Weekly reading – 24th December 2022

Business

Fortnite Video Game Maker Epic Games to Pay More Than Half a Billion Dollars over FTC Allegations of Privacy Violations and Unwanted Charges. This announcement is devastating to Epic Games. Two record-breaking settlements in the history of the FTC that amount to more than half a billion dollars unquestionably hurts. Not only financially but also legally and reputationally. Epic Games has been involved in legal battles against Apple, claiming to fight for developers. Instead, they were caught red-handed. This case shows that Apple has a point in centralizing payments in order to protect consumers, especially minors. I am not saying Apple is perfect. Far from it. But in this case, Epic Games is the worst company on the market that brings an antitrust lawsuit against Apple. Apple lawyers cannot have a better start of the week.

($) Supply Chains Upended by Covid Are Back to Normal. “Goods are moving around the world again and reaching companies and consumers, despite some production snarls and Covid outbreaks inside China. Gone are the weekslong backlogs of cargo ships at large ports. Ocean shipping rates have plunged below prepandemic levels. “It’s obvious that freight rates peaked and began to normalize, driven by falling demand and an easing supply-chain congestion,” said Soren Skou, chief executive of Maersk. In November, the shipping company lowered its 2023 forecast for container demand—a proxy for global trade. It now expects a decline from 2% to 4%, from a maximum decline of 1% previously.

How Mastodon is scaling amid the Twitter exodus. It is fascinating that Mastodon has 2.5 million monthly active users yet is maintained as a non-profit organization by one person only

The Blackstone of Innovation. A quick overview of the Venture Capital business. I’d recommend the Venture Deals book if you were interested in the VC world and key terms that are often mentioned on the news.

Why YouTube spent the money on NFL Sunday Ticket. YouTube wants content creators to spend more time creating content for Shorts. The more content, the more eyeballs and hence the more advertising revenue. Platforms are fighting one another fiercely to keep creators and generate quality content. Even though this deal is not cheap, it does seem to serve YouTube in more than just one way

Invisible asymptotes. At a certain point, every company will have a ceiling that caps its growth curve if there is no change in strategy. Such a ceiling is called invisible asymptote. Eugene Wei wrote a great post on invisible asymptotes of some of the biggest tech names out there.

A fascinating Twitter thread on perfume ads

Other stuff I find interesting

#WorldCup on Twitter: The G.O.A.T.

($) Many Hospitals Get Big Drug Discounts. That Doesn’t Mean Markdowns for Patients.Under the program, hospitals buy drugs at reduced prices and sell them to patients and their insurers for much more, often at facilities in affluent communities. One participant is the Cleveland Clinic’s flagship hospital, which reported $1.35 billion in net income last year. The hospital doesn’t admit enough Medicaid and low-income Medicare patients to qualify for low-cost drugs under the program’s original requirements. But a quirk in federal law allowed the hospital to qualify as a “rural referral center,” despite its location near the center of Cleveland. Despite the benefits, the program hasn’t resulted in new drug discounts for low-income Cleveland Clinic patients, nor has it caused the hospital to increase the financial assistance it offers to those who can’t afford care. The charity care the main hospital writes off represents less than 2% of its patient revenue, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of hospital Medicare filings.” How much patients would benefit if the government could look into loopholes like this and close them?

TikTok Spied On Forbes Journalists. This is very devastating to TikTok and concerning for everybody else. I deleted my TikTok app a long time ago and never regret it even for one second. Stories that surfaced recently show that TikTok gathers a lot of data on user and engages in surveillance tracking. The US government already bans TikTok on government devices. But why stops there? Why not outlawing the service throughout the US? In that case, it would badly decimate TikTok’s ads business and could probably bankrupt the company. That’s not to mention the EU that is even less forgiving on this kind of surveillance than the US. Honestly, I don’t see a way back for TikTok.

The Secret To Better Habits in 2023. A great timely read

Unpacking India’s growth, geopolitics, technology and superpower potential. “I asked him to make the strongest case he could against the growth story. He set the stage by saying India is a vast and diverse country. There is no other democracy of this size and heterogeneity in both a social as well as geographical sense. Rajeev has held a view that the Western countries want India to do well enough to be an attractive market for their own companies but that they may not actually want India to keep building economic capabilities because, with economic size and capacity, India could become more competitive in the foreign policy realm in particular.

Stats

The EU will grant €1.13bn to tech startups in 2023. Still it doesn’t seem enough in the grand scheme of things

World Cup Final Draws Record 16.8 Million Viewers for Fox

Amazon Fresh is currently operating 44 stores

Servers cost Twitter $1.5 billion a year

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