Read the Republican FCC members’ statements for repealing net neutrality

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and commissioner Brendan Carr gave statements in favor of repealing net neutrality before the vote.

The FCC voted to repeal net neutrality rules today in a 3-2 vote along party lines. These are the statements from two pro-repeal Republican members of the Commission, Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai:


Re: Restoring Internet Freedom, WC Docket No. 17-108.

The Internet is the greatest free-market innovation in history. It has changed the way we live, play, work, learn, and speak. During my time at the FCC, I’ve met with entrepreneurs who have started businesses, doctors who have helped care for patients, teachers who have educated their students, and farmers who increased their crop yields, all because of the Internet. And the Internet has enriched my life immeasurably. In the past few days alone, I’ve downloaded interesting podcasts about blockchain technology, ordered a burrito, managed my playoff-bound fantasy football team, and—as you may have seen—tweeted.

What is responsible for the phenomenal development of the Internet? It certainly wasn’t heavy-handed government regulation. Quite to the contrary: At the dawn of the commercial Internet, President Clinton and a Republican Congress agreed that it would be the policy of the United States “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”

This bipartisan policy worked. Encouraged by light-touch regulation, the private sector invested over $ 1.5 trillion to build out fixed and mobile networks throughout the United States. 28.8k modems gave way to gigabit fiber connections. Innovators and entrepreneurs grew startups into global giants. America’s Internet economy became the envy of the world.

And this light-touch approach was good for consumers, too. In a free market full of permissionless innovation, online services blossomed. Within a generation, we’ve gone from email as the killer app to high-definition video streaming. Entrepreneurs and innovators guided the Internet far better than the clumsy hand of government ever could have.

But then, in early 2015, the FCC jettisoned this successful, bipartisan approach to the Internet. On express orders from the previous White House, the FCC scrapped the tried-and-true, light touch regulation of the Internet and replaced it with heavy-handed micromanagement. It decided to subject the Internet to utility-style regulation designed in the 1930s to govern Ma Bell.

This decision was a mistake. For one thing, there was no problem to solve. The Internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia. To the contrary, the Internet is perhaps the one thing in American society we can all agree has been a stunning success.

Not only was there no problem, this “solution” hasn’t worked. The main complaint consumers have about the Internet is not and has never been that their Internet service provider is blocking access to content. It’s that they don’t have access at all or enough competition. These regulations have taken us in the opposite direction from these consumer preferences. Under Title II, investment in high-speed networks has declined by billions of dollars. Notably, this is the first time that such investment has declined outside of a recession in the Internet era. When there’s less investment, that means fewer next-generation networks are built. That means less competition. That means fewer jobs for Americans building those networks. And that means more Americans are left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers. They don’t have the time, money, or lawyers to navigate a thicket of complex rules. I have personally visited some of them, from Spencer Municipal Utilities in Spencer, Iowa to Wave Wireless in Parsons, Kansas. I have personally spoken with many more, from Amplex Internet in Ohio to AirLink Services in Oklahoma. So it’s no surprise that the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which represents small fixed wireless companies that typically operate in rural America, surveyed its members and found that over 80% “incurred additional expense in complying with the Title II rules, had delayed or reduced network expansion, had delayed or reduced services and had allocated budget to comply with the rules.” Other small companies, too, have told the FCC that these regulations have forced them to cancel, delay, or curtail fiber network upgrades. And nearly two dozen small providers submitted a letter saying the FCC’s heavy-handed rules “affect our ability to find financing.” Remember, these are the kinds of companies that are critical to providing a more competitive marketplace.

These rules have also impeded innovation. One major company, for instance, reported that it put on hold a project to build out its out-of-home Wi-Fi network due to uncertainty about the FCC’s regulatory stance. And a coalition of 19 municipal Internet service providers—that is, city-owned nonprofits—have told the FCC that they “often delay or hold off from rolling out a new feature or service because [they] cannot afford to deal with a potential complaint and enforcement action.”

None of this is good for consumers. We need to empower all Americans with digital opportunity, not deny them the benefits of greater access and competition.

And consider too that these are just the effects these rules have had on the Internet of today. Think about how they’ll affect the Internet we need ten, twenty years from now. The digital world bears no resemblance to a water pipe or electric line or sewer. Use of those pipes will be roughly constant over time, and very few would say that there’s dramatic innovation in these areas. By contrast, online traffic is exploding, and we consume exponentially more data over time. With the dawn of the Internet of Things, with the development of high bit-rate applications like virtual reality, with new activities like high-volume bitcoin mining that we can’t yet fully grasp, we are imposing ever more demands on the network. Over time, that means our networks themselves will need to scale, too.

But they don’t have to. If our rules deter the massive infrastructure investment that we need, eventually we’ll pay the price in terms of less innovation. Consider these words from Ben Thompson, a highly-respected technology analyst, from a post on his blog Stratechery supporting my proposal:

The question that must be grappled with . . . is whether or not the Internet is ‘done.’ By that I mean that today’s bandwidth is all we [will] need, which means we can risk chilling investment through prophylactic regulation and the elimination of price signals that may spur infrastructure build-out. . . .

If we are “done”, then the potential harm of a Title II reclassification is much lower; sure, ISPs will have to do more paperwork, but honestly, they’re just a bunch of mean monopolists anyways, right? Best to get laws in place to preserve what we have.

But what if we aren’t done? What if virtual reality with dual 8k displays actually becomes something meaningful? What if those imagined remote medicine applications are actually developed? What if the Internet of Things moves beyond this messy experimentation phase and into real-time value generation, not just in the home but in all kinds of unimagined commercial applications? I certainly hope we will have the bandwidth to support all of that!

I do too. And as Thompson put it in another Stratechery post: “The fact of the matter is there is no evidence that harm exists in the sort of systematic way that justifies heavily regulating ISPs; the evidence that does exist suggests that current regulatory structures handle bad actors perfectly well. The only future to fear is the one we never discover because we gave up on the approach that has already brought us so far.”

Remember: networks don’t have to be built. Risks don’t have to be taken. Capital doesn’t have to be raised. The costs of Title II today may appear, at least to some, to be hidden. But the consumers and innovators of tomorrow will pay a severe price.

* * *

So what is the FCC doing today? Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the Internet for most of its existence. We’re moving from Title II to Title I. Wonkier it cannot be.

It’s difficult to match that mundane reality to the apocalyptic rhetoric that we’ve heard from Title II supporters. And as the debate has gone on, their claims have gotten more and more outlandish. So let’s be clear. Returning to the legal framework that governed the Internet from President Clinton’s pronouncement in 1996 until 2015 is not going to destroy the Internet. It is not going to end the Internet as we know it. It is not going to kill democracy. It is not going to stifle free expression online. If stating these propositions alone doesn’t demonstrate their absurdity, our Internet experience before 2015, and our experience tomorrow, once this order passes, will prove them so.

Simply put, by returning to the light-touch Title I framework, we are helping consumers and promoting competition. Broadband providers will have stronger incentives to build networks, especially in unserved areas, and to upgrade networks to gigabit speeds and 5G. This means there will be more competition among broadband providers. It also means more ways that startups and tech giants alike can deliver applications and content to more users. In short, it’s a freer and more open Internet.

We also promote much more robust transparency among ISPs than existed three years ago. We require ISPs to disclose a variety of business practices, and the failure to do so subjects them to enforcement action. This transparency rule will ensure that consumers know what they’re buying and startups get information they need as they develop new products and services.

Moreover, we empower the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that consumers and competition are protected. Two years ago, the Title II Order stripped the FTC of its jurisdiction over broadband providers. But today, we are putting our nation’s premier consumer protection cop back on the beat. The FTC will once again have the authority to take action against Internet service providers that engage in anticompetitive, unfair, or deceptive acts. As FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen recently said, “The FTC’s ability to protect consumers and promote competition in the broadband industry isn’t something new and far-fetched. We have a long-established role in preserving the values that consumers care about online.” Or as President Obama’s first FTC Chairman put it just yesterday, “the plan to restore FTC jurisdiction is good for consumers. . . . [T]he sky isn’t falling. Consumers will remain protected, and the [I]nternet will continue to thrive.”

So let’s be absolutely clear. Following today’s vote, Americans will still be able to access the websites they want to visit. They will still be able to enjoy the services they want to enjoy. There will still be cops on the beat guarding a free and open Internet. This is the way things were prior to 2015, and this is the way they will be once again.

Our decision today will also return regulatory parity to the Internet economy. Some giant Silicon Valley platforms favor imposing heavy-handed regulations on other parts of the Internet ecosystem. But all too often, they don’t practice what they preach. Edge providers regularly block content that they don’t like. They regularly decide what news, search results, and products you see—and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t. And many thrive on the business model of charging to place content in front of eyeballs. What else is “Accelerated Mobile Pages” or promoted tweets but prioritization?

What is worse, there is no transparency into how decisions that appear inconsistent with an open Internet are made. How does a company decide to restrict a Senate candidate’s campaign announcement video because her views on a public policy issue are too “inflammatory”? How does a company decide to demonetize videos from political advocates without notice? How does a company expressly block access to websites on rival devices or prevent dissidents’ content from appearing on its platform? How does a company decide to block from its app store a cigar aficionado app, apparently because the company perceives that the app promotes tobacco use? You don’t have any insight into any of these decisions, and neither do I. Yet these are very real, actual threats to an open Internet—coming from the very entities that claim to support it.

Look—perhaps certain companies support saddling broadband providers with heavy-handed regulations because those rules work to their economic advantage. I don’t blame them for taking that position. And I’m not saying that these same rules should be slapped on them too. What I am saying is that the government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers in the Internet economy. We should have a level playing field and let consumers decide who prevails.

