jomc + silicon-valley   48

How Tech Billionaires Hack Their Taxes With a Philanthropic Loophole - The New York Times
four years on, there is almost no trace of the Woodman Foundation, or that $500 million. The foundation has no website and has not listed its areas of focus, and it is not known what — if any — significant grants it has made to nonprofits. An extensive search of public records turned up just one beneficiary: the Bonny Doon Art, Wine and Brew Festival, a benefit for an elementary school in California.
money-laundering  philanthropy  silicon-valley 
12 days ago by jomc
Where Did you Go to School? – Richard Kerby – Medium
I found that 40% of venture investors have attended Stanford or Harvard. Just TWO schools!
silicon-valley  harvard  stanford  university 
16 days ago by jomc
Scooters littering US city streets shout at people: 'Unlock me or I'll call the police' | Technology | The Guardian
So one has to wonder what a Silicon Valley startup was thinking when it programmed its electric scooters to yell at people: “Unlock me to ride me, or I’ll call the police.”
voice  scooters  silicon-valley 
5 weeks ago by jomc
The Dark Side of the Orgasmic Meditation Company - Bloomberg
Some former staffers say they called customers “marks” and referred to themselves as “lions,” “tigers,” and sometimes “fluffers,” a term borrowed from porn sets. “You fluff someone to get them energetically and emotionally hard,”
silicon-valley  grift 
8 weeks ago by jomc
Theranos Inc.’s Partners in Blood - WSJ
They made the microbiology team vacate a room it occupied, had it repainted, and lined its walls with rows of miniLabs stacked up on metal shelves.

Ms. Holmes took Mr. Biden on a tour of the facility and showed him the fake automated lab. In a discussion with a half-dozen industry executives right afterward, Mr. Biden called what he had just seen “the laboratory of the future.”
silicon-valley 
12 weeks ago by jomc
Dan McComas, Reddit Product SVP and Imzy Founder Interview
The incentive structure is simply growth at all costs. There was never, in any board meeting that I have ever attended, a conversation about the users, about things that were going on that were bad, about potential dangers, about decisions that might affect potential dangers. There was never a conversation about that stuff.
silicon-valley  reddit 
april 2018 by jomc
Perry Chen Says He Wants To Revitalize Kickstarter. Employees Say He’s Doing the Opposite.
Fifteen current and former employees described Chen’s attitude since coming back as following the so-called visionary founder myth — the belief by some founders that they are uniquely imbued with the ability to envision their company’s future clearly and overcome its worst crises...“But it didn’t feel like he cared that there were over 100 people there working on their careers. It meant something to us. It wasn’t just a fun art project. It was like, ‘No, this is paying my bills.’”
silicon-valley  kickstarter  management 
april 2018 by jomc
Corey Pein ‘Live Work Work Work Die’ Excerpt on Web Fraud
I understood this lesson as an extension of that old saying about teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him a fish. Now the idea was: You made him pay for fishing lessons, offering student loans if necessary, and failed to mention that you had already depleted the pool. This was a smart business
labor  gigs  sharing-economy  marketing  silicon-valley 
april 2018 by jomc
I spent a weekend at Google talking with nerds about charity. I came away … worried. - Vox
Jeff Kaufman — a developer in Cambridge who's famous among effective altruists for, along with his wife Julia Wise, donating half their household's income to effective charities — argued in a talk about why global poverty should be a major focus, if you take meta-charity too far, you get a movement that's really good at expanding itself but not necessarily good at actually helping people.
charity  economics  silicon-valley 
april 2018 by jomc
Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand | News | The Guardian
Thiel, a canary in capitalism’s coal mine who also happens to have profited lavishly from his stake in the mining concern itself.
silicon-valley  nz  apocalypse 
february 2018 by jomc
A Commitment for More Than One Lifetime - The New York Times
“He leaned as far back as he could go in his chair in these crazy pants with his arms crossed,” she said, and wore a T-shirt that said “I Am John Galt” (a nod to the hero of the Ayn Rand novel “Atlas Shrugged’’) and wild yoga pants with flames, moons and stars.

