Wiser! 100: Epic Games are taking on the big Apple over their $20 billion cash cow called the App Store. Meanwhile, Elon Musk is losing it at Twitter. The fallout from FTX continues and AI generative art is all the rage. Welcome to being Wiser!
w/Wiser! #100 - Friday 18th November
Welcome To Being Wiser!
So, we made it to 100! This is the 100th issue of the newsletter and in total, I've written over 200 posts for the website since Wiser! started in January last year.
The newsletter itself has gotten bigger over time too. When I first started, it was a fortnightly issue and a max 10 minute read. Now Wiser! is weekly and edging closer to a 14/15 minute digest packed with news, insights and information to keep you all informed and entertained.
It's my intention to keep Wiser! free for the majority of content. But that wouldn't be possible without your kind donations via BuyMeACoffee and to the super VIPs who have bought premium subscriptions. To you all, thank you. 🙏
For the 100th issue, you'll see I have made a few changes.
First, there's a new Supporters level membership. It's only a €1 a month or €9 a year. For that you get my love and gratitude, and a small crumb of satisfaction that you're supporting a free Wiser! and acknowledging the value you get from my efforts.
Second, I've updated the newsletter format to give a little more structure. I group my work into four broad categories: BigTech, SocialMedia, Web3 and Metaverse. I've added a fifth, called Technology. Now, for each issue, the news and stories will be organised in these categories, with one main story and then a bunch of headlines.
I hope you like it and continue to get value from Wiser! If you do, please help me grow by forwarding this email to a friend or colleague.
Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!
🔥 This week's Wiser! is supporting .ART
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The Battle For Taxing The Internet: Epic Games v Apple Round Two
On Monday 21st November, Apple and Epic Games go back to Court. This time Epic has been joined by market regulators.
The DOJ says it’s worried that “errors” by the lower-court judge in the first trial, who mostly sided with Apple last year, may weaken its hand in future enforcement actions.
The case, which is about online marketplace policies for transactions related to apps and services, is being closely watched as US regulators continue to scrutinise big tech companies in their role as gatekeepers to the digital economy.
- In other words, if you have an iPhone, everything you do has to go through the App Store - the AppStore is the gate and it's 100% controlled by Apple.
This week, at the James R. Browning Courthouse in San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Epic Games v. Apple, Inc. This is Round 2 of the David v Goliath battle that will have huge implications for all mobile app developers if it goes Epic's way.
THIS IS AN EXTRACT FROM THE LATEST PREMIUM ARTICLE. Continue here....
Other BigTech Headlines
- Amazon will lay off around 10k employees (NYT)
- Google has agreed to the largest online privacy settlement in US history. It will pay $391.5 million to 40 states that alleged the company tricked users into sharing location tracking data with the company. Google says it has already changed some of the practices that led to the settlement, but it has also agreed to make its location tracking disclosures easier to understand as of next year. (New York Times, Reuters)
- Activist investor TCI urged Alphabet/Google to cut headcount (CNBC)
- Big Tech firms are dumping office real estate as they downsize (WSJ)
- China's Tencent started a new round of layoffs (RT)
Is Elon Losing It? Or Has He Already?
Literally nobody could have predicted the complete and utter shitshow that Elon Musk has made of his Twitter take-over. One of the greatest, if not the greatest of our generation, product builders has let his inner child run wild with his new Twitter toy. It's so bad you couldn't make it up, even if you were the campaign manager for Liz Truss.
I'd even go so far as to say that I'm genuinely concerned for the health and well being of the genius man-child. Remember, he's the CEO of multiple, substantial organisations that each require a full time CEO.
And here he is picking fights with his staff, Twitter's users, US lawmakers and the advertisers whilst carrying over a $1 billion in annual interest repayments. If it were me, I don't think I'd be biting the hand that feeds me.
Anyhow, there's a ton been written about it by people far more qualified than me. So, I've included links to tell you the latest comings and goings for this story.
- “You fucked up real good, kiddo” Elon’s Twitter shitshow explained in 4 minutes by CNET. (Video).
- Musk appeared in court this week after Tesla shareholders sued him for being a part time CEO whilst claiming a massive compensation package that helped make him the world's richest person.
- Elon Musk has told staff they have no choice but to work in the office, or go home. Then, having fired half the staff, he later told employees to be prepared to be "hardcore" workers, or don't bother coming in.
