January 11, 2022
Photo: Shubham Dhage/Unsplash
Good morning! This Tuesday, everyone’s talking about Moxie Marlinspike’s seminal text about Web3. I’m David Pierce, and I just had my first “somehow lost an AirPod” moment of 2022. But almost certainly not my last.
Right now, Web3 is mostly just a loose bundle of complicated technologies and complicated questions. Who's in charge of Web3? What does Web3 even mean, really? Is Web3 crypto, is it the blockchain, is it a scam, is it the future of the global economy?
It seems everyone in tech has been reading a blog post from Moxie Marlinspike, the Signal founder (and as of yesterday, former CEO), cybersecurity pioneer and all-around Smart Guy About Tech. The post, titled "My first impressions of web3," gets at one of the most important tensions in the space: Is Web3 actually decentralized?
The post is already something of a seminal Web3 text. Crypto Twitter has been arguing for weeks about these same big questions, and nearly everyone seemed to have thoughts about the post.
Marlinspike's post is a serious indictment of the way things work now, no matter how you feel about the ideology of it all. And he’s not wrong: Just look at OpenSea's ability to stop the sale of stolen Bored Ape NFTs, or Coinbase's stranglehold on the bitcoin-trading market, or the fact that Andreessen Horowitz seems to basically be funding the entire industry.
The biggest challenge with all this? Centralization has lots of upsides. Like Marlinspike points out, platforms can move faster, be cheaper, do cooler things, even offer more security and privacy. Yes, users will always be at the whim of the platforms, but it's not historically clear that most people care. In some ways, the purest version of the Web3 movement is a bet that the world is different now, that people care more about tracking and privacy and censorship and will change their digital habits to support their values. Otherwise, we may be in for what Marlinspike calls Web 2x2: Web 2.0 but with even less privacy. And maybe even bigger platforms.
Low-code/no-code and the changing developer
As organizations endeavor to become more tech literate from top to bottom, the race to get low-code and no-code tools in the hands of more and more employees has forced tech executives to set up new strategies and infrastructures to ensure that the company can make full use of the software.
Join Protocol's Kevin McAllister, Nutanix's Wendy M. Pfeiffer and Pegasystems' Kerim Akgonul for a discussion on the underlying tech in low-code and no-code tools at 10 a.m. PT on Jan. 19. RSVP here.
As businesses grow during the pandemic, they also encounter pressing challenges to maintain that success. Among them is the pressure to strengthen their digital backbone, which leads to the question: How can companies find the ideal technology provider suited to their evolving needs?
Futurist Amy Webb thinks the metaverse talk is “overhyped”:
Don’t take your company’s TikTok too seriously, Duolingo’s Zaria Parvez said:
Take-Two Interactive is buying Zynga for $12.7 billion, the largest-ever acquisition deal between gaming companies.
Meta has a(nother) new return-to-office date. It plans to start bringing employees back on March 28, and will require vaccinations and boosters for those who are eligible.
SoftBank is betting on Qraft. The company invested $146 million into the AI-based fintech firm to test how AI can manage its funds.
Douwe Kiela joined Hugging Face as head of Research. Kiela was last a research scientist at Facebook.
Intel has a couple new leaders: Micron Technology’s David Zinsner is Intel’s new EVP and CFO, and Intel veteran Michelle Johnston Holthaus will lead the client computing group.
Sarah Wang is now a general partner on a16z’s Growth investing team. Wang has been with the company for three years.
Microsoft is losing lots of AR employees, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. About 100 people who worked on the team got jobs at competitors like Meta.
Misinformation about COVID-19 tests has grown recently, The New York Times reported. Social media posts have included false claims that PCR tests don’t work and that at-home rapid tests are unreliable, among other things.
Tim Cook’s salary is getting attention on Reddit. He made nearly 1,500 times more than the typical Apple employee made last year, prompting some conversation.
Meanwhile, App Store developers made bank last year. They made $60 billion on the platform in 2021, setting a new yearly record.
Google speaker customers are mad. The company has changed some settings for its Nest speakers to try to avoid an import ban, and customers are quite vocal about their displeasure.
The SEC wants more transparency from big private companies, sources told The Wall Street Journal. It’s working on plans to require nonpublic firms to regularly disclose information about their finances and operations, among other changes.
NFT theft is soaring, according to a report by NBC. NFT marketplaces like OpenSea are struggling to keep up with anonymous thieves taking digital art and selling it as their own.
Eric Schmidt has lots of property. He bought a Bel-Air estate last year and a big piece of property in Montecito, just to name a few. And now he has his latest purchase of Enchanted Hill, a piece of underdeveloped land in Beverly Hills, to add to the list.
The $65 million property has been on the market for a few years. A huge mansion owned by a screenwriter and her movie-star husband once sat there, and the late Paul Allen most recently owned it. Schmidt just has a thing for real estate and architectural history, a spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.
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