Facebook hides the branded hoodies as 2021 brings the first cataclysm of Marc Andreessen's tech prophecy
Good day, and welcome to this Wednesday's edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech.
Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Get Insider Tech straight in your inbox by subscribing here.Soundtrack: For maximum enjoyment of this newsletter, we recommend A Tribe Called Quest's "Midnight."
This week: Facebook hides the hoodies as 2021 brings the first cataclysm of Marc Andreessen's tech prophecyFacebook warning its employees not to wear company-branded clothing, first reported by The Information, tells you everything you need to know about the state of tech right now.
A couple things comes to mind here:1. This is a completely different level than the tech backlash of blockaded Google shuttles and shareholder meeting protests we've seen over the past decade.
2. This was probably inevitable.Facebook board member Marc Andreessen declared back in 2011 that software is "eating the world." And it appears he was right. Digital technology has overtaken everything, opening up exciting new experiences, new markets, and improvements in quality of life - as well as rendering long-established business models and established rules obsolete. We know this will cause huge disruptions in labor markets, as automation decimates jobs and causes the extinction of entire professions.
But what's become clear in the initial days of 2021 is that the first major cataclysm of Andreessen's prophecy will not involve jobs, but rather, the idea of free speech.
- The vast platforms created by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are unprecedented in size (roughly 42% of the Earth's population uses a Facebook product), and the companies that run the platforms are gatekeepers with a power no
mediahas ever before possessed.
- Even some of the Trump's most fervent opponents - from the ACLU to venture capitalist Fred Wilson - have said they were perturbed by the banning of the president, and what that decision could mean for others on the platforms.
- And yet, the tech companies' previous hands-off approach has allowed conspiracy movement QAnon to flourish and led toxic conspiracy theories to spiral out of control.
This is a much bigger issue than anything that can be resolved through changes to Section 230, or antitrust litigation. The very notion of speech is undergoing a tech-driven paradigm shift, and figuring out the right rules and principles for the new reality is going to be a process.Will this take one year to play out? Five years? Longer?
It's impossible to say. But however long it takes, tech companies are certain to be in center of the storm. And Facebook employees will have to keep hiding their hoodies.
It's an unusual time for a tech show, not just because everything is happening online. The number of smartphones sold declined by nearly 9% in 2020, according to Digitimes, while the long-stagnant PC market increased by 11% - the strongest growth since 2010, per Canalys. Strange times indeed.So what kind of gadgets are coming this year? They'll be plenty of giant flat screen TVs, connected fitness devices and work-from-home technology. But in a sign of the times, the real stars of this year's show could be smart masks and disinfecting robots.
Snapshot: How badly do you want this job?
Tech companies are famous for job interviews that include tough, "brain teaser" questions. But one cybersecurity startup has come up with a more hands-on way to test the mettle of job applicants: an encrypted hard-drive that must be cracked.Job applicants to Red Balloon Security receive a box in the mail with the hard drive and instructions. The drive contains 0.1337 bitcoin, or about $4,400. Crack the hard drive and you're instructed to use the bitcoin to purchase a ticket to New York City for a meeting. 80256422
According to Red Balloon CEO and founder Ang Cui, the solve rate for the hacker test is around 1%. And the company regularly changes parts of the test to make sure no one shares the work online.
"If I send out 150 to 200 pounds of hard drives, I will typically get back one human team member," Cui said. "It's a worthy investment."
Recommended Readings:EXCLUSIVE: GitHub is facing employee backlash after the firing of a Jewish employee who suggested 'Nazis are about' on the day of the US Capitol siege
Not necessarily in tech:How infighting and egos almost destroyed JCPenney's shot at coming out of bankruptcy alive
Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.And as always, please reach out with rants, raves, and tips at firstname.lastname@example.org