This is America

And why is Congress taking the step? Because companies like Intuit,  the company behind TurboTax,  and H&R Block have been lobbying lawmakers for years to take the step.


In other countries, the agencies in charge of taxes have their own programs which make filing taxes more efficient — and free — for citizens. But that would eat into the profits for the tax prep industry, which was estimated to pull in $11 billion in 2018.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/09/the-government-is-about-to-permanently-bar-the-irs-from-creating-a-free-electronic-filing-system/

$11B can definitely buy you some influence in Washington. That said, what’s particularly interesting is that it’s a bipartisan initiative. I’d imagine that at least the Democrats would have wanted people to file their taxes easier as they’d need that to fund some of their future projects.

Good Guy Microsoft

For instance, the FCC report suggests that broadband, as it is currently defined, is not currently available to around 25 million people. Sounds reasonable. But Microsoft’s data says that some 163 million people “do not use the internet at broadband speeds.”

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/08/microsoft-says-its-data-shows-fcc-reports-massively-overstate-broadband-adoption/

So, this is inference by proxy and not a direct measurement. Why am I positive that the clown at the top of FCC is going to use that same argument?

The full report from Microsoft is here

Tata Harrier

The name is fascinating. Cars are rarely named after birds, with this and Swift being an exception. Also interesting, it’s named after a popular British fighter jet.

Maybe it’s an allusion to the fact that Tata now owns two British pedigree names – Land Rover and Jaguar. However, the design of the Harrier is certainly something eye catching and I’d love to learn its origin. If anyone has the right links, ping me.

Tata Harrier Images
Tata Harrier

New FDI rules in India

Financial Times has a good summary of the rules that went into effect on Feb 1, 2019.

The tl;dr version is this:

  • If you are an commerce company that has foreign direct investment (think, Amazon, Walmart, others)
  • You’re now only allowed to be a marketplace with the following criteria
    • A marketplace has to be open and unbiased
      • So you cannot hold your own inventory
      • You cannot sell exclusive items from other invested companies
      • No FDI seller company can be > 25% of sales on an FDI marketplace

The intent is to protect the marketplace from competition that has an advantage of ~70x spending power. The two largest online marketplaces in India are now effectively American owned – Flipkart (now owned by Walmart) and Amazon.in (owned by Amazon).

Amazon was especially effective at creatively circumventing existing rules wrt marketplaces and owning inventory – see Cloudtail. However, given General Elections in 2019, Reliance’s clear intent to launch into commence and payments, the signs are certainly present if this is protectionism under the aegis of preserving competition.

There are a couple worries here:

  • What prevents Amazon and others from changing the ownership levels in their ventures, whitelabel a shopping site and then continue to do the same thing?
  • Where does the Government stand in balancing the pillars here – users, sellers, marketplaces and foreign marketplaces?
  • What caused the change within the Government to enact this so quickly? There continue to be unsubstantiated rumors around Reliance Jio e-commerce starting in India.
  • And what are the new opportunities here? Changing the weight to support an Indian giant isn’t necessarily good for the smaller sellers in the long term. Is there an opportunity create a marketplace only model that would actually end up supporting local sellers?

Twitter to disclose mDAU as their primary metric

DAU = Daily Active Users – typically defined as non spam users who’ve logged into the service on that day.

Twitter’s mDAU for Q4 2018 is: 126MM DAU

Twitter defines monetizable daily active usage or users (mDAU) as Twitter users who logged in or were otherwise authenticated and accessed Twitter on any given day through twitter.com or Twitter applications that are able to show ads.

Twitter investor comms (pdf)

So, why the additional filter of “monetizable?” Most reporters allude to an attempt to obfuscate comparisons to Snapchat – that claims to have 186MM DAU.

I believe Twitter is not doing its comms job properly. If they believe this is the new meaningful metric to track and trust and orient the company, it’s good to align the internal and external folks to align on it. Any obfuscation doesn’t do it justice. Its definition doesn’t do justice given its continued war on third party twitter apps.

That said, I personally think it’s an interesting move to shift to DAU as their primary metric. It’s twitter accepting their role in the current attention landscape – likely interesting and likely the place for people to go to get a sense of what’s happening right now. However, the caution here is that pre Cheeto in Command, there were niches – politics twitter, tech twitter, sports twitter. Twitter is relying on something interesting to happen every single day. Now, this has the same caution as the 24 hour news channels — what happens when things are normal? Is there an incentive to treat normal things are ‘newsworthy?’ I’d urge twitter to consider the 2nd and 3rd order effects given what facebook is going through right now.