This article is an on-site version of our #techFT newsletter. Sign up here to get the complete newsletter sent straight to your inbox every weekday
The Great Resignation has become a thing this year, as Covid-19 prompts record numbers of people to leave their jobs, but this week it seems to have struck social media executives smitten with cryptocurrencies.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was first to announce his departure. He can spend more time on his bitcoin obsession and his payments company Square, which is worth more than double Twitter’s market capitalisation now.
Next, David Marcus, who was in charge of launching Facebook’s digital currency project, has said he will leave Meta at the end of the year. He said his “entrepreneurial DNA” was nudging him towards “something new”, and it’s not hard to imagine the former PayPal president starting a fresh fintech project.
That was hard to do with Facebook — the social network was facing pushback from politicians and regulators, who feared it could dominate another digital industry.
The Diem digital token, first announced in 2019 under the name Libra, was almost strangled at birth. Early backers, including Mastercard and PayPal, abandoned the initiative as regulatory pressures mounted.
In May, the Diem Association, an independent body set up to run the currency, said it would significantly narrow its scope, dropping its application to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority to operate as a global payments service and focusing instead on the US.
Its digital wallet Novi was launched as a small-scale pilot in October, but will at first use a different coin — Paxos Dollar — instead of Diem. It is available to a limited number of people in the US and Guatemala.
Meta could still grow Diem from this small base, and Marcus said he saw “greatness ahead”. But his decision to quit suggests he is likely to suffer fewer frustrations and faster growth by founding a payments start-up, just like Jack Dorsey did when he created Square in his apartment.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Further fintech
Nubank has scaled back its planned initial public offering in New York, with the Brazilian fintech backed by Warren Buffett now targeting a valuation of up to $41.5bn — short of the previous $50bn-plus. Nik Storonsky, chief executive of London-based digital banking app Revolut, has said he hopes to secure a UK banking licence early in 2022. Lex says Wise’s latest numbers show it is gaining more traction with business users.
2. Microsoft shareholders rebel and back protest vote
Nearly four-fifths of shareholders have voted against management and backed a protest vote calling for more details to be released about recent sexual harassment claims. The shareholder revolt followed years of complaints from some workers that the company had brushed pervasive claims of harassment under the carpet.
3. Match settles with jilted Tinder founders
Match Group has agreed to pay the founders of Tinder $441m to settle a lawsuit in which the dating app’s founders claimed the media empire run by Barry Diller had cheated them out of the fortune created from one of the hottest digital media properties in recent years.
4. Blue Prism bidding war
SS&C Technologies, a US provider of financial services software, has proposed a £1.2bn offer for British robotics software maker Blue Prism, as a bidding war with US private equity group Vista Equity Partners accelerates. Lex points out that even trading above the latest offer price, Blue Prism shares remain a third below highs from the start of the year.
5. Holmes defends response to Theranos reporting
Prosecutors interrogated Elizabeth Holmes about her response to the investigative article that pierced her rosy image in 2015, as the Theranos founder took the stand for a fifth day of testimony in her criminal fraud trial.
Tech tools — Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon
Qualcomm’s position, as the leading wireless chipmaker powering smartphones, has been undermined in recent years as the likes of Apple and Google have started to produce their own silicon. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform, unveiled on Tuesday, shows Qualcomm pulling out all the stops for its latest flagship processor. Adapting the latest ArmV9 designs, Qualcomm promises up to 20 per cent better performance and up to 30 per cent more power efficiency over last year’s model.
What sounds sexier is “groundbreaking innovations in AI, photography, gaming and connectivity”. An 18-bit image signal processor (ISP) captures 4,000 times more camera data than its 14-bit predecessor. Up to 3.2 gigapixels can be captured per second and 8K HDR video is possible. The AI engine offers improved natural language processing and personal health analytics. For gamers, “support for the Unreal Engine 5 unleashes advanced lighting and shadow effects for breathtaking sequences”, while support of 5G, WiFi 6, 6E and Bluetooth audio is improved.
China’s Realme announced it would be one of the first manufacturers to launch a smartphone powered by the platform, in a new flagship — the GT 2 Pro.