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Big Revolution - The ticking clock of unpleasantness

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Welcome to Tuesday's newsletter, coming to you from a roasting hot UK, where we're about to discover
 
July 23 · Issue #478 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Tuesday’s newsletter, coming to you from a roasting hot UK, where we’re about to discover which flavour of unelected-by-the-masses prime minister we get next. I’m quite up for a shift to a presidential model, where we directly elect a leader, personally.
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Uber is testing a $24.99 per month subscription that offers benefits like discounted rides, free delivery from Uber Eats, and free scooter and bike hire. The test is only currently available in San Francisco and Chicago.
  • Apple is reportedly looking to buy Intel’s 5G modem business for $1bn. Apple has to buy Qualcomm modems for the next few years, following a court case settlement, but is busy developing its own 5G modems for when that period ends. The first 5G iPhones are expected to arrive next year.
  • Samsung-exclusive news aggregator app Upday is set to expand to other platforms, including connected cars. Publisher Axel Springer, which owns Upday, sees it as a way of pushing against the dominance of Google and Facebook.
The big thought
Credit: Ales Krivec on Unsplash
 The ticking clock of unpleasantness
‘The media are just being negative to get clicks, ignore them and they’ll go away’ — that’s the all too common mantra in Silicon Valley tech.
About three years ago, the tech press stopped heaping unquestioning praise on tech companies and began holding them to account. You can argue that they sometimes go too far (some of the criticism of Facebook has scraped the barrel, for example), but on the whole, 'you’re abusing data,’ 'you’re abusing workers,’ and 'you’re putting growth ahead of social responsibility’ are points Silicon Valley tech needs to hear repeatedly.
The problem is, Silicon Valley doesn’t want to hear it.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I came across this thread by New York Times journalist Mike Isaac. He was discussing US food delivery firm DoorDash’s controversial policy of using tips from customers as a way to pay workers less out of its own pocket, rather than as a way for workers to earn more.
By refusing to engage in much depth on the issue, DoorDash hopes it will go away, despite the fact the tips policy is a net bad for society.
Viewing the press as 'haters,’ Isaac says, “deflects from internalizing any actual legitimate criticism (even if not all of it is on the mark), and that does not serve the company/employees in the long run.”
This is correct. When your entire company is built around achieving the maximum upside for investors within the lifespan of their VC funds, you’re going to opt for growth at all costs.
Whether it’s playing fast and loose with users’ data, stealing tips from delivery workers, or letting a misogynistic work culture run rampant because you’re growing too fast to address it, those costs can look pretty awful to the rest of the world. And they have a drip-drip effect of lowering our expectations for what businesses should be, and making the world a little worse every day.
Silicon Valley talks about making the world a better place. Perhaps it’s time to find a way of fuelling R&D-heavy tech companies that doesn’t put a ticking clock towards a mega-size exit ahead of everything else.
One big read
Apple’s Heir Apparent Is Much More Like Tim Cook Than Steve Jobs Apple’s Heir Apparent Is Much More Like Tim Cook Than Steve Jobs
A profile of Jeff Williams, the man seen as most likely to eventually replace Tim Cook at the top of Apple.
One big tweet
Click through for an inspiring thread from an Andreessen Horowitz VC for anyone keen on rethinking the way social networking works…
D’Arcy Coolican
1/ If I were starting another company today I’d probably build something around social networks.

I think we’re at an inflection point with the legacy platforms, but still lots of open space for upstarts to figure out what’s next.

Rationale for why and thoughts on how 👇
7:38 PM - 22 Jul 2019
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow. See you then!
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