The Activist Train Stops Short


Money Quote, Tuesday Oct. 10

P&G wins, maybe, the future of work, and more Facebook travails

P&G May Have Beaten Peltz, But Shouldn’t Spike the Ball

P&G spent more than $100 million rebuffing one of capitalism’s most aggressive activist shareholders, and it appears the company won. Maybe. The vote is still in dispute, but that’s an extraordinary amount of money to spend keeping someone off a board. Will it be worth it? The stakes are now far higher. Money quote: “P&G has plowed tens of millions of dollars into this proxy fight. Now it must show this was the right call. And it must take care that this showdown doesn’t end up simply proving out one of Peltz’s main criticisms — that its leadership is an insular group, hobbled by reticence to embrace new thinking.”

Pierre Omidyar: 6 ways social media has become a direct threat to democracy

eBay founder Pierre Omidyar jumps on the anti-social media bandwagon, noting, as I have over the years, that the advertising model driving Facebook et al is distorting how we all understand the world. He backs it up with research he’s funded that lays out half a dozen problems with social media. Money quote: “This isn’t a partisan problem, and it’s not something any one person, company or government can fix. But someone must lead the charge, and I respectfully call upon the social media companies at the center of this issue to drive this critical dialogue. Just as new regulations and policies had to be established for the evolving online commerce sector, social media companies must now help navigate the serious threats posed by their platforms and help lead the development and enforcement of clear industry safeguards.”

Facebook’s DC Nightmare Is Just Beginning

Related, here comes the regulations. Facebook can at least take comfort in the fact that Trump et al hate regulation in any case, but the administration will likely stay out of this one, given the conflict of interest. Wait, no, that’s utterly wrong, come to think of it. Given who’s president, I’m going to predict exactly the opposite. Money quote: “Within the next few weeks, Sen. Warner and Sen. Amy Klobuchar are expected to introduce a piece of legislation that would require Facebook and other major online platforms to publiclydisclose political ad spending on their platforms. The bill will be the first piece of legislation to respond to Facebook’s Russia ads crisis, and others may follow.”

The Future of Work

Sam Lessin pens a white paper of sorts on everyone’s favorite topic in the Valley these days. I find his take on measurement — work turning into data, and that data driving how work gets done — chilling. To my mind, Taylorism is a failed management technique, and should not be held out as a standard for how we code algorithms. We require far more context than we currently have to interpret what truly quality work really is. Money quote: “In a sense, this is just the acceleration and personalization and natural extension of the 100 year old-plus Taylor method. Rather than measuring overall output just in steps of the industrial process, we are moving to a world where we personally measure all steps in everything.”

Will We Survive This New Gilded Age?

Yes, I wrote this yesterday, but I think it’s worthy of a mention here. Money quote: “It’s as if Amazon won, and Bezos then bequeathed his creation to the state. Critics would call it state-sponsored socialism, or even totalitarian communism, but Bellamy’s version had a distinctly American flavor: the individual liberties of our Constitution were largely intact — and most conflict had been resolved through the application of what might best be understood to be a Universal Basic Income.”

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