- Twitter fired about 20 employees who had criticised Elon Musk in the company’s Slack channels.
- Musk companies begin buying Twitter ads as advertisers withdraw.
- Twitter's 'massive' revenue drop adds to heavy debt burden.
- Musk has possibly violated an earlier agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which has the ability to issue billions of dollars in fines.
- Bloomberg News is reporting that the banks that lent Musk $13 billion to buy Twitter are now trying to offload the loans, and reportedly received offers for as little as 60 cents on the dollar.
- Musk halts Twitter's coveted blue check amid proliferation of imposters.
Meanwhile, Twitter users are moving to Mastodon...
What is Mastodon?
More Social Media News
- Understanding the TikTok algorithm.
- Peter Thiel’s take on what has really happened with AI and why he believes TikTok is a weapon.
- TikTok raises many questions. One area of concern is the potential for the Chinese gov to influence the algorithms that decide the content pushed in the feed.
- Digital ad sales have slumped dramatically during the global economic slowdown. TikTok has managed to buck the trend.
“You can’t win the war on social media. Just don’t engage" - Tristan Harris on 60 Minutes.
Timex Launch An Immersive Experience In Fortnite
This may be the watch maker's biggest foray into the Metaverse, but it's not their first. Previous use-cases include a virtual Justin Bieber concert. And a tie-up with AmazeVR’s Megan Thee Stallion virtual reality concert tour, called “Enter The Hottieverse.”
This latter use-case was interesting for the way that Timex provided virtual watches to wear on every user’s avatar using special hand-tracking capabilities.
Now, the brand is exploring the space further with a heavily interactive gaming experience. It's a move made alongside other major brands who continue exploring what it will take to drive positive ROI in virtual worlds.
The new Timex experience involves Landon Barker, a Gen Z icon and son of the Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. This is a common trend to attract a Gen Z audience with a generational influencer to add credibility and appeal.
Here's The Thing: Timex are an old world brand getting down with the kids. They're creating brand awareness in the space where the next generation of watch buyers hang out.
More importantly, they're learning how this goes down. What works and what doesn't is the name of the game right now for consumer brands who are playing the emerging world of virtual reality, blockchain and web3.
What Big Brands Are Doing In Web3 and the Metaverse
I've tracked, analysed and documented 250 consumers brands and their projects in NFTs, blockchain, crypto and virtual reality.
It's the biggest single collection of emerging technology use cases anywhere. Access to the collection is FREE TO PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS. UPGRADE HERE FOR THIS LIMITED TIME OFFER OF ONLY €26/ANNUM.
Other Metaverse News
- Walmart aims to shift Gen Z perceptions with expansive Roblox play.
- Adidas has gone all in on web3 - NFTs, virtual land plots, full-body AI-personality generated avatars.
- Nike will let users design virtual sneakers in further metaverse push.
- Metaverse could pump $1.4 trillion a year into Asia’s GDP by 2035, reports Deloitte
- What Gen Z wants to see from brands as Metaverse projects grow.
FTX Collapse and More Fallout
FTX was one of the big three cryptocurrency exchanges alongside Binance and Coinbase. It's founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was seen as the poster child for crypto in the web3 era.
With no board of directors and a $32 billion valuation, this was a remarkable feat for a company only launched in 2019, run by a 30 year old and his polyamorous girlfriend. Their rise was almost as staggering as the speed of their demise.
Unfortunately it has cast a deep shadow over the whole crypto space and is yet another own goal, gifting the naysers a free pass to say "told you so."
Here's The Thing: This is the wrong way to look at it. FTX is a truly awful example of what happens an inexperienced and apparently super smart founder lose with other people's money and no guardrails.
We've been here before with superstar founders being given huge sums of cash to go break things and fail fast. The point is, there are never no casualties.
In the case of FTX, there could be a million of them. From the big boys, who should have known better, to 100s of thousands of retail investors who followed the promise of untold crypto riches.
The trouble is, Bankman-Fried was so smart, nobody really udnerstood what he was talking about. And therein lay his mystique. Now, after the event, "everyone" seems to have known there was something fishy.
And that's how the sorry tale begins. For a comprehensive deep dive on what, how and why it happened, read this if you want the detail.
Or listen to this excellent podcast from Matt Levin, a man who had previouslt confronted Sam Bankman-Fried about FTX being a ponzi scheme.
