Regulation and Free markets — Which Works Best?

Regulation and Free markets — Which Works Best?


By Keith Teare • Issue #25 • View online

This week Amazon said no to Google’s new tracking tech, FLOC. Microsoft launched an app store that takes zero from developers. Brave, the startup browser, launched a search engine competitor. Do free markets challenge Google and Apple better than Governments could?

Contents

Editorial

While Lina Khan has started her new role at the FTC and begun to appoint people to see through her agenda, Congress, or at least the House committee responsible, has allowed six anti-trust measures to proceed to the next stage.

Meanwhile, Apple faced a full-frontal assault on its app store economics from none other than Microsoft. Launching a preview of Windows 11, the old, but the new, company said that developers could build their own commerce engines into apps and pay Microsoft nothing for distribution in its app store.

At the same time, Amazon took a swing at Google’s new FLoC technology for tracking us all and said they would not be using it. Of course, Apple is hard at work blocking Google too. If these were swings to the face then Brave’s announcement of a new search engine, built into its popular browser, was a kick in the core of Google’s crown jewel.

While the policy world is debating regulating big tech, tech is doing a great job of competing for the future at the expense of incumbents. The market is clearly a far more rigorous and onerous opponent of the status quo than any government could possibly be. Especially a government led by dogma to characterize as monopolistic a failing last-generation business model.

Take Google. It is accused of monopolizing the ad-tech business. Really? What % of that market does it have? Is it declining or growing? Facts do matter. Google has been seeing a falling share of digital advertising for many years now as Facebook and Amazon have taken significant share away from it. Google is no monopoly. Listen to the analysts on the earnings calls ask about the declining cost per click rates.

Silicon Valley needs to oppose Lina Khan and the six bills and instead invest in startups that can build and win the future.

Lots of news on that this week. Andreessen Horowitz’s $2.2bn crypto third fund, several multi-billion dollar IPOs, creator economy investments reached $2 bn while Twitter added paid tickets to Spaces, its clubhouse competitor.

Is this the time to try to contain the last generation or is it time to build the next?

More in the video.


Regulation and Free markets — Which Works Best?

New FTC Chair Lina Khan Appoints Antitrust Chief, Other Key Staffers

Lina Khan, the new chair of the Federal Trade Commission, on Thursday named three top staff members amid one of the most radical shifts in the agency’s history, according to a memo viewed by The Information. Holly Vedova, who was an adviser to FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra, a Democrat, on …

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Opinion | Google Is Dominating This Hidden Market With No Rules — The New York Times

The absence of stringent regulation has allowed the search giant to dominate the powerful market for online advertising. Here’s how to fix it.

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Sweeping tech antitrust bills advance, but opposition is louder too

A House committee has advanced its sweeping tech antitrust package — and the political and corporate forces opposing it made clear they won’t go quietly even as Congress wrestles with how to push back against consolidation.

During a two-day session that began Wednesday morning, went until dawn Thursday, and picked up again a few hours later, members of the House Judiciary Committee bickered about censorship and critical race theory, cited concerns about Chinese tech and scrambled traditional political alliances.

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Opinion: How small news outlets are pushing back against Big Tech

The three newsrooms where I worked in the 1980s and ’90s employed roughly six to 20 people, using an industry standard of one staff member for every 1,000 subscribers. Today, those newsrooms are lucky to have three or four staffers. I’m aware of some papers that function with only one.

Why the cutbacks, when the demand for local news endures? One big reason is that platforms like Google are functioning less as navigator and more as gatekeeper. An analysis of data from the Web analytics firm Similarweb found that nearly 65 percent of Google searches in 2020 ended without a click on a result. People are increasingly satisfied with search engine summaries and don’t click through to the original sources, depriving the content creators of digital ad revenue.

Small and medium newspapers are suffering most. Following the lead of a landmark suit filed in January by HD Media in West Virginia, owners and publishers of smaller newspapers are fighting back. Jeremy Halbreich is CEO of AIM Media, which owns small and midsize newspapers including the Times-Gazette in Hillsboro, Ohio, where I served as publisher and editor until 2018. Halbreich is among the publishers of 125 newspapers in 11 states who filed lawsuits in April against Google and Facebook. When the suits were announced, Halbreich said, “As found by recent investigations conducted by both federal and state agencies, Google and Facebook have monopolized the digital advertising market and restricted the monetization of local news by local news organizations.”

Washington Post

Amazon is blocking Google’s FLoC — and that could seriously weaken the fledgling tracking system

Amazon is blocking Google’s controversial cookieless tracking and targeting method.

Most of Amazon’s properties including Amazon.com, WholeFoods.com and Zappos.com are preventing Google’s tracking system FLoC — or Federated Learning of Cohorts — from gathering valuable data reflecting the products people research in Amazon’s vast e-commerce universe, according to website code analyzed by Digiday and three technology experts who helped Digiday review the code.

As Google’s system gathers data about people’s web travels to inform how it categorizes them, Amazon’s under-the-radar move could not only be a significant blow to Google’s mission to guide the future of digital ad tracking after cookies die — it could give Amazon a leg up in its own efforts to sell advertising across what’s left of the open web.

