Business is booming.

10 Things in Tech You Need to Know Today, Tuesday, Dec. 20


Hi there. Oracle is buying medical-records giant Cerner, and SpaceX is launching human muscle cells into space. 

Let’s get to it.

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Larry Ellison, Oracle's founder.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters

1. Oracle is buying medical-records giant Cerner. The $28 billion deal — which is nearly twice as big as Microsoft’s $16 billion bid for Nuance Communications — dwarfs a lot of the work tech giants have done in the healthcare industry.

  • Oracle has been leaning into cloud as a major growth strategy, and buying the country’s second-largest electronic medical record company gives Oracle a foothold into a mostly new market.
  • But some investors have been seeing red flags, including that Cerner isn’t growing very quickly and healthcare isn’t rapidly migrating to the cloud.
  • We spoke with analysts, consultants, a former Cerner employee, venture capitalists, doctors, and health system administrators, who said it’s unclear whether the deal will transform healthcare. 

Here’s what else experts told us.

In other news:

Google logo on a building

Toby Scott/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

2. Google is under investigation in California for the way it treats Black women workers. Emails reviewed by Reuters showed the Department of Fair Employment and Housing is probing alleged harassment and discrimination of Black women. What we know so far.

3. What happens when billionaires die? We examined the fortunes of America’s 12 richest people to determine who will benefit when they pass — and the disputes that could erupt between them — as well as the impact their deaths will have on their empires. From Warren Buffett to Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk, here’s what’ll happen when they die.

4. Elon Musk said he will pay more than $11 billion in taxes this year. The Tesla CEO, who in the past has legally paid very little compared to his wealth, has been exercising a large number of Tesla share options this year and must pay tax on them. We explain how much he could owe and why.

5. America wants to make its own chips again. Politicians and businesses say the solution to the ongoing microchip shortage is to make them in the United States, but the factories are eye-poppingly expensive and come with a hefty environmental cost. We dive into whether or not US chip production is actually sensible.

6. We mapped out how an Amazon package gets from the factory to your front door. With Amazon in the midst of its peak delivery season, we explain how your packages get to you — whether it be by truck, train, or barge. See the journey an Amazon package takes to arrive on your doorstep.

7. A laid-off administrative assistant got her first tech job through an Amazon training program. The former MIT employee took part in a boot-camp-style cloud training from Amazon Web Services, which is targeted to underrepresented or unemployed people — and that wants to train 29 million more cloud experts by 2025. Here’s how the free training works.

8. Better CEO Vishal Garg wanted to give laid-off employees only one week of severance pay. Current and former employees told us that other Better execs pushed for periods of two months or 10 weeks, and even walked out of the discussion over the size of Garg’s proposed package. What we know about Better’s severance packages.

9. SpaceX is launching human muscle cells into space. The mission is part of a study by UK researchers who want to understand why muscles get weaker as people age. How this could help us understand the effects of aging.

10. Instagram wants to bring NFTs to its social platform. As its parent company, Meta, goes all-in on the metaverse, Instagram is looking for a way to bring NFTs to a wider audience. Here’s what the company’s CEO said about the endeavor.

What we’re watching today:

  • Vodafone is auctioning the first text message ever as an NFT. Sent in 1992, the text reads “MERRY CHRISTMAS.”
  • SpaceX is launching its 24th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Curated by Jordan Parker Erb in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email or tweet @jordanparkererb.) Edited by Michael Cogley in London.

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