Tech and military collaboration critical, says Bezos

We are the good guys, implores Bezos

Bezos, addressing the audience of the Reagan National Defense Forum, implored that cooperation between Big Tech and the Department of Defense is critical to national defense. Bezos stated that the country is in big trouble if tech firms do not provide new technologies to the Pentagon. CNBC

dis-rup-shun:  Bezos was reacting in part to protests from Google employees over Project Maven, a contract to assist recognition of faces and objects from drone video feeds. Google, under pressure from employees, decided not to renew the contract in 2019. It is important to remember that national defense spending funded much of our nation’s tech industry, especially if one considers NASA to be a scientific face of a larger national defense initiative. Tech employees are not asking themselves who, if not the U.S. and its allies, will develop superior weapons technologies. Expect some tough showdowns in the coming quarters between Big Tech employees who want nothing to do with war, and company management, who will remind the employees, to their chagrin, that peace is often maintained by brandishing the most sophisticated weapons. Unfortunately, such realities will make BigTech companies “less cool” work places for some.

Metropolitan area Change in innovation jobs Change in share of US innovation jobs
1 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 77,192 2.0
2 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 56,394 1.3
3 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 52,288 1.1
4 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 26,066 0.4
5 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 19,949 0.4
96 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV -6,569 -0.4
97 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD -9,178 -0.4
98 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX -8,969 -0.5
99 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI -12,582 -0.6
100 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA -8,322 -0.7

dis-rup-shun: Tech companies in the Bay Area have pledged millions to help alleviate the housing shortages they have created. Despite a strong national economy and aggressive hiring plans, the BigTech economic engines aren’t replacing the middle America jobs they have displaced with online markets and cloud computing. The Amazon HQ2 debacle in New York diffused the excitement of building alternative tech centers, but U.S. cities need to continue the dialog with BigTech to spread the wealth that is being generated by the Internet economy.

Google Maps does track your every move

If you are wondering if Google knows everywhere you have been, the answer is yes, if you have accepted the default settings. With a few changes to the defaults, you can turn that tracking off or limit the amount of history stored. The steps for doing so are in CNBC.

dis-rup-shun: The debate regarding if ads sent to your phone or computer were in fact the result of where you went, continues on. It is certainly possible that ads can be directed to you based on your location as Google stores this data, to a minute level, unless you disable these features. This tracking information can be a good thing in that it helps to inform travel times for the public, and it can help you remember where that great restaurant or hotel is that you saw on your last trip and wish to research. If you are going somewhere that you don’t want others to know about, it is probably wise to turn it off. Expect to see both regulatory and public sentiment force Google and Big Tech to display a simple, easy to access dashboard which enables you to understand what personal data is being stored, and for how long.

Scientific community shocked by SpaceX satellites

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is, (great news) providing a way for every corner of the U.S. to receive broadband coverage via a chain (bad news) of up to 1,800 Starlink satellites. The satellites, being launched in batches every few weeks, are forming a mesh of shiny objects, criss-crossing astronomers’ view of space. The company has stated that future launches will include a dark coating on each satellite to reduce its reflective-ness. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: An ongoing battle between science and commerce in space has begun. It will likely not end soon as more and more commercial and defense-minded technology is sent into orbit at a breakneck pace. Just as commercial (over)fishing of the seas impacts the biology of oceans, the arrival of industry into space will forever impact the nature of star gazing. Who will arbitrate such matters that include not only contests between science and commerce, but between nations? Expect space management to become an important, volatile and highly contested field in the next half decade. Perhaps this is an avenue for law schools to pursue.

How Bezos will spend his $1.8 billion paycheck

Bezos cashes a check for $1.8 billion

Bezos sold Amazon stock worth $1.8 billion over the past few days. The value matches the value gained in last fall’s run up of stock value. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: How do you spend $1.8 billion? Turns out Jeff is likely moving his money to his space exploration company, Blue Origin, which just won a long term contract with NASA. The rocket business, undoubtedly, consumes a lot of cash, and Bezos has enough to build a footbridge to Mars. Ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos has pledged most of her $36.6 billion divorce settlement to charity, content to live off of whatever is left after “most.”

What to think of AT&T DirecTV now

AT&T is changing the name of its brand streaming service (Netflix killer?) called DirecTV Now to AT&T TV Now. AT&T’s journey into the streaming world has been bumpy, as the service experienced multiple network outages, and has lost 500,000 subscribers in the past year. Combine that with total subscriber losses across all TV properties, and the losses total 2.5 million subscribers. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: If streaming services are the future, what’s up with AT&T’s tinkering?