“I loved the idea of seasteading and wrote about it for part of my thesis,” said Ms. Benjamin... taking cryogenics and life-extension technology into consideration.
silicon-valley  ayn-rand  libertarian  transhumanism 
february 2018 by jomc
The Dirty War Over Diversity Inside Google | WIRED
Diversity advocates say that by trying to stay neutral, Google is being exploited by instigators, who have disguised a targeted harassment campaign as conservative political thought.
google  diversity  harassment  silicon-valley 
january 2018 by jomc
Don't Be Evil
The other thing to say about the utopian idea is that it lives in the Valley partly as a marketing strategy. This is a political operation of the first importance. If the Valley can convince Washington that the Valley is the home of the future and that its leaders see things that leaders back in stuffy old DC can’t see, then they can also make a case for being deregulated.
silicon-valley 
january 2018 by jomc
The Real Danger To Civilization Isn’t AI. It’s Runaway Capitalism
Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do.... the question of how to create friendly AI is simply more fun to think about than the problem of industry regulation, just as imagining what you’d do during the zombie apocalypse is more fun than thinking about how to mitigate global warming.
ai  silicon-valley  capitalism  unintended-consequences  ethics 
december 2017 by jomc
1000 different people, the same words – Textio Word Nerd
In large organizations, you don’t end up with thousands of people using the same words by accident
culture  google  facebook  silicon-valley  management  communication 
december 2017 by jomc
Big Tech Cannot Stop Shooting Itself In The Foot
For years, Silicon Valley has operated under the assumption that consumers would take it at its best intentions. But the last few months suggest that we’ve entered a new era of tech skepticism.The platforms have long demanded more — more trust, more data, more goodwill — from their users. Now, perhaps, it's the users’ turn to make demands.
silicon-valley  big-social 
november 2017 by jomc
After the end of the startup era | TechCrunch
We live in a new world now, and it favors the big, not the small. The pendulum has already begun to swing back. Big businesses and executives, rather than startups and entrepreneurs, will own the next decade; today’s graduates are much more likely to work for Mark Zuckerberg than follow in his footsteps.
startup  silicon-valley  business  technology 
october 2017 by jomc
Why One Silicon Valley City Said “No” to Google – Next City
City bureaucrats often characterize themselves as victims of large tech corporations that threaten to “overrun” their towns. But the reality is far more complex. The relationship between a giant, global corporation and a tiny municipality is a strange one, unbalanced and yet in many ways symbiotic. Tech companies are not colonizing cities against their will. Cities need tech money; and tech needs city support — especially as more companies buy more property all over Silicon Valley, planning for greater growth. The result is a redefining of local public-private partnership.
silicon-valley  urbanism  google  architecture  public-space  public-private 
september 2017 by jomc
Tech’s Damaging Myth of the Loner Genius Nerd - NYTimes.com
Silicon Valley culture encourages it. Google calls engineers who aren’t managers “individual contributors.” Technical skills are valued above soft skills or business skills. “Anyone who deals with a human being is considered less intelligent,” said Ellen Ullman, a software programmer and author of a new book, “Life in Code.” “You would think it would be the other way around, but the more your work is just talking to the machine, the more valuable it is.”
silicon-valley 
august 2017 by jomc
Evangelical Urbanism: A Review of the Downtown Project's Vegas Revival
One thing kept popping into my mind as I was walking around downtown Vegas. What if Google/Facebook/Apple/Your Tech Company Here had decided to do this for San Carlos/San Mateo/San Jose/Your San-Prefaced City Here? We'd be celebrating their every move. We give these Silicon Valley places so much heat for not being better neighbors and Hsieh has gone ahead and transcended any possible expectation we could ever have for a tech company...e. Compared to other interests in Vegas, the Downtown Project/Zappos is really just a blip on the landscape. The culinary union, for example, is over 75,000 people. There are international gaming companies headquartered there that are building more than ten times what the Downtown Project is planning
silicon-valley  zappos  las-vegas  urbanism 
august 2017 by jomc
This Town Melts Down - The New York Times
The last time I saw Lewandowski was in February, before the Super Bowl in Houston. He was there as a guest of Microsoft, wearing shorts and a red-and-white New England Patriots polo shirt and chatting with Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner and a Trump friend, at a V.I.P. reception before the game.
silicon-valley  microsoft  politics 
july 2017 by jomc
On the rise of unproductive entrepreneurs like Travis Kalanick | FT Alphaville
Hence it’s worrying that amidst all the focus on Uber’s horrible corporate culture, very little attention is still being paid to the underlying non-viability of the business model, which is mostly based on undercutting the competition via free giveaways, exploiting drivers and/or adjusting the rules of the regulatory framework to suit the company’s own monopolistic agenda.
silicon-valley  uber  business 
june 2017 by jomc
Silicon Valley to Liberal Arts Majors: We Want You | Boston Review
His lack of skepticism when startups claim to build a better world takes me back to one of my favorite quotations from Bertolt Brecht: “Amongst the highly-placed / It is considered low to talk about food. / The fact is:  they have / Already eaten.”...

