🌎 A polling CEO

Plus: MSG, with a side of chips
🌎 A polling CEO

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

Elon Musk asked in a poll if he should step down as Twitter CEO. The post was published three minutes after pledging that major decisions regarding the platform would be put to a vote.

John Carmack parted ways with Meta. The virtual reality pioneer expressed his frustration with the company’s “self-sabotage” in a note announcing his departure, seen by the New York Times.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is expected to agree to being extradited to the US. The disgraced crypto CEO is due to appear in court in the Bahamas today (Dec. 19).

The Vatican dismissed a US priest over his social media posts and disobedience to his superiors. Frank Pavone is a vocal anti-abortion activist and supporter of former president Donald Trump.

Avatar: The Way of Water missed its domestic opening weekend box office expectations. James Cameron’s movie could still prove a record hit during his theatrical run if enthusiastic word of mouth counters lukewarm critics’ reviews.

Argentina won the World Cup. The final match went to penalties, a nail-biting finish that gave the South American country its third world championship win, this time over France.

The closing of a new UN deal on biodiversity caused controversy. COP15's president proclaimed the agreement sealed, but a number of African governments claimed their objections have been ignored.

What to watch for

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is expected today to address the findings of a committee tasked with looking into the country’s ties to slavery. The Netherlands, a former naval power, profited immensely from slavery over a period of 250 years.

The committee, formed after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, has issued various recommendations to redress historic injustices, including an apology. A majority of Dutch lawmakers expressed support for an apology, but campaigners have asked Rutte to wait until July 1, which would mark 150 years since the abolition of slavery in the former Dutch colony of Suriname.

Should an apology be issued today, it risks being seen as hastily arranged and also as mere words. The government pledged €200 million ($213 million) towards awareness raising projects and €27 million ($29 million) to establish a museum dedicated to the country’s slavery and slave trade, but reparations are off the table.

MSG, with a side of chips

Ajinomoto, the Japanese company that invented monosodium glutamate (MSG), also happens to be a serious player in the semiconductor industry. That’s thanks to its manufacture of another three-letter substance: ABF, or Ajinomoto build-up film substrate, which today insulates 90% of the central processing units (CPUs) in personal computers.

The company ventured into computer materials in the 1990s, a decision that is paying dividends today. During the pandemic, Ajinomoto’s ABF sales boomed along with personal computer sales, boosting profits from 45.1 billion yen ($327 million) in 2020 to 60.5 billion yen ($439 million) in 2021.

Like other sectors, the chip industry is subject to cycles of boom and bust. But Ajinomoto is confident about the future of the insulation substrate market, which is projected to grow to $6.5 billion by 2028. In the event of chip turbulence, MSG, which makes up 58% of its sales, can likely still be relied on to bring in the umami.

Nigerian artists chart their own NFT path

An NFT by Adewale Mayowa
Photo: Adewale Mayowa

Most Nigerians know about NFTs because of the fame of Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwei, who, among many accolades, was the first African to be featured at a Christie’s NFT auction.

As explained in the latest Quartz Africa Weekly, Osinachi’s success has built visibility for the Nigerian NFT scene—a success most Nigerian NFT artists hope to replicate, even if there is a crypto ban in the country complicating things.

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Surprising discoveries

The mansion where Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited sold for £3 million ($3.6 million). Nevermind that superfans are living inside of the estate and refusing to leave.

A bear couldn’t forget his prime campsite. Despite being relocated 1,000 miles away, Bear 609 walked across four states to dine on leftovers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Ants can make milk. When pupae are developing, they excrete the substance that provides nutrients to the colony.

Ash and Pikachu are saying goodbye. Well, at least to the limelight, as the duo won’t be the protagonists of the Pokémon anime series anymore.

A Cambrian sea creature may have inspired the taco. Tuzoia, an arthropod that was first found 100 years ago, would’ve nicely held some queso and salsa.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, bear-proof picnic baskets, and tacos to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Sofia Lotto Persio, Diego Lasarte, Michelle Cheng, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.