Given the heaviness of the last edition of Tidbits in which the most consequential development was the storming of the U.S. Capitol by rioters, you may think that edition #29 would be (should be) dull in comparison.
But that could not be further from the truth.
Because we are starting to see and feel the consequences of those events only now and only much more in the future.
While Capital Flywheels is born with an insatiable tendency towards optimism, Capital Flywheels is feeling something Capital Flywheels has had very little experience feeling – a sense of unease – because nothing that Capital Flywheels has observed (or studied) over several decades of life can provide any roadmap for what is to come.
But what is clear is that several major themes that Capital Flywheels’ has written about over the last few years is starting to play out.
1/ Tech is not an industry.
Tech has created a parallel world that is now challenging the physical world for authority. In many cases, tech is no longer about moving the offline world to online, but it is about the online world going offline and controlling and transforming it.
But more importantly, the baton of power is potentially passing from representative government to representative technology (e.g. social media, networked hardware and software)…of which resides squarely and firmly in the hands of a few large private tech entities.
Which, unfortunately, seems to be confirming something else Capital Flywheels has been concerned about for several years:
The natural result of this conclusion is that Capital-holders (mostly tech companies) are now granted the moral authority to allocate capital in a way to pursue what is deemed “good” (as opposed to neutral market-based forces that tell you what people want or do not want via prices).
But the decision makers atop this Capital are not elected, and this Capital has much tighter integration with the instruments of power today (technology) than any prior era. In prior eras, even when Capital was corrupt, Capital was still operating as a separate entity from the instruments of power (e.g. government). Influence was indirect through campaign financing, for example.
But today, no more. Capital and technology and the instruments of power are one and the same.
As all networks mature over time, much like the Roman Empire, all roads will eventually lead to Rome…
What is the Rome that we are heading towards today on this long lonely country road?
The consequences of the Capitol riot last week is that big tech took a big step towards deplatforming (e.g. silencing) the far-right people that have and continue to call for violence.
As a moderate, Capital Flywheels certainly does not come close to agreeing with what the far-right believes, but the people on the left cheering this outcome should also be cognizant that the moral authority now granted to non-elected entities will be hard to revoke and could one day be used on the left as well.
While, culturally, tech skews liberal, the left should not forget that tech corporations are corporations, and corporations tend to view far-left ideology around Capitalism with as much distrust as they do on far-right views around Nationalism.
Which brings me to the first article by Scott Galloway. I generally find Galloway’s views to be a bit hyperbolic and attention-seeking (e.g. his claims that Uber is “the tobacco of the gig economy” and his placement of Pinterest and Snap at the very top of his “overvalued” list in late 2019), but I have to agree with him on his latest piece that big tech is now a shadow government.
This is something that Capital Flywheels has written about extensively, but Galloway has a bigger audience and microphone than Capital Flywheels. As more and more influential people like Galloway adopt this view, it will become more and more mainstream.
The things we see are very hard to unsee.
#1 Big Tech Is Now a Shadow Government
As our institutions have retreated, private capital has emerged as a shadow government. Banks command our economy, the shareholder class commands the politicians, and big tech reigns over it all. Our idolatry of innovators equates wealth with virtue, and does not hold the innovator class, or their firms, to the same standards as old economy firms (or the general population). Twenty-four hours after a failed coup, the lead story on Twitter is Elon Musk becoming the wealthiest man in the world.
If there is any question that big tech is our new government, then register that these are the only entities whose actions seem to have a meaningful impact (or what we view as meaningful). Which has had more impact? Futile discussions about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, or Facebook and Twitter suspending President Trump’s accounts and Shopify closing MAGA stores? Applaud these actions if you like, but accountability for sedition should not be meted out by private companies (in the case of Shopify, a foreign one). We should not be pandering to part-time CEOs to save the nation they demonstrate no regard for.Source: Scott Galloway via Medium
Given the chaos that Trump has caused, many on the left view the actions taken by tech companies as necessary.
Regardless of whether you think it is necessary or not, everyone should be clear-eyed about what we have witness: The government is weak. And tech is doing something the government cannot.
But Capital Flywheels also believes the left is making a logical error in assuming that the way to fight back against the schemes of the far-right is to fight back with a bigger gun (of which tech is the manifestation right now).
However, Capital Flywheels has studied history extensively…the only stable system of governance possible is one enabled through checks and balances. Meaning a system of governance where too much power in one hand naturally leads to a decline (or check) in that same power as well.
Unfortunately, the left seem to be missing the forest for the trees and pursuing the same strategy that the far-right has been pursuing and the same strategy that every king and queen and empire has ever pursued: Re-taking control with a bigger gun.
Thousands of years of history shows this is an un-win-able arms race.
But Galloway brings up an important point with Shopify…Shopify isn’t even an American company (it’s Canadian by domicile…but as Capital Flywheels has argued repeatedly, all tech companies are not of this world to begin with…they exist in a parallel digital world)…what role should it play in silencing the far-right?
#2 Shopify’s Trump store ban signals the end of e-commerce platforms’ neutrality
After years of self-described neutrality, commerce platforms are getting political.
As social media platforms are increasingly called to ban individuals and organizations that promote violence — especially after a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday — e-commerce sites are also getting more calls to be accountable.
Since the election of President Trump, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, have been increasingly called to take greater action against hate or violent speech. But rarely do those calls for action extend to e-commerce marketplaces or software providers. Etsy banning merchandiseassociated with the QAnon movement — which the FBI has warned is a domestic terror threat — is one other example. Most e-commerce platform have acceptable use policies that ban people who use their service to promote hate and/or violence — but they aren’t called out as frequently as social media platforms when they don’t enforce these policies. But with Shopify’s recent actions, that may start to change.
Not only are there real questions about what role global companies should play in local politics, the domain in which that role extends is also under question. Shopify, after all, isn’t even a social media company. You may object to the far-right’s ability to speak dangerous words, but should that extend to commerce?
This is what Capital Flywheels means when Capital Flywheel says Capital is now no longer neutral. This has nothing to do with free speech anymore, but whether Shopify has the right to decide whether people can engage in capitalism or not.
The article also has this interesting quote:
“Shopify has an equal if not greater responsibility to be accountable for who they work with because they enable financial support of these individuals and organizations,” Jammi told Modern Retail.Source: Modern Retail
Jammi (whom is not affiliated with Shopify and hence does not represent Shopify) says it in black and white: Capital is no longer neutral. And Capital now has the moral obligation to not be neutral.
Shopify’s interference in American politics is one thing to consider, but it is also raising major alarm bells among Western allies:
#3 Germany and France Oppose Trump’s Twitter Exile
German Chancellor Angela Merkel objected to the decisions, saying on Monday that lawmakers should set the rules governing free speech and not private technology companies.
“The chancellor sees the complete closing down of the account of an elected president as problematic,” Steffen Seibert, her chief spokesman, said at a regular news conference in Berlin. Rights like the freedom of speech “can be interfered with, but by law and within the framework defined by the legislature — not according to a corporate decision.”
The German leader’s stance is echoed by the French government. Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune said he was “shocked” to see a private company make such an important decision. “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,” he told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire earlier said that the state should be responsible for regulations, rather than “the digital oligarchy,” and called big tech “one of the threats” to democracy.Source: Bloomberg
Interesting that Germany and France, neither of which enjoyed Trump’s Presidency, are speaking out against the deplatforming of Trump as well.
They seem to be on the first step towards realizing what Capital Flywheels has been arguing – the competitions of the 21st Century is not empire vs empire but physical empire vs digital empire.
Because…what happened isn’t that some dangerous views or some dangerous actions / calls to actions were blocked. It’s that a whole person was labeled as dangerous and blocked. And a whole block of peoples (far-right) are being labeled as dangerous and in the process of being blocked. And none of this runs through a system of checks of balances…the decision makers are not elected and not accounted to the people (not accountable even to the people of the left that want it)…and none of this is checked or balanced by the wisdom of the courts.
