“Yes, we slow down older iPhones”: Apple admits intentionally slowing iPhones without telling customer

Apple has acknowledged what many iPhone owners long suspected: It has slowed older phones.

The tech giant issued a rare statement of explanation on Thursday, saying that it has used software updates to limit the performance of older iPhones that may have battery issues that would cause them to turn off suddenly.

Continue reading “Yes, we slow down older iPhones”: Apple admits intentionally slowing iPhones without telling customer

U.S. Officials Confirm North Korea Responsible For WannaCry Ransomware Cyberattack (VIDEO)

The U.S. blamed North Korea for the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected hundreds of thousands of computers globally this year, offering further justification for the White House’s campaign to step up international pressure on the regime.

“After careful investigation, the United States is publicly attributing the massive WannaCry cyberattack to North Korea,” White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters Tuesday. “We do not make this allegation lightly. We do so with evidence, and we do so with partners.”

Continue reading U.S. Officials Confirm North Korea Responsible For WannaCry Ransomware Cyberattack (VIDEO)

Aaron Swartz Story: “The Internet’s Own Boy” Created RSS, Creative Commons, and Reddit In His Teens (Full Documentary)

This film follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz.

Continue reading Aaron Swartz Story: “The Internet’s Own Boy” Created RSS, Creative Commons, and Reddit In His Teens (Full Documentary)

Watch Edward Snowden’s Famous Remote Controlled TED 2014 Talk From Russia: “How we take back the internet”

Appearing by telepresence robot, Edward Snowden speaks at TED2014 about surveillance and Internet freedom. The right to data privacy, he suggests, is not a partisan issue, but requires a fundamental rethink of the role of the internet in our lives — and the laws that protect it. “Your rights matter,” he say, “because you never know when you’re going to need them.” Chris Anderson interviews, with special guest Tim Berners-Lee.

Continue reading Watch Edward Snowden’s Famous Remote Controlled TED 2014 Talk From Russia: “How we take back the internet”

What kind of apps catch the attention of Silicon Valley investors?

Early Snapchat investor Jeremy Liew lays out his criteria.

Creating a well-used consumer app is hard. Not only do people download fewer apps than they used to, but big companies like Facebook and Google dominate the world of consumer apps. Also, once an app looks like it might bring competition, Facebook just buys them — or tries to squash them.

But Lightspeed Venture Partners investor Jeremy Liew doesn’t buy it. The narrative that smaller apps and startups can’t catch fire is a total myth, according to Liew.

“Critics have claimed that growth is impossible in the current environment, but they are wrong,” Liew, the first big investor in Snapchat, wrote in a blog post on Friday. “Apps can still break out through word of mouth. If they have the right product hooks, they can get viral growth.”

Yes, it is Liew’s job to think like this. He’s an investor, and investors are always looking for the next big hit. But Liew will continue putting money on the line, and that means there are still opportunities out there despite Facebook, Google and Snapchat sucking a lot of user time.

So what is Liew looking for? Here’s how he described it using Silicon Valley-speak:

“If your app has hit at least 10k DAU with strong engagement (25%+ DAU/MAU, at least 3 sessions/day), retention (30%+ d30 retention — that’s d30, not month 1) and growth (30%+ month on month growth), I’d like to hear from you!”

Let’s translate.

“If your app has hit at least 10k DAU with strong engagement (25%+ DAU/MAU, at least 3 sessions/day)”

What that means:

Your app doesn’t need to be massive. But at a minimum, Liew is looking for apps with at least 10,000 daily users (DAUs).

On top of that, he wants apps where those daily users represent more than 25 percent of the app’s total monthly users.

So let’s pretend you built an app with 100,000 users who visit every month. Liew would consider “strong engagement” to mean 25,000 of those users visit your app every day.

“Retention (30%+ d30 retention — that’s d30, not month 1)”

What that means:

Liew wants to invest in products where users stick around for at least 30 days. Specifically, Liew is looking for apps where more than 30 percent of the people who joined as a user, also opened the app 30 days after their first visit. Basically, did the app keep someone interested for an entire month?

“Growth (30%+ month on month growth)”

What that means:

Is your total user base growing by at least 30 percent in each consecutive month? If so, Liew is interested.

These are the requirements from just one investor. But you can imagine that most investors in Silicon Valley have similar criteria. So the next time you hear about a hot, new app getting millions from a bunch of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, you’ll have a better idea of what caught their eye.


Steve Jurvetson was pushed out of his firm as the lines between personal and professional crossed

Jurvetson was asked to leave because DFJ caught him lying about what it considered serious allegations.

Steve Jurvetson, who started his career in Silicon Valley as a wunderkind founder of one of its marquee venture capital firms, has become one of its highest-profile investors, palling around with its most flamboyant tech superstars and backing its edgiest startups.

But on Monday, he crashed to earth way more swiftly than his career had rocketed skyward two decades ago.

His partners at DFJ spent a weekend pondering his fate, sources said — first placing him on a leave of absence last Saturday, then voting him out on Sunday, and then finally informing some of the firm’s top limited partners at a golf-filled gathering, along with some portfolio companies, on Monday.

Jurvetson was asked to leave because DFJ caught him lying about what it considered serious allegations, a source familiar with the situation said.

DFJ’s investigation found, in part, a pattern of dishonesty with women, according to other sources, including extra-marital affairs that, in the eyes of some, crossed into the professional world. Jurvetson also contributed to a difficult work environment, a source alleged. The complete circumstances that forced Jurvetson from his job are still in dispute, although both sides say his decision to depart was mutual.

Partners at DFJ unanimously decided it would be better for Jurvetson to leave, a source close to the firm said, with even founding partners Tim Draper and John Fisher deciding his time there was done.

DFJ declined to comment for this story. Jurvetson also declined to comment, referring Recode to the statement he issued earlier in the week. In Jurvetson’s statement, he said he left because of the acrimony that arose between DFJ partners in the wake of the investigation.

To be clear, no one has publicly emerged to allege sexual harassment by Jurvetson. But behind the scenes, it appears as though individual colleagues interpreted an ambiguous set of facts through, in part, a lens of how the transfer of power would affect them personally.

Jurvetson’s resignation surprised many tracking the case. The 50-year-old investor is also the highest-profile venture capitalist to be ousted from his lofty position since women this year started to speak out about a range of abuse from male investors in Silicon Valley and beyond.

It began after investigators also uncovered a messy personal life, said multiple sources — which Jurvetson himself clearly alluded to in his own public statement.

Those sources said DFJ’s external investigators at the law firm Simpson Thacher and Bartlett discovered from at least two women — who confirmed their accounts to Recode — that Jurvetson had allegedly carried out affairs with multiple women simultaneously. Some of the women also said they felt led on by the married man and were unaware of the other relationships.

On its face, allegations of personal misconduct — however problematic — may not seem to many to be enough for a firm to agree to part ways with one of its founders. But the line between personal and professional has become ever thinner in the business world, leaving Jurvetson in a precarious position.

That’s because several of the women making allegations work in the tech industry and first met him at professional conferences. The firm’s move to push Jurvetson out also seems in part preventative — while a woman might not be pitching DFJ today, they might pitch the firm in the future. In other words, Silicon Valley’s power players are always at work, even when they are not.

The company said in its statement announcing his departure last week: “DFJ’s culture has been, and will continue to be, built on the values of respect and integrity in all of our interactions.”

Within the office, Jurvetson was also considered to be dismissive, sometimes using a curt tone with colleagues, sources said. That behavior gave him few allies in the workplace when he needed it.

Jurvetson did acknowledge in his statement that questions about his personal conduct had eventually triggered his departure.

“I have also learned that an ill-advised relationship, where the other person is left feeling hurt, angry or scorned, can have far reaching consequences in the digital age. It is inaccurate and unfair to describe any of this as harassment or predation,” he wrote on Facebook.

But he added, I think my personal life, and other people’s personal lives, should stay personal.”

And, indeed, multiple women whom Recode interviewed said their sexual relationships with Jurvetson were not forced, and did not involve an implicit workplace quid-pro-quo.

While the allegations do not resemble the scandals that have forced other powerful Silicon Valley men out of their jobs in recent months, they do shed some light on what investigators found.

“He’d sort of create a soap opera for himself,” said one of the women who dated Jurvetson, who requested anonymity to protect her career. “He lied to us.”

This woman was not aware that Jurvetson was seeing several other women at the same time. She met Jurvetson at a conference at which the venture capitalist spoke.

The pair carried out a consensual affair as Jurvetson’s marriage wound down, the woman said, and saw one another about once a month. They would sometimes attend professional conferences together, but she described their relationship as “one hundred percent personal.” She said she also saw other men at the time.

A second woman who dated Jurvetson told Recode she was searching for career opportunities in venture capital and startups. The woman, who declined to give her real name out of professional concerns, said she only later realized he was also dating the first woman, although she herself was also seeing other men in what she described as an off-again, on-again relationship with Jurvetson.

Business and romance did occasionally mix in small doses. Jurvetson at one point did offer advice on a startup idea the woman had presented along with a co-founder, she said. The project didn’t end up launching at all. Jurvetson once also made an introduction for her to a venture capital firm for a possible job. She ultimately wasn’t interested in the gig, she said, and stressed to Recode she did not consider it a major favor.

Several of the women met one another at the TED conference in Vancouver, where Jurvetson is a regular, in the March of 2015, one of the women said. That conference is said to be a flashpoint in the Jurvetson drama, as several women dating him discovered that they were not alone in their personal involvement with the investor.

One woman, Keri Kukral, has been the most public in alleging improper conduct. She wrote in a Facebook post last month that “women have been banned from TED” due in part to DFJ founding partners — she did not specifically name Jurvetson. Kukral edited her post last week to remove the TED allegation.

Kukral also alleged that “predatory behavior is rampant” at the firm, a charge that a DFJ partner has disputed as “patently wrong.”

Kukral declined to meet with DFJ’s external investigator at Simpson Thacher, Alexis Coll-Very, as of last week, according to a Facebook post by Kukral. Coll-Very said in a letter to Kukral she had until last Thursday to inform investigators whether she would participate in an interview. Kukral did not.

Jurvetson, who has since gotten a separation and is now engaged to another woman, said in his statement that he was the subject of “vicious and wholly false allegations about sexual predation and workplace harassment.”

Not everyone agrees with DFJ’s decision to dismiss Jurvetson. His departure has stoked anger from some of its limited partners, who have become concerned about the future of the firm since it was revealed last week at their annual meeting in Half Moon Bay, according to a person in touch with the firm in recent days.

And the stakes are high. Jurvetson was, prior to his ouster, a “key man” on DFJ’s most recent venture fund, according to a report filed by one of its limited partners, alongside Josh Stein and Andreas Stavropoulos. Legally, those three are the decision-makers at the fund, according to SEC documents. The terms of the fund requires that at least two so-called key men remain. So if another man after Jurvetson were to stop managing the fund’s investments, the fund could dissolve.

Jurvetson was DFJ’s star and a founder — before shortening it, the name of the firm was Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Deemed a whiz kid ever since he led a $300,000 investment in Hotmail ahead of its sale to Microsoft for $400 million when he was only 30 years old, Jurvetson became one of its key rainmakers. And he has been close, for example, to big tech players like Elon Musk, a relationship that has given DFJ access to SpaceX, which is now valued at over $20 billion.

Jurvetson, Stein and Stavropoulos sat on the management committee for DFJ’s 12th early-stage venture fund, which operates quite independently of its growth practice, a fund that focuses on more mature companies. The leaders on DFJ’s later-stage fund are Fisher, Mark Bailey, Randy Glein and Barry Schuler.

Some of DFJ’s partners were “shocked” by the swiftness of his ouster, the person in touch with the firm said. As of late last week, Jurvetson was still setting up meetings for his CEOs. But the tone changed suddenly over the weekend, the person said.

Along with the disgruntled LPs, multiple sources said some of the firm’s approximately 50 employees were nervous about the potential departures of other investors in the wake of Jurvetson’s leaving. The entire investing team, though, attended their annual, pre-scheduled LP meeting, said a source close to the fund.

Jurvetson, meanwhile, spent his week trying to move on. He attended Tesla’s glitzy truck unveiling by Musk on Thursday evening as a VIP. That afternoon, he appeared as scheduled at a speaking engagement hosted by Draper, his longtime business partner. He spoke at the event about the ethics of artificial intelligence, appearing in a fireside chat that followed other investors who traded views on topics like cryptocurrency.

The sole difference? Projected on the front screens beneath those investors’ names were their job titles.

Jurvetson’s was blank.


Twitter says you can lose verified status for bad behavior — even if it’s off Twitter

Twitter wants to police its users both on and off the service.

Twitter has put itself in quite the predicament.

Here’s how it started: Twitter recently verified Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who helped organize the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, back in August.

Lots of people on Twitter got mad. They felt like Twitter, the company, was endorsing Kessler by verifying his account. Twitter promised to review its verification policies.

The result: Kessler, and a handful of other white nationalists, lost their blue checkmark verifications as part of the new rules, which state the company can remove a user’s verification badge if that person violates the company’s guidelines.

Crisis averted, right? Everyone happy that no more white supremacists are getting Twitter’s stamp of approval?

Well, not so fast. Included in the new verification guidelines was this: “Twitter reserves the right to remove verification at any time without notice. Reasons for removal may reflect behaviors on and off Twitter that include…”

That was behaviors both on and off Twitter.

With a single sentence, Twitter has saddled itself with an incredible burden. It not only plans to police its users while they’re using the service. Now it has to police them when they’re not on Twitter, too.

That’s an extremely tall order for any company. It’s unclear how Twitter will do this, or how active it will be in searching for violators.

But the wording was not accidental. Twitter is actually doubling down on the approach. On Friday, the company published new guidelines around violence and physical harm. Again, it promised to hold users accountable for their offline behavior.

“You also may not affiliate with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes,” Twitter wrote.

So if you’re part of a group that doesn’t follow Twitter’s guidelines off the service, you could now be punished by the company on the service.

This is a very a slipper slope. You probably won’t find many people upset that Twitter took away the verification badge of a white supremacist.

But Twitter has now signed up to serve as the judge and jury for all kinds of social issues and behaviors that may have nothing to do with its service. That’s a massive moral undertaking for a company with a long history of defending free speech, often at the expense of some of its users who might feel bullied or harassed.

Twitter is policing itself more aggressively than ever. The question now becomes whether or not the pendulum can swing too far the other way.

On top of it all, it’s clear now that a Twitter verification has more meaning than ever before. The Verge’s Casey Newton summed it up well this week: “Twitter has now made that endorsement explicit. A badge is now more than a marker of identity — it’s a badge of approval, as well.”


Tesla’s new super car will cost at least $200,000

But you’ll go super fast and probably look fly as hell.

Vroom vroom!

Tesla unveiled its new electric semi-truck late Thursday, which is pretty cool if you care about the future of trucking, but less cool since there’s a good chance you’ll never actually drive one.

But in a surprise twist at the end of the event, Tesla did its best Apple impression and unveiled one more thing.

That thing: A revamped, electric Tesla Roadster with four seats and the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds. Tesla CEO Elon Musk described it as the “fastest production car ever made. Period.”

That looks to be right. Dodge’s Challenger Demon, marketed as “the world’s fastest production car,” goes 0 to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds. The Porsche 918 Spyder goes 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds.

But even if you love to drive fast, it’s likely you’ll never drive a Tesla Roadster, either — the new base model costs $200,000. You can reserve one today with a $50,000 deposit.

GIF of tesla roadster

But what makes the Roadster interesting is that it doesn’t really align with Musk’s push to make electric vehicles more affordable. Unlike the Model 3, Tesla’s more affordable car for the everyman, the Roadster is basically a very expensive, shiny, fast toy.

Doesn’t make it any less fun to look at, or any less impressive. (Did we mention it’s fast?) Just don’t expect it to have much meaningful change on the transportation industry.


Full transcript: Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Recode Decode

On perhaps becoming the first black and first woman governor: “When no one has done what you want to do, it’s hard for people to see that it can be done.”

On this episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Stacey Abrams, a Democrat running for governor of Georgia, talks about the early stages of her campaign and what is means to run as the first woman to be a state governor. She explains how she is using technology and how she contends with some voters’ reductive tendency only to think of her as “the black candidate.”

