This Week in Tech 537
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech! Great panel. Erin Griffith joins us from Fortune, Dan Patterson from Tech Republic and Alex Wilhelm from Tech Crunch. We're going to have a lot of fun talking about the fall of Yahoo, the end of Radio, and the number one word of the year. It's an Emoji. All next, on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 37, recorded Sunday, November 22, 2015.
It's a Post-Text World
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news. Got a great panel for us. It's going to be fun this week. Going to be a little wild. What is it Betty Davis said? Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy ride. Starting on my left with Erin Griffith from Fortune.com. It would have been better, Erin Griffin.
Erin Griffith: Yeah, tough one.
Leo: Your parents should have maybe named you Aerith. Never mind. Also with us, Dan Patterson. Congratulations, Dan. When you first started working with us, you were at CBS radio, and now you are at...
Dan Patterson: ABC.
Leo: Now you're at CBS. CBS Interactive, via the great folks at Tech Republic. Jason Heiner and crew. Nice to have you, but you're working out of the offices in New York.
Dan: Yeah. It's great to be with the CBS interactive family. Jason is a fantastic boss.
Leo: Love Jason. I was really thrilled when he told me that he hired you. I thought that was fantastic. Got you away from that other guy. We'll talk about that other guy. He's in the news this week. Also here, speaking of other guys, Alex Wilhelm. TechCrunch.com, he's on the Ryan Coke train today.
Alex Wilhelm: Yeah. Bullet Rhine.
Leo: I love the Bullet.
Alex: Quite tasty.
Leo: Boy, there's a lot to talk about. Of course, before the show, I said there was nothing to talk about, but now that I'm looking, it looks like there are a few things we can talk about.
Alex: One or two.
Leo: The battle is joined. ISIS versus Anonymous. That sounds like the old Reddit joke. Which would you rather fight? A thousand duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck. Which would you rather fight? This week, President Obama called ISIS a bunch of killers with great social media. You almost could say the same thing about Anonymous. It's the battle of the social media guys. Here's the anonymous video announcing that some guy in a V for Vendetta mask announcing...
Alex: I can't take it seriously when they wear that stupid headgear.
Leo: It looks like a movie, doesn't it? It looks like it's straight out of Hollywood.
Alex: They think it looks good when in reality it doesn't.
Leo: Is Anonymous, first of all, Anonymous can't declare anything. Anonymous is nobody. It's a loosely knit group. You can't even say who is in it.
Alex: It's very similar to the TWiT production crew.
Leo: It's almost like Jason Howell declared war against ISIS.
Jason Howell: That is not true. Let it be known for the record I did not do that.
Leo: Do you think that at ISIS headquarters they're going, "Who?" Literally. Who?
Dan: Maybe. But they are... say what you will about Anonymous, and they do look silly there, but they have had a pretty practical effect here.
Leo: You covered the Occupy Wall Street movement, right?
Dan: Yeah, I've been at Occupy and at the UN covering Daesh as they say up there, or ISIL in large part because there's power in the word ISIS. There are many controversial parts of their name, so using Daesh is those who trample the book. That's an effective way to communicate about what this organization is doing. I see what Anonymous is doing is this weird new symmetrical attack. When ISIS attacks a nation state, it's a symmetric, because they're small and they're using all these weird small ways to prick the large nations. But Anonymous is doing the same thing right back to them, so I certainly don't advocate for what Anonymous does, necessarily, but it's very interesting to see similar tactics deployed against Daesh.
Leo: What does Anonymous say it's going to do?
Dan: Taking down Twitter accounts. They've also been, a lot of members of Daesh, the websites are built using Cloud Flare, which was in the news this week and Telegram, of course, so they've been taking down those accounts or at least listing these accounts.
Leo: By the way, Telegram has responded by pulling down 22 ISIS related channels. That doesn't mean ISIS can't continue to use Telegram.
Alex: They still can, right?
Dan: I think what Anonymous is doing is applying pressure in the opposite direction. Look, if you're cloud flare, the public has a right to know if you're keeping these questionable sites up. Same thing with Telegram so at the very least they can expose and provide a little sunlight to where these creepy bastards are crawling.
Leo: OK. Let's all get on... anybody who wants to get on the bandwagon fighting terrorism, that's fine. Some might say in some ways Anonymous is a terrorist organization. It's an interesting... it feels... I'll be honest with you. I don't know. I have no inside knowledge of this. It feels like jumping on the bandwagon. Anonymous says we're going to take them on. Oh, this is good PR! Right?
Alex: True, but I'll take it. If you're going to do anything to combat them, to take them down, to hurt them, to limit their influence, I'm in favor of that. I think it's a PR win for anonymous. But still, I'll give it ten points. Why not?
Leo: One of the big tech stories about the terror attacks last weekend in Paris is of course the immediate push by governments, US, British, French to shut down encryption. How are we going to stop these guys if we can't hear what they're saying? Of course, as Dan has reported, it looks like the terror suspects are not using encryption. One of the reasons they were able to find that Paris apartment hideout was that they found a phone that was thrown away. The GPS, nothing was encrypted. At the same time, this week we heard that there is an ISIS help desk and they have an operational security manual which involves things that we all would agree are good operational security protocols like using Tails, the secure Lennox, using Threema. This is one of the reasons I haven't covered this story much on TWiT all week is I feel like there's disinformation coming from governments about what they were using. We don't really know. There's the implication they might have used WhatsApp, telegram or Threema. But it turns out that came from the French government. There's not a whole lot of evidence they were using that.
Alex: There was a Times story that got taken down on the same topic. In all probability, the government people were out in force right after the incident saying this is because of encryption, this is because of Snowden.
Leo: That was infuriating. Blaming Snowden for this! Dan, you covered this. What do we know, what don't we know? How much of this is government's attempt to blame something, other than themselves?
Dan: I know about the same amount as you guys know. That's... any time you hear certain types of coded language being used by government, particularly when it's used by in the context of encryption and cyber security, you can look for things like we suspected, or hearing the PlayStation rumor repeated over and over, anything that does not substantiated, assume that the government is just using this as propaganda. Not necessarily evil or malicious propaganda, because they have their objective. Their objective, as they see it... a big challenge for all of us is to empathize and to see things through other people's eyes and see the way Governments, and many Governments and law enforcement are looking at this, we fear another attack may happen, we want to stop it.
Leo: I think it's really important to say that, Dan. I don't want to give the impression in any way that we are against the folks who are doing their best to protect us. I believe very much that they are absolutely sincere in those efforts. On the other hand, as technologists, we understand that you can't stop encryption. It's too late. The horse has left the barn.
Dan: It's our job to communicate to them why this is important. If you are upholding our government, then you also need to defend the very principles, like privacy which our government suppressed.
Alex: But Dan, how do we do that? I have a really hard time taking these abstract concepts and making them applicable and understandable to the average person. As a journalist, what's your approach or method that you do to make this more understandable to the common person, because we're nerds, Dude. They're not. So.
Dan: I think maybe it's just that. We are nerds, we're tech people. I'm not talking to you as me being a journalist. Telling you how to communicate. I don't know. People are people. They're dudes. Hey everybody. Let's take a breath and talk about what we want.
Leo: Erin, what's your take on this?
Erin: The only thing I would add to that about getting people to care and pay closer attention to this kind of stuff is it's really interesting how much people care now versus how they cared when Anthem got hacked or when Target got hacked. When all of their personal data was potentially exposed, people were outraged for a couple days or weeks, and then whatever. What are you going to do? Not put your credit card information in there? They kind of moved on. Now it's even further to the extreme where people are like, take my data; it's fine, just stop the terrorists. I think that's our job as journalists to educate people on exactly what we're giving up every time we shrug or roll over and say privacy isn't that important when it comes to terrorism.
Leo: I guess that's the message. I have the chance to talk on the radio to normal people. On Friday, I was on the morning show in Los Angeles and spoke specifically about this. The thing that's important to understand, of course we want to fight terrorism, and of course it must be very frustrating for law enforcement to know that there are conversations going on that they can't eavesdrop on, but you know what? Terrorists can meet in private as well, and we wouldn't encourage law enforcement to start spying on everybody hoping to catch those private meetings that the mass for encryption is already widely known. You can tell Google, Apple, and Microsoft to make sure there's a back door in all your encryption stuff, OK? And they might even do it, but that wouldn't accomplish anything because there are plenty of other ways to encrypt. In fact, the only real problem with what would happen is by putting a back door in, they hamper our ability to stay secure. They give a backdoor not only to the government, but to bad guys, so this is a wrong-headed way to approach this.
Alex: But the rhetoric is so bad. We have Senator Dianne Feinstein talking about how Tech companies aren't doing their job to pull their weight.
Leo: They really put a lot of blame on Apple and Google.
Alex: Which is ridiculous. You can't break math.
Leo: Let me play devil's advocate. If you somehow, without trumpeting it, if you manage to get a backdoor in Windows and OS X, and Gmail let's say, and you don't tell anybody, no one knows, isn't it likely that bad guys will use those operating systems and if they don't know that we might be able to catch them? Honestly. That's the only way this works. If you read this manual, I don't know where this came from. This is this problem of what's the Providence of this? Did some French Government official offer it up, or is this actually a manual for ISIS? It's smart enough to say use Tails. There's no way there's government back door in Tails. They were using BlackPhone. This is the Wired story. Does Wired say where they got this manual from? I don't know if they do. But they're saying use BlackPhone. If that manual is true, it's well informed. They're not saying you don't have to worry, you can trust Microsoft's Bit Locker, there's no way the Government has a backdoor in there. They're not that dumb, in other words.
Alex: I'm surprised people are surprised this is an actual thing. They have an army, they have revenue. Why wouldn't they have an IT desk? Why wouldn't they have some knowledge about their operators? People are like Oh my gosh! They have this IT thing! Yeah. What did you think they had? Nothing?
Erin: That's because when ISIS first came out, our government dismissed it as we don't have to worry about these guys. This is just a rag tag crew, that's what people believed for a long time, so I think it is shocking when these kinds of things come out.
Leo: Interesting that they do in this manual recommend Apple's messages as a secure way to send email. I'm not sure I would...
Erin: Apple has been really quiet ever since last week. They haven't come out and said anything and responded to the criticisms, and they're basically taking the brunt of this.
Leo: Cook has been pretty outspoken in saying that Governments must not put a backdoor in encryption, but not this week specifically.
Dan: We live in a complicated age and it may be that there are no simple solutions. This is an organization that's built its brand in digital literacy. Unfortunately, they know a lot of the same things we know. It's challenging.
Leo: This was inevitable, wasn't it? I know it from having talked to law enforcement and secret service, and so forth. This is by the way, a recent Tim Cook interview or talk at a recent event. This was a couple of days ago. He did in fact say that encryption is a security tool we rely on every day to stop criminals from draining our bank accounts to shielding our cars and airplanes from being taken over by malicious acts to otherwise preserve our security and safety. We deeply appreciate law enforcements and the national security administration to protect us, but and I think this is well said, weakening encryption, or creating backdoors to encrypted devices that are for use by the good guys would create vulnerabilities to be exploited by the bad guys, which would almost certainly cause serious physical and financial harm on the cross of society and economy, weakening security with advancing security does not make sense. That's well said. To answer your question, Alex, that's what we should be telling people.
Alex: Also very important. If you weaken encryption to the point that it is hackable and un-encryptable, then you don't have encryption at all. You can't have it both ways here.
Leo: Wasn't it inevitable though... When I've spoken in the past to say the secret service, they always counted on the stupidity of bad guys. That they wouldn't use good sense. We wouldn't worry too much about Holodesk encryption because 9/10 you ask the bad guy for the password and they give it to you. It's a different environment they're starting to work in now. It was inevitable where the bad guys are more sophisticated, they have more resources, and they're in fact using technologies to protect themselves just as we use those technologies and I can understand the frustration of law enforcement, but goodness, this has been going on for decades.
Alex: We give them billions of dollars a year to do this, so I don't have a lot of pity if their job is a little tougher.
Leo: According to Wired, the guy mentions the Tour browser, the Tails operating system, CryptoCat, which is a well-designed and secure crypto messaging system, Wicker, I'm not familiar with, Telegram, Proton Mail for Email, red phone and signal for encrypted phone communications. Gmail, the guide notes is only considered secure if the account is using false credentials and is used with Tour or a VPN, Android and IOS are only secure when communications are through Tour. They advise disabling the GPS tagging feature on mobile phones to avoid leaking location data when taking photos.
Alex: Unless you're John Macafee, then please keep doing it.
Leo: That's the irony. Again, this is what the police are telling us, but in France, they found that phone with un-encrypted GPS data and that was what led them to the apartment where several of the alleged terrorists were planning... do we have to call them alleged if they're terrorists?
Alex: Mostly terrorists, if you will.
Erin: I think they're self-identified as terrorists. I don't think they're looking for a trial.
Leo: This Ob sec manual is fairly good. The only thing I would disagree with is saying iMessage, because they're assuming it's impervious to... Apparently even terrorists believe Apple's marketing message, which is impressive. You have to give them that. Even terrorists are subject to propaganda. Again, I don't know what the providence is of this Ob sec manual, but...
Alex: As in who wrote it?
Leo: Well, is there anything else to say about the story? We're seeing a lot of coverage on mainstream media. As Technologists, I think it's important that we weigh in with support for law enforcement. I want to be protected, but at the same time, some common sense about math.
Alex: Although it's helped us understand congress a little bit more.
Leo: They don't understand.
Alex: It's been a culling of the herd in a way, because people say dumb things about encryption as sound moderate and fair when they're just not possible. I have managed to cross them off my list as morons.
Leo: You're not going to have any members of Congress left after you start crossing people off.
Alex: Two, and that's from Montana.
