Here’s what I found interesting recently.
Thanks for reading.
#1 Peter Thiel- “I do wonder whether at this point Bitcoin should also be thought in part of as a Chinese financial weapon against the U.S.”
Peter Thiel: Well, you know, I think there’s sort of a lot of different things that fall under digital currency, presumably one that’s electronic form that China envisions is one that can be monitored even more granularly the way they’re being monitored currently. The geopolitical thing, I sort of wonder about is U.S. dollar [as] a reserve currency of the world. Some things about that that are good for the U.S., some things that are more problematic.
From China’s point of view, they want to get — they don’t like the U.S. having this reserve currency, because it gives us a lot of leverage over Iranian oil supply chains and all sorts of things like that. They like — they don’t want the renminbi to become reserve currency, because then you have to open your capital account and you have to do all sorts of things they really don’t want to do. I think the Euro, you can think of is in part a Chinese weapon against the dollar. Last decade has not worked out that way, but China would have liked to see the two reserve currencies like the Euro. And, even though I’m sort of a pro-crypto, pro-Bitcoin maximalist person, I do wonder whether at this point Bitcoin should also be thought in part of as a Chinese financial weapon against the U.S. where it threatens FIAT money but it especially threatens the U.S. dollar and China wants to do things to weaken it. It’s – China’s long Bitcoin, and perhaps from a geopolitical perspective, the U.S. should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works. But some internal stable coin in China — that’s not a real cryptocurrency. That’s just some sort of a totalitarian measuring device.Source: The Nixon Seminar
Peter Thiel stirred up a pot of controversy at The Nixon Seminar a few days ago when he called Bitcoin a Chinese financial weapon.
A lot has already been written on it, but as usual, people tend to see what they want to see while ignoring all the nuance in the original comments.
What Peter Thiel means is that China would like the USD to lose power as a reserve currency. Peter Thiel not only states that Bitcoin could be a Chinese financial weapon, he even suggests the same for the Euro.
This, of course, should remind us of a key insight that Mao understood very well: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. China (or Russia or Iran or North Korea) don’t particularly care about what they support…they simply would like to support the things that can weaken the power the US has over their systems.
Meanwhile, it’s interesting how much of the crypto-space is trying to contort these comments into their own narrative. I’ve seen many crypto-maximalists claim that Thiel’s comments are meant to encourage the US to buy Bitcoin in order to control it. Maybe…but more likely that’s just their wallet talking.
I’ve also seen many crypto-maximalists in active denial that destroying fiat (which usually means destroying the USD) is bad for this country and good for countries like China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. But, unfortunately, that’s the truth. The US derives a lot of power from its currency. It has created winners and losers. And the losers would very much love to see that system disrupted.
#2 U.S. Floats Tax Compromise Targeting 100 International Firms
The Biden administration has floated a compromise proposal to counterparts around the world that would apply a new international tax code to, at most, 100 global corporate giants.
The U.S. plan would consider a company’s profitability in determining whether more of its income should be taxed by the countries where it does business — something the Biden administration argues will resolve long-standing disputes about which companies should be targeted by new global tax rules — according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.
New tax rules would apply to no-more than 100 multinational enterprises that meet both revenue and profit-margin thresholds, regardless of their industry. The aim is to target those companies with the highest profit-shifting potential, according to the document.
The negotiations have centered around two central plans, or pillars. The first pillar addresses which country has the right to tax what corporate profits. The second pillar focuses on a global minimum corporate tax in an effort to stop a race to the bottom on corporate tax rates as countries seek to compete with each other to attract business investment.Source: Bloomberg
I’m surprised the market hasn’t reacted much to this. There is a soft summer deadline on this proposal.
It somewhat penalizes businesses for having profits…so maybe owning less profitable or unprofitable companies becomes less punitive. Yes, paying super high multiples for unprofitable companies doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it could if the business is truly investing for growth that is likely to produce excellent profits in the future.
But how will this change the discount cash flow models when these far-off profits get taxed at higher rates?
And how does that change the balance between owning this kind of business vs a very profitable global business right now?
And will this incentivize profitable businesses to plow more of their cash back into investments (since that would be better than just paying a straight tax)? And will that increase competition for high-growth businesses that currently benefit from a lack of investments from incumbents?
#3 Biden struggling to fill DOJ job that could rein in Silicon Valley
President Joe Biden’s search for the Justice Department’s top trust-busting role is being bogged down by ethics concerns, both about candidates who have represented Silicon Valley’s giants and those who have represented critics of the big tech companies.