You can read some of the highlights here, or listen to the entire interview in the audio player below. We’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Kara Swisher: Recode Radio presents Recode Decode, coming to you from the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode. You may know me as someone who would be a Georgia peach, if only I were from Georgia and felt like being nice. But in my spare time I talk tech and you’re listening to Recode Decode, a podcast about tech and media’s key players, big ideas and how they’re changing the world we live in. You can find more episodes of Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Or just visit recode.net/podcasts for more.

Today I’m in New York City with my friend Hilary Rosen. She’s a political strategist for SKDKnickerbocker and a political commentator for CNN. Hey, Hilary.

Hilary Rosen: Hey, Kara.

KS: How you doing?

HR: I am awesome.

KS: Good. Throughout November, Hilary and I are doing a bunch of interviews together where she is my guest host, talking to some really interesting people from the political world for bonus episodes of Recode Decode. Apparently you all can’t get enough and so we’re going to give you more.

Today’s guest is Stacey Abrams, a candidate for governor of Georgia. She formerly served in Georgia’s general assembly and was its House minority leader. Stacy, welcome to Recode Decode.

Stacey Abrams: Thank you for having me.

KS: Thanks for coming in. It’s great, you’re in New York, just around, running around, meeting people.

Running around.

KS: Let’s get started about your background. One of the things we do on Recode Decode — even if it’s Bill Gates — we want to know how you got to where you got. Give me your quick background in terms of how you moved up the political … where you grew up and things like that.

Sure. I was born in Wisconsin. I only remember being cold. We moved back to Mississippi, which is where my parents are from, when I was 3. So I actually grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi. My mom was a college librarian, my dad was a shipyard worker, but we still struggled like a lot of families. We were working class, working poor. My mom didn’t like that so she called us genteel poor. We had no money but we watched PBS and we read books.

KS: All right.

Finished high school in Georgia. My parents decided to become ministers at the age of 40, so I was a junior. We moved to Georgia. I graduated from high school there, went to Spelman College, went to UT Austin for graduate school, went to Yale for law school. Had to get a real job, came back to Atlanta, became a tax attorney, and then began my trajectory of downward economic mobility.

KS: Good work.

So I went from being a tax attorney to being a city attorney for Atlanta.

KS: The city attorney for Atlanta.

Exactly, so I was a deputy. I managed a team of about 20 lawyers by the end of my tenure.

KS: That’s an appointed position, right?

It is. I was appointed by the city attorney and the mayor. Then went from that job, ran for the state House in 2006, got elected. Served in the House for four years and then decided I should be the minority leader so I ran for that in 2010. I was elected by my colleagues and did that until 2017, about a few months ago when I stepped down to run for governor.

KS: All right, so what got you into politics? I should ask, what got you into being a tax attorney, but you’ve moved on from that. What gave you the impetus to move into politics itself?

I think that poverty is immoral and economically inefficient. I watched my parents try their best to mitigate it. In Mississippi they would take us to volunteer a lot. I once asked, “Shouldn’t there be someone who could do this besides six kids and my two parents?” Eight people seemed like a lot of … just not enough investment in trying to solve this problem. My parents said, “That’s called government.” The government is supposed to put together the systems to help address these issues, and it wasn’t working.

I became fascinated by how you could make that system work, and then I became fascinated by the conversation of where the private sector fit in and the nonprofit sector. For me, politics is part of a triumvirate of learnings that I’ve tried to have. I’ve started small businesses, I’ve run nonprofit organizations. And for me, politics is one of those pieces that you have to understand. Government has to be done better if we want to serve people.

KS: When you got into doing this, did you think you were a natural politician? Was it …

God, no. I am deeply introverted. My closest friends and my family know that this is the least likely job for me to have based on my basic personality. But they also know I’m very determined. I like systems, I like efficiency, and I found that if I couldn’t make politicians do what I wanted I needed to become one myself.

KS: Become one yourself. And was there a moment where you were like, “I’m going to do this?” Like, “That guy is driving me crazy.”

HR: There are so many I would assume … Georgia, everywhere.

Well you know, the first time I ran for office and actively thought about it was in college, because there was an inequity …

KS: At Spelman.

At Spelman College, there was an inequity in the distribution of two-ply and one-ply toilet paper, which to me was emblematic of a larger set of social dignity issues.

KS: Oh, no, that’s a big issue.

Absolutely. So I ran for student government and eventually became the student government president. But during that time I also ended up working for Maynard Jackson, who was the mayor of Atlanta, working in the office of youth services. There I really understood on a very granular level how important it was to have representation both in the legislative branch and the executive branch that cared about those issues.

I thought that I wanted to be mayor of Atlanta, and so my trajectory was really towards, how do I become mayor? But the more I thought about that work, the more I realized the issues that matter to me most really had to have a statewide imprimatur. You needed a governor who thought about these issues.

So probably about a little more than a decade ago I started thinking very specifically about how could I learn the skills necessary to help run the state of Georgia. Because I think if we can tackle the issue of poverty, the issue of lack of human dignity, the concerns of those who are left out and left behind, if you can do that on a state level, especially in the deep south, and particularly in Georgia given how large a state it is.

KS: And important economically.

Absolutely, it’s the eighth-largest state in the nation. That if we figure out how to crack the code there, you have then an exportable set of solutions that we can take around the country.

And particularly for me, it’s a personal issue. I’m doing very well now, but I still have family members in Mississippi and in Georgia who struggle and who don’t always know where the next solution is going to come from. Being the governor means the opportunity to be this intercessor between the federal government and local government, to make certain that people are getting the services they need and that we do have an effective private sector and effective nonprofit sector, and a responsive public sector that really delivers services.

HR: Talk a little bit about the progression in Georgia. Georgia’s never had a female governor.


HR: Never had an African-American governor.


HR: Actually, there’s never been a black woman as governor anywhere in the country.


HR: And so Georgia ought to be the first. Why not? But talk a little bit about the progression in Georgia. I know you spend a lot of time talking about why you think you can win, and we’ll talk a little bit about the political landscape. But the economy in Georgia’s really changed and I’m really interested in how that change has also changed the politics.

Georgia has always been a tipping point state for the deep south. Georgia was the state that when the rest of the south remained deeply mired in arguments about segregation, Georgia moved a little further. The issue of the economy, when Birmingham doubled down on trains, it was Georgia that decided that airplanes seemed like the thing of the future. Georgia has always been home to more economic capacity than other southern states.

I think, whether you’re looking at technology or looking at agriculture or the service industry, Georgia’s always been the tip of the spear. What that has meant in the last 20 years is that Georgia has become one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Between 2000 and 2010, 1.5 million people moved to Georgia. But the difference was this time with immigration, 80 percent of those people were people of color.

That has created a new opportunity in Georgia, where you have economic capacity growing at an incredibly fast clip, at the same time that you have this extraordinary diversity that is very new to the deep south, because this is a diversity of African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander and white.

What this means in terms of economic capacity for Georgia, and political capacity, is that you’re dealing with a very different demographic. Where if we use diversity as a strength it can be I believe the engine that really powers Georgia for the next 30 years. Because not only does the racial demography bring a different — no pun intended — complexion to our economy, it also brings new ideas and new experiences. Because you’ve got people moving into Georgia from other parts of the country, but you also have a growing class within the state that has ownership of what the state should look like.

HR: Is that just in the cities? I mean, Atlanta obviously everyone feels, in so many ways, feels that it’s in the modern age, essentially.

What most people don’t realize, the city of Atlanta itself is about half a million people. When people talk about Atlanta they mean metro Atlanta.

HR: Yeah.

That’s about half the state. Right now, metro Atlanta has gone from being five counties to 20 counties. I think right now, unless you’re in Tennessee or Alabama, you’re in metro Atlanta for some people. Metro Atlanta has grown and it’s grown dramatically. But there are also opportunities in what we would call second-tier cities. Savannah, which has one of the fastest-growing ports in the nation. Columbus, which was the home to TSYS and the fin-tech industry. You’ve got Albany and Macon and Augusta, these different-tiered cities that also are seeing growth. Augusta actually is the home of Fort Gordon, so we’re one of the fastest-growing cyber communities in the nation.

All of these pieces can be leveraged together but we have to be thoughtful about how we do so, because at the same time that Georgia is seeing this burgeoning economy, we’re also mired in deep poverty. Where overall I think it’s 18 percent of the population, but if it’s African American it’s 24 percent, if you’re Latino it’s almost 25 percent of the community is in poverty. We have to navigate both the …

HR: In poverty and underemployed, as opposed to unemployed.

Exactly. Underemployment is extraordinarily problematic in Georgia.

KS: Explain the difference.

Unemployment, you don’t have a job. Underemployment, you have too many of them. Typically it means that you are working less than 40 hours, you’re usually working for the minimum wage or just above it. You’re subject to flex schedules, meaning that you have no control over when you go to work. You more than likely live in a daycare desert, so you don’t have childcare for your children, or if there is childcare it’s either low quality or too expensive.

HR: But you’re not counted in the unemployment statistics.

But you’re not counted.

HR: Which is critical for …

KS: Because you’re working.

Exactly, and the challenge for a lot of underemployed are that they are working poor, and in Georgia that’s exacerbated by the fact that for example you can’t access MedicAid, that we have strict limits on your ability to take advantage of any part of the social safety net. Those challenges pull down our economic capacity, because you have economic immobility, and in fact Atlanta unfortunately is one of the top cities for economic immobility. You are unlikely to move, to ever achieve more.

That lack of economic mobility, that lack of social mobility, if it is not truncated immediately, if we don’t start working towards increasing access to mobility, Georgia runs the very real risk of being stuck where we are and losing that capacity that we’ve always had to be the leading state in the south.

KS: Can you talk about the current political landscape, how you look at it in Georgia? Hilary’s talking about a demographic change and possibly economic change, the interest in attracting more economic growth, which I think Atlanta’s trying to get Amazon. Are they …

HR: I want to talk some about the Amazon issue, yeah, there’s a lot of Amazon solicitation.

KS: Yeah, but you want to bring in people, bring in new fresh companies that will add better employment.


KS: Can you talk about the current political landscape that might be hindering that?

Sure. One of the challenges we have is that we have sort of three Republican parties in the legislature.

KS: Three of them? Oh God.

They’re all called Republicans but they tend to factionalize, in that you have a Business Conservative party, that is the more traditional Republican.

KS: The old kind of Republican.

You have Economic Libertarians, who see the Chamber of Commerce and the business class as the enemy. And then, you have a religious Libertarian group, which is not necessarily endemic to the south but we perfect a lot of these things. That group sometimes is pushing those conversations, like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, those issues.

The problem for the Republican party has been that they have had to try and navigate all three factions at the same time. Which created opportunities for me as a leader and for Democrats under my leadership to be very successful. When the economic Libertarians didn’t like the fact that we needed to improve our transportation tax structure, it was Democrats that provided the votes to get it done. As a result we were actually able to invest in transit, we got the state to do transit dollars for the first time.

HR: That’s you working with the business Republicans.

That’s me, exactly, working with business Republicans. On environmental issues, I have been able to negotiate and work with economic Libertarians on environmental issues. Not by framing them as environmental issues but by framing them as property rights issues. So we’ve been able to push back on stream buffers, on some gas pipeline issues that were really fraught for the environment, but not by trying to convince them. With the religious liberty folks, we just agree to disagree. Although, I will say that I was able to block a tax bill in 2012, working with the Southern Baptists, because they would have eliminated some important deductions.

But what I would say writ large is that the composition of the state and our politics are not reflected in our legislature, but they are often reflected in the battles we have about the big issues. We recently unfortunately passed a gun bill that put guns on college campuses. That bill was roundly fought by people of all political stripes. The challenge is that you have to have a political leader who is comfortable continuing to push back both against her party and the other side. Governor Deal did that on some issues and he didn’t on other issues.

I think the political climate is ripe for a new type of leadership that I bring, which is someone willing to compromise. Because when I’m elected, I say hopefully, in 2018, there’s no chance that I will have a majority in the House or the Senate. But my leadership has always required that I be able to work in cooperation with others, building coalitions, building capacity. I think that’s true for anyone who’s running for office this time. We have to understand that the Georgia of 30 years ago does not exist, demographically, economically and in terms of the composition of what the business climate can sustain and needs. You’re going to have to have everyone at the table because there just aren’t enough of the old guard to keep it going.

KS: Talk about that idea. It sounds so healthy of you and an adult way to talk about politics, I’m not used to this right now.

I’m sorry.

KS: I want to talk about that in the next section on the national issues, but one of the things is bringing more fast-forward companies to states like that. These companies have any choices they want. Amazon is … Hilary, why don’t you talk about this idea of Amazon coming.

HR: It’s interesting …

KS: It’s like Willy Wonka.

HR: I’m curious about, as an elected official, we’ve seen the push over the last couple of weeks of people offering up their firstborn to get Amazon to come to the state. Georgia has had some of the most creative and well-reported sort of funny solicitations.

KS: What was the city changing the name?

HR: Stonecrest, Georgia, offered to change the name of their community to Amazon.

KS: That’s a good name. Amazon, Georgia, is a good name.

HR: Elect Jeff Bezos mayor of Amazon, Georgia. But then you have others like Cathy Woolard running for mayor of Atlanta, who says, “You know what, we’re not going to give away the store. We want a partnership, we want you to come, but we shouldn’t be in the business of giving away the store.” What do you do? How do you appeal to the tech industry? A lot of our listeners are in the tech world.

KS: And it’s where the jobs are.

HR: How do you appeal to the tech industry for why people should be investing in Georgia, getting the money out of Silicon Valley, moving to the next level? How are you going to …

KS: That is their thought, a lot of them want to talk about this now because politically they’ve been pushed that way to do so, but they definitely … You have Mark Zuckerberg visiting everybody in the world. They’re all on little visits to the real … I always think, real people, I’m like, “You’re real. Okay, but okay.” I don’t think they want to be thought of as real people versus you. How do you look at that, for example?

I think there are a combination of issues. One is that I am weary of tax incentives as a means of attracting business.

HR: It’s usually sports stadiums.

It’s not just that. Especially in the last 50 years there’s been this sort of race to sell your community to get … Foxconn in Wisconsin is an example. It is not a bad thing to try to attract business. It is not a problem to use tax incentives as a means to attract those businesses. But those tax incentives cannot cripple the very community they’re intended to help.

HR: Welcome to San Francisco.

Right, and so one of the challenges, especially in the deep south — and this is true in other parts of the country but I can speak to Georgia. When we say tax incentives what we usually mean are tax abatements. It means you’re not investing in property taxes. You’re not paying, the company that comes doesn’t pay property taxes. That means you’re not investing in schools, you’re not investing in infrastructure, you’re not investing in safety. That comes at a cost because you’re usually bringing new people to the community who are going to use all of these services. I think where the mayoral candidates who’ve pushed back against this stand, and where I am, is that you want incentives to actually incentivize growth but not cripple the underlying infrastructure of a community.

HR: So what are those incentives?

One incentive Georgia’s done extraordinarily well, the film credit. The film credit is not about having new movies made in Georgia by themselves. Georgia started it’s film credit around the time that Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Toronto were really starting to sunset some of theirs. New York had one that has reduced its investment. The point behind that incentive was that it wanted to bring enough, put enough in the pipeline, have enough supply that you could actually grow and stabilize the supporting characters for films, so craft industries, construction, actually having filmmakers who could be there, creating studios.

You were growing an industry and an infrastructure for your economy that was going to have outside inputs in terms of the delivery, which is the films. But you are actually stabilizing, creating enough supply chain that you constantly had the ability to sustain those jobs. In the tech space, Georgia’s opportunity is to make sure that we are actually growing the kind of workers to sustain a tech economy. That means that if you are incentivizing a company to come by destabilizing the educational system, you are not going to have people who stay for very long. But it also means that we have to think about economic incentives, like the ability not only to attract a company but to help retain it by making certain that you have access to capital, not just … sometimes startup capital, sometimes it’s that seed stage, and sometimes it’s coming in as part of a B round.

The state of Georgia has not done that as effectively as I think it could. But it’s also recognizing that when we talk about tech there are variations on that theme. Georgia has perfect fintech, financial technology. We are the payment solutions corridor. I actually am the co-owner of a fintech company call NowAccount. We help move capital to small businesses using technology. But you also have agrotech, Georgia’s largest single industry is agriculture. There is a space for agrotech and biotech.

