A Salute to Absurdity and Insanity
You have to give Mark Zuckerberg credit. Love him or hate him, he does act very deliberately, even if you might believe that it is with malice aforethought.
Netflix founder and CEO Reid Hastings resigned from the Facebook board this past week. Peggy Alford, currently senior vice president of Core Markets for PayPal, will be nominated to join the board of directors and become its first black member, but there’s a clear case of missing the forest through the trees here.
Facebook is reportedly spending $1 billion on producing original content. When Hastings joined the board in 2011, he said that he had been trying to figure out how to integrate Facebook and make Netflix more social, so getting on the board was a good deal, according to Business Insider.
The focus du jour seems to be regulation of the internet, and the fact that now even Mark Zuckerberg wants new legislation to limit speech. How interesting that in twenty-odd years, we’ve gone from the internet being a vehicle where information wants to be free, to censorship.
If this is what you’re focused on, you’re missing something. Namely, the fact that the current push is not only for censorship of speech, but concurrently, for no speech at all.
In a seeming change of heart, Mark Zuckerberg backs stronger Internet privacy and election laws: ‘We need a more active role for governments’, he said, and no, there wasn’t a sudden rip in the universe. Zuckerberg penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post entitled The internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas, which are harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
The editorial, no doubt, comes on the heels of the attention that Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon have been getting from Congress and various Presidential candidates, and as a result of the recent announcement that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube execs face jail and multi-billion pound fines over terror videos. “Australia could become the first country to introduce prison terms and fines if firms fail to speedily remove terror videos like the Christchurch massacre live-stream,” reports The Sun.
The reports are in. People are leaving Facebook, and/or spending less time on the platform. It seems that for all of Mark Zuckerberg’s claims that Facebook’s intention is to bring the world closer together, people may well be finding each other online, but it seems that they aren’t necessarily liking what they find.
Or that the online experience simply isn’t enough.
The World Wide Web turned 30 this past week. Web creator Tim Berners-Lee marked the occasion by noting that the web is now dysfunctional with ‘perverse’ incentives, while Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems to have marked it by announcing Facebook’s new pivot to privacy. Trust us, he did not suddenly have a come to Jesus moment. The only pivot here in his manifesto is away from Facebook’s current town square format into one focused more on the ability to have private messages among people and groups, which is the way that Facebook users had been going anyway.
“I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about,” said Zuckerberg in his manifesto.
There’s currently a push on to reinstate Net Neutrality (U.S. Democrats unveil legislation to reinstate net neutrality rules). “The bill mirrors an effort last year to reverse the FCC’s December 2017 order that repealed rules approved in 2015 that barred providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes,” says the Yahoo piece.
The stated promise of Net Neutrality was a “free and open internet” and maintaining “the last mile.” That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.
In case you haven’t noticed, with the reversal of Net Neutrality in 2017, we haven’t witnessed “blocking or slowing down of internet traffic” by ISPs.
Marc Michel spoke at one of our recent investor breakfasts. Marc is founder and Managing Director of Runway Ventures.
In this case, runway has nothing to do with fashion.
Erin Griffin recently wrote an excellent piece in The New York Times entitled Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work? “Never once at the start of my workweek…have I paused, looked to the heavens and whispered: #ThankGodIt’sMonday,” writes Griffin. Yet that is the culture that’s being bred, most explicitly at WeWork (now the We Company), where “Neon signs demand they “Hustle harder,” and murals spread the gospel of T.G.I.M. Even the cucumbers in WeWork’s water coolers have an agenda. “Don’t stop when you’re tired…
“It’s not difficult to view hustle culture as a swindle. After all, convincing a generation of workers to beaver away is convenient for those at the top.”
What happens when business and politics meet
The big announcement recently was that Amazon is pulling out of its deal to have New York City become HQ2. A huge loss to the city, in terms of job creation and the benefits that come with a tech giant coming in with its huge and high profile footprint. Of course, NY offered some $3B in incentives to the behemoth. The downside of Amazon’s withdrawal is that New York will lose the taxes that Amazon would eventually pay, and for those of us who have been following the math, Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion Profits, according to Yahoo Finance.