Welcome to another edition of Business Twitter, where we collect the best tweets to come out of Silicon Valley so you don’t have to. This article is part of a newsletter — if you want a weekly Business Twitter roundup sent to your inbox every Friday, subscribe here.
This week: Elizabeth Holmes’ romantic texts to “Sunny” Balwani are made public during her criminal trial for her role in the Theranos debacle, a Fordham professor breaks down why global supply chains are backed up, a Black Google employee’s story of discrimination goes viral, and a look at Greylock’s new $500 million seed fund.
1. Theranos texts
Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes is currently being tried on allegations that she ran Theranos as a giant fraud scheme. Holmes and her second-in-command (and former romantic partner), Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, both face a dozen criminal charges for allegedly duping investors and patients about the capabilities of the blood-testing startup.
While plenty has already been written about the Theranos debacle, the trial revealed some new details, including the romantic texts between Holmes and Balwani, who dated for much of the company’s existence before it shut down in 2018.
NBC tech reporter Scott Budman tweeted one especially awkward exchange between the two from May 2015:
‘You are the breeze in desert for me.’
‘Meant to be only together tiger.’
Other messages (a whopping 81,000 of which were collected for the trial) include this one from 2014, in which Holmes describes herself as having “total confidence in myself best business person of the year.”
2. Global supply chain chaos
In one of this week’s more informative threads, Fordham professor Matthew Hockenberry outlined why the global supply chains are so screwed up. A collection of articles linked in the thread answer questions like “Why is shipping so slow?” and “Why is everything so expensive?”
For the short version, Hockenberry sums up the articles here — “They peg the problem to the shipping industry: ‘For the global economy, shipping is at the center of the explanation for what has gone awry.’ And it IS the case that shipping is the most proximal cause for supply chain snags.”
There’s quite a bit of congestion in California — this week the number of ships waiting to dock hit an all time high of 56, and capacity is at all time high. The situation is even more chaotic in China, where Covid protocols slow down an even larger number of ships from loading and unloading.
So how did the entire shipping industry get into this mess? It’s a mix of Covid, a US trade deficit, a labor shortage, and an early holiday-buying surge.
“Almost every supply chain problem can be traced to a failure in prediction,” Hockenberry concludes. “But usually these are isolated, by geography, by sector, and they have (historically) tended to be relatively short-lived.”
3. Google’s (continued) diversity problem
Silicon Valley has been known to harbor an over-abundance of white men for years, and Google is no stranger to complaints from Black employees about discrimination in the workplace. This week, one Black employee’s tweet on his experience at the company went viral.
Angel Onuoha, an associate product manager, tweeted on Monday, “Riding my bike around Google’s campus and somebody called security on me because they didn’t believe I was an employee. Had to get escorted by two security guards to verify my ID badge.”
In a matter of days, the tweet received over 90,000 likes. Other employees of color replied to the tweet, including former Google security guard Albert Richardson, who wrote, “Dawg I worked as security at Google and got security called on me. Smh.”
“I was on lunch in one of the micro kitchens,” Richardson added. “My radio goes off like "Hey Al when you get off of lunch can you head over to the second floor micro kitchen. A Googler just reported a suspicious individual in that area." I spent [an] hour looking for myself.”
4. Greylock plants seed fund
Greylock Partners, one of the more prominent VC firms in Silicon Valley, announced this week that it would dedicate $500 million to seed rounds for up-and-coming startups, making it the largest pool for early stage startups in venture capital.
Greylock Partner Sarah Guo tweeted about the fund, writing, “Seed investing is core to Greylock. How you start as a company determines how far you can go. We have always preferred to get conviction, get in the boat early, and start doing the work.”
Greylock already had a $1.1 billion seed fund, which means that this latest round brings the fund to $1.6 billion. The move follows a trend of VC firms investing in companies earlier than ever, partly for more control over startups and partly to gain an edge in competing with other firms for the right to invest down the line.