Best Flop (Worst) of 2022

The Six Five team discusses the Best Flop (Worst) of 2022.

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Daniel Newman: I didn’t even know how to make this a best, so I called it the best flop. What is our worst of 2022?

By the way, there are many to choose from, some horrible picks, some horrible media coverage, some horrible opinions out there. What is the most horrible of tech for you this year, Pat?

Patrick Moorhead: This is hard, and I hate to say this. When I was in my 20s and I looked at industry analysts, I always said I don’t want to be them. I don’t want to be these people who just have bad attitudes all the time. But I do like to talk about flops because it keeps us honest and it keeps us pure, and there were so many. My gosh, whether it’s FTX, whether it’s TSMC’s Arizona event that turned into a union event and squeezed out all our design customers. There was the All-In Summit that was just a complete bummer as well.

But my best flop for the worst of 2022 is how Apple treated its iPhone workers in China in Xinjiang, and whether it was security guards beating them with metal rods. We thought it was bad at a Foxconn facility when they had anti-suicide nets and there was some investigation on that. Then there was investigation of child labor that was in this. But my biggest flaw is a combination of the delta between what you think of a company and when you think of Apple, and how they pretend that they make no mistakes. They’re for the end user.

Power to the end user, as opposed to power of the most valuable company on the planet, putting your suppliers out of business. It’s just an ugly, ugly company. Not paying your suppliers to the point where they have to lay people off and impacts family lives, but this one takes the bill and I don’t think I’ll forget these workers getting beaten. I thought they were just plastic rods, which is a pretty well-known technique in China to keep people in order, but these were metal rods that they got beaten with. That’s my worst stuff. Congratulations, Apple. I knew you could do it.

Daniel Newman: I had no doubt that you would find some sanctity in picking something Apple did that was just gratuitously horrible. Yeah, gross is a good word. It’s partly, Pat, because I try to stay away from things that are too polarizing. I tend to play these lines well and you know that, but this is one of those areas I struggle to not speak up. I really struggle because it’s amazing the things that people put forward as violations of human wellness and rights, but yet somehow we can have workers indentured slaves.

God, I loved watching the World Cup, but man, there was some horrific human atrocities in the process of building that stadium. It’s like all good. I guess whatever reason with Americans, as long as they keep slapping those iPhones together, nobody cares how it actually happened. Which to me is why I realize we never will solve our biggest issues when it comes to taking care of other humans, because it’s only when it conveniences us that we seem to take notes. That’s a good call out.

Mine is less horrifying and sad, but it is actually something where I can look back and say I missed. When I pick trends, I guess the market was already capitulating end of last year, but I still thought the metaverse had this momentum that was going to see through. But boy, did we see companies pull back on their metaverse talk in 2022. By the second half of it, it became nothing more than digital twins and maybe a little bit of VR gaming was all that’s left.

After endless crypto, blockchain, Web 3.0 disaggregation, decentralization, websites were going to be decentralized, banks were going to be decentralized. There was going to be no more cash, only crypto. Then you had Bernie Madoff 2.0 come out with Sam Bateman-Fried, that’s pretty horrific. Meta, that company literally took a hard right pivot right to the toilet. It was like, “Hi, we’re at the penthouse suite. Can you find me a toilet where we can flush ourselves?”

Because that’s what Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy was, completely disjointed from what was going on in the real world to decide in the middle of what looked like rate raising environment, high inflation. Let’s pivot the business away from what we do well and where we make profits, and go down a path that we have no idea if anybody’s going to buy into at the cost of what I think we’ve lost like $6 trillion now? Not just Meta, but in terms of market cap because of what happened in the economy.

Meta basically just put its foot on the gas and said, “How much faster can we lose shareholder value?” They were down 70 plus percent. This was a name that people’s retirements were in, their 401ks were in. This is not a name of a high-risk, low-profit growth stock, but this was a company that took on its own leisure, got lazy, overhired, didn’t make cuts. Then pivoted off of its core business after Apple had already destroyed its market valuation on its own accord.

I give the award to Meta, but I further give the award to we have 10 years of effort to build this Web 3.0 idea, got set back by 20 because of all the bad actors, all the bad policy, and of course, the lack of real practical applications for the metaverse, so screw you, Meta.

Patrick Moorhead: Hey, I got a question for you. Do you put metaverse and crypto in the same place?

Daniel Newman: Blockchain, most of a lot of crypto exchanges or a lot of decentralization, a lot of projects that are on crypto are run on blockchains. Things like Render where you got disaggregated networks of GPUs that are being distributed over a blockchain. These are a crypto project running on blockchains all part of this Web 3.0 decentralization.

Yes. Yes, Pat, the metaverse itself still has some apps. You and I both like things like what Nvidia is doing with digital twins, autonomous training that can be done for vehicles. There are applications, but this stuff all got coupled together and was supposed to change the world. Most of what we got in 2022 was a heaping pile of shit.

Patrick Moorhead: It’s funny. I’m wondering, I have this notion that all of this hype was just to get people to invest and to get startups to pull the trigger. Man, I never thought we were close. It’s weird, never.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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