Google wasted its pandemic opportunity. Now, it's scrambling to catch up.

·4 min read

Hey there, buds. I'm Diamond Naga Siu, and I'll be writing to you from San Diego for the foreseeable future. Big thanks to my editor Matt Weinberger and my teammate Paayal Zaveri for filling in while I wrapped up my cross-county move.

I'm a big fan of remote work. But I'll also miss going into the Insider newsroom to chat with my brilliant coworkers and learn from them.

This Amazon worker similarly enjoys office life. But she likes it so much that she doesn't think Amazon's controversial return-to-office mandate is enough. She told my colleague Sarah Jackson how the policy was unappealing enough that she felt compelled to leave the company.

Before I go to contemplate my major life decisions, let's dive into today's tech.

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Illustration Kurian
Illustration Kurian

Eric Dietrich / Secretary of the Air Force Publishing; Arif Qazi / Insider

1. Google blew its pandemic opportunity. Now, it's playing catchup. The search giant is pretty dominant. But it failed to adapt quickly enough when the pandemic hit. Google Meet pales compared to Zoom. And Microsoft's Office 365 services are way more ubiquitous.

  • The company is currently also lagging in the AI space (thanks to the buzzy AI chatbot ChatGPT). Its own competitor chatbot, Bard, is still being tested internally. Google's generative AI strategy has been all talk with no action.

  • Until yesterday, that is, as the company announced that it's integrating the tech into tools like Google Docs and Gmail — and the new strategy may give it an edge in a head-to-head race with Microsoft.

  • My colleagues Rosalie Chan and Hugh Langley talked with 16 current/former employees about Google's missed opportunities and its steep hill to climb.

Go inside Google's latest AI push here.

In other news:

Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

2. Mark Zuckerberg's shrinking metaverse. The Meta CEO went from obsessed to over it within a year. Now, the company is going all in on AI instead. More on the company's abrupt pivot here. Bonus: Why Meta's layoffs are thanks to Mark's mistakes.

3. AI productivity tools made work harder instead of easier. AI promised to make people more productive at work. So my colleague Aaron Mok tried four of them, including one tool that could attend meetings for him. Check out his experiences with the AI tools here.

4. Apple joins the penny-pinching trend. It remains the only Big Tech company to avoid widespread layoffs. But the iPhone maker is now delaying bonuses and tracking office attendance, per a Bloomberg report. See all the company's cost-cutting methods here.

5. Using ChatGPT to teach high school science and math. Shannon Ahern was worried the tech would take her job, but she now uses it to prepare for class. She told Insider how ChatGPT is making her life easier. More on her techie teachings here.

6. Banking lessons from the Silicon Valley Bank nightmare. Using multiple banks and employing a CFO are just two of the top lessons from the digital bank run. Check out all five tips to keep your money safe here. Bonus: SVB's financials gave a multi-month heads-up on its collapse.

7. Red flags that an employer doesn't care about work-life balance. Instead of asking an employer about their approach, watch out for red flags like unclear goals and hobbyless employees. Get the full list of warning signs here.

8. Tesla owner accidentally unlocked and drove off in someone else's car. This Tesla owner said his app unlocked a nearly identical Model 3 to his. An unfamiliar crack in the windshield and a missing phone charger started to raise his suspicions. More on the mistaken car identity here.

Odds and ends:

Black and white image of a man in a black T-shirt, standing on a roof and facing away from the camera toward a mountain vista.
Black and white image of a man in a black T-shirt, standing on a roof and facing away from the camera toward a mountain vista.

Niko Krivanek for Insider

9. A urologist wants to make penis implants as common as breast implants. But multiple patients said the surgery left them deformed and in excruciating pain. More on the growing market here.

10. Top nine family cars. The Chevrolet Suburban and Hyundai Santa Fe made the cut based on interior space, quality, and features. Get the full list of family-friendly rides here.

What we're watching today:

Curated by Diamond Naga Siu in San Diego. (Feedback or tips? Email or tweet @diamondnagasiu) Edited by Matt Weinberger (tweet @gamoid) in San Francisco and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.

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