Update: New whistleblower claims against Tesla allege drug trafficking, theft and phone hacking coverup

This post has been updated with a comment from Tesla

Employees at Tesla’s Nevada gigafactory were allegedly involved in a massive drug ring, stole $37 million worth of precious metals and equipment, and illegally spied on former employees at the behest of chief executive Elon Musk, according to a new whistleblower complaint filed against the company.

First reported by Jalopnik, the complaint is only the latest in a string of damaging news stories that have erased millions in value for Tesla shareholders and could cast the future of the company’s celebrity chief executive, Elon Musk, into doubt.

It’s also the second whistleblower claim filed against the company this summer.

This time the whistleblower is Karl Hansen, a former member of Tesla’s internal security department and investigations division.

The complaint from Hansen, a former special agent, member of the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, and senior investigator for the Federal Maritime Commission, reads like a weird mashup of Sons of Anarchy, Silicon Valley, and Scandal.

Hansen claims that Tesla failed to disclose a recent internal investigation the company made into a tip it received from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Storey County Sheriff’s Office that several of its gigafactory employees were part of “a narcotics trafficking ring involving the sale of significant quantities of cocaine and possibly crystal methamphetamine at the Gigafactory on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel from Sonora Mexico.”

According to a statement from Hansen’s legal counsel (Meissner Associates — the firm also representing Tesla’s other whistleblower Martin Tripp), Hansen claims that he corroborated connections between the named employees and alleged members of the Mexican drug cartel, but Tesla refused to investigate the matter further and said it would hire “outside vendors” to follow up. Hansen says the company never did.

For its part, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a statement to Buzzfeed saying that it would not inform any “non-law enforcement entities” of ongoing or pending investigations.

Drug smuggling may not be the wildest allegation in Hansen’s complaint. According to the summary from Meissner, Hansen also claims that Tesla installed eavesdropping and wiretapping equipment at its facilities and were illegally listening to conversations and scanning messages from Tripp at the behest of the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk .

Here’s the relevant section from the complaint:

According to Mr. Hansen, following Tripp’s departure from Tesla, Tesla went so far as to install specialized router equipment within its Nevada Gigafactory designed to capture employee cell phone communications and/or retrieve employee cell phone data. The Meissner firm recently released police reports relating to this past June’s GigaGate incident indicating that Tesla security personnel may have unlawfully accessed Mr. Tripp’s cell phone long after he was fired by Tesla. Mr. Hansen states that he was told these tactics were specifically authorized by CEO Elon Musk and were implemented by members of Tesla’s internal investigations/security/IT units.”

Finally, Hansen has said that the company never disclosed the theft of $37 million in precious metals and materials used in making the company’s batteries.

The release today follows disclosures from Tripp, the original gigafactory whistleblower, of damaged Tesla batteries that allegedly made their way into actual vehicles.

These disclosures, coupled with allegations of erratic behavior from Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, and the (apparently fictitious)  nebulous plans to take the company private have caused Tesla’s share price to slide over roughly $40 over the last two weeks, erasing nearly $6 billion in value from the company.

The full text of Meissner’s summary of the complaints their client is making is below. Mr. Meissner said that Hansen would not be conducting interviews. The Storey County Sheriff’s Department said they would issue a statement on the Meissner report this evening.

““Mr. Hansen’s allegations were taken very seriously when he brought them forward. Some of his claims are outright false. Others could not be corroborated, so we suggested additional investigative steps to try and validate the information he had received second-hand from a single anonymous source,” a spokesperson for Tesla wrote in an email. “Because we wanted to be sure we got this right, we made numerous attempts to engage further with Mr. Hansen to understand more about what he was claiming and the work that he did in reaching his conclusions. He rejected each of those attempts, and to date has refused to speak with the company further. It seems strange that Mr. Hansen would claim that he is concerned about something happening within the company, but then refuse to engage with the company to discuss the information that he believes he has.”

Client Revised FinaL to Be Released UPDATED by Jonathan Shieber on Scribd

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Coming to a theater near you: Amazon?

It looks like Amazon may be gearing up to make more moves in the brick-and-mortar world. Bloomberg reports that the e-commerce behemoth is putting itself in the running to acquire Landmark Theatres, which claims to be the United States’ largest chain of movie theaters focused on art house (indie and foreign) movies, with a network of 56 cinemas, covering 268 screens in 27 markets.