Specifically, White House ethics officials are raising objections about DOJ antitrust candidates who have represented critics of big tech companies like Google, Facebook or Apple, people familiar with the deliberations told POLITICO. Those concerns prompted one prime candidate for the department’s top antitrust role to pull herself out of the running, the people said. And they would also pose a major obstacle to Biden hiring Jonathan Kanter, a progressive favorite who has represented many clients with complaints about Google.
Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project, a unit of the nonprofit Center for Economic and Policy Research that scrutinizes the background of executive branch officials, called it “ridiculous” to impose a blanket restriction on candidates who represented those with complaints against Google.
“Google, at some level, is kind of like Roe v. Wade for a Supreme Court nominee,” said Hauser, referring to the seminal decision allowing access to abortion. “It’s implausible that you lack an opinion on the matter.”Source: Politico
Decades from now (if our modern society survives), I think a lot will be written dissecting the politicization of society and the impact it has on governance and decision-making.
Our society is taking the entirely wrong approach in terms of what it means to be “fair” and “impartial”. When politics drives society, it becomes impossible to be impartial if the very definition of impartial is to “not have a view” or “not have a political preference”.
In a politicized society, everyone is forced to have a view and is forced to have a political preference. But having a view and having a political preference immediately marks you as unable to serve or hold office in a neutral way. Congress and the Executive Branch obviously have political leanings because the candidates run on specific party platforms, but it’s destroying the parts of government that are expected to be neutral like the Judiciary and the administrative areas of government. The ultimate outcome of this is that the “neutral” parts of government will get gutted knife by knife, year by year. Because seats will be impossible to fill. And even if they are filled, people will question if those “neutral” branches of government are truly neutral.
The right way to approach this, of course, is to accept that people do have views and people do have personal preferences, but we must double-down on society-wide education that we can have our views, but we must keep it separate from public work when public work demands that we are neutral. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic that is the direction we are going. The momentum for western society is towards more politicization and less neutrality in every manner of government (and life).
And interestingly, young people (while very open-minded and much more open-minded than older cohorts) are (at least as it appears to me) also highly idealistic. For many young people, “correctness” is demanded. No. Expected. And that will make the world a very challenging place if these expectations do not change. It is not enough for someone to do something “good” that furthers your cause if they have also done something “wrong” in the past. Such a black-and-white preference will be very hard to square and work with.
I have more to say on this and maybe will write a separate dedicated post on this topic. I see a concerning convergence between this necessity for “correctness” and what I believe is society’s increasing desire to move away from a meritocratic system of reward. We should always strive to improve ourselves, but to demand perfection as a starting point in order to be heard or taken seriously is likely a very challenging thing to work with in the long-run.
Ultimately if we only allow people that “don’t have pre-determined” views to make decisions, how would we end up with a society not filled with uninformed people?
#4 Pew Survey: Social Media Use in 2021
There are more charts in the actual survey.
Youtube seems to be the most universally used service regardless of demographic. Even more than Facebook (maybe not surprising these days, but would have been surprising to me 5-7 years ago).
#5 Amazon Surpasses 10% of U.S. Digital Ad Market Share
Amazon. com Inc.’s share of the U.S. digital ad market grew to 10.3% last year from 7.8% in 2019, according to a new report from research firm eMarketer.
The company’s U.S. digital ad share is still small relative to Google and Facebook’s, which accounted for 28.9% and 25.2% of the business, respectively, in 2020, according to the report.
But Amazon is quickly becoming a viable competitor. It is expected to make up 10.7% of the U.S. digital ad market this year, growing to 11.9% in 2022 and 12.8% in 2023, eMarketer predicts.Source: WSJ
Quietly, Amazon has become one of the largest advertising platforms. Still quite a bit smaller than Google and Facebook, but e-commerce advertising is riding on tailwinds whereas social and search are probably not / maturing.
And advertising probably has higher margins than AWS.
#6 Twitter Held Discussions for $4 Billion Takeover of Clubhouse
The companies discussed a potential valuation of roughly $4 billion for Clubhouse, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Discussions are no longer ongoing, and it’s unclear why they stalled, the people added.
Clubhouse is barely a year old but has drawn appearances from some of the biggest names in business and Hollywood. Established social media companies have quickly gone to work on their own versions of Clubhouse, including Twitter. Facebook Inc. is exploring one, too, and Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn and Slack Technologies Inc. have also said they’re working on similar features for their networks.Source: Bloomberg
For a little while Clubhouse was the hottest thing (I still have some invites available if anyone wants one, just ask!). Then I think people got too overwhelmed.
