This guy should have his own character in the next season of Silicon Valley series.
Give your billions to the poor and move on you poor guy
How exactly is gonna help the people and the guy?
It's not that people are not gonna be tracked by tech giants after he donates his billions or something.
He’s either naive or disingenuous.
The founder did take those billions, so not sure what he was expecting to happen, ads looks like the only business model to turn profit quickly in this sort of business.
Besides, there are so many people using WhatsApp in developing countries that wouldn't pay if they can get something similar for free and competition in chat apps is big.
I'd happily give Google $5/month for Gmail, $10/month for YouTube (I already do), $10/month for google search etc or $40/month for their complete package if they remove ads and respect privacy then. It's less than other "semi-essential" services I have to use like my ISP or car and if they make more than that of me from advertisements the advertising/marketing market must be bonkers.
Tencent makes relatively little from ads in Wechat. They earn most from games and payment fees.
But at least I would not constantly call out the people I sold it to, as if my words had any meaning at that point.
Also, it's frustrating to me, to see how it's seemingly impossible to care about the users AND have enough users bringing in revenue at the same time so that you are never in a position where big companies try to blackmail you with sweetsane amounts of money into giving them access to data.
Edit: After reading the responses, I must correct myself. The turmoil within the human soul is much more nuanced, rendering "stop flame, whin0r" an inadequate response. The only thing I know is that I'd probably have done the same, as I reckon most would have.
And, in exchange, since Facebook now owns the service of WhatsApp, they have the adopted duty of popularizing it—a service that inherently resists the kind of centralized analytical approaches Facebook uses to make money, and steals users away from Facebook in ways that makes it harder for Facebook to track those same isers. Win/win for the WhatsApp founders’ perspective; lose/lose from Facebook’s perspective. It’s a wonder they went for it. (It’s sort of like if Google were to acquire Brave: all they’d get is a browser that steals Chrome users and inherently prevents Google from tracking them, that nobody would accept if it was turned into not-that, because that’s its whole thing.)
Any transaction with an evil person/organization, that satisfies their non-evil terminal preferences, should be encouraged, because you’re decreasing the resources they have available to them to do evil with, without causing evil to happen.
Facebook bought WhatsApp because it increases the size of their social graph, sure. But if I consider “making statistical associations between people” a morally-neutral act, and “actively spying on the particular actions of individuals” to be an evil act, then “feeding” Facebook the WhatsApp social graph was, from my perspective, a setback on the pace of the evil they were doing. In an alternative world where they didn’t buy WhatsApp but instead just outcompeted it with Messenger and everyone switched from WhatsApp to Messenger, Facebook would have done more evil by spying on conversations that—in this world—it didn’t get to spy on, because they occurred in the interim period where they owned WhatsApp but hadn’t fully wiretapped it yet.
Sure, it will finish digesting WhatsApp and change it into something that allows them to spy on people. In the meantime, the WhatsApp founders are free of working for WhatsApp; and so could, theoretically, just build (or, more easily, invest in the creation of) another secure social network. And then trust people to just decide to abandon WhatsApp for its Facebook-owned-ness (like they’re already abandoning Messenger for its Facebook-owned-ness) and switch to it.
It’s a cycle: Facebook will probably make every successive competitor secure-chat network company an offer they can’t refuse, and absorb them. But this results in less evil being done to people than a world where those networks never existed in the first place; and, in the process, Facebook’s total revenue and market share (even including those acquisitions!) are shrinking, because they shed huge amounts of money for each acquisition, and the time they spend “digesting” these companies is time their employees have to spend doing redundant work—making a beach-head into data-legibility of these user-bases, rather than actively exploiting the data-legibility of the users they’ve got. In other words, these acquisitions are revenue-negative for the first year or two, because they can’t immediately shove their hooks in, and so there’s nothing there to immediately sell to advertisers.
The Roman Empire collapsed because it got too big and didn’t have its distant member states under its control. It couldn’t tax them, or use them as soldiers in its wars. In theory, you could have made it collapse faster, by accelerating the rate at which it acquired these loosely-held fringe member states.
Or, for another analogy: your liver only has so much garbage it can process from your body at once. Give it too much to do—too many molecules to xenometabolize and “absorb” into safe bodily molecules—and the result is called “septic shock.”
Acquisitions are a poison. You can do one or two at a time, but even then, they’ll slow you down; slow down the rate at which you act upon the stuff you fully control. And if you do too many of them, you’ll just keel over.
