Late last June, Google bought out "North," a tech company based in Waterloo, ON, which manufactured "Focals," a line of "smart glasses." A month later, the company is turning off the servers the glasses rely on, bricking every pair they ever sold.


The company is refunding its customers' money, but this is cold comfort for many. As I said when Microsoft revoked every ebook it ever sold by shutting off its DRM server:

"When I was a bookseller, nothing I could do would result in your losing the book that I sold you. If I regretted selling you a book, I didn't get to break into your house and steal it, even if I left you a cash refund for the price you paid."


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Why would Google do this? The company stonewalled CTV News, but we can make some guesses.

First, Google is incredibly bad at making wearable products. They've spent hundreds of millions on glasses and watches and they all sucked and flamed out.


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Historically, companies that were bad at something would lose to companies that were good at it. But in the new Gilded Age, where we no longer enforce antitrust laws, companies that are bad at things can buy up companies that are good at them, a monopolistic tactic.


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Google's buying a lot of wearable companies, like Fitbit. They have a buyer's market, because the company has stockpiled billions by maintaining the absurd pretense that it was headquartered somewhere in the Irish Sea, in a state of tax-free bliss.


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This isn't an advantage that its nascent rivals enjoy - until you have billions, you can't hide billions, because the enablers who create trusts and Double-Irish Dutch Sandwiches and other polite names for "fraud" are not interested in your business.

Google - and other Big Tech companies - literally buy companies more often than I buy groceries. This is by design: the companies have used monopolistic tactics to effectively foreclose on the possibility of their being unseated.


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As a result, the "exit" that most founders and investors seek from tech startups is acquisition - generally an "acqui-hire," where a company is purchased for its engineering team. The product is scrapped and the team become employees.

The "acquisition" fee is really just a hiring bonus, with a finder's fee to the "investors" disguised as a share purchase. America's tech investors are largely headhunters, a glorified, inefficient job-placement service.


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And the "products" that the "investors" pay "founders" to make aren't really products: they're portfolio pieces, a post-grad project to prove that you can execute a product design.

The product was never intended to be used by humans - you, the customer, are simply a proof-of-concept. It's a wasteful, idiotic system that throws billions at imaginary products for the purpose of shifting fractional points from Big Tech's balance sheets to investors.


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@pluralistic I keep wondering how this Silicon Valley mindset is still a thing. Apparently, it is not getting phased out, judging by how entire states adopt solutionistic stances in the face of the pandemic.
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