How Singapore Nurtured Foreign Trio Who Became Billionaires

How Singapore Nurtured Foreign Trio Who Became Billionaires(Bloomberg) -- David Chen left his native China as a teenager to attend school in Singapore. Little did he know that his adopted city would help him reach the ranks of the ultra-rich.The co-founder of Sea Ltd. is now worth $1.3 billion, joining fellow co-founders Forrest Li and Gang Ye among Singapore’s wealthiest individuals. Their company has thrived during the pandemic thanks to the popularity of battle royale mobile game Free Fire and e-commerce platform Shopee.By far the city-state’s biggest company by market value, Sea didn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of the island’s approach to lure foreign talent at a young age to a market with easy access to capital. Chen and Ye both moved with scholarships for their studies, while Li, who was born and raised in China’s port city of Tianjin, followed his wife to Singapore after finishing an MBA at Stanford University.“Attracting the right foreign talent is essential to allow progressive development of successful Singapore brands and enterprises,” said Daniel Wong Hwee Boon, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore. “As a small country, it is imperative to not only stay relevant but also ahead. Our next generation will see how other talents are managing around the world.”Both Chen and Ye arrived in Singapore as teenagers under a government effort to recruit foreign talent through scholarship programs that began in the 1990s. Chen studied computer engineering at the National University of Singapore, while Ye, also originally from China, went to Hwa Chong Institution and Raffles Junior College, and later got bachelor degrees in computer science and economics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.Touchy SubjectThe lives of Sea’s three founders are now deeply rooted in Singapore. They’ve all become citizens, and Chief Executive Officer Li is a board member of the Economic Development Board, the government agency charged with promoting growth and positioning the city-state as a global center for business.With Singapore’s economy now mired in a record slump, the government is pulling several levers -- including attracting foreign talent -- to get it back on track. Immigration policies have become a touchy subject, though, and public spending on scholarships and tuition grants for international students has fallen over the past decade. The ruling People’s Action Party recently dealt with opposition claims that it was attempting to increase the population by boosting the number of foreigners, saying it could result in fewer jobs for locals.Yet the city-state’s appeal has been growing for entrepreneurs, just as the Trump administration has been working to tighten immigration in the U.S. The number of startups in Singapore has more than doubled in the last decade to an estimated 55,000, according to the Economic Development Board. While that mirrors an explosion seen in many countries around the world, official support for areas such as fintech has helped entice entrepreneurs from places like protest-wracked Hong Kong.Founded in 2009 and backed by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., Sea is heading for another spectacular year, thanks in part to Free Fire and Shopee, which was the third-most downloaded shopping app globally across iOS and Google Play in the first quarter. While based in Singapore, the company is listed in New York, and its American depositary receipts have more than tripled in 2020, sending Sea’s market value to $58 billion. They surged 255% in 2019.Soccer ClubThat’s pushed Li’s wealth to $6.7 billion, making him Singapore’s sixth-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ye, who serves as the company’s chief operating officer, is worth $3.8 billion. Chen, Shopee’s chief product officer, owns 2.6% of the shares as well as options, according to a company filing.“These guys are the very product of meritocracy,” said Alan Hellawell, a venture partner at Alpha JWC Ventures, who formerly served as Sea’s chief strategy officer.With about 3,000 employees in Singapore, Sea is one of the largest homegrown tech companies by workforce. It’s also the owner of the city’s Lion City Sailors Football Club.But the best way to manage wealth is to continuously grow the company, according to Sea’s founders.“We’re all very committed,” Li said in a video interview. “Other things don’t matter.”(Updates to reflect latest market close throughout)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Vaxart’s (VXRT) Stock Will Surge 130% From Current Levels, Says Analyst

