Good morning. Hello. How are you? #484
Apple v Epic, NSO Pegasus, Apple keynote, California recall election. Martin van Buren is a dick, the last three remaining Shakers, Britney's GMHHAY, Met Gala, Mailchimp's equity greediness.
Good morning! Hello! How are you this fine Tuesday? I am listening to Calla’s Scavengers on vinyl. It just came in the mail. Thank you to my friend Ryan about two months ago mentioning Calla on his instagram stories and getting me re-obsessed.
I finished reading the Epic Games v Apple decision last night. It was interesting. Basically, the judge was like “yeah you’re not breaking any federal antitrust law but here is this California fair competition law that you’re breaking.” But then when the judge, you know, cites the text of the laws, they are, essentially, indistinguishable from each other. Really what has happened is that their case work has developed in two very different ways. I can’t say for sure but I get the sense that this is because the California law is newer, people understood its creation more. Or maybe just the California courts understood that the California legislature intended for the law to be stronger than Sherman, so, you know, it is, by default, stronger than Sherman. So the judge said “okay, well, this is slightly stronger than Sherman.” I mean, it wasn’t that arbitrary, there is lots of case precedent, but that’s what the case prececent seems to indicate, not that I’m a lawyer or anything.
In any case, there’s been a lot of chatter about how hard it will be to utilize existing antitrust law to prosecute the tech giants, but it seems to me this California law is pretty nifty, sitting right there. And, of course, the Feds could just pass a version of the California law, seems like you might be able to get 10 Republicans on board with that, right? LOL. But still. New law, wipe the slate clean on the cruft of court decisions by which they’re bound.
Of course the judge’s logic has to withstand appeal, but their logic as to why California law would necessitate a national application makes perfect sense. Apple, of course, argued otherwise, that even if they’re found in violation of California law, it should be remedied only in California, which is hilarious garbage given a) their paternalistic approach to other regional laws like GDPR and CCP, and b) their contracts with developers are written to be enforceable under California law. Reading the case, you really get a sense of how BS a ton of Apple’s defenses were. Repeatedly, the judge is like ‘Yeah, Epic’s argument makes a lot of sense but they didn’t prove it.”
But with Apple, the judge says repeatedly, “yeah, Apple just lied here.” Apple lied that it doesn’t track P&L for the App Store. Apple lied that it doesn’t track malware instances in the app store, and lied that it ran regular comparisons between malware levels on iOS vs Mac. Apple lied that it had an actual reason behind it’s 30% cut. These are not my opinions, the judge just found that they lied, over and over.
My favorite part: Apple’s statement after the trial: “Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law.”
Very true, Apple. The court just found that:
Excellent slogan: Apple: near the precipice of substantial market power or monopoly.™
I am increasingly confident Apple is going to lose this eventually.
That said, I’m less confident that the app store 30% pricing will crumble immediately. There is a class of IAPs, I think, this will change immeditely, and those are not small. Those are the bulk purchases of in-app cash, things like Twitch Sub Tokens, Fortnite V-Bucks, other in-game currencies and tokens. Things you buy in bulk. When you’re spending $10, or $50, saving some money will matter. Will it matter as much when you could spend 80¢ in a game instead of ¢99? That is still unclear. Plus, of course, developers probably aren’t going to offer the entire 30% discount to consumers, they’ll still have to pay CC processors, deal with fraud on their own, etc. Epic intimated an 18% discount in the suit.
On top of that, some small developers are only paying 15% these days, another concession apple made relatively recently in the face of consumer backlash.
So, I think in the medium term, you’ll see a moderate dent in app store revenues, which will be immaterial to apple. In the longer term, it would not shock me if Apple just gives up, cuts the rate to 15% and hope that staunches the flow.
There’s also the question of appeals. Epic has said they’ll appeal, which makes perfect sense given the judge basically telling them how to appeal. Apple, for all its bluster than they totally won this I’m not crying you’re crying, has not said whether they’ll appeal or not.
Worth noting is that Apple execs got up there and talked about how safe iOS was, and how the App store totally helps with fraud, and while this case was being decided, it turned out that, oh, hey, every iPhone was completely vulnerable to a zero-click attack, not through the app store, that the Israeli hacking company NSO group was selling to pretty much everyone and has been found on dissident’s phones. Update your phone this morning. Hope that the appeal judge doesn’t use this as evidence that the app store does not keep your phone safer (“procompetitive effects.”)
All that being said, today Apple is having their fall phone keynote, and I will totally watch, and I will totally buy the new phone, because Apple is totally not a monopoly nope nope nope.
The title of the keynote is California Streaming, and today is indeed a big day for California because today is the recall election. Have you voted? If you’re a Californian can you go vote? It is completely absurd, this election. The laws are idiotic, manfiestly unfair, probably unconstitutional. The democrats may or may not have made a horrible mistake telling everyone to leave the second question (“if you do want to recall the governor, who should be the next governor”) blank. Obviously if Newsom lost the recall 49% to 51% and those 49% all voted for the same Democratic replacement governor, and the Republicans split their vote between 4-5 different Yahoos, we’d have a new Democratic governor and that would be better than having a new Republican governor, who will probably get to fill Dianne Feinstein’s seat because she is a boomer who, like so many boomers, loves to cling to power even at the risk of taking down our democracy (ahem Stephen Breyer).
Been reading my history book about Martin Van Buren and his absolutely deplorable, craven efforts at getting Andrew Jackson elected president. Man. Martin Van Buren was not a good man, and he is chiefly responsible for the partisan mess we’re all in now. The fact that it paid off and he succeeded Andrew Jackson makes it even worse. What an awful dude.
