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‘The Great Hack’: Netflix doc unpacks Cambridge Analytica, Trump, Brexit and democracy’s death

There are probably many of us who’d wish quite a lot of the last couple of years could be thrown into that temple fire, but this documentary is the first I’ve seen to expertly peer into the flames of what has become the real-world dumpster fire that is social media, dark advertising and global politics […]

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‘The Great Hack’: Netflix doc unpacks Cambridge Analytica, Trump, Brexit and democracy’s death – TechCrunch

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‘The Great Hack’: Netflix doc unpacks Cambridge Analytica, Trump, Brexit and democracy’s death

It’s perhaps not for nothing that The Great Hack — the new Netflix documentary about the connections between Cambridge Analytica, the U.S. election and Brexit, out on July 23 — opens with a scene from Burning Man. There, Brittany Kaiser, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, scrawls the name of the company onto a strut of “the temple” that will eventually get burned in that fiery annual ritual. It’s an apt opening.

There are probably many of us who’d wish quite a lot of the last couple of years could be thrown into that temple fire, but this documentary is the first I’ve seen to expertly peer into the flames of what has become the real-world dumpster fire that is social media, dark advertising and global politics which have all become inextricably, and, often fatally, combined.

The documentary is also the first that you could plausibly recommend to those of your relatives and friends who don’t work in tech, as it explains how social media — specifically Facebook — is now manipulating our lives and society, whether we like it or not.

As New York Professor David Carroll puts it at the beginning, Facebook gives “any buyer direct access to my emotional pulse” — and that included political campaigns during the Brexit referendum and the Trump election. Privacy campaigner Carroll is pivotal to the film’s story of how our data is being manipulated and essentially kept from us by Facebook.

The U.K.’s referendum decision to leave the European Union, in fact, became “the Petri dish” for a Cambridge Analytica (CA) experiment, says Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr. She broke the story of how the political consultancy, led by Eton-educated CEO Alexander Nix, applied to the democratic operations of the U.S. and U.K., and many other countries, over a chilling 20+ year history techniques normally used by “psyops” operatives in Afghanistan. Watching this film, you literally start to wonder if history has been warped toward a sickening dystopia.

carole

The Petri-dish of Brexit worked. Millions of adverts, explains the documentary, targeted individuals, exploiting fear and anger, to switch them from “persuadables,” as CA called them, into passionate advocates for, first Brexit in the U.K., and then Trump later on.

Switching to the U.S., the filmmakers show how CA worked directly with Trump’s “Project Alamo” campaign, spending a million dollars a day on Facebook ads ahead of the 2016 election.

The film expertly explains the timeline of how CA first worked off Ted Cruz’s campaign, and nearly propelled that lack-luster candidate into first place in the Republican nominations. It was then that the Trump campaign picked up on CA’s military-like operation.

After loading up the psychographic survey information CA obtained from Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who orchestrated the harvesting of Facebook data, the world had become their oyster. Or, perhaps more accurately, their oyster farm.

Back in London, Cadwalladr notices triumphant Brexit campaigners fraternizing with Trump and starts digging. There is a thread connecting them to Breitbart owner Steve Bannon. There is a thread connecting them to Cambridge Analytica. She tugs on those threads and, like that iconic scene in The Hurt Locker, where all the threads pull up unexploded mines, she starts to realize that Cambridge Analytica links them all. She needs a source though. That came in the form of former employee Chris Wylie, a brave young man who was able to unravel many of the CA threads.

But the film’s attention is often drawn back to Kaiser, who had worked first on U.S. political campaigns and then on Brexit for CA. She had been drawn to the company by smooth-talking CEO Nix, who begged: “Let me get you drunk and steal all of your secrets.”

But was she a real whistleblower? Or was she trying to cover her tracks? How could someone who’d worked on the Obama campaign switch to Trump? Was she a victim of Cambridge Analytica, or one of its villains?

British political analyst Paul Hilder manages to get her to come to the U.K. to testify before a parliamentary inquiry. There is high drama as her part in the story unfolds.

Kaiser appears in various guises, which vary from idealistically naive to stupid, from knowing to manipulative. It’s almost impossible to know which. But hearing about her revelation as to why she made the choices she did… well, it’s an eye-opener.

brit

Both she and Wylie have complex stories in this tale, where not everything seems to be as it is, reflecting our new world, where truth is increasingly hard to determine.

Other characters come and go in this story. Zuckerburg makes an appearance in Congress and we learn of the casual relationship Facebook had to its complicity in these political earthquakes. Although, if you’re reading TechCrunch, then you probably know at least part of this story.

Created for Netflix by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, these Egyptian-Americans made “The Square,” about the Egyptian revolution of 2011. To them, the way Cambridge Analytica applied its methods to online campaigning was just as much a revolution as Egyptians toppling a dictator from Cario’s iconic Tahrir Square.

For them, the huge irony is that “psyops,” or psychological operations, used on Muslim populations in Iraq and Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks ended up being used to influence Western elections.

Cadwalladr stands head and shoulders above all as a bastion of dogged journalism, even as she is attacked from all quarters, and still is to this day.

What you won’t find out from this film is what happens next. For many, questions remain on the table: What will happen now that Facebook is entering cryptocurrency? Will that mean it could be used for dark election campaigning? Will people be paid for their votes next time, not just in Likes? Kaiser has a bitcoin logo on the back of her phone. Is that connected? The film doesn’t comment.

But it certainly unfolds like a slow-motion car crash, where democracy is the car and you’re inside it.

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IBM’s massive $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat closed a few weeks ago and today, the two companies are now announcing the first fruits of this process. For the most part, today’s announcement furthers IBM’s ambitions to bring its products to any public and private cloud. That was very much the reason why IBM acquired Red Hat in the first place, of course, so this doesn’t come as a major surprise, though most industry watchers probably didn’t expect this to happen this fast.

n

Specifically, IBM is announcing that it is bringing its software portfolio to Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based container platform that is essentially available on any cloud that allows its customers to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

n

In total, IBM has already optimized more than 100 products for OpenShift and bundled them into what it calls “Cloud Paks.” There are currently five of these Paks: Cloud Pak for Data, Application, Integration, Automation and Multicloud Management. These technologies, which IBM’s customers can now run on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform or IBM’s own cloud, among others, include DB2, WebSphere, API Connect, Watson Studio and Cognos Analytics.

n

“Red Hat is unlocking innovation with Linux-based technologies, including containers and Kubernetes, which have become the fundamental building blocks of hybrid cloud environments,” said Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, in today’s announcement. “This open hybrid cloud foundation is what enables the vision of any app, anywhere, anytime. Combined with IBMu2019s strong industry expertise and supported by a vast ecosystem of passionate developers and partners, customers can create modern apps with the technologies of their choice and the flexibility to deploy in the best environment for the app – whether that is on-premises or across multiple public clouds.”

n

IBM argues that a lot of the early innovation on the cloud was about bringing modern, customer-facing applications to market, with a focus on basic cloud infrastructure. Now, however, enterprises are looking at how they can take their mission-critical applications to the cloud, too. For that, they want access to an open stack that works across clouds.

n

In addition, IBM also today announced the launch of a fully managed Red Hat OpenShift service on its own public cloud, as well as OpenShift on IBM Systems, including the IBM Z and LinuxONE mainframes, as well as the launch of its new Red Hat consulting and technology services.

n

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

IBM’s massive $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat closed a few weeks ago and today, the two companies are now announcing the first fruits of this process. For the most part, today’s announcement furthers IBM’s ambitions to bring its products to any public and private cloud. That was very much the reason why IBM acquired […]

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Before he joined TechCrunch in 2012, he founded SiliconFilter and wrote for ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). Frederic covers enterprise, cloud, developer tools, Google, Microsoft, gadgets, transportation and anything else he finds interesting. He owns just over a 50th of a bitcoin.

