Summary of “The End of Windows – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

It’s all a bit of a moot point; in the end Ballmer’s delay gave Nadella an easy win that symbolized the exact shift in mindset Microsoft needed: non-Windows platforms would be targets for Microsoft services, not competitors for Windows.
That’s what we plan to doWe need to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving WindowsWe want to make Windows 10 the most loved release of Windows.
At the time I was very disappointed; suggesting that Microsoft experiences needed to be “Best” on Windows suggested that Windows was dictating the direction of Microsoft services.
Remember, Nadella opposed the Nokia acquisition, but instead of simply dropping the axe on day one, thus wasting precious political capital, he hung the Windows team out to dry let Windows give it their best shot and come to that conclusion on their own.
Nadella did the same thing with Windows proper: when Windows 10 launched Myerson claimed that the operating system would be on 1 billion devices by mid-2018; the company had to walk that back a year later, not because Nadella said so, but because the market did.
Windows had the ecosystem and the lock-in, and provided the foundation for Office and Windows Server, both of which were built with the assumption of Windows at the center.
Unsurprisingly, both are still benefiting from Windows: Office 365 really does, as Nadella noted in his retreat, work better on Windows, and vice versa; it is seamless for organizations that have been using Office for years to move to Office 365.
Azure’s biggest advantage is that it allows for hybrid deployments, where workloads are split between legacy on-premise Windows servers and Azure’s public cloud; that legacy was built on Windows.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Trouble in candy land: How Peeps, pensions and a lawsuit threaten to upend the American retirement system”

They are a pastel symbol of Easter joy, but behind the wax-eyed candy is a company at war with its union workforce over rising pension costs – an escalating legal tangle that could soon upend the retirement plans of 10 million Americans.
The 95-year-old company that makes Peeps, Just Born Quality Confections, wants to block new employees from enrolling in the multi-employer pension it has offered workers for decades, a retirement plan it funds along with roughly 200 other companies.
While many other companies facing similar pressures have left pensions in recent years, Just Born wants to bar new employees from the plan without paying a $60 million fee required under federal law, saying it must do so to remain competitive.
Candy production plummeted, workers said, but the company refused to budge.
The pension, which is administered by a group of labor officials and corporate executives from the 200 participating companies, has sued the company, alleging it improperly tried to stop enrolling new employees in the pension without paying the withdrawal fee.
In total, 10 million current and retired workers participate in multi-employer pensions, according to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
These pensions allow employees to move from one job to another within the same pension and carry their retirement benefits with them.
The pension had already sued Just Born, and now the company, the pension, and the union are all tangled up in lawsuits.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Real Retail Killer”

Retail is, of course, not the only target of private equity.
Remington faced specific challenges-most notably a nationwide decrease in gun sales following President Trump’s election-but private equity’s fingerprints were all over its collapse as well.
It’s in retail that private equity’s malign influence has really been felt.
Claire’s, Payless, Wet Seal, rue21, and dozens of other retail outlets have all filed for bankruptcy in recent years-and all had been acquired by private equity firms before ultimately throwing in the towel.
For all of these companies, Toys ‘R’ Us very much included, private equity was supposed to be a savior, making the necessary cuts to compete in an increasingly fragmented and top-heavy marketplace.
These companies have become burdened with debt that cannot be repaid, while revenue has stagnated.
In a fluid retail environment, legacy brands have to adapt to the rising threat of e-commerce.
Why has private equity’s role in the retail apocalypse been obscured? One reason is that Amazon has fundamentally changed the way that the media discusses business.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Europe’s new privacy rule is reshaping the internet”

The rule is called the General Data Protection Regulation, and it’s poised to reshape some of the messiest parts of the internet.
What is the GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation is a rule passed by the European Union in 2016, setting new rules for how companies manage and share personal data.
In theory, the GDPR only applies to EU citizens’ data, but the global nature of the internet means that nearly every online service is affected, and the regulation has already resulted in significant changes for US users as companies scramble to adapt.
Much of the GDPR builds on rules set by earlier EU privacy measures like the Privacy Shield and Data Protection Directive, but it expands on those measures in two crucial ways.
It’s a lot stronger than existing requirements, and it explicitly extends to companies based outside the EU. For an industry that’s used to collecting and sharing data with little to no restriction, that means rewriting the rules of how ads are targeted online.
That’s a lot more than the fines allowed by the Data Protection Directive, and it signals how serious the EU is taking data privacy.
The GDPR also sets rules for how companies share data after it’s been collected, which means companies have to rethink how they approach analytics, logins, and, above all, advertising.
The GDPR adds complex new requirements for any company that gets user data second-hand, requiring a lot more transparency on what a company is doing with your data.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Tesla Looked Like the Future. Now Some Ask if It Has One.”

