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Silicon Valley’s year of reckoning

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Tech companies have always branded themselves as the good men. However, 2018 was the year the long-held belief that Silicon Valley is on the ideal side of progress and all things great was called into question with a vital mass.

Since startups grow larger and wealthier, amassing more power and influence out the Valley, a reckoning has played out from government and business. Mission statements such as “linking the entire world ” and “don’t be evil” no longer hold water.

Check out some of this season ’s most impactful news themes underscore why; & we ’t racked up a lot of examples to the contrary.

Android co-creator Andy Rubin’s $90 million payout and sexual misconduct revealed

Considering that the #MeToo movement opened the floodgates about the significance of fighting for gender equality and fair treatment of women and underrepresented minorities at a big scale, the technology industry was rightfully singled out as a microcosm for uncontrolled misconduct.

Back in October, a New York Times evaluation detailed how Android co-creator Andy Rubin has been paid a $90 million exit package if he left Google in 2014. At the moment, Google concealed the executive had multiple relationships with Google staffers and credible accounts of sexual misconduct was registered against him through his period at the company. It had been an all-too-familiar story recounting how girls in technology aren’t secure in the workplace and misbehaved executives are resistant from punishment. Google workers didn’t endure it. 

In a rally at San Francisco, Google staffers read off their list of demands, that included an end to forced arbitration in cases of discrimination and harassment, a dedication to finish pay and opportunity inequity and a clear, inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct anonymously and safely, documented Kate Clark.

Rubin has since taken leave out of his smartphone company, Essential.

The initial self-driving car fatality occurred in which an Uber SUV struck and murdered a woman in Arizona

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber, arrives for a morning session at the Allen & Co.. Media and Technology Conference at Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Wednesday, July 10. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg through Getty Images

During March, the first self-driving vehicle fatality occurred in Tempe, Arizona if 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg was struck with an Uber autonomous test SUV. The car was in self-driving style, also there was a safety driver behind the wheel who failed to intervene.

Investigators determined the driver had looked down at a phone 204 times throughout a 43-minute test drive, and that the driver was flowing “The Voice” on Hulu, according to a police report released by the Tempe Police Department. Law enforcement ascertained her eyes were off the street for 3.67 kilometers of their 11.8 total miles driven, or about 31 percent of their moment.

Uber stopped all its AV testing operations in Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Francisco and Phoenix as a result, and released a safety report detailing how it’ll add precautions to its own testing of self-driving automobiles. Two workers will have to take a seat down in the front seat whatsoever times, and an automatic braking system is going to be enabled.

The incident immediately raised questions regarding insurance and liability, together with the analysis in the National Transportation Safety Board. As mobility companies charge full speed forward in creating solutions that will affect the future of urban transportation, tragedies such as this remind us while AVs and people share the streets, these programs are rife with danger. Has Uber heard a lesson? We’ll find out shortly, since the firm received consent by the country of Pennsylvania to restart autonomous car testing.

Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by Saudi agents, prompting Silicon Valley to even Consider how it got so rich

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Silicon Valley companies are utilised to getting away with a lot. Bigger orgs such as Uber, Tesla and Facebook rotate in and out of their hot seat as safety breaches wreak chaos and sexual harassment scandals are exposed, only to be washed from the news cycle with a viral picture of Elon Musk sampling bud  the following day.

But one story stunned the public for months, after agents of the Saudi authorities assassinated Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul as he had been attempting to acquire marriage license papers.

The technology industry was collectively troubled by its proximity to some government and funding source that blatantly misused its energy. Silicon Valley gets most of its money via SoftBank’s Vision Fund and by proxy the Saudi kingdom. About half SoftBank’s massive $93 billion tech-focused finance is powered by a $45 billion commitment in the Saudi kingdom. This means the total spent by the realm into U.S. startups is much greater than the entire increased by any single VC finance.  Did we see a single instance of a startup that refused to operate with SoftBank from the aftermath? No. Will we? Probably not. Since Silicon Valley gamers are mostly only political and activist as it’s convenient for them.

