Right now the European Union is a lot more serious than the U.S. about protecting users’ privacy. Signaling that it means business, the union has fined Facebook 110 million euros for providing inaccurate information to EU regulators about its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014 (Reuters).
At the time, Facebook had said that it couldn’t match individual users’ Facebook accounts with their accounts on WhatsApp. But last year the social network did just that. Facebook says it made an unintentional error in its filings. The root of the issue lies in Facebook’s effort to reduce duplicate accounts, which skew the total-user numbers that its market valuation depends on (Quartz).
Organisational learnings and life learnings in a tough kind of a year
This week marked my first year at Uber. Anyone who remotely follows Uber, knows that this year was a hard one for us. So for someone who put their faith in Uber in this very publicly messy year, how did it feel to be in the inside? How did it feel to process and overcome these issues in front of a team? When I think of my year, I think of it in four different ways.
Uber has dominated the Valley’s conversation for years. A revisitation (and update) of my first post on the company.
Two and a half years ago I wrote a thought piece of sorts about Uber, which at the time was dominating the conversation in the Valley and beyond (it continued to do so, for increasingly negative reasons). I titled it “Uber, the Rashomon,” and ran it on my personal blog, Searchblog.
In the piece, I argue that like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook before it, Uber had become a cultural touchstone of sorts — a shared narrative debated by nearly everyone in the industry. But this time the conversation had moved well beyond “tech” — Uber stood in for larger debates around the future of work, the role of “public goods” in our society, and the existential questions of what we expect from the companies we extol as “world beaters.”
The contradictions are rife in the FCC’s latest regulatory framework, and did Justice seek revenge on CNN?
In a New York Times OpEd (apparently he’s OK with purveyors of “fake news”), FCC Chair Ajit Pai makes a case for loosening rules that bar cross ownership of print and broadcast media assets. And on its face, his arguments make sense. But look closer. Pai is arguing that the Internet provides more diversity of views, and that when a TV station owns a paper, the community gets more investment in news gathering, reporting, and coverage. Maybe, but he’s ignoring the real issue at hand: That “diversity of views” so dear to past regulators is pretty much dead and buried on the Internet, where filter bubbles, marketing algorithms, and sophisticated information warfare ensure most Americans see only what they already believe, and ownership is concentrated beyond anything we’ve seen in the offline media world. And guess what? Earlier this year, the FCC shrugged off responsibility for any regulatory power over the Internet. Money quote: “In 2003, this newspaper noted on its editorial page that “making the argument that the current rules are outdated is easy.” The case is even stronger today. Few regulations are more disconnected from today’s realities than the F.C.C.’s media ownership rules.”
Did President Trump ask the Department of Justice to punish CNN by forcing AT&T to divest the news network so its acquisition of Time Warner would be approved? Sounds nuts, but that’s exactly the kind of thing our current president seems capable of doing. AT&T isn’t taking this one lying down, and is threatening to sue. Now that’s a court case I’d like to see! Money quote: “Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, said on Wednesday that he had never offered to sell CNN. On Thursday, appearing at The New York Times’s DealBook conference, he said the company was ready to go to court against the Justice Department.” Counterpoint: Tim Wu argues blocking the deal might be a good idea.
Welcome to our second edition of NewCo Shift Weekly Newsletter, a roundup of top NewCo Shift stories. Remember to follow us on Medium to receive real time notification from all our stories as they’re published. And let us know what you’re interested in us covering: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evolving Uber’s internal culture isn’t only the right thing for staff and drivers — it’s the most powerful way to repair the broken Uber brand.
So it looks as though Dara Khosrowshahi intends to accept the offer to become Uber’s next CEO.
Khosrowshahi’s name wasn’t talked about much during the endless who’s it going to be? machinations over the Uber CEO vacancy. But his appointment makes plenty of sense. After all, he’s been a stunningly successful CEO at Expedia for 12 years now. And both Expedia and Uber are, when it comes down to it, platform businesses that connect individual consumers to providers who can serve them. Khosrowshahi has quadrupled Expedia’s revenue since taking over in 2005.
As Uber appoints its new CEO, Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi, it’s the right time to reminisce about the early days of the company, as a mental exercise for imagining where it could go next.
What don’t you know when you found a start-up? A lot. When people look at leviathans like Google, Facebook or Uber today, they often see the negative impact of their dominant market positions. They forget that these firms started small, and, in Uber’s case, with bad PowerPoint. Garrett Camp, the other founder of Uber, released the firm’s seed round pitch deck from 2009.
Thanks to Trump, Russia and China Ban Virtual Private Networks, and the Internet Loses in the Process. Plus: Uber! & Forum!
It’s hard to pay attention to much more than our own domestic tragicomedy lately, but as we pointed out earlier in the month (final item), there’s trouble afoot abroad for the tech industry, particularly in China. And over the weekend, Russia added its voice to the chorus of countries rejecting American tech giants.
Both Russia and China have been the subject of abuse from none other than our commander in chief, who this past weekend both tweet-primanded China over North Korea, and also announced his willingness to sign a new bill sanctioning Russia. Rarely does retaliation from two of our most cherished antagonists take such a distinctly similar response: they both banned virtual private networks, technology that allows millions of citizens access to otherwise banned or sensitive information. Was the target American business and expats living abroad? Certainly that’s got to be part of it.
The term “emotional labor” was invented by sociologist Arlie Hochschild to describe the ways workers, particularly women, are expected to put on a happy face in the workplace and for customers. In the future, though, expect to see the phrase “emotional labor” repurposed to describe all the socially skilled, interpersonally intensive jobs that will thrive in an AI-driven world, where anything that can be automated will be (Livia Gershon in Aeon).
Today’s job market is already seeing “growing real-world demand for workers with empathy and a talent for making other people feel at ease.” Salaries haven’t caught up yet — we still underpay people whose jobs involve caring for others — but they will. Meanwhile, we need to rethink how we measure productivity, because right now it fails to account for any kind of “emotional labor.”
It took a shareholder revolt on the part of investors representing roughly 40 percent control of Uber to force out its founding CEO, Travis Kalanick, (Mike Isaac in The New York Times). VC and Uber board member Bill Gurley led the effort to oust Kalanick, despite the CEO’s close grip on a majority of the company’s voting shares (The Washington Post has the details).
After a season of relentless scandal, Kalanick’s departure gives the company its first real chance to press “reset” and see how much can be rescued from his legacy: a wreckage of toxic management and ethical lapses — along, of course, with the creation of a transformational ride-hailing service that has begun to reshape our cities.