Silicon Valley Follies: Fodder for a Video Series

October 14, 2022

Quite an interesting few days.

First, Microsoft demonstrated “meta” thinking in two ways. The friendly company bonded with the real Meta (the Zuckbook in my lingo) to put the legless electronic game thing in Teams. Yeah, cool. Read more in “Meta Platforms: Microsoft Partnership and New VR/AR Device.” The Softies announced a consulting chestnut. Microsoft moved from selling Word (a standalone app), to flogging Office (a bundle of apps which contained Word), and now to Office 365 (a subscription to a collection of apps). That in consultant speak is “popping up a level” or a meta-move (not to be confused with Zuck think, please). Read more about this thinking and branding play in “Microsoft Office Will Be Replaced by Microsoft 365 As Part of Its Ongoing Refresh.”

A second interesting development was Google’s illustration of tightly integrated coordination among its operating units. The company killed Stadia, the earth shaking online gaming platform. You can read about one incisive strategic move in “When Stadia Dies, It’s Taking Its Platform-Exclusive Game Outcasters with It.” Then Google announced Chromebooks set up for online gaming.” You can read about this easy-to-understand complement to the termination of Stadia in “Google Introduces Chromebooks Geared for Cloud Gaming.” Definitely a clever chess move.

But the highlight for me was management acumen at Amazon and Google. “Google Datacenter Contractors Claim Retaliation for Talking Workers’ Rights” reports:

Amazon has also been fending off attempts by its workers to unionize. It stands accused of harassing union organizers, according to a consolidated complaint filed earlier this month for which it was due to lodge a response last week. The workers allege that in the months before the failed unionization attempt at its LDJ5 warehouse on Staten Island in May, they were harassed for displaying pro-union material in their downtime, among other things. Amazon told us at the time: “These allegations are completely without merit and we look forward to showing that through the process.”

And the Google followed what appears to be a similar management playbook. The article says:

The union is claiming that when Allied Universal was brought in as a replacement for a previous security contractor for Google Data Centers, workers were allegedly told they were no longer entitled to the minimum standard of benefits Google guarantees for all extended workers. Google uses the term “extended workforce” to refer to contractors, contract workers, and independent companies who work for the search giant.

True or false? Who knows. I enjoy the discussion of these management-staff and management-contractor interactions. Slick stuff.

The spirit of the science club (the metaverse avatars will have legs soon) and the thirst for power (monopolies anyone?) are alive and well. Despite the downturn in Silicon Valley’s fortunes, the spirit of the mythical land of unicorns is thriving.

Stephen E Arnold, October 14, 2022


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