Decoder with Nilay Patel

The Verge

A business show about big ideas — and other problems.

  • 44 minutes 40 seconds
    Google's Sundar Pichai on AI-powered search and the future of the web

    Today, I’m talking to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who joined the show the day after the big Google I/O developer conference. Google’s focus during the conference was on how it’s building AI into virtually all of its products. If you’re a Decoder listener, you’ve heard me talk about this idea a lot over the past year: I call it “Google Zero,” and I’ve been asking a lot of web and media CEOs what would happen to their businesses if their Google traffic were to go to zero. In a world where AI powers search with overviews and summaries, that’s a real possibility. What then happens to the web? 


    I’ve talked to Sundar quite a bit over the past few years, and this was the most fired up I’ve ever seen him. I think you can really tell that there is a deep tension between the vision Google has for the future — where AI magically makes us smarter, more productive, more artistic — and the very real fears and anxieties creators and website owners are feeling right now about how search has changed and how AI might swallow the internet forever, and that he’s wrestling with that tension.


    Links: 

    • Google and OpenAI are racing to rewire the internet — Command Line
    • Google I/O 2024: everything announced — The Verge
    • Google is redesigning its search engine, and it’s AI all the way down — The Verge
    • Project Astra is the future of AI at Google — The Verge
    • Did SEO experts ruin the internet or did Google? — The Verge
    • YouTube is going to start cracking down on AI clones of musicians — The Verge
    • AI is killing the old web, and the new web struggles to be born — The Verge
    • How Google is killing independent sites like ours — HouseFresh
    • Inside the First 'SEO Heist' of the AI Era — Business Insider
    • Google’s Sundar Pichai talks Search, AI, and dancing with Microsoft — Decoder


    Transcript: https://www.theverge.com/e/23922415


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    20 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 46 minutes 35 seconds
    TikTok's big bet to fight the ban bill

    Last week, TikTok filed a lawsuit against the US government claiming the divest-or-ban law is unconstitutional — a case it needs to win in order to keep operating under Bytedance’s ownership. There’s a lot of back and forth between the facts and the law here: Some of the legal claims are complex and sit in tension with a long history of prior attempts to regulate speech and the internet, while the simple facts of what TikTok has already promised to do around the world contradict some its arguments. Verge editors Sarah Jeong and Alex Heath join me to explain what it all means.


    Links: 


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    16 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 1 hour 45 seconds
    Why Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen is confident we'll all adapt to AI

    Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen has been at the top of my list of people I’ve wanted to talk to for the show since we first launched — he’s led Adobe for nearly 17 years now, but he doesn’t do too many wide-ranging interviews. I’ve always thought Adobe was an underappreciated company — its tools sit at the center of nearly every major creative workflow you can think of — and with generative AI poised to change the very nature of creative software, it seemed particularly important to talk with Shantanu now.


    Adobe sits right at the center of the whole web of tensions, especially as the company has evolved its business and business model over time. And now, AI really changes what it means to make and distribute creative work. Not many people are seeing revenue returns on it just yet and there are the fundamental philosophical challenges of adding AI to photo and video tools. What does it mean when a company like Adobe, which makes the tools so many people use to make their art, sees the creative process as a step in a marketing chain, instead of a goal in and of itself?


    Links: 


    Transcript: 

    https://www.theverge.com/e/23917997


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    13 May 2024, 3:02 pm
  • 40 minutes 45 seconds
    Why the tech industry can’t crack the smart home

    Today, we’re going to talk about the smart home — one of the oldest, most important, and most challenging dreams in the history of the tech industry. The idea of your house responding to you and your family, and generally being as automated and as smart as your phone or your laptop, has inspired generations of technologists. But after decades of promises, it’s all still pretty messy. Because the big problem with the smart home has been blindingly obvious for a very long time: interoperability. 


    Yet there are some promising developments out there that might make it a little better. To help sort it all out, I invited Verge smart home reviewer Jen Tuohy, who is one of the most influential reporters on the smart home beat today. Jen and I break down how Matter, the open source standard, is trying to fix these issues, but there is still a lot of work to do. 


    Links: 

    • Matter is now racing ahead, but the platforms are holding it back — The Verge
    • 2023 in the smart home: Matter’s broken promises — The Verge
    • Smart home hubs: what they are and why you need one — The Verge
    • My smart kitchen: the good, the bad, and the future — The Verge
    • How bad business broke the smart home — The Verge
    • The smart home is finally getting out of your phone and into your home — The Verge


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder. 


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    9 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 1 hour 4 minutes
    Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath on life after Volvo and weathering the EV slowdown

    Today, I’m talking with Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath, whom I first interviewed on the show back in 2021. Those were heady days — especially for upstart EV companies like Polestar, which all seemed poised to capture what felt like infinite demand for electric cars. Now, in 2024, the market looks a lot different, and so does Polestar, which is no longer majority-owned by Volvo. Instead, Volvo is now a more independent sister company, and both Volvo and Polestar fall under Chinese parent company Geely. 


    You know I love a structure shuffle, so Thomas and I really got into it: what does it mean for Volvo to have stepped back, and how much can Polestar take from Geely’s various platforms while still remaining distinct from the other brands in the portfolio? We also talked about the upcoming Polestar 3 SUV and Polestar 4 crossover, and I asked Thomas what he thinks of the Cybertruck.


    Links: 

    • Can Polestar design a new kind of car company? — Decoder
    • The Polestar 3 isn’t out yet, and it’s already getting a big price cut — The Verge
    • The Polestar 4 gets an official price ahead of its debut — The Verge
    • Polestar makes the rear window obsolete with its new crossover coupe — The Verge
    • Volvo and Polestar drift a little farther apart — The Verge
    • Polestar gets a nearly $1 billion lifeline — The Verge
    • Car-tech breakup fever is heating up — The Verge
    • Polestar is working on its own smartphone to sync with its EVs — The Verge
    • Polestar’s electric future looks high-performing, and promising — The Verge
    • Electric car maker Polestar to cut around 450 jobs globally — Reuters



    Transcript: https://www.theverge.com/e/23912151


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    6 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 39 minutes 51 seconds
    Understanding the chaos at Tesla

    Today, Verge transportation editor Andy Hawkins and I are going to try and figure out Tesla. I said try — I did not say succeed. But we’re going to try. That’s because Tesla has been on a real rollercoaster these past two weeks, in terms of its stock price, its basic financials, and well, its vibes.


    If you’ve been following the company, you know that that gap between what the business is and how its valued has been getting bigger and bigger for years now – and lately, with Elon Musk saying he’s going all-in on autonomy and announcing a robotaxi event in August, it seems like we’re getting closer to a make or break moment, especially as competition in the broader EV market heats up. 


    Links:

    • Tesla reaches deals in China on self-driving cars — NYT
    • Elon Musk goes ‘absolutely hard core’ in another round of Tesla layoffs — The Verge
    • Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving linked to dozens of deaths — The Verge
    • Elon Musk says Tesla will reveal its robotaxi on August 8th — The Verge
    • A cheaper Tesla is back on the menu — The Verge
    • Tesla’s profits sink as the company struggles with cooling demand — The Verge
    • Tesla lays off ‘more than 10 percent’ of its workforce, loses top executives — The Verge
    • Tesla recalls all 3,878 Cybertrucks over faulty accelerator pedal — The Verge
    • Elon Musk says it’s “time to reorganize” Tesla — The Verge
    • Elon Musk lost Democrats on Tesla when he needed them most — WSJ


    Credits: 

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    2 May 2024, 9:00 am
  • 1 hour 8 minutes
    Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius explains why EVs are still the future — but Apple's next-gen CarPlay isn't

    A lot has changed since the last time Ola was on Decoder. Back then, he said Mercedes would have an all-EV lineup by 2030 — a promise a whole lot of car companies, including Mercedes, have now had to soften or walk back. But he doesn't see that as a setback at all, and he and Mercedes are both still committed to phasing out gas in the long run.


    We also spent some time talking about what's happening both on the outside of cars — Mercedes' classic look and its EV look aren't necessarily quite in the same place — and on the inside of them, as infotainment becomes a huge point of competition and design.


    Links: 



    Transcript:

    https://www.theverge.com/e/23904592



    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    29 April 2024, 9:00 am
  • 47 minutes 30 seconds
    Why the TikTok ban won't solve the US's online privacy problems

    Today, we’re talking about the brand-new TikTok ban — and how years of Congressional inaction on a federal privacy law helped lead us to this moment of apparent national panic about algorithmic social media.


    This is a thorny discussion, and to help break it all down, I invited Verge senior policy reporter Lauren Feiner on the show. Lauren has been closely covering efforts to ban TikTok for years now, and she’s also watched Congress fail to pass meaningful privacy regulation for even longer. We’ll go over how we got here, what this means for both TikTok and efforts to pass new privacy legislation, and what might happen next. 


