The New Deal

(same as the old boss)

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Youtube seems poised to inherit the TikTok shakeout over video and recommendations. Not because of the Facebook strategy, the Kardashian retreat on Instagram, or even the apparent collapse of the Twitter deal. Facebook is still in mid-digestion of the messaging acquisitions it made to push partisan content behind the encryption paywall. The success of the January 6 hearings has taken some of the pressure off Democrats. They now see a political pivot that might take advantage of Trump’s kneejerk penchant for stirring up trouble in the swing states key to expanding the Senate majority. Manchin’s climate change gambit is another beneficiary of the Trump fade, should it pass in time to impact on the next 100 days to the midterms. I would not be shocked by a resuscitated Musk deal in this climate, and here’s why.

Democracy may be on the ropes for all the obvious reasons, but central to the underlying panic is the idea that voters may be disintermediated by the states and their legislatures. Manchin’s bill speaks to his effective work at changing the discussion from pork to inflation. He sure took his sweet time, making the deal much more interesting to the media than any stories about the pandemic or stolen past elections. But stolen future elections is another thing altogether. As the country trends green, the voters of the future are starting to think about what they want. Electric cars are a good start.

Remember Apple and the iPhone rollout. The key innovation was thought to be touch screens, the stealth transformation the takedown of the carriers, specifically AT&T. By going after a deal with the number two carrier, Steve Jobs established a beachhead for unlimited broadband in a mobile device. AT&T suddenly had a marketing edge that spoke directly to the future, where unlimited meant not just email and texting but audio and video streaming. The other carriers folded quickly, just as car makers are going electric as fast as they can. Suddenly we’re hearing about battery swapping, federally funded charging stations, and just yesterday, a new Tesla over the air update to enable Tesla cameras and a dash of AI to tighten seat belts before a crash.

Certainly the other electrics will follow this as Google and the other phone makers did, but Apple kept its foot on the gas with the App Store, the related peripherals like the Watch, and what is now a 20 billion dollar quarter for its Services bundle. The same thing may be happening in Washington, as partisan hand-to-hand combat gives way to bipartisan legislation like the Chips Act and even gun control baby steps. Manchin’s deal may get through as the midterms make crash-and-burn suboptimal as a platform to run on. A chicken in every pot may give way to over the air battery swaps. And what better way to market that than Twitter, especially if your subscription is part of the services bundle.1


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