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The Short Seller Who Told Us So

Hi, welcome to your Weekend.

Wall Street short sellers are not everyone’s cup of tea. That goes double for a lifelong contrarian like Marc Cohodes, who sees himself as an anti-fraud vigilante fighting for the little guys—while also being a loudmouth bully on Twitter. 

Nobody knows this better than veteran finance journalist Michelle Celarier, who has been on the receiving end of Cohodes’ verbal abuse over the years. When she set out to write about Cohodes’ recent transformation into a crypto Cassandra—he warned anyone who would listen that something was off with FTX and its wonderboy CEO Sam Bankman-Fried—she had to bury some hatchets.

Michelle, to her credit, is a consummate pro. And Cohodes, to his credit, knows when to admit he’s been wrong. (He’s had a lot of practice, once issuing a mea culpa to Hindenburg Research’s Nate Anderson, who he conspiratorially claimed was an errand boy for Elon Musk. Anderson denied it; Cohodes finally bowed.)

As Michelle describes her former attacker, Cohodes is an equal-opportunity bomb-thrower who occasionally overshoots his marks—and overworks his mouth. He’s arrogant and unfiltered, self-aware and self-aggrandizing, often right and never boring. In essence: an exemplar of the rough and tumble world of short selling. 

the big read

The Master of Destruction Rides Again

Cohodes—the “nasty, prickly” short seller who foretold the fall of FTX and two crypto banks—explains how he rose from the ashes after his hedge fund collapsed after the 2008 financial crisis. “You may go another 50 or 60 years," he told Michelle, “and not one single person will be responsible for as much destruction as I’ve been responsible for.” 

social studies

The Day TikTok Went Dark in India

When India’s government turned the lights out on TikTok three years ago, it sparked a fierce battle for the app’s users—and eventually a coup for another global company, Meta. Amanda Florian details the aftermath of the nationwide ban, which foreshadows what could happen soon in the U.S.

the ai age

How to Grease a Chatbot: E-Commerce Companies Seek a Backdoor Into AI Responses

When search was king, companies could turn to SEO—and paid ads—to land atop search results. Chris Stokel-Walker explains how ChatGPT has thrown a wrench into that arrangement.

Watching: How scammers use your voice against you
When Elizabeth, a 60 Minutes employee, got a phone call from one of the show’s correspondents, Sharyn Alfonsi, she picked up without hesitation. And when Alfonsi told Elizabeth she needed her passport number read back to her for an upcoming reporting trip, Elizabeth, who had it on file, provided it immediately. The problem: the person on the other end of the line was not the real Alfonsi, but an AI deepfake generated by an ethical hacker enlisted by the show for educational purposes. The scam, which was carried out for this week’s 60 Minutes, was terrifyingly easy to execute. It took the hacker less than an hour to train an AI voice model on Alfonsi’s televised interviews, and used a spoofing tool that made her phone contact appear as “Sharyn.” As the 2-minute clip makes clear, this isn’t a glimpse at our dystopian future; it’s our current reality. —Margaux 

Reading: Outsmarting your own mortality
Money can buy a lot of things, but once you’ve lost your mobility, heart health or brain function, you can’t buy it back. That’s the basic philosophy of Silicon Valley’s favorite physician Peter Attia. His new book, “Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity,” argues for a more preventative and data-driven approach to prolonging our wellbeing. As outlined in a lively Q&A with the New York Times, the Stanford-trained surgeon’s advice is quite sensible: He suggests regular lab tests, even if you don’t have health issues, and recommends exercise that builds muscle and mobility. He frames longevity like a retirement account: You have to invest more in your health now so that you have plenty left over for when you get older. Compare that to people who are siphoning the blood of their young relatives and you’ve got a pretty reasonable plan. —Arielle

Noticing: That sea nymph looks awfully familiar 
Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, who are now reportedly engaged, continue to be in the running for tech’s cringiest couple. (Who can forget when Jeff texted Lauren, “I love you, alive girl. I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon.”? Sadly, not us!) They’ve once again sparked a flurry of mortifying scuttlebutt while sailing around Mallorca on Bezos’ new superyacht—the 417-foot, $500 million Koru. The boat features a, shall we say, bodacious winged wooden figurehead that some have said bears a striking resemblance to Sanchez. We’re not sure whether it’s worse if the maritime hood ornament is Sanchez or not—but everyone seems to have an opinion. Here’s wishing all three of them the best in their travels! —Annie

Makes You Think

Happy ‘Succession’ finale to those who observe. 

Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.


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.
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