Writing

Read breaking news, enterprise reporting, and analysis by Selina Wang for Bloomberg News and Businessweek Magazine.

Sampling of stories below. Click on article title to read full length 

Click here to read Selina’s most recent reporting 

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank, and the $100 Billion Blitz on Sand Hill Road

(Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine Feature Story. Click here for PDF version, as it appeared in print.)

Two years ago, Masayoshi Son, chief executive officer of SoftBank, sat in a Gulfstream jet high above the Arabian Gulf, en route to meet with potential investors in a new fund that would invest in technology startups. He was going through his presentation with Rajeev Misra, a key lieutenant, when something stopped him.

One of the slides included the proposed size of the fund: $30 billion. The figure would make the Vision Fund, as Son had named it, about four times the size of the largest venture capital fund ever created and bigger than any private equity fund in history.

Son stared at the number for a moment. Then he deleted the three and replaced it with a one and another zero. “Life’s too short to think small,” he told a stunned Misra.

This High-Tech Vertical Farm Promises Whole Foods Quality at Walmart Prices

(Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine Cover Story. Click here for PDF version)

Before stepping into Plenty Inc.’s indoor farm on the banks of the San Francisco Bay, make sure you’re wearing pants and closed-toe shoes. Heels aren’t allowed. If you have long hair, you should probably tie it back. Your first stop is the cleaning room. Open the door and air will whoosh behind you, removing stray dust and contaminants as the door slams shut. Slide into a white bodysuit, pull on disposable shoe covers, and don a pair of glasses with colored lenses. Wash your hands in the sink before slipping on food-safety gloves. Step into a shallow pool of clear, sterilized liquid, then open the door to what the company calls its indoor growing room, where another air bath eliminates any stray particles that collected in the cleaning room.

The Dark Realities Women Face Driving for Uber and Lyft

(Click here to listen to the accompanying podcast)

Late one night in June, Jody Pagliocco was driving down a long, wooded road in southern Maine. She was working for Uber, and her passenger, a man, was in the front seat. That was unusual —but she hadn’t felt comfortable telling him to get in the back when he opened the front door. She had picked him up from a bar in town, and he was drunk. The road was dark and there was nobody around. Pagliocco was getting uncomfortable.

How the Kremlin Tried to Pose as American News Sites on Twitter

The Kremlin-backed Russian Internet Research Agency operated dozens of Twitter accounts masquerading as local American news sources that collectively garnered more than half-a-million followers. More than 100 news outlets also published stories containing those handles in the run-up to the election, and some of them were even tweeted by a top presidential aide. These news imposter accounts, which are part of the 2,752 now-suspended accounts that Twitter Inc. has publicly disclosed to be tied to the IRA, show how the Russian group sought to build local communities of followers to disseminate messages.

Alibaba Pulls Back in U.S. Amid Trump Crackdown on Chinese Investment

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is scaling back its presence in Silicon Valley—a sign that the Trump administration’s crackdown on Chinese investment in U.S. companies is casting a chill.

In Saudi Dealings, SoftBank Faces a Tricky Situation

The disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi sent a jolt through the international community. It could also mark a turning point in the relationship between the Saudi government and foreign business executives —in particular, SoftBank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son, who has a lot to lose.

Jack Dorsey Gets His Day in Washington

Sept. 5 will be an historic day for Twitter. In the morning, CEO Jack Dorsey will make his debut in Congress, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russian interference in U.S. elections. Then in the afternoon the House Energy and Commerce Committee will grill him about claims that his company is biased against conservatives. The accusation has been levied repeatedly in recent weeks by conservative commentators and lawmakers, including President Trump (on Twitter, ironically enough).

Facebook’s Battle Against Fake News Notches an Uneven Scorecard

A self-described liberal, Trenton Harris took a job writing for a website called the Conservative Daily Post, and he says he got a front-row view of the fake-news industry.

Writers were expected to produce four lengthy articles a day, he learned, at $20 apiece. There was no time to interview experts or check facts, he said, and stories had to be slanted to favor President Donald Trump. “It didn’t matter if the article was correct or if it could be proven,” said Harris, 28, who used a pen name. He quit after a couple of months early last year. Executives for the website didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Conservative Daily Post would seem a ripe target in Facebook’s quest to combat fake news. At least 10 of its articles — including an account of American students forced to wear hijabs — have been debunked by the fact-check site Snopes. Nonetheless, the site and some others like it have maintained resilient traffic on Facebook, even as the social-media giant’s efforts have contributed to the shutdown of websites.

