Bobby Allyn

Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.

He came to San Francisco from Washington, where he focused on national breaking news and politics. Before that, he covered criminal justice at member station WHYY.

In that role, he focused on major corruption trials, law enforcement, and local criminal justice policy. He helped lead NPR's reporting of Bill Cosby's two criminal trials. He was a guest on Fresh Air after breaking a major story about the nation's first supervised injection site plan in Philadelphia. In between daily stories, he has worked on several investigative projects, including a story that exposed how the federal government was quietly hiring debt collection law firms to target the homes of student borrowers who had defaulted on their loans. Allyn also strayed from his beat to cover Philly parking disputes that divided in the city, the last meal at one of the city's last all-night diners, and a remembrance of the man who wrote the Mister Softee jingle on a xylophone in the basement of his Northeast Philly home.

At other points in life, Allyn has been a staff reporter at Nashville Public Radio and daily newspapers including The Oregonian in Portland and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has also appeared in BuzzFeed News, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

A native of Wilkes-Barre, a former mining town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Allyn is the son of a machinist and a church organist. He's a dedicated bike commuter and long-distance runner. He is a graduate of American University in Washington.

Since July, President Trump has turned a wildly successful viral video app TikTok into his favorite punching bag.

Trump's logic went something like this: Since TikTok's corporate parent company ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing, TikTok could be used as an arm of the Chinese Communist Party to spy on American citizens or cause other mischief.

So the president repeatedly declared that TikTok needs to free itself from ByteDance's control, or be shut down in the U.S. for good.

A federal judge has blocked President Trump's executive order that would have effectively shut down popular Chinese app WeChat, ruling that the action represents a free speech violation.

WeChat, used by 1.2 billion users worldwide and 19 million people in the U.S., was set to stop operating in the U.S. on midnight Sunday following Trump's order invoking a national emergency and targeting the app on national security grounds.

Updated 12:55 a.m. ET

President Trump has given tentative approval to a deal that will keep TikTok alive in the U.S., resolving a months-long confrontation between a hit app popularized by lip-syncing teens and White House officials who viewed the service as a national security risk.

TikTok downloads were set to be banned in the U.S. starting at midnight Sunday, but that has now been averted.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Updated at 2:41 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is banning Americans from downloading popular video-sharing app TikTok and limiting the use of WeChat because of national security concerns, the Commerce Department announced on Friday.

As of midnight on Sunday, TikTok will also not be able to receive system updates, which could affect its functionality, including slowing down the app, but the app's current version will still work for American users. Over time, however, TikTok may stop working altogether.

A plan to save popular video-sharing app TikTok in the U.S. is taking shape behind closed doors in Washington, though President Trump cast fresh doubt Wednesday that the deal as it stands would satisfy the White House.

The urgent talks are happening with only days to go before Trump's executive order to shut down TikTok's business in the U.S. will take effect.

Unlimited vacation. No dress code (just don't show up naked). No approval needed for expenses. And if you criticize the company, you might get rewarded with a promotion.

"It's risky trusting employees as much as we do. Giving them as much freedom as we do," Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said in an interview with NPR. "But it's essential in creative companies where you have much greater risk from lack of innovation."

More than smart strategy, or good timing or simply luck, Hastings credits the company's unorthodox workplace culture for its meteoric rise.

Unlimited vacation. Submitting expenses without approval. Being promoted for criticizing your company.
These are the perks of working for Netflix, says CEO Reed Hastings.
HASTINGS: It's risky trusting employees as much as we do. Giving them as much freedom as we do. But it's essential in creative companies where you have much greater risk from lack of innovation.
In his new book, "No Rules Rules," Hastings discusses his guiding principle: The Keeper Test.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET

A deal with Oracle for TikTok's U.S. operations may end up including a partnership instead of an outright purchase.

With its deadline to sell or be banned in the U.S. fast approaching, Chinese tech giant ByteDance said it will not be selling its video-sharing app TikTok to either Microsoft or Oracle, according to China state TV.

From his perch in Cary, N.C., Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has launched a war against Silicon Valley powerhouses Apple and Google.

