SoftBank in Silicon Valley reallllly disrupts the scene
SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund started pumping a lot of money into the tech startup scene around 2018, but it has lost billions in recent months after the WeWork IPO disaster, disappointing returns from Uber, other SoftBank backed companies announcing layoffs or shut down. Now, SoftBank Group is apparently putting in billions of its own money to try to keep Vision Fund Two going. Molly Wood spoke with Paul Kedrosky from SK Ventures about what she called a burble in the startup economy.
FTC examining tech exits could change the landscape in Silicon Valley
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission said it would examine hundreds of past tech deals to see if they were hurting the competitive landscape. Big tech companies buy a lot of startups, either to acquire technology or to get their hands on hot engineering talent — a system that benefits venture capitalists. In fact, mergers and acquisitions is by far the most common way for VCs to make back their money and then some. If the FTC puts a damper on deals, it could be a problem. Molly Wood spoke with Paul Kedrosky, an investor with SK Ventures, and he said folks are stressing.
Swipe right for safety features (and give up more data)
It was probably a busy weekend on Tinder with Valentine’s Day and all. Hopefully it was also a safe weekend on Tinder. The company last month announced a panic button feature for the app to let users report if they feel unsafe on a date, as well as a check-in feature to let your friends know where you are when you’re out with someone. But as always, there’s a catch. You have to share your location constantly to use the new features. Molly Wood spoke with Marketplace’s media reporter Jasmine Garsd who told said that these changes are happening partly because maybe Tinder itself isn’t a very good date.
Tech + old mattresses make gardens grow in refugee camp
Some 80,000 people live in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, the world’s largest for people fleeing the war in Syria. As the camp has evolved from a temporary tent city to a semi-permanent settlement of prefabricated houses, a surprising challenge has emerged: what to do with thousands of discarded mattresses. Chemist Tony Ryan from the University of Sheffield knew exactly what to do — use them to grow food. Amy Scott spoke with Victoria Gill, who reported this story for BBC.
FTC scrutiny of Big Tech digs into old deals
This week, the Federal Trade Commission demanded that the turn over years of information on some of their past acquisitions. They’re not focusing on the big purchases, like Facebook buying Instagram or Google buying Waze, its navigation competitor, but more on the tiny ones that were too small to be reported to antitrust officials. Molly Wood spoke with Diane Bartz, who covers antitrust for Reuters, about all of this.