Drishtikone Newsletter #351: The Deplatforming Risk

Parler, Gab and Alex Jones were de-platformed due to ideological differences. Russia is being canceled as well. Whether you agree with these actions or not, there is a real and profound country and corporate risk that needs to be tackled. The De-platforming risk!

Last updated on Sep 11, 2022

Posted on Aug 7, 2022

3d illustration of a sphere with lots of small green colored balls hovering over it.
Photo by Shubham Dhage / Unsplash
“The Gnostic message is about waking people up and making them see the truth of this world. Sin for Salvation, where a person consciously and deliberately flouts the conventions and rules of this godforsaken earth, is a primary means of liberation, of experiencing a visceral release from the controllers of this false world, this Devilish matrix of perdition. The controllers define “sin”, not God. Never believe their definitions. They are designed for their benefit, not yours.” ― Adam Weishaupt, Sin for Salvation

There is a very popular story of King Vikramaditya in India.  It is said that he was a very benevolent king and would have a daily congregation with the masses of his kingdom.  He would give alms to so many - mostly poor and needy.  

The king was courageous and known to be strong, fearless, and powerful.

One day, amongst the congregated people while he was giving alms, an old Yogi was also standing.  

Wise, intense, and humble.  

When Vikramaditya came to him, instead of taking anything, the Yogi gave him a strange wild fruit that the king had never seen.

Quietly the Yogi walked away.

Bewildered, the king handed the fruit to his minister who threw it in a ditch to rot.

This kept happening day after day.  For many months, and years.

One day king's pet monkey was sitting nearby, so instead of giving the fruit to the minister, King Vikramaditya handed the fruit to the monkey.  Monkey ate the fruit and out came one of the biggest diamonds that the king and his ministers had ever seen.  Immediately the king wanted to see all the fruits that the Yogi had given him all those years.

When they went to dig through that ditch, they found hundreds of amazing large diamonds amongst the rotten garbage.

Life is like that.

Every moment brings diamonds to us - hidden in the larger scenarios.  Every experience, every moment is a wild fruit that we have never encountered before.

 The question is do we recognize the diamond that is hidden in those situations or throw our experiences out as garbage to rot?

If we are conscious.  If we are aware.  Then every moment can provide great learning for the future.  If not, then we are like the king who kept throwing the fruit with the diamonds to rot.

Beyond our ideologies, fears, thoughts, and narratives, we have to look at the situations and scenarios we face today.  What can they lead to?  What do they offer?

And then make our decisions.  

Let us look at one such area that is staring at us in our faces but we are not even looking at it seriously enough.


Protests, Riots, De-platforming, and Parallel Economies

Shortly after January 6th 2021 Capitol riots, a social media website - Parler - was banned from everywhere.  It was taken off the Apple App Store and Google Play Store so  no one could download and install the application on their phones or tablets.  More importantly, the cloud provider - Amazon - also took it off from their platform.

Source: "Why Amazon's Move to Drop Parler Is a Big Deal for the Future of the Internet" / Time Magazine

Such an action was not the first one on the conservative ecosystem within the US.  With respect to Parler, the January 6th Capitol riots precipitated the widespread deplatforming of Parler, but similar actions had happened earlier as well.  

For example, Gab - another social media platform for the American Christian conservatives - had been banned as well.  Everyone - from App Stores to hosting providers and payment processors to even credit card processors like Visa - had "no-platformed" the company for allowing unhindered free speech.

As a result of our free speech principles, Gab has been no-platformed and banned by 25+ service providers over the years including both App Stores, payment processors, hosting providers, and even VISA. Gab and Andrew have been relentlessly smeared by Big Tech, the mainstream media, academics, members of U.S. Congress, foreign nation states, and more for refusing censor first amendment-protected political speech on Gab. (Source: What is Gab?)

As if that was not enough, the banks and Visa also blacklisted its owner Andrew Torba.  His wife and family had no way to operate a business via the normal channels.

We were told this week that not only is Gab blacklisted by Visa as a business, but my personal name, phone number, address, and more are all also blacklisted by Visa. If I wanted to leave Gab tomorrow (something that isn’t going to happen) and start a lemonade stand I wouldn’t be able to obtain merchant processing for it. Simply because my name is Andrew Torba. If my wife wants to start a business she won’t be able to obtain merchant processing because she lives at the same address as me and would be flagged by Visa. (Source: Gab News)

Infowars' Alex Jones had also been "de-platformed" in 2018 for "peddling lies".

On August 6, 2018, Alex Jones finally got deplatformed. The conspiracy theorist behind the popular Infowars site had been pushing the bounds of acceptable speech for many years. His belief that the massacre of 20 children and 6 educators by a deranged shooter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School was a “false flag” operation involving “crisis actors” is perhaps the most offensive of Jones’s theories, leading to defamation lawsuits from some of the parents of victims. But what finally led to Jones’s removal from major social media platforms was his tendency to celebrate and endorse violence, in direct conflict with platforms’ terms of service. Apple moved first, removing five of Jones’s six shows from their widely used podcast index. While Apple was not hosting Jones’s content, their decision to de-index him had a significant impact, opening the floodgates for other platforms to take action. Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify deleted much or all of his content the same day, citing a variety of reasons. Facebook noted that Jones had previously been suspended from the platform for 30 days, pointing to a “repeat offenders” policy as the reason he could be removed from the platform. Spotify had removed individual episodes of Jones's show a week earlier, but defended the decision to completely ban it based on hate speech and incitement to violence. The deplatforming that most hurt Jones was likely YouTube’s—his channels had 2.5 million subscribers and his videos over a billion combined views. While many platforms quickly followed Apple's decision on August 6th, Twitter allowed Jones to remain, finally banning him a month later. (This sequence of events is a great example of what evelyn douek calls the “domino effect”—mainstream platforms often make controversial decisions in near-unison in a scramble not to be the odd one left out.) (Source: Columbia University)

In fact, as we speak, Alex Jones has been slapped with a USD 45.2 million payment over his Sandy Hook lies by a Texas jury.  This may be unprecedented that someone may have been slapped with a suit for "controversy theories".  

The total — $49.3 million — is less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. But the trial marks the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the massacre, claiming it was faked by the government to tighten gun laws. (Source: AP News)

In a world where mainstream newspapers and TV channels continuously peddle not just fake but dangerous crap packaged as "news", it is interesting to note that someone can be made to pay for doing that same thing.

Remember, New York Times was instrumental in pushing Hitler to attack Poland, which started WWII, by peddling false and fake "news".  Read here.

Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #324 - Control over Media and the One World Order
Media is an extension of power. Those who own and those who control it globally can lead the world. ‘One World Order’ is their goal. Our pusillanimity their weapon.

Meanwhile, Gab and its owner retaliated against the whole deplatforming exercise by creating a "parallel economy" - or rather as they call it - "Parallel Christian Economy".

Source

Whether you like Alex Jones, Gab, and Parler or hate them, you cannot miss the most instructive point that these seminal events in American corporate history underline.

Corporate risk of de-platforming.

Whether you call the riots on Jan 6th, 2021 insurrection or Jan 26th, 2021 riots and attack in Delhi as "farmers' protest", the benchmarks and narratives are couched by those who have supremacy over media and communications.  And, using a chosen structuring and lingo, an entire ecosystem can gang up against any group by demonizing it and canceling it.

That is a risk that one has seen very few companies discuss or plan for.

Whether you agree with one political narrative or not, if you are at the helm of a major global corporation, it is impossible to miss the underlying threat.  

Curated narratives by one set of state actors could deplatform, cancel, and simply finish you.

As in the case of Pornhub, a legal adult video content provider, it does not even matter whether a corporation or business is legal or not.  A few changes in the rules of the providers can lead to the de-platforming of a channel from a payment channel, even if the business is legal though not agreeable to some.

Source: CDO Trends "Can Your Cloud Provider Deplatform You?"

Geopolitical Cancellation Risk

Of course, Russia's attack on Ukraine started a concerted effort on the part of the US and European administrations and businesses to cancel Russia.  Specifically Putin and his "cronies".

Since he invaded Ukraine, Putin has been canceled, and the effect on global politics has been extraordinary. Private companies have proved willing to make decisions that affect their profit margins, and the sanctions against Russia have united Western leaders. By creating a “them,” the past two weeks have strengthened “us.” (Source: The Atlantic)

In Ukraine's aftermath, over 1000 companies have ceased operations in Russia.

