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As the battle for smart-speaker supremacy heats up, Sonos just unveiled a speaker that can control Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. The Hustle Thur, Jun 7 Brought to you by Titan… invest like a world-class hedge fund. Using patents to...
By: Wes Schlagenhauf
June 7, 2018
As the battle for smart-speaker supremacy heats up, Sonos just unveiled a speaker that can control Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.
Brought to you by Titan… invest like a world-class hedge fund.
Using patents to strong-arm big tech, Sonos made the smartest speaker in the room
Smart speaker company Sonos just unveiled a new product called Beam that will let users boss around Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant -- all from one box.
As Amazon, Apple, and Google battle for smart speaker supremacy, the tiny, employee-owned Santa Barbara company has developed an ingenious plan to beat the biggest tech companies in the world -- and so far, it’s working.
The Switzerland strategy: A plan to beat tech’s superpowers
Sonos has only received $110m in direct funding since the company was founded in 2002 -- but managed to make about $1B in revenue in 2017.
So how did the company get so big? First, the speakers are damn good. But more importantly, they’re quick and easy to use -- because Sonos integrates with everyone.
In an interview with the Verge, Sonos CEO Mike Spence described this strategy as ‘Switzerland-ing’ the smart speaker world -- meaning the company remains neutral to avoid conflicts and focus on making cool stuff.
From patent plays to partnerships
The 3 players racing to build the best voice-activated AI (Google, Apple, and Amazon) all make their own speakers. So why would all of them let Sonos use their prized tech? Especially without an exclusive contract?
They partnered with Alexa first. Then, Sonos (which, according to The Information, owns the most patents of any electronics company other than Apple) sued Google for patent infringement -- and won.
Instead of seeking a payout, Sonos demanded a partnership -- and forced reluctant Google to share its prized tech.
Sonos’ plan for domination enters its next phase
Now, with its partners lined up, Sonos hopes to sell oodles of speakers to bolster a $3B IPO rumored to be coming this summer.
At $399, the Beam is more expensive than both Amazon’s and Google’s competing offerings (which are both $99.99).
But Sonos hopes that the device’s higher quality and flexibility will help push sales up past Amazon’s -- which still leads the market by hawking their “pucks” by the million.
Does it play CDs?
Social Security cracks open its emergency piggy bank for the first time since ’82
Social Security will have to dip into its emergency reserves to dish out this year’s payments -- the first time it will tap its rainy day fund in 36 years.
But this is just the start of Social Security’s financial troubles. According to the program’s trustees, the money will run out in 16 years.
A runaway train speeds up
Social Security, which taxes workers to pay retirees, is built on the principle that individuals give while they’re young and get when they’re old -- but the givers (you) are decreasing while the getters (your uncle Frank) are increasing.
The ratio of workers to retirees (which dropped from 3.3-to-1 in 2007 to 2.8-to-1 today) has never been great -- but even the government didn’t expect everything to dry up so fast.
But recent tax cuts decreased the amount of revenue that the programs will receive, moving the retirement fund’s expected expiration date a year earlier (Medicare’s will now die 3 years earlier).
So what happens after the money’s all gone?
In 2034, benefits will not disappear entirely -- instead, they’ll be doled out at ¾ of their previous value through 2092. Anyone retiring outside of the next 16 years will get something -- just not what they paid for.
But, analysts say workers should worry less about social security and more about what they’re (not) saving for retirement.
WhatsApp’s co-founders reportedly threw $1.3B away when they deleted their Facebooks
Back in May, when news broke that WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum decided to step down as CEO of WhatsApp only 4 years after his company was acquired by Facebook, things seemed… amicable?
But, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, the relationship between Facebook and their biggest acquisition ever was anything but.
In fact, it was so bad, that Koum and his co-founder Brian Acton (who left months prior) collectively left $1.3B on the table to get out from under the scorned social media giant’s talons.
More childish than a Facebook troll
According to the WSJ report, WhatsApp’s founders had a contentious relationship with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg since the messaging app was acquired for $22B in 2014.
Both staunch opponents of digital advertising (AKA, Facebook’s lifeblood), Koum and Acton adamately fended off the pressure to advertise on their platform.
As the tension between the two mounted, it spilled over into everything from their office setup to the comfortableness of their desk chairs.
To some, it really isn’t about the money
Both Acton and Koum wrote a so-called eject button into their contracts, which was smart, but both of them missed getting to pull it, as the escape-hatch hinged on the two staying at the company through November, which neither could bring themselves to do.
Acton left in September 2017, effectively forfeiting $900m in unvested stock awards, and Koum, expected to officially leave in mid-August, lost the other $400m.
$1.3B to delay your corporate mic-drop a couple months? Ain’t that some integrity.
Didn’t catch the livestream of Apple’s WWDC? Here’s what you missed
The focus of this year’s World Wide Developer Conference was all about software, or as CNET put it, “more about polish, less about jaw-dropping changes.” Which, reportedly, some found to be a bit of a snooze-fest.
Here are a few highlights from WWDC 2018 in case you missed it.
The new operating system was the first feature Apple addressed, confirming it would be out later this year, with the update (free, mind you) focused on stability and performance.
The update comes with new AR features, Photos improvements, and more.
Following Google’s announcement at I/O, Apple iOS 12 will also add a digital well-being tool with their new iOS section, called Screen Time.
The feature hopes to help people wean themselves off 2-hour-plus screen seshes with their iPhone or iPad.
Mojave will include a complete rebuild of the app store, the ability to control smart home products directly from a Mac -- and of course, a greater focus on data-protection.
Most importantly, the Apple Watch will finally get that much-needed Knight Rider touch with a “Walkie-Talkie mode” that will allow Apple Watch-owners to gab with their Apple Watch-owning friends in style.
JET: To all your dream schools with the 10 Hour Jet Card, $57,000+
For all you billionaire college applicants out there, a private jet company called Magellan is finally offering to fly you and an admissions consultant to all your fave Ivy-league schools -- so you don’t have to use your dad’s plane.
SHIELD: Your eyes, not your style – with MVMT’s newest sunnies, From $65
MVMT’s back with fresh sunnies for your summer face. Their latest drop combines retro 90’s vibes with a 21st-century palette, perfect for any beach, festival ground, or IG-worthy sunset. Hurry though -- if it’s anything like the last drop, these stunners won’t last long. Readers of The Hustle get 15% off.
FIND: Those pesky items you always misplace, Tile up to $25 OFF
Stop ransacking your house hunting for your keys/wallet/water bottle/[INSERT ITEM HERE]. Right now, Tile combo packs are on sale for Father’s Day. Attach one of these tiny Bluetooth trackers to anything you couldn’t live without and viola. It’s as good as found.
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