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Data Sheet–Drug Discovery Shifting From Treatment to Cure

Some takeaways from the final day of Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego:

* Freda Lewis-Hall, chief patient officer of Pfizer, lamented the sorry state of keeping patients informed about the state of the art in medical technology. “I can know what the Kardashians ate for breakfast this morning,” she said. “But I can’t find out what the latest data is informing us to either look for or do, and I think we have a chance to fix that a little bit.”

* Michael J. Fox, in a gripping video interview with Fortune’s Cliff Leaf, inspiringly explained how he refuses to allow Parkinson’s Disease to wholly define him. Of course, the disease he has lived with for nearly three decades is part of his life. But it is not his entire life, he said. His attitude is a stunning example for anyone who faces adversity in their lives.

* Beth Seidenberg, a venture capitalist who has founded a new firm, Westlake Village BioPartners, explained the illuminating similarities between biotech drug discoveries and software development. Development costs and the time needed for breakthroughs have collapsed dramatically, shifting the focus from treatments to cures. It’s a good time to be investing in biotech. And a good time to be alive.

Adam Lashinsky


Table for two. Google’s amazing/scary phone call-making digital scheduling assistant, Duplex, is about to go mainstream. After only being available on Pixel phones, Duplex is now rolling out to all Android and iOS devices via the Google Assistant app. But Google’s A.I. ethics board, created to advise the company on responsible use of the new technology, is foundering in controversy. Two of the eight members are under fire from Google employees and one other says he won’t serve.

Elevators to your right. As it seeks to diversify beyond offering short-term office space it holds on long-term leases, WeWork is making some acquisitions. On Wednesday, the startup said it acquired Managed by Q, which helps landlords hire contractors to fill janitorial, receptionist, and other needs. The purchase price was not disclosed but Managed by Q was valued at $249 million in a VC round in January. In other possible M&A news, cloud and virtualization software developer Citrix is putting itself up for sale, seeking a buyer willing to pay $15 billion, the New York Post reports. Citrix shares jumped 2%.

Going down. Shares of Tesla, already down 12% this year, dropped another 10% in premarket trading on Thursday after the electric carmaker said it did not meet its delivery goal in the first quarter. Tesla delivered 63,000 cars in the quarter, down from almost 91,000 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, lawyers for Elon Musk will argue in federal court in Manhattan today that the CEO did not violate a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission despite some possibly misguided tweets.

Free peek. Hundreds of millions of Facebook user records were left unprotected on an Amazon cloud server by a developer, cybersecurity firm UpGuard disclosed. “Data about Facebook users has been spread far beyond the bounds of what Facebook can control today,” the firm noted. Facebook said the move violated its policies and the company worked with Amazon to take down the data dump. In a not-unrelated move, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill to make it easier to prosecute corporate executives when their companies harm consumers. Among the prosecutable misdeeds: if a company is found guilty of a civil law violation involving the personal data of at least 1% of the U.S. population.

Cutting in line. In wireless world, the claims and counterclaims over 5G continue to come fast and furious. One is sometimes reminded of the famous Shakespeare line “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But real progress is occurring, if slowly. On Wednesday, a week earlier than previously announced, Verizon started offering 5G service in small parts of Chicago and Minneapolis via an add-on to a Motorola phone that almost no one has. But a 5G-compatible version of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 is coming soon. Analysts at UBS have been poking around the world of modem developers and predict that Apple won’t be able to offer a 5G iPhone until 2021.


Google is taking down the content consumers posted on its failed social network project, Google+, but that’s hardly the first such elimination. Stephen Dowling at the BBC recounts numerous examples of writing, music and other content that has disappeared down the memory hole. Some are making an effort to preserve the history, however. Sometimes whole domains have been lost.

“As soon as there’s a change of government, or restructuring of quangos, sites are closed down,” says Jane Winters, a professor of digital humanities at the University of London. “Or look at election campaigning sites, which by their nature are set up to be temporary.” Sometimes the sites that are lost echo even more seismic changes; the deaths and births of nations themselves. “It happened with Yugoslavia; .yu was the top-level domain for Yugoslavia, and that ended when it collapsed. There’s a researcher who is trying to rebuild what was there before the break-up,” she says. “The political is so often tied into the technical.”


Proposed Law Would Require YouTube and Netflix to Do More to Protect Kids Online By Danielle Abril

Apple and Samsung’s Pricey Phone Strategies Run Head On Into Reality By Aaron Pressman

This Founder Just Agreed to Pay $17 Million to Settle a Fraud Charge. Now He’s Heading an A.I. Startup By Lucinda Shen

Who Should Own Your Health Data? By Erika Fry


Some stories touch your heart and make you think better of humanity. Other stories, not so much. Indonesia is banning tourists from Komodo island because a smuggling ring was kidnapping the beloved Komodo dragons that live there and selling them for as much as $35,000 each. At least we can still see dragons on HBO for a few more months.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.