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    • The Information did a story about how much companies like Google are spending to expand their data centers, lay underwater optical cables, etc. $18 billion in 9 months this year by Alphabet alone, who is building 20 new data centers. Alphabet cited AI as the driver because it is so compute intensive to analyze so much big data.

      Apparently the booming economy and tax cuts have emboldened them. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine what it's like to build 20 huge data centers in a year. 😳

    • That's a lot of electricity too...

      We have had abnormally low interest rates for so long that a lot of people have literally forgotten, or never experienced in their adult life, interest rates of 5-> 8% which weren't considered high, but routine and normal.

      How much of that tech spending is owned revenue versus borrowed money, I do wonder.

      I do think there is more inflation than the media seems aware of also. At least when I go grocery shopping, or through Lowe's for hardware or tools.

      Apple did raise their new Macs and iPads 20% recently too.

      18 billion for ~340 million US citizens works out to about $53 per person man women and children if my math is not defective. Or maybe $47 per person if we include Canadian citizens as well. Huge amounts of money, but maybe affordable on a per person basis - if the cost were paid by each of us. But of course it isn't.

      If I don't use Google, how much does their spending cost me, or benefit me, I wonder. I really don't know.

      How much do we each send Wikipedia every year for its continued services. Or the Red Cross?

      Similar thoughts occur to me regarding Apple, Intel, et al

    • I used to review data centers for fire suppression, backup and data recovery controls and such during the 1990s before Y2K. It blows my mind that companies are offloading their physical sites to the cloud. Do you think this is driving their investment as well? I know Amazon offers cloud service and just assume that Alphabet competes in this space as well.

    • Interesting. The article said it had mostly to do with the cloud. Microsoft is investing a lot because they are the #2 player in cloud computing, behind Amazon, and their customers are big businesses. Google is investing a ton because they are trying to play catch-up with the other two and do it with AI. I know someone in ops at Apple and the gigantic numbers they are putting up for services are all cloud-based, like photo sharing and Apple Maps, which is starting to get pretty good and claim a lot of users.

      Plus, everytime I fire up Google Maps, my mind is utterly blown at how much storage and compute that much take for real-time traffic info on all the roads in all the countries they operate it. Can you imagine how many simultaneous users they have?

      We had some pretty big data centers at SmugMug until we moved it all to the cloud. I wonder how the data center providers are doing now.

    • Alphabet most definitely competes in that space. Their offering is Google Cloud Platform AKA GCP. Microsoft is there with Azure, IBM used to have their own cloud called BlueMix, but then they bought SoftLayer and maybe changed the name, can't remember offhand as it's not something I use regularly. It's a crowded space, and a huge, HUGE market. As long as you remember that "there is no cloud, it's just someone else's computer" (which is a joke that rings partly true), there are are some amazing capabilities that the cloud platforms bring to every consumer, from a startup to a huge enterprise - but capability doesn't mean you can shed responsibility :) Good engineering is as paramount as ever.

    • Physical DCs are indeed doing great as all that "cloud" is grounded in reality somewhere. They have just gone down a notch in the infrastructure diagram.

    • I think the more mind-boggling stat to accompany this is that Apple, Microsoft, and Google/Alphabet have a combined cash on hand of more than $500 BILLION. They have half a trillion dollars that they can invest, so Google investing $18B in data centers makes sense. Mark Cuban has a good quote discussing why data is so important for these companies:

      "Artificial intelligence, however you want to define it, that's everything. There will be more changes in the next five to seven years than we've seen in the last 30. It will impact every business. Data is the new gold. It's the new oil. It's the new plastics." source

    • Welcome to Cake, berserkia. 😁 Love your user name.

      Great quote from Mark Cuban and probably right, no? I remember hearing ex-Facebook ad-targeting boss, Antonio García-Martínez, say the data everyone wants is Amazon's. It's all about what people buy, which is hard to glean from Facebook likes of your cousin's graduation photo.

    • Thanks! My Dad actually recommended it to me, funny since I'm usually the one giving tech recommendations :-) Really enjoying it so far! (I'm working on my own startup so really like seeing how you all have set up certain things, the onboarding/sign-up process is really well done).

      I think the valuable-ness of data thing is probably right, especially given the state of AI right now. Tons and tons of training data is still needed (which is why we're still identifying street signs and storefronts for them) so whoever has the most should be in the best position to win. I'm sure Amazon has the best data right now for advertisers, but Google can't be far behind (especially considering they can likely see what people are buying on Amazon by looking people's emails in Gmail, among lots of other interesting bits).

    • It's all about what people buy, which is hard to glean from Facebook likes of your cousin's graduation photo.

      You know, someone should come up with the option of self-targeted ads. For example, I love movies and DVR a show that does nothing but show twenty minutes of movie trailers. I am intentionally choosing to be bombarded by what are, in essence, commercials. If I could tell Facebook to show me new trailers of movies starring specific actors I like, I’d be happy and they’d be able to charge more for those targeted ads.

    • Thanks! I actually recorded a video this morning of a new user going through our onboarding to share with the team. It's amazing how difficult it is to get all the things to their lowest point of friction. A VC I admire said the essence of building a consumer product is reducing friction.

      In fact, speaking of Amazon, Jeff Bezos said the 1,000 people and 4 years it took to build Alexa was to reduce a small amount of friction because it doesn't do anything your phone can't, it's just more convenient to have something on the kitchen counter than having to pull it from your pocket and unlock it. 😲

      Lately looks nice. Startups are hard but it looks like you already have a good team and some early happy credible reference accounts.

    • This seems like the most broken part of the Internet right now. You go to some site to check out a fidget spinner, maybe you buy or not, and then ads follow you everywhere for that thing. I'd love more movie trailers but I guess they don't know I pay for movies. Another argument for why they want more data I guess.