πŸ“‘ First, Do No Harm

Bookmarked First, Do No Harm (Stratechery by Ben Thompson)

as much as I regret that the Instagram acquisition happened, I am deeply concerned about upending how Silicon Valley operates in response. The way things work now has massive consumer benefit and even larger benefits to the United States: regulators should be exceptionally careful to β€œFirst, do no harm” while pursuing the perfect over the good.

Ben Thompson discusses the US Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of past tech acquisitions. He explains the complicated nature of the Silicon Valley start-up culture.

Federal Trade Commission being better informed about the tech industry; what increasingly concerns me is the potential unintended consequences of the government getting involved in tech acquisitions, particularly the small-scale ones implicated in this investigation.

He explains some of the challenges associated with changing the culture of start-ups and acquisitions.

Another way to consider these benefits, meanwhile, is to think about a world where acquisitions by large tech companies are severely constricted or banned:

  • New technology would be diffused far more slowly (as the new startup scales), if at all (if the startup goes out of business).
  • The amount of investment in risky technologies without obvious avenues to go-to-market would decrease, simply because it would be far less likely that investors would earn a return even if the technology worked.
  • The risk of working for a startup would increase significantly, both because the startup would be less likely to succeed and also because the failure scenario is unemployment.

Instagram aside, this change would only ever impact the start-up, not big tech.

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