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Recode Daily: Kohl’s is officially in bed with Amazon

Plus: Elizabeth Warren’s case for breaking up big tech is Amazon’s worst nightmare; and the fall of the Kleiner Perkins empire.

Shoppers walk toward the entrance of a Kohl’s store.
Kohl’s will accept Amazon returns at its retail locations.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Discount retailer Kohl’s said on Tuesday that it will soon start accepting Amazon returns at all 1,150-plus of its stores, solidifying an experiment it first started testing out in a small number of locations in 2017, as Recode previously reported. Instead of shipping returns back to Amazon, Amazon customers can bring unpackaged orders to a Kohl’s store near them and get the goods returned for free. The goal for Kohl’s of letting the fox guard the henhouse? To give consumers a new reason to come into their stores, in the hope that they will make a purchase as part of their visit.
[Lauren Thomas / CNBC]

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ICYMI: Elizabeth Warren’s case for breaking up Big Tech is Amazon’s worst nightmare. At Warren’s CNN town hall on Monday night, an audience member asked her why an Amazon user should still support her policy, Vox reports. Her response: Big Tech is crushing competition. As Warren sees it, major tech firms have two functions, one being that they are platforms for buying and selling goods and the second being that they are “an information aggregator, collecting vast amounts of data on what people who use their platforms want.” And having all that data allows them to micro-target and crowd out competitors. Vox writes that Warren’s core argument for breaking up Big Tech is to prevent Amazon (and Google and Facebook) from this kind of anticompetitive behavior.

Podcast alert: 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar also has a plan to regulate Big Tech if she wins. She told Kara Swisher in March that she would propose a tax on companies that exchange the private data of their users.
[Zack Beauchamp / Vox]

Sri Lanka’s social media shutdown suggests that Facebook cannot be trusted to combat misinformation. Facebook seems endlessly behind the curve when it comes to monitoring the content on its platform, perhaps especially in South and Southeast Asia. And despite years of its platform being used to spread misinformation around terrorist attacks or other news events, it’s still not clear that Facebook has an adequate plan to deal with the issue, or whether it has committed the necessary resources to try. But as far as it goes for Sri Lanka, the government is signaling that when it comes to Facebook controlling the platform after a crisis hits, they’ve given up hope the company has the capacity to do so. So the question is, is Sri Lanka a one-off? Or is it a sign that we’ve stopped giving Facebook the benefit of the doubt? As Ankit Panda, senior editor at the Diplomat, told Recode, “These governments ultimately have to rely on the companies to take these problems seriously, and there really haven’t been signs until about the last year that Facebook was taking this seriously at all.”
[Emily Stewart / Recode]

The fall of the Kleiner Perkins empire: Fortune writer Polina Marinova takes a deep dive into one of Silicon Valley’s most influential venture capital firms’ two-decade-long losing streak. Marinova writes of the internal struggle between longtime Kleiner leader John Doerr and famed Wall Street analyst and Kleiner partner Mary Meeker as Meeker’s team, not the venture capital investing unit, was landing stakes in the era’s most promising companies, including Slack, Spotify, and Uber. The piece outlines the “resentment over tension points as old as the investing business: Who gets the credit and, more important, who gets paid.” It also details the class system that developed inside the VC firm and the ramifications the firm has suffered by not adequately grooming the right successors.
[Polina Marinova / Fortune]

A cofounder of The Markup is out ahead of the tech news site’s anticipated July launch. According to the New York Times, The Markup’s editor-in-chief Julia Angwin has been fired, but the circumstances around her departure are murky. Angwin wrote a letter to Craig Newmark, the Craigslist founder who donated $20 million to The Markup, saying that the site’s two other cofounders wanted to change the editorial direction of the venture, reported the Times. Cofounders Sue Gardner and Jeff Larson have denied her claims and say the dispute leading to Angwin’s departure had been playing out for some time.

For your listening pleasure: Peter Kafka interviewed Angwin last fall about her direction for The Markup, and Kara Swisher interviewed Newmark about his decision to give big bucks to journalism.

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Digital media lifestyle brand Brit + Co is in financial trouble. CEO Brit Morin told Recode that her company was not shutting down, but confirmed that it was laying off a large number of her staff. [Theodore Schleifer]

Tesla’s 2020 self-driving car promise sounds too good to be true because it is. Well, probably. [Emily Stewart]

You’re going to die someday. WeCroak’s Hansa Bergwall says remembering that will make your life better. “If they were going to write your obituary tomorrow, would you be happy with what they said? That’s an important question,” Bergwall says on Recode Decode. [Kara Swisher]

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