As an early sales exec at Google, Tim Armstrong was well paid, but itchy for a bigger challenge, so he left to run AOL. Now, as the chief of both AOL and Yahoo under Verizon, he has the challenge of a lifetime: Making an ad business work when Google and Facebook are taking all the ad dollars.
“I think the worst thing we could do is — Facebook and Google are Olympic athletes with gold medal performances,” Armstrong said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “We have a differentiated strategy to partner with Google and Facebook, but not directly compete with them.”
Instead, AOL and Yahoo — which are collectively known as Oath — will find ways to give advertisers things the big steamrollers can’t. But Armstrong isn’t revealing much about his unique solutions, yet.
“I’m not going to go deeply into our strategy, but we have a different distribution model, different measurement model and different data model than they’re building,” Armstrong said. “I think you will see us, over the course of the next 12 months, roll out a series of products that are differentiated from Google and Facebook.”
“This is also not a winner-take-all market,” he added. “As big as those guys are, and they are big and they are ferocious from a competitive standpoint, there is so much opportunity left in the world.”
You can listen to the new podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Some new things happening:
At a technology event in June, Amazon exec David Limp said he hoped there would be a day when the company’s virtual assistant, Alexa, worked with competing digital assistants like Cortana.
Turns out he knew that that day was coming.
Amazon and Microsoft announced on Wednesday that they’ve been working on a partnership to allow their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana, to speak to one another.
Starting later this year, owners of Amazon Echos and other Alexa-powered devices will be able to say: “Alexa, open Cortana” to start querying Microsoft’s voice assistant. Owners of devices running Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system will be able to summon Alexa via Cortana in a similar manner.
In 2012, the New York Times’s David Sanger broke a bombshell story detailing a joint US-Israel cyber attack on Iran that undermined its nuclear enrichment facilities. The computer virus, dubbed “Stuxnet,” disabled 1,000 of Iran’s 5,000 centrifuges at the time.
In 2014, a Chinese hacking group, known as Unit 61398, penetrated the computer networks of major US companies like Westinghouse and US Steel in order to loot trade secrets. This was one of numerous such attacks by Unit 61398.
In 2016, Russian government hackers gained access to Democratic National Committee computer networks, stole sensitive information, and systematically leaked it in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
And just a week ago, the Washington Post reported that the United Arab Emirates had hacked various Qatari government social media accounts, sparking one of the most dangerous diplomatic crises in the Middle East in decades.
A new book, The Darkening Web, argues that stories like these are going to become more and more common as countries seek to project power in cyberspace. The author is Alexander Klimburg, a program director at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and an adviser to several governments and international organizations on cybersecurity strategy and internet governance.
Klimburg games out a few possible futures for the internet. One of them is apocalyptic: Imagine the world’s major powers unleashing malicious code on one another, irreparably destroying vital infrastructure. Another is an Orwellian world in which the internet has become a tool of subjugation, monitored and restricted by state powers. Still another possibility is that the internet remains free, controlled by non-state actors, and a wondrous instrument of global connection.
It’s hard to say which of these scenarios is most likely. For Klimburg, it’s a matter of mobilizing concern now before it’s too late. “Ultimately,” he told me, “it will take the attention of the free society that built the internet to save it.”
More to come soon!