Monday's technology stories

Jul 13, 2020 - Podcasts

Teachers union president on reopening schools

The school year begins soon in certain states, but we're getting further away from a national consensus on if and how schools should reopen for in-person learning.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, to better understand where we are and where we’re going.

Go deeper: Los Angeles and San Diego public schools will be online only this fall

Jul 13, 2020 - Technology

U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios tapped as acting Pentagon tech chief

U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios. Photo: Henrique Casinhas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

United States Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios will serve as acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, the Department of Defense announced today.

The big picture: In his acting role, Kratsios, a Silicon Valley alum who was formerly chief of staff for investor Peter Thiel, will take on new responsibilities at the DOD while keeping his gig at the White House, where he has overseen efforts on quantum computing, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

Jul 13, 2020 - Technology

Big Tech firms back suing Trump administration over rule that could drive out foreign students

Harvard University campus. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech companies are joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to push back on the Trump administration's bid to bar foreign students from staying in the U.S. if their colleges are only offering online classes in the fall.

Why it matters: Big Tech and big U.S. business at large rely on attracting top minds from around the world. The companies argue that American education and economic health would suffer if international students are forced out.

Jul 13, 2020 - Technology

Scripps sells podcast business Stitcher to SiriusXM for $325 million

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

E.W. Scripps Company said Monday that it agreed to sell its podcast company, Stitcher, to SiriusXM for $325 million.

Why it matters: The sale price speaks to the extraordinary growth of the podcast industry in just a few short years.

Chip companies strike $21 billion megamerger

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Analog Devices agreed to buy Maxim Integrated Products in an all-stock deal valued at $20.9 billion.

Why it matters: This would be the year's largest tech merger so far. Analog will pay the equivalent of $78.43 per Maxim share, which represents a 22% premium to Friday's closing price. Following the deal, Analog shareholders would hold around 69% of the combined company.

Qualcomm buys $97 million stake in India's Reliance Jio

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Reliance Jio continues to rack up investment from a who's who of U.S. tech giants, with Qualcomm Ventures becoming the latest to take a stake in the Indian telecom firm. Qualcomm is investing around $97 million for a 0.15% stake in Jio Platforms, according to a press release.

Why it matters: Qualcomm's venture unit joins Facebook and Intel Capital in having invested in recent weeks, along with Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners and General Atlantic.

Go deeper: Meet Jio, everyone's favorite Indian tech investment

Jul 13, 2020 - Technology

Online conspiracy theory links child trafficking to Wayfair furniture sales

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Platforms including Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been playing host to a baseless conspiracy theory that picked up steam over the weekend claiming that furniture e-tailer Wayfair is a front for human trafficking.

Why it matters: The claims caught fire among QAnon, the online group that believes President Trump is fighting a secret war against deep-state pedophiles. Since beginning in 2017, QAnon has moved slowly toward mainstream notice, and a number of supporters of the fringe belief system are now running for Congress.

Facebook's plan: Make nice, but don't give in

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook last week took steadily intensifying heat from fleeing advertisers and boycott leaders and received a big thumbs-down from its own civil-rights auditors. Its response, essentially: We hear you, but we'll carry on.

The big picture: Early on in Facebook's rise, CEO Mark Zuckerberg learned to handle external challenges by offering limited concessions and soothing words, then charging forward without making fundamental changes.