I landed at JFK late last night and had to chuckle when I saw the airport dominated by Amazon ads, albeit for its AWS unit.
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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Amazon's retreat from Queens shows us the dynamics of a new local power game — one in which giant tech companies play on the same field with governments, as equals, with equal influence over our economies and communities.
The big picture: The company's move cheered those New Yorkers who believed the deal gave Amazon too much in the way of tax breaks and financial incentives, even as it disappointed local officials who'd banked on Amazon's promise of 25,000 new jobs.
Context: Amazon has played a high-handed game all along in its headquarters search.
How it works: Along the way, Amazon gave us a glimpse into the new playbook that tech companies functioning like quasi-states can use to flex their power —negotiating behind closed doors, hiding their cards, and changing the game instead of working with unpredictable local officials.
Winners: Leaping to conclusions about who came out on top here is a mistake.
There's another way to play this game. Google and Apple have been undertaking major expansions outside of Silicon Valley and doing so with a lot less tax money and a lot less drama.
Apple said a year ago it was looking at a spot outside of California and Texas in which to expand. It decided instead to expand in Austin, pledging to invest $1 billion there.
Google announced last year a major expansion in New York, spending $2.4 billion to acquire Chelsea Market and then, in December, announcing a further $1 billion investment.
Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images
Facebook is negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission over a possible multibillion dollar fine to settle an investigation into privacy violations by the firm, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
Why it matters: Previous FTC privacy fines levied against tech firms have been in the (low) millions, not billions, notes Axios' David McCabe. A major fine would send a message to Facebook — and other tech giants — that the commission is determined to rein in careless treatment of user privacy.
Background: The Post story follows its report last month that the agency’s commissioners had met to discuss a possible fine — a sign that the probe into the company, which were made public with the Cambridge Analytica revelations last March, was further along.
What's next: If Facebook fails to reach a settlement with the FTC, the agency can seek remedies in court.
Meanwhile, the hits haven't stopped. The latest revelation was a report Thursday by CNBC that Facebook kept a lookout list, tracking the whereabouts of former employees, unhappy ex-contractors, and people who had threatened the company.
The Federal Communications Commission wants you to know it takes the problem of robocalls very seriously — and it has a report to do it.
Details: The report notes that until recently the agency had no tools to fight unwanted spam calls, but now has several options. Of course, randomly dial any consumer and ask if they have a few minutes and they will tell you the problem is getting worse.
What's happening, per the FCC:
What they're saying: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai promised the agency would use "every tool in our toolbox." He added...
“No consumer wants to be bombarded by spoofed robocalls — they’re a waste of time at best and a scam at worst.”
“As this report makes clear, we’re steadfastly focused on addressing this serious problem. There’s no easy or single answer, but by using every tool in our toolbox, we are fighting against the onslaught of unwanted calls that has led a lot of consumers to stop answering the phone altogether.”
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The Alliance of American Football made its debut this past weekend and produced some very solid ratings. But it's not the ratings nor the game play that caught the attention of Axios' Kendall Baker. It's the business model.
The bottom line: The AAF is not a football league; it's a tech company.
The big picture: Sports leagues have traditionally made money by selling a product: sports. But thanks to advancements in technology and changes in media consumption, new revenue streams have presented themselves.
The bottom line: The AAF's plan is to do what MLB Advanced Media did, but with data (which is hot now) instead of streaming technology (which was hot then).
Despite calls from power users for an “edit” button, Twitter instead is considering how it could enable “clarifications” of tweets, CEO Jack Dorsey said Thursday at Goldman Sachs’ tech conference in San Francisco, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.
The bottom line: Twitter really, really doesn’t want to add an “edit” button. Dorsey emphasized that even the "clarification" option might never see the light of day.
How it would work: Dorsey was vague on details but "clarification" seem to be a way to go back and add context to a tweet — similar to the “quote tweet” function, but not quite. Added context would follow the old tweet around, and users could clarify any of their old tweets.
Between the lines: Dorsey seems to be thinking of the countless situations when someone in the public eye has had to explain or apologize for something they’ve tweeted in the past.
Yes, but: The company has considered and even experimented with a number of features and changes over the years that have never materialized.
Turns out you really can’t unsee.