Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Notations From the Grid (Weekly Edition): On the Plight of the #FANG

There has been quite a week as President Trump has been on the attack on Amazon and others have been on the attack.    What CNBC's John Harwood captured is worth noting:  

This is also as we captured these on the plight of the "FANG" as our team will continue the on-going assessment on this for the future as we appreciate these notations from the Fortune's Alan Murray: 


APRIL 2, 2018

The tech takedown continued over the weekend. On Saturday, President Trump attacked Amazon once again, tweeting that he has “stated my concerns with Amazon long before the election” and that the U.S. Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.” Never mind that, as with so many of Trump’s tweets, there is no clear evidence either statement is true.

Then on Sunday, the New York Times weighed in with a front page storyabout some patents that Amazon and Google have applied for in connection with their digital assistants that are a bit, well, creepy. In one set of applications, Amazon described a “voice sniffer algorithm” that could analyze audio almost real time when it hears words like “love,” “bought” or “dislike.” Meanwhile, a Google application details how audio monitoring could help detect such things as whether a child is engaging in “mischief” at home, by using speech patterns.

This sort of snooping, of course, is a double-edged sword. The better your digital assistant understands you and your life, the more useful its recommendations will be. But if the data gathered by such snooping is used by advertisers and marketers to manipulate you, that’s another matter. And it’s probably why Tim Cook of Apple—which makes the bulk of its money selling its own products and services, not advertising or marketing others’—was so outspoken last week criticizing tech companies that misuse personal data.

We’ve clearly moved from a world where the FANG companies could do no wrong to one where they can do no right. Faced with this new reality, Amazon swapped out its D.C. lobbyists.

APRIL 3, 2018
The markets loved Donald Trump when he was talking deregulation and taxes. But they don’t care much for his actions on technology and trade.

Amazon took the biggest beating in the market yesterday, falling 6%, after the president again attacked the online retailer over the pricing of its deliveries through the Post Office. “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” he tweeted. “They lose a fortune, and this will be changed.” Not sure I, or others, have enough information to check the president’s facts on this one. But I’m inclined to believe what my friend John Callan, a certified expert on USPS, told The Wall Street Journal , which is that it’s become a symbiotic relationship: “Amazon wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for USPS and now USPS wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Amazon.”

Facebook also continued to get clobbered, and is now down more than 20% from its high—putting it in certified bear market territory. In an interview with Vox, CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday defended himself from those–like Apple CEO Tim Cook–who have criticized Facebook’s business model of selling its users to advertisers, rather than selling products and services to users. “I find that argument, that if you’re not paying that somehow we can’t care about you, to be extremely glib and not at all aligned with the truth,” Zuckerberg said. “The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay.”

Zuckerberg went on to point that “a lot of media” have a similar advertising supported business model. True that…in many cases, these days, to their regret. But wait—does that mean Facebook is a media company?

Meanwhile, Snap took a swing at Facebook, creating an April Fool’s filter that copies Facebook’s look, but changes the text to make it look like Cyrillic–the Russian alphabet. And Elon Musk took an April Fool’s swing at himself—sort of. You can see it here. I’m not sure those invested in the stock, which dropped 5% Monday on fears that the company is falling far short of its Model 3 production goals, get the joke.

Asian shares fell slightly over Tuesday, while European markets—back open after a long weekend—also opened down. U.S. markets are, however, expected to open higher.

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