Source: Yale School of Management

Threats to close airspace to Russian airspace and take banks out of SWIFT were also there.  In March, seven Russian banks were cut out of the SWIFT payment system.

Source: Radio Free Europe

This was, as Washington Post's Jason Willick called it - the first geopolitical cancellation of the 21st century.

Source: Twitter

Does not matter whether you agree with the actions of the US/Europe or Russia or whose side you are on.  

The fact is that the risks and the ramifications for countries and companies around the world from these kind of unilateral actions are stark and real!

What if it was Modi and Adani or Reliance?

In a series of articles against Modi in the foreign press, two sets of industrialists have been clubbed together and targeted.  The headlines and the content are unmistakable in their intent and import.

For example, Nikkei Asia ran an opinion piece titled "Modi risks turning India into a nation of gangster capitalists". What?! Gangster capitalists?!

Gautam Adani, of the Adani Group, and Mukesh Ambani or the Reliance Industries were the targets.

Adani's meteoric rise is reflected in his net worth, which has increased by approximately 340% since May 2014 to about $34 billion as of January 2021, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index. This puts him second only to India's richest individual and chairman of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani, who has similarly seen his wealth spike. As it happens, the sharp increase in billionaire wealth, while predating the current government, has accelerated during the tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in a landslide election victory in May 2014. (Source: Nikkei)

Another piece in South China Morning Post by Bloomberg justified attacks on Adani and Ambani's business assets during the farmer's protests.

Source: SCMP

Financial Times followed suit.

Along with Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Mr Adani is today one of the most visible tycoons in the country, whose prominence has accelerated in the years since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in 2014. Like both Mr Modi and Mr Ambani, Mr Adani comes from the western state of Gujarat, where he was a key supporter of Mr Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata party as it rose to dominate national politics. (Source: Financial Times)

This pattern of course has been articulated abundantly within India by various media outlets, political parties, and Modi critics.

In fact, on a recent trip to India, a friend who was connected to media in India shared his view of how media outlets were slanted in India.  So he said that most of the media houses were now owned by "Ambani", as we discussed anti-Modi coverage.  Since he was a guest I did not push that argument further.  For, as much as Ambanis have been made to be Modi's "Corporate Gangsters", the fact is that they were closely linked to Congress for past many decades as well.  In fact some even argue that Pranab Mukherjee's annual budgets for 1982-83, 1983-84, and 1984-85 were specifically targeted to benefit Dhirubhai's Reliance!

So why this sudden targeting of "Adani and Ambani" and the linking to Modi in an attempt to paint the 'crony capitalism' argument?  

  1. One, the argument is to create and draw an equivalence between Modi and these corporates - while making that bond stronger with each piece.
  2. Second, take down one side of this equation (Modi or the corporates) and it is easier to take down the other side along with it.

We had discussed how George Soros and his network has been able to create actions within India that are harming India's billionaires, but India's businessmen have been content to fight him (and even Jeff Bezos) on their home soil as opposed to taking the fight to their territory.

Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #271 - The Rich Indian Sitting Ducks
Wealth is not an entitlement. It is a privilege. It comes with power and an ability to establish your set of values across the globe. Not creating networks to create such power is to lose it all.

Let us understand the importance of the narrative being peddled in the Indian and Global media.  This kind of concerted narrative-building content across several "prominent" media outlets is called Atrocity Literature.

Source: IndiaFacts

When the time comes for the US and European establishments to formulate their hit against any country or power center in other countries - Iraq, Libya, Russia - it helps to have painted that power center black and so point to the "atrocity narrative" and become a hero by shooting down the "devil".  It is an old mechanism and strategy that was perfected by the Christian fanatics during their destruction of the Pagans in Europe.  

It is a variant of the Righteousness Framework.  Check these two newsletters to understand what it means and how it works -  Issue #228 - The Righteousness Framework and Issue #338: Rules-Based Order and Righteousness Framework of Power.

Now let us assume that US and Europe decide they want to do a Putin on the Indian PM Narendra Modi.  There is an ample number of Western establishments who find him a thorn in their backside for not allowing them control over the Indian polity that they had enjoyed since the 1700s!

Let us play the scenario out.