Anyway, food for thought for everyone. And it’s clear everyone will be thinking about this for a very long time.
From an investment perspective, tech is becoming higher risk and higher potential reward. If tech commandeers the power of government, the financial returns would be enormous. But play the wrong card, lose the wrong fight over authority with the government…would potentially mean disaster.
While our political sphere is in turmoil and our daily lives continue to be affected by COVID-19, markets seem to be doing well.
But there are reasons to be concerned…
#4 Newbies Discover Penny Stocks and 1 Trillion Shares Get Traded
While there have been many examples of volume explosions in low-priced NYSE and Nasdaq stocks in the last few months, a whole other ecosystem of speculation exists outside the regulatory reach of these venues — and lately it’s been booming. Out past the broker-operated venues where Robinhood trades get executed, it’s lightly regulated quotation systems run by firms like OTC Markets, where more than 1 trillion shares in some of the riskiest companies changed hands last month.
In a world where all it takes for a company to go crazy is a celebrity tout or quasi-mention by Elon Musk tweets, it should be no surprise that penny stocks are back in vogue. Waves of buying are being fueled by newbie day-traders who have driven volume throughout the pandemic era, a group that has long shown a propensity for microcap stocks with very low price tags.Source: Bloomberg
Yep, markets are a little weird.
It’s clear that there are a lot of retail investors and new investors in the market that may not fully understand all the risks they are taking.
This is less of a problem when everyone is speculating in high quality companies but paying a very high price (like in certain areas of technology).
But recently, retail investors are turning more towards low-quality companies, which is concerning. This reminds me much more of the May mania in which retail investors were buying up bankrupt companies.
#5 Zomedica’s Stock Spikes 90% And ‘Tiger King’ Star Carole Baskin Could Be The Reason
What Happened: A video on YouTube shows Baskin discussing Zomedica Corp ZOM 2.39%and the company’s upcoming Truforma point of care diagnostic product to all the “cool cats and kittens” watching.
“They help our veterinarians and our furry friends,” said Baskin in the video, referring to Zomedica.
It appears someone paid $299 through Cameo to have the Netflix Inc NFLX 0.58% star discuss the penny stock.Source: Benzinga
And, of course, things like this suggest there is widespread manipulation of the markets.
This can keep going for a while, but this is a foundation of sand…if the whole market ends up being built on this type of information and mania, it will spell trouble.
Although tech is under the microscope at the moment, a lot of what is really central to our changing cultural and political landscape is actually related to media, both online and offline.
Rex Woodbury over at Digital Native, wrote a thought-provoking essay that is worth reading on how our media is splintering and how social media is making it worse.
As consumers, you probably already know a lot of what he has to say, but there are some genuinely novel and interesting thoughts in there as well.
#6 The Splintering of Media
The internet magnifies and ossifies confirmation bias. We gravitate to people who are like us—people who make us feel good about ourselves. Rather than challenge our beliefs, these people reinforce them.Source: Digital Native
And this is before considering how online tech is causing changes to the offline world…for example, here’s a rather benign application that could have far-reaching impact as well:
#7 How deepfakes could change fashion advertising
A 2018 Zalando campaign featuring model Cara Delevingne across 290,000 localised ads was achieved using deepfake technology to produce a range of alternative shots and voice fonts. Now, as the algorithms for manipulating and synthesising media become more powerful, the fashion sector is beginning to take notice.
Dynamic campaigns — the term for micro-targeted ads at scale — are becoming a key tool in a marketer’s arsenal. Deepfakes have the potential to help brands reach customers with highly targeted and personalised messaging. For influencers and celebrities, deepfakes help them to easily broaden their reach by agreeing to front a fashion ad campaign and model clothes without even turning up for a photo shoot. Millions of different deepfake ads can instantly run across platforms like Facebook, while up to 100 different influencer ads targeted at various audiences could run, says Simon Lejeune, a growth marketing consultant.
