Andrew Yang and his loyal 'knights' of Silicon Valley

Andrew Yang and his loyal 'knights' of Silicon Valley

sam altman andrew yang fundraiser

Drew Angerer/Getty; Phil Long/AP; Business Insider


Hello, and welcome to this week's edition of Trending, the newsletter that highlights the best of BI Prime's tech coverage.

I'm Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider's West Coast bureau chief and global tech editor. If you like this email, tell your friends and colleagues that they can sign up for the newsletter here.

This week: Andrew Yang and his loyal "knights" of the valley

While much of the US was tuned in to the public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill this Wednesday, a few dozen techies in San Francisco convened at the home of tech entrepreneur Sam Altman to focus on another political story.

Andrew Yang, the Democratic party presidential hopeful, was in town for a fundraiser. BI's Melia Russell managed to get into the event so that she could see firsthand why so many techies are head-over-heels for Yang.


Andrew Yang

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Andrew Yang

As she reports, Yang is someone who speaks the techie language.

Sure, it might help that he doesn't want to break up Big Tech as some of the other candidates do. But Yang isn't promising a libertarian, laissez-faire society. During the event he talked up how he shares Elon Musk's belief that AI needs to be reined in.

When it comes to artificial intelligence technology, he told Melia, "going as fast as possible could have some real drawbacks or negative effects. And so, you need a different set of incentives than 'just go as fast as possible.'"

His newly-unveiled tech policy blueprint, including a tax on digital ads and the creation of a "Deparment of the Attention Economy," would also put new burdens and constraints on tech companies.


Yang is preaching a tech-savvy and industry-active brand of regulation - "you can't take a sledgehammer to these problems," he says - that plays well with the Valley's we-know-best mentality. He even suggested "knighting" the techies at the event, so that they could make the government operate more efficiently.

That's earned him trust, and money, from a lot of the tech industry elite. The problem is, the tech industry has lost everyone else's trust.

Read the full story here:

Andrew Yang wants to regulate big tech without breaking it up and says his fan Elon Musk is in full support

Werner in the cloud with diamonds

Amazon insiders don't appear overly worried about the company getting split up by the government, in any case.

In an interview with Julie Bort, Werner Vogels, the head of Amazon's AWS cloud business, insists that the topic never comes up internally.

"We have no intention of doing anything like that," he says.


Werner Vogels

Reuters/Richard Brian

Vogels defends the benefits of being a giant, multi-business corporation, telling Bort that "the synergies are just too good" to ever consider breaking up.

Those "synergies" are exactly what critics like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders contend are giving Big Tech companies unfair advantages. To judge by Vogels' response, Amazon is either playing ignorant to these concerns, or simply choosing to defy them.

Read the full story here:

Amazon never talks internally about breaking up or even spinning out new units, CTO Werner Vogels says

Silicon Valley's next frontier in workplace relations

On a lighter note, Rob Price has staked his claim to the insufficiently-covered corporate restroom beat.

His first dispatch from the field reveals a trend that's spreading throughout Silicon Valley: official company outreach - including memos, workplace training drills and other communiqués - in toilet stalls.


Google was first to implement the idea years ago, but a growing list of tech companies, including Yelp and Walmart's, are now adopting the practice.

It's the latest, and perhaps most intrusive, example of Silicon Valley's never ending quest to maximize worker productivity.

If this Silicon Valley innovation is as successful as smartphones and instant messaging, it may soon become standard throughout the country. But I can't help wondering why the world's most cutting edge companies are using old-fashioned paper, and not a digital format, to reach their toilet-bound toilers.

Read the full story here:

Efficiency-obsessed tech firms are sticking newsletters on toilet stall walls to keep employees productive while they poop

silicon valley bathroom memos 4x3

Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Other recent tech highlights:

And more from across the BI newsroom:

That's it for this week. As always, I'm eager for your feedback, thoughts, and tips - you can email me at And if you like this newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.



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