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June 16, 2017

I'm still camping near Santa Cruz, but thanks to the miracle of modern technology I can be just as distracted from my family here as at home.

​Sam Altman grapples with tech's political moment

Y Combinator chief Sam Altman has been an influential voice in the tech world since he took over the startup accelerator in 2014. Now the Trump era has nudged him into politics.

Altman's recent activities: Altman met with Trump voters, worked on an "ethics pledge" for tech, and tried to recruit a candidate for governor of California — sparking chatter he might run himself. He pushed back on that talk, though he later told Axios, "I've learned a long time ago, I don't talk about things YC is going to do, I don't talk about things I'm going to do until we do them, just as a matter of policy."YC's position: The company itself has been getting deeper into the political realm. It chose the ACLU to join its program just as the civil-rights group filed high-profile lawsuits against the Trump administration. YC sought out startups focused on freedom of the press. And the organization's research arm is studying the controversial ideas of universal basic income and universal health care to help offset the impact of impending job market shifts.Altman says he's interested in YC focusing on issues that are central to tech and doesn't impose his feelings toward the administration on YC. "You know, the anti-Trump stuff, that's a Sam thing, not a YC thing."David has more here.

Mobile data consumption will soon surpass wired broadband

Next year, U.S. smartphone data use will surpass fixed broadband use for the first time according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers' latest Media and Entertainment outlook. By 2021, mobile data consumption is expected to eat up nearly 38% of all digital data consumption in the U.S., while fixed broadband will take up 27%, roughly 4 percentage points less than it does today.

Not a surprise: Mobile advertising will keep gobbling up the majority of digital spend. By 2021, mobile is expected to account for 74.4% of all U.S. internet advertising — a huge increase from even two years ago, when mobile accounted for just 34.7%. Last year was the first year mobile advertising officially surpassed desktop for digital spending.

Sara has more on the trend.

Armchair quarterbacks pull a muscle critiquing Twitter redesign

Twitter made some rather minor tweaks to the look of its mobile apps Thursday and the internet freaked the hell out. Among the changes are the fact that profile pictures are now (gasp!) circles instead of squares.

While some people were disturbed by the geometric adjustment, others were critical of fact Twitter can find time for cosmetic improvements, but seems less able to deal with more pressing issues, like online harassment.

For more, including a picture of fluffy dogs, check out Ina's full item here.

​FDA chief wants faster approval for digital health tech

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb is pretty excited about new medical apps and other digital health tech, so he's launching a new initiative to try to get them to market faster. In a blog post yesterday, he announced the centerpiece of the new Digital Health Innovation Plan: He wants to let third parties certify new products that aren't considered high-risk.

How it would work: The third parties would look at whether a company "consistently and reliably engages in high quality software design and testing." For higher-risk products, Gottlieb would still have the FDA do its usual premarket review, but it would be streamlined.

Why it matters: Everyone wants cool new medical apps, but as with everything else with the FDA, the challenge is how to speed up the reviews without sacrificing safety. It's worth keeping an eye on it, but Gottlieb was adamant during his confirmation hearings that he'd never trade off safety for speed.

Take note

On tap: The VivaTech show is taking place in Paris.

Trading places: Nicole Bell, executive director for health care startup hub Cambia Grove, is leaving to join Amazon's AWS unit as a liaison to the health care industry, GeekWire reported.

ICYMI: Google might get a record-breaking fine from the EU for abusing search practices...Facebook is looking to have a seat at the table amid the discussion of some of the hard questions facing the site, including its role in political and hate speech...Canada's telecom regulator has banned mobile carriers from charging a fee to unlock smartphones, effective Dec. 1...Snapchat's shares have dropped to their $17 IPO price...Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike raises $600 million.

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The perfect gift for the hipster who has everything: a Kim Jong Un romper.