It’s not a giant leap in a world where digital identities such as gaming avatars are already overlapping with real-life identities, while CGI models are mixing with real-life influencers. Imagine a new kind of deal, where an influencer provides a brand with a sample of 15 minutes of audio content and a few video shots. Using deepfake technology, a brand can transform that content into thousands of hyper-targeted ads. “Influencers might start licensing their faces and voices to brands,” says Lejeune. “A computer can take their faces and voices and reproduce them in 16 different languages or poses, and select the most persuasive one.”Source: Vogue Business
Leaving aside thoughts on whether this is dystopian or not, there are a lot of very interesting applications for the technology.
Also – this is another example of where we have moved past the phase of offline going online (e.g. digitization)…the online world is infiltrating and transforming our offline world (May I suggest digi-forming as opposed to terraforming?).
In parallel with social media, it’s important to consider fintech with respect to the wider context.
If Capital is no longer neutral, it also means fintech (which will eventually control our money) will also not be neutral…
For example, if Jack Dorsey at Twitter has a view on whether Trump should be on the platform or not, how does that inform or influence how he believes Square should operate as well since he is also the founder / CEO of Square?
Anyway, I think you get the picture, so I’ll let you ponder on these questions from here and return to the regular programming.
McKinsey published a fascinating report illustrating all the ways fintech is changing our relationship to money.
#8 How US customers’ attitudes to fintech are shifting during the pandemic
A lot more people are using fintech than you may think. Capital Flywheels thinks the compounding potential of fintech businesses is just beginning.
And people are using it across the board. Yes, payments (e.g. PayPal and Cash App). But actually more people use fintech for banking than payments. And investments is growing very quickly.
And not just young people. Old people, too.
This following chart should scare the living daylights out of banks…fintech is not just for the young or the un-banked…the highest proportion of users by income is actually the wealthy. And by definition, the wealthy have all the money…if they increasingly rely on fintech, this can only mean it will be negative for the traditional banking relationship.
Fintech is everywhere already, but it’s only just beginning.
#9 Sea Limited acquires Indonesian bank to gain foothold in fintech
Singapore’s Sea Ltd., the tech startup that’s become Southeast Asia’s most valuable company, has acquired Indonesia’s PT Bank Kesejahteraan Ekonomi, according to people familiar with the matter.Source: The Edge Singapore
Sea had a great week. Sea just acquired control of an Indonesian bank, which gives them access to the necessary banking licenses in Indonesia. This should accelerate their fintech efforts in Indonesia, which is the largest market in Southeast Asia.
#10 Visa and Plaid Announce Mutual Termination of Merger Agreement
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) and Plaid today announced that the companies have terminated their merger agreement and agreed with the Department of Justice to dismiss the litigation related to the proposed transaction. The proposed transaction was first announced on January 13, 2020.
Very few people knew what Plaid did a year ago. But the Visa deal put it on the map.
Unfortunately, it looks like it’s not happening anymore. Bad for Visa, but probably great for Plaid given how much fintech has accelerated because of COVID-19:
“This past year saw an unprecedented uptick in demand for the services powered by Plaid, and our priority is to support the hundreds of millions of people who now rely on fintech,” said Zach Perret, CEO and co-founder of Plaid. “We made great strides last year, growing our customers by more than sixty percent and adding hundreds of banks to our platform. While Plaid and Visa would have been a great combination, we have decided to instead work with Visa as an investor and partner so we can fully focus on building the infrastructure to support fintech.“Source: Businesswire
In case you want to dig a little more, here’s a good primer on what Plaid does:
#11 What Does Plaid Do?
This is where Plaid really shines – despite the fact that each bank has completely different APIs for moving money around, Plaid provides a layer of abstraction that lets you completely ignore that. If you want to check the balance of a user’s account, you can use Plaid’s accounts API – a single endpoint for every bank. They take care of the hard work of translating “give me the account balance” into the specific language and structure that each bank requires.Source: Technically
5 years ago, Capital Flywheels felt almost certain that Stripe was destined to become central payments.
In the same vein, Capital Flywheels feels almost certain that Plaid will become central to bank / financial accounts as much as Stripe is central to payments.
Both are quickly becoming essential digital financial infrastructure.
