Summary of “The end of the internet startup”

Some critics say, they’ve gotten better at controlling and locking down key parts of the internet’s infrastructure, closing off paths that early internet companies used to reach a mass market.
Most important, Google bought a little-known mobile software company called Android in 2005, laying the foundation for Google’s eventual dominance of smartphone operating systems.
If these companies had remained independent, they easily could have emerged as major competitors to Google and Facebook.
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman rebuffed acquisition offers from Google and Yahoo, taking the company public in 2012.
“At one point,” writes Businessweek’s Brad Stone, “Quidsi executives took what they knew about shipping rates, factored in Procter & Gamble’s wholesale prices, and calculated that Amazon was on track to lose $100 million over three months in the diaper category alone.” As a venture-backed startup, Quidsi couldn’t sustain those kinds of losses, so the company wound up selling to Amazon in 2010.
“Mark Zuckerberg had a huge advantage with Facebook because the pressure that normal people have of building a company was replaced by the lightness of him just playing around with ideas,” said Mike Maples, an investor at the firm Floodgate.
In the 1980s, great companies like Microsoft, Adobe, and Intuit were founded to make software for PCs. Those companies still make plenty of money – just like Intel does – but there isn’t a lot of room for desktop PC software startups today.
There are only so many things you can do with a web browser or a smartphone, and maybe companies like Google, Facebook, and Snap have already locked down the most important markets.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Capitalism the Apple Way vs. Capitalism the Google Way”

While lots of attention is directed toward identifying the next great start-up, the defining tech-industry story of the last decade has been the rise of Apple and Google.
The greatest collision between Apple and Google is little noticed.
A few weeks after Apple’s concession to shareholders, the founders of Google announced a new share structure that would defend against a similar situation: The structure gave the founders’ shares 10 times the voting power of regular shares, ensuring they’d dictate the company’s strategy long into the future and that Google was, in the words of the founders, “Set up for success for decades to come.”
What has happened to Google and Apple in the wake of these events is the defining story of early 21st-century capitalism.
Several hedge funds started asking for much larger payouts, with some of them filing suits against Apple and even proposing an “iPref”-a new type of share that would allow Apple to release much more cash in a way that didn’t incur as high of a tax bill.
What has Google done in that same period? Google is, like Apple, making loads of money.
The paths taken by Apple and Google manifest alternative answers to one of the main questions facing capitalism today: What should public companies do with all of the money that they’re making? Even as corporations have brought in enormous profits, there has been a shortage of lucrative opportunities for investment and growth, creating surpluses of cash.
Who’s right? Which principal-agent problem is more vexing? Stock-market returns are one, albeit imperfect, way of answering this question and since the initial developments, Google has far outperformed Apple.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Everybody lies: how Google search reveals our darkest secrets”

The power in Google data is that people tell the giant search engine things they might not tell anyone else.
Men conduct more searches for how to make their penises bigger than how to tune a guitar, make an omelette, or change a tyre.
Google search data can give us a minute-by-minute peek into such eruptions of hate-fuelled rage.
The top Google search in California with the word “Muslims” in it at the time was “Kill Muslims”.
Just about every negative search we could think to test regarding Muslims shot up during and after Obama’s speech, and just about every positive search we could think to test declined.
We might look at how racist searches change after a black quarterback is drafted in a city, or how sexist searches change after a woman is elected to office.
Google search data and other wellsprings of truth on the internet give us an unprecedented look into the darkest corners of the human psyche.
What would your search records reveal about you?They could definitely tell I’m a hypochondriac because I’m waking up in the middle of the night doing Google searches about my health.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google’s battle with the European Union is the world’s biggest economic policy story”

