Bill Gates had Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs had Tim Cook, and Mark Zuckerberg has Sheryl Sandberg. Travis Kalanick desperately needs the executive who completes him.
One person I barely was able to mention in my recent feature about Alibaba’s Jack Ma is Joe Tsai, the company’s vice chairman and Ma’s indispensable right-hand man and alter ego.
If Ma is now a global business superstar, Tsai is as famous in the investing community that has interacted with Alibaba. He is the Taiwanese-born, U.S. prep-school and Yale-educated corporate lawyer and private-equity investor who signed on early with Alibaba and helped make the Chinese e-commerce giant the business it is today.
Alibaba the company is known for its swagger. Yet Ma and Tsai, each in their own way, are the pictures of humility. Ma readily admits to expertise in neither technology nor dealmaking, the latter being Tsai’s purview.
I interviewed Tsai last month, and he described how he joined Alibaba.
“It was a time before we had raised any outside capital, and Jack hadn’t even incorporated the company yet,” said Tsai. “And he said to me that, ‘Look Joe, I don’t know anything about finance or law, and I need to incorporate a company. I need to make sure that there’s an agreement among all the founders as to how we run the business going forward. And I need to make sure that we can go out and raise capital. I don’t know how to do any of this. So, why don’t you come in and help me?’ ”
Tsai left a cushy private-equity gig in Hong Kong to do as Ma asked. He’s a billionaire now. And as happy a No. 2 as they come.
BITS AND BYTES
Waymo sues another former Googler in self-driving car dispute. Aside from the person at the center of the case, Anthony Levandowski, Alphabet is targeting Otto co-founder Lior Ron, according to court documents. Uber bought Otto last year to serve as the foundation of its self-driving car effort, but Alphabet has accused Levandowski of stealing Waymo’s intellectual property in the process. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Recode)
AOL plus Yahoo equals Oath. That’s the name of the Verizon media division that will control the strategy for both organizations after the Yahoo buyout is complete. Beyond that, the fate of Yahoo’s individual brands isn’t known. (Fortune, New York Times)
Tesla now has a higher market cap than Ford. The company’s founder Elon Musk used the occasion to taunt investors who shorted Tesla stock. He should keep an eye on the rear-view mirror: It looks like Ford could be a formidable rival when it comes to self-driving cars. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Fortune)
Do you really need a foreign worker to fill that tech job? Prove it. It will be tougher to fill entry-level programming positions with applicants needing H1-B visas. Plus, the Justice Department plans to scrutinize companies applying for lots of them more closely in order to thwart discrimination against American applicants. (New York Times)
Those Obama-era FCC rules requiring tighter Internet privacy measures are officially dead. Technically speaking, not much will change. But the move means Internet service providers can continue collecting a broad range of information about their customers’ browsing habits, which can then be used for targeted marketing purposes. (New York Times, Fortune)
Hewlett Packard Enterprise is officially out of the services business. DXC Technology, the new company created by merging the HPE services unit with CSC, the big government IT consulting organization, officially started trading on Monday. (ZDNet, Washington Business Journal)
So far, Salesforce has spent $6 million to close its gender pay gap. The cloud software giant disclosed its second adjustment of $3 million, which affects about 11% of its 25,000 employees, to coincide with Equal Pay Day. (Washington Post)
Amazon is seeking “social influencers.” The e-commerce company is recruiting individuals who have a strong following on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram with the idea of encouraging them to talk up its products. (Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Daimler and Bosch Plan to Bring Self-Driving Taxis to Cities, by Kirsten Korosec
The 8 Best Fitness Trackers You Can Buy Right Now, by Lisa Eadicocco/TIME
There’s Now a Netflix-Like Service for Virtual Reality, by Jonathan Vanian
ONE MORE THING
These cameras are great for capturing content for VR apps. The big advantage of 360-degree cameras is that they film images in all directions, which is important for virtual reality scenarios that need to show many different angles as someone turns their head with googles on. (Fortune)