Is Tech Taking Us Backwards?

Is Tech Taking Us Backwards?

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. Read More...

Beware Big Companies ASKING to be Regulated

Beware Big Companies ASKING to be Regulated

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. Read More...

Social versus Real Life: Where’s the Balance?

Social versus Real Life: Where’s the Balance?

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. Read More...

Watch Where the Puck Is Going, Not Where It Has Been

Watch Where the Puck Is Going, Not Where It Has Been

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. Read More...

Was Net Neutrality Truly Neutral? Here’s the Score Card

Was Net Neutrality Truly Neutral? Here’s the Score Card

The number of IPOS, pre and post Net Neutrality, from Statista

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. Read More...

With the Series A Crunch, Product Market Fit Is the New Black

With the Series A Crunch, Product Market Fit Is the New Black

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. Read More...

The Fine Line Between Culture and Cult

The Fine Line Between Culture and Cult

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.” Read More...

Amazon to NYC: Drop Dead!

Amazon to NYC: Drop Dead!

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. Read More...

Invaluable Lessons Startups Can Learn from Trader Joe’s, a Food Retailer Who Created a Whole New Category

Invaluable Lessons Startups Can Learn from Trader Joe’s, a Food Retailer Who Created a Whole New Category

Ah, Trader Joe’s!

Ever notice the lines at TJ’s? We’re not talking about the ones at check-out. We’re talking about the ones that often spiral around the block, just to get into the store. You’d think that there was a celebrity inside perusing the avocados. Read More...

Surveillance Capitalism: We Are Definitely the Product

Surveillance Capitalism: We Are Definitely the Product

The tech cartel has been labeled many things. “Attention Merchants” being one of them. In her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, Shoshana Zuboff has designated a new category for them: Surveillance Capitalists. “Surveillance capitalism,” she writes, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data.

The Business of the Internet

“When the security expert Bruce Schneier wrote that “surveillance is the business model of the internet,” The Guardian reports, “he was really only hinting at the reality that Zuboff has now illuminated. The combination of state surveillance and its capitalist counterpart means that digital technology is separating the citizens in all societies into two groups: the watchers (invisible, unknown and unaccountable) and the watched. This has profound consequences for democracy because asymmetry of knowledge translates into asymmetries of power. But whereas most democratic societies have at least some degree of oversight of state surveillance, we currently have almost no regulatory oversight of its privatised counterpart. This is intolerable.” Read More...

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