate with the startup community.

Check out the full Q&A here.

Trump wants border wall in exchange for Dreamers deal

The stakes for supporters of Dreamers just got a lot higher. In policy demands laid out Sunday night, President Trump told Congress he'd only consider allowing immigrants who were brought the U.S. as children to stay if he gets to build his border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Kim breaks it down for us below.

Why it matters: Immigration issues are a top source of tension between the Trump administration and the tech industry, and Trump's call to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals next spring hit a nerve for Silicon Valley companies, many of which employ Dreamers.

Background: It's an issue their employees are very passionate about. Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Uber execs publicly spoke against the move. IBM, for one, last week started to bring Dreamer employees to Capitol Hill to convince lawmakers to save DACA.

Here's what Trump wants (in addition to the border wall):

  • Tougher enforcement of immigration law on the border
  • Stepped-up efforts to deport illegal immigrants who overstay their visas
  • Legislation to create a merit-based immigration system that would limit family-based green cards to spouses and minor children only.
  • "The current immigration system prioritizes extended family- based chain migration over skills-based immigration and does not serve the national interest," the White House said in policy materials released last night.

Be smart: Deporting Dreamers doesn't have quite the same broad impact as, say, reforming H-1B visas. But it's both a moral and a business issue for Silicon Valley leaders (and more importantly, their staffs). Tech has also opposed limits on family-based green cards. But as Trump keeps clamping down on immigration eligibility, industry insiders worry it's only a matter of time before H-1B visas go on the chopping block or are used as political leverage.

Russians bought ads on Google platforms too: Report

Google sold "tens of thousands" of dollars worth ads to Russian agents across several of its platforms, including Google search, Gmail, and the company's DoubleClick ad network, according to an exclusive report from The Washington Post.

Our thought bubble: This wasn't unexpected because Google, like Facebook and Twitter, uses a self-serve ad platform that allows anyone to buy ads through an automated system that's not always reviewed by a human before they go live.

Read more of Sara Fischer's story here.

Musk: not a fan of Google's new always-on camera

Add Tesla CEO Elon Musk to the list of those not thrilled with Google Clips.

Why? The always-on camera is designed for recording things like kids and pets, but also raises a whole host of privacy and other concerns.

"This doesn't even *seem* innocent," Elon Musk wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Musk, who loves the idea of colonizing mars, is less rosy when it comes to some of the other sci-fi tech, especially that of the artificial intelligence variety.

The pros and cons of letting computers make hiring decisions

The list of flaws when humans make hiring decisions is well known: a penchant for hiring people like themselves, conscious bias, unconscious bias, and more.

But a new Pew Research study finds most Americans aren't ready to hand over the task to computers, either. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they wouldn't apply to a job if they thought a computer was making the hiring decision.

Stef Kight has more here.

What kind of dressing should the robot put on your salad?

If the job you are considering is to be a salad maker, perhaps you should be more worried about the robot applying for the job as opposed to the robot making the hiring decision.

What's happening now: Silicon Valley's Chowbotics has created Sally, a salad-making robot capable of chopping veggies and churning out made-to-order greens.

Buzz: There appears to be some big money in robot chefs. Chowbotics has raised $6.3 million, while Zume, a robot-created Pizza company, has raised $50 million.

Take note

On tap: GeekWire Summit starts with a party tonight in Seattle.

Trading places: Longtime Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell is retiring, to be replaced by former Honeywell general counsel Katherine Adams ... GE vice chairman Beth Comstock is stepping down at year's end ... Netflix VP of talent Barbie Graver is leaving for GitLab, a 193-person startup with no permanent offices.

ICYMI: KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that, in the wake of the iPhone X introduction, Android phone makers are looking for ways to scrap under-glass fingerprint readers in favor of depth-sensing facial recognition, per MacRumors ... The NYT's Nellie Bowles took a look at how allegations of Russian election interference and hacking are impacting the Russian community in Silicon Valley ... Germany's Dialog Semiconductor is paying up to $306 million to buy California chipmaker Silego Technology, in yet another example of a company trying to bulk up its internet-of-things effort, Reuters reports ... The FCC granted approval to allow Google parent Alphabet to use its Project Loon balloons to restore cell service in Puerto Rico.

After you Login

These people visited a museum and discovered way more then they bargained for.

Ina Fried