Monthly Archives: April 2017

Oath is terrible


Oath is a terrible name, but what it stands for is even worse. It is a middle finger to all those who worked their asses off to create value within the rules. It is the government favoring their buddies over those advancing society. The combination of ISPs having access to all data that flows through their pipes and the potential repeal of net neutrality is shameless and disrespectful to innovators. Why would anyone take the risk to create disruptors if the pipe operators can just steal everything you work for?

Google and Facebook’s innovation did not stop at the product and functionality they offered to end consumers. They gave a compelling reason for users to give them data and won their trust, and paved the way for other data start ups by building a model of data-value exchange. Remember when we used to freak out about Facebook about Google’s privacy policy changes? It’s been a long, painful process for them to push the boundaries, endure the backlash, and eventually create the new normal. Meanwhile, they have been pretty good with our data, unlike you know… a certain part of the Oath company that had a data breach of 1.5 billion user accounts. So yea, it totally makes sense that Oath should have access to our most sensitive data and the ability to completely fuck with Google and Facebook’s user experience.

But I’m still optimistic. I have full trust in Verizon’s inability to get a viable marketing product in time. Theoretically the ISPs would have access to everyone’s google search terms, all his/her behavior on Facebook, and all the purchases made on Amazon, but first of all, where are they going to store all this data? AOL and Yahoo handle big data but nothing to this scale, and building up those data centers will take time. It’s not like AWS or Google Cloud are going to help.

Once data storage is solved for comes the fun part. Making sense out of unstructured data is a really really hard problem. For Oath to accumulate enough data tied to a user, they will have to decipher the files passing through their networks and parse out the data they are looking for. If I were Google or FB or Amazon or whoever else, I will change around my templates periodically just to make their lives harder. They will need an army of world class data scientists to solve this problem. That is expensive and it is questionable whether the best & brightest of silicon valley will work for the very enemy of what they stand for.

Verizon is a $200B company. Google and Facebook are at $580B and $400B, respectively. Google and FB can afford to buy ISPs themselves or just give free wifi throughout cities. They may not even need to do that because it will take a while for Verizon to figure out everything & have a product ready. By the time there is an ad product market ready the senate (& the president) may look very different.

This is an old company being disrupted trying to turn the table on the disruptor with the aid of the government. We’ll see what the political environment looks like in a couple of years but Verizon may be working on a tight timeline and have a hairy big data issue at hand. The blatant favoritism and disrespect to silicon valley pisses me off but I believe the innovators will prevail with the help of the incumbent’s bureaucracy.