Sunday, September 3, 2017

Barry Lynn links

A lot of people wrote a lot of words about this; it was a very visible event.

  • When The Truth is Messy and Hard
    I have racked my brain for the last two months, and certainly over the last two days, as to what I, in consultation with my leadership team, could or should have done differently about the departure of Barry Lynn and Open Markets from New America. At its core, this was a personnel issue that I knew others would see as a program issue. The way I saw it, I had three choices: I could keep an employee who had repeatedly violated the standards of honesty and good faith with his colleagues, including misleading me directly. I could fire him outright and try to find a leader for his program, which would force both his funders and his program staff, many of whom were young rising stars who both Barry and I have mentored, to choose between us and him. Or I could try to work with Barry to negotiate a cooperative spinning out of the Open Markets program, as we have done with a number of other programs.

    I chose the third option

  • I don't understand this
    If it is a personnel issue and not a program issue, you fire the person.

    If it is a program issue and not a personnel issue, you spin out the group, wish them best wishes in their future endeavors, and direct funders their way.

    But this seems to me to fit neither case. Sending young rising stars "many of whom... [you] have mentored" out into the wilderness with a boss who you believe "repeatedly violated the standards of honesty and good faith" is not doing them a favor

  • A Serf on Google's Farm
    Let’s discuss the various ways we’re in business with Google.

    It all starts with “DFP”, a flavor of Doubleclick called DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP).


    Then there’s AdExchange.


    Then there’s Google Analytics.


    Next there’s search.


    One additional Google implant is Gmail


    So let’s go down the list: 1) The system for running ads, 2) the top purchaser of ads, 3) the most pervasive audience data service, 4) all search, 5) our email.

    But wait, there’s more! Google also owns Chrome, the most used browser for visiting TPM.

  • A leading Google critic’s firing from a Google-funded think tank, explained
    Reading between the lines slightly, Slaughter’s story about “collegiality” and Lynn’s story that his work threatened his colleagues’ fundraising do not appear to genuinely differ in terms of the picture they paint. Ultimately, they’re both about Lynn imperiling New America’s access to Google’s financial support.
  • The Hard Consequence of Google's Soft Power
    The rift dates back to June 27, when Barry Lynn, the director of Open Markets, wrote a 150-word press release celebrating a major antitrust loss for Google in Europe. As part of the ruling, the EU fined Google €2.5 billion for abusing its dominance and ordered Google to stop boosting its own products in search. Lynn, a leading scholar on antitrust reform, encouraged American regulators to follow suit. “Google’s market power is one of the most critical challenges for competition policymakers in the world today,” Lynn wrote. In Lynn's account of events, shared with the Times, Schmidt “communicated his displeasure,” to New America’s CEO and president Anne-Marie Slaughter hours after the statement was published. Around that time, the post went offline—then reappeared after a few hours, the paper says. A couple days later, Slaughter told Lynn that Open Markets and New America would be parting ways.
  • Google-funded think tank fires prominent Google critic
    In a Wednesday statement, Slaughter disputed one of Lynn's key claims.

    "Today’s New York Times story alleges that Google lobbied New America to expel the Open Markets program because of this press release," Slaughter wrote. "This claim is absolutely false."

    But Slaughter's statement didn't challenge the accuracy of the emails Lynn supplied to the Times. And Slaughter didn't offer a clear explanation for why she fired Lynn, writing only that Lynn's "refusal to adhere to New America’s standards of openness and institutional collegiality" led to his ouster.

  • Google is coming after critics in academia, journalism; it's time to stop them
    This year, Google is on track to spend more money than any company in America on lobbying. In 2015, it was the third biggest corporate spender, paying more than Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin or the Koch brothers on lobbying. Much of what it is spending its money on has nothing to do with technical details regarding its search engine and everything to do with using its power in its search engine to shut out some competitors and build power over others.

    It is time to call out Google for what it is: a monopolist in search, video, maps and browser, and a thin-skinned tyrant when it comes to ideas.

  • Forget Wall Street – Silicon Valley is the new political power in Washington
    After years of legal wrangling, Microsoft was forced to make it easier for competitors to integrate their software with windows. The lengthy lawsuit left Microsoft with deep battle scars, and a more cautious, less aggressive approach to business. Under these conditions, rivals like Apple and Google were able to thrive.

    The landmark action taught Silicon Valley’s tech titans a painful lesson: play the political game or Washington will make your life difficult.

    That made a particularly profound impact on Eric Schmidt, who as CEO of Novell and former CEO of Sun Microsystems had a front-row seat to Microsoft’s public neutering. He clung on to the cautionary tale when he was hired as CEO of Google in 2001. Under his leadership, Google vastly increased its investment in lobbying to make friends and influence policymakers in Capitol Hill.

  • Tech Giant Google Finds Itself In Another Free-Speech Controversy
    what's new is big tech - right? - making money by organizing the world's information through secret algorithms that we don't really understand. And then generating so much money from the ad revenue, they can pay to shape the thoughts and the content the rest of us are creating.

    So it's like, you know, Google as well as others - you could say Facebook, too. It's like they're managing the pipes. And they're increasingly deciding what goes into the pipes. And the rest of us are just eating and drinking it up.

  • The Risks of Demonizing Silicon Valley
    scrutiny of the Valley and its issues is long overdue. People should push against the arrogance that “our way is the right way and the only way” and the intolerance of ideas that don’t accord with the Valley’s groupthink. People should be alarmed that incredible wealth is concentrated in a few hands. They should question the industry’s sexism. They should pay attention to the industry’s ideas on social issues ranging from privacy to regulation and the government’s role.

    The challenge is how to balance legitimate criticisms without descending into demonization. This is not a challenge unique to Silicon Valley. The same argument could be made about government and the financial world. Washington may be corrupt and dysfunctional, but relentlessly tearing it down makes it that much harder for us to allow government to do what most of us expect and need it to; Wall Street may have been infected with greed, but we need a stable and innovative financial system to facilitate a vibrant economic system.

Between this, and "the memo", I feel like Google has a ways to go in terms of becoming more open and transparent. It's not easy for a media company to be, and to remain, open with its audience.

But it's vital.

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