Is it bullish that Twitter almost paid $4 billion for Clubhouse? Is it bullish that Twitter is now making their competitor? So many ways to read this one. But it’s hard to deny that Twitter and Clubhouse (or a Clubhouse-like product) go together. I personally think Twitter’s Spaces will win out in the long-run because most famous people are already on Twitter anyway.
#7 Garena Free Fire Overtakes PUBG Mobile as the Top Grossing Mobile Battle Royale Game in the U.S.
Garena Free Fire from Garena overtook PUBG Mobile from Tencent as the top mobile Battle Royale game by player spending in the United States during Q1 2021, Sensor Tower Store Intelligencedata shows.
Garena Free Fire generated approximately $100 million in revenue during the last quarter, a nearly 4.5 times increase from the same period the year prior. That was enough to put it above PUBG Mobile for the only the second time ever in a quarter, with Tencent’s title accumulating $68 million in player spending, up more than 9 percent year-over-year. Call of Duty: Mobile from Activisionrounded out the top three Battle Royale titles in 1Q21, accumulating $62 million, an increase of approximately 80 percent Y/Y. While the latter, developed by Tencent studio Timi, isn’t strictly a Battle Royale title, it does include such a gameplay mode.Source: SensorTower
The US is one of the world’s largest gaming markets. Getting traction in the US is a big deal, especially for a game that was designed for low-end smartphones and emerging markets. Sea / Garena must be doing something right.
And if I go silent for a while, it might be because I’m gaming 😄.
#8 Afterpay and Adyen Partner to Deliver Flexible Payments
Afterpay (ASX:APT) the leader in “Buy Now, Pay Later”, and Adyen, (AMS: ADYEN), the global payments platform of choice for many of the world’s leading businesses, are joining forces to offer Afterpay’s leading “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) service to retailers, kicking off with Hunter, the premium British footwear brand.
“We wanted a way of offering our customers more flexibility through payments, as we know giving our customers choice to pay in a way that suits them drives on-site conversion” said Bryony Longden, senior eCommerce manager for Hunter. “By offering Afterpay through Adyen, we were able to implement this new payment method quickly and effectively to offer a seamless checkout experience. The ability to split payments really helps to make higher price point items accessible to our customers. “
Merchants of Adyen can offer Afterpay in the UK, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to their customers.Source: PR Newswire
Interesting tie-up. Though it should be positive for both Afterpay and Adyen, this might be slightly more beneficial for Afterpay.
We’ve discussed various aspects of payments + Adyen over time (and briefly touched on Afterpay when it was added to the Paper Portfolio a few months ago)…as a reminder, Adyen is a leading merchant acquirer. Adyen has gained significant scale given its digital-first heritage, which has positioned it well to serve digital-first businesses like Spotify, Uber, Netflix, etc ahead of legacy peers. In a way, Adyen competes with Stripe, but Adyen has historically focused more on larger enterprises (whereas Stripe has focused more on SMBs). Adyen has further differentiated itself by getting the necessary licenses to help large enterprises accept payments in more countries around the world than peers. Getting a license takes years. And Adyen has been focused on getting licenses around the world for more than a decade. Not only is Adyen one of the best merchant acquirers for accepting payments in any country, Adyen is the leading contender for any company that wants a single payments partner for their payment needs across all countries. This is important for reducing complexity and costs. Most merchant acquirers offer scaling discounts as your volumes go up. Businesses that use legacy merchant acquirers end up using a different merchant acquirer in each country / region (since the legacy players generally do not have global scale). This means their volumes are split across too many players to get meaningful discounts. But Adyen allows them to centralize their global payment volumes into a single platform.
Although cost reductions is the most tangible outcome for merchants, Adyen’s value as a single global centralized platform is actually in centralizing data (both across countries and across online + offline). As the world becomes more data-driven and digital, establishing and maintaining buyer identity is a very important issue. If you are a merchant, and I buy something online and then walk into your store, you want to know that! It may help your in-store salespeople better understand what I may be looking for in a more efficient manner. Similarly, if I am a customer of yours in the US, and I visit your store in the UK, you may want to know that! This can only happen if the data is in one central, unified place. This information is also helpful in improving acceptance rates (i.e. the rate in which a payment transaction is not declined by the network because of suspected fraud). If you know that I shop in your store in the US and I try to buy something from your store in the UK, there’s a better likelihood that it’s not a false transaction. And you can only know that by having centralized data (across geographies and online + offline).