So in the year 2025, the attacks on Modi increase to a shrill note and the idea of his take down is finalized in the power centers of certain nations and corporate backrooms.  Of course, it helps when the strongest of India's corporates come along in this "Buy One Get One Free" (BOGO deal).  So they target Reliance and Adani as well to help free up assets in India that these two groups will leave behind.

Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft start deplatforming the two groups.  With the corporate games going on between Reliance and Amazon, the JioSaavn business is any way at great risk of being de-platformed in such situations.

JioSaavn uses AWS to reliably stream audio and video to millions of subscribers throughout the world. The number one music streaming provider in India, the company is the largest Indian music streaming service and distributor of digital Bollywood music in the world. JioSaavn relies on Amazon CloudFront to securely deliver 15 petabytes of music and video to global customers every day. (Source: Amazon.com)

Do you see how much risk the largest Indian corporates are taking on?

Reliance moves to counter risk - will they be enough?

It was to counter this, that Reliance had partnered with Microsoft's Azure cloud platform for its Jio network.

Reliance Jio’s partnership with Microsoft Cloud to enter the data centre market will give a huge boost to the Washington-headquartered company in the small and mid-sized business (SMB) segment where it has traditionally lagged Amazon Web Services (AWS). (Source: Business Standard)

The result is that Azure hosts Reliance Jio's data on its servers. (Source: Businessinsider)

Reliance Industries' strategy to deplatform-proof his Jio may have been to give a piece of the pie to some of the largest US companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and big money managers.

Source: Businessinsider

Will that be enough?  

Instead of playing 'second fiddle' and defensive in the emerging world of cloud computing where data becomes the greatest "natural resource" (read - Issue #247 - Data as a Natural Resource), it may be better for the largest Indian corporates like the Adani Group and Reliance Industries to play for world dominance.  Like the Chinese do.

Let us discuss this part in some time.

What about the start-up ecosystem?

Meanwhile, just remember that absence of an indigenous cloud offering by Indian companies put at risk, not just the larger corporates, but also numerous unicorns that have proliferated across the nation in recent years.

“While enterprises and the mature SMBs are adopting cloud-native solutions, smaller companies are opting for our Digital Suite which is a business solutions package," said Chandok.  Some of AWS’s fastest-growing customers in India are from verticals like media & entertainment (Hotstar, Dream11, Tata Sky), financial services & insurance (Zerodha, PolicyBazaar.com, IndusInd bank), and manufacturing & automobile (Ashok Leyland). (Source: Live Mint)

Start-up culture is not possible without a solid Cloud infrastructure. This Asian Development Bank study discusses the dynamics of how cloud offerings become the basis of successful start-up companies.

Source: "Cloud Computing as a Key Enabler for Tech Start-ups across Asia and the Pacific" / ADB

Currently, that foundation in India is outsourced.

Monopolistic Data Gatekeepers and Data Sovereignty

The fact that global cloud computing is dominated by just three companies who have become the "gatekeepers of data" globally is something that is being discussed now as a risk that needs to be countered at a national level..

There was a similar case, albeit over a very controversial subject, when the Parler app was deplatformed.  The point is not whether you agree and disagree with this as a citizen. As an executive, I started to realize the risk at that time. I thought, wait a minute, we run a business that reduces the cost of the cloud for our customers. What if Amazon does not like that? And why does this company have a right to do it? There are only three major cloud service providers: Amazon, Google, and Azure. These guys are so dominant, that their activity reminds one of a monopoly. If you look at their pricing, you’ll see that these cloud companies have little regard as to how their competitors price similar services. This tells you a lot about the competition on this market. (Source: "Cloud neutrality: have cloud providers become too powerful?" / Cybernews)

The risk that we are talking about in terms of data ownership and residence, has been acknowledged and understood by many countries.

In that context, Data Sovereignty is a real concern.  Australia has looked at bringing in new data sovereignty rules to protect its citizens and records that could harm its national security.

The federal government is considering introducing new sovereignty rules for government data that would require certain datasets to be hosted in accredited data centres within Australia. Government Services Minister Stuart Robert revealed at a National Press Club address on Tuesday that the government had begun “examining the sovereignty requirements” of government datasets. (Source: IT News Australia)

India's former IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had discussed this concept and possible changes in rules when he was the minister.

Source: Times of India

China as well.  They brought out their Cybersecurity Law (CSL) in 2017 which dealt specifically with cross-border data transfers and data sovereignty.