Tesla shares dropped 8 percent on Tuesday and another 8 percent Wednesday, and though they regained ground Thursday, they have lost almost a quarter of their value in less than three weeks.
A Tesla representative declined to comment on the company’s finances.
Federal investigators are looking into a fiery crash that killed a Tesla driver last week in California, including the possibility that Autopilot was in use.
On Thursday, Tesla said it was recalling 123,000 Model S cars made before April 2016 to replace bolts that hold a power-steering motor in place.
For years, Tesla has ridden a wave of enthusiastic support from its customers and a certain set of investors, even though it generated barely any profit in the 15 years since its founding.
There’s no doubt Tesla has achieved some breakthroughs that have left the established automakers scrambling to catch up.
Along the way, Mr. Musk has also courted controversy, including his move in 2016 for Tesla to take over SolarCity, a maker of home solar panels run by his cousin.
In January, Tesla gave Mr. Musk a new compensation plan tied entirely to the company’s market value and other performance goals.

The orginal article.

Summary of “At Uber, a New C.E.O. Shifts Gears”

On a recent morning, a white S.U.V. pulled up in front of the building housing the largest Indian office of the ride-hailing company Uber, and out climbed Dara Khosrowshahi, the company’s new C.E.O. In Uber’s minimalist lobby, Khosrowshahi was greeted by two local staff members, who led him through a traditional Hindu lamplighting ceremony called an aarti.
Khosrowshahi’s visit to New Delhi was, among other things, a visit to the scene of one of the worst episodes in Uber’s history.
An Uber investor told me, “One of the words that was common parlance at Uber was ‘fierce.’ I love that word. But it can absolutely be taken too far.” The question, he said, is “How does Dara preserve the positive aspects of the culture and change the aspects that are in desperate need of changing while still competing fiercely?”.
In February, 2011, the venture-capital firm Benchmark became Uber’s lead investor, providing twelve million dollars in financing, at a company valuation of sixty million dollars, and a Benchmark partner named Bill Gurley joined Uber’s board.
Around the same time, Uber hired a new head of human resources, Liane Hornsey, who came from Google.
Two days later, just as Uber was preparing to announce measures intended to repair its relationship with drivers, Bloomberg posted a dashboard video that showed Kalanick riding in the back of a luxury Uber black car, partying with two young women.
Uber India, the former executive told me, “Is in a dogfight with the local competitor.” That leaves Uber fully operational mainly in North and South America.
In January, Michael Moritz, a partner at the venture firm Sequoia Capital, published a controversial editorial in the Financial Times, arguing that American businesses, in their eagerness to offer work-life balance, are at risk of losing out to Chinese tech firms, where “The pace of work is furious,” the offices are spartan, and “Nobody complains about missing a Little League game or skipping a basketball outing with friends.” The Indian Minister of State for Civil Aviation made a similar argument to Khosrowshahi during a meeting in New Delhi, suggesting that Uber build an engineering center in India.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Shyp Sunk: The Rise And Fall Of An On-Demand Startup”

A half-decade after its founding, San Francisco-based Shyp is ending operations and laying off all its employees.
Gibbon declines to state how many staffers are impacted by the company’s closure.
He is willing to share the hard-earned lessons he’s learned from his experience at Shyp, which started out as a service that let you take a photo of something you wanted to ship with the company’s smartphone app, whereupon a courier would come to you and whisk your stuff away to a warehouse where employees would pack it up and hand it off to a major shipping company for delivery.
More recently, Shyp had bet everything on sustainability rather than expansion.
According to Gibbon, the new, smaller Shyp began turning an operational profit last December; he’s proud of the way the surviving employees hunkered down and kept on getting things done.
Judging from my encounters as a paying customer, Shyp really did nail the customer experience in its consumer-focused days.
To continue in this more corporate direction, Shyp had recently been working on a set of features aimed at even higher-volume shippers.
Shyp has often been described as “The Uber of shipping,” but creating the Uber-of-something is no longer a way to get venture capitalists to write checks.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The bottom line: One in three families can’t afford diapers. Why are they so expensive?”

