Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is an NPR correspondent. She is currently on leave, writing her first book. It's the story of her immigrant family—shopkeepers who got a taste of the American Dream and the American Nightmare (Celadon Books, Fall 2019).

Based in Silicon Valley, Shahani covers the biggest companies on earth for NPR's Business Desk. Her reporting pinpoints how economies and human relationships are being radically redefined by the tech sector.

Shahani has an unconventional path. Journalism is her second career. Before it, she was a community organizer in her native New York City, helping prisoners and families being deported from the U.S. She loves learning from brilliant, intense people—be they the engineers who are building self-driving cars, or the jailhouse lawyers filing laser-sharp habeas petitions.

Shahani received a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, with generous support from the University and the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowship. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. Her reporting has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award.

Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET

Google is quietly assuming the role of Huawei emissary, according to a senior Huawei official, in effect negotiating with the Commerce Department on behalf of the Chinese telecom giant that has been blacklisted in the U.S.

Lolita De Sola has been singing about home. An emerging musician from Caracas, she made the hard decision last year to leave Venezuela and flee north to Mexico City. The move allowed De Sola to release her first album, Cattleya — which she says she couldn't have made at home given Venezuela's current political and economic turmoil.

"When you have a dictatorship or crisis, the first thing that goes away is culture," she says. "Because you need food. You need more, you know, basic stuff first. Then culture."

The U.S. has long exported its culture abroad — think Coca-Cola, Hollywood and hip-hop. Facebook was once praised for spreading free-speech values. But the world is pushing back with different values, which Facebook is importing to the U.S. with the company's ban on white extremist content.

Two words for you: flying taxis. That's right. In the not-so-distant future, you'll open your ride-hailing app and, in addition to ground options like car, SUV, scooter or bicycle, you'll see on-demand air flight.

At least that's according to the optimists at South by Southwest, the annual tech-music-film convention in Austin, Texas.

Over the weekend in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest became a major presidential forum. More than half a dozen candidates showed up to the annual music, arts and technology convention. Democrats competed with each other to be the tough-on-tech candidate, a development in line with the party's move to the left but at odds with its reliance on tech donors.

Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET June 6

On Tuesday, California held its congressional primaries and in one largely rural district, there was a new kind of money entering politics: payments to Facebook, where messages can be sharply targeted and it's cheaper to advertise than on radio, TV or newspapers.

In California's 4th Congressional District, one political novice bought his way into relevance using the social network, and has helped shape a hotly contested Democratic race, stirring up animosity in the process.

As Facebook struggles to repair its image after a global privacy scandal, the social media giant is trying to make the platform a place that Mark Zuckerberg says encourages "meaningful interactions between people."

One person who embodies Zuckerberg's message is Lola Omolola, an ebullient 41-year-old Nigerian-American woman who was highlighted at Facebook's annual conference in May.

Lyft is unveiling a new education program for drivers, offering access to discounted GED and college courses online. The move is an interesting experiment in the gig economy, where a growing class of workers receive zero benefits from a boss and yet competition for their time is fierce.

Many Lyft drivers see their work for the company as a stopgap measure, a flexible way to make money while they try to build a career.

Facebook says 126 million people may have seen Russian content aimed at influencing Americans. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to weed out Russian operatives and extremist propaganda from Facebook.

But savvy marketers — people who've used Facebook's advertising platform since its inception — say that social media giant will find it hard to banish nefarious actors because its technology is designed to be wide open and simple to use.

Satya Nadella's new book is called Hit Refresh (like when you reload a webpage). And in it, the CEO of Microsoft doesn't focus on the remarkable story of his climb from middle-class kid in India to head of an American tech giant. Instead, he explores at length a feeling he's working to cultivate in himself: empathy.

It doesn't come as a surprise to people that big names like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are among the five or 10 most valuable companies on earth. But the fact that Microsoft is also on that shortlist surprises people.

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