The Cybersecurity Law of the PRC ("CSL") has been in effect since June 1, 2017. The law governs network security and cyberspace activities in the PRC. It requires network operators in the PRC to take appropriate measures to safeguard network security, prevent illegal activities, and maintain confidentiality of network data. Under the CSL, operators of critical information infrastructure ("CII") in the PRC are subject to special requirements in connection with procurement of products and services and cross-border transfer of data. In particular, an operator of CII is subject to the data sovereignty requirement. "Personal information" and "important data" that is generated or collected by such an operator in the PRC must be stored in the PRC, and cross-border data transfer is subject to security assessment and government approval. (Source: Microsoft Azure)

The new laws brought in 2021 are stricter with respect to data localization, export, and protection.

Two new Chinese laws dealing with data security and privacy came into force in the fall of 2021 that are likely to have an impact on many multinational companies operating in China or whose operations touch China. These two laws — the Data Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law — provide more specificity about the data localization, data export and data protection requirements that first appeared in the Chinese Cybersecurity Law in 2017. (Source: "China’s New Data Security and Personal Information Protection Laws: What They Mean for Multinational Companies" / Skadden)

Europe started its own Gaia-X initiative in 2019.  

GAIA-X has been initiated as a project by the German Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, immediately supported by the French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire during the summer 2019. A first common press release from Peter Altmaier and Bruno Le Maire was issued in October 2019. (Source: Wikipedia)

Many do believe that this initiative was to create a 'European Union Cloud' - as this piece argues.

Source: Atlantic Council)

But the statement from the Gaia project itself says that it is a federated data infrastructure for Europe as opposed to a cloud.

Gaia-X is a project initiated by Europe for Europe and beyond. Representatives from business, politics, and science from Europe and around the globe are working together, hand in hand, to create a federated and secure data infrastructure. Companies and citizens will collate and share data – in such a way that they keep control over them. They should decide what happens to their data, where it is stored, and always retain data sovereignty. The architecture of Gaia-X is based on the principle of decentralisation. Gaia-X is the result of a multitude of individual platforms that all follow a common standard – the Gaia-X standard. Together, we are developing a data infrastructure based on the values of openness, transparency, and trust. So, what emerges is not a cloud, but a networked system that links many cloud services providers together. (Source: Gaia-X)

Admittedly, the confusion in the overall goal and bloated scope creep has resulted in a delay of the deliverables by the EU on Gaia-X.  Another issue is that EU's companies have little power against the American giants.

Eleven German and 11 French companies were together laying "the foundations for a true European data infrastructure," he said, "based on the principles of openness, interoperability, transparency and trust." These 22 quickly grew to over 320. Committees were hived off to write policies and rules. These are things Brussels is good at. And part of the reason behind all this rhetoric and initial enthusiasm is the sobering fact that Europe is not a particularly big cloud player, even in its own backyard. Deutsche Telekom is the largest European cloud provider in the European market, with a 2% market share. By contrast, Amazon, Microsoft and Google make up 69% of Europe's market, a proportion which also appears to be only trending upwards.  This is because, in a game of scale where size matters, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure have plunged over €14 billion (US$15.7 billion) in just four quarters into European capital spending and the upgrade and expansion of their regional networks of data centers. (Source: "Cloud burst: How the EU's Gaia-X project went awry" / Light Reading)

As expected, the American establishment and strategic think-tanks are linking the data localization and sovereignty concerns to the usually feared monsters - Nationalism, Authoritarianism, Protectionism, and all the rest of it.  For, data localization and challenges to cloud majors could be a challenge to global domination by the Americans as well.  So morality comes in handy.

The idea is that let the American monopolies control world's data so the American establishment can hold anyone to ransom when they want.  

Through de-platforming of course.

Data Dominance is the way, not a partnership

One understands the mindset of Reliance Industries which thinks that intertwining competing business interests can provide a sense of security for its online forays.

But that is a false sense of security.  For, when push comes to shove in times of say a global war or if the US decides to cancel Modi, quite like Putin or Gaddafi, the de-platforming will put a partner in jeopardy.  Not the owner of a large provider which hosts other companies.

If I was at the helm of Reliance Industries, Tata Group, or Adani Group's risk management team, I would be focused on creating an indigenous cloud platform by an Indian company, for India with a substantial component of data localization.

