Summary of “Everybody Should Fear the Disney Death Star”

Disney announced on Thursday that it would acquire most of the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox for about $60 billion in stock and debt, in what would be the largest-ever merger of two showbiz companies.
Already the most storied entertainment empire in the U.S., Disney would become a global colossus through this deal, gaining large stakes in the biggest entertainment companies in both Europe and India.
In the transfer of power, Disney would receive the 20th Century Fox film studio, including the independent film maestros at Fox Searchlight, the X-Men franchise, Fox’s television production company, the FX and National Geographic cable channels, and regional sports networks, including the YES Network that broadcasts New York Yankees games.
These additions would enrich an overflowing treasury at Disney, whose assets includes Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, ABC, ESPN, the world’s most popular amusement parks, and, of course, its classic animated-film division.
Disney is paying $60 billion to build a business that reaches everybody else-every youthful, colorful, nose-diving line segment in the chart.
If the Justice Department permits the Disney merger without a peep, it will feed speculation about why the government is blocking the acquisition of the president’s most-hated television channel.
Consumers should fear too; not just those who are afraid that Disney will water down artsy filmmaking and R-rated superhero films, but also those who are afraid that too much control of any industry confers monopoly power that restricts choices, raises prices, and hurts workers.
Here’s the truly weird part: Disney should also be afraid of its own Death Star.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Facebook Conceded It Might Make You Feel Bad. Here’s How to Interpret That.”

Another is what Facebook might be doing to our psychology and social relationships – whether it has addicted us to “Short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” that “Are destroying how society works,” to quote Chamath Palihapitiya, one of several former Facebook executives who have expressed some version of this concern over the last few months.
The company pointed to a study published this year in the American Journal of Epidemiology – by researchers who weren’t affiliated with Facebook – that showed that people who clicked on more “Likes” and links than the typical Facebook user reported worse physical and mental health.
Another study – this one conducted in partnership with Facebook by Robert E. Kraut, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has long studied how computers affect users’ psychology – had a more upbeat finding.
You can see the issue here: Facebook is saying that if you feel bad about Facebook, it’s because you’re holding it wrong, to quote Steve Jobs.
The cure for your malaise may be to just use Facebook more.
The post pointed out several recent and coming changes to Facebook that the company said encouraged active interactions on the service.
That’s the real message: Once you discover how much more you can get out of Facebook with this new stuff, you’ll feel super.
If you think Facebook is ruining the world, you should be a little glad that even Facebook agrees that we need a better Facebook – and that it is pledging to build one.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘The Basic Grossness of Humans'”

Roberts has been studying the labor of content moderation for most of a decade, ever since she saw a newspaper clipping about a small company in the Midwest that took on outsourced moderation work.
It paired two people who had been content moderators: Rasalyn Bowden, who became a content-review trainer and supervisor at Myspace, and Rochelle LaPlante, who works on Amazon Mechanical Turk and is the cofounder of an organizing platform for people who work on that platform, MTurkCrowd.com.
There are very few full-time employees working out of corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley doing this kind of stuff.
“The workers may be structurally removed from those firms via outsourcing companies who take on CCM contracts and then hire the workers under their auspices, in call-center environments,” Roberts has written.
“Such outsourcing firms may also recruit CCM workers using digital piecework sites such as Amazon Mechanical Turk or Upwork, in which the relationships between the social-media firms, the outsourcing company, and the CCM worker can be as ephemeral as one review.”
Most pressingly LaPlante drew attention to the economic conditions under which workers are laboring.
Yet the people doing it are lucky to make minimum wage, have no worker protections, and must work at breakneck speed to try to earn a living.
These thousands of people have been acting as the police for the boundaries of “Acceptable online discourse.” And as a rule, they have been unsupported, underpaid, and left to deal with the emotional trauma the work causes, while the companies they work for have become the most valuable in the world.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How 2017 Became a Turning Point for Tech Giants”

