Flip the Switch Episode 19: Google Censorship(?)

John Saunders
By John Saunders

Flip the Switch Episode 19: Google Censorship(?)

SOPHIA: Today on Flip the Switch. The guys welcome in the New Year with a discussion around the changes Google is making to their search engine and what it means for consumers. The hottest topic in the universe is back as the guys break down the recent rise of alt-coins and where to pick up some for yourself. 

 

From Kodak to Sam’s Club we cover recent business decisions that are very 21st century. 

 

Let’s get into it. 

 

00:43 Austin: Welcome to Flip the Switch, presented by Power Digital Marketing. We are very excited to have you back on for the very first episode of the New Year. 

 

00:50 Pat: Yup. Happy 2018 to everybody. I know that we had a few weeks where we didn’t put an episode out there because of breaks and things like that, but we’ve got everybody back except for John. Who’s gallivanting around in Bali. 

 

01:00 Austin: He’s finally getting his refresher. 

 

01:02Pat: Yeah, exactly. But we’ll handle in the meantime. Joe already picked up exactly how to his job and has replaced him.

 

01:10 Austin: Yeah, Joe might be a producer on his own. 

 

01:11 Joe: I have actually been a producer on this show the entire time….

 

01:14 Pat: Well, we’ll agree to disagree on that one. But nonetheless, we have a great episode lined up today. An awesome main segment. Talking about some trends with Google that we’re noticing coming into the New Year. Getting more consumer focused. B

 

But first, we have some business news and trends to go over with you all. 

 

01:27 Austin: All righty. So hoping into our business news here. First up we’re going to be talking about Sam’s Club and what they’re doing with their new locations. I’m sorry… no longer new locations… as they are closing down a very good amount of them. I believe 63 are going to end starting now. 

 

01:40 Pat: Yeah, exactly. So Sam’s Club is owned by Walmart Stores Incorporated. And this came out on Bloomberg earlier today, so it was a bitter-sweet day in the sense that Walmart actually raised its minimum starting wage to 11 dollars an hour. Which was seen as a super-positive thing in the business world. I know that there’s a long, documented history with Walmart especially… the way they treat their employees, that people are not a fan of. 

 

In that same vein, the same day that that happened, they close 63 Sam’s Club locations. 

 

02:09 Austin: Yeah, so this is a bit shocking in the sense of what happens when the minimum wage goes up? So when minimum wage does go up, that doesn’t mean that the revenue is going to go up. So they have to decide on which cost is going to be affected by something else costing them more and they took a hard look at Sam’s Club, which they own. And said, “This isn’t generating enough revenue for us to keep these store open if we’re going to raise the minimum wage.

 

02:34 Pat: Yeah, and if I’m reading this correctly, some of this has to do with the fact that they were actually leasing those commercial properties. They didn’t own the properties so it wasn’t an asset. So when they re-evaluated their portfolio they saw that that wasn’t worth holding onto. Because it was going to cost them more money. 

 

And the reason why this kind of came about is because of the tax overhaul. I think that everybody that’s in business has been paying attention to politics over the last couple of months. They know that there was a massive tax reform plan that recently was pushed through Congress. And the resolution that was passed through essentially is very advantageous for corporations, because it allows them some tax cuts that give them some more capital. 

 

So what that allows companies like a Walmart to do is reinvest that into their people. Because as we’ve seen, it’s a very competitive labor market. It’s tightening up. And they need to hold onto as much of that qualified employee count as they can. 

 

And in doing that, and in reinvesting in their employees just to maintain their current operations they had to close some of it down. 

 

03:27 Austin: And on the other side of this as well, is the competitive side. So we have competitors such as Target who are ahead of the ball here, and have already generated that higher wage for their employees. Without having the subsidiary aspect of entire wholesale food line that Walmart has with Sam’s Club. 

 

And then also Sam’s Club main competitor, Costco, they’re also way ahead of the curve with this as well, so their revenue… They’ve already figured out… put that in their models… and that expense is set in stone. So now Walmart doing that in that industry had to do it as well. And that puts them behind the ball and makes them have to close stores. 

 

04:00 PAT: Yeah, exactly. So they just don’t have the capital to operate all these expenses at the same time. And they can’t have another added cost like property taking away from that. And if they want to hold onto enough employees to be competitive. 

 

And then another thing, too. Just taking a look at this. The unemployment rate for the nation has gone from 5.7% to 4.1% over the course of the last year. That has actually been a little disadvantageous for Walmart too. Because they have to… they have a higher incentive now to hold onto as many employees as they can. Not just for competitive purposes, but because if you look at the national averages, you want to make sure that corporations of this size are retaining a high number of their employees, so that that number stays down. 