Bloomberg’s sources say that Amazon is going up against other potential acquirers in purchasing the business from Wagner/Cuban Cos., but that no final decisions have been made.

The companies aren’t publicly commenting on the reports, but it’s an interesting scenario to consider because of all the ways that it seems to fit into Amazon’s wider strategy. 

The company has done an incredible job of making it easy (and cheap) to buy virtually anything you want from it in the digital world, whether it’s necessities like toiletries, books, groceries, clothes and electronics, or digital products like movies, music and cloud storage space for your app or game, in as little as one click. Through its marketplace model — where it is both a middleman between consumers and sellers, and the seller itself of different goods and services — Amazon wants to be wherever people want to spend money.

But there are certain forms of retail that may never translate to the online world. Experiential retail — dining out at restaurants, going to a bar or event, picking a melon that you can smell before you pay for it, and of course going to the movies — requires that you get up and go somewhere to do it.

Amazon knows this, and so it’s slowly, quietly amassing selective assets that will let people engage in the more physical side of commerce. These have included book stores, and its own futuristic, checkout-free food shops. And of course it spent $13.7 billon to gobble up the natural food leviathan Whole Foods.

The latter of these is very instructive when you consider how a movie theater chain might fit into the Amazon pantheon. Amazon’s Prime Fresh grocery delivery service gives busy users the convenience of skipping the grocery store, but Whole Foods also gives Amazon a way of capturing buyers who might prefer to make trips to a grocery store.

But that’s not all it does. It’s added Whole Foods discounts as yet another sweetener for Prime subscribers; it’s extending its formidable logistics muscle to Whole Foods ordering and delivery (first for Prime subscribers, naturally); and of course it has put in pop-up shops selling its other products, like the Kindle and the Echo, in prime spots when you enter a store.

Amazon owning a chain of theatres spells out a lot of opportunities for it in terms of expanding its interests in film; in experiential, physical commerce; and in leveraging the rest of the pieces in its commercial empire.

The world of movie theaters has been hobbling for years, with droves of consumers these days foregoing increasingly expensive tickets and snacks and opting to watch a slightly smaller screen in the comfort of their own home. But to the disruptive eye, that ageing business model is catnip, and so unsurprisingly, MoviePass has come along, seeing that there was an opportunity to try to revive the cinema experience by offering subscriptions for a flat rate to get more bums on those seats.

Yes, MoviePass is bleeding money, and it looks like a mess for many other reasons, but it’s had an impact, so much so that AMC has taken notice and launched its own competitor.

The world’s largest theater chain almost certainly won’t experience the same sort of pains that MoviePass has, because it both controls the means of distribution and has a sizeable support infrastructure, and of course owns the cinemas.

But if AMC has a safety net, then Amazon — one of the world’s most valuable companies — has airbags, collision sensors, seatbelts, automatic braking and maybe even an Alexa-powered predictive voice to tell you what to do next. If Amazon ran a loss-making chain of cinemas, it would be but a little drop in the bucket for it.

Amazon already has one of the biggest digital subscription businesses in the world, with more than 100 million Prime members, as of April 2018. Tacking a subscription to cinemas on to that, which either made going free or discounted, is a no-brainer.

But wait! You get more for the price of the Landmark Theatres! Amazon, as we know, also has a budding media business, offering movies, TV and music to Prime users. Included in that is its own original content machine, Amazon Studios, responsible for shows like Transparent and movies like Manchester by the Sea.

A theater chain acquisition would further open the distribution channels for Amazon’s own films, and give Amazon a much tighter grip on the costs for that distribution. And with a position covering theatrical, DVD and digital distribution windows, you can bet that will give Amazon more leverage when negotiating screen rights to films that it hasn’t produced itself.

Controlling distribution could also prove useful during awards season — the timing of a film’s release goes a long ways toward determining nominees. (And yes, those screens also become one more place where Amazon can run ads, too, in its budding advertising empire.)

And don’t forget the fact that theatres are, at the end of the day, also retail real estate.

It’s a long-known fact that cinemas make most of their money on concessions, and they have accordingly built out large lobby areas where people can mill about and spend money before and after sitting down in the darkened screening rooms. In addition to selling all the usual concessions (both made by Amazon and its marketplace partners) Amazon could use those spaces as they have with Whole Foods, creating retail experiences for products that might have nothing at all to do with what you came to the cinema for in the first place, but then suddenly seem like interesting places to try out something new.

Is it any wonder that even without Amazon or Landmark responding to Bloomberg’s report, theater chain stocks dropped on word of the news?

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Facebook awards $200K to Internet Defense Prize winners

Facebook announced today the winners of its annual Internet Defense Prize and awarded first-, second- and third-place winners a total of $200,000 for research papers that addressed topics of internet security and privacy. Combined with $800,000 in Secure the Internet Grants awarded to security and privacy researchers earlier this week, the company has now completed its 2018 goal to invest $1 million toward securing the internet.

The Internet Defense Prize first started in 2014, but this year the prize quadrupled from its original $50,000 award to $200,000 spread across three groups. In a statement announcing the winners, Facebook said that the increase of this year’s prize money reflected not just the company’s ongoing (and in light of the its privacy catastrophes this year, seemingly increased) interest in security and privacy, but also the quality of work submitted.

“Over the years we’ve gotten higher and higher quality of submissions,” Pete Voss, Facebook’s Security Communications Manager told TechCrunch. “[But] the criteria has always been the same, and that’s making practical research. Making this go beyond theory and making it so you can actually apply security in real life.”

The first prize, $100,000, was taken home by a team from Belgium for a paper entitled “Who Left Open the Cookie Jar? A Comprehensive Evaluation of Third-Party Cookie Policies” that proposed improvements to browser security that would make users less susceptible to having their internet trail tracked from site to site.

Second- and third-place prizes (for $60,000 and $40,000 each) were awarded to research teams in the U.S. and China, respectively, for papers focusing on proper use of cryptography for app development and for strengthening the algorithm behind single sign-on security systems.

Voss says the entries this year are a great example of the award’s mission to fund research that benefits not just Facebook’s interests in security and privacy, but the internet’s as a whole.

“We’re investing in not just Facebook security but in public security for the entire internet,” said Voss. “We want to keep the internet strong and the only way we can do that is by making it secure.”

As for the recipients of the Secure the Internet Grants, the $800,000 was divided between 10 teams whose research ranged from sociological approaches (like “Understanding the Use of Hijacked Facebook Accounts in the Wild” and “Enhancing Online & Offline Safety During Internet Disruptions in Times of War”) to more technical ones like improving the strength of encryption methods.

Voss told TechCrunch that Facebook has no plans to announce at this time regarding its next steps toward providing funding for researchers in this space (unlike last summer when the company laid out its $1 million goal), but says that the company is “always looking at incentivizing this kind of research” and providing support.

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New Zealand to VCs and hedge fund managers buying up its land: No more

Over the last couple of years, a once well-kept secret began to gain traction in New York media outlets: wealthy American investors, including VCs and hedge fund managers, had begun snapping up tracts of land in New Zealand, largely out of fear that a Trump administration could have a destabilizing effect on an already polarized United States but also owing to growing concerns about climate change and other impending disaster scenarios.

Now, facing a growing backlash over rising housing prices, New Zealand’s parliament has  banned non-residents from purchasing most types of homes, aside from new apartments in large developments. (Australians and Singaporeans are exempt because of free-trade deals.)

The bill, passed narrowly yesterday, was reportedly heralded by New Zealand’s Trade and Economic Development Minister David Parker as a “significant milestone.” Said Parker, “This government believes that New Zealanders should not be outbid by wealthier foreign buyers . . . Whether it’s a beautiful lakeside or ocean-front estate, or a modest suburban house, this law ensures that the market for our homes is set in New Zealand, not on the international market.”

The move to block foreign buyers isn’t a complete shock in lieu of the amount of publicity that New Zealand has garnered in recent years as a haven for wealthy survivalists, including those in tech. The New Yorker began exploring the trend in profile about Y Combinator President Sam Altman, which said that Altman’s plan, in the case a pandemic, was to “fly with his friend Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist, to Thiel’s house in New Zealand.”

