And the award for Best Supporting Reader in a daily technology newsletter goes to ... you.
Today's Login is 1,370 words, a 5-minute read.
WeWork CEO Adam Neumann. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for WeWork
For 25 years Silicon Valley has built successful companies by handing control to inventive and driven, but sometimes eccentric or reckless startup founders. These leaders often receive special kinds of voting stock that let them sell shares to the public — and become fabulously wealthy — while retaining power over their firms.
But as the latest wave of tech startups line up for their IPOs, the pendulum may be swinging the other way, with investors demanding problematic founders step back or cede control to the founders, Axios' Scott Rosenberg and I report.
Driving the news: As WeWork's public offering falters amid questions about the company's business model and the behavior of founder and CEO Adam Neumann, Softbank, WeWork's biggest investor, is pushing to replace Neumann, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Our thought bubble:
The bottom line: Being an effective CEO requires a range of skills and few individuals have all of them. But when founders are guaranteed to remain in control, they're empowered to be reckless, licensed to misbehave, and difficult to hold accountable.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to clarify that the Wall Street Journal's coverage reported on only one pot-filled private plane flight by Neumann (not multiple pot-filled plane flights).
The iPhone 11 family, before undergoing drop testing. Photo: SquareTrade.
For all the criticism that there isn't a whole lot new in this year's iPhones, Apple does seem to be scoring points for the areas it did focus on, namely the cameras and battery life. Add one more to the list of things it appears Apple got right: durability.
Testing by Allstate-owned SquareTrade showed the iPhone 11 Pro to be particularly hearty, surviving the insurer's tumble test and doing pretty well in a test of water resistance. The iPhone 11 and Pro Max didn't fare quite as well as the smaller iPhone 11 Pro.
Why it matters: The price tag of high-end phones has climbed to $1,000 and up; even with insurance, a cracked screen can still be a costly slip-up.
What they're saying: "After our robots dropped, dunked, tumbled and bent the devices, we found the new iPhone 11 Pro to be the most durable iPhone we've tested in generations," SquareTrade VP Jason Siciliano, vice president and global creative director at SquareTrade. "It's the first smartphone to survive our tumble test, which simulates the effects of multiple, random impacts experienced by a smartphone during long-term use. That's a real achievement when it comes to durability."
Yes, but: None of the new iPhones survived a drop on the sidewalk, whether dropped face-down or on their rear.
Be smart: Buy a case for that pricey phone. If you love its new color, buy a clear one.
Streaming services are putting up billions of dollars to win the rights to TV classics like "Friends" and "Seinfeld," both of which debuted over 2 decades ago on broadcast, Sara Fischer reports.
Why it matters: Many of these classic shows had previously been made available on other streaming services, but they're now being scooped up — and often for a lot more cash — by rivals that think they're necessary to compete for users.
Yes, but: One of the biggest challenges the streaming industry will face in the next few years is that there's no real way to determine how much companies should actually shell out for content.
Case-in-point: Hulu, which currently owns the streaming rights for Seinfeld, reportedly paid $130 million for the rights to stream the show domestically over 6 years starting in 2015 (Amazon currently has the international rights). Netflix, meanwhile, reportedly paid more than $500 million for the global streaming rights for Seinfeld over 5 years starting in 2021.
Yes, but: Many analysts believe such older shows, sometimes dubbed "catalog content," help reduce subscriber turnover.
What to watch: Streamers will eventually need to invest in their own versions of what will one day be considered catalog content. Netflix and Hulu have been able to do this with a few popular original series like "Orange is the New Black" and "The Handmaid's Tale."
Meanwhile: The streaming services are doing pretty well on the original series front as well, cleaning up at last night's Emmys. Overall, including the Creative Arts Emmys, HBO led all networks with 34 total wins, while Netflix nabbed 27, Amazon claimed 15, National Geographic won 8, NBC earned 7, CNN picked up 5 and FX Networks picked up 5, per the Hollywood Reporter.
Go deeper: Streaming's cancel culture problem
How ImageNet sees Axios reporter Kaveh Waddell. On the left: "beard," on the right: "Bedouin, Beduin"
Maybe you've seen images like these floating around social media this week: photos of people with lime-green boxes around their heads and funny, odd or in some cases super-offensive labels applied.
What's happening: As Axios' Kaveh Waddell reports, the images are from an interactive art project about AI image recognition that doubles as a commentary about the social and political baggage built into AI systems.
Why it matters: This experiment — which will only be accessible through Friday — shows one way that AI systems can end up delivering biased or racist results, which is a recurring problem in the field.
"The point of the project is to show how a lot of things in machine learning that are conceived of as technical operations or mathematical models are actually deeply social and deeply political," says Trevor Paglen, the MacArthur-winning artist who co-developed the project with Kate Crawford of the AI Now Institute.
Go deeper: Kaveh has more here.
If you find yourself needing peace or encouragement in the week to come, consider watching (and re-watching) this video of an alligator giving a ride to egret.