Personally, I want to feed Facebook as many companies as possible. Ideally, feed it companies where the founders then leave and build more companies to feed it, with the aim of extracting unbounded amounts of resources from—and continuously poisoning—the behemoth. (Heck, these acquired companies have employees that get absorbed, too. Hopefully they’re vetted by the founders as following their ethical precepts. If they are, then the founders are essentially air-dropping good people into Eviltopia—good people who the evilcorp can’t just clean-sweep out without stalling the acquired company. That’s even more “poison” it has to deal with, and even more revenue-negative delay.)
If you want to make moral stands and gestures, don’t sell out. It’s not that complicated.
Lotteries are a net benefit for society, because they transfer money from irrational people (ticket buyers) to rational people (lottery runners.) Even if the lottery-runners are not good people†, the fact that they’re rational means that they’ll be spending more of their newly-acquired resources on “wise” (usually morally-neutral) investments, and less on things that end up benefitting evil people, like buying illegal drugs.
My whole stance, here, is that you can take a graph of economic transactions, and color the vertices as being good or evil. Consequentialism would suggest doing whatever moves the most money (across the entire economy, as nth-degree knock-on reactions to your action) from evil actors to good actors.
One consequence of this stance: you should never (before considering those nth-degree effects) buy from a person/company you think is evil. You’re helping them liquidate their assets! Now they have more freedom to do evil with them!
(Whereas, in the opposite case, if you sell an evil person a house, now they just... have a house. It’s a mostly-illiquid asset. They can’t do much with it except live in it. If you sell evil a house—knowing they’re going to live in it, not hold it or flip it as an investment property—then you’re effectively letting evil voluntarily freeze part of its assets. Great!)
The sound bite version of all this: if $dictator wants to pay all their money to be hooked up to an eternal-bliss machine, it is your moral duty to take that money. Whether or not you think they “deserve” eternal bliss, they’re getting something that doesn’t harm anyone else; and in exchange, you’re taking all the resources they’d use to harm anyone in the future away from them. This isn’t selling out: it’s a negotiated solution that satisfies both parties’ preferences (where your morals are part of your preferences.)
I fully believe that this is how we’ll have to deal with any aliens we ever meet. They’ll want some things we think are evil. We’ll want some things they think are evil. The solution is to trade, as much as possible, in ways that satisfy the mutually-acceptable shared subset of our preferences—which comes, on both sides, at the expense of our resources to do mutually-unacceptable things. (I.e., not the GDP-improving kind of trade; the “money is disappearing from the economy” kind of trade, e.g. employing foreign experience-service providers where you get nothing fungible in return for your money.)
† Lottery runners—at least in the case of state-run lotteries—are actually usually pretty okay people. They’re usually the same people who run state alcohol licensing: i.e., “temperance”/“moderation” people, the kind who wanted prohibition passed back when. The newer generations of them aren’t activists, but beuraucratic pragmatists; they know they can’t just prohibit these things, so instead they try to ensure that as few people touch them as possible. Usually the same people running a state lottery are pushing for those “Game responsibly” ads, and discouraging media coverage of casinos.
But, of course, you could still do better. A lottery that donates the proceeds to charity would be an unalloyed good.
Yes, let's hope they start a privacy-centric messenger to fix this mess! I kid, but money is worthless, it's the things it can get that matter - what thing could they get that would better help privacy than being in charge of the top messenger?
> since Facebook now owns the service of WhatsApp, they have the adopted duty of popularizing it—a service that inherently resists the kind of centralized analytical approaches Facebook uses to make money
There's nothing inherently decentralized about WhatsApp.
> that nobody would accept if it was turned into not-that, because that’s its whole thing.
Sadly, that's what happened with WhatsApp. It was sold as a privacy-friendly alternative.
After it became part of Facebooks metadata harvesting engine it turned out the majority cared less about privacy and more about the fact that it was a really good messenger (it was/is).
Maybe “inherently” is the wrong word. Is “Diet Coke” inherently a diet drink? That’s the idea I’m trying to get at here: that people wouldn’t buy a “Diet Coke” that isn’t made with a sugar substitute, because then it wouldn’t be “Diet” any more, and that’s why people were drinking it in the first place.
People used and loved WhatsApp long before it was e2e encrypted. I know, I was one of them.
In fact, IIRC was pretty bad before they implememted the new e2e encryption.
I used to think people chose them because they promised no ads and no tracking.
I now think most people used it because it was a user friendly messaging solution.