Capital Flywheels believes it makes financial sense to invest in Plaid in the private markets right now if possible.
#12 Food Delivery is Keeping Uber Alive. Will it Kill Restaurants?
And I think we’re in a good place now and the company has its own identity and we’ve got a bunch of people who are excited about building. Like if Amazon kind of owns next day right, with Prime, I think we can own next hour. You want to go anywhere in the next hour, you want anything delivered to you in the next hour, Uber can be the company that you can come to. That is incredibly exciting and we’ve got a bunch of engineers, operators, marketers, et cetera, who are working their ass off building it and we’re going to have some fun.Source: Kara Swisher Sway Podcast via NYT
Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, did an interview with Kara Swisher. Kara asked tough questions, but Dara sounded good. Worth listening to.
Kara also asked all the questions that are undoubtedly on the minds of the far-left / labor-minded. They’re tough questions, and Uber will be staring down a lot more of them in the future. Dara seemed to handle them well, but he will need to answer them repeatedly and to make sure that he is always ready to address them or it can spiral into a regulatory headache in the future.
What’s important to keep in mind is that the labor-minded people believe Uber has the ability to pay drivers / couriers more right now, but, generally, do not seem to grasp the fact that Uber is not profitable at all and hence does not actually have the ability to pay more. Uber is already paying drivers and couriers more than they can afford (paid for by investors…investors are already subsidizing labor, not the other way around). This will change in the coming years, but when that happens, it should be a win / win situation for everyone. Labor should make more in the future as Uber turns profitable, and shareholders should make more, too, and no longer have to subsidize labor.
Capital Flywheels firmly believes an objective grasp of reality is important in all aspects of life. While Capital Flywheels is very often sympathetic to the plight of labor, narratives should not take precedence over reality. And in this situation, the reality is that shareholders have been subsidizing labor for a while…not the other way around. Uber and Lyft were paying drivers decent wages even while they were essentially giving rides away for free to consumers 3-4 years ago.
#13 Cloudflare named as the innovation leader in the Global Holistic Web Protection Market for 2020 by Frost & Sullivan
Source: Frost & Sullivan / Cloudflare
Cloudflare is important. But don’t take my word for it. Frost & Sullivan just published an industry report that argues exactly that. Not only is Cloudflare in a holistic leader in web security, it’s far ahead of the hyper scale public cloud players.
The biggest news in core tech this week was Intel’s sacking of CEO Bob Swan for former CTO Pat Gelsinger. Gelsinger was most recently CEO of VMWare before accepting the offer to return to Intel as CEO.
This is big news because Intel is a semiconductor heavyweight that has fallen on hard times. But Pat Gelsinger is somewhat of a legend…and if anyone has the potential to restore Intel to glory days, it might just be him.
#14 FINALLY, THE RIGHT PILOT AT THE INTEL HELM
It is not an exaggeration at all to say that Pat Gelsinger, who will be talking the helm of Intel as its chief executive officer on February 15, is largely responsible for driving Intel’s initial success in the datacenter. And the Intel machine that Gelsinger helped design – he is the creator of the tick-tock method of rolling out chips, which we will get to in a minute – has been riding on the momentum that Gelsinger and his team put into the flywheel all those years ago. It is also true that, for many different reasons, that Intel flywheel is spinning down. (Intel is not a perpetual motion machine, and no company is.) But don’t get confused here. Apple has risen from a much deader place than this, twice. IBM has risen once. Microsoft, too. You have to be a damned fool to think Intel cannot right itself and steer between the cliffs and the whirlpool.
Among his many accomplishments at Intel, Gelsinger was the architect of the 80486 processor in 1989, which at the time was Intel’s fourth generation of X86 CPUs and the one that really started to take off in servers. Among the more than a dozen other processor design efforts that Gelsinger steered at Intel was the Pentium Pro launch in 1995, which had symmetric multiprocessing built in and was designed explicitly for workstations and servers as the RISC processors from Unix workstations and servers had been for the past decade.
