Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Boris Johnson launches climate talks. Ahead of hosting the next UN climate talks in November in Glasgow, the UK prime minister will lay out how Britain plans to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. In unusual timing, he just fired his energy minister.
Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address. The president is likely to feel emboldened just one day ahead of his anticipated acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial.
OPEC discusses its response to the coronavirus. At a meeting in Vienna, representatives from major oil-producing countries could announce production cuts, as Chinese demand for oil plummets due to stalled economic activity.
Europe’s far-right figures meet in Rome. Politicians including Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, Italian populist Matteo Salvini, and UK lawmaker Daniel Kawczynski are listed as attendees at the National Conservatism conference.
While you were sleeping
The Iowa caucuses hit a snag. The Democratic presidential hopeful who wins the Iowa vote usually gets a boost in funding and attention. However, the results have been delayed due to “inconsistencies” in their reporting—and not, as the Iowa Democratic Party clarifies, because of a hack.
Hong Kong recorded its first coronavirus death… In the second fatality outside mainland China, a 39-year-old man with an underlying illness who had been to Wuhan died. The city is in the midst of an escalating strike by medical staff as a way to pressure the Hong Kong government to fully seal the border. The death toll in China rose to 425.
…And Macau took a drastic step to contain the outbreak. The gambling hub said it would suspend operations at casinos for two weeks after it confirmed a 10th case of coronavirus. The Chinese semi-autonomous region has seen visitors to its casinos plunge by 80% due to the virus.
Alphabet disappointed. Google’s parent company reported an underwhelming fourth-quarter profit, sending its shares plummeting in after-hours trading. For the first time, Google broke down figures for YouTube, Google Cloud, and search.
Daniel arap Moi died at 95. The former Kenyan president, who ruled for 24 years as the country’s longest-serving president, took power after founding president Jomo Kenyatta died in 1978. Moi turned Kenya into a virtual one-party state in the 1980s, crushing a coup attempt that resulted in at least 159 deaths.
By nearly every measure, the venture industry has boomed. Venture capital has evolved from small-scale, hyperlocal deals to a global industry that invests $250 billion each year. Quartz contributor Dave Edwards reports on the forces that transformed VC—and lays out what the explosion of private investment means for all of us.
Quartz Daily Obsession
Open-plan offices aren’t the paradises we thought they’d be. They kill concentration, lower productivity, increase stress, and somehow also make us less social. (But the headphone industry isn’t complaining.) It wasn’t supposed to be this way: When Frank Lloyd Wright designed an early open office in the 1930s, he saw it as an anti-fascist symbol that could tear down corporate hierarchies. Tell your chatty coworker you’re busy—it’s time for the Quartz Daily Obsession.
Matters of Debate
J. Lo is redefining what 50 looks like. The superstar proves that the aphorism “dress your age” no longer makes sense.
TikTok is ushering in a new age of porn. Young people are more open to paying for porn, especially if it’s self-produced by their favorite social media stars.
Social media algorithms exacerbate cancel culture. They encourage the pile-ons that leave public figures shunned, and fuel the counter-outrage that paves the way for their comebacks.
Albatrosses are spying on illegal fishing boats in the Indian Ocean. They carry digital surveillance equipment around their necks.
Animal lovers in Wuhan are breaking into homes to save pets. People barred from returning home due to travel restrictions linked to the coronavirus have left cats and dogs unattended.
An artist created a phantom traffic jam with a wagon full of phones. By dragging the devices down Berlin streets, he tricked Google Maps into reporting massive congestion.
Zoom’s stock zoomed. Shares in the video-conferencing software jumped 15% as coronavirus fears mean more and more people work from home.
A macabre fishing experiment revealed a new species of bone worm. What do you get when you drop three frozen gators to the bottom of the ocean? Results.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, office plans, and J. Lo Versace dresses to email@example.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Isabella Steger and edited by Tripti Lahiri.