Silicon Valley companies that have accepted cash from this source have a vested interest in maintaining the peace of Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the leader known for getting friendly with technology CEOs previously. However, where does this leave us today as Saudi Arabian money continues to distort American venture? SoftBank has sustained countless startups with round after round of funding since it falls into debt.

Together with SoftBank money inflating round sizes and therefore valuations, technology founders and CEOs are confronted with the age-old issue of whether or not it’s okay to use filthy money to do “great things. ” SoftBank’s 2018 culminated in a listing IPO that watched a 15 percent fall in worth on its introduction. Regardless, the aftermath of the Khashoggi assassination could indicate the end of an era in American venture if founders begin to think seriously about the source of their funding — and act on it. 

Facebook’s struggle

UNITED STATES – APRIL 11: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee at Rayburn Building on the security of user information on April 11, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Facebook’s 2018 kicked off using Zuckerberg’s wishful, obscure post about his private struggle to “mend Facebook. ” The societal media bowed from 2017 with critics stating Zuckerberg hadn’t done enough to combat the proliferation of fake news on Facebook or obstruct Russian interference at the 2016 U.S. election. Online abuse had never been so bad. All this was occurring as people began to recognize that mindlessly browsing the newsfeed — Facebook’s center merchandise — is a whole waste of time.

What better timing for not one, but two enormous safety scandals?

Zuckerberg answered to Congress later Facebook was infiltrated by Cambridge Analytica, a information organization with ties into the Trump administration. In the start of 2014, the organization obtained information on 50 million Facebook consumers in a manner that deceived both the users and Facebook itself. 

If that weren’t enough, just months after Facebook shown at least 30 million users’ information had been verified to be at risk later attackers exploited a vulnerability enabling them access to consumers ’ personal information. Zuckerberg stated that the attackers have been employing Facebook programmer APIs to attain information, such as “name, sex, and hometowns” linked to some person ’s profile page. Queue #deletefacebook

A Pew report detailed how Facebook consumers are getting more careful and more critical, but they still can’t stop . News and social websites are like oil and water — they can’t mix in to coexistence on precisely the same news feed. In 2018, Facebook was caught in a perfect storm. Users began to understand Facebook about what it is: powered by algorithms that coalesce fact, view and malicious fake content onto a platform built to financially gain off the addictive tendencies of its consumers. The silver lining is that as individuals become more careful and essential of Facebook, the market is readying itself for a brand new, better social media to be built off the pioneering mistakes of its predecessors.

Apple hits a $1 trillion market cap and observes the anniversary of the iPhone with layout changes

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 22: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple announcement. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

This is a hardware-heavy season for Apple. The MacBook Air got Retina Display. The Apple Watch got a major redesign. The iPad Pro stated farewell to the home button. We met the newest mac Mini and a updated Apple Pencil. Back in September, Apple held its annual hardware event from Cupertino to announce three brand new iPhone versions , the XS (the normal one), XR (the cheap one) and the XS Max (the huge one). We also discovered that the company went back into the drawing board on the Mac Pro.

Back in August, Apple won the race to $1 trillion in market cap. It wasn’t the frayed strings or crappy keyboards that boosted the company past this landmark, but rather price hikes in its own already high-margin iPhone sales. However, while Apple remains exceptionally profitable, expansion is slowing notably.

Tech stocks took a beating toward the conclusion of the calendar year, and though Apple seems to have weathered the storm better than many firms, it could have reached a threshold for how far it could innovate its luxury hardware. It can be advisable for your company to focus on other ways of earning revenue like Apple Music and iCloud if it needs to shoot for the $2 trillion market cap.