So I think the opportunity for Georgia, when we think about tax incentives and we think about tech as a source of capital raising and wealth creation for our communities, is to make sure that we integrate tech with what already exists and what works there.

HR: Right, and what works there, so they don’t just come in and …


HR: What you bring uniquely to the table, is what you’re saying.


KS: All right, we’re here with Stacey Abrams. She’s a candidate for governor of Georgia. We’re talking about Georgia itself but we’re going to move on a little bit to the whole national political scene. She formerly served in Georgia’s general assembly and was a House minority leader. And we’re here also with Hilary Rosen, who’s my co-host. She’s a political … Are you a political thing?

HR: I’m a political thing.

KS: You’re a creature of the swamp.


HR: Swamp creature.

KS: We’ll be right back.


We’re here with Stacey Abrams. She is a candidate for governor of Georgia. She has been a politician, a pretty longtime politician, in Georgia’s general assembly and was House minority leader. We’re talking about Georgia as a microcosm for the country and some of the politics that have been going on.

Now, you talked about three Republican parties in Georgia. You left out the Trumps, the Trumpists, I don’t know, whatever you call them. Let’s talk about the national political scenes, because you’ve been pretty vocal on that. So let’s talk a little bit about how you assess that, because being governor of Georgia is going to be … Governors are now playing a very important national role and not just within their state.

HR: Absolutely.

No, look, I think that some and each of those categories would count themselves as Trumpist. I think the challenge for the Republican party is no one knows what that means. I will leave it to them to figure out their taxonomy. I would say for me and for the national conversation, governor has become increasingly important the more impotent our congressional leadership becomes. The inability to pass legislation, the inability to determine that legislation should or should not be passed, is forcing responsibility on state leaders in ways that we have not seen in recent years.

HR: Absolutely.

The opportunity thought is that this could create those coalitions and those cooperative relationships that we haven’t seen in a very long time. I point to the fight over Graham-Cassidy.

HR: Which is the health care bill.

Health care bill. When you have the governor of Ohio standing shoulder to shoulder with the Democratic governor of California, that is not a normal thing to see in our politics today.

HR: Both opposing.

Both opposing, and were willing to work together to bring their folks, both from each side of the aisle, to oppose that bill, was incredibly important. I think the inflection point we’re facing in our country is that as the national narrative becomes more toxic, state leaders have an opportunity not only to lead but to send a signal for what people should expect of their leaders. We’ve gotten to this place where we are willing to expect little, and so I think one of the exciting things for me is that we can show what real leadership looks like.

I don’t want to be the governor of Democrats, I want to be the governor of Georgia. That means, though, that I began with Democratic philosophies, Democratic values, but it also means that I have to be open to and accepting of the fact that compromise is a necessary part of political leadership. No one gets everything they want, as the current president is discovering. Our national politics has to remember why it’s there, and that is to improve the lives of others. That sounds very halcyon and nostalgic but it’s real, it’s why we do this, or at least should be why.

HR: But isn’t it true, though, that you’ve got essentially national Progressives who have drawn such a bright line against cooperating with Republicans, cooperating with President Trump, even where they agree with him. Dianne Feinstein, a senator from California, got excoriated for simply wishing he becomes a good president. Not even for a specific proposal. So how do you, as a Progressive, reconcile this, what seems like a brighter and tougher stance by Progressives against working with Republicans.

KS: And the toxic environment, too, and how you assess that.

Part of the suspicion comes from a recent history of Democrats proclaiming values but not living them, and not even proclaiming them for the entirety of an election. They are very progressive until they win the primary, and then suddenly you can’t get them to take a picture with you. People who strongly believe in choice suddenly become wishy-washy on their language and don’t want to be seen in a photograph with anyone from Planned Parenthood. And so part of what you see in the reaction on the left is a worry that any degree of verbal compromise simply portends your intention to wholly and completely compromise your values.

We’ve seen this on the Republican side as well. I think the reality and responsibility is for candidates like myself to proclaim our progressive values consistently, but to talk about them in the context of how you get things done. The best example I can give is that my opponent in my primary in Georgia has taken me to task for working with Republicans to save a scholarship program that Democrats created. It’s a fantastic program, it was on the verge of bankruptcy, everyone agrees. She should have had me say no because anything Republicans produced … I can’t quite articulate what she thinks should have happened.

HR: You shouldn’t give the governor a victory.

You shouldn’t give the governor a victory. But the reality was, you had college students who were risking possibly losing everything, because their plan was to impose an SAT-ACT requirement that would have stripped money away from thousands of students. Instead, I worked with him to create a two-tiered program. They got what they want, we got slightly less but we still maintained 80 percent to 90 percent of the scholarship.

We also saved pre-K, because that was going to be slashed to half-day and to only part of the week. If you’ve never had to watch a parent try to leave work and know that they could lose their job for going to get their kid, you don’t understand why that is such a terrible idea.

HR: Let’s look at something around electoral politics in Georgia, though. The most nationally well-known issue of course in the last year was the race to fill secretary Price’s congressional seat. You have a Berniecrat, Jon Ossoff, running against Karen Handel. That race cost something like $35 million?

Two things. One …

HR: So …

Go ahead.

HR: The amount of money I’m sure you’d love to have for your governor’s race went into that single losing congressional race for a Democrat. I’m wondering how you see, I’m sure this is the question you get everywhere when you leave Georgia, how do you see how the politics favor actually electing Democrats in these so-called more purply district, if you can’t win races like that?

I think there are two pieces. One is that Ossoff’s race was not a Democratic-leaning district. That was a district that Republicans had won by nearly 30 points a few months before.

HR: Not purple.

Not purple.

HR: But Hillary Clinton only lost it by two points.

She lost it by two points against Trump. The reality is the south has always been very good at voting one way locally and another way nationally. Which is why you had Democratic governors long after we’d abandoned voting Democrats for president. That narrative and that capacity didn’t change simply because Trump won the election.

No. 2, the demography of that district is very different. It was one of the wealthiest districts in the state. It is the most educated district, I believe, in the nation. It is 75 percent white. That is not the composition of Georgia. But what Jon did very well was that Jon for the first time in a long time actually invested in turning out voters who never hear from candidates. That’s why Jon had presidential-level turnout in a special election that would normally yield maybe 12 percent turnout.

HR: I’ve heard you say that there are … You know, in politics we have something we call the base, everybody’s got their base. And then what you have at the next level is the persuadables. And that everybody spends the majority of their time trying to persuade the persuadables and turning out their base. I’ve heard you say that you think that people of color are considered for Democrats the base, but you think really the reason that Hillary Clinton lost was because they weren’t the persuasion voters.

Exactly. When we talk about persuasion in politics, we typically refer to a persuasion of ideology. “I’m going to convince you to believe what I believe. “We have a different challenge with people of color in the Democratic party. We have to persuade Democrats that their behavior should change, that it’s worth voting. That’s where we fall down.

We don’t invest in persuading voters of colors, particularly black voters, that the action of voting is actually meaningful. Instead we spend most of our money and most of our time trying to convince people who’ve told us they do not agree with us fundamentally that, well, this time you do. Therefore we leave votes on the table. In Georgia, that’s more than a million votes, and we lose by 200,000.

HR: Interesting.

KS: So they’re misallocating their funds.

They’re misallocating their funds, and that’s not to say that you don’t go on television. But you have to use television for what it’s intended to be, which is a reinforcement tool. It is not a conversion tool. You only convert people on the doors, you only persuade them in conversation. So Democrats have to believe, No. 1, that you should invest in field, No. 2 that you should invest in field in communities of color. Because the reality is, yes, most communities of color are Democratic.

HR: They just don’t vote.

They just don’t vote, because that’s a choice. I’m not going to take time off of my two jobs to go and vote for someone who does not sound like they actually will represent me. The way we try to persuade the other side is by essentially becoming milquetoast Democrats, or Republican light.

I think the opportunity is to invest early in field for communities of color and progressive whites, because we have to think about the fact that there are a lot of low-income single white women, there are a lot of millennials who do not look like they should be in an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. They all deserve the kind of time and attention we’re willing to give …

KS: To get them to actually vote.

To get them to actually vote.

HR: So you’re going to get to test that, obviously, in your campaign.


HR: I’m wondering what you think the implications are for national Democrats going forward. Does that mean we should be going more left, if you will, to sort of convince people that there’s an us versus them?

It’s not about going more left. It’s about going deeper. That’s the difference. We keep pretending that it’s an A-B conversation. What it really is, is A, A plus one, A plus two, it’s going deep and actually having conversations. But to use tech jargon, I am the A-B testing of the 2018 election.

KS: Many people think that, yeah.

I am running my campaign beginning with a conversation. I’m spending money in ways that for most campaigns, if this were a startup would say I’m spending money on the wrong things. I should be investing only in the tech and I’m investing in some other pieces of it.

We’re investing in talking to voters on the ground now. That means that I’m not going to have the splashy disclosure report in 2018, because I’m going to have spent a lot of money. But I believe fundamentally that we have seen what the other side looks like. We keep losing elections. My campaign will be a pure testing ground, a pure experiment for the messages that work, for the turnout models. But it doesn’t mean that I have to change how I talk about issues. I sound the same today as I did when I first started in politics. The difference is that I don’t plan to shift when I win the primary to win the general.

HR: There’s a lot of talk right now in Silicon Valley by some progressive leaders, like Reid Hoffman and others, about they can use some of their tech know-how to reinvent politics, to reinvent success in elections. Are you meeting with people like that and trying to build, use your race and the conversation as a model for something bigger?

KS: Because some of us are like, uh-uh.

Well, here’s the thing. We are already using Organizer, which is a fantastic tool for actually talking to voters and getting the average volunteer comfortable with field. Because one of your challenges is how do you talk to that many people quickly enough? You use volunteers, but if they have to have 15,000 pieces of paper and walk around with a clipboard, they’re not going to do it more than twice, unless they’re hardcore.

Organizer is a tool that helps make it faster. We’re using Hustle, it’s a text messaging app that’s helping us connect millennials in particular, but writ large communities together, using text. We are having conversations with other tech gurus, because we want to find a way to do this. I point people back to the ’08 campaign. We learned the wrong lesson, I think sometimes, from Obama’s campaign. He did not win because of technology. He did not win because of money. He won because he talked to people on the ground and organized them. He used technology as a tool to accomplish that. He used television as a tool to communicate that. He used media as a means and as a channel for reaching people. But he never forgot that the fundamental was talking to folks.

And so to your point, I believe my campaign will be able to prove it out because we’re going to elect a black women as a governor of the United States. But we’ve already got some pretty good metrics that are showing us, people who haven’t voted in years past are actually talking to our campaign. People who are registered but don’t turn out are volunteering. Those are some interesting metrics. We have to get them to scale and we can’t use them to extrapolate too much just yet. But it’s also why we had to start so early, if I waited until May of the primary to start this conversation, there is no path to victory. But by starting in June of 2017 and really launching our hardcore field in July, we were able to get good data that we can evaluate.

We are working with some great national firms to help us really understand what we’ve learned, and we have to have time to adapt. Any startup that’s pushing a new product, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes early and you’ve got to extract all of the information you can as quickly as possible so you can adapt and build new things.

KS: Right.

HR: Using Hustle and Organizer is interesting. I’m curious about whether you think social media has become so poisoned and populated, or whether you think things like Facebook and Twitter are still really good viable organizing tools for you.

Absolutely. In Georgia, 80 percent of our potential voters are on Facebook. So it absolutely is a tool for communication. That’s why I wanted to talk about technology, media, social media, television, radio. I’ve got as of now 28,000 followers on Twitter, which — I don’t know 28,000 people. That is an amazing tool for me to use to push out messaging.

HR: Tell our listeners right now your Twitter handle.

My Twitter handle is @StaceyAbrams. I can be found on Facebook, Stacey Abrams. I can be found on Instagram and I believe I’m also on Snapchat. I’m 43, so I am getting into the weeds about what I actually am on, but I think if there’s a social media platform, I have a presence there.

KS: Yeah, all right. So how are you using those? How do you look at those? Because again, Hilary said, right now they’re all in trouble for things they did.

Absolutely. Facebook is a really good tool for us to push out our messaging. Twitter is snippets. You can do a good Twitter thread, but there’s only so much you can use it for. But it’s very helpful for pushing out information about policy and getting people to understand …

KS: And events.

And events. And getting people to understand in quick fashion why they care. Facebook gives you a little more space to talk about it. It’s great for pushing out events. It’s also fantastic for ads. We can drive your attention to issues that we want you to pay attention to. Instagram is a way to build enthusiasm, because people see where you are, they understand that you care about their communities. I’ve now exhausted my knowledge. I don’t know what Snapchat does.

KS: That’s okay, it’s not really good for campaigns. But when you think about that idea, are you also on the lookout, given the meddling in the election by — and the use of election tools by — the Trump campaign, very effective usage, some possibly problematic from other countries. Do you think about that a lot? Because here’s something that could happen in your own campaign. Are you on the lookout for that?

We are.

HR: Maybe not the Russians but at least the opponents can …

Look, there was a recent story about some of the fallacious information that’s been shared about me, and that’s going to happen. The issue is making certain that …

HR: I’m sorry, what did they say about you? You don’t want to …

No, it’s okay. There were questions about why I’m single and questions about my beliefs. It’s okay. Here’s the thing, politics has always been this way. It has been thus forever. It’s the way politics work. Where social media can be effective, or harmful, is the extent to which you let it go unanswered. I don’t know if either of you watch “South Park.”

HR: Mm-hmm.

There was a recent “South Park” episode about fake news.

HR: It was great.

It was wonderful. It’s real. The reality is, our mission, and certainly the mission of my campaign, is that we’re not going to get into this death spiral of negativism. I don’t intend to win by denigrating my opponent. I don’t intend to win by denying her humanity or in general by casting aspersions on whoever the Republican is. That’s the wrong use of social media. But you’ve got to be prepared for it and be ready to respond.

Once thing I think we are doing very effectively is getting our message out to such a degree and with such granularity, that when people hear it they don’t automatically believe it to be so. There are some conversations I don’t really care about, so you can question whether or not, why I don’t have a boyfriend, I’m just really bad at dating. Would love to find the guy, but he has not presented himself and as an introvert, I’ve been inside my house.

My point is, that that piece is irrelevant to me. What’s relevant to me is are you pushing out bad information about my policies? Are you pushing out bad information about my politics? Or worse, are you demeaning the people who should be invested? Those are the things that we should be talking about, and those are the ways you should use social media.

KS: We’re here with Stacey Abrams and I’m joined by my co-host Hilary Rosen, who is a political strategist and a CNN analyst who’s here for the month of November. We’re talking with political guests and Stacey, who is running for governor of Georgia, is our one this week.

Stacey, we just started talking about how campaigns use, how your campaign is using it, how you push off social media issues and things like that. I want to talk about where things are going, because if you win the governorship you’ve got to be thinking about a lot of big issues around economic development, obviously. Some of the topics that I think are going to start to really rise to the forefront — which I’m interested in, very interested in — are automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, self-driving, education and training, infrastructure.

A lot of these things have to do with the creation of jobs, and a lot of them have to do with the destruction of jobs, or jobs as they stand today. One of my premises is that — and you can tell me if I’m wrong — is that there’s a top group of people in this country, 10 percent or whatever, who love the future, embrace it, and the top, top 1 percent is doing rather well from it, billionaires. They become billionaires.

There’s a group in the bottom that are utterly lost, they’re not part of the discussion, they’re not part of the technology. They may have a cellphone but the future’s not a good thing for them and the future’s not built for them in any way. Then there’s a group, most people are in the middle, from the working class to the, not the upper-middle class but in that range. Which, they love technology in a lot of ways. They see it’s the future, and yet they’re frightened of it. All these technologies that are coming are quite serious and it’s another major shift in how we do work.

How do you think of those things? Do you think of them at all? Because I see our federal government not at all understanding what’s coming down the pike, so I think it is up to governors to really understand it.

Absolutely. I think in a state like Georgia, where we have every one of those striations, it’s incredibly important. Only 60 percent of Georgians in rural Georgia have access to the internet. Yeah, 60 percent.

KS: Whoa, that’s low.

In the metro Atlanta area, in the urban areas, it’s 100 percent, but they can’t afford it. So we have to start with some basic fundamentals. One is that automation is coming. Technology is coming. The future is here. Once you understand that, the question is what role and responsibility does government have? To be intercessor, or to be a mitigator?

