[AxisOfEasy] Silicon Valley Insider Confesses: Start-up Culture Is A Ponzi Scheme

Weekly Axis Of Easy #74

This week’s quote:  “Far Better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” …by ????

Last Week’s Quote was  …totally wrong. I thought it was Voltaire. It wasn’t. Enough said.

THE RULES: No searching up the answer, must be posted to the comments below:

The Prize: First person to post get their next domain or hosting renewal on us.

In this issue:

  • UK government bans the phrase “fake news”
  • New FCC rules to force an end to caller-id spoofing  
  • Snowden: Saudis targeted Khashoggi using Israeli spyware
  • WSJ non-review of Facebook camera: “not in my house”
  • DEA and ICE to put cameras in street lamps 
  • Airplane auto-pilot altitude set to 0. Hilarity does not ensue.
  • Silicon Valley insider confesses: start-up culture is a Ponzi scheme

UK government bans the phrase “fake news”

The UK’s Digital Culture, Media and Sports Committee recently led an inquiry into the “fake news” problem. One of the takeaways is that the UK government has instructed ministers to not use the phrase “fake news” owing to it’s being a “poorly defined and misleading term that conflates a variety of false information”. Ministers are instructed to use the terms “misinformation” or “disinformation” instead.

New FCC rules to force an end to caller-id spoofing 

In the US the FCC has passed new rules mandating that telecom carriers adopt the SHAKEN/STIR framework, which validates calls before they reach their endpoints. This will have the effect of blocking a lot of spam, spoofed and robocalls. As far as new government rules go, this one is actually pretty good (cognitive dissonance noted).

Read: https://transnexus.com/whitepapers/stir-and-shaken-overview/

Snowden: Saudis targeted Khashoggi using Israeli spyware

NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden told a conference in Tel Aviv that the Saudi government used “Pegasus” malware manufactured by Israeli tech company NSO Group Technologies to target and track WaPo reporter Khashoggi prior to his murder. NSO creates mobile phone spyware which it insists is only for license to legitimate government agencies seeking to prevent crime and terror. Apparently luring one’s citizens into their own consulate and dismembering them is within scope.

The Saudis were also caught using Pegasus to track Saudi journalist Omar Abdulaziz by Canadian based CitizenLab.

(..and The Saudis also killed another journalist, by torturing him to death in prison, about a week ago.)


And: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181105-saudi-journalist-tortured-to-death-in-prison/

WSJ non-review of Facebook camera: “not in my house”

Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern cited the too-numerous-to-list here privacy and security transgressions committed by Facebook over the last year or so as the reason why she couldn’t bring herself to unbox the Facebook “Portal+” in her house. The hardware device, with a camera embedded is supposed to be used to make video calls, etc but given that Facebook basically vacuums up everything it can get near, then leaks, sells or otherwise manipulates it to the users’ disadvantage, the entire prospect of even setting it up, let alone reviewing it, was a non-starter. Bravo to that. Most poignant review ever.

Read: https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-portal-non-review-why-i-didnt-put-facebooks-camera-in-my-home-1541685600 (paywall)

Or: https://www.morningstar.com/news/dow-jones/TDJNDN_201811089641/facebook-portal-nonreview-why-i-didnt-put-facebooks-camera-in-my-home.html

DEA and ICE to put cameras in street lamps

Speaking of cameras,  Justin Rohrlich and Dave Gershgorn over at Quartz took a look at US government procurement data and figured out that both the DEA and ICE have installed an undisclosed number of hidden cameras within streetlights around the country. The documents reveal payments to a Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC for “video recording and reproducing equipment”. It is unknown how many and where these devices have been installed so far, or where the next ones will go.

Airplane autopilot altitude set to 0. Hilarity does not ensue.

As per the old quip: “the problem with computers isn’t that they don’t do what you tell them to. The problem is that they do exactly what you tell them to”. A flight from Belfast to Glasgow had a scare when their aircraft pitched “nose down” and dropped 152 meters in 18 seconds. The problem? The autopilot was set with altitude of 0 feet. Woops.

Silicon Valley insider confesses: start-up culture is a Ponzi scheme

Basically, what I’ve been saying for years, is that the “tech start-up” racket is basically about breeding unicorns whose sole activity is to garner successively larger funding rounds, even at the cost of wrecking the economic habitats they operate within. Now even the insiders are fessing up to this reality, in this letter to partners from erstwhile VC sensation Social Capital which is quite startling in its frankness, the admission is made that the point of funding tech start-ups isn’t to build viable businesses but to transfer risk as fast as possible through a series of sequential “up rounds”.

I’ve written about this in detail in “Growth for Growth’s Sake Leads to Nowhere” and expanded greatly on that over on my Guerrilla Capitalism blog in “The Transition Overview, Building Companies that Matter”.

8 thoughts on “[AxisOfEasy] Silicon Valley Insider Confesses: Start-up Culture Is A Ponzi Scheme

  1. Unlike Mark, I’m not a libertarian, but I’d be curious to know: Why haven’t the carriers already blocked spoofed caller ID? Why hasn’t at least one carrier done it, to get a market advantage over the others? They must know every one of their customers hates that part of their experience. I’m sure there’s a reason. Cost? A vulnerability in SHAKEN/STIR we haven’t heard about yet? I support government regulation in the public interest, but I’m always baffled when obvious market forces don’t work.

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