 

Walmart is the highest… employs of any private company… or public company, I think it is… the most employees of any company in the country. Aside from I think McDonald’s? But even then, I think it’s close. And I think Walmart…

 

04:57 AUSTIN: Definitely the largest retail of their size. 

 

04:58 PAT: Exactly. So, that’s a big reason why, and really what we’ve seen here is just the response to that has not been super-positive from people. And it seems like kind of a bad PR move from my point of view to do that on the same day. 

 

05:09 AUSTIN: Yeah, I think that more so they were trying to cover it up. And brush it aside. 

 

05:14 PAT: So it’s a good PR play…

 

05:15 AUSTIN: It might be… it might be. I think the wage increase is going to have a lot more traction with American society, instead of the store’s closing. Especially because that unemployment rate is dropping. And our GDP is growing. So these kind of go in tandem. You see wages go up, the GDP has gone up in the past. They seem correlated. Even though we’re getting down to the brass tacks and saying they aren’t correlated, and this is more of an expense situation. 

 

05:39 PAT: Yeah. And I think the really… the biggest takeaway from this and why we wanted to share it too you guys, and thought it was valuable is because it shows the other side of the coin, right? 

 

Minimum wage increases and ethical treatment of employees is something that I think everybody can get behind. And any company would really want to. 

 

The problem becomes if it is then too much of a cost associated with your business operations. And that’s what it ended up being for Walmart Stores Incorporated. It was with that increase in minimum wage, their expenses then became too much to operate as they would…

 

06:09 JOE: I think this is a classic example of… I remember when the minimum wage was being discussed at being around $15 and people got very upset when it was not going to go through. And we’re talking about fast-food workers getting paid $15 an hour. 

 

But the flipside of that coin is if that comes to happen, then they just start implementing those automated touch-screen order things, where you no longer need cashiers. And they’re cutting jobs because you can’t…

 

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. So there’s gotta be some sort of downfall to raising the wage up that high. 

 

06:41 AUSTIN: And we’re entering that right now. So this is that real-world example that you’re talking about Joe, is that it’s happening. And people are losing their jobs. And it wasn’t the direct business of Walmart, where they’re getting the wages. It’s a subsidiary. It’s another company that they own that was affected. And those employees. 

 

So people are being effected when wages increase, and if hopefully it can increase because the company’s making more money, but in this case it was not. 

 

07:05 PAT: Speaking of companies that are making more money–this could be a good transition into Overstock. So this is something that has been super-prevalent in the news over the course of the last few weeks due to its affiliation with block-chain and crypto. Austin, do you want to tee this up a little bit?

 

07:19 AUSTIN: Overstock is all in. That’s the headline I’m seeing on Investopedia. 300% climb in 2017. Especially on the back half. We talked a little bit about this last year when they added cryptos as payment options for Overstock. But what they’re really getting into is block-chain technology, and that’s the core of Bitcoin. That’s the leger that we’ve discussed. The decentralized ledger that makes it all tick and work. And be the real future of technology. 

 

So a lot of the reason why Overstock decided to get into block-chain is because they had a lot of issues with their core business. So they already publicly traded company, and over the long course of history, they’ve been around for war while. Over the past 10 years. They’ve been greatly affected by the open market. And one of the ways that they were affected by the open market is by something called “Naked shorting.” 

 

And what naked shorting is is a bunch of really bad people fabricated and create fake shares. Generated them and put them on the open market. And this is highly illegal right? This shouldn’t be okay. 

 

But the problem is clearing houses, people selling these shares are making so much extra money on fees by selling these shares, that they never report it. So you can’t discriminate between the differences of a real share and a fake share. 

 

But the fake shares are coming in at shorts. So that’s depressing the price. And when the price of a share is suppressed, you can’t get funding, which means you can’t get loans. And then you can’t grow your business. So enter block-chain technology. It’s transparent, it’s decentralized, it’s peer-to-peer. It’s something that you cannot hide. The transaction will always be clear. Set in stone. And you can’t do something like a naked short.

 

08:51 PAT: Yeah, exactly. And the Overstock CEO is name Patrick Burn. He’s always been very bullish about the future of block-chain. But crypto related technologies, crypto-currencies, he’s been very bullish on this as well. And it has gotten to the point where he’s… reading this off of thestreet.com. Saying that he has been quoted as saying he had enough of internet retailing and wants to “block-chainify” Wall Street. 