Intercessor is to stop something from happening, or to divert it. Mitigator is to say, “Okay, it’s coming, so how do we make sure we’re ready for it when it gets here?” I think Georgia is not yet as engaged as it should be because we still have to get caught up with the 20th century when it comes to internet access and broadband. But there are other ways where we are thinking …

HR: You can jump over it, so you know …

I think that the challenge is that, again if you look at the demography of Georgia and the economic demography in particular, again you’ve got a quarter of your population that is of color, is at or below the poverty line. That means that they’re in that lowest band you’re talking about. Probably we’re not a high-wealth state. You do have some billionaires. I don’t know many of them, but they’re there.

But Georgia built its economy on agriculture. There’s automation happening there, so what do you do? How do make certain that families that have been isolated from technology, and isolated from good education, are getting it? Part of that means that as the governor I have to think about education.

KS: Right, exactly.

You have to think about the fact that you should be able to learn robotics no matter where you go to school. I’m working with …

HR: And that farms are more automated.


HR: And equipment is automated and the like.

Exactly, that STEAM education is not for just those kids who are going to be gear heads. STEAM education is for everyone. So making certain that no matter which school district you’re in, no matter which school you’re in, that you have full education and full opportunity. It’s making sure that we are providing retraining opportunities, that’s why our technical colleges are so critical. Advanced manufacturing … Community colleges in some states, we call them technical colleges in Georgia.

Advanced manufacturing skills can be learned, but they can’t be learned two months after you lost your job. So we need to be having this conversations now about what kind of retraining and educational opportunities are we offering to folks. How are we working with the companies that are going to move into automation to make sure that they are partner in the kind of training, so that instead of what we saw during the decline of manufacturing in America, when jobs started leaving, it was sort of a surprise to everyone.

You can anticipate this. We know what’s coming, so let’s have a conversation now with businesses about who are you retraining in your offices? Who are you retraining in your companies to make sure that they are still viable employees? For those that you don’t think you’re going to need, what’s your responsibility in working with government to make sure that they’re being given a longer lead time in figuring out what happens next?

KS: And that they get something from it.

HR: So when you think about nationally, President Trump and the Republicans are not really having this conversation, as Kara said.

KS: Not at all.

HR: They’re not having the conversation.

KS: I don’t think they know how to turn the computer on.

HR: How do you think Democrats are doing in putting ideas on the table and having a conversation that’s relevant for people and presenting a real alternative to what the Republicans are doing?

I think there are some Democrats who are talking about it. I think we have … It’s being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We’re so focused right now on the mere survival of America that we’re not necessarily having the full conversations about what the next iteration of economic waves look like.

HR: Whose fault is that?

I would say that we have a very dysfunctional presidency and we have an impotent congressional structure that right now doesn’t seem to be able to think about anything.

KS: It’s super entertaining in the worst of ways.

HR: Oh my God.

KS: It is. It’s riveting, is what it is.

Yeah, it is.

HR: On both sides.

Yeah. I would say that for Democrats — and it’s one thing I talk about in my campaign — Democrats spend so much time fighting for survival we forget to think about success. We don’t talk about what happens after you survived, because we’re trying to preserve what we have. We’re not always, I think, doing enough to talk about what’s next. I do think Democrats are at fault because we have to be anticipating. Part of that’s believing we’re going to win again. I think that can be part of our impetus.

I will say, Jayne Kim, who is a former city council member in San Francisco, she may still be on the city council. Jayne is talking about automation. What does that mean? Because she’s at the heart of it. So she’s having conversations with colleagues and with folks around the country about how do we adjust for that? That’s smart and necessary.

KS: I like Jayne, but she’s a little screamy about tech. I’m like, “Calm down, wait a minute.” She’s doing a little fear mongering.

HR: Do you think national Democratic leaders are spending enough time with people like you, trying to say, “What would be working locally? What should we be doing?” Is there enough coordination for new ideas?

Not yet. I will say this, I think for Jayne and others, the people who are thinking about it are thinking about it so deeply, there’s not a lot of space for other conversations. So the responsibility of folks like me, it’s to seek out those conversations. Which is why I know what Jayne is doing, and I’ve spent time looking at futurist narratives to understand what this means, not only here but what’s happening in other countries. How are they adapting?

It’s the responsibility of good politicians and good public servants to educate yourself about what’s out there. It’s the responsibility of those who do this work to make sure that you share it, that it’s not this echo chamber of conversation. It’s the responsibility of our national leadership to be able to think about what this means, because we are never going to bring back all the jobs we used to have. It will never happen. Therefore we have to not only prepare for the 21s century and where we are today, but we have to prepare for the second half of the 21st century and where we want to be then. We’re not doing that sufficiently.

HR: So, it’s put-you-on-the-spot time. What national Democrats do you think get this?

I’ve heard Cory Booker say interesting things about this. I think that Ro Khanna has had conversations about this. I think Elizabeth Warren, and the way she is pushing the narrative about how we invest, is anticipating that we’ve got to have an economic system that can sustain the transitions that are happening.

I have not seen this become a central conversation for anyone yet. Again, I think part of it is that we’re trying to survive so we haven’t really thought about, how do we fight on a new front? I think that’s one of the places where I want to enter the conversation, because this is a conversation that’s going to have to happen on a state-by-state level. Because what’s going to happen in Georgia is not what South Dakota’s facing. So, for Heidi Heitkamp, she has a different set of issues she’s got to be thinking about. It’s not what’s happening in California, because California is like a whole new world.

We have to each own our responsibility for how we take these national conversations and localize them. But none of us have the luxury of waiting until it happens to start thinking about it.

KS: So are you surprised by, I think much of the Democratic party feels like someone who’s just on the sidelines, it’s like just anti-Trump, and that’s not for anything. It feels like that. It feels like most, much of the Republican party feels like that too, but it’s all in … I just spent the morning with Senator Jeff Flake and Bob Corker.

How do you then do that? How do you get Democrats … because it would seem like a very advantageous time to start to talk about what you mean, or what you stand for, rather than against something.

Being for something doesn’t mean you can’t also be against. Again, this is the whole walking and chewing gum at the same time. We’ve got to be against Trump because he is against us. He is against our families, he’s against our communities. He has no positive programming that I can see that would actually benefit the people for whom I stand, and that is irrespective of race, gender …

HR: And many of whom voted for him.

Yes. Donald Trump is an apostasy of actual progress. Put that aside. So we have to be resistant to that, because otherwise we will start to normalize and internalize his narrative, and will start to see even more than we do today immigrants as specters against whom we have to fight and we will think that being transgender means the end of the world. So we can’t relent on the fight.

HR: Absolutely.

But we at the same time have to prepare for the fact that he’s not going to be there forever. That’s why I’m running the campaign I’m running, because I believe Democrats have to figure out a different way to win. We lost this last election, and there are important inputs for us to understand why we lost.

But the reality is, they’re just going to get trickier the next time. No one’s going to ever make it easy to win, so we have to think about what are the things that we own, what’s in our arsenal, how do we navigate? That’s the place where I worry about our party because I think we spend so much time in retrospection that we don’t actually learn lessons.

KS: Yeah, there are a bunch of agonizers, for sure. What are you worried about for your election? Besides people saying weird things about you on social media. That goes and comes and goes, sometimes it’s super effective, often if it’s true it’s effective. But what is the thing that you’re worried about as a candidate, is not doing what? What do you think is your vulnerability?

My vulnerability is that, it’s a viability argument. When no one has done what you want to do, it’s hard for people to see that it can be done. As a black woman running to be … I picked the deep south, so it’s convincing people Georgia is a winnable state, and then convincing people that a black woman can win Georgia. The numbers say I’m right on both counts. But viability is a hard thing to explain to people.

It’s also hard to explain the urgency of this, because most people just kind of relegate the south to the south. Georgia is the eighth-largest state. We’re one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, one of the largest economies in the country. You can’t get to America without coming through Atlanta. So stabilizing and growing Georgia is essential to America, and I need people to understand the urgency of the governor’s race there.

My vulnerability is that I’m worried that I am not spending enough time talking to enough people outside of the campaign trail. I spent a lot of time talking to average citizens, but this is a race that is won by talking to elites, by talking to the privileged, as well as talking to everyone. My responsibility is to have those broad conversations and those narrow conversations at the same time. I’m afraid this answer sounds like the, “What’s your weakness?” “I care too much.” That’s not what I mean. I hate people who do that.

KS: I don’t care at all. Give me the power I need to change things.

Exactly. So for me, it is making sure that I’m talking to as many people as possible and that they understand what I’m saying, that I am not running to be the black governor. I’m not running to be the Democratic governor. I’m running to build a coalition of voters who will vote for me because they believe in the principles I hold to be true, but to govern for everyone, whether they agreed with me or not.

As a person of color, it is a vulnerability that everything I say for some people gets filtered through my race. They cannot hear anything else I say if I mention race. I’m going to talk about race because race is an inherent part of who I am, who we are as Americans, and it does dictate a lot of our policies. But that doesn’t mean that I am so reductive as to be unable to have broader conversations.

HR: Do you feel like people push you into a conversation about race just because we’re in such a divided country and it was such a powerful conversation during the presidential election?

I think people are confounded by how to grapple with our changing diversity, and they are desperate for someone who can give them a short answer to a long, complicated problem. When I speak I do not speak just as myself, I speak as every black person they’ve never met, I speak on behalf of every person of color that they may like or dislike. I don’t have the luxury of not speaking because I happen to be the only one, and so I have the responsibility to be a voice. But that also comes with the very problematic responsibility of being the voice the people hear.

So if I say something wrong it’s attributed to everyone. But also I’m drawn into conversations that don’t reflect the fact that I’m the most qualified person running for office. I have a really good record. I have been an executive, I’ve been a political leader, I’ve been a civic leader. I’ve gotten good stuff done, and sometimes I am only the black candidate. So anyone else who gets something done, they get credit for that.

KS: Is that the same thing with gender? With gender obviously there’s been so many conversations, like right now, every time I open my thing there’s another sexual harassment lawsuit going on.

The challenge with gender, my opponent in the primary is a woman so the gender piece plays a little less in that, except to the extent that …

HR: Except who’s a better woman.

KS: I’m a better woman.

Exactly, and that there are some incredibly banal conversations held about us, where the men running on the Republican side are treated as individuals fully capable of conversations and …

HR: You guys are just the women.

We’re women, and we have the same first name, so we’re interchange … well, not interchangeable, but we certainly are not held always …

HR: You know, there’s a lot of press about Black Stacey and White Stacey.


KS: What?

HR: Yeah.

KS: What?

HR: Yeah, Black Stacey and White Stacey

Yes. My opponent is Stacey as well. But that’s my point, it is incredibly reductive and we don’t have a lot of conversations about …

HR: It’s interesting, as Black Stacey …

Yes, I am Black Stacey.

HR: You are, and delightedly so, you are seen as a spokesperson for all African Americans.


HR: Hard to imagine that White Stacey is seen as a spokesperson for all white people. Doesn’t happen that way.

KS: But when she gets to the general election she might be.

HR: So it’s kind of the extra burden of leadership, in a way.

KS: Yeah, but when she gets to the general she’ll be the spokesperson for women. You know what I mean? Or you will be, whichever one of you has to also take on that. I’ve always noticed that standards only apply when they’re talking about people of color or women, always.

I always talk about that idea is when they have all these all-male boards and then you say, “Why don’t you have a more diverse board?” They’re like, “We have standards.” I’m like, “You didn’t when you selected those terrible men who are running blank company.” But that’s the only time they bring up the word, which is fascinating to me.

But again, I will ask, sort of as, do you feel like there is an important gender discussion to be going on? Is that a small thing for you to be the first woman governor?

Absolutely. I think …

KS: Same thing with Hillary Clinton, if she had won it would have been a big deal.

Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s important to note there’s a complicating factor. There’s a race conversation, there’s a gender conversation, and then there’s a black woman conversation. Because black women have a completely separate set of issues that we’ve got to deal with, too. It’s true for a lot of women of color, but it’s most acute for black woman. I had to have a conversation with a reporter once, because he called me “angry” in his story.

HR: Not “hostile”? I get “hostile” a lot. What do you get?

See, what I told him, he could use “outraged,” he could use anything else, but you don’t get to call me “angry.”

HR: I get “charming.”

Of course you do. But there’s language that we use for women, there’s specific language that you cannot use for black women. We have our own lexicon of things that you cannot say or that we cannot do.

HR: Or ways that you cannot behave.


KS: You don’t get to have the same umbrage.

I don’t.

HR: … as other people do.

But to the larger question, yes, being women, I think Stacey Evans is doing an important job too by running. I intend to win, but I think either of us will face a phalanx of issues and gendered conversations. But I want to make sure what people think about is that it’s different running as a white woman than running as a black woman. That’s not right. It’s not easy, but it’s also not a reason not to do it. So one of the conversations I like to have is that regardless of what happens, we’re changing the face of what leadership looks like in Georgia, and that’s an important piece.

HR: It seems clear that regardless of what happens you’re going to be a voice in the Democratic party for many, many years to come.

As long as people will listen, and sometimes when they don’t.

KS: So when you think about the Democratic party going forward, and all parties — because it feels like the Republican party is just fracturing beyond belief, even though they’re in power. Like, completely fractured. Do you imagine a complete changing of the party system? I know everyone talks about this but it kind of feels a little, maybe not, maybe it’s happened before.

Parties are shorthand for the principles we hold to be true. The reason America’s really only ever sustained two parties is that we tend to be very binary in how we talk about who we are. Now, within that we will fight about who owns what part of the, our half of the binary. But that’s just the way we are.

I think that parties always recast what they believe and evolve in their basic premises, but do I believe that we’re suddenly going to have a parliamentary style system with 115 parties? No. I think that we will remain by and large a two-party system where the two parties have no idea who’s there.

HR: Do you think that part of the cynicism of the people around this is connected to the fact that people don’t believe that the parties represent them? I was interested in a recent Essence Magazine poll. African American women have traditionally been the most loyal Democrats ever. I think Hillary Clinton got 95 percent of African American women votes, the highest of any population.

KS: I think that was in …

HR: But there was a recent poll that said that African American women are down to 74 percent of support for the Democratic party, from something like 86 percent just a year ago. That increasingly people are feeling like the party’s not speaking to them. It’s not that they’re moving to Republicans.


HR: And so to Kara’s point, do you have to have an alternative system, or is it just that we’re not speaking in a way that people need to hear?

It’s not that we need a different system.

HR: Or not doing anything that they care about?

We need to do things they care about, that’s how you engender loyalty, that’s how you engender engagement. You actually speak a language that reflects their needs, and you do something. Democrats have not always done the things we say we’re going to do, in part because we never win, because we don’t bother talking to everyone. My point is that we have to truly be the big-tent party we’ve always said we were.

But that means under the tent you’re going to have the Bernie folks, and you’re going to have the Hillary folks, and you’re going to have the Obama folks, and you’re going to have the none-of-the-above folks. That’s okay. My campaign actually is comprised of folks from every faction of the Democratic universe, intentionally. Because I cannot win this without building a coalition. Democrats cannot win without coalition building. But what we have to do is value every member of the coalition, and that’s what black women are responding to. That we do not always feel valued because we are not part of the conversation in leadership. We’re not part of the investment. We’re not part of the …

HR: You’re taken advantage of as the base.

Exactly, because it’s not a base if you can’t count on it.

KS: As opposed to the Trump base, it’s not an angry, raging base.


KS: It’s just, “Ugh.”

It’s very pragmatic.

KS: And also like, “I’m just not going …”

HR: Georgia has a significant young population.

We do.

HR: Which is somewhat unique. So I find it interesting that among 18- to 21-year-olds who register to vote for the first time, 35 percent of them register as Independents. That means they’re up for grabs.

I wouldn’t say they’re up for grabs. I think it reflects the fact that they don’t know what the parties mean.

KS: That’s right.

Their political behavior tends to signal that they’re mostly Democrats, but they’re not going to call themselves something that doesn’t reflect who they are and doesn’t reflect their values. Which is why it is so critical for Democratic candidates who have progressive values to talk about those values consistently, to never sway from those values.

