"Massive companies like AT&T and Comcast have spent the first two months of 2014 boldly announcing plans to close and control the internet through additional fees, pay-to-play schemes, and sheer brutal size — all while the legal rules designed to protect against these kinds of abuses were struck down in court for basically making too much sense. “Broadband providers represent a threat to internet openness,” concluded Judge David Tatel in Verizon’s case against the FCC’s Open Internet order, adding that the FCC had provided ample evidence of internet companies abusing their market power and had made “a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made.” Verizon argued strenuously, but had offered the court “no persuasive reason to question that judgement.”
Then Tatel cut the FCC off at the knees for making “a rather half-hearted argument” in support of its authority to properly police these threats and vacated the rules protecting the open internet, surprising observers on both sides of the industry and sending new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler into a tailspin of empty promises seemingly designed to disappoint everyone.
'I expected the anti-blocking rule to be upheld,' National Cable and Telecommunications Association president and CEO Michael Powell told me after the ruling was issued. Powell was chairman of the FCC under George W. Bush; he issued the first no-blocking rules.”
“Before [WhatsApp founder] Jan Koum was a billionaire and long before he was a Silicon Valley technology executive, he was Ukrainian. Koum, born in a village outside of Kiev, emigrated from a politically unstable Ukraine as a teenager.”
"I’ve seen first-hand the potential and technological savvy of the Ukrainian people. I was blown away by Enable Talk — a project from four Ukrainian student developers who created gloves that translate sign language into speech. Enable Talk took home the first prize at the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition in 2012, and Time magazine named it one of the best inventions of the year.
According to the Central and Eastern European Outsourcing Association, Ukraine is the No. 1 outsourcing destination in the region for information-technology services. Tech companies in Silicon Valley, London and Berlin are teeming with Ukrainian engineers — Ukraine’s hackers-for-hire are some of the best in the world.”
"A long history of scientific and technological excellence shows that Ukraine-born talent usually realizes its full potential after leaving Ukraine’s political environment behind."
“When Koum and his mother immigrated to Mountain View in 1992, they subsisted on food stamps and welfare. Koum barely graduated from high school and dropped out of college. He taught himself computer networking from used book store manuals and created WhatsApp in 2009. In 20 years, Koum went from food stamps to billionaire, epitomizing the American dream, yet he is exactly the type of immigrant that opponents of immigration reform say they do not want in America.
As our nation continues to tackle the important issue of immigration reform, we need to remember that successful companies are not always founded by the immigrants with a master’s degree in hand. Symbolically, Koum signed his $19 billion deal last week at the site where he once stood in line to collect food stamps.
Like WhatsApp, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.”
This morning I had a meeting with a couple entrepreneurs whose company was recently acquired. It was just a general catch up session, no real agenda. Still, it seemed quite random when a good third of our conversation was spent talking about WhatsApp and its incredible penetration in India.
Why was this growth happening? The consensus was: focus. On what they’re good at. On what their users want. On what ultimately matters.
A couple hours later, what at the time seemed a random conversation turned almost a little spooky when it was announced that Facebook would be acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion and change.
I’m not going to spend time breaking down this extraordinary deal as I know no more about it than what I’ve read. But what I do find fascinating is what’s becoming clear from those closest to the company: in an age of pomp and circumstance around all things startups, the team behind WhatsApp was all about keeping their heads down, focusing on product, and avoiding bullshit at all costs.
There was a good, brief discussion on Twitter tonight about Microsoft Office. Specifically, the fact that it’s 2014, so why the hell is anyone still using it?
To be clear, I know that a lot of people have to use it in their work environment. But that’s more because their office buys it for them and forces them to. It’s a strong method of lock-in that is seemingly still going strong after all these years.
The reality is that there are now more than enough solid-to-better alternatives for much of what Office offers. And some, like Google Docs and now even the Apple iWork suite, are free.1 And so it seems to me that increasingly, Office persists more out of habit (“I don’t know how to do this without Office”) and misguided fear (“what if I need Office for some reason?”) than necessity.