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Welcome to Source Code, Protocol's show about the people, power and politics of tech. Twice a week, we talk to the most important people, and about the most important stories, happening all over the world of tech.
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Facebook under fire

Facebook under fire

2021-09-2134:35

Issie Lapowsky, Ben Brody and Nick Statt join the show to discuss The Wall Street Journal’s five-part series of stories known as The Facebook Files. What have we learned about Facebook? How will Facebook respond? What should lawmakers make of it? What happens next?Issie is ilapowsky@protocol.com, Ben is bbrody@protocol.com, Nick is nstatt@protocol.com, and David is dpierce@protocol.com.For more on the topics discussed in this episode:The Facebook FilesIssie Lapowsky on TwitterBen Brody on TwitterNick Statt on TwitterFacebook: What the Wall Street Journal got wrongWhy Washington can’t just fix FacebookFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Bringing you another Protocol virtual event, hosted by Protocol's Alison Levitsky, diving into what it means to build a company and culture that's optimized for a hybrid future.
Nirav Patel spent a long time building cutting-edge hardware, both at Apple and at Oculus. But when he founded his own company, Framework, he picked a decidedly more mature (and maybe less exciting) product to focus on: PCs.The Framework Laptop, the company’s first product, is a $999, 13.5-inch clamshell that looks and feels a lot like, well, every other laptop on the market. Except for the fact that you can take it apart, practically piece by piece, and repair or upgrade nearly everything inside. From the processor to the keyboard to the memory to the battery, Framework’s laptop is a vision for a future that gives users more control over their gadgets, and gives longer life to the gadgets themselves.Patel joined the Source Code Podcast to discuss the journey of making the Framework Laptop, how the industry is changing thanks to right-to-repair laws and a societal turn toward conservation, the challenges faced by Framework and other companies making modular and upgradeable devices, and why the tech industry should be watching what’s happening in France.For more on the topics discussed in this episode:FrameworkNirav Patel on TwitteriFixit’s Framework Laptop teardownIn Defense of Dumb TVsThe quest for sustainable consumer electronics: Rethinking products and business modelsThe quest for sustainable consumer electronics: It’s not easy being greenFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
It's Apple Day! Apple's September event is always its biggest and splashiest, so we grabbed Protocol's Nick Statt to talk about some of the biggest announcements, biggest surprises, and hottest takes on the future of Apple. For more on the topics discussed in this episode:Nick Statt on TwitterAll of Apple's announcementsWebcams and battery life: What mattered at Apple's latest event
Ben Brody and Nick Statt join the show to talk about the ruling in Epic v. Apple, and what it means for the future of the app market. Then Janko Roettgers discusses the new Ray-Ban Stories, and what we should make of Facebook’s entry into the smart glasses world. Finally, Biz Carson talks about the first day of the Elizabeth Holmes trial, and what’s going to happen over the next 13 weeks.For more on the topics discussed in this episode:Nick Statt on TwitterBen Brody on TwitterEpic v. Apple ruling blocks Apple from banning links to alternative paymentsJanko Roettgers on TwitterFacebook’s Ray-Ban glasses are a big deal for ARHow Facebook prepared for the next ‘glasshole’ backlashBiz Carson on TwitterElizabeth Holmes goes on trial for Theranos fraudFraud or mistakes? Opening trial arguments debate how much Elizabeth Holmes knew.For all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
In 2017, David Marcus wrote Mark Zuckerberg an email saying he thought Facebook should get involved in cryptocurrency. (He was on vacation at the time.) After a stint running PayPal and another as the head of Facebook Messenger, he thought that fixing payment infrastructure was the next big project he wanted to work on. Zuckerberg liked the idea, which eventually became Libra, a cryptocurrency that Facebook announced in 2019 alongside a group of partners that would help it develop and govern Libra. Marcus and his new team, a group called Facebook Financial (F2 for short), was also set to work on a wallet called Calibra. The announcement went over like a lead balloon: Congressman Brad Sherman compared “Zuck Bucks” to 9/11, a number of members of the Libra Association quickly bailed on the project, and it seemed doomed before even launch. But Marcus and his team kept working.Now, Libra is Diem and Calibra is Novi, and Marcus said both are nearly ready for public consumption. He joined the Source Code podcast to talk about how he has approached the cryptocurrency space, what it’ll take to get users to trust Facebook with their money, the merits of bitcoin and stablecoins, why NFTs are the start of something big, and much more. For more on the topics in this episode:David Marcus on TwitterThe original Libra launch postWelcome to NoviGood stablecoins, a protocol for money, and digital wallets: the formula to fix our broken payment systemFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Zapier