 

So what he’s telling the Street here is they built a block-chain version of Wall Street, and they have a bunch of subsidiary ventures now. So they own a company called Medici Ventures Incorporated. And within that are a bunch of different crypto related technologies and essentially just like distributed ledger platforms. Capital markets. Things like that. 

 

This is what is making Overstock so valuable right now. Is because we’re seeing that increase in the crypto market as a whole… You can use Bitcoin’s value almost as an index for this. You can see that as Bitcoin’s value has continued to increase, affiliated companies like Overstock have seen massive gains if they’re involved in the same types of technological practices. And business practices as a whole. 

 

It’s gotten to the point now where he wants to go all in on block-chain. And he actually is quoted on saying that Overstock could be on the selling block very, very soon.

 

And just looking at some of these companies that are talking about purchasing it–you got TJX, Target, Costco Wholesale… these are huge players. If they’re talking about acquiring something like Overstock and then potentially all the subsidiaries that fall o=under that, that could really shake up whatever markets they’re in. 

 

And just the last part here, it says that actually a lot of this has been brought about by Amazon buying Whole Foods. Everybody in board rooms across America thinks they’re going to be disrupted by Amazon. From retailers to media companies to logistics companies. Other wholesalers, like a Costco and for those companies buying Overstock could be a really good solution to that.

 

10:46 AUSTIN: Yeah, that’s a great… you know, I’m just taking this all in and splitting it in my head. And what comes to mind is what is for sale is the e-commerce marketplace that Overstock has. So Overstock has now become an umbrella company, and think about that. And on the side is their block-chain technology and this is starting to generate a lot. They’ve taken that and put it into their e-commerce platform and now that’s ready to go to market. They want to sell that off so that they can do some R&D and start functioning on what they consider to be the future of their entire company, and not just what their main source of revenue has been. So just like with Whole Foods, they’ve generated a marketplace that is so niche and so in control that they needed to be acquired by someone to keep up. That’s exactly what’s happening with Overstock. 

 

They’ve created a crypto to dollar e-commerce platform ready to go to market in the United States. The only one that’s ready to go to market. So they’re going to use that to leverage and create financial options for them to finance their block-chain technology and create with Medici the next wave of what their revenue will be.

 

11:46 PAT: Yeah, exactly. They already have one of the Medici subsidiary ventures called T-zero. It’s a distributed ledger platform for capital markets. Has already been announced it’s launched and its Security Token Sale is happening right now through January 18th. So they’re already starting to do that with some of the capital realizations that they’ve gotten from some of their share increasing. Probably buying them back off the market, getting that cash-flow, liquidity and distributing it to some of their subsidiaries.

 

I think the most interesting part about this is just his continued bullishness with the crypto-market. I think that even after its initial surge and Bitcoin going to almost… at one point… what was it? About 17,000 dollars? 19,000 dollars? At one point.

 

12:23 AUSTIN: Yeah. Upwards of that. 

 

12:24 PAT: Right. Exactly. A lot of people were like, “That might be as good as it gets. “And it has fluctuated back downwards since then. Sitting at about 15 right now, right?

 

12:33 AUSTIN: I believe so. 

 

12:34 PAT: So I think it’s really interesting to note that and he has done an outstanding job, in my opinion at least, of thinking outside the box with real-world and fully legal endorse applications for the technology…

 

12:47 AUSTIN: Application is the word. You nailed right there. And this is what we want to see come from Bitcoin. So the whole side of it that is, “We don’t understand what it is. What is it? What does it do? What’s the purpose?” 

 

Well here it is. This is the block-chain technology. The core of the Bitcoin. That’s generating new business, and that’s what we want for not only our nation and our economy, but the entire world. It’s a new wave of technology that infiltrates societies and makes them better. And I think that’s what we’re seeing with Overstock’s marketplace that’s going to be a potentially purchased this year by a big player. 

 

13:16 PAT: Devil’s advocate here. We’ve seen a lot of companies profit from claiming to include block-chain technologies. Even in the alt-coin world, which I know we’re going to get into… ICOs. There are companies that say they’ll do something and then bounce cause there’s not that level of accountability. We’ve seen though, the Long Island Iced-tea company change their name to the Long Island Block-chain company and their shares rose 200%.

 

Do you think that this Overstock increase is wholly attributed to that real-world application? Or is it a lot of people not knowing what they’re doing, being too scared to buy into the crypto market itself, so they’re just buying companies that are crypto-affiliated and hoping they go up?

 

13:50 AUSTIN: I think it’s a little bit of both. What Ko-… sorry… this is another thing at Kodak just popped into my head. They’re…

 

13:57 PAT: Yeah. Kodak is coming out with a coin too.