The outlet followed up with another piece several months later, in January of last year, about many other investors who’d come to see New Zealand as their backup plan. In fact, there were so many of them — particularly hedge fund managers — that it had become a bit of a running joke, LinkedIn founder and investor Reid Hoffman told the magazine. He recalled telling a friend that he was thinking of visiting New Zealand, after which the friend had asked Hoffman, “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” Said Hoffman to the New Yorker,  “Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’ ”

The New York Times further blew the covers off the trend after Thiel, who became an advisor to Trump, was called to the carpet for writing in his successful 2011 application for citizenship to the South Pacific island nation: “I am happy to say categorically that I have found no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand.” (The New York Times reported on Thiel’s application in February of last year because several days earlier, Trump signed an order that temporarily banned all refugees from the U.S.)

According to the country’s Internal Affairs Department, last year, 36,450 people were granted New Zealand citizenship. Nearly six thousand of them came from the United Kingdom. Another 4,665 came from India and, lower down the line in terms of the percentage of people accepted, 1,314 people were granted citizenship who were born in China, and 735 were born in the U.S.

The country is home to roughly five million people altogether.

It’s hard to know just how many wealthy Americans have become landowners in New Zealand, though New York hedge fund managers appear to have gotten the memo about the country ahead of Silicon Valley.  (Thiel, notably, had created a hedge fund called Clarium Capital back in 2002, though it’s been wound down in more recent years.)

According to the New Yorker, Rob Johnson, a former hedge fund manager with Soros who is today the president of a Soros-backed think tank called the Institute for New Economic Thinking, told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in 2015, “I know hedge-fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.”

Meanwhile, a BBC report about the new ban states that Chinese investors have actually been among the biggest and most active offshore buyers of property in New Zealand in recent years.

 

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Tomu is a fingernail-sized computer that is easy to swallow

I’m a huge fan of single board computers, especially if they’re small enough to swallow. That’s why I like the Tomu. This teeny-tiny ARM processor essentially interfaces with your computer via the USB port and contains two LEDs and two buttons. Once it’s plugged in the little computer can simulate a hard drive or mouse, send MIDI data, and even blink quickly.

The Tomu runs the Silicon Labs Happy Gecko EFM32HG309 and can also act as a Universal 2nd Factor security token. It is completely open source and all the code is on their GitHub.

I bought one for $30 and messed with it for a few hours. The programs are very simple and you can load in various tools including a clever little mouse mover – maybe to simulate mouse usage for an app – and a little app that blinks the lights quickly. Otherwise you can use it to turn your USB hub into an on-off switch for your computer. It’s definitely not a fully-fledged computer – there are limited I/O options, obviously – but it’s a cute little tool for those who want to do a little open source computing.

One problem? It’s really, really small. I’d do more work on mine but I already lost it while I was clearing off a desk so I could see it better. So it goes.

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Oracle launches GraphPipe for deploying machine learning models

Oracle wants to address machine learning problems with its newly announced open-source project GraphPipe. The project is a “dead simple machine learning model serving” solution.

“There has been rapid progress in machine learning over the past few years. Today, you can grab one of a handful of frameworks, follow some online tutorials, and have a working machine learning model in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, when you are ready to deploy that model into production you still face several unique challenges,” Vish Abrams, architect for cloud development at Oracle, wrote in a post.

According to the company, there are three challenges when it comes to deploying a machine learning model into a project:

  1. Lack of a standard for model serving APIs
  2. Inability to easily build a model server
  3. Not enough focus on performance

“We created GraphPipe to solve these three challenges. It provides a standard, high-performance protocol for transmitting tensor data over the network, along with simple implementations of clients and servers that make deploying and querying machine learning models from any framework a breeze,” Abrams wrote.

GraphPipe supports TensorFlow, PyTorch, mxnet, CNTK and caffe2 models.

Oracle explained that businesses normally train and deploy machine learning models individually with “bespoke” approaches. “This impacts an organizations’ ability to derive value from its machine learning efforts. If marketing wants to use a model produced by the finance group, they will have to write custom clients to interact with the model. If the model becomes popular sales wants to use it as well, the custom deployment may crack under the load,” Abrams explained. The standard aims to provide the tools necessary to derive value from investments.

In addition, the project includes: a set of flatbuffer definitions, guidelines for serving models, examples for serving models, and client libraries for querying models. “In essence, a GraphPipe request behaves like a TensorFlow-serving predict request, but using flatbuffers as the message format. Flatbuffers are similar to google protocol buffers, with the added benefit of avoiding a memory copy during the deserialization step,” wrote Abrams.