Leo: By the way, an update on the story we talked about last week, we mentioned that Carnegie Melon had been co-opted by the NSA or the FBI, I should say, which allegedly paid them a million dollars to crack Tour so that the FBI could find suspects. Carnegie Melon said we didn't make a million dollars. We were forced to do this. We were served with a subpoena to hand over research related to users in the Tour network. I just wanted to make sure that we mention that to correct the record.
Alex: Isn't it pronounced Carneggie?
Leo: I don't know.
Erin: I don't know.
Leo: I know it's (Pull)-itzer, not Pule-itzer. But Carneggie?
Alex: Also, it's Silicon Valley, not Sili CONE valley. I will cry.
Leo: Please don't say Sili CONE valley. OSX, or dos. In any of those three cases...
Erin: What's OSX? How are you supposed to say that?
Leo: People say OS X.
Erin: OS X. OK. I don't talk about operating system.
Leo: Connie Chung very famously, probably 20 years ago, said this MS dos operating system, tell me about that? That was the end of the line on that one.
Erin: Chelsea Handler did a tour in Silicon Valley and called it Sili CONE valley, and she was corrected by somebody and decided to just go with it anyway. She thought it was hilarious.
Alex: That's terrible.
Leo: All right. Moving on. Actually, we'll talk about the 30th anniversary of Windows in a bit. Prepare your Windows anecdotes. You guys are all too young.
Alex: I was negative 4.
Leo: Jeesh. It's November! It's the month of November, where we all grow... none of you did it. We all grow beards and mustaches to raise awareness for men's health. If you are or are not shaving this month, i want to let you know about Harry's, because at some point you're going to want to shave off that luscious growth that you've created. By the way, Harry's supports Movember; you would think a razor company supporting Movember? They do. In fact, they donate to Movember. 5 dollars off your first purchase when you mention TWiT5 and 5 dollars when you buy the Movember kit, but the real key to Harry's my friend is the fabulous Harry's razor. That's what made Harry's name way back three years ago. Here's the razor blades. When they bought the factory. One of the nice things about Harry's blades is if you own the factory, you can design your blades for performance for sharpness and sell them direct to your customers without having that middle man markup. You know when you go and get that Gillette razor at the drugstore and it's four dollars a blade, it's about half that from Harry's. Over a million guys now. I take a little credit for this, have made the switch to Harry's. Their website is great. It takes less than 30 seconds to place an order. I use Harry's every day. I love it. It's the best shave I've ever had. You get the kit for a very affordable price. In fact, if you get the Truman, 14 dollars, and you'll save five dollars with our offer. That means ten dollars to get started and of course you're going to get your regular shipments of Harry's blades, Harry's cream and all the Harry's accoutrements. Harry's.com, enter the offer code TWiT5 at checkout to save 5 dollars and we thank Harry's for their support. I will find out how much they raised for Movember through their Movember kits.
Alex: Also, as a PSA, if you're a dude and you did Movember just to not shave for a month, points.
Alex: When in doubt be lazy.
Leo: But when it comes time to shave those Movember whiskers off, make sure you go wtih Harry's.
Alex: I just hope they add by accident.
Leo: The truth is, even if you're growing a mustache or beard, you still have to clean up. You've got a nice clean beard there.
Alex: You are a beautiful man. Is that what you wanted me to say? I was confused.
Leo: I've been trying to convince them to do a women's line that I would call Harriet's, but so far, they have turned their back on my brilliant idea. Wouldn't Harriet's be good? They have apps now through IOS so you can order right through a Smartphone. Everybody has to have an app, right?
Erin: I don't think you do. I don't think everybody needs an app. I think people got a little too excited about needing an app and then they realized that 8 people were going to download it and that the average person downloads zero apps per month and that it's a huge waste of resources. No offense against Harry's.
Leo: You realize that you're speaking to someone who is currently spending tens of thousands of dollars to develop IOS and Android apps for TWiT, right? Ooops. I completely agree with you.
Erin: You have a following. You're going to get people to download your app. A lot of other people don't have the daily or weekly use case.
Leo: Actually, we have a good use case. I think any video or audio podcasts would have a use case. You can use a podcast app to subscribe, but it used to be the website was the place you would find out about us, but I realized not so long ago that people don't need the website anymore. What they need is an app and an easy app that will allow you to watch live, listen live, subscribe to the shows you want. Anyway, too many apps.
Alex: TWiT.TV stores, drop in.
Leo: The Irony is we didn't even need to do apps because we have very nice fans. There are many apps available. There are three different apps on the new Apple TV. Three. Four now, Curtis?
Erin: That's where you need to have apps, on the Apple TV, not the app store. Part of the problem is the no Curation on Google or Apple's part, there's no way to optimize for app developers but on Apple TV, it's 100% curetted, so if you're in there, you've made it and you're going to have a built-in following.
Leo: What about this thing Google announced this week? App streaming. Google search results are now going to include app content. Wild, right? I think a very good thing in response to what you're talking about, Erin. I think the example they gave was at Hotels tonight. If you searched for Hotels right now in Chicago, you would of course on a Google search get the normal results, but they are also going to give you pages from the Hotels Tonight App. Talk about discovery for Hotel's Tonight, that's fabulous.
Erin: That's a huge defense. Google is, because they've realized that all those very valuable clicks that they would have gotten from normal Google search are just going straight to Hotel Tonight, so Google's not getting click money from the web and so they've been scrambling to figure this out for a really long time. This is a really cool and smart way for them to get in the middle of that transaction that they were previously getting cut out of.
Dan: A non-linear bridge... you remember in the early days that the app store we fretted a little bit. We're building all these islands that stand apart from each other. What we've built here is this non-linear bridge that connects all of those little islands.
Leo: I think it's very intriguing. Google has to work with the publisher. The publisher has to agree. Apparently what's happening is Google is running the app on its servers somehow to extract the information from the app. It's really interesting.
Erin: Really? How does that work? So Google is running Hotel Tonight on their search?
Leo: It's current information, right?
Alex: But you have to trust Google to not steal your stuff. That's an intense amount of handholding, I feel.
Erin: Also, what is Google going to do with all of that data? It's bad enough that Google owns so much data on me as it is, but now, combining that with all the little independent apps that I use... it's a little daunting.
Leo: But wait a minute. First of all, it's a very limited trial and you have to have Android. It's only a limited number of apps; you have to be on Wifi, it won't work on LTE. Daily Horoscope.
Erin: People like their horoscopes
Leo: My birthday is in a week. I want to know. Sagittarius. I'm searching for it, if you're Google; you want to give people the best information, right? So what you want to do is what do I get if I search for Sagittarius?
Alex: What does that even mean?
Leo: It means...
Erin: Happy Birthday, by the way.
Leo: That's the right answer.
Alex: But legitimately, what's the supposed..?
Leo: Look here. If I search for Sagittarius, it's whatever November 22 through December 23.
Alex: What does it mean, though?
Alex: Then why are we talking about it?
Leo: It's astrology, you've heard of it, right?
Alex: I have, but I don't care about it.
Erin: Some people do, Alex. It's possible.
Alex: Yes, but Erin, I'm right and they're wrong. So ha.
Leo: Admittedly, I doubt very much the position of the moon and stars had anything to do with my personality.
Alex: You couldn't fix that.
Leo: But look what happens. When I search for Sagittarius, I get Sagitarius.com, free horoscopes, I get a bunch of sites, I get Wikipedia, whereas, a better search from my point of view as a user, if I got some actual Horoscopes popping up from an astrology app, right? So that's the idea. Hotels tonight is probably more useful. If I'm looking for a Hotel, I would want to have actual Hotels that I could book. You click the link, I guess.
Alex: Erin, what's your star sign?
Erin: I'm a Pisces.
Alex: I'm a Cancer. Dan?
Alex: Yep. That's why I don't like you. Fair enough.
Erin: Tone of his voice was like, are you going to use this against me?
Leo: When the moon is in the seventh house...
Alex: Anyway. I think it's cool to delve into apps in this way. I'm not surprised by it. I will be curious about how many apps are willing to concede.
Leo: Why wouldn't you?
Erin: Because you want Google out of it. If you're Kayak, for example, people go straight to Kayak to book that thing. Why do they need Google getting in the middle there?
Leo: Discovery. I'll give you a perfect example. I would love it if Google would take the next step and index podcasts, so that if you searched for Google streaming search, or streaming app search, one of the things that might show up is TWiT with a link to that part of the podcast. That's to my benefit. That doesn't take anything away from me. That helps my discovery. That helps Hotel Tonight's discovery, doesn't it?
Erin: You're also not buying search, so Google doesn't have a huge incentive to work with out.
Alex: Erin, do you think this is a play to get more app discovery dollars? It's been a big Facebook revenue stream.
Erin: I think it's different than that. It doesn't seem like this is related to their ad business, but it does seem like an extension of something they announced earlier this year. They had this campaign called MicroMoments where they're basically trying to get in every time someone searches for anything; they want to be there with rich information. One of the categories that they really highlighted was hotels and it's on Mobile search basically, and I think it's on Android and IOS. The results are really rich. It has the pricing, it's geo-located. It's a really rich ad that mimics the app experience. I think that this is an extension of this. They want people to come to mobile search first instead of going straight to the app.
Leo: You guys are so deeply cynical about Google. It hurts me.
Erin: Because we acknowledge that Google is a business?
Leo: No. They are a business! But what is Google's goal? Google's goal is to give users the information they want. If you're searching for this information, that doesn't mean you want to fire up an app. Which app do you fire up? What you would love is to type in the search and use OK Google and say I need a hotel in Chicago and then Google doesn't just limit itself to websites, but wherever that information is, pulls it up. That's what users want. This doesn't have to be some deeply cynical ad ploy; it's trying to give users what they want to search, right?
Erin: Google always is striving to do both, obviously.
Leo: That's how they make a living. I'm not saying they're not making a living. They ought to make a living!
Erin: They wouldn't do it if it was a bad experience. I agree with you, it is a good experience. It's smart on their part, but this has been something that they have been working on for a while.
Leo: I feel bad because anything Google does, people look through the lens. I guess it's your job, because you're cynical people. I try to, too, but give them a little bit of credit. They're trying to give you a better search experience. To me, this sounds like a better search experience. Dan's turn. Go ahead, Dan.
Dan: I'm curious what you guys think about this. It could force a really interesting, competitive response from Apple and Amazon. I think that could make a better... being cynical is the correct way to think about this. But, it could force a really interesting, competitive response, which is what we say we like from Apple and Amazon and other ecosystem builders. I would love to see something similar from Apple. Those IOS apps tend to be a little more robust than Android apps, at least for my preference, and I'd love to see something competitive.
Leo: Why do people give Apple a free pass, and they say Google is trying to steal all your stuff and that they're horrible people?
Alex: My girlfriend works for Google so I have been told to say that Google is a great corporation to work for.
Leo: It's interesting that you should say that, because the chairman decided that you couldn't possibly have a girlfriend.
Alex: They were mostly right until recently. I think that we give...
Leo: So she doesn't know you that well yet.
Alex: She's in Virginia right now. I think that we give Google less a free pass because they are more of our lives. Apple is notoriously good at hardware and bad at software, whereas we all use Gmail and Google services. We have a much higher...
Erin: It's about what they want from us. Apple s only trying to sell us products. So, they don't need our personal data at all. Google and Facebook are trying to put ads in front of us and the more targeted they are, the more they can charge for those ads. Their business model is all about gathering data.
Leo: Taking away your title. If you actually believe that Apple doesn't care about your personal data, you are a Pollyanna. Apple absolutely wants your personal data. They keep it to themselves. That's the only difference.
Erin: The business model is not dependent on them...
Leo: Talk to the guy who runs i-ads. What his business model is.
Erin: That's why Apple is using this moment to be a privacy advocate because their ads business.
Dan: In ten years, Apple aspirationally wants to be as much a data company as Google is, they're just smart about directing their competencies. Their competencies are hardware. I totally believe what you're saying and I've made the same argument, I just don't believe that no company is altruistic, and all companies want the same thing.
Leo: I'm in it for the profit. You're in it for the profit. We're not doing what we do, we love it. But one has to make a living. I think Google truly does want to organize the world's data. Make it more available to people. They see that as a very positive goal, and yes they'd like to make money while doing it. Apple originally was all about making computing easy and accessible to the masses. I'm not sure that they actually have kept true to that goal. I feel like Apple says this iPhone thing sells well. Let's go all in on this.
Alex: Verizon. I want to support over-priced, bad cell phone service everywhere.
Leo: I think Apple is smart to say where they're the privacy company and they have to walk the walk. It doesn't mean that Apple doesn't know this information, they just say that we're going to keep it to ourselves.
Alex: That's terrifying, but OK. Everything is correct, I just don't like it. It's accurate.
Leo: It's a disadvantage in some regards, because it's hard to compete with Google Now, which really rely on Google exposing everything it knows about you. Google is in the un-enviable position of having to let people know when it knows in order to give them the services it wants. Apple can pretend it knows nothing.
Alex: Donald Ross also said there are unknowns, known unknowns. So there you go.
Leo: did you memorize that? Did you sit in front of a mirror?
Alex: Before TWiT, I go home and practice my jokes.
Leo: That is not the kind of thing that trippingly comes to the lip.
Alex: We're all dorks.
Leo: Let's take a break. I do want to celebrate 30 years of Windows. We're going to do that in a bit. But first, let's take a look at what you missed, if you missed anything this Week in TWiT.
PRECIOUSLY ON TWiT
Leo: I seem to have lost my dog in Fallout 4. I traded him for the robot with the flame coming out of his butt, but now I can't find him anymore.
Man: In any other context, this would be nonsense words.