 

13:58 AUSTIN: Yeah, but before we get there. What Overstock did is they took a technology and they actually turned it into something. But other companies saw that that made them generate a massive increase in what their share price was. So as they saw that this good PR was working, they wanted to adopt that too. And companies like Kodak that are struggling to generate year over year returns, they say, “What can we do? What’s the newest and greatest thing?” Block-chain technology.

 

14:24 PAT: Well, yeah. Kodak’s shares were at, like, $5 a share at earlier this week. And then it jumped to 10 after they talked about the release of the “Kodak Coin.” Which is supposed to help encrypt photos and things and maintain…

 

14:38 AUSTIN: Yeah. It’s supposed to help independent photographers get returns and royalties for their photos and other video content. 

 

14:45 PAT: Yeah, I don’t buy it. I think that it’s a way to try to generate a lot of revenue in a fast amount of time. 

 

14:52 AUSTIN: Yeah, they’re going to be mining at their offices…

 

14:54 PAT: Yeah. But nonetheless, it’s reflective of the fact that we do see this in the marketplace a lot now. We’re seeing a lot of companies doing this. And it’s just a… my question about it with Overstock especially… A lot of people can sink a lot of money into this. These aren’t $10 stocks, these aren’t 9 cent alt-coins that we’re talking about. We’re talking about an already pre-existing $62 a share publicly held, established, regulated e-commerce company. Whose shares are now jumping upwards of the $85 mark, $86 at its highest. So…

 

15:20 AUSTIN: I think it scares me too. We’ve been really bullish is the word to say here on… we think this is good. But also let’s think about the flip-side. The Devil’s Advocate side. And does this remind us a little bit of that dot-com boom. I think it kind of does. And bust. Because… here’s one example that comes to mind really quick. When Time-Warner purchased or had AOL under its umbrella, they changed their name to AOL-Time-Warner in 1999, 2000. Because it was hot. The Internet was new. Of course you wanna include that in your name because you’re seen as one of those companies that has adopted that technology. So your share price is going to go up.

 

Man, I’m starting to see that. That’s scary. With the Long Island Iced-Tea Company, they threw it in their name. With Kodak just saying, “Yeah, we’re going to be mining cryptos and we’re going to create a coin.”

 

16:03 PAT: Yeah, we do coins and cameras they say. 

 

16:04 AUSTIN: Yeah, that’s… Maybe they should hire you for marketing. 

 

16:06 PAT: Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking. I could be their brand guy. But nonetheless, we’re seeing it over and over again. We’re going to get into a whole crypto segment here, so we’re going to kind of cut this one a little bit short.

 

One last thing I wanted to bring up. Austin actually brought this to my attention earlier. Jamie Dimon… hindsight 20/20… Backtracks on all the comments he made about crypto-currencies that we covered in our first episode. He came out… CEO of JP Morgan-Chase. Came out saying “If anyone in my company is caught trading cryptos, they’ll be fired. It’s illegitimate.” 

 

Yadda-yadda-yadda. Lo and behold. What is it? About 3 months later he comes back and says “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

 

16:42 AUSTIN: It’s probably because his company made so much money off of it.

 

16:47 PAT: That’s gotta be why.

 

All right, moving into our main segment here. We wanted to go through some digital trends that we are already observing in the year of 2018. We think that… at the end of last year we kind of put together a recap of what we thought would happen. And we got some good engagement on that. You guys got a lot of value out of it, especially in terms of thinking about your own websites and your online marketing initiatives. 

 

But we want to let you know what we’re seeing on the ground now that we’re actually in the midst of 2018. And whether any of those were right. 

 

So the first thing that we want to go through a little bit here is “fake news.” Which is a very hot topic. 

 

17:19 AUSTIN: Yeah, it’s really funny because fake news started because of our president using that in his campaign as a marketing tactic. But, it has found some real-world application coming in the form of Google search. And what Google wants to do is actually crack down on fake news. 

 

So I think we’re all aware… we’ve seen this on Facebook, and all over the Internet is news articles that aren’t legitimate. They don’t have actual sources. They’re fabricated. They just aren’t real. But they can still rank and show up in the search results. Which means that that is spreading. And individuals are consuming that, sharing it and believing it. Which is not helping our society. 

 

So Google’s aware of this. And they really want to make it better. And what they’re going to start doing is they’ve come up with a list of rules and worked it into their algorithm. So that their algorithm can understand the differences between legitimacy and the illegitimacy. 

 

18:10 PAT: Yeah, and so this is kind of like is you think about, like, “trust-flow” essentially with a website. It’s a little bit like that. They built out some criteria that dictates a trusted news source versus a non-trusted news source?

