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A Surveyor Of Souls

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A surveyor of souls

Google got whacked today, losing an appeal against a €4.1 billion fine from the European Commission, the largest it has ever handed down.

The EC thinks Google, going back to 2015, was using the automatic installation of its Android operating systems in mobile phones to limit competition.

Google is “disappointed” and may appeal once more.

It’s worth remembering just how far this business has travelled, or rather strayed, from its original purpose.

The mission of the founders was to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.

They wanted to help humanity be better. Money wasn’t part of the thinking. Wall Street was mocked.

Then the dotcom crash happened and the bankers put pressure on Google to monetise itself, quickly.

The principles suddenly became, erm, flexible.

Google likes to say that it doesn’t sell your personal data.

But that’s true only in the sense that it isn’t exchanging hard drives for suitcases of money.

It is, as you can read here, about how it makes money, a devourer of data and surveyor of souls.

Google’s profits are astonishing and its market value is well over $1 trillion. So it can afford the fines, assuming it doesn’t just use legal tactics to delay ever paying up.

For now, Google remains so useful it would be hard for many of us to boycott it – we need it.

But perhaps things are changing. Perhaps the more people learn about how big tech really operates, the less they will trust it.

And if big tech twigs more of the world thinks it’s against them than for them, then maybe more hacks will find their phone calls being returned.

Press release of the day

Who benefits from lower corporate taxes, asks this from Liberum.

Corporate executives is the short answer.

“All corporate tax cuts tend to do is boost earnings growth in the year after the cut due to a lower tax base and thus create a bit of a sugar high in the stock market. But in the long run, investors don’t really benefit from lower corporate tax rates.”

It’s good stuff.

Stories that will keep rolling

1) Has THG surprised the City or disappointed it again?

2) Has IG’s cricket sponsorship increased revenues?

3) What is John Lewis going to do about inflation?

4) Is Superdry’s new Bond St store working out?

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