As the Indian economy grows in a geopolitically competitive world, cloud computing needs will grow exponentially - presenting a significant domestic growth market to piggy back on.

Globally, the cloud computing market is growing at almost 18% CAGR.

The global cloud computing market size is projected to reach USD 791.48 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 17.9% during the forecast period. Rising preference for omni-cloud systems will prove highly beneficial for the growth of this market, states Fortune Business Insights™ in its report, titled “Cloud Computing Market Forecast, 2022-2028” (Source: Global News Wire)

The growth of the Indian cloud market is projected to be substantially higher at a 24% CAGR!

Source: Economic Times

The top four cloud platforms in India are Amazon's AWS, Google Cloud,  Microsoft Azure, and Digital Ocean.

Except for China, where the indigenous cloud platforms - like those from Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and Huawei - are out-competing the American majors, most of the regional markets are dominated by the top three - Amazon's AWS, Microsoft's Azure, and Google Cloud. (check this link for more information across the geographies - "Cloud market breaking new records in 2022 – a cloud market share battle between AWS vs Azure vs GCP")

Infographic: Amazon Leads $200-Billion Cloud Market | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Only the Chinese, through their foresight, have worked hard to de-platform-proof their online data and companies.

Is Data Security just about hosting?

But the battle cannot be just about cloud computing and hosting platform.  For a more secure future, the entire data pipeline needs to be secure.

This includes the Content Delivery Network or the CDNs.

Why?

Because, shutting off a CDN can basically take the entire internet down, so good luck with securing the host.  

Let us see what we mean.

An Akamai Technologies "service disruption" on July 22, 2021, impacted 24,000 websites including UPS, Delta Air Lines, Home Depot, McDonald’s, FedEx, PlayStation Network, Fidelity, Steam, and Airbnb. (Source: "Massive internet outage: FedEx, Delta and McDonald's go down" / CNN)  The reason given was - "software configuration update triggered a bug in the DNS system."

Almost a year later, Cloudflare - a global content delivery network (CDN) provider and security company - had a major outage on June 21, 2022.  The outage lasted for roughly an hour. Some of the important sites impacted were - Zerodha, Medium.com, news outlet Register, Groww, Buffer, iSpirt, Upstox, and Social Blade.  Also, Coinbase, Shopify, and League of Legends faced issues.

Today, June 21, 2022, Cloudflare suffered an outage that affected traffic in 19 of our data centers. Unfortunately, these 19 locations handle a significant proportion of our global traffic. This outage was caused by a change that was part of a long-running project to increase resilience in our busiest locations. A change to the network configuration in those locations caused an outage which started at 06:27 UTC. At 06:58 UTC the first data center was brought back online and by 07:42 UTC all data centers were online and working correctly. (Source: Cloudflare)

Just a week before that, an outage in India had hit the Indian websites due to another Cloudflare outage.

A Cloudflare outage in the India region that began earlier Wednesday caused several services including Discord, online insurer Acko, GitLab and SaaS platform OSlash to face performance issues in the country.  Users also reported issues accessing Shopify, Udemy, Canva and Zerodha, according to DownDetector, a crowdsourced web monitoring tool that tracks outage reports. The CDN provider fixed the glitch roughly two hours after it began. A company spokesperson said the firm faced the outage across “some parts of its network in India, Indonesia and Eastern Europe,” and noted that the outage wasn’t caused by any attack. (Source: Techcrunch)

So, if any country's data and online security has to be planned, the focus should be on both - cloud hosting and data delivery.

Components to scale up competition to Cloud's Top Three

Currently there are two companies in the cloud computing and data delivery/security market which are being talked about as very likely "takeover targets".

One is Akamai Technologies.

Source: Seeking Alpha

As this report suggests, apparently we at Drishtikone are not the only ones who have this idea.  Someone is already thinking about this industry as a strategic investment going forward.  Akamai is already a takeover target with a market cap of $16 billion.

Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM) quickly rose 2.7% after a report on takeover speculation. There's speculation that the cloud services and content delivery company may be seeing interest from a mystery buyer, according to a Betaville "uncooked" alert. The identity of the potential bidder couldn't be learned. Akamai (AKAM) has a market cap of about $16 billion. (Source: Seeking Alpha)

Akamai Technologies' takeover speculation and reasons are well known in the market. (Source: Akamai (AKAM) Stock Pops on Takeover Speculation)

On the other side, Digital Ocean is another promising candidate.  