 

18:21 AUSTIN: Yes. 

 

18:22 PAT: Okay. That’s really interesting. My question about this is… Google is supposed to be kind of like a “free information” engine. Is this a slippery slope? I’ve been thinking this for a long time, and call me cynical, but I’ve always thought that if a company gets as big as Google and dominates as much of our day-to-day as Google does it can start to abuse its power a little bit. 

 

We actually saw that with Apple. They came out recently saying that they slowed down old iPhones on purpose. Basically to try to push users to buy new iPhones. This is something I’ve suspected for a long time, cause my phone…

 

18:54 AUSTIN: F-them, by the way.

 

18:55 PAT: F-them. I hate that. We’re seeing this with Google a little bit I think. Ad bear with me. I think that it’s like, who are they to decide what a legitimate news source is? Versus a non-legitimate news source?

 

And I get that there’s guidelines. I think that people can generally get behind the guidelines. But the crux of it is going to come in those details, right? It’s going to come in like, “Oh, this one’s border-line. We’re going to penalize this website.” When it may well be a semi-legitimate website that… maybe the content isn’t good. 

 

19:23 AUSTIN: We have to trust Google, I guess? Which is what we’ve always done. We’re hoping and trusting…

 

19:30 PAT: It’s our job to trust Google. Play along with Google…

 

19:33 AUSTIN: That they’re providing us with the most authoritative piece of content for the query, the question that we asked. Which is scary, in a sense. But we’ve always been doing that. And now what we’re asking is for Google just to start honing in on that and providing at the very top the most factual. And one of the ways they’re going to be doing that is adding fact-check tags to search results. 

 

So it’ll say that their algorithm fact-checked it and whatever. And they went and found it to be a legitimate source. 

 

I understand that, and I understand…

 

19:59 PAT: But when you get into scrutinizing… Sorry, not to cut you off… when you get into scrutinizing the actual content that’s on a page and judging whether that’s right or wrong, that’s different than if it’s spammy or not. That’s subjective. How can you…? How can you quantify that? How can you incorporate that into an algorithm? 

 

It sounds extremely subjective. And it sounds like it’ll be up to the policy team a lot of times. 

 

20:18 AUSTIN: I think this is a little bit of the social side of it and it is a bit subjective. I think you’re very, very right about that and Google’s gonna be looking at this from a human perspective of political correctness or social acceptance, and this is kind of where we’re at. And as a society, the majority… or the ones that are out most outspoken are saying that this is what they want. Because they’re tired of bad, non-authoritative information coming out from websites that are either, let’s say, white supremacy websites… saying things that we know aren’t true and they’re getting search results and rankings because they’re being linked too and they’re doing SEO tactics to push them up. This is their target, and that leaves the door wide open for them, because they could do whatever they want.

 

But the cry–the outcry–was because, “Hey, we’re tired of individuals–minorities–that have information we know not to be true.” And groups of individuals that we don’t trust as society are ranking and showing up. So we want to diminish that to some degree. And hopefully Google can do that.

 

But I definitely agree with you. Where does this stop?

 

21:17 PAT:  Right. That’s what my thing about it is. I get this. I think it totally makes sense. Like, yeah, if there’s a holocaust denial website–that was an example that they actually put in their policy right? If there’s a holocaust denial website–yeah, okay, I understand supressing that. But when it comes down to like… it’s like the New Age of corporate social responsibility. And it’s response to the public needing this out of the corporations that they decide to trust nowadays. 

 

But I think it opens the door in a way that a lot of companies haven’t had this kind of freedom before. They could actually dictate whether they deem news “fake.” Which is just insane to me. 

 

21:53 AUSTIN: It’s funny to even say that, but you make a really good point. And I think… Oh, Joe’s itching to say something.

 

21:58 JOE: I was gonna say, I kinda side with you on this one Pat. It’s…

 

22:04 PAT: I love that. Sorry, real quick, first time Joe and I have ever agreed on the show.

 

22:09 JOE: We’re off to a good start. No I agree with you because it might not be the most popular opinion but I know there are regulations and obviously things that you can’t have on the Internet that are illegal. But it should be a free marketplace, and if there are ways… people that aren’t doing things that are illegal that you would get in trouble for. Like, you were saying, holocaust denial website. Yes, obviously. We don’t want to see that. 

 

But at the end of the day, you… it’s a slippery slope to try and supress that because it’s just one of those things where it’s like the suppression of freedom of speech. Or whatever they believe in. And it’s not illegal. So it is a tough… it’s not the most popular opinion to take but I think they are going down a road that could get out of hand, which we’ve seen a lot of that happening in the press lately.