For years, despite their growing power, tech platforms rarely garnered much scrutiny, and they were often loath to accept how much their systems affected the real world.
It might as well be the slogan of Silicon Valley: We just make the tech, how people use it is another story.
A whistle-blowing blog post by Susan Fowler, an engineer who detailed a culture of harassment and misogyny at the ride-hailing company Uber, sparked a women’s movement in tech that was then subsumed by the global #MeToo movement.
Many tech titans were obviously unprepared for the serious questions that began coming their way a year ago.
Tech giants last month stopped fighting a bill in Congress that would allow victims of sex trafficking to sue websites that supported the sex trade.
In another time, this would have been a gimme for tech companies – they aren’t responsible for how people use their services, remember?
If the big shift of 2017 is that tech companies now accept some responsibility for how their platforms impact the world, the big mystery of 2018 and beyond is what, exactly, that responsibility will look like.
Yeah, 2017 was a terrible year for the tech industry.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Disney and Fox – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Certainly that is an argument in Disney’s favor: nearly everything 21st Century Fox does Disney does as well.
Third, Disney built a bundle within the bundle: distributors had to not only pay for ESPN, but also for the Disney channel, A&E, Lifetime, and the host of spinoff channels that followed; any proper accounting for ESPN’s ultimate contribution to Disney’s bottom line should include the above-average carriage fees charged by all of Disney’s properties.
The problem now is obvious: Netflix wasn’t simply a customer for Disney’s content, the company was also a competitor for Disney’s far more important and lucrative customer – cable TV. And, over the next five years, as more and more cable TV customers either cut the cord or, more critically, never got cable in the first place, happy to let Netflix fulfill their TV needs, Disney was facing declines in a business it assumed would grow forever.
I’ve long argued that the only way to break away from the power of aggregators is through differentiation; it’s why I argued after that Iger earnings call that Disney would be OK – after all, differentiated content is Disney’s core competency, as demonstrated by its ability to extract profits from cable companies.
That gives Netflix far more leverage over content suppliers like Disney than the cable companies ever had. Consider the comparison in terms of BATNA: for distributors the alternative to not carrying ESPN was losing a huge number of customers who cared about seeing live sports; that’s not much of an alternative! Netflix, on the other hand, can – and is! – going straight to creators for content that viewers can watch instead of whatever Disney may choose to withhold if Netflix’s price is unsatisfactory.
Not only does 21st Century Fox have a lot of content, it has content that is particularly great for filling out a streaming library: think The Simpsons, or Family Guy; according to estimates I’ve seen, in terms of external content Fox owns eight of Netflix’s most streamed shows – more than Disney’s six.
If Disney is successful, it will be a truly remarkable shift: away from a horizontal content company predicated on leveraging its investment in content across as many outlets as possible, to a vertical streaming company that uses its content to achieve higher average revenue from a smaller number of customers willing to pay directly – smaller in the United States, that is; as Netflix is demonstrating, owning it all means the ability to extend the model worldwide.
Disney and 21st Century Fox combined for 40% of U.S. box office revenue in 2016; that probably isn’t enough to stop the deal, and as silly as it sounds, don’t underestimate the clamoring of fans for the unification of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in swaying popular opinion!

The orginal article.

Summary of “Inside Faraday Future’s financial house of cards”

Their accounts support and build on previous reports, and paint a more comprehensive picture of unusual financial management by the two people most directly in charge of the company’s finances: Jia Yueting, the main investor and shareholder, and Chaoying Deng, who has held many different titles at the company, but lists herself as the company’s vice president of administration on LinkedIn.
Others are simply no longer showing up for work; when YT arrived at the company’s Gardena, California, headquarters on the morning of Monday, November 20th to meet a group of potential investors, he found so few employees on site that an email, which was obtained by The Verge, was sent to staff by Faraday Future’s head of go-to market strategy that reinforced the company’s work hours.
Representatives for Faraday Future admit that YT is the main financial backer of the company, but have maintained that the company was independent from his Chinese conglomerate LeEco, which is currently mired in controversy.
In documents filed with the California secretary of state in 2016, YT was listed as the CEO of Ocean View Drive, Inc. Around early 2015, Faraday Future’s founding executives presented YT with a plan for the company that focused on one model made in one small factory, according to former employees with direct knowledge of the company’s finances.
The physical distance between the company’s executives in California and LeEco executives in China increased frustrations throughout the company that YT was trying to “Shadow manage” Faraday Future, former employees say.
The ultimate goal, according to multiple employees familiar with Faraday Future’s manufacturing plans, was to produce the LeSee car using the same production lines Faraday would use to make its own car, the FF91. The company missed a planned 2016 CES reveal partly because of YT’s constant changes, these people say.
In 2017 especially, according to multiple former employees with knowledge of the company’s finances, the money that came into the company was often spent immediately, and there was generally “No money in the bank.” The only stable deposits in 2017 were used for company payroll, which cost Faraday Future about $12 million a month, these former employees say.
Krause, a former executive at Deutsche Bank and BMW, was brought to Faraday Future in March to put the company on the right financial track.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Silicon Valley Kowtows To China”