The flatbuffer spec is available on GitHub with clients and servers for implementing Python and Go. The team plans on adding a client for Java soon as well as a TensorFlow plugin.

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New WordPress policy allows it to shut down blogs of Sandy Hook deniers

WordPress has taken down a handful alt-right blogs, according to several complaints from affected blog owners and readers who claim the sites were removed from WordPress.com, despite not being in violation of the company’s Terms of Service. Some site owners also said they were not notified of the shutdown in advance and have lost their work. The removals, we’ve learned, are in part due to a new policy WordPress has rolled out that now prohibits blogs from the “malicious publication of unauthorized, identifying images of minors.”

Yes, that’s right: the company has created a new rule to specifically handle the Sandy Hook conspiracists, and boot them from WordPress.com.

While some of the affected sites had already been flagged for other violations, many were hosting Sandy Hook conspiracy theories and other “false flag” content.

In a YouTube video, the host of one site lamented, “They have wiped out 11 years of my fucking life.” He then read through WordPress’s Terms of Service, confused as to how he was in violation.

According to Google’s cache, his site hosted 9/11 “truther” content and claimed that Sandy Hook was a staged event. These are generally repugnant points of view to a large swath of people, but he’s correct in saying they weren’t views that WordPress had prohibited.

The update to WordPress’s policy follows a damning report from The NYT this week that explained on how the world’s largest blogging service has allowed Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists to remain online.

The issue, in part, has to do with how WordPress’s policies were originally written, the article explained.

WordPress policies were designed to be more resistant to the strategic use of copyright claims as a means of getting content removed. Longtime web veterans know they were written this way because they were created at a time when large corporations would wield copyright law – like the DMCA – as a weapon used to force platforms to take down content about their company that they deemed unfavorable.

But in recent years, the permissiveness these policies has also created loopholes for those whose spread disinformation, incite hatred and violence, and post abusive and offensive content to the web.

With little other recourse available to them, some Sandy Hook parents have used copyright law get images of their children removed from the web.

As The NYT explained, a Sandy Hook victim’s father, Leonard Pozner, filed copyright claims with a number of platforms, including WordPress, on images of his son Noah, a 6-year old victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Facebook, Amazon and Google complied with those requests. But WordPress responded with form letters that explained why the content could stay online.

The responses, which Mr. Ponzer described to the paper as “automated, very generic,” and “very cold,” said that the conspiracy blog posts represented “fair use” of the material. It defined fair use as anything that included “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”

Unbelievably, the letters also warned Mr. Ponzer that it could collect damages from him for knowingly materially misrepresenting copyrights.

Yes, WordPress told the father of a murdered 6-year old that it could seek damages from him if he didn’t stop asking it to remove the stomach-churningly offensive content from those who believe the Sandy Hook shooting never happened, and that parents mourning the loss of their children were actors.

The company told The NYT that language was a part of a predefined statement it used, and was sorry that it did so in this particular situation.

However, it also admitted that the posts in question weren’t in violation of any current WordPress user guidelines or copyright law.

We understand the company has since phoned Mr. Ponzer to apologize directly. It then created a new policy to address the problem.

Its new policy reads:

The policy affects blogs hosted on WordPress.com, not self-hosted blogs using WordPress software.

Combined, WordPress powers 31.6 percent of websites on the web, and has 60% of the CMS market, so this change has a sizable impact on the web as a whole.

The company declined to comment on the new policy.

If the booted bloggers now move to their own self-hosted sites, the responsibility of shutting them down will fall on the web hosting companies. Of course, don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. 

Some of the affected bloggers will probably claim their rights to free speech are being violated. They’re wrong. The First Amendment protects people in the U.S. from the government censoring or punishing you for what you say. It doesn’t protect your Twitter account, Facebook profile, or now, your WordPress.com blog.

 

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Google updates Firebase for app experiences

Google’s mobile development platform Firebase is getting a number of updates today focused on building better apps, improving app quality and growing businesses. Firebase

“At Firebase, our mission is to help mobile app teams succeed, which means having the capabilities to support companies and teams of all sizes and complexity. In the last couple of years, we’ve matured significantly, from a realtime database to a full mobile app development platform. Firebase is built on top of Google Cloud, so you get all the technical scale, enterprise-grade control and management, and machine learning strength that underpins many of Google’s products,” the company wrote in a post.