Which is not the same as, “I can’t work with you.” It simply means you know where I’m starting out. Here are the principles I stand on. Here’s how I’m going to filter information. Here’s the goal I have for you. A good political leader knows how to get everyone to go there with him or her, and a great political leader can get everyone to go there and makes them all think it was their idea before they got there.

KS: And on that note, Stacey, you’re so happy. That was the most pleasant political conversation I’ve had.

HR: That is pretty amazing.

KS: I didn’t have to listen to some dumb Trump thing, thank God.

HR: The fact that you’re a southern Democrat, too, is fascinating.

KS: I know. Stacey, good luck.

Thank you.

KS: It was great talking to you. Thanks for coming on the show and thank you Hilary again for bracing political discussion. We’ll have another one next week.


Two years after going public, Square is now worth more than Twitter

Jack Dorsey’s payments company has edged past Jack Dorsey’s tweeting company.

Jack Dorsey’s “other” company, Square, is now worth more than Twitter. As of this afternoon, the mobile payments firm had a market value of $16.5 billion — more than a billion dollars above Twitter’s market cap, according to FactSet.

Dorsey, who founded Square in 2009 after leaving Twitter, returned as Twitter’s CEO about two years ago — right around the time he took Square public. Dorsey remains CEO of both, which ranges from impressive to controversial depending on the day.

Since its IPO, Square’s valuation has grown about four times to nearly $17 billion today. At a $15.3 billion market cap, Twitter is worth nearly 40 percent less than it was on the close of its first trading day about five years ago.

Square stock surged over 4 percent today after an analyst upgrade. Square has thrived thanks to its strong payment business that processed $50 billion in credit card transactions last year. Twitter, meanwhile, is struggling to grow its audience.

Neither company is profitable, though Square had a smaller loss than Twitter last quarter.


Women in tech see today’s Stitch Fix IPO as a milestone

Founder and CEO Katrina Lake is the first woman to take an internet company public this year.

On the day Stitch Fix publicly filed paperwork for its long-awaited IPO, Glossier CEO Emily Weiss had a simple message for the company’s 34-year-old founder and chief executive, Katrina Lake.

So too did Rent the Runway’s co-founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman.

The Stitch Fix and Katrina Lake success story — building a nearly $1 billion revenue business with profitability in less than six years — has impressed people all across the tech and retail worlds. But today’s IPO milestone has added meaning for some female founder-CEOs of internet companies who know first-hand the obstacles women still face in an industry dominated by male investors and CEOs.

“I want her to have a huge positive outcome because it does something really important for female entrepreneurs and, specifically, founder-CEOs,” Rent the Runway’s Hyman told Recode in an interview on Thursday. “I want her to have this success because we work in an industry where pattern recognition is still the name of game. So the more people like Katrina — and hopefully people like myself — who deliver results, the more other women are going to get opportunities.”

The Stitch Fix IPO is the first public offering this year of an internet company run by a woman. It also appears to mark the first time a female founder-CEO has taken a consumer internet company public since Care.com started trading on the New York Stock Exchange nearly four years ago.

“I admire Katrina not just because she is a female founder-CEO who has built a huge and impactful business in a very short amount of time, but also because she has done it in a very capital-efficient way,” Shan-Lyn Ma, the co-founder and CEO of the online wedding registry startup Zola, wrote in an email to Recode. “It shows us all that there is an alternative path to an IPO than the typical ‘burn money to buy growth’ path to IPO.”

That view was echoed by Eurie Kim, a partner at Forerunner Ventures, who was not an investor in Stitch Fix but who has followed the company closely.

“What’s most notable about the story is that Katrina only raised $42 million and was able to lead the business to profitability early, all the while growing revenues at record pace,” Kim said in an email. “That is a true success story that I think will certainly motivate founders, specifically female founders, to take the leap in bringing their ideas to life and be even more ambitious about the full potential that can be achieved with visionary leadership and disciplined execution.”

Lake founded Stitch Fix in 2011 with a new retail model of bringing a personalized shopping experience into the homes of women who didn’t have access to a wide range of fashion options near them or didn’t have the time to shop around. It resonated big-time and, today, the company has around two million active customers.

Stitch Fix’s early investors have also credited Lake with having the vision and capability to hire high-level talent into important roles early on. The company’s current management team includes top executives from Netflix, Walmart and Nike who all joined Stitch Fix back in either 2012 or 2013.

“[T]he thing that leads to really big home runs are the entrepreneurs that have the audacity and capability to go recruit high to build a team,” Bill Gurley, the Benchmark venture capitalist who sits on Stitch Fix’s board of directors, told Recode in 2015. “You’ll hear entrepreneurs say they want to hire people who are smarter than they are, but some of them are intimidated and some of them just can’t close.”

The path forward as a public company will come with more obstacles, though. Stitch Fix priced its IPO at $15 a share on Thursday night, well below its target of $18 to $20. It opened up trading on Friday at $16.90 a share, giving it a market value of $1.6 billion.

Potential public-market investors reportedly had questions about the company’s decelerating growth and why it needs to employ so many stylists if its algorithms are supposed to be a styling differentiator.

“I think there’s always a learning process that public markets and investors will have,” Hyman said on Thursday, before the IPO price was set. “But I hope that the Stitch Fix story, wherever it starts on Day Zero, continues to go up to the right over the next 18 months as she educates the market and they see how great a business she has built.”


Recode Daily: It’s suddenly sale season for digital media companies

Plus, this week it’s Comcast that wants to buy part of 21st Century Fox, Williams-Sonoma buys an AR startup for its shopping experiences, and wearable books.

It’s sale season for digital media companies: Univision is selling a minority stake in the Gawker Media sites it bought via bankruptcy auction last year. Univision wants to keep control of what is now called Fusion Media Group; it’s looking for up to $200 million for its sites, which include Deadspin, Gizmodo, and Jezebel, plus the Onion and Fusion TV. And Mashable, which has been for sale forever, is going to sell to Ziff Davis for $50 million; in 2016, investors thought it was worth $250 million. [Peter Kafka / Recode]

Meanwhile Axios, the media company launched by former Politico leaders a year ago, has raised $20 million. The company had previously raised $10 million; plans to launch a paywall have been pushed back. But two other high-profile digital media companies — BuzzFeed and Vice — are on track to miss their revenue targets for this year, signaling turbulence in the online ad business. [Ben Mullin / Wall Street Journal]

Last week, we heard Disney was talking to 21st Century Fox about a Big Media Deal; this week, it’s Comcast and Fox. Comcast wants to buy parts of Rupert Murdoch’s international media empire — especially its Sky and Star businesses. But it will have to wait in line: The pending court fight ahead of the AT&T-Time Warner merger will make that deal the bellwether for all future media mergers. And Trump is still a factor.[Edmund Lee / Recode]

Elon Musk showed off Tesla’s new semi-truck. He says production will start in 2019. [Johana Bhuiyan / Recode]

Williams-Sonoma has developed a taste for augmented reality in its shopping experiences, and it’s buying an AR startup called Outwardfor $112 million in cash, It’s Williams-Sonoma company’s first technology acquisition since Laura Alber became CEO in 2010. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

Many were skeptical — and even creeped out — when Amazon launched its Amazon Key service just last month. Now security researchers have already found a flaw in a critical safeguard of the service that lets Amazon delivery people into customers’ homes. A simple program from any computer could disable the internet-enabled camera that is supposed to monitor in-home deliveries, potentially enabling crooks access without being detected. [Andy Greenberg / Wired]

Apple’s first-ever vice president of diversity and inclusion is leaving the company after six months in the position. Denise Young Smith, who was previously Apple’s worldwide head of human resources for three years, will be an executive in residence at Cornell starting in January; she will be replaced at Apple by Christie Smith, who spent 17 years as a principal at Deloitte. Apple released its latest diversity report earlier this month. [Megan Rose Dickey / TechCrunch]

Top stories from Recode

Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina Lake is the only woman to lead a tech IPO this year.

Fewer than 8 percent of all U.S. IPOs this year were led by women.

Facebook will livestream 47 college basketball games this season.

Facebook is paying for the streams, which will only be available on Facebook.

The more tech in your job, the more money you make A wider range of jobs requires more tech savvy than ever.

Alibaba was selling counterfeit Brooklyn Nets gear even as its co-founder was buying a stake in the team.

Fake Nets apparel was readily available on the Taobao shopping site.

Will we ever stop using passwords?

On the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, 1Password’s Defender Against the Dark Arts (his real title!) answers your questions about security and password management.

This is cool

In case there’s not a cereal box nearby, you can always read your T-shirt.


Will we ever stop using passwords?

1Password’s Jeffrey Goldberg answers your questions about security and password management on Too Embarrassed to Ask.

On the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Kara Swisher and Lauren Goode spoke to Jeffrey Goldberg, 1Password’s Defender Against the Dark Arts — and yes, that is his real title. Password managers like 1Password create hard-to-guess passwords for you to use all around the web, remembering them so you don’t have to.

Goldberg answered your questions about the future of passwords and password management, including the big one: Are passwords here to stay? Or are we going to come up with something better?

“When I first started worrying about the password problem, I and some other people came up with various schemes and we thought we were going to more or less eliminate passwords, for the most part, within the next five years,” Goldberg said. “That was in the mid-90s. Since then, I’ve seen proposals to eliminate passwords come and go.”

You can listen to the new podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Of course, a lot of people might expect fingerprint sensors like those found on many smartphones, and face scanners like the one on the new iPhone X, could do away with secret strings of numbers and letters. But Goldberg isn’t so sure that those are a good idea for protecting online accounts like your email and bank records.

“Consider what happens when a server is breached and you’re told you have to change your password,” he said. “You’ve got to change your password for that service, and every other service where you’ve re-used that same password. Changing your fingerprint is a little bit harder.”

“I’m not saying there isn’t a place for biometrics,” he added. “Used for local authentication, they’re actually really good. But a fingerprint or your face are not secret. They’re really just another form of your mother’s maiden name. They’re things that maybe not everybody has access to, but they’re not designed to be secret, like a password.”

Goldberg stressed that 1Password does not know or track what sites its users visit, or how often they visit them. That’s a big difference from those “Sign in with Facebook” buttons you see peppered across the web, commonly referred to as “single sign-ons,” he said.

“One of the difficulties with those is you are letting Facebook or Google or whatever service you’re using know exactly when you’re signing into what,” Goldberg said. “That might be fine for some people. But generally, the security technology community cares deeply about privacy, and so we tend not to push for systems that would be inherently non-private.”

Have questions about passwords that we didn’t get to in this episode? Tweet them to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed, or email them to TooEmbarrassed@recode.net.

Be sure to follow @LaurenGoode, @KaraSwisher and @Recode to be alerted when we’re looking for questions about a specific topic.

If you like this show, you should also check out our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara and Lauren. Tune in next Friday for another episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask!


Stitch Fix’s Katrina Lake is the only woman to lead a tech IPO this year

Fewer than 8 percent of all U.S. IPOs this year were led by women.

In 2017, a woman-led IPO is still rare. In tech, it’s nearly nonexistent.

That makes Katrina Lake — the founder and CEO taking Stitch Fix public today — especially notable. Stitch Fix is an online retailer that provides personalized styling services.

Fewer than 8 percent of all U.S. public market debuts so far this year were led by women, up from about 7 percent last year, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. As low as that is, it’s still markedly higher than most previous years.

Stitch Fix is so far the only tech IPO led by a woman this year. The other 11 IPOs led by women in 2017 are predominantly pharmaceutical companies.

The last tech IPO piloted by a woman was BlackLine in 2016, an enterprise software company founded and helmed by Therese Tucker.

From 2000 to 2015, an average of only 4.2 percent of U.S. IPOs were led by women, according to data from sociologist Martin Kenney and economist Donald Patton at the University of California, Davis.

Just 6.4 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women. Gender inequality is particularly acute in tech, which suffers from a lack of female representation up the supply chain.


Full transcript: Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt on Recode Decode

“If we’re not vigilant about the rights that we have and the privilege we enjoy, we shouldn’t expect to keep them.”

On this episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, talks about how the century-old nonprofit is evolving to fight antisemitism and other forms of extremism in the digital age.

You can read some of the highlights here, or listen to the entire interview in the audio player below. We’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Kara Swisher: Recode Radio presents Recode Decode, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast network.

Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode. You’re listening to Recode Decode, a podcast about tech and media’s key players, big ideas and how they’re changing the world we live in. You can find more episodes of Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to your podcast. Or just visit Recode.net/podcasts for more.

Today in the red chair is Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. He’s also a social entrepreneur and previously worked in the Clinton and Obama White Houses. Jonathan, welcome to Recode Decode.

Jonathan Greenblatt: Thank you for having me.

No problem. When we talk in the beginning, I want to get your background because you’re also a techy. You’re also a techy. Which is critically important, I think, in your job today. So why don’t we start talking about that, your background a little bit and how you got to the Anti-Defamation League, and then tell us sort of what your charge is right now.

Sure. So, by way of background, I did my undergrad at Tufts and I got my MBA at the Kellogg School of Management. And in between, I worked actually in government. I worked at the Commerce Department in the early ’90s and then I worked at the White House at the National Economic Council.

And why did you do that?

I joined the Clinton campaign when he was running for president.

First Clinton one.

Yeah. I was a work study student at Tufts and he had this idea of young people serving in their community to pay their loans and I thought that was a much better idea than mopping floors and busing tables that I was doing. And so I moved down to Arkansas after I graduated and worked for Governor Clinton.

Wow. Just did that, just moved.

I believed I wanted to fight the good fight.

Right. And so you did that and then it took you to …

He won and I came up to D.C. and I did international economics for five years at the Commerce Department. It was at the time when NAFTA was getting passed, the GATT became the WTO, Hong Kong transitioned over to China, APEC, so it was a time when international trade was really popping. Great time to be working on those issues. And then we tried to understand where’s the economy going. And I worked for a guy named Ira Magaziner at the White House.

Mr. Healthcare.

Exactly. Who then looked at trade issues. And what I saw was, tech was really growing. So we would go out to the Valley to try to understand these little new companies like eBay, Yahoo, Netscape.

Pierre had gone to Tufts.

Exactly. And the long and short of this is, I saw those people were changing the world and I wanted to be a part of that, but I didn’t …

So this was what year?

This was ’95, ’96.

You sure? You were there when I was … there’s not too many people that early.

And I remember when Amazon went out and I remember when Netscape launched. I was on the team at the Commerce Department that piloted Mosaic, the Mosaic browser in ’93, ’94. So I wanted to get into tech. Didn’t know anything about it really other than …

So when you went out there, you saw how like, “Wow, this is cool.” You understood.

Yeah. I remember reading like Peter Schwartz’s “The Long Boom” article in Wired way back when. And I just thought this was the future.

But here you are in Washington.

It’s funny how I came back. So I went and got an MBA and then I went out and I wanted to go to a pre-IPO company that would change the world and I found this little business in Los Angeles called Realtor.com.

How did you settle on Realtor.com?

I was looking for a business that was in A) a really big market: Real estate’s a trillion dollars. B) Had a great management team, and they came from a bunch of really good companies. C) Had great venture, because I figured that was a proxy for figuring out what company would succeed and John Doerr was on the board. And Mary Meeker was also on the board. She was very involved with it. And then last, it had competitive advantage. I didn’t know anything about real estate, I didn’t own a thing, but they had a deal with the National Association of Realtors and I knew coming from D.C. that alliance would probably be very powerful.

Which, of course, it’s interesting you picked all the safe choices in tech like the company that is now as big as Airbnb, which had none of these advantages, over one of the others.

Right. It’s really internet 1.0 where you’re taking linear business models and sort of just putting it on the web.

Right. Absolutely. So you worked in Los Angeles, Realtor.com.

Did that, and they hired me as an assistant product manager. The lowest you could be.

What’s that mean? What’d you do?

I was responsible basically for display ads.


So I was responsible for figuring out …

Which was important on that particular …

Huge. Their business model was, aggregate all of the MLS listings on the web. So you aggregate them, you normalize them so a consumer could search for real estate from anywhere in the country.

Which was a big deal.

Huge. It wasn’t possible before. And they monetized it by selling ads to realtors. And so that’s what I did.

Or home loans or whatever.

Yeah. Well, I basically focused on realtors, but, yeah. Then as it grew we did apartments, we did the financing side, etc.


And it was a great gig and I did it for a few years. The company went public, and grew big, and then had some issues, and it went a little south. I learned I was pretty good at shipping software. I learned I was pretty good at leading a team.

