Platformonomics TGIF #15: July 21, 2023


New post format: a weekly rollup of links, comments on those links, activity updates and attempts at humor.  The intention is quicker hits in addition to the less frequent big posts and more timely hammering on my favorite themes. This is my primary hangout until the contours of the post-Twitter world become clear. Be sure to subscribe below and to the right to receive all my output via email.

Note that my poor, overtaxed server struggles to serve up all the images to email users at the same time, so if you don’t see images, be sure to click through. Server upgrade in the works.

A Glimmer of Antitrust Sanity?

A double dose of good antitrust news while I was off the grid last week. The FTC, who pride themselves on being “willing to lose“, put another win in their coveted loss column by failing to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. The judge was not swayed by hipster antitrust pleadings (which don’t even try to develop a new legal standard beyond “BIG TECH BAD. ACQUISITIONS BAD”):

For the reasons explained, the Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition. To the contrary, the record evidence points to more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content.

Previous: A New Antitrust Doctrine
Related: Why Joe Biden’s trustbusters have fallen short of their ambitions

Another Glimmer of Antitrust Sanity?

Undoubtedly following my recommendations, the DOJ (the FTC’s less shrill and more competent partner in antitrust enforcement) is scrutinizing private equity software deals. In particular, they are looking at rollups that both raise prices and reduce competition which are all the rage amongst perfidious private equity.

Previous: A New Antitrust Doctrine

A (Call of) Duty-Free Zone?

As a consequence of its surrealist regulatory regime, the EU is becoming a technology desert, getting new software late, neutered or not at all. But the much smaller, post-Brexit UK is even more exposed.

UK antitrust authorities aggressively moved to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. But after (even) the EU approved the deal and the FTC’s opposition went down in flames, the UK quickly reversed course and decided to negotiate a deal lest Albion find itself a Call of Duty-free zone.

Minutes after Judge Corley’s decision, both the CMA and Microsoft have agreed to pause their legal battle in the UK to negotiate how the Activision Blizzard deal could be modified to address the CMA’s cloud gaming concerns.

For their next act, the UK will have the opportunity to capitulate on their misguided desire to break end-to-end encryption or find themselves an island amongst communications applications.

How Do You Say “Burning Platform” in German?

The Wile E. Coyote moment for the cornerstone of the mercantilist European economy, the German auto industry, is ever more evident. Even to VW’s CEO, who declared “the roof is on fire“. The innovators dilemma accompanying the transition from the internal combustion engine to EVs, an inability to write software, and a hail mary bet on China all portend calamitous consequences for Europe.

Previous: Volkswagen’s Death Throes Continue, The Fate of the European Economy: Automotive Edition, Europe: Investing in Slave Labor
Related: Volkswagen convinced Xinjiang audit will provide insight on human rights situation

Day Two of Amazon’s PR Campaign About Nothing

Meta formalizes its OSS LLM strategy with Llama (with OpenAI ally Microsoft no less, which makes sense given Meta’s dual developer and enterprise trust deficits). Apple LLM rumors abound. Yet Amazon is still missing in action except for their ongoing PR campaign belittling generative AI and sounding like IBM as they solemnly intone about why the exalted “enterprise” can’t possibly do anything with LLMs. Comparisons to Alexa add to the perception that they don’t even remotely understand the game afoot: “ChatGPT can’t do a lot of the things that Alexa can do today”.

Previous: A PR Campaign About Nothing: AWS and Generative AI

Elon Cashes in All the Trust He’s Banked with Twitter

Previous: Do Not Take a Dependency on Elon Musk: Chapter 147, Do Not Take a Dependency on Elon Musk: Chapter 148, Do Not Take a Dependency on Elon Musk: Chapter 149

New York Times Gives Up on First Amendment?

Doesn’t the NYT want First Amendment protection for its own misinformation and hallucinations?

Previous: Everyone Hallucinates, Not Just LLMs

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