Money Quote — Monday September 25
Plus gender wars, tech regulation in Europe, and an about-Facebook
If this one graph doesn’t make you spit up your Cheerios, well, you’re living in a bubble. And it turns out, most of us are. This report, from think tank Economic Innovation Group, makes what we kind of already know far more clear: The country’s economy is a hot mess of inequality. Money quote: “Most of America is deteriorating economically.”
Of course there are going to be men who are pissed off by the push to bring gender equality to the workplace. And of course, after the Damore affair, some of them are going to see increases in membership. Beyond that, I’m not entirely sure this story is, well, a story. Money quote: “No eyebrows are going to rise if a woman heads up fashion,” Mr. Parsons said. “But we’re talking about women staffing positions — things like autos — where it cannot be explained other than manipulation.” Oh my, really?
The EU is now a significant shaper of regulatory framework for our tech oligarchy. This Economist piece profiles European Union Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, who takes a very different view than her counterparts in the US. A true trustbuster in the mold of early 20th century US politicians, Vestager seeks the spotlight and is not afraid of a fight. Money quote: “Brussels believes the growing power of big tech firms to shape politics, society and the economy requires a counterweight. The battle is of greater urgency, the commission reckons, because the data that tech monopolies have accumulated make it far harder for upstart firms to displace them or keep them in check.”
It’s hard to keep up on the Facebook news these days, and I’ll admit I left three or four great stories off the list for today. That’s because I think the news that Zuck & co. bailed on their cherished non-voting shares late last week is a much bigger deal than the latest OpEd by Dowd or Zakaria (though both wrote good pieces last week). Zuckerberg was being forced to testify this coming week in a lawsuit centered on those non-voting shares, and given all that’s going down in Facebookville, I’m guessing his PR counsel realized this might play exactly like Bill Gates’ disastrous testimony in the 1996 DOJ action. Money quote: “The lawsuit filed by shareholders last year said Facebook’s board showed “stunning” disloyalty in rubber-stamping Mr. Zuckerberg’s proposal to issue nonvoting shares to help him keep control of the company. The plan would have limited shareholders’ say and cemented Mr. Zuckerberg’s control regardless of whether he was financially invested in the company’s success, investors in the lawsuit said.” The suit has now been dismissed.
Uber has a long way to go to convince skeptics (like myself) that it’s changed its stripes. But this story certainly shows its heading in the right direction. After the company was refused license to offer services in London, Uber’s new CEO had this money quote: “While Uber has revolutionised the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.
We will appeal the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change. As Uber’s new CEO it’s my job to help Uber write its next chapter.”