Or the whole thing could fall apart. I think Apple should have just bought a carmaker and brought it all in-house. Seems to me that the great hubris of Silicon Valley is thinking that you can build everything, no matter how complex, on your own.
Farhad: Hey, Appleâs no puppet. Youâre the puppet! Youâre the puppet!
Mike: Iâm going to ignore that and keep going. Speaking of disastrous car wrecks, a bit more Twitter news to talk about. Earlier this week, the company hired Greg Gopman to work on its fledgling virtual reality and 360-degree video efforts.
TechCrunch criticized the hire, citing a screed against the homeless that Gopman posted to Facebook a while back that made him persona non grata of San Francisco for quite some time.
Shortly after that, Twitter fired Gopman, apparently not wanting to deal with the added headache of a guy who (at one point, but apparently no longer) hated the homeless, especially while the company is dealing with negative headlines from every which direction regarding its sale process, or lack thereof.
TechCrunch, bafflingly, criticized that move as well. Some people are never satisfied.
For me, the biggest takeaway here is that VR tweets seem like the most insane thing ever. But I have been wrong before.
Farhad: Oh, there was another politics-related dust-up in Silicon Valley this week. You remember Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who secretly funded the lawsuit that put Gawker out of business and is also the tech worldâs most prominent supporter of Donald Trump? Well, a bunch of his friends and associates said this week that they werenât going to punish him for donating $ 1.25 million to Trump. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebookâs chief, said Thiel would remain a member of Facebookâs board. âWe canât create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate,â Zuckerberg wrote in a memo to Facebookâs staff.
Citing similar reasons, Y Combinator, the start-up incubator, also said it would not cut ties with Thiel, even though it disagrees with Trump.
That set off a wave of outrage among people whoâve been trying to promote diversity in the tech industry. Project Include, a group that seeks to advise companies on gender and racial diversity, said it was cutting off ties with Y Combinator because Thielâs donation to Trump stands in contrast to its goals.
To me, it seems weâre witnessing a newfound political awareness in the tech industry, which is reliably lefty but has long been willing to sit out national political disputes. I donât think Thielâs donation is going to cost him anything beyond social awkwardness, but in the long run, I suspect it will spark a progressive awakening among many in the industry. What do you think?
Mike: Itâs kind of funny to me how willing tech has been to put itself front and center in the global conversation â they eat up magazine covers and love to be on mostly meaningless power lists, just like me â but then feel completely blindsided when their politics are called into question.
To me, if youâre building technology that is literally shaping the world as it will be defined in the future, there is no avoiding that your personal ideologies will come into question at some point. Perhaps this Thiel situation will finally bring that sense of self-awareness to those who hadnât realized this yet. In any case, yeah, I think itâs probably going to rouse techies to be more vocal than theyâve been in the past.
Farhad: Yay, more Medium posts!
Mike: Finally, I want to talk about Nintendo. The company released its first teaser trailer on Thursday for Switch, a new console that combines the power and familiarity of a video game setup in your living room with the portability of a hand-held gaming device.
Itâs a novel idea: People still want to play video games on their big-screen TVs at home, so you have to produce a console as successful as the Xbox or PlayStation that can run next-generation graphics and games.
That said, everyone games on the go these days. The advent of the smartphone changed what we think of when we think of gaming, as users have migrated en masse to freemium or low-cost app gaming on their phones. Itâs easier if, say, youâre commuting, since you only have to carry one device that you already have in your pocket anyway.
I have my thoughts on this â namely, it could be awesome or terrible â but I wonder mostly about the content that needs to fill this thing out. And other than the highly successful franchises Nintendo has built out over the years like Mario, Zelda and a handful of others, I havenât really seen any blockbuster titles from them in some time.
What do you think? Fail or win?
Farhad: Iâm willing to reserve judgment, but at the moment, Iâm skeptical of this idea. From the video, the Switch looks like a tablet computer that can be fitted with some game controllers when youâre on the go, and then connected to your TV when youâre home.
But if thatâs the case, you have to wonder why you need a stand-alone device â why couldnât you just carry around a controller for your smartphone or tablet, and then connect your device to your TV when youâre home? In other words, why is Nintendo making new hardware when it could simply put out its games for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices?
Mike: This is the eternal question for Nintendo. They seem to cling desperately to owning the hardware, which seems questionable to me since it is a lower-margin business than, say, plopping out a series of janky smartphone games and sticking Zeldaâs face on it.
Farhad: That suggests the second complication. Nintendo recently announced that it is planning to put out some content for other platforms. For instance a Mario game, Super Mario Run, will be available in the iPhoneâs App Store this December. But if thatâs the case, which platform will get Nintendoâs best games â will Nintendo Switch get the exclusives, or will iOS and Android (which have far more users) be given the same titles?
To me, it seems like a complicated path. Iâd favor something simpler: Kill the hardware, focus on creating killer games, release them for high prices on iOS and Android, and profit.
Mike: An intriguing thought. Iâm not sure I fully agree with killing hardware entirely, but I understand the impulse. And for what itâs worth, Nintendoâs valuable intellectual property assets would at least give them a leg up in content in the near term.
Look at Disney: After they bought âStar Warsâ they planned to crank out a movie a year until 2020, and everywhere I look thereâs a BB-8 motorized ball for me to trip over.
O.K., enough for me today. Iâm going back to my back-healing poses: Lying flat on the floor like a starfish, tweeting from my phone.
Farhad: Youâre a bad hombre, my friend. A bad hombre. Hope you feel better!