Want this column in your inbox? Sign up here.
Here’s your weekly roundup of tech and business news so that you can make intelligent conversation even if you’re still recovering from Saturday's mint juleps. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
APRIL 28-MaY 4
What’s Up? Facebook Privileges Revoked
Facebook barred seven extremist figures, mostly right-wing polemicists, from its platforms on Thursday. Among them are the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the far-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos and the black nationalist minister Louis Farrakhan. The tech company said the ban was part of a redoubled effort to crack down on those who “promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” and vowed to more strictly enforce its policies against “dangerous individuals and organizations.” The decision follows increasing pressure to stop the spread of hateful content and misinformation on social media. But critics accused Facebook of censoring conservative opinions and tamping down free speech.
Dissenters Need Not Apply
President Trump backed out of nominating his loyal economic adviser Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board on Thursday via Twitter. His about-face seemed to catch Mr. Moore by surprise, although it followed weeks of scrutiny of Mr. Moore’s questionable qualifications and long history of making disturbing comments about women. (As a conservative opinion columnist, Mr. Moore has been an outspoken opponent of equal rights, and stated multiple times that women should not make more money than men.) But was it his writings that doomed his chances — or his disagreement with Mr. Trump’s call for the Fed to cut interest rates by a full percentage point, which he aired just hours before Mr. Trump abruptly dropped him?
The Price of Admission
The latest revelation in the college admissions scandal: The parents who reportedly paid $6.5 million to the disgraced college consultant William Singer to secure a spot for their daughter at Stanford University have been identified. (They live in Beijing and have not been charged, and their daughter is no longer enrolled.) The family was introduced to Mr. Singer by their financial adviser at a Morgan Stanley office in Pasadena, Calif. The bank has since fired that adviser and is cooperating with the investigation, which has now ensnared over 50 people.
What’s Next? Refilling the Coffers
Tesla needs a lot of money — and quickly. After the company reported even more abysmal first-quarter numbers than expected, its chief executive, Elon Musk, announced a plan to raise about $2 billion by selling stock and debt securities. The funds would provide a much-needed cushion in case Tesla’s operating costs continue to outpace its car sales, as they have in the past few months. Analysts say the move is a good one, but also overdue, given the company’s uneven performance. If Mr. Musk hadn’t waited so long, he could have raised the money more easily when the company’s stock price was higher. (It’s now down about a third from its peak in 2017.)
Uber will price its widely anticipated initial public offering this Thursday, expected to be the biggest tech I.P.O. since Facebook’s in 2012. But it’s still hard to say whether its shares are a good investment. Like many of its Silicon Valley brethren, Uber hemorrhaged cash last year — $1.8 billion — and admitted in its I.P.O. filing last month that it may not make a profit anytime soon. But if there’s a trend right now, it’s money-losing start-ups like Lyft and PagerDuty getting big valuations when they hit the market — albeit with mixed results. A better bet might have been Beyond Meat, which makes vegan “meat” products. It set a record for 2019 when its stock price jumped 163 percent on its first day of trading last Thursday.
Google nerds, it’s your Super Bowl: The tech company will unveil its latest products at the annual I/O developer conference this coming week. Expect to see new and improved Pixel 3 phones, at least one of which will cost less than the $799 version currently on the market. Google may also show off the new Nest Hub Max, a family of gadgets that reportedly includes stereo speakers, a 10-inch screen and a camera with motion- and sound-detecting features. It’ll function as a security system as well as a souped-up version of Google’s Home Hub, which allows you to control all your devices (as well as lights, temperature and whatever else you can connect) without leaving the couch — or even being at home.
Much ado in the health industry this past week. Top pharmaceutical executives were found guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe dangerous opioids to patients who didn’t need them, ultimately contributing to the opioid epidemic. A drone delivered a kidney to a woman who needed a transplant, opening new possibilities for the future of transporting donated organs. And Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, has popularized a variety of dubious new wellness trends, like drinking “salt juice” and eating only one meal a day.