The other key thing that Gelsinger did at Intel was to separate architectural innovation from manufacturing process progress. This is the tick-tock model, which was instituted in 2007.Source: The Next Platform
I didn’t know all of Gelsinger’s achievements until the recent outpouring of support for his return to Intel…the more I read about it, the more impressive Gelsinger seems.
And Gelsinger seems to be setting himself a very high bar for achievement:
#15 Incoming Intel CEO Derides Company’s Inability to ‘Deliver Better Products’ Than Apple’s M1 Chip
We have to deliver better products to the PC ecosystem than any possible thing that a lifestyle company in Cupertino. We have to be that good, in the future.Source: The Oregonian via MacRumors
Apple’s M1 is based around a strategy that will be hard for Intel (and AMD) to match since Apple’s silicon is based on the concept of heterogenous compute (a lot of custom, dedicated silicon brought together in a system-on-a-chip (SoC) rather than large powerful general compute silicon like the x86 CPUs that Intel and AMD make)…will be interesting to see how Intel / Gelsinger adjusts in order to accomplish his goal of catching up to Apple.
#16 Intel’s New Chief Has No Quick Fix
But Mr. Gelsinger is inheriting problems that have no quick fix. Intel’s struggles with advancing its chip-making process began before Mr. Swan came on board—and they have deepened since. The company disclosed in July that its latest process for manufacturing chips at 7 nanometers ran into new problems that would delay mass production on that process to late 2022. Rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, or TSMC, is already making more advanced chips at 5 nanometers.Source: WSJ
Intel has a lot of issues. Part of it is manufacturing. Intel is no longer the leader in chip manufacturing. That crown is now held by TSMC.
Will Intel fully outsource manufacturing and focus on winning through design?
TSMC’s surprise capex expansion might suggest that is a real possibility.
#17 TSMC’s $28 Billion Spending Blitz Ignites a Global Chip Rally
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. triggered a global chip stock rally after outlining plans to pour as much as $28 billion into capital spending this year, a staggering sum aimed at expanding its technological lead and constructing a plant in Arizona to serve key American customers.
The envisioned spending spree sent chipmaking gear manufacturers surging from New York to Tokyo. Capital spending for 2021 is targeted at $25 billion to $28 billion, compared with $17.2 billion the previous year. About 80% of the outlay will be devoted to advanced processor technologies, suggesting TSMC anticipates a surge in business for cutting-edge chipmaking. Analysts expect Intel Corp., the world’s best-known chipmaker, to outsource manufacture to the likes of TSMC after a series of inhouse technology slip-ups.Source: Yahoo Finance
Intel had already stated that GPU manufacturing would be outsourced. But it’s not clear if core CPU manufacturing would be outsourced as well.
And that was under the old CEO. What will Gelsinger do?
This next article from WFFCTech based on TrendForce industry analysis suggests that Intel is likely to outsource CPUs as well.
I’m not so sure, yet, but it would be a big deal if it happens.
#17 TSMC To Produce Intel Core i3 CPUs on 5nm Process Node in 2H 2021, 3nm Mainstream & High-End CPUs Enter Mass Production in 2H 2022
In a presser, TrendForce has announced that as per their investigation, TSMC will be mass-producing Intel’s next-generation entry-level, mid-range and high-end CPUs on its 5nm and 3nm process nodes. Intel has already announced that it will be outsourcing several of its non-CPU chips to 3rd party foundries but this major news confirms that they are planning to move even their biggest product lineups to external fabs.Source: WCCFTech
If this happens, all roads in the semiconductor industry will lead to TSMC.
Speaking of Apple and semiconductors, Qualcomm announced a pretty interesting acquisition:
#18 Qualcomm to Acquire NUVIA: A CPU Magnitude Shift
Today Qualcomm has announced they will be acquiring NUVIA for $1.4bn – acquiring the start-up company consisting of industry veterans which originally were behind the creation of Apple’s high-performance CPU cores. The transaction has important ramifications for Qualcomm’s future in high-performance computing both in mobile, as well as laptop segment, with a possible re-entry into the server market.
