Aug 22, 2019 Waymo gives away a key advantage — its gigantic dataset — to competitors Read More 10M... That's how many test miles of pavement Waymo has pounded without a driver gripping the wheel. And it just opened up its memory for all its competitors to see in. The self-driving car division of Alphabet, Waymo is making its dataset free for researchers in order to make the self-driving revolution happen ASAP. No charge. It's a big leadership move.
Why did the schnauzer cross the road?... To see if the robocar would stop. Waymo's street smarts lie in this intensely labeled dataset that converts real-life scenarios into code that sensors and processors can understand and react to. Here’s how this public good will be used:
The competition: The key for autonomous driving is machine learning — teach the car what to do when it encounters as many street scenarios as possible. Waymo's divulging its lifetime of self-driven experiences for Uber, GM, or Ford to play with.
Researchers: PhD candidates are fist-pumping for “the impact of level 4 autonomous driving on hopscotch in semi-gentrified neighborhoods” thesis this dataset just made possible.The Takeaway:Reveal your secret sauce to save yourself... It's a paradox. And it's Waymo's bold new strategy. Waymo's greatest challenge isn't rivals — it's the self-driving dream failing. GM indefinitely postponed its robot-taxi launch date, and Uber's self-driving tests killed someone. Waymo thinks cooperating-over-competing is the fastest way for the industry to start making $$$ while you Netflix-and-drive.
SnackFact: Some investors think Waymo is worth over $100B — that's more than Ford and GM's valuations. Combined. Jul 25, 2019 Google jumps 8% — despite Earth's internet growth slowdown Read More Fact... Internet growth is slowing. That freaked out Google's parent, Alphabet, when revenues inched up just 13% last quarter. It was depression-worthy for Google investors, who were used to 25% revenue growth. So the bar was low this time, but Google cleared it (and then some) with a 19% surge in revenues.
Fun Fact: Google's budget-friendly $400 Pixel 3A helped double sales of its smartphones.
Webster's should strike the word "search" from the internet... Google's dominance in online search is astounding (93% of worldwide searches) — and so are the ad dollars it harvests year after year. Now it's dishing out some of the $63B in profits it's made the past 3 years by buying-back shares of itself — That can make each remaining share worth more in the near term.The Takeaway:This 21-year-old has 2 problems... Investors look at Alphabet's ~$800B market value and think: should this be worth more or less? Google faces 2 major obstacles to up its growth game:
Shockingly slowing internet growth: Mary Meeker's famous Internet Trends Report showed that internet users around the globe are growing at just 6% annually. That's the slowest growth ever, so Google's making up for it by sticking more ads in Google Maps and YouTube.
Major antitrust vibes: The federal government started an investigation this week into Google and its gigantic internet friends for allegedly just being way too dominant for society. Jul 17, 2019 3 Congressional hearings. 4 scrutinized tech giants Read More 1 four-pack of shade... coming right up for Silicon Valley. The main event yesterday was David Marcus, Facebook's head of cryptocurrency, who suffered a grilling by the Senate (he hits the House tomorrow). But all 4 of America's tech-powered giants sent lambs to get questioned and criticized by elected officials.
Facebook: Defending Zuck's new cryptocurrency, Marcus promised Libra wouldn't launch until it "fully addressed regulatory concerns." Politicians from both sides didn't like Facebook's crypto-moves given its marred privacy record. PS: Bitcoin dropped 10% on DC's overall anti-crypto tone.
Google: President Trump said he would investigate whether Google has been infiltrated by the Chinese military. That's based on a claim from Peter Thiel (Facebook board member) that Google is an unpatriotic company engaged in treason.
FB, Google, Apple, and Amazon: Execs from all four faced a different set of lawmakers who accused them of breaking rules set up to protect consumers from monopolies as well as for having a bias against conservatives in search results.The Takeaway:Despite the politi-hate, record highs... The stocks of all these companies are close to their record highs. They've scaled their business models across the world and kept growing as people in developing countries adopt smartphones and the internet. And 2+ years of tech as a political punching bag hasn't resulted in laws or policies to rein in profits. Jun 26, 2019 Alphabet's futuristic smart city division ("Sidewalk Labs") unveils its Toronto plan Read More 1 city + 1 tech company = Sidewalk Labs... Toronto solicited proposals from private companies to redevelop an empty waterfront neighborhood. Sidewalk Labs won. It's a sister company of Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, and just unveiled a 1,500-page, multi-volume smart city plan. If Toronto approves, then one corner of the city gets elegantly coded.
