November 26, 2020

Tech Industry

TV shoppers at a Best Buy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2018. | Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Streaming TV should be easy, but fights among Roku, Amazon, HBO, and NBC are making it hard.

When Wonder Woman 1984 opens in theaters on Christmas Day, most HBO Max subscribers will be able to watch the movie at home. Emphasis on most: Right now, that group of HBO Max subscribers does not include those who use a Roku device to watch streaming TV.

This is because Roku, which dominates the US market for streaming devices, and AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which owns HBO Max, don’t have a deal to put the new service on Roku’s streaming boxes, sticks, and TVs. If the two companies don’t get a deal done soon, it’s unlikely they’ll have anything in place for the holiday season, according to people who work at both companies.… Read the rest


Parler is attracting the posts that Twitter and Facebook don’t allow, like hate speech and conspiracy theories about the US election. | Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Conservatives are flocking to a site where they can post things that Facebook and Twitter don’t allow.

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In recent weeks, you may have been hearing more about a site called Parler, which conservatives are touting as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook. From Ivanka Trump to the governor of Nebraska, right-wing influencers are asking those frustrated with alleged Big Tech censorship to join them on Parler, a two-year-old app and website that promises free speech online. It’s social media — minus the curation algorithms and content moderation.

Parler, which has been around since 2018, looks at first glance a lot like Twitter and Facebook. Open the app, there are profiles pushing doubt about the 2020 election’s results and declarations that the mainstream … Read the rest


A Biden campaign worker checks their phone while canvassing in Pennsylvania in early November. | Mark Makela/Getty Images

It was Silicon Valley’s attempt to fix the party’s infrastructure.

One of the most expensive, highest-profile efforts to fix the Democratic Party’s data woes is shutting down.

Alloy, a group started with $35 million in part from Silicon Valley billionaire Reid Hoffman, said on Monday that it would begin to “wind down its operations” next year after it completes its work for the January runoff elections in Georgia. The decision is a huge reversal in fortunes for Alloy, which had massive hype when announced but has failed to live up to its original promise, many Democratic data operatives have said over the course of the year.

Alloy was originally seen as a tech solution that the party establishment — the Democratic National Committee — couldn’t provide. Plotted in the aftermath of the … Read the rest


Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met with Gov. Gavin Newsom over the Creek fire in California on September 15. | Carlos Avila Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

Will Gov. Gavin Newsom listen?

Some of California’s biggest political donors are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to choose a woman of color to fill the seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Given how rare it has been for a Senate seat in the country’s largest state to become vacant, California leaders have been hard at work trying to lobby Newsom ever since Harris was chosen for the Democratic ticket this summer. And now the lobbying is becoming more public.

On Monday, about 150 of the state’s biggest women donors will ratchet up the pressure with a public letter to Newsom saying that he should not replace Harris with a white woman, never mind a man.

“We urge you to continue this Californian tradition by appointing … Read the rest


Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Gimlet’s Lydia Polgreen tells Peter Kafka about how her parent company Spotify plans to turn music listeners into podcast devotees.

Spotify wants to own the podcasting space, and it’s made that clear with a series of high-profile acquisitions and deals over the past two years — including the Ringer, Gimlet, Joe Rogan, and, most recently, Megaphone. Its next goal: get more of its 300 million users to start listening to podcasts.

Peter Kafka talked to Gimlet Media’s new head of content, Lydia Polgreen, about how she plans to achieve that at the Code Media@Home series.

“Our goal is to get people into the habit of listening to content on Spotify that’s not music,” Polgreen said. While the growth of podcasts has been strong, it’s still a tiny fraction of overall listening for the service. She pointed to … Read the rest


An attendee at a rally for Latina voters in Las Vegas in October. | Melina Mara/Washington Post via Getty Images

Democrats are paying attention after a surprising number of Latino voters in swing states supported Trump.

One of the big surprises of the 2020 election was how even though most Latino voters across the US voted for Joe Biden, in some counties of competitive states like Florida and Texas, a higher-than-expected percentage of Latinos supported Donald Trump. One factor that many believe played a role: online misinformation about the Democratic candidate.

It’s still too early to know exactly why these voters favored Trump, a candidate who made demonizing Latino immigrants a cornerstone of his campaign and administration. For one, Latinos in the US are a diverse group of almost 60 million people who represent more than 15 origin countries and encompass a range of generational, socioeconomic, and religious identities. … Read the rest


BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti. | Asa Mathat

The Times’s subscription business is booming. But the BuzzFeed CEO has a critique.

Jonah Peretti co-founded the Huffington Post, then left to start BuzzFeed. Now he’s running both companies: BuzzFeed is picking up HuffPost from Verizon, the phone company that thought it wanted to be in the media business and then changed its mind.

I talked to Peretti about the rationale for the deal (scale, scale, scale), whether he can guarantee that all HuffPost employees will keep their jobs (no), how much Verizon paid him to take HuffPost off its hands (he won’t say), and whether he wants to buy more stuff (yes, probably). You can hear all of that in our Recode Media podcast.

But I was struck by something we talked about at the end of our chat when I asked him about the success of the New York Read the rest


Amanda Northrop/Vox

Americans are embracing dangerous conspiratorial beliefs, from QAnon to coronavirus denial.

Eleanor’s dad loved science — or so she thought. Eleanor grew up listening to stories of the Apollo missions and audio clips from space expeditions. Every weekend, the two of them hopped on a train to downtown Philadelphia to visit the Franklin Institute, where they would explore the planetarium, flight simulators, and technology exhibits.

“It was our special thing,” Eleanor, now an elementary school teacher who requested that Vox not use her real name to protect her privacy, told me.

That was several years ago. In 2020, Eleanor began to glimpse a much different version of her father.

“I’m going to a protest,” he told her in April. At first, she assumed he was attending a Black Lives Matter march or a similar event. But no — her father was protesting to reopen the state of Pennsylvania, … Read the rest


Joe Biden and Barack Obama meet with tech executives in the White House in December 2013. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Who will have a seat at the table?

When it comes to Silicon Valley, Joe Biden is something of a blank slate. And for Silicon Valley, that means Joe Biden is something of an opportunity.

So Big Tech reformers and Big Tech allies are gearing up for a spirited fight in the coming months over the types of people who will staff the Biden administration. Those personnel decisions will offer some of the first revelations into how exactly the president-elect will regulate the tech industry and its titans, a high-stakes question about the American economy that he mostly avoided answering during his campaign.

That ambiguity is making the transition period all the more important, a dozen people with ties to the Biden team tell Recode. Reformers want to make sure … Read the rest


The crew of SpaceX’s Crew-1 head to the launch pad. | Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk’s private space company has now successfully launched two crewed flights into orbital space.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX just launched the first operational crewed flight into orbital space, following up on its successful test flight several months ago and bringing us one step closer to private commercial space travel.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Crew-1 capsule, seated on top of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, took off on Sunday night with four astronauts on board — three from NASA and one from Japan’s JAXA — for a return flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch follows its crewed test flight last May, for which two astronauts successfully launched, docked at ISS for two months, then safely returned to Earth with its crew.

Sunday’s flight was the first operational one — that is, the … Read the rest