* * *

Many words have been spoken during this debate but the time has come for action. It is time for the Internet once again to be driven by engineers and entrepreneurs and consumers, rather than lawyers and accountants and bureaucrats. It is time for us to act to bring faster, better, and cheaper Internet access to all Americans. It is time for us to return to the bipartisan regulatory framework under which the Internet flourished prior to 2015. It is time for us to restore Internet freedom.

I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the staff who have worked so many long hours on this item. From the Wireline Competition Bureau: Annick Banoun, Joseph Calascione, Megan Capasso, Paula Cech, Ben Childers, Nathan Eagan, Madeleine Findley, Doug Galbi, Dan Kahn, Melissa Kirkel, Gail Krutov, Susan Lee, Ken Lynch, Pam Megna, Kris Monteith, Ramesh Nagarajan, Eric Ralph, Deborah Salons, Shane Taylor. From the Office of General Counsel: Ashley Boizelle, Jim Carr, Kristine Fargotstein, Tom Johnson, Doug Klein, Marcus Maher, Scott Noveck, Linda Oliver, and Bill Richardson. From the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau: Stacy Ferraro, Nese Guendelsberger, Garnet Hanly, Betsy McIntyre, Jennifer Salhus, Paroma Sanyal, Jiaming “Jimmy” Shang, Don Stockdale, and Peter Trachtenberg. From the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis: Eric Burger, Mark Bykowsky, and Jerry Ellig. From the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau: Jerusha Burnett. From the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau: Ken Carlberg. And from the Media Bureau: Tracy Waldon.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr:


Re: Restoring Internet Freedom, WC Docket No. 17-108.

This is a great day for consumers, for innovation, and for freedom. We are reversing the Obama- era FCC’s unprecedented decision to apply Title II regulations to the Internet. I am proud to help end this two-year experiment with heavy-handed regulation—this massive regulatory overreach.

Prior to the FCC’s 2015 decision, consumers and innovators alike benefited from a free and open Internet. This was not because the government imposed utility-style regulation. It didn’t. This was not because the FCC had a rule regulating “Internet conduct.” It had none.

Instead, through Republican and Democratic administrations alike—including through the first six years of the Obama Administration—the FCC abided by a 20-year, bipartisan consensus that the government should not control or heavily regulate Internet access.

The Internet flourished under this framework. The private sector invested over $ 1.5 trillion in broadband networks. Consumers were protected and enjoyed the freedom to access the websites and content of their choosing. Every part of the Internet economy benefited—from innovators on the edge to startups and businesses of every size. Title II did not build that. Title II did not create the open Internet. And Title II is not the way to maintain it. The FCC’s light regulatory touch—coupled with the robust consumer protections we restore today—supported our country’s extraordinary Internet success story.

After a two-year detour—one that has seen investment decline, broadband deployments put on hold, and innovative new offerings shelved—it is great to see the FCC returning to this proven regulatory approach.

Now, there is no doubt that the debate over Internet regulation has generated significant public attention, as it should. Americans cherish the free and open Internet. But when it comes to this proceeding, far too many are simply fanning the false flames of fear. The apocalyptic rhetoric is quite something—even by Washington standards. No, the FCC is not ending the Internet. Or, as President Obama’s first Federal Trade Commission Chairman recently put it, “the sky isn’t falling. Consumers will remain protected, and the internet will flourish.”1

What we’re doing with today’s vote is reversing a two-year old decision and returning to a tried- and-true regulatory framework—one that we know from our own experience works for consumers and for innovators.

Many of the myths that are out there go to what I call “the Great Title II head fake”—which is attributing to Title II things that it does not do.

Some claim, for instance, that Title II is preventing ISPs from selling bundled or curated plans that offer access to only a portion of the Internet. Not true. The FCC has expressly stated that Title II allows providers to do just that.2

1 Jon Leibowitz, Everybody Calm Down About Net Neutrality, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (Dec. 12, 2017),

2 See Brief for Respondents at 145, n.53, United States Telecom Ass’n v. FCC, No. 15-1063 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 14, 2015) (The 2015 Title II Order “would not apply to a . . . company that advertised ‘filtered’ Internet access catering to a particular audience or that offered access only to curated content.”),; see also

* * *

Some claim that Title II is preventing ISPs from increasing their prices for broadband. But the FCC emphasized that its Title II decision involves “no rate regulation.”3

And some claim that Title II is preventing ISPs from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization. Also, not true. The D.C. Circuit said that Title II allows ISPs to “block[] websites,” to “throttl[e] . . . applications chosen by the ISP,” and to “filter[]. . . content into fast (and slow) lanes based on the ISP’s commercial interests” provided that they disclose those practices.4

In other words, Title II is not the thin line between where we are now and some Mad Max version of the Internet. There are reasons that consumers enjoyed a free and open Internet long before Title II. There are reasons why consumers are free to access any website or online content of their choosing. And those reasons will continue to hold true long after our Title II experiment ends.

