Why Silicon Valley Loved Uber More Than Everyone Else

Uber was the most valuable private company in history, but the public market has not been as enthusiastic. The reason explains a lot about how the tech industry works.

But some of it should go to Silicon Valley’s cultural divergence from the business reality. Investors loved the company not as an operating unit, but as an idea about how the world should be. Uber’s CEO was brash and would do whatever it took. His company’s attitude toward the government was dismissive and defiant. And its model of how society should work, especially how labor supply should meet consumer demand, valorized the individual, as if Milton Friedman’s dreams coalesced into a company. “It’s almost the perfect tech company, insofar as it allocates resources in the physical world and corrects some real inefficiencies,” the Uber investor Naval Ravikant told San Francisco magazine in 2014.

Clueless Versus Trump

Apple will not be the only multinational that will soon bring back gigantic profits to take advantage of new low repatriation rates. Microsoft holds $146 billion in overseas earnings, Pfizer $178 billion, General Electric $82 billion, Alphabet $78 billion, and Cisco $71 billion, according to estimates from the Zion Research Group. The total stash is about $3 trillion — by one measure nearly three times what it was just a decade ago.

.. the damage their hubris does to the anti-Trump case.

.. But how can the critics who previously assured us that Trump’s election would cause certain calamity now explain that he’s nothing but a lucky bystander to forces beyond his control?
.. The truth is that it’s hard to account exactly for why the economy does well or poorly from one year to the next. But it’s also true that the president has been nothing if not aggressive in his efforts to remove regulations, cut taxes and promote American business (not least his own), and animal spirits on Wall Street have responded accordingly.
.. Democrats are placing a large bet that it’s a political showdown they can win. But what they are mainly doing is wrecking their chances of retaking the House or Senate by appearing to put the interests of DACA’s immigrant “Dreamers” ahead of the rest of America.
.. Donald Trump is a profoundly defective person who nearly every morning does grave political self-harm with no assistance from his opponents. But he is also president, and normal Americans — that is, those who hold the outcome of the next election in their hands — do not want him to fail
.. Wouldn’t it be smart of all of Trump’s opponents to show they are superior to him in the former? And wouldn’t a good way of doing that be to abjure the latter, even if it sometimes means giving him some credit?

Waymo Asks Court to Block Uber’s Self-Driving Car Project

In February 2016, Mr. Levandowski left to start his own self-driving truck company, Otto. He sold it to Uber for $680 million six months later.

.. Mr. Droz said this did not surprise him because Mr. Levandowski had told him earlier that he wanted to start a self-driving car company and that Uber would be interested in “buying the team” responsible for the lidar being developed at Google.

.. Mr. Droz also said Mr. Levandowski, after being spotted at Uber headquarters while still working at Google, admitted to him that he had met with the ride-hailing service because he was looking for investors for his new company. Mr. Droz joined Google when it acquired 510 Systems in 2011, a self-driving car start-up he founded with Mr. Levandowski.

Facebook Is Making a Map of Everyone in the World

And they’re using a brand new A.I. technique and a whole lot of computing power to do it.

Facebook developers taught their neural-net algorithms to recognize what a building looked like from above in this data. Then, they turned the programs loose. The software estimated urban density by the number of buildings it could see, and extrapolated the best-available population data onto the settlements.

.. These photos will be cheaper than ever before, and they’ll be more recent: Thanks to cheaper rockets and advances in small satellite-building, some companies are promising “revisit rates” of six or seven times per week.

.. This new data won’t be valuable unless companies—especially financial companies—get good at deciphering it without human labor. Already, startups like Skybox (owned by Alphabet) and Descartes Labs say they’ve made advances in pulling information out of pictures without a person sitting at the table.