Big Tech's Mammoth Profit From Geopolitics

Mike Leslie
April 23, 2024

Google and Amazon have partnered with the Israeli military to provide AI services, while Musk uses Twitter to topple a government leader.

Inputs that matter: Earlier this month, reports revealed that Israel is using an artificial intelligence-aided system called 'Lavender' to identify suspects in the Gaza Strip before targeting them with air strikes.

  • According to software engineer and blogger Paul Biggar, however, one key detail on the methods employed by the Lavender system is the use of data from Meta's messaging platform, WhatsApp.
  • Apple has pulled WhatsApp and Threads, two Meta-owned apps, from its app store in China under orders from Beijing's top tech regulator, reports Axios.
  • Meanwhile, Elon Musk has spent weeks using his social network X to bash Bolsonaro's arch-enemy, the Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes. De Moraes is responsible for several investigations into Bolsonaro that could land the ex-president in jail, including an alleged coup plot that preceded the right-wing insurrection in Brasília on 8 January 2023.

The opportunity: Amazon Web Services is a $5 billion business growing fast. It's accelerating, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

  • The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a $95 billion legislative package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
  • While much of that money ultimately goes to traditional defense contractors such as RTX Corporation (NYSE: RTX), formerly Raytheon, and General Dynamics Corp (NYSE: GD), who are both trading at record highs, funds will also funnel to Big Tech and the rising need for AI on the battlefield.

Zoom in: AI has become the new superweapon for global power as the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., the U.S. and unofficially the E.U.) looks to control BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the U.A.E) access to the technology.

  • The U.S. government has called on allies to force computer chip manufacturing equipment companies to stop maintaining some of the tools they have sold in China, part of Washington's efforts to undermine China's ability to produce its advanced computer chips.

Between the lines: U.S. venture capital investment in defense start-ups has doubled in four years.

  • An example from one of the most well-known VC funds, Andreessen Horowitz, focuses on the promise of a model of warfare that uses technology to develop cheaper, simpler weapons in large quantities.
  • Through their collective efforts, prominent venture capital firms, including Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), and Lux Capital, are upstarts among today's rising stars in the defense sector, including Anduril, Hadrian, and Rebellion Defense.
  • Founders Fund-backed Palantir had beaten RTX to secure an $800 million army contract, and Elon Musk's VC-powered SpaceX had been gobbling up satellite sector funds.

Follow the money: Microsoft beat Wall Street estimates with $21.7 billion in quarterly revenue and 61 cents per share earnings.

  • Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ: META) is trading near an all-time high.
  • Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) is trading at historical levels.
  • Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) fell slightly below a record high, up more than 200 percent over the past five years.
  • Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) is rising from a slight drop.

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