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.

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The artist Grimes recently sold a bunch of NFTs for nearly $6 million. An NFT of LeBron James making a historic dunk for the Lakers garnered more than $200,000. The band Kings of Leon is releasing its new album in the form of an NFT.

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Clubhouse is the new invite-only app that Silicon Valley says is the future of social media. Millions have downloaded it recently, including celebrities, famous musicians and tech CEOs. What's all the hype about? NPR's Bobby Allyn looked into it.

Updated 10:05 p.m. ET Friday

Twitter has permanently suspended President Trump's account over a pattern of behavior that violated company rules.

The action was the most sweeping punishment any major social media company has ever taken against Trump, who has used his Twitter account to announce White House policy, attack rivals and widely disseminate misinformation.

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As a tech journalist for the website The Verge, Casey Newton established himself as something of a Silicon Valley institution. Known for a mix of original reporting and gimlet-eyed analysis, his writing has become essential reading for those who want to better understand the industry.

This fall, he quit his steady job at The Verge to start an email newsletter with Substack, a San Francisco-based startup.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google alleging the company of abusing its dominance over smaller rivals by operating like an illegal monopoly. The action represents the federal government's most significant legal action in more than two decades to confront a technology giant's power.

Nathan Apodaca's truck had already logged some 320,000 miles. One morning last month, it couldn't go a mile more. The truck broke down on a highway in Idaho Falls, Idaho, about 2 miles from the potato warehouse where Apodaca has worked for nearly two decades.

Luckily, he had a skateboard in his truck, along with a bottle of Ocean Spray's Cran-Raspberry juice.

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.

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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 6:48 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.

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The short-term rental company Airbnb is in trouble. The pandemic has nearly stopped travel and made staying in a stranger's home less appealing. So what now? NPR's Bobby Allyn has been talking with the company's CEO.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: His name is Brian Chesky. These days, he's holed up in his San Francisco home all by himself, and he told me over Zoom he's been making lots of chocolate chip cookies.

Bill Hinshaw's phone has been ringing off the hook lately.

From his home in Gainesville, Texas, which Hinshaw describes as "horse country," he runs a group called the COBOL Cowboys. It's an association of programmers who specialize in the Eisenhower-era computer language. Now their skills are in demand, thanks to the record number of people applying for unemployment benefits.

Those eager to retreat into the wilderness amid the coronavirus pandemic were delivered disappointing news on Tuesday: three major national parks are now closed to visitors.

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains have shut their gates to the public.

Park officials said a crush of visitors moving through the trails was beginning to run afoul of social distancing.

About 30,000 people visited each day last week, a sharp increase from the same time last year, officials said.

Forecasters in Mississippi are bracing for what could be one of the most devastating floods in the state's history, as days of heavy downpours stoke fears that a river in the state capital of Jackson will continue to swell beyond its banks and threaten the homes of thousands of people.

Flooding has already began to ripple across parts of Jackson and surrounding areas, and state and federal officials are working to contain the severity of the flooding in the face of additional rainfall expected in the days ahead.

Updated 3:30 p.m. Sunday

A quiet New England community west of Hartford, Conn., has found itself roped into the impeachment saga with the emergence of an improbable character in the ongoing Ukraine scandal: Robert Hyde.

Hyde is a 40-year-old congressional candidate and former landscaper in Simsbury, Conn., who is known for being brash, foul-mouthed and for hitching his candidacy on his fervent support for President Trump.

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Officials in France are blocking the export of a remarkably rare medieval painting that was auctioned off after being discovered hanging in an elderly French woman's kitchen.

Michigan motorists were taken aback on Friday by an alarming image lurking just off the highway: a mysterious green liquid oozing from the walls of Interstate 696, spilling onto the road's shoulder.

"It certainly is an impressive sight," said Jill Greenberg, spokeswoman with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Soon after, state and federal environmental officials descended on the interstate just north of Detroit, and it did not take long to trace the green liquid's source.

Anna Karina, the French New Wave actress who in the 1960s established herself as a fixture in films directed by Jean-Luc Godard, died on Saturday in Paris. She was 79.

France's culture minister confirmed the news, saying on Sunday that "her look was the look of New Wave. It will remain so forever."

President Trump often says members of the "deep state" are bent on sabotaging his agenda.

And some of the career civil servants the president is referring to have said they have been retaliated against following reports in conservative media questioning their loyalty to Trump.

Updated 8:38 p.m. ET

President Trump has ordered that the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S. in the coming year be cut nearly in half to 18,000, down from the administration's previous refugee ceiling of 30,000.

The limit represents the lowest number of refugees seeking protection from violence or political persecution allowed into the country since the modern refugee program was established in 1980.

Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts, who joined an upstart NPR in 1978 and left an indelible imprint on the growing network with her coverage of Washington politics before later going to ABC News, has died. She was 75.

Roberts died Tuesday because of complications from breast cancer, according to a family statement.

This summer, a young girl from Arkansas wrote a Northeastern Pennsylvania toy company out of frustration.

"My name is Vivian. I am six years old. Why do you not make girl army men?" wrote Vivian Lord to BMC Toys.

To Jeff Imel, the president of BMC Toys, which makes the iconic Green Army Men figurines, it was a worthy question and one he had mulled over for years.

"It was a heartfelt letter," Imel told NPR. "And it reminded me of being a kid and always wanting that toy that you couldn't get in the gumball machine," he said. "So I really looked into it."

In the Bahamas, the damage Hurricane Dorian wreaked on roads, airports, communication grids and other infrastructure is presenting a logistical nightmare for emergency responders and aid workers trying to get basic supplies to the neediest storm victims.

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