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Conglomerates Didn’t Die. They Look Like Amazon. - The New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin
DEALBOOK JUNE 19, 2017

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods re-opens the debate about conglomerates which supposed to be dead, a relic of a bygone era of corporate America as investors supposedly want smaller, nimbler, more focused companies......Amazon is just one of several digital-economy conglomerates. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is another. Facebook is quickly becoming a conglomerate, too...... today’s tech-enabled conglomerates, are spending, and often losing, tens of billions of dollars annually on all sorts of projects and acquisitions that may or may not turn out to be successful. But investors are seemingly willing to give these new behemoths a free pass in the name of growth and innovation — until they aren’t.

If there is any lesson from the last breed of industrial conglomerates, it is that there is a natural life cycle to most of them....When it comes to Amazon (or Alphabet, or any of the new conglomerates), the question is whether there is something fundamentally different about these businesses given their grounding in digital information — especially as they expand into complex brick-and-mortar operations like upscale supermarkets.

In an age of big data and artificial intelligence, are businesses that look disparate really similar? And can one company’s leadership really oversee so many different businesses? When does it become too big to manage?...a recent article in the Yale Law Journal made a compelling case that Amazon has built perhaps the ultimate economic mousetrap — one impervious to the natural life cycle of a conglomerate, but one that might ultimately prove to be anticompetitive.

The author, Lina M. Khan, a Yale Law student who has written about antitrust law and competition policy, argued that Amazon had created a “platform market” and can use its size and scale to subsidize its entrance into new businesses through predatory pricing.....The economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits,.....Amazon’s role as both a distributor and cloud provider for many of its competitors gives it an unfair advantage. “This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors,”.....Jeff Bezos, is clear. The man who is assembling the 21st century’s most fearsome new conglomerate once explained his view of competition this way: “Your margin is my opportunity.”
conglomerates  Andrew_Sorkin  Jeff_Bezos  Amazon  diversification  GE  Jeff_Immelt  FTC  Whole_Foods  Silicon_Valley  digital_economy  Alphabet  Facebook  lessons_learned  life_cycles  Yale  Charles_Munger  antitrust  competition  Berkshire_Hathaway  platforms  predatory_practices 
4 days ago by jerryking
Alphabet agrees to sell Boston Dynamics to SoftBank • The Verge
Nick Statt:
<p>Despite the steady march of Boston Dynamics’ robotics innovations, it appears Alphabet leadership didn’t quite know what it would ultimately do with the company. As part of an overall restructuring and cost-saving strategy set forth by Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat last year, the company has taken significant measures to slim down its experimental efforts and rein in its “moonshot” projects. Even prior to Porat’s hiring, it was clear Alphabet was at a bit of a loss with regard to its robotics ambitions. Astro Teller, the head of the company’s X lab, was the one who disbanded Replicant in 2014, before Google was restructured as Alphabet, according to Bloomberg.

As part of the SoftBank deal, Alphabet is also selling Schaft, a humanoid robotics company Google acquired as part of its Replicant buying spree back in 2013 and 2014. Schaft was spun out of the JSK Robotics Laboratory within the University of Tokyo, making it a sensible purchase for SoftBank. Despite its huge presence in the Japanese telecom market, thanks to its 2006 acquisition of Vodafone Japan, SoftBank is also a leader in robotics — the company makes the popular humanoid Pepper robot in partnership with Aldebaran Robotics.</p>


Two things. SoftBank also now owns ARM; Alphabet is really pulling its horns in.
alphabet  robotics  bostondynamics  softbank 
14 days ago by charlesarthur
panagrams
sentences with every letter of alphabet
alphabet  letters 
15 days ago by jersu
Google vs. Uber: How One Engineer Sparked a War - WSJ
By Jack Nicas and Tim Higgins
Updated May 23, 2017

Anthony Levandowski started outside tech companies while working for Google, which alleges he took driverless-car secrets to a competitor.....Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Uber are embroiled in a legal fight over driverless-car technology, with Mr. Levandowski playing a starring role. The two firms, along with several other companies, are locked in a race to automate cars, a contest that could affect the future of transportation......Google’s approach [i.e. encouraging entrepreneurship amongst employees] helps it create new businesses, it also can spark disagreements between the company and its employees over who owns certain technology......Alphabet accuses Mr. Levandowski of stealing its trade secrets around driverless-car technology and bringing it to Uber, which he joined as its head of its driverless-car project last year after earning more than $120 million at Google. Alphabet has filed two arbitration claims against Mr. Levandowski and is suing Uber for allegedly conspiring with him.....
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4 weeks ago by jerryking

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