Tekedra Mawakana, Peggy Johnson, and more CEOs on the future of tech

December 3, 2021, 1:58 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Meghan Markle wins a victory in her fight against The Mail, abortion care is in a dismal state in the U.S., and leaders debate the big ideas at Brainstorm Tech. Have a relaxing weekend.

– Tech talk. Hello from Half Moon Bay, Calif., where we just wrapped two days of Fortune Brainstorm Tech, our gathering of top leaders and innovators in the tech industry. It was an energizing week, full of big ideas, so we wanted to bring you some highlights:

  • Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana is bullish—but realistic—about the future of self-driving cars, as Waymo launches an autonomous grocery delivery service. “Not everyone is going to make it,” she says of competition in the industry. “This is really hard.”
  • Augmented reality will have the most immediate impact in the manufacturing and health care sectors, predicts Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson. She cites the example of a factory worker fixing a machine and, simultaneously, watching an instructional video as a refresher. “Think of it as, basically, a computer on your eyes, and your hands are still free,” she explains.
  • The home construction and design industry’s reliance on technology is a pandemic-era change that’s here to stay, says Adi Tatarko, cofounder and CEO of home improvement platform Houzz. (Which, by the way, is reportedly planning an early 2022 IPO.) “[The pandemic] completely changed how people wanted things now. Immediately, despite the shortage in supplies,” she says. “The adoption of all these tools and technology became even more critical for both homeowners and professionals.”
  • As consumers have turned to Rent the Runway for more everyday wear in the age of remote work, the fashion rental and subscription business has provided brands with even more data insights into what their shoppers want, says CEO Jenn Hyman. “They also get access to data that is extremely unique on how the customer fits in their clothes, how they use it, who the customer is,” Hyman says, “which has enabled many of our brands to actually change fit, change manufacturing, target their customer differently.”
  • A topic on the minds of many tech CEOs and employees? Unionization. Labor organizing is gaining momentum in Silicon Valley—just think of the Alphabet Workers Union. Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry provided the labor movement perspective to the tech crowd. “How do we use collective [bargaining] agreements to catalyze change?” she asks.

If you were with us in Half Moon Bay, thanks for joining! Brainstorm Tech will be back in Aspen in summer 2022.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Kristen Bellstrom.


- Welcome to Gilead? As the country waits to see how the Supreme Court will rule on the restrictive Mississippi abortion law that conflicts with Roe v. Wade, there's a ton of good reporting out there about state of abortion care in America. Just a few examples: The Washington Post has a piece about Meera Shah, one of 50 or so doctors who regularly travel to 20 states to perform abortions for patients who would otherwise not have access to the essential procedure. The WSJ talks to abortion clinics in Illinois, which are preparing for a surge in patients from surrounding states with trigger laws that could spring into place after if Roe is overturned. And NPR covers a new Texas law that makes medication abortion after seven weeks punishable by up to two years in prison and a possible fine of $10,000.

- Noted. Defense lawyers presented a bizarre note in Elizabeth Holmes's trial to back up the Theranos founder's claim that former boyfriend and business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani abused her sexually and emotionally. The note lays out a set of rules for her behavior, including "I do not react" and "I speak rarely." She says the rules were given to her by Balwani because he was allegedly "astonished by [Holmes's] mediocrity." Balwani's lawyer has denied the abuse allegations. Fortune

- Meg v. The Mail. An appeals court has rejected The Mail's attempt to force a trial over Meghan Markle's claim that the tabloid violated her privacy by publishing a letter she sent to her estranged father. It's a win for the Duchess, who can now avoid a potentially embarrassing and invasive stint in court. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: International Monetary Fund chief economist Gita Gopinath will becomes the institution’s deputy managing director. Lyft has announced that it has named Elaine Paul CFO; Paul was previously CFO and VP of finance for Amazon Studios. Erin Teague, director of product management at YouTube, has joined the board of ID.me. Bill.com has named Sarah Acton, formerly of Athos, CMO. Amy Ard joins Tonal as CFO; she previously held the same position at Proterra. Najoh Tita-Reid, CMO at Logitech, and Lydie Hudson, CEO of sustainability, research and investment solutions at Credit Suisse, have joined the board of Room to Read.


- No angel. Bella Hadid talks about her decision to become Victoria Secret's latest ambassador. The model walked in the VS fashion show in the past, but was also one of those who came forward in 2020 to say she's experienced harassment by former L Brands executive Ed Razek. (Razek, who has since left the company, has denied the claims.)  Marie Claire

- Sick supply chain. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is the latest U.S. official to sound the alarm about the impact Omicron is likely to have on the economy, saying it could worsen supply chain problems and potentially increase inflation. Reuters

- Where is **? As censors scrub mentions of missing tennis star Peng Shuai from the Internet, Chinese fans are getting creative with how they talk about her—and raise awareness of her plight—online. (Shuai vanished after accusing a powerful Communist Party leader of sexual assault.) New York Times


A ‘double red zone’: Alarms raised at many universities over sexual assault reports The 19th

More than 400,000 Planned Parenthood patients' data was exposed after hackers attacked the organization Business Insider

Amy Schneider has made Jeopardy! history—and helped the show find calm after chaos Washington Post


"Having that done through her eyes set me up to not feel like my beauty, and my womanhood or how I felt about myself, was weighed by what a man felt about me or what a director felt about me, or what I wore on the carpet. So I never felt like I had to dress sexy because I had a Sofia to look up to."

-Kirsten Dunst, on her relationship with Sofia Coppola, who directed her in three films.

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