Hello, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of Insider Tech’s newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech.
This week: Peter Thiel’s grudge match with Silicon Valley and the tech industry’s civil war
It often feels like we’re living in a multi-screen world these days with big political scandals, pandemics, and natural disasters all happening at the same time and competing for our limited attention.
Now, this surfeit of simultaneous major news is trickling into the tech industry. The past week has provided a dizzying dose of developments in the world of tech – and as you can see, things are getting more contentious.
- A rush to the public markets is underway: More than a half-dozen tech companies have filed paperwork to go public in the past two days, through traditional IPOs and direct listings. Two consistent unifying themes: The companies are all in the enterprise tech sector and they’re all losing money. Palantir finally dropped its S-1 prospectus on Tuesday, 17 years after it was founded by Peter Thiel, Alex Karp and others. The controversial data analytics company lashed out at Silicon Valley’s cultural mores in the document, and touted its own embrace of military contracts and its tough stance on China as more aligned with American values. Thiel, who remains on Palantir’s board and is its biggest shareholder, left Silicon Valley for LA a few years ago, and Palantir recently relocated to Denver. One thing Palantir has in common with Silicon Valley however, is a shared obsession with the “Lord of the Rings.”
- Apple and Epic must split the baby, for now: That’s the initial ruling by the California federal judge overseeing the dispute between the two companies. Apple was justified in booting Fortnite from its App Store, the judge found, but Apple must continue to give Epic access to software developer tools and thus cannot try to choke Epic’s broader game engine business. But this case is far from over. Monday’s ruling involved only Epic’s request to slap Apple with a temporary restraining order. The real fight – about whether Apple’s App Store practices are anticompetitive – begins with a court hearing on September 28. Meanwhile, Fortnite players on iPhones and iPads have one day left to play before the game moves into a new season that they will be locked out from.
- TikTok takes Trump to court: The Chinese social media company has sued the US government in California court, arguing that Trump’s executive order banning the app in the US was heavily politicized and did not give TikTok a chance to refute allegations that it poses a Huawei-like national security risk. Here’s a smart, layperson’s explanation of the laws Trump says give him the power to block TikTok and to force parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US assets. And don’t miss this who’s who of TikTok’s insiders steering the app’s rise in the US.
Stay tuned for: Elon Musk’s cyborg Friday!
Elon Musk’s Neuralink, which is developing chips that go into people’s brains, is scheduled to give the first live demo of a working device on Friday. At least, that’s what Musk tweeted. Your guess is as good as anyone’s about what he has in store for us. Will this live demo involve a chip implanted in a chimp? A human, or, perhaps more accurately, a cyborg?
The only thing certain is that we’ll be covering it at Business Insider, so tell Siri to remind you to visit our site on Friday morning.
Snapshot: Apple’s floating store
If you find yourself in Singapore in the future, you’ll want to check out Apple’s wild-looking new retail store. It’s round, it’s big, and it floats. Apple hasn’t given an opening date yet, other than “coming soon,” but based on recent pictures, it looks like it should be opening soon – coronavirus permitting, of course.
“We’re not in a good M&A environment, I just don’t see it. Things always are changing but I think this isn’t part of our plan right now, we don’t see that.”
– Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on the company’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, when asked about a potential TikTok acquisition and what it might mean for broader M&A activity.
Not necessarily in tech:
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.