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If the News is Too Good to be True, Chances Are…

If the News is Too Good to be True, Chances Are…

Credit: onsizzle.com

 

Jeff Bezos seems to have made certain people in Washington (DC) quite happy last week. Of course, our red flags always go up with any announcement.

The big news was that Amazon has agreed to give all warehouse workers a $15 an hour minimum wage, thus satisfying Bernie Sanders, who had been after the company – and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos – for quite some time. As the AP reported, Amazon jumps out ahead of its rivals and raises wages to $15, and Sander (D, VT), hailed it as “a shot heard round the world.” Read More...

Simple is Elegant

Simple is Elegant

When Albert Einstein met Charlie Chaplin, Einstein said, “What I most admire about your art, is your universality. You don’t say a word, yet the world understands you!”

“It’s true,” Chaplin replied. “But your glory is even greater! The whole world admires you, even though they don’t understand a word of what you say.” Read More...

Control and Censorship: What Has Big Tech Become?

Control and Censorship: What Has Big Tech Become?

Is there really such a thing as too big to fail? Mark Zuckerberg’s Augustus Caesar syndrome aside, there was a time when the Roman Empire dominated the then civilized world.

Page Not Found

Google, the biggest of the big, did not feel the need to send anyone (Larry Page’s presence was requested) to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee – an empty seat was left for Page, complete with placard. Yet Google has no problem cooperating with the Chinese government (Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers, making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries. Ed: and note to Android owners: wonder where they are or have been beta testing). Read More...

Dumb Things Founders Do, Say or Believe

Dumb Things Founders Do, Say or Believe

Summer break is over. Time to get real again. Speaking of which, we’d like to offer a few observations which may help your pitch or strategy and which will hopefully help you move the needle just a bit. Or at least to get real. We do actively mentor at accelerators, and attend pitch events and demo days and host semi-monthly investor breakfasts for entrepreneurs. We don’t claim to have seen and heard it all, but there are a few things you might want to take note of – and a few claims and phrases we’d rather not hear again:

“We have 30+ years experience in ecommerce.” A team of maybe four young co-founders pitching, say, an ecommerce play and claiming to have 30+ years of experience between them. Note to self: most of your team looks as though they’re under 30. Ecommerce itself has only been around for some 20+ years, when most of your teams were still in diapers or hadn’t made his or her debut yet on the planet. Stop it. You’re not fooling anyone. Read More...

Net Neutrality and How the Tech Cabal Just Shot Themselves in the ISP

Net Neutrality and How the Tech Cabal Just Shot Themselves in the ISP

The Senate Intelligence Committee is meeting this week about foreign influence on tech platforms. In the hot seat: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Google refuses to make an appearance, even though the committee specifically requested Larry Page’s presence. Google no doubt prefers not to come under too much scrutiny. Just last week The Intercept reported that Google Executives Misled (Their Own) Staff on China Censorship. With so many balls in the air/fronts to defend, the cabal (Google, Facebook, Twitter, in this instance) have become such hydras with so many tentacles – and fronts – to defend, that they may well be on the verge of falling on their own swords – and they themselves have provided the arguments and ammunition, should Congress or an oversight committee be forced to step in. Notice: we don’t necessarily suggest regulation. They did that themselves: Last week, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and others urged a U.S. appeals court to reinstate federal “net neutrality” regulations on internet service providers, to maintain a “free and open internet.” Read More...

What If Ma Bell Had Behaved Like Facebook? The Facebook Stock Fail Explained

What If Ma Bell Had Behaved Like Facebook? The Facebook Stock Fail Explained

Facebook’s stock took a nosedive last week, sending shockwaves through the stock market. Twitter also took a big hit. Time for perspective: the price is back to where it was in May. The stock price took a big jump in July, then came back down to earth.

Are we looking at end of days, an overdue correction, or time for Facebook et al to reexamine the business model?

The tech sector has no historic perspective. They have always felt that the rules of business don’t apply to them. Tech is a mere extension of utilities we’ve seen before. Facebook, in many respects, is the telco reimagined. Only, in this case, you can reach out and touch people globally, without incurring long distance charges. Or make a conference call, when it comes to posts. Read More...

Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes. Who’s to say?

Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes. Who’s to say?

Facebook raised ire last week when, in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Mark Zuckerberg volunteered, unsolicited, that the platform would not be banning holocaust deniers – an editorial decision, which would make Facebook a publisher. In fact, The Guardian recently asked, Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes In its defense against a former app startup, Facebook is contradicting its long-held claim to be simply a neutral platform. Strengthening the argument – its business model: Facebook makes its money off advertising.

Zuckerberg did note that the company plans on adding 20,000 people to help police the platform and to watch Facebook Live videos and alert authorities when certain people may be about to harm themselves. The number hardly dents Facebook’s bottom line. As Techonomy notes, “(Facebook) is the most profitable large company that ever existed… Its 43% net margins, on revenues that this year will exceed $55 billion, are unprecedented for a company this size. That means it will have profits this year, after taxes, of roughly $23 billion.” Read More...

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report – and What Was Not Said

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report – and What Was Not Said

Every year, Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker gives us her look at the trends in technology. This year in 294 slides. Here are some of the points, along with follow on points that she might have conveniently neglected to mention. She is a Silicon Valley tech investor, after all:

The Gig Economy

The gig economy is growing fast, with nearly seven million people projected to be working in it in the US by the end of this year, up 26% from 2017, said Meeker. Seventy-one percent of US gig workers say they “always wanted to be their own boss,” according to a survey Intuit conducted in November 2017. As Quartz points out (People are joining the gig economy because of a powerful myth), it’s the algorithm that’s in charge, determining “where the driver will head next, who she’ll pick up, and how much she’ll be paid for that trip. In other words, many important features of the job are outside the driver’s control.” Read More...

…In Which Yours Truly Resolves the Universal Basic Income Issue

…In Which Yours Truly Resolves the Universal Basic Income Issue

Every now and then we like to flip the model – and the talking points. Seems that the model of tech is freemium. Everyone loves to get stuff for free – no one more than the tech cartel, particularly Facebook and Google. As the Wall Street Journal (Tech’s Titans Tiptoe Towards Monopoly) noted, Google and Facebook “benefit from something historically unprecedented: the ability to get users to subsidize them with enormous quantities of free labor. Their systems are fueled by personal information.”

Here’s a thought: since the cartel are such outspoken advocates of Universal Basic Income, let’s make it easy for them to literally put their money where their mouths are by having them pay users for providing information/content every time they post/share/search. These systems are built on algorithms: they can no doubt figure it out. There’s even a metric for payment to writers. On the lowest end (and far from our rate, fyi): two cents per word. Read More...

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