Marketplace TechAuthor: Marketplace
19 Jun 2021

Marketplace Tech

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Monday through Friday, Marketplace’s Molly Wood demystifies the digital economy in less than 10 minutes. Reporting from Oakland, California, she looks past the hype and ask tough questions about an industry that’s constantly changing.

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    A critic of Big Tech is now one of its biggest regulators

    This week, the White House appointed Lina Khan to chair of the Federal Trade Commission. The announcement came just hours after she was confirmed by the Senate to be a commissioner. At just 32, she’s the youngest-ever FTC chair. Khan rose to fame for a paper she wrote while at Yale Law School, making the case for reining in Amazon’s monopoly power. Khan went on to work on Capitol Hill, as an FTC staffer and as a professor at Columbia University’s law school. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Cecilia Kang, who covers tech policy for The New York Times. According to Kang, the difference between commissioner and chair is a big one.


  • Posted on 18 Jun 2021

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    Buy now, pay later. What’s the catch?

    If you do any shopping online, you’ve no doubt seen offers to pay for that sweater or mattress in installments using services from Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna and other fintech companies. These “buy now, pay later” startups got a boost from the growth in online shopping during the pandemic. And the model is moving beyond retail to include things like rent, travel, even medical bills. Marketplace’s Amy Scott spoke with Sheridan Trent, a research analyst for the Strawhecker Group, a consulting firm that works with some “buy now, pay later” companies.


  • Posted on 17 Jun 2021

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    What the authoritarian crackdown on social media means for global activism

    It’s been more than a decade since the revolution that came to be known as the Arab Spring, when protesters across the Middle East challenged — and in some cases overthrew — authoritarian governments. Social media played a central role in helping activists organize and build support. Now, autocratic leaders around the world have been stifling dissent on these platforms or banning them altogether. Russia, China, India and Nigeria are some recent examples. Could social media play the same role today that it did in 2010? Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Philip Howard, a professor of sociology, information and international affairs at Oxford University.


  • Posted on 16 Jun 2021

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    Can we print our way out of the affordable housing crisis?

    The cost of building a new house has gone up sharply over the past year. Not just because of lumber, but because steel, insulation, windows and appliances are all harder to get and more expensive because of high demand and delays. A number of startups have promised to revolutionize construction with new materials and technologies. It’s not easy — the modular construction startup Katerra filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. But there are others looking to disrupt the housing industry. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Sam Ruben, the co-founder and chief sustainability officer of Mighty Buildings, which uses an enormous 3D printer in a warehouse in Oakland, California, to build houses.


  • Posted on 15 Jun 2021

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    What the failure of a construction startup tells us about SoftBank

    SoftBank launched its first, $100 billion Vision Fund in 2017. Just last month, the Japanese conglomerate led by Masayoshi Son said the fund had delivered record profits for the quarter. But there have been some big failures too. The modular-construction startup Katerra filed for bankruptcy last week. SoftBank had invested more than $2 billion in the company. Katerra had borrowed money from Greensill Capital, which also received about $2 billion of SoftBank money. Greensill also collapsed earlier this year. That, of course, follows the WeWork debacle a couple of years ago. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Sarah Kunst, managing director of the venture firm Cleo Capital. She said SoftBank’s strategy has been to make huge bets on relatively unproven companies.


  • Posted on 14 Jun 2021

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