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Recode Daily: The Saudis are coming to Silicon Valley

Plus, online activists like Sleeping Giant are hitting hatemongers in the wallet; Andreessen Horowitz launches a special fund for black athletes and celebrities; how millennials murdered mayonnaise.

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, center, shakes hands on a visit to Google headquarters.
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud visits Google’s office in San Francisco, Calif., on April 5, 2018.
Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The Saudis are a big deal in Silicon Valley, and they are getting bigger. The news that the Saudi Arabian government had essentially convinced Elon Musk to weigh taking Tesla private is another reminder that Riyadh is an ascendant, underrated power player in Silicon Valley finance. On the other hand, it turns out the take-private funding Musk mentioned in his bombshell tweet — which he says was supposed to come from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund — wasn’t quite “secured” after all. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

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Online activists like Sleeping Giants are hitting hatemongers like Alex Jones and Infowars where it hurts the most: In the wallet. Founded by someone who had spent two decades in the advertising industry, the volunteer project points out to companies that they are advertising in awful places — advertisers fled both Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham after Sleeping Giants campaigns. As the conversation continues about how we should challenge hate online, here’s one more note of caution: We should be wary of celebrating any case of censorship — especially by opaque companies — because practices that marginalize the right will cut both ways. [Margaret Sullivan / The Washington Post]

Facebook news executive Campbell Brown reportedly told a group of Australian publishers that if they didn’t cooperate with the social network, their business would die. “We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals anymore. … That is the old world and there is no going back,” Brown said, according to several reports of the meeting. Facebook said that the comments were taken out of context, and Brown said in a statement that the company’s goal is to “help journalism succeed and thrive.” [Sara Salinas / CNBC]

In an effort to boost diversity in tech, Andreessen Horowitz launched a $15 million fund for black celebrities, athletes and media figures. Kevin Durant and Will Smith are among its initial limited partners. The small fund, called Culture, will invest alongside a16z’s main $1.5 billion fund; the firm will donate the usual proceeds from fees and carried interest to nonprofits aimed at boosting the involvement of black people in technology. [Yoree Koh / The Wall Street Journal]

Netflix CFO David Wells, who led the streaming service’s aggressive international expansion to 190 countries, is leaving the company after 14 years. Wells said he plans to focus more on philanthropy after helping Netflix choose his successor. [Todd Spangler / Variety]

Banks and retailers are tracking how you type, swipe and tap. “Behavioral biometrics” — the way you press, scroll and type on a phone screen or keyboard — can provide data as unique as your fingerprints or facial features. To fight fraud, some companies are tracking visitors’ physical movements as they use websites and apps, but others are going significantly further, unobtrusively amassing tens of millions of profiles that can identify customers by how they touch, hold and tap their devices. [Stacy Cowley / The New York Times]

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