In a way, this is also the central problem that advertisers are trying to solve. This is why Capital Flywheels has argued before that advertising and payments is on a collision course. Advertising is aimed at getting you to buy things. Payments is aimed at allowing you to buy things. But, at its core, both of these areas are dependent on knowing who you are.
This is why the Adyen and Afterpay tie-up are so interesting. Afterpay is a leader in the “buy now, pay later” space. It has evolved to become an alternative to credit cards. While Adyen has historically focused on allowing merchants to accept credit cards from any network globally, payment networks are all fungible. Once you have that network, it doesn’t really matter what you run on top of it. Similar to how Visa is allowing their network to clear crypto transactions, Adyen is now allowing their merchants to accept Afterpay, a non-credit card solution. Adyen has already been allowing acceptance of other payment methods like e-wallets (e.g. Alipay and WeChat Pay). But this further illustrates the fungibility of all networks. Payments is now not really about physical money. It’s digital money. And that means you can do all sorts of digital-ly things you couldn’t before.
I think this is much more beneficial for Afterpay, though, because Afterpay’s scale is quite a bit lower than Adyen’s. This tie-up will help Afterpay extend its reach to many more merchants than before. Adyen gets to further expand what it runs on its merchant network (and hedge the potential decline of credit cards as BNPL bites into cards), but Afterpay gets access to a very large established merchant network without having to do much work. And as Capital Flywheels has discussed before, BNPL players like Afterpay are starting to evolve. They are evolving from just being a “payment method” to becoming full-fledged digital wallets / ecosystems. And Afterpay is starting to gain meaningful share of merchant marketing budgets, which further echos the point above about the convergence of payments and advertising.
#9 Robinhood Says 9.5 Million People Traded Crypto on Its App in Q1
The online brokerage service Robinhood said on Thursday that 9.5 million of its customers traded cryptocurrency on its platform in Q1 of 2021.Source: Decrypt
9.5 million is a lot! For comparison, Coinbase is about to go public at $100 billion+ market cap. And Coinbase only had 6.1 million active users in 1Q 2021. Coinbase does charge insanely highly fees for trading crypto and the user base probably trades a lot more crypto than the users of Robinhood, but the gap in valuation (Robinhood is valued at <$30 billion) doesn’t make that much sense to me. Not clear to me that gap is sustainable.
I continue to believe that crypto is going to get folded into existing infrastructure. Years ago, even while I questioned the sustainability of crypto (my bad…), I was quite optimistic on owning infrastructure necessary to enable cryptocurrencies. Coinbase was, by far, the most obvious contender. However, since 2017, very popular digital wallets like Square, PayPal, and now broker apps like Robinhood, all offer cryptocurrency investing. Maybe there is value to having a dedicated crypto-trading app, but my observations on human behavior says that convenience will always win out in the long-run. People increasingly want all of their stuff in one place. It’s more convenient in the long-run to have crypto-trading alongside all of your other finances rather than to have a whole separate app just for crypto-trading. But this point becomes absolutely moot if crypto replaces fiat such that the only trading you do and the only finances you manage is all crypto. I don’t think it’s likely, but I suppose it could happen.
I’m not quite ready to say Coinbase is valued too high, but certainly if that’s the “right” valuation for Coinbase, all of these other players look way too cheap.
#10 Facebook Confirms “Test” of Venmo-Like QR Codes for Person-to-Person Payments in the US
Facebook confirms it’s testing a new QR code feature and payment links for use with Facebook Pay to make it easier for people in the U.S. to send or request money from one another. The QR code feature, similar to Venmo’s QR codes and others, will allow a user to scan a friend’s code with their smartphone’s camera to send or request money, while the sharable payment links will let you publish your payment address outside of Facebook itself.
The addition was first spotted on Monday by MacRumors, which noted that users were being presented with a new “Scan” button in the Facebook Pay carousel at the top of the screen. When you tap this button, you’re launched into an experience where you can scan the other person’s code. The screen that displays the QR code also introduces the personalized payment URL in the format of “https://m.me/pay/UserName,” which can also be sent to others when you’re making a payment or sending a request.Source: TechCrunch
Seems like Facebook is ready to bring some of their payment learnings from India and Brazil to the US.
