Archive for October 28, 2022

Friday, October 28, 2022

Elon Musk Finalizes Twitter Acquisition

Kate Conger and Lauren Hirsch:

After months of waffling, lawsuits, verbal mudslinging and the near miss of a full blown trial, Elon Musk now owns Twitter.

On Thursday night, Mr. Musk closed his $44 billion deal to buy the social media service, said three people with knowledge of the situation.

Elon Musk:

the bird is freed

David Faber and Jonathan Vanian (Hacker News):

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and finance chief Ned Segal have left the company’s San Francisco headquarters and will not be returning, sources said. Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal policy, trust and safety, was also fired, The Washington Post reported.


Musk’s executive firings followed news last week that the billionaire planned to slash Twitter staff numbers by 75% in an effort to pay down the company’s debt burden. Musk later dismissed those reports, saying he would not cut that amount of employees.

Elon Musk (Hacker News):

The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence. There’s currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.

In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fueled and catered to those polarized extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost.


Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences! In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature.

Nick Heer:

How in the world he expects to accomplish that is something I am curious to learn more about. I have an open mind. Yet, nothing in this letter is much different from the kind of stuff any social network says it does. Every platform says it has policies that are simultaneously inclusive and permissive until they are tested.

As far as I know, the major social networks don’t currently let you turn off certain kinds of algorithmic moderation. Perhaps his idea is to allow all legal posts, but to hide some potentially unwanted ones using controllable filters. Or perhaps some tweets would only be visible if you follow the poster, so that you wouldn’t accidentally come across them.

John Gruber:

But as a privately-held company Musk is free to make changes that move Twitter away from being optimized for engagement and towards being optimized for enjoyment.

The risk of fading into irrelevance is far greater, if not nearly certain, under Twitter’s current leadership. I think Twitter is worth saving. I think Twitter requires massive changes in order to be saved — both outward-facing as a service and platform, and internally as a company. I would not have picked Elon Musk as the person to lead the company through those changes. But you dance with the one who bought the company and took it private.

Nilay Patel:

Twitter, the company, makes very little interesting technology; the tech stack is not the valuable asset. The asset is the user base: hopelessly addicted politicians, reporters, celebrities, and other people who should know better but keep posting anyway.


The essential truth of every social network is that the product is content moderation, and everyone hates the people who decide how content moderation works. Content moderation is what Twitter makes — it is the thing that defines the user experience. It’s what YouTube makes, it’s what Instagram makes, it’s what TikTok makes. They all try to incentivize good stuff, disincentivize bad stuff, and delete the really bad stuff.


Apple’s Q4 2022 Results

Apple (transcript, Hacker News):

The Company posted a September quarter record revenue of $90.1 billion, up 8 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.29, up 4 percent year over year. Annual revenue was $394.3 billion, up 8 percent year over year, and annual earnings per diluted share were $6.11, up 9 percent year over year.


“We continued to invest in our long-term growth plans, generated over $24 billion in operating cash flow, and returned over $29 billion to our shareholders during the quarter. The strength of our ecosystem, unmatched customer loyalty, and record sales spurred our active installed base of devices to a new all-time high. This quarter capped another record-breaking year for Apple, with revenue growing over $28 billion and operating cash flow up $18 billion versus last year.”

Jason Snell:

Mac revenue was way up (to an all-time record!), iPad revenue was flat sequentially but down year-over-year, iPhone revenue was up, services revenue was down sequentially for the second straight quarter, and wearables returned to its winning ways.

Michael E. Cohen and Josh Centers:

Let’s start with the Mac, which saw a phenomenal 25.4% year-over-year revenue increase, marking an all-time revenue record for Macs. The Mac has never been stronger, thanks to Apple silicon, bringing in $11.5 billion in revenue in Q4.


The iPhone realized 9.7% growth over the past year, amounting to $42.6 billion in revenue. That level of growth was still sufficient for a September quarter revenue record.


For years, Services has fueled Apple’s continued growth, but that wasn’t the case this quarter: revenues increased by just 5% over the past year, bringing in $19.2 billion. As with other sales categories, Maestri blamed the strong dollar and weaker foreign currencies for the relatively small increase in Services revenue. However, Services revenue still broke its Q4 record, and Maestri mentioned that Apple has over 900 million paying subscribers now, implying a revenue stream that is both sizable and stable. When asked, Cook refused to link the decline in revenue growth to Apple’s recent service price hikes. Instead, he repeated the company’s previous explanation of increased music licensing costs and costs related to the growth of the Apple TV+ library.