The European Union leveled a $2.7 billion fine against Google this month for allegedly illegally disadvantaging several European e-commerce sites by algorithmically favoring Google Shopping results over their own.
The US thinks Google should do what it wants From the standpoint of American antitrust authorities, Google is largely immune to scrutiny on two grounds.
No rival can match Google’s user base, so no rival can match the speed at which Google is learning and getting better.
Relative to Google’s ambitions, the “Classic Google” experience of displaying a list of links to search results is incredibly primitive.
Google, for selfish business reasons, would rather keep users on Google and continue gobbling up ad revenue for itself.
From Google’s point of view, the truly anti-competitive move would be for regulators to prop up non-Google information services by preventing Google from outcompeting them by offering a superior seamless product.
The White House, sometimes including Obama personally, characterized European antitrust scrutiny of Google as a form of de facto protectionism – with the European Union cast as seeking to unfairly disadvantage American tech companies to prop up European ones.
In a spring 2016 speech, Elizabeth Warren called out Google, Apple, and Amazon by name as companies that “Deliver enormously valuable products” but nonetheless require more scrutiny because “The opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.” Bernie Sanders, too, is a proponent of a more regulation-friendly approach to competition policy.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google Stakes Its Future on a Piece of Software”

Early in 2015, artificial-intelligence researchers at Google created an obscure piece of software called ­TensorFlow.
Two years later the tool, which is used in building machine-­learning software, underpins many future ambitions of Google and its parent company, Alphabet.
The software’s popularity is helping Google fight for a bigger share of the roughly $40 billion cloud infrastructure market, where the company lies a distant third behind Amazon and Microsoft.
The head of Google’s cloud business, Diane Greene, said in April that she expects to take the top spot within five years, and a core part of Google’s strategy for catching up is to appeal to the sudden enthusiasm about artificial intelligence in industries from health care to autos.
Customers like insurer AXA-which used TensorFlow to make a system that predicts expensive traffic accidents-also get the benefits of the same infrastructure Google uses to power their own products.
Inside Google, TensorFlow powers products such as the Google Translate mobile app, which can translate a foreign menu in front of your eyes when you point your phone at it.
These processors propelled the historic victory of software called AlphaGo over a champion of the ancient board game Go last year and are credited with making possible a recent upgrade that brought Google’s translation service close to human level for some languages.
Since Google released TensorFlow, its competitors in cloud computing, Microsoft and Amazon, have released or started supporting their own free software tools to help coders build machine-learning systems.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Ends, Means, and Antitrust – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

“Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That’s a good thing. But Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.”
“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
As a result of Google’s illegal practices and the distortions to competition, Google’s comparison shopping service has made significant market share gains at the expense of rivals.
Given the fact that Google is free for consumers, it is basically all but impossible for the company to be found guilty of antitrust behavior by the U.S., as the FTC determined a few years ago.
The European Commission is effectively arguing that Google is wrong by virtue of fulfilling my search request explicitly; apparently they should read my mind and serve up an answer that is in fact different from what I am requesting?
You can certainly argue that the tiny “Sponsored” label is bordering on dishonesty, but the fact remains that Google is being explicit about the fact that Google Shopping is a glorified ad unit.
The implications of saying this is monopolistic behavior goes to the very heart of Google’s business model: should Google not be allowed to sell advertising against search results for fear that it is ruining competition? Take travel sites: why shouldn’t Priceline sue Google for featuring ads for hotel booking sites above its own results? Why should Google be able to make any money at all?
More broadly, antitrust advocates have to appreciate that, when it comes to digital monopolies, there is a very fine line to walk between opposing products that are better for consumers and promoting competition: I do think competition is ultimately pro-consumer, but simply presuming that “Big” is bad when “Big” comes from a superior customer experience is little more than a shortcut to political irrelevance.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Apple’s AR is closer to reality than Google’s”

Next up on Apple’s agenda is augmented reality, the act of superimposing digital data and visuals atop a live video feed of your surroundings – something that Google, Microsoft, and many others have been experimenting with for a long time.
Apple is far from being able to claim it invented AR, but its new ARKit in iOS 11 is already showing signs to suggest that Apple will help bring AR into the mainstream faster and better than anyone else.
Apple’s AR will immediately reach millions of people who already have the requisite hardware.
Google’s Tango is about the future whereas Apple’s ARKit is about the present.
Considering how little time it took to develop two convincingly accurate AR measuring apps with the iOS 11 beta, and reading the comments from their makers, Apple also appears to have an advantage in the ease of development with ARKit.
It’s exciting to think that there are still three months before the release of the next iPhone and the accompanying finalization of iOS 11, by which time Apple’s big-budget app developer partners are likely to have a deluge of AR-enabled apps for people to play with.
Apple’s iPhone is more convenient than Google’s Project Tango devices and with iOS 11 it’ll have much better AR capabilities than its nearest premium Android rivals.
So if we’re looking for the AR innovator that will take the technology into the mainstream, Apple once again looks like the likeliest suspect.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails for Gmail Ads”

