TECH PERSON IN SILICON VALLEY REVEALED TO BE FRAT HOUSE SCUM,
ESPECIALLY THE VC'S
and beyond: Hidden problems of Silicon Valley
Valley under the microscope for not living up to its
idealistic hype, this week’s episode of Reveal investigates
tech companies on the cutting edge that are struggling to
solve old-fashioned problems.
with worker injuries at Tesla’s electric car factory in
California. Alyssa Jeong Perry of KQED in San Francisco and
Reveal’s Will Evans examine what caused the company’s safety
problems and whether its claims of improvement hold up.
look at who holds the power in Silicon Valley. Reveal data
reporter Sinduja Rangarajan got unprecedented access to
demographic data about workers in Silicon Valley’s biggest
companies. She found that most tech companies get low marks on
diversity, and makes these findings come alive with help from
Huet and Aki Ito, reporterswith
the Decrypted podcast from Bloomberg News, profile one of the
women who sued Google over unequal pay.Kelly Ellis
and other women say they were paid less than men for equal or
We end the
hour with a discussion among successful women of color in
Silicon Valley about whywomen
feel out of place at the office and the shortcomings of
company diversity efforts.
says its factory is safer. But it left injuries off the books
What women of color in the tech industry want
sound of disparity: Data directed Silicon Valley diversity
was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on
you': Five Silicon Valley tech investors are accused of sexually
Dave McClure of 500 Startups
and Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital were both accused of
sexually harassing women in the tech industry
Justin Caldbeck of Binary
Capital, Marc Canter of Macromedia and investor Jose De Dios
also had allegations leveled against them
Ten female entrepreneurs came
forward and revealed the allegations this week
They claim the men targeted
them with sexist comments, touched them without permission or
sent inappropriate messages or emails over the years
McClure, Sacca and Caldbeck
have all publicly apologized for their behavior
De Dios has denied the
allegations against him, while Canter accused a woman of
lying about her claims
Silicon Valley tech investors have been accused of sexual
harassment by multiple women in the technology start-up
female entrepreneurs came forward and told the New
York Times of the harassment allegations this week.
specifically named five investors or advisers who had allegedly
targeted them with sexist comments, touched them without
permission or sent inappropriate messages or emails over the
McClure of 500 Startups, Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital, Justin
Caldbeck of Binary Capital, Marc Canter of Macromedia and investor
Jose De Dios were all accused by the women of some form of sexual
Sacca of Lowercase Capital is one of five Silicon Valley tech
investors accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in the
technology start-up industry
a public apology on Thursday for his bad behavior toward women
who is a founder of 500 Startups and an investor, is accused of
sending 31-year-old Sarah Kunst a Facebook message in 2014 when
she was discussing a potential job with him.
was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on
you,' the message read. Kunst told The Times that she denied
Startups has since said McClure, who has not commented publicly,
is no longer in charge of the company's day-to-day operations
following the allegations.
being made aware of instances of Dave having inappropriate
behavior with women in the tech community, we have been making
changes internally,' the company said.
recognizes he has made mistakes and has been going through
counseling to work on addressing changes in his previous
woman, Susan Wu, claimed that Chris Sacca - who founded
Lowercase Capital in 2007 - had made her feel uncomfortable when
he allegedly touched her face without permission at a tech
event in Las Vegas in 2009.
helped fund companies like Uber and Twitter, and has made
appearances on ABC's Shark Tank. He issued a public apology
on Thursday for his bad behavior toward women in tech.
McClure of 500 Startups is accused of sending an inappropriate
message to a potential employee going for a job with his
company. McClure is now getting counselling
Caldbeck of Binary Capital has been accused by multiple
women of making unwanted advances towards them
stupidly perpetuating a culture rife with busting chops, teasing
and peer pressure to go out drinking, I made some women feel
self-conscious, anxious and fear they might not be taken
seriously,' Sacca wrote in ablog
social settings, under the guise of joking, being collegial,
flirting, or having a good time, I undoubtedly caused some women
to question themselves, retreat, feel alone, and worry they can't
be their authentic selves ... I had a duty to say and do more on
behalf of those who were not in the conversation but nevertheless
affected by it. I failed.'
has been accused by multiple women of making unwanted advances
towards them. Tech news websiteThe
Informationreported earlier this week
that Caldbeck had been accused of preying on females in the
industry at three separate venture firms over the past seven
woman, Lindsay Meyer, told The Times that Caldbeck invested
$25,000 of his own money into her fitness startup in 2015. She
claims he then proceeded to text her constantly and asked if she
was attracted to him. Meyer also claims Caldbeck groped and kissed
is now taking an indefinite leave of absence from Binary Capital,
which he co-founded, following the allegations of unwanted
Canter of Macromedia is accused by one woman of sending flirty
text messages when she was trying to start her own tech
company in 2014
start-up adviser has since taken to Twitter accusing the woman
of lying and attacking him
past 24 hours have been the darkest of my life. I have made many
mistakes over the course of my career, some of which were brought
to light this week. To say I'm sorry about my behavior is a
categorical understatement. Still, I need to say it: I am so, so
sorry,' he said in a statement published onAxioslast
direct my apology first to those women who I've made feel
uncomfortable in any way, at any time - but also to the greater
tech ecosystem, a community that I have utterly failed.'
previous employer, Lightspeed, also issued a statement on Twitter
after receiving complaints from women.
investor named Jose De Dios is accused of making an
inappropriate comment to a woman in 2014. De Dios has flat
out denied the allegation
behavior as described in recent reporting is completely
unacceptable. We received a complaint regarding Justin from a
portfolio company during his time at Lightspeed.
response, we removed him as a board observer at the request of
that company. In light of what we have learned since, we regret we
did not take stronger action. It is clear now that we should have
Dent claims she was sent flirty text messages by Marc Canter - the
founder of Macromedia - when she was trying to start her own tech
company in 2014.
allegedly wrote in one message that she was a 'sorceress casting a
spell' and commented on how she looked wearing a blue dress
saying: 'Know what I'm thinking? Why am I sending you this -
said the woman 'came on strong to me, asking for help' and that he
behaved that way to make her go away. The start-up adviser has
since taken to Twitter accusing the woman of lying and attacking
investor named Jose De Dios is accused of making an inappropriate
comment to Lisa Curtis after she pitched her start-up idea at a
competition in San Francisco in 2014.
course you won. You're a total babe,' he is alleged to have said
when Curtis came off the stage.
