Is it time for a new agency to oversee Big Tech? Many say yes

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The Justice Department’s decision to sue Google this week elicited mixed reactions, but there’s one point on which everyone agreed: The antitrust case will take years to play out. There are various reasons for this—from the complexity of the case to Google’s vast legal resources to the sluggishness of the judicial process—but the upshot is that the search giant will be able to conduct business as usual for the foreseeable future.

Not everyone is satisfied with this situation. As the New York Times reports, a growing number of influential figures, from law professors to former regulators, are calling for a different approach. Concluding that antitrust law is simply too slow, they believe it’s time for a new body to oversee tech behemoths like Apple, FacebookRead the rest

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From billion-dollar valuation to bust: Chinese tech unicorn now may be worth just over $1,000

Renrenche was one of China’s hottest tech unicorns backed by investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Now the car website could sell itself for a little over $1,000.

The Beijing-based startup—which had a pre-money valuation of $1.4 billion in a financing round just two years ago—has a preliminary plan to sell its major assets to Inc. for HK$10,000 ($1,290), according to people familiar with the matter. China’s online classified ad leader will take over Renrenche’s Hong Kong entity, while offering at least $4 million in loans to its mainland operations, said the people, asking not to be identified because the transaction is private. The parties have yet to finalize the deal and may not proceed with it, the people said.

A representative for Renrenche declined to comment but said the contents of an emailed query sent to the company was inaccurate, without elaborating.

The deal … Read the rest

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New coronavirus cases are increasing in all but 5 states

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It’s no time for pandemic fatigue.

With cold weather setting in and Americans preparing to head to the polls en masse in less than two weeks, the nation’s coronavirus map reflects a worrying picture. According to a Fortune analysis of New York Times data, new cases are increasing almost everywhere—in all but five states (Hawaii, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, and New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia.

Twenty five states are reporting at least 200 more cases per day on average than they were two weeks ago. Two states, Illinois and Texas, are seeing more than 1,000 more new cases per day in that time. In another eight—mostly, in the Upper Midwest including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin—the average number of new cases per day has increased … Read the rest

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Can Trump close the gap and win in November? Here’s what data from betting sites suggests

It’s gospel among Trump supporters that public polls systematically understate the millions of Americans who will vote for the president on November 3. If that’s the case, then the probability President Trump will prevail should advance to 50-50, or even show him in the lead, if he’s still trailing but pulls within a couple of points of Joe Biden.

One way to test the “if Trump gets close he wins” hypothesis is to examine whether the odds on political betting sites do indeed rate the contest a toss-up when Trump goes from lagging by a furlong to within a few meters, turning what looks like a romp into a horse race. That data could provide a guide to how much of the current gap the president must close to get a good shot at victory on Nov. 3.

The odds offered on the betting sites are arguably the … Read the rest

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Can COVID-19 cause diabetes? Here’s what we know

It’s been well-established that people who have diabetes are more susceptible to serious cases of COVID-19. This is one of the higher-risk groups for severe illness and complications related to the novel coronavirus, though they aren’t any more or less susceptible to actually contracting the pathogen than others.

But a growing body of evidence suggests that COVID and diabetes might be a two-way pathological street. That is, patients who contract COVID-19 may also form type 1 or type 2 diabetes, even if they don’t have traditional risk factors for the conditions such as being overweight or older.

Scientists are still trying to figure out the answers to this peculiar medical mystery. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, so it’s possible that the virus somehow affects the insulin-producing pancreas (which regulates blood sugar levels) or raises the level of glucose in the blood itself.

A team of doctors being led by King’s … Read the rest

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U.S. states are turning to a private Irish company to help stop the spread of COVID

Before the coronavirus pandemic, NearForm, an enterprise software company headquartered in the tiny southeastern Irish seaside town of Tramore, helped some of the most recognizable brands in the world—from Uber to Condé Nast—make quick digital transformations.

When COVID-19 hit and the Irish government needed a technology company with a reputation for being quick and nimble to build a contact tracing app in March, NearForm jumped at the chance to help.

The company’s software engineers, who were all used to working remotely even before the pandemic, created COVID Tracker, a decentralized app that keeps users anonymous but alerts them if they’ve crossed paths with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus in the past two weeks. With a 35% adoption rate, it has been such a success story in Ireland that versions are now being used in four U.S. states, with many more expressing interest. 

“From getting back to life as … Read the rest

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A fortuitously-timed acquisition moved this Fortune 500 fintech’s strategy ‘years ahead’ during COVID

Plenty of businesses have seen the pandemic decimate their prospects as entire industries shut down, or customers pare back. But a lucky few have seen the opposite: a strategy that was already underway before the pandemic now looks brilliant because of it.

Such is the case with Fidelity National Information Services (FIS),the Jacksonville-based finch company which is ranked No. 303 on the Fortune 500. For most of its 52-year history, FIS focused on financial products and services.

Early last spring, FIS had decided to branch out, acquiring Worldpay, a company that processes some 40 million transactions a year, for $43 billion. “By the time the pandemic hit we really had the heavy lifting on the integration [of Worldpay] complete,” Gary Norcross, CEO of FIS, recently told Fortune. “We’ve seen huge growth in our digital channels. We took advantage of a number of things in the market.”

With consumers … Read the rest

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Amazon’s activist employees are sowing the seeds of unionization

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At Amazon, employee activism is morphing into something more like old-fashioned union organizing.

Employee activism has been a growing trend in recent years, new and notable because workers have been speaking out against their employers on issues unrelated to pay, benefits, or working conditions. Employees of Google, Microsoft and Amazon walked out to support the Global Climate Strike in September 2019, with Amazon employees specifically opposing the company’s climate-related policies; more than 8,000 workers signed a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos demanding that Amazon cut its carbon emissions and take other steps to reduce use of fossil fuels. The day before the walkout, Bezos announced that Amazon would be carbon neutral by 2040, but the protesting employees said that target wasn’t aggressive enough.

Other … Read the rest

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Stocks fall as Europe reports rising covid rates

U.S. stock indexes erased much of their early losses and closed modestly lower Thursday, extending the S&P 500’s losing streak to a third day.

The S&P 500 fell 0.2% after having been down 1.4%. Technology, health care and communications stocks accounted for most of the selling, outweighing slight gains in banks and elsewhere in the market.

Wall Street has turned cautious this week amid a confluence of worrisome trends for the economy, which is still hampered by the pandemic. Coronavirus infections are rising in Europe, prompting governments in France and Britain to impose new measures to contain the outbreak. European stock indexes fell broadly Thursday as traders pulled money out of riskier investments.

In the U.S., investor optimism that the Trump administration and Congress will soon reach a deal on another round of stimulus for the economy has waned. And the government said Thursday that the number of Americans seeking … Read the rest

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‘We have to change who the investors are’: How women VCs are working to fund Black and female founders

It’s sadly no shock to anyone in the industry: The amount of venture capital dollars that go to female and Black founders is dismally scant.

In fact, according to a recent PitchBook report, VC funding for female founders just hit its lowest quarterly total in three years. But there are forces working to change those statistics in the traditionally male-dominated arena.

Sarah Kunst, managing director at Cleo Capital, Steph Mui, co-founder and general partner at the 2020 Fund, Leyla Seka, partner at the Operator Collective, and Alexa von Tobel, co-founder and managing partner at Inspired Capital, are all on the front lines working to get female and minority-owned businesses the startup funds they need. And that task is formidable: Kunst notes that the vast majority of VC funding doesn’t go to Black and Hispanic founders, and “even when it does, it tends to disproportionately go to Black and Hispanic … Read the rest

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