What are they? Well, the D.C. Circuit has offered its view. When it observed that Title II allows ISPs to offer filtered Internet access, it also said that none were doing so because of fear of subscriber losses.5 In other words, market forces, not the Title II rules, are regulating this conduct.

Now, there are some that will never accept market forces as a solution, either in the broadband marketplace or otherwise.

But for them, today’s Order has some more good news. We are not relying on market forces alone. We are not giving ISPs free reign to dictate your online experience. Our decision today includes powerful legal checks.

First, Americans will enjoy robust online protections. When the FCC classified broadband as a Title II service in 2015, it divested the Federal Trade Commission of 100% of its consumer protection authority over ISPs, including its ability to police ISPs that engage in unfair or deceptive practices. Repealing Title II will restore those important protections for Internet openness.

Second, consumers will regain strong online privacy protections. Before the FCC stripped it of jurisdiction, the FTC—the nation’s most experienced privacy enforcement agency—brought over 500 privacy enforcement actions, including against ISPs. By reversing Title II, consumers get those privacy protections back.

Opposition of Respondents to Petitions for Panel Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc at 28, United States Telecom Ass’n v. FCC, No. 15-1063 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 3, 2016) (“Of course, as the panel acknowledged, a broadband provider could ‘choose to exercise editorial discretion—for instance, by picking a limited set of websites to carry and offering that service as a curated internet experience . . . .’ Any such provider, however, would be exempt from the [2015 Title II] open internet rules.”),

3 See, e.g., Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, WC Docket No. 14-28, Report and Order on Remand, Declaratory Ruling, and Order, 30 FCC Rcd. 5601, 5612, para. 37 (2015),

4 United States Telecom Ass’n v. FCC, 855 F.3d 381, 389-390 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (Srinivasan, J., and Tatel, J., concurring in the denial of rehearing en banc).

5 Id. at 390 (“No party disputes that an ISP could do so if it wished, and no ISP has suggested an interest in doing so in this court. That may be for an understandable reason: a broadband provider representing that it will filter its customers’ access to web content based on its own priorities might have serious concerns about its ability to attract subscribers.”).

* * *

Third, federal antitrust law will protect against discriminatory conduct by ISPs. As a former Obama Administration FTC Chairman recently said, this is a “formidable hammer against anyone who would harmfully block, throttle or prioritize traffic.”6

Fourth, state consumer protection laws will apply and state attorneys general can bring actions against ISPs. These authorities will provide another strong set of legal protections against unfair business practices by ISPs.

In short, this is no free for all. This is no Thunderdome. The FCC is not killing the Internet.

While I have spent most of my time today talking about the policy debate surrounding Title II, there is also a threshold legal question that the Commission must answer. Does Internet access service qualify as a Title I information service or a Title II telecommunications service? Thankfully, I do not need to go beyond what the Order itself says on this point. After all, in 2005, the Supreme Court expressly found that the FCC has authority to classify Internet access service as a Title I service.7 This remains the only classification blessed by the Supreme Court. So our decision today rests on sound legal footing.

* * *

In closing, I want to look back to 2015 one more time. In October of that year, long before I became a Commissioner, I gave a speech where I talked about the FCC’s Title II decision. I ended it by saying this:

I am optimistic that the U.S. will return to the successful, light-touch approach to the Internet that spurred massive investments in our broadband infrastructure. Efforts are underway in both the courts and Congress to reverse the FCC’s decision. And following next year’s presidential election, the composition of the FCC could be substantially different than it is today.

Now, two years ago, I certainly did not imagine that I would be part of the FCC’s new composition. But I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve. And I am grateful that my optimism back then has proven to be well-founded. I am glad to cast my vote today in favor of Internet freedom.

6 Leibowitz, supra note 1.

7 Nat’l Cable & Telecomms. Ass’n. v. Brand X Servs. 545 U.S. 967 (2005).

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Splice, a digital hub for musicians, helped make a number one hit. Now it has $35 million in funding.

Steve Martocci’s first company was a text messaging service. Now he’s behind the scenes of a Demi Lovato song.

Making money selling songs is hard: Just ask Spotify, which has more than 60 million subscribers and no profits.

But selling stuff to people who make songs? That might be a different story.

That’s the bet Steve Martocci is making with Splice, his startup that sell digital tools and music samples to music-makers, and also pays them for uploading their own sounds.

So far it looks like a decent wager. After four years, the company has gotten big enough to have distributed $ 5 million to people who have contributed sounds to its sample library. And it looks promising enough to have pulled down $ 35 million in series B funding, led by DFJ Growth

We can talk more about the business in a minute, but you don’t get into the music business for the business part alone. You do it because you want to get involved in music.

