Hi, welcome to your Weekend!
This was one of those weeks when I was glad that I follow the Doomscrolling Reminder Bot (@Doomscroll_bot) on Twitter. I needed those hourly reminders—“Hi, are you doomscrolling?”—to close the browser window and catch my breath.
It’s not every week when $200 billion in crypto goes poof! in a 24-hour window (more on the stablecoin implosion below); or when typically sober voices like Puck’s William D. Cohan write recession-porn columns titled “The Big One Is Here”; or when even Elon Musk’s fortunes sink so low, he has to come up with a completely absurd reason for pausing his purchase of Twitter.
Tack on surging Covid cases and inflation, a scary nationwide shortage of baby formula, and a bunch of Big Tech dethronings, which Martin detailed in his Thursday Briefing, and you have yourself a veritable doom orgy. For now, the best we can do is to divert our eyes and distract ourselves with our new favorite TikTok banger, “Wiggle Wiggle Jiggle Jiggle.” Read more on that below.
The secretary of transportation likes to talk about how electric cars will transform the American landscape. He’s much less thrilled to talk about You Know Who. “Anytime you have somebody who has that level of early success, that attracts a lot of competition, and that’s what we’re seeing right now,” Buttigieg said about Musk. So, does his industry dominance grant the Tesla CEO special access to Biden’s point man on EVs? As Buttigieg told Nancy, “He has the same level of opportunity to get together with me as any other auto CEO.”
Last Sunday afternoon, while holed up inside a friend’s Malibu villa, former Next CEO Fadell carved out some time to chat with new Weekend contributor Adam Lashinsky. On the agenda: Fadell’s new book, “Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making,” in which he describes the four types of assholes in most companies; the credit he believes he’s due for making Apple a trillion-dollar business; and his lingering ill will for his old bosses at Google.
Whoever said the eyes were the window to the soul never had a smartphone. In our new feature, Screentime, we ask tech leaders to divulge their personal phone habits, from their most recent texts and app downloads, to the midnight scribbles in their Notes app. First out of the gate: Rex Woodbury, Index Ventures partner and author of the “Digital Native” Substack.
Watching: Kendrick Lamar’s cool-as-fake music video
The Grammy and Pulitzer-winner’s first album since 2017 arrived yesterday, but, prior to the release, Lamar premiered the music video for his song, “The Heart Part 5.” The video makes incredible use of deepfakes, the dystopian AI technology that generates highly realistic footage. Over the nearly 6-minute song, Lamar’s face morphs into O.J. Simpson, Will Smith, Jussie Smollett, Kobe Bryant, Kanye West, and Nipsey Hussle, all singing along to the same beat. It is, agrees Vice, both a “masterpiece” and a “problem,” ripping open a pandora’s box that could lead to ever-creepier digital fakes.
Listening: An unlikely TikTok jam by a BBC director
“My money don’t jiggle jiggle—it folds. I like to see you wiggle wiggle—for sure.” So says 51-year-old British documentarian Louis Theroux in a jauntily rapped verse that has become an accidental banger on TikTok. Theroux, the son of famed travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux, laid down the rap on a 2000 episode of his docuseries “Weird Weekends.” But after Manchester DJ duo Duke and Jones remixed it for maximum virality, it quickly inspired 2 million videos (and counting) on the platform. The LA Times spoke with Duke and Jones (who now have a record deal), though MC Theroux was unable to be reached. Give the track a listen, but be warned that you’ll be jiggle-jiggling all weekend.
Noticing: It’s time we all learned what a stablecoin is
“Stablecoin” sounds nice and safe. “Death spiral” sounds scary and bad. And so the cognitive dissonance of watching the supposedly stable TerraUSD tumble into a death spiral this week has been overwhelming for many in the crypto industry. The coin was designed to be a refuge for traders from the notoriously volatile crypto market. But, unlike many stablecoins, TerraUSD wasn’t secured by collateral; no, developers thought it’d be cooler to automate everything, pegging TerraUSD at a “permanent” $1 value using a supply-and-demand algorithm with a linked coin, Luna. When a massive sell-off caused TerraUSD to decouple from the dollar, dropping as low as $0.25, Luna’s price went spiraling. But before you crow “told you so” at any crypto bros, it’s worth scrolling through the Terra Reddit channel, where traders are chronicling their losses in devastating detail.
Makes You Think
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading!
Weekend Editor, The Information