 

It might not be something that you don’t want to see on the Internet. But because those people were able to be savvy enough or smart enough, you should be savvy or smart enough to steer around those things. 

 

23:08 AUSTIN: And here’s what this boils down to and I think it’s hard to remember this when you’re searching and you’re using Google. But Google’s a company. They’re an actual company that is not part of the government. So the information they’re providing you as a searcher is part of their company. Right? 

 

And that means that they’re allowed to dictate their policies as a company. They are a publicly traded company–which means the share-holders influence the decisions. But the primary company itself and the board and all of their employees are the majority shareholders. Which means they dictate policy. And as Americans we can sue them. Or bring legislation about to change the way that they’re allowed to act. 

 

But when they make a decision like this, there’s not really much we can do…

 

23:49 PAT: They will bankrupt you in court. They will just wait you out with lawyers…

 

23:52 AUSTIN: And lobbying can help this. A lobbying group can fight for the freedom of speech. The number one rule in our country is freedom of speech for all. And they can go to bat there. 

 

But we need to look at this as the most powerful company in the world doing whatever they want. And trying to protect a group… and maybe take advantage of trying to protect a group… which people, of course, want. But possibly opening the door to them. Silencing a lot more than just this. 

 

24:17 PAT: Yeah, and that’s what I think about it. Things have come… a lot has come out since the 2016 election. We saw Facebook being accused of suppressing conservative viewpoints on their platform in favor of more liberal ones. Which Zuckerberg came out and essentially, in a roundabout way kind of acknowledged. You have a lot of conservative politicians and outspoken people who are admittedly pretty insane. 

 

But still, it’s the freedom of speech thing. It’s getting kicked off of Twitter and things like that. 

 

And so I think this is just the next progression. But it’s a little bit more scary because it’s not a proprietary platform. It’s supposed to be an open source of information. It’s like going to the library but there not being like 7 or 8 sections of books available anymore. Or essentially you get a slap on the wrist for trying to check one of them out. 

 

25:03 JOE: It reminds me of that situation with Apple a few years ago when they wouldn’t give the backdoor unlock to the FBI for when there was those terrorist attacks. Where Apple kind of stood their ground and was like, “This is a slippery slope. We can’t. As soon as we let this happen, then it opens the door for this to happen. Opens the door for this to happen.”

 

And so I think this is like in a way, a very similar situation in some kind of one off way. But just 2 juggernauts having all the power and deciding what they’re doing with that power? I think it’s a pretty interesting route where I feel like Apple definitely knew what they were doing. Took the high road, right there. 

 

Btu this is a little weird where they’re kind of giving in to the public outcry.

 

25:46 PAT: To me it’s almost condescending in a sense. It’s almost like, “Oh, as the public, you don’t know what’s real and fake news. You’ll believe anything you see, so it’s up to us to decide what’s appropriate for you to see and what’s not appropriate.”

 

And I just kind of… I love working with Google. I think it’s super-intricate… one of the most advanced pieces of technology in our day and age. 

 

I resent that notion that we’re not smart enough to be able to figure out what fake news is versus what real news is. Like I understand that there are people who are the cause for this. That obviously are not on the same page, that do not understand the difference between fake and real news. But to actually implement like, a full-blown regulation just to get that out of the way?

 

26:28 AUSTIN: Yeah. I don’t think that they’re doing it just in the case of the people. They’re trying to be condescending to individuals. It’s because they were brought to their attention a pretty massive problem with their search engine. With their product. And they’re trying to fix it to some degree.

 

But I think what they’ve discovered also is that they can control what you know and what you learn. And one of the ways they do that is the direction they’re headed in. This goes back to the search results in organic search. Featured Snippets. So you might have seen these start to pop up a lot more. And it’s just an answer to your question. Instead of you having to click through to a search result on a page or looking around, they’ll just give you the answer. And it’s right there at the top. It’s from a reputable source that they’ve… we’re talking about this fact-checking that they fact-check. It is given to you on a silver platter. You do not have to search around. You don’t have to look anywhere else. Here it is. 

 

27:16 PAT: Right. 

 

27:18 AUSTIN: And this is what Google wants. Because the less that you’re looking around and possibly starting to decide for yourself, then this opens the door for they’re having more problems. Because you might notice that something’s wrong. That maybe this is fake news. Creates more problems.

 

So Google’s pointing individual searchers in the direction they want to eliminate the problem of outcry. 