TWiT LIVE SPECIALS:
Man: Signal lights. Everybody find those little hovercraft things where you're riding down the street.
Leo: Don't you hate it when the guy leaves his left turn ear on all day? I hate that.
TECH NEWS TONIGHT:
Megan Morrone: There is really no area of our lives, public or personal, that Facebook does not want to get up all into. Soon when you change your relationship status on Facebook, you will have options beyond just blocking your ex. According to Facebook, you'll be presented with screens that will allow you to see less from your ex, limit what your ex can see of you, and edit your photos, just like we used to do with the tools we had in the 90's. Back then, we called them scissors.
TWIT. WE'RE NO STRANGERS TO LOVE. YOU KNOW THE RULES AND SO DO I.
Leo: Somebody is saying when did Windows Weekly add a laugh track?
Leo: We need to do that more often. I like having a live studio audience. We have a live studio audience today. Thank you for being here. If you want to be part of the show, just email tickets at TWiT.tv. We have a guy dressed up as a chef out there. You want to wear his hat? Ask Roberto.
Alex: Roberto, can I borrow your hat?
Leo: 30 years of Windows, it was on November 20, 1985 that Windows... this is like a coronation. I now pronounce you king of all cooks.
Alex: I'm here wearing a hat, so hey, how is it going?
Leo: I think anybody who tunes in right now is puzzled.
Alex: Indeed. Before the show started and you guys were not here for this, there was a very well dressed gentleman singing songs in Leo's chair, and he was wearing this hat. Now I'm wearing this hat, but I can't sing.
Leo: He was singing Italian songs. Who here is old enough to remember Windows 1.0 besides me? None of you guys. It's depressing. If you remember it, you are officially old. That's what the Register says. November 20, 1985. You've got to see the picture of Bill Gates showing this off somewhere. He looks like he's 12. Windows 1.0, when you look at it, it's kind of interesting, because it was tiled Windows, they weren't overlapping. It wasn't really Windows, as we know it. You had to have PC Das 2.0, you needed 2 double sided floppy disc drives to run it, 256 K. Not megs, not gigs. K of memory. And apparently it required something very few people had in those days, a graphics card. You could run some Das programs in Windowed mode, but most of them would take over the screen. About half a million copies sold in the first two years.
Alex: It went gold, in other words.
Leo: Semi-Gold. Half gold.
Alex: I like this, because when you look back at the very first versions of Windows and you look at the current versions of Windows, it's still similar. It's squares, it's menus, it's written word. It's dramatically different, but it's still very much the same. I like the appreciate the history. Erin, what was the first version of Windows you used?
Erin: Probably '95.
Leo: That was the first really good version. I remember looking at 3.1 and thinking wow. Microsoft has really kind of done something here. I remember talking to Steve Jobs in 94 and he said this was when he was out of Apple, but he couldn't stop talking about Apple. He said I gave them a ten year lead. When I came out with the Mac Touch in '84, we had a ten-year lead, and they pissed it away. He was pissed, because he said we had a lead. Looking at Windows 311, running on the airport system in Orley France, where it crashed and that's how people know that the menu system in Orley France was running Windows 31. MineSweeper, Solitaire. Those were some games. Remember those?
Alex: I still play them, so I can't really say I remember them.
Erin: They have endured.
Alex: What else do you do at the office?
Leo: Apparently Windows 31 is still embedded in many ATMs. The embedded version of Windows 31 is still around. Not just at the Orley airport. Let's see. Other memories of Windows...
Alex: Windows 7 was amazing and then 8 happened.
Leo: 7 was very good. NT was good. Windows 2000 was awesome. Windows XP was trying to merge the consumer version of Windows into the Windows 2000 line. So for that reason alone it was good. It was much more robust. Remember 98? But XP was pretty good. By the time Service Pack two came out, it was secure, because they turned on the Firewall on XP. 7 was very good. Vista not so much.
Alex: Almost forgot Vista entirely.
Leo: Windows ME and Vista 8. Something went horribly wrong in that factory.
Alex: I'm curious. Windows ten has been out for a little bit. What do you think about Windows ten?
Dan: I like it quite a bit. I upgraded the day it came out and it was full of bugs and weirdness, but within a couple weeks, it seemed to work itself out. It's a return to form. I think, beyond the features, it's something that feels comfortable and familiar to consumers, and I think that's maybe something that is under-sold in the history of Windows. It's that comfort. You feel at home in that operating system.
Leo: I agree. Here's Steve Ballmer from 1986 talking about Windows. Can you turn it up a little bit? This is a bad rip from a VHS tape, I have to apologize. This is obviously a joke that was made for a Microsoft Sales meeting. But he's selling Windows 3, actually this is Windows...
Steve Ballmer: ...a control panel, a terminal switchboard, a ram drive, and can you believe it? Reversi! That's right! All these features and Reversi! All for just, how much did you guess? 500, 1000, even more? No! It's just 99 dollars! That's right. It's an incredible value, but it's true. It's Windows from Microsoft, order today! P.O. Box 286-DOS.
Leo: Very strange.
Alex: It's amazing that Windows 1 had more capability than the Apple Watch.
Leo: Well, is it that amazing?
Alex: I'm being sarcastic.
Leo: I think you're right though. One thing you have to praise Windows 1 for, it never told you to stand up. Our show to you today brought to you by... let's take a break. We'll come back with more. Great panel. Erin Griffith is here from fortune.com. Always nice to have you. You lost your toilet paper mic stand. What happened?
Erin: Yeah. I had a little time to plan ahead and actually get back the professional mic stand that had been borrowed. I was thinking maybe there would be some disappointment that we didn't have the artisanal cardboard from last time.
Leo: It was very impressive.
Dan: Did you make it yourself?
Erin: No. My fiancé made it.
Leo: That's why she's going to marry him.
Erin: Cardboard and a really crappy regular mic.
Leo: Dan Patterson also here. With a new job. I'm really thrilled to see him join up with Jason Heiner at techrepublic.com. And Alex Wilhelm. No one knows where he came from.
Alex: The swamp.
Leo: He's at TechCrunch, and has the best Twitter handle of the bunch. @Alex.
Alex: Don't follow me.
Leo: Don't follow me, he says. Our show to you today brought to you by lynda.com. It's a great site for people like you. I know you were asking before the show, why do people watch this show? Because people like to learn, they're curious, they want to expand their minds. That's what lynda.com does if you want to take better photos, you want to learn to code, you want to learn how to use that app that your boss is expecting you to use tomorrow at work. lynda.com. It has everything you need to feed your curious mind. What's nice is you pay once, one flat rate once a month and you have access to all three thousand plus on demand video courses. You don't have to choose your major at lynda.com. You can dibble, dabble, do a little Excel, a little Word, a little bit of negotiating, a better raise, a little Photoshop. I love pixel playground with Burt Monroy. That is one of the best shows ever. New courses just went up. Excel tips, up and running. Word 2016. That's one of the things they do that's great. They partner with Publishers so they have courses ready the day the new software comes out so they were ready when Office 2016 came out. Essential training for QuickBooks Pro, 2016. There's a weekly series on communications, tips, they can help you hone your communication skills to deal with difficult people. I was looking at you. And confidently speak in public at a moment's notice. We are big Lynda fans here. We have an account for the company. A lot of companies do that, because if our staff wants to learn more about how you use Premier, the editing software we use, we like for them to be able to take those courses. Every course comes with a complete transcript, so you can search for anything you're looking for and jump right to that part of the course. You can of course download tutorials; watch them on the go and IOS and Android. Here's the deal. Go to Lynda.com right now. lynda.com/TWiT2 and you get 10 days, you could get ten days free. You could get a whole course in ten days. You could touch a few different courses. lynda.com, use the offer code TWiT2. I don't know if there's anything to say about this now or not. We were talking about Windows. Of course Windows 10 is the current version. I guess they're calling it the November update, which is a very big service pack for Windows 10 went out this week, but Ed Bott has pointed out that the ISO that Microsoft offers for download on their site suddenly got changed. You can upgrade normally, or you can go to Microsoft's site and get the ISO, which is a file that you can turn into a bootable disc or something. For some reason... I'm going to go check and see if Ed has an update to this, but for some reason, initially, Microsoft was offering that version of the iSO, the updated version and then it disappeared. They went back to the July 29 edition. Is it 1511? The upgrade option worked for a week, but then this weekend, new files were pulled from the download server.
Alex: Well if Ed Bott says that it's true...
Leo: Here's the update, which I see now. Microsoft spokesperson says it was intentional. The November update was originally available via the NCT tool, but we've decided that future installs should be through Windows update. You can still download Windows 10 using the EMC tool if they wish, but they'll get the older version, and then the November update will be delivered by a Windows update. Very strange. Ed says that explanation is hard to accept 9 days after the company encourages to use the Windows tool for upgrades, it's pulled with no explanation.
Alex: Here is what I think is going on. I'm a Microsoft watcher to some capacity. Not as good as Ed or Tom Warren, but I'm with that crew a little bit, and I think that Microsoft is currently figuring out how to do this. They were doing these really episodic updates, now they're doing a much faster cadence. I think there are some cobwebs to knock off their cycles, so this sounds like a hoops, a mistake something they had to fix along the way. It's too negative. There's definitely growing pains in both of them.
Dan: Seeing inter-departmental communication styles that haven't happened previously, I do believe this new cadence of Windows is such a right way to phrase this thing they're in, they're trying to do something totally outside of their corporate memory or ability in the past to do. The left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing.
Leo: I think there might have been a technical issue of some kind with that update. Microsoft, I agree with you both, the new Microsoft is shaking things up, they communicate better, but one thing they're still bad at, maybe even worse at, is communicating with the public. They just don't know how to tell their story very well and when things like this happen, they shut up. People have questions and the response is non-responsive.
Alex: One of the guys, Gabe Aul...
Leo: Gabe is great. Follow him on Twitter because that's the only person at Microsoft who is saying anything.
Alex: I call him nerd Jesus. He doesn't like that very much, but there you go. I think they've done a good job in the last year becoming a little more transparent and a little more open. I talk to them pretty much every day. I felt a change in the winds, if you will.
Leo: They're trying for sure.
Alex: They're never going to be Apple level cool, because they're Microsoft. It's fine. They make a lot of money. Whatever. I think over the last cycle of Windows that there's been so much more disclosure and transparency that I had a more fun job covering the news. I know more stuff.
Dan: What's his name again, Alex?
Leo: Gabe Aul.
Dan: AKA Nerd Jesus.
Leo: I don't think he calls himself that. He's followed. Apparently with an engineering team, he's a vice president and apparently has been given some dispensation to speak.
Alex: They picked the right guy. I met him before this whole Windows thing happened. He's incredibly nice in person too. Ask him about the Ferret incident and the red car. I can't tell more than that, but ask him.
Leo: We've had him on Windows weekly. He was very smart and fun. Yes, he's a good communicator. He has nothing to say about this particular issue. In fact, his last tweet, which was yesterday, says Windows ten mobile ten 586.11 is now available in the slow ring.
Alex: This guy's tweets have become gospel for Microsoft fans.
Leo: It reminds me of Major Nelson, Larry Herb, the guy who stepped forward on the XBox side.
Alex: Who is the Apple or Google equivalent of that?
Leo: Apple is way too controlled to let an individual do that. Google has Matt Cutts, whom we've had on many times. Mtt is employee ten, so he has a certain amount of freedom to speak, but Google, like Apple, when we try to get an interview with somebody at Google, they've always got to go through PR, they've got to get approval, and it often ends up being not approved.
Alex: Whereas Microsoft can DM their executives and they will often respond. It's fantastic.
Leo: Gabe apparently doesn't Tweet over the weekends. Good man. He has a life. I like him even more now. I don't tweet on the weekends. It may be nothing at all, but why did they pull the November update from the media creation tool all of a sudden? I think there was a bug.
Alex: There’s no shame in that. Software’s hard.
Leo: And as far as we know they’re still offering the update. If you have not yet received the update 1511 you should get it. I got it on my Surface Book you know a few days ago. Doesn’t seem to really—it fixes some things. Doesn’t seem to change much.
Alex: Do you like the Surface Book?
Leo: Love it.
Alex: Ok. Because I do too.
Leo: You know why I love it? And I’m really convinced touch is really more important than Apple gives anybody credit for. And even though Windows was not really designed to be a touch OS, in fact all of the things we hated about Windows 8 were because they were trying to add touch. They went back to the desktop. However, you know even right now, I’d like to be able to scroll the browser up and down with my finger. There’s just times when you want to reach out and touch it.
Alex: I really hate when I agree with you here but I do.
Leo: What’s interesting is Apple has decided that they’re going to have a kind of replacement for the desktop, this massively huge iPad Pro. But they’ll never put touch to, Cook has reiterated, “We’re not merging iOS and OS10 and we’re not going to put touch on OS10.” This is their touch first operating system and I have to say, I kind of would like to have a MacBook with touch. Am I, you and I are the only ones?
Alex: I talk too much. Dan what do you think?
Dan: No, I totally agree.
Erin: Yea let Dan weigh in on this. I don’t have a strong opinion.
Leo: You don’t care?
Erin: No, I mean ok fine.
Leo: Do you use an iPad? Do you use an iPad, Erin?
Erin: I’ve tried to do real work on an iPad before and it was horrible and this was a couple years ago and I’m sure that it’s gotten a lot better since then but I just desperately wish that I had a laptop. And you know, I think the Surface probably does a really great job of merging those two and if Apple tried I’m sure that they could to a great job too but they decided that they don’t want to.
Erin: I mean you guys actually believe Tim Cook when he says that both would be, have less functionality and be worse off if they kind of converged them?
Dan: No. I don’t believe. No, no I think, I think he says that until it—
Leo: Until it happens.
Dan: Until it’s time for them to change.
Erin: Until it happens.
Leo: That’s actually how Apple works isn’t it?
Alex: Well Steve Jobs said, “No one read books.” Then bam, iBooks, so, you know,
Dan: Right, yea. I think in fact, I mean I’ve been convinced of the utility and right, I can’t do work without a keyboard. I need a laptop. However, having touch in a laptop is an incredible thing. The 2 actions do become one. I use my muscle memory and my typey hands for typey things and then I scroll when I need to scroll.
Leo: Yea. I don’t have any trouble with mixing those two metaphors. And Apple kind of also says, “It’s too far away. You’re at arm’s length. You’re not going to want to touch this.” And that’s just not been my experience. I have a Chromebook Pixel, a Google Chromebook with touch. It’s just natural every once in a while to want to scroll or touch you know a button. You’re not going to use it to close the windows because those targets are too small. But you’re kind of, I think you can internalize that and I seem to have had a nice hybrid way of working that really fits me. The other problem is of course as we use tablets, we get used to touching the screen. And then you touch your laptop screen and nothing happens. I hope you’re right, Dan. I hope it’s just Apple saying, “Oh, we’re never going to do that,” until they do.
Alex: Well I mean I have sort of the opposite. I have a Surface Book and then two Apple cinematic displays. So I have 2 30” Apple screens and then my Surface Book.
Leo: That’s kind of the best of both worlds.
Alex: I’m a bit of a traitor. But I almost always touch the Apple screens by accident because I presume they’re also touch that the Surface Book is. And they’re not. And I always get a little surprised by my inability to keep that mentally constant. But it depends on it. I really do care.
Leo: Humans are more flexible than they’re giving us credit for.
Alex: Ok. I’ll take that.
Leo: Good article by Lauren Goode by the way in The Verge, speaking of the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro has an App Store problem. And we’ve actually been talking about that on MacBreak Weekly for some time. The iPad Pro calls for high end pro apps that take advantage of the pencil, the real estate, touch, but the problem is, the structure of the app store discourages developers. The kind of developers that might want to make an app for the iPad Pro are not going to because there’s no demo, they have to charge more than the app store really encourages. One example she gives is a program from Bohemian Coding. It’s called Sketch. And the founders of Sketch, the designers say, “We are not going to make an iPad Pro app.” It’s a Mac desktop app. “It would be exactly the kind of app,” Lauren says, “that you’d think would work perfectly on the Pro” But 2 months ago one of the developers left a comment saying they have no plans for an iPad Pro. Yes, their version. Yes, it has a beautiful screen but there’s more to consider. Apps on iOS sell, and this is the key, for unsustainably low prices due to lack of trials. We can’t port Sketch to the iPad if we have no reasonable expectation of earning back our investment and we wouldn’t ask people to pay $99 dollars for an iPad app if they can’t try it free first. Some people, you know, solve this by making a kind of a freemium in app purchase so you get some features and then if you buy more and I’m not sure why they don’t do that. But he says, “We’re a niche app. We have to charge enough to make up for the lack of volume.”
Alex: Why not have the trial version?
Erin: That sounds like a really easy problem to solve.
Erin: Apple could easily, I mean couldn’t they just start letting people preview—
Leo: Oh yea, Apple could solve it.
Erin: Yea, let Apple just say, “Ok, here’s a way to preview these apps,” and App Store problem solved.
Leo: And I think Lauren’s right here. I think they’re going to have to solve it or the iPad Pro is going to die stillborn because the iPad Pro is without, without specialized apps is just a giant ass iPad. And it doesn’t, I’ll show you, it doesn’t even take advantage, you know iOS, for instance, I’ve got a 12.9” screen here but the icons for iOS are spread way out. They didn’t give me a bigger grid. So I’ve got all this, what is all this space, you know? That’s you know—they’ve made no concession in other words to take advantage of the real estate and I can live with that if I’ve got Pro apps on here that are phenomenal. I mean there’s a few. There’s Pro Create which is amazing drawing app and as soon as Apple comes out with the Pencil, which they still haven’t done. Or I guess they’re slowly dribbling them out in store. This will be an amazing way to draw. So there’s a few things. I’m not an artist, though, and maybe you’re a 3D artist and you’d want to use Sketch or maybe you’re a musician and you want to use a high-end music composition program. There’s a really nice program on the Surface that they showed off when they released the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4 that allows you to compose—
Alex: Oh, yes, I saw this.
Leo: It’s an amazing program. And one of our engineers, Alex Gumpel studied composition in college and so he brought it over to show me. What is the name of it? I can’t remember. But you get a staff and you start drawing notes and it turns the notes into, you know, a score. It will play the score for you.
Leo: And this is the kind of app, yea you’d have to charge $100 bucks for it. And it would be worth every penny of it.
Alex: Every single penny.
Leo: Like Finale or you know, one of these high-end programs. But I don’t know—StaffPad.
Alex: StaffPad, yea.
Leo: Thank you, in the chatroom. I don’t—PS Chops in the chatroom told me. StaffPad. But I don’t see this, and it would be wonderful on the iPad Pro, will they put it to the iPad Pro? If they can’t recoup the investment of developing it, I don’t know. And that would—I think that’s going to hurt it.
Erin: The only thing Apple could do is just supplement some of these, you know, these app developers with some seed investments. I know they’ve never done that. They’re very, you know, we’re the platform, but I don’t see why. If this became a real problem for them, I don’t see why they wouldn’t say, “Ok, we’ll give you some money upfront and help you recoup it before you know, we’ll change this one tiny little feature and let people preview the app.” I think Apple could fix both of these pretty easy.
Alex: That would only work if Apple had a lot of money. And they don’t. So unfortunately, this is not possible for them.
Leo: One of Apple’s responses to this complaint, Apple said they paid $10 billion dollars to its developers in 2014. That’s through sales in its stores. Developers have made $33 billion dollars to date from the sales of apps and games.
Alex: Real numbers. Big numbers.
Leo: Big numbers. Developers get 70% of revenue of course. But and Ben Thompson has talked about this too on his blog, but that’s fine if you’re a $5 game. That’s great news. It’s not so great if you can only sell 1,000 copies of a program because it’s such a limited audience.
Alex: $100 bucks is $100 Gs, not bad.
Leo: $100 bucks might make it.
Alex: No for real. I’m curious why they have bad terms here. Why didn’t they anticipate this kind of developer reaction because they’ve been so good at building that developer advantage with their 10 years ahead thing. I’m curious why they made this mistake.
Leo: I am too.
Alex: With this level of blow back.
Leo: Because this is not news that Apple doesn’t know. We’ve been talking about this for a long time. For instance, if you make an app and you charge $99 bucks, and you want to charge for the next version, the app store has no mechanism for doing that.
Alex: Which is insane. Apple has a lot of really incredibly smart, you know, software engineers. They have the biggest app store in the world.
Alex: They lean on this. And yet they’re falling down a little bit. Is this a lack of external input to their process? Is this hubris? I wonder why this happens. Because they’re such a –
Dan: That’s a really good question. Yea, and these are seemingly such simple solutions. In fact you know historically Apple worked with, before the iPad came out, they worked with developers that they favored. You know, the New York Times and others. I don’t know, that’s a great question. Why did they go to market with a product without getting a premium experience from a half dozen premium developers?
Leo: Yea. Well there are a few. They showed a few. We actually demoed the one that was used to design the 3D printed car. There are a few. But I think that they’re going to need more than that to really sell this in quantity. Or maybe not. Maybe they say, “Hey an app that sells 1,000 sells 1,000 iPads. We don’t care. That’s not enough.”
Alex: Do we think the iPad Pro in its current version is a real mass market device? Or is it more of a trial?
Leo: Well that’s kind of what I’ve been saying and maybe I’m wrong. But I feel like this is a specialty product.
Alex: Ok. Because it just looks really, just sitting here by it, it does look like—I want to touch it, I want to play with it. It looks really cool. I mean I don’t actually want to touch it. But like it’s definitely an appealing package. You know, the first Surface was not. The Surface RT was not very good. A lot of ideas but not a lot of execution. This looks like the full deal, but I don’t really care as much as I thought I was going to.
Leo: Is there a larger question here? Because now we’ve talked about two different companies, Microsoft and Apple, that it seems like we can see something that they don’t see. What is it that—
Erin: Well it’s always easy in hindsight.
Leo: Is that it?
Alex: I don’t think that’s it.
Leo: Here we are sitting on the sidelines. It’s easy for us to play Monday morning quarterback.
Erin: We get, I mean we get accused of that all the time. That’s kind of our jobs. It’s fun. That’s why I do it. That’s why I do this and I don’t develop computers or software.
Alex: Yea but they have telemetry. They have focus groups. They have research. They have teams, teams by the dozen. They have thousands of employees and billions of dollars and so when they make a mistake, I don’t feel the need to be you know, polite about it. I don’t really need to pull back my criticism because—
Leo: Well it also to be fair, they probably spent a lot more time thinking about this than we do. And they have a much bigger dog in this hunt. This is their business. Shouldn’t they be experts better than any of us at running their business? Maybe they are.
Erin: Maybe it’s not in Apple’s DNA to really understand or care that much about professional use cases. You know, they have, obviously they have lots of professionals using their stuff but they don’t actually have to go in with the big enterprise sales pitch and really, you know, sell a big organization on this kind of thing so they’ve kind of worked from consumers and trickled up to companies buying their products. And this is kind of another example of that. Where they’re kind of starting with the consumer friendly thing and not really considering the changes that they have to put in place in order to make it appealing to a business use case.
Alex: Again, Erin field that. I have no other comment.
Leo: Well what we’re going to do is take a break. When we come back, another example of a massive company making changes to a product that dismay the users and nobody cared. But first, Audible.com. I want to talk about my favorite place to get books. I don’t read anymore. I got the new Kindle and I put books on it. But I find I’m so much happier listening to books. And I don’t even have as much time as I used to. I used to do a lot of—what are you doing? Are you taking a selfie? Look at that disgruntled Laporte behind you.
Alex: You weren’t supposed to notice.
Leo: (Laughing) I don’t have a—I used to have you know, 2 or 3, maybe 4 hours in the car every single day commuting to San Francisco. That’s when I first started listening to Audible back in the year 2000. And I still love Audible. I get 2 books every single month. There’s an, are you an Elvis Costello—there’s something for everybody. So are you an Elvis Costello fan? Who isn’t? Jason, did you get this book yet? Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink.
Jason Howell: I didn’t get this one, but I got the Billy Idol autobiography actually.
Leo: Ah, you know what? That sounds good too.
Jason: And it’s read by him and it’s awesome so far. It’s exactly what you want it to be.
Leo: This is a new, of course he called it Dancing with Myself, right? This is kind of a sub-genre of biographies, or auto biographies that I’m really enjoying. And Audible has a lot of them. I read Keith Richard’s Life, My Life. Graham Nash’s book, it’s really fun. As these guys now are kind of looking back at their careers to read these books. Johnny Lydon, Anger is in Energy. Here, let’s hear Billy Idol reading a little bit from Dancing with Myself.
Billy Idol: So it’s like pushing yourself into a temporary coma for three hours. To observers, it appears if you are gone from this world.
Leo: (Laughing) listen to that voice.
Jason: I know, it’s leather.
Billy: When I was recording in 1988—
Leo: That’s a man that’s lived life. Is that Sméagol or is that man?
Jason: I mean seriously, when I saw that this was there and that he read it, like I didn’t even think twice. I got it. I was like, “I know this is going to be good.”
Alex: Who is Billy Idol?
Jason: I’m just going to show your picture for a second so we know who’s asking that.
Leo: You know who Billy Idol is.
Alex: I’ve heard the name. I have no idea who he is.
Erin: Wait, my question is, the Keith Richards, did he read his book?
Leo: No, but they found somebody kind of—
Erin: He had better things to do.
Leo: Well he, you know what’s funny is the strangest thing happens in this book. It’s called Life. And they got a, here I’ll play a little bit of the narrator because they got a narrator that sounds like Keith.
Narrator: And here we were—
Jason: Oh, no, this starts with Johnny Depp.
Leo: That’s what happens that’s really weird. So Johnny Depp reads, and remember, Johnny’s a huge Keith Richards fan. In fact, he bases his pirate in The Pirates of the Caribbean basically on Keith Richards, right? That’s Keith Richards with a braid. But Johnny reads the first chapter. And then this other guy comes in who’s great, Joe Hurley, who sounds much like—but then, at the end of the book, like the last couple of chapters, Joe Hurley says, “And now, Keith Richards.” And Richards reads the last two chapters. So it’s so much fun. It’s so much fun. This has become a genre now. I listen to all of these. Eric Clapton, another good one. Simon Vance was one of their best readers does this, but one of the things that you find with Audible, of course the person reading it is huge. And a lot of times authors are not the person to read their books. But when you’re listening to audiobooks like you know, Mick Fleetwood’s autobiography. He’s a little bit in here. You kind of like hearing from their voices a little bit. But most of the time you probably don’t want to hear like Lynyrd Skynyrd reading Whiskey Bottles and Brand-New Cars.
Alex: Actually that sounds really appealing.
Alex: No, no, no. If I wrote an autobiography and no one would buy it because I’m very boring, but I think I’d have Julio. I think I’d have a sultry, sexy, silver fox voice.
Leo: Hey. I’m Alex Wilhelm.
Alex: I fell down a staircase.
Leo: I am a madman. Hey now, Bob Odenkirk. Don’t you love him? Better Call Saul. And he was awesome in the season one of Fargo as kind of the dumb sheriff. His book, A Load of Hooey: A Collection of New Short Humor Fiction from the Odenkirk Memorial Library.
Alex: It’s called A Load of Hooey?
