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Recode Daily: Facebook says it is fixing its News Feed, but publishers won’t be happy

Plus, Walmart employees get some good news and some bad news, VC Peter Thiel bids for Gawker’s remains, and concupiscent controversy over a Silicon Valley “sex party.”

A facebook screen on an open laptop

Facebook is making a major change to its News Feed, and will show you less stuff from publishers and more from your friends. Facebook has made similar moves before, but it is describing this one as a significant overhaul, made in response to mounting criticism. Publishers who depend on Facebook for eyeballs may be in trouble. But then again, publishers who depend on Facebook have always been in a precarious positition. Meanwhile, YouTube is also working on a change to make the site more friendly to advertisers by highlighting “brand-safe” content — that will likely favor bigger publishers instead of YouTube natives like Logan Paul. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Dropbox is finally going public later this year. The 10-year-old file-sharing company, most recently valued at $10 billion, confidentially filed for its long-awaited IPO, with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan leading the listing. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

Walmart said it will use savings from the new tax bill to raise its starting wage to $11 an hour, and will give bonuses to some staff. But Walmart also announced that it is shuttering 63 of its Sam’s Club locations across the U.S.; about 12 of them could be converted to e-commerce facilities. The plan is to optimize its stores to fulfill more online orders and keep pace with internet retailers like Boxed. [Lauren Thomas and Courtney Reagan /CNBC]

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has made an offer in bankruptcy court for Gawker’s remaining assets, which include domains and more than 200,000 archived articles. The billionaire investor helped shutter the online news site in 2017 by funding litigation against it. A group of former Gawker employees recently abandoned their crowdfunded effort to buy the site and have returned the approximately $90,000 they collected. [Jessica DiNapoli / Reuters]

Silicon Valley is abuzz with tales of a drug-fueled “sex party” reportedly hosted by Steve Jurvetson, co-founder of VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. After Vanity Fair excerpted journalist Emily Chang’s forthcoming book “Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley” — centered around a party scene with a “cuddle puddle” on a white faux-fur blanket and an enhanced version of MDMA called “Tesla” — Axios identified Jurvetson as the host. No way, says Tesla’s Elon Musk, who was there and said it was a snoozefest. “Nerds on a couch are not a ‘cuddle puddle.’” Engineering executive Mary Lou Jepson, also a guest, called the magazine piece “a complete mischaracterization of what went on.” But entrepreneur Paul Bigger said it was “way worse than it sounds.” DFJ has apologized for the event.

Here’s a very smart, very skeptical take on the future of the sports business from Eugene Wei, a former Hulu and Amazon executive. Carve out time to read it yourself — it’s not a quick read — but here’s the tl;dr: The economics of Big Time Sports are predicated on a media environment from a long time ago and are due for a reset. “If I had an easy way to short all the major sports leagues over the next decade, I would.” [Eugene Wei]

Recode Presents ...

Recode is partnering with MSNBC on a town hall event series about tech, jobs and the future. And you’re invited. The first one-hour episode will feature a keynote interview with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, led by Recode executive editor Kara Swisher and MSNBC co-host Ari Melber. You can see it live on Jan. 19 at 12:45 pm PT at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; it will air on MSNBC on the same date at 7 pm. Free tickets can be reserved here.

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