So here’s how that part works: This is “Sorry Not Sorry,” a number one hit for Demi Lovato this summer.

Hear that snap sound that kicks in around the 29-second mark, and repeats throughout the song? Producer Oak Felder got that sample from Splice, as part of a monthly subscription he has with the service.

Samples play an enormous role in music, but they are often expensive, and/or legally fraught. But a Splice sample subscription costs musicians between $ 8 and $ 30 a month, and comes with no strings or royalties attached.

So that snap was a good deal for Felder, Lovato and their music label, who get the sound they want for the price of an UberX ride.

You could argue that it wasn’t a great deal for Martocci and Splice, since they are missing out on the upside from a giant hit. But Martocci figures that running the musical equivalent of a stock photo service could be a big business, without trying to own a piece of the output. And he thinks that over time he can layer in additional services to make Spice a digital hub for pros like Felder, amateurs in their garage and everyone in between.

Felder, meanwhile, says he can find samples from other online services, but says Splice works well because it has an active community of musicians swapping tips and sounds, which means that interesting stuff bubbles up there much faster than services that update their libraries a few times a year. “The benefit of using Slice is it’s community driven,” he says. “It tends to adapt to the needs of the community.”

This is Martocci’s second startup. He co-founded GroupMe, a group text messaging service, in 2010 and sold it to Cisco a year later.

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Disney’s Fox deal means ESPN is going to double down on big, expensive sports TV deals

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t want them. Why does Bob Iger?

For the past couple years, ESPN has been stuck with a seemingly unsolvable problem: It is on the hook for expensive sports deals that keep getting more expensive. At the same time, its subscriber base, and the revenue that generates from subscription fees and ad sales, has been melting.

ESPN’s proposed solution is a surprising one: It is going to put itself on the hook for even more expensive sports deals.

That’s what will happen if Disney gets the go-ahead for the $ 60 billion Fox deal it wants to make. Because included in the deal are the rights to Fox’s big regional sports networks.

Fox has 22 RSNs across the country, which have deals with 44 pro sports teams to deliver local games to cable TV subscribers that carry the networks.

If you want to watch a Yankees game in New York, you do via Fox’s YES network; if you want to watch a Timberwolves game in Minnesota, you do it via Fox Sports North.

The deals to secure that programming cost a ton of money. And just like the national programming deals, they keep getting more expensive. Up until now, it has been worth it for Fox. Pay TV subscribers pay more for RSNs — generally, whether they want them or not — than any other network. Except for ESPN.

But if locking into big-ticket sports deals at a time when pay TV subscribers are swapping out big subscription packages for skinny ones, or simply dropping subscriptions altogether, is a problem for ESPN, why sign up for more of the same?

Some of the commentary I’ve seen suggests that adding Fox’s sports deals to ESPN is good for ESPN Plus, the digital subscription service it will (finally) launch this spring.

But that doesn’t make any sense.

None of the valuable stuff Fox owns can go into ESPN Plus, for the same reason none of the valuable stuff ESPN owns will be in ESPN Plus — it’s all tied up in pay TV deals, and will be for years to come. The stuff you’ll see on ESPN Plus will be the stuff ESPN doesn’t think is worth putting on TV. Adding more leftovers from Fox won’t make it much more appetizing.

There are more compelling arguments. For instance, buying up the Fox sports channels means those local deals won’t end up in the hands of someone else, like Comcast’s NBCUniversal*, or a theoretical tech bidder like Amazon or Apple.

Another decent argument: Scale. Adding dozens of teams and territories should make life better for ESPN’s sales force, who can tell advertisers they can deliver even more valuable sports eyeballs. In theory, it could also give ESPN more leverage when it comes to negotiating future rights deals.

In other words, if you’re going to be in sports TV, why not really be in sports TV, and go all in? There are lots of hardcore sports fans in the U.S. (and around the world, where Disney will also be buying some Fox sports assets). So why not direct more of their dollars your way?

Except: Local sports aren’t different than national sports, which aren’t different than anything else on TV — they’re having a hard time hanging onto eyeballs. And if you’re the kind of person who wants to pay for TV but doesn’t want to pay for ESPN, you won’t want to pay for a Fox sports channel, either.

So the most logical argument would be that at some point, the number of people who want to pay for sports will stabilize, and that number will be pretty big, and sports rights deals will eventually rationalize to fit that number.

Fair enough! Except that Rupert Murdoch doesn’t think so:

And if Rupert Murdoch is selling, I’d think very, very carefully about what I’m buying.

*Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.

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As Uber wraps up its driver improvement campaign, its head of driver product is leaving the company

Aaron Schildkrout joined Uber in 2015.

Uber’s head of driver product, Aaron Schildkrout, is leaving the company after three years. Schildkrout, who previously co-founded dating site HowAboutWe, announced his decision in an email to Uber staff on Wednesday.