Vaxart’s (VXRT) Stock Will Surge 130% From Current Levels, Says AnalystVaccine specialist Vaxart (VXRT) reported 2Q20 earnings last week, but since its vaccine candidates are all in development, the results themselves were of little importance. More pertinent for investors were updates on the pipeline’s progress. Specifically, Vaxart’s COVID-19 oral vaccine candidate.As the only oral vaccine to be selected for inclusion in the government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program, Vaxart’s offering has shown promise in pre-clinical trials, with a Phase 1 study expected to begin sometime in 2H20.While Vaxart’s incredible rise this year (shares are up by over 2,500%) has been solely COVID-driven, the company has other vaccines in development. These include its H1N1 influenza oral tablet vaccine, which recently progressed through a BARDA-funded Phase 2 challenge study evaluating its efficacy against Sanofi's Fluzone. This study yielded positive results.Additionally, Vaxart has established a working relationship with vaccine leader Janssen, who will make use of Vaxart’s proprietaryVAAST platform and its R&D skills to develop immunogenic oral vaccines.With several other manufacturing and scale up collaborations in place (Emergent BioSolutions, Kindred Bio, and Attwil Medical Solutions) and a cash position of $140 million, B.Riley FBR analyst Mayank Mamtani argues Vaxart is set to capitalize on its newly elevated position. In addition to keeping an eye on the COVID-19 vaccine candidate’s progress, the 5-star analyst looks ahead to results from the Janssen collaboration and tells investors to take advantage of the recent market fluctuations.Mamtani said, “We expect these data to provide incremental validation for the proprietary VAAST platform and VXRT's R&D capability to produce immunogenic oral vaccines, targeted specifically to the lung mucosa. The recent pullback in shares, ~45%-plus off its 52-week high, despite an impressive stock move year-to-date, i.e., 2500%, is unwarranted, in our view, given our core thesis of VXRT being well positioned to emerge as one of the key players in the second wave of vaccines.”Mamtani, therefore, reiterated a Buy rating and has a $22 price target on the shares. What does this mean for investors? Upside potential of a whopping 130%. (To watch Mamtani’s track record, click here)Only one other analyst has been tracking Vaxart’s progress over the past three months. The additional Buy rating bestows on Vaxart a Moderate Buy consensus rating. With an average price target of $14.50, there’s room for a 54% uptick in the coming months. (See Vaxart stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for healthcare stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.


Daily Crunch: Trying on Apple’s watchOS 7

The public beta of watchOS 7 is here, Amazon may be looking to turn malls into distribution centers and Skillshare raises $66 million. This is your Daily Crunch for August 10, 2020.

The big story: Trying on Apple’s watchOS 7

Brian Heater walks us through all the changes coming in watchOS 7. It sounds like the operating system isn’t getting a dramatic upgrade — particularly in comparison to MacOS — but there are still some important changes that should help Apple stay at the top of the smartwatch industry:

Updates include the new hand-washing featuring, cycling directions, new workouts and, most importantly, a number of sleep-tracking features. The last bit is, without question, the most requested addition to the watch — and equally important to Apple’s bottom line, a category the company had fallen behind on relative to the competition … The sleep tracking here works with the sensors already on-board existing devices and joins a number of third-party solutions.

The tech giants

Abandoned mall department stores may become Amazon’s next fulfillment centers — One of the largest owners of shopping mall real estate in the United Stages has been talking to Amazon about transforming its anchor department stores into distribution hubs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

iOS 14 redirects web links from News+ publishers directly to the Apple News app — If you click on a link to a paywalled story published by a News+ partner, iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur will take you straight to the article page in the News+ app, even when the link ostensibly points to the publisher’s own website.

Amazon relaunches Twitch Prime as Prime Gaming — In both its old and new incarnations, Twitch Prime/Prime Gaming offers free games, game content (like weapons and skins) and a free Twitch channel subscription, all as part of a standard Prime membership.

Startups, funding and venture capital

ByteDance valuation under huge pressure as TikTok sale nears — The company’s price tag is under tremendous pressure as it’s set to shed its prized asset TikTok, several investors told TechCrunch.

With a renewed focus on creative skills, online learning company Skillshare raises $66M — Skillshare CEO Matt Cooper said 2020 has been a year of rapid growth, even before the pandemic forced large swaths of the population to stay home and turn to online learning for entertainment and enrichment.

A Faraday Future prototype hits the auction block — Although Faraday Future never produced a production vehicle, the company managed to create several prototypes, and one of them will be available for sale soon.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Seed funding tips and tricks from Uncork Capital founder Jeff Clavier — Clavier said that at the end of 2019, it was estimated there were more than 1,000 firms focusing on seed investing in the market, but by the end of this year, there will be about 2,000.

