May 24, 2019

Axios Login

Just a reminder that we are off Monday for Memorial Day, in remembrance of all the brave men, women and nonbinary people who gave their lives for their country. We are grateful.

Also, we pride ourselves on Smart Brevity here at Axios, so we want to let our newsletter readers know just what they are in for.

  • From now on, we'll let you know just how many words we have in store for you.
  • Today, the magic number is 1,193 (less than 5 min. read).
1 big thing: Housing boom arrives in Arlington even before Amazon HQ2

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Northern Virginia housing market has tightened dramatically in anticipation of Amazon's HQ2. Buyers and sellers have been scrambling for months to lock up properties and take advantage of the new demand, Axios' Erica Pandey and David McCabe report.

Why it matters: Amazon’s move into Arlington, Va. — the first of 25,000 employees will arrive in June — comes as large tech companies are being blamed for fueling inequality and gentrification in major cities around the country.

The big picture: In Seattle, Amazon's home, housing prices have doubled over the past 6 years. The Washington, D.C., market is already feeling the Amazon effect.

  • Prices are rising and the market is tightening, according to real estate agents.
  • Available inventory of units on the market in the Arlington and Alexandria areas near the Amazon project has dropped disproportionately compared with the rest of the region since the HQ2 plan was announced, said David Howell, EVP at McEnearney Associates.
  • “I’ve been studying this market for 35 years, and I’ve never seen a circumstance like this one," Howell said. “There has certainly been a bit of a boomlet in the area right around what they’re now calling National Landing."

Critics of the project worry rising prices could force current residents out of the neighborhoods around Amazon's campus-to-be.

By the numbers:

  • Per a new report from Redfin, home prices in Arlington were up nearly 18% year-over-year in April. That far outpaces the price change in the D.C. metro area of 2.7%. (Howell's own figures for price increases around the HQ2 site pegged them lower than that, at less than 10%.)
  • Supply of homes is down almost 42% in Arlington, and the typical home is selling in just 6 days, per Redfin.

What's happening: Homeowners are holding onto their houses in the hopes that they can sell for higher prices once the HQ2 project expands, according to multiple area agents.

  • Homeowners that do sell have been getting multiple offers and feel emboldened to consider asking for more.
  • Marcia Burgos-Stone, a listing agent with Redfin, said that a client emailed her right after Amazon announced its HQ2 plans in November asking if he should raise the price of his home by $10,000 to $20,000.

Buyers have been rushing to lock in sales before Amazon’s presence bumps up prices. And speculators are circling the neighborhoods close to the HQ2 site.

Go deeper: Erica and David have more here.

2. 5G could interfere with weather forecasting

Visible satellite image on March 23. Image: CIRA/RAMMB

A struggle is brewing between the nation's weather and climate agencies and the wireless industry concerning 5G spectrum and the reliability of our weather forecasts, Axios' Kim Hart and Andrew Freedman report.

Why it matters: The tug-of-war over a key swath of airwaves underscores the increasingly intense battle for coveted airwaves that power not only our smart phones but also other equipment critical for public safety, including weather forecasting.

The gritty details: In March, the FCC began auctioning off spectrum in the 24 gigahertz band of radio frequencies, which are high-frequency microwave licenses to be used in delivering the 5G services all the nation's carriers are vying to deploy. (AT&T, T-Mobile and Cox were among the pre-approved bidders.)

The problem: These auctioned airwaves are near those used by NOAA equipment designed to see through the clouds to understand what is happening inside weather systems. These sensors operate at a frequency of 23.8 GHz.

  • "Microwave satellite data is the weather-equivalent of a medical CAT scan," says Jordan Gerth, a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
  • Just before the auction, NOAA and NASA sounded alarms that using the 24 GHz airwaves for 5G purposes could cause substantial interference with weather-forecasting sensors and hinder the ability to predict severe weather or even 7-day forecasts.

The intrigue: The situation escalated politically and White House officials, having made 5G build-out a priority, sided with the FCC.

