Hi, I’m Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to Insider Today: Sunday Edition, a roundup of some of our top stories.
On the agenda today:
Tech leaders remain oblivious to the true lessons of Silicon Valley Bank.Allegations of a toxic culture at $2.4 billion Rokt.Companies are laying off middle managers. That’s a huge mistake.The era of Big Oil could end sooner than its massive profits suggest.
But first: Insider’s Madeline Renbarger shares what happened at the SXSW Festival in Texas as tech founders and entrepreneurs learned about the implosion of Silicon Valley Bank.
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This week’s dispatch
Silicon Valley Bank employees react to the bank’s collapse
South by Southwest kicked off last Friday in Austin, but for attendees from the startup and venture-capital world, the mood was anything but celebratory, Insider’s Madeline Renbarger writes.
The festival began just as the FDIC announced it was taking control of Silicon Valley Bank to stop the catastrophic, social media-instigated bank run that was in full swing.
Without any knowledge of what would happen next, startup employees hit the open bars at the events their colleagues had prepaid for, and it felt a bit like a party at the end of the world.
But by Sunday evening, after regulators announced they were covering both SVB and the crypto-friendly bank Signature’s depositors, the mood shifted to elation and relief. And founders still on the ground at the festival were more upbeat: A founder who banked with Signature told Insider that while he “partied a little bit harder than expected” over the weekend, he was in much better spirits come Tuesday.
Silicon Valley’s blame game
iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider
In the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, there’s been plenty of finger-pointing but little self-reflection on the part of Silicon Valley, writes Insider’s Linette Lopez.
SVB’s growth was supercharged by tech’s clubby, insular nature, and its operation depended on a rising tide that was always sure to go out. And in the midst of these immature excuses from VCs and shallow recriminations from billionaire investors, the seeds of the next bubble are being planted.
Why SVB’s collapse foreshadows a bigger reckoning.
Panic and recrimination: Inside Silicon Valley’s first real financial crisisSilicon Valley Bank was the bank for tech. Its collapse is everyone’s problem.
Blackface, booze, and blurred lines
Insider Source; Alyssa Powell/Insider
Recently valued at $2.4 billion by investors, Rokt — which sells e-commerce tools to the likes of Disney and Domino’s — holds itself up as an oasis among tech startups. From 2020 to 2022, it was included in Built in NYC’s list of Best Places to Work. Some ex-employees paint a different picture.
Insider interviewed over 30 current and former employees who painted a picture of a “family business” that’s been slow to mature as it moves toward an IPO. Lawsuits brought against Rokt by former employees allege sexist behavior and a toxic work culture. The company denies these allegations.
Inside Rokt’s rocky workplace.
Save the middle manager!
iStock; Robyn Phelps/Insider
Few positions in corporate America are more thankless — or more ridiculed — than that of middle manager. But in recent weeks, as companies like Meta and Twitter braced for tougher times ahead, the assault on middle managers has picked up new steam.
CEOs say they’re slashing managers in the name of efficiency. But middle managers move the needle on a company’s overall performance far more than senior executives do — and make a bigger difference to the bottom line.
Silicon Valley needs to stop laying off workers and start firing CEOsIt’s time for companies to radically rethink how they pick and evaluate our bosses.
Big Oil’s last surge
Arif Qazi / Insider
President Joe Biden can’t quit fossil fuels even though he knows he needs to. He broke a key campaign promise this week by green-lighting one of the largest-ever oil-drilling projects on federal land in an untouched area of Alaska known as North Slope.
This raises a pair of trillion-dollar questions: How swift will the transition to clean energy be, and when will the era of Big Oil come to a close? Half a dozen analysts said it might come sooner than today’s massive fossil-fuel profits suggest.
We’re in a slow-moving transition to clean energy.
Big Oil is flush with cash but doesn’t know where to spend it
This week’s quote:
“Some come in, see a lot of naked bodies and think about it. When they’re there with their partner and have maybe drunk a few glasses of wine, it’s so much easier to get closer to each other.”
Felix Kühn, a 29-year-old sauna manager who works in a naked spa in Berlin.
More of this week’s top reads:
Instagram’s cofounder Kevin Systrom says the app has “lost the soul.”A laid-off Meta worker says the company paid her to not work. A longevity researcher says his “biological age” is a decade younger thanks to lifestyle changes.One woman makes $1,000 a month taking surveys to pay off her student loans.Car thefts of Kia and Hyundai models are booming, thanks to a viral TikTok. I tried intermittent fasting like Elon Musk — and the results surprised me.
Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Dave Smith and Lisa Ryan. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.