Or if you want something a little more light hearted...
More Web3 News
- Australia’s biggest stock exchange has shelved a blockchain project, writing off $170 million.
- A group of US banks announce plans to launch a Proof of Concept digital dollar blockchain project. They include HBSC, Mastercard, and Wells Fargo.
- DappRadar data shows gaming dapps attracted more users in the wake of the FTX collapse.
- Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is to launch his own range of NFTs.
- What is a DAO?
Europe is edging closer to a ban on facial recognition
This is 180 degrees the opposite direction to China.
The western narrative is that China is a surveillance state and this is all bad. China has built a large part of it's digital economy on facial recognition and their 1.4 billion nationals don't appear to be as vexed by it. According to this report in POLITICO, the European Union is heading in the opposite direction.
I get the concerns about privacy, but I think the genie is already out of the bottle on this one. Facial recognition is ubiquitous (anyone with a phone has it).
For me, it's not the use of facial recognition tech for identification that's the concern, but the use of the data behind it. But if we go down that path, we also have to question Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple and how they use the data they get through surveillance.
Just this week I was watching an episode of The Chase. My wife and I talked about The Menace, a Chaser who had once been a contestant. We only talked, no googling or searching.
Two days later, I opened up YouTube and the 3rd video in my recommended viewing was the episode of The Chase featuring Daragh Ennis. Now tell me you don't think Siri or Alexa is listening to what you're saying all the time?
Or our own governments, who are routinely surveilling citizens on the internet.
I get the EUs determination to protect citizens, this administration is doing more than anyone in tech regs. But I can't help but think this is not the solution.
Other Technology Stories
- Intel's new deepfake detector can spot a real or fake video based on blood flow in video pixels. Intel's FakeCatcher detects a deepfake in real-time with a 96% accuracy rate.
- Intel's FakeCatcher detects a deepfake in real-time with a 96% accuracy rate
- Did you known? The British govt is scanning all Internet devices hosted in the UK. Should we be worried?
- This comic series was drawn by AI. Can you tell?
- An artificial intelligence tool that scans eyes can accurately predict heart disease risk in less than minute, researcher say.
- Dall-E opens its AI art creation tool to everyone. The artificial intelligence technology can turn text prompts into intriguing illustrations.
- It beggars belief that the most used password is “password”, which has pipped “123456” to claim top spot!
👇 Links That You Should Click
Create Your Own Profile Pics With AI
Astria lets you make AI-generated images of yourself for a few bucks. Upload a few photos of your face and several hours later, after Astria has crunched the data, you will be able to generate art based on your likeness using different themes and styles you chose. It's fun, give it a go! (I ran out of time to include mine this week, they will be in next weeks issue).
Listen To A Never-Ending Conversation
The Infinite Conversation is an AI generated, never-ending discussion between Werner Herzog and Slavoj Žižek. Everything you hear is fully generated by a machine. The opinions and beliefs expressed do not represent anyone. They are the hallucinations of a slab of silicon. That's right, this conversation literally never ends, it just keeps on going. This is the future!
🤓 Interesting Reads To Keep You Informed
- When Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia founded AirBnB, they had no idea what it would become.
- The USA tops the healthcare league table for spend per capita but is 48th when it comes to longevity.
- Microsoft's Monopolies - A $MSFT company analysis
💰 Reinventing Finance Podcast
I was recently invited to join Nikolaud Sühr and Tom van der Lubbe as a guest for their podcast called Reinventing Finance. As background, I've known Nik from when he first started the insurance startup he still runs today. I wrote this article about Kasko 7 years ago!
Any how, the conversation was about the insurance industry, what I thought about the chances of changes and disruption and where did I think it would come from. You don't need to be an insurance person to follow the conversation. It's more about how old world industries, like insurance for example, can or can't change.
🦧 NFTs Explained In Under 5 Minutes
My mum asked me over the weekend what an NFT is. She'd heard me talking about it with Shaun on the podcast. It reminded me that just because I talk about this stuff all day, doesn't mean everyone understands it too (and why would they?)
So I made this to explain NFTs in under 5 minutes.
🎙 Big Tech Little Tech
Shaun and I recorded the latest episode yesterday. It's about Mastodon and will be out early next week. Subscribe to any of these services to never miss an episode.
🆕 New Content On Wiser!
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