I came across a very interesting post on the infrastructure cost of Unsplash, a site that offers Internet users high quality images that can be used for commercial purposes for free. It’s a nice read to learn about the costs of hosting thousands of images that are accessed by millions of folks. However, what I want to talk about is the practice of (not) sharing information by companies.
Unsplash isn’t required to disclose this information. Yet, they did and I appreciate that a lot. Data and information shared in the post can act as useful reference in the future. The more information you know, the less likely you are on the undesirable end of asymmetric information. For that, thanks a lot Luke and Unsplash.
Nonetheless, you see publicly traded companies try hard to shield away information on important business segments. Take Google for an example. The company’s revenue still grew according to the last earning call, yet failure to provide sufficient insights on their YouTube business caused the stocks to drop significantly. They didn’t disclose information on Google Cloud Platform either. The Mountain View based company isn’t alone. Microsoft doesn’t separate out financial data of Azure and Office 365. Facebook aggregates data of their apps rather than individually report on each of them.
Obviously, I can’t speak for the companies on why they aren’t more transparent. On the other hand, the lack of disclosure comes with the lack of confidence and of the benefit of the doubt. It wouldn’t be surprising to see folks start to wonder: if things weren’t bad, what would they try to hide?