Happy Halloween, and welcome to this week’s edition of Trending.
If you’re new here, I’m Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider’s West Coast bureau chief and global tech editor, and this newsletter is where I highlight the best of BI Prime’s tech coverage every week.
This week: Amazon gets the biggest jump scare of its life
Who could blame Jeff Bezos if he jumped out of his seat in terror when the Pentagon announced the winner of the vaunted $US10 billion JEDI cloud contract?
The deal was all but assured to go to Amazon, but, somehow, Microsoft came out of nowhere and ran away with the prize.
It’s been a lengthy and hard-knuckle process – one analyst called it the “nastiest bakeoff I’ve seen for a technology deal in 20 years covering tech” – with big egos, big stakes, and even speculation about a vendetta by President Donald Trump.
But two things are clear:
1. Oracle’s “zombie” strategy was critical to Microsoft’s victory.
As Ben Pimentel explains, Oracle was eliminated from the running early on but refused to give in, swarming the Pentagon with protests and legal challenges. That slowed down the government’s selection process, giving Microsoft the time it needed to improve its offering and catch up to Amazon. And thanks to a June cloud partnership that Oracle struck with Microsoft, Oracle stands to share some of the spoils – at least indirectly – of Microsoft’s victory.
2. This isn’t over.
Anyone who knows Bezos knows he doesn’t give up easily. This deal is worth way too much for Amazon to go quietly – not just for the lost business it represents but because it signifies that Microsoft is now at the same level as Amazon in the all-important cloud business. As Ashley Stewart and Ben Pimentel report, Amazon is weighing multiple options. That could mean anything from an administrative challenge to a lawsuit. Or maybe Bezos has a surprise of his own in the works.
Read the full story here:
Oracle failed to derail the Pentagon’s $US10 billion JEDI contract, but it still ended up a winner in Microsoft’s upset victory over Amazon
The ‘other’ kind of tech company
Silicon Valley has earned a reputation for left-leaning politics. That has made Palantir, the Peter Thiel-founded big-data company, an outlier in the region. And if you travel south, into Southern California’s Irvine, you’ll find another Thiel-affiliated startup that breaks the mould.
Anduril is backed by Thiel’s Founders Fund, and it counts a Trump supporter, Palmer Luckey, the Oculus cofounder who supports Trump, among its founders. But as Melia Russell reports in a fascinating profile about the company, Anduril’s CEO is a “lifelong Democrat.”
Anduril’s products, which include high-tech watchtowers that can detect migrants crossing the border from Mexico, will be relevant in any administration, CEO Brian Schimpf argues. And with China getting serious about artificial intelligence, US companies can’t afford to fall behind developing certain kinds of technology.
Whether you agree with that or not, Schimpf is worth paying attention to. The 35-year-old CEO embodies the conflicting impulses and motivations roiling the tech industry. In Silicon Valley, the twin tenets of changing the world and making a fortune are no longer in harmony. At Anduril, they are perfectly aligned.
“People know what they signed up for here,” Schimpf says.
Read the full story here:
A major Trump supporter has a $US1 billion startup building drone destroyers and a virtual border wall. Here’s why a ‘lifelong Democrat’ took the job of running it.
A Quantum quarrel
In the age of Twitter, it’s not unusual to see corporations and their execs get into public squabbles.
But there was something remarkable about the feud that erupted last week between two tech giants last week. Google announced a breakthrough in the field of quantum computing, the kind of news that would typically be greeted with cheers throughout the research community. But in a striking breach of decorum, IBM publicly pooh-poohed Google’s accomplishment, insisting that Google had not truly achieved “quantum supremacy.”
As Rosalie Chan reports, this may seem like an academic dispute, but it really shows how seriously the tech industry now takes quantum computing. Once deemed the stuff of science fiction, quantum computing is now getting closer to reality. And given quantum’s potential to upend the major markets, the companies are prepared to fight for it.
Read the full story here:
IBM picked a fight with Google over its claims of ‘quantum supremacy.’ Here’s why experts say the feud could shake up the tech industry’s balance of powers.
Other recent tech highlights:
- Bullying allegations, $US1,000 pens, and a celebrity chef: Inside the collapse of Faraday Grid, the ‘$US6.5 billion’ energy startup backed by Adam Neumann
- Silicon Valley is increasingly convinced that the traditional IPO process leaves too much money on the table. Here’s why Bank of America is advocating the increasingly popular alternative.
- It looks like Amazon is moving into a massive new tower that the late Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s company is building in the Seattle suburb where Jeff Bezos started it all
- The founder of Carbon was inspired by something he saw in a ‘Terminator’ movie. Now Adidas, Nikon, and luxury carmakers are betting on his $US2.5 billion manufacturing startup.
And more from across the BI newsroom:
- ‘Bad from every angle’: America’s trucking recession is now slamming one of the $US800 billion industry’s largest companies
- Inside a huge real-estate tech gathering in New York: big ideas, lots of suits, and some notes of caution as investment surges
- These 9 startups are betting that your gut is healthcare’s next frontier, with millions in backing from investors like Marc Benioff and Vinod Khosla
- CBS News, ESPN, and The Weather Channel are assembling Quibi teams as Jeffrey Katzenberg’s video-streaming platform gears up for an April 2020 launch
As always, I’m eager for your feedback, thoughts, and tips – you can email me at [email protected] And if you like this newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues they sign up here to receive it.
Thanks for reading, see you next week,
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