became a $5 billion company by finding ways to improve and integrate the rest of the trillion-dollar software industry. The service works with a plenitude of apps from Salesforce to Teams to Gmail to Zendesk to Stripe to Webflow to Quickbooks and hundreds of others, building bridges between them to make it easier to move data and automate workflows. In the process, Zapier has also become one of the standard bearers of the low-code/no-code movement, one of a teeming new industry of companies offering tools to build apps and workflows without needing so much as a tag. “I think there was a huge amount of power in tools like Zapier,” CEO Wade Foster said, “taking things only a single digit percentage of people could do, and giving that leverage to regular business users.”Foster joined the Source Code podcast to talk about Zapier’s rise, the shift toward integration and unification taking over the SaaS world, what he likes and dislikes about the low-code/no-code industry, and what AI and voice assistants might mean for the future of software. He also offers a few wild tips on how to make the most of Zapier.For more on the topics in this episode:Wade Foster on TwitterZapier’s Explore pageLow-Code/No-Code Tools Are Everywhere. Can They Really Deliver?For all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Anna Kramer joins the show to discuss a wild week for OnlyFans, where the platform goes from here, and whether creators will ever trust the company again. Then Ben Brody discusses Apple’s new policies for app developers, why anti-steering matters, and whether Apple’s teeny tiny olive branch will make legislators and litigators go easier on the company.For more on the topics in this episode:Anna Kramer on TwitterOnlyFans has reversed its decision to ban pornThe Great OnlyFans exodusAs OnlyFans abandons sex workers, here’s who is filling the voidThe Bella Thorne Effect: How Celebrity Killed the OnlyFans StarBen Brody on TwitterApple will let developers email users about payments outside iOSWhat Apple’s App Store settlement means for the Epic Fortnite lawsuitFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Girish Mathrubootham is in pay-it-forward mode. After starting Freshworks in Chennai, India, and growing the customer communication startup into a multibillion dollar company, Mathrubootham wants to take the lessons he learned along the way and help a new generation of Indian entrepreneurs do even more, even faster.India is one of the fastest-growing markets for the tech industry, with hundreds of millions of people coming online and a much more open, global stance than countries like China have adopted toward tech. That’s why Google, Amazon and practically every other tech giant is scrambling to establish a foothold in the country. Mathrubootham said that’s a good thing, but he’s focused on helping the founders already in India to build companies to rival those giants both in the country and around the world.Mathrubootham joined the Source Code podcast to talk about his experiences as a CEO and an investor, the state of the Indian startup market (particularly for SaaS companies), what his new Together Fund is looking for in Indian companies, and what it means to build “a Silicon Valley” in a city like Chennai.  For more on the topics in this episode:Girish Mathrubootham on LinkedInTogether FundShaping the SaaS landscape: a US$1 trillion opportunity for India’s startupsBig Tech Thought It Had A Billion Users In The Bag. Now It Might Be Forced To Make Hard Choices To Get Them.For all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Hirsh Chitkara joins the show to talk about Tesla's AI day, and the looming clash between the electric car company and regulators. Then Issie Lapowsky digs into Facebook's newly released data on the platform's most popular content, and tries to figure out what it all means. Finally, Janko Roettgers discusses his series on the race to make gadgets more sustainably, and why it's both hard to do and incredibly important to get right.For more on the topics in this episode:Hirsh Chitkara on TwitterThe Wild West days of self-driving are ending. Nobody told Tesla.Tesla is building a robot, and it's called the Tesla BotIssie Lapowsky on TwitterFacebook is sharing data to prove it’s not a political hellholeJanko Roettgers on TwitterThe quest for sustainable consumer electronics: It’s not easy being greenThe quest for sustainable consumer electronics: Rethinking products and business modelsFacebook is building a meeting app for the metaverseFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
A remote, digital-first future of work would appear to be extremely bad news for a company like Envoy. CEO Larry Gadea and his team have spent a number of years building tools for physical offices, after all, including the visitor-check-in system it’s best known for. (If you’ve ever been in a startup office, you know the one: It’s the iPad in the lobby that makes you sign an NDA and then take a picture at that horrible under-chin angle.)But Gadea said that while the pandemic created some tough times for Envoy — including forcing Gadea to lay off a big chunk of his employees — it has also helped accelerate the company toward some of its bigger, more ambitious plans. Gadea thinks the industry is headed for a rethinking of what an “office” actually does, with more intelligent tools to make sure every employee has the experience they need when they come in. And in a world where five days a week, 9-5 is no longer the normal setup, those tools seem to Gadea to matter more than ever.Gadea joined the Source Code podcast to talk about how Envoy has changed over the last 18 months, how he sees physical spaces becoming more intelligent and collaborative, and why there are some serious parallels between the office of your future and the school halls of your past.For more on the topics in this episode:Larry Gadea on TwitterReturn to Workplace Index: COVID-19 Foot Traffic TrendsRethinking the on-site experience? It’s time to say goodbye to the “office”Protocol’s tech employee survey
