Snap Inc., best known for Snapchat, its overshare-facilitating mobile app, is going public. If current investor optimism holds, it could prove to be the most expensive tech IPO ever: its current valuation is $25,000,000,000. Skeptics are quick to note that Snap Inc. has never made a profit—it actually lost half a billion last year. Snap is also facing allegations of corporate sexism, being easily distracted by “toys,” and having a confusing interface. Nevertheless, the IPO is likely to be a gigantic success for Wall Street, minting yet another uber-rich tech mogul, and further strengthening a company that already knows more about you than you think.
Censor$4!% in China
Remember the days when you could read a mainstream tech blog to circumvent Chinese internet censors? It’s a brave new world: nearly 25% of the world’s online population now sits behind the Great (and effective) Chinese Firewall. And the censorship continues. Just a few weeks ago, the Chinese government expanded its censorship reach to mobile apps on your phone. Perhaps most notably, the Chinese government “asked” Apple Inc. to remove the New York Times mobile app from the App Store in China (the Times has been on China’s naughty list ever since publishing a series of articles on the expansive hidden riches of its former leader Wen Jiabao and his family). Apple obediently complied with China’s take-down request. Such action may be the beginning of a new mobile app censorship trend: China recently mandated government registration of every app store across the country.
Tech Giants Awakened
Despite a seemingly warm, if awkward, and certainly rich, initial meeting, President Trump’s relationship with tech leaders has hit turbulence less than one month in office. Ninety-seven tech companies, including many of Silicon Valley’s most visible companies, filed papers with the Ninth Circuit calling the President’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations unlawful, discriminatory, and, oh yea, it’s against their interests. While the amicus brief’s audience is likely limited in scope, a Super Bowl advertisement from Airbnb, which impliedly condemned the President’s actions, reached a massive audience. No matter the fate of President Trump’s controversial Executive Order, he now has the full attention of technology community.
Phone Patent (unfortunately) Pending
On a lighter note, have you ever felt that your smart phone manufacturer has gone overboard with “must-have” innovations that only lead to sadness and destruction? Allow me to present this year’s unwanted “innovation”: your phone can now fold. Actually, it may be able to fold twice! A survey of phone patents reveals every major phone company is eager to “disrupt” the pervasive non-folding phone market. Here’s a PSA to phone manufacturers: please just stop. Maybe focus on that pesky battery issue.