Jul 29, 2019

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Here are a few words about tech, 1,338 to be exact (~ 5 min read).

1 big thing: Dish's Ergen says history will vindicate him. Again.

Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen speaking at the University of Colorado in 2012. Photo: Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Charlie Ergen knows there are plenty of people who don't believe Dish has the skill or commitment to truly rival the national wireless carriers. But answering to critics is not where Dish's chairman is putting his energy.

"I don't personally believe we are going to change any skeptics' minds, and we are not going to try to," he told me in an interview on Friday. "We're just going to do it. We'll go out and build a 5G city, and then people can see it and see why that is different and better."

What's happening: As first reported by Axios, Ergen's plan for Dish is to transform the Boost prepaid brand it's getting from Sprint into a full-service wireless effort and then go out and build a nationwide 5G network, one city at a time. Ideally, Ergen wants the first city with Dish's 5G network running by the end of 2020.

Details: Because it has a nationwide roaming agreement with T-Mobile to lean back on, Ergen said the company can take a radically different approach to building out its network.

  • Unlike the existing wireless players who are upgrading an LTE network once centered around voice calling, Ergen believes Dish can be more efficient because it is building a datacentric, software-driven network.
  • As for his lack of experience, Ergen notes people didn't believe he could nab a chunk of the cable TV market either.

Flashback: Ergen said he remembers being at a Chinese space facility in 1995 for the launch of the company's first satellite. "I was reading an analyst report that said Dish would never launch a satellite, and I was looking at it."

Reality check: Ergen does have a track record of beating the odds. But Dish will be starting with a fraction of the customers that even the fourth-ranked carrier Sprint had. And while building a nationwide 5G network from scratch does have some advantages, it will also be extremely expensive.

Follow the money: Ergen said he has enough cash to fund the Boost purchase and the initial network buildout, but acknowledged his plan will eventually require additional funding, though he said he's not worried about finding investors.

  • He notes that nothing in the deal prevents Dish from working with tech giants such as Google and Amazon, who have long craved a bigger piece of the wireless business.

What's next: The DOJ has given its blessing to the T-Mobile-Sprint deal, provided Sprint sell a variety of assets to Dish, including its prepaid business and some spectrum.

  • The FCC is also likely to give its blessing, with chairman Ajit Pai having come out in favor of the transaction even without the Dish deal.
  • However, more than a dozen states have sued to block the deal.
2. YouTube faces creator backlash

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

YouTube, the Google-owned video platform that gave rise to dozens of famous video stars, is now facing pushback from the very community that it has worked to build over the past decade, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Why it matters: YouTube's creator backlash is occurring as other user-generated video platforms begin to emerge as creators' favorites — most notably, Chinese-owned karaoke-style video app TikTok.

Driving the news: The "YouTubers Union," a self-proclaimed movement that "fights for the rights of YouTube creators and users," is teaming up with Germany's largest union (and Europe's largest industrial union) to launch a joint campaign targeting YouTube, Vice News reports.

  • The campaign, called "FairTube," seeks to hold YouTube accountable for the changes the platform has made to video monetization and distribution.
  • The campaign says on its website that it asked YouTube to enter into negotiations with it on July 26, and it has given YouTube an apparent negotiation deadline of Aug. 23.

Between the lines: The news comes amid reports that creators ditched YouTube at this year's annual VidCon video creator conference for YouTube's new video rival, TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

  • According to a report from BuzzFeed News, creators complained about YouTube’s lack of institutional support, while marketers and brand managers "seemed excited about what a YouTube-less future might look like."

Yes, but: YouTube has defended policies that it thought would benefit creators in the past.

  • Earlier this month, the company made changes to the way creators can file copyright claims to make them easier to manage, The Verge reports.
  • Earlier this year, YouTube led an aggressive consumer-facing lobbying campaign to fight the European Union's new Copyright Directive.
  • Ahead of VidCon, it added more ways for video creators to make money, while many of its competitors, including Facebook and Snapchat, also introduced new tools for creators to make more money and gain more traction.