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1475769824/k1kkyeeoiyvoajpzbtgv.png”,”twitter”:”fredericl”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/34511731″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”replies”:[[{“id”:670076,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Brian Lawe”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-08-01T06:59:34″,”content”:{“rendered”:”

My prediction: Within 3 quarters, IBM will incur a massive stock hit because of “loose” or “inappropriate” accounting practices at Red Hat.

n”},”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/01/with-the-acquisition-closed-ibm-goes-all-in-on-red-hat/#comment-670076″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/654ecb15c7f833caa7830fb368daa237?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/654ecb15c7f833caa7830fb368daa237?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/654ecb15c7f833caa7830fb368daa237?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”techcrunch”:{“avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”AB7YKHFK2JTZZOFTOCHZBLRZ4U”},”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/670076″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”}],”up”:[{“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1863071″}]}},{“id”:670080,”parent”:0,”author”:0,”author_name”:”Piotr Laube”,”author_url”:””,”date”:”2019-08-01T09:24:56″,”content”:{“rendered”:”

This quarter is the most important quarter in your life and the next quarter is the most important quarter of your life… (IBM management principle)

n”},”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/01/with-the-acquisition-closed-ibm-goes-all-in-on-red-hat/#comment-670080″,”type”:”comment”,”author_avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/0d944c4457606c4a7d08b21cc69a441e?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/0d944c4457606c4a7d08b21cc69a441e?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/0d944c4457606c4a7d08b21cc69a441e?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”techcrunch”:{“avatar”:”https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg”,”company”:”(no company found)”,”title”:”(no title found)”,”user”:”DLJ66GM6JF3TD2XD4WYEHAULME”},”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/670080″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments”}],”up”:[{“embeddable”:true,”post_type”:”post”,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1863071″}]}}]],”author”:[{“id”:34511731,”name”:”Frederic Lardinois”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/frederic-lardinois/”,”slug”:”frederic-lardinois”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/55542aa717199728948f628edc1170b1?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/55542aa717199728948f628edc1170b1?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/55542aa717199728948f628edc1170b1?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://www.siliconfilter.com”,”facebook”:”https://www.facebook.com/frederic”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/fredericl”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/fredericlardinois”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/frederic-lardinois”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Before he joined TechCrunch in 2012, he founded SiliconFilter and wrote for ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). Frederic covers enterprise, cloud, developer tools, Google, Microsoft, gadgets, transportation and anything else he finds interesting. He owns just over a 50th of a bitcoin.

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closes $15.7B Tableau deal”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

In an amazingly quick turnaround for a deal of this scope, Salesforce announced today that it has closed the $15.7 billion Tableau deal announced in June. The deal is by far the biggest acquisition in Salesforce history, a company known for being highly acquisitive.

n

A deal of this size usually faces a high level of regulatory scrutiny and can take six months or longer to close, but this one breezed through the process and closed in less than two months.

n

With Tableau and MuleSoft (a company it bought last year for $6.5 billion) in the fold, Salesforce has a much broader view of the enterprise than it could as a pure cloud company. It has access to data wherever it lives, whether on premises or in the cloud, and with Tableau, it enables customers to bring that data to life by visualizing it.

n

This was a prospect that excited Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff. “Tableau will make Salesforce Customer 360, including Salesforce’s analytics capabilities, stronger than ever, enabling our customers to accelerate innovation and make smarter decisions across every part of their business,” Benioff said in a statement.

n

As with any large acquisition involving two enormous organizations, combining them could prove challenging, and the real test of this deal, once the dust has settled, will be how smoothly that transition happens and how well the companies can work together and become a single entity under the Salesforce umbrella.

n

In theory, having Tableau gives Salesforce another broad path into larger and more expansive enterprise sales, but the success of the deal will really hinge on how well it folds Tableau into the Salesforce sales machine.

n

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

In an amazingly quick turnaround for a deal of this scope, Salesforce announced today that it has closed the $15.7 billion Tableau deal announced in June. The deal is by far the biggest acquisition in Salesforce history, a company known for being highly acquisitive. A deal of this size usually faces a high level of […]

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

nn

Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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food delivery startup Deliveroo acquires Edinburgh software studio Cultivate”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

As two of the largest players in online-food ordering and delivery in Europe work on a $10 billion merger to expand their footprint and economies of scale, one of its biggest rivals has made an acquisition to expand its own tech muscle.

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Deliveroo, the London-based food delivery startup backed by Amazon that is itself valued in the billions, has acquired a small Scottish startup called Cultivate, a software development and user experience design house that has worked with a number of big names, including Deliveroo itself.

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Deliveroo — which today has 80,000 restaurants and 60,000 riders on its books across 500 cities in 14 markets in Europe and beyond (Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and the United Kingdom) — is subsequently creating a new fintech hub in Edinburgh, where Cultivate is headquartered. It will be run by Andy Robinson, currently chief commercial officer for Cultivate.

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u201cWe have a fantastic relationship with Deliveroo, supporting them through an amazing period of growth. We were attracted by the array of interesting problems being tackled by their team, and how they are addressing them using modern and emerging technology,” Robinson said in a statement. “Weu2019re proud to have built such a great team here in Edinburgh, and todayu2019s announcement is a testament to their hard work and expertise in building world-class software. We are excited to continue this work, create highly skilled jobs, and build a centre of tech excellence here in Edinburgh.u201d

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The plan will be to expand the team to 50 in the next three years, hiring engineers, product managers, user researchers, and designers and data scientists. (It’s worth pointing out too that Amazon has been a major employer in Edinburgh, where it also has a key R&D operation working in various areas including AI and search.)

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Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but it’s likely to be a modest deal.