Source: Seeking Alpha

Digital Ocean has a market cap of roughly $4.7 billion.  It's just 36% of its high in November 2021.  It is a good takeover target as well.

Source: Seeking Alpha

The main strength of Digital Ocean is that it has focused on the Small and Medium Businesses with less than 500 employees and the start-ups.  A market that the larger cloud providers have not really focused on.  As per a Motley Fool report, the analysts at Fool.com expect the company to grow to $10 billion by 2030. (Source: Fool.com)

Source: 24/7 Wall street

Recently Digital Ocean also acquired Nimbella, which was a strong performer per Forrester Wave amongst the "Function-As-A-Service Platforms".  The main reason was its strength in Serverless Computing.

Serverless computing really makes the cloud into a full utility business.

Source: What is serverless computing / Cloudflare

This acquisition enables Digital Ocean to scale up its business with the right establishment and investment in place.

Acquire the core and scale up

You cannot buy another AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud and hope to start competing with the top three.  There isn't such an option left anymore.

The right strategy should be to acquire the core - comprising of a cloud computing platform and Data Delivery network - and start building on top of it with strategic investments.

If we had to go ahead to challenge the cloud computing dominance of the top three, then we would start with two acquisitions:

  1. Akamai Technologies
  2. Digital Ocean

With these two, one can get substantial components to start building the core of the cloud business for the future.

Another area that is still emerging but will have a strong interdependence with the most powerful changes in the world of computing is blockchain.  

Blockchain cloud computing is still an emerging area and in the eyes of some, an 'either-or' scenario.  But some cutting-edge work is going on that any aspirant in the world of cloud computing would keep a close watch on.

One thing that many of the options presented as alternatives to conventional cloud computing solutions have in common: their choice to operate using a decentralized or peer-to-peer architecture. Cudos, Ankr, StorX Network and Akash are just a few of the most well-known decentralized cloud computing systems. (Source: Yahoo)

Read this article for information on blockchain-based cloud computing.

Blockchain Based Decentralised Cloud Computing
Overview and Use Cases

The future will necessitate large corporates to look into this market in a very serious way for a more secure cloud experience.  

Polarized Americans and Global Risk

As political polarization becomes extreme the world over, specifically in the United States, which controls most of the data and its movement, the risk of cancelation of countries and businesses in the US and other countries - to satisfy the local ideologically prejudiced masses - increases manifolds.  

You see, it is not important whether the world is polarized or not.  It is critical that the country in which the companies that own a majority of computing resources is polarized to a point of taking unilateral and devastating actions or not.  And that is where the near future poses the greatest risk!

In the study, Shapiro and colleagues present the first ever multi-nation evidence on long-term trends in “affective polarization” — a phenomenon in which citizens feel more negatively toward other political parties than toward their own. They found that in the U.S., affective polarization has increased more dramatically since the late 1970s than in the eight other countries they examined — the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden. (Source: Brown University)

Let me give you the context.

The US invasions of Iraq and Libya were far more egregious and devastating to those nations than Russia's invasion of Ukraine is.

Were any of the American companies de-platformed?  Or sanctioned?

No!  Why?  Because no one has that power or impact that the American ecosystem has.

So, it does not matter what anyone in the world thinks of the rest of the world.  What matters is how extreme the views of Americans are about moral constructs that they have created about themselves and the world.

That is where the major risk is to the world!

So for companies like Adani Group and Reliance Industries in India, the real risk is from a polarized American population that is being fed a mix of falsified yet powerful "atrocity literature" and the righteousness of American Exceptionalism.

When that gets to the "critical mass" it can result in de-platforming and devastation of any society or corporate group.

The question is - Are you ready?

Video Corner: AlphaGo: When AI fights Human Intuition

Go is an abstract strategy board game for two players in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. The game was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago and is believed to be the oldest board game continuously played to the present day. (Source: Wikipedia)

The number of possible moves from any position in chess are about 20, while in Go it is about 200.  The number of possible configurations of the board in Go are more than the number of atoms in the universe.

On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined The DeepMind Challenge Match. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history.

This is the movie about that match-up.  Fascinating stuff.

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