Silicon Valley Wants to Cash In On Fasting

Like most of the health fads that catch on in Silicon Valley, this one broke through thanks to word-of-mouth—and a Medium post. Entrepreneur Sumaya Kazi extolled its virtues to 650,000 readers, while venture capitalist Phil Libin and others preached about it to anyone who would listen. Their miraculous idea was in fact a very old one: eating nothing at all for long stretches of time. Monthly Google searches for “intermittent fasting,” which has become a catchall term for various forms of the practice, have risen tenfold over the past three years, to as many as 1 million. That’s about as many as “weight loss” gets, and more than “diet.” Now comes the next step, as businesses try to turn various forms of the craze into profit. Above link to read magazine story, Listen to the podcast here. 

Why Twitter Let Noto Walk Away

Twitter Inc.’s executives gathered from around the world this week at its offices in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood to discuss the state of the company, goals for the year, and management’s broader ambitions. The twice-yearly meeting is usually a chance for Twitter’s leaders to re-commit themselves and air any concerns to their hundred or so peers.

Silicon Valley’s Chinese Backers Are Under Threat in Congress

In recent years, Silicon Valley startups have increasingly attracted foreign investment, much of it from China. The jolt of capital has made it easier for young companies to raise money and for U.S. investors to sell their stakes. That influx of foreign money is now under threat.

Twitter Sidestepped Russian Account Warnings, Former Worker Says

In early 2015, a Twitter employee discovered a vast amount of Twitter accounts with IP addresses in Russia and Ukraine.  The worker, Leslie Miley, said most of them were inactive or fake but were not deleted at the time. Miley, who was the company’s engineering manager of product safety and security at the time, said efforts to root out spam and manipulation on the platform were slowed down by the company’s growth team, which focused on increasing users and revenue.

SoFi’s Former CEO Harnesses the Blockchain for Home Loan Startup

Mike Cagney, who built SoFi into America’s biggest student loan refinancer before quitting amid allegations of sexual harassment at the fintech firm, is preparing for his second act: a startup offering home-equity loans. Cagney has raised $50 million for San Francisco-based Figure, which plans to use the blockchain to help expedite loan approvals in minutes rather than days, according to people familiar with the matter. Two global banks have agreed to finance loans and several firms have agreed to purchase them, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss a private matter.

Silicon Valley-Backed Payments Processor Adyen Weighs an IPO

Adyen BV, a fast-growing Dutch payments company backed by Silicon Valley billionaires, is considering an initial public offering as early as next year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Twitter Is Working on a Snapchat-Style Video Sharing Tool

(This scoop caused Snapchat’s shares to plummet). Twitter Inc. is working on a new Snapchat-style feature that makes it easier to post videos on the social-media company’s app, according to people familiar with the matter, aiming to attract more users and cement a nascent turnaround.

Tech Diets Catch on With Apple Executives, Facebook Billionaires and Googlers

At Google, some employees use a tool that restricts time spent on email. A senior Apple Inc. executive said his wife used a device that sets iPhone and iPad limits for their children. Members of a venture capital firm meditate before phone-free quarterly meetings. Slava Rubin, co-founder of crowdfunding site Indiegogo, has a strict no-screen policy for gatherings and adopted a similar rule for his bedroom.

Twitter’s Bet on Video Is Starting to Pay Off

Two years ago, even as its stock plummeted and takeover rumors swirled, Twitter Inc. was hatching a plan to become a force in live video. The company’s goal was to help users discover “what’s happening now.”

There were plenty of skeptics who said the battered company couldn’t possibly compete with deeper-pocketed rivals like Facebook Inc.

China’s Ant Financial Pushes U.S. to Approve MoneyGram Deal

Ant Financial is expected to make a third try for U.S. approval of its takeover of MoneyGram International Inc. as a secretive national security panel throws up hurdles for Chinese investors seeking to buy American companies. The former affiliate of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is preparing to resubmit the $1.2 billion deal for review before the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, or CFIUS, said people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public.

Hedge Fund Puts $150 Million to Invest in Homes on Startup Point

A startup that buys equity in American homes just got its largest financial commitment to date through a $150 million boost from a New York hedge fund, amid rising home prices that are fueling demand for home-equity products.

MoneyGram Deal Collapse May Force a Re-Think at Jack Ma’s Ant

Ant Financial may have to re-tool its global ambitions after stiff U.S. opposition scuppered what would have been its largest overseas acquisition.

Shareholders Press Twitter, Facebook on Sexual Harassment

Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., under fire from lawmakers for Russian manipulation of their social media sites, are now facing heat from shareholders, who say the companies need to do more to combat sexual harassment of women on their platforms.