His departure comes just as the company wrapped up its 180-day driver campaign — an effort that Schildkrout led with Rachel Holt, the regional general manager of the U.S. and Canada. The driver campaign, launched in June with the introduction of a long-sought after tipping feature, was part of Uber’s larger effort to repair its relationship with its drivers in the hope of retaining them on the platform.

The company began working on the campaign in the winter of 2016, as it became increasingly clear to many people internally that Uber’s relationship with its drivers had deteriorated. But it wasn’t just a moral or public image problem; it was a business one. The company had reached such a scale in the U.S. that the pool of available new drivers it could tap into had dwindled. That’s why it was imperative to make retaining drivers more of a focus.

“I think we have a privileged moment where the business need and the moral need are perfectly aligned,” Schildkrout told Recode in a previous interview.

The work on what was internally called “Driver Forward” may have started before 2017, but this year’s #deleteUber campaign — as well as the surfacing of a video of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver — compounded the company’s driver issues, and gave the campaign the momentum that it needed.

According to Schildkrout’s email, he stayed to help see this campaign through, but had considered leaving before it began.

“Basically, 18 months of life-only-on-Zoom and frequent cross-country-commutes away from home have come to feel like not the best thing for me and my family,” he wrote in the email.

“As 180 Days of Change and this year approached their end, I decided it was the right time to do what has long felt personally necessary for me,” he continued.

Here’s the full email:

Hi Team –

After three years of amazing adventures at Uber, I’m off on my next journey.

Thank you so much to all the incredible people who I’ve had the great good fortune to work with here; I owe you a debt of gratitude for everything you’ve taught me and for the inspiration that’s come from building wonderful things for so many riders and drivers around the world together.

Why now? Basically, 18 months of life-only-on-Zoom and frequent cross-country-commutes away from home have come to feel like not the best thing for me and my family. I stayed to help see Driver Forward through, which I’m so so glad I did; this last year of work to transform our relationship with Drivers has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. As 180 Days of Change and this year approached their end, I decided it was the right time to do what has long felt personally necessary for me.

For my next journey…my first step is going to be to let the wheel of the mind slow to stillness, and then…we’ll see! I have no plans as of yet and can only wish that my next thing will be as full of tremendous learning, growth and impact as my time at Uber has been.

I’ll be rooting hard for all of you as you build Uber into something vast and grand – far far past the cynics’ doubts and the dreamers’ expectations. I have every faith in the ingenuity and drive of this amazing team.

Deepest regards,


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The FCC is voting to repeal net neutrality on Thursday. Here’s how to watch live.

The fun begins on Thursday, December 14 at 10:30 am ET / 7:30 am PT.

The Trump administration is set to repeal the rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

After months of debate, the Federal Communications Commission — led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai — will officially vote on Thursday, December 14 to eliminate net neutrality protections implemented under former President Barack Obama. The meeting begins at 10:30 am ET / 7:30 am PT.

Live video of the debate will be available here.

To ardent open-internet supporters, Pai’s efforts will open the door for telecom giants to block or slow down access to web pages and other services. It will also create so-called “fast lanes,” where ISPs can charge web companies for faster delivery of their content.

To telecom giants like AT&T, Charter, Comcast* and Verizon, however, Pai’s repeal is another major victory that spares them from government regulation. And Pai contends that his approach — greater transparency, with another agency taking the lead in overseeing the web — is just enough to protect the internet from interference.

The vote today — which isn’t in doubt at the Republican-led FCC — follows months of public protest led by consumer groups like Free Press and tech giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google. More than 21 million comments flooded the telecom agency, many urging Pai to reverse course.

The FCC’s five commissioners will convene their meeting at 10:30 am ET. There are multiple items on the agenda, including a major overhaul of the country’s media ownership laws.

* Comcast, through its NBCU arm, is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this website.

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Global internet speeds got 30 percent faster in 2017

Here are the countries with the fastest internet.

Internet download speeds grew more than 30 percent this year for both wireline and mobile connections as compared to a year earlier, according to new data from internet speed-test company Ookla. That makes the average download speed 40 Mbps for broadband and 20 Mbps for mobile.

Growth was driven by network improvements in many countries, including Norway, Australia and India, which saw its broadband speeds increase 77 percent this year, making it the most improved of the world’s largest countries. It still ranks 76th out of all countries, with an average broadband download speed of 18.82 Mpbs.

Here are the countries that currently have the fastest internet speeds:

Note that the U.S. ranks 44th in mobile download speeds, at 26.32 Mbps. Rankings and averages are based on November 2017 data, and are compared with data from November 2016. See all the countries’ speeds and ranks here.

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Twitter’s hilarious new ad addresses one of its biggest problems — that Twitter is too hard to use

Twitter launched two new digital ads with comedian Romesh Ranganathan.

Well-played, Twitter.