The billionaire maker of the video game phenomenon Fortnite dragged the tech giants to court last month over the 30% fee they charge on purchases made in their mobile app stores.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Millions of people glue themselves to their various screens to play the video game Fortnite for hours on end. But right now, many cannot play on their mobile phones. That's because of a legal battle between the maker of Fortnite, Epic Games, and the platforms where you download the game, namely Apple and Google's app stores. The CEO of Epic hasn't explained what's behind his lawsuit until now. Here's NPR's Bobby Allyn.

Kristie Hunter is a former public school teacher who for the past two years has made most of her money teaching children in China how to speak English online.

"I've been a stay-at-home mom with our three children, and as they were getting older, I missed the professional side of my life," said Hunter, 42, who lives in the Columbia, South Carolina area. "So this has helped me reconnect with my career and have flexibility."

Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that they had removed accounts linked to Russian state actors who tried to spread false stories about racial justice, the Democratic presidential campaign of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and President Trump's policies.

Patrick Ryan is sitting on a couch in the garage of his house in California's San Mateo County. Dressed in aviator-style glasses and cowboy boots, he talks intensely about his job as a technical manager at TikTok —a job that politicians in Washington have put at risk.

The hugely popular fantasy battle game Fortnite is releasing its latest version on Thursday, but gamers hoping to play the new season on iPhones, iPads or Mac computers will be locked out.

Because of a high-stakes legal dispute between Fortnite maker Epic Games and Apple over the tech giant's 30% commission on app purchases, Fortnite's 350 million registered players will not be able to access new versions of the game on any Apple product.

Gamers can play the new version on consoles like Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation and PC computers.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer is stepping down three months after taking the job at the hugely popular short-form video app.

Mayer's surprise resignation comes as the Trump administration escalates its campaign to force TikTok to cut ties with its Chinese ownership.

In a message sent on Wednesday to staff at TikTok, Mayer said as the political environment has "sharply changed," he has reflected on what kind of corporate restructuring may be coming for the company, concluding that it was best for him to depart.

Updated at 6:28 p.m. ET

TikTok has filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration arguing that the president's executive order taking aim at the Chinese-owned app is unconstitutional and should be blocked from taking effect.

President Trump on Friday ordered TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, to sell its U.S. assets in 90 days, stating American authorities have "credible evidence" that the Chinese tech giant could take action to imperil national security.

Updated at 6:48 p.m. ET

A California judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their workers from independent contractors to employees with benefits, a ruling that could be consequential for gig economy workers if it survives the appeals process.

TikTok is planning to sue the Trump administration, challenging the president's executive order banning the service from the United States.

Updated 10:55 a.m. ET Friday

President Trump on Thursday invoked his emergency economic powers to impose broad sanctions against TikTok, a move that steps up pressure on the Chinese-owned app to sell its U.S. assets to an American company.

In the order, which takes effect in 45 days, any transactions between TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, and U.S. citizens will be outlawed for national security reasons.

Families are suing TikTok in what has turned into a major legal action in federal court.

Dozens of minors, through their parents, are alleging that the video-sharing app collects information about their facial characteristics, locations and close contacts, and quietly sends that data to servers in China.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

TikTok is on the market. President Trump says he's giving the company that owns the video-sharing app a month to sell it. Or if not, he wants TikTok banned in the U.S.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Microsoft said Sunday it has discussed with President Trump its plan to acquire TikTok's U.S. operations, just as the White House threatens to blacklist the hugely popular Chinese-owned app.

"Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J. Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States," the software giant said in a blog post.

Updated at 11:51 a.m. ET Saturday

President Trump has announced he plans to ban TikTok, the hugely popular video-sharing app, from operating in the U.S. as early as Saturday.

Trump's announcement comes after reports Friday that software giant Microsoft was in talks to acquire the app's U.S. operations. The president made it clear that he does not approve of the proposed acquisition.

Four Big Tech CEOs spent Wednesday being grilled — virtually — by House lawmakers, creating a first-ever spectacle that was by turns revealing and, inevitably, awkward.

The CEO of TikTok, the popular app for sharing short-form videos, is attacking Facebook for planning the launch of a "copycat" product, accusing the social media giant of trying to smear TikTok and put it out of business in the U.S.

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

Are Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple "emperors of the online economy" that stifle competition and hurt consumers? Not surprisingly, the tech giants' chief executives told Congress: absolutely not. The concern that too much power is concentrated in too few companies is unfounded, they said Wednesday.

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