Dios has flat out denied the allegation, saying he 'unequivocally
did not make a defamatory remark.'
for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the
Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
The John S. And James L. Knight Foundation, the Heising-Simons
Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
is a co-production of The Center for Investigative Reporting and
tech's richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse
Valley’s elite are hatching plans to escape disaster – and
when it comes, they’ll leave the rest of us behind
Last year, I
got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote
speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment
bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for
a talk – about half my annual professor’s salary – all to deliver
some insight on the subject of “the future of technology”.
I’ve never liked
talking about the future. The Q&A sessions always end up more
like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest
technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential
investments: blockchain, 3D printing, Crispr. The audiences are
rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their
potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to
invest in them. But money talks, so I took the gig.
After I arrived, I
was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of
being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat
there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me:
five super-wealthy guys – yes, all men – from the upper echelon of
the hedge fund world. After a bit of small talk, I realized they
had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future
of technology. They had come with questions of their own.
They started out
innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a
real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real
topics of concern.
Which region will be
less affected by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska?
Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and
will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die
and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage
house explained that he had nearly completed building his own
underground bunker system and asked: “How do I maintain authority
over my security force after the Event?”
The Event. That was
their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest,
nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr Robot hack that takes
This single question
occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would
be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But
how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would
stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires
considered using special combination locks on the food supply that
only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some
kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to
serve as guards and workers – if that technology could be
developed in time.
That’s when it hit
me: at least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, thiswasa
talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon
Mars, Peter Thielreversing
the ageing process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweiluploading
their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a
digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the
world a better place than it did with transcending the human
condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real
and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass
migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource
depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just
one thing: escape.
There’s nothing wrong
with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit
human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is
something else. It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of
humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all
that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion,
vulnerability, and complexity. As technology philosophers have
been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too
easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that “humans
are nothing but information-processing objects”.
It’s a reduction of
human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the
escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the
ride. Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel … Zuckerberg? These
billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy –
the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling
most of this speculation to begin with.
Of course, it wasn’t
always this way. There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s,
when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention.
Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who
saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed,
and pro-human future. But established business interests only saw
new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many
technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs. Digital futures became
understood more like stock futures or cotton futures – something
to predict and make bets on. So nearly every speech, article,
study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only
insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol. The future became less a
thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for
humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture
capital but arrive at passively.
This freed everyone
from the moral implications of their activities. Technology
development became less a story of collective flourishing than
personal survival. Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any
of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the
market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.
Asking these sorts of
questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor
substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated
with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate
capitalism. Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative
and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more
dehumanizing successor (think Amazon). Most of us became aware of
these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy,
and the demise of local retail.
But the more
devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall
on the environment and global poor. The manufacture of some of our
computers and smartphones still uses networks ofslave
labor. These practices are so deeply entrenched that a
company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and
market ethical phones, learned it wasimpossible.
(The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as
Meanwhile, the mining
of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital
technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic
waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and
their families, who sell usable materials back to the
This “out of sight,
out of mind” externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away
just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed
ourselves in an alternate reality. If anything, the longer we
ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the
more of a problem they become. This, in turn, motivates even more
withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy – and more
desperately concocted technologies and business plans. The cycle
The more committed we
are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human
beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very
essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature
than a bug. No matter their embedded biases, technologies are
declared neutral. Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a
reflection of our own corrupted core. It’s as if some innate human
savagery is to blame for our troubles. Just as the inefficiency of
a local taxi market can be “solved” with an app that bankrupts
human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can
be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.
to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by
uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better,
accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor.
Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next
transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and
leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.
Our movies and
television shows play out these fantasies for us. Zombie shows
depict a post-apocalypse where people are no better than the
undead – and seem to know it. Worse, these shows invite viewers to
imagine the future as a zero-sum battle between the remaining
humans, where one group’s survival is dependent on another one’s
demise. Even Westworld – based on a science fiction novel in which
robots run amok – ended its second season with the ultimate
reveal: human beings are simpler and more predictable than the
artificial intelligences we create. The robots learn that each of
us can be reduced to just a few lines of code, and that we’re
incapable of making any willful choices. Heck, even the robots in
that show want to escape the confines of their bodies and spend
their rest of their lives in a computer simulation.
The mental gymnastics
required for such a profound role reversal between humans and
machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck.
Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.
Thus, we get tech
billionaires launching electric cars into space – as if this
symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for
corporate promotion. And if a few people do reach escape velocity
and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars – despite our inability to
maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two
multibillion-dollar biosphere trials – the result will be less a
continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.
is the author of the forthcoming bookTeam
Human(WW Norton, January 2019) and host
He also wrote Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth
Became the Enemy of Prosperity, as well as a dozen other
bestselling books on media, technology and culture. For more,click
here, or find him onTwitter.