  • The FCC chairman pushed back: “The Commission’s decisions with respect to spectrum have been and will continue to be based on sound science rather than exaggerated and unverified last-minute assertions.”
  • The auction moved forward, with bids grossing nearly $2 billion.
  • But NOAA and NASA warnings over the interference concerns have grown louder. A Commerce Department official overseeing spectrum issues ended up leaving the job amid the inter-agency fight.

Go deeper: Kim and Andrew have more here.

3. What your hospital knows about you

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Every trip to a doctor's office or hospital adds more information to a deep, comprehensive record of who you are — physically, emotionally and even financially. In the latest installment of our series on what data is held by whom, Axios' Bob Herman looks at what hospitals know about their patients.

Why it matters: Health care data breaches are more common than ever, putting our most sensitive personal information at risk of exposure and misuse.

How it works: A vast majority of doctors' offices and hospitals now use digitized records systems, and even though electronic health records have pitfalls, they can help patients and the health care system overall.

Yes, but: "No one truly understands there's no such thing as deleting information from a health care file," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "You cannot push the rewind button."

  • The federal law called HIPAA limits the ways doctors and hospitals can share patients' health data. However, intentional hacking and inadvertent leaks are still common.
  • And it's often difficult to access your own records — to see for yourself what your doctor or hospital is able to see about you.

The medical details: Health records house more information than most people may realize.

  • They contain all the obvious stuff: your vitals, any procedures and prescription drugs.
  • Plus anything else you tell your doctor, such as drinking habits, marital problems or admitting responsibility in a car accident.

The financial details: Insurance and contact information are always on file with your debit and credit card numbers.

The bottom line: All of this can be exposed in data breaches, but also in medical malpractice lawsuits, workers' compensation lawsuits or custody disputes.

Go deeper: Bob has more here.

4. Scoop: Refinery29 aims to raise $20 million

The Refinery29 founders; from left to right: Christene Barberich, Justin Stefano, Piera Gelardi, and Philippe von Borries. Photo: Refinery29

Refinery29, the venture-backed digital media company focused on millennial women, is looking to raise up to $20 million in new funding, according to an SEC filing dug up by Axios' Sara Fischer and Kia Kokalitcheva.

The big picture: It plans to use the funds to expand internationally and for its originals studio and events business, Axios has learned.

  • The company was rumored to be in merger talks with Group Nine Media, another millennial-focused venture-backed brand recently, though there's no concrete deal at the moment, according to sources.

Details: Refinery 29 has already raised at least $8 million, according to the filing.

  • Those funds comes from existing backers, and it hopes to raise the remainder from international investors, per a source familiar with the deal.
  • The new investment, which would be in the form of convertible debt, would bring the total amount the firm has raised to $145.4 million since 2010.

Between the lines: The new fundraising comes amid recent challenges, including an increasingly competitive digital advertising landscape.

Go deeper: Sara and Kia have more here.

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • The giant Taiwanese computer trade show Computex doesn't officially start until Tuesday, but expect an early flurry of PC-related announcements as companies announce products ahead of the show.

Trading Places

  • Lime co-founder Toby Sun is ceding the CEO spot to fellow co-founder Brad Bao. Sun will report to Bao and work on company culture and R&D efforts, per Forbes. Meanwhile COO Joe Kraus was promoted to president.
  • Snap hired former Google diversity exec Oona King as its first chief diversity officer.


  • Facebook removed nearly 900,000 posts related to illegal drugs in the last year. (Axios)
  • The era of political deepfakes has arrived. An altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that shows her speaking slowly as if drunk is spreading on social media. (Axios)
  • Snap employees reportedly spied on customer accounts. (Vice)
  • Peter Kafka has a Q&A with YouTube product chief Neal Mohan. (Vox)
  • Robot umpires are coming to minor league baseball. (Axios)
  • Twitter permanently banned the Krassenstein brothers, alleging the #Resistance duo manipulated their standing using fake accounts. (Daily Beast)
6. After you Login

One pretty good reason to love Twitter.