☁️ AWS vs. Google Cloud

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Somewhere in this email is an artist rendering of Apple’s new mixed-reality headset. Prepare your wallets.

Remote work
NY skyline

The pandemic is bad news for superstar cities. Here’s why.

Is remote work here to stay?

The pithy response to that question is, “Meh, we’ve had the technology for years but still worked in the office pre-COVID.”

According to The Atlantic’s Derek Thomspon, that answer has merit.

But he believes that there’s no going back and that we’ll see a permanent transition from “spatial proximity” (work where you live) to “cloud-based connectivity” (work anywhere)… and this will be no bueno for superstar cities.

The key pandemic change isn’t technological; it’s social

Citing work from economist David Autor, Thompson says that the slow adoption of remote work can be explained by the “telephone problem.”

While the telephone was patented in the 1860s, fewer than half of Americans had one 7 decades later. The behavioral changes required to put a ringing box in your house moved a lot slower than the tech itself.

The same happened with remote work. Skype was founded in 2003, but telling your co-worker, “Hey, can we just hop on a vid call instead of meeting in person ‘cause I don’t want to put on pants?” was founded only in 2020.

There’s no going back from the Zoom-i-fication of society

As a result of this new normal, Thompson makes 4 predictions:

  • Supercommuting: Per Apartment List, rental prices for downtown metro areas are falling (while prices in nearby cities and suburbs are ticking up). Thompson expects this trend to continue.
  • Leaving the coast: Superstar cities like SF and NYC have seen major out-migration during the pandemic. Municipal services in these cities rely on property taxes, sales taxes, and transit fees. If services lag due to lower revenues, more people will leave, meaning even less revenue, and so on.
  • Rise of the rest: Superstar cities have priced out regular families. Cities in the Midwest (Cincinnati, Cleveland) and the Sun Belt (Phoenix, Austin, Nashville) offer more affordable — and larger — homes.
  • All in the cloud: One survey from investor Kim-Mai Cutler found that 42% of founders she spoke to now favor a remote-first firm over a physical HQ (vs. 6% pre-pandemic).

Our take: There’s more than a remote chance that some of these predictions are right.

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Snippets
  • 23andMe’s got good genes: The direct-to-consumer DNA-testing company announced it’s set to go public via a SPAC merger with Richard Branson’s VG Acquisition Corp.
  • Apple Car kicks into high gear: The company is reportedly nearing a deal with Hyundai-Kia to build its rumored fully autonomous EV at a plant in Georgia.
  • “Rolling Stone on Twitch” will go liveon Twitch — March 1. The magazine will host a live broadcast 5 days a week in an effort to engage with younger, digital audiences.
  • Fired: Parler’s CEO John Matze. The company’s board let go of the controversial leader weeks after Big Tech cut off the company for failing to properly moderate content.
  • $GME: GameStop pulled out all the stops on its newest hire, appointing Matt Francis (a former exec at Amazon Web Services) to a newly created role as chief technology officer.
  • “People are stuck on their phones” is a popular pandemic saying. Well, for Snap and Pinterest, it’s true. Each added millions of users in the last quarter. Snap is now at 265m daily active users while Pinterest is at 459m monthly active users.
  • Not just Facebook: Snap and Unity both warned investors that Apple’s new privacy changes could impact their businesses.
Space Race
space

To go to space in 2021, just launch an ecommerce site

Wanna fly to space? Two options: Donate to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or start a drag-and-drop ecommerce site.

Later this year, SpaceX will launch 4 people into orbit on the Inspiration4 mission.

The rules are pretty straightforward…

… Just be 18+ and enjoy roller coasters, according to Elon Musk.

The 4-person squad includes billionaire ecommerce CEO and fighter-jet enthusiast Jared Isaacman. As well as a St. Jude frontline healthcare worker and cancer survivor.

Still to be chosen is the winner of a raffle (donations to St. Jude increase your chances) and a customer of Isaacman’s ecommerce company, Shift4 Payments.

Isaacman has already donated $100m to St. Jude for the event, and he’s hoping to raise $100m more from public donors prior to the launch.

This isn’t the only commercial flight planned for SpaceX

Inspiration4 is 1 of 4 scheduled private missions. The other 3 include:

  • A lovely 10-day trip for 4 to the Space Station in 2022 (at $55m a ticket)
  • A trip in partnership with tourism company Space Adventures by 2022
  • Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa’s #dearMoon mission in 2023

Though SpaceX isn’t as focused on tourism as companies like Virgin Galactic are, its significant contracts and private investments mean it can afford to give these trips a go.

For now, keep an eye out for Inspiration4’s Super Bowl spot, which 100m Americans will probably just assume is a Doritos ad.

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SPONSORED

2021’s hottest trend is conscious investing

When it comes to investing, many of us face a frustrating choice:

  1. Invest in a company with great potential but not-so-great values
  2. Put it in a business that may not grow your wealth quite as much, but has a positive impact on the world

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Cloud Wars
AWS and Google Cloud profit and revenue

AWS’s **profit** is more than Google’s **revenue**. (Source: Axios)

Amazon Web Services vs. Google Cloud

Slightly lost in the shuffle of the “Jeff Bezos is stepping down” news is the latest update on the Cloud Wars.

Per Axios, Amazon Web Services (AWS) pulled in revenue of $43.4B in 2020 and a profit of $13.5B. In comparison, Google Cloud’s revenue is $13.1B with a loss of $5.6B.

A few things to note about these numbers:

  • Growth: Google Cloud’s full-year revenue is growing faster (+46% YoY) vs. AWS (+30% YoY).
  • Profitability: Google Cloud is still posting huge losses as it ramps up its enterprise cloud presence. What’s worth noting, though, is that at the same corporate age as Google Cloud is now — 9 years in — AWS posted a profit of $1.8B on revenue of $7.9B, per The Information. (Bezos has always been about cost discipline).
  • Market share: AWS has plateaued at ~33% for the past few years, while Microsoft has doubled its share (10-20%) since 2017. And with 9%, Google is currently in 3rd place. Meanwhile, IBM is… let’s not talk about it.
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Apple Product Alert
Apple’s mixed-reality headset

An artist’s rendering of the headset from The Information.

First look: Apple’s mixed-reality headset

The Information pulled a glorious scoop and put its eyes on a late-stage prototype of Apple’s mixed-reality headset.

Here are some details:

  • A ultra-high-resolution 8k display
  • Advanced eye-tracking tech
  • Swappable headbands (!!)
  • Pegatron — the Taiwanese manufacturer of iPhone and iPads — is the manufacturing partner
  • The price is — brace yourself — estimated at $3k (about 10x Facebook’s Oculus and in the ballpark of Microsoft’s Hololens).
  • At this price point, Apple is only targeting 250k unit sales, and it could ship as early as 2022.

Read our previous coverage of why Apple is going upscale on its headset. In the meanwhile, here is Trung’s rendering of what the Apple VR thimble might look like:

Prepare to misplace a lot of these iThumbs.

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Click to fill out →
Pic of the day

Source: Reddit

Remote learning back in the day. During polio outbreaks in the 1940s, some children stayed home and played Roblox listened to school lessons on these giant radios.

Shower Thoughts

  1. Popcorn is a steamed vegetable.
  2. A Nestle Crunch bar is beans and rice.
  3. There’s so many different apple flavours, but only one apple juice flavour.
  4. Driving an old car is indicative of being poor, while driving a REALLY old car is indicative of being wealthy.
  5. Buying food is still technically an energy bill.
via Reddit
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