The major tech platforms push back against the House antitrust report, Google Assistant gets a “guest” mode and we interview a freshly minted Nobel laureate. This is your Daily Crunch for October 7, 2020.
The big story: Big tech responds to antitrust report
The House Judiciary Committee released its tech antitrust report late yesterday, concluding that the big tech platforms should face additional regulation. Recommendations include creating new separations to prevent dominant platforms from operating in adjacent lines of business, new requirements for interoperability and data portability and increased restrictions on mergers and acquisitions.
For now, these are just recommendations — and they weren’t endorsed by the committee’s Republican minority. But they have prompted forceful responses from four of the companies targeted by the report: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
Amazon, for example, dismissed the committee’s views as “fringe notions” and “regulatory spitballing,” while Apple said it “vehemently” disagrees with the report’s conclusions.
The tech giants
Google Assistant gets an incognito-like guest mode — With Guest mode on, Google Assistant won’t offer personalized responses and your interactions won’t be saved to your account.
Slack introduces new features to ease messaging between business partners — One new feature: Slack Connect DMs, allowing users inside an organization to collaborate with anyone outside their company simply by sending an invite.
Instagram’s Threads app now lets you message everyone, like its Direct app once did — These changes are rolling out shortly after a major update to Instagram’s messaging platform.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Envisics nabs $50M for its in-car holographic display tech at a $250M+ valuation — The startup brings together computer vision, machine learning, big data analytics and navigation to build hardware that integrates into vehicles to project holographic, head-up displays.
Shogun raises $35M to help brands take on
- Well-known venture investor Chamath Palihapitiya said on his “All-In” podcast that employees should be able to have free-form debate on any topic, on one condition — they should have to speak from a physical soapbox.
- The investor was responding to the Coinbase controversy where Brian Armstrong told employees in a memo last week that politics and social causes had no place at the company.
- “You put the soapbox someplace — in a safe space — where you can go and you can talk and people who want to listen will listen, and people who need to work can work, and people who don’t want to listen don’t have to be forced to listen,” Palihapitiya said on the podcast.
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The head of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, created a firestorm in tech last week when he told employees in a memo to leave their politics and social causes at the door. Social causes were a “distraction” from the company’s mission, he wrote, and he later told employees that anyone not on board with this apolitical policy would be offered severance.
Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya has a suggestion for founders like Armstrong running companies in these divisive times.
Put a literal soapbox in the office.
That’s what the founder of Social Capital said on his podcast, “All In,” on Friday. Palihapitiya, perhaps best known for his investment in Slack, said companies would be better served having their employees express their ideas in a designated space on campus, where people who want to participate in the discourse are able to and those who want to focus on work can tune it out.
He said companies should “allow 100% free-form debate about anything.”
But, he suggested imposing “one condition. You literally need to have a soapbox and like in
While Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming collaboration with The Walking Dead features some cool cards, it hasn’t been well received by a large number of Magic fans. In a Twitch stream, Wizards of the Coast has addressed community concerns over the Secret Lair drop, as reported by Dot Esports.
While Magic: The Gathering has done limited crossover sets before, such as the Ponies: The Galloping collaboration with My Little Pony, the sets are usually silver-bordered cards featuring only unique art. The Walking Dead set has been revealed as black-bordered cards that are legal in Eternal formats, with mechanically unique cards that’ll open up new options for play.
Fans aren’t happy that such cards have been released in a limited run set–like other Secret Lair drops, the Walking Dead cards will be printed to demand and then never released again. Other MTG players don’t like the idea of mixing Walking Dead lore with Magic’s already rich and distinct world.
On Magic’s official Twitch channel, Wizards of the Coast’s senior communications Manager Blake Rasmussen was joined by product architect Mark Heggen and director of Magic R&D Aaron Forsythe to talk about the new set, and what Wizards was doing to address fan concerns.
Forsythe talked about the origin of the set, and how it was inspired by internal discussions at WOTC about peeling the world of Magic away from the core mechanics of the game. “There are tons and tons of partners who would make awesome, fun Magic cards, and the Walking Dead was the first one we decided to try this out with.”
“The world is kind of Magic adjacent,” Heggen added. “It’s a world full of zombies and combat. It wasn’t a stretch for us to imagine ‘oh, what would a card would look like?'”
When asked why the Walking Dead