Of course, we’re talking about Tesla’s decision to pivot from being a car maker into being an energy company by way of a merger with SolarCity. Much less crowded space, (“The world does not lack for automotive companies,” Musk said Tuesday. “The world lacks for sustainable energy companies”) what to speak of the problems that Tesla has been having lately, that they’ve been keeping quiet to the point of requiring customers to sign agreements promising to not “aid in any action at law or in equity or any legal proceeding against Tesla” related to a particular incident. One of the Tesla owners claimed to have signed the document after the company fixed a broken suspension component on a Model S (Did Tesla Try to Keep Its Customers Quiet About Repairs? The automaker says no, but modifies the agreement it reportedly asked some customers to sign). Of course, no merger is without its perks, and Elon Musk and his family could stand to gain $700 million in Tesla shares from SolarCity deal. No crime in wanting to see to the needs of your family, and Musk did recuse himself from voting on the merger, due to conflict of interest issues.
We live in the Age of Technology, aka, the Information Age and in case you missed it, the big news of late was not necessarily Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn for some $26.2B, the largest M&A deal in Microsoft’s history, or that, with $100B in cash lying around, why Microsoft wants a loan to help pay for its acquisition of LinkedIn (of course, Microsoft socks a lot of its cash offshore, and repatriating it to pay for the deal would be a huge tax liability for them). Nope, the big story of the week was that Net Neutrality was so-called upheld, and Shelly Palmer wrote an excellent piece that’s a must-read: Net Neutrality: The FCC Won. Did You? With the Internet now a utility, you guessed it: they will find ways, and have indeed, built in ways, for it to be taxed. ‘Neutrality’ was always a complete misnomer and guess who lost? It’s always the ones who foot the bill, and that means the end user. What to speak of the possible abuses that are likely that we’ve not yet seen, and in case you haven’t been paying attention, Big Tech has become one of the chief abusers and always interesting to take a look back at history for lessons learned or forgotten or completely dismissed as not being applicable. And isn’t it pretty to think so.During the Industrial Age, children started working alongside adults, as they could easily accomplish the same repetitive tasks as adults, yet could be paid far less, if you’re wondering about Chan-Zuckerberg’s $24M investment in Adele. Not hard to figure it out, once you read between the lines: once again, it’s all about training – and getting - cheap African labor. Ah, the more things change… For the record, Google Ventures was an earlier investor in what an SOS member, who asked not to be identified but flagged the piece to us and who is familiar with Adele, called cheap labor, by any other name. Actually, worse, but we will not use his precise words, as he wouldn’t go on the record.
In case you missed the memo, the big story of the week last week (with all due respect to the families who lost loved ones in Orlando) was that kelp is the new kale – and that we’ve reached the saturation point, in terms of apps: people just aren’t downloading them anymore (The app boom is over: Your phone is full of apps, and you're done downloading new ones — unless they're Snapchat or Uber. The average American smartphone user downloads zero apps per month.)
Some of this you know – some of it you may not: After Hulk Hogan was awarded $140M in his lawsuit against Gawker, it was revealed that it was Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel who funded the lawsuit to the tune of $10M and the online media went ballistic. Thiel-Gawker Fight Raises Concerns About Press Freedom, said the New York Times, and the tenor out there in general is that, by underwriting the lawsuit, Peter Thiel is stifling innovation, what to speak of the dangers of a billionaire exerting that much power/potential control over a ‘news’ organization. We take no sides here, but for the record, “Curiously unmentioned in the piece is Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, one of the richest men on earth, with a net worth of more than $51 billion… is the largest shareholder of one of the most prominent media firms in the world: The New York Times Company…. His current stake in the company is valued at more than $300 million. The Times apparently did not consider this connection “fit to print.” Or maybe they just forgot to mention it? It’s weird, though, especially since one of the concerns raised in the Times piece is that billionaire owners might be exercising undue influence (including censorship) over news coverage.” (New York Times Is Very Concerned About Billionaire Media Investors—But Not Their Billionaire Investor).
For the record, “Much of Slim’s fortune is derived from the mobile phone empire he built in South America through his company América Móvil, whose U.S. subsidiary, TracFone, recently paid $40 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission after being accused of deceiving customers,” according to the piece.