For businesses, the company announced Firebase In App Messaging, improved reporting for the cloud messaging console, and change history for Remote Config. The in app messaging solution is a new tool for guiding active app users to targeted and contextual messages. “Now, you’ll be able to communicate with your most valuable users – the ones already interacting with your app – and deepen engagement with them by surfacing relevant information, offers, and tips as they use your app!” the company wrote.

As part of its mission to improve app quality, Google is adding Crashlytics integrations for productivity. Crashlytics integrations are designed to help users keep track of all the different tools they are using within their workflow. The integrations include the ability to export Crashlytics data from Firebase to BigQuery, and integration with JIRA for creating JIRA issues based on crashes. “Combined with the existing integration with Slack, your team can now track the crashes they are working on, with tools they already use,” the team wrote.

Lastly, in order to build better app experiences, the company announced a serverless backend, ability to host and update multiple websites, and an improved console. The serverless backend enables users to easily scale up their databases and takes advantage of the recently released Cloud Functions.

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SNES.party lets you play Super Nintendo with your friends

Hot on the heels of the wonderful NES.party comes Haukur Rosinkranz’s SNES.party, a site that lets you play Super Nintendo with all your buds.

Rosinkranz is Icelandic but lives in Berlin now. He made NES.party a year ago while experimenting with WebRTC and WebSockets and he updated his software to support the SNES.

“The reason I made it was simply because I discovered how advanced the RTC implementation in Chrome had become and wanted to do something with it,” he said. “When I discovered that it’s possible to take a video element and stream it over the network I just knew I had to do something cool with this and I came up with the idea of streaming emulators.”

He said it took him six months to build the app and a month to add NES support.

“It’s hard to say how long it took because I basically created my own framework for web applications that need realtime communication between one or more participants,” he said. He is a freelance programmer.

It’s a clever hack that could add a little fun to your otherwise dismal day. Feel like a little Link to the Past? Pop over here and let’s play!

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Google One is more proof of commoditization of consumer cloud storage

We have long known that the price of cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive have been getting cheaper over time. Yesterday’s launch of Google One in the U.S. dropped the price for Google storage even further, cutting the cost per terabyte per month in half, driving this point home even more clearly.

As Frederic Lardinois pointed out in his post, 2 terabytes of storage now costs $9.99 a month. Consider that without joining Google One, that was the same price for 1 terabyte of storage. By signing up for Google One, you could double your storage without paying one penny more, and let’s face it this was a ton of storage before the change.

Let’s compare that with some of the other players out there. Each one is a little different, but the storage costs tell a story.

Google One’s shift to 2 TB for $9.99 a month puts it in line with Apple’s pricing, which surprisingly had given you the most storage bang for your buck out of these four companies before Google One came along. Who would have thought that Apple was giving its users the best price on anything? Of course, you get access to Office 365, including Word and PowerPoint, with your terabyte of Microsoft OneDrive storage, which is going to add a fair bit of value for many users over and above the pure storage being offered.

Regardless, if you consider Apple and Google’s pricing, the price of a terabyte of cloud storage has dropped to $5.00 a month. That’s pretty darn cheap and it shows just how commoditized online storage has become and how much scale you require to make money.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, principal analyst at Deep Analysis, who has been watching this space for years says the consumer space consumer cloud storage pricing has always been a race to the bottom. “You can only make a margin with mass scale. That’s why firms who are not Microsoft, Amazon or Google are pushing hard for business and enterprise customers. Google One just brings that message home,” he said.

If you get enough scale, as Dropbox has with an estimated 500 million users, if you can get a percentage to pay $8.25 a month for a terabyte of storage, it can add up to real money. When Dropbox filed its S-1 to before it went public earlier this year, it reported more than $1 billion in consumer revenue. It would be difficult if not impossible for a startup launching today to compete with the existing players, but the ones out there continue to compete with one another, driving the cost down even further.

Today’s announcement is just another step in that downward price pressure of consumer cloud storage, and when you get double the storage from one day to the next for the exact same price, it shows just how true that it is.

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