Today’s post will be a little shorter but coherent. In recent weeks, quite a lot has happened in the peri-technology world at the intersection of politics and business. I decided to look at and evaluate the actions of the protagonists of the headlines from my fully amateur perspective.
Anyone reading our new Career Weekly series (I heartily recommend it, Mateusz does a super job there) has already heard about the recent China/US clash, which has hooked the tech industry. However, the topic is so interesting that with my passion for reporting on events in the world of politics leaking onto IT, it was a little hard to refuse to return to it.
For it turns out that the US has once again decided to hit where it will hurt – the semiconductor market. So far, all restrictions have been done at the corporate-company level, where they were hard but possible to navigate, all thanks to legal riffraff. The current move has not only tightened the grip on companies but has also taken the whole thing to a new level – individual employees. Indeed, the new sanctions enforce that any American who wants to work on the development of Chinese processors must have a special license. A similar restriction also applies to companies wishing to trade with the Chinese. How easy it will be to get such a license I probably don’t need to add… For more details, see The Verge or read the aforementioned Career Weekly, which I again encourage you to read.
The situation is developing: China has announced that it is convening a meeting of the major players in the semiconductor market. The timing of the whole thing seems not coincidental – the Midterm Elections in the US are already under the belt. Meanwhile, the XX Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is underway in China, ending on October 23. We can certainly expect a response from China sooner rather than later.
A very interesting, nuanced conversation on the topic was conducted by Andrew Sharp and Ben Thompson of Stratechery, as part of their new Sharp Tech podcast. Ben’s perspective is especially relevant, in my opinion, for two reasons – he has more than once become known as a seasoned observer, plus he has lived in Taiwan for years, having had the opportunity to see the whole situation from behind the scenes.
Moving forward, it’s time to look at Elon Musk’s latest activities. After all, the epic story surrounding his acquisition of Twitter is reportedly drawing to a close. Musk has decided not to continue the court case and honor the original arrangement with Twitter’s board. It would seem that the whole affair will be concluded this way, but it can never be that simple.
I feel that Mr. Musk has now adopted a unique business strategy – instead of going to court with Twitter, he will do everything to force the US government to block his deal. After all, the news of the trial’s expiration coincides with his irresponsible proposals to end the conflict in Ukraine, which he published on the platform, further spiced up by the public shake-up of the Starlinks contract there. He then announced that he intents to lay off about 75% of the platform’s employees. And while from a business point of view, the plans have found public support from e.g. Basecamp’s David Heinemeir Hanson, my impression is that Elon is doing his best to build himself an image of being irresponsible. To the point that leaving the platform in his hands will have dire consequences, which may tempt the regulator to block the whole thing.
To top it off, as we talk about controversial public figures, we can’t mention Kanye West. The whole thing started with a “White Life Matters” T-shirt, and then the whole thing escalated to where Kanye started posting anti-Semitic comments on social media. This, in turn, eventually ended (in addition to broken advertising contracts) with the famous artist being banned from Twitter and Instagram.
It’s not gossip corner, so why am I writing about it? Well, the very first edition of our review published on the blog focused on Perler. This company wanted to create an “independent” and “worldview-neutral” alternative to Facebook and Twitter. The result was that it was the one used by Donald Trump’s supporters when planning the memorable Storming of the Capitol in January 2021. This brought a series of problems for the platform, with the likes of Amazon terminating its server contract with immediate effect, marking the first high-profile case of infrastructure providers withdrawing their services from an entity with a tarnished reputation. Today, Parler is in the news again, as Kanye West announced the purchase of the platform. As he comments, this is his support to “protect the conservative voice on the Internet.” However, there is no shortage of voices saying that the artist, who has made no secret of his clinically diagnosed mental illness, has been cynically exploited by Parler in a moment of crisis.
The saddest thing about all this is that I like Kanye’s music a lot privately. But you can’t keep singing about “I am a God” and not drift away at some point. I imagine that if Elon shared his Spotify playlist, we’d find this song on it, too.
And since it has become so musical, I have a piece for the gentlemen.