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Code/red: Net Neutrality Nonsense, Beats Banter

Plus, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has great things to say about Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.


  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to unveil a new draft of his contentious net neutrality plan.

Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Plan Much Improved by Empty Assurances

Let the great net neutrality rebranding begin! Amid continued bitching over his proposed net neutrality plan, Federal Communications Commissioner Tom Wheeler has tempered it to address concerns that he’s looking to split the Internet into fast and slow lanes. Wheeler is to present a revised draft of his plan to his FCC colleagues as early as today. According to those familiar with it, this new draft still allows the paid-prioritization of Web content. But it also reportedly puts in place a measure intended to prevent broadband providers from unfairly slowing the content of those that don’t pay for such prioritization. That measure, according to The Wall Street Journal: “Language that would make clear that the FCC will scrutinize the deals to make sure that the broadband providers don’t unfairly put nonpaying companies’ content at a disadvantage.” Feel better now?

And Sometimes That’s Not Important, Either …

Columbia University professor Tim Wu: “Sometimes what everybody thinks about the law is more important than what the law itself says. I think that’s what’s happened with net neutrality.”

Jimmy Iovine: Am I Making Sense, Yet? No?

Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine, 2012: “Right now, subscription music online is culturally inadequate. It needs feel. It needs culture. What Apple has in the downloading world is very, very good. But subscription has an enormous hole in it, and it’s not satisfying right now.”

Listen Buddy, Steve Jobs Solved the Innovator’s Dilemma

Bob Lefsetz: “Anybody with a brain knew that streaming was eclipsing downloads. Except at Apple, where they were adhering to Jobs’s philosophy. But it turns out Apple had no Plan B, no streaming service ready to be launched when necessary. It’s like they never read Clayton Christensen’s ‘Innovator’s Dilemma,’ despite it being vaunted in the tech press for over a decade.”

Gee, I Wonder if We’re Approaching “Peak Tablet”

No surprise here: The broader tablet market is facing the same obvious growth questions as the iPad. In a Sunday night research note, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty slashed her 2014 tablet growth forecast by more than half, cropping it to 12 percent from 26 percent. Why? “Increasing penetration rates and the lack of new, differentiated products.” Makes sense, right? The tablet replacement cycle was pretty slow to begin with. Now, with the rise of large-screen phones and phablets, it’s slower still.

Nice Timing, Xiaomi

Speaking of tablets, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is gearing up to launch its first.

But He’s Up to No. 4 on Self-Impressed CEOs

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: “I’m a bit of a lone wolf. … I’m a natural born trust-buster. … At the peak, I was number seven in the country on Angry Birds.”

Watch for Comedy Central’s Pitch for “Costolo”

Real upfronts are this week, which means advertisers will actually commit huge amounts of money based on the series that broadcast and cable networks show off. Watch for Twitter to insert itself into some of these presentations, as a way to pump its questionable “TV loves us” pitch (and as another rebuke to NBC research head Alan Wurtzel, who does not).

Square Loses Wallet, but Don’t Worry — It Was Empty

So much for Square Wallet. After three years of struggling unsuccessfully to push the app into mainstream acceptance, the mobile payments company has killed it, yanking it from from Apple’s iTunes App Store and the Google Play store. Propped up in its place, a new app likely to be equally unsuccessful: The hardly novel Square Order, which lets you place orders for pickup from a few dozen local restaurants and cafes in New York and San Francisco.

“Magical?” Well, That Explains the Disappearing Act …

Square’s Ajit Varma: “Square Wallet provided a very magical experience, but didn’t have a lot of the utility value.”

Yeah, You Should Have Seen Rupert Before Myspace — Dead Ringer for Jon Hamm

The urgent care clinic doctor on HBO’s “Silicon Valley”: “I don’t know how you did it, but you essentially aged 40 years in the last seven weeks. We had a meth addict in here this morning who was biologically younger than you are, and he’s 58 — Myspace guy.”

Franken to Congress: That’s Just Stinking Thinking

Al Franken: “We literally have members of Congress — I’ve heard members of the House — say, ‘We’ve had all this innovation on the Internet without net neutrality. Why do we need it now?’ I want to say, ‘Come on, just try to understand the idea. Or at least just don’t give a speech if you don’t know what you’re saying. Please — it hurts my head.”

Virtually Non-Existent: John Carmack’s Upcoming Speaking Gigs

The recent kerfuffle over John Carmack’s departure from Id Software last year is putting a crimp in the Oculus VR CTO’s speaking schedule. Carmack was scheduled to appear at Wired’s Business Conference on Tuesday in New York, but a source close to the situation tells Code/red that Oculus’ legal team pressured him to back out.

Unless You’re in Silicon Valley, in Which Case: Innovation

Michael Devine, a plaintiff in the Silicon Valley hiring suit: “As an analogy, if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not.”

And Then There Are Those Who Still Deny That Tweetstorms Are Caused by Humans

Charlie Warzel, Buzzfeed: “Imagine, for a moment, a future version of Twitter where the tweetstorm™ convention spreads, bleeding first through the tech venture capital and entrepreneur community. … Tweetstorms™ are rebutted by other tweetstorms™, which is manageable and contained in a niche media sphere until Politics Twitter catches on. Always on the lookout for a new broadcast platform, the tweetstorm™ spreads from reporters to pundits and think tanks and then to the politicians themselves. Once a frenetic but followable place, your timeline is now virtually destroyed by an avalanche of soliloquies.”

Off Topic

Wingsuits, Rope Swings and Fire and a “Doing It Wrong” infomercial fail compilation.

Thanks for reading. Got a tip or a comment? Reach me at, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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