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It’s a big day in the world. Two unlikely leaders of powerful countries met in Singapore. Later in the day a federal judge will rule on the most significant antitrust case in years. Peace among women and men and massive conglomeration of tech and media assets are among the potential outcomes.
If you’ll permit me to draw a thin thread between these events and what’s on my mind today, it’s the importance of face-to-face communications. That summit meeting and the ruling in court are the result of humans arguing, discussing, negotiating, and, dare I say, learning from each other.
And as you undoubtedly know by now, convening face-to-face meetings is an increasingly important part of Fortune’s business. In five short weeks Fortune will convene Brainstorm Tech, our annual meeting of tech executives, entrepreneurs, and investors in Aspen, Colo. We tend to keep our agenda close to the vest until it’s mostly baked, which it is now.
The program will cover the waterfront of topics and people in tech this year. The ongoing “techlash” is topic No. 1, and our annual town hall meeting on the topic will include comments from Facebook scourge Tristan Harris, Facebook’s head of sales Carolyn Everson, and Twitter’s “trust and safety” chief, Del Harvey. For the second year in a row, the town hall will be moderated by a broadcast journalist perfectly positioned to ride herd on the topic, Jo Ling Kent of NBC News. (Last year, Bloomberg’s Emily Chang masterfully oversaw the town hall on diversity and inclusion.)
Speaking of our well-timed discussion 11 months ago, we’ll feature an update on where we stand from Open Table CEO Christa Quarles, who memorably, and literally, called bullshit on something said during last year’s session that wasn’t to her liking.
The biggest investing story in Silicon Valley right now emanates from Japan in the form of SoftBank, which tosses around billions of dollars as if they were nickels. (For you Chicago Bears fans, that’s an inversion of a famous Mike Ditka swipe at the legendary George Halas.) Longtime SoftBank investor Lydia Jett and her new colleague, former Shutterfly CEO Jeff Housenbold, will explain if there is a method to SoftBank’s madness. They’ll be interviewed by a surprise returnee to the Brainstorm Tech tent, our formerly-very-own Dan Primack.
You’ve probably heard that innovation in China is a big topic these days. I’m particularly proud of the panel we’ve assembled that includes Fosun Group’s Silicon Valley venture capitalist Wang Ying, Andreessen Horowitz’s Connie Chan, China research ace (and former Citi analyst) Deborah Weinswig, and the always perceptive Hans Tung of GGV Capital.
There are oodles more conference participants who’ll share their thoughts onstage. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, one of the most successful investors ever in China, will be our opening-night speaker. Others include Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, now part of Ikea; Mike Capps, former president of Fortnite producer Epic Games (who is doing something new I can’t tell you about, but he can … on July 17); former prosecutor Kathryn Haun, who is teaching at Stanford now and is knee-deep in cryptocurrencies; Stripe’s Claire Hughes Johnson; a pair of ex- and soon-to-be-ex Microsoft muckety-mucks: Julie Larson-Green and Terry Myerson; and, finally, Vista Equity’s Robert Smith, an influential private-equity investor in software companies.
We’ll have a couple more surprise announcements before July 16. I’ll put those on Twitter rather than in Data Sheet. Also, though I’ll only see a few of you in mountains, all of you will be able to watch the proceedings live on Fortune.com.
I encourage you to read this commentary by my friend and mentor Joe Nocera. It can’t be easy writing about one’s own depression. Joe’s words very likely will help others who’ve shared his experiences.
Catch me if you can. Please permit me to make your acquaintance in so informal a manner. This is necessitated by my urgent need to reach a dependable and trust wordy foreign partner…so goes the famous Nigerian email scam that’s been circulating for about 20 years. Finally comes the crackdown. On Monday, the FBI said it arrested 74 people, many in Nigeria, for participating in email bank transfer frauds.
Hold the door, please. Cloud-based business analytics firm Adaptive Insights was on the verge of going public this week when HR software giant Workday swooped in with a $1.6 billion takeover offer. The move mirrors Cisco Systems paying almost $4 billion last year for AppDynamics, thus heading off its IPO.
That was quick. Seattle’s city council is expected later on Tuesday to repeal the so-called head tax it imposed on larger businesses to raise money to address homelessness. Amazon and other big employers in the city had organized a petition drive to repeal the tax. “It is clear that the ordinance will lead to a prolonged, expensive political fight over the next five months that will do nothing to tackle our urgent housing and homelessness crisis,” Mayor Jenny Durkan and council members said in a statement.
Bounce back. Shares of struggling wearables maker Fitbit jumped 15% on Monday to the highest price in more than a year, as the company’s new Ace activity tracker aimed at kids went on sale for $100. The stock has been on a roll since Fitbit last week announced its new Versa smartwatch is selling briskly, but got another boost on Monday when famed short seller Citron Research predicted the stock would more than double and could be acquired by Google.
International endeavors. Popular gaming platform Valve is going to China. No date was given for the launch of Valve China in partnership with Chinese publisher Perfect World. The partners will have to contend with Tencent’s WeGame service, which launched last year.
Calming the waters. After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days testifying before Congress in April, lawmakers had thousands more questions. Facebook complied and sent back a 500-page file with the follow-up answers. Included among the info: five different ways the company tracks users.
On the move. Branding expert Bozoma Saint John is leaving Uber and heading to Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor as chief marketing officer. Saint John, who had been in marketing at Apple Music before joining Uber, didn’t get along with new Uber COO Barney Harford, Recode reports.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Messaging apps are great for chatting with friends, wasting time and sharing gifs. But in Brazil, where almost two-thirds of the population is on Facebook’s WhatsApp platform, the app has become something else entirely: a political organizing tool. Marina Lopes has the story for the Washington Post on how WhatsApp’s groups feature is allowing all kinds of Brazilians to get woke. The app was instrumental in a truckers strike this year:
When Lazaro Rutino needs a break from hauling beef across Brazil in his truck, he swipes on his phone and is instantly connected to dozens of other truckers. Rutino, 59, is a member of eight trucker groups on WhatsApp, the messaging service that has become a staple for Brazilians of all walks of life.
“It’s a relief from the daily loneliness,” said Rutino, 59, who spends more than a month at a time away from his wife and three children. Rutino uses WhatsApp to secure work, learn about traffic jams and avoid dangerous stretches of highway. But recently, along with thousands of other truckers, he also used it to participate in a 10-day strike that crippled Latin America’s largest economy.
Disparate bands of truckers turned to the messaging app to organize thousands of drivers in the largest and most effective truckers strike in the nation’s history. In two weeks, they squeezed $2.5 billion in concessions from Brazil’s president, prompted the resignation of the CEO of Petrobras, the state-controlled oil giant, and won the support of the majority of the country.
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BEFORE YOU GO
After the Syfy channel announced it was cancelling its expensive but under-watched drama The Expanse, Amazon Studios picked up the series for its streaming service. The studio’s new chief Jennifer Salke says there was quite a campaign in favor of the show, ranging from Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin emailing Jeff Bezos to an airplane flying a banner over Amazon headquarters. Next up: getting more people to tune in.