Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

Re The Lefty Twit Called Zuck, by David Stockman

He looks like a twit, sounds like a twit, and acts like a twit. Mark Zuckerberg is assuredly a twit, and he can’t buy himself out of that. From David Stockman at davidstockmanscontracorner via lewrockwell.com:

We have no use for Donald Trump, but even less for the arrogant lefty twit, Mark Zuckerberg, who joined a conspiracy of Silicon Valley Robber Barons on January 6th to ban a then sitting president of the United States from their social media platforms.

Yes, we know they are private companies. So they can do anything they damn will please, including thanking the Donald for the $160 million of ads his campaign bought from Facebook in 2020 by kicking him off the platform.

But this isn’t really about free speech narrowly; it’s about the malign societal impact of free money from the Fed and the manner in which the vastly overvalued companies in the tech space have enabled the callow wokesters who run them to subordinate profit-maximization to left-wing virtue-signalling.

After all, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that YouTube, Twitter or Facebook were losing customers, revenue and profits owing to the Donald’s massive presence in social media. The Trump haters were always free to not follow or unfollow him, or to trash his posts if that’s what got their jollies off; and the Trump lovers in their tens of millions actually brought massive incremental traffic to these platforms, and therefore positive ad metrics, revenues and profits.

The abrupt, nearly simultaneous canceling of the Donald’s privileges by all three platforms on the afternoon of January 6th, therefore, is surely a trifecta of the dumbest business decisions of all time. And if it weren’t for the political correctness of the matter, it would make for a classic Harvard Business School case study (which won’t happen) on the corporate harm that results from elevating the extraneous divertissements of corporate executives over the dollars and cents of business advantage.

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Glenn Greenwald Interviews Edward Snowden on the Dangers of Silicon Valley Censorship

Silicon Valley Has Effectively Banned the Freedom of Speech. It’s Time We Take It Back, by Robert Bridge

The title is overwrought; Silicon Valley hasn’t banned freedom of speech. But they shouldn’t be shielded under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 as open-to-all platforms rather than point-of-view-pushing publishers. They’re definitely pushing their point of view. From Robert Bridge at strategic-culture.org:

Somewhere along the road of America’s development, corporations were blessed with not only ‘personhood,’ but with the power to sanction what sort of messages were permissible to enter the public realm. Let’s be clear: This sort of corporate control, which borders on pure fascism, has no place in a democracy.

There is no need to ask. There is no need to be polite. There is no need to debate. It is only necessary to point to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for this fundamental human right, inscribed into law over 200 years ago, to be returned to the American people.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So how did it come to be that such a straightforward and unambiguous command has become so unattainable in reality?

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Unicorns & Non-Unicorns Hung Out to Dry: As SoftBank Licks its Wounds, Startup Funding Fizzles, Shutdowns & Layoffs Spread, by Wolf Richter

Wolf Richter surveys the weird, weird world of Silicon Valley finance. From Richter at wolfstreet.com:

The out-of-money moment is here. The party is over. But it sure was fund, so to speak, while it lasted.

It’s now a near daily litany: Startups, once assured to be fed endless cash to burn, are laying off people or are shutting down entirely as funding for them dries up, and as exits for investors get tough after the recent IPO fiascos, including Casper, Lyft, and Uber, and the messily scuttled IPO of WeWorkthat has pulled the rug out from under SoftBank.

San Francisco startup Starsky Robotics, which tried to develop autonomous-with-remote-human-control-trucking technology, and which had raised over $20 million in four rounds, has laid off the majority of its engineers and office staff after investors backed out of a funding round late last year. A potential buyer with deep pockets has not yet emerged either, senior VP Paul Schlegel, whose last day was January 31, told FreightWaves.

But it’s not the autonomous-driving industry overall that appears to be cutting back: According to Schlegel, 85% of the laid-off engineers have been hired by Google’s Waymo, GM’s Cruise, TuSimple (which has raised nearly $300 million, including from UPS), and others. It’s just that this company ran out of funds and investors refused to throw more money at it.

