Meta embraced the death of globalization, and it’s paying off
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Meta embraced the death of globalization, and it’s paying off

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Good morning! Meta getting banned in Russia might turn out to be a win for the company. I’m Hirsh Chitkara, and I've recently been listening to a series of lectures on France since 1871. I've been particularly intrigued by the French resistance to the domestic introduction of Coca-Cola after World War II.

Meta bet on the end of globalization and won

How long would TikTok remain in U.S. app stores if it allowed users to post death threats against Joe Biden but not other public figures? The answer, of course, is not very long at all.

Yesterday, Russian courts decided to label Meta an “extremist” organization and formally ban Facebook and Instagram. Earlier this month, Meta temporarily amended its policy on hate speech, allowing users in some countries to call for the death of Vladimir Putin and for violence against Russian soldiers, some of whom are still teenagers.

It was clear from the beginning: Meta had to take sides. Given the tremendous pressure exerted on Meta by both Russia and the U.S. and EU, the company couldn’t stick to its usual narrative of “just following local law.”

  • With this writing on the wall, Meta sprang into action early, limiting Russian state-backed media within the first few days of the conflict.
  • Then in early March, Russia blocked domestic access to Facebook in response to the media restrictions. Each side continued to escalate the breakup, hastening the definitive split that occurred Wednesday (though WhatsApp and Messenger will continue to operate in Russia).

Meta’s break with Russia will help advance its policy agenda in the U.S. and EU. Meta clearly wasn’t trying very hard to maintain the good graces of Russian officials, and that could help the company in the long run.

  • When asked in a March 1 press call why Meta had difficulty condemning the Russian invasion, Nick Clegg responded: “It would be very difficult to condemn it, and I sort of feel we have done so, but we’re a company, we’re not a government.”
  • The statement shows that Meta diverted from its usual narrative, leading to a contradictory pair of assertions: Meta is a private company that doesn’t have a political agenda, and Meta also stands firmly behind the U.S. and EU.
  • Contradictory or not, Meta’s lobbyists have already attempted to parlay their hardline stance on Russia into an argument against antitrust. Big Tech-backed lobbying organizations such as the Chamber of Progress now argue that proposed antitrust bills would have undermined Big Tech's ability to swiftly remove RT and Sputnik.
  • EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager — a reliable thorn in the side of Big Tech — even seemed to soften her tone on this issue. “It’s so important that we have good cooperation with the platforms to make sure the propaganda is not allowed to remain on them,” Vestager said in a recent interview with The Verge.

Meta’s Russia playbook shows it has embraced the death of globalized tech aspirations. Remember when Mark Zuckerberg reportedly asked President Xi to name his child? The request came years after China booted Facebook from its borders, but it demonstrated the lingering global aspirations of Big Tech. Those dreams look increasingly naive in the modern political landscape. Meta’s handling of the Russia dispute shows that companies face mounting pressure to pick sides, and doing so early seems to pay off.

If Meta is reading the tea leaves correctly, then TikTok’s troubles aren’t over. Meta didn’t have all that much to lose by getting kicked out of Russia. Ads from Russian advertisers for Russian users accounted for around 1.5% of the company’s 2021 advertising revenue, Meta CFO David Wehner disclosed in a Morgan Stanley conference earlier this month. TikTok, meanwhile, is the most prominent social media company that generates substantial revenue in a country that is at odds with its parent entity’s home nation. If U.S.-China relations continue to deteriorate, that may mean more trouble for TikTok ahead.

— Hirsh Chitkara (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM PLURALSIGHT

Today’s job landscape is challenging for organizations looking to recruit and retain top tech talent. Recent labor trends, many of which are fueling The Great Resignation, have shown leaders across industries that their employees are searching for more.

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People are talking

Joe Biden wants companies to strengthen their cyber defenses against Russia:

  • "The Federal Government can’t defend against this threat alone.”

Zahidi Zainul Abidin wants crypto to be legal tender in Malaysia:

  • "We are trying to see how we can legalize this so that we can develop youth participation in crypto and assist them."

Mark Reuss said General Motors is pushing forward with its new EV despite global supply risks:

  • "We are not new to this game.”

Making moves

AWS re:Inforce is moving from Texas to Boston and is now slated for late July.

Tesla's German Gigafactory is finally opening. The plant was supposed to be up and running last summer, but should start actually making cars this week.

Thoma Bravo is buying Anaplan, an enterprise planning software company that works with clients like Shell and VMware, for $10.7 billion.

Sony is buying Haven Studios, which was started by Ubisoft veteran Jade Raymond, for an undisclosed amount.

Sonos wants people with smart-TV expertise to join its “Home Theater OS” project. The listings indicate that Sonos is trying to build apps or experiences on the TV.

Frank Bien left Looker. He'd been the company's president and CEO before it was acquired by Google in 2019.

Grady Miller is joining the National Research Group as CMO. Miller is a former global research lead for Apple TV+.

Aparna Rayasam joined Trellix as chief product officer. Rayasam spent over 15 years at Akamai Technologies.

In other news

The SEC proposed new climate rules that, among other things, would require public companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions for the first time.

The hacker group Lapsus$ said it hacked Okta. This comes on the heels of a huge Lapsus$ leak of what appeared to be source code for a number of Microsoft products, but in this case Okta's Todd McKinnon said the problem had been "investigated and contained."

Here's a good read on Yandex, Russia's primary search engine and the largest tech player in the country. As the country's war on Ukraine continues, the company's entire business is suddenly more complicated than ever.

D.C. is suing Grubhub, alleging the app misleads consumers on prices with hidden fees and illegal advertising tactics.

Goldman Sachs made its first over-the-counter crypto trade. Galaxy Digital Holdings, the bank’s provider for bitcoin trades, facilitated the deal.

Toronto has quietly become a major tech destination. The city is now the third-largest tech hub in North America, just behind New York and Silicon Valley.

Several crypto firms were hacked over the weekend, including Circle and BlockFi, after a bad actor got into a HubSpot employee’s account.

Foxconn is “basically” back in business in Shenzhen. The electronics manufacturer was forced to partially shut down recently because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Google settled with the “Thanksgiving Four,” the group of engineers who were fired for allegedly breaking security rules. The case could’ve forced Google to hand over documents detailing how it planned to stop workers from organizing.

TikTok the vote

Midterm elections will soon be here, and with them social media ad campaigns that we’ve seen hundreds of times before. But on TikTok, you might see candidates dancing and calling their followers “besties” to get votes.

Political ads aren’t allowed on TikTok, so politicians like Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey are learning the latest dance moves and viral sounds to catch people’s attention. If candidates get their content right, the platform could become a key place for securing young people’s votes later this year.

A MESSAGE FROM PLURALSIGHT

Technology organizations need to look internally to find the talent they seek by upskilling and reskilling their existing tech workforce. For this vision to become a reality, organizations must focus on being creators, rather than consumers, of talent.

Learn more

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