Unpacking Duck Creek Technologies’ IPO and hoped-for $2.7B valuation — Duck Creek Technologies is looking to go public on the back of growing SaaS revenues.

Three growth marketing experts share their best tools and strategies for 2020 — Recapping observations from our Early Stage virtual event from Graphite’s Ethan Smith, Sound Ventures’ Susan Su and Got Users’ Asher King-Abramson.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Trump administration announces major midband spectrum auction for 5G — Today, the midband of U.S. spectrum is heavily utilized by government services like the military.

Original Content podcast: ‘The Umbrella Academy’ returns for a messy-but-delightful second season — Not only did I cry during the finale, I also got sniffly while just describing the finale.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Y Combinator President Geoff Ralston shares actionable advice for startup founders

Running a startup accelerator comes with a number of occupational hazards, but “skepticism is the easiest thing to fall into when you’ve seen too many companies,” said Y Combinator President Geoff Ralston, “and it’s the thing you have to avoid the most.”

Ralston joined me last week for an hour-long Extra Crunch Live interview where we talked about several topics, including how YC has adapted its program during the pandemic, why he has “never stopped coding” and what he sees changing in tech.

“We try to not be too smart, because great founders often see things beyond what you’re seeing,” he said. “If you try to be too smart, you’ll miss the Airbnbs of the world. You’ll say ‘Airbeds in peoples houses? That’s stupid! I’m not going to invest in that,’ and you could’ve bought 10% of Airbnb for like nothing back then… 10% of that company… you can do your own math.”


Extra Crunch Live is our new virtual event series where we sit down with some of the top founders, investors and builders in tech to glean every bit of insight they care to share. We’ve recently been joined by folks like Hunter Walk, Kirsten Green and Mark Cuban.

To watch the entire interview with Geoff Ralston, sign up for ExtraCrunch — but once you’ve got that covered, you can find it (and a bunch of key excerpts from the chat!) below.


Advice for getting into YC

I prefer it when an Extra Crunch Live conversation starts out with actionable advice, so we kicked things off with any suggestions Ralston had for folks looking to apply to YC. And he had plenty! Such as:

  • Mind the deadline, but all hope is not lost if you miss it: “If you miss the deadline, it’s not the end of the world,” says Ralston. “Don’t tell anyone on the admissions team that I said this, but it’s a little bit of a soft deadline. We would never turn down the next epic company because you missed the deadline… although your odds go down of getting in if you don’t make it in by [the deadline]. Why shouldn’t your odds be as high as possible?”
  • Don’t change things up for YC’s sake: “Do whatever you can do to make your company as successful, as real as possible… but don’t try to like, pretty up your company for YC,” he says. “That’s never smart [to do] for an investor. Don’t make bad short-term decisions because you think there’s a deadline that you should do wrong things for. Instead, build your company for the long term, and do the best you can possibly do to find product market fit, to build the right product, to build the right technology, to build the right software or whatever it is you’re building.”

Later in the video (around the 40:55 mark), a question from the audience leads Ralston back to the topic, and he has a few more pieces of advice:

  • Stick to the instructions: “The instructions are fairly clear. It says: do a one-minute video, have all the founders there, and talk to us. That’s a good idea! Don’t give us some marketing video, we’re not interested in that. That’s not how we’re making our decision.”
  • Hone your pitch: “Think about expressing yourself concisely, with great clarity. It does not help to write a book in the application. Be kind to us! We’re reading, you know, hundreds of applications. Get your idea across as clearly as you can. That’s actually a really good signal to us, if you can describe what you’re doing with a minimum of words. That helps us a ton.”
  • Tell your story: “Do not skimp on talking about yourselves!” Ralston notes. “We are super interested in you, who you are, and why you’re doing what you’re doing.”

Shares of Uber, Lyft drift lower after California judge says that contract drivers are employees

Shares of Uber and Lyft dipped modestly after a California judge granted a preliminary injunction that TechCrunch reports could force the two American ride-hailing companies to reclassify drivers as employees in the state.

Uber’s stock is off about 1.3% following the cessation of normal trading hours after dipping around 2% in regular trading. Lyft’s stock is down a sharper 2.1%, though its shares rose during regular trading, making the impact of its after-hours declines smaller in aggregate.