The social company came out with a new video ad on Wednesday that puts a pretty hilarious spin on one of Twitter’s biggest real-world problems — its product is too hard to use, especially for new users signing up for the first time.

The ad shows a distraught user — “Kenny G” — trying to create an account, before comedian Romesh Ranganathan arrives to talk him through the process as a kind of crisis negotiator.

It’s better if you just watch it. We’ll wait.

While the ad is funny, it’s also a reminder that even more than a decade after launch, Twitter is still trying to explain what it is to people.

“I don’t know what to do,” says Kenny G in the ad. “I don’t understand this.”

You’re not alone, Kenny G.

Explaining Twitter to the masses has been a serious obstacle for the company over the last few years. As a result, its user growth has virtually stalled.

Twitter has run other ads in the past to try and explain what Twitter is or how to use it, but they’ve been more serious.

This ad, along with a second one featuring Ranganathan teaching a distraught user how to search for things on Twitter, is running online in places like Pandora and Amazon in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

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Recode Daily: The internet is ready for Thursday’s net neutrality vote to be over

Plus, an upset in Alabama, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee was a friend to Silicon Valley, Steve Bannon’s dirty-tricks campaign against Twitter, and Santa’s brand book.

Alabama elected Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate — the first time the state has elected a Democrat to that seat in decades. Pundits argue that Jones’ defeat of Roy Moore is a repudiation of both Donald Trump, who endorsed Moore, and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who invested heavily in Moore’s candidacy. [New York Times]

You’ve read about it a lot in this newsletter — the FCC will finally vote on net neutrality tomorrow. In the last days and hours before the vote, protests mostly moved off the streets and online — Reddit, Etsy and Kickstarter were among the sites warning against FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to roll back the Obama-era regulations. The biggest tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft were less vocal — perhaps because they are facing more hostility and regulatory battles with Washington, D.C., than in past years. Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell says we should all calm down. [The New York Times]

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who had a close relationship with the tech industry, died yesterday morning of a heart attack at age 65.Board of Supervisors President London Breed has been sworn in as acting mayor. The city’s first Asian-American mayor, Lee had been in office since 2011; he was reelected in 2015 and quickly positioned himself as an advocate to attract and keep companies like Twitter in the city. Silicon Valley sent condolences via Twitter, including expressions from Marc Benioff, Jack Dorsey and Max Levchin. [Meghann Farnsworth / Recode]

Apple is investing $ 390 million into Finisar, a high-tech manufacturer, which will re-open a plant in Texas. The two companies say the investment will create 500 jobs at the facility, which will make chips for iPhone Xs and Air Pods. [CNBC]

The Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino is testing a microwave-powered weapon-sensing device among its surveillance tactics.Marketed by a Canadian security outfit, the Patscan Cognitive Microwave Radar combines short-range radar with machine-learning algorithms to scan individual guess for guns, knives and bombs in real time, without making them walk through metal detectors and other buzzkill tactics. [Robbie Gonzalez / Wired]

Top stories from Recode

Twitter will now let you publish an entire tweetstorm all at once.

Rant away!

Anyone can now build augmented reality face masks inside Facebook.

Facebook is opening up its AR platform to everyone.

Homeis wants to be a social network for urban immigrants.

But the company hates the word “immigrants.”

Building a restaurant business on the shoulders of the delivery industry is a recipe for disaster.

If one of the best-run restaurant groups in the country walks away with a 12-percent margin, imagine how your local restaurant is doing.

This is cool

Feeling Christmassy yet? This will cure you.

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Let’s calm down. No matter what happens with net neutrality, an open internet isn’t going anywhere.

The biggest threat to Silicon Valley innovation and improving consumer experiences isn’t net neutrality, it’s an internet that stalls and doesn’t get better.

Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission will vote to restore light-touch regulation and promote investment in internet networks. Opponents of this action have responded with hyperbole, demagoguery and even personal threats. New-age Nostradamuses predict the internet will stop working, democracy will collapse, plague will ensue and locusts will cover the land.

With an ounce of reflection, one knows that none of this will come to pass, and the imagined doom will join the failed catastrophic predictions of Y2K and massive snow storms that fizzle to mere dustings — all too common in Washington, D.C. Sadly, rational debate, like Elvis, has left the building.

The vibrant and open internet that Americans cherish isn’t going anywhere. In the days, weeks and years following this vote, Americans will be merrily shopping online for the holidays, posting pictures on Instagram, vigorously voicing political views on Facebook and asking Alexa the score of the game. Startups and small business will continue to hatch and flourish, and students will be online, studiously taking courses. Time will prove that the FCC did not destroy the internet, and our digital lives will go on just as they have for years.

This confidence rests on the fact that ISPs highly value the open internet and the principles of net neutrality, much more than some animated activists would have you think. Why? For one, because it’s a better way of making money than a closed internet.

