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I hope this is the only thing you’ll read online today.
I’m kidding. I know that’s not realistic. And yet the drumbeat is growing louder for more quiet in our digital lives. The signal has become so drowned out by the noise that all our newfangled digital obsessions are becoming more hazardous than we ever expected.
The outstanding columnist Farhad Manjoo, in his inaugural effort for The New York Times Op-Ed page, explains why he has taken up meditation. Sure, he knows meditation apps are about as cliché as you can get. (If every venture capitalist you meet is doing something, then …) But Manjoo realizes they are one way to deal with his “digital monsters.”
The issue, of course, isn’t meditation, but the monsters. I like to start my day drinking coffee and reading print newspapers—knowing I’ll be online the rest of the day. I don’t use Facebook anymore and have cut way back on Twitter. I still feel well informed. And the monsters are still there. If you need convincing, read this wonderful Wall Street Journal interview with academic Cal Newport, who has made a career of avoiding social media. He makes a brilliant point in response to the fear of losing track of old friends. “This idea that it’s important to maintain hundreds or thousands of weak-tie connections” is recent and untested, he says. (In fact, Dunbar’s number suggests the true limit is about 150.) Refraining from social media just might enhance your real relationships.
It is a time of tumult. Twitter is the favorite tool for insult by the president of the United States. “Content” thrives while journalism suffers. Still, this really smart piece made me wonder for the first time if “service” publications like Better Homes and Gardens or InStyle, to choose two owned by Fortune’s erstwhile owner, Meredith Corp., might be threatened most by the trend, not serious news publications. Brands can publish “content” that’s as good as top magazines; they aren’t likely to turn to serious news, analysis, and criticism, whose publishers are pivoting away from advertising and toward subscriptions.
Anyway, thanks for listening. I’ve got to check my email now.
After the fall. Stay tuned for a busy week of tech news on Wall Street. Up this afternoon: Apple. Can the company overcome the disappointment of its January 2 warning or is more disappointment on the way? To warm things up, Nvidia warned that its fiscal fourth quarter revenue would fall $500 million, or about 19%, short of its prior forecast, sending its shares plunging 14% on Monday. CEO Jensen Huang blamed weak demand from China and cloud service providers.
Snooping. Speaking of Apple, or should I say if you happen to be speaking via Apple software, be careful. A bug in the FaceTime app lets callers listen in on the phone they are calling before the call recipient picks up. Apple says it will close the leak pronto.
Not making progress. U.S. female founders raised $2.88 billion last year split across 482 teams, according to data from PitchBook and All Raise, the organization supporting women in venture capital and startups. That’s 2.2% of the $130 billion total in venture capital money invested over the year—the exact same percentage that Fortune reported for 2017.
Lifting the curtain. Prosecutors in the United States revealed why they had Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou detained in Canada, charging the Chinese telecom exec with stealing trade secrets, obstructing justice, and committing bank fraud in an effort to skirt sanctions on Iran.
On the dotted line. In its biggest acquisition since being founded in 2007, Dropbox is buying electronic signature startup HelloSign for $230 million. HelloSign, which competes with DocuSign and Adobe among others, will remain an independent operation. And Samsung is grabbing Israeli smartphone camera maker Corephotonics for $155 million.
ON THE MOVE
Hanson Robotics and its most famous creation, Sophia, have a new boss. Jeanne Lim is taking over as CEO after a career at tech giants Apple, Cisco, and Dell…Digital mortgage application startup Blend Labs hired former Fannie Mae CEO Timothy Mayopoulos as president. “Fintech seems to be the place where the action is,” Mayopoulos tells the Wall Street Journal…In its quest for more long-lasting iPhones, Apple has poached Soonho Ahn from Samsung to be its new global head of battery developments…Snap chief accountant Lara Sweet becomes interim CFO when current CFO Tim Stone leaves in a few days…Just Eat’s CEO Peter Plumb resigned and Peter Duffy, chief customer officer, was appointed interim CEO. “Now is the right time for me to step aside and make way for a new leader,” Plumb said without explaining much.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Somebody is going to make our Gen X flying car dreams come true—finally. Japan’s all-powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry has set its sights on getting the industry off the ground. Matthew Campbell, Jie Ma, and Kiyotaka Matsuda at Bloomberg dig into the country-wide effort in a colorful feature. It’s slow going so far:
There is at least one Japan-made flying-car prototype, and it only recently received permission to leave its warehouse near Nagoya, the nation’s traditional aerospace capital. It’s a rough version of a planned two-seater craft, three-and-a-half meters long and just over a meter high, capable of vertical takeoff on four helicopter blades mounted on legs that protrude slightly downward from the fuselage like pontoons. Getting sign-off from Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau for outdoor flights was a laborious process for Cartivator, a collective of Tokyo- and Nagoya-based engineers.
“Regulation here is strict and conservative, and Japan does not have a lot of experience building whole aircraft,” co-founder Tsubasa Nakamura said in an early-evening interview at a train station cafe in Tokyo’s western suburbs, as salarymen in their usual matching black suits file past on their way home. “Developing a flying car here is not easy.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Want a Bitcoin Tax Refund? You Might Need an Accountant By Jen Wieczner
Will Apple Have the First Netflix for Gaming? By Laura Stampler
Apple Spent $60 Billion in the U.S. on Manufacturing in 2018 By Emily Price
Court’s Biometrics Ruling Poses Billion Dollar Risk to Facebook, Google By Jeff John Roberts
BEFORE YOU GO
While Adam is spending more time offline, here’s a reason to go the other way. Keeping up with the latest tech and gadgets used to require reading lots of reviews, but these days most of the best reviewers output to video. Catch Marques Brownlee’s video looking at the folding smartphone trend. And he’s got cool footage of all the prototypes.