Hello just once more from L.A. before I head back to the foggy confines of San Francisco later today. Tune in this weekend to Axios AM to find out the really fun thing I was up to yesterday.
In the meantime, here's a jam-packed 1,459-word Login, a 5-minute read.
Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios; Photo: The Washington Post
Oracle, the business software giant, has maintained exceptional sway with the Trump administration that has helped it win policy battles and thwart its larger competitors, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.
Why it matters: The techlash that's causing headaches for Google, Facebook and Amazon has yet to hit Oracle. Instead, the company is helping stoke some aspects of the tech critique in D.C. itself — highlighting the distinction between its own fee-for-service model and free, ad-based businesses.
What they're saying: "We have been working hard to point out that there is no techlash. There is a substantial backlash against the business model where purportedly 'free services' are offered in exchange for massive and unconstrained collection of consumer data untethered to the underlying service," said Ken Glueck, Oracle's executive vice president and top Washington lobbyist. "Winter is here for that business model."
Driving the news: Over the last two years, Oracle has turned is sights on Amazon, a competitor in the cloud-computing business.
The backstory: Catz developed ties with the Trump administration early on.
The big picture: Oracle grew rich and strong as a corporate database provider in the '90s and expanded into an array of business software markets from retail to HR via acquisition.
Details: Oracle has supported law and policy changes that may not directly benefit the company, but could cause problems for its rivals.
My thought bubble: Oracle isn't the only tech giant to play the insider game in Trump's Washington. IBM has taken a similar strategy. Microsoft and Apple have also had successes, using a mix of engagement and confrontation.
Photos: Denis Charlet/AFP/Daniel Reinhardt/picture alliance via Getty Images
Google and Facebook are both mulling changes to their political ad policies, sources tell Axios' Sara Fischer.
Driving the news: There's no indication at this point that either company will stop running political ads. Rather, both are weighing policy changes that have been floated as compromise ideas, like limiting micro-targeting or disclosing more info about the advertiser.
Why it matters: Google and Facebook are by far the two biggest online advertising firms in the U.S., and already, presidential candidates alone have spent well over $50 million on both platforms so far this year.
The big picture: Both companies are under enormous pressure from policymakers and industry leaders to address ways political ads can be manipulated on big automated platforms and to curtail the spread of lies and misinformation through paid advertising.
Between the lines: At this point, both companies are likely more worried about pressure coming from Democrats than from Republicans.
Justice Department charges were revealed on Wednesday against two former Twitter employees for spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia by obtaining information on dissidents who use the platform, the Washington Post reports.
Why it matters, via the Post: This marks the "first time federal prosecutors have publicly accused the kingdom of running agents in the United States. ... The case highlights the issue of foreign powers exploiting American social media platforms to identify critics and suppress their voices," and it has escalated concerns over the tech industry's ability to protect user data.
The big picture: Ahmad Abouammo has been charged with spying on three users — one of which discussed Saudi leadership, as Axios' Ursula Perano reports. Ali Alzabarah, the other former employee, allegedly accessed the private information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015.
Our thought bubble, via Axios' Scott Rosenberg: This is a classic "insider risk" situation, illustrating how a company's public commitments to protecting individuals' data can fray if it's not also effectively curbing employee misbehavior.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is taking Facebook to court to force it to turn over evidence for a newly revealed state investigation into the social network giant's privacy practices.
The big picture: The challenge adds one more layer of trouble for the beleaguered company, which already faces a slew of antitrust investigations and privacy probes in the U.S. and EU.
Driving the news: In a filing with the San Francisco County Superior Court, Becerra says Facebook has failed to comply with subpoenas for documents and emails. The company's responses have been "patently inadequate," Becerra said at a Wednesday press conference.
What they're saying:
Scott Guthrie. Photo: Microsoft.com
Sources tell me that Facebook had indeed heavily recruited Guthrie, who has long led Microsoft developer efforts, but now heads the company's overall Azure cloud push, as well as its developer and some business software units.
Why it matters: Facebook was trying to lure Guthrie at what ended up being a key time for both companies. When Satya Nadella was named CEO in 2014, Guthrie was promoted to Nadella's former role atop the server and tools business and has since added responsibility and influence within the company.
Between the lines: Most of Guthrie's Microsoft colleagues only learned today that he had ever considered leaving Redmond for Facebook.
My thought bubble: It all worked out pretty well for Guthrie, who ended up getting a promotion at roughly the same time as Facebook's recruiting push, all apparently without having to leverage that offer. And, if you haven't heard, Facebook has had a bit of a rough go of things of late.
This is your reminder that if Sky News presenter Kay Burley ever asks you for an interview, you'd better show up.