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Cultivate itself was a small (likely around only 15 employees) but profitable business, from the looks of its filings with Companies House. It was also off the radar somewhat as a startup. Originally founded in 2007, Cultivate was initially acquired in 2009 ago by Texas firm EdgeCase, which was then itself acquired by Canadian web firm GroupByu00a0in 2017 in a bid to take on Shopify and rebranded to become Neo. Subsequent to that, Cultivate was amicably spun out again. In that time it had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from unnamed investors.

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Deliveroo, foundedu00a0in 2013 by William Shu and Greg Orlowski, was most recently valued at over $2 billion, although that was before Amazon put $575 million into the company earlier this year. It has raised around $1.5 billion in funding to date.

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Cultivate — which had worked for many of clients — will now be working for just one, its owner. The two had already built Deliveroo’s payments technology, but as Deliveroo continues to work on ways to differentiate itself from its competitors through tech, it will be investing more in this area.

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In addition to building new (not yet launched) services, some of the other areas of focus for the new Edinburgh operation will be to create more efficient payment systems for riders (which today use a Cash Out feature to access earnings quickly) and restaurants; to expand Deliveroo’s analytics for restaurants to figure out how to better plan for surges and to figure out what is popular and what is not; and (for both restaurants and riders) to better manage finances.

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Cultivate had been involved in a number of social enterprise community initiatives to promote technology education alongside its paid work and Deliveroo said these efforts will continue.

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u201cCultivate have always been at the centre of the tech scene in Edinburgh and have supported events and initiatives across the board,” said Stephen Coleman, CEO of CodeBase, the tech campus in Edinburgh where Cultivate was based. “We are really pleased for the Cultivate team and Deliveroou2019s plans to grow here in Scotland and are looking forward to having one of Europeu2019s top tech companies based here at CodeBase.u201d

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News of this acquisition comes in the same week that Takeaway.com and Just Eat announced that their respective boards had agreed on the basic terms of a merger to create an expanded footprint across Europe.

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The deal, if it completes, will not only give the two more economies of scale, and thus a better return on their own tech investment, but the aim will be to help them compete better against the likes of Uber Eats (a major priority for now-public Uber) as well as Deliveroo, which is now continuing its growth now with the might and will of Amazon behind it.

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In that context, the Cultivate acquisition is demonstration not just of Deliveroo’s own investments into its tech, but specifically into what is a sizeable and important tech hub in the region, where Amazon has also been very active.

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u201cDeliveroo is proud to be investing in Edinburgh and creating more high skilled jobs in the UK,” said Dan Winn, Deliveroo VP of engineering, in a statement. “Edinburgh is one of the UKu2019s fastest growing tech hubs, with access to an excellent talent pool of highly skilled people and university graduates. Deliveroo is committed to offering riders flexible, well-paid work and helping restaurants to grow their businesses. Building on Cultivateu2019s expertise, we are excited to create new products and services that will help us achieve this.u201d

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Notes to Editors

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Deliveroo is one of the UKu2019s leading tech unicorns and a British tech success story. Its investment in world-leading proprietary technology yields substantial benefits for customers, restaurants and riders. The Frank algorithm – which finds the optimal way to deliver food from restaurant to customer – has cut the average delivery time by nearly 20%, significantly reducing customer wait times. Franku2019s machine-learning capabilities improves the allocation of orders and reduces restaurant waiting times for riders, helping them to earn higher fees without riding longer hours. And Deliveroou2019s innovative products and tools give restaurants unique insights into their customer base, allows them to provide in-app offers to customers and improves their efficiency when preparing meals.

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A photo of Andy Robinson (Chief Commercial Officer, Cultivate), Dan Winn (VP of Engineering, Deliveroo) and Paul Wilson (Managing Director, Cultivate) is available here.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

As two of the largest players in online-food ordering and delivery in Europe work on a $10 billion merger to expand their footprint and economies of scale, one of its biggest rivals has made an acquisition to expand its own tech muscle. Deliveroo, the London-based food delivery startup backed by Amazon that is itself valued […]

n”,”protected”:false},”author”:13119829,”featured_media”:1829017,”comment_status”:”open”,”ping_status”:”closed”,”sticky”:false,”template”:””,”format”:”standard”,”meta”:{“outcome”:””,”status”:””,”crunchbase_tag”:0,”amp_status”:””,”relegenceEntities”:[],”relegenceSubjects”:[],”jetpack_publicize_message”:”Amazon-backed food delivery startup Deliveroo acquires Edinburgh software studio Cultivate https://tcrn.ch/2Yv8e9P by @ingridlunden”},”categories”:[449557100,576602980,447971118,449560964,20429],”tags”:[],”crunchbase_tag”:[],”tc_stories_tax”:[],”tc_event”:[],”jetpack_featured_media_url”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/deliveroo2.jpg”,”jetpack_publicize_connections”:[],”shortlink”:”https://tcrn.ch/2Yv8e9P”,”rapidData”:{“pt”:””,”pct”:””},”featured”:false,”subtitle”:””,”fundingRound”:false,”seoTitle”:””,”seoDescription”:””,”premiumContent”:false,”premiumCutoffPercent”:1,”tc_cb_mapping”:[],”associatedEvent”:null,”event”:null,”authors”:[13119829],”hideFeaturedImage”:false,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1863157″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts”}],”about”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/types/post”}],”version-history”:[{“count”:1,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1863157/revisions”}],”predecessor-version”:[{“id”:1863178,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1863157/revisions/1863178″}],”authors”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/13119829″}],”replies”:[{“embeddable”:true,”count”:0,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments?post=1863157&order=asc&tc_hierarchical=flat”}],”https://techcrunch.com/edit”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1863157&action=edit”}],”author”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/13119829″}],”wp:featuredmedia”:[{“embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media/1829017″}],”wp:attachment”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media?parent=1863157″}],”wp:term”:[{“taxonomy”:”category”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/categories?post=1863157″},{“taxonomy”:”post_tag”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tags?post=1863157″},{“taxonomy”:”_tc_cb_tag_taxonomy”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/crunchbase_tag?post=1863157″},{“taxonomy”:”tc_stories_tax”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_stories_tax?post=1863157″},{“taxonomy”:”tc_event”,”embeddable”:true,”href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_event?post=1863157″}],”curies”:[{“name”:”wp”,”href”:”https://api.w.org/{rel}”,”templated”:true}]},”_embedded”:{“authors”:[{“id”:13119829,”name”:”Ingrid Lunden”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/ingrid-lunden/”,”slug”:”ingrid-lunden”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“facebook”:”https://www.facebook.com/ingridlunden”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/ingridlunden”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/ingridlunden”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/ingrid-lunden”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Ingrid is a writer and editor for TechCrunch, joining February 2012, based out of London.

nn

Before TechCrunch, Ingrid worked at paidContent.org, where she was a staff writer, and has in the past also written freelance regularly for other publications such as the Financial Times. Ingrid covers mobile, digital media, advertising and the spaces where these intersect.

nn

When it comes to work, she feels most comfortable speaking in English but can also speak Russian, Spanish and French (in descending order of competence).