Here are a few answers:

  1. AT&T is not stupid. In fact, they earned $19 billion in profit last year and have maintained leading market share in multiple communications/entertainment industries.
  2. AT&T knew that cord cutting (dropping pay TV packages) was a growing trend, yet they invested in Time Warner and their Now streaming service.
  3. The power of the bundle is not to be discounted. AT&T is in a unique position to offer customers Internet, wireless, and entertainment services.
  4. As entertainment shifts to streaming services, market share will be gained by those services with differentiated content. That’s why the company purchased Time Warner — to make the content.

The company is positioned for a long, expensive battle with Netflix, Amazon, Disney and others to restructure entertainment services. AT&T will come out a winner at the end of the slog, but it will be three to five years of building on shifting sands and heavy subscriber movement.

The next wave of Intel chips coming for Christmas

Intel is, after much delay, releasing its generation 10, 10 nanometer chip family in time for holiday 2019 purchases. What does that do for you? The processors bring to computing much higher battery life (9 hours), better graphics processing, optimization for AI, faster Wi-Fi (version 6), and support for more really fast ports (Thunderbolt). Wired

dis-rup-shun: Intel is increasingly challenged by competition, including Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and many others, who are gobbling up share of non-PC computing devices. It is rumored that Apple will move away from Intel CPUs sometime next year for Mac computers. Expect Intel to be increasingly on the hot seat as it is not changing as fast as the world of computing.

Bezos explains how to succeed in business

Bezos offers the key to business success

Bezos, at Amazon’s re:MARS conference on AI, while wearing a questionable shirt and sportcoat combination for the world’s wealthiest man, offered business leaders advice for success: 1. Focus on a customer need that will not change, such as customers wanting products delivered faster at lower prices; 2. Focus on something for which you are passionate, as without passion, you will get outworked, and 3. Do something risky because if it is not risky, someone is already doing it. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Bezos’ advice appears elementary, until we consider the very things that the company is transforming: shopping, the grocery business, travel (Blue Origin), package delivery (drones), TV watching, controlling home systems (Alexa), and many other industries. Bezos is saying go where the money is and transform the delivery of fundamental needs. Unfortunately for other entrepreneurs, Amazon has already disrupted, or started to, for most industries.


Space X shows how a trip from NYC to Shanghai in 39 minutes

In a concept video, Space X shows how passengers will board a high speed ferry which will deliver them to a floating launchpad, where they will board a rocket that hurls them into orbit and makes a gentle touchdown on another floating platform, from which they will be ferried to downtown Shanghai. YouTube

dis-rup-shun: The concept shows why the Space X test landings on floating platforms are critical to the plan. Using a floating platform for travel introduces more opportunities for nature’s interference. Calling home to inform your loved ones that you missed your rocket due to rough seas will be a big disappointment for all. 


All three smart speakers to get smarter this year

The race to dominate home voice control through smart speakers means a constant stream of new features. Alexa will allow a user to complete multiple tasks with one request to Alexa. Google’s voice assistant is getting more friendly in that you can now ask it to go back when reading instructions, or simply to “stop” without using the watch word. Siri is now able to distinguish different voices in one room, a skill already possessed by Alexa and Google Assistant, and in the home space, Apple is a distant third. CNet

dis-rup-shun: While smart speakers are great to use and making interaction with home systems much more natural, the new capabilities mean that the tech companies will be listening and recording your conversations longer, so that they will have more context to carry out commands. Those that are worried about being listened to will not be in favor of these new enhancements, but those that are willing to pay for some convenience with some privacy see it as a good deal.


FexEx appears to be aligning with Walmart: ends Amazon Express deliveries

FedEx announced that it will not renew its Amazon Express services, using the capacity to assist other e-commerce companies. Meanwhile FedEx is increasing the number of kiosks inside of Walmart stores. New York Times

dis-rup-shun: The online power players are jockeying for position. Walmart is working overtime to catch up with Amazon’s dominance, and FedEx is threatened by Amazon’s growing fleet of trucks and planes. FedEx is likely terminating a low profit contract with Amazon and seeking higher profit per delivery with other customers, and siding with Walmart as both companies seek defense from Amazon’s tight grip on online selling.