Nick Heer:

No matter how big Apple gets, it is still a little surprising to me every time the company announces that half its Mac buyers are new.

I’ve never quite known how to interpret this. Is that high or low compared with other companies? It can’t indicate a trend if Apple’s been saying the same thing for so long. Obviously, it doesn’t mean that sales are growing 50% per year. Does a high percentage of new buyers mean that Macs last a long time? Or that there’s a lot of churn?

Ben Bajarin:

Thanks to an entirely new enterprise dynamic, in the cloud/digital-first world, I believe Apple is on the cusp of seeing the Mac finally cross the enterprise chasm and formally be embraced by every modern organization.

John Voorhees:

Despite some areas of softness, the results reported by Apple were positive overall, especially compared to other recent earnings misses in the tech world. Yesterday, Meta announced a significant earnings miss that led to a nearly 25% drop in its stock price today. Then today, Amazon came up short compared to Wall Street expectations leading to a 16% dip in its stock price.


Update (2022-11-03): Jason Snell:

You can also see some of the gravity defying that Apple did this fiscal year. In fiscal 2015 and 2018, iPhone revenue spiked—spikes that align with the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone X. In other words, major iPhone body redesigns.

The iPhone 12 was also a body redesign, and sales spiked in fiscal 2021—but went up further in 2022. Again, that’s not generally what happens, but it happened this past year.


I don’t know how long it will last, but after a decade with Mac sales figures in the twenty billions, it lingered in the thirties for a single year before hitting 40.

Apple Rejects Spotify Update That E-mails External Purchase Info

Juli Clover:

Apple and Spotify are once again feuding as Spotify attempts to break into the audiobook market, reports The New York Times. Apple has reportedly rejected Spotify’s latest app update three times in the last month.


Apple last year agreed to an App Store rule change that allows developers to use communications like email to share information methods about payment options that are available outside of an iOS app[…]


Apple apparently told Spotify that it can send customers emails about online purchases, but Spotify is not able to offer a button inside of the app to request emails. The feature was designed with Spotify’s legal team involved, and Apple initially approved the update in September, but later reversed course, rejecting subsequent updates.

Marco Arment:

I love how Spotify routinely tries to break Apple’s extremely long-standing IAP rules, then acts all surprised and tries to start a big public campaign every time Apple says no.

The rules are indeed bullshit, but Spotify’s (repeated) act is even more bullshitty than Apple’s.

In this case, it’s not a long-standing rule. It’s a year-old rule that was a result of the agreement with the Japan FTC. Apple, of course, says the app was “rejected for not following the guidelines.” Obviously, what Spotify did goes against Apple’s wishes, but I don’t think it’s clearly against the written guidelines:

Apps in this section cannot, within the app, encourage users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, except as set forth in 3.1.3(a). Developers can send communications outside of the app to their user base about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase.

It sounds like the app included a button to e-mail information about how to purchase. That information is not “within the app.” And the second sentence specifically says that they are allowed to send e-mails about purchasing methods. It’s not clear to me how this is so different from Netflix’s (Apple-approved) method of offering a button to initate a phone call to the company. They’re just delivering the information via e-mail instead of audio.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

This is a no-brainer to us, but the general public and policymakers don’t have a full grasp on how anticompetitive and harmful Apple’s rules are. Public blowups like this are necessary — we’ve got used to it over 14 years, we don’t even realize how bad things look from outside

Ryan Jones:

It’s a reasonable way to surface objections to the public if you have exhausted all other avenues for years and feel as wronged as they do.


Update (2022-11-01): Patrick Balestra:

If you’re wondering why there was no Spotify iOS update in the last month, here’s why.

Florian Mueller:

While I really hope the Spotify case will lead to something that will help not only Spotify, I can’t help but note that Spotify came out with this criticism of Apple’s conduct right before publishing its Q3 shareholder report (PDF). After hours, its stock (SPOT) lost almost 7%. It looks like they want investors to know that their business could do a lot better if not for Apple’s App Store monopoly abuse. But that takes us to the second question, which is whether Spotify is on the right track with its efforts to solve that problem.


The decision Spotify will have to make now is whether to continue to wait for the EU Commission or start some private litigation in one or more jurisdictions. I’ve said it on other occasions: those CAF companies might already have won spectacular decisions in Munich if they sued there. That forum could become one of the most important App Store venues in the world. Spotify would give the Commission an “excuse” for not staying on top of the Apple cases, however, if it sued (especially if it sued in the EU).