Welcome back to Trending, the newsletter where we highlight the biggest tech stories of the week. I’m Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider’s West Coast bureau chief, global tech editor, and your ever-humble servant.
If this is your first time reading Trending, here’s how you can get it in your inbox every week — it’s free and easy, I promise.
This week: The thrill is gone for Larry and Sergey
If you thought the holiday season would mean a slowdown in tech news, think again.
On Tuesday, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the wonder duo that founded Google 21 years ago, dropped a bombshell and announced that they were calling it quits.
It’s hard to blame them for wanting to move on. Being a tech CEO today is not the same plum gig it was a decade ago. In the good old days, Page and Brin enjoyed rock-star treatment, giving interviews in Playboy magazine and speaking to adoring crowds at tech conferences. Today, tech CEOs are increasingly viewed as super villains — perennial targets for politicians, activists, and even ordinary consumers who are no longer mesmerized by “moonshots,” but concerned about how tech is affecting privacy and democracy.
For Larry and Sergey, the thrill is gone.
And as Rob Price writes, they’re handing over the reins to Sundar Pichai during one of the most tumultuous times in the company’s history, with several significant and thorny problems to resolve. Among these, widespread employee unrest within the company and an ugly track record of tolerance for sexual misconduct by top executives.
A lot of observers point out that Larry and Sergey still control the majority of the voting shares. That’s true. But don’t underestimate the impact of their departure. For the first time in Google’s history, the principles that the founders based the company on are no longer embodied in day-to-day management. That’s going to affect things like privacy and employee relations, even if it the changes happen gradually.
And some changes could happen sooner. As Pichai moves to put his imprint on the company, there are also several obvious areas he could focus on right away, which I outlined in this piece.
As for Larry and Sergey, they’ve kept mum about what they’ll do next. But Benjamin Pimentel lays out some of the places we’re likely to see Page and Brin in the future given their interests and projects in everything from flying cars to AI to philanthropy.
“They surely are not going to retire to paddle around their swimming pools,” longtime tech futurist and Stanford professor Paul Saffo tells Pimentel. “Both of these guys have heads full of ideas and plenty of more startups in them.”
Read the full story here:
These are the 5 big changes Sundar Pichai could make to kick off his reign as Alphabet CEO
Amazon’s language police and the Bezos philosophy to political capital
In non-Google news, Amazon hosted its giant cloud conference in Las Vegas this week.
As Rosalie Chan reports, Amazon’s cloud business has some very strict rules about what kind of language its partners can use at the conference — with special staff patrolling the show floor to deal with any transgressors who use verboten terms like “multi-cloud” in their marketing material.
But in a sign of the changing cloud market, Amazon is easing up on its list of banned words. Terms like “multi-cloud” and “hybrid-cloud” are now OK in certain cases.
The change may have something to do with Amazon officially launching its own hybrid cloud product. But after Amazon’s humbling loss to Microsoft for the Pentagon’s massive $10 billion JEDI cloud contract earlier this year, Amazon is turning up the heat, at least rhetorically, on Microsoft.
Meanwhile, Eugene Kim got hold of a recording of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ remarks at a recent all-hands meeting. Unlike some of his tech CEO counterparts, Bezos does not speak to the troops very often. During the meeting, which took place last month, Bezos responded to questions about the company’s political contributions — including to Republican lawmakers that some employees feel don’t share Amazon’s values.
“You have to be able to work with people who don’t agree with you on everything,” Bezos told employees.
Read the full story here:
Amazon has removed a ban on the words ‘multi cloud’ and ‘hybrid cloud’ at its AWS conference, and it’s a telling change to its famous list of forbidden words
Here are some other tech highlights:
And more good stuff from across the BI newsroom:
That’s going to do it for this week.
Thanks for reading, and remember, if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.