Anyone want to buy TikTok? | The Vergecast

Anyone want to buy TikTok? | The Vergecast

Intro (00:00:00)

  • The hosts introduce the podcast and discuss the metaphor of burning down houses to represent the pressure on TikTok to sell.
  • They mention that they almost recorded the podcast in person but missed the opportunity.
  • David Pierce has the Rabbit R1 electric motorcycle and is excited to discuss it.
  • The hosts discuss the ongoing situation with TikTok and the potential for it to be sold.
  • They mention that Microsoft is the most likely buyer, but there are also rumors of interest from Oracle and Walmart.
  • The hosts speculate on the implications of a TikTok sale, including the potential impact on user data and content moderation.
  • The hosts discuss the recent news about electric vehicles, including the new Mercedes-Benz EQC and the Tesla Cybertruck.
  • They also discuss Elon Musk's proposal to turn Tesla cars into a distributed AWS network.
  • The hosts answer a series of rapid-fire questions on various tech topics.

TikTok bill signed (00:01:14)

  • The U.S. government passed a bill requiring TikTok to sell itself to a U.S. company or shut down within a year due to concerns about foreign control of media.
  • President Joe Biden signed the bill as part of an aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza, with the option to extend the deadline by three months.
  • TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, expressed the company's intent to take legal action to defend its users' rights under the Constitution.
  • The ban primarily targets TikTok as a company that distributes user speech rather than regulating the speech itself.
  • TikTok faces three options: winning a lawsuit, shutting down, or selling the app, with the decision ultimately resting with either its CEO or the Chinese Communist Party.
  • The forced sale of TikTok may lead to a decreased valuation, potential lawsuits, and missed investment returns.
  • Social media platforms like TikTok are adopting a work-like culture, focusing on goal-setting and strategies for content creators.
  • The video creator economy is experiencing a bubble, with products like the "hydro water bottle" gaining popularity on TikTok.
  • TikTok's success was largely attributed to the acquisition of and heavy investment in Facebook and Instagram ads, but Apple's tracking transparency changes have made user acquisition more challenging.

Who should buy TikTok? (00:18:45)

  • TikTok, a popular video-sharing platform with a young user base, has an estimated value of around $100 billion.
  • Microsoft, previously interested in acquiring TikTok, may hesitate due to antitrust concerns and the need for congressional oversight of content moderation.
  • A potential partnership between Microsoft and Snap has been suggested, where Microsoft provides backend support and AI services.
  • Potential buyers of TikTok face challenges due to regulatory concerns and the need for substantial financial resources.
  • Google is considering buying TikTok as a way to effectively ban it by slowly killing it, but antitrust concerns and competition with its search engine make it unlikely.
  • Amazon is a potential buyer as TikTok could complement its e-commerce platform and provide a new advertising avenue.
  • Microsoft is another possible contender, given its experience in the tech industry and its acquisition of LinkedIn.
  • Potential buyers discussed include Eli Lilly, Visa, JP Morgan Chase, Tesla, Walmart, Amazon, Exxon Mobile, MasterCard, Proctor and Gamble, Home Depot, Costco, Oracle, Salesforce, and Disney.
  • Costco was considered an interesting option but might face challenges in paying influencers a living wage.
  • Salesforce was seen as the darkest outcome for TikTok as it could turn it into a business-focused platform, similar to LinkedIn.
  • Disney was suggested as a wild card buyer but might be too big for Disney's acquisition.
  • The downfall of TikTok could significantly impact Instagram, YouTube Shorts, and Snap, leading to a land grab between platforms as users migrate.

