Dang, it’s one bomb after another. Mr. Donald Trump’s Chinese expansion moves have come to light. New York Times pulled out the records which showed that Trump’s Chinese bank account had out paid $188,561 in taxes! This is 250 times more than the $750 taxes he paid in his home country.
This Week’s Dose-
“Hey, could we get all your data in sort of a structured format, we want to start powering our answer boxes with it,” said Google.
Antitrust, Tech Giants, Lawsuits, Dominance, Monopoly…the last few months, especially the last few days have been crazy. In today’s Bytes, we’re going to cover one such story of how Google betrayed the Web and yet revolutionized it.
Yelp. Do you know about Yelp? It is an American ‘user review and recommendation giant.’ So what about it? Hold on to your seats! Yelp started as a tiny startup in 2005. Soon, it became friends with Google. Yelp was tiny back then. It had reviews only for places in LA and San Francisco. So if you Googled for Sushi in San Francisco, you’d see a box at the top of the screen and not just those 10 blue links. Inside the box was a map and a few businesses with reviews coming from Yelp – like a snippet sort of thing. It was a win-win situation. Google can offer richer results and Yelp gets more traffic.
In 2007. The contract ended and Google added its own ‘click here to write reviews’ button. Sort of a competitive posture of collecting content on their own. OK? So Yelp was like – ‘Thanks but no thanks for the partnership. We’ll live in the 10 blue links world.’ Now, Google was pulling its hair out. It works out that for people to leave some reviews, there has to be some pre-populated content. And so Google tried to buy Yelp in 2009. But in vain.
The era of scraping. Google just started taking everybody’s content to build and power their local experience. With Yelp, they were just copying their reviews and pasting. No link-backs. No attributions. Of course, Yelp did not like it. They protested. And Google did not hold back. They told Yelp to de-index themselves, go back to robots.txt, knock themselves out of Google from where they got almost 80% of their traffic, and live on Yahoo.com instead. What followed was a lawsuit and Google quietly saying, “We’re not going to use third party content anymore.”
The Microsoft Deja Vu of 1990. The last truly important antitrust trial. Microsoft took to war with computer manufacturers not using windows. It pushed companies like Dell to pre-install and make Internet Explorer the default browser. Similarly, Google required smartphone manufacturers to pre-install and give default status to Google’s own apps.
Let’s not forget Taxes. It is no secret that Google exploits low tax jurisdictions and saves billions and billions in taxes. Another secret to its growing wealth and in turn, power. The notorious tax loophole known as the ‘Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich’ allowed Google to delay paying US taxes on international earnings for years and pay a lower tax rate overseas. It has the money and resources to hire top executives to find loopholes in the laws and exploit them to the fullest. And hence, a total of 136 nations, under OECD’s umbrella are pushing a global tax-rulebook to tax the Digital Giants.
Bottom line. There are countless stories like this. And finally the DOJ aka Department of Justice, Washington announced a probe into Google on suspicion of an “illegal monopoly”. But you can go say whatever you want about Google. The irony remains that you might still be reading THIS on Google Mail itself.Select shortcode
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A junkyard owner once tried to write off the cost of cat food. He claimed the feral cats it attracted helped him keep snakes and rats off the property. Did you know the government once let a bodybuilder successfully write off a huge sum in tanning oil? There’s a whole world of obscure, industry-specific tax deductions you could be missing out on as a small business owner without even knowing it. But before you start claiming cat food on your business tax return, make sure you’ve deducted the other lesser-known expenses first.
A quarterly tax of 5 shillings on every clock, 10 shillings on gold pocket watches., 2 shillings, and 6 pence for silver or any other metal watches. Also, additional annual licenses were required for makers and dealers.
The Year of 1797. The British were at war with France. Napoleon Bonaparte had caused a major stir across the world. William Pitt was the PM of Great Britain at that time. Not only did he impose a tax on clocks and watches. Hilariously tea, spirits, glass, windows, shadows, and horses were also taxed. And this leads to the introduction of the nation’s first Income Tax in 1978.
Justification. The tax was introduced by arguing that people wealthy enough to afford a clock or watch would be well able to pay the tax because clocks and watches ‘were certainly articles of convenience, but they were also articles of luxury’. But the ownership of watches had penetrated far into the middle class. Clocks could be found even in poorer homes (although clocks with a value of less than £1 were exempt from duty, giving some protection to poorer householders).
Failure. The tax lead to the ruin of the clocks and watches industry! It instantly became unworkable and unpopular and the tax was removed after 9 months. It had raised only £2,600 in 9 months – far short of the vast sums, between £200,000 and £700,000 a year, that the Exchequer had hoped for. It was removed immediately!