🏠 Body blows
Biden and Bezos are beefing
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Explaining the Bezos and Biden beef
While the “outspoken mega billionaire tweeting with no filter” archetype is firmly occupied by Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has also been getting dirty in the Twitter trenches in recent days. His key opponent? President Joe Biden and his stance on inflation.
Let’s break down the body blows.
Bezos first took aim at the President on Friday over a tweet that argued inflation could be brought in check by taxing large corporations. He replied by accusing Biden of “misdirection,” arguing that there’s no link between inflation and corporate taxes.
Why he has a point: Inflation did grow by 8.3% in April (to the highest level in 40 years) mostly due to an unprecedented level of cash pumped into the economy during the pandemic. But drawing all the attention to the inflation issue is also a bit of misdirection from Bezos as well.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates fired back yesterday saying “it doesn’t require a huge leap to figure out why” Bezos, the world’s second-wealthiest person, would oppose Biden’s proposal to hike taxes on mega corporations.
Why he has a point: The timing of Bezos’ twitter salvo is a little sus. “It’s unsurprising that this tweet comes after the President met with labor organizers, including Amazon employees,” Bates said in a statement, essentially accusing Bezos of trying to change the topic of discussion away from Amazon’s growing union problem and worker rights movement.
Zoom out: If you really wanted to read into Bezos’ recent Twitter spats, you could come to the conclusion that Bezos may be eyeing a plunge into the political arena sometime soon. The signs are there: Lots of time on his hands, unlimited money, and more politically charged content bubbling up on his timeline.
SoftBank, hard times
Startup layoffs are back like a bad rash. Picsart, a photo and video-editing company, has laid off 90 employees, or around 8% of its headcount, per The Information.
Why it’s important: Picsart, last valued at $1.2 billion after a Series C round led by SoftBank, is part of a growing cadre of Softbank backed startups to shed headcount recently.
It’s at least the third company backed by the Japanese conglomerate to cut staff recently, joining Cameo which cut 25% of its company earlier this month, and Reef technologies which also laid off 750 employees in early May.
Zoom out: SoftBank has reined in its investments in recent months due to its famous Vision Fund losing a record $27 billion for the year ending March 31. Also in March, it decided to not make a $1.35 billion investment in GM’s self-driving-car unit and actually sold its stake instead. It raises the possibility that SoftBank-backed companies are becoming less desirable targets for other firms.
Stat: Stanford leads all US schools for producing the most funded startup founders since 2021. Across both undergraduate and MBA students, it boasts 460 founders with Harvard a distant second at 399. Cal Berkeley and UT Austin led all public schools. Note: The figures above show only undergraduate figures.
Story we’re watching: With big tech companies initially refusing to bump wages or stock-based compensation during the market downturn, Microsoft made the first move. It doubled its budget for merit-based salary increases in addition to raising stock-based compensation by 25%. The move puts pressure on other tech companies to do the same or risk losing employees.
Rabbit hole: The evolution of Picasso’s self-portraits from age 15 to 90 (Rare Historical Photos).
WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON
Robinhood plans to launch a new crypto wallet that gives users direct control over their assets.
Tiger Global sold its stakes in public tech companies Bumble, Airbnb, and Didi.
Netflix fired about 150 mainly US-based staff, citing slowing revenue growth.
Elon Musk said Twitter must prove its bot claims, otherwise the deal may be canceled or go through at a lower valuation.
California’s women on boards law was ruled unconstitutional by an LA judge.
Three of these headlines are made up by The Onion, but one actually happened. Can you spot the real one amidst the fakes?
A. “Biden touts resiliency of American decline while touring factory that’s been closed for decades”
B. “Dad reads menu with restaurant candle like archaeologist deciphering ancient runes”
C. “Astronaut lifts helmet to sneak quick forbidden gulp of space air”
D. “Indian couple sue only son for not giving them grandchildren”
The best resources we came across this weekend that will help you become a better founder, builder, or investor.
🚢 A thread explaining how Apple shipped products (hint: it’s not Agile)
📝 An essay on what to change about how you operate your startup during a downturn
📈 A tactical guide to working with Executive Assistants to boost productivity
⛓️ An a16z deep-dive report on the state of crypto in 2022
A couple did in fact sue their only son for not giving them grandchildren.