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👑 The SPAC King

Good Monday afternoon. Exciting announcement - we just launched a free book called The Future of Law detailing 5 industry trends you need to know about.
Scroll down for details on how to get your hands on it.
In today’s issue:
  • King of SPACs strikes again.
  • Microsoft’s new patent.
  • An unexpected election lawsuit.
  • Two Julian Assange updates.

SPAC Magic
Fintech start-up SoFi is going public by merging with a SPAC run by billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya, it was announced Thursday.
SoFi: the darling of fintech. The San Fran-based startup flourished after the ‘09 crisis by tapping into the market of college grads looking to refinance their student loans. This SPAC deal will value SoFi – who’s already raised cash from giants like Peter Thiel – at $8.65 million.
SPAC: a blank-check company that raises money via an IPO and then merges with a private company to bring it public.
Chamath: the man behind 2020’s SPAC mania. Chamath’s firm, Social Capital, brought a revolving door of big companies public last year via SPAC deals: Virgin Galactic, Metromile, Clover Health to name a few. His hustle is impressive, but expected for someone whose ambition is becoming Warren Buffet 2.0.
It’s Chamath’s world - and we’re just living in it. After the deal announcement, Forbes published an article saying the size of SoFi’s market opportunity and the financial forecasts provided by SPACs suggest SoFi stocks are a good bet right now.
But… some people are still feeling iffy about blank check companies. Investor Jeremy Grantham, who accidentally made millions on a SPAC deal last year (don’t ask), has said SPACs should be illegal for their lack of regulation.
Zoom out. Chamath is unbothered. He’s already reserved tickers IPOA to IPOZ. The company merging with SoFi is only IPOE.
Microsoft’s New Patent
On Thursday, Microsoft filed a new patent aimed at customizing your search results.
The backstory. We’re living in an era of information abundance. As the amount of content on the internet grows, so does our desire to wade through this content more efficiently.
To get around this, Microsoft wants to create a post-ranker for search results based on each user’s personal affinity.
Here’s how it works. You type something into a search engine:
  1. The search results are globally ranked. These are the search results everyone gets, perhaps with slight discrepancies depending on location.
  2. Then Microsoft ranks those rankings based on your personal interests. These are the search results personalized to you.  
E.g. if Bob’s search history has the terms “profit” and “sales”, Microsoft would infer Bob likes business and would boost biz stuff to the top of his results page.
Up close and personal. Tech companies already know everything about us, so Microsoft might as well capitalize on data to create tailored search rankings.
But a personalized internet also means a more fragmented internet. A post-ranking system could amplify the ugly side of the web: misinformation, intolerance, lack of discourse. To side-step this, Microsoft is promising the re-ranked list will only make “subtle changes” to the globalized list.
Zoom out. There’s also the sliiight issue of privacy. Users are now confident in kicking companies to the curb if they compromise data security (looking at you, WhatsApp). We’ll see how the incoming personalized internet era weighs privacy concerns against the drive for efficiency, if at all.
As weird as 2020 was, it was an exciting year for law.
We think 2021 will be even better, so have put together a collection of essays on where the legal industry is heading this year - covering legal tech to SPACs and everything in between.
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What Goes Around
Getty Images
Getty Images
On Friday, Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3 billion defamation suit against conservative lawyer Sidney Powell for her “demonstrably” false claims about the 2020 election.
The backstory. Powell, an ex-member of Trump’s legal team, famously tweeted amongst a flurry of other claims that Dominion, a supplier of voting machines, was created by the ex-Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to rig the 2020 election. Chavez died in 2013.
To quell Powell’s Twitter storm, Dominion sent her a cease and desist letter demanding she retract her “wild” claims. Instead of complying, the suit says:
 “Powell doubled down, tweeting to her 1.2 million Twitter followers that she heard that ‘#Dominion’ had written to her and that, although she had not even seen Dominion’s letter yet, she was ‘retracting nothing’ because ‘[w]e have #evidence’ and ‘They are #fraud masters!’”
Now, Dominion is taking Powell to court over her “viral disinformation campaign.” As a result of Powell’s conspiracies, the 124-page lawsuit says:
  • The value of Dominion’s business has been destroyed.
  • Dominion will lose $200mn in profits over the next 5 years.
  • Dominion employees and election officials have received death threats.
The flip side. Powell tweeted the suit “is baseless & filed to harass, intimidate, & to drain our resources as we seek the truth of Dominion’s role in this fraudulent election.” 
One of many. Dominion has also sent warnings of potential litigation to the White House, Fox News, Newsmax, Rudy Giuliani and others who’ve peddled claims about election fraud. Dominion CEO Jon Paulos told Axios last week the company wouldn’t rule out suing Trump himself.  
P.S. Powell was banned from Twitter this weekend.
Julian Assange’s Week in Court
Two big updates on Julian Assange this week.
Update #1: Extradition
On Monday, a British judge blocked a U.S. request to extradite Assange to face charges of espionage in America because “it would be unjust and oppressive” given his mental condition.
Experts who’ve visited the WikiLeaks co-founder in London’s Belmarsh prison, where he’s been held for the last 18 months, say his mental health “has seriously deteriorated to the point where his life is now in danger.” 
The ruling was a win for Assange’s legal team, who hoped to have him released on bail in the aftermath. Which brings us to… 
Update #2: Bail
On Wednesday, Assange was denied bail. London judge Vanessa Baraister said the U.S. has a right to appeal against the extradition ruling and – until the appeal is resolved – Assange “still has an incentive to abscond” i.e. disappear. Like the time he skipped bail and ended up camping out in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for seven years.
Win some, lose some. The case against Assange has been a long, winding road fraught with controversy. Assange’s lawyers argue the extradition order would have a chilling effect on press freedom, but lawyers for the U.S. government have a different take:
  •  “Reporting or journalism is not a license for criminality.”
Looking ahead… prosecutors are unsure if the Biden administration will continue to seek Assange’s extradition.
  • Deutsche Bank will pay $125mn to settle U.S. probes into overseas bribes and trading violations.
  • Germany drafts law introducing a quota for women on executive boards.
  • Twitter and FB shares slide after Trump ban.
  • Flip-flop: the NYSE will de-list Chinese telecom giants after all.
  • Boeing will pay $2.5mn to settle a criminal conspiracy charge about its 737 Max.
  • UK’s competition authority opens an investigation into Google.
  • Trump bans Alipay and seven other Chinese apps.
  • Man serving a life sentence for murder publishes a book in hopes of overturning his conviction.
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Legit. | Legal News @anniamirza

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