Then there are the cutbacks and layoffs among startups in the consumer DNA testing space, which has gotten tangled up in all kinds of privacy scandals, and now a drop in demand, but which received billions of dollars in funding over the years.

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Social Media and Social Control: How Silicon Valley Serves the US State Department, by Morgan Artyukhina

Whether they lean left or right, when it comes to foreign policy the social media companies all spout the party line. From Morgan Artyukhina at mintpressnews.com:

Facebook isn’t the only Silicon Valley firm with partisan oversight of what we see: the bipartisan billionaire class and their security state have partnered with tech firms since the dawn of the internet to control the parameters of users’ thinking.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is in the spotlight for “dining with far-right figures,” and their influence over the information that appears in your feed is apparent. However, Facebook isn’t the only Silicon Valley firm that’s masquerading as nonpartisan as it curates the “facts” you see in ads, posts, or searches: Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and others are deeply wedded to the U.S. security state and the billionaires it upholds.

Walter Lippmann’s groundbreaking 1922 study of the news media, “Public Opinion,” begins with a chapter titled, “The World Outside and the Pictures in our Heads,” in which he presents the media as a bottleneck through which information about the world beyond the perception of our senses must pass. Aside from the question of which stories get passed through that bottleneck, which information about an event that survives the crucible of condensation into an article, news bulletin or wire is determined by the biases of the writer and editor. In turn, control over that information bottleneck gives the controller incredible power to shape the consciousness of readers about “the world outside” – the “manufacturing of consent,” as Lippmann originally described it.

The depth of information about the world made available by the internet seems to remove the bottleneck about which Lippmann fretted — indeed, a generation of techie evangelists tried to present it in just such a manner — but the truth is that it only further obscured both the bottlenecks and the crucibles that distill information for our consumption.

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The Silicon Valley Gulag, by Jason Morgan

Silicon Valley’s oligarchs are bent on imposing their brand of Marxism. From Jason Morgan at mises.org:

[Review of Michael Rectenwald, Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom (Nashville, TN, and London: New English Review Press, 2019).]

The near-homogeneity of Silicon Valley political beliefs has gone from wry punchline to national crisis in the United States. The monoculture of virtue signaling and high- and heavy-handed woke corporate leftism at places like Google, Twitter, and Facebook was once a source of chagrin for those who found themselves shut out of various internet sites for deviating from the orthodoxies of the Palo Alto elites. After the 2016 presidential election, however, it became obvious that the digitalistas were doing a lot more than just making examples of a few handpicked “extremists.” From the shadow banning of non-leftist sites and views to full-complement political propagandizing, Bay Area leftists have been so aggressive in bending the national psyche to their will that there is talk in the papers and on the cable “news” channels of “existential threats to our democracy.”

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Meals on Broken Wheels: Uber Eats, GrubHub, DoorDash & Postmates, by Wolf Richter

It’s difficult to see how you can make money with a food delivery business, especially when all sorts of well-funded companies are entering the business. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

The fatal flaw of meal-delivery unicorns.

What do DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates and Uber Eats have in common with Lassie? Nothing. They’re dogs; Lassie’s a superstar. What do they have in common with each other? Everything. They take the world’s second oldest profession — Babylonia had delivery boys — sprinkle it with tech dust, click their ruby slippers, chant “There’s no place like Silicon Valley” and hope to become unicorns. (By the way, since unicorns are entirely mythical, wouldn’t the Valley be wise to pick another moniker for its wannabe superstars?)

There’s no secret to success in tech. But like hitting a 98 mph fastball, it’s easy to describe, nearly impossible to do: Create a great product that can scale. Even better if you can build a patent moat around it. If, after five hard years of R&D, you create killer software at a cost of $100 million, then the first product you ship for $1,000 comes at a loss of $99.99 million. But by the time you’ve sold your millionth unit at almost no additional cost, you’ve grossed a billion. That’s scale.