Were you technical at all? Did you have any technical …

No, but you learn. You sit with engineers and you write like a technical specifications document and you learn how to, again, do software.

Right. And so why did you leave our internet cabal?

What happened was, again I learned I was pretty good at driving product, but I was not … I missed public service. Now we were working for Wall Street shareholders — who were anonymous — and I still wanted to change the world.

And you didn’t want to go to another internet company. Google had just gotten started then, that might have been a good choice for you.

I remember when it got started.

Yeah, in ’99.

What happened was my roommate from business school came to me with an idea for a business. This thing called Ethos Water, that became Ethos Water. So basically he had this idea of, could we take bottled water — which is a $15 billion category in the U.S. — and use part of the profits to help children around the world get clean water. A billion people lack clean drinking water. And he came from McKinsey, he knew a lot about strategy. A very smart, good person. I was being very operational. At that point, I was running all consumer products for Realtor. So I wanted to do something that was still operational, but more socially responsible.

So water it is.

I left Realtor and we started the business together. So we started Ethos Water out of my house here in LA — or we’re in D.C., I suppose — and we bootstrapped it because no one wanted to [invest]. This is now 2002. Bubble had burst, things were being re-sorted out, and no one wanted to invest in a bottled water company.

Right. Right.

So we bootstrapped it and we … eventually a few of my friends gave us money. It was like, I think they didn’t want to see my wife and I get a divorce. It was like therapy money.

But Ethos got a lot of traction, correct?

It certainly did. And eventually we had that young entrepreneur who started eBay. I met him at TED. I met Pierre at TED 2003 or 2004, and he invested. He was our first big investor. And eventually got it to a really nice size and then we sold it to Starbucks. And then I went to work for Howard Schultz as the Vice President for Global Consumer Products.

So you’ll be in the Schultz administration? We’ll talk about that in a little bit.

Not funny.

I love how he pretends.


“Oh, no, Kara. I’m good.”

More about that later.

Good at lying.

Yeah, so I went to work for Howard. Integrated the business, launched our product on their much larger retail platform. Howard asked me to serve on the board of the Starbucks Foundation because now he had millions in free cashflow to distribute to projects all over the world. Great gig. Enjoyed it. My wife and I had two kids at the time, were back in LA. I was in Seattle, which was not easy.

You moved to Seattle? Oh, so you … I was just in Seattle the other day.

It’s a great town.

Yeah, it is. It’s gotten even better.

It’s really remarkable what’s happened to it. So I went back to LA. I got recruited to run a little magazine business called Good Magazine.

Another interesting entrepreneurial effort.

Exactly. Socially responsible. That was sort of going south. I mean, the print business is not a great business. It wasn’t back then either. And I invested heavy in digital, I invested heavily in online video.

So you’re the publisher?

Essentially CEO. Yeah, like publisher. And that was a great run. And then we had an idea that sort of came out of that, which is all these young people wanted to … They said, “Well, I read your magazine,” or, “I drank your water. Now what?” We had this idea of, could we aggregate volunteer listings? Because it turns out volunteer databases are a lot like MLS. Offline, not standardized, fragmented.

So I pitched an idea at the Googleplex. This was in late 2008, I believe. And I said, “Why don’t we do for volunteer listings what Realtor did for real estate?” And they got excited about it. And so it was a 20 percent project. A bunch of engineers helped me to do it. They invested, and some big companies … P&G put money in, Gap put money in, and we built this thing called All For Good, which was the largest aggregation of volunteer listings on the internet.

And there had been volunteer listing sites.

Sure, there’s VolunteerMatch, Idealist, there were a few others, but they were all, again, not standardized.


So you have to go to multiple places. What we did, we used data feeds and then we reached out and sort of scraped and brought all the listings in one place. And that essentially became this really big technology architecture.

The other innovation that we had at the time was we used APIs. So this was like late ’08, early ’09, social was really beginning to take off and so the innovation was, why would you go to VolunteerMatch.org? You could use APIs and integrate the listings right into your Facebook feed. Right into whatever kind of site you were using.

Right. Right. Which you all did. And so you were working on that …

And then eventually that grew to a nice size and then that got acquired by Points of Light. You know, the group that President Bush started. Because they have thousands of volunteer centers across the country, they didn’t have a technology architecture. So now it’s being used by all of the managed listings.

Managed listings?

So I had a few of those and they all …

So you did all these different entrepreneurial things. So here you are wandering around from one …

And then I got a call in 2011 somewhere from the West Wing. So President Obama had created this Office of …

The show or the person?

Exactly. President Bartlet called me.

I wish there was a President Bartlet right now.

How we miss him.

How we miss President Bartlet. Let’s take a moment. Especially CJ. All right. So you get a call and you were …

He created this Office of Social Innovation. This really talented woman Sonal Shah, an economist who started it, had left. And he wanted this office, which was supposed to be focused on using innovation to accelerate economic recovery, boost job creation. He wanted someone who’d created jobs, contributed economic recovery to run it.

So, look, I mean I honestly I wasn’t an Obama person, but you get a call from the President, you take it. And I believe in … It’s a call to service. So we came out, my wife and my three kids, and we decided I would do this. So I spent three-and-a-half years working for President Obama and running that office.

So how many people did you have in it? Because I’m assuming it’s not staffed right now at all.

I think it has become … I think it’s become the Office of American Innovation.

Oh, Chris Liddell?

No, that’s Jared.

Okay, that’s Jared. Okay.

It’s the best kind of innovation. It’s American innovation. As opposed to all the other kinds. Yeah, so I probably had half a dozen to 10 people would wax and wane with fellows and details …

Sure. And so what were your initiatives that you worked on?

We did three big things. So No. 1, we tried to find new ways to put people to work. So I was responsible for the national service agenda. Service as a strategy to put people back to work. So like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, I was responsible for all those programs and expanding them, because the budget was frozen. So we created new programs like FEMA Corps to help with disaster relief and Justice Corps to help with issues on the immigration front, actually.

Secondly, I did all the public-private partnerships for the president. So I worked on Joining Forces, helped set up My Brother’s Keeper, all these different initiatives that tried to find ways you can bring philanthropy and business together to achieve the public interest.

And then thirdly, I worked on the impact investing, or Social Entrepreneurship Agenda. So I worked on boring things like tax policy, ERISA reform, trying to move big swaths of capital from offline — like, passively handled by fund managers in New York — into the economy. And so how we get foundations that have $800 billion …

And they do. They only use VCs or whatever.

Exactly. How to make it easier for foundations to put money into jobs that we’re creating … into companies creating jobs. How do we make it easier for pension funds to put their money into firms that are doing like renewables or socially responsible …

So they can find them and invest in them. And there’s funds like that on Wall Street.

More and more. More and more. And so I helped launch the first social impact bonds in the government, launched all the kinds of new programs to create novel financial instruments that used the capital markets more effectively.

So that we could invest in social good, presumably.

That’s right. So social good you got to measure. It’s got a dry financial return. But you could also achieve kind of broader public benefit.

Which is attractive to millennials. That’s one of the many polls they do — one of the endless polls on millennials — that is one thing that sticks out.

It’s unbelievable. So millennials vote with their wallets. And now big firms like BlackRock and Goldman Cap Group and all these other large-scale investment houses are building funds and firms specifically to take advantage of how millennials want to deploy their dollars.

Right, and companies that reflect those values. Interesting. It’s interesting how Amazon’s going around trying to figure out where they’re going to be. I suspect they will not be somewhere that is less than … you know, it’ll be interesting …

They’re figuring it out. They historically haven’t been great at it, but they hired a really effective executive from Business for Social Responsibility, BSR, and they’re now doing interesting stuff on the sustainability front.

Yeah. Absolutely. But I’m thinking of where they’re locating even their facilities that they’re going to pick.

They have to think about all of these issues.

It’ll matter how a state behaves, I think, in a lot of ways. It’ll be interesting.

It’ll matter deeply.

That’s where economic growth will happen.

Economic growth will happen there. They’ll be able to commit to things like public transportation or better infrastructure. Lots of really interesting things.

Yeah, so how did you get to the ADL? Because this is … and what a time to get there.

It’s a funny story. So I was giving a speech in Massachusetts to a room full of university chief investment officers, which is sort of my crowd. How do we get them, again, to deploy their dollars?

This was when you were in the Obama administration?

And I got a voicemail from a headhunter. It was a headhunter who said, “Hi, my name is so-and-so. I’m from this firm. The ADL, their longtime chief executive, Abe Foxman, is retiring. We got your name. Would you be interested? Please give me a call back or if you would know someone, please call back.”

So I just get a lot of calls from headhunters, like I think a lot of people in these public-facing jobs at the White House. I don’t respond to most of them, but I responded. I called my wife, actually, when I got this call because two things. No. 1, I didn’t explain this, but when I was a senior at Tufts, I interned at the ADL office in Boston. My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor from Germany. The year before, while studying abroad, I’d visited the town where he was from. No Jews there anymore.

I came back to Tufts and said, “I want to do something.” I heard about this organization, the Anti-Defamation League. Talked my way into an internship. And then 10 years later when I moved out to LA, I didn’t really know anyone. I learned that a woman I had worked for at that Boston office had moved to the Los Angeles ADL office. So I called her and … She’s a Jewish mother, basically. She’s a Jewish mother. So you call a Jewish mother, you say, “I just moved to town.” She wants to …

Yeah, help you.

Yeah, help you. So she wants to feed you because she’s certain I’m emaciated because I’m living alone. And then she wants to set me up on a date. And so she did that. She set me up on a blind date, this woman, with one of the people who worked at the ADL office. And 17, 18 years later, my wife and I are still married.


So my wife worked there for seven years.

You got your wife through the ADL, you did an internship, and now your job.

So I got that call and I called my wife. I’m like, “Can you believe this? Abe Foxman’s retiring, they call me.” My wife said, “Oh, that would be a great job.” I said, “Oh, I think that would be a terrible job. You have to fight Nazis, and anti-Semites, and racists.” No. 2, I told her, “We’re going home to LA.” The plan was to do this then go back to California. It’d be a waste of my time. And thirdly, I also thought, Kara, I’m not qualified for the job. Look, I’ve never … I’m not a lawyer, I’m an MBA.

Right, which is a critical part of ADL.

Crucial. I don’t know anything about the civil rights agenda. I’ve never run a nonprofit organization. I’ve never worked in the Jewish community. Like I’m certainly not …

You’re perfect.

Yeah, exactly. So I thought, “She certainly is not really interested in me.” But you know what? What I thought was, “You know what, I’ll go talk to this woman — not because I want the job, because I don’t. I’m not even qualified. But the next CEO of ADL” — because I knew how important the organization was — “should be thinking about search, and social, and tech, and innovation, and income, and business.”

Because that’s what the Nazis are using.

That’s where the world was going. That’s right. So I took the interview on a lark think that, “Well, I can help shape the search and that will be my contribution.” And one thing led to another and I’m here.

But it’s interesting, because the ADL is such a storied organization. It feel like, even if this isn’t where I thought I would be, it’s a privilege to be here every day. And the issues matter more now.

Yeah. You sort of hit the timing here. Your timing is perfection, in a horrible way. So you took this job and you … Explain what the ADL does, for those that don’t know. There’s a number of organizations like it, but it’s a unique and important organization.

It is unique. So the ADL was founded in 1913 around the time that Leo Frank was lynched outside of Atlanta. It’s a famous story. Jewish man falsely accused of a crime, found guilty, sentenced to death, the governor commutes his sentence — because it clearly was a sham trial — to life imprisonment, the mob is so enraged they hang him from a tree. And the ADL was founded at that time when anti-Semitism is prevalent along with racism etc. And the founders create this organization and in their own words, they write a mission statement that the organization will “work to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all.”

So that’s a very interesting mission statement, because 100 years ago, the Jews — again, not only was there pervasive anti-Semitism, quotas kept them out of many universities, customs kept them out of many professions …

They had to hide away.

Covenants didn’t let them live in many places, so they didn’t really have any of the political power, economic resources the community has today. They don’t really have a leg to stand on. So it was a bold proposition that they would be out for themselves, but also justice and fair treatment to all. Like again, based on … Their future was very uncertain. They were very weak. But they had this audacious — frankly it’s a very Jewish — idea, “We’ll fight for ourselves, but also fight for others.”

So over the next 100 years, they tore down a lot of those quotas, exposed a lot of those practices, they made America a better place for the Jewish community. And in the early ’50s, like in ’52, they filed an amicus brief in Brown v. Board of Education. Which was a bold, controversial thing to do. And they literally put people on those buses, the Freedom Rider buses, and they marched with Dr. King. And they stood up for the LGBTQ community in the ’80s. And I’ve heard these stories when people were afraid that gay men, you could catch AIDS from someone sneezing on you. The ADL stood up for them. And they stood up for immigrants in the ’50s. I could go on and on. They have a remarkable history.

Today, basically, the work continues to be inspired by that mission: Fighting for the Jewish community and for others. The ADL does three things: Advocacy, education and law enforcement. Advocacy is working to change laws through the courts or through Congress. Lobbying, filing amicus briefs, litigating to a degree.

So there’s strategic issues around that where you place your …

Exactly. Around protecting minorities, preserving the First Amendment.

No. 2, education. Long ago, they realized you can’t litigate or lobby your way out of hate. You have to change hearts and minds. Today, the ADL is one of the largest providers in the United States of anti-bias, anti-bullying, anti-hate content in schools. Our materials reach more than a million-and-a-half children every year. We literally cannot keep up with the demand.

No. 3, we work with law enforcement. We both help them investigate hate crimes …

Right, and focus on who needs to be focused on.

Focus. We have a whole research apparatus, our Center on Extremism focuses on researching the bad guys and we train police now to deal with hate and how to deal with extremism. We train 15,000 officers every year. More than any other NGO in the country. The FBI has made our training mandatory. The NYPD has made our training mandatory. So basically advocacy, education and law enforcement, those are the three things we do. We have a network of 26 offices across the country, field offices, that are like our channel, that sort of go to market and implement those programs locally in Seattle, or …

And presumably, you work with others like the Southern Poverty Law Center and others to try to chronicle what’s going on.

We work with the SPLC, for example, and the U.S. Holocaust Museum on some of that training for law enforcement and researching the bad guys. I was with Anthony Romero last week in the Bay Area. We work with ACLU a lot on First Amendment cases.

On the education front, we’re constantly partnering with groups like Facing History and working on the ground in school districts.

All right. We’re going to talk about what that means now, then. Here we are. You got here. It’s a really bad time now, all of a sudden. And so we’re going to talk about that and more, including the impact of tech on all of these problematic issues for the American public and the political scene right now, which is making it even worse.

We’re here with Jonathan Greenblatt. He is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League here in D.C. That’s the headquarters there, correct?

No, we’re headquartered in Manhattan.


We have a big office here in D.C.

Excellent. We’re here with Jonathan Greenblatt. He’s the head of the Anti-Defamation League. It is an organization that fights for the rights of those that do not have them.


We’re here with Jonathan Greenblatt. He is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. We’re talking about his background and how he got to this organization. And it’s very entrepreneurial. And it’s very tech-oriented, which is interesting because it’s a critical skill going forward.

Before we get to that, I want to talk about sort of the state of play right now. In the Trump administration, everything seems jacked up in the most horrible way at this point. And I want you to talk about why that is or what’s happening. What has happened in this country where it just seems like you have a lot to do?

Well, I’ll tell you. I mean, as a 501c3, we’re non-political, but I don’t think there’s anything partisan about fighting prejudice. And what we saw in the 2016 campaign was, you saw one particular candidate really stoke up …

Around immigrants.

Around Muslims, Mexicans and immigrants of all variety, issues, if you will, of tolerance and extremism. And we saw a mainstreaming along of sort of white nationalists into the room in a way we had not seen since George Wallace in the ’60s. Of course, George Wallace didn’t win the White House. And indeed, after the election day, in the last two months of 2016, you saw a massive spike in hate crimes and bias incidents directed at Jews, again Muslims, Mexicans and immigrants in general. And it was really very alarming. And this is the data. Again, there’s nothing political in pointing out the fact that that spike happened and it continued in the first half of this year.