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1421351035/tbebbexwnizrc5qurxt4.jpg”,”twitter”:”ingridlunden”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/13119829″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:13119829,”name”:”Ingrid Lunden”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/ingrid-lunden/”,”slug”:”ingrid-lunden”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6648ec93043f0f368091adece63c6d52?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“facebook”:”https://www.facebook.com/ingridlunden”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/ingridlunden”,”linkedin”:”https://www.linkedin.com/in/ingridlunden”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/ingrid-lunden”},”position”:”Writer”,”cbDescription”:”

Ingrid is a writer and editor for TechCrunch, joining February 2012, based out of London.

nn

Before TechCrunch, Ingrid worked at paidContent.org, where she was a staff writer, and has in the past also written freelance regularly for other publications such as the Financial Times. Ingrid covers mobile, digital media, advertising and the spaces where these intersect.

nn

When it comes to work, she feels most comfortable speaking in English but can also speak Russian, Spanish and French (in descending order of competence).

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1421351035/tbebbexwnizrc5qurxt4.jpg”,”twitter”:”ingridlunden”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/13119829″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”wp:featuredmedia”:[{“id”:1829017,”date”:”2019-05-16T23:47:25″,”slug”:”wales-daily-life-2″,”type”:”attachment”,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/16/amazon-takes-a-bite-into-deliveroo/wales-daily-life-2/”,”title”:{“rendered”:”deliveroo”},”author”:5956050,”license”:{“source_key”:”getty images”,”person”:”Matthew Horwood”,”cropped”:”true”},”authors”:[5956050],”caption”:{“rendered”:”

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM – DECEMBER 22: A Deliveroo rider at work at night on December 22, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

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happened to the sharing economy?”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

A few years ago, Silicon Valley couldnu2019t stop using a trendy buzzword u2014 the sharing economy. The good old top-down economic model with a clear separation between service providers and clients was falling apart. And huge tech companies disrupted entire industries, from Airbnb to Taskrabbit, Uber, Etsy and Getaround.

n

When you retrospectively look at the sharing economy boom of the early 2010s, many of the principles that defined that generation of startups have slowly disappeared. Instead of a huge societal shift, the sharing economy is slowly fading away.

n

What is the sharing economy?

n

In the past, if you wanted to buy a good or a service, you would ask a company or a professional to provide it.

n

Youu2019d buy something from a company in particular because you knew it would be the exact thing you need. Thatu2019s why plenty of companies spent huge amounts of money to build a brand and a reputation. If you just bought a car, chances are youu2019ll see thousands of ads for cars before you buy your next car.

n

And thatu2019s also why distribution channels have been key, especially in commoditized markets with low brand differentiation. For instance, when you buy a new printer, chances are you just head to an electronics store or type u201cprinteru201d on your favorite e-commerce website. If HP doesnu2019t have a distribution deal with those stores, youu2019ll just buy an Epson printer.

n

If your neighbor wants a new printer in a couple of years, you might recommend the same printer, but you may have forgotten where you bought it. Thereu2019s little differentiation between distribution channels in that case.

n

The marketplace model

n

The sharing economy happened because a group of entrepreneurs wanted to invent new distribution channels. Sure, some traditional distribution channels secured exclusive rights to sell specific products.

n

But those startups made a radical change. They wanted to work on a completely new inventory of goods or services.

n

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

A few years ago, Silicon Valley couldnu2019t stop using a trendy buzzword u2014 the sharing economy. The good old top-down economic model with a clear separation between service providers and clients was falling apart. And huge tech companies disrupted entire industries, from Airbnb to Taskrabbit, Uber, Etsy and Getaround. When you retrospectively look at the […]

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Romain Dillet is a Senior Writer at TechCrunch.

nn

Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world.

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He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

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He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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Romain Dillet is a Senior Writer at TechCrunch.

nn

Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world.

nn

He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

nn

He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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Airbnb Luxe 1

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‘world’s largest internet restaurant company’ quietly raised $125 million this month”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

In May, venture capitalist Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital warned in a Financial Times column that Amazon’s recent $575 million investment in the London-based delivery service Deliveroo could prove ominous for local restaurants. Wrote Moritz: “Amazon is now one step away from becoming a multi-brand restaurant company u2014 and that could mean doomsday for many dining haunts.”

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Moritz was right to attract more attention to the deal. Deliveroo has begun operating shared kitchens from which it will not simply transport food to customers but eventually prepare it, too. His warning may even have played a role in the recent decision of Britainu2019s competition regulator to halt work on Amazon’s investment so it can first investigate whether the deal poses competitive concerns.

n

Moritz knows the playbook because of Sequoia’s early investment in Rebel Foods, formerly known as Faasos, a once-small Pune, India-based company that now prepares a variety of foods in its cloud kitchens. As he says in the same column, Faasos largely pioneered the trend.

n

The growth of the nine-year-old company is a bit breathtaking — and instructive. According to Bloomberg, Rebel — which this month raised $125 million in fresh capital from the Indonesian delivery service Go-Jek, Coatue Management and Goldman Sachs — now operates 235 kitchens across 20 Indian cities. And it’s processing two million orders a month. (It calls itself the “world’s largest internet restaurant company.”)

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While it began life as a chain of kebab restaurants, that original concept, Faasos, is now just one of eight other brands that Rebel operates, including a tea brand called Kettle & Kegs; a Chinese concept called Mandarin Oak; a pizza brand called Oven Story; and a brand called Behrouz, through which Rebel makes and sells slow-cooked biryani rice dishes.

n

Rebel Foods isn’t the only fast-moving operator using cloud kitchens to offer every kind of cuisine imaginable under one roof. Competitors of the company — which tells Bloomberg it is now valued at $525 million — include UberEats and the food delivery company Zomato, which itself has plans to open more than 100 cloud kitchens by the end of this year.

n

Zomato says it isn’t getting into the food preparation business — yet — but rather renting facilities, kitchen equipment and software to restaurants.

n

Still, it’s little wonder that Rebel is racing headlong into new markets as fast as it can. According to Bloomberg, the company is currently planning to build 100 cloud kitchens in Indonesia over the next 18 months, with Go-Jek’s help. It also expects to open 20 cloud kitchen facilities in the United Arab Emirates by December.

n

Rebel was founded by Jaydeep Barman, a native of Mumbai with an MBA from INSEAD who spent nearly four years with McKinsey before joining forces with business school classmate Kallol Banerjee to launch Faasos.

n

Despite raising money early on from Sequoia, the company was once at risk of going out of business, in part owing to high rents and employee turnover. As Moritz tells the story, things turned around dramatically when the duo closed their restaurants and opened their first centralized kitchen.

n

That decision would prove pivotal. Not only did Rebel survive, but today, the company tells Bloomberg, the entire operation runs the equivalent of 1,600 restaurants.

