🌍 Go hardcore or go home

Plus: Silicon Valley hasn’t learned from Theranos
It's "hardcore" ultimatum time. 
It's "hardcore" ultimatum time. 
Photo: Olivier Douliery / AFP (Getty Images)

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Here’s what you need to know

Twitter employees resigned in droves. CEO Elon Musk gave an ultimatum: be “extremely hardcore” at work, or leave with severance pay. Hundreds chose the latter. Twitter has since announced its offices will be locked until Monday (Nov. 21).

Starbucks workers across the US went on strike. Walkouts at over 100 stores coincided with the coffee retailer’s annual “Red Cup Day,” a free holiday drink promotion, which staff cite as one of the busiest days of the year.

FTX advisors can’t find billions of dollars in assets. From a lack of an accounting department to emoji expense approvals, the situation at FTX is “unprecedented,” according to the new CEO John Ray III, who previously oversaw the bankruptcy of US energy company Enron.

The US announced that Saudi crown prince MBS should be granted immunity in the Jamal Khashoggi case. A lawsuit accuses Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader of directing the Washington Post journalist’s murder in 2018.

The largest dam removal in US history was approved. Four dams spanning the California-Oregon border will be demolished in an effort to protect endangered salmon, following years of advocacy from Native American activists.

Ticketmaster canceled its Taylor Swift tour ticket sales. The company said “extraordinarily high demands” have prompted the decision to not open general sales today (Nov. 18), just days after a presale crashed its site. 

Activision Blizzard is shutting down most of its online games in China. The “World of Warcraft” developer failed to renew its agreement with Hangzhou-based NetEase, ending a 14-year partnership.

What to watch for

The fall from grace of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been playing out in the public eye over seven years, and will finally near its end with her sentencing today (Nov. 18). Prosecutors are seeking a 15-year sentence for Holmes, who was found guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud to the tune of $140 million.

The Theranos unraveling was meant to be a cautionary tale, yet the saga hasn’t stopped other fake-it-till-you-make-it founders from winning over investors—from the crypto world of Sam Bankman-Fried (who has not yet been charged with any crime) to the electric truck claims of Nikola founder Trevor Milton (who is awaiting sentencing for securities and wire fraud convictions).

Will Silicon Valley ever learn to spot the difference between a secret sauce and snake oil? A healthy dose of skepticism would help, but given the infancy and transient nature of tech firms, there’s no foolproof way to get this right.

Don’t stomp your little last season rankings on me, honey

Two of the top law schools in the US, Yale and Harvard, gave US News & World Report the ol’ Elle Woods “I object!” to its rankings system. They’re not being sore losers; the universities’ law schools consistently bag the highest spots on the list. Rather, they have some beef with the methodology.

US News ranks law schools based on data collected across several categories, including what the school spends on infrastructure and how many grads are placed in jobs. But Harvard and Yale specifically don’t like the ranking’s handling of metrics that require nuance, like student debt and test scores.

Yale Law dean Heather K. Gerken had some particularly harsh words about the “profoundly flawed” rankings, saying it disincentivizes programs that “support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession.”

What a shrinking workforce means for manufacturing hubs

Sure, the world’s population is the largest it’s ever been, but beyond sheer growth, it’s also getting older on average as the number of retirees and senior citizens swell.

As a result, the workforce is starting to contract in cheap manufacturing hubs, and companies are already starting to look to countries outside of China, such as Mexico, where wages are low and a growing population will ensure plenty of workers.

✦ On Saturday, the Weekend Brief will take a look at the world population, including where it’s growing the fastest, and the impacts this will have on the global economy. To receive this issue, grab a Quartz membership today with 60% off.

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Surprising discoveries

A Goldilocks climate at home could protect you from covid. If it’s just right—not too dry or too humid—the virus may be less transmissible.

A rock that smashed into a British driveway has swayed a scientific debate. A 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite provides evidence that Earth’s water may have come from space.

A fossil of a leviathan-sized sea turtle was found in Spain. The newly identified species, which measured about 4 meters (13 ft) across, once swam in Europe’s seas 70 million years ago.

Scrabble added “vibing” to its official dictionary. It’s just one of over 500 new entries that you can now play to nab that triple word score.

Volkswagen made an office chair that moves up to 20 kilometers per hour (12.4 mph). All the better to get your hands on that 3pm coffee. Stat.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, words that aren’t really words, and tickets to your next office chair grand prix to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Ananya Bhattacharya, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, Samanth Subramanian, and Morgan Haefner.