Belated Happy Father's Day to all of my dad readers, as well as to my dad and to AJ, who is an incredible papa to Harvey (who made a cameo in last night's episode of "Axios on HBO").
Axios is kicking off a bracket challenge for readers during the Women's World Cup.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,504 words, < 6 minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
A proliferation of antitrust investigations into the tech giants is offering competitors a chance to sound off on claims that their larger rivals are playing dirty, Axios' David McCabe reports.
Why it matters: If the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission pursue formal investigations into Google, Facebook, Amazon or Apple, they’ll need all the evidence they can get. The companies that compete with them could provide that by the ton.
Background: DOJ and FTC have split up authority over potentially investigating the 4 companies for antitrust violations — with Justice taking Google and Apple, and FTC getting Facebook and Amazon.
What they’re saying: Gene Kimmelman, president of advocacy group Public Knowledge and a former Justice Department antitrust official, tells Axios...
"The experiences of other players in the marketplace interacting with dominant firms is a fundamental element of any antitrust investigation."
What's happening: Competitors and corporate critics of the giants are already helping to shape the conversation around the issue, with anecdotal and quantitative evidence.
The bigger picture: There are a wide variety of competitors to the 4 tech giants, across a range of industries from retailers to small businesses.
Yes, but: Speaking up can come at a cost to smaller companies, including angering the powerful corporate giants and signaling to investors that you might go under without government intervention.
The bottom line: Public complaints about Big Tech that arise if investigations ramp up — whether in congressional hearings or the press — may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Go deeper: David has more here.
Cook speaks during the June 16 Stanford commencement ceremony. Photo: Liu Guanguan/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook used a Stanford University commencement speech yesterday to go after other tech companies, saying "this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation — the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility," per CNBC.
Why it matters: As the national conversation on tech gear-shifts from admiration to regulation, Apple hopes to carve out a safe harbor by positioning itself as a privacy champion.
Here are highlights of Cook’s address:
“We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood."
"If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold and even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human."
Of note: Cook didn't single out any company by name, but said, "It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this, but if you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos.”
Our thought bubble: It’s one thing to make these points at Stanford — it would be another to present them to federal regulators.
Go deeper: What Apple knows about you
Chart: Adobe's Q2 Voice Report
Consumers find voice-based ads on their smart speaker to be more engaging and less intrusive than pitches in other media, according to a new survey by Adobe.
By the numbers: According to the findings, 43% of consumers found smart speaker ads to be less intrusive, compared to 26% that held the opposite view. (About 31% were neutral on the question.)
Why it matters: While smart speakers continue to proliferate, the business around voice-based advertising remains nascent.
Our thought bubble: Right now we simply don't encounter too many ads on smart speakers, so maybe that's why people don't find them intrusive? If that's the case, just give it a little time.
Methodology: Adobe surveyed 1,025 adults May 15-22 about their use of voice assistants. See methodology here.
Rather than react one story at a time to negative media coverage of the transgender community, producer, activist and writer Andrea James wants to map out the bias, in hopes of eventually eliminating it.
What's new: For the past year, James has been working on a data visualization project tracing connecting threads and shared sources in biased coverage. On Monday, James is going public with the effort, called The Transphobia Project, and launching a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of being able to fully fund the effort.
The backstory: James said she was spurred to action by a cover story last year in The Atlantic that suggested there isn't clear evidence whether it is better to support or reject trans youths' gender identities. (There is scientific consensus that affirming health care improves the wellbeing and reduces the likelihood of suicide for transgender youth.)
What's next: James hopes to have the tool and initial research ready by the summer of 2020, with the goal of creating something that would be useful for spotting all manner of bias.
Lego's Tim Brooks discusses the company's work on sustainability with Axios' Ina Fried. Photo: "Axios on HBO."
Earlier this year, I had a chance to visit Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, in what turned out to be a look both forward and backward.
Driving the news: My reporting for Axios focused on how Lego is looking to use its iconic bricks to help middle schoolers to learn how to code, while a segment for "Axios on HBO" that aired Sunday looks at the company's ambitious quest to replace all its petroleum-based plastics with either recycled or plant-based ones by 2030.
The bottom line: You can see the full segment on HBO (and a teaser here), but basically the company has yet to find a material that will serve as a suitable substitute.
Details: My trip to Denmark wasn't only a look into the future, though.
Go deeper: Axios did a deep dive on plastics over the weekend.
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