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Elon Musk quizzes Robinhood’s Vlad Tenev in a Clubhouse conversation

Good morning. It’s a chilly start to February here in New York, where an extreme nor’easter is expected to dump a foot of snow on the city as temperatures hover in the upper 20s.

Similarly, the maelstrom around Robinhood and the so-called memestocks (ahem, GameStop) continued swirling over the weekend. 

The stock trading app has drawn criticism and (unproven) accusations of collusion with institutional investors over its pausing the buying of shares in companies including GameStop and AMC last week. And in what felt like a bizarre collision of some multiverse, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on Clubhouse late Sunday over Robinhood’s decision.

It started out as a Good Time show interview of Musk himself, though Tenev’s entry soon turned Musk into the interviewer. “Did something shady go down here?” the Tesla CEO asked at one point. 

Tenev denied any shadiness and, when asked why … Read the rest

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The future of maternity workwear is all in the details

This is an installment of Startup Year One, a special series of interviews with founders about the major lessons they have learned in the immediate aftermath of their businesses’ first year of operation.

While pregnant with her first son and working full-time at the United Nations as a strategist for partnerships, business development, and stakeholder management in 2019, Elle Wang had no luck finding professional maternity wear that was long-lasting, sustainable, and comfortable. She soon realized that many professional women were facing this same dilemma. So, at seven months pregnant, she decided to take things into her own hands and create her own maternity and postpartum clothing brand, catering to expecting and new moms at all stages.
 
Thus, Emilia George launched in 2019 with the goal to redefine the traditional concept of maternity wear by providing mothers-to-be with professional silhouettes in sustainable eco-fabrics—such as bamboo, cupro, and Tencel-Luxe—from niche … Read the rest

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Why the SolarWinds hack is even worse than you thought

This is the web version of Data Sheet, a daily newsletter on the business of tech. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

Most of the time when we hear about cybersecurity crimes, we hear from the leading players, companies like Crowdstrike that nailed the Russians for stealing DNC emails in 2016. Or Microsoft warning that the Russians were trying to hack 2018 election campaigns. Or FireEye disclosing last month that it was itself penetrated by nation-state hackers (who turned out to be Russians).

But, as we are learning from that last incident, we can’t ensure cybersecurity just by relying on the big names.

FireEye had uncovered the tip of what is now considered the largest and most damaging hack in the history of cybersecurity, one that breached the computer networks of hundreds of major companies and government agencies including the U.S. Treasury, the State Department, … Read the rest

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The latest in the WeWork saga involves a SPAC

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

Of course it did.

Just about every single late-stage company in private markets at the moment has been contacted by a blank-check company looking for a deal.

Kicking off the day, office-sharing startup WeWork has reportedly engaged in talks to combine with a special-purpose acquisition company, per the Wall Street Journal, in a deal that could take the business public and value it around $10 billion. The SPAC in question is Bow Capital Management, run by the owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Vivek Ranadivé.

If a deal were to be struck, it would be a surprisingly fast return to the public markets for WeWork, whose disastrous attempt at going public in 2019 left its valuation slashed to a fraction of … Read the rest

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Robinhood pauses the buying of GameStop shares

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

Only in 2021.

In recent days, Reddit users have driven up shares of much-shorted stocks, especially those of GameStop, a video game retailer. They squeezed hedge funds and enabled massive losses for the likes of Steve Cohen and Dan Sundheim.

Now, stock-trading apps such as Robinhood have paused purchases on such shares.

“We continuously monitor the markets and make changes where necessary. In light of recent volatility, we are restricting transactions for certain securities to position closing only, including $AMC, $BB, $BBBY, $EXPR, $GME, $KOSS, $NAKD and $NOK. We also raised margin requirements for certain securities,” Robinhood revealed in a blog post on Thursday, referencing shares of AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry, Bed Bath & Beyond, Express, GameStop, Koss Corp., Naked … Read the rest

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When you don’t hear back after an interview

Welcome to Worksheet, a newsletter about how people are working smarter in these turbulent times.

