I’m still thinking about last week’s historic and surreal meeting of the titans of tech at Trump Tower. Much already has been made of the seating chart, an excellent version of which appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Apple’s Tim Cook and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, for example, sat with only one person between themselves and the President-elect who obviously hadn’t been their choice.
I thought what was more interesting, however, was how relatively old the companies were that were chosen to represent the technology industry.
Tech is supposed to be the industry of disruption, and yet the youngest companies present were Facebook and Palantir. One company at the meeting, IBM, is ancient. Five more are old by Silicon Valley standards. Another five are new only in comparison:
So who was missing and what to make of their absence? The CEOs of Airbnb and Uber reportedly were invited but couldn’t make it to New York. Twitter, shockingly, was excluded, given the next President’s fondness for using the service to communicate everything from serious policy proposals to what he’s watching on television. The absence of Meg Whitman, the CEO of HP Enterprise, arguably Silicon Valley’s first company, was less surprising, considering her hostility to the victor.
If buzz merited attendance, Snapchat should have been present. Pinterest, Dropbox, and WeWork would have interesting additions. Once and former tech stars like Dell, Salesforce.com, and Intuit likely would have had a lot to say. Peter Thiel likely didn’t see the need to invite venture capitalists other than himself, a telling decision.
That said, it’s a good list. It represents the best and biggest of the tech industry and those that have stood the test of at least a little bit of time.
Have a durable week.
BITS AND BYTES
Amazon is working an app that could turn it into the Uber of trucking. The e-commerce giant’s initial motivation is self-interested—it’s looking for ways to match its shipment needs with available drivers more efficiently so that it can reduce its dependence on logistics giants like UPS and FedEx. It the app works as plans, Amazon could allow others to use it for their own needs. The project, first reported by Business Insider, is hiring quickly and the app could be rolled out by the summer. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)
BMW faces a wireless dilemma. As of January, AT&T is shutting down the 2G communications network that connects some of its older model cars to the company’s roadside assistance service. The situation points up a dilemma that’s sure to become more common over time: how to keep in-dashboard information technology current when some cars can stay on the road for at least a decade. (Wall Street Journal)
This is what Alphabet Waymo autonomous minivans look like. The newly independent operation is adding 100 self-driving minivans to its test fleet as part of its partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. (Fortune)
WATCH FOR IT
Apple’s appeal in EU tax case is forthcoming. Executives from the tech giant describe it as a convenient target for Europe’s tax lawyers and suggest the European Commission ignored outside advice about the case. The EU wants Apple to pay $13.8 billion in back taxes to Ireland, where it maintains its European headquarters. It’s expected to launch its official legal challenge this week. Ireland has already protested the EU’s decision. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)
SURVEYS AND STUDIES
Blockchain adoption is probably more widespread than you think. A Deloitte survey finds that at least 12% of large companies are developing applications using blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underlies the bitcoin digital currency. Of those, close to 40% have invested at least $5 million in the technology. (VentureBeat)
‘Tis the season to buy virtual assistants. Analysts expect devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home to be the big winners this holiday retail season, with between 10 million and 12 million units sold. This interest could come at the expense of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. (Reuters)
Silicon Valley is slowing losing its relevance? There are now more than 456 tech hubs worldwide, with these innovation centers cropping up in India, London, Singapore, Paris, Bangalore, Tel Aviv, Toronto, and Shanghai. That’s a 51% increase compared with July 2015, according to a new report from Capgemini and Altimeter Group. (VentureBeat)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Mark Cuban to Donald Trump: Be the Robotics President, by Tara John
IPOs Just Had Their Second-Worst Year Since 1992, by Stephen Gandel
What Verizon Might Do If It Cancels the Yahoo Deal, by Aaron Pressman
Elon Musk’s Next Venture to Tackle Traffic Is Totally ‘Boring’, by Mahita Gajanan
Why Apple’s 2016 Was a Mix of Good and Bad, by Don Reisinger
Here’s What Caused Facebook’s Solar-Powered Drone to Crash, by Jonathan Vanian
ONE MORE THING
Vine isn’t dead yet. At least not quite. In January, the popular video app will be resurrected as something called Vine Camera. Users will be able to create the six-second loops that made Vine famous and then post them on Twitter or save them to their phone. (Fortune)