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

In May, venture capitalist Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital warned in a Financial Times column that Amazon’s recent $575 million investment in the London-based delivery service Deliveroo could prove ominous for local restaurants. Wrote Moritz: “Amazon is now one step away from becoming a multi-brand restaurant company u2014 and that could mean doomsday for many […]

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Loizos has been reporting on Silicon Valley since the late ’90s, when she joined the original Red Herring magazine. She is currently the Silicon Valley Editor of TechCrunch. She’s also the founder of StrictlyVC, a daily e-newsletter and lecture series.

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Loizos has been reporting on Silicon Valley since the late ’90s, when she joined the original Red Herring magazine. She is currently the Silicon Valley Editor of TechCrunch. She’s also the founder of StrictlyVC, a daily e-newsletter and lecture series.

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Exit: The acquisition charting Salesforce’s future”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Before Tableau was the $15.7 billion key to Salesforce’s problems, it was a couple of founders arguing with a couple of venture capitalists over lunch about why its Series A valuation should be higher than $12 million pre-money.

n

Salesforce has generally been one to signify corporate strategy shifts through their acquisitions, so you can understand why the entire tech industry took notice when the cloud CRM giant announced its priciest acquisition ever last month.

n

The deal to acquire the Seattle-based data visualization powerhouse Tableau was substantial enough that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff publicly announced it was turning Seattle into its second HQ. Tableau’s acquisition doesn’t just mean big things for Salesforce. With the deal taking place just days after Google announced it was paying $2.6 billion for Looker, the acquisition showcases just how intense the cloud wars are getting for the enterprise tech companies out to win it all.

n

The Exit is a new series at TechCrunch. Itu2019s an exit interview of sorts with a VC who was in the right place at the right time but made the right call on an investment that paid off. [Have feedback? Shoot me an email at lucas@techcrunch.com]

n

Scott Sandell, a general partner at NEA (New Enterprise Associates) who has now been at the firm for 25 years, was one of those investors arguing with two of Tableau’s co-founders, Chris Stolte and Christian Chabot. Desperate to close the 2004 deal over their lunch meeting, he went on to agree to the Tableau founders’ demands of a higher $20 million valuation, though Sandell tells me it still feels like he got a pretty good deal.

n

NEA went on to invest further in subsequent rounds and went on to hold over 38% of the company at the time of its IPO in 2013 according to public financial docs.

n

I had a long chat with Sandell, who also invested in Salesforce, about the importance of the Tableau deal, his rise from associate to general partner at NEA, who he sees as the biggest challenger to Salesforce, and why he thinks scooter companies are “the worst business in the known universe.”

n

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.u00a0

n


n

Lucas Matney: You’ve been at this investing thing for quite a while, but taking a trip down memory lane, how did you get into VC in the first place?u00a0

n

Scott Sandell: The way I got into venture capital is a little bit of a circuitous route. I had an opportunity to get into venture capital coming out of Stanford Business School in 1992, but it wasn’t quite the right fit. And so I had an interest, but I didn’t have the right opportunity.

n

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Before Tableau was the $15.7 billion key to Salesforce’s problems, it was a couple of founders arguing with a couple of venture capitalists over lunch about why its Series A valuation should be higher than $12 million pre-money. Salesforce has generally been one to signify corporate strategy shifts through their acquisitions, so you can understand […]

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Lucas Matney is a reporter at TechCrunch and has been covering emerging technologies and startups since 2015. He lives in San Francisco and can be reached via email at lucas@techcrunch.com

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 19: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff delivers the keynote address during the Dreamforce 2012 conference at the Moscone Center on September 19, 2012 in San Francisco, California. A reported 90,000 people registered to attend the cloud computing industry conference Dreamforce 2012 that runs through September 21. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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The AWS DeepRacer is an almost toylike 1/18th scale race car. It comes with all of the sensors and software tools to help developers build machine learning models to drive the car around a course u2014 or really do anything else they want it to do. The $399 DeepRacer launched at AWS’s massive re:Invent show in late 2018.

n

At the time, it seemed like a bit of a gimmick, but AWS has put a lot of its weight behind it and is currently running a DeepRacer league at its various events around the world. At these events, developers can pit their models against each other and learn more about building a specific kind of machine learning model in the process.

n

Why bother, though? It’s not like DeepRacer cars are likely to add to AWS’s bottom line anytime soon. DeepRacer, however, is part of a line of hardware products from AWS that started with DeepLens, a smart camera for developers.

n

“It really comes from the same place,” AWS general manager for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning marketing Ryan Gavin told me. “When you think about the stimulus for something like DeepLens, it was really about how do we put machine learning into the hands of every developer and data scientist. That’s our mission and we’re very consistent about that.”

n

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

The AWS DeepRacer is an almost toylike 1/18th scale race car. It comes with all of the sensors and software tools to help developers build machine learning models to drive the car around a course u2014 or really do anything else they want it to do. The $399 DeepRacer launched at AWS’s massive re:Invent show […]

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Before he joined TechCrunch in 2012, he founded SiliconFilter and wrote for ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). Frederic covers enterprise, cloud, developer tools, Google, Microsoft, gadgets, transportation and anything else he finds interesting. He owns just over a 50th of a bitcoin.

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Before he joined TechCrunch in 2012, he founded SiliconFilter and wrote for ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite). Frederic covers enterprise, cloud, developer tools, Google, Microsoft, gadgets, transportation and anything else he finds interesting. He owns just over a 50th of a bitcoin.

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BURBANK, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 22: The AWS DeepRacer demo at AT&T SHAPE at Warner Bros. Studios on June 22, 2019 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for AT&T)

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dreaded 10x, or, how to handle exceptional employees”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

The “10x engineer.” Shudder. Wince. I have rarely seen my Twitter feed unite against an idea so loudly, or in such harmony.

n

I refer of course to the thread last month by Accel India’s Shekhar Kirani, explaining “If you have a 10x engineer as part of your first few engineers, you increase the odds of your startup success significantly” and then going on to address, in his opinion, “How do you spot a 10x engineer?”

n

The resulting scorn was tsunami-like. The very concept of a 10x engineer seems so… five years ago. Since then, the Valley has largely come to the collective conclusion that 1) there is no such thing as a 10x engineer 2) even if there were, you wouldn’t want to hire one, because they play so poorly with others.

n

The anti-10x squad raises many important and valid u2014 frankly, obvious and inarguable u2014 points. Go down that Twitter thread and you’ll find that 10x engineers are identified as: people who eschew meetings, work alone, rarely look at documentation, don’t write much themselves, are poor mentors, and view process, meetings, or training as reasons to abandon their employer. In short, they are unbelievably terrible team members.

