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Ford to install Google's Android operating system on all new vehicles starting in 2023

Ford will install Google's Android operating system on all new vehicles starting in 2023, giving passengers access to more personalized services in their car and potentially unlocking new lines of business for the automaker.

Why it matters: Ford's decision, part of a broader technology partnership with the tech giant, is an acknowledgement that carmakers need Silicon Valley's help to adapt to seismic changes in the transportation industry.

  • Embedding the proven Android operating system in their cars lets automakers devote more resources to creating customized in-car experiences while also providing access to familiar Google apps.
  • Yes, but: the risk is that automakers lose control over future revenue from in-car data and related businesses.

Flashback: "At the end of the day we don’t want to end up as the handset business," CEO Mark Fields told my Axios colleague Ina Fried in 2015 when she was at Re/code.

Driving the news: To address that risk, Ford and Google are establishing a new group called Team Upshift, comprised of employees from both companies, to focus on innovation.

  • The group will aim to "push the boundaries of Ford’s transformation, unlock personalized consumer experiences, and drive disruptive, data-driven opportunities," David McClelland, Ford's vice president of strategy and partnerships, wrote in a blog post.
  • Projects could include: modernizing Ford plants through vision AI, or creating new buying experiences and leveraging connected vehicle data.

By the numbers: Gartner predicts that by 2023, in-vehicle transaction payments will total $1 billion, up from less than $100 million in 2020.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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