Why do CEOs such as Cook, and Google’s Sundar Pichai, attend these types of events? What is the impact of their participation in and statements at these events likely to be? How much influence do these large companies have over China’s internet regulation and what do they stand to gain or lose by publicly supporting internet freedom? -The ChinaFile Editors.
Shaun Rein, founder and managing director of the China Market Research GroupChina employs the power of its wallet-both the State’s and the consumer’s wallet combined together-to reward brands that heed the wants of China politically, while using this same power to punish countries and, increasingly, companies that go against China’s wants politically.
The rewards China bestows on the these foreign internet companies can be huge-China is Apple’s largest market outside of the United States.
Zeng Jinyan, writer, scholar, activist, and documentary filmmakerAt the 4th World Internet Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended Apple’s removal of VPN apps from the app store in China, saying that China should not be criticized.
Chinese long have known that Apple products sold inside China are not the company’s authentic advanced technology.
Apple products sold in China are modified to suit the Chinese government rather than Chinese consumers.
Chen Weihua, chief Washington correspondent for China Daily and the deputy editor of China Daily USA. This is not a new debate at all.
I want to repeat my argument in the Google case in 2010: If you want to help change China for the better, you should involve China in your work and be there on the ground.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Want Proof That Patience Pays Off? Ask the Founders of This 17-Year-Old $525 Million Email Empire”

MailChimp, which grew out of a discarded web business, is profitable, still entirely owned by its co-founders, and growing by more than $120 million every year; Chestnut estimates that in 2017 it will post $525 million in revenue.
You won’t pay MailChimp anything more for the service-and Chestnut won’t take a cut from the tech giants, either.
After getting laid off in 2000, Chestnut started Rocket Science Group, a company originally focused on web design, and later teamed up with Kurzius and one of Chestnut’s college friends, a tech guy named Mark Armstrong.
There was an old product feature that Rocket Science Group had developed, as part of an abortive email greeting card project, that had been abandoned to “The parts bin,” a concept Chestnut now regularly name checks with employees.
Chestnut and Kurzius decided to go all in on email and on small businesses.
MailChimp’s tipping point came in 2009, when Chestnut made a somewhat counter­intuitive decision: “Let’s just make the whole thing free.” If your customers are small businesses, make it easy and cheap for them to try you out, his thinking went.
Diversity is a big one, as Chestnut and his employees acknowledge; despite the company’s headquarters in a majority African American city, Chestnut is the only nonwhite face in a seven-person C suite, one that has two women.
Above All, Stick to ItIt took more than five years for MailChimp to find its sweet spot, and about a decade for Chestnut to feel like it was starting to succeed.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society”

Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world.
Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “Tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make.
“I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “Hard break” from social media.
Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem.
Palihapitiya’s remarks follow similar statements of contrition from others who helped build Facebook into the powerful corporation it is today.
In November, early investor Sean Parker said he has become a “Conscientious objector” to social media, and that Facebook and others had succeeded by “Exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” A former product manager at the company, Antonio Garcia-Martinez, has said Facebook lies about its ability to influence individuals based on the data it collects on them, and wrote a book, Chaos Monkeys, about his work at the firm.
In the past year, concerns about the company’s role in the US election and its capacity to amplify fake news have grown, while other reports have focused on how the social media site has been implicated in atrocities like the “Ethnic cleansing” of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group.
In his talk, Palihapitiya criticized not only Facebook, but Silicon Valley’s entire system of venture capital funding.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Nintendo’s Resurgence Was the Best Tech Story of 2017”

Couple the Switch’s success with the highly sought-after SNES Classic, and Nintendo is clearly having its best year in a long time.
In an era filled with cynical IP cash-ins across entertainment, Nintendo used a formulaic, nostalgic franchise to deliver a fresh reinvention of open-world gaming mechanics.
The gushing praise for the game, the best-reviewed title of the year, proved that endlessly cynical gamers will always have a soft spot for a Nintendo classic done right.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had a Nintendo product but I’ve always been a follower in terms of the latest games,” Torres says.
The Switch’s success has surprised not only industry watchers but Nintendo itself.
During its years in the Wii U wilderness, Nintendo talked a lot about diversifying its business across multiple platforms, including smartphone games and a vague “Health-based platform”.
For gamers who don’t care about the latest Mario or Zelda title, Nintendo has offered the SNES Classic as a go-to holiday gift.
The Switch is likely to draw less scrutiny and ire if it’s not looking to reshape the way we play games and instead humbly presenting the very best of what Nintendo has to offer, in the living room and on the go.

The orginal article.