n

Is software a field like the arts, or sports, in which exceptional performers can exist? Sure. Absolutely. Software is Extremistan, not Mediocristan, as Nassim Taleb puts it.

n

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The “10x engineer.” Shudder. Wince. I have rarely seen my Twitter feed unite against an idea so loudly, or in such harmony. I refer of course to the thread last month by Accel India’s Shekhar Kirani, explaining “If you have a 10x engineer as part of your first few engineers, you increase the odds of […]

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happened to the sharing economy?”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

A few years ago, Silicon Valley couldnu2019t stop using a trendy buzzword u2014 the sharing economy. The good old top-down economic model with a clear separation between service providers and clients was falling apart. And huge tech companies disrupted entire industries, from Airbnb to Taskrabbit, Uber, Etsy and Getaround.

n

When you retrospectively look at the sharing economy boom of the early 2010s, many of the principles that defined that generation of startups have slowly disappeared. Instead of a huge societal shift, the sharing economy is slowly fading away.

n

What is the sharing economy?

n

In the past, if you wanted to buy a good or a service, you would ask a company or a professional to provide it.

n

Youu2019d buy something from a company in particular because you knew it would be the exact thing you need. Thatu2019s why plenty of companies spent huge amounts of money to build a brand and a reputation. If you just bought a car, chances are youu2019ll see thousands of ads for cars before you buy your next car.

n

And thatu2019s also why distribution channels have been key, especially in commoditized markets with low brand differentiation. For instance, when you buy a new printer, chances are you just head to an electronics store or type u201cprinteru201d on your favorite e-commerce website. If HP doesnu2019t have a distribution deal with those stores, youu2019ll just buy an Epson printer.

n

If your neighbor wants a new printer in a couple of years, you might recommend the same printer, but you may have forgotten where you bought it. Thereu2019s little differentiation between distribution channels in that case.

n

The marketplace model

n

The sharing economy happened because a group of entrepreneurs wanted to invent new distribution channels. Sure, some traditional distribution channels secured exclusive rights to sell specific products.

n

But those startups made a radical change. They wanted to work on a completely new inventory of goods or services.

n

“,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

A few years ago, Silicon Valley couldnu2019t stop using a trendy buzzword u2014 the sharing economy. The good old top-down economic model with a clear separation between service providers and clients was falling apart. And huge tech companies disrupted entire industries, from Airbnb to Taskrabbit, Uber, Etsy and Getaround. When you retrospectively look at the […]

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nn

Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world.

nn

He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

nn

He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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Romain Dillet is a Senior Writer at TechCrunch.

nn

Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world.

nn

He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

nn

He owns small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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Airbnb Luxe 1

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top VCs view the new future of micromobility”},”content”:{“rendered”:”

Earlier this month, TechCrunch held its annual Mobility Sessions event, where leading mobility-focused auto companies, startups, executives and thought leaders joined us to discuss all things autonomous vehicle technology, micromobility and electric vehicles.

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Extra Crunch is offering members access to full transcripts key panels and conversations from the event, including our panel on micromobility where TechCrunch VC reporter Kate Clark was joined by investors Sarah Smith of Bain Capital Ventures, Michael Granoff of Maniv Mobility, and Ted Serbinski of TechStars Detroit.

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The panelists walk through their mobility investment theses and how they’ve changed over the last few years. The group also compares the business models of scooters, e-bikes, e-motorcycles, rideshare and more, while discussing Uber and Lyft’s role in tomorrow’s mobility ecosystem.

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Sarah Smith: It was very clear last summer, that there was essentially a near-vertical demand curve developing with consumer adoption of scooters. E-bikes had been around, but scooters, for Lime just to give you perspective, had only hit the road in February. So by the time we were really looking at things, they only had really six months of data. But we could look at the traction and the adoption, and really just what this was doing for consumers.

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At the time, consumers had learned through Uber and Lyft and others that you can just grab your cell phone and press a button, and that equates to transportation. And then we see through the sharing economy like Airbnb, people don’t necessarily expect to own every single asset that they use throughout the day. So there’s this confluence of a lot of different consumer trends that suggested that this wasn’t just a fad. This wasn’t something that was going to go away.

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For access to the full transcription below and for the opportunity to read through additional event transcripts and recaps, become a member of Extra Crunch.u00a0Learn more and try it for free.u00a0

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Kate Clark: One of the first panels of the day, I think we should take a moment to define mobility. As VCs in this space, how do you define this always-evolving sector?

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Michael Granoff: Well, the way I like to put it is that there have been four eras in mobility. The first was walking and we did that for thousands of years. Then we harnessed animal power for thousands of years.

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And then there was a date u2014 and I saw Ken Washington from Ford here u2014 September 1st, 1908, which was when the Model T came out. And through the next 100 years, mobility is really defined as the personally owned and operated individual operated internal combustion engine car.

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And what’s interesting is to go exactly 100 years later, September 2008, the financial crisis that affects the auto industry tremendously, but also a time where we had the first third-party apps, and you had Waze and you had Uber, and then you had Lime and Bird, and so forth. And really, I think what we’re in now is the age of digital mobility and I think that’s what defines what this day is about.

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Ted Serbinski: Yeah, I think just to add to that, I think mobility is the movement of people and goods. But that last part of digital mobility, I really look at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. And it’s really that intersection, which is enabling all these new ways to move around.

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GettyImages 1129827591

Image via Getty Images / Jackie Niam

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Clark: So Ted you run TechStars Detroit, but it was once known as TechStars Mobility. So why did you decide to drop the mobility?

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Serbinski: So Iu2019m at a mobility conference, and we no longer call ourselves mobility. So five years ago, when we launched the mobility program at TechStars, we were working very closely with Ford’s group and at the time, five years ago, 2014, where it started with the connected car, auto and [people saying] u201cyou should use the word mobility.u201d

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And I was like u201cWhat does that mean?u201d And so when we launched TechStars Mobility, we got all this stuff but we were like u201cthis isn’t what we’re looking for. What does this word mean?u201d And then Cruise gets acquired for a billion dollars. And everyone’s like u201cMobility! This is the next big gold rush! Mobility, mobility, mobility!u201d

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And because I invest early-stage companies anywhere in the world, what started to happen last year is we’d be going after a company and theyu2019d say, u201cwell, we’re not interested in your program. We’re not mobility.u201d And I’d be scratching my head like, u201cNo, you are mobility. This is where the future is going. You’re this digital way of moving around. And no, we’re artificial intelligence, weu2019re robotics.u201d

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And as we started talking to more and more entrepreneurs, and hundreds of startups around the world, it became pretty clear that the word mobility is actually becoming too limiting, depending on your vantage where you are in the world.

n

And so this year, we actually dropped the word mobility and we just call it TechStars Detroit, and itu2019s really just intersection of those physical and digital worlds. And so now we don’t have a word, but I think we found more mobility companies by dropping the word mobility.

n

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Earlier this month, TechCrunch held its annual Mobility Sessions event, where leading mobility-focused auto companies, startups, executives and thought leaders joined us to discuss all things autonomous vehicle technology, micromobility and electric vehicles. Extra Crunch is offering members access to full transcripts key panels and conversations from the event, including our panel on micromobility where […]

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Itu2019s perhaps not for nothing that The Great Hack — the new Netflix documentary about the connections between Cambridge Analytica, the U.S. election and Brexit, out on July 23 — opens with a scene from Burning Man. There, Brittany Kaiser, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, scrawls the name of the company onto a strut of “the temple” that will eventually get burned in that fiery annual ritual. Itu2019s an apt opening.

n

There are probably many of us whou2019d wish quite a lot of the last couple of years could be thrown into that temple fire, but this documentary is the first Iu2019ve seen to expertly peer into the flames of what has become the real-world dumpster fire that is social media, dark advertising and global politics which have all become inextricably, and, often fatally, combined.

n

The documentary is also the first that you could plausibly recommend to those of your relatives and friends who donu2019t work in tech, as it explains how social media — specifically Facebook — is now manipulating our lives and society, whether we like it or not.

n

As New York Professor David Carroll puts it at the beginning, Facebook gives u201cany buyer direct access to my emotional pulseu201d — and that included political campaigns during the Brexit referendum and the Trump election. Privacy campaigner Carroll is pivotal to the film’s story of how our data is being manipulated and essentially kept from us by Facebook.

n

The U.K.u2019s referendum decision to leave the European Union, in fact, became “the Petri dishu201d for a Cambridge Analytica (CA) experiment, says Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr. She broke the story of how the political consultancy, led by Eton-educated CEO Alexander Nix, applied to the democratic operations of the U.S. and U.K., and many other countries, over a chilling 20+ year history techniques normally used by “psyops” operatives in Afghanistan. Watching this film, you literally start to wonder if history has been warped toward a sickening dystopia.

n

carole

n

The Petri-dish of Brexit worked. Millions of adverts, explains the documentary, targeted individuals, exploiting fear and anger, to switch them from “persuadables,” as CA called them, into passionate advocates for, first Brexit in the U.K., and then Trump later on.

n

Switching to the U.S., the filmmakers show how CA worked directly with Trumpu2019s “Project Alamou201d campaign, spending a million dollars a day on Facebook ads ahead of the 2016 election.

n

The film expertly explains the timeline of how CA first worked off Ted Cruzu2019s campaign, and nearly propelled that lack-luster candidate into first place in the Republican nominations. It was then that the Trump campaign picked up on CAu2019s military-like operation.

n

After loading up the psychographic survey information CA obtained from Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who orchestrated the harvesting of Facebook data, the world had become their oyster. Or, perhaps more accurately, their oyster farm.

n

Back in London, Cadwalladr notices triumphant Brexit campaigners fraternizing with Trump and starts digging. There is a thread connecting them to Breitbart owner Steve Bannon. There is a thread connecting them to Cambridge Analytica. She tugs on those threads and, like that iconic scene in The Hurt Locker, where all the threads pull up unexploded mines, she starts to realize that Cambridge Analytica links them all. She needs a source though. That came in the form of former employee Chris Wylie, a brave young man who was able to unravel many of the CA threads.

n

But the filmu2019s attention is often drawn back to Kaiser, who had worked first on U.S. political campaigns and then on Brexit for CA. She had been drawn to the company by smooth-talking CEO Nix, who begged: u201cLet me get you drunk and steal all of your secrets.u201d

n

But was she a real whistleblower? Or was she trying to cover her tracks? How could someone whou2019d worked on the Obama campaign switch to Trump? Was she a victim of Cambridge Analytica, or one of its villains?

n

British political analyst Paul Hilder manages to get her to come to the U.K. to testify before a parliamentary inquiry. There is high drama as her part in the story unfolds.

n

Kaiser appears in various guises, which vary from idealistically naive to stupid, from knowing to manipulative. Itu2019s almost impossible to know which. But hearing about her revelation as to why she made the choices she didu2026 well, itu2019s an eye-opener.

n

brit

n

Both she and Wylie have complex stories in this tale, where not everything seems to be as it is, reflecting our new world, where truth is increasingly hard to determine.

n

Other characters come and go in this story. Zuckerburg makes an appearance in Congress and we learn of the casual relationship Facebook had to its complicity in these political earthquakes. Although, if youu2019re reading TechCrunch, then you probably know at least part of this story.

n

Created for Netflix by Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, these Egyptian-Americans made “The Square,” about the Egyptian revolution of 2011. To them, the way Cambridge Analytica applied its methods to online campaigning was just as much a revolution as Egyptians toppling a dictator from Cariou2019s iconic Tahrir Square.

n

For them, the huge irony is that u201cpsyops,u201d or psychological operations, used on Muslim populations in Iraq and Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks ended up being used to influence Western elections.

n

Cadwalladr stands head and shoulders above all as a bastion of dogged journalism, even as she is attacked from all quarters, and still is to this day.

n

What you wonu2019t find out from this film is what happens next. For many, questions remain on the table: What will happen now that Facebook is entering cryptocurrency? Will that mean it could be used for dark election campaigning? Will people be paid for their votes next time, not just in Likes? Kaiser has a bitcoin logo on the back of her phone. Is that connected? The film doesnu2019t comment.

n

But it certainly unfolds like a slow-motion car crash, where democracy is the car and youu2019re inside it.

n

n”,”protected”:false},”excerpt”:{“rendered”:”

There are probably many of us whou2019d wish quite a lot of the last couple of years could be thrown into that temple fire, but this documentary is the first Iu2019ve seen to expertly peer into the flames of what has become the real-world dumpster fire that is social media, dark advertising and global politics […]

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Mike Butcher MBE is Editor-at-large of TechCrunch.

nn

As a writer, editor, interviewer, moderator and columnist in the tech media world he covers everything the smallest tech startups and the largest tech giants. Lately, heu2019s been writing a lot about Blockchain and Crypto.

nn

Mike has been named one of the most influential people in European technology by various newspaper and magazines. He founded The Europas Awards, the non-profit Techfugees and has advised the UK government on tech startup policy. He was awarded an MBE in the Queenu2019s Birthday Honours list 2016 for services to the UK technology industry and journalism.

nn

As well as being a long-time Writer, Broadcaster and Editor Mike is also co-founder of TechHub.com, a project to merge a thriving community with office space for fast-moving startups; co-founder of the UKu2019s Coadec.com lobbyist for startups; the non-profit TechVets for UK military veterans, and the UK event series ThePathfounder.com.

nn

Mike has written for UK national newspapers and magazines including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The New Statesman. He is a former editor of New Media Age magazine, the leading new media weekly in the UK, and the European edition of The Industry Standard magazine.