We saw in the first half of 2017 a 76 percent increase in bias incidents against Jews compared to the first half of last year. Nearly 1,000 incidents of harassment, vandalism and violence. Just against Jews. When you add in the spike we’ve seen against Muslims and Mexicans, it’s really extremely alarming. So when we talk about, well, why are things jacked up?

It is difficult to explain why the president would choose to focus his Twitter feed more on NFL players demonstrating their First Amendment rights versus white supremacists who literally have murdered several people over the course of this year: An Indian immigrant in Kansas City; two innocent bystanders in Portland, Oregon; an African-American ROTC student right here in the D.C. area. It’s hard to understand how you can equivocate on the unequivocal.

All right. So let’s talk about why that has happened. Obviously it’s the permission, I guess, to do that. Or is it social media or what’s the … Let’s talk about sort of the … You don’t want to blame everything on Twitter, but in a lot of ways it’s created an atmosphere of hatred, really.

Well, let’s be honest. I think, first and foremost, leaders lead. And what gets said at the top trickles down. So I think if we try to understand the causality being ambiguous about calling out what seems to me pretty unambiguous, that creates the conditions in which extremism can really … they can feel emboldened.

Now, social media, Twitter in particular, helps to accelerate and amplify that. And so you see it as a bit of an echo chamber. And whether we want to talk about trolls, or we want to talk about sort of bots and cyborgs, or whatever the causality there, social media has become really this echo chamber where the things we hear from the top really reverberate and they resonate with parts of the community that, again, white supremacists, it isn’t that they haven’t been around, they’ve always been around. They have always been bigots, but they’ve had to literally convene in corn fields in the dead of night like in rural Iowa. Today, they’re out in the open, hiding behind the anonymity of a Reddit or a 4Chan and then using the social media ecosystem to push their memes out into Twitter and to the public.

So talk about how they do this because it’s something … and then I want to talk about how to fight that. How do you fight that or if it’s possible to even fight it? They finally get a voice, is what you’re talking about. The internet was started with the idea that everybody gets a voice now, isn’t this great for democracy? Isn’t this great for all people because there’s been gatekeepers, you know the whole … So talk about their success in using these and what that means.

I think one of the things that’s happened is these platforms like Facebook, like Twitter and many others, have emerged without the kind of filters and the sort of systems, the checks in the systems, that you have in broader parts in media like newspapers like we were talking about before we started taping or broadcast. The fact of the matter is, journalism as an industry has an ethos and people go to school for it. They get trained in it. There is not ethos on social media, right? And that creates the conditions in which you can get your message out very directly to people. And it plays into, again, we all have these cellphones in our hands which connect us directly into, like, the matrix.

So there’s no more breaks. There’s no more filters. That’s a big part of the problem. And they’ve learned. They’ve learned how to exploit that effectively. So we watched this during the 2016 campaign. We watched where — when I say we watched it, our Center on Extremism tracks the right-wing extremists, the left-wing radicals, we track all of them, and we could see things started in 8Chan or 4Chan or Reddit where a lot of these memes actually get developed. And we watched them send them out to particular voices on Twitter or DM them or send them privately, and then those voices consistently would start to propagate this stuff. And then people like the Trump campaign would pick it up and retweet it.

So you could see there was a through line between certain white supremacists and extremist accounts and how things ended up in the public domain. There’s nothing accidental about it, Kara. It was very intentional. It was very deliberate. And so part of the challenge becomes when, again, Twitter and Facebook, let’s be frank, they themselves can’t keep up with the technology. So one of the things we did last year with Google was we exposed the parentheses meme. Do you remember that?

Yes. Explain it for me.

So basically white supremacists wanted to identify Jews because they think the Jews are behind all the evils of the world. So they created this meme where they would put parentheses around the names of Jews to demonstrate how we “echo through history.” By the way, they would put it on Jews or people who they thought were Jewish and they built kind of a plugin for the Chrome browser so that you could — I guess it worked on Firefox, too — so you could pull up a website and if you have the plugin, the plugin would search for names on a webpage. And if a Jewish name showed up from a database or names they had previously identified and entered, it would put the parenthesis around it for you so you could easily identify the Jews in a news story for example. So it would say, “By (((Jake Tapper))).” “By (((Walt Mossberg))).”

So we identified that and we went to Google and we actually also went to Apple and got them to take it out of their stores. The plugin, basically. But I say this because these things get created and Google and Facebook and Twitter, they themselves can’t keep up with it.

They just put it up.

I mean, if you can imagine Facebook has a billion, I think it’s 1.7 billion.

It’s over two.

It’s over two billion members. So the last data I heard was more than 4.5 billion messages across the platform every day. And if you include WhatsApp, I mean the numbers are astounding. There is no way in God’s green Earth, no matter how many customer service reps Mark Zuckerberg hires, he could ever keep up with the torrent of information.

That it’s being perpetrated around. Especially the negative information. Okay. I still think it’s their fault. You know what I mean?

But it is, though, because …

Because I think one of the things they put out is one, they built systems where they didn’t anticipate this.

That’s right.

And two, they act like it’s a benign platform. I’ve been saying this a lot. They act like, “Oh, it’s a benign … it’s only for good.” And they don’t … I’ll never forget some Facebook executives talking about Facebook Live and I said, “When’s the first hate crime on it?” And they were like, “What are you talking about?” And I was like, “You haven’t thought about this? Like maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. Why haven’t you done enough?” You know what I mean? They just …

You and I both know that the Valley — I spent a lot of time in the Valley, so have you — there’s a Libertarian ethos there. A Libertarian ethos just like …

It’s a faux Libertarian. It’s not a really good one.

Well, it may be. Like a Thielian Libertarian ethos, right, where it’s like, “Anything goes, and it’ll be good, and just keep government away, and we’ll innovate our way to utopia.” And we both know that human nature doesn’t exactly necessarily work that way.

And we shouldn’t be surprised that extremists exploit new media. The Nazis did it with “Triumph of the Will” and using film as ways to propagandize. The Soviets did it with Pravda and using print media to kind of influence people. So we shouldn’t be surprised that extremists today try to terrorize and spread their own form of tyranny, to use that term again, through new media. Now with that said …

We shouldn’t be surprised, but they shouldn’t be either.

That’s the point. So the point is that look, for example, white supremacists could, if they chose to, decide to ask for a room in the Grand Hyatt in downtown D.C. But guess what, the manager of the Grand Hyatt’s going to say, “You know what, I don’t think it’s a great idea for me to rent our space to you because I don’t think it’ll send the right message to the rest of my patrons if five people with swastika arm bands walk goose-stepping through the lobby.” So by the same token, it’s fair to say that Facebook and Twitter and Google could do a better job of ensuring that they preserve freedom of speech, but they also protect the safety of all of their users.

They are trying to make inroads now. They realize they have a problem. And I’ll tell you a story. Last year with Twitter, I heard from people … you know, journalists, broadcast and print, who would interview me and then afterwards they would say, “I’m worried about the anti-Semitic abuse being launched at me.” I said, “What do you mean?” So we organized a task force to look at this last year and we pulled some sample Twitter data. We found millions and millions and millions of anti-Semitic messages. Tens of thousands of messages directed specifically at Jewish journalists. And when this story broke, Twitter initially wasn’t willing to listen to us. But if you remember how their M&A talks got derailed last year when Disney pulled back and Salesforce pulled back.

Derailed is a kind way of putting it.


Nobody wanted to buy them.

And part of the reason they said was concern about the liability on the platform. I think in part that was because of the report that we released. And so here’s what happened there. Twitter realized this is no longer a stakeholder issue, it’s actually a shareholder issue. And this is what my own experience in business …

Explain the difference between them.

A stakeholder issue is where a small group of activists expresses a concern and it’s a marginal issue and you deal with it out of the CSR office. It’s kind of nice to have. A shareholder issue is when you deal with it out of the investor relations office and it’s an absolute must because if your share price is going down, that suddenly gets the board’s attention and gets your shareholders’ attention in a different way.

So how do you — when you go out there since you do speak their language, you’ve been working with them — get their attention on this? Because I think this is a really critical issue, that they’re very slow to want to do anything about this. What is the reason for it, from your perspective? Because they see themselves as, again, benign and good people, which they are, not benign but good for sure. I mean, I don’t think they’re sitting there and thinking, “Ah, we’ll just let anything go that’s on my platform.” They’re definitely worried and concerned about it.

Yeah, I think … Look, at an individual level, I’ve been blessed to meet lots of executives. They’re absolutely good people. I think what happens is that when these things grow at a degree of scale, the individual’s kind of desires get overtaken by the board. And so what I think is that these companies now realize they’ve sort of crossed a Rubicon. They realize their size, and their penetration, and all segments of society now has the attention not only of journalists. Is it Farhad who’s been writing about, what did he call, the “Frightful Five” or something like that? He’s used that phrase for a while. Now regulators are looking at it. Aspiring politicians are looking at it. So suddenly it reminds me of the ’90s when they went after Microsoft.

Except in that case it was over monopoly. This is really tarnishing society.

Totally right. At some point, it reaches a critical mass and size that you get attention.

100 percent.

And I think, by the way, that Microsoft, it’s almost like a parable, what happened to them, and I think everyone in the Valley — why Google and Facebook have such huge offices out here. But I think they suddenly have tuned into the fact that they can no longer ignore this problem. I believe they ignored it before because of Libertarian ethos and because they all want user growth. One of the core metrics.

It goes against every user growth …


I talked about this about Twitter is that if they turn off the bullying perfectly, their user growth drops. But it’s already dropping. Because they create an atmosphere that is so vile and poisonous that user growth dies anyway. So it’s really kind of fascinating.

You’re probably right, but if you think about that investor relations deck, every quarter you want to have user growth going in the right direction. So anything that might put the brakes on that concerns an analyst who raises his hand or her hand and say, “Whoa. What’s going on here?”

So flash forward to today. We’ve now found they’re much more willing to work with us. Actually, we mentioned him already twice today, Pierre Omidyar, that I was at South By this past year and announced that we’re opening a new center on technology and society in Silicon Valley. Actually rolling it out next month in November in Palo Alto. Pierre gave us the seed capital to fund this thing. An Iranian American, never involved with ADL, but he cares deeply about free speech. He’s worried about fake news, he’s worried about kind of the cyber hate, so he gave us the seed capital. And the companies realize they’ve got to figure out ways to convene and work together.

I would liken it to sort of child pornography. Even copyright infringement. Where they’ve developed shared strategies …

Or spam. They were fast on that, right? They’re very fast on child pornography. So what is your office going to do out there? What is your goal?

In our first two years of working … When I came on board two years ago, I immediately cranked this up. We created a cyber hate working group. Many of the big companies work with us on it. And we’ve worked on things like terms of use and how to develop our terms of use or terms of service that will keep out … you have to allow for some degree of hate speech. Hate speech is free speech. Like it or not. You can say mean things. But hateful speech is different than harmful speech. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t like Jews,” and then to say, “I want to kill them all.” And it can be a bit of a gray line, I’ll acknowledge, but the First Amendment isn’t supposed to allow for harmful speech.

Or violent speech.

Or violent speech. Yeah. So with that said, just last week we announced we’re creating a … in fact, I’ll tell you a story. You saw this a few weeks ago, there were accounts about how folks were using the ad platforms, I think ProPublica broke this, the ad platforms to target Jews or target blacks.

I was going to ask you about that. Yeah.

So that broke on Thursday. On Friday, the head of Facebook’s policy group was in my office in New York and said, “How do we work together on this? We know we have a problem. What do we do?” Last week, we announced a new initiative under the rubric of this new center, we’re calling it the Problem Solving Lab. Here’s why it’s important. It’s not lawyers, it’s engineers. It’s not policy people, it’s product people.

So I think the way that we will really start to solve this problem is figuring out, again, shared strategies, technical approaches, and we’ve got Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook all convening to participate in this with product people. Because you go to build these solutions. You’re not, again, I think, going to lobby your way out of the problem.

I get that. But again, I want to get to … you’re being nice because you’re working with them. I like that you’re working with them, but why didn’t they … again, Libertarian doesn’t cover it for me. It’s something else that’s at work within the group. Either that or they see themselves as not impactful. I get exhausted by Google execs saying, “We’re such a small company.” You know what I mean?

I know. I know.

You know what I mean? I’m like, “Are you kidding?” Or Facebook news distribution. Everybody gets their news from Facebook and or Twitter and or … their impact, they don’t seem to want to acknowledge their impact.

A Libertarian ethos layered on top of an evolving business model, but let’s be honest, naivety. And whether that’s an intentional naivety like, “I’m going to cover my eyes,” or it’s an unintentional naivety, they don’t realize. But I think this thing has grown to a scale. It’s a bit like a Frankenstein’s monster. They don’t even realize what they’ve created.

And it dawns on them when the president of the company, a Jewish woman who publicly mourned the loss of her husband just a year or two ago suddenly sees literally like anti-Semites using her platform to find other like-minded people who want to kill Jews. I think that was a wake-up call for Sheryl Sandberg. I think it was a wake-up call for Mark Zuckerberg who, a week before, or maybe two weeks before, talked about Rosh Hashanah in a personal post on Facebook that he doesn’t do very often. And again, suddenly their platform’s been hijacked by haters.

So I think they realized that a Libertarian ethos and an uncertain business model are no longer excuses when extremists are running amok. So we’ve been working with Google through their Jigsaw division on their initiative called Perspective. Have you heard about this? So we’ve got the best data sets out there on anti-Semitism and bigotry because we’ve been tracking this stuff literally for a hundred years.

So I think AI and machine learning are important parts of how we tackle this problem. And I’ll give you an example. So I often get, if you look at my Twitter feed, it’s crazy. I’ve got horrible white supremacists tweeting at me, and anti-Israel people tweeting at me, and all kinds of stuff. It’s really great. So people will tweet a … So if I’m walking into Best Buy on a Sunday afternoon and I get tweeted a picture to me of an oven, that might be okay because maybe there’s a sale on Whirlpool ovens in aisle 12 or whatever. But when I’m sitting here in your studio and I get tweeted a picture of two ovens, double ovens, and it says, “Jewish bunk bed” on it, that’s probably not such a nice thing to send to me.

No. I wouldn’t even look at my Twitter if I were you.

Yeah, I don’t look at it very often for this reason. So if you used AI and you saw, “Ah, the person tweeting @Jgreenblatt, his name or whatever, its name is @WhiteGenocide, their twitter bio says, ‘I want to kill all the Jews,’” and you see that they’ve been flagged for messages before, and you see that they have none of the friends in common with me and other followers of me. There are lots of triggers that if we were using AI to effectively in nanoseconds, milliseconds monitor these kinds of things, you could instantly if not solve the problem you could mitigate it dramatically.

Right. We’re going to talk about solutions and what to do and some of the tactics that these extremist groups use with Jonathan Greenblatt. He’s the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. And increasingly, he’s going to have to focus on the tech solutions to these problems.


We’re here with Jonathan Greenblatt. He is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. It’s been a fascinating discussion about how tech companies are dealing with the onslaught of extremism, that extremists are using online tools quite effectively and for organization, for spreading of hatred, spreading of their ethos. Talk about a few things that they do. Like you talked about the parentheses, but talk about some of the more egregious things recently.

Sure. Well, one of the things we’ve seen … we’ve seen different … So No. 1, on Twitter we’ve seen extremists specifically pursue journalists. So it’s a technique. They try to shut people down. They try to push people to self-censor themselves. And they do it by doxxing journalists.

Which is well known.

Which is well known. And so they’ll put up that information, so suddenly — if you’re the head of the ADL, you expect to get harassed on Twitter, but when you’re a freelance journalist writing for GQ, you don’t expect that your personal cellphone is going to start to ring with horrible messages or you’ll receive snail mail to your home saying, “We know where you live,” which is the kind of things that have happened repeatedly to journalists. So one of the techniques is to target journalists. And they did this during the campaign after they would write things about the Trump campaign. And use doxxing and sort of cyber bullying to try to shut them down.

The second thing that we’ve seen them do is really when someone does something questionable, just jam them with all kinds of messages. And I don’t know what the term for this is, but literally people see their Twitter feeds flooded with hateful messages. And they’re using cyborgs and bots to do that. Like no person can … The level of incoming I’m talking about is absolutely paralyzing.

And in terms of communicating with each other, what are the preferred areas? There’s Reddit, obviously.