I did also learn, however, about a bunch of utopianists, which was fun, and the shakers. Did you know there are still three shakers left, living on a Shaker commune in Maine? The only three Shakers left in the world, just living on a 150 year old commune in Maine. It really is awesome. You can join them, if you want. Seems like most people are not into it because of the vow of celibacy, but it does seem like there’s an opportunity here for the right sort of craven person to get a free village in Maine. There were only two Shakers left, but in 2019, they casually mentioned in their newsletter that they had a new Shaker, Brother Andrew. First, no idea what the COVID-sitch is for the Shakers, but second, call me skeptical of brother Andrew. Bet that dude is, like, 40 years younger than the two remaining lady shakers. Bet Andrew’s gonna get himself a sweet village.
Someone else go join Andrew before it’s too late. We need a Shaker Standoff™. Last Shaker Standing. Rated PG-13.
Britney’s instagram is amazing and I’ve decided that Britney and I are soul mates, and her instagram comments are the closest celebrity analog to GMHHAY. I mean, look at this! Aside from the Emoji and poor punctuation (not her fault, blame Instagram), this could be a GMHHAY entry!
Man just the best.
Last night MailChimp got bought for twelve billion dollars by Intuit. Twelve billion dollars. It is worth noting that MailChip never took any VC money, and never gave a shred of equity to its employees. There are a couple dudes that just made twelve billion dollars cash. MailChimp always told their employees, when they asked about equity, that they never intended to sell, so equity was useless, so focus on their sweet-ass 401k and their salary.
Ellen K. Pao @ekpMailchimp just got bought for $12 billion, and employees own no equity https://t.co/RET79x5v33
Turns out, MailChimp was lying! Well I never.
Of course they could have just changed their minds, and right now, I’m sure they’re getting ready to give 15% of their company to their employees, thus representing a standard employee equity pool, if you ignore that equity pools are usually re-upped along the way to a twelve billion dollar exit, and normally the whole thing would have been diluted by 40% or so at least by the VCs.
Fifteen percent of the purchase price, divided by the number of employees, is roughly one point five million dollars, per employee. I’m sure they’re writing those checks right now.
The Met Gala was last night and look I know people love that shit but it is just the stupidest thing in good times, it is reprehensible in pandemic times and in times of such political and economic strife. I know everyone was vaccinated, but my god, please. The Met Gala is for liberals what taxing the rich is for Republicans: a thing entirely confined to plutocrats that we pretend is relevant to us. I know I should just not say anything, and I am well aware of that whole very compelling argument that fashion is a legitimate art form and anti-fashion sentiment is often deeply rooted in racist sentiment and I totally buy into that. I am not anti-fashion, I am anti-luxury and anti-Antoinetteism. This doesn’t solely apply to fashion. I think it is irresponsible to spend a million dollars making an album, or a dress, or spending it on a car, or really pretty much anything. I exempt films, but that is the indefensible position, not my position on the Met Gala, and a $300 million film employs, like ten thousand people. I suppose you could argue that one of those ridiculous, unpleasant outfits employs people, the whole bash employs people, and Keynes taught us (even though no one was listening) and Kelton reminded us that money spent is good almost completely regardless of what it’s spent on, but that argument is confined to the state, and where money is spent does matter when the people are doing the spending. And in any case, the messaging behind the Met Gala is just too distasteful for me. Also it’s just kind of boring. Even people you love, you think are physically perfect specimens and you’re kind of excited to look at, generally speaking, look stupid in their Met Gala outfits.
And I suppose it’s cool if AOC went for free and wore a dress that said Tax the Rich on it. That’s probably roughly in line with what I would do if I got invited to the stupid thing, which would fill me with dread and horror but of course you can’t turn down amazing experiences in life even if they’re against your politics that’s why we all still fly, right? But it just makes me feel bad for AOC, the same way I’d feel bad if I had to go, and I wish the whole thing didn’t exist.
That being said I had a dream last night I got invited to the Met Gala and it was kinda like that swanky party I went to at the Natural History Museum that one time where Neil Degrasse Tyson (back when he was cool) piloted the laser-star-machine and gave us a tour of the universe, and it was super swanky and fun, and I remember a time I could just confidently go to a swanky New York party and be reasonably confident I could run into someone I know and not feel too awkward but my god how awkward would it be to go to the Met Gala and just… stand around feeling lonely? How many of them do you think that happens to? It has to be a non-zero number, right?
(Apologies to the non-zero verbiage peeps out there.)
That was a bit of a polemic and I’m not that didactic about it, but my god it makes for a boring night on the internet.
Okay wow yeah sorry this is getting long lot happened yesterday. Emma complained that the Monday edition was too long. Well, she’ll love this one. Emma if you’re still reading, you can start your Halloween decorations now. No fair if someone alerts you to the presence of this sentence.
Let’s do a mix! Oh whew I almost thought for a second there I didn’t have any mixes ready, but you can always rely on the drone mixes. Get like 6 songs, and you got an hour of drone. Never fails. This one has one of my new obsessions, Flying Colors, and a new Godflesh, and a great new J Spaceman collaboration — really one of his best extra-Spiritualized collabs in ages, and a classic old Spectrum track and Sonny Sharrock who is a new discovery for me, so is Niconé. It is enjoyable. And mellow. Enjoy. And be mellow.
Okay let’s go check on the plants and water them and generally be an attentive, loving gardener and one with nature for 28 minutes of the day ommmmm.