“This move is in direct correlation with Google’s attempt to provide an alternative to the third-party cookie,” said Amanda Martin, vp of enterprise partnerships at digital agency Goodway Group. She called Amazon’s choice to block FLoC on most of its sites another example of the chess moves Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are making as data privacy pressures force the destructionof the foundation of data tracking across the internet: the third party cookie.

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Regulating Software

I understand that regulators and elected officials need to raise concerns about new technologies and their impact on society. It is their job or at least part of their job. But I am also dismayed regularly by how poorly many elected officials and regulators understand the technologies they are talking about. In particular, I am […]

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Microsoft flips the app store on its head

Good morning! This Friday, the Microsoft Store takes aim at Apple, the Confluent co-founders are now billionaires, the FTC reset is already starting, and we bet your Roth IRA isn’t as flush with cash as Peter Thiel’s.

(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Source Code every day.)

The Big Story — What’s in Windows 11

Microsoft launched the new version of Windows yesterday. It won’t be out for a while (and you might need a new machine to run it), but there’s plenty of new stuff in here:

  • The look and feel: Windows 11 is a lot cleaner and a lot simpler. It’s clearly the result of Microsoft’s work on Windows 10X, which never shipped but was meant as a competitor to Chromebooks. The Start button is in the center, which is going to blow some minds.
  • Teams: Teams is integrated all over the OS, similar to FaceTime on the Mac.
  • Gaming upgrades: A new Auto HDR feature supposedly makes everything look better, DirectStorage makes games load faster and Xbox Game Pass is built in.
  • Lots of little things: Windows 11 should do a better job with multiple screens, juggling lots of windows, transitioning from laptop mode to tablet mode and the like. A lot of this upgrade seems focused on hybrid work, and people who are going to be moving themselves — and their gadgets — a lot.

The new Microsoft Store was the biggest announcement by far. Strange as it sounds, Microsoft’s new app store might be the most consequential, useful, productive new thing about Windows 11.

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Google delays Chrome phase-out of tracking cookies to late 2023 (NASDAQ:GOOG)

Google ([[GOOG]] +0.7%, [[GOOGL]] +0.5%) is delaying its effort to phase out third-party cookies in its Chrome browser by almost two years, pushing the change likely into mid- to…

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Google’s plan to get rid of cookies isn’t going well

Google is delaying its long-promised move to block third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by another year, citing the need to “move at a responsible pace” and “avoid jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content.”

Google’s business model likely factored into the decision, too: It relies on third-party cookies for some of its lucrative ad business and is a major player in the digital advertising ecosystem that will be upended by the change. So Google has never been all that eager to make it.

Third-party cookies are how many ad companies and data brokers track you across the internet. They can see which sites you go to and use that to build a profile of you and your interests — which is then used to target ads to you.

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Brave Takes on Google With Launch of Private Search Engine — Decrypt

In brief

  • Privacy-focused software developer Brave has launched its Google-like search project in beta.
  • The search engine offers “fully anonymous search”, and doesn’t collect users’ IP addresses or personalize results.

Privacy-focused browser developer Brave has launched its own search engine, the imaginatively named Brave Search. The beta version of the search engine is now available to all Brave users as a search option on desktop, Android, and iOS, and is available for other browsers at search.brave.com.

First announced in March 2021, Brave Search is based on the Tailcat project. Tailcat was developed by the team behind the now-defunct Cliqz search engine and was acquired by Brave earlier this year. The new search engine, the firm promises, will include “no secret methods or algorithms to bias results.”

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Back to Work — Not!

VMware reopened its huge Palo Alto HQ. Only 99 employees showed up.

VMware’s parking lot was mostly empty on June 15, the day the software giant reopened its 16-building headquarters at Stanford Research Park. The company employs more than 5,000 people in Palo Alto, but only a couple hundred have been coming to work each day since five campus buildings opened.

Rich Lang, VMware’s senior vice president of human resources, said he and a receptionist were among the 99 employees to swipe an employee badge at the door on that first day.

“Just as we expected, a very cautious toe-in-the-water for people,” Lang said.

Tech offices may be reopening this summer, but many still look like deserted campuses — especially at companies that, like VMware, are embracing a flexible work model in the long term and continue to encourage remote work until at least September.

Uber, for example, said its in-office employee turnout had been growing in the U.S. since it began reopening its offices in early March, starting in Washington. Yet the ride-hailing giant’s Washington and New York offices are still seeing just 10% to 20% of employees come in each day.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft all declined to specify how many employees had been working out of their U.S. offices.

Why aren’t tech workers coming back?

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Creators are the new Startups

Investments in Creator Economy Startups Hit $2 Billion; An Interview With Homebrew’s Hunter Walk

The deals & debut section of this newsletter is always hopping — and that’s starting to show up in the numbers. Investors have poured at least $2 billion into U.S.-based creator economy startups so far this year, according to data compiled by The Information. For the full list of VC-backed startups, tune in next week when we launch our creator economy database.

Ahead of then, I talked to Hunter Walk, partner at seed-stage venture capital firm Homebrew, about why investors seem to have suddenly woken up to the sector. Walk attributes some of the influx to a new generation of investors who grew up on Tumblr and YouTube and understand startups serving internet celebrities can get big.

