Attribution: Gauri Lama
That Was The Week — Issue #8
This week we look at Google’s new ad targeting tech, Jay-Z selling Tidal to Square and the rise of non-fungible tokens, widely known as NFTs.
Let’s start with personal news (a lot of you are friends). I got Covid, in early February. It wasn’t too bad. Two weeks of light flu-like symptoms. Then, this week, I had shot 1 of my Moderna vaccine. Oh boy, I was not prepared for what happened next. 16 hours or so post-shot my temperature reaches 103 and I had chills and shaking chills. I actually could not stand up without falling. Happily, that phase passed quickly and the temperature stayed high for 24 hours. Today, Thursday, as I write this I feel like I was hit by a train but am otherwise getting back to normal. It is all a price worth paying for getting the vaccine. Second shot in a few weeks. This time I will be prepared.
And talking about being prepared, Google seems prepared for Apple blocking tracking cookies from third parties. This week they announced that they will replace tracking cookies with FLoC. Instead of third-party cookies tracking you only Google will be able to build a profile of you, based on your use of their browser, Chrome. They will then enable advertisers to access your profile type prior to serving ads. You will be anonymized and targetable. The technology is an application of machine learning and deep learning and the learning engine can be reduced to a small piece of code in the browser. Only Google will be able to build, modify or delete your profile.
A privacy hack – which I am not – would suggest this is worse than third-party cookies. But I think it points to a better future. I do not object to being “understood” or profiled. I really object to bad profiling, when I am served ads that are so dumb as to not know I just bought the item I am being pushed. Good profiling, or good understanding, should make the internet a better experience. That said I do hate ads. I just understand why Google can’t stop being an ad platform. And I want somebody to be really good at this. I always liked the idea of a white list of advertisers I opt into and can opt-out of at any time.
And when it comes to interesting management decisions, what about Square acquiring the majority of Jay-Z’s Tidal? I assume this has something to do with artists getting paid. (Since I wrote this Jack Dorsey has confirmed as much). And with the strong trend in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) accelerating it may also have something to do with NFTs.
I will do an explainer on NFTs in the video this week. Lost of NFT news below, including a piece from CNBC explaining what NFTs are.
I hope you all had a better week than me. But it just makes the future brighter.
More next week – here is the Video with the NFT explainer
Google Reinvents Tracking
Google to Stop Selling Ads Based on Your Specific Web Browsing — WSJ
The Alphabet company said that it plans next year to stop using or investing in tracking technologies that uniquely identify web users as they move from site to site across the internet.
Google’s FLoC Is a Terrible Idea
The third-party cookie is dying, and Google is trying to create its replacement.
No one should mourn the death of the cookie as we know it. For more than two decades, the third-party cookie has been the lynchpin in a shadowy, seedy, multi-billion dollar advertising-surveillance industry on the Web; phasing out tracking cookies and other persistent third-party identifiers is long overdue. However, as the foundations shift beneath the advertising industry, its biggest players are determined to land on their feet.
Google changes the ad game
Good morning! This Thursday, Google’s anti-tracking stance is a big deal for the ad world (but not really for Google), Safari looks like the future and Snap is poised to grow like crazy.
Also, we have a new episode of the Source Code podcast! I talked with Google’s Javier Soltero about Google Workspace, calendars, the future of work and what it means to run a team going forward. It’s a fun one; Javier has some strong feelings about calendar events.
The Big StoryWhat’s behind Google’s ad shift
Google is done with cookies, but that doesn’t mean it’s done tracking you
Google Search will still make the company lots of money, cookie ban or no. | Tim Goode/PA Wire/Getty Images
A third-party cookie ban won’t hurt the search giant’s healthy first-party data ad business.
Google announced on Wednesday that third-party cookies are over — at least, as far as its ad networks and Chrome browser are concerned. This represents a significant change for the ad business and seems to be a step forward for privacy, but it’s also a limited one. It doesn’t mean that Google will stop collecting your data, and it doesn’t mean the company will stop using your data to target ads.