Twitter Is Crawling With Bots and Lacks Incentive to Expel Them

On Wednesday, the exterior of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters bore an eerie message: “Ban Russian Bots.” Someone— the company doesn’t know who— projected the demand onto the side of its building.

Bots, or automated software programs, can be programmed to periodically send out messages on the internet. Now Twitter is scrambling to explain how bots controlled by Russian meddlers may have been used to impact the 2016 president election.

Drone King DJI Has a Serious Pentagon Problem

What a difference a month makes. On Aug. 2 the U.S. Army issued a memo directing its personnel to stop using drones made by SZ DJI Technology Co. and to uninstall all DJI software. The Army had become aware of security holes in the Chinese company’s products, according to the memo.

Why Twitter Let Noto Walk Away

Twitter Inc.’s executives gathered from around the world this week at its offices in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood to discuss the state of the company, goals for the year, and management’s broader ambitions. The twice-yearly meeting is usually a chance for Twitter’s leaders to re-commit themselves and air any concerns to their hundred or so peers.

#MeToo Forces South by Southwest Festival to Confront Sexism

South by Southwest is taking a hard look at #MeToo.

Amid the raucous parties and speed networking at the annual festival that draws people from technology, film, and music to Austin, Texas, there will be some soul searching about gender discrimination, sexual harassment and how to fix the broken workplace culture.

Jack Ma Is Ahead of Jeff Bezos in Grocery Store Ambitions

Jack Ma is ahead of Jeff Bezos in one area: grocery stores.

For years, it looked to some like Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. was simply following in the footsteps of Bezos’ Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest e-commerce company. Just like Seattle-based Amazon, China’s online shopping giant started a cloud-computing business and created original entertainment content. But when Amazon’s $13.7 billion bid for Whole Foods Market Inc. sent shockwaves across the retail industry, Ma looked prescient.

Why Twitter Can’t Pull the Trigger on New Products

Two years after returning as Twitter Inc.’s chief executive officer, Jack Dorsey has pulled the company back from the brink, persuading people to spend more time on the micro-blogging site and attracting more advertising. Investors ratified his efforts this week, when Twitter posted a surprise surge in revenue growth and a first-ever profit. The shares rose 12 percent.

There’s a Reason You’re Seeing Those Doughnut GIFs

On Valentine’s Day, if you entered “love” into popular GIF search engine Tenor, the top results would have included a doughnut leaning on a coffee cup with the slogan “We’re better together” and a heart-shaped dessert with the phrase “Donuts before dudes.” While neither may represent most people’s idea of amour, they’re top of mind for Dunkin’ Donuts, which paid to have the GIFs created and placed in the hope that viewers would pass them along to friends.

Twitter Soars After Surprise Sales Gain, First Real Profit

Twitter Inc. soared the most since its market debut in 2013 after it posted the first revenue growth in four quarters, driven by improvements to its app and added video content that are persuading advertisers to boost spending on the social network.

Amazon, Apple Struggle to Sit Out NRA Gun-Control Debate

Gun-control activists are demanding that Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos do something he has carefully avoided: pick a side in a hot-button political debate.

Goldman-Backed Cryptocurrency Startup Says It’s Profitable

Circle Internet Finance Ltd., a Goldman Sachs Group Inc.-backed startup focused on mobile payments and cryptocurrencies, said it has reached profitability and hired a former Boxed Wholesale executive to lead finance and risk.

Inside Jawbone’s High-Risk Plan to Become a Medical Device Maker

Broke news on Jawbone’s health plans based on leaked documents.

SoftBank Vision Fund Leads $200 Million Bet on Indoor Farms

First to report this deal:

Masayoshi Son has discovered a green thumb.

The SoftBank Group Corp. chief’s Vision Fund is leading a $200 million investment in Silicon Valley startup Plenty, which says it has cracked the code on growing crops indoors super efficiently. Other participants in the round include Moore Capital Management founder Louis Bacon as well as existing backers such as DCM Ventures and funds that invest on behalf of Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

He Can Fix Your Student Debt, but Can He Sell You a Mortgage?

As chief operating officer of Twitter Inc., Anthony Noto did a lot to calm the company’s perpetually anxious shareholders. He started as the head of finance but became second in command after management shakeups. On Feb. 26, however, Noto took over as chief executive officer of a financial technology startup, Social Finance Inc., or SoFi. Once again, he’s stepping into a leadership gap at a company with big ambitions—and some big headaches.

This Startup Wants to Replace Your Office With 3D Holograms

Feature story, podcast and video:

One recent morning, Stephanie Rosenburg arrived at work to find her PC monitor had vanished. She looked around the office and saw that members of her team were wearing headsets with see-through visors and grabbing invisible objects with their hands. Rosenburg had just returned from vacation so it took her a few seconds to process what was happening before she clued in: “Oh,” she thought. “It’s my turn now.”