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A Fake Letter To Fake Employees On The Verge Of A Modern IPO, by Jason Gay

An imagined letter from a hypothetical executive of a made up Silicon Valley unicorn. From Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal via zerohedge.com:

ILLUSTRATION: ZOHAR LAZAR

To the staff:

Folks, I know everyone was excited about cashing in on our upcoming public offering, but it looks like this whole “profitability” craze is here to stay, at least for a while. We’re going to have to delay the IPO. Believe me, I am as disappointed as you are. I’d already picked out four private islands! Which technically would have been—yes—my own archipelago. Sigh.

In the meantime, we’re going to have to tighten up until this businesses-should-make-money fad blows over. Here are some company-wide decisions, effective immediately:

After great consideration, we are going to sell the private jets. This is a decision that is both symbolic and practical. It was not a good look for us to own a fleet of Gulfstreams. It was especially not a good look for us to fly them to Rome for Thursday pizza nights.

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Silicon Valley’s War Against ‘White, Male Conservatives’ Is a War Against America, by Robert Bridge

It remains to be seen if Silicon Valley’s war against white male conservatives will be good or bad business. There are, after all, a lot of white male conservative engineers and physicists. From Robert Bridge at strategic-culture.org:

With the termination of a YouTube account, or simple tweak of an algorithm, the tech company monsters – Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – are able to deprive millions of Americans of conservative news sources, undermining both the Constitution and the spirit of democracy.

In a perfectly wired world, the gatekeepers of the Internet would limit themselves specifically to the technical aspects of their job, ensuring that a well-oiled matrix runs smoothly and effectively for the end user. But alas, we do not inhabit a perfect world.

Political bias runs far and deep inside of Silicon Valley, and following the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, the tech giants are now poised to make life very difficult for conservatives. That much was plain to see in a shocking video of a Google meeting, chaired by the company’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, just days after U.S. voters sent Donald Trump to the White House.

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How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies, by Zach Dorfman

It would be surprising if the center of US technology wasn’t a den of spies. From Zach Dorfman at politico.com:

The West Coast is a growing target of foreign espionage. And it’s not ready to fight back.

SAN FRANCISCO—In the fall of 1989, during the Cold War’s wan and washed-out final months, the Berlin Wall was crumbling—and so was San Francisco. The powerful Loma Prieta earthquake, the most destructive to hit the region in more than 80 years, felled entire apartment buildings. Freeway overpasses shuddered and collapsed, swallowing cars like a sandpit. Sixty-three people were killed and thousands injured. And local Soviet spies, just like many other denizens of the Bay Area, applied for their share of the nearly $3.5 billion in relief funds allocated by President George H.W. Bush.

FBI counterintelligence saw an opening, recalled Rick Smith, who worked on the Bureau’s San Francisco-based Soviet squad from 1972 to 1992. When they discovered that a known Soviet spy, operating under diplomatic cover, had filed a claim, Smith and several other bureau officials posed as federal employees disbursing relief funds to meet with the spy. The goal was to compromise him with repeated payments, then to turn him. “We can offer your full claim,” Smith told the man. “Come meet us again.” He agreed.

But the second time, the suspected intel officer wasn’t alone. FBI surveillance teams reported that he was being accompanied by a Russian diplomat known to the FBI as the head of Soviet counterintelligence in San Francisco. The operation, Smith knew, was over—the presence of the Soviet spy boss meant that the FBI’s target had reported the meeting to his superiors—but they had to go through with the meeting anyway. The two Soviet intelligence operatives walked into the office room. The undercover FBI agents, who knew the whole affair had turned farcical, greeted the Soviet counterintelligence chief.

“What,” he replied, “You didn’t expect me to come?”

We tend to think of espionage in the United States as an East Coast phenomenon: shadowy foreign spies working out of embassies in Washington, or at missions to the United Nations in New York; dead drops in suburban Virginia woodlands, and surreptitious meetings on park benches in Manhattan’s gray dusk.

To continue reading: How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies