Hey, I’m so happy to see you. I’m Jordan Parker Erb, and I have a question for you: What do driverless cars, hoverboards, and space elevators have in common?
Each of these ideas is a “moonshot,” or a radical, potentially world-changing project that Big Tech companies have worked on in recent years.
But recently, amid a gloomy economic climate, companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are backing away from these kinds of ambitious long-term projects — and the golden era of moonshots may have run its course.
All of this, and more, below.
1. Is the era of Big Tech moonshots over? For years, companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook dumped money and energy into radical, potentially world-changing projects. But recently, Big Tech firms have been scaling back their ambitions — and have instead turned to a Wall Street-appeasing pragmatism.
- At Google, moonshot ideas have included driverless cars (now the self-driving startup Waymo) and internet balloons (the now-shuttered Loon). For Snap, it was the abandoned Pixy drone. Facebook attempted a speed-dating app and Hotline, a tool for creators and fans to interact.
- But thanks to a tough market and some projects not paying off after years in the works, these companies are being forced to become more efficient — and cutting moonshots as a result.
- Google has slashed projects that don’t align with its CEO’s broader mission to pursue artificial intelligence, Snap has turned to focus on its “core strengths,” like messaging and its popular filters, and Facebook has shrunk its experimental products group. The group is now dedicated to short-form video, attempting to keep up with TikTok.
In other news:
2. Apple nixed plans to increase iPhone 14 production. According to Bloomberg, Apple ditched plans to make more of the new iPhones this year because it hasn’t experienced the surge in demand it originally anticipated. Get the full rundown here.
3. Twitter is telling advertisers their ads mistakenly ran on profiles selling and soliciting child sexual abuse material. In emails to advertisers and advertising agencies, viewed by Insider, the company said it had banned accounts that violated its rules and it was investigating what had happened. What we know so far.
4. Amazon temporarily shut down some warehouses in Florida. In preparation for Hurricane Ian making landfall in Florida, the ecommerce giant closed warehouse sites near Tampa and Orlando until Friday. Here’s the latest.
5. Salesforce has quietly become a giant government contractor. Public contract data shows that over the past five years, Salesforce has racked up over 1,400 deals with federal agencies. Everything we know about the contracts.
6. Workers at Amazon warehouses will receive hourly pay raises. Wages will increase across the country by roughly $0.50 to $1 an hour, according to workers at two facilities. It comes after Amazon workers of all types have been pushing for higher pay for years. Read the full story here.
7. Hey, young people — Google wants you to use it more. In an effort to stay hip, Google is updating its most important products. It’s added more vertical, TikTok-style videos in its search results, and has added a “vibe” feature for Google Maps, which will show curated pictures of an area that a user is searching for. A look at the TikTok-ification of Google.
8. Grimes said she couldn’t afford a house in Austin without Elon Musk’s help. The singer slammed housing prices on Twitter, saying despite being a successful artist, she couldn’t afford a home that would fit her kids in Austin, where the average house costs over $820,000. Here’s what else she said.
Odds and ends:
9. People are roasting BMW for unveiling a “hideous” SUV. Coming in at $160,000 and 644 horsepower, BMW’s XM is a plug-in hybrid with dramatic angles, chunky wheels, and slim headlights — and some people hate it. Take a look at the “ghastly” XM.
10. Amazon just unveiled a Kindle you can write on. At its annual hardware event yesterday, the company debuted the Kindle Scribe, a device for both reading and writing. Here are the Kindle Scribe’s coolest features.
What we’re watching today: