Insider

Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg are caught in the Congressional time warp again — but where’s Parler? (TWTR, FB)

Summary List PlacementHello, and welcome to this Wednesday's edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Get Insider Tech straight in your inbox by subscribing here. Soundtrack: for maximum enjoyment of this newsletter, we recommend listening to "Time...

Summary List Placement

Hello, and welcome to this Wednesday’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech.

Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Get Insider Tech straight in your inbox by subscribing here.

Soundtrack: for maximum enjoyment of this newsletter, we recommend listening to “Time Warp,” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” while you read.


This week: The time warp, featuring Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg … again

hot tub time machine 2

They say that lockdown living has warped our sense of time, blurring the boundaries between days and making the past seem at once recent and remote. It sure felt that way on Tuesday, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sat in front of Congress for another grilling.

Haven’t we been here before?

Like the hearings in October and those in July, Tuesday’s rendezvous on Capitol Hill was a bipartisan thrashing of the visiting CEOs, with the legislators serving as proxies for an anxious public to vent its many frustrations about the changes wrought by social media.

“You have built terrifying tools of persuasion and manipulation,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut declared ominously.

“Change is going to come,” Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina warned the CEOs.

Democrats and Republicans were united in criticizing the companies and the regulatory shield Facebook and Twitter enjoy, but that was mostly where the similarities ended. This hearing, like those before it, served mainly to showcase the reality gap between the parties when it comes to basic facts.

But there was one interesting comment from Zuckerberg, who shared his thoughts on how social media should be regulated. Zuck’s take: Not like telecommunications companies (which have almost no liability) and not like news publishers (which have lots of liability). 

So what then? “I do think we have responsibilities, and it may make sense for there to be liability for some of the content that is on the platform,”Zuckerberg said. “But I don’t think the analogies to these other industries that were created previously will ever be fully the right way to look at this.”

Dorsey Zuckerberg

Missing from the action was the CEO of the internet’s hottest new property, Parler

Parler’s CEO is not a household name (it’s John Matze, by the way), and until two weeks ago, Parler was not a well known app, either.

Parler is an alternative social network devoted to free speech — and secretly funded by Rebekah Mercer, a  longtime conservative donor who is the daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer — which has seen an influx of new users in the past couple of weeks. The catalyst for Parler’s growth  spurt appears to be Facebook’s clampdown on groups like “Stop the Steal,” a network of users who falsely claim Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump.

The Parler app shot up to the number one spot on the Apple App Store’s list of most downloaded apps last week, and now boasts 10 million users, according to the Wall Street Journal. That’s still a fraction of Twitter’s 187 million daily users, let alone Facebook’s 1.82 billion daily users. But it’s got some high-profile faces, including Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

OK, so here’s the real test: If Parler can earn an invitation to the next internet hearing in Congress — which if current trends continue, should be taking place soon — the company will have officially broken into the big leagues.


Beware the IPOs of November

Brian Chesky Airbnb

Another oddity in the space-time continuum is the glut of IPO prospectuses (prospecti? prospectopodes?) dropping on the eve of Thanksgiving. 

In ordinary times, America’s turkey day would be reserved for family meals and preparations for Black Friday shopping. This year is different, though, and with the capital markets in flux, a whole crop of richly-valued startups have concluded this is the time to go public. 

At the top of the list is Airbnb, the short-term rental service that scrapped its IPO plans at the start of the pandemic, but is now back in the game.

The other big consumer internet IPO is DoorDash, the food delivery service that thumbed its nose at superstition and filed its paperwork on Friday the 13th. 

But wait, there’s more: C3.ai, an enterprise tech company founded by industry vet Tom Siebel, also filed IPO paperwork, and Roblox, Wish, and Affirm are all on deck and expected to drop their public S-1s any day.


Introducing BI’s new business columnist Adam Lashinsky

On Friday, we published the debut column by Adam Lashinsky, a longtime business journalist who was an executive editor at Fortune magazine and who has authored two books — “Inside Apple” (about Apple) and “Wild Ride”(about Uber). 

In his first column, Lashinsky takes a look at the motive behind Larry Ellison’s quixotic quest to get a piece of TikTok. It’s not as wacky as it seems, but the clock is running out on Ellison’s gambit. Read it here.

Larry Ellison

Every two weeks, Lashinsky will share his insights and reporting with premium subscribers to Business Insider, so if you’re not already a subscriber, this is your sign to take the leap.


Recommended Readings:

EXCLUSIVE: Amazon’s first-ever plan for its new pharmacy business, which included partnering with Pfizer and J&J, highlights the challenges and ambitions of the secretive business

Google just bought a car dealership and 5 acres of land in a Seattle suburb, property records show

After losing billions on WeWork investments, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son says he still loves and respects ousted founder Adam Neumann

Ex-Uber CEO and billionaire Ryan Graves backed sustainability startup Emitwise in a $3.4 million funding round after seeing this pitch deck

Four years ago, Salesforce hired a rock star executive to show the world how to fix workplace diversity. Insiders are disappointed with the slow progress.


Not necessarily in tech:

Speculation about how Trump might be physically removed from the White House is a hot topic in a private group chat involving former Secret Service officials


OK then, that’ll do it for this week. Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

— Alexei

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We took a 1964 Louisiana literacy test and failed spectacularly

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: