Weekend Roundup: Elon Musk Makes Bank, Xbox’s Future

It’s not the weekend quite yet, but given how most of the U.S. will be taking the Thanksgiving holiday off, we decided to go ahead and post some of the week’s most interesting tech tidbits for your reading pleasure. Those tasty morsels include Elon Musk showing just how lucrative a tech career can become, and Apple’s security chief finding himself in hot water…

Elon Musk: World’s Second-Richest Man 

If you want to become a billionaire, a tech career is a pretty good way to go about it. For a very long time, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was the world’s richest person, only for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to take that crown in the past couple years. Meanwhile, the ranks of the world’s wealthiest folks has filled rapidly with senior executives from Facebook, Snap, Apple, Google, and other tech firms.

But few of those people, rich as they are, have enjoyed as stratospheric a rise as Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, whose net worth has increased by [Dr. Evil voice] $100 billion dollars over the past year, hitting $128 billion. What’s driving that stratospheric wealth? Tesla (TSLA), which, despite only manufacturing a fraction of what the big automakers such as Ford and Toyota churn out, is valued at roughly $500 billion.

SpaceX, Musk’s rocket-launching concern, is also doing well, with a NASA contract to send astronauts to the International Space Station, but if Musk manages to stay near the top of the world’s-richest lists, it’ll all come down to Tesla’s stock price rising or falling.

You might not be able to land a job that’ll pay you $100 billion in stock, meanwhile, but if you specialize in sought-after skills such as machine learning or Python development, you can still do very, very well by anyone’s standard. 

Apple Security’s Big Snafu

It must be hard running security for a multinational technology firm such as Apple. In addition to all the malicious hackers surely trying to figure out vulnerabilities within the company’s tech infrastructure, you have conventional thieves trying to rob Apple Stores, industrial spies figuring out how to get away with trade secrets, and all sorts of other things to keep you up late into the night.

But that doesn’t mean you should break the law yourself. A California grand jury just indicted Apple Chief Security Officer Thomas Moyer and two members of the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department in a complex bribery scheme involving iPads in exchange for concealed firearms (CCW) licenses. From the Santa Clara District Attorney’s press release: 

“In the case of four CCW licenses withheld from Apple employees, Undersheriff Sung and Cpt. Jensen managed to extract from Thomas Moyer a promise that Apple would donate iPads to the Sheriff’s Office. The promised donation of 200 iPads worth close to $70,000 was scuttled at the eleventh hour just after August 2, 2019, when Sung and Moyer learned of the search warrant that the District Attorney’s Office executed at the Sheriff’s Office seizing all its CCW license records.”

It’s not a great look for Apple, which prides itself on presenting only a shiny, market-tested front to the world. 

The New Xbox and the Future of Games

If you’re interested in video games, The Verge has an interesting interview with Phil Spencer, who heads up Microsoft’s Xbox division. In the course of that chat, Spencer digs down into what he sees as the future of the video game industry. Despite many analysts’ predictions that gaming will eventually go streaming in the same way as video, Spencer doesn’t see consoles and in-home hardware going away anytime soon:

“That’s, I think, the compute model that most people are going to move to with most app development, a hybrid model between edge and the cloud where things that — either from a security, or latency, or even cost and bandwidth standpoint — can be done locally, should be done locally, and things that really could use the scale that you can get through cloud, and be able to light up multiple blades to deliver whatever experience you want to deliver to somebody, would use the power of the cloud.”

But make no mistake about it, he sees streaming (as well as game subscription services a lot more robust than the current ones) as very much on the way:

“If the device is capable of running a capable web browser, we’re going to be able to bring games to it, which is pretty cool. You’ll be able to bring all of your saved games and your friends and everything comes with you. It’s just Xbox on this new screen with the games. Apple does remain open in the conversations that we have on this topic.”

It’s a long and complex interview, and well worth reading even if you’re not interested in video games, as he provides some crucial insight into how streaming and subscriptions will evolve over the next several years—a busines model that could end up impacting a lot of technologists.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone! Stay safe!