What was 2019's biggest tech story this year? (The Daily Charge, 12/12/2019)
The Daily Charge
Amazon HQ2, we work meltdown and smartphone spies.
It's our last show of the year.
So we're reviewing the biggest tech stories of 2019.
We wanna hear what your highlights and lowlights were for the year.
So stick around for your daily charge..
Good morning and welcome to The Daily charge.
It is December 12.
I am Joanie Salzmann.
I am Ben Fox Rubin.
Let us recap.
This year in tech.
First up, Amazon had a bonkers year in 2019.
The whole HQ2 beauty pageant backfired, not to mention backlash about workers' safety, and big Bezos's melodrama.
Ben, sum it up.
It was bad.
It was a bad year.
It was a bad year, especially because a lot of it really came, it Percolated well outside the tech sphere
It's one thing to really have an embarrassing data breach or it's something that still exists within the world of tech within the bubble that we exist.
The Bezos divorce was.
Uncomfortable I'm sure for a lot of people working at Amazon for a number of reasons.
And it became this big drama that existed.
Basically everybody was waiting breathless to find out what the world's most expensive divorce was gonna look like.
The HQ2 thing was the same thing, where it became a big national story where New York Getting this very, very sought after project ended up throwing it back in the river and saying no, we actually don't want this.
And it proved to be a pretty embarrassing situation for Amazon.
And something that's been an ongoing concern with Amazon.
It never really bubbled up to the surface like this before but worker safety and distribution centers.
It feels like this year, people Really started to grapple with the fact that there may or may be serious problems about it, yes, no.
It definitely got a lot of attention this year if not more attention, but this is something that has been percolating for This has been something that's been percolating for years now and it's getting a lot more attention.
I feel like, to a certain extent, HQ2 was a platform for which a lot of people were able to voice their grievances about the company.
And one of the problems there was that it didn't stop with Amazon just leaving New York.
Some of the protests about the company have still been going on.
So As far as worker safety issues as far as them working with immigration authorities, people are still really griping about that.
And I think looking for the company to make some changes.
Well, our next tech story of the year actually involves Amazon two basically every major voice assistant that means Amazon, Google Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.
They were all sending anonymized recordings for viewers to grade how well their voice assistants work now and this has been the case for years but kind of like with workers safety.
This is something that seemed to reach a point where the public wised up to it and said Netflix.
Right, so one of the interesting disconnects here was that a lot of the folks that worked in voice computing were like, yeah, of course we're doing this.
You don't just create a voice assistant and then leave it on the shelf and expect it to just keep developing on its own.
Ai needs continual human interaction to be able to direct it and move it the right way because there's garbled text or there's garbled speech.
There, there are accents.
There are a number of different ways that you have to really improve the technology.
The problem was is that they didn't really educate the public on this and then make it An opt in situation for anybody
And I think that was really what made people uncomfortable, was that it was it could potentially have been my recordings, it could have been your recordings, it could have been anybody's.
Now there are more opt in features are out Opt out features, but they probably should have done that earlier.
This is still a new technology so that's somewhat understandable there.
But yeah, they definitely lost trust.
There's no question there.
All those companies did related to that.
Another company that lost some trust we work, it began the year hot with an eye watering $47 billion valuation but then came the meltdown and it happened fast.
Its IPO filing revealed a web of questionable practices and bizarre behavior by its CEO.
And everything collapsed within about a month.
WeWork valuation plummeted to $5 billion, a one point basically a 10th of what it was.
So do you think this was the reckoning for these overinflated ambitions for Quote-Unquote Tech Companies?
I mean, I'd like to believe that but I really don't think so.
I'd love to hear your opinion on this because I've been droning on about Amazon stuff, but.
Soft Bank is still a major investor.
We Work did not implode.
It go belly up.
Well l, their CEO quite.
Or was fired.
They had a lot of problems.
But We Work as a going concern continues to exist.
And like they live to fight another day.
A good example of another company that had that had From my consideration, an inflated value, and was kind of on the road to being another one of these lousy companies was Uber, and Uber is now a publicly traded company.
They're still having a lot of struggles, but it's not like they went into bankruptcy either.
The thing that I question about it is that Wework liked to pitch itself as a tech company.
Because they have WiFi in their buildings?
Right, a lot of other real estate development companies that do the exact same thing.
Have existed in this very non-sexy space for years.
And they're like, what's going on here.
Well that was the thing, what was going on there?
A lot bizarre stuff.
Yeah, so hopefully investors wised up but there's a lot of funny money that exists not only in Silicon Valley but in New York, all over the world.
And you gotta interesting pitch, you've got an interesting front person that's presenting something that sounds like it's gonna be the next hot thing.
I could definitely This is not the last time its gonna happen.
I mean that doesn't seem likely at all.
You mean is not the last time this is gonna be over flatted company like this and not the last time it's gonna like impoound.
Yeah, I mean like we gonna go through this cycle, I'm sure again.
Yeah, well finally Disney plus now, Disney plus turned out to be a bigger hit than anyone expected quietly over the course of 2019 turns out it was the top trending search term for Google in the US.
Then it launched in November and it was so popular demand kept crashing the service.
Maybe it is a giant hit BVG What did you think of the launch for Disney plus and what are people in the chat saying?
Well, a lot of people are actually talking about Disney plus, just because it is kind of a unequivocal bowl height.
Train kind of thing.
I'm a big fan.
I know it's a major money grab.
I know this could turn south in a heartbeat and I can cancel my account in a heartbeat too.
But for now, they got the stuff I wanna watch.
I'm gonna watch.
I think it's an interesting place because I feel very hypocritical praising it because I also do really hate that we got A million and a half different streaming platforms right now in the entire court cutting thing to save money and cable is completely back fired but as long as I can watch a Gucci movie I'm good.
I mean John you've had good experience mostly with the up so far right?
Yeah, I mean, as a consumer I signed up for it.
I have kids, so I'm in for the long haul.
It's kind of not even my choice.
But I think it was impressive.
Everyone knew that people loved Disney but I don't think people really realized how much people loved Disney.
The fact that they were able to announce Like the day after launching that they had 10 million people signed up.
Nobody expected that kind of turnout for the app for the service quickly for CNET and the daily charge closing out 2019 I'm John
Thanks a lot