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💠 Wiser! #91: The Merge | Google Fined | Code2022 | Thunderbirds NFT | TikTok's Propaganda Machine

💠 Wiser! #91: The Merge | Google Fined | Code2022 | Thunderbirds NFT | TikTok's Propaganda Machine

Wiser! #91: Ethereum's Merge happens, signalling a major change in the evolution of the new tech economy. Meanwhile, old tech giant Google loses in court and lands a $4.1 billion fine. BigTech's leaders go to Code. Thunderbirds made into NFTs and is TikTok a propaganda machine?

w/Wiser! #91 - Friday 16th September

Hello Wiser! readers and a happy Friday to you! A special welcome to all the new subscribers who signed up for Wiser! this week.

This week I'm covering:

  • the biggest story of the year in crypto and why it matters,
  • Google's $4.1 billion fine from the EU, a week after Facebook's record fine!
  • Big Tech's leaders converged in California. What did we learn?
  • Thunderbirds are Go! (Well, NFTs are Go! really).
  • TikTok's domination of the attention economy, and the growing concern that it's a weapon for espionage and mind manipulation by the Chinese Communist Party,
  • And the Elon Musk Twitter soap opera releases episode #149 as we get closer to the season finale on October 17th!

Plus: in the latest episode from Big Tech Little Tech, Shaun and I look at Apple's consumer products. There are 2 new videos on the YouTube channel, inc a look at the Metaverse and NFTs with James Hirst.

As always, there's a ton of news headlines from across tech, some tips and tricks, and other stories, content and stuff I think you'll find interesting and of value.

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. Every week, over 14k readers like you get Wiser!

ATB, Rick

"I limit my read of IT tech and business because of the massive noise in the market. I always read Wiser - it really fills a gap in what's happening in a 10 minute read." - Dean Lilly, Strategic Sales, DXC Technology.

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Ethereum Completes The Merge

Big News: If you're wondering why this week's lead story is about The Merge, it's because it's the biggest crypto story of the year.

Here's Why: Cryptocurrency gets a hard time because of the amount of electricity it consumes powering the computers that "mine", i.e, make, cryptocurrency.

The White House just published a report with some fascinating new stats on crypto mining energy consumption in the USA.

  • Mining uses as much energy as all the nation’s home computer usage combined (between 0.9% and 1.7% of total electricity use) and creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as the diesel fuel used in the country's railroad system.

Changing The Way Crypto Works: "The Merge" is the name for Ethereum successfully transitioning to a new  way of working.  

Save The Planet: The move positions the Ethereum as environmentally friendly as well as being a step towards greater scalability and economic sustainability for the second largest network in crypto, after Bitcoin.

  • Ethereum will reduce its energy consumption by 99.95%

Jargon: In technical terms, Ethereum has changed the way it works.

  • Instead of Proof of Work, a blockchain consensus mechanism that is run by miners, Ethereum will now achieve the same end-game using a mechanism based on "validators" called Proof of Stake. (Validators are responsible for verifying transactions to keep the network running.)

Here's The Thing: Bitcoin stands alone in the scrutiny/criticism of cryptocurrency's green credentials. The problem for the Bitcoin protocol is that it can't change from PoW to PoS the way that Ethereum has.

As the realities of climate change increasing draw closer every day, there's now clear blue water between the two very different ways of doing crypto.

Whilst Bitcoin was the first and is still the largest crypto by a country mile, Ethereum now has a clear differentiator for a crypto community that sees far more utility in the Ethereum network than in Bitcoin.

The Merge | ethereum.org
Learn about The Merge - when Mainnet Ethereum adopted proof-of-stake.


🎙 Big Tech Little Tech #9

In the latest episode, Shaun and I discuss the recent Apple "Far Out" event, called Far Out, in which Apple updated the iPhone, the Apple Watch and AirPods.

We also discuss Meta’s largest ever EU fine, Canoo EVs, wearables stats, and what Shaun would take on his desert island.

Find Big Tech Little Tech on all major Podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Anchor | Google Podcasts


Code2022: Some Of The Biggest Names In BigTech Converge in California

BigNames: At Code2022 last week, an annual gathering of the Kara Swisher fan club, the great and the good from Big Tech came together in California.

As a signed up member of the Swisher fan base, I loved following the 3 day event from afar. It's a reflection on Swisher's standing as a tech journalist that she is able to pull in the likes of  Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and a host of other big names from the world of BigTech.

Sadly, this is Swisher's last Code as the host. Here's a selection of the key moments:








Big Tech Regulations

Electric Vehicles

USA - Scott Galloway

US Healthcare



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Google Loses Appeal Against Mega EU Anti-Trust Fine

$4.1 Billion: That's the size of the fine the EU has won again Alphabet/Google.

  • The money will go into the EU's coffers after the Court of Appeal upheld the 2018 ruling in the anti-trust lawsuit against Google.
  • At the heart of the matter was Google’s abuse of its market position by forcing phone makers to pre-install Google apps on their Android phones.

Ouch! There's no denying that this is a serious blow for Google. Not so much because of the size fine as much as the way it changes Google's business model.

On the flip side, the win strengthens the position of the EU’s antitrust advocates, led by Margrethe Vestager. It's a decision that will be watched closely by US regulators, FTC Chair Lina Khan and US lawmakers like Amy Klobuchar.

Block and Tackle: Google’s main line of defence was that it is not a monopoly. Users can go with iOS, right? It’s the same defence that Apple use when it is defending against anti trust. Users can go with Android, right?