Yeah. It’s sort of Reddit and 4Chan and 8Chan where they can be a little bit more hidden than on services like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. We’ve also seen them move to services like Telegram and others that are — WhatsApp — that are harder to track, they’re more point to point versus many to many. And, you know, there was a piece in Wired last month that started to talk about this new kind of alt-right internet that they’re attempting to create. Like to recreate many of these services for their own community.

So they can talk … but I think what would have been a more effective thing is they’re not talking to each other, talk to a lot of people.

That’s their idea. So, you know what’s interesting about all of this? So what they’ve really tried to do, and I got to be honest, the campaign and then this presidency has given them a pathway forward to normalize. And this is what I think we need to be most worried about.

I agree.

Yeah, it’s not the Twitter handle @WhiteGenocide — as disgusting and revolting as that might be — it’s Richard Spencer who says …

Verified on Twitter.

Verified on Twitter. “I’m a free-speech advocate, so you should let me speak at your university. Or you should welcome me at your event.” Or people like Alex Jones who literally are fellow travelers with these people because they recycle their ridiculous conspiracy theories. And then suddenly the Megyn Kellys of the world interview them and give them an imprimatur of respectability.

The argument to me that you should hear what they’re saying, that you should hear the voices because the media tends to make it more benign than it should be. People should actually listen to what their actual words are.

I think that’s right. I think that was one of the … I would really give props to the folks at Vice for in Charlottesville in August, because what they didn’t do is glamorize these people. They just put the cameras on them and let you hear them say, “Jews will not replace us.” They put the cameras on them and let them say all these just absolutely revolting things.

Is that normalizing or let’s just show you what they’re like?

Well, so it’s interesting. There’s a fine line between normalizing or glamorizing these people. When you put Richard Spencer on without any context, you just interview him with his sort of short hair cut wearing like a suit and a polo shirt, you almost make him seem like he’s a respectable member of the intelligentsia.

When you layer in, though, some B roll of him doing the heil Hitler salute and saying the kind of outlandish things he says about Jews and African Americans and Mexican Americans, that’s when you expose his intolerance for what it is. So, yeah, look, we’re free-speech advocates at the ADL. We believe you got to expose this stuff in order to understand it. You got to hear them in order to grasp the threat that they represent, but it needs to be done in the clinical kind of way, not in a way that unintentionally or by the way intentionally elevates these people.

Right. Right. Exactly. It’s a difficult thing.

It is hard because we’re also in a media environment where we’re always looking for equivalence. Like I call it the “Crossfire effect.” You have to have someone on the right, you have to have someone from the left. Look, there’s not right and left around bigotry. And yeah, we need to be able to acknowledge that someone like …

Well, isn’t cable news built on that? I mean really. Honestly. I won’t go on any of those panels. I refuse. I’m not going to have someone who’s ignorant be on the other side of something.

Exactly, because what that essentially does is you anoint them as if they were a credible voice. And again, it’s not that we shouldn’t … look, you need to understand that people think there’s a flat earth. Usually people think there are aliens in Area 51.

They’re not? Okay.

But what we should accord those kind of conspiratorialists to the same place we should accord people …

Right. So Twitter this week got into a lot of trouble around Rose McGowan taking her off, talking about free speech. She did put up a phone number, but other people have — including Donald Trump — put up phone numbers, too. And they didn’t get kicked off. You can see this happening over … You can talk about this particular … but over and over again. And now Jack has tweeted he’s going to put up new rules and more new rules and rules of rules. And it seems utterly either just a lot of talking or ineffective. Either of which is pointless in some ways.

Well, look, I think we participate on Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council and I think we’re the only civil rights group to do that. And they have definitely made, Twitter specifically, have made progress in the past year. They’ve introduced new things, some new tweaks to the product and the platform to, again, reduce the risk of some of this stuff blowing up in the way that it was doing a year ago.

But the Rose McGowan thing and the MeToo campaign just point out how complicated this is. And I would say, think about the newspaper industry for a minute or broadcast and news and media more generally, decades ago, generations ago, they introduced ombudsman. Much like federal agencies have inspector generals to provide some oversight and acknowledge with a little bit of humility that we need someone as a voice for the people or a voice for the public. It would seem like we’re in a moment today where these platforms and these large companies need ombudsman as well who can help to provide oversight and be a bit of a check and balance on the kind of bizdev groups, if you will, the investor relations groups who would say, “No, no, no. Just grow, just grow, just grow.” Responsible growth seems to be like a more sustainable strategy.

Which they don’t want to do. All right. I want to finish by talking about some of the things that you think you need to do as a group to get better at and what are the things you’re most worried about. And I want to focus on tech because a lot of this stuff will proliferate via tech. Is it VR? Is it … what kind of things are … machine learning? Or what are the things that you need to fight extremism and to, you’re never going to stamp it out I’d suspect, but what are the things that are critical for organizations like yours? And then what are the things you’re worried about?

If you think about the advocacy, education and law enforcement: No. 1, on the advocacy front, I’m definitely worried about the convergence of in a digital environment a traditional civil rights agenda. So what do we do when sort of big data gerrymands people, if you will, by class or by race or by religion? Even, not just unintentionally, invisibly because the things are being algorithmically served to us that we don’t even know.

Oh, yeah. Your race and what you look like. All the “I” stuff, all the … the other day, someone sent me something about an app that could tell if you’re gay and it’s like …

I heard about this. I heard about this.

Or anything. They could obviously do color, they could do racial facial characteristics.

So you could easily in a “Minority Report” sort of way serve up ads to people unbeknownst to them, they’re not seeing what other people are seeing. And again, digitally gerrymand folks in ways that constrain them from choices they don’t even know about. So I worry a lot about that on the advocacy front.

Were you worried about Apple’s facial recognition software that’s going into the phones?

We’re watching it closely. Again, I think we have to be vigilant about all of this. If we’re not vigilant about the rights that we have and the privilege we enjoy, we shouldn’t expect to keep them. So I think we need to look at all of these things very carefully, very cautiously.

You know, Tim Cook stepped up after Charlottesville and gave us a big seven-figure gift in support of the ADL for the first time ever. And yet again, Apple has an awful lot of control and an awful lot of …

It’s a big issue for him.

Think about … We have a Google Home in our … I have a Google Home.


But the privacy considerations with things like how is it monitoring what we’re saying. Is it really … There was a story that broke about the Google Mini last week, you probably saw that where it was actually recording everything that was being said at the viewer’s home.

By reporters. Oops.

Yeah, exactly. So advocacy is one thing.

I unplug mine.

Did you really?

I always unplug mine. All of them.

You unplug them when? When you don’t want to use them?

Yeah, I unplug them.


I cover my computer screen. I block them.

Yeah. You have to be wary.

I just block. I just don’t even know. That’s my plan. And then I’ll take it off when I want to use it and then I put it back on. It’s just a small little moment of victory for myself.

But I’ll tell you something. If you have kids, they love to interact with Siri or Google. They think she’s a person.

Well, not Siri. Siri’s not the smartest one in the group.

She’s going to be the student. The problem child.

She’s the problem child. So one is recognition …

Just to come back, so that’s that. So there’s a whole set of issues, a host of these things. And then of course I continue to worry about the normalization of extremism. And that shows up in the way that elements of the right, as we’ve been talking about, are trying to not only insert themselves, they are doing so.

Look what’s happened in the Austrian elections this past weekend. Look what’s happened in the European elections. And again, what’s happening right here. I worry about in 2020 and in 2022 you’re going to start to see slates of candidates who come from this kind of worldview. It will be very problematic, I think, for the public good.

And then I would be remiss if I didn’t point out there are issues on the left as well. Sort of rethinking free speech and clamping down on the way that ideas are allowed to circulate specifically on the campus, which is also crazy.

It is.

Like I might not agree with everything that Ben Shapiro has to say, but he has the right to say it. And we need to, again, protect the privileges that we have if we want to keep them.

Yeah, that is an unusual thing happening on these campuses.

It’s a real problem. It’s more prevalent than you probably realize. Where, again, in a world of microaggressions, in a world of … it starts to look a little bit like thought police.

On the education front, look, I think the anti-bias, anti-bullying work we do is critical. We need to work out how to digitize it, how to Kahn Academy it. How do you bring it to far more people than we can do with face-to-face training?

Are you getting help from Melania Trump on this?

I will leave that alone.

Just saying because that’s her thing, right?

I suppose it is.

And then thirdly I think on the law enforcement front, how do we use AR and VR to enhance training? We’ve been asked by several metropolitan police departments, big cities, to add to the work we do around training them on extremism and hate, to do intrinsic bias. Which is encouraging because we know there are real issues there.

So imagine if you could use virtual reality to put a police officer in the shoes of a young black male. What it feels like to be pulled over for “driving while black.” What it feels like to be a young Mexican national on the other side of an ICE kind of raid. And I think technology allows us to do really interesting things that would enhance our ability to help law enforcement.

So empathy via technology?

Empathy. And understand the communities they’re trying to serve.

Do you do anything around the taping of police officers? There’s some interesting stuff going on around language. They’re taping language and then showing how they talk to different people.

No, I haven’t seen that.

Yeah, it’s really interesting. It’s Oakland. So they’re taping versus just the body cams and so you can tell, the computers can tell what race they’re talking to.

Is that right?

By the words they choose. It’s very clear on the words they use for African Americans versus white people.

That’s interesting.

And it’s absolutely different. It’s data. You know what I mean?

So the last thing I want to talk about, we just have a few more minutes, is the idea of what data is. And you have all this data, people don’t care about actual facts. Pressed by, again, this administration this idea of fudging what facts are. Just today, there was lies said and then everyone’s now talking about not the lie, but whether it’s true. You know what I mean? Like you start to do that.

So how do you do that when you have all this data? What happens to … because one of the strengths presumably of ADL is data. This many assaults, this many this. I had a relative who there was some fact and I was like, “This is an actual piece of data.” “Well, so you say.” And I was like, “But it is.” You know what I mean? It was just like … it’s a fascinating thing. So you’re a company — not a company, an organization — that traffics in data that is critically important, and presumably new data initiatives would help you as you begin to really see patterns and where things are happening. How do you combat that when data isn’t data anymore?

Yeah, it’s very challenging to be in a post-fact society, where Stephen Colbert’s version of the truth seems to prevail. On both sides, by the way. ADL has always been an incredibly fact-driven organization. Data-driven, fact-based. And we are in an environment where people want their own facts. I think one of the things we need to do is to … let’s just acknowledge that data is just that. It’s numbers. And bits or ones and zeros. And they’re very hard to make any sense of until you contextualize them and embellish them with more information.

So we need stories to support and supplement the data. We need images to enhance kind of the ones and the zeros. So I think we’re going to have to find ways to — through visualization and through kind of the infographic and other techniques like that and videos etc. — to make things really come alive. So now we’re back to the VR piece we talked about just a minute ago.

I think VR could be very effective.

Incredibly powerful. So it’s one thing for me to say to you, “Okay, last year we saw 990 or this past year we saw 997 anti-Semitic incidences in the first half of the year.” It’s a whole nother thing if I could put you literally in the body of a 14-year-old when she is being harassed, when kids are throwing pennies at her at school or she walks back to her locker to find a swastika on it and you’re literally in that girl’s …

Seeing the experience as if you were that girl will make this come alive in a way that was never possible. And, you know, we have to acknowledge that these issues are real, and if we can find new ways to leverage the technology to transform those experiences and give you the actual, a degree of insight that just a piece of paper can’t, maybe that’s how we change this.

Yeah. Yeah. So last question. What would you like Silicon Valley to invent for you?

What would Silicon Valley invent for me?

To help your work.

I think there are probably a few things. I think it’s interesting …

Because you’re going to have to soon be defending cyborgs. Have you seen “Blade Runner 2049”?

I haven’t seen it yet. I think we’re going to see it this weekend.

It’s real long.

That’s what I heard. I heard it’s three hours.

Yeah, I just interviewed Jared Leto, who was in the movie.


Yeah, he plays a trillionaire.

They say a trillion is the new billion or something like that.

Apparently he’s really quite good. It was interesting because at one point, he was talking about … I was asking about robot rights, obviously, because eventually when these cyborgs start to really look human, they are human, or are they human or are they a new life form? And he’s a creator of a lot of these cyborgs and so this cyborg comes out of like a baggy almost, essentially, and drops down in a bunch of goo and stuff. And he’s been trying to get them to procreate. That’s what he’s been working on.

The cyborgs?

The cyborgs. Because there is one that it worked for and so he’s trying to replicate this to see if he can make more and more cyborgs more quickly. And so this particular cyborg it didn’t work with and so he kills her. Like just after this cyborg’s been birthed, essentially. With a knife, just kills her. And I said, “That was a super disturbing scene that you just discarded this creation that you made.” And he said, “It was like breaking my iPhone. That’s how I thought about it as an actor.” And he’s like, “You throw an iPhone against the wall because it didn’t work.” And I was like, “What?” It was a great way to think about how he was thinking about his character, but eventually that’s the kind of thing we’ll be thinking about.

Probably. I mean, these questions of consciousness really get raised and you start to try to think about …

Yeah, you will be defending … the ADL will be defending robots someday. Just get ready for it.

It’s interesting. It’s a brave new world.

Yeah, so what would you like them to do or make? What is the thing that you would … if you had an ask for these companies, Google, Facebook, Twitter, what would you want if they could do it? Besides a ton of money.

Well, I think I … So I guess I have a couple quick thoughts, one of which would be create … you should be able to sort of … it would be interesting, wouldn’t it, if you could sign up — I don’t want to call it a premium version, let’s say a clean version of a Facebook or Twitter. Like, look, we turned Showtime off of our cable package because I got little kids and it’s gross. The movies and it’s really bad stuff. But our kids can watch the Hallmark channel and they could see clean stuff. Now by the way it might not be a view into everything that society has to offer. It might not be the highest form of art, but you know for my kids it’s okay. So it would be interesting if you could create clean versions of these kind of social platforms.

I’ll tell you something else, from a design perspective, it’s very interesting. Did you see that Facebook acquired tbh the other day?

Yes, I did.

Yeah. Have you ever used tbh?


So it’s fascinating. It’s a fascinating app that is very popular with middle schoolers and high schoolers. And it basically, the parameters of it are you can poll on other kids, but only positive things. Only positive things. So it minimizes the kind of bullying dynamic that could be so prevalent on these apps. And so you start to realize if you embed in the design of your products, in the architecture of these platforms, a bias toward good.

So if I could ask for anything from Google and Facebook and Twitter, I would ask for that. A bias toward good. Now let’s acknowledge, it wouldn’t be perfect. There would be biases. We’d have to work them out. But if you started with the premise like, “I’m going to protect my IP. I want to protect the public interest. I want to create a bias toward good.” I think that would lift up all of us.

That’s called Instagram. You know, it’s interesting because some of the services, they are … Snapchat is a lot more pleasant place to be. They design it that way.

Yeah, so again I think it’s interesting now that you mention that. So if you think about Snapchat for a moment, it’s post-Twitter, if you will. And it’s designed with an eye toward a younger audience. Trying to create interactions that are more positive.

Or not negative, really. I don’t know if it’s necessarily positive because some of it’s silly.

Fair enough. That’s the point about bias toward good. It’s not negative. It’s not negative. And it kind of … it reduces the ability of someone to go in and hack it for the wrong reasons.

Yeah. That’s a really good point. 100 percent. That’s a great ask. That’s actually a great ask. I think they spend a lot of time designing for addiction, but that’s a different story. We had a great …

What’s that guy’s name? Tristan Harris?

Tristan Harris. Yeah, we had him at Code last year.

He’s so interesting.

He is. He used to design for Google.

Tristan Harris. That’s right. And he talks about the addiction and how these …

A slot machine for attention.

And how the feel you get, not just the kind of endorphins, but the feel you get from your finger when you touch your phone and you feel that. Or the sound of chimes. So think about if we could do a bias toward good that would again mitigate the harmful stuff.

So addiction for good? Fantastic. Jonathan, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for coming.

You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Here with Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL. Can you tell people if they want donate where they want to go?

Go to ADL.org.

And anything they want to do to help or …

Anything. Look, there’s lots of ways we can use help. So go to ADL.org to learn more.

And your office will be opening in two months in Silicon Valley?

Yep. Yep. We’ll be opening in a few months in Silicon Valley.

Where are you locating?

We’re working out the details now.

Okay, cool. That’ll be great. I’ll be there at your opening.

Thank you.