The Longform is a weekly newsletter that curates the best longform pieces from around the web, with a focus on business, technology, and innovation. If you haven't already, you can subscribe here.
📖 Top longform articles
Inside Palantir, Silicon Valley's Most Secretive Unicorn (~25min): One of the highest profile IPOs of 2020 so far, surprisingly little is known about Palantir besides the fact that they use software to analyze vast amounts of data for large-scale surveillance. Sharon Weinberger at Intelligencer tells a bearish history of the firm, characterizing it as an IT contractor, not a tech-first SaaS company. Trading at about 20x revenues, it seems the public market disagree (for now).
More: ⭐ Palantir and the Chaos Dance (an analysis of Palantir's S1 filings)
A TikTok House Divided (~30min): We've previously covered TikTok on The Longform from a tech side - but there's a wholly different aspect of the business that's worth understanding as well: the talent and human capital side. Leading with the gradual failure of the "Girls in the Valley" TikTok house but branching out into the TikTok talent management industry more broadly, Rebecca Jennings at Vox gives readers a glimpse into the burgeoning (and sometimes seedy) industry of managing Gen Z's who've moved to LA to get rich and famous.
Meet the Customer Service Reps who Pay to Talk to You (~30min): Arise Virtual Solutions runs on-shore call centers for F500 companies such as Disney and Airbnb, and has been one of the biggest winners of the global pandemic, experiencing rapid growth over the past months. ProPublica, in collaboration with NPR's Planet Money, report in great detail on the exploitative labor practices of the firm - including the "independent contractor" trickery that Uber is famous for, self-paid training, and more. This article provides an unprecedented view into the industry of onshore support, and a deep view into a company that has managed to stay out of the public eye despite "employing" 70K agents in North America.
💻 Top new technology
⭐Clario: An all-in-one personal digital security software, Clario packages up various services (VPN, antivirus, privacy, identity protection, etc.) into a neat and user-friendly package. Usability and security are often thought to be a zero-sum game where one comes at the cost of the other; Clario is looking break this tradeoff and make it easy for even the least savvy tech users.
👀 Other interesting content
Playco: In the news for raising $100M a few weeks ago at a ~$1B valuation, Playco is officially a unicorn before releasing even a single game. Aaron Bush and Abhimanyu Kumar have written a great piece on ⭐why it's worth the price (team, tech, and industry). In any case, the "instant gaming" category is worth watching as both major mobile platforms now have full support for instant experiences.
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