Jay-Z and Square
Why did Jack Dorsey buy Jay-Z’s failed music service?
Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, left; Tidal streaming service founder Jay-Z. | Victor Boyko/Getty; George Pimentel/WireImage
A speculative explainer of the Square/Tidal deal that includes cryptokitties and Grimes.
Here is the straight news headline: Square, the financial services company run by Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, is buying Tidal, the streaming music service founded by Jay-Z.
And here is the question you, a normal person, may have about this deal: WTF?
Square buys majority of Tidal, adds Jay Z to its board in bid to shake up the artist economy
This morning Square, a fintech company that serves both individuals and companies, announced that it has purchased a majority stake in Tidal, a music streaming service. The deal, worth some $297 million, will allow artist-partners to keep their ownership in the music company. Square CEO Jack Dorsey used his other company, Twitter, this morning to […]
The Rise of Non-Fungible Tokens
NFTs and CBGBs: How’s that for a clickbait title
David Byrne, from the Talking Heads, wrote a book recently called How Music Works that’s filled with interesting insight into the mechanics and the detail of how music gets made,… Read more NFTs and CBGBs: How’s that for a clickbait title →
NFTs and a Thousand True Fans
In his classic 2008 essay “1000 True Fans,” Kevin Kelly predicted that the internet would transform the economics of creative activities:
To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or …
Heard in Silicon Valley
The New Era of Social Media Isn’t About Feeds | by Will Oremus | Feb, 2021 | OneZero
Open Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or Pinterest, then look at your index finger. If you’re like me, you’ll find it already hovering over the screen, poised for scrolling. Our algorithmic…
Facebook’s Oversight Board Must Uphold the Ban on Trump
It’s not just about penalizing the former president. It’s about protecting democracy — in the US and around the world.
Modeling a Wealth Tax
Paul Graham Essay
Some politicians are proposing to introduce wealth taxes in addition to income and capital gains taxes. Let’s try modeling the effects of various levels of wealth tax to see what they would mean in practice for a startup founder.
Suppose you start a successful startup in your twenties, and then live for another 60 years. How much of your stock will a wealth tax consume?
If the wealth tax applies to all your assets, it’s easy to calculate its effect. A wealth tax of 1% means you get to keep 99% of your stock each year. After 60 years the proportion of stock you’ll have left will be .99⁶⁰, or .547. So a straight 1% wealth tax means the government will over the course of your life take 45% of your stock.
(Losing shares does not, obviously, mean becoming net poorer unless the value per share is increasing by less than the wealth tax rate.)
You can’t escape digital currency now
Hello and welcome to Protocol | Fintech! This Friday: Coinbase pulled the trigger, the Fed’s plan for a digital dollar, and Affirm has a new debit card.
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The Big StoryThe week digital money became unescapable
Well, Coinbase finally pulled the trigger. And the Fed seems to be getting ready to do so in its own way, too.
Chartbook Newsletter #15
Talking (and reading) about Bitcoin
Money talk is political talk. We should be selective in the political talk we engage in. I don’t like the politics of crypto/bitcoin.
Money is an expression of social power. In particular, it is an amalgam of the power and confidence leveraged by the state and capital. All actual monies, whatever form they are cast in, have an element of “fiat” about them.
As the Merriman-Webster dictionary helpfully explains: “fiat: a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort. According to the Bible, the world was created by fiat.”
The fiat money world is the world that we have inhabited since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system between 1971 and 1973. It is normally contrasted to the gold standard world that preceded it. But are gold and “fiat” really that different? To back a currency with gold is a political choice too, anchored in structures of expectation on the part of creditors, debtors and investors, on systems for gold production, storage, relationships between banks and central banks, in other words structures of power.
Startup of the Week
Investing in Hopin
The last 12 months have fundamentally changed how we work together. In a few short months, many businesses had to adapt to a world where bringing people together in person was no longer possible. Conferences, training, community gatherings, seminars, all-hands …
Announcing Our Series C: What’s Next for Hopin
We’ve closed our Series C of $400M, co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst, with IVP. Here’s what this news means for Hopin’s future.