- Getty/Justin Sullivan
Welcome back to Trending, the newsletter where we highlight the biggest tech stories of the week. I’m Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider’s West Coast bureau chief, global tech editor, and your ever-humble servant.
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This week: The thrill is gone for Larry and Sergey
If you thought the holiday season would mean a slowdown in tech news, think again.
On Tuesday, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the wonder duo that founded Google 21 years ago, dropped a bombshell and announced that they were calling it quits.
It’s hard to blame them for wanting to move on. Being a tech CEO today is not the same plum gig it was a decade ago. In the good old days, Page and Brin enjoyed rock-star treatment, giving interviews in Playboy magazine and speaking to adoring crowds at tech conferences. Today, tech CEOs are increasingly viewed as super villains – perennial targets for politicians, activists, and even ordinary consumers who are no longer mesmerized by “moonshots,” but concerned about how tech is affecting privacy and democracy.
For Larry and Sergey, the thrill is gone.
And as Rob Price writes, they’re handing over the reins to Sundar Pichai during one of the most tumultuous times in the company’s history, with several significant and thorny problems to resolve. Among these, widespread employee unrest within the company and an ugly track record of tolerance for sexual misconduct by top executives.
A lot of observers point out that Larry and Sergey still control the majority of the voting shares. That’s true. But don’t underestimate the impact of their departure. For the first time in Google’s history, the principles that the founders based the company on are no longer embodied in day-to-day management. That’s going to affect things like privacy and employee relations, even if it the changes happen gradually.
And some changes could happen sooner. As Pichai moves to put his imprint on the company, there are also several obvious areas he could focus on right away, which I outlined in this piece.
As for Larry and Sergey, they’ve kept mum about what they’ll do next. But Benjamin Pimentel lays out some of the places we’re likely to see Page and Brin in the future given their interests and projects in everything from flying cars to AI to philanthropy.
“They surely are not going to retire to paddle around their swimming pools,” longtime tech futurist and Stanford professor Paul Saffo tells Pimentel. “Both of these guys have heads full of ideas and plenty of more startups in them.”
Read the full story here:
Amazon’s language police and the Bezos philosophy to political capital
In non-Google news, Amazon hosted its giant cloud conference in Las Vegas this week.
As Rosalie Chan reports, Amazon’s cloud business has some very strict rules about what kind of language its partners can use at the conference – with special staff patrolling the show floor to deal with any transgressors who use verboten terms like “multi-cloud” in their marketing material.
But in a sign of the changing cloud market, Amazon is easing up on its list of banned words. Terms like “multi-cloud” and “hybrid-cloud” are now OK in certain cases.
The change may have something to do with Amazon officially launching its own hybrid cloud product. But after Amazon’s humbling loss to Microsoft for the Pentagon’s massive $10 billion JEDI cloud contract earlier this year, Amazon is turning up the heat, at least rhetorically, on Microsoft.
Meanwhile, Eugene Kim got hold of a recording of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ remarks at a recent all-hands meeting. Unlike some of his tech CEO counterparts, Bezos does not speak to the troops very often. During the meeting, which took place last month, Bezos responded to questions about the company’s political contributions – including to Republican lawmakers that some employees feel don’t share Amazon’s values.
“You have to be able to work with people who don’t agree with you on everything,” Bezos told employees.
Read the full story here:
Amazon has removed a ban on the words ‘multi cloud’ and ‘hybrid cloud’ at its AWS conference, and it’s a telling change to its famous list of forbidden words
- Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Here are some other tech highlights:
- ‘Get s— done’: Sources describe Facebook crypto exec David Marcus as visionary and ruthlessly focused
- Hackers are inventing clever ways to trick the microphones in smart speakers, and it’s opening a ‘new world of dangers’
- Microsoft ‘won’t continue’ its relationship with Israeli facial recognition startup Any Vision if an audit shows it didn’t comply with Microsoft’s ethical principles, President Brad Smith says
- Salesforce touted its acquisition of Tableau in its latest earnings call, but integrating the data-analytics company might be more challenging than expected
- Software freedom vs human freedom: A surge of activism is rocking open source developers, as programmers fight to stop their software from being used for ‘evil’
And more good stuff from across the BI newsroom:
- Jen Berrent, WeWork’s legal mastermind, has earned millions and survived executive shake-ups. Here’s how the loyal enabler of Adam Neumann became WeWork’s most senior woman.
- For 30 years, Renaissance Technologies achieved 66% annualized returns. Here’s how a group of academics with no trading experience became the most successful hedge fund in history.
- Acquisitions, global growth, and Baby Yoda: How CEO Bob Iger’s leadership style turned Disney into a $260 billion colossus
- Family offices and the ultra wealthy are piling into investments in European tech. It’s another sign that the continent is becoming more like Silicon Valley.
That’s going to do it for this week.
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