The big picture: YouTube is still one of the largest and most lucrative ad platforms in the world, and many creators earn a lot more money there than on some of the smaller or newer video platforms.

  • According to a new study by Pew Research Center, a little over 40,000 high-subscriber YouTube channels produced nearly a quarter-million videos on YouTube in just the first week of 2019. Together, their videos were viewed more than 14.2 billion times in their first 7 days on the platform.
  • While YouTube's parent Google doesn't specify how much revenue YouTube makes, estimates put its annual revenue at anywhere between $16 billion to $25 billion.

The bottom line: Some creators may be unhappy with how YouTube sets and changes policies on its platform, but this new backlash isn't likely to slow the video giant's overall momentum.

3. Teen wins $3 million playing Fortnite

Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf celebrates winning Fortnite World Cup at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. Photo: Eric Ananmalay/ESPAT Media/Getty Images

Kyle Giersdorf, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania, won the solo part of the inaugural Fortnite World Cup on Sunday, taking home $3 million in the process.

Why it matters: Such prizes show there is real money to be made in the booming esports arena. But lots of people on Twitter on Sunday pondered whether such winnings are overglorifying the economic prospects for playing video games.

Yes, but: Jaden Ashman, a 15-year-old from Essex, U.K., was the runner-up in the doubles event and says his mother once threw away his Xbox after a fight. These days, though, she's OK with him being a professional video gamer.

Between the lines: Despite the big prizes in some of the top tournaments, some analysts believe the growing industry is in the midst of a giant bubble, while others say it's a potentially huge entertainment field just in its infancy.

4. Adobe's San Jose offices are camera-ready

Adobe's San Jose, California, headquarters. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

When you think of impressive tech company campuses, Adobe's San Jose skyscrapers don't always come to mind. But they've come a long way since the drab gray office-laden areas that the company first set up in the 1990s.

Thanks to ongoing renovations, most teams have done away with offices in favor of the Silicon Valley standard of open-plan cubicles combined with conference rooms and quiet spaces.

Why it matters: Attractive workspaces, good cafeterias and other perks help recruit in the super-tight Silicon Valley labor market. Plus, a company focused on creativity the way Adobe is needs an office that helps spark new ideas.

Some of Adobe's call booths have an extra layer of flair, especially those on the floor housing the Photoshop team. The coolest one pays tribute to the first version of the software, dating to 1990. In addition to a working Macintosh Classic running Photoshop 1.0, there is a PowerBook 170 as well as a cassette player, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures and a clunky Nokia cell phone.

Other rooms on the floor pay tribute to later releases, including a 1994-themed room with a "Pulp Fiction" poster and boombox, along with a copy of Photoshop 3.0. A later room, devoted to the 2003 debut of Creative Suite, contains a blueberry iBook and a signed poster of Carson Daly.

  • Then there's the basketball court in the middle and the skywalks connecting the buildings. Plus the gift shop, with some great kids' wear, including a T-shirt that says "I'm not messy, I'm creative" and a onesie that says "That's not drool. It's art."

What's next: Adobe has just broken ground on a 4th tower that will be able to hold more people than the other 3 combined (4,000 vs. the 3,500 workers in the current 3 buildings).

5. Take note

On tap

  • There are a number of earnings reports, most notably Apple and AMD on Tuesday, Qualcomm on Wednesday, along with Pinterest and Square on Thursday.

Trading places

  • Christine Park, who was previously chief operating officer at Goodwater Capital and also a competitive swimmer, is joining Strava as CFO.
  • Yandong Liu, previously VP of engineering at NetEase, will be chief technology officer at Strava.

ICYMI

  • President Trump says he won't be giving Apple a break on tariffs for any Mac Pros made in China. (Axios)
  • A host of tech giants, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, are asking the FCC for broad access to a new swath of spectrum for WiFi. (The Verge)
6. After you Login
via Twitter.com/birdnote

These beautiful birds are not only adorable, but apparently smell like tangerines.

Ina Fried