 

27:40 PAT: And just to backtrack slightly… I am playing Devil’s Advocate here. But I just want to bring forth that notion. Because those are arguments that are gonna be made by people. People are going to be very, very angry about some of this. 

 

I personally think that if they’re just trying to increase the usability of the site and increase the level of potency of somebody’s BS detector when they see something that’s not real, I’m all for it. A more educated populace is something that I will always stand behind.

 

But I think the tactics that they’re going about to employ that are a little bit questionable. Going to that boosted featured snippets… I remember right after I saw the new Star Wars, I typed in to see how old Mark Hammill is. I thought he was like, 98, or something. It says he’s in his 60s or 70s. 

 

And so I understand the rationale there. Somebody’s looking for something that’s dead factual…

 

28:21 AUSTIN: Did you like the new Star Wars?

 

28:22 PAT: Loved it. Turned out that he’s… if they say he’s like 14 years-old, that’ll clearly be wrong. But somebody less educated may believe that, so…

 

28:31 AUSTIN: Sure, right. Someone very young. Searching for that. And there’s the really good side of this too. I know we’ve talked a lot about the social side and stuff, but the great thing that Google wants to keep doing is providing you with information that is answered very quickly. And this is a great way for them to do that. 

 

So if you’re trying to figure out how fast does a Ferrari go? Instead of having to click through on multiple sources, they’re going to give you the top speed right there in the featured snippet. And that’s great. You just cut down your time that you had to search, you can probably… you know, if you’re having an argument with your friend you can beat them really quickly. You get that…

 

29:00 PAT: That’s exactly what I use it for. 

 

29:01 AUSTIN: That’s what I use it for. Exactly. Patrick and I go back and forth all the time, so I just want to one up him. 

 

29:06 PAT: I usually lose so this could actually be pretty beneficial to me. Getting some good intel…

 

29:10 AUSTIN:  So I think we see both sides of this, and there is the negative and the positive… You can decide is this beneficial for you, or negative.

 

29:20 PAT: Cool. So the last segment that we wanted to get into is digital questions. Normally we keep these 2 to 3 digital questions. We go through digital trends. 

 

Since we started the podcast we have covered crypt-currencies extensively. And a lot of our questions that come through are about them. We try to cover those in our main topics of discussion when we can. But we had 9 or 10 come through in the last couple weeks about alt-coins specifically due to the increase in popularity. So I feel like this is a good, little tidbit that we should get into right now. 

 

So Austin, this is your time to shine, baby. What are alt-coins? Where do I get them? And I should I, or shouldn’t I?

 

29:57 AUSTIN: It’s… just to tee this up a little bit… it’s really funny to me that I had what I thought was all this useless information in my head for so long about crypto-currencies and alt-coins and now they’ve become pretty popular. So my information is kind of useful. So let’s start with what they are and where they come from and what to do with them. 

 

So alt-coins are an alternative coin to the big 3. That’s Bitcoin, Ethereum and Lightcoin. So anything else that you ever hear outside of that is considered an alt-coin. And the big ones that we talk about a lot, and you probably have heard of is called Ripple. And Ripple’s going to be our example today. And what to do with Ripple, what it is, and where to get it. 

 

So Ripple, to talk about what it is, is a side chain to Ethereum. So Ethereum, one of the big 3 we just talked about, has the ability to block-chains built on top of their block-chain. So it has another ledger that goes into their ledger. Think of it as a zipper. And they sync up together. So one zipper is called Ripple and one is called Ethereum. 

 

Ripple’s main focus and main concern is being a financial vehicle for real money. So if you’re a guy with a lot of cash. You’re a corporation and you need to send that to another corporation. You need to use a bank. You want that money to be there now. You want it today. Not in 3 months. You want it done now. Well, insert Ripple. 

 

Ripple has the ability to function at a very, very fast speed. You can send it over their block-chain in a day. Under a day. 30 seconds. At a very, very low cost. 

 

Ripple is not expensive. As of now it is only $2 apiece, which… you buy a bunch of Ripple and whatever and your cost to send that is a fraction of what you pay for the coins. So that wire transfer is really cheap and really fast. 

 

So Ripple fills that sector. So you wanna buy Ripple also because not only does it serve this function as a financial vehicle, but it’s also treated as a stock. And it goes up. So the prices of Ripple, the Ripple coins are continuing to go up as we speak. 

 

But where do you get them? So right now it’s really hard to get alt-coins because they’re not mainstream. That means that you can’t go to Charles Schwab and you can’t buy them on Charles Schwab. They’re not listed on the NASDAQ…

 

32:02 PAT: I can’t ask Chuck about it…

 

32:04 AUSTIN: You can’t ask Chuck about it. Not only can you not ask Chuck about it, but you can’t get it on Coinbase, which is the number 1 largest exchange that everybody knows about… at least to this degree… that has any sort of crypto-currency. 