As the largest, wealthiest companies get larger and wealthier, questions regarding antitrust and regulation increase to make sure they don’t hold too much financial power. Tim Cook has much more power than several political leaders. Let’s hope he uses it for good.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sued by the SEC for securities fraud

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 14: Engineer and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk of The Boring Company listens as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about building a top speed transit at Block 37 through a news conference on June 14, 2018 at Chicago, Illinois. Musk said he could make a 16-passenger car to run on a high-speed railroad system that may get travelers to and from downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport under twenty five minutes, at rates of over 100 miles per hour. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Back in August, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in a tweet heard around the net he was considering taking Tesla personal for $420 per share and that he’d secured funding to do so. The questioning started. Was it legit? Was it a marijuana joke? The tweet caused Tesla’s inventory to jump by more than 6 percent on August 7. Musk also complained that being a public company “matters Tesla to continuous defamatory strikes by the short-selling community, resulting in excellent harm to our precious brand. ”

Turns out, Musk had indeed met with representatives from the Saudi sovereign wealth finance, and that the fund’s direct writer told Musk they’d purchased about 5% of Tesla’s stock at a bet worth $2 billion, were all interested in taking the company private and verified this rep had the ability to make such investment decisions for the fund. But, nothing was written on paper, also Musk did not notify the Nasdaq — an important requirement.

In the end of September, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Musk for fraud in regards to his “fictitious and misleading” tweets, attempting to remove him in Tesla. Musk settled with the SEC two weeks after being charged, resigning from his chairman place but remaining CEO. Musk and Tesla were also ordered to pay separate $20 million penalties to “be distributed to harmed investors under a court-approved procedure,” based on the SEC.

Public companies should appreciate the interests of their shareholders. Pulling the trigger on a spontaneous tweet breaks that trust — and at Musk’s case, price $40 million plus a plank seat. That is the reason we shouldn’t put too much faith or fear in our leaders. Musk is brilliant and his inventions are altering the world. But he’s human and people are flawed and the Tesla board should have to balance power at the top. 

The great Amazon HQ2 swindle

Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, tours the facility at the grand opening of their Amazon Spheres, at Seattle, Washington on January 29, 2018.  Amazon opened its brand new Seattle office space that looks more like a rainforest. The company created the Spheres Complex to assist spark employee creativity. (Photo: JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

Tech projects bring new wealth to cities. Amazon set on a roadshow around America in what the company described as a search for the next headquarters, or “HQ2. ” The real presence of Amazon’s enormous retail and cloud businesses would definitely bring riches, innovation, investment and jobs into a region.

There was first hope the retail giant could select a city in the American heartland, functioning as a catalyst for job development at a burgeoning tech hub such as Columbus, Ohio, Detroit, Mich., or Birmingham, Ala.. However, in the end, Amazon split the choice between two places: New York (Long Island City) and Arlington, Virginia, since the sites for the new offices. The response? Outrage.

Jon Shieber noted that towns opened their books into the company to show their viability as another home for the retailing giant. In return, Amazon reaped information on urban and exurban centers which it may use to create the next wave of its white-collar office space, and much more than a billion worth of tax breaks out of the towns it will eventually call home because of its new offices.

Danny Crichton argued that Amazon did exactly what it should have using its HQ2 procedure. Crichton wrote that Amazon is its own entity and therefore has ownership of its own decisions. It enabled cities to employ and provide information on the reason why they may be the best place for its new headquarters. Maybe the firm ignored each the software. Maybe it had been a ploy to gather information. Maybe it wanted publicity. Regardless, it enabled input into a decision it has complete and exclusive control over.

Let’s expect that at 2019, Silicon Valley will hold on to a few of its ethos because of venture-funded sandbox for brilliant entrepreneurs who wish to upend antiquated businesses with proprietary technology inventions. However, let it be understood that sleeping at the wheel while your organization becomes breachedturning a blind eye to the bad doings of your biggest funding sources and executive immunity from sexual misconduct violations no longer have their place . 


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