Dear Recode Daily reader,
This is a special edition of today’s Recode Daily, because today we’re the ones with some news: Recode and Vox, a news site with deep expertise in explanatory journalism, have officially joined forces.
By joining Vox, the lens and ambition of Recode’s journalism will widen. We’ll remain skeptical, infused with the recognition that disruptive technologies can unleash consequences, that the collision between human behavior and complex algorithms never goes precisely as anticipated.
But we will also remember that technology can do great good. There is no answer to climate change that doesn’t rely on innovation, no urbanist vision that couldn’t benefit from smarter cities, no reason to think that the 21st century will not bring remarkable advances in health care and learning. Skepticism demands rigor, not hopelessness.
We’re thrilled to welcome Samantha Oltman, who joins us from BuzzFeed’s tech team, as our new editor-in-chief — and to have the likes of Matt Yglesias, Brian Resnick, Emily Stewart, and other Vox staff writers contribute to Recode. And at this year’s Code Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, we’ll be unveiling new ways to read, listen, and work with Recode.
In all of this, we will be guided by a simple theory: To be managed, technological change first must be understood. And that’s why we’re coming together. Vox explains the news. Recode understands technology and media. Together, we will try to uncover and explain how the digital world is changing — and changing us.
Silicon Valley is awash in Chinese and Saudi cash — and no one is paying attention (except Trump). It may look to the outside eye that Silicon Valley just prints money, funneled through startups to give you things like cheap Uber rides. But Teddy Schleifer writes that if you trace the money that flows into startups through their venture capital firms — and trace the money that comes into those venture capital firms from their so-called limited partners — one can see the makings of a great gold rush, financed by overseas investors eager to overstuff money into hungry young companies. This is Silicon Valley in 2019 — a playground for foreign countries eager to fulfill their grand strategies. But the rise of foreign money has turned Silicon Valley into a geopolitical minefield for venture capitalists and startups, requiring American startups to make judgment calls and react to crosscurrents that would’ve been strange to the industry decades ago.
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The productivity pit: how Slack is ruining work. Workplace software like Teams, Slack, and Workplace were supposed to make us more productive. They haven’t. Rani Molla writes that, on average, employees at large companies can send more than 200 Slack messages per week, according to Time Is Ltd., a productivity-analytics company that taps into workplace programs in order to give companies recommendations on how to be more productive. Power users of workplace chat apps who send out more than 1,000 messages per day are “not an exception.” Keeping up with these conversations can seem like a full-time job. After a while, the software goes from helping you work to making it impossible to get work done.
Can anyone tame the next internet? Exactly a decade ago, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher declared the end of Web 2.0 and the beginning of its next iteration. And now, she writes that Web 3.0, built on smartphones and the app universe, is on its last legs and needs to get out of the way for what’s next. And what’s that? Well, as it turns out, it’s a tidal wave of dynamic and accelerating industry changes that will rewrite politics, social mores, the future of work, and more — and it’s all mashing together in unexpected ways. Swisher breaks down what the next decade holds for innovation, from AI to regulation.
Ro Khanna and the tensions of Silicon Valley liberalism. Ezra Klein profiles the self-proclaimed “Congressman from Silicon Valley,” noting that he stands at the center of uncomfortable crosscurrents in American politics and sentiments about the benefits of technology. Khanna was an early backer of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign and he’s a co-chair of Sanders’s 2020 effort, but he also represents many of the “millionaires and billionaires” that Sanders blames for breaking American politics. Klein writes that, today, Khanna finds himself trying to be both the champion and regulator of the companies he represents. Which raises the question: Is there a viable liberalism that unites Bernie Sanders and Tim Cook? Or do you have to choose a side?
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The city’s unemployment rate is low, which puts Breed in a good position to press them on the question: “How are you going to invest more in San Francisco?” Listen to the latest Recode Decode.
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Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.