⏏️ 5 ways to take on Big Tech


June 14, 2021

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PSA: If you’re looking to book that summer vacay… here are the locales that could potentially be *too* busy: Las Vegas, Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York are the hottest US destinations, per Skyscanner.

The big idea
big tech gif

Here are 5 ways the US government is taking on Big Tech

Big changes could be coming to Big Tech.

Last Friday, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers rolled out 5 draft bills to take on the online dominance of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, which are collectively worth ~$7T.

The bills have a long way to go…

… before President Biden signs them into law, but they give a taste of where antitrust law is headed.

Here are details from the 5 bills, per CNBC:

  • Ending Platform Monopolies Act: This very literally named bill would prevent any platform with a market cap of $600B+ (*cough* Big Tech *cough*) and 50m+ monthly US users from operating businesses that clearly compete with users on its platform. This law targets the huge platforms of Amazon (Marketplace) and Apple (App Store).
  • American Choice and Innovation Online Act: This bill prohibits Big Tech from privileging its own products and services over those of its competitors (e.g., Google placing its reviews over Yelp). Also, Big Tech can’t use data on its platform to create competing products (e.g., Amazon knocking off a best-selling consumer item).
  • Platform Competition and Opportunity Act: This bill shifts the burden of proof onto Big Tech to prove that any future acquisitions are not unlawful. At present, the US government is tasked with doing that, and has had to look at unwinding acquisitions it deemed anticompetitive (e.g., Facebook acquiring Instagram).
  • Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act: This bill forces Big Tech to make data portability and interoperability more convenient for users, so they can switch between platforms as they wish.
  • Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act: When large mergers are proposed, a fee is paid to the FTC and Department of Justice to look into the deal. This bill will raise that fee to better fund these departments, which are tasked with tackling antitrust issues.

Somewhat ironically, Microsoft — the OG tech antitrust poster child — has largely stayed out of the crosshairs even as it spent ~$30B on acquisition over the past year… and just announced its Windows 11 operating system.

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SNIPPETS

Here are the 12 largest crypto fundraising rounds ever. Circle — the payments startup that created the USDC stablecoin — leads the way with $440m raised last month. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Forget Google Glass or Snap Spectacles. Mojo Vision is creating smart contact lenses that can assist the visually impaired and overlay information for real-world viewing. #emerging-tech

Smart home startup Span is reinventing the breaker panel. #emerging-tech

Amazon revealed details of 2 new robots meant to help warehouse workers. In a slightly creepy tone, they are called Bert (which delivers items around a facility) and Ernie (which removes items from shelves). #big-tech

A Microsoft exec says workers — wanting to avoid potential roadblocks — slept in data centers during the height of the pandemic. #big-tech

With GM and Ford going all-in on electric vehicles, its deal partners are raising concerns… especially around one of their key money makers: vehicle services department. #clean-energy

Trung has been hunting down Reddit posts that reveal “industry secrets.” Here are 28 that will definitely make you think. #hustle-picks

Thrasio — a startup that rolls up Amazon.com stores — is in talks to go public via a SPAC at a $2B valuation. #ecommerce-retail

Global shipping is getting so expensive that Home Depot contracted its own ship as backup. #ecommerce-retail

Pandemic Tech
VR experience

Grab the protein! (Source: AFP Contributor)

How researchers are using VR to combat COVID

COVID-19 3D sounds like a bad horror movie coming to an Imax theater near you, but it’s actually how researchers are studying the virus.

Nanome — a San Diego-based startup that raised $3m this year — uses VR to help people study molecular structures.

Researchers can see, move, and build atoms in 3D and collaborate remotely in real-time, per The Information.

Most of Nanome’s users…

… are academics and biopharmaceutical companies who license its tech. But the free version is available now on Steam and Oculus. And downloads are +50% between March 2020 and March 2021 compared to the year prior.

How do you use VR to stop coronavirus?

While the COVID-19 vaccine prevents infection, we still need antivirals, which treat people who’ve already been infected.

Andrey Kovalevsky, a senior R&D scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is using Nanome on an Oculus Rift S to figure out how to stop a COVID-19 protein from reproducing.

“Without VR, it is difficult to comprehend the three-dimensional of a protein,” Kovalevsky told The Information.

What else could medical science do with VR?

Caltech, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the National Cancer Institute have explored how VR could help find tumors in diagnostic imaging scans.

Immertec’s Medoptic lets surgeons broadcast their procedures, a service CEO Erik Maltais describes as “a combination of MasterClass and Twitch for health care in VR.”

Heru — which recently snagged $30m in Series A funding — is developing AI-driven vision diagnostics software for use in AR/VR headsets.

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Free Resource

The state of Instagram in 2021

It’s no secret that social distancing worked wonders for social media.

Digital marketers (along with every other creative and their mother) doubled down on connecting and monetizing online — especially on influencer-friendly Instagram.

Don’t you wish you had a highlight reel of last year’s data?

HubSpot and Mention thought you would. This free study summarizes information from 100m+ Instagram posts and 2m users.

A must-read for any business on Instagram

There are 50+ pages of fact-based reporting on the social platform that has 1B+ monthly active users and is projected to do $18B+ in ad revenue this year.

This report tells you what works and why by diving into trends, engagement, influencers, captions, hashtags, and a whole lot more.

Cutting-edge branding is different from what it was last year. Get hip to what’s in.

By the numbers
Antarctica on a globe

Antarctica is the 1st continent completely encircled by 1 ocean (Source: Nat Geo)

Digits: Women of the F500, a galactic short call, and a brand new ocean.

  • A record-breaking 41 women stand as CEOs on this year’s Fortune 500 list, including 2 Black women — Roz Brewer (Walgreens Boots Alliance) and Thasunda Brown Duckett (TIAA) — for the 1st time.
  • After floundering, Overstock’s share price is up 5x in a year thanks to a renewed focus on “the nuts and bolts of retailing,” which helped boost revenue 94% YoY, exciting investors and ushering in a ~$4B market cap.
  • Kerrisdale Capital published a 20-page memo on why they’re short selling (AKA betting against) Virgin Galactic. Grievances include: “17 years of delays and disasters,” flights that run $250k+ for ~1 hour… Oh, and not actually flying in space.
  • Big news for batteries: Researchers found a way to extract 99.94% pure lithium phosphate from sea water. Terra firma lithium reserves could run out by 2080, but oceans carry ~5k times the lithium found on land.
  • FINRA data shows that margin debt (money people borrow to buy stocks) increased 13 months straight to ~$850B — more than 2x what it was in ‘08, and nearly 3x what it was before the dot-com crash.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a 5th ocean. After 106 years of mapmaking, the National Geographic Society officially renamed the area around Antarctica the Southern Ocean, due to its unique ecosystem.
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Pic of the day
Nutella

Please blend ingredients before eating (Source: Reddit)

Everyone’s favorite hazelnut spread (Nutella) looks a touch different when the product’s ingredients are separated out (honestly expected a *bit* more hazelnut).

The spread was created in the mid-1940s by Pietro Ferrero, who wanted to make an alternative to chocolate, which was hard to come by due to wartime shortages.

Today, the Ferrero Group is a confectionary empire: It owns Tic Tac, Kinder, Nutella, Ferrero Rocher, and other high-sugar favorites.

Ferrero’s grandson, Giovanni Ferrero, now runs the group and is Italy’s richest person with a net worth of $35.7B.

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