A weekend of Musk tweets
Good morning! The debate over the Twitter bots is still raging, with suits and countersuits flying back and forth. There’s still time for this to get settled before October. But at this rate, that doesn’t seem likely.
Musk doesn’t want Twitter. Or does he?
The battle between Elon Musk and Twitter is once again playing out on two fronts: on Twitter and in legal filings. And it’s again twisting the nature and potential outcome of the October trial. Musk filed a 165-page countersuit to Twitter last week, claiming it’s all Twitter’s fault that he backed out of the deal.
Then, Twitter countered the countersuit, which it unsurprisingly called bogus.
- The company took issue with how Musk estimated the number of fake accounts (he used a tool called the Botometer, which designated Musk’s account as a bot when I first reported on it back in May).
But the real action this weekend happened on Twitter, where Musk called for a public debate. He also put out another call for Twitter to prove how it’s calculating the fake accounts.
- On Saturday, Musk tweeted to a fan that if Twitter could just prove “their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they’re confirmed to be real,” the deal can go through.
- Then he followed it up with a tweet challenging CEO Parag Agrawal to a public debate about the percentage of bots on Twitter. I asked Twitter if Agrawal would be open to that sort of thing, but the company didn’t respond.
- Later on Saturday, Musk tweeted a poll about whether users think fewer than 5% of daily users are fake. As of Sunday morning, about 65% said “no.”
Even with the lawsuit, Musk’s been acting a little more open to the deal than his filings may show. At Tesla’s shareholder meeting last week for example, he talked about how he’d be able to improve Twitter. But unless Musk and Twitter reach a settlement first, all of this is still headed for the courtroom.
— Sarah Roach
Amazon’s shopping spree
Amazon owns your grocery store, your medical records and your smart home devices. Now it could own your vacuum, too. Amazon announced Friday it plans to buy Roomba-maker iRobot for $1.7 billion. The move makes sense, at least given Amazon’s relationship with iRobot, which has for years been a major customer of AWS Lambda.
Amazon is expanding out, not up: Its past acquisitions have been in its non-dominant business segments. By avoiding snatching up other ecommerce or cloud storage companies, it aims to skirt the U.S. government’s antitrust red flags.
- Amazon’s grocery segment was small when it bought Whole Foods in 2017. Now, Amazon Go stores are ubiquitous in cities, and Whole Foods and Amazon are heavily intertwined.
- It didn’t have a position in security or video doorbells when it bought Ring in 2018, and now it dominates the doorbell market.
- Its purchase of MGM last year was allowed to go through. And its recent purchase of One Medical could pass without issue, given that its only work in the medical space is the nascent Amazon Pharmacy.
Several of its purchases also give it access to a mountain of personal data.
- For example, Amazon will now have access to the medical records of roughly 800,000 members.
- And Roomba vacuums have the ability to learn and map people’s floor plans.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission could argue that iRobot is part of the home electronics market generally, which Amazon definitely has a stronghold in (hey, Alexa). And it could also argue that it bought up the company that’s in direct competition with its Astro robot, which has growing pains of its own. That decision will determine whether Amazon is allowed to suck up your dirt as it continues to suck up your data.
— Nat Rubio-Licht
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People are talking
Amazon's Werner Vogels said AI and machine learning can help make developers' jobs easier:
- "Anything we can do there will benefit all the enterprises in the world."
SoftBank's Masayoshi Son said he wishes he wasn't so eager to invest in tech when valuations were high:
- "When we were turning out big profits, I became somewhat delirious, and looking back at myself now, I am quite embarrassed and remorseful."
Coming this week
A few more earnings are happening this week, including Expensify and Disney.
Black Hat USA started Saturday and ends Thursday in Las Vegas.
365 EduCon starts today in Dallas and features Microsoft leaders from Azure, Teams, 365 and other areas of the company.
eTail Boston begins today. The conference focuses on the future of ecommerce and the retail industry.
In other news
The job market is still holding strong: The unemployment rate declined to 3.5%, matching a five-decade low.
Is Marc Andreessen a NIMBY? He and his wife submitted a public comment objecting to building multifamily housing in their town.
The California DMV is accusing Tesla of deceptive marketing of its Autopilot and Full Self Driving capabilities.
Meta is pausing its acquisition of Within after the FTC sued to block the purchase, arguing that it has a monopoly on VR.
No more meal stipends or Wi-Fi reimbursements for TikTok employees. They lost some pandemic-era perks since returning to the office last month.
Beatrice Pang is Trusted Health’s new CFO. She most recently held a similar role at home fitness startup Tempo.Thomas Alberg, an early investor in Amazon, died at 82 on Friday. He helped Jeff Bezos raise $1 million to start the company in the 1990s.
Talking to BlenderBot
Anyone can now have a conversation with BlenderBot, Meta’s AI chatbot that uses the web to talk, so I did. I told BlenderBot I like dogs, and it told me “I’ve a dog too!” I asked, “What kind of dog?” and it responded, “Oh man, I don’t know what kind of dog it is. It’s small and yappy though lol.” Though a few things were possibly lost in translation, the information it gathers is used for AI research — not evening conversations.
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Chip shortage could undermine national security: To ensure American security, prosperity and technological leadership, industry leaders say the U.S. must encourage domestic manufacturing of chips in order to reduce our reliance on East Asia producers for crucial electronics components.
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