Ben Thompson Quotes
Total quotes (12)
Total quotes (12)
Spotify is an impressive product and company, and CEO Daniel Ek and team deserve credit for reaching this point. Being a true aggregator, though, means gaining power over supply; Spotify doesn’t have that — the company doesn’t even have control over its marginal costs — and it’s hard to see where the profits come from.
More broadly, the righteousness with which Thiel acted, and with which many on Twitter reacted, combined with a seeming lack of obliviousness to how this might look to the outside world, very much reconfirmed fears I have voiced repeatedly that the tech industry is headed for a regulatory disaster of its own making. Here's the deal: the tech industry is winning. Internet economics have destroyed the journalism industry, they are destroying the transportation and hospitality industries, and I still think we are only in the beginning of a fundamental reordering of business and the economy. Moreover, I think these changes will, on balance and in the long run, be a huge positive for humanity generally and the United States in particular. The short to medium-term, though, will be wrenching, and it would be nice if the tech industry acted with a bit more grace and humility and a with a bit less certainty about its own righteousness and superiority; success, particularly when ascribed entirely to one's own capabilities, inevitably breeds contempt.
And yet, right there in the first two paragraphs, are two Trump statements that should be deeply unsettling for those interested in defending the (small 'l') liberalism I discussed yesterday: "I'm here to help you folks do well" and "We're going to be there for you".
First off, these sorts of statements in fact are the threats the New York Times was apparently expecting: once you've introduced the idea of the President having a direct impact on the success of a particular company, it only takes the flip of one bit to realize the downside. Today Trump says he wants to "help"; there is nothing stopping him from tomorrow saying he wants to "hurt."
It is in Facebook's interest to make sure media organizations have the means to produce the content that makes Facebook the front door to the Internet; that Facebook would make this change knowing it will hurt media organizations (the company wrote in a second blog post that "We anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages") suggests to me not that the company is out to make money off of the media, but rather that more pressing priorities were worth the collateral damage.
It will be interesting to see how that damage is distributed. Obviously organizations that have invested in differentiation strategies predicated on making their sites or apps "destination sites" will fare but better, but I also think the other extreme — companies built on Facebook from first principles — will do better than expected. For example, BuzzFeed's entire business is predicated on understanding how content is shared by, you guessed it, friends and family; this shift makes their core competency that much more valuable. BuzzFeed has also been buying Facebook ads to seed its native advertising articles for years; that expertise can certainly be shared if it ends up making financial sense.
The companies that will predictably be in trouble are those in the middle: doing a little bit here to differentiate, a little bit there to be popular on Facebook, or more likely, not thinking nearly deeply enough how much strategy, business model, distribution, and editorial need to be aligned.
Let me be absolutely crystal clear: this bill, absent massive changes (which, given the previous statements of its authors — Democrat Diane Feinstein of California and Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina — is highly unlikely) is an unmitigated disaster. The only way for any company to abide by its provisions to deliver any data on their devices or services to law enforcement in an "intelligible format" would be to insert a "golden key" into its encryption; as I detailed in the excerpt above, this is far worse than anything the FBI is requesting. It proactively weakens all devices, whether they are served with a warrant or not, and it creates the conditions for a systematic silent security failure, where critical data is compromised without anyone.
The risk for the technology industry is that we are now the incumbents: we have a stake in keeping things exactly as they are, and we build products for ourselves — we’re our own best customers. That, though, cedes the future to the powerless — those with nothing to lose under the current system will by sheer necessity build the new.
That is why we need more companies like those above, ones that work for everyone, enabling the application of human creativity and ingenuity to the creation of a new world order. I know at this moment in history that seems optimistic, but the truth is that a new world order is inevitable; the question now is who will shape it.