A network company makes the most money when its pipe is full with activity. The more consumers use, the more profitable the business. With new, compelling services, consumer demand rises for higher speeds. Degrading the internet, blocking speech and trampling what consumers now have come to expect would not be profitable, and the public backlash would be unbearable. Economic self-interest and the pursuit of profits tilts decidedly toward an open internet.

ISP opposition to the current rules has nothing to do with the basic net neutrality principles. What they really object to is the prior administration’s decision to take the extraordinary step of asserting expansive power to regulate nearly every facet of the internet by classifying it as a public utility, which goes far beyond protecting net neutrality.

Invoking Title II permits the FCC to set prices, approve or disapprove of new innovations, and dictate the terms and conditions of offering service. The well-founded fear is that such heavy-handed regulation of the network will raise costs (and ultimately consumer prices) and slow the pace of investing to improve the network. Rural communities wait longer for broadband to arrive and current users wait longer for improvements in speed and quality. Not good.

If you want to see the debilitating impact of utility-style regulation on investment and innovation, just look at our crumbling roads, bridges and electric grid and imagine what that kind of chronic underinvestment will do over time to the future of the internet.

The biggest threat to Silicon Valley innovation and improving consumer experiences is not net neutrality, it is an internet that stalls and does not get better. Tech innovation and network innovation are symbiotic. Each depends on the other to keep up. Netflix could move from DVDs to streaming because the network had become faster. In turn, because of Netflix, consumers demanded and purchased faster speeds, which could justify new network investment.

That virtuous cycle is critical. You cannot play digital music on a record player; you need both the content and the platform to evolve together. The current FCC rules throw that relationship out of balance.

Chairman Pai recognizes this dynamic and believes that the current rules, resting on heavy internet regulation, disrupt that balance. One may disagree with his judgment, but it is not a radical, evil supposition. In fact, his changes would restore the same light-touch approach that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 and had been in place for basically the entire life of the internet. That period demonstrated how powerful the innovation machine can be when properly synchronized — we saw tremendous innovation on the web and a network that grew faster than any technology in history.

The FCC’s approach is a sound one. It eliminates the old, common carrier model that places a drag on Internet growth, while adopting a nimbler mechanism for policing potentially harmful behavior. It requires providers to be transparent with consumers and empowers the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers from actual harm. This is the same regulatory framework used to oversee the tech giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon who regularly block users, prioritize content and offer fast lanes for a fee. By having the same agency overseeing both sides of the Internet ecosystem, it ensures that policy is balanced and fairly applied.

The FCC plan to restore light-touch regulation is an important move to get the government out of micromanaging the internet, and an opportunity to start a new conversation about internet policy that reflects actual marketplace dynamics. Instead of letting the doomsayers win the day, let’s focus on crafting sound policy that continues our progress of building the best broadband infrastructure for America.

Michael K. Powell is the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, nominated by President Bill Clinton and sworn in on Nov. 3, 1997. He served as a member of the FCC for eight years, during which time he was designated its chair by President George W. Bush in January 200, and continued in that capacity until April 2005. In his current role as president and CEO of NCTA — The Internet & Television Association — Powell leads one of the largest trade associations in Washington, D.C., representing the communications and content industries. Reach him @chairmanpowell.

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Twitter will now let you publish an entire tweetstorm all at once

Rant away!

Twitter’s reputation as a place for quick, pithy thoughts took another blow on Tuesday: The company rolled out a new feature that will make it easier for users to send a bunch of connected tweets at one time — often referred to as a tweetstorm.


Now users can write multiple tweets and Twitter will automatically thread them together and publish them in unison. It means that people can essentially post longer thoughts than Twitter’s already-expanded 280-character limit allows.

Twitter will also label threads with a “show this thread” icon so people know there is more to read. The company has been testing a product like this for months, but just launched it to everyone on Tuesday.

Tweetstorms have been around for years — venture capitalist Marc Andreessen was perhaps the first well-known person to utilize them — but they have always been a pain to create. They required users to publish each tweet in a thread one by one, which took time and could get complicated, depending on how long the tweetstorm was.

The new feature should make sending a thread of tweets much simpler, meaning more people will actually do it. Twitter’s belief is that longer posts, not shorter ones, perform better on Twitter. When the company doubled the length of a tweet last month, Twitter claimed that longer posts resulted in more engagement. (BuzzFeed found the same.)

So more tweetstorms, theoretically, should mean more engagement for Twitter.

It’s not clear what took Twitter such a long time to launch a feature like this. Again, tweetstorms have been around for years, and even Twitter executives use them regularly. But Twitter was slow to ship longer tweets out of fear that users would reject them, so it’s likely that when Twitter execs finally warmed up to the idea of longer posts, a tweetstorm product sounded like a good idea, too.

The update should be live to users on iOS, Android and in “the coming weeks,” the company wrote on its blog.

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