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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes a speech in 2019.
Image copyright: REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Mark Zuckerberg, making a speech in 2019.

5 Quartz stories we really like

🔥  Facebook doesn’t need a new name. It needs new people.

📈  2021 has already shattered yearly records for startup funding

💸  Rich countries can’t fix supply chains without fixing climate finance

🚢  What does a zero-carbon shipping fleet look like?

🤦‍♀️  Foreign brands are getting caught in China’s online gender wars

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Markets haiku: At long last, WeWork went public

Image copyright: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
The new face of WeWork.

WeWork’s big moment
(You can call it a comeback):
A Neumann-less SPAC

WeWork went public on Thursday, two fraught years after a failed IPO revealed that the office-leasing company wasn’t as profitable as its charismatic co-founder, Adam Neumann, had led investors to believe. Shares of the company, which went public through a special-purpose acquisition merger (SPAC) with an acquiring firm called BowX, were up by more than 11% by the time the market closed.

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Amazon Air takes off

The pandemic hasn’t just changed consumer shopping habits. It changed Amazon’s too. The e-commerce giant went on a buying spree in the summer of 2020 for a particular item: planes.

The binge marked the fastest expansion yet of Amazon’s air fleet. Now, fueled by an increase in e-commerce demand and supply chain chaos, Amazon Air’s ambitions (and its number of daily flights globally) are cruising upward.

Amazon’s air freight investments aren’t just an urgent effort to move goods faster as the holiday shopping season approaches. Analysts who watch Amazon believe it will be one of the first steps toward competing directly with incumbent couriers like FedEx and UPS as a global delivery service.

Stablecoin’s future gets wobbly

The US is cracking down on stablecoins, cryptocurrencies that are tied to certain government-backed currencies or precious metals like silver or gold.

Here’s what happened:

💵 The US government took its first major shot at Tether, fining the popular stablecoin $41 million for allegedly misstating its reserves.

⚓️ Is Tether actually tethered to anything? The stablecoin, which is the most valuable in the world with a market capitalization of $69 billion, said it has enough money in reserves. But the US said Tether’s reserves have relied on unregulated entities and third parties.

🔍 The fine signals the US is watching closely, and it’s likely the beginning of a push for consumer protection and transparency from stablecoins, Charley Cooper, a former chief operating officer of the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission, said.

It’s an everything shortage

Image copyright: Illustration by Emma Erickson

Cars, computers, chicken wings… at this point, it might be easier to point out what’s not in limited supply. We’ve put together a guide to the Everything Shortage—it’s only available to Quartz members, but here are some of the most compelling digits:

10: Companies that control 82% of global shipping

215%-240%: Expected increase in profits of Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels

76 seconds: Average time it takes for a crane to load or unload a shipping container in North America

27 seconds: Average time it takes for a crane to load or unload a shipping container in Asia

2022-2023: Experts’ best guesses as to when supply chain issues will end

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Is Intel Apple’s toxic ex?

Well, it’s complicated.

At Apple’s Unleashed event Monday, the company said it will use its own homegrown processors in its MacBook Pro laptop, effectively ending its relationship with Intel.

It’s not exactly a surprise:

💖 Intel and Apple hook up in 2006 for processors

🤫 Rumors swirl around how long the couple will last

🔼 A 2019 truce between Apple and Qualcomm entangles things 

💔 Apple ends its 15-year fling with Intel in 2021…

💘 … and Intel says it will “fight hard to win” Apple back

But with the number of Intel Macs left in Apple’s lineup fizzling, the production of Apple’s own chips may be one area where Intel could still win over the Silicon Valley behemoth.

We’re obsessed with CAPTCHA

Image copyright: Photograph by Eric Helgas, styling by Alex Citrin-Safadi

Are you a robot? If you’ve browsed the web, you’ve answered this question countless times. Often, it’s accompanied by a demand: Prove it. Read this pair of fuzzy words. Tell us whether this is a picture of a storefront. Click on all the boxes that contain a traffic light.

These challenges go by the unwieldy acronym CAPTCHA, which stands for “Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart.” They’re a crucial cybersecurity tool that helps keep the internet from becoming (even more) inundated with spam, fake accounts, and malicious bots that can be used to hack websites. But they’re also a sneaky strategy to develop artificial intelligence.

Read more in our latest Weekly Obsession, or listen to author Nicolás Rivero—who swears he is not a robot—go even deeper on the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession Podcast.

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