Leo: A Load of Hooey?
Alex: I thought that was a resume.
Leo: There’s a lot of funny stuff in here. I cannot, I cannot recommend Audible more highly. I’m huge fan as you all know. I recently did a blog post with all 400 books I’ve ever read on Audible if you want to—
Leo: Something like that, yea.
Alex: So you’ve now read 401 books.
Leo: Yea. I’m a great reader. I love it. Well that’s the nice thing about Audible because you can listen at times when you wouldn’t normally be reading like as a commute or in the gym. I’d spend a lot of time on the treadmill, Audible really gets me through those. So, a new one from Roger Angell. So I want to just recommend. You go to Audible.com/twit and the number 2. Audible.com/twit2 and you can get 2 books for free. You’re going to sign up for the Platinum Account. That’s a 2 books a month subscription. That’s the one I have. You also get the daily digest of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, you’re choice. Oop, new one from Tom Petty. That’d be fun to hear his story. And you’ll get those first 2 books but you’ll pay nothing in the first month. The nice thing is you can cancel any time in the first 30 days, pay nothing, but those books will be yours to keep. They’re in your library from now on. As are all the books I’ve ever listened to on Audible.com. So Audible.com/twit2 please do me a favor. Check it out. Before I see a movie, before you see The Martian, go to Audible.com and listen to the book.
Alex: I’m going to go see The Martian because it’s an amazing read.
Dan: Oh, the audiobook is so good though.
Leo: Yea, I agree.
Alex: Wait, Dan, are you going to read the book for us?
Dan: I did the audiobook about a year and a half or so ago. And the audiobook is just, it’s great. It is exactly as you’re saying, Leo, you can consume that anywhere. With The Martian it is everywhere. Walking down the street, in the car, I mean that’s a really great book.
Leo: I have really nice memories of The Martian. It’s short chapters. It’s fun. It’s light. I have really nice memories. Memories of my wife and I listened to it together in the car as we were driving on the road to Hana in Hawaii. And it was so much fun. We were listening to this book. We’re going through this beautiful scenery. And something happens when you’re listening to books. You attach that portion of the book to where you were. I don’t know what it is. It’s some weird sensory thing. So now when I listed to The Martian, it’s like I’m back in Hana. It’s really cool. Anyway, we could go on and on and we do. We usually do with these because I love talking about books. Audible.com/twit2. Get your first 2 books free. And I see the 22nd is my renewal date. So I just got 2 credits. So now I have to decide, which of these books I’m going to get.
Alex: You don’t get free Audible?
Alex: You don’t get free Audible for all the ads?
Leo: No, no, no, no.
Alex: That’s parsimonious.
Leo: You know what, I never even asked them for it because, A. they give us a lot of money for these ads, and second, I can afford to pay for my own account.
Alex: Thank you for the rent money.
Leo: But B. you know what? I kind of like the arm’s length relationship with everything we review. Like I bought this iPad. I bought this laptop. I bought my phone. I kind of want—don’t you get it? Anybody like you who is probably, you don’t get to do that. You get calls from PR, right?
Alex: I try to avoid them.
Leo: Nothing worse.
Alex: This is why I don’t read e-mail. Not reading e-mail is my—
Leo: I don’t want to hear from them.
Alex: I want PR out of my life. Except for my girlfriend does PR but aside from that, you know.
Leo: I’m fortunate enough that you know, having been in this business a while now I can afford to buy the products that we review and that’s worked out nicely.
Alex: So if you need money, call Leo.
Leo: (Laughing) no, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying—
Alex: He’s available 7 days a week on TWiT.tv.
Leo: Someday you won’t have to do this. Oh, Google+ is the product I was talking about.
Erin: I was on the edge of my seat.
Leo: Yea, yea.
Erin: The whole time.
Leo: Big company, doesn’t listen to users. Makes massive change and then the irony of this is, crickets (laughing). Although the regular users of Google+ were incensed about the new design. I’m not sure why.
Alex: You mean all 8 of them?
Leo: (Laughing) that’s the problem. They were really—
Erin: That reminds me of, there’s a similar situation with Yahoo. I guess Yahoo shut down some message boards thing they had like 3 years ago and I still get raging, angry tweets and e-mails—
Leo: Why don’t you cover this?
Erin: This is going, yea, this is probably going to just kick up another whole series of them, but constantly these people who were like, “This was our lives. We’ve invested so much into these communities.” It’s very niche and that’s probably very similar with Google+.
Leo: I guess there’s a lesson there though. If you create something that people use, even if it’s only, you know, if it’s small number internet-wise, like a million. That’s still a million people you’re going to peeve when you kill the thing.
Alex: Yea, but it’s Google+. I mean, I can’t even get mad about it.
Leo: Google+ is a great thing.
Alex: Yea. It’s a thing that we used a week three years ago. Yea.
Leo: I liked Google+.
Alex: Google minus.
Leo: It’s turned into Pinterest basically.
Alex: Oh really?
Leo: Yea. You know—
Erin: I wish that they would make it better and something that I felt like I was really compelled to use because it ranks so high in the search.
Erin: Like the handful of things I shared on Google+ in 2011 are still on like my first or second search page, you know, if you search for my name or something. So I would like to make it more active and not things that are from—
Alex: It fails the Robert Scoble test. If Robert Scoble’s still using it, you shouldn’t. And—
Leo: No, he’s not using it. I don’t see Scoble.
Alex: I’m just giving him a hard time. But Scoble is a big fan of FriendFeed and Google+.
Leo: I love FriendFeed.
Alex: I did too.
Leo: I actually loved Google Buzz.
Alex: Google Buzz was amazing but no more.
Leo: And I like Google+ but I, you know I guess it shows that you can make a good product but if people don’t, like if everybody you know doesn’t use it—
Alex: Snapchat is the opposite. Snapchat is a bad product that everyone uses. So it’s kind of ironic.
Leo: Why is Snapchat a bad product? It’s an awesome product.
Alex: It’s impossible to use. The UI is designed for—
Leo: It’s not designed for you. It’s designed for 18 years olds.
Dan: I have theories. I agree, I think it’s a poor UI and I think it’s intentionally poor. I think that the entire preface of using Snapchat is to bend you into doing things they want. It’s a very manipulative ecosystem.
Leo: And also I think they don’t want it to be your, I don’t think they want your dad to use it. So I asked my son. Because I have, you know, like you, Alex, I said, “This is—I can’t figure this out.” And I said, “Do you guys have any trouble?” They said, “No, no. We love Snapchat. We know exactly how to use it.” I think they teach each other, right, the swiping and all that stuff.
Erin: Dan, what action do you think they’re trying to manipulate us into doing?
Dan: I think they’re trying to get us to use the system that they and rules that they determine as opposed to rules that are good design principles. So if we, if we do things their way, we become more invested in their ecosystem as opposed to just doing things the way any social app would. And so it gives us more incentive to return and to become a repeat user. We have to think about it more.
Erin: Yea. But it also makes it more, more distinctive. You know they don’t have—every other social network looks exactly the same. I mean even now Twitter turning likes and, or faves and delights.
Dan: I think I’m saying exactly the same thing. You just said it more eloquently. Yea.
Erin: That’s interesting.
Leo: I’m sorry. I’m playing with stuff here.
Alex: Leo is literally sitting here playing with Snapchat like a 14 year old with his first iPhone. Playing all the sound effects while we’re trying to have a serious conversation. I’m dying over here.
Leo: I think Snapchat has, by the way, interesting monetization strategy on Snapchat. So they released initially, they release for free these overlays, right? Have you played with that? Oops I swiped out of it. I don’t want to buy that lens. Because this is the new monetization strategy.
Alex: They’re selling lenses?
Leo: You’re doing a selfie. Yea, they sell lenses. So you’re doing a selfie, you press and hold your face for a while. Stop talking. Hey. Demo gods.
Erin: That’s not going to be their main way they make money though.
Leo: Well, I don’t know. So the idea is they have these faces and then they retire them, right?
Alex: Oh, so they’re short term
Leo: Yea. And if you get attached to one, you can pay 99 cents to keep it forever.
Alex: Erin, do you think Fidelity is impressed by that?
Leo: Is that one of their investors?
Erin: That’s there, there was a bunch of headlines over this last news cycle about Fidelity marking down some of their holdings and some of their highly valued start-ups and one of them was Snapchat. And that’s what kind of kicked off the whole news cycle.
Alex: I forget, what was the haircut, like 20%?
Erin: Yea, something like that. I don’t remember exactly.
Alex: 24%? Fortune did a really good job of actually covering this entire cycle so points to you all.
Erin: Yea, my colleague Dan Primack has been all over it. But—
Alex: Leo, can you—
Erin: No there’s another story on Reuters earlier this week actually that, that outlined Snapchat’s problem with advertising.
Leo: That’s worth money. See they want money for that.
Alex: Erin, I couldn’t hear you. Leo was making unicorn sounds again, so.
Leo: They want money for this. You know what they give you for free? Flies buzzing around your head. That doesn’t seem like, you know, come on, that’s free. Nice.
Dan: Erin, I’m curious. Where do, I mean, is this, look Tencent has made billions of dollars with stickers and in-app things.
Leo: This is awesome.
Alex: Erin, I can’t hear you. He’s still doing it.
Alex: It’s like old man trying to dance. Frigging sad.
Erin: Ok so I—
Leo: What’s your Snapchat handle, @wilhelm? I’m going to terrorize you, buddy.
Alex: Here’s how millennial I am. I actually forget. I haven’t used it in like a year, so no. I’m an Erin Griffith on Twitter though.
Leo: What about, you think, you think—Erin Griffith on Twitter. You think the discover—didn’t you guys use that for a while? I feel like Fortune had a discovery channel, didn’t it?
Erin: Oh, God no. Fortune?
Erin: Do you think any of Fortune’s readers are on Snapchat?
Alex: Fortune’s cool, Leo. Come one. Everyone knows it’s not cool.
Erin: I didn’t say that.
Alex: It’s like boy scouts.
Leo: No, no, no, don’t put words in Erin’s mouth. She wants to keep her job.
Erin: But no, to answer your question, Dan, I agree that you know, a lot of the Asian messaging apps have built huge businesses on things like stickers and emoji’s and that kind of stuff. So it can be a big business but I don’t think that’s what Snapchat is ultimately going after. I think that’s a nice to have piece of revenue similar to how Facebook had nice to have Zynga money when they went public. I think deep down though they’re building an ad business and that’s what they want to become, you know, their big source of revenue. They’re looking to take TV dollars. That’s a much bigger story to tell investors and that’s what got them the $16 billion dollar valuation.
Dan: Do you think they’ll be successful in that strategy? I mean I agree at least externally with what I see but I have no idea about their motive.
Leo: Snapchat if you talk to anybody under 25 is totally dominant with the young folks. That is their go-to place. That, Instagram—
Leo: Yea, maybe a little Tumbler.
Dan: Tumbler is—
Leo: Tumbler, no.
Dan: It’s passé.
Leo: Snapchat really dominates. And I base that only on my kids who use it all the time.
Erin: Yea that doesn’t mean they’re going to build a huge awesome business on it. That’s still, they haven’t proven that yet. But I think they have a pretty good chance.
Leo: Thanks to Katie Benner I’ve learned a new term. You’ve heard of unicorns. She’s talking about unicorpses.
Leo: Yes. A great article in the Times this week on LivingSocial. A cautionary tale to today’s unicorns. LivingSocial raised a ton of money.
Alex: It was hundreds of millions.
Leo: It was one of the first—
Erin: Almost a billion.
Leo: Yea, it was one of the—raised a billion which gave them of course a valuation of more than that. One of the first unicorns. That is a private company valued at a billion dollars or more. Their valuation got to $4 and a half billion.
Leo: They raised more than $800 million dollars. This is an example though of group think, right? Snapchat might be a little bit of that. Where everybody says, “Oh, yea, yea.” The next big thing is Groupon slash LivingSocial. And then the whole idea of these you know, deals by coupon just died.
Erin: It was a fad business model.
Leo: It was totally a fad. Well and also it was challenging, there was a challenging business model because you had to put sales people in every burg and every town and every city. And so they had 4500 employees but almost all of them are in sales.
Leo: Trying to see these, you know, these coupons. Groupon got to go public and raised money so—
Alex: I was in Chicago actually when it went up.
Leo: LivingSocial was too late.
Alex: It was a weird moment because everyone thought they were the next Jesus and it turns out they were not. But in that time period they were growing so fast, you know, we had a running joke in Chicago in the tech scene entitled What Did Groupon Buy Recently That Was Dumb? They would just put weird stuff in the office, like ponies. Just weird, weird things because they had so much capital flying in. And now see, this is kind of the absolute end of that story. And I’m kind of a little bummed out because these were the companies where people, they worked very hard, but the ultimate model as Erin said, didn’t work out.
Leo: Well is Snapchat one of those unicorns that if you know, Fidelity is right, maybe starting to see the end of the line. Dropbox by the way also—
Erin: Well, here’s the thing about this Snapchat.
Dan: Or just reality.
Erin: Yea. The thing about the Snapchat thing is we don’t actually know, we don’t actually know how they are marking their valuation. Because if they’re just marking it to mark it as in you know, comparing it to companies that are publically traded, who are they comparing it to? Facebook and Twitter? Is this other media companies who have taken a huge hit because of Snapchat and worries over cord cutting over the last year? So it’s kind of, basically it’s like they’re getting investments from mutual funds who are kind of looking at them like public companies with fluctuating valuations and they’re used to having one single valuation you know regardless of what happens, little blips in the market. And so they’re kind of experiencing that. I don’t think that means that we should count them out. It just means that it hurts their narrative on their way to going public.
