People in Silicon Valley take their wine seriously. I’ve often joked that tech-industry newcomers become pontificating wine snobs the moment they get their California driver’s licenses.
But wine is more than an opportunity for pretentiousness among the 0.1%. It’s both a major industry populated by big and small players and a heart-felt labor of love by many who can’t resist the pastoral life in the lovely wine country north of San Francisco.
And for a variety reasons, California’s wine region also has become a place of tragic fires. The deadliest and most damaging in modern history hit a year ago this month. As Fortune’s Radhika Marya ably reports, businesses across the region are still dealing with the aftermath of the devastating fires. One she profiles is the small Paradise Ridge Winery, whose insurance won’t quite cover its losses. The other is Keysight Technologies, the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based heir to the original Hewlett-Packard product line.
Marya’s account is a reminder that business is more than profits and losses. It is a way of life, a life badly disrupted when natural disaster hits. This is a story worth reading.
Deep dish search. The hunt for clues for the hunt for the location of Amazon‘s second headquarters goes on. With 20 finalists still in the running, as far as we know, come reports that Amazon teams have visited every locale at least once and made second trips at least to Miami and Chicago this fall.
War of words. More grist for the debate over Bloomberg’s blockbuster story that Chinese spies snuck surveillance chips onto server motherboards: Both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and and the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre on Friday backed denials of the story by Amazon and Apple. “At this time, we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story,” DHS said in its statement. On Sunday, Apple again denied key facts of the story in a letter to Congress.
Awarding discoveries. The Nobel Prize in economics went to Yale economist William Nordhaus and New York University’s Paul Romer for their “fundamental insights into the causes and consequences of technological innovation and climate change.”
Mo’ money. Like SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son doesn’t have enough cash in his almost $100 billion Vision Fund, now the government of Saudi Arabia says it will invest $45 billion in a follow up investment fund run by SoftBank. That’s the same amount the oil rich kingdom invested in the original Vision Fund.
Represent. The fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court fight continued to roil Facebook, after the company’s head of global public policy, Joel Kaplan, prominently attended the nominee’s second hearing (Kaplan is a friend of Kavanaugh’s). Speaking at an employee forum on Friday, both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg expressed frustration about Kaplan’s move, the Wall Street Journal reported, though without directly quoting what the two executives said.
Virtual watercooler talk. Workplace communications tool Slack is getting a big upgrade next year, with a major goal of being “significantly faster,” Jamie DeLanghe, head of Slack’s search, learning, and intelligence team, said at a conference last week. The 2019 update will also work without an Internet connection, allowing users to read messages and perform a few other functions even when offline.
Put another shrimp on the barbie. The newest Apple Watch had a bug that hit some owners in Australia when the country shifted to Daylight Savings Time over the weekend. Some users experienced a series of crashes and reboots when a specific complication was unable to handle the addition of an extra hour (“fall back”) to a single day. Apple is expected to issue a software fix before DST hits Europe and America.
Big bounce. The company powering search and ranking technology behind apps including Tinder found Wall Street an inviting destination. Elastic went public on Friday at $36 a share and closed trading at $70.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The scourge of false news and conspiracy theories spread via social media remains a huge problem, cropping up most recently again during the battle over confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Facebook and others have tried to add both human and automated means of fighting the fake stories, bur Xinmei Shen has a deep dive at Abacus News into the efforts by Chinese messaging giant WeChat to debunk rumors and false stories spread on its platform. Fact checking is built into the app, Shen reports:
Here’s how the mini program works: The front page shows a feed of articles that have been debunked recently, with a search box at the top where you can search for terms and see if there are any debunked articles related to it.
The second section (“Related to Me”) compiles all the fake news articles that you have either read or shared. The last section shows the number of articles debunked and who the fact checkers are.
WeChat says that it already has more than 800 third-party fact checkers, including 289 institutions in the China Food and Drug Administration system, 5 state-level media and 32 local “cyber affair” offices. Other organizations can also apply to join the fact checkers, provided that they send relevant qualification documents to Tencent and already have a verified public WeChat account.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Faraday Future Is Out of Cash Again and Investors Aren’t Happy By Hallie Detrick
How Much Money Does Fortnite Make? About $1.5 Million Per Day—Just on iOS By Lisa Marie Segarra
Q&A: Andrew Ng, the Authority on A.I. By Vauhini Vara
Tim Cook Remembers Steve Jobs 7 Years After His Death By Don Reisinger
Cryptocurrency Custodian BitGo Adds Stellar and Dash By Robert Hackett
Walmart’s Vudu Video Service Will Be Getting Original Shows From MGM By Hallie Detrick
BEFORE YOU GO
Sotheby’s sold a 2006 stenciled spray paint of Banksy’s famous Girl With Balloon for almost $1.4 million on Friday. Moments later, the painting self-destructed via a shredder that had been hidden in its frame. The anonymous artist posted a picture of the shredding with the caption “Going, going, gone…” while all that was left for Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe, to say was: “It appears we just got Banksy-ed.”