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The Sundar-ing

12 December Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 87
The trillion dollar company
Last week, Apple became the first US company in history to eclipse a USD $1tr market valuation. Much of the reporting in the tech world took a moment to pause and reflect, and so will we.

It was kind of a close thing - Amazon's growth tear isn't over by a long shot. It was at USD $900bn just two weeks ago and is moving faster than the phone maker. But a race is a race.

There are still conversations to be had about Apple as a company and their technology in general. Their (our?) single biggest victory, in the 2007 iPhone, was an intensely personal innovation that has perhaps done more to empower us as people than any other in history. And isn't that the noblest goal of consumer tech? Technology that makes us be better? As we use technology more, should it not make us more human? Could it? Apple’s ascent reminds us how tech innovation that is personal is most impactful. We call it our phone, but Google’s search. 

Where will things go now? Criticisms of Apple are that they are a one-trick pony, and a rudderless one without Jobs. Criticisms of the behemoth tech giants generally are that we're trending to dystopia. Maybe it'll all come down, and the future will be nimbler, inter-changeable innovations from smaller companies who will never show us $1tr again.

But probably not.

For now, a light approach to the appreciation can be found in the collections of photos that show off the company's journey from the Apple I. It is a remarkable company, and it has changed most of our lives. So cheers, Apple. It's been a slice.

Yours in HAT,


Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The Doghouse

Get your handkerchiefs ready. Social media fell off a cliff last week as the stocks for Facebook (and Twitter) threw up jaw-dropping percentile losses in a single day - the largest of any company in the US ever; only VW has even come close. This is the earnings report.

It could be the privacy stuff. It could be Facebook's response (which is to build more good stuff and focus less on ad rev. It could be that growth won't last forever. It's probably all of it. At the least it's proof they're not immune.

On the Horizon

A new video game is falling to the robots. OpenAI streamed a great game of competitive DOTA (ask a millennial) against some of the world's best where their agent Five slaughtered the humans in every match. They won with the odds massively stacked against them, and they made it look easy (an average competitive match can last 45m to an hour - one of these lasted 14m). DOTA is supposed to be a heavily creative, teamwork-oriented game with elements of independent activity, subterfuge, long-term strategic thinking and mindgames. Here's how the AI saw it.

If the above paragraph was gibberish to you, let this be your first ever stream of a competitive eSports match, if you're feeling adventuresome.

Also, despite that kind of progress, Amazon can't tell which are the criminals and which are in Congress.

Be Careful

To be fair, we increasingly can't tell right from wrong either. The DCMS interim report from UK Parliament was released last week, with some serious language. "In this rapidly changing digital world, our existing legal framework is no longer fit for purpose. [...] Our democracy is at risk, and now is the time to act, to protect our shared values and the integrity of our democratic institutions." Benedict Evans (an investor at a16z) helpfully noted that "this isn't going away." We're inclined to agree. At least Alex Jones won't be on the social air anymore.

Impress your friends

There's a movie coming about the company that in 1994 launched the world's first smartphone - before the Internet, 3G, or Google. General Magic the Movie.

Oh, and did you know only 21% of apparel sales in America are online? Growing 7% YoY but I'd have thought more.

And Canadians are gettin' hiiiiiiigh.

 Comic of the Week

HAT News

You can take the German out of Germany. Theresa (HAT Operations) is in Warwick this week getting her stars (or something). If you're in the neighbourhood say hi.

Run! Das HAT sprints this week! Wednesday to Friday in Cambridge. Come have a drink with us if you like - email me.

Growth and experience. Our team is very proud to welcome a new senior engineering team member to our cadre as well. Terry, welcome aboard - we couldn't be happier to be working with you!

Till next week,

Jonathan Holtby, Community Manager

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