Internet success, divorce and $18 billion of goodwill

MacKenzie Bezos will give away over $18 billion to charity. Ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, Blue Origin and owner of Washington Post, has committed to joining the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge was initiated in 2010 and calls mega millionaires and billionaires to give at least half of their estates to charity. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While Jeff has not (yet?) taken the pledge, he has commended his ex-wife on her decision. The Gates foundation is making measurable progress at eliminating diseases in a number of third world and economically disadvantaged countries. Leveraging significant talent and capital for the good of humanity will hopefully become a trend among tech entrepreneurs that will influence the greater business and celebrity community to build weath with a cause.

A new Intel chip means thinner, faster computers with longer battery life

Intel has finally released a new generation of X86 semiconductors that were announced several years ago.  Ice Lake, code name for Intel’s 10th generation PC processor, provides faster computing in a smaller form factor, consuming less power. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: We are now experiencing the end of Moore’s Law, that for many years promised a doubling of transistors at half the cost every two years. This means major refreshments of PC computing technology will be fewer and farther between, but for now we can expect another round of even thinner, faster and more battery efficient laptops. This should help the global economies as demand for new products helps shake off the effects of trade wars.

Music streaming has changed the makeup of songs

Streaming music delivery, having essentially obsoleted physical delivery, has changed the structure of songs, making them shorter and quicker to get to the melody. Payment to artists for streaming music occurs if the listener sticks with the song for 30 seconds or more, and filling a listener’s time with more songs is more profitable. This has led to shorter songs with shorter intros. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Technology, including streaming delivery and AI that analyzes audience preferences to determine what movies, TV shows and songs are most popular, will continue to erode diversity and make commercial entertainment content more homogeneous. This homogeneity, however, will increase demand for alternative or indy content and streaming services that deliver it.

Next smart home products: smart air purifiers for good health

Those with allergies, or who live in polluted areas, understand the importance of eliminating particles from air. A Wi-Fi connected smart air purifier from Blueair includes an app to help one see the levels of particulates, or pollution, occurring when one opens a window, changes bed sheets, or after a cleansing rain shower. Managing indoor air quality starts with measuring it, and the Blueair app provides a visualization of the degree of impurities in the air and the device’s effectiveness in cleaning it. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Following smart thermostats and smart lighting, smart air management is a highly desired benefit of smart homes, according to surveys conducted for major HVAC manufacturers. Avoiding air-borne illness is a high priority, and with 80% of Americans and 55% of rest of world living in cities that are often polluted, these gadgets will be increasingly important and cost justified.




Hitting China where it hurts

Chip designer ARM ceases work with Huawei

ARM is the UK based company that licenses the semiconductor design spec used by most smartphone chip makers. Although the company is not based in the U.S., it has stated that many of the design elements in its specification originated in the U.S., therefore it can not lawfully license its design to Huawei. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: This second blow to China’s equivalent of Microsoft or Apple, coming on the heals of Google announcing that it will not license Android to Huawei, essentially finishes off the smartphone division of Huawei. If China chooses to get even, first it bans its contract manufacturers from building certain products designed in the U.S., then prohibits the sale of certain components to U.S. companies and poof, there goes the majority of non-South Korean (Samsung) smart phone business. That would be ugly.

Cannondale Treadwell smart bicycle

Cannondale’s new exercise bike, designed not for racers but for ordinary people who like tracking their fitness, features a sensor on the front wheel which tracks speed, distance and location. The data is uploaded to a special smartphone app, and there is a mount for the smartphone — turning the smartphone into a cycle computer. Wired

dis-rup-shun: There is one piece of this product that seems to be missing, or at least has not been described — it is the bike’s role in an online community. Either by posting (bragging) personal fitness progress to one’s social media accounts, or by being a part of a Peloton-like competition of peers, the bike needs to create an alternate reality to create a viral following. Measuring personal progress for one’s own satisfaction only works for a small audience — and that audience will want a racing bike.

Amazon spends $1.2 billion last quarter on new acquisitions

The company’s growing profits are leading to an increase in investments in emerging companies. Several Amazon investments are in the autonomous auto industry, including car companies Rivian and Aurora. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Bezos, through aerospace company, Blue Origin, is conquering space. Amazon is aggressively investing in the autonomous and auto industries and his ambitions are far greater than delivering packages. The company, no doubt, seeks to disrupt Uber and Lyft, as well as city busses, Ford, Chevy and Toyota. The company will continue to boldly charge in every direction, experiment and unafraid of failures.