As TechCrunch noted in its coverage of the ruling, the costs associated with classifying current drivers as employees and not independent contractors could prove material. While the decision might be meaningful, investors seemed unmoved. Reading the Wall Street tea leaves can be an exercise in futility, but in this case the months of chatter and legal wrangling over the central question of whether drivers should be employees may have desensitized investors to any particular news item.

Both companies provided statements after the news broke, each stating that they will appeal the ruling. That legal posture could also help assuage investor concerns about short-term economic impacts regarding the injunction, which is currently set to take effect in 10 days.

Here’s what Lyft had to say:

Drivers do not want to be employees, full stop. We’ll immediately appeal this ruling and continue to fight for their independence. Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers.

And here are Uber notes:

The court’s ruling is stayed for a minimum of 10 days, and we plan to file an immediate emergency appeal on behalf of California drivers. The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law. When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi published an op-ed in The New York Times today ahead of the ruling, arguing for a middle ground between the gig economy of today’s lack of worker support, and full employment.

To understand why shares of Uber and Lyft are not taking more fire from public investors in light of the news, TechCrunch turned to Uber’s most recent earnings filings. Lyft does not report Q2 earnings until this Wednesday, meaning we have less recent material from the company. Uber’s documents, however, are useful.

Filings

Uber reported earnings last week, showing stiff losses and a surging food-delivery business. The company’s ride-hailing operation was severely hampered by COVID-19 and its related impacts.

As part of its earnings cycle, Uber filed a 10-Q document. It included notes regarding the California legal situation from before the recent decision. The filing is dated August 7, 2020, or last Friday, making it about as fresh a comment from the company that we can expect regarding its pre-news perspective on the matter.

Here’s the first pertinent portion of its SEC filing, with our emphasis to help you parse it:

The Company has existing litigation, including class actions, PAGA lawsuits, arbitration claims, and governmental administrative and audit proceedings, asserting claims by or on behalf of Drivers that Drivers are misclassified as independent contractors. In connection with the enactment of California State Assembly Bill 5 (“AB5”), the Company has received and expects to continue to receive – in California and in other jurisdictions – an increased number of misclassification claims. With respect to the Company’s outstanding legal and regulatory matters, based on its current knowledge, the Company believes that the ultimate amount or range of reasonably possible loss will not, either individually or in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. The outcome of such legal matters is inherently unpredictable and subject to significant uncertainties. If one or more of these matters were resolved against the Company for amounts in excess of management’s expectations, the Company’s results of operations, financial condition or cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

A bit further down in the filing, Uber said the following, regarding its chances of success:

On August 6, 2020, following a hearing on the matter, the San Francisco Superior Court informed the parties that the Court would take the motions under submission and publish its order in the coming days.

The Company intends to vigorously defend itself with regard to these actions. The Company’s chances of success on the merits are still uncertain and any reasonably possible loss or range of loss cannot be estimated.

Welcome to the coming days.

Using their share price movement as a barometer, the immediate view from investors appears to be that the possible damage to Uber and Lyft from the decision could prove modest despite.

Uber and Lyft had made profit promises to their shareholders before COVID-19 arose, harming their business results. The California decision could add another layer of difficulty for each as they work to come out of the COVID era solvent, and once again on a path to adjusted profitability.

How Does Moderna Stack Up in the COVID-19 Vaccine Pricing Wars? Analyst Weighs In

