Dec 6, 2018

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Situational awareness: Lyft has filed a draft registration to the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public, possible in the first quarter of 2019.

1 big thing: Tech execs head back to White House

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Today's meeting of tech CEOs at the White House is expected to be a relatively routine affair — a far cry from the contentious early days of the Trump administration.

Why it matters: It's a sign that Silicon Valley has stabilized its relationship with President Trump, finding ways to work with the administration as many other industries do. As one veteran tech industry policy adviser put it, "The fear and loathing of early 2017 has passed."

Our thought bubble: It always takes a while for businesses to figure out how to work with a new administration. But this relationship has proven especially tricky thanks to the divide between the White House and many people in tech on issues like climate change and immigration.

Details: Chief executives at the meeting are expected to include Google’s Sundar Pichai, Oracle’s Safra Catz, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Qualcomm’s Steve Mollenkopf.

  • They’ll discuss emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, 5G wireless networks, quantum computing and advanced manufacturing, according to a source familiar with the plans.
  • A White House spokesperson said in a statement that the attendees would "discuss efforts to advance American leadership in innovation, and the future of American industries, jobs, and our economy."
  • The White House declined to say whether Trump would attend.

The big picture: Last year, a meeting between Trump and tech CEOs, including Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, featured some volatile moments. Cook told Trump to put “more heart” into the immigration debate and some CEOs looked so pained to be with Trump that articles were written about it:

  • But ahead of this week’s meeting, the administration’s policy apparatus has already handed the industry wins on some key issues.

The X factor: The president himself is still taking public shots at tech companies, and he's unpredictable enough that many companies were hesitant to make any predictions about the meeting.

  • Trump said last month that the administration is looking at monopoly concerns around Amazon, Facebook and Google.
  • He’s tweeted this year about unproven allegations of anti-conservative bias on Google.
  • Facebook said it was not attending the meeting. An Amazon spokesperson did not reply to a question about the gathering.

The bottom line: "It's a net neutral," said one tech industry official of the sector's relationship with the White House. "It's not overwhelmingly positive, but it's not overwhelmingly negative, either."

Read more from Axios' David McCabe and me here.

2. Document dump not doing Facebook any favors

A series of internal Facebook documents made public Wednesday offered few entirely new revelations, but made clear that Facebook knew how bad certain decisions would look and chose to make those decisions anyway.

The documents were released by a U.K. parliamentary committee, which recently seized them from Six4Three, a company suing Facebook.

Among the more salacious details:

  • Facebook weighed the PR impact of scraping call data through its Android app and concluded that doing so would look bad. It did so anyway.
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved removing Vine's access to Facebook contact data after it unveiled a service Facebook saw as competitive.
  • The company used Onavo, an analytics tool it had acquired, to spot the rise of WhatsApp and then acquired the messaging startup, thus neutralizing its biggest threat in the messaging space.
  • Facebook continued to provide certain data to companies like Lyft, Netflix and Airbnb even after limiting access to the broader developer community.
  • The company weighed whether it made sense to charge companies for access to certain customer data.

Between the lines: In weighing these points it's important to remember they may be received differently in different locations. As Axios' Felix Salmon points out, what's just aggressive business in one jurisdiction in considered anticompetitive in another.

  • While the U.S. tends to look at only whether consumers are harmed, regulators in Europe tend to also consider the impact to rivals.

What they're saying:

  • Recode's Kurt Wagner: "I read through most of the ... emails that were released today and was continuously reminded of something I think most people already know: You are Facebook’s product, and your personal data is what gives Facebook its power."
  • Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.): "When he testified before Congress, Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly insisted that Facebook does not sell its users’ data. We now know, however, that Facebook executives discussed requiring companies to buy digital advertisements in order to access users’ personal information. Any evidence of a pay-for-data model would fly in the face of the statements Facebook has made to Congress and the public.”
  • Facebook's response: The company said the documents released were "cherrypicked" by a company opposing it in a lawsuit. "The documents were selectively leaked to publish some, but not all, of the internal discussions at Facebook at the time of our platform changes," Facebook said. "But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data."

The bottom line: It's unlikely the new documents will change any minds, but it will give Facebook's critics fresh ammunition.

Go deeper: What we learned from the Facebook papers

3. Tech workers say they are depressed

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

More than a third of tech workers think of themselves as depressed, according to a new survey.

Details:

  • When asked "I believe I am depressed," nearly 39% of workers answered "true" in a poll from Blind, which bills itself as an anonymous social network for workers.
  • At 43.4%, Amazon had the highest share of people saying they believed themselves to be depressed, followed by Microsoft (41.5%) and Intel (38.9%).
  • Apple had the fewest number of workers saying they thought of themselves as depressed, at 30.6%.

Why it matters: Although far from a clinical study, the numbers show a need for greater discussion of mental health issues within the industry.

4. Mobile app aims to de-stress busy parents

Photo: Enjo

People love to talk about how parenting is the greatest job one will ever have — and it is. But, it can also be lonely, frustrating and anxiety-producing.

A new app aims to help. Enjo tries to remind parents of past joys and acknowledge that a lot of others share their worries. The app works by asking parents questions about how they are doing and helping to record the highs and lows of child-rearing.

  • Among its backers (and a company co-founder) is Björn Jeffery, the former CEO of kids app maker Toca Boca, himself a busy parent.
  • "You are getting a lot of advice, endless advice," he tells Axios. "But very little support."

The bottom line: While not a replacement for real-life friends or a trained mental health provider, Enjo is based on a technology that was shown in a scientific study to help reduce stress.

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • The White House is holding a meeting with various tech executives (see above)
  • Microsoft president Brad Smith is speaking about facial recognition at the Brookings Institution.
  • Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit wraps up in Maui.

Trading Places

  • The CEO of chip equipment firm Lam Research, Martin Anstice, is leaving amid a misconduct investigation. As MarketWatch notes, he's the fourth CEO from the semiconductor industry to leave this year under similar circumstances.
  • My former Axios colleague Matt Boggie is joining The Skimm as CTO.

ICYMI

  • Google confirmed it is killing Allo as it seeks to streamline its confusing array of messaging apps. (Google)
  • Canadian authorities arrested Huawei's CFO in Vancouver on suspicion of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Stocks fell in the wake of the move. It also raises concerns that China may retaliate against U.S. executives. (Axios)
  • Google contractors sent a letter to Pichai seeking to get some of the same protections recently provided to full-time workers. (Axios)
6. After you Login

If you haven't seen this Microsoft commercial, it's quite inspiring.

Ina Fried