cloud in a hand
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And the winner is: The cloud

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Good morning! The downturn is coming for Big Tech, but there’s one sector that remains relatively safe — at least according to Microsoft and Alphabet’s earnings.

Living on cloud (services) nine

Alphabet and Microsoft announced their earnings yesterday. The big takeaway? Cloud was the winner last quarter.

Both companies struggled in some business units, blaming economic conditions. Alphabet missed ad revenue expectations, and Microsoft’s PC and video game sales fell short. But they still raked in solid sales from their cloud units.

  • Microsoft’s server and cloud revenue increased 26% adjusted for inflation. The biggest growth driver within this was Azure and other cloud services, which saw sales growth of 46% adjusted for inflation. Wedbush analysts John Katsingris and Dan Ives wrote in their guidance that cloud is “the core DNA of the [Microsoft] growth story.”
  • Meanwhile, Google Cloud revenue was up 36%, from $4.6 billion to $6.3 billion, year over year.

Still, keeping up rapid growth is proving difficult. Protocol Enterprise editor Tom Krazit told me that even though the results look good on paper, they actually show a gradual slowdown in cloud growth compared to a few years back.

But cloud tech is not nearly as rattled by a downturn as other tech sectors.

  • Even as the U.S. is potentially staring down a recession, enterprise spending is likely going to remain stable. That’s because businesses are in the middle of a “generational shift from old data centers to cloud services,” Tom said.
  • While older businesses are upgrading to stay afloat, new ones keep popping up and growing — and lots of them are flocking to the cloud.

It’s much easier to cut spending on things like marketing than it is on cloud services. Businesses have to keep their data somewhere, after all.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Then they came for photo

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are pleading for Instagram to stop trying to copy TikTok. Instagram’s listening, but it doesn’t agree with the celebrities on this one.

Video is Instagram’s future, Adam Mosseri said yesterday, addressing users who are “concerned” about some of the changes the platform is implementing. His response came a few hours after Kardashian and Jenner posted to their stories. Coincidence?

  • “[Photo is] part of our heritage,” Mosseri said. “That said, I need to be honest. I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.”
  • He added that Instagram needs to change “because the world is changing.” You don’t have to read between the lines to understand that this is directed at TikTok.

Instagram isn’t Instagram anymore. It just took some big-name celebrities to say the quiet part out loud.

  • Facebook is already moving away from Friends by relegating their posts into a separate tab, Feeds, which my colleague Issie Lapowsky called a “total about-face.”
  • Changing the algorithm so much that A-list celebrities would publicly denounce it means Instagram is past the pivot from Friends and a step toward “Algorithmic Everyone,” which The Information's Sam Lessin described as giving users content that’s even more entertaining than whatever celebrities post. Pissing off celebrities is almost expected, in that case.

So what is Instagram now? If it’s shamelessly moving in the direction of TikTok, does this mean Instagram (and Facebook) want to be entertainment platforms, rather than social networks?

  • TikTok doesn’t consider itself a social media platform, which is why it hates being compared to Facebook and Instagram. “We are an entertainment platform,” TikTok’s Blake Chandlee said last month. “The difference is significant.”
  • For Instagram, shifting away from a social network means it needs to move toward AI personalized content, which Lessin said is coming but still needs time to develop.

Now it remains to be seen what will happen once many of these changes are put in place. Instagram spent years wooing famous people onto the platform, but how long will they stick around when they’re not a priority anymore? “We want to do our best by creators, particularly small creators,” Mosseri said. Guess that’s show business, kid.

— Sarah Roach

Stick with the plan

When Jeremy Toeman launched a video production startup last year, his team created a game called Moviedle that later became a (potentially moneymaking) hit. But rather than throwing his energy behind the game, he stuck with the startup. Protocol’s Janko Roettgers asked Toeman about why he decided not to pivot in this week’s “How I Decided.”

  • “We're so close to shipping our core product that not seeing that through would be a terrible mistake. Secondly, I am 100% convinced that this micro gaming space is going to be here for the long term — but I am not convinced that I know which games will matter in the long term.”
  • “If [the game] had never gone viral, I would still look at this as a great decision. Just by spending the week building it, the amount of learning we had as a team advanced us by about 20 business days.”

Read Janko's interview with Toeman here.

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People are talking

CFTC commissioner Caroline Pham says getting crypto regulation right is critical — and complex:

  • "Each [token] needs to have and deserves to have its own tailored analysis to determine whether or not it's a commodity or a security.”

Google's Ruth Porat said YouTube will come back from its slowdown:

  • “Time will get us through the lapping. So, that’s obvious math.”

Making moves

Meta, ServiceNow, Qualcomm and Shopify report earnings today. You can find other earnings dates in our tech calendar.

Trisha Stiles is Brightcove’s new chief people officer. Stiles has held HR roles for Tableau, NBC Universal and others.

Luis Bonilla is SoundExchange’s new CTO. Bonilla’s been with the company since 2011 and last served as SVP of operations.

Yanni Pipilis and Munish Varma, both managing partners at SB Investment Advisers, are leaving to reportedly join a firm run by Rajeev Misra, SB Investment Advisers’ CEO.

Ray Illya Fraser is Yuga Labs’ new community and partnerships lead. Fraser is a platinum producer who founded WhoWho’s Treehouse.

Mark Logan is One Identity’s first CEO. Logan previously held the same role at LogRhythm.

Alibaba removed all of the executives from Ant Group from its 12-year partnership, saying only Alibaba employees will be allowed to become partners.

In other news

The Senate voted to advance the chip subsidy bill. It’s expected to vote on final passage this week.

Elon Musk wants the Twitter trial pushed back a week, to Oct. 17, to "break the impasse to allow things to move forward promptly.” Twitter said its board will hold a shareholder meeting to vote on the deal on Sept. 13.

Shopify laid off 10% of its staff, or around 1,000 employees, as it corrects for pandemic overhiring.

Big Tech's health care ambitions are taking a turn. Rather than introduce a new approach to health care, they're building partnerships with consumer and professional brands.

The Biden administration created Heat.gov, which includes data, maps and other information to help people beat extreme heat.

Spotify stopped building Car Thing, its device for playing music on the road. The company said it missed on gross margins for that reason.

Who, exactly, doesn’t belong at Meta? Employees have been fixated on that question since Mark Zuckerberg told them last month that there are a “bunch of people” who shouldn’t be there.

Titanium Blockchain’s Michael Alan Stollery pled guilty to securities fraud worth $21 million.

Meta increased the price of its Quest VR headsets by $100. It'll now cost between $399 and $499, depending on the model.

Be careful when Linking-In

Though LinkedIn rarely makes headlines when it comes to hacking, the professional networking platform could leave you more exposed than you think. The amount of information you put on the platform to try and draw in recruiters or peers might actually be opening the door to really aggressive and unsolicited pitches, or even targeted phishing attacks. But there are some things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Make yourself anonymous while looking at other profiles.
  • Don’t expose your birthday to your connections.
  • Don’t let LinkedIn sync with your contacts.

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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 tomorrow.

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