Will today’s tech giants live to be a century old? It’s all about the quality of the product John Naughton

A Question: What is the average lifespan of an American company? Not just any old company, mind, but one big enough to draw in the Standard & Poor’s index of the 500 largest. The answer is surprising: the seven-year rolling average is 19.9 years. In the year In 1965, it was 32 years old and the predictions are that the downward trend will continue.

Remember that we are talking about an average here. The trend is not to say that today’s companies will not reach the first century. Some almost certainly, some in the past as: AT & T, for example, is 137 years old; Total electricity is 130. Ford is 119; IBM is 111; and General Motors, 106. But most companies wither or go under before they can get a telegram from the president.

With this thought in mind, let’s examine the giant tech corporations currently running the globe and applaud our legislators. Apple is 46 years old; Amazon is 28; Microsoft is 47; Google is 24; Meta (née Facebook) is just 18.

Which of these, if any, can make it to three digits? The answer depends on two things: which are providing the goods or services that the world really needs and which are most susceptible to public opinion and political views of their actions and business models.

Seen through that lens, Microsoft and Amazon seem like sure bets. In the Western world, at least every large organization – both public and private – runs on Microsoft software and operating systems. (On the NHS alone, there are probably over a million PCs and laptops running Windows.) Amazon, meanwhile, has established itself as part of the logistics infrastructure of Western societies. And between them, Amazon and Microsoft cloud computing services host a growing number of critical services.

Apple has become the world’s most valuable company by making beautiful kit, whipping up high margins, building a closed hardware-software ecosystem, and helping to build a more profitable service business. It’s not a racing certainty to reach 100, but it’s worth it.

It keeps us occupied with Google and Facebook. Both have the same business model – to use close tracking of their users to facilitate targeted advertising. Of the two, Google seems to be safer, because in the main part of the business is the dominance of what every Internet user needs: a powerful search engine. In other words, the company has built an artificial memory for the planet and despite the presence of other search engines, no one has come forward to challenge its supremacy. The world would be lost without Google.

But is it the same on Meta/Facebook? Its business model is essentially the same as Google’s – optimizing targeted advertising using close tracking, which the search engine giant first pioneered. As well as Facebook, Meta owns Instagram and WhatsApp, which is plagued by toxic user-generated content, with a nest of waiting rats that it has failed to manage effectively. As a bold strategic gambit (but apparently an attempt to get out of the fray), the company’s boss bets on building the corporate “metaverse.”

He thought he would be freed from prison, but he was wrong. Instagram was originally a playground for young people shunning Facebook, and it functioned well in that role for a while. But then came Tik Tok, a Chinese-owned platform for people to upload short and funny videos, which was irresistible to the aforementioned youth and leading meta executives.

Their first reaction was to create a copycat product called Reels to allow Instagram users to create TikTok-style videos. Surprisingly, it didn’t work. Or, rather, he is. it has It worked – but in a distorted way. It turns out that a significant portion of Instagram Reels originated as TikTok videos! If impersonation, as in the example, is the real method of cheating, Tik Tok executives will no doubt be delighted.

However, according to an internal company report released Wall Street Journal Turns out, meta bosses are something else. Instagram users spend 17.6m watching Reels per day, less than a tenth of the 197.8m TikTok users spend on that platform every day.

It’s strange to see a giant company being plagued by wasps like an elephant, but that’s what’s happening in Meta. Plus, the Metaverse project is burning money like it’s going out of fashion, which probably explains why the company is hiring 30% fewer engineers than planned this year. Survey by Hustle According to the newspaper, job listings under augmented reality (AR) show that Apple now has more openings in that critical field than Meta.

What is emerging in all of this is that liberal democracies must eventually recognize that surveillance capitalism is a threat to democracy and must be outlawed if they are to survive. If that is the case, the chances of them being Meta (and possibly Google) in 2122 are slim. So respect And all that.

What I read

Anti social media
True, what the social flop has to say about Trump is interesting. Politics Column by Jack Shafer on Trump’s attempt to create his own Twitter.

The words have eyes
What does GPT-3 know about me? It’s an interesting article that Melissa Heikkila discovered when she started asking AI questions about herself.

Lost connections
The Chaos Machine is a useful review by Tamsin Shaw of Max Fisher’s new book How Social Media Reclaimed Our Minds.

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