Gerard Williams III in particular was the chief architect for over a decade at Apple, having been the lead architect on all of Apple’s CPU designs up to the Lightning core in the A13 – with the newer Apple A14 and Apple M1 Firestorm cores possibly also having been in the pipeline under his direction.
NUVIA particularly had made aggressive claims about how their design would be able to significantly outperform the competition both in raw performance and power efficiency once it came to market – usually such claims are always to be taken with scepticism, however due to the members of the design team and talent having proven themselves in the form of Apple’s very successful CPU microarchitectures, there’s a lot more weight and credibility to them compared to other start-ups.Source: Anandtech
Very impressive performance if confirmed. But I guess one wouldn’t expect any less from alumni of Apple’s chip team.
#18 Global Consumer Spending in Mobile Apps Reached a Record $111 Billion in 2020, Up 30% from 2019
Source: Sensor Tower.
App trends from 2020, some surprising, some not so surprising.
Top revenue generating non-game apps:
Tinder looking good, even though dating apps should have had a rough year given widespread lockdowns globally. If you rewind the clock and ask people what a bear case scenario for dating apps would look like, they would likely say COVID-19, yet, Tinder held strong.
Top non-game app downloads:
Nothing too surprising here. TikTok is a beast.
Top revenue-generating game apps:
Nothing too surprising here either. Note that PUBG Mobile and Arena of Valor are Tencent games. Roblox also coming in nice. And Garena Free Fire (Sea’s leading game) also comes in nicely on the Google Play side.
Top game app downloads:
Where Free Fire shines is on downloads. #2 globally overall, and #1 on Google Play. This is important because monetization is still ramping up for Free Fire. I’m quite intrigued that something named “Brain Test” is the #7 most downloaded app globally in 2020.
#19 Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin aims to fly first passengers on its space tourism rocket as early as April
After years in development, Jeff Bezos’ private space company Blue Origin aims to carry its first passengers on a ride to the edge of space in a few months.
New Shepard is designed to carry people on rides past the edge of space, reaching an altitude of more than 340,000 feet (or more than 100 kilometers). The capsule spends several minutes in zero gravity before returning to Earth, with massive windows to give passengers a view. Both the rockets and the capsules are reusable, with the boosters returning to land vertically and the capsules landing on control of a set of parachutes.Source: CNBC
SpaceX gets all the love, but Blue Origin is no less impressive. That first image is the interior cabin of the rocket. Looks fantastic.
#20 Nuclear fusion tech developer General Fusion now has Shopify and Amazon founders backing it
General Fusion’s process is based on technology called magnetized target fusion (MTF), first proposed by the U.S. Naval Research Lab and developed in the 1970s.
The process involves creating a magnetically confined moderately warm plasma of around 100 eV (roughly 50 times the photon energy of visible light) in a flux conserver (a shell that preserves the magnetic field). By rapidly compressing the flux conserver and the magnetic field inside of it surrounding the plasma, the plasma is superheated to a temperature that can initiate a fast fusion burn and create a fusion reaction, according to a 2017 description of the technology from General Fusion’s chief science officer and founder, Michel Laberge.Source: TechCrunch
Nuclear energy gets a bad rap, but it’s the most sustainable source of energy for our planet. If General Fusion can actually do nuclear fusion in such a small footprint / facility, it would dramatically change our planet’s energy relationship and energy dependency.
#21 The 2500-year-old Technique to Make Ice in the Desert
Ok. That brings us to one more question. What did the ancients do? How did they manage without a fridge? Well, the ancients were far smarter than we give them credit. Take the ingenious Persians for example; they managed to make ice in the desert.
2500 years ago, Persia was surrounded by hot and arid deserts and it was obvious that people craved cold drinks and cold items to sustain the heat. And ancient Persian engineers created an innovative cold storage technology that enabled people to store ice right in the middle of the burning desert. The technique was so low-cost and simple to make that even poor people could afford it.Source: Lessons from History via Medium
I still only sort-of know how a modern refrigerator works despite having read about it in various science and technology books.
Very impressive that the peoples of antiquity could figure so much process know-how out without understanding the underlying science.