Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Big Tech Companies Need To Pay Individuals Globally

Over the long run, Google and Facebook are not really in the business of selling ads, and Amazon is not in the business of selling merchandise. No, these technology companies are powered by your eyeballs (and data). Their currency is users. Google, for example, gives away email and search for free to draw users to its products; it needs to innovate quickly, producing more and better products to ensure you stay with the company.

It only makes sense. When a foreign company goes and drills for oil in Saudi Arabia, it pays the country. When Google drills you for data, should Google not pay? Data is the new oil. Tech companies are about to build super rich profiles on individuals. That is fine as long as privacy is respected. And they pay. Google's money might show up in your Gmail account. You should be able to conduct local commerce wherever you are.

This is not really that different from AdSense/AdWords. Google pays you when you display Google ads on your blog.

Just like with ISPs, governments can make companies owning the big pipes allow many small companies to become the last mile provider, similarly, many of these big tech companies are busy building many big pipes of all sorts. At some point it might make market sense to allow for competition in the final mile.

Also true for finance. If the big banks can just make sure your bank deposits are safe, do they also have to be the people providing the basic services? Can not small startups who don't own buildings simply plug in and start offering services?

Google owns Blogger, but Wordpress beats Google's Blogger in blogging platform innovation. Wordpress does the last mile really well.

Like Mao said (at least for a short period of time, very short), Let a thousand flowers bloom.

This is a policy challenge. It is for governments to make sure free competition is kept to the max. Sometimes that requires liberating the last mile to small players who might be more nimble, with their ears close to the ground.

I read somewhere Google is giving 25% ownership to the Sri Lankan government for taking its Project Loon insanity to the ground in that country for use of the airwaves. That sounded close to perfect to me, and might be even more meaningful to many of the African countries. Oil holes in the sky.

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