February 21, 2023

Top stories today: 1) Venture fundraising falls $20.6B, 2) Supreme Court will hear Google's Section 230 case, 3) Rachael Bade analyses Biden's Kyiv trip, and 4) Putin's speech promises more war.

Hi, and welcome to today's Bay Area Times daily newsletter. Top stories today: 1) Venture fundraising falls $20.6B, 2) Supreme Court will hear Google's Section 230 case, 3) Rachael Bade analyses Biden's Kyiv trip, and 4) Putin's speech promises more war.

0. Data and calendar

All values as of 3 AM PT / 6 AM ET, other than S&P500 close (1 PM PT / 4 PM ET).

All times are ET.

1. Venture fundraising falls from $74.1B in Q1 to $20.6B in Q4

  • Lowest in 8 years. Similar level was seen in Q3 2015, at $20.4B. - WSJ

In line with SaaS P/S falling from 19 to 6

2. Today: Supreme Court hears arguments on Gonzalez v. Google (Section 230)

  • Should Section 230 protect algorithms from liability? That's a central question in this lawsuit, where the Plaintiffs argue Youtube's algorithm promoted radical Islamist videos, which allegedly led to a terrorist attack that killed their daughter. On Wednesday, the Court will hear arguments on Twitter v. Taamneh, a similar case about terrorism. - SCOTUS Blog

  • Free speech exists to protect unpopular speech. Yes, but the issue is that pro-terrorist speech could be seen as promoting imminent lawless action, the standard established by the Supreme Court in 1969 for what speech can be banned.

  • Bad decision could lead to lower earnings at Google, Meta, TikTok, others. The Supreme Court could mandate that these companies have even larger content moderation teams, reducing their fat margins.

3. Biden's Kyiv trip pushes back on those against Ukraine aid: Rachael Bade interview

Rachael Bade.

We did an exclusive interview with POLITICO Playbook's Rachael Bade this holiday Monday, which you can check out in full on our website. The highlights are below. - Bay Area Times

  • Biden's visit to Kyiv pushes back against GOP wing that wants to cut back on aid.

  • No major differences in economic policy between the parties, mostly social issues.

  • Expect no major legislation from this Congress.

  • 2024: expect Trump vs Biden, divided GOP field, no Trump criminal charges.

Rachael Bade expects a repeat of Trump x Biden in 2024.

  • Russian media claims escalation. "So it’s too much to whack Biden, but it’s OK to threaten Putin, and it’s also fine to blow up the Nord Stream?" said popular TV propagandist Olga Skabeeva. - Daily Beast

  • Russia was told Biden was coming. The trip was kept secret from the media, but the Russians were informed, "for deconfliction purposes." - Bloomberg

4. Putin vows to continue the war, warns against long-range missiles

  • Threatening to expand further: "The more long-range Western systems arrive in Ukraine, the further we will be forced to move the threat away from our borders." - Vladimir Putin. - Bloomberg

Leaked 2021 doc: Russia plans to take over Belarus by 2030

  • Russia must have “control of the information space” by 2030 and must establish “a single cultural space” and a “common approach to the interpretation of history” in Belarus." - Yahoo

  • Not clear Putin wants more than the USSR. It is clear that he is going for the restoration of the Soviet Union, but unlike the Soviets, it is not clear he has a global plan.

5. France has the longest retirement (23y), Mexico the shortest (12y)

  • Longer retirement, higher social security taxes. It is a simple equation that is inescapable over the long-run. With the CBO projecting 195% debt-to-GDP in 30 years, the U.S. will need to make a choice over the next decades: cut entitlements or raise taxes.

6. Most investors say they need $3M+ to retire

And the mixed economy is having mixed effects on retirement plans

7. Four-day workweek trial is a success so far

  • Most workers don't work 40 hours anyway. The truth is that most white-collar workers are not productively using their 40 hours of work -- many are only productive for 2-4 hours per day. So when they take a day off, they can remain equally productive just by working a bit more per day. - 4 Day Week Global

8. U.S. and allies strengthen defenses in the Pacific

  • Mutually assured destruction should save the day. The Chinese are not suicidal, so it's hard to imagine they would initiate a nuclear war against the West. - Washington Post

  • Global trade obstacles slow down GDP. Especially outside America, where GDP is heavily reliant on copying things that work (aka globalization). The U.S., as the world's economic leader, needs innovation to grow. And that can mostly be encouraged by good microeconomic policies at home, such as fewer regulations (especially in biotech, given the FDA's decade-long approval process) and tax incentives for research.

9. Other headlines

  • Microsoft signs 10-year contract to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo, Xbox.

  • ChatGPT starts being used by companies, slowly but surely.

  • ChatGPT and generative AI are required by this Wharton professor.

  • Starlink launches "global roaming" plan for $200/mo.

  • TikTok relaunches Creator Fund in beta: invite-only, 100K+ followers required.

  • inDrive, ride-sharing app, raises $150M in custom debt instrument.

  • New Chrome is released for Mac, Windows, ChromeOS with memory saver features.

  • Outlook spam filter breaks temporarily on Monday.

  • HSBC's profits rise 13% to $16.7B in 2022.

  • United Airlines plans to ease fees on seats for families after Biden's SOTU speech.

Crypto roundup

  • FTX claims are selling for 16-20%, funds projecting 50% recovery in 5 years.

  • FTX Japan to resume crypto withdrawals on February 21.

  • Galois Capital shutting down after losing $40M in FTX, sold claims for 16%.

  • Helium to migrate to Solana by March 27.

Washington and more

  • DeSantis appears to be ready for 2024 run, new non-profit shows up.

  • Kevin McCarthy gives Tucker Carlson exclusive access to 41K hours of Capitol footage.

  • James O'Keefe leaves his job as leader of Project Veritas.

  • Free immigration is a core American value: Reason magazine.

  • Santos now claims he never claimed to be Jewish, another falsehood.

  • Liz Truss and Boris Johnson call for more Ukraine military aid.

  • Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been holding secret talks for 2 months.

  • Spain has new digital nomad visa for those making $32K+.

  • Alec Baldwin's charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter, exp. max 18 months.

10. Interesting tweets, memes, and images

Interesting how MTG can go from a conciliatory, serious Congresswoman to a secessionist in less than a day:

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