Grilling Season

In a few hours, the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook will testify before the United States Congress. The topic: one familiar to those of us who have been around tech for a time: anti trust.

While the headlines scream about the grilling Bezos, Cook, Pichai, and Zuckerberg are expected to face, recent history shows we’re more likely to see a lot of political grandstanding and milquetoast corporate spin.

We’ll hear talk of competition from China and Walmart. We’ll hear defenses of the holy trinity of social – Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. We’ll hear a lot about unfair control of app stores and search results.

And it’ll all be framed in the warm embrace of apple pie and Horatio Alger if the written testimony I read from Bezos is any indication. Because, more than a grilling on important anti trust issues, these powerhouses will use today’s hearing to attempt to burnish a narrative that each is incredibly vulnerable to competition, and that their started-in-a-garage origin stories absolve them of the monopolies they’ve grown into.

It’s not the first time Washington and Silicon Valley have clashed. And it won’t be the last. Looking forward to see how the lawyers and spin doctors on both sides of today’s hearings do.


W3M: July 24, 2020


Source Code’s David Pierce reported on the audacious climate plan Apple announced on Wednesday. According to Pierce, Apple says that by 2030, every device the company sells will have net zero climate impact.

What’s interesting, as Pierce points out in his piece, is that Apple’s plan doesn’t stop at the manufacturing of its devices. The goal, according to Apple, includes a cradle-to-grave approach for each device and includes things like renewable and recycled packaging, emission offsets, and forcing its suppliers to use one hundred percent renewable energy.

Given Apple’s size and weight in the global economy, its climate plan could have far reaching — and positive — ramifications on the environment. It will likely also have a disruptive — and, I would argue — positive impact on socioeconomic policies in countries where it does business. Ultimately, though, a company like Apple taking this kind of stand will force other companies and countries – let’s face it, Apple is, effectively, a country unto itself — to respond with their own plans to remain competitive. Lots of win here for humanity.


A story by one of my favorite technology pundits, Rich Miller, popped into my RSS feed this week. It was a story he wrote for Datacenter Frontier about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on colocation facilities around the world. These colo locations are the central meeting places where all of our data gets magically exchanged between networks, cloud providers, and everyday people.

The pandemic has caused a meteoric rise in the volume of data traffic flowing through these network intersections. And it’s only going to get bigger. Miller cited a report from the big kahuna in this space, Equinix, that projects global interconnection bandwidth will grow at a 51percent compound annual growth rate through 2025. He also points out that this projection was made prior to the pandemic, so the growth is likely astronomically higher.

We often take for granted the intricate plumbing that delivers all of the random bits to our devices. As an industry, we’ve done good work at abstracting the complexity that makes our world possible. It’s one of the reasons I think we’re going to see a shift in our industry’s focus from apps to infrastructure, as this new world we’re in puts increasing pressure on the plumbing of our house.


Lastly, Marketwatch’s Wallace Witkowski teased rumors swirling about Nvidia – a company on fire this year – might be pursuing a deal to buy Arm from Softbank. Seems like everyone is chasing Arm in some way or another lately. Ron Amadeo at ArsTechnica had a great take on the rumor. It’s really good writing, so I’m just going to read it as Ron wrote it and, hopefully, do his voice justice:

Do you want to control the future of basically every mobile device on Earth, and even some laptops and desktops? Have I got a deal for you! ARM Limited is for sale, the company in charge of the ubiquitous ARM CPU architecture that powers the majority of devices that run on a battery. It will only cost a few tens of billions of dollars. Bloomberg has two reports on the matter, one stating that Nvidia is interested in buying ARM and another saying that Apple isn’t.

Fun times and it’s still only summer in a pandemic.


Look for the Helpers

Fred Rogers — Mister Rogers to many of us — provided an important reminder years ago that when things go bad, always look for the helpers. It’s advice I believe we all would do well to follow as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives of our families, friends and communities.

What’s amazing is that you don’t have to look very far or long to see the good that Mister Rogers asked us to seek. Overnight, I have seen my Twitter stream fill with examples of helpers.

Companies like GG Hospitality, which closed its hotels to make them available for the NHS.

Companies like Bigleaf Networks, which accelerated the development of a new product to help essential services organizations communicate more reliably in our new work-from-home reality (and made it free to them, too).

Companies like Untappd, which quickly used its platform to help food workers, bartenders, and retail establishments that are taking an economic hit because of the virus.

Companies like Linode, which dedicated its cloud infrastructure to efforts like Folding@Home to help scientists find antibodies to combat viruses like COVID-19, and Penn Medicine’s Hospital Impact Model for Epidemics to help hospitals with COVID-19 capacity planning.

Companies like BrewDog and Leith Gin, which have converted their distilleries to make hand sanitizer.

Even The Boss is helping out.

This is just what I’ve seen in my own network. Surely, there are more examples of Mister Rogers’ helpers. If you see them in your networks, reach out or drop them into the comments and I’ll update the post.


Why Businesses Need to Prepare for the Gathering Storm

Why Businesses Need to Prepare for the Gathering Storm:

“Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses … Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country.” — “True American Ideals,” Forum, 1895

Give Scott Monty’s article a read. And then, if you’re up for it — and I encourage you to make time for it — read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s fantastic “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.” The parallels between America a century ago and the America of today are uncanny.