Google is stopping one of the most controversial advertising formats: ads inside Gmail that scan users’ email contents.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google Cloud sells a package of office software, called G Suite, that competes with market leader Microsoft Corp. Paying Gmail users never received the email-scanning ads like the free version of the program, but some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications, said Diane Greene, Google’s senior vice president of cloud.
Ads will continue to appear inside the free version of Gmail, as promoted messages.
Instead of scanning a user’s email, the ads will now be targeted with other personal information Google already pulls from sources such as search and YouTube.
Ads based on scanned email messages drew lawsuits and some of the most strident criticism the company faced in its early years, but offered marketers a much more targeted way to reach consumers.
Greene’s ability to limit ads, Google’s lifeblood, shows her growing clout at the company.
Since her arrival in late 2015, Google has poured investments into its cloud-computing and business software tools to catch up to Microsoft and Amazon.com Inc. Greene announced the changes on Friday in a blog post, where she wrote that G Suite has more than 3 million paying companies and had more than doubled its user base among large businesses in the past year.
Google doesn’t share its cloud division sales, but its “Other Revenues,” which includes those numbers, grew 49 percent to $3.09 billion in the first quarter.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google advances AI with ‘one model to learn them all'”

Google quietly released an academic paper that could provide a blueprint for the future of machine learning.
Called “One Model to Learn Them All,” it lays out a template for how to create a single machine learning model that can address multiple tasks well.
The MultiModel, as the Google researchers call it, was trained on a variety of tasks, including translation, language parsing, speech recognition, image recognition, and object detection.
While its results don’t show radical improvements over existing approaches, they illustrate that training a machine learning system on a variety of tasks could help boost its overall performance.
The MultiModel improved its accuracy on machine translation, speech, and parsing tasks when trained on all of the operations it was capable of, compared to when the model was just trained on one operation.
That’s because the team’s results show that when the MultiModel is trained on all the tasks it’s capable of, its accuracy improves on tasks with less training data.
Google doesn’t claim to have a master algorithm that can learn everything at once.
The Google Brain team has released the MultiModel code as part of the TensorFlow open source project, so other people can experiment with it and find out.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Gchat’s Window Is Closing for Good”

On June 26, when the tech giant formally forces the last remaining Gchat holdouts, including yours truly, onto the substitute-teacher-incarnated-as-chat-platform that is Hangouts, users will have their choice among that, Allo, Duo, Android Messages, Supersonic Fun Voice Messenger, and Voice.
Google, which has infamously floundered in its attempts to build social platforms, will bury Gchat in its graveyard alongside Wave, Buzz, Labs, iGoogle, Picasa, Dodgeball, Knol, Jaiku, and others, including Google Reader.
Hangouts, first introduced in 2013 and largely ignored, plays much more nicely with Google’s raft of Android services; Gchat for the most part plays not at all.
Critically, the service integrated with AIM, the instant messenger of choice for many in the mid-aughts, when Gchat first appeared a year after Gmail’s release: Plug in your old username and password, and suddenly everyone you knew was sitting in Gchat, too.
You could turn the feature off if you wanted, a helpful tool for people using Gchat at the office, and message boxes would caution - or dare you, depending on your interpretation - that what you typed was off the record.
This is probably more an indication of my own unhealthy habits than anything, but for years my chances of being good friends with somebody were near zero if they didn’t use Gchat regularly.
Even the name, “Gchat,” was never really its title: It was officially known as “Talk,” and even as loyal users steadfastly declined to adopt that appellation, Google wouldn’t budge.
While at the outset of Gchat your choices for real-time messaging were that, AIM, and assorted instant messengers with generally lesser saturation, the choices today are dizzying.

The orginal article.