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Wednesday was Big Tech’s right-brain day, a day of storytelling, counterprogramming, and fending off creatively-told congressional attacks on their virtues.
Thursday was dominated by the numbers, the left-brain analysis that showed how at least three of the big four are faring in the world’s darkest times. In a word: well. Amazon, Apple, and Facebook surged in the second quarter, each for their own reasons.
Amazon’s cloud business soared, and it bore fruit from its investments in delivery, satisfying sheltered-in-place customers. Apple sold a little bit of everything, including, not that surprisingly, Mac computers. The word computer used to be in Apple’s name and for the last decade it has been a slow-growth annuity for the iPhone maker. Homebound workers need computers. Facebook proved that users and advertisers aren’t that interested in how much the company harms democracy and decency. For now.
Only Google’s numbers gave reason for pause, as advertising revenue declined. Google’s ad business is so big that it’s probably the best proxy for the economy of its cohort. That it didn’t grow in a quarter when parts of the global economy were improving bodes ill.
I’ll be off for a bit, though you’ll hear from me now and again. And of course you’ll be in good hands with our colleagues when Aaron takes a breather too.
I realized I had neglected to share what I’ve been reading in lockdown. I spent a fair amount of time reading Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory, the tragic account of the life and death of football star and gutsy soldier Pat Tillman. The Bush administration and U.S. Army in Afghanistan look like quaint schoolyard fibbers in comparison with the shameful denizens of today’s White House.
For lighter fare, I turned next to 10 Innings at Wrigley, Kevin Cook’s ingenious account of a 1979 slugfest between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs. The book, with its nearly literal pitch-by-pitch account of the game and back-story recollections of some of its stars, is a tonic for nostalgic baseball fans who can’t get out to the ‘ole ballpark.
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.