Andrew Ross Sorkin and Robert D. Hershey Jr., reporting for The New York Times:
Charles T. Munger, who quit a well-established law career to be Warren E. Buffettâs partner and maxim-spouting alter-ego as they transformed a foundering New England textile company into the spectacularly successful investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, died on Tuesday in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 99.
His death, at a hospital, was announced by Berkshire Hathaway. He had a home in Los Angeles.
Although overshadowed by Mr. Buffett, who relished the spotlight, Mr. Munger, a billionaire in his own rightâââForbes listed his fortune as $2.6 billion this yearâââhad far more influence at Berkshire than his title of vice chairman suggested.
Mr. Buffett has described him as the originator of Berkshire Hathawayâs investing approach. âThe blueprint he gave me was simple: Forget what you know about buying fair businesses at wonderful prices; instead, buy wonderful businesses at fair prices,â Mr. Buffett once wrote in an annual report. [...]
A $1,000 investment in Berkshire made in 1964 is worth more than $10 million today.
Mr. Munger was often viewed as the moral compass of Berkshire Hathaway, advising Mr. Buffett on personnel issues as well as investments. His hiring policy: âTrust first, ability second.â
A new edition of Mungerâs book of aphorisms, Poor Charlieâs Almanackâââits title an allusion to Mungerâs idol, Benjamin Franklinâââis due next week.
AnnaMaria Andriotis, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (News+):
Apple is pulling the plug on its credit-card partnership with Goldman Sachs, the final nail in the coffin of the Wall Street bankâs bid to expand into consumer lending.
The tech giant recently sent a proposal to Goldman to exit from the contract in the next roughly 12-to-15 months, according to people briefed on the matter. The exit would cover their entire consumer partnership, including the credit card the companies launched in 2019 and the savings account rolled out this year.
It couldnât be learned whether Apple has already lined up a new issuer for the card.
Apple Card is a strange productâââeveryone I know who has one likes it (including me), but Goldman itself has reported that theyâve lost $3 billion since 2020 on it. The savings accounts are a hit with customers too.
American Express is rumored to be one possible partner, but it would be pretty strange for Apple Cards to transmogrify from MasterCard to Amex cards overnight. There are still a lot of businessesâââparticularly throughout Europeâââthat accept MasterCard but not Amex. Itâs not just that Apple Card would no longer be accepted at businesses where previously it was, but that would highlight the fact that Apple Card is really just an Apple-branded card issued by a company that isnât Apple. Apple wants you to think of Apple Card as, well, an Apple credit card.
Ian Hickson, who recently left Google after an 18-year stint:
The lack of trust in management is reflected by management no longer showing trust in the employees either, in the form of inane corporate policies. In 2004, Googleâs founders famously told Wall Street âGoogle is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.â but that Google is no more.
Much of these problems with Google today stem from a lack of visionary leadership from Sundar Pichai, and his clear lack of interest in maintaining the cultural norms of early Google. A symptom of this is the spreading contingent of inept middle management. [...]
Itâs definitely not too late to heal Google. It would require some shake-up at the top of the company, moving the centre of power from the CFOâs office back to someone with a clear long-term vision for how to use Googleâs extensive resources to deliver value to users. I still believe thereâs lots of mileage to be had from Googleâs mission statement (âto organize the worldâs information and make it universally accessible and usefulâ). Someone who wanted to lead Google into the next twenty years, maximising the good to humanity and disregarding the short-term fluctuations in stock price, could channel the skills and passion of Google into truly great achievements.
I do think the clock is ticking, though. The deterioration of Googleâs culture will eventually become irreversible, because the kinds of people whom you need to act as moral compass are the same kinds of people who donât join an organisation without a moral compass.
This jibes with my perception of Google from the outside. Early Google did two things great:
- They introduced a steady stream of groundbreaking new products and services that served their mission statement, with broad appeal to the public.
- They ruthlessly fought against bloat and feature creep in the products they had already shipped.
Neither of those things has been true in recent years, and the responsibility clearly falls on Pichai.
Maggie Harrison, writing for Futurism:
The only problem? Outside of Sports Illustrated, Drew Ortiz doesnât seem to exist. He has no social media presence and no publishing history. And even more strangely, his profile photo on Sports Illustrated is for sale on a website that sells AI-generated headshots, where heâs described as âneutral white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes.â
Ortiz isnât the only AI-generated author published by Sports Illustrated, according to a person involved with the creation of the content who asked to be kept anonymous to protect them from professional repercussions. âThereâs a lot,â they told us of the fake authors. âI was like, what are they? This is ridiculous. This person does not exist.â
âAt the bottom [of the page] there would be a photo of a person and some fake description of them like, âoh, John lives in Houston, Texas. He loves yard games and hanging out with his dog, Sam.â Stuff like that,â they continued. âItâs just crazy.â
The AI authorsâ writing often sounds like it was written by an alien; one Ortiz article, for instance, warns that volleyball âcan be a little tricky to get into, especially without an actual ball to practice with.â
What an incredible fall from grace for what was, for decades, a truly great magazine. I can see how they thought theyâd get away with it, thoughâââSports Illustratedâs human-written articles are now mostly clickbait junk anyway.
Details From Unsealed Lawsuit on Instagram Looking the Other Way at Preteen Accounts and Knowingly Serving Teens Harmful Content
Tangentially related to the last item, hereâs Eva Rothenberg reporting for CNN:
Since at least 2019, Meta has knowingly refused to shut down the majority of accounts belonging to children under the age of 13 while collecting their personal information without their parentsâ consent, a newly unsealed court document from an ongoing federal lawsuit against the social media giant alleges. [...]
According to the 54-count lawsuit, Meta violated a range of state-based consumer protection statutes as well as the Childrenâs Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), which prohibits companies from collecting the personal information of children under 13 without a parentâs consent. Meta allegedly did not comply with COPPA with respect to both Facebook and Instagram, even though âMetaâs own records reveal that Instagramâs audience composition includes millions of children under the age of 13,â and that âhundreds of thousands of teen users spend more than five hours a day on Instagram,â the court document states.
One Meta product designer wrote in an internal email that the âyoung ones are the best ones,â adding that âyou want to bring people to your service young and early,â according to the lawsuit.
Not a good look.
The unsealed complaint also alleges that Meta knew that its algorithm could steer children toward harmful content, thereby harming their well-being. According to internal company communications cited in the document, employees wrote that they were concerned about âcontent on IG triggering negative emotions among tweens and impacting their mental well-being (and) our ranking algorithms taking [them] into negative spirals & feedback loops that are hard to exit from.â
On that last point, Jason Kint posted a long thread on Twitter/X highlighting previously redacted details from the lawsuit.