Venture Capital Startups Culture

Garry Tan vs. Chesa Boudin: The San Francisco Political Scene Gets a New Tech Combatant

Hi, welcome to your Weekend! 

Though “normal” is relative in these pandemic times, this summer is offering at least a semblance of normalcy when it comes to travel. (Or revenge travel, as we’re now calling it.) By the time this newsletter lands in your inbox, I’ll be on a plane heading abroad for a two-week break—my first foreign travel in two-plus years.

To help inspire your own revenge voyaging, we’re assembling a package for next Weekend we’re calling Silicon Summer. And we’d like your help. Please share with us the following: Where are you going this summer? What recreational activities are you looking forward to doing again—or for the first time? What’s on your summer reading list? What are your kids up to? And what new gear, gadgets, fashions or apps will you be carrying with you? 

Please email your responses to my colleague Annie at [email protected] She will be plucking out the most interesting responses and publishing them next week. I can’t wait to hear your plans—have a great start to your own Silicon Summer!


the big read

Let Everyone Else Have Miami: Garry Tan Will Take San Francisco

Far from giving up on the City by the Bay, Tan, the avuncular co-founder of Initialized Capital, says he’s here to make the city functional again. And if he has to knife a few opponents in the process—like District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who faces San Francisco voters in a recall election on June 7—that’s the price he’s willing to pay. Scott Lucas delves into Tan’s growing political influence, asking whether the VC has his finger on the pulse of the city, or if city voters are about to give him the finger.


social studies

Meet the Mathfluencers: Teachers Are Turning to TikTok to Sharpen Kids’ Math Skills

Remember learning fractions, ratios, and basic multiplication in grade school? Well, what if, instead of memorizing formulas and tables, you were taught by a jovial teacher who crafted short, looping videos with catchy soundtracks to make the mathematical medicine go down? Kaya chats with a few newly TikTok-famous teachers, who are turning to the short-form video app to hone their students’ math knowledge.


market research

‘Two Kids, a White Picket Fence and a Quarter of a House’: Real Estate Startups Compete to Sell Buyers on the Fractional Lifestyle

Ah, the American Dream: a green lawn, a Golden Retriever and a house you can only live in a few months a year. That’s the vision that a growing number of startups like Pacaso, Kocomo and Altacasa are selling, giving buyers the chance to acquire as little as one half of one half of one half of a vacation home. Think timeshare, but with equity. Zoe Bernard explores the pros and cons of the crafty home-owning solution being dubbed Real Estate 3.0. 


screentime

Screentime: The Inventor of the Hashtag Is Still a Twitter Loyalist

In the latest installment of our Screentime series, Annie chats with Chris Messina, the “product therapist” who first proposed the hashtag in a 2007 blog post. Messina’s digital life is constantly spilling over into his real one. He rides his Peloton daily, makes public Spotify playlists and, yes, tweets…a lot. Messina takes us through all of his technology usage, from emojis (yay) to digital assistants (nay) to dating apps (on occasion).


Reading: A forum for freaked out tech workers
Even highly paid Silicon Valley employees need a safe space. For Business Insider, Adam Rogers writes about the anonymous social network Blind, which has transformed into a mass support group for anxious tech workers. They’re living in fear of layoffs, asking for mental health tips, and contemplating leaving the Bay Area for less expensive climes. Rogers summed it up neatly: “If this is Silicon Valley today, nobody’s happy, and everybody’s burnt.” 


Noticing: Big money in white noise
Spotify’s top podcast charts bring about a slew of familiar names. But, ranking alongside Joe Rogan, Alex Cooper and Ezra Klein are podcasts with names like “Calming White Noise,” “Best Noise Labs,” “Relaxing White Noise” and “Deep Sleep Sounds.” It turns out that white noise—usually long loops of soothing static—has become one of the podcast industry’s most lucrative genres. Bloomberg reports that some white noise producers are pulling in over $18,000 per month, with some quitting their day jobs to become full-time noise makers. 


Questioning: Better working through shrooms 
If your morning coffee isn’t doing the trick, try adding a sprinkle of magic mushrooms. Shane Heath, CEO of coffee brand MUD\WTR, swears by psychedelic microdosing, and is encouraging employees to follow suit. Fast Company writes about how about 20% of MUD\WTR’s employees microdose psilocybin and LSD at work, meaning they take enough to feel a creative boost, but not enough to get high. Sure, employees occasionally imbibe too much. But one worker said that all you need is a walk and some coconut water to feel good as new.


Appreciating: The wonderful world of DALL-E
By far the most fun thing to do on social media these days is to sift through posts hashtagged #dalle. That stands for DALL-E 2, the second-generation text-to-image generator created by OpenAI and released to the public on a limited basis in mid-May. There’s already a lengthy waitlist to get access to the tool, but those accepted have been flooding the internet with freaky, sui generis art. See: Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s representation of Thursday night’s NBA Finals matchup. Also: some alternative Waffle House logos. And finally: 30 images of Kermit the Frog inserted into various iconic film and television settings. Our personal favorite is Twin Peaks Kermit, but there truly is something for everyone.


Makes You Think

Who said runaway inflation couldn’t be funny?


Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.

—Jon

Weekend Editor, The Information


Jon Steinberg is the Weekend Editor at The Information. He is a former editor-in-chief of San Francisco magazine and senior editor at New York magazine, where his work won many National Magazine Awards.
Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Briefing Enterprise Amazon
Roe Ruling’s Repercussions for Tech; Zendesk’s Fit of Pique
Protesters at the Supreme Court today. Photo by AP
What a week! Tech business news has been relatively scarce in recent days—but today’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade will have repercussions for all businesses. For the tech industry, which has been spreading outside the San Francisco Bay Area and New York for the past couple of years as remote work has become widely available, the ruling makes operating in states with abortion...
Latest Briefs
 
Congressional Report Says Robinhood Understated Liquidity Problems During Meme Stock Craze
Zendesk Agrees to $10.2 billion Buyout Months After Rejecting Higher Bid
Meta Plans To Shut Down CrowdTangle Tool
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Jerry Seinfeld (left) and Ted Sarandos. Photo by Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan
Exclusive Media/Telecom Amazon
A Netflix Slump Tests Sarandos’ Talent Savvy
In 2019, when comedian Mike Myers was pitching a new comedy series to Netflix, program executives at the company were skeptical.
Art by Mike Sullivan.
The 1:1 Amazon Cloud
‘I choose to be intentionally paranoid’: Adam Selipsky Navigates AWS Into a Cloudy Future
Of the five big tech companies that dominate their respective corners of the industry, Amazon is the only one whose headquarters sprout from the soil of a bustling metropolis.
Amazon's logo on a tent at Cannes this week. Photo by Reuters.
Amazon
Amazon’s Ad Staffers Flee Amid Complaints of Bloat, Bureaucracy
In the years immediately before Covid-19 sidelined the global advertising festival in Cannes, Amazon kept a low-key presence at the annual gathering of ad and tech people.
Crypto Markets
Tech’s Worst-Timed Deals: Six Acquisitions That Have Not Improved With Age
As tech valuations collapse to a fraction of where they were last year, executives likely have a few regrets.
Social Studies Startups
So Your Startup Died. What Do You Do With All That Swag?
Megan Auringer started as a project manager at construction startup Katerra in January 2018, the same month it announced an $865 million fundraising round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the world’s largest private tech investor.
Signage at VidCon 2016. Photo by Shutterstock
VidCon Returns as Chill Falls on Creator Economy
VidCon, the annual gathering of social media creators, fans and industry representatives, will descend on Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday for the first time since 2019.