Google rips out its sweet tooth – gpgmail


Hey. This is Week-in-Review, where I give a heavy amount of analysis and/or rambling thoughts on one story while scouring the rest of the hundreds of stories that emerged on gpgmail this week to surface my favorites for your reading pleasure.

Last week, I talked about Snap’s bizarre decision to keep pursuing hardware without really changing their overarching strategy.


The big story

Google isn’t so sweet these days.

The company’s beloved naming scheme of alphabetizing sugary things dies with Android Pie. The company announced this week that they’re dumping the dessert scheme for a much more boring option. The new Android will be Android 10.

Google has been one of those companies that has always liked to keep its quirkiness at the forefront of its brand. Multi-colored logos and bikes and hats with spinners and Nooglers and nap pods might have been the fringe elements of a Google employee’s first week on the job, but that’s what the company’s branding still evoked for a lot of people. The company’s more whimsical elements have realistically always been removed from the real world of its business interests, but at this point, the company may only be able to take away from the quirkiness of its brand, Google is just something different now.

Rebrands always grab attention, and the companies always make broad, sweeping statements about the deep meaning about what the new logo or font or name mean to the mission of the product at hand. With Android 10, Google says that their chief concern was promoting the universality of the operating system’s branding.

[W]e’ve heard feedback over the years that the names weren’t always understood by everyone in the global community. For example, L and R are not distinguishable when spoken in some languages.

So when some people heard us say Android Lollipop out loud, it wasn’t intuitively clear that it referred to the version after KitKat. It’s even harder for new Android users, who are unfamiliar with the naming convention, to understand if their phone is running the latest version. We also know that pies are not a dessert in some places, and that marshmallows, while delicious, are not a popular treat in many parts of the world.

There’s certainly room to question whether this decision has more to do with the fact that there aren’t too many desserts starting with the letter Q that immediately come to mind, or that Google marketing has decided to sanitize the Android brand with a corporate wash.

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On to the rest of the week’s news.

Apple Card available today card on iPhoneXs screen 082019

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

  • Apple’s credit card goes wide
    The Apple Card might be the prettiest credit card in the wild, but as the iPhone-aligned credit card starts shipping to customers, we’ll find out soon whether its extra features are enough to take down more popular millennial cards. Read more about it here.
  • Overstock’s CEO resigns amid bizarre “deep state” revelations 
    Libertarian tech CEOs are often a special kind of eccentric, but Overstock’s Patrick Byrne set a new bar for strange with his revelation that he had gotten sucked into a Trump-Russia scandal under the guise of helping unearth Hillary Clinton’s secrets. I don’t really understand it, and it seems he understood even less, but it cost him his job. Read more here.
  • Now, even the scooters are autonomous
    Segway seems to believe that it’s revolutionized the world of transportation a few times now, but its latest product is just a bit over-teched. The Segway Kickscooter T60 adds autonomous driving capabilities to the city electric scooter, but it doesn’t use them quite the way you might think. Read more here.
Facebook Currency Hearing

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

  1. States looking to take on tech giants themselves:
    [States to launch antitrust investigation into big tech companies, reports say]
  2. Facebook keeps learning more about how much it knew about CA:
    [Facebook really doesn’t want you to read these emails]
  3. Not really a gaffe, but just embarrassing for Apple Card:
    [Apple warns against storing Apple Card near leather or denim]

Extra Crunch

Our premium subscription service had another week of interesting deep dives. My colleagues and I made our way to Y Combinator Demo Days this week where we screened the 160+ startups pitching and picked some favorites from both days..

“Eighty-four startups presented (read the full run-through of every company plus some early analysis here) and after chatting with investors, batch founders and of course, debating amongst ourselves, we’ve nailed down the 11 most promising startups to present during Day 1…”

“After two days of founders tirelessly pitching, we’ve reached the end of YC’s Summer 2019 Demo Days. gpgmail witnessed more than 160 on-the-record startup pitches coming out of Y Combinator, spanning healthcare, B2B services, augmented reality and life-extending. Here are our favorites from Day 2…”

Here are some of our other top reads this week for premium subscribers. This week, we published a some analysis on the latest YC class and also dug deep into the perks new employees get at some top companies.

Sign up for more newsletters in your inbox (including this one) here.




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Overstock CEO resigns – gpgmail


The Daily Crunch is gpgmail’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Overstock CEO resigns after ‘deep state’ comments

This comes after CEO Patrick Byrne released a statement declaring that he cooperated with federal investigators back in 2015 and was in fact “the notorious ‘missing chapter 1’ of the Russia investigation.” He subsequently gave interviews that also touched on his relationship Maria Butina, who’s been accused of working as a Russian agent.

The ensuing controversy sent Overstock’s share price tumbling, and Byrne said yesterday that he would have to “sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member.”

2. Sphero has acquired littleBits

Founded in 2010 and 2011 respectively, Sphero and littleBits took separate approaches to creating STEM toys, but ultimately ended up in similar spaces.

3. Google says China used YouTube to meddle in Hong Kong protests

The search giant, which owns YouTube, followed in the footsteps of Twitter and Facebook, which earlier this week said China had used their social media sites to spread misinformation and discord among the protesters.

4. VMware acquires Carbon Black for $2.1B and Pivotal for $2.7B

Although these are two very different companies, both Carbon Black and Pivotal focus on modern workloads.

5. Oracle directors give blessing to shareholder lawsuit against Larry Ellison and Safra Catz

Three years after closing a $9.3 billion deal to acquire NetSuite, several Oracle board members have written a letter to the Delaware Court, approving a shareholder lawsuit against company executives Larry Ellison and Safra Catz over the deal.

6. Tumblr’s next step forward with Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg

In an interview, Automattic founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg discussed Tumblr’s history and the impact of the poorly received adult content restrictions. He also shed some light on where Tumblr goes under its new owners. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

7. Apple exec Susan Prescott is coming to gpgmail Sessions: Enterprise

Prescott has been at Apple since 2003, and she’ll be joining us to discuss the company’s enterprise strategy.


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Overstock CEO resigns after ‘deep state’ comments – gpgmail


Overstock .com announced today that CEO Patrick Byrne has resigned from his role as chief executive and board member. Another board member, Jonathan Johnson, will be taking over as Overstock’s interim CEO.

This follows the company’s eyebrow-raising press release earlier this month titled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,” in which Byrne said he was confirming reports by journalist Sara Cater.

“Starting in 2015 I (operating under the belief that I was helping legitimate law enforcement efforts) assisted in what are now known as the ‘Clinton Investigation’ and the ‘Russian Investigation’ (in fact, I am the notorious ‘missing Chapter 1’ of the Russian investigation),” he wrote, going on to say that this was “the third time in my life I helped the Men in Black.”

Byrne and his attorney subsequently said that these comments were tied to his “romantic” relationship with Maria Butina, and that he wanted to shed light on the way federal law enforcement investigated Butina (who’s been accused of working as a Russian agent, and who is currently in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge).

Since then, the publicly-traded e-commerce company has seen its stock price tumble.

Today’s announcement also takes the form of a letter from Byrne, in which he said he “came forward in as carefully and well-managed fashion” as he could, but that it’s still had a detrimental effect on the company.

“Though patriotic Americans are writing me in support, my presence may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business,” Byrne said. “Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member, effective Thursday August 22.”

Byrne’s letter ends on an optimistic note about Overstock’s future, pointing to both its retail business and “blockchain assets that seem poised to revolutionize capital markets, finance, and governance for the poor.”

As of 12:51pm Eastern, Overstock shares are up 8.5% since the start of trading.


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