But the reality is that there is a duopoly in smartphones. It’s a 2-horse race in a market of around 6.6 billion smartphones dominated by Apple and Alphabet's Android.

Google's flywheel effect: Digital advertisers keep spending even more with Google because the ROI is as much as 10x or more. The more they spend, the more they make, so the more the spend. And so on. Google has been able to insulate itself from the Apple tracking transparency changes because of Search.
China’s Technology Crackdown on Big Tech
🔒 Over last 40 years, China has been steadily and systematically reshaping itself into a market economy. Whilst the Western narrative is of an authoritarian surveillance state, the reality is that China has been strategically building a technology infrastructure for a 21st-century digital economy.
BigTech Face Huge Penalties For Failing To Comply With New EU Regulations
The EU’s crackdown on BigTech takes another step forward with the Digital Services Act. This is all about content moderation with clear obligations, and penalties, on BigTech to protect users and keep their houses in order. Expect global ramifications!
Google Must Face Most of Texas’ Antitrust Lawsuit on Ads
The lawsuit alleges the search giant entered into an illegal deal with Facebook.


Wiser! On YouTube

I loaded up 2 videos this week to the Wiser! YouTube channel.

1) Metaverse and NFTs in conversation with James Hirst

In this episode of Wiser!, I am joined by James Hirst, founder of The Intelligent Brief, an AI creativity startup, to talk metaverse, NFTs and emerging utility of what we broadly call Web3.

2) Wiser! #33 - Apple, Meta, TikTok

#33 features Apple's Unfair Advantage, Meta's largest ever fine, and 3 reasons why TikTok is as addictive as playing the slot machines. Watch it here.



100 Brands in the Metaverse

Thunderbirds are Go! ITV Studios have launched a series of NFTs for the iconic 1960s TV series, Thunderbirds.

A collection of 1,000 digital assets is now available on OpenSea, including a Digital Pass to join the project’s community, aka the International Rescue Club.

  • And get this, NFT holders will be able to attend real-life “Rescue Missions”, which means I'll be able to get my Virgil Tracy outfit out of the loft one more time!

Fans Love Collecting: fans have always loved collecting collectables. There's nothing new here.

But what is new is that an NFT enables the "collectible" to come as a smart contract. This means the seller/issuer can build a whole new layer of benefits and features and personalise them inside a digital asset.

Ubiquitous Technology: Some day, sooner rather than later, everything will be a digital asset. Which means that NFTs are, IMHO, the most likely technology to hold them.

NFTs are here to stay. Check this out...👇

If you're into NFTs, web3 marketing or just curious about what's going on with Big Brands in the Metaverse, you're going to want to see the collection of over 100 NFT projects I've pulled together. The trend report is called "100 Brands In The Metaverse" and is available to premium Subscribers. OUT NEXT WEEK!
Starbucks details its blockchain-based loyalty platform and NFT community, Starbucks Odyssey
The new Starbucks Odyssey experience combines the company’s successful Starbucks Rewards loyalty program with an NFT platform.


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🤖 Use AI Writing Tools To Do The Heavy Lifting

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Check out Quillbot’s Summariser Tool. There’s a free and a paid version and you have options to adjust how you want the summary presented for you.

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Twitter Shareholders Approve Musk's Takeover Offer

All Stations Are Go: Twitter shareholders have given the thumbs up to Elon Musk’s takeover bid...even though Musk doesn’t want to go through with it!

This week, Twitter's shareholders (inc yours truly) officially gave the green light for Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover to go through.

Coincidentally, the shareholder vote came on the same day that former Twitter security executive Peiter “Mudge” Zatko testified before Congress about Twitter’s alleged security flaws.

Mudge’s allegations include:

I wrote about it here...

Twitter Whistleblower Causes Havoc For Twitter
As if Twitter didn’t have enough on its plate without this. The former, and recently fired, Head of Security has made a bunch of serious allegations about failings, weaknesses, and complacency at the social network. What does it all mean for Twitter?

Court of Chancery: Here's the thing, this is all going to come down to the Delaware Court of Chancery next month.

A judge will decide if Musk has to go through with his $44 billion takeover, which I think is a dead cert that he is going to have to (unless he sees the writing on the wall and buys his way out before hand). Ouch!

  • Twitter is to expand its fact-checking programme, called ‘Birdwatch’. The invite-only programme is adding 1,000 users to Birdwatch ahead of the US midterm elections to combat false facts on the network.
  • Someone is digging for dirt on the Twitter whistleblower. Whoever’s behind it is willing to pay...but his former colleagues are keeping schtum.



Just Headlines

Just Numbers

Just The Markets

  • Oracle came up short on Q1 profit expectations but reported 18% revenue growth on their $28 billion acquisition of Cerner.
  • Peloton co-founders John Foley and Hisao Kushi will leave the company in a broad executive shakeup.
  • Adobe to buy collaborative design platform Figma for $20 billion.

Just Interesting

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Instagram Struggles to Repeat TikTok’s Success.

Beaten: The Wall Street Journal has reported a leaked internal study from Meta FaceBook into the creator economy.

  • The report concluded that Instagram's Reels lags far behind TikTok in both popularity and engagement.

Here's the thing: When it comes to younger demographic, TikTok is bossing it!

  • Under-18s are spending more time on TikTok than on every other streaming platform combined!

Just compared to Instagram, TikTok users are watching 197.8 million hours a day on TikTok, compared to only 17.6 million hours being watched on Reels. (That's over 11x more time on TikTok than on Instagram!)

The issue is partly the addictive dynamics of TikTok (read this), and partly because less than 20% of the creators on Instagram post anything each month.

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