How Does Moderna Stack Up in the COVID-19 Vaccine Pricing Wars? Analyst Weighs InThe narrative surrounding COVID-19-focused pharma companies is developing a new tone. While none of the players involved in the race to bring a vaccine to market have reached the final regulatory hurdles just yet, progress is being made with several Phase 3 trials already taking place.The talk is now centered around the issue of pricing – how much each company plans to sell its vaccine for.On the clinical trial front, mRNA vaccine maker Moderna (MRNA) is among the pack’s leaders. A Phase 3 clinical trial for mRNA-1273, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, kicked off last week and data should be published before the year is over, or best-case scenario, by as early as October.Moderna has several small volume agreements in place to supply $400 million-worth of the potential vaccine, which price the vaccine in the $32-$37 range. Per a recent presentation, Moderna implied it values the vaccination at roughly $300 per course. So, this pricing is far lower than what Moderna would like to sell mRNA-1273 for.However, given the current climate and the public’s desperate need for a vaccine taken into account, Chardan analyst Geulah Livshits believes the pricing plan “would place Moderna towards the top end among other recently-announced government agreements.”For 100 million doses, BNTX/Pfizer’s candidate is priced at $1.95 billion, Johnson & Johnson’s at $1 billion, Sanofi/GSK’s at $2.1 billion, and Novavax’s at $1.6 billion. AstraZeneca’s candidate is priced at $1.2 billion for 300 million doses. So, at the bottom end of Moderna’s pricing plan, mRNA-1273 would cost $3.2 billion per 100 million doses.For Livshits, the implications of such a premium are clear.“We believe it might be challenging for Moderna to negotiate higher pricing relative to other players given what have thus far been (to us) overall similar clinical and preclinical profiles, and therefore see a high likelihood of pricing large-volume contracts in the mid-high teens per dose range," the 5-star analyst said.All in all, Livshits keeps her Buy rating on MRNA as is, while the price target stays put too. At $95, the upside potential is 32%. (To watch Livshits’ track record, click here)Among Livshits’ colleagues, Moderna remains a popular pick. MRNA's Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 12 Buys and 3 Holds. The average price target is only a touch below the Chardan analyst’s, and at $93.67, could provide gains in the shape of 30% in the year ahead. (See Moderna stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for healthcare stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.


Occidental Posts $6.6 Billion Charge After Oil Price Crash

Occidental Posts $6.6 Billion Charge After Oil Price Crash(Bloomberg) -- Occidental Petroleum Corp. reported a $6.6 billion writedown in the second quarter, equivalent to more than 40% of its market value, as the collapse in energy prices took its toll on the debt-laden U.S. shale oil producer.More than two-thirds of the impairment was to account for the lower value of its domestic onshore acreage, with the remainder in the Gulf of Mexico and overseas, the Houston-based company said Monday in a statement. The shares plunged as much 6.8% in after-market trading in New York.Occidental is not alone is taking large impairments after the Covid-19 pandemic crushed demand for petroleum around the world, but its writedown is one of the biggest relative to its size. Though the charges don’t affect near-term cash flows, they increase certain leverage ratios, potentially pushing up borrowing costs for the oil producer.Excluding the writedowns, Occidental made an adjusted loss of $1.76 a share, worse than the average $1.68 estimated by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Production came in at the high-end of Occidental’s guidance, at the equivalent of 1.41 million barrels of oil a day, boosted by output from the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico.Almost every large oil and gas company has either taken or warned of massive writedowns after energy markets collapsed in the second quarter, eroding the value of their reserves. With uncertainty over when or if petroleum demand will fully recover and savage spending cuts, the industry is effectively saying large portions of its oil in the ground may never be economically produced.The loss heaps further pressure on Occidental, which is struggling with a $40 billion debt burden after its ill-timed purchase of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. last year. The company is currently considering selling assets to pay down the debt and expects to receive some $2 billion from sales in the near-term, it said in a presentation on its website.To cope with the collapse in oil prices, Occidental has been in full-blown retreat, slashing its capital budget by more than half to $2.5 billion for the year. That’s below the $2.9 billion per year it needs to sustain production going forward. As such, output is declining quickly, with a 13% drop to 1.23 million barrels a day expected in the current quarter and a further 5% in the fourth.The company said it plans to only operate one rig in the Permian Basin for the rest of the year and none in the Rocky Mountains, a stark contrast to the growth plans envisaged when it outbid Chevron to buy crosstown rival Anadarko last year.(Updates with production declines in 7th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Reddit CEO defends allowing Trump ads ahead of presidential election

Reddit is gearing up to run ads for President Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 presidential election despite concerns from employees, TechCrunch has learned. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman addressed some of these employee concerns during an all-hands meeting last week, viewed by TechCrunch.

“I know for many of you, [Trump] is simply a symbol of hate and there’s no getting around that — what he represents,” Huffman said. “And as a result, many of you have very real anger towards him or fear of where the country is going or sadness around where the country is going, and believe me, I share a lot of those emotions around the state of our country — the polarization of political discourse, the inflammatory rhetoric, the incompetence from our government. It feels like we are regressing.”

