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Recode Daily: Slack confidentially files to go public, getting a jump on Silicon Valley’s Wall Street rush

Plus: Facebook at 15 — is it good for the world?; Alphabet keeps YouTube’s numbers hidden in its upbeat Q4 earnings; remember the egg that broke Instagram?

Slack logos old and new.

Slack confidentially filed with regulators to go public in the United States, but did not provide any details of its share-sale plans. The workplace-messaging platform plans to forgo a traditional initial public offering and instead intends to sell its shares to bidders in a direct listing, similar to how Spotify went public last year. That would preclude the company from raising money by issuing new shares for sale, and would also avoid some typical underwriting fees and allow current investors to sell shares without a lock-up period. Slack is working with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Allen & Co. on the deal, which could value the messaging platform at more than $7 billion. [Olivia Zaleski / Bloomberg]

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Facebook turned 15 this week — which means the social network is right in the middle of its awkward teenage years. Along with the usual growth spurts and questionable choices, growing up has brought with it more complicated problems: Facebook has changed the notion of privacy — and friendship — and the way media businesses operate; it has also provided a platform for bullies and racists and liars, has disrupted democratic systems, and facilitated a global disinformation crisis. Here’s a look, in charts, at Facebook’s milestones on its way to 2.3 billion users, from its birth in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to becoming a powerful player on the world political stage. So, has Facebook been a net positive or net negative for humanity? Fifteen influencers — including Malcolm Gladwell, Jonah Peretti, Aminatou Sow, and Kara Swisher — weigh in on the question. [Kurt Wagner and Rani Molla / Recode]

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, posted revenue growth of 22 percent in the fourth quarter, with per-share earnings of $12.77 and revenue of $39.28 billion for the quarter, and $136.82 billion for the full year — well above Wall Street targets and a big jump from $32.3 billion and $110.0 billion, respectively, in the year-earlier period. YouTube’s numbers remained buried inside Google, but Alphabet’s “Other Bets” — including Waymo, Verily, Fiber, and others — had Q4 revenue of $154 million, with operating losses rising to $1.3 billion, up from $732 in the previous quarter. [Rob Copeland / The Wall Street Journal]

Automation is already splitting the American workforce into two worlds: A small group of well-educated professionals enjoys rising wages at corporations like Intel or Boeing, which reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit per employee. But most less-educated workers are stuck at businesses like hotels, restaurants, and nursing homes that generate much smaller profits per employee and stay viable primarily by keeping wages low. Economists are reassessing their belief that technological progress lifts all boats and are beginning to worry about the new configuration of work. [Eduardo Porter / The New York Times]

While many applauded the Washington Post’s Super Bowl ad emphasizing the importance of journalists and a free press to society, the amount of money the newspaper paid to get the Tom Hanks-narrated commercial on air is drawing flak from some, including the Washington-Baltimore News Guild’s bargaining unit. CBS charged brands $5.25 million for each 30-second Super Bowl slot; the Post’s spot —which showed multiple slain and missing journalists, including Austin Tice, Marie Colvin, and Jamal Khashoggi — lasted 60 seconds. Meanwhile, early ratings for the 2019 game showed a year-over-year decline of 5 percent, marking a historic 10-year-low; ad sales also fell by more than 6 percent. [Gerry Smith / Bloomberg]

Top stories from Recode

Amazon employees were outraged that its board of directors was all white. The company has finally changed that. Starbucks executive Rosalind Brewer is the fourth female director on Amazon’s board. [Jason Del Rey]

A new and intriguing idea to increase investment in women-led startups. What if startups chose for themselves who should get money? Would they back more female founders? [Theodore Schleifer]

This is cool

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