Rabbit R1 released (00:38:44)

  • David attended a launch party for the Rapid R1 e-bike at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport in New York, where attendees purchased their own e-bike to participate.
  • The Nothing Phone (1) was demonstrated using a 4G LTE connection, despite claims of low latency with 5G, and its speed and features showcased during its initial launch, such as the large action model, are currently lacking.
  • The Rabbit device promises to revolutionize human-technology interaction using a large action model, but currently only supports four apps and raises privacy and security concerns due to its authentication token storage.
  • The AI chatbot, PaLM 2, trained on specific apps like Spotify, Uber, DoorDash, and YouTube Music, faces issues with accuracy and reliability due to its method of interacting with web interfaces instead of APIs.
  • Computer vision-based interfaces have limitations, leading companies like Humane and Rabbit to pursue larger systems and official partnerships for direct API access.
  • While AI has its uses, not everything requires AI solutions, and companies using AI models to bypass business deals may face legal challenges related to scraping content from websites.

Apple iPad "event" announced (01:03:48)

  • Apple announced a May 7th event for new iPads.
  • The event is called "Let it Loose" and may hint at a new Lou-oriented iPad.
  • Rumors suggest an OLED iPad with improved hardware and a new Magic Keyboard with an aluminum design and a larger trackpad.
  • The current iPad hardware is generally good, but there are issues with the software and usability.
  • Apple News Plus has a list of in-stories that may indicate the target audience is not getting younger.
  • The iPad Pro is often used as a laptop and needs software changes to improve its functionality as a consumption device.
  • Rayan Meta smart glasses received a significant update.
  • The update includes multimodal AI.

Meta Ray Bay smart glasses update (01:07:33)

  • Meta introduced new color options and designs for its Quest headsets and is partnering with companies like Asus Republic of Gamers and Lenovo to create headsets using its rebranded Meta Horizon OS, all powered by Qualcomm chips.
  • Meta's strategy of focusing on key features and gradually adding capabilities has led to a successful product that exceeds expectations, as seen with the improved pass-through video quality on the Quest 3.
  • Ray-Ban glasses with built-in cameras have gained popularity, especially among digital nomads, despite initial skepticism about their functionality.
  • Apple's Vision Pro demand is reportedly suffering due to its high price point compared to Ray-Ban's $300 glasses, leading to questions about its practicality.
  • The speaker is considering purchasing the Ray-Ban glasses despite their $300 price tag due to their weight and the nice charging case, which reduces the risk of losing them.

Tesla is in its flop era (01:16:44)

  • Tesla laid off 10% of its workforce, including several executives, and recalled all 3,878 Cybertrucks.
  • Despite price cuts, Tesla's car sales have dropped due to a lack of new models, and its future is uncertain.
  • Elon Musk announced plans for a fully sentient robot called Optimus, to be sold next year, and is seeking arguments to justify Tesla's high software company-style margins.
  • Tesla is working on an AWS-like platform using the compute power of parked Teslas, raising concerns about data privacy and practicality.
  • Tesla's distributed AI supercomputer project faces challenges, particularly during peak usage times.
  • Tesla's reliability, repairability, and build quality issues indicate mismanagement, tarnishing its reputation despite being a first mover with a skilled salesman in Elon Musk.
  • Hybrid cars are seen as a short-term solution until better infrastructure is in place for electric vehicles, with many people choosing to wait for EVs to become more accessible and affordable.
  • The new Prius model has a more appealing design compared to previous models.

Lightning Round (01:25:51)

  • Apple is in talks with FIFA to create a new global soccer tournament exclusively on Apple TV+.
  • Apple is investing heavily in sports content and streaming services to attract subscribers.
  • Qualcomm announced new processors designed to compete with Intel and AMD's x86 processors, claiming to be as fast as Apple's M3 chip.
  • Microsoft is expected to announce new Surface devices running on Qualcomm's new processors at their event on May 20th or 21st.
  • Sonos is releasing a new mobile app with a faster interface and a new widget-based design.
  • Sonos is discontinuing its desktop apps for Mac and Windows in favor of web apps.
  • The Vergecast is produced by Andrew Marino and Liam James, and is part of The Verge and Vox Media Podcast Network.

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