Sep 17, 2021 9 min read

Microsoft's remote working survey; Facebook smartglasses; Epic v Apple latest

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Table of Contents

Wiser #34: Microsoft have conducted the largest study ever into the effects of remote working; plus an exclusive interview with Lemonade CEO Daniel Schreiber; Facebook's new smartglasses and the Litecoin pump and dump.


Here's what you can expect in this issue of the Wiser! Newsletter;

  • Microsoft's study into the impact of remote working (the largest ever)
  • Exclusive sneak peak into my interview with Daniel Schreiber, the CEO of Lemonade
  • Facebook and Ray-Ban launch a pair of smartglasses (that are really smart)
  • The Judge rules on the Epic v Apple titantic tussel (but it's not over yet)
  • The Litecoin/Walmart crypto hoax
  • Facebook know that Instagram is harming teenage girls
  • The first all civilian crew go into orbit with SpaceX
  • Elon Musk is at it again
  • The United Nation called for a moratorium on AI tech
  • Plus other snippets and headlines from the top stories in tech

--- New Normal ---

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Microsoft study reveals the reality of remote working

Want to know the biggest problem with remote working? Itโ€™s hard to chit-chat.

Microsoft has identified that the social cohesion that exists between a group of co-workers was damaged in a remote working environment.

This is the conclusion from a report published by Microsoft after researchers concluded a study into remote working amongst 60,000 of its staff during the pandemic.

Called โ€œEffects of Remote Work on Collaboration Among Information Workersโ€, the report includes the findings from analysing "rich data on the emails, calendars, instant messages, video/audio calls and work hoursโ€™" of Microsoft's US-based workforce.

Published in Nature Human Behaviour, this is the largest study of its kind looking into the impact of remote working thrust upon a global workforce as the world went into lockdown.

The report concluded that remote work damaged communication across the company.

In particular, it weakened cross-group communication between both informal communities and formal business units. In other words, the social ties that span different parts of an organisation broke down.

Does it make a difference if you use Zoom or Teams?

On a related matter, do you remember a couple of weeks ago I included the findings from an observational study by Charles Radclyffe. He looked at the power and resource consumption differences between Zoom and Microsoft Teams. In a nutshell, it found that Zoom consumes less power than Teams, but it depends on other factors. You can read the article in Forbes here.


--- Exclusive Content ---

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Changing the way people think about insurance

Five years ago, an AI-enabled digital insurance company called Lemonade started selling renters insurance in New York.

Today, Lemonade have over a million customers, sell insurance in all 50 states of America, plus The Netherlands, Germany and France. They sell home, pet and life insurance. And are about to start selling car insurance.

Last year they went public, raising over $300 million on the New York Stock Exchange.

By any standard, this is an incredible story.

Five years ago I was fortunate enough to interview Daniel Schreiber, one of the co-founders, before they went live. I wrote an article on the day they opened for business entitled "insurance will never be the same again."

Five years on and I've interviewed Daniel again. The long-form article about Lemonade and the accompanying video will be posted on Tuesday to coincide with the 5 year anniversary.

Everyone who is a Wiser! subscriber will see it first, whether free or paid. (If you're not signed up already, best do it now!)

To whet your appetite, here's a taste of what's to come.


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--- Metaverse ---

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Facebook announce Ray-Ban smartglasses

When I put last week's Wiser! to bed, one of the last pieces I put into Snippets was the teaser about Facebook launching a new pair of smartglasses. I couldn't believe it when the very next day I saw that Facebook had announced them!

I have to say that I'm smitten with them. Essentially, Facebook has hidden the tech you'd find on your smartphone into the smart glasses. Without compromising the style of the classic Ray-Ban design.

This may well be what Mark Zucerkberg refers to as the "next computing platform", otherwise known as the "metaverse", but there is one glaring omission from the Facebook glasses, and that's AR (augmented reality). This is where there is a heads-up display in the field of vision projected within the lens of the smartglasses.

Snap (aka Snapchat) launched updated smartglasses in May and they had AR to overlay digital objects in front of your eyes. Xiaomi has also launched their smartglasses this week. Called "smart eyewear", these glasses also include AR and are pitched as an alternative to a smartphone.

But the one to watch is Apple, which is believed to have a secret research unit with 100s of staff working on AR and VR projects, including Apple smartglasses.

This is a lot going on in the mixed reality space, where virtual, augmented and the physical worlds come together in a new digital "reality". I'll be covering it shortly in a premium issue to give you the heads-up on the metaverse.

For now, here are some of the past issues of Wiser! that includes related content:

  • How Apple built a 10 year lead in wearables (video, article)
  • Virtual Humans; the quest for Realism, Experience and Influence (video, article)
  • Samsungโ€™s Augmented Reality glasses look great โ€ฆfrom the inside out (article)
  • Microsoft's AR deal with the US Army (article).

--- Big Tech ---

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A titanic tussle: the latest on Epic Games v Apple

Last week, a US district judge delivered their verdict on the Epic Games v Apple court case. You may remember that this is all about Apple taking 30% of all revenues from in-app purchases. BTW, Google do this too.

Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite who made over $5 billion from in-app purchases in 2020, had objected to Apple's restrictive behaviour.

So, they just bypassed the App Store. Apple retaliated by kicking Epic off the platform. And it went to court. (For more background, read this issue of Wiser! from May.)

US Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers decided that;

  • Apple is not a monopoly (this is important because it shields Apple from antitrust),
  • Apple can no longer force app developers to use Apple's payment mechanism. (this means that app developers will not be forced to pay 30% of their revenues to Apple, from December),
  • Epic Games must repay Apple around $3.6m, which is the 30% share of the App Store revenues that Epic should have paid between August and October last year. (remember, it was after Epic circumvented the App Store that this all kicked off.)

On the face of it, this is not really a victory for either side. The judge rejected most of Epicโ€™s case, which centred on Apple being declared a monopoly. ย The judge also rejected forcing Apple to make material changes to the App Store model. This leaves Apple in full control over its terms and conditions.

However, Apple can no longer stop developers from using alternative payment methods inside their apps if they chose to. ย The ruling means that app developers, like Epic, can bypass Apple's 30% levy and keep all the payments for themselves. It also means that app developers have more flexibility to connect with other means of payment, like crypto, using external digital wallets. This is a win for Epic.

And potentially, a costly ruling for Apple. Gaming apps account for around 70% of the $15 billion from Apple's App Store revenues. This accounts for more than 20% of Apple's entire profits.

Meanwhile, the newly introduced Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act, introduced by US Senator Amy Klobuchar at the start of this year, will make it more difficult for Apple and the other BigTechs when it comes to acquisitions, mergers and antitrust generally.

This is far from over...


--- Crypto Corner ---

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The Litecoin/Walmart fake news hoax

Here's what happened in what's being called the "Litecoin Pump & Dump"

Early Monday morning this week, Global Newswire carried a story that claimed Walmart was about to announce a partnership with Litecoin. (It was a fake story that GNW hadn't checked properly.)

In case you don't know, Litecoin is a cryptocurrency that was designed to provide fast, secure and low-cost payments as an alternative to Bitcoin. It is used today for payments and handles around $3 billion a day in transactions. Litecoin has been around for about a decade. (Read more about the top 10 of cryptocurrencies here.)

Anyway, on Monday morning, a social media manager at the not-for-profit Litecoin Foundation saw the story ..and shared it on social media. They believed it to be true and pushed it out there.

So, when the Litecoin Foundation unwittingly announced the (fake)news to the world, it was immediately picked up by the markets.

FOMO kicked up and within the 15 minutes it took the Litecoin Foundation to realise the story was fake, the price had jumped around 40%.

As soon as the Foundation tweeted that there was, in fact, no partnership with Walmart, the price fell back to where it started just as quickly.

The question now is "who posted the original story and profited from the pump and dump?"

Morals of the story:
1) be careful of what you read online
2) never rely on one source
3) only trust the sources you know you can trust (such as this one.)
4) don't let this put you off getting into cryptocurrency...it's never too late.


--- Snippets ---

Snippets of Insight and Information

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Facebook knows Instagram is bad for teenagers' mental health

"32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse," a Facebook internal document reveals. The research shows that teen users' mental health is negatively impacted by using Instagram, the company's photo- and video-sharing social media app. Instagram is more popular with a younger demographic than its parent Facebook. Two out of every 5 Instagram users are under the age of 22. ย  Source: Business Insider

SpaceX launches first all-civilian flight crew into Space

The SpaceX shuttle was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. The first all-civilian crew includes billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman who paid for the trip, physician assistant and cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux who is raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft geoscientist Dr. Sian Proctor, as well as data engineer and US Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski. (Space Race coverage in previous issues of Wiser!: video, article.)

UN calls for moratorium on the use of AI tech

The United Nations has called for a pause on the development of artificial intelligence over concerns it "enables discrimination, invades our privacy and undermines our rights." Source: Bloomberg Quicktakes

Elon Musk is at it again!

When the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX shared this picture of his new Shiba Inu pup on Twitter to his 60 million followers, all he said was โ€œFloki has arrivedโ€. Whether he meant it or not, the tweet immediately influenced the markets and affected the price of a token called shiba floki (FLOKI). In 24 hours, the meme-based crypto jumped a whopping 969% in value. All because Elon tweeted about his new puppy. Oh, to have such power! Source: Bitcoin.com


Just the headlines

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak starts a new space company Privateer, to clean up space debris.
Source: Breezy Scroll

Cathie Wood predicts bitcoin will surge to $500,000 in 5 years.
Source: Business Insider

Microsoft go completely passwordless.
Source: Morning Brew

Facebook's crypto chief on the long, messy journey to reinvent money.
Source: Protocol (Wiser! video)

Twitter Super Followers has only generated around $6k in its first 2 weeks.
Source: TechCrunch

Everyone will be able to clone their voice in the future.
Source: The Verge


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Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!


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