Zuckerberg Faces Congress; Ant Financial Becomes World’s Most Valuable Unicorn; PayPal Gets Into Retail Banking

The Water Coolest

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Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes and 19 seconds



Mark Zuckerberg did his best Tony Hayward today, apologizing to a joint US Senate Committee for a laundry list of improprieties including but not limited to the Cambridge Analytica breach and Russian election meddling. And lawmakers didn’t go easy on the especially pasty social media mogul …

  • Sen. Dick Durbin asked Zuck to tell the world what hotel he was staying at.
  • Sen. John Kennedy told the Facebook CEO that his user agreement “sucks”

Despite all this, Zuck handled the questions about as well as Jesse Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg could have. Facebook’s shares spiked 5% during the testimony.

 … like free Facebook. Reading between the lines of Zuck’s sit-down in Washington, many C-SPAN watchers noted that ‘Facebook Mark’ hinted at a paid version of the site.

Zuck was less cryptic about being really, really sorry and not having thought the Cambridge Analytica breach was a big deal at the time.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “Congressional testimonies might be the most underrated thing on cable television. Think about it: Frank Pentangeli, Mark McGwire, and now Zuck. Must. See. TV.”



Jack Ma’s Ant Financial is looking to surpass Uber as the highest valued unicorn (no, not the sex kind) in the world. With a $9B fundraising round, the financial-tech company’s valuation will top $150B.

The most important company in Ant’s portfolio is the most widely used payment platform in China, Alipay. It is also one of China’s biggest non-bank lenders and, according to sources, is expected to IPO later this year.

Alipay has 520M registered users and has been expanding its reach to other countries while making deals with major institutions like BNP Paribas to gain access to large networks of merchants.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “An IPO over $100B makes Ant Financial larger than Goldman Sachs and Blackrock combined. Not too bad for Jack Ma, who by the way is like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Travis Kalanick all rolled into one.”



Trade concessions, that is. The markets got on board with President Xi’s subtle concessions in the tariff stand-off with the US. The Dow rose 400 points on the news.

(Check out the Insider Information section below for full trade war coverage.) 



… PayPal will gladly hold it for you.

PayPal plans to bring traditional banking services to users in an effort to reach those people who are often overlooked by traditional banks (read: drug dealers). Services will include debit cards, mobile check depositing, and direct deposit for paychecks.

The virtual money management suite won’t be opening physical retail locations. Services will be backed by multiple small banks: a bank in Delaware will handle debit services, one in Georgia will be managing check cashing etc.

PayPal will not offer interest on balances and will charge 1% check cashing fees. There will, however, be no monthly fees for the service, and no minimum balance penalties. Twenty-eight cent balance bank account holders, rejoice.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “This is the perfect solution for those who don’t have a bank account and would rather not bury their cash in the backyard.”



  • VW plans to replace CEO Matthias Mueller as soon as Friday.
  • South Korea’s National Pension Service is cutting ties with Samsung Securities after they accidentally issued roughly $105B worth of shares to their employees. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, right?
  • Hulu and YouTube are expected to start selling ads on their live TV services in the near future. “Great, more commercials,” said no one ever.
  • Icahn Enterprise will be parting ways with car part manufacturer Federal-Mogul for a cool $2.4B. Callahan Auto reportedly did not submit a bid.
  • The Fed has proposed reducing the number of capital related requirements that large banks must meet (from 24 to 14). This would be the first major banking change since Trump has taken office.
  • US indices were up yesterday:
    • DOW: +1.79%
    • S&P 500: +1.67%
    • NASDAQ: +2.07%




Why we buy all of our “official NBA merchandise” from China: They say if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying. If that’s true then the Chinese are trying really, really hard (to steal America’s intellectual property).

How we plan to be a part of the solution: What better way to show China that we’re mad as hell that they broke a hacking pact and stole intellectual property from the US than a hastily made version of the computer game ‘Snake’?

Why we should never be allowed to be leaders of the free world: We’re pretty sure FiveThirtyEight’s Trade War game is how the actual trade war will be resolved.

Why we’re starting to think this isn’t such a good idea after all: Planet Money’s coverage of literally the worst tariff ever is a reminder that one relatively minor political gaffe can live on via public radio podcast forever.