Still, Huffman spoke about how he struggles with trying to reconcile his personal beliefs with his duty as the CEO of Reddit. He pointed to Reddit’s long history with Trump, beginning in the 2016 election with r/The_Donald .

“Most of our content policy updates have been related to them in some form or fashion, including the most recent one,” Huffman said.

The decision to allow Trump ads comes within months of Huffman saying Reddit does not tolerate “hate, racism, and violence, and while we have work to do to fight these on our platform, our values are clear.”

“When I think about Reddit’s role moving forward and the role we can play in the world, I think the best way to address many of these issues is actually through the upcoming election,” Huffman said. “There’s a number of things we can do and are doing on that end to ensuring a fair election and I think we have a very important role to play. As I mentioned in my email about Black Lives Matter two months ago, that we later shared, I think in the election — this is one of the areas where Reddit can really lean in and make a difference. […] I know you might not agree with me on some of these points or follow the logic and I can’t take that away from you and I’m not trying to diminish that in any way. What I’m trying to do with Reddit is try to reconcile our beliefs with our platform and see if we can be the best participant possible in the upcoming election.”

And that means allowing political ads. The ads will likely take the form of a homepage takeover, which is the top link on the site, but not the display ads on the sidebar, Huffman explained. Additionally, Reddit will allow reserved buys, which will require the Trump campaign to work directly with the sales team. These ads will feature comments to enable users to engage with the ad.

“My hope is that this would shift the conversation or make the conversation more effective — not just let these ads be a one-way broadcasting mechanism as advertising is elsewhere on the internet but more of a two-way conversation,” Huffman said.

What Reddit won’t allow, however, are auctions, which have previously resulted in advertisers essentially bombing the entire site with their ads.

“We debated having no political ads at all on Reddit and I certainly think there’s a compelling argument for that but I think that Reddit has the opportunity to elevate the discussion around political ads and a duty to play in the political process,” Huffman said. “And I say all of this knowing that this may simply be unacceptable to some of you and I understand why. And in some areas, I can relate to why and in others I can see and hear the pain. There’s an opportunity for this to go well and a risk for this not to go well. And I think that’s a risk we accept and we will do our best to mitigate the challenges that we can foresee.”

Back in April, Reddit announced an update to its political advertising policy that requires campaigns to leave comments open on ads for the first 24 hours. What Reddit is working on now is a bit different. Currently, Reddit allows advertisers to moderate those comments, but Huffman said that’s probably not the right move in this context.

“They’ll either moderate too much or too little and that will create controversy either way,” he said. “And it could be the case that the advertiser wants that, and that controversy would come directly at our expense. So that’s not a workable solution.”

Another option is for Reddit to do comment moderation, but that also poses its risk for controversy. Huffman spoke about how Reddit may then be accused of moderating too much or too little.

“But maybe we can try this other approach, so the other approach would be no direct comments on the ads,” Huffman said. “Instead, we would have a sticky comment with a link encouraging users to submit that ad to a specific community for commentary.”

The vision, Huffman said, is people would be able to discuss the ad in specific communities on Reddit. Those discussions would then be moderated by the specific community. This feature, however, has yet to be built.

The plan is to start running political ads toward the end of September, with the goal to start testing this new feature in early September to see if it works.

“And we are willing to walk away from this deal if that’s not possible — if we can’t hit that bar, if we can’t build this in time,” Huffman said.

Huffman seemed optimistic about being able to get this done, saying it’s not “prohibitively disruptive” to any team’s road maps. Still, he recognized there are other decisions to be made around the election, such as which dates they will allow and won’t allow campaigns to advertise.

“Far and away, I think the most common question I’ve been asked about the ads themselves is, ‘why are we doing this at all?’ Like, ‘why don’t we just say no? It’s a ton of work. It’s a huge distraction,’ ” he said. “[…] I’ve shared with you the challenge about separating my personal views from, I think, my and our work at Reddit, the platform. But even when you now look at just kind of the practical decisions we have to make, that’s a very persuasive argument. At the end of the day, I think that Reddit and politics are deeply intertwined. We will have a role to play in this election no matter what. And political ads are a part of the political process. And if there’s a chance that Reddit can show another more healthy, more effective way, or add to the political conversation I think we should take it. That is what Reddit does. It’s not a sure thing and I think there are a variety of ways for this to go wrong, which we are documenting now, and we will do our best to address.”

