Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is a Tech Reporter on NPR's Business Desk. Based in Silicon Valley, it's her job to cover the biggest companies on earth. In her reporting, she works to pinpoint 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.

She finds Northern California to be a beautiful and jarring place — and she hopes one day to understand its many contradictions.

Microsoft is announcing a new effort to connect more people to the Internet. Not people far away, in the so-called emerging markets — where other American tech giants have built Internet balloons and drones. Instead, Microsoft is focusing right here at home, on the 23.4 million people in rural America without broadband access.

Uber is a mess — the "bad boy" ethos shattered, a nervous breakdown in its place. This week, the CEO announced he is taking a sudden leave of absence. A former U.S. attorney general released a brutal audit of the startup's culture. It's a terrifying moment for many investors who want that $70 billion unicorn to make them rich or richer — not implode.

While Uber says you can "be your own boss" — that's their viral tagline — hundreds of drivers tell NPR it's not true. They say Uber feels more like a faceless boss — setting strict rules and punishments, but eerily hard to reach, even in emergencies.

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You probably never want to hear you've been fired. If you've heard those words, you know they feel like a punch in the gut. Now, imagine that instead of your boss telling you face to face, you get the news from a pop-up alert on your smartphone. That's how it works at Uber.

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Microsoft has had a whirlwind last few days. The company's Windows operating system was the target of a massive cyberattack that took down hundreds of thousands of computers across 150 countries. While it's too soon to say the worst is over — there could be another wave — the president of the company does have two big takeaways.

One takeaway is sexy and edgy. The other is boring, plain vanilla — but no less important to Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

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Uber is in crisis. This week the president resigned, after just six months on the job. Morale has been shaken following a damning account of sexual harassment. The board of directors is so concerned about the CEO's ability to lead, they're looking for a No. 2 to help steer the company.

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The chief of Facebook made an ambitious announcement last week, though it would have been easy to miss. It came Thursday afternoon — about the same time that President Trump held his news conference. While the reality-TV icon is a genius at capturing our attention, the technology leader's words may prove to be more relevant to our lives, and more radical.

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Editor's note: This story contains references to child pornography that some readers may find disturbing.

It's tempting to think of Facebook as pure entertainment — the dumb game you play when your boss looks away, or your date goes to the bathroom. But that's underestimating how powerful the Facebook empire has become. For some, the app is more important than a driver's license. People need it to contact colleagues, or even start and build businesses.

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