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Rides, Tweets and Privacy Feats
Monday, April 10th, 2023
1. LayerZero Labs: The App That Lets You Sext with Confidence
LayerZero Labs, a blockchain messaging protocol, has raised $120m in a Series B funding round, with a16z crypto, Circle Ventures, OpenSea, Samsung Next and Sequoia Capital among the investors, bringing the company’s total valuation to $3 billion. Before you fall asleep at the mention of “blockchain”, let us break it down. Traditional messaging platforms, like WhatsApp or Telegram, use intermediaries to send messages a.k.a third-parties that help facilitate internet communication. As a result, these middlemen have their fingers in users' private data, drunk texts, money, bad hair day selfies, and potentially career-ending twerking videos - essentially, anything being transmitted over the internet. However, LayerZero Labs' blockchain technology eliminates the need for intermediaries, thus eliminating the possibility of data breaches, increasing privacy and security, and reducing the cost and time required to facilitate transactions. We’ll take the win since we all need more privacy, especially when it comes to our secret love for creating fake social media profiles to stalk our exes.
2. Third Price Cut’s the Charm?
Tesla has cut prices on its entire US electric vehicle model lineup for the third time this year as the automaker aims to lure more buyers. In a stunning revelation, CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to explain a profound concept in economics: if people can't afford something, they won't buy it. He tweeted, “There is plenty of demand for our products, but if the price is more money than people have, that demand is irrelevant.” It's a groundbreaking theory that could revolutionize the way we think about commerce. The largest cuts were made to the company’s slower-selling, more expensive models, the S large sedan and the X big SUV, with $5,000 per vehicle shaved off. The Y small SUV, Tesla's most popular model, saw a $2,000 price cut, and a lower-cost dual-motor version was added, priced at $49,990. We eagerly await the April 19th quarterly earnings report and can only hope that Musk will continue to astound us with more economic insights.
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3. Undercover Boss: Uber Edition - CEO Surprised to Learn That Driving Strangers For Minimum Wage is Hard
In an interview in the Wall Street Journal, Uber's CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, revealed he drove for his own company in September 2022 as the company currently faces a shortage of drivers on the platform. Uber has faced legal challenges over whether drivers are independent contractors or employees, while spending billions on self-driving car research, which ultimately went nowhere. To maintain the independent contractor classification, Uber argued that drivers - not riders - are their customers, resulting in Prop 22 nullifying a California state law classifying drivers as employees, thus preserving Uber's business model. If drivers are truly Uber’s customers, then the CEO should be trying to understand the plight of Uber drivers. (Just ignore the fact that he’s only been getting around to it after running the company for the past five years). It's always great to have a fresh perspective from the top! All this to say, we’re waiting on Bezos to start delivering Amazon packages.
4. Smart Garage Company Nexx Takes Page from Titanic's Playbook - Act Only Once Disaster Becomes Public
Smart garage-lock company Nexx grapples with vulnerabilities found in their locks that could allow hackers to open garages anywhere in the world, making customers' precious belongings an easy target for theft - quite literally the exact problem Nexx was trying to solve. In response, Nexx has taken a “burn everything to the ground” approach to cybersecurity by temporarily cutting off internet access to their smart locks, leaving customers only able to control their smart locks by Bluetooth within 30 to 50 feet. And no, trying to fix the vulnerability isn’t a viable option and we’re stupid for even thinking that - scorch that Earth! Despite several warnings, Nexx only decided to act once the news became public. The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has also attempted to contact Nexx, but so far, nothing has been heard. Nexx’s perspective is clear: if the Department of Homeland Security calls and you don't answer, did they really even call at all?
5. Twitter Priorities Revealed: Substack = Bad, Trending Hashtags Promoting Hate Speech = Good
Substack founders have criticised Twitter's new policy of restricting users from liking, replying to, or retweeting tweets with Substack content, arguing that writers' livelihoods should not be tied to platforms where they don't own their relationship with their audience and where the rules can change on a whim. In the name of free speech, Twitter is suppressing Substack links, but fear not, they'll still allow all the deepfake news videos, phishing scams and back-alley pornography you could ever want. Just look for the blue checkmarks next to verified Russian bots. Or maybe this is what happens when you're not a profitable company... sorry, Substack. Twitter has not commented on the change unless you count their press email auto-reply of a poop emoji (we certainly do).