Silicon Valley’s Corrupt Underbelly: It’s Far Worse Than We Thought

After addressing the topic of sexual harassment and misconduct in Silicon Valley last month, I finally got my hands on a copy of Brotopia, an eye-opening new book, and a lot of executives should be happy I did not pursue my career in law enforcement. Otherwise I would be working my butt off to get them off the streets behind bars. Everyone connected to tech should read this book. Specifically, for investors, it will give you insights into a level of extreme avoidable risk that has not been factored into the market — at least not yet.
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Recode Daily: Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is leaving too-liberal Silicon Valley for Hollywood

Plus, Coinbase drains the bank accounts of some crypto customers, a history of the NDA, and how she cracked Facebook’s algorithm and tortured her friends.

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is moving to Los Angeles from San Francisco and has considered scaling back his involvement with Silicon Valley — perhaps even leaving Facebook’s board. A co-founder of PayPal and an early Facebook investor who funded the lawsuit that shuttered Gawker, Thiel is said to be frustrated with what he sees as intolerance of conservatism in the tech industry. [The Wall Street Journal]

Swiss pharma giant Roche is buying Flatiron Health, a cancer focused startup, in a deal worth $ 2.1 billion. Co-founders Zach Weinberg and Nat Turner sold their first startup to Google for around $ 70 million; Google invested in their second company. [Christina Farr / CNBC]

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase withdrew unauthorized money from the bank accounts of some customers, in some cases draining their accounts and incurring overdraft charges. The company said the multiple charges are “in the process of being refunded.” Coinbase had a busy week: it temporarily halted PayPal withdrawals and released a new product for merchants called Coinbase Commerce — all as the price of a bitcoin hit $ 10,000 again after falling for almost two months. [Adrienne Jeffries / The Verge]

Andreessen Horowitz has hired away Uber’s head of growth and turned him into a venture capitalist. Andrew Chen is the newest general partner at Andreessen; the firm still doesn’t haven’t any female general partners. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

Google’s increased traffic to publishers is replacing the traffic publishers lost from Facebook. Digital publishers used to build their business around Google, and now they might do the same thing again. [Rani Molla / Recode]

Here’s how nondisclosure agreements became a tool for powerful people to block journalists from informing the public. Once a legal quirk of the tech industry, which used them to protect trade secrets, NDAs have proliferated across the business landscape, placing every secret and item of misconduct out of range for inquiring journalists who might want to expose a misdeed. [Michelle Dean / Columbia Journalism Review]

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How I cracked Facebook’s new algorithm and tortured my friends.


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Emily Chang’s Brotopia takes aim at sexism in Silicon Valley

From the beginning, women were at the forefront of computer technology: both Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper were pioneers of computer programming. But as computers rose as an industry, the number of women in the field did not follow — instead, after 1984, their numbers declined drastically.

In her book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley, Bloomberg TV reporter Emily Chang uses history, scientific studies, and dozens of interviews to piece together a broad view of the male domination in Silicon Valley. Her subjects range from the genesis of toxic “bro” culture at emerging start-ups, to the online harassment campaign Gamergate, the #MeToo movement, and Susan Fowler’s blog post about sexism and harassment at Uber that…

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Why Silicon Valley has a bro culture problem — and how to fix it

“Everybody needs to lead on this issue,” says “Brotopia” author Emily Chang.

When Emily Chang interviewed venture capitalist Michael Moritz in 2015, she wasn’t trying to “trap” him. But when the Sequoia Capital chairman suggested that hiring more women might mean “lowering our standards,” he set off a firestorm — and gave Chang the idea for a book.

That book, “Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley,” comes out tomorrow. In it, Chang argues that the tech industry is deluding itself if it thinks it can really make the world better without representing women equally; while the biggest banks on Wall Street employ equal numbers of men and women, she says, women hold 25 percent of computing jobs and received just 2 percent of venture capital funding.

“I know the title makes a statement,” she said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “To me, it perfectly encapsulates this idea of Silicon Valley as a modern utopia where anyone can change the world or make their own rules, if they’re a man. But it’s incomparably harder if you’re a woman.”

Although Moritz’s foot-in-mouth remark might have inspired “Brotopia,” Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein also helped Chang find women who were willing to talk on the record about their experiences with harassment and discrimination.

“At first, I just wanted to figure out, ‘How did we get here? What happened?’” she said. “And then, in the middle of the process, Donald Trump was elected and the #MeToo movement exploded, and I saw the momentum of the reporting totally change. All of these women who I thought would never talk, who told me all these stories off the record, suddenly [talked].”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Chang called out the “hypocrisy” of tech leaders who talk a big game about their own ambitions and talents but have been reluctant to make simple moves toward equality, like paying women the same as men doing the same job.

“I think everybody needs to lead on this issue, everybody take a closer look at how they’re running their companies, how they’re are behaving,” Chang said. “The reality is, men right now have the power and the money, and they should be the first ones to change. They can do it today!”

“I interviewed Peter Thiel — this is a guy who’s pushing the bounds of space and building ocean communities and believes in immortality,” she added. “When I asked him about the lack of women, he said, ‘Yeah, you’re right, there really just aren’t enough. I don’t know what to do about it.’ Wait, what? I was shocked.”

Changing the bro culture for the better “has to come from the top,” Chang said: CEOs have to communicate the merits of diversity to everyone in their entire companies, venture capitalists need to hire more women, and the limited partners who invest in those VC firms need to pressure them to prioritize diversity.

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