DWI = Driving While Incognito mode... This neighborhood ("super-hood?") will be built from scratch with every detail optimized for internet-connectedness. Here are a few of them:
Smarts: The sidewalks would expand into a lane of traffic before/after rush hour.
Reimagined: Nobody likes loud trucks, so freight delivery would happen underground.
Random: This "giant raincoat" is supposed to protect buildings from snow (it's basically just a big awning).
Earth-loving: Everything would be built with "mass timber," which is apparently better for the world than steel and concrete (and more hygge).
Money: Sidewalk Labs would invest $1B in housing (20% "affordable", 20% "middle class", and 60% probably very expensive), office space, retail stores, and community centers like parks.
The Takeaway:It's not trying to take your data... Sidewalk's PR got out ahead of privacy concerns: "Sidewalk Labs does not share urban data, user data, or personal data with Google." Instead, Sidewalk will make money on rent in Toronto. And if other cities buy Sidewalk's plan, it'll charge for its smart-city tricks learned in Toronto. Picture real estate development meets tech.
WeWork has perfected how to build modern offices.
Sidewalk Labs is perfecting how to build modern neighborhoods.
Jun 20, 2019 YouTube considers a major change for kids (because it's under investigation) Read More This is why babysitters need references... According to WaPo, the FTC is investigating YouTube (owned by Alphabet) for violating children's privacy. YouTube has a history of conduct parents wouldn't approve of — and the WSJ reports that YouTube's considering two big changes to try to fix its kid problems:
"YouTube Kids": Pushing all kids content to a separate children's app, insulating them from vids that would keep you up at night.
Kill "Auto-play": Parents can put on a wholesome "Dude Perfect" video for the twins, only to be smacked by something totally R-rated right after. YouTube could cut the risk by cutting its favorite feature.
One of the best buys ever: YouTube... Google dropped $1.6B for a budding video website back in 2006 — Today, it's estimated to be worth between $75B and $160B. YouTube says humans are watching 1B hours on it daily, generating billions worth of ad dollars. But it's also been used for child exploitation and can radicalize people.The Takeaway:When kids need regulation, it actually happens... Paralysis in DC is constant. But children's safety is bipartisan. Google could be preempting future regulation by regulating itself for the kids. A couple fresh examples of kid-catalyzed business regulation:
Since 2018, new cars are required to have backup cameras. The reason? Protecting toddlers from backing-up cars.
This week, San Francisco voted to ban the sale of vape products and there's a growing push to raise the tobacco age to 21. The reason? Protect kids. May 21, 2019 Google whips out $999 "superpower" smartglasses Read More Smile... You're being filmed by the smartglasses on the early-adopting human staring at you. Google is graduating its Google Glass from experiment to official Google product as the $999 Glass Enterprise Edition 2. They're like smartwatches. But for your eyes. And they're packed with buzzwords:
Fancy optics: The lenses are by Smith, the brand behind your ski goggles.
Augmented & virtual reality: They're designed with new chips to handle both.
Easy apping: Using Google's Android operating system makes it easier for developers to pop out new glass apps (picture potential "blink to pay" features).
Universally hated... The original Google Glass arrived in 2013. It was swiftly panned for violating the privacy of everyone in eyesight. But this new version isn't for you. It's for business:
Google retargeted the specs to be worn by factory workers and surgeons. Support and data on the job = higher productivity and fewer mistakes.
The value prop, in one sentence: This gives workers "superpowers"
The Takeaway:Pivot — Don't kill it... Glass originated in Google's X-department, aka "The Moonshot Factory" where they "create radical new technologies to solve some of the world's hardest problems." And instead of shelving version 1.0 of Google Glass, the team found a new customer segment to target.