How Larry Page's flying-car company of the future turned into a stunning failure
It's tech (and tax) Tuesday, friends. I'm Diamond Naga Siu, and I'm back from spending time with family abroad.
Huge thanks to my amazing teammates Paayal Zaveri, Asia Martin, and Emilia David for writing the newsletter while I was out. It was my favorite read every night. And if you enjoyed it too, go follow them and their work!
Although I'm currently pretty homesick and jet lagged, I'm blessed with "the life-changing magic of working from home." One worker told my colleague Rebecca Knight how remote work transformed her life and how returning to the office has killed company morale.
Before I fall asleep, let's dive into today's tech.
1. The stunning failure of Google founder Larry Page's flying-car company. Kittyhawk felt like "success was all but assured," one employee told Insider. But the bold mission lacked a clear direction — and it ultimately never delivered a marketable product.
- The company had a number of promising but impractical prototypes, according to multiple former employees. But conflicting visions and shifting priorities stifled the wind beneath their flying car wings.
- In April 2022, company morale plummeted when it axed one of its most promising projects, those former insiders say. Plus, Page started getting involved after years of hands-off financial support. He began pushing some bizarre experiments: 3D print the whole vehicle! What if we flew it on cheap hobby motors? What if the pilot stood upright in the cockpit?
- My colleagues Hugh Langley and Rob Price talked with a dozen former employees to break down Kittyhawk's rise and fall.
In other news:
2. The controversial face of LA's booming startup scene. Mark Suster created the glitziest gathering in tech. The invite-only conference boasts attendees like Serena Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rick Caruso. But his controversial style has alienated many. Dive into his "overly aggressive, condescending, and ego-driven" approach here.
3. Amazon's leaked pay Q&A for managers. The company put together a thorough document to help managers navigate pay-related conversations with employees, and Insider got a look. The document covers inflation, stock fluctuations, pay equity, and more. Check out the full guidelines here.
4. Working from home is too soft. Many big bosses think working at home is for women, writes my colleague Aki Ito. She highlights why this is the real reason bosses are pushing to go back in-person. Get the hard breakdown here.
5. Tim Cook — more like Tim Coachella. The Apple CEO has a history of attending the festival, and last weekend's event was no exception. Last year, he was spotted front-row at Harry Styles' set. Check out his special appearance at this year's here.
6. Facebook ignored pleas to take down hateful content, trusted partners say. A 60-year-old professor, who was known to be a pillar in his community, was murdered. Weeks earlier, people in a special Facebook anti-hate speech program had already sounded alarms. But the company did nothing, program participants told Insider. Here's how Facebook could perhaps have done more.
7. Microsoft's former VP of HR dishes on the real reasons why layoffs are happening. Chris Williams broke down the three main reasons why layoffs are happening, including optics. But even amid all this shedding, he said the future of tech is bright. Check out his forecast here.
8. The wrong EV could ruin your road trip. Insider's car connoisseur Tim Levin documents his "brutal" road trip from NYC to Washington DC with the new Toyota bZ4X electric SUV. Follow his excruciating trip here. Bonus: These EVs will help you snag the $7,500 tax credit.
Odds and ends:
9. Get Lit: The best LED strip lights. Based on years of testing, my colleague Jenny McGrath shares Insider's top picks for lighting every room. Get illuminated with us here.
10. Mercedes' first electric Maybach. Mercedes just dropped its "utterly excessive" electric Maybach SUV. It sports silver champagne flutes, a fridge, calf massagers, and more. Check it out here.
What we're watching today:
- Apple is opening its first store in India (get an advanced look at the Mumbai location here). CEO Tim Cook is expected to attend the opening. Plus, a second store is opening this week in New Delhi.
- Atlassian's annual Team conference starts today. It focuses on how teamwork, humanity, and tech intersect and features speakers from CNN, Amazon Web Services, and other major companies.
- Quarterly earnings for Netflix and other companies. Keep up with earnings here.
Curated by Diamond Naga Siu in San Diego. (Feedback or tips? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @diamondnagasiu) Edited by Matt Weinberger (tweet @gamoid) in San Francisco and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.
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