Alphabetizing the moonshots

I really enjoyed this Bloomberg piece by Max Chafkin and Mark Bergen on Alphabet/Google’s sprawling internal fiefdoms:

Critics, including more than a dozen former top Google executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements, describe a company having trouble balancing innovation and its core business, search advertising. Over the 12 months ended in September, Google’s ad business accounted for 89 percent of Alphabet’s revenue, or $76.1 billion. As one ex-executive puts it, “No one wants to face the reality that this is an advertising company with a bunch of hobbies.”

Alphabet/Google shepherds so many R&D projects that have started but never seemed to go anywhere (yet): Google Glass, Project Loon, Google Fiber, Google X, ATAP, Replicant (Boston Dynamics), Verily, and others.

It does now seem that Alphabet’s CFO Ruth Porat is trying to bring some order the budgetary chaos that comes with a bunch of weird moonshot projects with no clear path to profitability.

Source: Google Makes So Much Money, It Never Had to Worry About Financial Discipline – Bloomberg

CNN is buying Casey Neistat’s Beme app and shutting it down

CNN has acquired video-sharing start-up Beme, a social media app launched last year by popular YouTube star Casey Neistat. The deal is valued at about $25 million.

I always enjoyed Casey’s videos, and was a bit bummed out that he was quitting daily vlogging. So this must be his next thing.

Looks like CNN is acquiring the Beme app, but they’re shutting it down and funneling the video tech and talent elsewhere. Casey (and his co-founder Matt Hackett) will be heading up a ‘standalone media company’ within CNN in the near future.

Source: CNN Buys Casey Neistat’s Video App Beme

What does Tesla Autopilot do?

Marco Arment:

A few Tesla vehicles have had accidents with Autopilot enabled recently, and I’ve gotten countless questions about these incidents and the nature of Autopilot from people who aren’t Tesla owners. Tesla and the media haven’t clearly communicated what these features do (and don’t do) to the public, so I’ll try to help in whatever small way I can as a Model S owner for a few months so far.

I found this quite helpful in understanding more about the component parts of what Telsa’s ‘Autopilot’ will do (or not do) for you.

Source: Understanding Tesla Autopilot – Marco.org