I bore witness to the American dream Thursday night.
In the hip San Francisco headquarters of the digital publishing software company Automattic, Fortune held its annual 40 Under 40 party. The event has become a must-attend affair for the Silicon Valley elite. They come to see each other and also to celebrate the accomplishments of the not-yet-four-decades-old overachievers from tech and other industries.
This is one impressive list. It includes people like the CEO of the Automattic itself, Matt Mullenweg, whose distributed company has changed the face of publishing. We recognized leaders from the biggest companies in tech, like Joe Zadeh, head of product for Airbnb; Rachel Holt, the top operations executive in North America for Uber; and Bozoma Saint John, who runs marketing for Apple Music.
These are just a few examples, and you can see our entire list here. It is diverse in every way, from gender to nationality to industry. (Even in San Francisco we are aware there is life beyond tech.) Fortune’s group of 40 Under 40 doesn’t merely represent the future of global business. It constitutes the present too.
On my way home I met someone who embodies the American dream every bit as much as the group Fortune had spent the night celebrating. Like me, this man is in his late 40s—we weren’t even close to being eligible to be honored Thursday night and have school-age daughters in the same grade. Unlike me, he drives full-time for Uber and Lyft. He’d been at it since 6:00 a.m. and was preparing to return to his home in Sacramento, a 90-minute journey. An Iraqi who immigrated to California just over two years ago, my driver worked for the U.S. government in Baghdad. He felt fortunate to be here and to be earning a living, no matter how long the hours. He hopes one day to become a U.S. citizen.
From tech’s prodigies to a new American life aided by a wonder of innovation, it felt good, especially in the lamentable political environment we confront daily, to be reminded what a great country we live in.
BITS AND BYTES
SoftBank teams with Saudi Arabia on $100 billion tech fund. Masayoshi Son’s Japanese conglomerate plans to contribute up to $25 billion over the next five years to the so-called SoftBank Vision Fund, as it continues to expand its global presence. Saudi Arabia is also becoming far more interested in technology-driven businesses: remember its $3.5 billion infusion in June for Uber? (New York Times)
Samsung will lose more than $5 billion over the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. That estimate includes lost sales, costs related to the production halt, plus what it’s spending on incentives to get owners of the now-defunct smartphone to switch to other Samsung mobile devices. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)
Verizon hints that the Yahoo data breach could derail the merger. The carrier’s general counsel Craig Silliman said Thursday that Verizon has reason be believe the losses from the break-in are “material,” which would trigger a clause to let it out of the $4.8 billion deal. (Reuters)
Pinterest is growing faster than Twitter. The social media site, which people use to “pin” articles and images, now has 150 million monthly active users compared with 100 million a year ago. (Twitter has about 320 million.) More than half of Pinterest’s members live outside the United States. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)
HP Inc. intends to cut another 3,000 jobs. The move is preemptive. The printer and personal computer maker, which has shrunk its payroll by 3,000 people since the breakup, expects to generate less cash than anticipated in its next fiscal year. It’s projecting free cash flow of $2.3 billion to $2.6 billion compared with the $2.76 billion estimated by analysts. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)
In case of smartphone fire, place here. Delta Airlines will outfit planes that handle its long-haul flights with bags meant for containing smoldering mobile gadgets, including phones, tablets, or even the mobile credit-card readers that its crews use for in-flight purchases. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines started adding the bags earlier this year. (Wall Street Journal)
Here’s how IBM and Google plan to counter Intel in the data center. They’re part of a new consortium working on “open” processor technology to speed computer server performance. Intel is sitting out. But the group does include Advanced Micro Devices, which just scored a deal to provide chips for Alibaba’s cloud operations. (Reuters, Bloomberg)
Why the new relationship between Amazon and VMware is such a big deal. The pact, previously reported in Fortune but made official on Thursday, gives Amazon Web Services a better pitch for companies that are thinking about using public cloud services to run some workloads but still want to keep other applications in privately controlled data centers.
Yes, it’s already possible for businesses to run AWS and VMware software together, but it takes some clever software engineering and know-how. The new “VMware Cloud on AWS” service, to be available in the second half of 2017, presumably makes this task easier. It also provides Amazon with a key point of differentiation against cloud rivals Microsoft, IBM, and Google.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Virtual Reality Hype Exceeds Demand, For Now, by Barb Darrow
How John Sculley Remembers Steve Jobs, and What He Thinks of Apple Today, by Don Reisinger
Is Silicon Valley Decimating the American Worker?, by Chris Matthews
Why Verizon Is Closing Call Centers It Said It Wouldn’t, by Aaron Pressman
ONE MORE THING
Meet Jordan Hewson, the tech entrepreneur who also happens to be Bono’s daughter. Hewson’s startup Speakable is a tech company that promotes social activism. Its first product is an interactive “action button” that publishers can embed at the bottom of their articles that prompts readers to act, whether by taking a poll, signing a petition, tweeting at a policy-maker, or donating to a nonprofit. (Fortune)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Gartner Symposium/ITexpo: A gathering of CIOs and senior IT leaders. (Oct. 16-20; Orlando, Fla.)
DellWorld: Dell’s annual global customer conference. (Oct. 18-20; Austin, Texas)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: The world’s largest gathering of women technologists. (Oct. 19-21; Houston)
QuickBooks Connect: Intuit’s third annual customer and developer conference. (Oct. 24-26; San Jose, Calif.)
World of Watson: The power of data, analytics, and cognitive. (Oct. 24-27; Las Vegas)
AI World: Business applications for artificial intelligence. (Nov. 7-9; San Francisco)
TBM Conference: Manage the business of IT. (Nov. 7-10; San Diego)
DevOps Enterprise Summit: Develop and deploy software faster. (Nov. 7-9; San Francisco)
Drone World Expo: Commercial apps for unmanned aircraft. (Nov. 15-16; San Jose, Calif.)
AWS re:Invent: Amazon’s annual cloud conference. (Nov. 28-Dec. 2; Las Vegas)