Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Google: The last 4 years in tech

Alexei Oreskovic
·5 min read

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This week: A changed tech landscape that's not all that different

Trump Tech Tim Cook Satya Bezos
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It's amazing how much the world has changed since the last time a US president was inaugurated. The differences in tech over the past four years have been especially pronounced - just as you'd expect from a quickly changing industry powered by innovation and fierce competition.

Think back to this moment in time four years ago:

And yet, a lot of things in January 2017 were pretty similar to the way things are today:

Take note of that second batch of bullet points.

Some of these items will be especially relevant as the Biden administration crafts a tech policy that seeks to support a vital engine of America's economy while at the same time tackling serious problems epitomized by the tech industry. Among these: the concentration of corporate power and the massive wealth gap between executives and workers.

As Tesla's meteoric rise over the past four years demonstrates, innovation makes tech a dynamic, fast-changing industry. But innovation alone isn't always enough to compete with deep-pocketed, lightly regulated giants. After all, the only company that has made gains against the Google-Facebook advertising duopoly in the past four years is Amazon.

And innovation doesn't always lift all boats. The median total compensation of all Tesla employees in 2019 was $58,455, according to the company's proxy statement. The size of the gulf between Tesla's employees and their boss, the richest person in the world, isn't the most surprising part. The real shock is that according to that same proxy filing, Musk was actually compensated at less than half the rate of the median Tesla employee in 2019.

That's because Musk's $23,760 salary that year didn't include any of his equity awards, which were accounted for in a previous year. And it didn't reflect his existing equity. The proxy filing is completely proper according to the accepted rules and practices of accounting. But in the real word, of course, it's an absurd way to look at the issue.

As the country starts a new chapter, it's time to re-affirm the importance of distinguishing between fact and fiction - whether it's in what we read on social media or how we discuss inequality.

The Pardoned, tech edition

Among the more than 70 people that Trump pardoned late Tuesday night during his last hours in the White House were a couple of notable figures from the world of tech.

Anthony Levandowski, the former star engineer at Google who joined Uber in 2016 to lead its self-driving car effort. In 2019, Levandowski was indicted by the Department of Justice indicted on criminal charges of trade-secret theft and pleaded guilty this past year.

You can read all about the Levandowski story here: Google paid a star self-driving engineer $120 million. Then he quit, joined a rival, and headed to prison.

Greg Reyes, the former CEO of Brocade Communications, was convicted of securities fraud in 2007 during the stock option backdating scandals that roiled the corporate world. His first conviction was thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct, but he was retried and sentenced to 18 months.

Quote of the week:

"It was one of the saddest moments of my life. Seeing an attack on our Capitol, an attack on our democracy. I felt like I was in some sort of alternate reality, to be honest with you. This could not be happening."

- Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing the storming of the US Capitol in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.

Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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EXCLUSIVE: Oracle created a new cloud and AI org, and an exec once under consideration for co-CEO has stepped back in to lead it

Netflix added 8.5 million paid subscribers in Q4, surpassing 200 million for the first time despite slowed growth following a massive pandemic-driven spike

How Silicon Valley banished Donald Trump in 48 hours

There's a basic problem with calling Facebook and Twitter 'platforms' - and it took Trump for us to see it

Not necessarily in tech:

Trump administration staffers are getting snubbed while hunting for jobs. One recruiter tried to place 6 of them and couldn't land any interviews.

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And as always, please reach out with rants, raves, and tips at aoreskovic@businessinsider.com

- Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider