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Amazon wants everything

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Good morning! Amazon’s purchase of One Medical leaves a lot of questions unanswered, including, “Can it even do that?” The short answer is yes, but it’s not that simple.

The whale and the octopus

Amazon announced yesterday that it’s buying its way into a huge slice of health care provision with the acquisition of One Medical for nearly $4 billion. It claims the deal will allow it to "reinvent" health care, and it’s raising some eyebrows.

One big concern with the deal: data. Health care companies hold a massive amount of information, especially in the age of telehealth. The deal gives Amazon new ways to glean data to help it build AI, Protocol Enterprise reporter Kate Kaye writes.

  • One Medical operates clinics throughout the U.S. and already has roughly 800,000 members enrolled for both in-person and virtual services. Amazon will have access to a treasure trove of valuable data for AI health products.
  • This means that talking with your doctor could be used to improve things like voice-enabled health apps or in-office ambient software.

This deal also unlikely to face antitrust pushback despite its size, Protocol Policy editor Kate Cox told me.

  • Because Amazon doesn’t yet have a strong foothold in the health care industry, other than its work with Amazon Pharmacy, the deal will likely be viewed by regulators as “competition-neutral,” Kate said.
  • This reveals a flaw in current antitrust laws, allowing massive corporations to continue to grow their influence: Antitrust laws go after companies that are trying to grow in one particular sector, not “octopus” companies working on a little bit of everything.

Amazon already has its tentacles wrapped around a vast array of sectors, from entertainment to cloud software to groceries. But the deal shows the company’s intentions to be part of just about everything else, too.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Facebook is burying your Friends

There was a time not so long ago when Facebook’s most important feature was the Friend — a time when a college kid could earnestly offer to find a new classmate on Facebook and not get looked at sideways.

The days of the Friend are long gone. If it wasn’t obvious already, Mark Zuckerberg made it abundantly clear yesterday when he announced that Facebook will begin relegating posts from Friends, as well as Pages and Groups that users follow, to their own tab called Feeds.

  • Zuckerberg said the switch would ensure that people don't miss their friends' posts, as Facebook’s new home feed becomes a “discovery engine” full of “content we think you'll care most about.”
  • In reality, it’s hard not to read the news as anything but the death knell of the Friend and a sign of how much Facebook is sacrificing some of its most foundational ideas in its scramble to stay relevant amid TikTok’s rise.

For Facebook, it’s a total about-face, and a quick one at that.

  • Just three years ago, Zuckerberg stood on stage at F8 and declared that Groups would henceforth be the focus of everyone’s feeds. “Groups are now at the heart of the experience, just as much as your friends and family are,” he said at the time.
  • Two years before that, in the shadow of the 2016 election, he wrote a 5,000-word manifesto about how Facebook could restore the social fabric by strengthening real-world communities. Risking redundancy, he used the word “community” more than 80 times.
  • Then there was the whole bit about Facebook becoming the digital living room instead of the town square.

Facebook was already flailing when along came TikTok, a platform that is not so much the digital living room as it is a voyeuristic tour of strangers’ living rooms, where they apparently dance all day and drink balsamic vinegar for the entertainment of anonymous masses.

  • TikTok eschewed community in favor of content — an unrelenting scroll that relieves people of the burden of even having to have a Friend. And it worked.
  • Now Facebook’s leaders, deep in the throes of an identity crisis over falling user numbers and new privacy protocols, are apparently hoping it can work for them, too.

So long, Friends. We hardly knew you.

Issie Lapowsky

Not your NFT

Say I bought the song “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift on Apple Music. Do I have the right to turn it into an NFT? The answer is absolutely not, but people are doing things like that anyway. And they’re getting sued.

NFTs are testing the limits of trademark law, Protocol Fintech reporter Tomio Geron writes. Lawsuits have started to crop up against those who try to mint digital assets off of items in their possession; those who own the IP rights argue that it violates trademark rules.

  • In one instance, Nike sued shoe reseller StockX for creating Nike-linked NFTs. StockX said it is just selling an NFT tied to the Nike shoes that could be sold to customers, with the NFTs functioning sort of like a gift card. Nike still thinks it breaks the rules.
  • People should know these trademark rules, but they “try to push the envelope” when new tech comes out, Tomio told me. That’s why so many people are trying to get away with creating NFTs of others’ intellectual property.

So when are people going to stop breaking the rules? Attorney Peter Willsey told Tomio that rules don’t need updating, but everyone’s going to need to get clearer on who gets to own NFTs.

  • “Eventually, litigation is going to teach people what the rules are,” Willsey said, pointing to the era when college students got sued for using Napster and eventually just decided to pay the monthly Spotify fee to get music legally.
  • Congress is thinking about it, too. Last month, two senators started questioning whether NFTs will require changes in laws and regulations.

So I’m not going to mint and sell an NFT of the song “You Need to Calm Down,” because the record labels are probably not going to just shake that one off. NFTs may be new, but copyright and trademark rules are old. And old often wins in court.

Read Tomio’s full story here.

— Sarah Roach

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People are talking

Jason Calacanis thinks VCs’ crypto investments will “blow up” in their faces:

  • “The overwhelming majority of tokens are securities, but they’re being dumped onto retail investors. And this is being done explicitly by venture firms.”

AT&T's Pascal Desroches said customers tend to fall behind on monthly phone payments when costs rise:

  • “We do see in times of economic stress customers managing their payments more tightly."

Making moves

Twitter reports earnings today. You can find the dates for other earnings calls (and other upcoming events) on our tech calendar.

Creators are staging an "Instarrection" protest tomorrow in front of Instagram's New York City headquarters.

Ron McKenzie replaced Jorge Fernandes as Rogers’ CTO. Fernandes left the company after a costly nationwide network failure.

Joe Gebbia is leaving his role at Airbnb but will stay on the company’s board. He’s the first of three co-founders to step back.

Will Ruben joined Uniswap Labs as VP of product. Ruben was previously the senior director of product management at Coinbase.

In other news

The SEC charged a former Coinbase manager, his brother and a friend with insider trading. The complaint claims that Ishan Wahi tipped his brother and friend on upcoming public listings.

Snap's the latest to slow hiring. Its stock dropped 25% after it reported disappointing second quarter earnings.

A16z is going remote-first, but it’s still adding new office spaces in Miami Beach, New York and Santa Monica.

Activision Blizzard workers staged a walkout yesterday over employee safety worries since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

WhatsApp users can now transfer their chat history from Android to iOS, and vice versa.

YouTube will start removing abortion-related misinformation, including false claims about safety and unsafe instructions for self-induced abortions.

The next anonymous messaging tool

Yik Yak, YOLO and LMK have all had their fair share of issues, but people aren’t ready to let go of anonymous messaging platforms just yet. The newest one is NGL, which lets people take anonymous questions on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. It’s getting pretty popular, but it hasn’t even created community guidelines yet. If history repeats itself, NGL could start seeing many of the same problems (harassment, bullying) that plague other platforms.

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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you Sunday.

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