This could be extremely disruptive to the existing landscape in the long-run. Especially if Facebook gains momentum in e-commerce. Even if Facebook doesn’t get much momentum in e-commerce, it’s still one of the largest and most important marketplaces for secondhand goods. I can see how P2P payments could see wide adoption once integrated with Facebook Marketplace.
#11 Uber Eats launches new Dine-In feature that allows diners to order in-person when restaurants reopen next week
The ‘Dine-In’ tool goes live today in the UK ahead of the easing of lockdown restrictions on April 12 which will see pubs and restaurants with outdoor space welcome patrons for the first time in 2021.
Users will find the Dine-In option in the normal Uber Eats app and will be able to access a participating restaurant’s menu by scanning a unique QR code.
The aim of the new function is to prevent unnecessary contact with objects which are touched by several people, such as menus and card machines.
Payment can be taken via the app in the same way as customers buy food for delivery on Uber Eats.Source: Daily Mail
Not sure if this is just for the UK at the moment or if it has rolled out broadly across Uber’s markets.
This is great for Uber as it grants more control and visibility over the consumer relationship.
This is quite bad for restaurants and businesses, though. The old food delivery pitch for restaurants was that you get extra business on top of your dine-in. Yes, the platforms take a big cut on delivery, but it’s money you wouldn’t have made anyway (since most restaurants don’t offer delivery). But if the food platforms extend their ecosystem into the restaurant, this could be quite bad for a lot of businesses in the long-run. Because then Uber (Doordash, etc) would start taking a cut from dine-in for arguably very limited value-add. The consumer gets the value-add (in not having to interact with the restaurant), but the restaurant doesn’t get much out of this arrangement.
But as in all things, it’s always a battle of attrition. Most restaurants will likely reject such an arrangement. But some won’t. And overtime, if more and more consumers come to expect restaurants to offer interaction-free ordering, restaurants may very well lose the battle of attrition in the long-run. And restaurants are fighting somewhat of an asymmetric battle. Consumer behavior is not siloed. If other service industries adopt more and more interaction-free models, restaurants alone may not be able to buck the trend. For example, many retailers already offer consumers the ability to just walk in and pick up an item and pay for it on their phones without having to interact with anyone. Apple does this with their retail stores. Amazon is doing this for groceries. If this becomes an expectation, restaurants may be in a tough spot.
#12 Anthropologie unveils first digital-only catalog on Pinterest
Anthropologie, the clothing and home furnishings retailer owned by Urban Outfitters, created the first digital-only catalog for its AnthroLiving collection on Pinterest. Visitors to the photo-sharing platform will see an immersive and interactive look at Anthropologie’s spring home assortment, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive.
The digital catalog lets people browse Anthropologie’s selection, pin their favorite items and create a digital pinboard of products to buy immediately or later. Pinterest in the past year has seen 80% growth in engagement with shoppable items amid the broader growth in e-commerce during the pandemic.
Most top searches (97%) on Pinterest aren’t for brands, but there are signs that some of its users are interested in Anthropologie’s products. Searches for “Anthropologie home décor inspiration” jumped almost elevenfold from a year earlier, while those for “Anthropologie mirror” rose 375%, per Pinterest.Source: Marketing Dive
I don’t really have anything special to say here. But it’s on-brand and on-point for Pinterest. Anthropologie and Pinterest just go together in a very nice way.
This really underscores Pinterest’s value and positioning, though. The old model of putting an ad in front of someone 10 seconds before they make a decision increasingly doesn’t work anymore. Many brands (and influencers) are increasingly discovering they need to engage consumers much, much earlier in the decision-making process.
Yes, Anthropologie is creating a catalogue for Pinterest, but this is just as much about long-term consumer engagement as it is about an immediate sale. You want to build that connection with consumers far, far ahead of when they click the buy button.
In other news – Pinterest is expanding advertising to Latin America.
#13 China’s e-commerce shake-up: TikTok sister app Douyin woos merchants in direct assault on Alibaba, Pinduoduo
Beijing-based ByteDance, the world’s most valuable start-up at US$400 billion, is wooing merchants to its premier short-video platform by touting the benefits of selling on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, in a bid to challenge the country’s larger online retail platforms.
Douyin’s latest effort is set to invigorate its already substantial presence in the domestic e-commerce market. The platform tripled its gross merchandise value (GMV), or the total value of products sold, to 500 billion yuan last year over 2019, 100 billion yuan of which came from its own e-commerce channel, according to Chinese tech media LatePost.