“Part of venture is trying to figure out, as a young venture capitalist, where you have a competitive advantage against people who have been investing for 5, 10, 15, 20 years,” Walk, 47, said in an interview from San Francisco.

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Twitter Spaces Rolls Out Ticketed Social Audio Rooms — Voicebot.ai

Twitter has begun allowing some Twitter Spaces hosts to charge money for joining their rooms. The new ticketing feature lets..

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Money, Money, Money

Under The Hood: A Decade After ‘Software Is Eating The World,’ Andreessen Horowitz Has Its Best Exit Year Yet — Crunchbase News

A decade after one of its co-founders wrote the five words that would go on to define the future of Silicon Valley — “software is eating the world” — the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz is having its best exit year yet.

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A16z — as the firm is also known, for the 16 letters between the A in founding partner Marc Andreessen’s name and the Z in Ben Horowitz’s — is closing out the first half of 2021 with its biggest exit yet, Coinbase’s direct listing, under its belt.

The firm has also substantially increased its investment pace this year, our analysis shows, leading or co-leading funding rounds worth $3.2 billion and participating in another $8.4 billion in deals, just halfway into 2021.

Given that Andreessen Horowitz, founded in 2009, has now been investing for longer than a decade and shows no signs of slowing down, we decided to do an analysis of the firm’s investment track record and its returns over time. All told, we found that a16z has now made just under 1,000 investments in 564 portfolio companies. That portfolio has produced 160 exits, of which 20 went public, per Crunchbase data.

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Four Silicon Valley VC firms notched billion-dollar IPO wins on Thursday — CNBC

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Unit Economics and The Pursuit of Scale Invariance

In this article we will present our high-level framework for understanding and visualizing unit economics (UE) for a variety of different businesses as well as show several hopefully illustrative and interesting examples.

The post Unit Economics and The Pursuit of Scale Invariance appeared first on Tribe Capital.

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A quick update on Allocate. Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on… | by samir kaji | Jun, 2021 | Medium

It has now been four months since I left a 20+ year career in venture banking to start Allocate. While still early, we are making good progress and are excited to go live in the coming months.

In the meantime, I wanted to provide a quick update on what we are up to these days. As I have written about extensively over the years, the venture asset class has matured dramatically over the prior decade as mass fragmentation across stages, regions, sectors, and investment models have emerged throughout the ecosystem.

However, despite the growth of the number of exceptional managers that have formed over the last ten-fifteen years, venture remains the least efficient as it relates to capital formation and allocations.

This inefficiency is partly attributable to the natural and understandable misalignment of institutional allocator business models to the vast majority of fund managers. While the number of family offices, high net worth individuals, and independent wealth advisors has increased and are excellent sources of capital, there continues to be a clear two-way access issue between them and fund managers (more on this below).

We have been looking to help solve this for many years, and our mission today is to make venture capital more accessible.

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How Tiger Global is changing Silicon Valley — The Economist

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Venture capital companies target retail investors for funds

Savers given more access to early-state investments but warned of risks

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Crypto Fund III

We believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto. We are radically optimistic about crypto’s potential to restore trust and enable new kinds of governance where communities collectively make important decisions about how networks evolve, …

The post Crypto Fund III appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

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PayPal and Visa Participate in Blockchain Capital’s $300 Million Fund

Since 2013, Blockchain Capital has invested in over 110 companies.

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Andreessen hires Goldman exec as a new investor

As startups drill ever deeper into trying to compete with banks, Andreessen Horowitz has added a new fintech-focused general partner: David Haber, a former Goldman Sachs executive and entrepreneur.

Haber founded small-business lending startup Bond Street, which saw most of its employees join Goldman in 2017 as part of the bank’s efforts to expand its lending efforts. Bond Street offered one- to three-year loans of up to $1 million.

Haber went on to work on a variety of fintech issues at Goldman as a vice president of firmwide strategy, including venture investments in Carta (with Andreessen Horowitz) and Argentine bank-app maker Ualá. He also worked on partnerships and other issues for Stephanie Cohen, then the firm’s chief strategy officer.

Haber, who is based in New York, was an investor at Spark Capital prior to Bond Street, working on investments in companies such as Plaid, Warby Parker, Twitter and Tumblr.

In addition to small business and lending, Haber is interested in range of areas in fintech from enterprise software to the “API-ification of infrastructure” to capital markets to international deals, he said.

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David Haber

On behalf of the entire a16z team, I am thrilled to welcome David Haber as our newest general partner. I am equally thrilled to say he will be based in New York City, our first full-time GP in Manhattan. As …

The post David Haber appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.

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Global Taxes

Naomi Osaka and the G7’s Global Minimum Tax

Rawi and Mihir discuss Naomi Osaka’s departure from the French Open and the G7’s effort to cooperate on corporate taxation.

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Startup of the Week

The Biggest Windows 11 News Is an App Store Overhaul

By playing nice with Android and letting developers use their own payments system, Microsoft has fashioned itself as the anti-Apple for developers.

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Tweet of the Week


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