Twitter loses a core executive

Twitter's rebirth (if you can call it that) has mostly been pinned on Jack Dorsey — but behind the scenes Anthony Noto was responsible for much of the turnaround as he refocused the finances, and drove forward the product teams.

Two days ago, he left, leaving something of a rift: he was one of the strongest leaders at the company and moved from CFO to COO, ultimately driving the product roadmap forward into live video.

Bloomberg has an interesting profile on Noto today, and claims that he stuck around only to see whether or not he could become CEO: 

The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker has always aimed to be a CEO, according to people familiar with the matter. At Twitter, that career path was complicated by co-founder Jack Dorsey’s return to the helm in 2015. More than two years later, with no plans for Dorsey to step down -- even though he’s also CEO of Square Inc. -- Noto’s best option was to take the position at SoFi.

Noto's influence at Twitter shouldn't be discounted. Another Bloomberg report from 2016 said that as Dorsey began to become distracted, Noto drove the company forward:

But if Dorsey is the introverted deep thinker, Noto is the doer. He’s the high-energy cheerleader who has cut through indecision at the company and rallied Twitter’s employees around a future of live video streaming.

It's always difficult to draw conclusions from key executives leaving like this. It could be arbitrary, but generally speaking when someone of this significance leaves, it signals a strategy shift. 

That said, Twitter expects to make money for the first time when it reports Q4 earnings, which will buy it some breathing room to figure out what it wants to actually be — or at least figure out who's going to drive the ship.

Alphabet's next moonshot: security

Something of an unexpected new moonshot from Alphabet, the Google parent company: Chronicle, a cybersecurity startup that hopes to change the way we think about online security.

After observing so many large scale hacks in recent years (cough, Sony), Alphabet believed it could be an interesting investment. The new startup is lead by a former COO of Symantec and plans to sell "cybersecurity software," which could mean anything. 

Here's, essentially, Chronicle's sell: 

Gillett said the software is intended to solve a common complaint of IT and security professionals—being overwhelmed by the deluge of security alerts they receive each day warning of potential bugs and vulnerabilities.

The company claims to use machine learning to do this, and if it can actually legitimately pull it off, it might have something interesting on its hands. Corporate security is a huge issue at this point, and as someone who worked in large scale infrastructure management, good luck actually sifting through every red warning dot on your screen each day.

I love the idea of this moonshot, and it must be good, but the vagueness of these things is always frustrating. Take the fancy website as an example: full of stock photos and vague as hell — though I suppose that's the point.

Tab Dump

Samsung's Galaxy S9 comes on February 25th
Here we go again! Maybe this year they'll announce a phone featuring zero cruft.

Chrome 64 brings more adblocking
It's quite impressive, if you think about it: Chrome powers more than 50% of all web traffic and it's still growing. Google is now cracking down on that awful autoplay video that seems to be everywhere all of a sudden, and will let you block it. Hell hath frozen over!

Snap's VP of product ditches Snapchat, tech altogether
Phewwwwwww this is bad timing for the company, but good on him for hitting eject and trying something new.

Apple's AR update brings big improvements
Augmented reality is complicated, but this version bump to ARKit makes things much more interesting: it can now understand walls. 

Previously, it only accounted for floor space, and this means developers might actually be able to make something a bit more interesting — I'm waiting for them to ship persistent room understanding, so you can save the state of your AR experience, but it appears it's a ways away still.

Grumpy Cat won a $700K copyright lawsuit

The era of quantum computing is here (outlook: cloudy)