Leo: It’s also a little weird to see institutional investors buying pre-IPO companies. That’s very risky, isn’t it?
Alex: Well as we just saw, yea.
Erin: Not really, it’s a tiny chunk of their overall portfolios. I mean these guys have these people have portfolios that are, they’re managing hundreds of billions worth of dollars so one tiny little one billion dollar investment in Snapchat or less than that, 400 or something like that, is kind of—
Erin: And if they can double their money in a couple of years, then why not?
Alex: It’s very useful though for us. I mean external observers that we are, I mean to have these numbers come out helps me and technologists just get a better grip on where these companies are going and so forth. The whole narrative of the Dropbox was worth $10 million dollars was hard to assail externally because you didn’t have the actual revenue numbers and so forth. But when they do this sort of thing, we have a little more data to fight with. And I’m faithful, you know.
Erin: I totally agree with that. We only have the information they give us because they’re public. At least on the first dot com bubble, we knew how much money these companies are burning. I mean people didn’t care but we at least had that information available to us.
Leo: And then there’s Square which everybody, in fact we talked about, “Oh, gosh, their IPO’s going to go off below their most recent valuation. This is a terrible, terrible thing.” And Quartz writes Square’s IOP achieved something that hasn’t been seen in 17 years.
Alex: Priced below.
Leo: Priced below the target range in the prospectus and then it went up. A lot. 45% in the first day. So this actually was good for everybody, right? Square was able to pay back people who, I think what is it, $97 million dollars they had to pay back?
Alex: You don’t pay back. You provide liquidity.
Leo: Provide liquidity.
Alex: Yes that is the dork way of saying that. But I was, so the Square IPO number at $9 a share was really terrifying because their range was $11-$13 which is also already very conservative. So when they sent out that $9 number it showed a lack of I think enthusiasm among investors on the professional side and then on the other side it worked out pretty well. But you know, Erin, when you watched this day one, were you surprised about the jump or do you think it was all expectable?
Erin: I actually didn’t watch it that closely day one.
Alex: All right.
Erin: But in retrospect, because I was literally I was closing this other story, but in retrospect I look at it and it just seems kind of just overly conservative that there’s more concern with the story of having the big pop and getting to say that we’re the, the highest trading for day one IPO in 17 years. Like that’s obviously great to be able to say. But it’s way better than being able to say, we’re the most priced to perfection IPO in the last 2 months. So it seems like a little bit of a game playing in order to have this positive narrative as opposed to having it trade down and everybody say, “Oh, Square’s a dud. Write them off forever.” It’s a distraction from—
Leo: It’s a sacrifice too because Square only gets the $9 dollars. They don’t get the pop.
Erin: Right. Well, I mean they have to hold so all the insiders have a lock-up period so we’ll see if in 90 days or however long the lockup period is if the shares stay up.
Leo: Here’s their CEO Jack Dorsey taking one of his trademark selfies. He gets half of his head in his selfie.
Alex: He’s a very handsome man. I wish I had that jawline.
Leo: Well at least half of his head.
Alex: There we go. Half jawline.
Leo: Half jawline with the IPO.
Erin: Sorry, Dan, I cut you off.
Leo: You’re leaving money—go ahead, Dan. Go ahead. I cut him off.
Dan: How did this happen? Is this a cagey strategy that was pulled off by the people that prepared it and packaged Square’s IPO? Was this dumb luck? Was I mean, it seems like for this to be such a rare occurrence, especially with a company like Square, there’s part of the story that I don’t understand and I don’t know if it’s just for lack of knowing the details or are there some smart people doing, pulling some smart strings here?
Alex: Well you have to fill the books. So with the Zynga IPO I was told by 2 different people that the IPO almost didn’t happen. And so they had to try to be conservatively just to get the IPO out the door.
Leo: Just to get it out the door.
Alex: And they had to buy a chunk of the book.
Leo: Yea, I mean Jack lost $730 million dollars on his valuation with the $9.
Alex: But Zynga’s IPO went gangbusters when it came out. It was very popular. But just to get it done, to get the actual IPO completed, they had a real haircut. So I think probably, if I could guess, this is a guess, it’s similar circumstances right now. So that’s my take.
Dan: That is so interesting.
Erin: And also I mean if you just look at it in the context of the other tech IPOs that have happened this year, investors haven’t been super jazzed on most of them. And so I think it makes sense to kind of be a little bit conservative. This was, this felt sort of like extreme conservatism.
Alex: Very much so.
Erin: But it will be really interesting to see because there have been so few tech IPOs this year and there is a little bit of a pent up pipeline for companies to actually go public, it will be really interesting to see if you know, that strategy continues or if it’s unique to Square.
Alex: Also, one last data point until we move onto things that will actually be interesting. But you know, if you look at Square’s S1, their first stock in the buyout, the numbers look pretty good. Then look at their S1A, their re-filed S1 down to the quarter of data, it was very much weaker. It was not as good. And so I think that when we discuss this IPO to keep in mind that they put a lot of points on the board and then retracted a little bit in their last offering. So I think that people are a little more skittish with their finances, with their margins, revenue growth, the whole thing. And so I’m not, you know, shocked, that this is where we ended up.
Leo: And what about Tinder’s IPO (laughing).
Alex: No comment.
Leo: Sean Rad the founder and CEO gave kind of an interesting—I thought it was quite a good interview to the Evening Standard. But apparently the folks at Tinder had to disavow him and say, “Hey, we don’t know this guy. We never heard of this guy. Who’s this guy?”
Erin: What about it, what about it did you think was good?
Leo: Well it was fairly honest. I don’t know. I didn’t see the problems—look, it’s a hook-up app. Do you expect this guy to be Jerry Falwell?
Alex: Yes. He should not be an idiot. He’s apparently an idiot.
Erin: I expected him to be professional. Yea. Not totally sexist.
Leo: He’s kind of a bro.
Alex: Kind of a bro?
Leo: But it’s Tinder for crying out loud. What do you expect from Tinder?
Dan: That’s true. I would like him to be professional. I don’t expect it. Sorry.
Erin: But just because you’re, just because you have a—
Leo: Low expectation.
Erin: No, but just because you work in a maybe seedy industry, which I don’t necessarily even know if I agree with that, doesn’t mean that you aren’t expected to be a professional human who is aware of, you know, what other people think of you.
Leo: Yea, but they did throw him under the bus. And by the way the vice president of communications and branding, Rosette Pambakian, was sitting right next to him in this whole interview and didn’t at any point put her hand over his mouth or—
Alex: He thought that if you like intelligence the word is sodomy. He’s an idiot. Has he ever read a book? Like twice maybe?
Leo: He didn’t know what sodomy meant, but I thought that was kind of endearing.
Alex: No. That’s not endearing at all. It’s horrifying. Like have you ever read any history whatsoever? Like I don’t know, the bible once? Like come one. This is a level of lack of intelligence that I find shocking. It was hilarious. I laughed all morning at this interview. But, but if that’s your guy. This is the CEO, put him up there—
Leo: That’s not my guy and I’m not buying Tinder stock. I’m just surprised that the company would throw him—I mean he’s the CEO. Throw him under the bus.
Erin: This is not the first time he’s done dumb things before though. I mean he was initially fired, wasn’t he? For some kind of sexual harassment issue?
Leo: Yea, there was some harassment issue. Yea, a little harassment thing. Yea, you know.
Alex: A little harassment thing. Leo, you know you’re not doing so well in the last two minutes. You might want to just, you know. Ok. Erin you’re good.
Erin: No, I’m done.
Leo: (Laughing) ok, anyway, when is Tinder’s IPO and where can I buy some?
Alex: You can buy it on the NASDAQ. It’s called Match Group, MTCH is the tech symbol and they did a very good first day.
Leo: Did they?
Alex: Yep. Well, here’s the deal.
Erin: That’s because he’s not the CEO of the whole company. He’s just the CEO of one, happens to be very fast growing.
Leo: What else does Match Group do?
Alex: Plenty of Fish, Match.com, Erin, what else?
Erin: Match.com. I don’t know the rest.
Leo: Oh, so Match.com and Plenty of Fish is another dating site?
Alex: Yea and they have a couple of other ones.
Leo: It’s a dating site called Plenty of Fish?
Alex: Who here online dates? Dan?
Dan: No, girlfriend.
Alex: Oh, ok, same. Erin?
Leo: So, ok. I don’t even—this is free, right? POF? God, it’s the ugliest site I’ve ever seen in my life.
Alex: It’s kind of like TWiT.tv.
Leo: Hey, knock it off. Snark it off.
Dan: If you’re in a major city, you’re using one of these apps if you’re single. I mean I think that they’ve become pretty ubiquitous. And I don’t know that I’d even call Tinder a hook-up app at this point. It’s just the new OK Cupid.
Erin: And they also own OK Cupid, right?
Leo: Oh, do they? All right.
Alex: Oh, ok.
Leo: So if you’re buying their stock, you’re buying love. So there’s nothing wrong with that.
Alex: They should give like shares with subscriptions.
Leo: How do you feel about love? I feel good about love. I’d buy stock in love. Wouldn’t you buy stock in love?
Alex: It would forsake me.
Leo: Well I don’t know about your personal life, but what I’m saying, how could you, how could you go wrong buying stock in love?
Alex: I’m not going to comment on that. That was Erin, not me sighing.
Leo: Erin, I want to talk about Marissa Meyer.
Leo: There’s been some talk that maybe the end of the line is nigh.
Erin: Yea, and that’s been, that’s been the talk for a while but it seems to be getting quite a bit louder in recent weeks. And there’s even some reports that said that she could be out by the end of the year.
Erin: She could be stepping down gracefully.
Leo: Save your powder. We’ll talk about that in just a bit. Also Rdio. We’ll say a fond farewell. But first a word from Wealthfront. Wealthfront solves a conundrum for all of us. You’ve got to save money. I mean your mom told you that. You’ve got to save money for a rainy day, for the down payment on your house, for college, for your retirement. The problem is, you’re not going to put that money in a savings account. Maybe when my mom was saying save your money that’s what she was thinking. And maybe in those days when a savings account had 4 or 5% interest, maybe you could. Nowadays you put money in a savings account you’re basically losing money. So that’s not going to work. What else do you do? Do you put it in the stock market? Well, as you can probably tell from our discussion over the last few minutes, this is an unpredictable place. Are you going to manage it yourself? Or maybe you’re going to go to one of those fancy guys at a brokerage or a financial advisor who will charge you between 1 to 3% of what you have under management every year. Not to mention the hidden fees for transactions and changes. You’re back, you might as well put it in a savings account. You’re making nothing again. That’s why I love Wealthfront. Wealthfront lets you save for your future. It’s long term investment management. But it’s smart. First of all it’s done by software. So it can do things that are very sophisticated. It trades in ways that individuals usually cannot. Things like tax loss harvesting and direct indexing. Ask your investment advisor, “Hey, what’s tax loss harvesting?” And watch him look it up as quick as he can on Wikipedia, listening to the typing in the background. With Wealthfront you get great management based on some of the best minds in Wall Street. People like Burton Malkiel who wrote A Random Walk Down Wall Street or Charles D. Ellis, who wrote the Investor’s Guide. These people have taken more than 200 years of investment experience and distilled it into the Wealthfront software. And whether you’re investing for retirement or any long-term goal, they automatically will take care of you. They’ll rebalance your portfolio, they’ll reinvest the dividends, all commission free. They maximize your tax, they minimize your tax bill by maximizing your tax loss harvesting. They do direct indexing. A lot of very sophisticated stuff. With Wealthfront the cost of this, on quarter of one percent a year. What? One quarter of one percent a year and there are never any commissions or hidden fees. So you’re paying less than $5 bucks a month to invest let’s say a $30,000 dollar account. $30,000 under investment costs $5 a month. And no additional charges for any of their services. That’s one of the reasons Wealthfront has grown 20 times in the past two year and they have $2.6 billion dollars under investment and you can find out exactly what Wealthfront would do on your behalf right now for free. Get a free personalized investment portfolio at Wealthfront.com/twit. You’ll answer a few questions about timeframe and risk aversion, things like that. And they’ll get you that portfolio for free. And if you decide to invest, the minimum, $500. You can get started that low. And, this is a really nice thing, they will manage your first $15,000 free of charge for life. Not a quarter of one percent, zero for life. Claim your offer today. Wealthfront.com/twit. For compliance purposes, I have to tell you that Wealthfront Incorporated is an SEC registered investment advisor. Brokerage services are offered through Wealthfront Brokerage Corporation. Member FINRA and SICP. This is not a solicitation to buy or sell securities. Investing in securities involves risks and there is the possibility of losing money. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Please visit Wealthfront.com to read their full disclosure. I’m guessing Alex Wilhelm, you’re a Spotify kind of guy.
Alex: I am indeed, yes.
Leo: Dan Patterson, I think you’re more Mr. Pandora.
Dan: I was Rdio for years and years and years and years.
Leo: Are you?
Alex: That’s sad.
Leo: And Erin, I’m thinking you’re an Apple Music person.
Erin: No. Spotify all the way.
Leo: No? Spotify. I use Google Play and Spotify both. I think, you know I can’t decide. I can’t, I’m stuck. I like discover music on Spotify but I like it that Google Play has all my Beatles albums so I can listen to the Beatles.
Alex: What are the Beatles?
Leo: You’ve never heard of them?
Alex: Never heard of them. That Sgt. Pepper thing, once, right?
Leo: Awesome. Rdio was the first, believe it or not, the first, it came to America a year before Spotify. It was the first streaming music service of that kind in the US. They did never got the size of the, you know, the catalog up. 7 million I think it was.
Leo: Whereas Groove Music, Microsoft’s which I think is the biggest still. 30 million. Spotify close to that. They never really got the subscriber base that Spotify or Pandora had. In fact, according to Hollywood Reporter they were losing $2 million dollars a month.
