Microsoft’s Privacy Victory. As discussed in our recent Shift Dialogs talk with Microsoft president Brad Smith, the Redmond giant is involved in some serious litigation with the US government, this time as plaintiff. Yesterday the company won an appeal on overseas data searches (New York Times). An appeals court “reversed a lower court’s ruling that Microsoft must turn over email communications for a suspect in a narcotics case stored in a Microsoft data center in Dublin.” Microsoft argued that the earlier ruling would make it increasingly difficult for companies to resist attempts by less savory governments to obtain customer data. Plenty of news organizations filed briefs supporting Microsoft; the Department of Justice released a statement saying it is considering options. For now, though, domestic searches stay domestic.
Tech Execs Line Up Before Republican Convention. Peter Thiel, one of the best-known and most-controversial tech investors, is speaking at the Republican Convention in Cleveland next week, but there are plenty of prominent tech voices that won’t be joining him. In this open letter from technology sector leaders on Donald Trump’s candidacy for President, which we’ve published, more than 100 inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, researchers, and business leaders (among them executives at Google, Qualcomm, Slack, Twilio, and Yelp) lay out the case against Trump’s “divisive” candidacy and, instead “embrace an optimistic vision.” Whichever side you’re on (and we’re not playing false equivalence here; John Battelle, our founder and CEO, signed the letter, as did Ev Williams, founder of Medium, which hosts our website), it is welcome to see tech moguls focus on issues bigger than their own companies.
The Augmented Reality Revolution May Not Arrive Overnight. Everyone you know is out hunting for Pokemon right now, but that doesn’t mean you should bet everything on augmented reality-based entertainment yet, at least not for the short term. The Los Angeles Times looked at local funding and found that, if you don’t count Snapchat, LA startups took in 57% less cash from VCs in the second quarter compared to the year before. Investment bank Digi-Capital projects it could be until 2025 until AR goes mainstream: “Despite the rapid growth potential, we are still talking about an early adopter ‘Tesla’ market for the next five years.”
Facebook Says Facebook’s Lack of Diversity Isn’t Facebook’s Fault. Diversity at Facebook still stinks. The company is blaming it on the pool of available talent (Wall Street Journal), with soporific corporatespeak sentences like this one: “Appropriate representation in technology or any other industry will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system.” Granted, this is an industry-wide problem, not a Facebook problem. And there are pipeline issues. But a company with Facebook’s power can take on more responsibility, no?
Do the Right Thing on Executive Pay, Even If For the Wrong Reason. The big consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers says businesses must alter their “toxic” attitude to executive pay (Guardian). While it comes as no surprise that the company’s survey of Britons found widespread “public concern about executive pay,” what’s most important is that the survey, commissioned by a consulting group that benefits from outsized executive compensation, happened at all. The report recommends that companies “respond to public concern” or “matters will be taken out of our hands.” It’s not necessarily the most noble motivation, but anyone in business knows that results matter a lot more than intentions.
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