nn

In 2000 he was nominated as NetMediau2019s European Internet Journalist of the Year. In 2004 he was voted u2018One of the 100 Innovators of the UK Internet Decadeu2019 by GfK NOP, the fourth-largest custom research business in the world. In July 2008 he was put at No. 47 out of the Top 100 people in Londonu2019s creative industry by The Independent newspaper and The Hospital Club. In August 2008 TechCrunch Europe was awarded the best u201cWeb 2.0 and business blogu201d in the UK, by the readers of Computer Weekly magazine. In 2009 it was named as one of the Top 10 blogs out of the UK. Also in 2009 Mike was named one of the Top 10 bloggers on Twitter in the UK. In October 2009 he was named one of the Top 50 most influential Britons in technology by The Daily Telegraph. In April 2010 he was in Wired UKu2019s Top 100 influencer list, in 2011, in 2012, (there was no Top 100 list in 2013), in 2014 and again in 2015. In April 2010 TechCrunch Europe was shortlisted in the Specialist Digital Publisher category of the prestigious UK-based Association of Online Publishersu2019 Digital Publishing Awards. In November 2010 he was named as one of Londonu2019s most influential people in New Media and u201cking of dotcom commentatorsu201d by The Evening Standard Newspaper. He has been listed as one of the Top 100 most influential people on Twitter in the UK. He was named in the TechNation200 Almanac. He has been named as one of u201cThe 100 coolest people in UK techu201d by Business Insider. He was named in the u201cSmith & Williamson Power 100u201d. In 2016 British GQ magazine named him one of the 100 Most Connected Men in the UK. He has spoken at the prestigious World Economic Forum, the Monaco Media Forum, Le Web, Web Summit and DLD among many other conferences. Mike is a regular commentator on the technology business, appearing on BBC News, Sky News, CNBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera and Bloomberg. Mike has advised the UK Prime Minister on tech startups, served on the Mayor of Londonu2019s Digital Advisory Board, the u2018Smart Londonu2019 Board and been a Technology Ambassador for London. He was awarded an MBE in the Queenu2019s Birthday Honours list 2016 for services to the UK technology industry and journalism. Mikeu2019s personal blog is mbites.com, while he Tweets as @mikebutcher.

nn

He owns shares in ETFs, shares in Verizon via employee stock grants and small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.nMore info: http://mbites.com/contact

“,”cbAvatar”:”https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1440610728/bvnoe2vldznlydpvkdfj.png”,”twitter”:”mikebutcher”,”_links”:{“self”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/12084669″}],”collection”:[{“href”:”https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users”}]}}],”author”:[{“id”:12084669,”name”:”Mike Butcher”,”url”:””,”description”:””,”link”:”https://techcrunch.com/author/mike-butcher/”,”slug”:”mike-butcher”,”avatar_urls”:{“24″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ef4a4ab87c72738ed187e21de55b2fc6?s=24&d=identicon&r=g”,”48″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ef4a4ab87c72738ed187e21de55b2fc6?s=48&d=identicon&r=g”,”96″:”https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ef4a4ab87c72738ed187e21de55b2fc6?s=96&d=identicon&r=g”},”links”:{“homepage”:”http://mbites.com”,”facebook”:”https://www.facebook.com/mikebutcher”,”twitter”:”https://twitter.com/mikebutcher”,”linkedin”:”https://uk.linkedin.com/in/mikebutcher”,”crunchbase”:”https://www.crunchbase.com/person/mike-butcher”},”position”:”Editor At Large”,”cbDescription”:”

Mike Butcher MBE is Editor-at-large of TechCrunch.

nn

As a writer, editor, interviewer, moderator and columnist in the tech media world he covers everything the smallest tech startups and the largest tech giants. Lately, heu2019s been writing a lot about Blockchain and Crypto.

nn

Mike has been named one of the most influential people in European technology by various newspaper and magazines. He founded The Europas Awards, the non-profit Techfugees and has advised the UK government on tech startup policy. He was awarded an MBE in the Queenu2019s Birthday Honours list 2016 for services to the UK technology industry and journalism.

nn

As well as being a long-time Writer, Broadcaster and Editor Mike is also co-founder of TechHub.com, a project to merge a thriving community with office space for fast-moving startups; co-founder of the UKu2019s Coadec.com lobbyist for startups; the non-profit TechVets for UK military veterans, and the UK event series ThePathfounder.com.

nn

Mike has written for UK national newspapers and magazines including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The New Statesman. He is a former editor of New Media Age magazine, the leading new media weekly in the UK, and the European edition of The Industry Standard magazine.

nn

In 2000 he was nominated as NetMediau2019s European Internet Journalist of the Year. In 2004 he was voted u2018One of the 100 Innovators of the UK Internet Decadeu2019 by GfK NOP, the fourth-largest custom research business in the world. In July 2008 he was put at No. 47 out of the Top 100 people in Londonu2019s creative industry by The Independent newspaper and The Hospital Club. In August 2008 TechCrunch Europe was awarded the best u201cWeb 2.0 and business blogu201d in the UK, by the readers of Computer Weekly magazine. In 2009 it was named as one of the Top 10 blogs out of the UK. Also in 2009 Mike was named one of the Top 10 bloggers on Twitter in the UK. In October 2009 he was named one of the Top 50 most influential Britons in technology by The Daily Telegraph. In April 2010 he was in Wired UKu2019s Top 100 influencer list, in 2011, in 2012, (there was no Top 100 list in 2013), in 2014 and again in 2015. In April 2010 TechCrunch Europe was shortlisted in the Specialist Digital Publisher category of the prestigious UK-based Association of Online Publishersu2019 Digital Publishing Awards. In November 2010 he was named as one of Londonu2019s most influential people in New Media and u201cking of dotcom commentatorsu201d by The Evening Standard Newspaper. He has been listed as one of the Top 100 most influential people on Twitter in the UK. He was named in the TechNation200 Almanac. He has been named as one of u201cThe 100 coolest people in UK techu201d by Business Insider. He was named in the u201cSmith & Williamson Power 100u201d. In 2016 British GQ magazine named him one of the 100 Most Connected Men in the UK. He has spoken at the prestigious World Economic Forum, the Monaco Media Forum, Le Web, Web Summit and DLD among many other conferences. Mike is a regular commentator on the technology business, appearing on BBC News, Sky News, CNBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera and Bloomberg. Mike has advised the UK Prime Minister on tech startups, served on the Mayor of Londonu2019s Digital Advisory Board, the u2018Smart Londonu2019 Board and been a Technology Ambassador for London. He was awarded an MBE in the Queenu2019s Birthday Honours list 2016 for services to the UK technology industry and journalism. Mikeu2019s personal blog is mbites.com, while he Tweets as @mikebutcher.

nn

He owns shares in ETFs, shares in Verizon via employee stock grants and small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.nMore info: http://mbites.com/contact

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