    Links: 

    • Biden signs TikTok ‘ban’ bill into law — The Verge
    • TikTok ban: all the news on attempts to ban the video platform — The Verge
    • Anyone want to buy TikTok? — Vergecast
    • Congress takes on TikTok, privacy, and AI — Vergecast
    • Tiktok vows to fight 'unconstitutional' US ban — BBC
    • ‘Thunder Run’: Behind lawmakers’ secretive push to pass the TikTok bill — NYT
    • On TikTok, resignation and frustration after potential ban of app — NYT
    • Lawmakers unveil new bipartisan digital privacy bill after years of impasse — The Verge
    • A real privacy law? House lawmakers are optimistic this time — The Verge
    • Congress is trying to stop discriminatory algorithms again — The Verge


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    25 April 2024, 4:11 pm
  • 58 minutes 33 seconds
    Discord CEO Jason Citron makes the case for a smaller, more private internet

    Today, I’m talking to Jason Citron, the co-founder and CEO of Discord, the gaming-focused voice and chat app. You might think Discord is just something Slack for gamers, but over time, it has become much more important than that. For a growing mix of mostly young, very online users steeped in gaming culture, fandom, and other niche communities, Discord is fast becoming the hub to their entire online lives. A lot of what we think of as internet culture is happening on Discord.


    In many ways Discord represents a significant shift away from what we now consider traditional social platforms. As you’ll hear Jason describe it, Discord is a place where you talk and hangout with your friends over shared common interests, whether that’s video games, the AI bot Midjourney, or maybe your favorite anime series. It is a very different kind of interface for the internet, but that comes with serious challenges, especially around child safety and moderation. 

    Links: 


    • Discord opens up to games and apps embedded in its chat app — The Verge
    • Discord is nuking Nintendo Switch emulator devs and their entire servers — The Verge
    • Inside Discord’s reform movement for banned users — The Verge
    • Discord ends deal talks with Microsoft — WSJ
    • Discord cuts 17% of workers in latest tech layoffs — NYT
    • Discord to start showing ads for gamers to boost revenue — WSJ
    • Discord says it intentionally does not encrypt user messages — CNN
    • How Discord became a social hub for young people — NYT
    • ‘Problematic pockets’: How Discord became a home for extremists — WashPo
    • Discord CEO Jason Citron on AI, Midjourney — Bloomberg



    Transcript: https://www.theverge.com/e/23898955


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.


    Today’s episode was produced by Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    22 April 2024, 9:00 am
  • 42 minutes 57 seconds
    Disney just fought off a shareholder revolt — but the clock’s still ticking

    Today, we're talking about Disney, the massive activist investor revolt it just fought off, and what happens next in the world of streaming. Because what happens to Disney really tells us a lot about what's happening in the entire world of entertainment. Earlier this month, Disney survived an attempted board takeover from businessman Nelson Peltz. While investors ultimately sided with Disney and CEO Bob Iger, the boardroom showdown made something very clear: Disney needs to figure out streaming and get its creative direction back on track. 


    To help me figure all this out, I brought on my friend Julia Alexander, who is VP of Strategy at Parrot Analytics, a Puck News contributor, and most importantly, a former Verge reporter. She's a leading expert on all things Disney, and I always learn something important about the state of the entertainment business when I talk to her. 

    Links: 

    • The Story of Disney+ — Puck News
    • ​​Disney’s CEO drama explained, with Julia Alexander — Decoder
    • Is streaming just becoming cable again? Julia Alexander thinks so — Decoder
    • Disney Fends Off Activist Investor for Second Time in 2 Years — NYT
    • For Disney, streaming losses and TV’s decline are a one-two punch — NYT
    • Disney’s ABC, ESPN weakness adds pressure to make streaming profitable — WSJ
    • Disney reportedly wants to bring always-on channels to Disney Plus — The Verge
    • The Disney Plus-Hulu merger is way more than a streaming bundle — The Verge
    • Disney’s laying off 7,000 as streaming boom comes to an end — The Verge
    • The last few years really scared Disney — Screen Rant


    Credits: 

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    18 April 2024, 9:00 am
  • 1 hour 4 minutes
    Dropbox CEO Drew Houston wants you to embrace AI and remote work

    At the absolute most basic, Dropbox is cloud storage for your stuff — but that puts it at the nexus of a huge number of today’s biggest challenges in tech. As the company that helps you organize your stuff in the cloud itself goes all remote, how do we even deal with the concept of “your stuff?”


    Today I’m talking with Dropbox CEO Drew Houston about those big picture ideas — and why he thinks generative AI really will be transformative for everyone eventually, even if it isn’t yet now.


    Links: 


    Transcript: https://www.theverge.com/e/23892647


    Credits:

    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.

    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    15 April 2024, 9:00 am
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