Jack Ma Woos Mom and Pop Shops in U.S. Jobs Push

Sam Wolf moved his family’s health and wellness business online more than a decade ago. The Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based company runs its own warehouse and sells thousands of nutrition products in dozens of countries through its own website as well as on Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. But all that know-how didn’t quite prepare Wolf for the experience of selling into China through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s online stores.

Why the Chinese Will Pay for Content That Americans Won’t

Back in early 2016, Li Xiang was just another overworked magazine editor in Beijing. Then along came an opportunity to produce a business newsletter on a brand-new app called De Dao. In just a few months that app—which means “I Get”  in English—had attracted millions of users looking for daily advice and to learn everything from music to economics. And Li? Within months, he had close to 100,000 subscribers paying about $30 a year—which works out to almost $3 million in annual revenue.

How to Earn Millions in China’s App Economy

Podcast: In the U.S., free content — whether that’s cooking tutorials on YouTube or the latest news on Twitter — is supported by advertising. In China, however, companies have succeeded in getting people to directly pay for what they consume, opening up a new source of revenue for the booming app industry and lucrative opportunities for content creators.

China’s Troubled LeEco Said to Plan Cutting Most of U.S. Workers

Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco plans to lay off more than 300 employees in the U.S., reducing the headcount to about 50 people, according to a person familiar with the matter.

SoftBank’s $100 Billion Tech Fund Rankles VCs as Valuations Soar

Earlier this month SoftBank led a $502 million investment in a London-based virtual reality startup called Improbable Worlds. Less than two years ago, the startup was worth about $100 million. Then SoftBank came along, and suddenly it was worth 10 times that. Overnight, Improbable Worlds had become a unicorn.

China’s JD.com Said in Talks to Invest in Indonesia’s Tokopedia

JD.com Inc., Alibaba’s fiercest rival in Chinese e-commerce, is in talks to make a major investment in Indonesia’s PT Tokopedia to speed its expansion into Southeast Asia’s largest economy, people familiar with the matter said.

Lyft Bookings and Ridership Soar, While Losses Shrink

Lyft Inc.’s bookings and ridership surged in the first quarter, suggesting the company benefited from user defections and management turmoil at larger rival Uber Technologies Inc.

Square Said to Acquire Team From Struggling Social App Yik Yak

Square Inc. acquired the engineering team of Yik Yak, according to a person familiar with the matter, marking the decline of the once-popular anonymous social network.

LeEco Is Said to Miss U.S. Sales Forecasts, Plan More Job Cuts

Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco Inc. is sharply scaling back its U.S. ambitions.

The company — which oversees a range of businesses in China, from streaming video to smartphones to electric cars — missed its projections for 2016 sales in the U.S. by a wide margin and is planning to cut more than a third of its U.S. workforce, a person familiar with the matter said.

Chinese Giant LeEco Ends Plan to Acquire U.S. TV Maker Vizio

Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco Inc. abandoned its planned $2 billion acquisition of U.S television maker Vizio Inc. because of regulatory issues, and instead is exploring other ways to incorporate LeEco’s content into Vizio’s devices.

Jack Ma’s Latest U.S. Expansion Plan Threatened by Trump Agenda

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s latest U.S. expansion plan is facing rising political obstacles.

On Friday, two members of the House of Representatives urged the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to conduct a “full and thorough” investigation of Ant Financial’s proposed acquisition of MoneyGram International Inc., a money-transfer service.

Tencent Emerges as Musk’s China Booster With 5% Tesla Stake

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk just gained a massive and well-connected confidant to help him better crack China’s auto market: Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Ant Financial Said Considering Higher Offer for MoneyGram

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial is considering whether to make a higher offer for MoneyGram International Inc., according to a person familiar with the negotiations, after the U.S. company said a smaller rival’s bid could be a better deal.

GoPro Camera Maker Cuts Jobs Again in Search of Profit

GoPro Inc. unveiled a second round of job cuts to reduce costs in the face of growing skepticism from Wall Street that the action-camera maker can return to growth and make a profit.

Trump Looms Large Over This Year’s South by Southwest Gathering

Donald Trump won’t be attending this year’s South by Southwest conference, which started Friday in Austin, Texas. But the president will be very much in evidence — if only in spirit — at the annual gathering of technologists, musicians and wannabe entrepreneurs.

Can This Man Save GoPro?

In January, CJ Prober took on a challenge that has become frustratingly common in techdom: turning around a publicly traded hardware company whose products are no longer hits.