As one of China’s most popular social networks, Douyin has already been throwing its weight around in the e-commerce industry since it started allowing merchants to sell their wares through a built-in sales channel in 2019. Last year, the company banned links to competing platforms, including Taobao and Pinduoduo, and built up other necessary capabilities such as delivery and payment services.Source: SCMP
Bytedance still has some work to do to seamlessly integrate e-commerce into the more-or-less entertainment ecosystem they have. But if anyone can do it, Bytedance can.
Sort of bad news for Alibaba. Bytedance is building itself into one of the more robust “3rd ecosystem” in China. Bytedance is also going after pieces of Tencent’s empire, but so far Bytedance seems to be getting more momentum in e-commerce than in games. Not to mention Pinduoduo recently overtook Alibaba in terms of highest annual buyers in China. Though PDD buyers still spend materially less than Alibaba’s buyers.
As Protocol writes, there’s a quiet war in China right now to become the next WeChat.
#14 Snap Acquires Screenshop App to Fuel Shopping Push
Snap is planning a bigger push into online shopping with a new feature in the Snapchat app that will recommend clothes users can buy based on photos they upload to the messaging app, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. And last fall, the company secretly acquired a startup once associated with Kim Kardashian West to help make the effort possible.
Snap plans to announce the e-commerce push at its annual developer conference in late May in the form of a new shopping recommendation feature that will mainly be accessible inside Memories, a section of Snapchat where users collect photos and videos to view later.Source: The Information
Everybody gets a shopping platform. That’s the new version of everyone doing advertising.
#15 Amazon Explored Opening Home Goods, Electronics Discount Stores
Amazon.com Inc. has explored opening discount retail stores selling a mix of home goods and electronics, a potentially significant expansion of the company’s growing portfolio of brick-and-mortar locations.
The outlets would carry unsold inventory sitting in Amazon’s warehouses at steep discounts, according to two people familiar with the plans. The company has considered opening permanent stores, as well as pop-up locations in malls or parking lots, said the people. The plans were preliminary and under discussion last year, but the pandemic and new Fresh grocery chain forced many employees to focus on day-to-day operations.
“It’s a way to be able to clean out warehouses, and get through inventory without having to destroy it,” said one of the people, who was briefed on the plans but not authorized to discuss them. “It is keeping with the value proposition of Amazon, keeping price at the forefront and allowing customers to get access to products at low cost.”Source: Bloomberg
Twenty years ago, you go online to get discount goods. Now Amazon wants you go online for full-priced goods and look for discount un-sellable goods offline.
#16 China fines Alibaba record $2.75 billion for anti-monopoly violations
China slapped a record 18 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Saturday, after an anti-monopoly probe found the e-commerce giant had abused its dominant market position for several years.
While the fine brings Alibaba a step closer to resolving its antitrust woes, Ant still needs to agree to a regulatory-driven revamp that is expected to sharply cut its valuations and rein in some of its freewheeling businesses.Source: Reuters
That’s a big fine in absolute terms, but it’s quite manageable given Alibaba’s size. This brings some closure to the government scrutiny, but there’s still quite a few loose-ends left. Ant restructuring is still on-going. And it’s not clear how much future impact the required change in practices (namely dropping “2-choose-1” merchant exclusivity policies) will have on the business. Given Alibaba’s size, obviously when they “ask” merchants to choose between Alibaba’s platform vs peer platforms, most (all?) will choose Alibaba. Losing that exclusivity arrangement could materially impact Alibaba’s future. Not clear yet…
But near-term closure is likely good for the stock. And the stock does look cheap. And I’m sure some people are sharpening their pencils since The Daily Journal (a company that is associated with Charlie Munger) recently bought a stake in Alibaba.
#17 Sway Podcast: Apple’s CEO Is Making Very Different Choices From Mark Zuckerberg
In this episode of “Sway,” Ms. Swisher presses Mr. Cook on the motivations behind Apple’s privacy push, the power the company has over app developers, and potential future Apple innovations, from augmented-reality headsets to autonomous cars. They also discuss the decision to remove Parler from the App Store after the Capitol attacks — and why Mr. Cook hopes that the right-leaning social media company will “come back.”Source: Sway / NYT
I like Tim Cook. As a CEO, he’s one of the few that seem to really believe in what they do with a true focus of making the world a better place. You can hear it in his voice (to me at least).
He does drop a fairly saddening statement, though – He’s not leaving Apple any time soon, but he thinks it’s unlikely he’ll be at Apple for another 10 years.