Every week, this newsletter will share analysis on the state of work by S. Mitra Kalita, a veteran media executive, author, and journalist.

In this week’s edition, Kalita delves into the new ways the young and jobless are approaching the job hunt.


Ghosting. Over and over, candidates find themselves finalists, writing memos or performing challenges as a part of the last interview round.

“Many times companies don’t get back to you…or they get back to you 3,4,5,6 months later,” Bradley said. “Sometimes when the company says they’re hiring for a leadership position but after they get those great ideas, they decide to lower the budget and hire for a lower-level employee and ask them to still do that level of work. The job seeker who hasn’t heard back is thinking to themselves, ‘Is it … Read the rest

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Google outs suspected North Korean hackers

Google security researchers are warning people to be on the lookout for a squad of sly hackers believed to be North Korean agents.

Like last year’s Twitter VIP account takeovers, the newly discovered hacking campaign, unveiled Monday, shows the effectiveness of so-called social engineering—or good old-fashioned trickery. In this case, the hackers lured victims by presenting themselves, through fake online personas, as friendly computer security pros.

The attackers sought first to establish their reputations. They did this, in part, by uploading doctored YouTube videos of supposed hacks to show off their skills. (“A careful review of the video shows the exploit is fake,” Google researchers noted.) They also blogged about the inner workings of software vulnerabilities, sometimes impersonating legitimate cybersecurity experts in “guest” author posts.

After building credibility, the hackers moved to ensnare their marks. They sent messages to cybersecurity pros using a variety of channels: Twitter, … Read the rest

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Clubhouse reaches a $1 billion after taking off some nine months ago

It’s hard to understate the buzz around Clubhouse, the social media startup that reached a reported $100 million valuation when it had just 1,500 users.

Now some nine months after its launch, the company revealed over the weekend that it had raised another round of funding led again by Andreessen Horowitz’s Andrew Chen. While the company did not disclose a valuation, a source familiar with the matter says the company is now valued at $1 billion even though it has yet to post a revenue. The Information previously reported that the company had received interest to raise at the unicorn status.

Free to all users and currently operating without ads, Clubhouse currently boasts an estimated 200 million weekly active users on the back of its voice-based chatrooms. With the additional funding, the company says it plans to create an Android app, start a program that allows creators to get … Read the rest

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The founder who decided to to stop fundraising and instead hold onto her equity

This is an installment of Startup Year One, a special series of interviews with founders about the major lessons they have learned in the immediate aftermath of their businesses’ first year of operation.

Many founders fall into the trap of believing that fundraising is a rite of passage in the startup world. But it can also be hugely distracting, discouraging, and if you are a female, the odds aren’t good, to put it politely.

Former Air Force pilot and self-described serial entrepreneur Riley Rees initially went the traditional route with her startup, Sofia Health. Founded in 2019, Sofia Health is a digital platform for connecting prospective patients with physicians and specialists in western, alternative, and holistic medicine.

Estimated to be worth $120.8 billion, the mental wellness market was recently defined for the first time by the Global Wellness Institute as consisting of four sub-segments: self-improvement; meditation and mindfulness; … Read the rest

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How I tripled my money in bitcoin—then lost almost half of it

This is the web version of Data Sheet, a daily newsletter on the business of tech. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

Fortune’s quarterly investment package came out this week and it’s filled with stories about tech.

That’s probably not surprising given that tech stocks have been surging for a while now. The S&P 500’s tech sector gained 44% last year versus 18% for the overall index. Collectively, the big six–Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Tesla, and Facebook–are now worth over $8 trillion. To some it’s an obvious bubble, to others a logical response to the winners of the year of COVID.

With tech’s big sway in the stock market, I’m benefitting indirectly and so are you, most likely. All of my investments are in mutual funds, mainly low-cost index funds, and they’re topped up with the big six and other … Read the rest