This Week In Tech: Skeptic Edition

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Compiled while watching our Golden State Warriors take on the Toronto Raptors (no competition with our National Toronto office). These are some of the stories that our B2B tech teams have been talking about:

Secret Life of Phones

The WSJ’s Geoffrey Fowler discovered that his iPhone has an active nightlife. With help from privacy firm Disconnect, Fowler learned that iPhone apps track users 24/7, passing personal data to third-parties. Over the course of a week, Fowler found that 5,400 trackers tapped into his phone’s data. One popular app, Yelp, pinged his phone once every five minutes to receive a message that included his IP address. If you’ve ever ordered food through the delivery service DoorDash, it has sent your data to nine third-party trackers.

As Fouler writes, the app trackers serve a similar function to website cookies, however, “in apps, there’s little notice trackers are lurking and you can’t choose a different browser to block them.” As personal data is transferred to more and more third-parties, it becomes increasingly difficult to hold organizations accountable for any breaches or other bad behavior.

Tech Burnout?

Long gone are the days when startups could gain glowing coverage just by their very existence. In an opinion piece in The Next Web, Martin Bryant writes mourns the “blind, dumb enthusiasm for new tech” that greeted new companies and programs a decade ago. Bryant reminisces how “I remember the buzz of discovering an interesting new startup and writing about it before my rivals. Nowadays, journalists often prefer to wait for a startup to prove itself by gaining traction or funding from a notable investor.” In 2019, it can be nearly impossible for an unknown founder of an interesting company to break through journalists’ skepticism.

The dominance – and missteps – of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and others has today’s tech watchers more critical of the downsides of new, fun apps and products. Whereas a decade ago, the focus was on the promise and enjoyment of new products, today “we rarely get to enjoy them before they’re co-opted into some nightmare vision of the near future.”

Wall Street vs. Silicon Valley

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic discusses the “yawning gap” between Silicon Valley VC exuberance and Wall Street sobriety. Looking at Uber’s lackluster post-IPO performance, Madrigal probes “Silicon Valley’s cultural divergence from the business reality.” Investors loved the company “as an idea about how the world should be,” and Uber benefitted from the phenomenon that VC money tends to gravitate toward products and services that investors like to use themselves.

Wall Street, however, rewards on performance, and Uber’s report of a $1 billion operating loss in Q1 this week, was further evidence that its pre-IPO valuation of $120 billion was about $50 billion too optimistic. For a company that capitalizes market supply (drivers) and demand (riders) it’s a cruel reality.

Related Pro Tip

Working with a startup has its challenges – and rewards. If you’re looking for tips on getting coverage for a B2B startup, you can find SHIFT-approved tips here.

Posted on May 31, 2019 in B2B Tech, Mobile, Startups, Technology

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