The Millions Silicon Valley Spends on Security for Execs

There’s plenty of talk about security when it comes to giant technical companies, like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. But that’s all usually from the perspective of the software security and end-user privacy. Here’s a different perspective on the subject – “The Millions Silicon Valley Spends on Security for Execs“.

Apple’s most recent proxy statement, filed earlier this month, shows the company spent $310,000 on personal security for CEO Tim Cook. But that’s a fraction of other tech giants’ expenditures.
Amazon and Oracle spent about $1.6 million each in their most recent fiscal years to protect Jeff Bezos and Larry Ellison, respectively, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. And Google’s parent company, Alphabet, laid out more than $600,000 protecting CEO Sundar Pichai and almost $300,000 on security for former executive chair Eric Schmidt. In 2017, Intel spent $1.2 million to protect former CEO Brian Krzanich. Apple, Google, Intel, and Oracle declined to comment; Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the costliest executive to protect; Facebook spent $7.3 million on his security in 2017, and last summer the company told investors that it anticipated spending $10 million annually.

Well, that’s pretty impressive in terms of money! But do they need it really? They do, at least, to some degree:

While Silicon Valley firms haven’t disclosed many threats to the safety of their executives or offices, they have good reason to take precautions. In December, Facebook evacuated its headquarters after the company received a bomb threat. Last year an unhappy YouTube user entered the company’s San Bruno, California, headquarters and shot three employees before killing herself. And in 1992 the president of Adobe, Charles Geschke, was kidnapped at gunpoint and rescued by the FBI.

Do you still dream of being an executive in a large company?

1994 web design from Apple, Microsoft


Jason Kottke links to some examples of the early (circa 1994) web design from both Apple

apple-early-homepage

and Microsoft (still online, by the way)

microsoft-early-homepage

Quite an evolution we went through!  Here are some interesting bits to notice:

  1. “If your browser doesn’t support images” on the Microsoft one.
  2. Painted grey background, even though that was a default browser background color back in a day.
  3. Microsoft server is NOT running on IIS. Yet. But HTTPS is mentioned already!
  4. I still, in 2015, know multiple so called “web developers” who wouldn’t be able to implement these designs in any sensible time frame (within a day). How rusty are you image maps?

The good old days…

Chrome Remote Desktop goes mobile


I missed the announcement last month, but these are good enough news to share even later: Google Chrome Remote Desktop now works with your Android device.

chrome remote access

 

This is obviously for Windows and Macs machines, but these are usually the ones needing remote access anyway.  Linux people have always known how to access their machines remotely.

On the price of the operating systems


Wired.com is running a good piece on the price of the operating systems.  It covers a bit of history and shows how things are now and how it all came a full circle – from free operating systems of the past, all through highly profitable years of Microsoft and Apple, and back to free operating systems of today’s mobile world.

In a way, operating systems are returning to their roots as a kind of loss leader. Before the personal computer revolution of the late 1970s, operating systems were just one piece in a vertically integrated stack of technology, a stack that also included hardware and support services. Operating systems like Unix and VMS were used to sell minicomputers and workstations, and companies made their profits on hardware and support contracts. OSes such as BSD UNIX were completely free, and programmers would pass them around at will. Under the same philosophy, Apple gave away new versions of its Macintosh operating system until the crisis years of the late 1990s, when hardware sales slowed dramatically.

In the rapidly developing smartphone and tablet markets, tightly-coupled stacks are once again dominant, so OS makers can subsidize their operating systems with profit from the products integrated into them. Google, for example, subsidizes its mobile OS by selling online ads, and, in theory at least, by selling Motorola-branded hardware. Apple’s iPhone profits come from hardware and service sales, not the OS.

The article also shows how problematic is this new situation for Microsoft.

Microsoft’s OS sales once generated 47 percent of its revenue, but they contributed just 25 percentlast year on decelerating Windows licensing (and even that figure is inflated by ad revenue from Windows Live). In response, Microsoft is restructuring as a “devices and services” business — meaning a company that sells hardware like the Xbox and web services like Azure. In other words, it’s becoming more like Apple. Apple isn’t really a software company. It makes software and services that run on its own hardware devices.

However …

Yes, even Microsoft is moving towards the vertical stack. It recently acquired phone maker Nokia and sells its own tablets. But this game of cross-subsidizing the operating system will be tougher for Microsoft, since the company is no Apple when it comes to hardware — and no Google when it comes to online services. The company rose to prominence in the horizontal PC era, when Microsoft could play one hardware vendor against another, dictate prices, and keep a computer’s hefty OS markup hidden from consumers. Those were the days.

And more specifically:

So to the average consumer, the 21st Century sea change in OS pricing might not be particularly apparent. But to Microsoft shareholders, it will look very real and very scary. The company must make up that 25 percent somewhere else.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.