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Answering Some of the Biggest Questions Facing the Tech Industry—Data Sheet

Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2018Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2018
Penny Pritzker, Chairman, PSP Partners and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, with Bradley Tusk, CEO, Tusk Ventures talk Tech and Policy with Fortune Editor-in-Chief, Clifton Leaf at Fortune's 2018 Brainstorm Tech conference. Stuart Isett—Fortune Brainstorm Tech

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Good morning from Aspen, Colo., literally (at 8,000 feet) and figuratively one of the most breathtaking places in the world. My Fortune colleagues and I convene the annual Brainstorm Tech conference this afternoon (starting at 2 p.m. Mountain Time). We’ll be joined by some of the brightest lights in tech, all here to see around corners on the weightiest topics facing the industry. You can watch most of the proceedings at Fortune.com. We’ll have lots of questions of our guests. Here are some I’d particularly like to see asked:

  • Alibaba commercialized Single’s Day in China. Amazon’s Prime Day is today and tomorrow (is that cheating?). Why is there no Walmart Day? President and CEO Doug McMillon may have thoughts.
  • What the heck is quantum computing, really, and when will it be a commercial reality? Microsoft’s Krysta Svore and Andrew Fursman of 1QBit should enlighten.
  • Do the business and societal and health-related upsides from genetic testing outweigh the downside of the ick factor of giving companies the most intimate of personal information? Margo Georgiadis of Ancestry.com and Color’s Othman Laraki will weigh in.
  • Has social media turbo-charged hate speech, or have we just become more hateful? Sadly, the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt knows the answer.
  • Do musical artists love or hate Spotify? (Or both?) Singer-songwriter FLETCHER (look her up) will opine in the presence of Spotify’s “chief premium business officer” Alex Norstrom. (And what exactly does that title mean?)
  • Did Slack even consider doing an old-fashioned money-raising IPO rather than the direct listing it successfully completed last month? CEO Stewart Butterfield can say.

These are just a few previews of the first day. Please follow our coverage and expect more throughout the week.


Some recommended reading before you go:

  • Here’s a colorful and revelatory account of the president’s unbalanced White House "Social Media Summit" last week.
  • For years I have scrambled in various locations around the country to find a print newspaper, often knowing Starbucks was my first and best hope. (For all the online reading I do, I continue to find print to be the best discovery vehicle.) No longer.
  • If the unrest in Hong Kong or the enigma that is modern China interests you, please read this haunting, beautiful, troubling, and important essay by the artist Ai Weiwei.

Adam Lashinsky

On Twitter: @adamlashinsky

Email: adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

The big payoff. There’s a nominally large figure of dollars in Facebook’s leaked settlement with the Federal Trade Commission: $5 billion. It’s said to be the largest fine ever levied by the agency and is intended to punish Facebook for its actions in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. But it’s less than 10% of Facebook’s annual revenue last year.

Failing the test. Online education company K12.com accidentally left the personal data of about 7 million students exposed on the Internet for about a week, security firm Comparitech says. The unprotected database included student names, emails, birthdays, and the attended school, among other information.

Shop til you drop. As Adam mentioned, it’s Amazon’s self-declared shopping holiday, Prime Day, and there are many deals to be had. It’s a little weird to drum up a shopping holiday in the middle of summer, but it works.

Tomorrow is another day. India delayed the launch of its Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon on Sunday because of a “technical snag” in the rocket launching system. No announcement of a new date yet for the launch, which plans to send a robotic rover to the far side of the moon. In unrelated but similar space news, Europe’s Galileo global satellite navigation system has been offline due to a “technical incident” since July 11.

War of the servers. The Pentagon’s massive $10 billion contract to run military cloud services can be awarded this summer, a federal judge ruled on Friday, despite efforts by Oracle to halt the process that the company charged was biased in favor of Amazon. The contract to run the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, is now expected to be awarded by the end of August, with Amazon and Microsoft as the lead contenders.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

It’s all too easy to attack Craig Newmark, the inventor of Craigslist, for “destroying” the newspaper industry. His online listing service may have replaced the need for the lucrative classified ad sections in local papers, but not only was it a better way for people to buy and sell things, it was hardly the most original idea for putting the Internet for use in commerce. Does anyone seriously think that absent Craig Newmark we’d still be using classified ads in print newspapers? Based on a new interview and profile of Newmark by David Smith in The Guardian, sadly, the answer appears to be yes. But it’s still a worthwhile read about the man who describes himself as “a nerd that stayed true to his nerditude.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

8 Ways to Track the Best Amazon Prime Day Deals By Chris Morris

Technology Sales Shine in a $52.96 billion Back-to-School Season By Kate Dwyer

The Wayfair Walkout and the Rise of Activist Capitalism By John Paul Rollert

The European Shopping Center Where Technology’s Future Is Being Tracked Today By Jaclyn Trop

An Algorithm May Decide Your Next Pay Raise By Anne Fisher

BEFORE YOU GO

When the Bank of England asked for nominations of who should be depicted on the country’s new 50-pound note (worth about $63 right now), it was swamped with more than 200,000 responses. The note typically features a scientist, from James Watt on the current bill to predecessors including Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. The next person up? Computer genius Alan Turing will grace 50-pound notes going into circulation starting in 2021.

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