Episodes
Published 04/14/22
The Amazon Story
Published 04/07/22
The Amazon Story
Published 03/31/22
The Amazon Story
Published 03/24/22
The Amazon Story
Published 03/17/22
One day in 2011, a small team of Boston-based AI scientists got an unexpected call: Amazon wanted to buy their company. Its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, was leading a secret team to develop a unique device, a voice-activated computer that could recognize and respond to user questions from across a noisy room. The world would soon know the device as the Amazon Echo, and its virtual personality as Alexa. Brad Stone tells the Alexa story and sizes up its impact on culture, and conventional...
Published 03/10/22
Today Amazon is an inescapable juggernaut. Back in 1994, it was just an idea, pitched by a former Wall Street banker named Jeff Bezos to disbelieving investors at the very birth of the internet era. Reporter Brad Stone, who has spent years chronicling the Amazon story, describes how the company almost flamed out the dot.bomb era and how Bezos rescued the company in part by ginning up two new lines of business – Prime shipping and its digital reader, the Kindle. Learn more about your...
Published 03/10/22
This season of Foundering reexamines a foundational story of the internet age: the rise of Amazon and its ingenious founder Jeff Bezos. Over the last 20 years, Amazon has changed the way we shop, what we watch on TV, how we interact with our devices and how businesses consume computing resources. But is Amazon now too powerful—and unaccountable? And how did Bezos, once widely admired, turn into a controversial figure of unfathomable wealth, whose personal pursuits are avidly covered by the...
Published 02/17/22
On Breakthrough, a new series from the Prognosis podcast, we explore how the pandemic is changing our understanding of healthcare and medicine. We start with an examination of long Covid, a mysterious new illness that has stumped doctors attempting to treat symptoms that last for months and potentially years. It has changed the way hospitals work and forced healthcare officials to prepare for the next pandemic. Covid has also opened the door to revolutionary technology: messenger RNA...
Published 10/13/21
In the summer of 2020, amid a pandemic, historic unemployment and racial unrest, President Donald Trump developed a bizarre obsession with TikTok. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo and her colleagues take you aboard Air Force One and into the surreal tit-for-tat fight between TikTok and one of the most powerful men in the world.
Published 05/20/21
After Donald Trump is elected president, tensions between the United States and China escalate. Several American politicians, security experts and even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg turn their attention toward TikTok. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo looks into the fundamental question facing TikTok: What user data does TikTok collect, and can that information wind up in the hands of the Chinese government?
Published 05/13/21
While TikTok is known primarily as a breeding ground for funny memes, dance routines and lip-synching videos, there’s a dark side to TikTok that starts with the young children who populate the app. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo looks into the consequences of TikTok’s failure to safeguard its adolescent user base. Warning: This episode contains difficult and disturbing reporting, including stories about the sexual exploitation of minors.
Published 05/06/21
TikTok has redefined American pop culture and upended the music industry, advertising and the economics of fame. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo examines TikTok’s hands-on approach with its creators and artists, minting a new generation of social media stars and positioning TikTok’s parent company as the first Chinese tech giant to come out with a truly global consumer app.
Published 04/29/21
TikTok is powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence that predicts what users want to see next. This technology was developed at ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company and the most valuable startup in the world. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo explains how ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming fundamentally changed how a generation consumes media on their phones.
Published 04/22/21
Alex Zhu, a Chinese tech entrepreneur, was seated on a train in Silicon Valley across from a group of teenagers. He watched as the kids were listening to music and making videos on their phones, and he decided to create an app that combined the two cultural obsessions. The resulting platform would become the social media powerhouse now known as TikTok. In this episode, reporter Shelly Banjo explains the genesis of Gen Z’s favorite app.
Published 04/22/21
TikTok emerged as the defining app of a generation: a cultural tastemaker, a musical hitmaker and a launchpad for a new breed of celebrity. But as the app reached over 2 billion downloads, TikTok became a victim of its own success, attracting sharp scrutiny from the world’s two most powerful countries. In this season of Foundering, Bloomberg Technology reporter Shelly Banjo tracks the rise of TikTok by taking listeners inside the mysterious Chinese mega-startup behind the phenomenon and the...
Published 04/01/21
A few decades ago, nobody really questioned vaccines. They were viewed as a standard part of staying healthy and safe. Today, the number of people questioning vaccines risks prolonging a pandemic that has already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. How we got to this moment didn’t start with the rollout of vaccines or in March 2020, or even with the election of Donald Trump. Our confidence in vaccines, often isn't even about vaccines. It’s about trust. And that trust has been eroding...
Published 03/12/21
The WeWork Story, Part 6: After WeWork's failed IPO, thousands of employees were laid off and the company teetered on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, ousted CEO Adam Neumann flew to Israel with a generous exit package in hand. In this final episode of Foundering, reporter Ellen Huet surveys the wreckage of WeWork. Adam's executives and employees were asking themselves: Did Adam ever really believe in the values he preached? And what lessons will the world draw from WeWork's crash?
Published 07/30/20
The WeWork Story, Part 6: WeWork had spent nine years chasing lightning-fast growth, burning billions of dollars, and expanding around the world. In 2019, the company reached a turning point: WeWork needed even more cash, and Adam Neumann decided to take his company public with a massive IPO. But suddenly, in the span of a few weeks, his plan crashed spectacularly. The almost-IPO flopped and WeWork became a laughingstock. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet asks: How did the company's...
Published 07/23/20
The killers of Berta Caceres had every reason to believe they’d get away with murder. More than 100 other environmental activists in Honduras had been killed in the previous five years, yet almost no one had been punished for the crimes. Bloomberg’s Blood River follows a four-year quest to find her killers – a twisting trail that leads into the country’s circles of power. Blood River premieres on July 27.
Published 07/21/20
The WeWork Story, Part 5: Adam Neumann always had wild ambitions. By 2017, he had found an even wilder investor who wanted to fund those ambitions: SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. Adam spent his billions from SoftBank on competitive tactics, seemingly random investments, and even an elementary school. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet explores why this free-wheeling spending was so odd: Adam knew this was a bad idea. In exclusive recordings from internal meetings in 2016, he warned his...
Published 07/16/20
The WeWork Story, Part 4: What happened at WeWork when things got ugly between the company and its employees? As WeWork expanded, a handful of employees wanted to speak out and interrupt the public image that WeWork was presenting to the world. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet follows the stories of two former workers, some of the first insiders to speak up about what they saw on the job. 
Published 07/09/20
The WeWork Story, Part 3: To its thousands of employees, WeWork was much more than a job. Founder Adam Neumann leveraged his employees’ emotions to motivate them. In exclusive tapes obtained by Bloomberg, Adam lectured employees that working at WeWork was special: “You do not get a chance like this again.” In this episode, a former employee describes the tumultuous experience of working inside WeWork’s headquarters, from their raucous parties to the late night meetings.
Published 07/02/20
WeWork sold office space, but also it sold something else: fun. Beer flowed freely, members partied at the office, and your work was your life. But getting these offices off the ground was utter chaos, especially for the burgeoning company’s young, inexperienced workers. In this episode, reporter Ellen Huet takes a look at WeWork’s early days, when the company was growing so fast that some buildings opened without doors or functioning bathrooms.
Published 06/25/20