How the Democrats Can Lose Silicon Valley and their senses
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That Was The Week, #39
Ben Thompson, in Stratechery, wrote an essay this week. Its title was great - "Facebook's Missing Monopoly." In the same week, the House Democrats released a report accusing Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon of being monopolies and abusing their power.
The ignorance manifest in the accusation of monopoly power is striking and, at the same time, astounding. At a time when most of Silicon Valley is praying - or at least hoping - for a Biden win in the presidential election, the assumed winners are signaling the coming war with big tech.
To be clear, Facebook does not have a monopoly in its only market - digital advertising. Neither does Google. Amazon has no monopoly in eCommerce, and Apple certainly has no monopoly on smartphones, laptops, computers, or software and services. And you can't abuse what you do not have.
These are big and powerful companies and a testament to the Silicon Valley ethos to build the new and disrupt the old.
None of this is to say that these companies are not sometimes self-serving and aggressive. All successful companies are.
So, where does that leave us? Of course, nothing should stand in the way of removing the current government. But that said, it is hard to feel good about the assumed winners.
The future of humanity depends on technology that will be capable of automating much that is currently manual. The ability to reduce the price of food, drinks, housing, clothing, transport, energy, and much more closer towards zero is technology and automation driven. Automation is beneficial to humanity due to its impact on reducing human labor in producing for the needs of humans, animals, and the earth. Ultimately human work itself will be reduced to as close to zero as is achievable. When that happens, the choice of how to spend one's time will become available to all. Large technology companies are part of the path to that possibility.
The end of the private company is a meaningful goal in that context. It would be hard to imagine a fully automated society owned and run by private individuals. As a requirement of progress, social production can become possible, and surplus itself will probably become social, not individual. Universal Basic Income would be the likely form of the social distribution of wealth. But that is a long time in the future. Until that time, let's support the ability of capital and know-how to help us get there.
We all require a political agenda that places value on progress and understands that automation is the source of social progress and equality of opportunity. Combining technical progress and social progress is not a new idea. It was the heart of enlightenment thinking. We seem to have lost it,
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Top of the Week: Don't Trust Anti Trust
- House Democrats say Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, Apple enjoy 'monopoly power' and recommend big changes - CNBC
- Apple 'Vehemently Disagrees' With U.S. Tech Company Antitrust Report - MacRumors
- Anti-monopoly vs. Antitrust - Ben Thompson, Stratechery
- Steps from the House’s antitrust report are too little, too late when it comes to big tech - Jon Shreiber, TechCrunch
- Facebook Says Government Breakup of Instagram, WhatsApp Would Be ‘Complete Nonstarter’ - Wall Street Journal
- Rebels within: the Facebook staff openly challenging Zuckerberg - The Guardian
Reads of the Week: ChinAmerica
- The end of the American internet — Benedict Evans
- Unfavorable Views of China Reach Historic Highs in Many Countries - Pew Research
- Most countries surveyed now see China as the world's dominant economic power, rather than the U.S. - Noah Smith
- What’s Next for Silicon Valley? - Harvard Business Review
- Reinventing the SPAC - Reid Hoffman
- Nvidia has developed neural network that could revolutionise video streaming - DIYPhotography.net
Startup of the Week: Unqork
Raise of the Week: Greycroft
Politics and Technology:
- 2020 Crunchbase Diversity Spotlight Report - Gené Teare at Crunchbase
- Benedict Evans on Cambridge Analytica
- Orders from the Top: The EU’s Timetable for Dismantling End-to-End Encryption - Deeplinks
- Facebook to ban QAnon-themed groups, pages and accounts in crackdown - The Guardian
- What-The-Social-Dilemma-Gets-Wrong - Facebook
Venture: SPACs and Direct Listings
- A quick peek into Opendoor’s financial results - TechCrunch
- Opendoor Filing Reveals Lower 2020 Revenue, Smaller Loss - Crunchbase News
- Chamath Palihapitiya on SPAC conflicts of interest
- What Palantir and Asana Mean for Direct Listings - The Information
- Why VC firms should stop chasing unicorns - Sifted
- Negative Social Proof - AVC
Startups: Shifting Sands
- Jobs, Wozniak, Cook (Build, Sell, Scale) - Elad Gil
- Crowdcube and Seedrs — which let you buy shares in privately-held start-ups — are set to merge - CNBC
- Tribe Capital Plans Challenge to AngelList - The Information
- Index Ventures’ Nina Achadjian and Sarah Cannon: ‘There’s basically an infinite bid’ for growth-stage startups
- Fundraising for Open Source Startups - Mo's Blog