Peel a diaper apart and you’ll find three inner layers.
A single dad in Chicago – an ex-convict trying to turn his life around for his young daughter – told news website ProPublica Illinois that the only diapers he could afford came from the dollar store.
The top manufacturers don’t publicly report profit margins on their diapers, and many insiders won’t discuss the bottom line.
Most families living below the poverty line rely on a patchwork of government assistance programs: Medicaid for health insurance; food stamps; and a program that provides healthy food to women, infants and children, known as WIC. Cash assistance is the only one that can go toward diapers, wipes and other essential baby supplies that aren’t food.
“People don’t talk about having enough diapers,” said Alison Weir, who oversees policy and research at the National Diaper Bank Network.
In a blog post, an advisor to then-President Barack Obama pointed out that families can be forced to choose between buying diapers and paying for food, rent or utilities.
In California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown recently approved $30 in monthly diaper benefits for families in the state’s cash welfare-to-work program.
Diaper banks are nonprofit organizations that provide free baby diapers and wipes to families in need.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Were Struggling Before Arizona Crash”

Tech companies like Uber, Waymo and Lyft, as well as automakers like General Motors and Toyota, have spent billions developing self-driving cars in the belief that the market for them could one day be worth trillions of dollars.
On Monday, Uber halted autonomous car tests in Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
Uber has been testing its self-driving cars in a regulatory vacuum in Arizona.
Unlike California, where Uber had been testing since spring of 2017, Arizona state officials had taken a hands-off approach to autonomous vehicles and did not require companies to disclose how their cars were performing.
Uber’s goals in Arizona were mentioned in internal documents – Arizona does not have reporting requirements – and it has not been testing self-driving cars in California long enough to be required to report them.
The Phoenix area was added a year ago, and quickly became the company’s main testing ground, with 400 employees and more than 150 autonomous cars driving local roads because of “Favorable regulatory environment, favorable weather conditions,” according to a company document.
Uber’s autonomous cars are not operating nearly as well as those of its competitors.
After its strong California results, Waymo is now testing cars in Chandler, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb, with no safety drivers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Is China Treating North Carolina Like the Developing World?”

As a result, the company now owns the hogs, the most lucrative part of the business, while the North Carolina farmers own the shit – and all the environmental and human liabilities from it.
When her mother went to get loans to modernize their farm, Miller says, she was turned down by banks and the USDA. Such stories of discrimination are common among African-American farmers in North Carolina.
In 1999, the USDA settled a billion-dollar class-action lawsuit initiated by a North Carolina farmer, admitting African-Americans had been denied loans because of their race.
Kelly Zering, a professor at North Carolina State University who studies the hog industry, tells me that hog-farming communities “Have been considerably more resilient and prosperous than similar rural areas in North Carolina that have no pork or poultry development.” Gray, the Rural Center researcher, says, “I wouldn’t want to live next to a hog farm, but whether you like it or not, it’s pretty clear it’s an economic asset for the county.”
Today, hog farming in the state is a $2.9 billion industry, responsible for 46,000 jobs, according to the North Carolina Pork Council, which likes to portray the industry as a network of family-owned businesses forming the economic backbone of the eastern sand hills.
The area’s hog farms got bigger by gobbling up smaller family farms – in 1986, there were 15,000 hog farms in North Carolina; today, only around 2,300 remain.
The Pork Council notes, “Hog farming is among the most highly regulated industries in North Carolina agriculture.”
Tom Butler grew up on the same kind of small eastern North Carolina farm as Aldridge and Miller, raising tobacco and a few hogs, which his family would butcher and smoke every fall at community gatherings.

The orginal article.