100 Percent Ethereum (w/ Daniel Liss)
We break the seal on crypto in this podcast in a long chat with Dispo CEO Daniel Liss about how the technology could transform social media products. He attended the big NFT conference in New York this past week and explained why the optimism in tech has been directed here. The conversation goes into what the crowd was like at the conference, how the consumer companies could embrace crypto as an alternative business model to advertising and whether it makes sense for services to jump aboard the trend even when its users don't care much about it yet.
November 09, 2021
Fine-tuning of the Metaverse
Yes, we talk about Facebook's metaverse announcement. And yes, Eric takes the techno-optimist point of view while Katie and Tom are completely befuddled why anyone would want to spend their time there. But also, we discuss whether the announcement actually buried all the Facebook paper scandals, why Frances Haugen's turn to release her documents to multiple outlets was a jolting move for any reporter, and how whistleblowers are now just another version of influencer culture.
November 02, 2021
The Contradictarian (w/ Max Chafkin)
We dive into the wacky, wild and wildly inconsistent world of Peter Thiel with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Max Chafkin. He recently published a book, "The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley's Pursuit of Power" that goes through Thiel's origins in the industry, how he influenced other founders and how his right wing political project is shaping up. Max also makes the case for why Thiel is one of the most influential characters in the formation of the current culture in tech. And Eric, Tom and Max mull over why Thiel's worldview is at odds with itself and whether maybe that's the point. Max's book: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/609711/the-contrarian-by-max-chafkin/
October 25, 2021
Blood Sport (w/ Erin Griffith)
We're joined by New York Times tech reporter Erin Griffith. She's been on the scene in San Jose covering the fraud trial against Elizabeth Holmes—tech's trial of the century, or at least the decade, or maybe of a generation. We talk about the surprisingly plodding pace of such a high profile trial, what kind of a case the prosecution appears to be building and what will be the broader reckoning for the tech industry. If there will be one at all.
October 19, 2021
That's What the Money's For!
We discuss Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong's tweets about how the tech press' harsh coverage of CEOs is driving away talent and whether the increasingly critical stories about tech companies is the natural maturity of the industry. We also dive into last year's controversies when national politics spilled into company Slack rooms and whether banning it actually helped improve morale (as Armstrong also claimed). Finally, as top Facebook officials make the media rounds after the whistleblower's testimony in Congress, we disagree on whether getting an interview with a high ranking exec is all that valuable to a beat reporter.
October 13, 2021
Look on my Monthly Uniques, ye Mighty, and despair! (w/ Ben Smith)
Katie and Tom interview New York Times media columnist Ben Smith about his piece on the deception at Ozy. This was recorded a few hours before the digital media company announced it was shutting down, following his reporting. We discuss Ozy's appeal to investors, the courting of billionaires, the nature of the fraud, and what to make of the entire cohort of digital media companies the sprang up at the same time. Ben's initial column on Ozy https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/26/business/media/ozy-media-goldman-sachs.html
October 02, 2021
With Eric on vacation, Katie and Tom take on hosting duties without adult supervision. We go over the rise of tech employees griping to reporters about company inner workings (aka "leaking") and what it says about the state of employee happiness in the industry. Also why CEOs won't be able to control it unless they address what's ailing company morale. Then we touch on the pervasiveness of gig workers around the world and what happens with a significant portion of the world's workers relies on that model. Also, the mortifying text messages between Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani. Stories we discuss in this episode: Elizabeth Holme's Texts: https://www.thedailybeast.com/theranos-elizabeth-holmes-called-business-partner-boyfriend-her-tiger-in-lovey-texts-as-company-tanked Tim Cook's Memo: https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/22/22687747/tim-cook-employee-leak-memos-do-not-belong-at-apple Global Gig Workers https://restofworld.org/2021/gig-workers-around-the-world-are-finally-organizing/
September 29, 2021
The Facebook Philes
Eric, Katie and Tom talk about why the Wall Street Journal's epic series about Facebook's internal failings is so powerful. And why Facebook continues to be aggressively covered by the media in a way it didn't use to be—well into the Biden presidency. That turns into a discussion about whether comparing the company to big tobacco makes sense. We also briefly debate if Peter Thiel is as powerful as the media makes him out to be. This will not be the last time we discuss Thiel on the podcast.
September 21, 2021
If It Bleeds, It Leads
In a hosts-only episode, Katie, Eric, and Tom talk about whether the media has overplayed the Theranos story and argue about whether the public is still interested or what lessons can be learned from the verdict. That turns into a debate about other media-driven tech spectacles, like Facebook's camera glasses, and why reporters gladly play up the hype about hardware.
September 14, 2021
Episode 3: Liz Jarvis-Shean
Liz has handled communications with the media from the crucibles of both the tech and political worlds. We talked about her time with Tesla just as Elon Musk was finding his voice and going through and around the press. She reflected on her time with the Obama presidential campaigns, feeding opposition research to media about Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. And we debated whether the media has become too critical of tech, particularly from the vantage point of her current role as the VP of comms and policy at DoorDash.
September 08, 2021
Episode 2: Christina Cacioppo
CEO and founder of security startup Vanta, Christina Cacioppo, joins to talk about how she was able to raise a huge Series A ($50m at $500m valuation). We also talk about her jump from being a VC to a founder, why Zoom-based fundraising is here to stay and whether female founders get a fair shake from the tech press.
August 30, 2021
Episode 1: Interview with Parker Conrad
Our show begins with our first ever guest, Rippling CEO Parker Conrad. He talks about why the tech press spends too much time listening to VCs who don't have nearly as much power as reporters think. He also looks back at the way he was infamously pushed out of his previous company, Zenefits, and the role A16Z played in that saga. Our thanks to @yungchomsky for our theme music.
August 23, 2021