2018 has been arguably the most fascinating for tech space. Ranging from Senate hearings (yes, I went there!) to Tesla’s instant fall in stocks the moment Elon Musk hit the blunt. While there have been several breakthroughs yet the controversies were of a baffling degree that left media as well as the audience gaping. The fun part is that companies that never saw the light of a courtroom spent the year moving back and forth from hearings.
Here we take a look at some of the most memorable instances which leads to memorable memes, podcasts and twitter rage.
Google – In for a Lesson
Capitol Hill called Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai to make an appearance and address Google’s privacy, data security and biased reports.
Considerably this hearing was bigger than Facebook’s, yet it watered down to a petty quarrel between the Congress and Pichai about why Trump’s name and picture appears if you search the word “Idiot” on Google. This lead to a technology session where Pichai explained to a room full of Congress representatives on how the Google algorithm works and what are SERPs. (Evidently something that must have went over their heads).
The highlight of the hearing was when a rep asked Pichai why a certain Ad popped up on Congressman’s grand daughters iPhone. For which he reminded Congress that iPhone is made by Apple which is an entirely different company.
Facebook – Deny, deny, deny
“Senator, we run Ads.” smirked Mark Zuckerburg in response to Senate’s question on how Facebook accumulates its wealth.
What was expected to be a grueling session for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, it turned into a frustrating session of Senators not knowing enough about technology to ask the right questions or refer the right mistakes. (read: Cambridge Analytica) The two days – hours long sessions did not really make a difference when the questions were asked whether Facebook will display an ad of Black Panther if someone was messaging about it on WhatsApp.
“Mr. Zuckerberg, I have just one question about Facebook: Where do I find my Hotmail?” pic.twitter.com/51f5cxnJiq
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) April 10, 2018
The Senate seemed to give Zuckerberg a wide berth since a majority of his answers said “he will have his team follow up” which wasn’t entirely assuring.
Tesla – Smoked Away
Tesla’s name is synonymous with its founder Elon Musk. While Musk is known for his eccentric personality and bold tweets but him smoking weed on a live podcast with Joe Rogan happens be the nail in coffin. The moment the live footage hit screens worldwide the swarm of executives, government officials and reporters swarmed in. To make things worse (entertaining?) Musk tweeted with making Tesla private with a $420 share price. Did he mean to taunt his critics? We think yes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
As a result of this controversy Tesla saw an instant 10% drop in its stock the day of the podcast couple with two high-level executives leaving the company on the same day. While people thought his actions were funny, the SEC wasn’t really a big fan. The business tycoon received a fine of $20 Million for misleading statements. In a continuity of the events, Elon Musk resigned as the CEO of Tesla as a settlement with SEC.
Apple – What Innovation?
In the latter part of 2018, Apple experienced another stuttering blow to its reputation. It was when reports started surfacing that the company is deliberately making changes in iOS to lower the performance of its older models. The company has been using this policy for several years in order to improve the battery life of old iPhones as they ultimately degrade. This has been termed as “Throttling” by popular tabloids sensationalizing the news.
Naturally, iPhone users were beyond furious and several laws-suits took place against the company. Italy fined a startling fine of $11.4 Million to the company by its Antitrust Advisory Board. In a quick progression, Apple face a drop of $10 Billion in the sales for iPhones in the consequent year.
Huawei – USA says No!
The telecommunications Giant hailing from China has made its expansion plans very clear in recent years. It has already set up 21 global offices covering the European and Asian markets. Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Whanzou, the daughter of the founder of the company, was detained in Canada on Dec 1 2018, the same day the US and Chinese state heads dined together.
USA and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have distanced themselves from the narrative. They stated that it was all without any political influence. The Chinese administration has maintained its stance over the fact that USA is trying to influence its allies. Allegedly against the Chinese telecommunications conglomerate’s global expansion especially to the American Market. How much of that is truth is yet to see. Although the past policy attempts at administrative level by USA does back China’s claims.
The Global, published by Communist Party’s, maintains that since USA cannot beat Huawei’s influence hence it is resorting to rouge means.
There’s more to see on this developing story as China is actively pursuing the case of Whanzou’s detainment in Canada. Read more here.
Paypal – “You died? Not our problem”
In a lieu of bad press, PayPal faced a storm of outrage from the general public. It all happened when a notice was issued to a deceased woman stating that “her death is breach of contract”. How it happened and why it happened is a different story.
“You are in breach of condition 15.4(c) of your agreement with PayPal Credit as we have received notice that you are deceased.”
Imagine receiving this message just days after your wife has died by the payments giant. After a lot of probing PayPal has kept their lips sealed on what exactly caused this to happen. Was it deliberate? Or was it a glitch because of a software error, message template or human error? The deceased Lindsay Durdle, died at the age of 37 after suffering from Cancer. She had an outstanding debt with the company of $4,200. The company, after a lot of public backlash has silently closed her account and cleared her debt. However, the current users of PayPal are not feeling entirely confident with company’s reputation.
Let’s see if these companies are able to amend their ways in 2019.