SoFi Is in Talks for $500 Million Funding Led by Silver Lake

Social Finance Inc. is close to raising about $500 million in a funding round expected to be led by private equity firm Silver Lake Partners to bolster the expansion of its online-lending businesses and personal financial services, according to people familiar with the matter.

Alibaba Olympics Sponsorship Deal Said to Be Worth $800 Million

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s deal to sponsor the Olympic Games through 2028 is worth $800 million, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Alibaba’s Ma Meets With Trump to Talk About Creating Jobs

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma met with Donald Trump on Monday to discuss how the online retailer could help create 1 million new U.S. jobs, keying in on one of the president-elect’s chief concerns amid fraught relations between China and the incoming administration.

SoFi Pushes Back IPO Plans Amid Financial Tech Sector Struggles

Social Finance Inc. is taking it slow after a rough year for financial technology companies.

The online lending company known as SoFi, which specializes in refinancing student loans, is pushing back plans for an initial public offering in order to focus on developing other business lines, said Chief Executive Officer Mike Cagney. Meanwhile, the company hasn’t yet closed a $500 million funding round, an effort that has SoFi courting international investors to purchase loans and potentially take an equity stake at the same time.

Alibaba’s Finance Arm Tours Silicon Valley as It Preps for IPO

A team of executives from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s banking and payments arm recently visited Silicon Valley to size up potential investments and lay the groundwork for an initial public offering expected as soon as next year.

How Alibaba Turns Wealthy Shopaholics Into a Marketing Squad

Meng Cui Yi spent almost $90,000 at Alibaba’s online mall in the past year. The 33-year-old restaurateur buys pretty much everything there—Burberry apparel, La Mer skincare products, furniture, groceries and more. After Alibaba’s annual Singles’ Day sale last year, Meng’s purchases were piled so high outside her Shanghai apartment her businessman husband could barely get in the door.

Alibaba Wants Its $18 Billion Singles’ Day to Be More, Mean Less

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reported a whopping $17.8 billion of sales during its online shopping bonanza Singles’ Day. But it doesn’t want you to focus on that number.

Alibaba’s U.S. Growth Ambitions at Risk After Trump Victory

Chinese internet companies face a new reality after Donald Trump’s surprise victory as U.S. president-elect — and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has the most to lose.

This Chinese Video Streaming Giant Wants to Sell You a TV, a Phone and a Bike—and That’s Just a Start

Next year, Matt Damon will play a mercenary who goes to China in search of novel weapons, only to stumble upon a secretive army that defends the country from invading monsters.

The Chinese Music App That Wants to Be the Next Facebook

Bridget Kelly learned about Musical.ly at a sleepover and was hooked. Before long, the 12-year-old Moraga, California, resident and her friends were using the app to make 15-second music videos showing off their acapella or lip-syncing skills. After school, they choreographed moves for their next music video and performed “duets” with favorite celebrities.

How Women Won a Leading Role in China’s Venture Capital Industry

The largest venture capital fund ever raised by a woman isn’t in Silicon Valley or even the U.S. It’s in Beijing and is run by a former librarian who keeps such a low profile that she’s a mystery in her native China. Chen Xiaohong rarely attends industry conferences or events. She hadn’t given a media interview in more than a decade until agreeing to break her silence this summer. “I don’t like being part of a club,” said Chen during a four-hour discussion at her firm’s headquarters. “I believe in staying independent, making your own decisions.”

Ex-Google Guy Builds English Teaching App That Adapts to Student

Yi Wang was hearing the same refrain over and over: Why are English classes in China so expensive? And why aren’t I proficient yet?

Alibaba Finance Arm Buys Eye-Scan Startup in First U.S. Foray

Ant Financial, the payments affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., acquired EyeVerify Inc., to expand services using the U.S. startup’s biometric authentication technology for securing consumers’ online data and transactions.

Alibaba’s E-Commerce App Has a Social Network Facebook Would Love

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has tried to shake the perception that it’s just the EBay Inc. or Amazon.com Inc. of China, by pushing into social media and entertainment and actively investing in startups like Snapchat Inc.

Why an Ex-Google Coder Makes Twice as Much Freelancing

With a talent war raging, companies from Airbnb to Pfizer are paying top dollar for the services of independent programmers

An Ex-Goldman Banker Has Big Plans for Alibaba Finance Affiliate

When Douglas Feagin decided to leave Goldman Sachs Group Inc. after 22 years to run Ant Financial’s global operations, his colleagues congratulated him. Then asked: “Wait, what does Ant Financial do?”

Hong Kong Has Plenty of Billionaires But No Billion-Dollar Startups

Not Just Flying Selfie Sticks: World’s Top Drone-Maker Aims Higher