The real problem with Facebook is not a data leak

The little networking site is now a business colossus that’s affecting our minds and our relationships.

“Every publisher knows that, at best, they are sharecroppers on Facebook’s massive industrial farm.”

.. Indeed, Facebook has come to look a lot like the agricultural giants that control much of what we eat in this country. Recent documentaries have revealed the way “King Corn” or “Big Sugar” influences our eating habits, with little to no pushback or oversight.

.. Some former Facebook employees allege that “the platform’s features were consciously engineered to induce a dopamine hit to keep people hooked.” Author and professor Adam Alter compares these new technologies and smart devices to slot machines and other addictive substances in terms of their impact on our minds and physical well-being — as well as on our inability to turn away.

Benedict Evans: Content isn’t king

People in tech and media have been saying that ‘content is king’ for a long time – perhaps since the VHS/Betamax battle of the early 1980s, and perhaps longer. Content and access to content was a strategic lever for technology. I’m not sure how much this is true anymore.  Music and books don’t matter much to tech anymore, and TV probably won’t matter much either.

Most obviously, subscription streaming has more or less ended the strategic importance of music to tech companies. In the past, any music you bought for your iPod had DRM and could only be played on Apple device

..  Even if you’d just encoded your own CDs (or downloaded pirated tracks, but in either case without DRM), physically transferring them to a different device with different software was a barrier. Your music library kept you on a device. With streaming these issues mostly go away. All the major services are cross-device (even Apple’s), and if you do switch to a different service you’re not giving up tracks you’ve paid money for, just a list of your favourites. Switching became easy.

.. Since music no longer stops people from switching between platforms, it’s gone from being a moat

.. Ebooks, like music, do not seem to create any moat for any broader platform strategy.

.. whenever I talk to music people or book people, very quickly the conversation becomes a music industry conversation or a book industry conversation. What matters for music are artists and touring and labels and so on, and what matters for books are writers and publishers and rights and Amazon’s bargaining power in books and so on. These aren’t tech conversations. The big tech platform companies rolled into these industries and changed everything, but then moved on to bigger things.

.. Tech needed content to make their devices viable, but having got the content (by any means necessary), and with it of course completely resetting the dynamics of the industry, tech outgrew music and books and moved on to bigger opportunities.

..  the shows that are watched mainly because they’re broadcast at 8pm on Saturday will suffer, and so will the channels that are watched because they’re high up on the program guide.

.. Amazon clearly is using content for platform leverage – as something else to speed up the Prime flywheel. Prime has become a third pillar to Amazon’s business, next to logistics and the ecommerce platform, and Amazon is always looking for ways to add more perceived value to it, preferably with no marginal cost – TV content that it owns outright is exactly that.

.. Unlike a Taylor Swift or Kanye West exclusive, this is more than just marketing – it’s something you lose altogether if you give up something else that’s not directed related. Cancel the subscription delivery service and you lose access to all Amazon TV shows.

..  For Google and Facebook, there’s no subscription to cancel – there’s no binary (renew/don’t renew, cancel/don’t cancel) decision you might take that would cut off your access to that great TV show. You don’t close your Facebook account – you just go there less. You might stop paying for the Youtube TV service, but that won’t cut off your access to any other part of Google

.. Buy an Android instead and you lose access to the (hypothetical) great Apple television service. This is why people argue that Apple should buy Netflix.

..  Part of ‘content is king’ was the idea that (at least in theory) content companies can withhold access to their libraries entirely, and in the past one might have presumed that that meant they had the power to kill any new service at birth. In reality, rights-holders have always had too strong a need for short-term revenue to forgo broad distribution, and few of them individually had a strong enough brand to extract a fee that was high enough to justify exclusivity

.. The reason Apple TV, Chromecast, FireTV and everything else feel so anti-climactic is that getting onto the TV was a red herring – the device is the phone and the network is the internet. The smartphone is the sun and everything else orbits it. Internet advertising will be bigger than TV advertising this year, and Apple’s revenue is larger than the entire global pay TV industry.

.. This is also why tech companies are even thinking about commissioning their own premium shows today – they are now so big that the budgets involved in buying or creating TV look a lot less daunting than they once did.

The Berkshire Hathaway of The Internet

Now let’s look at Warren Buffett’s process for buying a business:

  1. 😀 The Letter (1 day)
    He asks the seller to send him a simple letter explaining why he should buy their company, sharing some key financials and their asking price.
  2. 😁 Analysis (2–5 days)
    If he likes the business, the management, and the price, he digs in.
  3. 😆 The Offer (1 day)
    He calls or writes the owner and makes a fair offer.
  4. 😊 The Handshake (2–3 days)
    If the buyer agrees to the price, they agree to the details, and he sends over as short contract devoid of legal jargon.
  5. 😎 Closing (4–8 weeks)
    They work through all the usual legal stuff and get the deal done. If the owner is stuck on any minor details like working capital or sentimental items, he lets them win because he knows that, in the big picture, they aren’t worth haggling over.