So you really think that Facebook hasn’t made more than the $1 Billion dollars on Instagram thsn ot paid for it?
Unless they, you know... change it.
I can shed some light on this phenomenon. I've been in the situation where we sold half our company to someone who was also active in the same branch as us. When the sale happened we were convinced we were going to do great things together! Take over the world, so to say. As time progressed we (the founders / owners) found out we might have had the same goals but not the same methods. And our methods simply weren't compatible.
In the end it ended with lawyers and we bought back the half of the company we sold.
The above is obviously a very condensed recollection of what happened (ie. There are a whole bunch of nuances omitted).
We two started the company, started making profits after one year and started growing. It was a great time back then, especially as one of the first companies which could make small iPhone apps for other companies. We had so much to do.
But after some time, I think it was about 2 years after we started, the guy who invested the money needed it back, but because we were growing and invested back into the company we ourselves didn't have the money yet to pay him back. This is when he sold his 51% shares to a guy who nobody of us knew.
Which was the beginning of the end of our company, because in direct contrast, suddenly we weren't in the driving seat anymore but that new guy who had completely different ideas what to do with the company. He also screw us up on a personal level and we hated his guts for that, which didn't help or a professional level. And because he already had more than enough money he started using this company as a way to avoid taxes more than to deliver great products to customers.
We still tried hard, but after 2 years my friend left and shortly after that me and the other two devs too, which left him the sales guys and the accountant.
Also, knowing what you know now, would it be better to sell the whole company when your investor wanted an exit? Or what you think you should've done?
Personal life came in between and people later moved around, etc. now we all have normal regular jobs at bigger companies.
I'd say I learned never give 51% to the person who only invests money but not his life, blood and sweat into it. It's not worth it and it will screw you up.
Nothing wrong with that. But then he shouldn't have written blog posts about how WhatsApp cares about privacy, and that there will never be ads on WhatsApp etc.
The real issue is all the lies. And the whiners are correct in whining because they are not (usually) saying they are somehow better people who would have taken a better decision, they are whining that they once supported this company on the basis of the lies it said, and feel like they have been backstabbed.
There is also another problem - Facebook's scummy behavior seems to actually have no end in sight, with employees now hilariously patting themselves in the back and giving themselves good grades with "Remember, what Facebook is doing has never been done before. There are going to be mistakes." . By that measure, should we start throwing the CEO of big tech companies into prison for "massive and systematic privacy invasion". So what if it hasn't been "done before"? Maybe its a mistake to jail them, but that's just a small price for trying new ideas that haven't been "done before".
I think the whiners are not whining loudly enough.
Or maybe he realized that the design was fscked. And so figured that he'd take the money, and do it right.
Edit: It seems that he had no choice, as imgabe notes.
It would be odd/irresponsible if they valued "assurances" in any way (that weren't legally binding)
So, in my head, millions feels closer to billions than billions does. It's weird.
You know if you just scale up the numbers above, Mark could justify what he's doing the same way Acton justifies his actions yet somehow Acton thinks there's a difference. You just have to laugh at that.
Sorry, but I think it just sounds unintelligent.
I’m as concerned about Facebook as everyone else, but you can’t seem to get around the fact that it’s the modern yellow pages. It’s the only platform,l everyone has, and it’s just incredible hard to get around that.
Their model makes it harder to have multiple devices in one account id as "me" and seem to make it hard to recruit non SIM enabled tablets and laptops.
In parts of Asia Wechat is mandatory; I know it's not a popular (in the west) opinion, but I find Wechat the most user friendly out of them all; it always works (even on incredibly bad and dropping connections) and it just has everything under one roof. But for obvious reasons it is also the worst offering. Cannot be avoided in China though.
These platforms always seem indomitable, but they are all susceptible to a disruptive technology.
(As a side note, now that you are on Signal, the next person in your circle who signs up will have 4 contacts instead of 3. And then the next one after that will have 5, and so on. I have a lot more contacts on Signal now than I did when I signed up.)
It is not horrible, but a bit below the other messaging apps I have been using.
Which is an issue : hard to push my non techies relatives to move to something that they will find harder to use.
I have one contact on Signal btw.
Personally, I only use Signal regularly, so I've convinced most of my friends to use it too. But only for talking to me I suspect.
That's a very important decision, very early. And once you make it, you can't change it.
The decision to agree to sell to FB was made when they took their first seed money.
You must have meant a weaker version of that but just the general form of it doesn't feel right.
If I would feel like him I would not want that money...I would want to put some weight behind my critism...