Alex: Yea, that’s terrifying. I had some friends who worked there so this is a little personal to me. Because they didn’t hear about it very far in advance. And so it’s been tough to talk them through this. But you know, when you have Spotify which is the independent winning category provider right now, and also you have Apple, Google and Microsoft all in this space, you have to be so different to survive. And I’m not shocked this is happening. I’m disappointed in a lot of ways. But I didn’t wake up and go, “Oh my gosh, I never thought this was going to happen.” But the rate of loss was terrifying, the debt is terrifying.
Alex: $220 million dollars.
Leo: $220 million dollars in debt. I mean this is a Chapter 11. This is—
Alex: I don’t know how they got there, that’s impressive. I can’t borrow 5 bucks from my friends. But you know, $220 million dollars is all good.
Leo: Well but I think a couple I think take aways from this. First of all, this is a tough business to be in. The record industry can squeeze you. And they don’t like you, right? I mean Adele just announced, “I’m not going to put my album 25 on any streaming service.” And you know what? She’s going to sell more albums because people will have to buy it. And she’s got a big enough base of users that they will. And the record industry decides how much money you make. Also you’re competing against companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft maybe Amazon, that don’t need to make money in their music services, right? Those are value added plays for those companies.
Alex: It’s a platform play. I mean if you’re Apple or Google or Microsoft you want to do everything. You want to do apps and music and operating systems and hardware. You want to do the whole vertical stack.
Leo: Well that means to me that Spotify might be next on this list.
Alex: I think Spotify will not, it won’t die. I think it’s purchased its ideas. Erin, what do you think?
Erin: Do we ever have a final user number for Rdio? I mean was it like insanely small?
Leo: It was.
Erin: Because I think that every person that ever used Rdio would, tweeted about it nonstop about how superior it was. And I’ve tried it a few times and I could never quite see the benefit over Spotify. I mean the design was a lot nicer. Spotify always I thought was faster. And sort of worked better. But I don’t know that they had a real differentiator to begin with.
Erin: And Spotify has, Spotify has critical mass. They have, you know, I can’t remember what the latest is, maybe 40 million, 50 million users in 2015.
Leo: Spotify’s 70 million with 20 million paying.
Alex: What was Dan saying?
Dan: I think, I think Rdio’s, you’re exactly right. They didn’t have a differentiator eventually. But they did because they were the first. I mean e-music kind of was subscription and then Rdio was the first in the states. I remember Spotify a long time ago was nascent. But Rdio was the first in the states. Their differentiator was, “Hey you can do this. You can pay money and stream this music.” I mean LaLa kind of did it before the Apple acquisition but you’re right. They weren’t differentiated later but they were initially because they were the only place you could stream or you could pay a subscription.
Alex: Why couldn’t they capitalize on that, Dan? What held them back?
Dan: You would probably know that better than I would but just as a consumer, I think that all of the things we just hit on which was they didn’t iterate. For whatever reason, whether it was management, vision, a ton of different things colliding I don’t know. But they did not iterate. They did not change. I remember speaking to them for a little while and talking about, “Hey, podcasting. Something that can set you apart.” And they just had to double down on what their core competencies were. I assume that over time it was because of lack of management, lack of capital and competition in the marketplace. And really, you guys might know a lot better than I would know.
Leo: Interestingly, Spotify, Google, Apple, all are incorporating podcasts. I think part of the issue is the record industry, you’re basically based on a business, you’re piggy backing on a business that hates you. That is not a good place to be frankly.
Dan: Low margin piggy back.
Leo: Yea. And at any point the record industry could squeeze you harder.
Alex: This is why Pandora I think is in a lot of trouble. I mean this is the exact argument Pandora has—
Leo: One of the reasons, one of the ways they squeezed Rdio is by keeping them from going to more than 7 million cuts, right? They just said, “No, you can’t license that stuff.” And why would you sign up for Rdio if everybody else has 30 million?
Alex: The music industry has absolutely the most backwards things ever. And I keep trying to understand how they’re still so bad. And yea, they’re still just as bad as I thought.
Leo: I think frankly Spotify loses more money than Rdio. But they might have more runway.
Alex: They definitely have more runway.
Leo: Ultimately this is challenging. Pandora bought the intellectual property and hired some of Rdio’s employees. They plan to do a streaming service next year. But I think Pandora has complained for years about how hard it is to survive. Spotify doesn’t complain but you’ve got to think they’re suffering a little bit. It’s going in the—I promise you, in 2 or 3 years we’re going, it will be Apple, it will be Google, it might be Amazon. And it might be Microsoft. I think Microsoft could stay in the business but they probably won’t.
Alex: They can afford to do it forever. But Pandora was so desperate to get around some other royalties that were so punishing, they actually bought terrestrial radio station. Like an actual like, WKB4 whatever it was. Dan probably knows. But I mean they literally bought that so they could have access to, at least in theory, the lower rates for streaming. And they got busted up in court. They are hell bent, and that’s ok to say on the show—
Leo: That makes me sad because I love, I love Spotify. And I think that these services consumers love. The artists don’t seem to and record labels don’t seem to. So I just have a feeling they’re not going to be long for this world.
Alex: Dan, what was it?
Dan: So Leo, you might have just touched on the reason. And Alex, you as well with—look, the music business, we can say the music business when we’re talking in very generic terms but more than almost any other media business, the music business is not one industry. Right, you have the publishers, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC on the one hand licensing the music. You have the record labels which used to sell mechanicals, right, the actual disc or the thing. And now they kind of function as banks that will roll cash out to artists, but those are all loans. And then you have the artists themselves. So you have all these different competing interests within one industry and trying to corral those cats is just impossible. I think the other mediums, movies, television, you’ve seen a consolidation of the right’s interests and os it’s easier, a little easier to do negotiations for that.
Alex: Yea, so are you advocating almost for a vertically integrated label?
Dan: No, I’m not advocating anything.
Leo: No, here’s where I’m at. I tell you what, I’m advocating. The record labels are a dinosaur. They don’t, we don’t need them anymore. What do they do? They pay do you can get your record produced.
Dan: They give an advance that you have to pay back.
Leo: Yea. And of course the contracts were always famously horribly you know, in the favor of the company and against the artist.
Erin: And they haven’t changed them to adapt to the digital world. The ironic thing about all of it is that as a Spotify consumer or I mean premium subscriber, I now pay $120 a year to music which is more than the average CD buyer bought in the height of the CD Boom.
Leo: So there’s money going in but where does it go?
Erin: But it’s just split across so many more artists now because if I buy one CD I’m going to listen to that a lot but they don’t actually know how often I listen to it and they don’t care at that point. And now it’s like every, you know, the pie of artists that I listen to is so massive and it’s split into teeny tiny little slivers that you know, they’re not seeing that same big $12 or $20 dollar CD chunk that they would get if I bought the album.
Leo: Admittedly artists are still kind of you know, dream of signing that record deal. But I think artists might have to start thinking about—that is a deal with the devil and I feel like if you’re—the opportunity here is to reinvent the music business, for artists to find a new way to reach their audience. I think reaching your audience directly is going to be the key. And I just think that we need to get the middle man out of there because frankly most of the money that comes from Spotify, billions of dollars year, and Pandora, doesn’t go to the artists. It goes to the labels. And if you have a problem with, you know, not making money from Spotify, you probably ought to ask your label, “Where’s that money going?”
Alex: It’s going to them, not you.
Leo: As it always has.
Alex: As it always has. But if you look at a label like Strange Music which is the biggest independent hip-hop label in the world, you know, they run the entire thing top to bottom. They do their own merchandising, their own tours, their own records, their own studio. And so they have this entire thing in house.
Leo: That’s what you have to do.
Alex: And they’re doing great. But I mean, name another label that’s like that. It’s rare to see and so there’s a lot of innovation going on.
Leo: But there are a lot of individual artists like Jonathan Golden, Humphries McGee, there are a lot of individuals who are actually bridging the gap to their, to their audience and selling directly to their audience and doing ok. They’re not going to be platinum sellers. They’re not. And maybe those days are gone.
Dan: Yes, that’s exactly right. That’s a reality of the music business now that if you want to be rich and famous, what you want is to be rich and famous. Not to be—yea. You can make a really great middle class income by packaging everything yourself. But you’re not going to be rich and famous. And you know.
Alex: Who wants that though? No one goes, “I want to be a musician and take over the world.”
Leo: No, you become a musician because you love music and you want to be an artist. And if you can make—you know, if you’re an artist and you can make a living and be middle class, that’s good. And I think that’s something to celebrate. I think you don’t need to be Metallica.
Alex: Speaking of which, Metallica founded their own label and bought all their recordings.
Leo: They own their masters. And boy that was a smart move, wasn’t it? Marissa Mayer has lost the narrative write Erin Griffith in Fortune Magazine. Is there a drumbeat now? This makes me sad because of course Yahoo is I think probably in hindsight, was an unwinnable war. Saving Yahoo.
Erin: I think that a lot of people would agree with you there. Except for Marissa Mayer.
Leo: Yea. I love Marissa Mayer and I thought, I really was rooting for her to succeed. But it may have been a job, you know, that no one could do.
Erin: Well that’s what her activist shareholders now think. I mean they first told her, “Ok, we need you to spin off these Alibaba and Yahoo Japan shares.”
Leo: She did it.
Erin: And she’s like, “Ok. Whatever I can do to get you off my back so I can continue trying to fix this company.” And then last week they decided, “Ok, you know what? Actually never mind. That’s not such a good idea because you might have to pay a lot of taxes on it. So why don’t you sell Yahoo and keep Yahoo Inc., the stock that we now own as a shell company that owns shares in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan and has $5.5 billion dollars in cash.” Which is just kind of nonsense if you think about it and so I’m sort of convinced that the activists have run out of good ideas, the shareholders don’t think there’s any way that Marissa Mayer could actually pull this off and she’s probably going to have to step down soon.
Leo: Who do they think is going to be better?
Alex: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Erin, you think she’ll step down soon?
Erin: Well, there’s, I mean, we were talking about this a little earlier. There’s been some kind of reports that people were speculating that by the end of the year she could step down or that—
Leo: When’s the filing deadline for the presidential election? She wants to step down before that.
Alex: That was actually a really good joke, Leo. You’re first one this show. It was fantastic.
Leo: I’m serious. I mean seriously, I would vote for Marissa Mayer. It would be a lot easier to run America than it would to run Yahoo (laughing).
Alex: Oh my gosh.
Erin: Well, I don’t know about that.
Alex: That is a—
Leo: Ok, step one, don’t listen to activist investors, right?
Erin: Right. But at the same time, the activist investors have so much power now and basically, I mean she already succeed by getting Dan Loeb off of her board so she’s like, “All right. I made this guy happy. I got rid of him. I’m going to do it again.”
Leo: Who’s Starboard?
Erin: Starboard, is it… Jeffrey Sonnenfield?
Leo: This is one of the activist investors is Starboard.
Alex: You know what’s really tough, though? Like we sit here and kind of armchair quarterback Yahoo. I think that any one of us was the CEO we—
Leo: I couldn’t run this company.
Alex: No, no, I think you would have done the same thing.
Alex: I mean she had high hopes for mobile and—
Leo: Ok, that’s part of the problem. She didn’t have a focus. She, I think you know, if I was going to criticize her performance, she couldn’t decide if Yahoo was a services company or a content company. She didn’t have a focus. And she didn’t focus on enough of the real strength of Yahoo to pull it back. I mean it was a tough company. You probably spin off a lot of it. I mean, go ahead, Dan. What do you think? What would you have done?
Dan: I you know, this is armchair quarterbacking but I do think that her strategy was all over the place. I think that she, you know, all of the reports coming out in the first couple of years were that she alienated a lot of people. And you know, she has a nice reputation coming from Google but she’s also said some things that show her management weaknesses.
Leo: You know, Re/Code and Kara Swisher specifically has been recounting the departure of executive after executive.
Dan: Yea, exactly. And I think that what she probably should have done is maybe put her head down a little bit and learned some executive management, some C level management skills that you just don’t have inherently because you were successful at Google.
Dan: Success in one place does not guarantee success in another place. And if she was truly the smart, brilliant person, you know humility is part of that and saying, “You know, look. I need to learn some skills and I need to actually turn this company around.” Simply throwing money at Katie Couric is, I mean I worked at ABC News. I know it’s not a solution.
Leo: Oh my.
Alex: Burn. All right, I’ll take that.
Dan: Erin, I’m curious. What do, what do the activist investors, what do people, people in the know, what will Yahoo be? It is now just this sad mishmash of things that we used to like but what is the future of Yahoo?
Erin: I mean that’s the problem with activist investors is that they don’t know how to fix a tech company especially when you’re, it’s one thing if it’s like ok, cut costs. Divest some industry or divest some segments but this is like you have to be innovative so you have to think of things that you know haven’t been thought of before. And that’s not the specialty of an activist investor. So they’re, they’ve kind of run out of ideas.
Leo: But as CEO, wasn’t it incumbent on Mayer to come up with a coherent strategy?
Leo: I don’t think she ever laid out a strategy.
Erin: One of the reasons that they brought her in was because, ok they had this option. They could have brought, they could have elevated Ross Levinson and you know, made Yahoo a content company, a media business, which is basically what they are. And or they could bring in Marissa Mayer who they viewed as this product visionary who could, you know, come up with new products and sort of reinvigorate Yahoo’s old products and turn it into an innovator again. And then she got there and she kind of started doing that a little bit, but also she thought, “Oh, well, I’ll do the media part, too.” And it turns out she doesn’t really know that business that well and she made this Katie Couric bet and you know we saw that she lost, or she wrote down $42 million dollars for her investment in Community and a couple other shows that she commissioned that ended up being very expensive. And you know people are also even questioning Yahoo’s fantasy football streaming deal and seeing whether or not the company made any money on that. So that’s not an area she has a lot of expertise and she hasn’t proven that she can pick it up really easily. So it seems like all along that maybe she should have brought in a media person who actually can make that into a viable business.
