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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...

Flying Cars Are Coming. The Next Installment of Those 140 Characters Is Here…

Flying Cars Are Coming. The Next Installment of Those 140 Characters Is Here…

weasley’s flying car | Ashley Wheat | Flickr

As you know, we’ve been wondering about who those 140 characters are who Peter Thiel may well have been referring to when he said, “We were promised flying cars. Instead we got 140 characters.”

Since we’ve personally been in the industry since the early days of Web 1.0 in New York and spent a considerable amount of time in Silicon Valley as well, we’ve decided to take it upon ourselves to attempt to identify some of those characters, many of whom we’ve met and/or have gotten to know. Over the years, we’ve seen people and companies come and go. Some were bad timing. Many were simply bad ideas. Some were acquired for unbelievable amounts of money, only to disappear forever, leaving the then suddenly wealthy founders looking like geniuses. Tech is a constantly shifting landscape and people and companies come and go and fortunes made and lost at Internet speed.

Here are our picks for the next 40 of the 140, with some anecdotes and insights on the developing industry and its rising stars and investors, in no particular order. Without further ado, we’re letting this baby fly. Onward and forward. Read More...

Silicon Valley Sexism and the Word No One Mentions

Silicon Valley Sexism and the Word No One Mentions

The big story du jour in tech is the sexual harassment allegations made against several venture capitalists. You’ve all no doubt seen the New York Times piece (Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment – complete with photo that might easily be as appropriate on a ‘Babes of Silicon Valley’ calendar. Seriously?). The fact that Silicon Valley’s bro culture is pervasive and ingrained is not news. The fact that inappropriate sexual behavior goes on and has been going on for some time now, unacknowledged and/or unreported, is not news, either. This time around, there are marquee names involved and women who came forward and named names. That’s news. To the point where it has upended funds – co-founder and partner Jason Caldbeck is out at Binary Capital and Dave McClure is no longer the face of 500Startups.

Masters of the Universe

While it’s important to shine a light on illegal/immoral behavior such as sexual harassment and assault, proposed ‘solutions’ such as LinkedIn founder turned VC Reid Hoffman’s suggested ‘#Decency Pledge’ (The Human Rights of Women Entrepreneurs) may be good for grabbing media attention, but it’s going to take more than a trending hashtag to change things. Hoffman also suggests an industry wide HR function. Do you think that at least one or two people in the firms where these men worked were unaware of what was going on? Do you think that these men didn’t realize that their actions were outside the boundaries of acceptable behavior? But they’re the investors. The guys who pull the (purse) strings. They’re masters of the universe, evidently with more money than common sense, and the world is their playground – one in which they feel entitled to grab whatever distraction happens to be in front of them, because it’s been an allowed code of conduct in the Valley for quite some time now, and this is just a blip on the radar. After all, the ageism issue has been addressed several times, and that’s now been resolved, right?

Did anyone else notice that the word ‘misogyny’ was never once mentioned in any of the articles reporting on this issue? We certainly know that the word is in the vocabulary of the New York Times as well as the tech press.

The Other Diversity Problem

Silicon Valley has changed and it may well be that we’re witnessing the sunset of its glory days. There was a time when Silicon Valley was about science, R&D and actual game changing – and world-changing – technology and innovation. The land that once boasted rolling vineyards proved to be a fertile ground for invention, giving the world microprocessors and modems, computers and cell phones. With the age of social, it’s devolved into algorithms designed to biased opinions or better track user/consumer behavior in order to serve you more ‘relevant’ ads, or technologies capable of tracking users, no matter where they are on the web and whether or not they were actively engaged with that company’s technology at that moment. Yahoo was the first search engine, putting the early web into some context, and it was egalitarian. Now we have Google and Facebook, hydras with tentacles that suck up all of your information, and everything in their path, creating veritable walled gardens in a space that was meant to be open and decentralized. Innovation has given way to a culture of more, more, more. Is the predatory behavior that has evolved really any wonder? It has become part of the Silicon Valley DNA. Read More...

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