Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:
By now you’ve heard more than you’ve ever wanted to know about Jeff Bezos’ space adventure, the backstories of his crewmates and the shape of his rocket. But there’s another powerful tech billionaire whose odyssey you’re probably not as familiar with – and that’s not by accident.
Google cofounder Larry Page, long known for reclusive tendencies, has essentially disappeared from public view since handing over the Alphabet CEO keys to Sundar Pichai two years ago. Page still holds majority voting control, along with cofounder Sergey Brin, of a company worth $US1.8 ($AU2) trillion. So it’s not unreasonable to wonder what he’s up to.
Insider reporter Hugh Langley tracked Page down to Fiji, where he’s been spotted by locals on two of the archipelago’s islands over the past year. There are even rumors that he bought an island (Fiji has 300 of them).
While Fiji has been closed to tourists during the pandemic, Page apparently entered through the country’s special “Blue Lane” initiative which offers passage to superyacht and private jet owners who abide by quarantine rules.
Is Page hiding out in the South Pacific for the duration of the pandemic, or has he decided to relocate there permanently?
- The fact that Page also sold his $US45 ($AU61) million superyacht provides fodder for speculation about a Hernan Cortes-moment (the 16th century conquistador famously burned, or sunk, depending on the telling, his ships to force his troops to march inland towards Tenochtitlan).
- Longtime Google watchers will also surely recall that Page once famously mused about setting aside part of the world for techies to have a “safe” space to do experiments and escape “the negativity” of regulators and the media.
Potential takeaway: If you thought Miami was the new destination for techies seeking to build utopia, you might want to book a ticket to Fiji instead – if you can get in.
Read our full report here:
- Reclusive billionaire and Google cofounder Larry Page has been off the grid for over a year. Sources say he’s been hiding out on Fijian islands that are cut off from most travelers during the pandemic.
Netflix, the game!
What’s the answer to an increasingly crowded video streaming market? If you’re Netflix, it’s video games.
- During its earnings call this week, the company said its lost 400,000 subscribers in the US and Canada, but confirmed plans to start offering video games to subscribers at no extra cost.
- The games will, at least initially, be designed for users’ smartphones rather than for televisions or PCs. As for the games themselves, Netflix has a nice catalog of original content like Stranger Things and Lupin that could be spun into games – these franchises will be an important ingredient in Netflix’s foray into games.
- It’s still early, but it will be interesting to watch if this is the first sign of Netflix taking a page from Amazon Prime and giving members a broader “basket” of offerings for the price of one monthly subscription.
- Amazon, meanwhile, is getting some static on its video game efforts. According to some user reports on Reddit Amazon’s latest online game “New World” is destroying their graphics cards – and not just any graphics cards, these are $US1500 ($AU2,037) Nvidia RTX 3090 graphics cards. Game over.
The Big Read
Ice baths, Bob Marley lyrics and billion dollar loans: How Adam Neumann played Wall Street’s top bankers off of each other in the run up to WeWork’s doomed IPO
The epic, cautionary tale of WeWork’s 2019 IPO debacle is in the news again thanks to the new book, “The Cult of We,” by Wall Street Journal reporters Maureen Farrell and Eliot Brown.
In an exclusive adaptation from the book written for Insider, the two journalists home in on the chaotic relationship between WeWork founder Adam Neumann and the banks competing to win the “lead left” role overseeing the IPO. It’s a surreal and eye-opening story that will make you look differently at the way buzzy startups get listed on the public markets.
“It’s deeply principled, it’s weird as hell, it’s always evolving.”
– Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and of Square, speaking about the bitcoin community, which he said reminds him of the early days of the internet when he was a kid.
Not necessarily in tech:
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