It is never about the money in Silicon Valley. The fact is: they have plenty of it...Finn is more worried that much work falls into what he calls an “implementation gap”: doing what machines cannot yet do but will do sooner or later. Sometimes the boundary between the two perspectives seems to vanish: Facebook and YouTube moderators and Uber drivers owe their jobs to technology platforms, even as they train their digital replacements by their own efforts.
silicon-valley  tech-criticism 
june 2017 by jomc
The Cult of Bayes' Theorem
The theorem owes its present-day notoriety to Cold-War-era research into statistical models of human behaviour [1], the same research movement that gave us the Prisoner's Dilemma, Mutually Assured Destruction and Fuck You, Buddy. Statisticians in the 1950s and 1960s, initially concentrated around the University of Chicago and the Harvard Business School, decided to interpret probability not as a measure of chance, but as a measure of the confidence an agent has in its subjective beliefs. Under this interpretation, Bayes' Theorem acquired great prescriptive power: it expressed how a perfectly rational agent should revise its beliefs upon obtaining new evidence.
cold-war  bayes  rationality  silicon-valley 
april 2017 by jomc
Manifestos and Monopolies – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
In this brave new world, power comes not from production, not from distribution, but from controlling consumption: all markets will be demand-driven; the extent to which they already are is a function of how digitized they have become.

This is why most Facebook-fail-fundamentalists so badly miss the point: that the company pays nothing for its content is not a weakness
facebook  big-social  stacks  silicon-valley 
february 2017 by jomc
Headspace app generates buzz as meditation turns ultra-trendy - LA Times
Headspace also counts celebrities Jessica Alba, Jared Leto and Ryan Seacrest among its investors, not to mention Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Watson and Zach Braff among its fans...Virgin Atlantic offers Headspace in its in-flight entertainment. And employees at Google and LinkedIn have access to a companywide subscription.
meditation  apps  iphone  silicon-valley  start-up 
october 2016 by jomc
Sam Altman’s Manifest Destiny - The New Yorker
OpenAI was born of Musk’s conviction that an A.I. could wipe us out by accident. The problem of managing powerful systems that lack human values is exemplified by “the paperclip maximizer,” a scenario that the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom raised in 2003. If you told an omnicompetent A.I. to manufacture as many paper clips as possible, and gave it no other directives, it could mine all of Earth’s resources to make paper clips, including the atoms in our bodies—assuming it didn’t just kill us outright, to make sure that we didn’t stop it from making more paper clips. ...

“The thing people forget about human babies is that they take years to learn anything interesting..“If A.I. researchers were developing an algorithm and stumbled across the one for a human baby, they’d get bored watching it, decide it wasn’t working, and shut it down.”
silicon-valley  ai  singularity  hal  robots 
october 2016 by jomc
Palmer Luckey did not start with nothing
Luckey has enough money to ignore the real world and live in a carefully curated reality where he gets to write his own narrative. And he got that way because his own pristine, yacht-club life was so dissatisfying that he became obsessed with creating virtual realities
silicon-valley 
september 2016 by jomc
Exclusive: How Elizabeth Holmes’s House of Cards Came Tumbling Down | Vanity Fair
Carreyrou was simply emboldened. “It’s O.K. if you’ve got a smartphone app or a social network, and you go live with it before it’s ready; people aren’t going to die,” he told me. “But with medicine, it’s different.”
tech  start-ups  silicon-valley  business 
september 2016 by jomc
Can Netflix Survive in the New World It Created? - The New York Times
(lots on company culture)

This year Netflix will spend $5 billion, nearly three times what HBO spends, on content, which includes what it licenses, shows like AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” and original series like “House of Cards.” Its dozens of original shows (more than 600 hours of original programming are planned for this year) often receive as much critical acclaim and popular buzz as anything available on cable. Having invented the binge-streaming phenomenon when it became the first company to put a show’s entire season online at once, it then secured a place in the popular culture: “Netflix and chill.”..
If subscriber growth were to stall, for instance, then Wall Street would stop treating it as a growth stock, and its price would start falling. Slower growth would also increase the cost of taking on more debt to pay for its shows. The company would be forced to either raise subscription prices even higher or cut back on those content costs or do both, which could slow subscriber growth even further.
netflix  content  television  silicon-valley 
june 2016 by jomc
A Racy Silicon Valley Lawsuit, and More Subtle Questions About Sex Discrimination - NYTimes.com
men at the venture firm essentially told Ms. Pao: “Speak up — but don’t talk too much. Light up the room — but don’t overshadow others. Be confident and critical — but not cocky or negative.”
sexism  silicon-valley 
march 2015 by jomc
Snapchat Betrayal: CEO Says Former Friend Deserves Credit for the Idea
"Reggie may deserve something for some of his contributions," Spiegel concludes, somberly. If history is any indication, tech founders are as willing to quiet down an ugly spat with settlement cash as they are willing to completely screw over their best friends in the pursuit of cash.
silicon-valley 
november 2013 by jomc

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