Akamai: Buying Linode | Firefox: Not OK | Gone: Google Vaccine Mandate

Welcome to The Long View—where we peruse the news of the week and strip it to the essentials. Let’s work out what really matters.

This week: Linode gets bought by Akamai, Firefox market share is “measly,” and Google brings staff back to the office.

1. Akamai + Aker = ‘Synergy’

First up this week: Why is Akamai buying Linode? Whatever the reason, it’s a big payday for its solitary shareholder: Not far off a billion dollars.

Analysis: There goes the neighborhood?

The 100 lb gorilla of edge computing and CDNs is promising not to mess with Linode’s winning open source cloud formula: No change, steady as she goes, etcetera. But how many times have we heard that before?

Here’s local scribbler Paige Gross: Linode’s $900M acquisition by Akamai is a ‘game changer’

A household name in the Philly tech scene … CEO Christopher Aker founded the company in 2003, and it’s been bootstrapped ever since, growing to about 250 employees. … Aker has owned 100% of Linode since he founded it.

Aker said the deal brings the company closer to solving evolving challenges “as cloud services become all-encompassing, including compute, storage, security and delivery from core to edge. … We’ve been talking about ‘alternative cloud’ — alternative to the big guy — and now we’ve sort of validated ourself in this market.”

The Old City company maintains “well over a million accounts” but has anywhere around 150,000 active users of its platform at any particular time. Linode’s HQ, the bank building at Third and Arch Streets, remains. … For clients and Linode employees, there won’t be too much noticeable change [Linode] says.

Why does Akamai want Linode? Jonathan Greig asked the CEO:

Akamai CEO Tom Leighton [explained] that Linode has great customer support and is already in 11 locations, which Akamai is going to “dramatically” expand. … Leighton also noted the September 2021 acquisition of Israel-based Guardicore, a cybersecurity company that offers a micro-segmentation solution to reduce the potential attack surface of corporate networks, secure applications, and meet compliance standards.

According to Leighton, the company is expecting the cloud compute category — which includes edge applications, its net storage business, and Linode — to reach “well over half a billion dollars in 2023. … We were pioneers in edge computing and now we’re taking a big step forward in cloud computing with Linode.”

But here’s a worried-sounding zoid.com:

Well good for them but I hope [Akamai] don’t screw it up. Linode is a great hosting company.

2. Firefox isn’t OK

Last week, a journalist innocently asked, “Is Firefox OK?” And people lost their minds.

Analysis: No, not OK—it’s a big problem for DevOps and the web.

We need Firefox and Gecko. A Chromium monoculture is bad for the web and bad for DevOps. (Before you ask: No, the existence of WebKit doesn’t change things, thanks to Apple’s ridiculous policies). Much as I tried to say something nice about Firefox last month, its market share is, frankly, pathetic.

Matt Burgess: Is Firefox OK?

In the two decades since Firefox launched from the shadows of Netscape… the browser has slid to less than 4 percent of the market—on mobile it’s a measly half a percent. … Its fate also has larger implications for the web as a whole.

Each year Google pays Mozilla hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties. … In its 2020 financial results … Mozilla listed its total revenue as $496 million. … The Google-Mozilla deal was last renewed in 2020 and is expected to expire in 2023. … Mozilla and Firefox acknowledge that for its long-term future it needs to diversify the ways it makes money.

Firefox still matters: … The browser market is dominated by Google’s Chromium codebase and its underlying browser engine, Blink. … Microsoft’s Edge Browser, Brave, Vivaldi, and Opera all use adapted versions of Chromium. Apple [has] its WebKit browser engine [but] Other than that, Firefox’s Gecko browser engine is the only alternative.

Firefox, how do we love them? Let not_count_zero count the ways:

I still use Firefox because:
a) I remember Internet Explorer and the standards wars. …
b) I don’t trust Google. …
c) Most sites work well.

I do have questions though. … They’re currently getting around a half a billion‽ What are they doing with it? … This seems really off—really, really off.

But heed a deeply worried Thom Holwerda:

The decline and potential demise of Firefox is a massive problem that everybody seems to be kind of tiptoeing around—too afraid to acknowledge that if Firefox were indeed to disappear, we’d be royally screwed. We’d end up right back where we started 20 years ago, with Chrome being the new IE6.

The situation is especially dire for … Linux users, developers, and distribution makers. … Gnome Browser or KDE’s Falkon can barely be taken seriously, and … are based on Apple’s WebKit, which isn’t a great position to be in.

3. Google’s Return to Work Plan Drops Vaccine Mandate

Google is planning “celebrations” to welcome back employees after being fully remote. And in practice—unlike at IBM—this doesn’t mean a vaccine mandate.

Analysis: Vocal minority wins—or do they?

It was just three months ago that Google said it “firmly stands behind our vaccination policy.” What changed? It’s unlikely to have been due to a tiny minority of staff publishing a manifesto.

Jennifer Elias: Google relaxes mandates

The company will no longer require vaccination as a condition of employment … as it prepares to bring workers back to the office … at least three days a week for a “hybrid” work model. … The company [had previously] employees that they must comply with vaccine policies or they’d face loss of pay and eventually loss of employment.

According to Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson … the company dropped the requirement … after removing the Jan. 18 deadline it had set for employees to either get vaccinated or get exemption approval. She declined to provide further details on the policy or the reasons for the reversal.

Google Real Estate and Workplace Services VP David Radcliffe [said Google] is preparing to begin its 30-day transition period to the hybrid work week if conditions continue to improve. He said his team is planning “celebrations” to welcome back employees. … Unvaccinated employees who are approved to enter offices will still need to follow additional protocols, including testing and wearing a mask.

It’s too simplistic to say the anti-mandate brigade are also anti-vaxxers. For example, raxxorrax:

I am vaccinated and HR knows this. … But if they officially demanded a certificate, I think I would have called it quits. Many people don’t have that option [but] There are consequences for such unreasonable demands.

I understand a mandate for vaccinations in certain occupations relating to health. It is something you have to personally accept if you want to work in the field.

Although a few others are way over at the end of the bell curve. Greg Jenkerson:

Don’t get excited, [Google is] still evil and stupid. … Now they’re backing down for some reason, [but] This is barely anything notable as far as a rollback of restrictions. [It] is not any kind of encouraging news.

The Moral of the Story: Failure is the foundation of success—and the means by which it is achieved.

You have been reading The Long View by Richi Jennings. You can contact him at @RiChi or [email protected].

Image: Alexey Kuprikov (via Unsplash; leveled and cropped)

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