 

So the place that you can get them: I’m gonna list 2 exchanges. They’re called Bitrex and Binance. These are the ones that I will associate with being valid or legitimate in this case. There’s a lot of other ones out there. These are the only 2 I’m going to be talking about.

 

And how you get on there is you create a profile, and then you buy Bitcoin on Coinbase. And then you send your Bitcoin to Bitrex or Binance. And then you use your Bitcoin to buy Ripple. 

 

So that’s the only way right now. Instead of functioning as a dollar to Ripple, it functions as Bitcoin to Ripple. That’s the baseline currency. 

 

32:47 PAT: So if I’m a listener, what is the first step I need to do to make that happen? Do I go get Bitcoin first? Or do I create my Coinbase account first? What’s the first step? What’s the next step?

 

33:00 AUSTIN: Nice. You’re keeping me on track here, Patrick. The first step you’re going to want to do is log onto Coinbase. Coinbase.com. And make an account. They’re going to ask you information like what’s your bank account? What’s your phone number? They’re a San Francisco company. They’re an American company so they’re very legitimate. The Federal government knows about them. They’re insured by the Federal government. It’s all legitimate.

 

So you set up with them. It’ll take… hopefully they’re back opening up accounts again. I think they are. So you go on, you make an account. And then from there you can start buying them. So it’ll link up to your… not only your bank account, but you can do it with your debit card. And with a debit card it’s automatic. You’ll get the Bitcoin right away. 

 

If you do it with your bank account, it’s 3 to 5 business days. Once you have the Bitcoin, you’re going to see an address.

 

And so you now have the Bitcoin. Now you need to make an account on Bitrex. So Bitrex is going to be the same thing except for the bank account situation. 

 

33:51 PAT: Okay, so so far I go, Coinbase: Make an account. Verify my identity. Buy Bitcoin. 

 

34:06 AUSTIN: So you have $500 worth of Bitcoin, now. Which you can do. So now we go to Bitrex. And Bitrex you’re just going to set up an account just the same way. Except you don’t have to put in any financial information because you’re going to be using Bitcoin to buy. So set it up, put your name in, get verified, boom. You have it. You’re in Bitrex. 

 

You go to your Bitrex wallet and you generate a Bitcoin address. This is going to have to be… you’re going to have to hop on and do this for yourself. But you’ll generate a Bitcoin address. You’ll copy and paste that address and you’ll send that over to Coinbase. And in your Coinbase account where you have your Bitcoin, you’ll paste that in and then boom. You send it to Bitrex. 

 

So now 6 to 12 hours later hopefully, now there we are. We’re live and you’re on Bitrex with the Coinbase Bitcoin. 

 

Now, you’re here and you’re there and you want Ripple. You go to the exchange, you find Ripple, you click on it and then you buy $500 worth of Bitcoin and then that’s turned into Ripple. And now you own Ripple.

 

35:02 PAT: Perfect.

 

35:04 AUSTIN: Wow. That was a lot of steps. 

 

35:07 PAT: It’s so simple though. 

 

35:08 AUSTIN: I think we’re at a really great time and since it’s still so hard to get these things, that means that we’re the first movers in it. And if you’re interested in buying this and you’re thinking, “Man, this is really hard.” That’s a good thing. That means the price is nowhere where it’s going to be eventually. Because the day that we can just click a button on our phone means that there’s regulation. Means that the price is skyrocketed. Means that all this volatility is done. And the Federal government has this market where they want it. So right now, you’re a first mover. Get excited about it. 

 

Put in the effort. Do some research. Find that coin that you really like and also figure out how to set these accounts up correctly. So that you don’t get burned. 

 

So that’s the information for you guys right now and happy hunting.

 

35:47 PAT: Fantastic. Well, I think that’s a good place to leave off. I think that answers all the questions that people had about alt-coins and then some. I know I learned a thing or two. 

 

That’s going to wrap up our episode of Flip the Switch podcast, presented by Power Digital Marketing. Thank you again so much for taking the time to join us today. We will back next week with a brand new episode. Brand new business trends. Brand new segments and some great discussions. So until then, this has been Pat Kriedler, Austin Mahaffy and Joe Hollerup signing off. Have fun in Bali, John.

John is the Director of Web Development at Power Digital and thrives on the balance between creative and strategy. Using his experience in CRO, John approaches website builds with the user in mind, combining psychological and technical aspects of design.