A bonus episode! We recently held a virtual event on all things meetings. How to know when to have them (and when not to), how to prepare for them more effectively, how to have them more productively, how to share information when they're done, and much more. We thought you might enjoy it, so we're sharing it here too.For more on the event and our guests, click here.
First, a quick look at Samsung’s new foldable phones, and what it’ll take to make anyone care about foldable phones. Then Ben Brody joins to talk about the new bill in the Senate that would change the way Apple and Google’s app stores work. Finally, Allison Levitsky catches us up on tech’s return to offices, new vaccine mandate policies, and the increasingly flexible future of work.For more on the topics in this episode:Samsung’s big bet on a foldable futureBen Brody on TwitterA new Senate bill would overhaul Google and Apple’s app storesAllison Levitsky on TwitterVaccine mandates aren’t enough. Big Tech wants employees to prove it.Tech company hybrid work policies are becoming more flexible, not lessFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
DuckDuckGo has been on a tear the last couple of years. In mid-2018, the company’s data showed it was getting about 18 million searches a day; now that number’s pushing 100 million. Both numbers still look like rounding errors next to Google’s gargantuan scale, but DuckDuckGo has cemented itself as one of the most important players in search.But Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo’s founder and CEO, doesn’t see search as the endgame for the company. DDG is a privacy company, set out on building what he calls “an easy button for privacy.” Weinberg’s is a slightly unusual vision for privacy on the internet: He wants to let people use the apps they want, the way they want, without being tracked or having their personal data collected and used against them. And it should all happen in the background. Privacy, he said, should be “really making one choice: the choice that you want privacy, you don't want to be coerced.” Weinberg joined the Source Code podcast to discuss what we talk about when we talk about privacy, how a company like DuckDuckGo can compete in a world dominated by the data-gatherers, whether products can be both private and best of breed, and how he feels about the company’s name as it goes more mainstream.For more on the topics in this episode:Gabriel Weinberg on TwitterDuckDuckGoDuckDuckGo Email ProtectionThe latest on Google’s search engine choice screenFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Nick Statt joins the show to talk about all the craziness in the gaming world, from the rise in subscription gaming to the scandal unfolding at Activision Blizzard. Then, Issie Lapowsky joins to discuss the 2,700-page infrastructure bill, and what’s in it for the tech industry.For more on the topics in this episode:Nick Statt on TwitterThe game industry comes back down to Earth after its pandemic boomThe game industry’s Netflix and Spotify momentIssie Lapowsky on TwitterFrom Comcast to crypto: Here’s who wins and loses in the Senate infrastructure billFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Twitter recently released one of its algorithms into the world — the one that controls how images are cropped in the Twitter app — and said it would pay people to find all the ways it was broken. Rumman Chowdhury and Jutta Williams, two executives on Twitter’s META team, called it an “algorithmic bias bounty challenge,” and said they hoped it would set a precedent for “proactive and collective identification of algorithmic harms.”The META team’s job is to help Twitter (and the rest of the industry) make sure its artificial intelligence and machine-learning products are as ethically and responsibly used as they can be. What does that mean or look like in practice? Well, Twitter (and the rest of the industry) is still figuring that out. And this work, at Google and elsewhere, has led to huge internal turmoil as companies have begun to reckon more honestly with the ramifications of their own work.Chowdhury and Williams joined the Source Code podcast to talk about how the META team works, what they hope the bias bounty challenge will accomplish, and the challenges of doing qualitative research in a quantitative industry. That, and what “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” can teach us about AI.For more on the topics in this episode:Rumman Chowdhury on TwitterJutta Williams on TwitterHow Twitter hired tech's biggest critics to build ethical AITwitter will pay you to find bias in its AIFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage. 
First, a few takeaways from another blockbuster quarter in the tech industry. Then, Janko Roettgers joins the show to discuss Big Tech’s obsession with the metaverse and the platform war that seems inevitable. Finally, Ben Pimentel talks about Robinhood’s IPO, and the company’s crazy route to the public markets.For more on the topics in this episode:Janko Roettgers on TwitterFacebook announces Metaverse product group headed by Instagram VP Vishal ShahZuckerberg to investors: This metaverse thing will be expensiveBen Pimentel on TwitterRobinhood shares slide below offering price in debutRobinhood’s broken IPO echoes FacebookRobinhood meme-stocks itselfFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Nick Statt joins the show to discuss a big week in gaming news, including Valve's new Steam Deck console and Netflix's push into making video games. Then, Issie Lapowsky takes us inside the World Wide Web Consortium, where there's a high-stakes privacy battle being waged over the future of privacy and the internet. Finally, Biz Carson talks about SoftBank, Tiger Global, and a massive shakeup happening inside the VC industry.(Programming note: We're off next week, back the week following.)For more on the topics in this episode:Nick Statt on TwitterValve announces handheld Steam Deck console for playing PC gamesWhy Netflix is getting serious about video gamesIssie Lapowsky on TwitterConcern trolls and power grabs: Inside Big Tech’s angry, geeky, often petty war for your privacyBiz Carson on TwitterTiger Global vs. SoftBank: Inside the investing playbooks that upended Silicon ValleyFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
You’re probably listening to this on a smartphone. That smartphone probably cost hundreds of dollars, if not well over a thousand. (Looking at you, iPhone Pro Max owners.) For billions of people around the world, those devices are simply not affordable. Feature phones are alive and well, and KaiOS CEO Sebastien Codeville knows the landscape as well as anyone. KaiOS was created in 2015 out of Mozilla’s failed Firefox OS project, and has become a hugely popular operating system on super-cheap phones. KaiOS devices cost as little as $17; they typically have smaller screens and lots of physical buttons; they prize durability and days-long battery life over fancy features. And yet the people who use them, use them in entirely familiar ways. They text, they watch videos, they pay for stuff. For people all over the world, KaiOS-powered “smart feature phones” are a first introduction to the internet, and in many cases their users’ primary screen experience. Codeville joined the Source Code podcast to discuss KaiOS, the challenges of building an app store and hardware for cheap devices, and why smartphones won’t kill feature phones anytime soon. Or maybe ever.For more on the topics in this episode:Sebastien Codeville on TwitterKaiOS2020's most popular KaiOS apps How Reliance Jio became the world’s fastest-growing mobile networkHow KaiOS claimed the third-place mobile crownFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
Ben Brody joins the show to discuss President Biden’s long, sprawling executive order on competition, and all the topics from net neutrality to right-to-repair that matter to the tech industry. Then Anna Kramer discusses Richard Branson’s impending flight to space, how regular people train to become astronauts, and how long it’ll take before we can get on a rocket the same way we get on a plane.For more on the topics in this episode:Ben Brody on TwitterA new Biden order will crack down on tech mergers, data gathering and ISPsThe 8 ways Biden’s competition order could shake up Big TechAnna Kramer on TwitterSo you want to be a space touristComing Tuesday: How to Build a Smart CityFor all the links and stories, head to Source Code’s homepage.
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