5 things in tech you need to know today

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5 things in tech you need to know today
Entrepreneur Travis Kalanick with slogans used at Uber and CloudKitchens in the backgroundJustin Sullivan/Getty Images; Marianne Ayala/Insider

Welcome back! We're changing things up as we close out the year. This week, some of Insider's tech editors are sharing five of their top stories of 2021. We'll be back in regular action next week.

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Greetings, dear readers. I'm Alexei Oreskovic, the Tech Features Editor at Insider. The best part of my job is working with writers on deeply reported longform narratives about the people and events that drive the tech business behind the scenes; the stories that aren't in the news cycle headlines, but that may well have influenced them — or that will influence tomorrow's headlines.

As we look forward to 2022, here are some of my favorite feature stories from the past year.


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1. Travis Kalanick's stealth $5 billion startup, CloudKitchens, is Uber all over again. Uber's cofounder was ousted as CEO in 2017 amid a string of scandals. Now he's in a similarly tumultuous second act in the booming food delivery business. Insiders describe what it's like working at CloudKitchens.

2. "A gag order for life": How nondisclosure agreements silence and control workers in Silicon Valley. Every day, thousands of people sign NDAs when they start a new job or leave their current one. In many cases, the scope and breadth of the agreements go well beyond what legal experts say is proper or reasonable. We analyzed dozens of NDAs from Google, Apple, and other tech giants — check them out here.

3. Gaia was a wildly popular yoga brand. Now it's a publicly traded Netflix rival pushing conspiracy theories while employees fear the CEO is invading their dreams. This story embodies the most surreal, bizzaro aspects of the past few years, and provides a sobering reminder of where it could lead us. Fasten your seat belt and take a plunge into the Gaia rabbit hole.

4. Linux creator Linus Torvalds canceled himself to become a nicer person. Now he needs to bring talent back to the world's most important software. The last of a generation of "brilliant jerks," Torvalds is trying to reprogram himself and the movement he created. Torvalds opened up about diversity in tech, the "graying" challenge facing the Linux community, and the future of open source. Here's what he told us.

5. 10 years after Steve Jobs' death, his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, has multiplied her fortune and power by acting nothing like him (most of the time). After years of seeming content to live in the shadow of her larger-than-life husband, Powell Jobs has emerged as a powerful force in the worlds of media and politics. How the Apple heiress and The Atlantic owner is changing the rules of the game.

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Written by Alexei Oreskovic. Follow Alexei Oreskovic on Twitter @lexnfx or email him at aoreskovic@insider.com. Edited by Jordan Parker Erb.

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