TechCrunch has reached out to Reddit and will update this story if we hear back.

CA judge grants preliminary injunction forcing Uber and Lyft to reclassify drivers as employees

California Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman has granted a preliminary injunction forcing Uber and Lyft to reclassify its drivers as employees. This order is set to go into effect in 10 days.

“The Court is under no illusion that implementation of its injunction will be costly,” Judge Schulman wrote in the order. “There can be no question that in order for Defendants to comply with A.B. 5, they will have to change the nature of their business practices in significant ways, such as by hiring human resources staff to hire and manage their driver workforces.”

Given that the order won’t go into effect for another 10 days, Uber plans to file an immediate emergency appeal, an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

“The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. “When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression.”

The decision comes after Judge Schulman heard arguments in court last week. The hearing was the result of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, filing a preliminary injunction in an attempt to force Uber and Lyft to comply with AB 5 and immediately stop classifying their drivers as independent contractors.

“Drivers do not want to be employees, full stop,” a Lyft spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We’ll immediately appeal this ruling and continue to fight for their independence. Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers.”

In the order, Judge Schulman says the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the argument that Uber and Lyft are violating AB 5. AB 5 codifies the 2018 ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors based on the presumption that “a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits…”

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove (A) the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, (B) performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and (C) is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

The motion for a preliminary junction was filed as part of the suit filed in May, which asserted Uber and Lyft gain an unfair and unlawful competitive advantage by misclassifying workers as independent contractors. The suit argues Uber and Lyft are depriving workers of the right to minimum wage, overtime, access to paid sick leave, disability insurance and unemployment insurance. The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of San Francisco, seeks $2,500 in penalties for each violation, possibly per driver, under the California Unfair Competition Law, and another $2,500 for violations against senior citizens or people with disabilities.

“For years, workers have been organizing and speaking out against our mistreatment by billion-dollar gig companies who have refused to obey the law,” Uber driver and member of Gig Workers Rising Edan Alva said in a statement. “It is because of the fearlessness of workers that the Attorney General has been able to argue that the mistreatment we face is so severe that justice can no longer wait. Today, the court sided with workers and not corporations. Thousands of misclassified gig workers will receive the wages, benefits, protections and employee status they are legally owed. It is abundantly clear that Uber and Lyft now must comply with the law. We are steadfast in our demand that the gig companies drop their $110 million ballot initiative, Proposition 22, and reinvest those funds into treating their workers with dignity and respect.”

SpaceX reveals plans for a Texas spaceport resort in new job ad

SpaceX has big plans for its Boca Chica, Texas site – where it’s currently building and testing Starship, the company’s next-generation passenger and cargo spacecraft. A new job posting spotted by CNBC’s Micheal Sheetz seeks a “Resort Development Manager” to be based out of Brownsville, the nearest neighboring town to the small Boca Chica area where SpaceX has built out its existing test and development site.

The job posting seeks a manger to “oversee the development of SpaceX’s first resort from inception to completion,” with the ultimate aim of turning Boca Chica into a “21st century Spaceport.” That would include overseeing the entire design and construction process, as well as getting all necessary work permits and regulatory approvals, and completing the ultimate build of the facility.

SpaceX has provided some concept designs of what its ideal spaceports might look like, and CEO Elon Musk shared his intent to build floating spaceports for both interstellar and point-to-point Earth travel back in June, when the company announced it was seeking Offshore Operations Engineers, also to be located in Brownsville.

This new posting suggests that SpaceX will seek to create an end-to-end experience out of spaceflight, perhaps more in line with what Virgin Galactic is building at its Spaceport America site in New Mexico. Virgin has placed a lot of emphasis on the customer experience it is providing for its private space tourists, both in terms of its passenger space vehicle cabin, and the amenities available on the ground at the launch site.

SpaceX is readying its own vehicles for private astronaut launches, with announced plans to offer orbital return flights to paying customers using Dragon, which is now closer than ever to human flight certification thanks to having completed a return trip to Earth with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board. That demonstration mission is the final requirement in its certification process, and SpaceX now looks on track to potentially fly private spacefarers as early as its target window of sometime next year.