“Hi, it’s Kevin.”
So began a remarkable conversation last week with Kevin McCarthy, the Republican congressman from California’s Central Valley and the House majority leader. It was remarkable because not one week from the ugliest, most momentous, and bitterly divisive election in our lifetime, McCarthy had called to talk about innovation—and how he was trying to support it in a bipartisan manner.
“Growth is the No. 1 answer to America’s problems,” McCarthy told me, veering ever so gently into political territory seeing as only a country with serious “problems” would need to be “great again.” (McCarthy publicly supports the candidacy of Donald Trump, a name that didn’t come up during our conversation.) To achieve that growth, McCarthy is behind 32 bills that have passed the House with overwhelming majorities and would tweak various laws to benefit entrepreneurs. One is an amendment to the JOBS Act that would include special-purpose vehicles, the effect being to broaden potential funding sources for startups. Another removes duplicative regulations on investment advisors, again making it easier for entrepreneurs to raise capital.
McCarthy, who discusses his “Innovation Initiative” here, says he has support in the Senate to move some of these bills in the lame-duck session. He plans to package a handful of the most palatable measures, a technique that benefited the JOBS Act in 2012. He didn’t take one swipe at Democrats, nor did he decry the role of government in achieving policy goals. “This is what I want my government to do: Be effective, efficient, and accountable,” he said.
Fortune’s Tory Newmyer (our ears in Washington, D.C.) tells me McCarthy’s measures are nowhere near the top of the legislative priority list. Still, anything is possible in a lame-duck session, says Newmyer, because “it’s one of the few times there’s stuff moving that actually has to pass, and odds-and-ends bills like these can sometimes hitch a ride.”
Call me idealistic, but I just thought it was swell to chat with a congressional leader about bipartisan efforts to enact laws that would help the country. We’re going to need a lot more of that talk in days to come.
BITS AND BYTES
Walmart is really embracing the idea of mobile payments. The retailer is talking to other financial institutions after adding a digital wallet from J.P. Morgan Chase just last week. It previously prioritized its own payments options. (Reuters)
SAP overhauls its flagship database software. One of the big new features in HANA 2 is the product’s support for micro-services—small but potentially useful pieces of software or specialized data streams that can be pulled into other programs. So, essentially, HANA makes it simpler for companies to mash up and process data from many different sources for very industry-specific applications. (Fortune)
Snap Inc. finds a powerful new ally against Facebook. Google parent Alphabet’s newly rebranded growth-stage investment arm, Capital G, confirmed it recently backed Snap, which makes the Snapchat messaging app. The size of its infusion was not disclosed. (Fortune)
Meet the chatbot behind Hilton’s online concierge. The hospitality giant is differentiating its social media presence by adding chat services powered by artificial intelligence to its website. The idea is to convince more guests to use Hilton’s online reservation options on its website, rather than booking rooms using travel sites. (Fortune)
FBI says expect more Internet of things attacks. It issued a bulletin to companies in late October warning them that attempts to exploit technology used for private industry purposes will continue. (Wall Street Journal)
China’s rigorous new cybersecurity law is official. The policy, which was made public on Monday, makes it legal for the government to demand technical information from high-tech equipment makers and software developers—all in the name of national security. U.S. tech firms are worried it will give officials the right to demand their source code or other intellectual property. (Wall Street Journal)
Chinese tech conglomerate LeEco faces financial growing pains. The company has been investing in everything from smart, driverless cars to smartphones—at a faster pace than it has been able to assimilate, the company’s billionaire CEO Jia Yuetig acknowledged early this week. That reality could threaten LeEco’s $2 billion takeover of Vizio, which was poised to go public before its suitor showed up. (Reuters, Fortune)
This copyright law could threaten millennials’ favorite form of expression. Even if you haven’t heard of Giphy, which raised another $72 million last week, you’ve definitely encountered it. It’s the go-to site for those looping animated clips called GIFs that surface everything from dancing cats to touchdown celebrations to President Barack Obama waving a lightsaber.
Today, GIFs are a staple of social media and workplace chatrooms. But there’s also a copyright cloud hanging over GIF culture—many of the most popular ones draw from outfits like Disney and the National Football League, which don’t exactly have permissive reputations when it comes to intellectual property. This could be the latest test case for “fair use” laws.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
T-Mobile Offers Cheaper Alternative for Wi-Fi in Cars, by Aaron Pressman
Tesla Starts Charging for Its Fast-Charging Network, by Kirsten Korosec
Apple News Is Driving a Lot More Traffic to Publishers, by Mathew Ingram
ONE MORE THING
How to find a job on Facebook. The world’s largest social network is testing a service that will allow companies that host pages on Facebook to use them for job postings. The new product could be directly competitive with LinkedIn’s recruiting business. (Reuters)