Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday.
- Uber has held talks to buy electric scooter startups Bird and Lime. The Information reported that a multi-billion dollar deal for one of the firms could alleviate Uber’s scooter supply concerns.
- Google CEO Sundar Pichai is preparing for what could be a defining week. Pichai will testify in front of Congress for the first time on Wednesday, a day before he and other tech bosses hold a meeting at the White House.
- Facebook is quietly developing “soft robotics” – flexible robots that move and act like living organisms. Soft robotics is an experimental field of robotics that draws inspiration from biology, from lizard tongues to octopuses.
- Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt listed the “3 big failures” he sees in tech startups today. In a speech in London last week, he said tech startups need to be more diverse, less product driven, and more willing to partner early.
- The “secret sister” gift exchange on Facebook is actually an illegal pyramid scheme. It promises you’ll get 36 gifts in return for buying just one, but it’s actually an illegal pyramid scheme, and law enforcement is warning about it.
- Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz’s Asana is now worth $US1.5 billion. The software startup passed the so-called unicorn valuation of $US1 billion. “It’s really nice to cross over that concrete mark,” Moskovitz said.
- NASA roasted Elon Musk for smoking weed live on the internet. Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters that SpaceX CEO Musk’s cannabis smoking on a podcast in September “was not appropriate behaviour.”
- Buzzy software company Carta is raising funding at an $US800 million valuation. Venture capital firms Meritech Capital and Tribe Capital are leading the funding round, multiple sources told Business Insider.
- Amazon is building a dozen satellite transmission facilities that it hopes will extend its lucrative cloud model into space. The company plans to build 12 ground stations throughout the world, with two facilities operational on Tuesday.
- Instagram added a new feature that means you can share Stories with just your closest friends. The Close Friends update allows users to create an exclusive list of people who can see their Stories.
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