Alex: Yea but here’s my thought. Given all of that I think you’re analysis is totally correct. But if Marissa leaves, then who?
Alex: And that’s—I don’t have a single name on that list that I’d want to have.
Leo: I think what we’re really saying is this is the beginning of the end for Yahoo.
Alex: Wow. This is the end of the beginning.
Erin: It’s a—I mean they’ve gone through 5 CEOs now in the last decade, all talented people who basically went there and you know, hit a wall in their careers because they couldn’t fix it.
Leo: As an observer, do you think it was her abrasive style that was part of the problem?
Leo: You know she asked the executives to pledge that they wouldn’t quit.
Erin: I think that’s, I think that’s just bad management. I don’t think that had to do with her abrasive style.
Leo: Yea, yea.
Dan: That’s a great, that’s a very interesting differentiator. I think maybe—
Leo: Bad management. Might be less of a loaded thing to say especially for a female CEO.
Alex: I will say that I was on the Yahoo campus on Friday. The food’s really good, and everyone brings their kids. And so it’s kind of a fun carnival atmosphere.
Leo: I think it’s a nice place.
Alex: Oh, yea, it’s lovely.
Leo: Purple’s a great color.
Alex: It’s sunny down there in Sunnyvale. You know, it’s lovely. But I’m sad. Because I really hoped Marissa was going to do well.
Leo: I did too. I was rooting for her.
Alex: She’s way smarter than I am, so, I was pulling for her. But for some reason—
Leo: She’s way—what?
Alex: She’s way smarter than I am.
Leo: Way smarter.
Alex: Way smarter.
Leo: I thought you said she weighs more than I do.
Alex: Whoa, whoa, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Be very clear. Way smarter, way, more intelligent.
Leo: I’m sorry. I’m old and my hearing’s bad.
Alex: It’s ok.
Leo: You’re in my bad ear.
Alex: It’s ok. The point was I thought she was going to pull it off.
Leo: It wasn’t my bad ear until you said that.
Alex: Well, you know, I’ll be back for your mistake. I thought she was not only going to do well but also carve out a big position as a female CEO in tech and I was really excited to see. And I think the problems at Yahoo were too big for any one person to fix, so.
Leo: I just want to say Steve Ballmer is available.
Alex: Oh, gosh. He’s not though. He has a basketball team now.
Leo: Yea he officially has a basketball team. The Clippers are now his the courts have ruled.
Alex: He did really good, too.
Leo: Last story of the day. In 2012, Oxford Dictionary named the word of the year GIF. In 2013, selfie. Last year’s word of the year was vape.
Alex: It’s GIF not GIF.
Leo: Ok, GIF, GIF. I don’t know if they weighed in on that.
Alex: I will.
Leo: The word of the year for 2015, can I have a drumroll, is not a word, it’s an emoji. Face with tears of joy. How do you even put that in the dictionary?
Alex: Satire is dead. Satire is over. Wrap it up.
Leo: Is this LOL? ROFL?
Alex: No, this is my suicide note in GIF format.
Erin: We’re in a post-text world.
Leo: Apparently we are.
Erin: They’re just catching up to that reality.
Leo: Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries says, “You can see how traditional alphabet scripts have been struggling to be—“ Struggling? They’re failing. “To meet the rapid-fire, visually focused demands of 21st century communication. It’s not surprising that a pictographic script-like emoji has stepped in to fill those gaps.”
Alex: I am too young to say these kids these days?
Leo: Kids these days.
Alex: Kids these days.
Leo: That’s what’s wrong. “It’s flexible, immediate and infuses tone beautifully. As a result, emoji are becoming an increasingly rich form of communication, one that transcends linguistic borders. The other candidates on the short list, ad-blocker, dark web. One for you, lumber sexual.
Alex: How you doing?
Leo: How you doing? On fleek.
Alex: No. All of these are terrible.
Leo: Which I just—on fleek. I just recently learned that one. Refugee. I don’t know this one, Alex. I’m glad you’re here. Brexit, B-R-E-X-I-T?
Alex: Oh, it’s the British exit from the EU. Brexit.
Leo: Oh, British exit. I get it.
Alex: Yea, yea, yea, yea. It’s the whole referendum thing of the—
Leo: And sharing economy.
Alex: That’s when Uber takes all your money.
Leo: Another short list item, the word they, and in a particular context when used instead of him or her, you want to identify a person, but you don’t want to give it a gender, you say they. Which is of course ungrammatical. But there is no such thing as grammar as we all know.
Alex: Yea, that’s my writing style actually.
Leo: The language is changing.
Alex: But it’s an emoji. It’s one of the worst emojis actually.
Leo: Is it?
Alex: Yea. I’m not very emoji fluent but no, that’s just horrible. Why would you pick that one?
Erin: It’s not so nuanced. It’s like lol whereas there’s a lot of other ones that can say things that maybe words couldn’t say.
Leo: Look at this website. This is Emoji Tracker. It tracks real time uses of emoji’s on Twitter. And the number one emoji on Twitter is in fact—
Erin: That’s because, that’s because kids use them three at a time.
Leo: Right. Cry, cry, cry.
Erin: Three in a row to show like how, you know, how hard you’re laughing.
Leo: Incidentally, it just crossed, ready for this, 1 billion uses in the Emoji Tracker. We weren’t here for that magic moment. It was only a few hours ago and I’m sad. I’m crying. I’m crying now and laughing.
Alex: Well you know, I—
Leo: If only there were an emoji that could express that subtle emotion.
Alex: Look what you got. Look what you got. But no, we make our money, not you, but the rest of us writing things, right?
Leo: Can you use, are you allowed to use emoji at Tech Crunch in your articles?
Alex: Oh, definitely. I just won’t have any self-respect.
Leo: Does that count as a word for your 15 cents a word?
Alex: I’m on salary, not paid by the word. I could bang on for years, man. I got lots to say. But no, this to me is the hieroglyphs compared to the written word. I mean why is this an improvement? This is a way to get away from actually creating your own sentences and thoughts and paragraphs.
Leo: No, I think it’s more nuanced than a word. What is that it means—
Alex: That’s what I’m saying. Look, it’s got a 447 thousand uses. It’s literally a—
Leo: 447 million uses, 359 thousand, 399.
Alex: All right. Do you emoji to your kids?
Alex: Ok. All right.
Dan: I’m going to try that tomorrow. My lead is just going to be like 3 emoji’s.
Leo: All emoji’s. It’s the future according to the Oxford Dictionary.
Erin: I once tried to, tried to express and announce it from the feds emoji for the back page of Fortune. I don’t know if our readers got it.
Leo: (Laughing) the best part about this page is the bottom. What do you think the least used emoji is on Twitter?
Alex: Oh, one of those weird symbol ones probably.
Leo: At the bottom of the Emoji Tracker is, it’s hard to get to.
Alex: Oh yea, there you go.
Leo: The customs guy looking through your suitcase.
Erin: Oh, TSA.
Leo: It’s very low. I don’t know why. Only 26,485 uses.
Alex: It’s got less use than the thing that has the train on the sky thing. Like that’s useless to me. That’s really down there.
Leo: Yea, it’s fun to see the ones that—
Erin: The Funicular.
Erin: No that’s—
Leo: That’s used less than 6:30.
Alex: Backwards CC has 41 thousand users.
Leo: Less use than a b c d.
Alex: And an actual physical mailbox. No one checks those. And then we have 7:00 PM.
Leo: What are those? What does that mean?
Alex: That’s TWiT’s mission statement.
Leo: It’s the input symbol for symbols.
Alex: Oh. It’s a little META for me actually.
Leo: It’s very META.
Alex: Can we keep this on?
Leo: Yea, it’s fun. Ladies and gentleman, I thank you so much for joining us. Erin Griffith at Fortune.com. Your big article, I can’t wait to read this, on the man who is working so closely with Sondi Son who runs Softbank, former Google executive—
Erin: Nikesh Arora.
Leo: That’s right, Nikesh—what is it? Nikesh Arora?
Leo: Yea. And I actually am very interested to read this. He was a—
Erin: Yea it will be out in a few weeks.
Leo: Yea. Oh, oh, you’re still working on it.
Erin: Well, we’re closing—old timey print magazines take a little time to close stories so—
Alex: What is print?
Erin: Now, you guys have heard of that.
Leo: Is it going to be the cover?
Erin: No. It will be in our investors.
Leo: Oh, come one.
Erin: It will be in our investor’s guide.
Leo: No I think Softbank is very—I used to work for Sondi Son because he bought Ziff-Davis.
Erin: Yea, of course. He did that to learn more about the computer industry.
Leo: Yea. Very interesting fella. Bright guy. And I’m not sure I really understand his strategy. He also bought recently Sprint. They have lots of money. And I think it’s when—when did they hire, when did they hire Arora? That’s fairly recent, isn’t it?
Erin: Yea, a year and a half ago.
Leo: Yea, interesting. Anyway, Erin, we’ll look forward to that. Follow her on the Twitter. She’s @alex or fortune.com. Just getting back, you know.
Alex: It’s all good. It’s a fair point. Fair point.
Leo: Yea, he said he was @eringriffith so what am I going to do? Alex Wilhelm, great to have you from Techcrunch.com. Never come back. And, no just teasing.
Alex: No worries.
Leo: I love you. I love you, man.
Leo: And of course, I love Dan Patterson. It’s always great to see you and he has landed at techrepublic.com which is great news. So much fun. And I love your beat. I love your beat. I think you’re in a really good position right now because the world is changing.
Dan: It’s been a crazy couple years in the startup so it’s a great place to land. And in fact, you know this is not mine. I don’t own this. This is something Jason and Lindsay have been doing. But they asked me to, speaking of Audible and audio books, they asked me to read the audiobook of Fall of the Geeks.
Leo: Oh, you’re kidding.
Dan: In fact, Leo, I just finished, I’m about halfway done reading the book and—
Leo: My chapter?
Dan: Yea, yea. Your chapter. I just finished the Leo chapter and it’s really interesting. I have, not what I’m using now, but a studio set up in my apartment here in Brooklyn and I spend nights with my reading of this book. And it’s been a fascinating experience. Those guys did a heck of a job.
Leo: I think what they did really interesting was the way they chose their subjects. There are 10 chapters, each of them an innovator in one area. And look, here’s the announcement. That’s really great.
Dan: Yea and I’m sorry, I don’t want to plug myself but—
Leo: No, no, no, I want to plug it.
Dan: But those two have done great work. It’s just tremendous.
Leo: But the last chapter is somebody that a lot of people may not have heard of. A 15 year old entrepreneur, Maya Penn, and there she is speaking at TED, so hey. A 15 year old speaks at TED you’ve got to have something to say, right? Very interesting chapter. You can read that now for free. And I guess because it’s the last chapter, we’re getting close to the book. E-book, audio book or hardcover. And I love that Dan’s going to be reading the audiobook. That’s fantastic.
Dan: Well those two are just great people. As are you guys. It’s been nice to meet you and talk with you.
Alex: Can I do one shout out?
Alex: Shout out to the TWiT production crew who are literally every time I’m here on-point amazing.
Leo: They are great. And you know what? They have a favor to ask. Not of you.
Alex: Oh, ok, thank God.
Leo: They would like all of you who listen to this show and all of our shows to help us out because, you know, the end of the year is nigh and we like to do best ofs that last week of the year. And we want to do a best of TWiT and many of the other shows. If you have a memory from the year, could be this show but let’s go back as far as you can remember, which might be last week. And go to TWIT.tv/bestof. We’d love to get your suggestions. Now the form asks for a lot of information including like what time code was it. You don’t have to know all that stuff. Just give us what you know. But we would like some ideas for the Best Of because we’d love to have some fun working on that and give you a fun episode at the end of the year. TWIT.tv/bestof.
Alex: You took four years to say of.
Leo: Of. Tomorrow on Triangulation, I’m really excited about this, we’re going to talk to the founder for AMI. Remember American Megatrends? The BIOS for PC compatibles?
Leo: He’s now doing, they’re now doing Android for Windows that is awesome. Have you played with DuOS? It is awesome.
Alex: It is awesome.
Leo: You can run Android on your Windows.
Alex: You can run Android on your Windows.
Leo: S. Shankar will join us tomorrow on Triangulation. Don’t forget, we had a fabulous New Screen Savers last night with Florence Ion as our host.
Alex: I love Florence.
Leo: Yea, isn’t she great? And we talked to Vincent Laforet about his book Air and the 17 year old Google Science Fair winner, who came up with a cheap way to diagnose Ebola.
Alex: That’s an important thing.
Leo: In high school.
Alex: That’s almost more important than Snapchat.
Leo: In high school. Thank you everybody. Next week it’s going to be a wild one. Philip Elmer Dewitt, Harry McCracken and Owen J.J. Stone are on the agenda for our TWiT. You want to watch TWIT we’re on every Sunday afternoon, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern time, 2300 UTC. You can watch live. You can chat in the chatroom at IRC.twit.tv but if you can’t—you can also join us in the studio. Just email email@example.com. Chef hat not included. If you can’t be here in the studio, do come by and listen on the website on demand audio and video always available at twit.tv for all our shows or subscribe, that way you’ll get the latest version. And yes, don’t forget those new Apple TV apps. There are 4 of them. That’s awesome. And they’re great. And a great way to watch the show either live or on demand. Thanks for being here. We’ll see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye.