How to watch Apple CEO Tim Cook’s MSNBC interview with Kara Swisher and Chris Hayes on Friday

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

The show starts at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT.

Recode and MSNBC team up again on the next episode in our “Revolution” series on tech and the future of work. Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes’s full interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook will air on Friday, April 6, at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT on MSNBC.

“Revolution: Apple Changing the World” was taped in Chicago and focuses on innovation in education, Facebook’s data privacy scandal, the future of work in the age of technology and much more.

Watch Apple CEO Tim Cook’s interview on MSNBC, online and on Twitter

If you subscribe to a basic cable package, turning your TV to MSNBC on Friday, April 6, will get you to the broadcast. You can also access a livestream through NBC’s website with a cable login and password.

You can follow Recode’s Twitter account for live coverage of the show; follow #RevolutionCHI to join the conversation. You can also follow Kara Swisher on Twitter during the broadcast for behind-the-scenes analysis and insights.

On the show, Swisher and Hayes talk to Cook about technology’s role in powering learning for the next generation of students and workers, including how to teach code across the U.S. and also how it impacts the future of job creation. The interview was taped at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago.

Here’s a preview:

The “Revolution” series from MSNBC and Recode features townhall-style conversations with the audience examining the impact of technology on many aspects of the world today including business, politics, science, health, jobs, climate, culture, education and more. The series includes one-on-one interviews and panel discussions with a range of thought leaders from corporate executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to journalists, government officials and academics.

Our first episode featured an interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

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Kara Swisher tweet-trolled The Mooch and all we got was this terrific 90-minute Recode Decode podcast

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Aaaaaaaay, it’s, well, you know whom it is.

The colorful White House communications director is still a supporter of President Trump, even though he was fired after 11 days.

When he was appointed as the White House communications director in July of 2017, Anthony Scaramucci knew that he was being hired as “a hatchet man,” thinking he would last only one to three months in the job. Tasked with ridding the Trump West Wing of leakers, he was fired in 11 days.

“I had those guys on the run, trust me,” Scaramucci said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, who met “The Mooch” in person in San Francisco after tweet-trolling him humorously but relentlessly throughout his short tenure in D.C.

As it turns out, Scaramucci can take a joke and also is quick to make them about himself. “When I got fired, the irony of the whole thing was they were so scared to leak the damn thing, it didn’t get out until 2:00 pm. I got fired at 9:37 am,” he said.

Cementing his reputation as a “front-stabber,” he didn’t mince words on the podcast about some of the people he has crossed paths with in Washington. But after all is said and done, he is still a supporter of President Donald J. Trump, and thinks he won’t be unseated in 2020 unless Democrats run a Conor Lamb-esque conservative member of their party — something that Scaramucci is confident will not happen.

“Studying the data, going back to 1880 to today, [it’s] very hard to dislodge a sitting president,” he said. “If they [Democrats] were smart, they would say, ‘Listen, we can’t stand Trump, and I guess we’re lefter than left now, but if you want to beat this guy, we’ve got to bring on some of the anti-Trumper Republicans.’”

Below the embed, we’ve excerpted highlights of Scaramucci’s other predictions and observations from the new Recode Decode. You can listen to the full interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

On backstabbing in Washington

“These are terrible people. By and large, they are vicious people … Let me tell you how it works in Silicon Valley and Wall Street, this is my observation: You build your business and you build you career off of relationships, so you’re trying to create a big karma bank: ‘I’m gonna do one for you, you’re gonna do one for me, we build a relationship. We may be competitors once in a while, but we’re both on the green team: We’re transacting over money.’ In Washington, they actually get off on hurting each other. They earn badges or stripes on their lapel if they hurt somebody else: ‘I crushed Swisher. I went after her with opposition research, I had 10 reporters write nasty things about her and she fell from grace! Look at me, look how cool I am! Look how important I am.’ They do that to each other and they admire it from each other.”

On former chief of staff Reince Priebus

“He had to be fired because he was the biggest leaker in the system, a very dishonest guy, unbelievably insecure. Had to be fired. He was doing so much damage to the president and also, he wasn’t staffing positions. If you were a #NeverTrump-er, he’d put you in a position. If you liked Trump, he’d find a way to block you. He was a disaster. I would love to debate him on live television.”

On former chief strategist Steve Bannon

“He’s a very smart guy. He has a philosophical and political point of view. For all of his railing on the system, he’s actually a cuck of the system. He’s a hypocrite. He went to Harvard Business School, he worked at Goldman Sachs, he was a Hollywood producer, he worked in Washington. He is an effing elitist. He dresses like a hobo, but he’s an elitist. What he is, he’s got this messianic complex about himself where he thinks he has the answer and others do not … He’s now, at least, admitting he’s a racist.”

On the Access Hollywood tape

“[Trump]’s a hilarious guy. He’s saying something really stupid, he’s playing for a laugh, he’s got a hot mic on, OK? By the way, I have said so many stupid things in my life. I have made 10 phone books of mistakes in my life — at least three phone books of mistakes in 11 days inside the White House. I’m not gonna sit there and judge the guy. He said something regretful, he apologized for it, let’s move on.”

On the Mueller investigation

“I think he comes out of the Mueller investigation OK. Maybe there’ll be people in the periphery that are getting hit. Guy’s never used email, rarely uses his cell phone. I didn’t see any collusion, I’ll maintain that.”

On Trump’s war against the media

“I’m supportive of the president, but that is a mistake. Number one, you’re not gonna win that war. Number two, you’re not picking the right battle. Number three, it’s OK to have an adversarial relationship with the media, but if you understand your role, you have to be cross-checked and hand-checked by the media. The founders said we don’t want anybody too power-hungry to get these positions because we know that power corrupts absolutely, like Lord Acton said.”

On Trump’s Twitter attacks

“That Twitter stuff comes from ‘I’m undefended, I don’t have the appropriate media advocacy, they’re hitting me, I’m gonna talk about Mika’s facelift.’ Don’t talk about Mika’s facelift. Let’s use Twitter for policy, let’s use Twitter for strategy. If you want to be cute and New Yorker, that’s fine, but let’s not go into Mika’s facelift. We don’t need to go in that direction.”

On supporters of President Trump in Silicon Valley

“There are people in Silicon Valley — and don’t worry, you’ll remain nameless for this podcast, I’m not gonna out you guys — but there’s a large group of people in Silicon Valley that, because of the fascism of the left, the left is primarily fascist, you can’t express your view. Forget about Peter Thiel, he’s out. You know, the gay community took a while to get out of the closet, it’s socially acceptable now? There’s a large group of people that are in the closet Trump supporters in Silicon Valley, trust me! They can’t come out of the closet because they’re shamed by leftist fascism. I’m a victim of leftist fascism, I can’t even go back to my alma mater. I’m not allowed back on the campus of Tufts University because I’m a Trump supporter.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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How to watch Kara Swisher interview psychotherapist Esther Perel at SXSW today

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

What boundaries has technology created in our relationships?

Recode is live from SXSW! We’re taping live podcasts for three days in Austin. You can join us in person if you happen to be here, or you can tune in live online. For this live episode of Recode Decode, Kara Swisher sits down with author and psychotherapist Esther Perel to talk about the evolution of our relationships at work and online, and the boundaries that technology has created.

Tune in live below on Saturday, March 10, at 2:30 pm CT / 3:30 pm ET. This interview will also be livestreamed on Facebook and Twitter.

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How to watch Kara Swisher interview chef José Andrés live at SXSW

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

The Michelin-starred chef will discuss the roles that social media and food can play in post-disaster community building.

Recode is live all week from SXSW! And here’s one interview you don’t want to miss. Join us on Sunday, March 11, at 2:15 pm / 3:15 pm ET, for a livestream of Kara Swisher’s interview with Michelin-starred chef José Andrés. They’ll discuss his humanitarian venture, World Central Kitchen, and the roles that social media and food can play in post-disaster community building.

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Katie Couric and Kara Swisher interview each other on Recode Decode

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Kara: “I think being irritating is the most important muscle skill that any [journalist or entrepreneur] has to have.”

On this episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, journalist Katie Couric turns the tables on Kara and interviews her for her own podcast, called Katie Couric. The two cover topics including the responsibilities of tech, diversity and the future of work.

You can read a write-up of the interview here or listen to the whole thing in the audio player above. Below, we’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Kara Swisher: Recode Radio presents Recode Decode, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast network.

Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode. You may know me as the opposite of America’s sweetheart, but in my spare time I talk tech and you’re listening to Recode Decode, a podcast about tech and media’s key players, big ideas and how they’re changing the world we live in. You can find more episodes of Recode Decode on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. Or just visit for more.

Today, we’re gonna to do a little something different. That person you found laughing in the background, I’m talking to Katie Couric, who has hosted shows … Katie, is this right? NBC, ABC, CBS and Yahoo.

True that.

We’re gonna be discussing … And NatGeo. We’re gonna be discussing our careers in media.

I can’t hold down a job, Kara.

I know, you’re like jumpy with the jobs. Media, technology and so much more. And then the discussion will be posted on both Recode Decode and Katie’s podcast, which has a great name, it’s called Katie Couric.

How original.

I know, I don’t name my podcast after me.

I know, I honestly wish I … But everyone encouraged me to just use my name because …

You should.

I don’t know.

You’re very famous. I was going to be Kara’s Korner with a K but then no one liked it.

That’s pretty cheesy.

Yeah, it is. And then I was going to open a store along with it. So we’re gonna go back and forth. Apparently, you have lot of questions for me.

I do. I do.

But I’m gonna start with you though. You just got back from the Olympics.

I did.

What was your job there? What did you do? You were on NBC.

I was.

Back on NBC.

I think they needed a veteran person to host the opening ceremony.

They’re going through those pretty quick.

Singular. Not opening ceremonies, opening ceremony for NBC. So Mike Tirico, who I think has done an incredible job. Kara, I don’t know if you’ve been watching …


He is the new host of the Olympics. Bob Costas decided he had enough and so …

He had a lot of Olympics.

I think because it was Mike’s first rodeo, in a way, covering the Olympic Games, they asked if I would co-anchor the opening ceremony with him, which was really fun. I had done it three times before. I had done it for Salt Lake City, Torino and Athens.


Not Torino, sorry. Salt Lake City, Athens and, shoot where’s the other one that I did?

I thought more global.

I’m sorry.

That’s all right.

I just thought … Wait, hold on. I did Salt Lake City, Athens and Sydney!

Sydney, okay.

Which was my favorite Olympics of all because I love Australians.

Oh cool. And so how did you like it? What was it like to be back in that Olympic anchor chair? I don’t know what they call it.

Well, it was sort of like riding a bike. It was actually really fun. You know, the thing about the opening ceremony, it’s a whole mix. Obviously, there’s some sports involved and you need to familiarize yourself with the various athletes, but it’s really quite geopolitical and cultural as well, and you want to be knowledgeable about the host country. It’s an opportunity for that country to really strut its stuff and sort of put itself on a world stage.

Right, with the outfits, too.

We had a bit of controversy because our cultural expert made a comment about Japan, which I think was … I don’t think it’s safe to say it was misinterpreted but it was probably a little impolitic. And what’s sad about it is he’s so smart and knowledgeable and incredibly culturally sensitive, so for this to happen was very disappointing.

There’s been a few of those.

It angered a lot of South Koreans because of the Japanese occupation. I think he was maybe overly complimentary about the Japanese and they were very, very … Many people were very, very upset about it. Other than that, and the fact that I made a comment about the Dutch skating on the canals, it went swimmingly. (laughs) Because they all got … I heard from people from The Netherlands who are like, “You’re a moron, we don’t skate on the canals,” but I was trying to salute the rich tradition and why the Dutch are such incredible speed skaters but I think I was sort of … You know how you say you’re five minutes ago, I was like a century ago when I made that assessment.

Yeah, that’s right. Otherwise, there’s not even the slight chance to mess up at these Olympics anymore.

Oh my gosh, it’s so interesting in the age of social media, Kara, as you know, it’s like everything you say gets … People have a voice and they use it and many times that’s really good, and many times it makes it difficult to be a public figure, as you well know.

Well, I don’t care.

I know. I wanna be more like you, Kara. I get my feelings hurt. I’m sensitive, and I’m like, “Oh no,” and then I lose sleep and I get so upset.

But you do a lot of social media. But you do a ton, like the other day there was like soup, you were making soup on social media. What were you making? Stew? Chili?

I actually had a lot of fun with InstaStories.

Right. Yeah okay, explain this because you are on … So you’re one of the few … I wanna go back a little bit. I know you have a million questions for me but I want to go back in your career, cuz you’ve been quite digital compared to most people of the anchor era.

Well, given the fact that I’m a 61-year-old woman, I actually have tried to embrace new technology and I’ve always tried to be a little foreword thinking. And the one thing I am good at, Kara, is I think I have the sixth sense of what is going on in the ether or the zeitgeist and I try to adjust to it accordingly. Sometimes I’m a little ahead of the curve, honestly, but I’ve just tried to understand that the media landscape is changing dramatically. People get their information, consume it in very different ways than they did when I was starting out in the business, and so I’ve just tried to be smart about it.

Because you were on a broadcast just recently, so you’re sort of back to the old big, big engine broadcast that you just power through. How did that feel, because you’ve really been doing digital and much different kind of broadcasting.

Yeah, I mean I’ve still tried to keep my hand in traditional linear television. I’m doing a six-hour series for National Geographic right now.


I did a documentary about transgender issues for NatGeo. So, I’ve kind of tried to be media everywhere, if you will, by iterating content for different platforms, and doing content that’s suitable for various platforms. I mean, that NBC Olympics team, that is a massive machine, and I have to say it was great to have …

The one thing I do miss about not being at a broadcast network is that esprit de corps, you know, that sense that everybody’s kinda working together for … I was going to say for the common good, which I don’t know if you can actually say that in television, which is pretty damn cut-throat. But you feel like there’s this kind of community, this sense of we are all kind of marching in step and rowing together and trying to make our network be the best, and so that was really fun.

Right, rather than being a single player, essentially.


So can you just review … I promise you’ll get to ask me questions.

Good, good, good.

Everyone knows your career. You don’t have to go into your long and storied career, but you were at all the networks. You worked for all of them, which I think is astonishing.

Except for Fox, I never worked for Fox.

There’s a chance still. There’s a chance still you could do it. Do you see it happening?

No, it was so interesting though, Kara, the other night when I was in San Francisco, I decided I’m just going to check out Fox cuz I like to hear what different networks are talking about. I don’t really watch that much television anymore, but I was laying in bed, I was sort of exhausted and I thought I’d turn it on, and you can see why the county’s so divided, because it’s a parallel universe. When you look at the kind of stuff you get on MSNBC versus the perspective you get on Fox from like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, no wonder there are two Americas, right?

Yeah, absolutely. Well you went right to the belly of the beast there. I can’t watch either. I mean both of them are upsetting on some level, in some way. I think Fox is more upsetting, but they definitely have a different point of view.

Do you feel like it’s … Do you watch it sometimes to get that point of view? Because I think it’s helpful to hear what different people are saying about different topics, but it’s confusing because then you’re like, “Well, who’s right?” And everyone does have their truth now and their perspective and gosh it’s just hard, I think.

Well, one of the things is they … On MSNBC or CNN, one of them, they always have a Trump person on it or someone who’s anti, so you do get those points of view. They always like to make it into … I find it completely, the whole thing reductive and ridiculous.

It is so reductive.

It’s like the movie “Network.”

I feel like nobody’s talking about the big issues. They’re all talking about sort of the latest tweet but nobody’s talking about what are the issues, what are the challenges of immigration reform?

Right, exactly.

What needs to be done specifically? What’s keeping us from moving ahead? What are some legitimate complaints about illegal immigration? It has become so polarized that I think sometimes people really are not getting the information they need to make smart choices.

I think cable is so attractive in terms of watching it because it’s so easy to watch that it’s … I try not to, I think it deadens the soul. And Fox has perfected it, the others have taken it and done their own versions of it.

Well, it’s affirmation not information, isn’t it?

Yup, 100 percent. And so it just exhausts me. I think cable has done more for ruining our democracy than almost anything, besides the Russians these days.

Phil Griffin and Jeff Zucker on line two for you.

I know, but you know what I mean, that whole … I so think Fox led it, like created the thing. When they try to be more thoughtful it’s really helpful. I think you were come from the era where there were thoughtful broadcasts that you put together every night.

Yeah, and I do think young people are gonna wanna return to that, in a way. I’ve been very heartened to see all those kids in Parkland, Florida, Kara. I was just crushed and devastated for those families. I can barely even talk about it, and to see these young people … That Emma Gonzalez, who gave that speech at that rally, and “We call B.S.,” I felt so proud of them. Because I talked to Mark Barden — who’s a friend of mine, whose son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook — last night and we were saying, second graders who survive a school shooting can’t really use their voices, their parents are so grief-stricken, understandably, of course, as much as they try, it’s hard. But these kids, they mobilized in a nanosecond. They’re doing a march on Washington and in communities all across the country, and they are like totally mad as hell, and they’re not gonna take it anymore. And I have found that so inspiring.

It’s social media that they’re using, which is really interesting. They’re using the tools that they’re very good at to do it. You can put thoughtful things in these mediums. I mean, it’s such a canard that you don’t have to.

I agree.

Same thing with cable. Same thing with all of them. You do not have to make it as reductive as it is.

I don’t know … Yeah, why do you think media companies, for so long, clung to that and really …

It’s cheap.

I guess it’s sort of the M.O. to basically feel that people are too dumb to absorb important substantive information.

Or that they can’t listen for more than a minute. That they can’t …

Well, podcasts is totally … I mean, look at how podcasts are growing, that’s totally disproving that.

Right, 100 percent. When I started my podcast several people, this was years ago, I did it three years ago, and several people who were experts were like, “People won’t listen for an hour.” And I was like, “Well, I’m gonna talk for an hour.” Our whole premise at Recode has always been substance.

It’s so true. And Kara, like my daughter Carrie is a senior in college, and she is so funny. She’s like, “Hey Mom, there was a really good thing on The Daily about North Korea, you need to listen to that.”


Or, “Did you hear? I heard this on NPR.” And it’s so interesting because Carrie will be listening to podcasts while she’s brushing her teeth or washing her face in the morning, and I’m like so proud of her that she is so engaged and it’s with smart material.

But she’s 12th grade so she’s the Gen Z.

No, she’s a senior in college.

Senior in college. Okay, so is she a millennial or is …

I think she’s on the cusp of millennial. I think she’s like a Gen Z/millennial.

I’m gonna make like a huge generalization but I think people use Snapchat and that era, it’s not the Facebook generation, it’s sort of this Snapchat generation.


They are much different in how they use social media. They’re very careful and considered how they do it. They’re less relative. They’re less Twitter-twitchy. They use these mediums very carefully. I have a son who’s 15 and another who’s 13, and they’re both much more careful about how they use it and present themselves and consume the medium. It’s not twitchy.

Let me ask you about Snapchat because I wanna not only talk to you about some of these big media companies and get the latest skinny on it, but I also wanna talk about you, Kara. But first, I know Evan Spiegel had a good quarter. I get all the stuff on my phone, and I know that investors were a little heartened, but it seems like Instagram really took the wind out of his sails.

Yeah, they did.

With Insta Stories, which I’m totally obsessed with, which is actually a sickness which we’ll discuss later. But tell me what’s going on with Snapchat. I know they did a redesign and people were upset about it.

They did. They didn’t like it.

What’s the latest on that?

Yeah, my son texted me, he’s like, “Nobody likes this redesign.” I mean, I think these companies redesign continually, they’re always shifting and changing. And Facebook had 20 ones that people didn’t like so I think they just have to go with the way they wanna do it and hope for the best.

And people will adjust.

Yeah, I don’t obsess on redesigns, unless they’re truly awful, like a new Coke.

Yeah, yeah.

You know, something that really doesn’t work. And people get used to the way they’re using these things so I don’t over index on that. That said, they’ve got to be very careful because what happened is years ago Facebook tried to copy … tried to buy Snapchat, first of all. Facebook is essentially their mortal, not their mortal enemy, their killer really. They’re trying to kill of Snapchat. They tried to buy Snapchat and he put it off. He’s a really interesting, in visionary, entrepreneur, Evan Spiegel. I think every time I talk to him, I’m always fascinated, and I can’t say that with everybody I talk to.


And he’s got a big sense of where things are going, and they really do have an advantage in that it’s not a twitchy medium, even though I don’t use it that much and I do know how to use it. But it’s a different … It’s a communications medium, a lot more like WeChat in China, if you ever use that one.

I don’t use WeChat.

But Facebook had just decided to try to kill it, so they tried something, I think it was called Poke or something like that, which is just an awful name for a medium, based on the pokes on Facebook essentially. And that didn’t work and didn’t catch on. And then they used Instagram to do this, to do Instagram Stories. And I had Kevin Systrom, who was the founder of Instagram, on my podcast and he … People complained about it, they basically thought it was shoplifting or plagiarism, in terms of how they borrowed what Snapchat was doing. And he said, look, we are doing the same thing they’re doing but someone invented the car radio, should we not make better car radios? That was his argument, we’re making a better car radio, and good for them for inventing the car radio but too bad.

I think he was saying that the nature of technology is that people build on, just like Jobs and Gates stole … They borrowed the stuff from Xerox Park, the graphical user interface. It happens and happens again, and I think the problem for Snapchat is that Facebook can just roll, eventually will get it right just like Microsoft did a million times on a bunch of other tech companies.

So, what does that mean for Evan Spiegel and Snapchat and how does Instagram compare?

Well, he’s so creative, that’s the issue, I think … And so is Kevin Systrom, by the way, who runs Instagram. But I think it’s hard, I think it’s super hard to compete. I mean, the era of big tech companies now is really here. I was talking to someone the other day, a venture capitalist named Sarah Tavel, and she said it’s really hard to make innovative companies anymore because … And there will be innovative companies, it’s not gonna never stop, but the powerful companies Apple, Google, Facebook …


And Amazon, it just creates like a really difficult … And they’re buying up companies and they’re being innovative and iterative themselves and so it makes it super hard for small companies to break in.

Facebook has gotten a lot of bad press lately, obviously.

Yes, they have.

About Russia and about all kinds of things. So can you just catch me up on what’s happening at Facebook and what do you think the outcome is gonna be of a lot of this criticism?

Well, you know it’s interesting, you don’t follow Twitter that carefully, but I had debate with Facebook executives this weekend on Twitter.

Oh that must have been fun. I’m gonna have to go back and check that out.

They lost. They lost. It’s gone. It’s gone, Katie.

They lost?


Oh god.

Here’s what they did. They’re very sensitive. First of all, they did a very slow roll about the uses of their platform by Russia in terms of initially last year, Mark Zuckerberg said there was no impact whatsoever.

But they said that again, even recently, right?

Yeah, they do.

They didn’t sway the election, which is an unknowable thing to conclude.

Unknowable, yes. Well, they just keep saying it …

If they say it, it’ll be so.

It’s like Trump, right? They just keep saying, the crowds were bigger, the crowds were bigger, the crowds were bigger.

I think one of the things is they’re very technical and mathematical people and so they’re being very accurate about certain things they’re saying and focusing in and missing the forest through the trees.

Isn’t a lot of this stuff unquantifiable?

Some of it is. Some of it is, but I think the overall issue is that they’re technically saying, these ads were not run … These ads weren’t, they weren’t talking about the content on the platform, it’s so much larger and bigger than they’re discussing. But technically their ads were bought at various times and so their whole premise around this is that these ads didn’t sway the election, and everyone else is like, well there’s an indictment by Robert Mueller that shows how they used primarily Facebook and Instagram to really invade the system and take advantage of the system. And I liken it to, if you think about what if Russia had bought all the advertisements on a network or run the content of a network during a presidential election and swayed it.


They don’t wanna take responsibility for the fact that their platform was used by a malevolent power to create discord in our country, and that doesn’t seem to bother them as much as technically our ads weren’t bought until here. The platforms were used and abused because it’s sort of like, why would you rob a bank, that’s where the money is, that’s where the people are. And so these platforms — Facebook being the biggest one — have been much abused by malevolent powers.

So what’s gonna happen, when you think about Facebook, Kara, and you think about, say, YouTube, which has also had a lot of problems with pornography and inappropriate content and advertisers are now shying away from that, what is the solutions for these companies, when the genie is out of the bottle?

I just had a long interview with Susan Wojcicki at one of our events earlier this week, actually, who’s the CEO of YouTube, very thoughtful person. And I just had her on an MSNBC show …

I really like her.

She’s great. She’s great. But I mean, they’re trying really hard because they know these platforms are massive. I think it’s a trillion hours a week or something, it’s some enormous number that’s being uploaded to YouTube and all these social media platforms and so the ability of them to monitor it, is enormous. Obviously, people can’t do it. It’s not feasible for people to do it, it’s not scalable.

And then secondly, the technology around AI and other machine learning in order to maybe control this better is still in its infancy and very problematic. So they’re trying to figure out how to maintain order, I guess, and at the same time pretend they’re not media companies. And so when I interview them I do a lot of, “Well, are you a media company?” “No, we’re …” I think Susan was like, “No, we’re a technology platform whose end result is media,” or it was some really convoluted way of saying …

Why do you think they’re so reticent to kind of admit?

Because it requires responsibility. That means they’re responsible. The New York Times cares if it’s wrong, right? Whatever people think of the New York Times or whatever, the liberal media or whatever. You know, working at any of these institutions, we care when we’re wrong, we say we’re wrong, we correct and it matters. There’s a great deal of heaviness to the responsibility.

Well, they say they’re the pipes, they’re not the stuff that goes through it, right?

Right. Even as they ruin the business plans of every publisher, you know what I mean. It’s a different kind of media company, but they’re a media company. But the minute they admit they’re a media company, it means they have responsibility for what’s on their platform. And there’s lots of laws why they don’t want that to happen, too. They wanna just say they’re a benign platform, essentially.

Do you think that’s ever going to change? How do you see this all …

No, I don’t think that there will be any regulation. There’s always talk about it, and obviously … I’m interviewing Cory Booker and others, the Democrats are suddenly, which were the friend of media, the friends of the internet, are now turning on the internet.


Which is interesting. And so we’ll see if the Democrats get in power if there’s more regulation, but so far the U.S. and where most of this is taking place, is toothless. Europe, on the other hand, there’s a woman named Margrethe Vestager who’s been very tough on all the big media companies in Europe.

Who is she?

She’s a commissioner at the EU, I think it’s for competition, I forget her long title, but she’s … I did a great podcast and interview with her. She’s really an interesting force and she’s the one that’s levied all these fines on these companies and really has the teeth to really bother them in these countries. And I think the European Union and Europe has a very different point of view on privacy, on abuse, on all kinds of things that is problematic for the U.S. tech companies. But in the U.S., they roll over, everybody rolls over. And obviously, ort tweeter in chief, our troll in chief, Donald Trump is using the medium to his own advantage.

But when we get back … We gotta break for a commercial and when we get back we’re gonna go real deep with you and me, Katie.

Okay, sounds good.

All right. We’re here with Katie Couric. She and I are doing a co-podcast and when we get back we’re gonna talk about our careers. I have to ask you questions about Yahoo and more.


We’re here with Katie Couric, we’re doing a joint discussion.

This is so fun.

Is it fun?

I feel like we’re having lunch and just hanging out.

Nobody knows this, but we like each other, Katie Couric, don’t we?

Yes, we do, Kara Swisher. I admire you, I like you. I think you’re really smart, really funny and really good at what you do. So speaking of that, how did you get into this crazy business? I know you went to Georgetown. You started writing for your school newspaper.

No, I didn’t. I did not write for my school, at Georgetown.

Oh, you called the Washington Post to bitch them out about an article, which made me laugh.


Cuz you thought that they did a bad job covering something at Georgetown.

Yeah, I did. I was mad at them for a piece on, I’ll date myself, Roberto d’Aubuisson, do you remember him?


From Nicaragua, the awful killer of women and children in Nicaragua, he led the death squads.

That’s right.

I thought it was irresponsible. They didn’t do a good job covering him, so I was kinda pissed about it.

Well, you know what I thought was really interesting about that story, Kara? I don’t remember the editor to whom you spoke.

It’s Larry Kramer.

Larry Kramer. Not the Larry Kramer.

Well, it’s the Larry Kramer in journalism. He’s now a USA Today publisher, I think.

Oh that’s right, okay. Wait, who’s the other Kramer?

The playwright? Playwright Larry Kramer.

No, not the playwright. The guy at MSNBC.

Oh! I don’t know, there’s so … Larry Kudlow.

No, no the guy who screams all the time.

Oh, Kramer, Jim Kramer.

Jim Kramer, sorry. I was getting him mixed up with Jim Kramer. So Larry Kramer, which I really thought was cool, said, “Come in and talk to me about it.” Now if he hadn’t done that, do you think you would have gotten into journalism anyway?

That’s a good question. Yes, I was. I was already really writing a lot. Yes, 100 percent.

But still.

I think getting that break to go to Washington Post was a big deal, and it was a big deal because you know how it elevates you when you go. Where did you start? You started out at like a small …

I started at ABC News in Washington getting out Frank Reynold’s ham sandwiches, making coffee and passing our Xeroxes of the rundown.

Guess what I did, I delivered mail. You know that. And you know what was really interesting about working from the beginning is, I was in the mail room and I did night news aide and things like that at the Washington Post when I was younger, when I was in college, was that you understand the dynamics of politics of a newsroom much better from a lower rung. I don’t know if you did. I learned that really talented people weren’t quite as difficult as the less talented people.

Yeah, I don’t know if I learned that, but I did learn through osmosis, just kind of how a newsroom worked. I think it sort of feeds your curiosity. You watch people who you admire, who you think are good, who are tough, and I also think it makes you think, “Hey, if they can do it, I can do it, cuz they’re not that great.”

Right, exactly. I think you probably did the same thing, I took every opportunity I got. Every time someone handed me a chance I took it and like, oh, “Someone go to the Smithsonian to write about this dumb rock collection story,” and I just said, “I’ll do it.” “I’ll do it” was my …

Definitely. Right, say yes to everything. I know I did this book of advice a few years ago where I just asked people to write essays, sort of the secrets of their success cuz I thought it’d be a nice graduation present. And I gave all the money to Scholarship of America, which gives underserved kids an opportunity to go to college. And that’s what Ryan Seacrest said, of all people, he said, “Say yes to everything.” And I think that is a really important and a valuable piece of advice for people starting out. Don’t you, Kara?

Yeah, I do, absolutely. I think one of the things … It was more than yes, I didn’t just say yes, I just literally would do whatever, that kind of thing.


I think one of the things … I was talking to someone the other day, they were like, “What do you regret?” and I’m like, “I didn’t really travel.” I went right to work, like I worked, I think you probably did the same thing. I didn’t really take time off. I didn’t go and find myself in Thailand.

I know. Well for me, work is like oxygen.

Yes, agreed.

I have to work, and I know you feel the same way and I’m wondering, I didn’t realize, I feel like I know a lot about you, but I don’t think I knew that your dad died when you were just 5 years old.


And he had a cerebral hemorrhage.

Yeah, sudden.

Yeah, and he was how old, Kara?


34 years old, which is so heartbreaking. And that was the age that Ellie was when Jay died, my late husband. Do you remember your dad?

You know it’s funny, I do in bits and pieces and I don’t know how much she does … A lot of people whose parents die at a young age are, it’s something called highly functional, because they become … half their life goes away, really, if you think about it. If you’re 5 you don’t have much reference to other friends and family and things, you reference your parents pretty much. And so you get highly functional because the worst thing in the world happened to you and you survived.

I think a lot of people, kids whose parents died at a young age, become one, they work, they just move faster because they realize the ephemerality of life, and then at the same time they can deal with things, things don’t bother them that much, both negative and positive. You wanna be bothered by certain things in life, but you definitely roll on through.

Is your mom still living?

Yes, she is, oh yeah, she’s in Mexico City right now.

Do you worry about her a lot? Cuz the one thing I noticed, and I had talked with Carrie, my younger daughter about this, because Ellie was at such a formative age, Carrie was just 2 and Ellie I guess was 6, had turned 6, and she gets a lot of anxiety about me because I’m her only parent. Do you feel that way about your mom?

No, I don’t. My mom drives me nuts.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

No, we’re an Italian family so no, I do not worry about her. She loves her Fox News so let me just say, so that’s been a great time this past couple of years.

Oh, interesting. Do you guys not talk about politics at the Thanksgiving table?

Oh my god, she never shuts up. I had to throw her out of Thanksgiving once cuz she voted for Rick Santorum, but that’s a long story.


She said he wouldn’t because he was for anti-gay stuff, and I said, “You can’t vote for him and continue to have Thanksgiving [here].”

Where does she live?

In New York City, and everywhere. She’s in Mexico City right now, I think.


She travels.

That’s interesting.

She like an Auntie Mame kind of person. Yeah, Fox has poisoned her brain completely. But she’s okay, she’s pretty funny. You’d like her, Katie. She’s fun …

She sounds fun. We’ll have to take her to lunch or something.

We’ll take her to lunch.

Not talk about politics too much.

Oh she doesn’t like Trump so much, but she likes Fox News, oddly she can’t stand Trump.

Wait, I want to do a little more of your career stuff. So after the Washington Post … I mean, you are such a force, Kara, and you’re sort of the most well liked and feared, I’ve read that a million places, journalists covering in Silicon Valley. How did you get so interested in covering technology?

The tech? I covered Steve Case from AOL. I was here in Washington at the Washington Post and I covered the internet early, early on when there was AT&T interchange and all this other stuff. So I was super struck by the internet from a very early age. Washington Post had a phone I’d use, a big old heavy one, it was in a suitcase. I was riveted that there was going to be a mobile phone for some reason. That was stuck in …

Did you have one of those Maxwell Smart car phones that looked like a shoe box?

It was not in my car but it was suitcase that I brought in my car that the phone’s in. And then I had one of the other phones that looked like those big ones. I’ve had phones forever. I was one time on a vacation with someone I was going out with, and I was in the middle of the bay in Provincetown, it was low tide and so I could walk out pretty far, and I was like, “It works out here!” And I think they broke up with me right then.


Yeah, no. I just went on a vacation to Mexico with Nellie and it was supposed to be without any internet or anything else and of course, I managed to find a cellular connection somewhere.

You managed to find the one square foot where your phone reception would come in.

I did hike up the giant hill to get there, but whatever. It’s details, Katie.

Do you worry about tech addiction? Because that’s something that I am worried about, not only for myself but for people in general.

Yes, that’s another big issue with these internet companies.

I see my daughters … One of the hours I’m doing for NatGeo — shameless plug — is talking about, is technology making us lose our humanity? Because it is really changing, dramatically changing the nature of our relationships.

And one thing I heard, Kara, from an internet expert, an addiction expert out in California I interviewed, Larry Rosen, he said that kids are actually developing plague in their brain because phones and screen time is actually interrupting the melatonin in their brain and increasing cortisol, and they’re very, very worried about early dementia among these addicted kids, which was enough to freak me out.

Oh my goodness. Katie, that’s terrible.

I’m sorry to break the news to you.

So I’m completely demented right now then. It’s nothing to joke about. I agree, I think it’s going to be a big topic this year. People talk about this and again, this is the next wave that hits the companies like Facebook.

Definitely. And you hear more people making noise. One of the guys I interviewed, Tristan Harris … I love him, Kara. He’s such a remarkable young man. He’s 33 years old, he quit Google, because … Was it Google?

Yeah, Google. He was at Google.

Yeah, because he felt like these internet companies or tech companies are manipulating us so much, and they’re making us addicted by …

They’re also taking, same theme, not taking responsibility for what they’re doing. And so one of the things … People are likening him, I mean media companies are likening to cigarette companies. I think that’s taking it slightly too far, but there is a question of how much warning people should have, how much knowing, how much science needs to happen around this stuff.

I feel like nobody’s really … That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this hour, we’re operating and it’s like minute by minute, and nobody I think in the media culture takes a step back and says, wait a second, let’s take a look at some of these big issues. Because I think this is such an incredibly transformational time in almost every arena. But nobody is sort of debating it or talking about it.

Well they don’t want to. These internet companies don’t want to do that because I think what they’ve been doing is growing at breakneck speed, and one of the things I started to do last year, right when they went to visit Trump, you remember that? They all trooped up to Trump Tower.


And didn’t say anything about immigration. And I wrote one of these scold, scold columns about it, talking about, how dare you do this without discussing immigration. This guy had been so anti-immigrant, which is has been the fuel for Silicon Valley essentially, immigrants. All the major companies founded by immigrants: Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, Satya Nadella, Steve Job’s father was an immigrant, Susan Wojcicki’s father is from another country. So I was really angry at them for doing that, for walking up there.

And they’re like, “Oh well, he doesn’t mean what he says.” I’m like, “He means what he says around this topic cuz he said it so many times, it was one of his basic promises to his constituency.” So I think what they want to do is sort of act as if they’re the saviors of humanity and take no responsibility for what their inventions create.

And tech addiction is just one of the many, and at some point you do … Like I get a lot of pushback, this past year was like, “You’re such a scold,” and I’m like, “No, you need to grow up and start to understand,” not just tech addiction, but job displacement, like what’s gonna happen around AI and automation.

Can we talk about that, too?


Cuz that’s something I address in this hour. 38 percent of jobs are susceptible to automation, eliminating them by the early 2030s. I know you did a town hall series with MSNBC about that and with jobs in the future. This is something that I’ve been really interested in because these jobs are not being lost to globalization, they’re being lost to automation.

Robots, AI.

It’s a huge dilemma and I think it’s actually part of what’s feeding white, working-class frustration, another hour I’m doing on NatGeo. So what is the solution here?

I don’t know because I got the inspiration for doing that series for NBC from Marc Andreessen who have been arguing with for decades and how … He and I argue about all kinds of things. But one of the things he was talking about was that it’s like farming to manufacturing condition.

It definitely is.

Except that happened over 70-some years and it was a huge political uprising because of it, and now in this age of social media and also constant and repeated media everywhere, and people’s feeling so apart from each other and so partisan. It’s a powder keg, as far I can tell.

I agree.

You really created a situation … You know, Steve Case has talked about this. J.D. Vance’s great book “Hillbilly Elegy.” There is a massive transition about to happen around jobs that people are not paying attention to and I don’t want to be one of those …

Joan Williams also wrote a great book based on a Wall Street Journal piece that … No, Harvard Business Review article just called “White Working Class.” Which talks a lot about cultural, class cluelessness and cultural condescension and all this stuff. I highly recommend.

Who is thinking of it? I don’t wanna say like, there’s not gonna be better jobs in the future, but what are we gonna do about it? One of the things that … Nellie just interviewed Robert Reich, who was the former Labor Secretary.

I love him.

And one of the things that he said in this interview, they did a New York Times thing on AI, it was an event, and one of the things that was the best quote that came out of it was, she was asking about universal basic income — which is you pay people, essentially, when jobs get lost, and it’s very controversial. It feels like communism a little bit. It’s questionable, but it’s one of the ideas of how to deal with this joblessness, eventual joblessness. He said, you either pay them, these numbers to pay people to not work, essentially, or you’re gonna pay to bulletproof your Tesla. And I was like, oh wow, that’s … You’re gonna create this sort of Brazil-like situation where there’s very poor and very rich.

My question is, who’s thinking about it? Who among our … Is it the tech companies? Whose responsibility is it, the tech companies? The government? Is it citizens?

I think it’s all of the above, but you’re right, it’s very frustrating that people are kind of like, just have their head in the sand about this. Zoe Baird is working very hard on this thing called Skillful, and she’s working with Governor Hickenlooper in Colorado, to try to come up with a way to retrain especially displaced workers.

But I think our whole education system needs to be reevaluated. I went to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where 50 percent of the high school students are involved in vocational training, and I just think that we have to really, everybody has to put their thinking caps on.

And where it’s going, because some of these jobs … There’s a great story in the New York Times recently about Sweden, that robots are doing mining, essentially.


Why should people … Like this whole thing about Kentucky going back to coal mining, people probably shouldn’t coal mine. It’s very dangerous. There’s certain jobs, rote jobs, that maybe people shouldn’t do anymore.


And it wasn’t good for people in the first place so why just have them there when robots can it better?

But I think what’s hard, Kara, is these are generational, traditional jobs that have been passed on. It’s part of certain people’s DNA, so we have to help rethink their whole thinking. We have to rethink education, rethink all the different possibilities and how for the get-go, from pre-K on, we start orienting people towards the job of the future. Thank you.

Thank you, President Couric. But they can’t even decide on lunch. They can’t pass a Dreamers Act. The Dreamers Act thing is just driving me crazy because it’s literally an advertisement to the rest of the world that we don’t like innovation. We don’t like innovative people, we don’t like people who work harder. It’s such a message to the rest of the world, which again, the technology and the innovation in this country’s been fueled by immigrants. No matter how you slice it, people coming in, fresh ideas, fresh thinking.

And also hard working.


The scrappy people who have something to prove, I mean those are the people who change the world, not people who, pardon the expression, are born with the silver spoon in their mouth, like many people we know.

Right, and the problem is, I think one of the things … We can get into diversity in the next section, but I do need to talk to you about Yahoo.

Okay, we’ll talk about that, but I also want to talk to you about like how you’re able to get so many people to talk to you and how you stay in the business without pissing people so many people off, they never talk to you again.

Well I’m about to piss everyone off, I think. At the end of my career is going to be one big disaster.

Really? You’re just gonna go out like …

I’m gonna go like a Roman candle, Katie. I’m going out big and ugly.

To finish up this section I think is, what I think about when I think about these ideas about not accepting people in this country, and keeping open borders and things like that to do this, including around the issues of diversity too, like not thinking bigger … I have this vision in my head of a small girl in Afghanistan who knows how to solve cancer, it’s in her brain, who’s gonna be the one who does it, who will never get there because of all kinds of issues, whether immigration or discrimination or whatever. We don’t know who hasn’t been able to invent things because of the barriers we put in people’s way that we could remove and create a better place. And I know it sounds like pie in the sky, but the more barriers we put in front of people to be innovative, the less humanity benefits.

I agree with you 100 percent, and I do think the internet is helping remove some of those barriers in terms of giving people a pathway to education and exposing them to ideas that they’d never be exposed to otherwise.

Right, well, we’re gonna talk about that more because you talked to James Damore and others for one of the pieces that I was talking on.

Anyway, we’re here with Katie Couric, we are talking about all kinds of things. We’re jumping from thing to thing but that’s why we’re so fascinating to everybody, including ourselves.

Really, truly.

When we get back we’re gonna talk about Katie’s time at Yahoo and how I’m gonna go out in a giant cloud of something. Anyway, when we get back.


Okay, we’re here with Katie Couric. We’ve been talking about a range of things. Katie, obviously, is the famous, most famousist anchor person.

No, I’m not.

Yes, you are. You’ve worked for every network and Yahoo. You’re gonna tell me, Yahoo. Katie, what happened?

Well, I think it was a really interesting experience. I think that the real issue is that many of these tech companies … I mean, it was what were talking about earlier, they are not media companies, they do not care deeply about stories, about content, about true connection. I think they care about widgets and gadgets and delivery systems, but they aren’t really super interested in the vegetable soup that’s running through the pipes.

Right, right.

And I think it, for me, was just a bit of a culture clash. I think that the problems, the challenges of making sure people got good content was just not high on their priority list.

Right, so when you went in you were thinking what? You had been at these … you had left ABC.

Well, I thought … Yeah, I saw the world changing. I saw people consuming information. I saw this pipeline whether … Direct disintermediation, or using these pipes to reach people, was something that was incredibly promising and I thought Yahoo, I said to Marissa Mayer, I said, “Do you want to be known as the company who serves up stories about the boy who lived on Ramen noodles for 13 years or do you wanna kinda have really important, interesting, substantive interviews? Do you want to educate and enlighten people? Do you want to raise the bar?” And it doesn’t mean you can’t have the Ramen noodle story, but you could maybe do a high-low thing, like they do in fashion.

Yeah, sure.

You wear a sweater from Bergdorf’s and jeans from J.Crew. So she seemed to be open, but I don’t think she ever sort of understood the commitment that would take and I just think she had a lot of other things on her plate, in fairness. And so I wouldn’t say it was an unhappy marriage, but it certainly wasn’t very fulfilling for me because I had all this content, I was getting big interviews.

You were.

And it was sort of like a tree falling in the forest.

Because they didn’t put it on the front page or what was …

Well, they didn’t put it on the front page or they didn’t really know … Even now they really don’t have very good distribution. They didn’t really know how to market things properly. They didn’t really know how to take quality and make it scalable.

And at one point, you were paying for Facebook ads, is that correct? To get your stuff out there?

No, no, no. I wasn’t paying. I did bring someone in who was really an expert on micro targeting because I would say to him, “How can my stuff get seen more?” And I would say to the Yahoo folks, “Can we please do a newsletter, I’ll totally push out everybody’s content, I’ll make sure everyone sees Matt Bai’s column or I’ll make sure that people see Joe Zee’s fashion thing.”

Yeah, because they hired a lot of people.

Yeah, they hired some big names and yet they were in the witness protection program. So I said, “Let me help you, help them, help us, help everybody.”


I don’t know, maybe it’s because they were kind of at that time — and are — a legacy tech company that they had kind of lost their mojo to innovate, I think in way.

No, it’s an attitude throughout tech. The content doesn’t matter.


They talk about it.

They have no respect for content.

It’s not even no respect.


Not even that. It’s really weird. It’s like, oh, it’s just another thing they’re pushing through the system, essentially. It doesn’t matter.

I think the secret sauce are people who are technologically savvy but also respect and care about storytelling, and the company that I think combines those two things is gonna win the day. And I haven’t really found it yet, have you? Well, I guess Vox, in a way.

We try to, but we don’t own the pipes. I do think sometimes, when I talk to Evan Spiegel, I do think well at least he gets the concepts around it. Like the idea that you differentiate or you curate, and I think that’s the question is, the curation. And I think one of the things that I’ve found fascinating from your tenure at Yahoo, besides all the other things I was writing about there, was they made this enormously high-profile hire — and you are. It was a big giant hire that they made. And then they literally hid you anywhere they could put you.

It was so weird, right?

It was.

As a business proposition, it’s not like I’m all that and a bag of chips, but if you are going to invest in somebody like me, who has a quote-unquote brand, which — I hate that — but who is recognizable and who has a connection with people, why not leverage that? It was bizarre.

I don’t think they meant it in the first place.

No, no, no.

It was just a thing. They never intended to do it, but it sounded good.

It was like a good press release but it was sort of …

But they hired a lot of people so it was more than … It was something. You know what I mean? That was what was interesting, the whole … It was sort of a side-light and I don’t think it was as cynical as a press release. I think they thought they wanted it …

No, I think you’re right. I think they just didn’t understand what it required, and I would try to say, “Hey, let me bring this person in to run media, who really gets it,” and they just … I don’t know, it was strange.

So you left because why? Cuz then it had changed, Marissa was taking …

I just didn’t see them shifting their attitudes and at some point …

Even under Oath? I just interviewed Tim Armstrong.

I like Tim, I think he’s great. I told him I thought the new name of the company should be Rize, R-I-Z-E, cuz it’s sort of like Verizon, and it’s aspirational and positive.

Oh I like that, Katie Couric. That’s a great name.

I think they paid a lot of money to come up with Oath, whatever. But anyway, so I think these companies are, maybe they’ll wake up and smell the coffee but I think they’re just very lumbering and slow. And so at some point, ironically, but at some point you want to do quality work and make sure that someone values what you do and makes sure that they hopefully want to get it out into the world. Which is increasingly fragmented, by the way.

Two questions though, Netflix just paid Ryan Murphy …

Right, 300 million dollars.

And Shonda Rhimes has a similar deal.

I know.

Obviously Apple just invested in a Reese Witherspoon thing that’s very expensive.

Based on morning television.

Exactly, it’s all about … It’s gonna be a Katie Couric character.

Not about me, I don’t think.

But you could consult for sure, you seem to know a thing or two about that. When you look at all that, though, they are moving rather heavily into that space.

They are. I think right now, I think that they are not super jazzed about moving into a more news space, maybe ultimately they will be, but right now I think they’re really focused on scripted content, and super kind of impactful buzzy stuff. I think in a news landscape, where there is so much content everywhere … I don’t know about you, Kara, but I read so many articles on my phone and I’m like, “Where did I read that? What was that? How did I know that?”

And it’s disconnected from the brand.

It feels very confusing but I think you’re right. I think the landscape is continually changing and iterating, as they say, and it will be interesting to see. But the most important thing is how are we gonna keep people informed and engaged in the world around them? I do think from what I said earlier, that a lot of young people, Gen Z, whatever you call it, millennials, really are engaged, but we have to continue to think about how we’ll continue to keep people engaged, you know? Because it’s so important to a democracy.

I know. What would you do right now if you were young? I mean you already …

If I were young?

Let me just say, everybody, Katie Couric is the hardest-working woman and we were having dinner and literally she was getting on … You were getting on a night flight, where were you going? You were going to like Alabama or somewhere. We’re like, “Katie Couric can rest.”

I know. I just love to work.

We’re like, “Katie Couric can take a minute.”

I don’t know why. My husband thinks I’m insane.

Yeah, and I work hard and I think you’re insane.

I know. I do feel like I have find to find a better balance. But what would I do if I was starting out in the business now?

I don’t know. At one point I’m like, “You did that Sarah Palin interview, you can retire now.”

I know, but I like to be engaged in the world.

I get it.

I like to be talking to interesting people.

Everyone’s saying, “What would you do if you were young?” What are you interested in now?

Interested in now?

Yeah, cuz look, broadcast is sort of shifting so dramatically and you tried the Yahoo thing. Although, that doesn’t mean that that didn’t work. But where were you looking at or where would you go?

I think I’d like to try something more entrepreneurial, because I think there’s never been a better time. If you talk about disintermediation … I do a lot on Instagram because I feel a real connection to people who follow me on Instagram, it feels a little less sort of cosmic than Twitter. I feel it’s more community based, and I think that’s a really interesting outlet to experiment in and try different things.

I’d like to do something that really, at this point in my career, shines a light on other young up-and-coming, especially female journalists, diverse journalists, people who represent all different points of view. Because the one thing we’ve seen, Kara, so clearly is, certainly in broadcast, that is it still a male bastion. It’s still, all the decision makers are primarily white men, and we have to start changing that. And how do you change it? Well, you give women an experience and a chance to shine.

Obviously, media’s been the focus of a lot of the #MeToo stuff, more than any … I was talking to someone the other day, there’s a lot of it in tech but it really has been focused on media, including places you’ve worked.


When you see that happened did you just become inured to it? Like, “Ugh, this is the way it is”?

I have to say, personally, I did not deal with a lot of that. I don’t know whether I’m just imminently inharassable, but I was very lucky. Every now and then someone would make a comment or it would be a little fratty but I think I’m kind of like you, I would roll my eyes or give it right back. And so I think culturally, it’s just been such a shift in what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.

But having said that, I’ve been the beneficiary of having a pretty powerful job and I would try to set the right tone in a work environment. Having said that, I think I’m sure it was jocularity bordered on too much, kind of, boy’s humor.

Yeah, I think about what did I allow that I shouldn’t have.

I don’t really feel that way. Some people have said, “Well, how did you not know what was going on?” I think there was also this feeling of privacy and people do things and you’re not monitoring behavior in people’s spare time, you don’t know about it. And I have a totally clear and clean conscious about the way I comported myself and any responsibility that I bear for people’s bad behavior.

Yeah, that’s hard, because I think what happens is, one of the things I’ve noticed at least in Silicon Valley and talking to people, is that people let things go. I think about how you become, again, inured to it, you get this stuff all the time and then you live in the environment and then …

And some of it is so subtle, Kara.

Absolutely, they’re called microaggressions in Silicon Valley.

I think that one of the things that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is sort of very subtle sexism that’s marginalizing and dismissive and undervalues people’s accomplishments and intelligence and ability to contribute, and it’s this very subtle thing that, you can’t go to necessarily HR about it but you feel it intensely. And I have experienced that.

It’s really interesting when I … I just finished the Tina Brown book about her tenure at Vanity Fair, which I thought was fantastic.

Yeah, I haven’t read it yet, I’m going to.

Oh you’ve got to read it, it’s hysterical and beautifully written, and very funny and very raw.

She’s so brilliant.

Brilliant. But I was just thinking, people have a vision of her that’s really not very nice, like tough ball-busting lady editor kind of thing.

I’m so over that. I am so over that.

Exactly. I was like, she changed magazines in two, not one but two, and she had some rockier times at Daily Beast and Talk and stuff like that, but her accomplishments were massive when you start to realize it, the impact on magazines.

Oh definitely.

And the kind of image she has is so … Any man who did that … It made me furious when I was reading. I was thinking, this person still has sort of a reputation among some, which is like, “Oh, what a tough bitch she is.” That kind of thing. And I’m like, “Whoa wait a minute, she did a lot and why is that her image?”

Well, you know I think that’s why it’s so important to have women in leadership positions. When I anchored the “CBS Evening News” I would call writers out and say, “Why are you describing Hillary Clinton that way? Would you describe a male candidate that way?”

I just had that happen to me.

Or, “Why can’t we do a story on X, Y and Z?” Things that my male counterparts would never in a million years imagine.

Why should it be you that does it? Why does it have to be a woman? I did the same thing when I interviewed Hillary Clinton last year at Code, one of the anchors I was telling you was like, “She was strident.” And I’m like, “What word did you just use?” And this was on the air, and they’re like … I said, “Strident is a word you only use for hysterical women.”

It’s true. And how about shrill?

And I’m like, “She was tough.”

How about that being taken out of our vocabulary. Do you ever … And hey, how about perky.

You’re perky.

I was called perky.

Yeah, you get a lot of perky.

I am very outgoing and I’m friendly and I’m very upbeat, but are men ever called perky? No. I feel like it’s a demeaning, marginalizing description of somebody and I don’t like it.

Also when you shifted, I think you did shift though, you were a much more complex person than “perky Katie,” you know what I mean?

That’s the thing, I think that people don’t …

People didn’t like it.

People don’t like, they don’t wanna acknowledge that people are multidimensional, they wanna put them in a box and say they are X, Y and Z. And I think nuance has been lost in our current discourse and hasn’t really existed in a very long time and it’s just very easy to stereotype people.

We were at Vanity Fair and I was talking about your salary and I was thrilled you got the big salary you got at Yahoo, someone was sort of saying, “Oh, that’s a lot of money.” I’m like, “Who cares? She got the money.” And you yelled from the audience, “That’s right, Swisher,” or something like that, but in this sort of growl, and it was fantastic. And everyone was like, “Is that Katie Couric?” And I was like, “Yes that is Katie Couric, she wants the money.”

Well I think women especially … I mean, think about it: Morning television, you have to be nice. And I think, luckily, I think of myself as a nice person, but you have to fulfill these expectations and roles and it’s very hard to navigate as a woman, this kind of being this tough, but not too tough. Being challenging but not too challenging. Not having an opinion, being palatable and pleasant in the morning, You have to be like the breakfast smoothie. And it’s hard, it’s really hard.

I like the breakfast smoothie.

I think I stole that from Tom Brokaw, who described Matt as that once.

Not anymore. What smoothie would you be? Like, oh my goodness, you’d be an interesting smoothie. But it’s true, I think that’s what interesting is that if you don’t fulfill their expectations of you …

One of the hours I’m doing for NatGeo, and again I’ve been thinking about all these and the only reason I bring it up is because you’re in this hour and you’re fantastic. It’s about gender inequality and Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And I talk to a woman at Harvard who studies implicit bias, and you and I talked about this, Kara.

I don’t think it’s implicit.

Because companies that consider themselves a meritocracy are the least meritocratic of anyone because they don’t acknowledge their innate biases. And I think we are so programmed to see men and women in a certain way that it’s actually reinforced by all the messaging we get in commercials and the objectification of women, the hypersexualization of women.

I had to think, when this whole #MeToo was exploding, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show was on CBS and I was like, “No wonder women are confused, no wonder everybody is confused.”

Right, but then you have the backlash. And you interviewed James Damore for that, right? Or others, you went to one of his … You told me, “I’m going to this party.”

I went to a cookout.

Yeah. I was like …

They were serving sausages.

Of course they were. There’s sausages everywhere where I work, Katie. Everywhere I go, sausage fest is everything.

It was interesting.

That was the name of my memoir, was “Sausage Fest.” But it’s true, it’s so true. But what was interesting when you were talking about that was that … I loved that you were open to hearing them, because one of the things in Silicon Valley right now, Peter Thiel has to move because he can’t be conservative.

Right, right.

Which, oh come on. Come on. Come on.

Yeah, let’s discuss that.

All right, we only have a few minutes. Oh come on. It just … Please. I just don’t even know what to say. This is a person who is a victimizer that acts like a victim, typical. This guy sued a company out of business, he’s got billions of dollars, he’s got all kinds of things at his disposal. And he gets to speak up, he gets to give speeches, he gets to … You know what I mean? And he’s still a victim? He has …

Let me ask you something, Kara. In terms of policy discussion, do you believe that in certain circles that a conservative point of view is actually heard at all and there can be an open conversation with people of differing opinions?

I think some places are conservative and some places aren’t. I can’t operate in certain parts of the country either, in certain companies. Companies have their point of view, and I think a lot of these companies pretend they don’t, cuz when you have to say your values, you have to argue about them, right?


Values is what you argue about. I had this really interesting time at YouTube, I went there to talk to them and they were talking about how it used to be all squirrel videos and nice things and now they have a college ethical debate every day, whether it’s Logan Paul or whatever. And on some level I’m like, “Well, that’s what it’s about, having values, you have to state your values.” And I don’t think they can …

I’m gonna have a podcasting guy who’s doing all these polls on conservatives. They don’t get to talk. It is a liberal environment. It is, it just is. These companies are more tolerant. Tech has been more tolerant and these are their values. So I don’t know if you can’t talk, cuz I’m sorry, these people have so many opportunities to talk. I googled, there’s like 900 places to talk and all kinds of opportunities, but I think once you say something that’s not in their value system, maybe it’s not a place you need to work.


Or maybe you should work somewhere else. As a gay person, you couldn’t be gay. You couldn’t, and of course that ended up being illegal in some places. It’s still not that legal in many places. But I just think you have to think about what values you have and if you have those values, not being cowed into saying, you have to have everyone’s point of view. This is our value, this is what … Every internet company has a little statement of who they are and I think they’re scared about that, they’re scared about stating them.

Yeah. That’s interesting, but I also think that there are some issues that respectable, intelligent, well-meaning people can disagree, and I wonder about our inability to have a respectful conversation about … Certain things are non-negotiable, I understand that, but certain things that you can have a different point of view, and you can learn from somebody, and they can say, “This is how I feel about this.” aAnd I feel like those conversations aren’t happening. And it really bums me out and I think it’s really damaging the country.

Well, it’s because it’s so politicized. Yes, it’s so politicized. But maybe, I was just thinking the other day, some other point of view came out and I was like, “I’m so glad to hear this point of view, now I know.” People are like, “I can’t believe people are like this.” I think they’ve always been like this, they just have an outlet. And especially social media amplifies and weaponizes a lot of it. When I think about it I’m like, “Well okay, now I can see it, it’s out in broad daylight, I understand the ignorance,” or whatever I think of whatever the point of view is. Many I find are ignorant.

You can’t really persuade somebody if you’re not talking to them. There’s a really good book that’s written by the incoming president at the University of Virginia, Jim Ryan, it’s called, “Wait … What?” And he gave a great speech at the Harvard School of Education and it’s basically, we’ve lost our ability to be even a tiny bit circumspect. We have these instantaneous reactions and sometimes just to take a moment and say, wait, what?

And anyway, it’s very interesting the way we hear things, the way we react to things, the way that we are in our own echo chambers, the way that we’re preaching to the choir, especially on social media and Twitter. I just wish once in a while we could all say, wait what?

Except I’m gonna push back on that.

And hear each other a little bit, not on everything, Kara, but on some things.

No, I’m gonna push back on it in a very big way because I do think we’re hearing each other, that’s the problem. I’m reading the actual book on “Hamilton,” not the musical, which I really much enjoyed.

Oh, the David Chernow? Ron Chernow?

Ron Chernow. If you read that book, the stuff that was going on between Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison and Washington …

Not to mention Aaron Burr.

Yeah, exactly. Who created a problem at the end. It was really quite the same, it is even worse. And our democracy hung by thread so many times, the Whiskey Rebellion, the XYZ Affair. We have no sense of history is what it is. And if you read that, you’re like, “Oh my god.” You realize … And the invective was so vicious through these different newspaper articles they wrote against each other. They were was act, this Addition Act, people don’t remember it, people went to jail for having a Republican point of view, if they insulted the government. And that was a law in the books for a very long time, that if you insulted the government you were jailed. So people who were not of the Adams group, the Federalists, were put in jail for years and their lives were changed.

So I think this has been an American problem for years. It’s the lack of ability to have any memory and at the same time realize we have always been like this. And what’s happened is Trump has just given voice to all of it, now we see it instantly and that’s what’s discomforting about it. But this is not something … Go read that book, cuz then I sort of felt a little better. I was like, “Oh wow, we’ve been doing this for centuries. We’re on the cusp of anarchy at every single second.”

I’ll read that and you read “Wait … What?”

All right, I’ll read … cuz I think it’s not. I think social media’s made it worse and that these companies have a responsibility, and we’ll end on that because one of the things, when you were talking about how do I get liked and disliked, what I think happens and the reason I think you’re successful is because … I hate to have something in common with Donald Trump but you say it like it is for you, and I think people do appreciate that. Whether they disagree with you or don’t agree with you, if you have a cogent point of view and you’re genuine, these mediums, you thrive in them.

I guess. I’m still quite careful. I think that you are sort of Kara-bar-the-door. I’m a little more careful about some of the things I put out there in the world because, I don’t know. I wanna get the I-don’t-care gene from you somehow because I still have that desire to be liked.

Yeah, you gotta get rid of that, Katie.

I have it less as I’ve gotten older but I still have it.

At 70, you’re gonna say, “Fuck you.”


When is it? What age you gonna do that at?

Well I’m starting to say, not f-you, but …

It’s so sweet you can’t say it.

Shut up.

Hush, you.

Get out of here.

Hush now.

Get out of town. Bite me. That’s about as far as I go.

Oh my god.

I do say, “bite me.”

I do you think you get an enormous amount of criticism that I can’t imagine having. Like I was thinking there was a story about Lena Dunham in Vanity Fair about the same thing.

Oh gosh, yeah. Lena, really, I mean.

I love Lena Dunham.

This is the world we live in and I think you can say nothing and stand for nothing, or you can say when you feel strongly about things. I’ve been pretty open about saying we have to have a conversation about sensible gun laws. It is insanity.


It is insanity, and no it’s not a panacea. No, it will never prevent gun violence but it can reduce it and it has to be a multi-pronged approach. I agree mental illness is a part of it but easy access to firearms is really a horrific thing.

It is.

And I’ve been pretty vocal about that.

So what’s your next … You’ve got me to have my colonoscopy.

I’m actually taking a well-known person to get screened in March. I’m not gonna tell you who.

Oh no.

But I’m gonna escort this individual.


No. I am not actually gonna perform the colonoscopy because I’m not qualified but I’m going to be sort of the escort, which will be fun because it’s such a preventable disease. Nothing feels better to be, if you talk about anything I’ve done in my life and when people come up to me, Kara, and say, “You know what? I got screened for colon cancer because of you and that screening saved my life,” I mean that makes me feel like I’m walking on a cloud.

I agree. I have the colon of a 20 year old.

Do you? Mazel, mazel.

I’m clean, clean. Clean living, Katie.

When was your last … Well you’re not … How old are you now?

I’m old, 54.

Okay, so how many? You’ve had one colonoscopy?

One, yes. I’m going to have one next year.

Okay, good.

Five years, right? Five years? Can you tell me, Doctor Couric?

Yes. Well, depending on what they find. They found a McDonald’s cheeseburger when I did mine.

You didn’t take the pills?

No, I’m kidding.

No, I will take ’em.

I wanna end on one thing. Where do you imagine you’re gonna go next? You’re talking about Instagram, which I think is really interesting but … And then I’m gonna tell you what I’m gonna do next, if you wanna know.

I do wanna know, of course I wanna know.

What do you imagine, if you could like design a career right now? Like you’re doing these documentaries, you’re doing all kinds of things. What would be the most interesting way … Still storytelling, I think.

I mean, storytelling, I do love talking to interesting people. I like understanding sort of where they came from, how they got there. I love learning all the time. I’m insatiably curious so I think … I don’t know exactly. I need some career advice from you, Kara.

I think you should interview. I think you should interview.

Because I also like being connected to an audience or to people. I like feeling that I have access to people, that I can make them … I can make complicated subjects more understandable or that I can introduce them to something that they’re not aware of that will improve their lives, or that will just make their day more interesting. I like being sort of that conduit for people and I think I have a pretty good sensibility about things. I think I’ve got a nose for news, as they say. I can sense when something is gonna kinda be in the ethos. So I don’t know exactly but I just wanna keep learning and discovering, and that sounds so cheesy and weird but you know, I just enjoy being engaged and I like to bring people along for the ride.

That’s not cheesy. And you should do interviews, I’m just telling you. What do you imagine your greatest interview was?

I think my most impactful, which really isn’t a word but now I think it is a word cuz it’s used so much, I think it probably was Sarah Palin.

That was a hell of an interview.

Having nothing to do with me, I think basically went there with questions that required critical thinking and accumulated knowledge. And I think I was very careful about asking them in a non-confrontational way.

You did …

I think it exposed a lot about her and I think that was very helpful for voters.

Yeah, you took a photograph, you know what I mean?

More like an x-ray.

Yeah, you did, and you couldn’t deny it. It was like okay, I see. It was really interesting.

But I feel like I’ve done a lot of pretty good interviews, like this one for example.

Ah, this one.

One more question, hold on.

All right.

This is from Jiana, my producer.

All right.

What muscles and skills do you think entrepreneurship draws upon compared to journalism?

Katie, I think being irritating is the most important muscle skill that anyone has to have.

Being irritating?

Irritating. Being irritable and irritating. Looking at something and saying, “Why is this done this way?” I think ever great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs down to today, lots of great entrepreneurs are, every one of them is irritating and irritated. So they see something and they don’t let anything stop them from doing it, and I think it’s really hard. I think agreeable people don’t invent things.

Yeah. I think the most important word in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary is, “Why?”

Why. Yeah.

Or maybe, “Why not?”

It’s more like, “I don’t like this, I don’t want to do this …” I think our greatest will be from very difficult people.

Oh and by the way, before we go, I have to plug my podcast. I’m getting it in big, bold letters, highlighted in yellow.


So hey Kara, tell your listeners, who by the way, I’m sure you have a lot of really cool people who listen to your podcast.

I do.

Will you tell them to listen to my mine?


Because it’s actually, I hope it’s interesting and fun. We have a lot of cool guests like Julia Louis Dreyfus, Mitch Landrieu. That’s one nice thing, you know, because I’ve been doing this for a century, I’m able to get pretty good guests on my podcast.

So who else, Julia Louis, Mitch Landrieu, who else? Who else? Who else have you had?

Well Doris Kearns Goodwin, Samantha Bee …


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gretchen Carlson, Amy Schumer, I just interviewed in her apartment. You would love Amy Schumer. Do you know her?

No, I do not, Katie.

Oh you would love her. When you’re in New York, let’s all get together. I like her, I don’t hang out with her, but I think you would love her. Alec Baldwin, Tina Brown, the aforementioned Tina Brown, Ina Garten. I cooked eggs in Ina Garten’s kitchen in East Hampton.


They were delicious. Danny Meyer, who I love. David Axelrod, Martha Stewart, blah blah blah, Sheryl Sandberg. Who you know well.

Listen, Katie Couric. Yes, I do. I do. I do know Sheryl Sandberg.

We talk to her about … Is it Plan B or “Option B”?

“Option B.”

“Option B,” yes. Which of course I could relate to her experience.

Absolutely, that much have been … I’m gonna listen to that interview.

Listen to all of them Kara, you have nothing else to do.

I’m gonna spend my whole day listening to Katie Couric. Anyway Katie, thank you so much.

This was so fun. Will you call me when you come to New York so we can hang out?

Totally, I absolutely will do that.

And Happy President’s Day, by the way.

Thank you so much.

And by the way, I wanted to ask you, you’re thinking about running for mayor of San Francisco, right?

You have a million questions, Katie, we’ll have to do Part 2 of this thing.

In 2023.

Maybe, perhaps. I think I might aim even higher, Katie.

Really? Are you gonna run for president?

No, that would be a disaster.

Senator? Governor?

What am I talking about.

You’d be great. Can I be your Press Secretary?

Oh my god. We would just go down in flames, it would be so good.

Hey, it sounds like a sitcom, doesn’t it?

It does, it does. Let’s write it. All right, thank you, Katie Couric.

Bye, Kara.

Wait, I gotta say my goodbye. You gotta listen to my good bye part. Katie, it was great talking to you, thanks for coming on the show. Once again, Katie’s podcast is called Katie Couric. You can find it pretty much everywhere you listen to Recode Decode and she gets much better guests than I do.

Recode – All

Cash For Apps: Make money with android app

Watch Kara Swisher interview Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg live

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Tune in live now!

Recode’s own Kara Swisher is interviewing Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg live at the Lesbians Who Tech event in San Francisco this morning. There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Facebook — including how the company is handling the fallout of the 2016 presidential election, in which Russian sources used Facebook to try and sway public opinion in the lead-up to the election.

You can watch Swisher’s interview live now through Lesbians Who Tech’s Facebook Page.

LWT Summit 2018 – SF

Posted by Lesbians Who Tech on Friday, March 2, 2018

Recode – All

Cash For Apps: Make money with android app

Watch the full interview: Kara Swisher and MSNBC interview Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

Tune in to MSNBC at 6 pm PT/ 9 pm ET tonight.

Skip that Grammy party tonight and turn on Recode’s town hall with MSNBC instead.

We partnered with MSNBC to produce a town hall event series that looks at how technology is impacting every aspect of our lives. While technology has brought much good to the world in the form of opportunity, innovation and jobs, it has also impacted our elections and democracy. And as technology moves forward, there is a fear that some will be left behind. Our first program airs tonight with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Ari Melber interviewing Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

“AI is one of the most important things humanity is working on. It’s more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire,” Pichai told Swisher and Melber.

Pichai also discussed how the changes in technology and the world will profoundly change the nature of work.

“Twenty or 30 years ago, you educated yourself and that carried you through for the rest of your life,” Pichai said. “That is not going to be true for the generation which is being born now. They have to learn continuously over their life.”

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also talked about the threat to DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that gives a deportation pass to people who were brought to the U.S. as children: “They have gone to our schools. They have worked at our companies. They served in our military. And I just can’t imagine, from a humanitarian standpoint, that we would want to send them back to a country that they really have no allegiance to.”

You can watch Pichai and Wojcicki’s full interview with Kara Swisher and Ari Melber tonight, Sunday, at 6 pm PT/ 9 pm ET on MSNBC.

Don’t want to watch on TV? You can live stream it here.

Watch some clips below and tune in for the entire broadcast tonight.

Recode – All

Full transcript: Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher on Recode Media

Editor in Chief Dan Frommer joins Swisher and Recode Media host Peter Kafka for a discussion about tech and the media in 2017.

On this episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Recode’s Kara Swisher returns to the podcast to talk about how the media and Silicon Valley have fared in the year-plus since Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election.

You can read some of the highlights from the interview here, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Recode Media on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Peter Kafka: This is Recode Media with Peter Kafka. That’s me, and that’s Kara Swisher.

Kara Swisher: Hi.

Chiming in in the background. We are part of the Vox Media podcast network. I am talking to you from the lovely San Francisco office. I can see the view.

KS: It’s beautiful.

Paid big money for that view.

KS: Yep, not too much longer, but yes indeed.

I’m here with Kara Swisher. Who is Kara Swisher? You know who Kara Swisher is, that’s why you’re listening to this podcast. What’s your title?

KS: Executive editor.

Boss lady.

KS: Boss lady is what you call me.

Now, we’re partners.

KS: We are.

We are co-producing the Code conference.

KS: Yes.

We’re partners in life, that’s great. We did this a year ago.

KS: I’ve seen your partner.

I know.

KS: It’s like “Suits.” You’re the guy who doesn’t have the law degree, that guy.

You know, you’re the second person to reference “Suits” in the last day.

KS: She’s marrying — the other star of it — is marrying the prince of England.

I was unaware that she was a “Suits” person.

KS: Oh my God, of course. Why else would you know her? She’s from “Suits,” she’s great on “Suits.” No longer, but she was great on “Suits.”

We’ll just do an hour on “Suits”?

KS: No, I could if you’d like.

What network was “Suits” on?

KS: I don’t know.


KS: I don’t know. USA, yeah.

It seemed like a USA show.

KS: USA, yeah.

If you’re still listening to us, Kara and I talked a year ago about tech and media and Kara’s life story, and it was a good interview so we thought we would run it back. We don’t need to go over Kara’s life story again, but a lot’s happened in the last year.

KS: Yes.

We talked a year ago and we were a little morose, post election.

KS: Yes. I remain morose, that’s not changed.

There was a brief flurry of real anger, I think, and fear post election, and then leading up to the inauguration, and then there was a lot of activity. Politically, I think, in journalism, and my sense is that while there’s a ton of really interesting and good and vibrant journalism going on, some of the energy that animated the anti-Trump movement has dissipated.

KS: No. I don’t agree with you.

No, you’re there.

KS: No, I think it’s worse than ever. The energy is there. I think there’s been great journalism done, and it’s morphed into all kinds of different ways we weren’t aware of. I think a lot of the sexual harassment coverage that’s happened in a lot of the publications, including the New York Times and the New Yorker and elsewhere, on our site and other sites, the Information, others, is a direct result, including Uber, the coverage around Uber, is a direct result of anger towards what happened in the election.

Even when we’re not mentioning Trump, we’re talking about …

KS: Oh, yeah. It’s an issue that’s become aware, if we can’t get him at some of the allegations, of which there are many, I think it was a reckoning moment. I think that’s the word everyone’s using, reckoning.

I do want to talk about sexual harassment and reporting. I was thinking about the Trump stuff today or yesterday, because the travel ban, that was the first big, I think, movement that galvanized tech in particular.

KS: Sure. Anti-tech thing.

But I mean, throughout the country, people were galvanized by it, but it became a thing for tech to grab onto and was not easy, but it was a thing where almost the entire tech community said, “We can’t stand for this, we’re going to fight it.” It’s a version of that-

KS: Until the lower courts …

No, no, but the Supreme Court said it can go ahead.

KS: It’s a little more complicated than that. They didn’t approve it.

Right, it’s not approved. My point is, is that that story, we put it in our fine newsletter, but no discussion. Everyone seems resigned to that.

KS: I think that’s the whole point of the Trump administration is wearing you down with persistent and consistent lies. I think it’s the exhaustion, the wearing down of. There’s a really good Tony Schwartz piece, he writes a lot about Trump. He wrote the book “The Art of the Deal.”

He’s the biographer.

KS: The biographer. This constant lying that keeps going on, and then you just keep lying and then people who tell the truth just give up, essentially.

We saw this coming in a lot of ways, right?

KS: Yes.

Some things that we thought about haven’t come to pass. I think a lot about the fact that right after the election, I think we imbued Trump and his circle with, we said, “They must be magicians, they must be able to see around corners, Bannon must be a genius. Jared Kushner really must know what he’s doing,” and I think …

KS: I didn’t think that, but okay.

As time goes on, they are who we thought they were prior to the election, it’s just now they’re running things.

KS: That’s the problem. It’s a culture of lying that you have to constantly be fact-checking. I think that’s what happens is the press starts to look like Miss Crabtree checking your homework, and then that’s not a really good stance to be in, right? You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, and at some point, you equalize with the liar. It’s a he-said-she-said, when in fact it’s not at all. It’s a he-lied-you-correct, and that’s a problem, I think.

Right. I do think of all of the stuff … We acclimatized. Is that a word?

KS: Acclimated, actually, is the word. I think one of the issues is that because of this, because social media becomes so amplified, the lying becomes so amplified, and then you have all these voices of supporters of liars. It just becomes this ridiculous [situation] where facts don’t matter and there’s an argument for everything, which of course there isn’t. That puts media at a real problematic juncture. At the same time, I think it’s invigorated the media. I think I’ve never seen such good journalism done in a very short amount of time.

There was a lot of introspection after the election, on the press’s part. “What did we miss? What did we get wrong?” There was a lot of, “We got to go out into America and find Trump voters and talk to them.”

KS: Right.

How do you think that has gone?

KS: I think there are Trump voters everywhere. I don’t think they’re in America. This whole thing about “real America,” I’m a real American. So are the people in the Midwest. Nobody gets to have the moniker of “real” Americans, there’s just different Americans. I think they have done a lot of those pieces where they go out and find people disagreeing with each other in Kansas, or Mark Zuckerberg takes a trip to whatever state he happens to be in at the time and meets the real people, there’s a lot of that going on. There’s been a whole bunch of Silicon Valley people who have done that, little trips, getting in vans. Steve Case just announced another new fund with JD Vance and a bunch of others around funding people in all kinds of parts. I agree with that, by the way. There’s talent everywhere, and to assume that there’s someone only in Silicon Valley or in …

It’s just easier, to get it in Silicon Valley, right?

KS: Of course it is. It’s also, they pattern match among people that look like them. I always have this concept that there is a little girl in Afghanistan who could solve cancer, but she’s never going to be able to, or can create the next quantum computing leap or something like that, but she’s never going to get the skills or the opportunity to do so, but the mind is there. It’s sitting there — almost trapped, in a lot of ways. I applaud all those efforts. I don’t know if you’re going to yield the next Facebook, maybe you will. I do think there is talent everywhere in the world.

Back to the media part of it. You didn’t say, “I’m going to go talk to middle America,” you said, “Screw middle America.”

KS: No.

“Screw my backwoods cousins who are Trump voters.”

KS: I see more of middle America, I did actually go. I went to Kentucky and West Virginia this year, I did.

What you did say is, “I want us to do … I want us to be more confrontational. I want us to be less stenographers. I personally want to do that.” Beginning of the year, you wrote a lot when we were egging you on to do it, right? “This is what Silicon Valley should do, this is how we should view Trump, this is how we should take him on.”

KS: I was correct. He was going to screw us on immigration, on transgender issues and all kinds of social issues.

It seemed like that was invigorating for you to write.

KS: It was, it was. I stopped writing as much as I should have, because I like the podcasting more. I think I say the same things in podcasts, almost continually. One of the things I was doing, I think, early in the year, and I got into a big fight with a Facebook executive at an event in Germany in January about their responsibility, and I’ve been talking about this almost persistently on the podcast, which was the abrogation of responsibility by social media companies, especially Facebook, Twitter, and some others, where they just give up on doing their jobs, essentially. I think that’s been a bell that I’ve been ringing a long time with them. They find it annoying, but as it’s turned out over the course of the year, they certainly dropped the ball on a lot of issues.

Let’s talk more about that, right? They’ve been dragged, now, into Congress.

KS: Dragged is the operative word.

Not the CEO’s, right?

KS: No. They sent the most boring people they could.

You can’t be surprised by that, right?

KS: Yes I am. Yes I am, because they like to come out and say things when it’s in their control and under their terms.

Exactly, when it’s under their control.

KS: Right. I don’t know, I think this is beyond their companies, it’s about protecting our democracy, and I think they should talk about it honestly.

You and I have this thing about how they’re media companies, they refuse to admit they’re media companies. Leaving that aside, whether or not they’re … Who cares what they’re called?

KS: Right.

They honestly believe, I think, that they really should be a neutral platform where they’re not weighing in on one view or the other and I think they honestly believe that, left to their own devices, everything will work out, and that the good arguments will rise to the top.

KS: That’s ridiculous.

Do you agree that that’s what they think?

KS: No, I don’t think they think that.

What do you think they think?

KS: I think they think that they know these platforms are being badly misused and they don’t know what to do about it, and I think they’re confused and upset by …

Do you think they realize that now, or they’ve always known that?

KS: I think it was a slow burn, you know what I mean? It was a slow dawning on it, the penny dropped really lugubriously. I do think they do. I’ve talked to lots of Facebook executives that feel bad. They feel bad. They do understand something happened here that wasn’t good. I think Mark has talked about that several times, or he’s moved closer and closer to that acknowledgement.

His initial thing …

KS: Sheryl kind of said it in her visit, Sheryl Sandberg, said it in her visit to D.C., “Mistakes were made, we’re in the mistakes were made zone.”

Right. You did talk to them, right? Privately?

KS: Mm-hmm.

You’re still Kara Swisher, reporter.

KS: Yes, I do.

They’re not letting their …

KS: “Stop nagging us, Kara.” First it was, “Stop nagging us, stop being hysterical.” Then it was, “You have a point,” then it was, “Okay, you’re right. So what?” It shifts and shifts and shifts.

What’s interesting, I saw a bunch of them the other night at this Yuri Milner event, this Breakthrough Prize which Mark Zuckerberg’s involved in, and so is Sergey Brin, and stuff like that. There were a lot of numerous executives there from all the companies, and I think they understand something bad went awry. I think there’s just no question.

I think what’s interesting is when you talk about whether they’re media companies or not, that’s where we make a mistake of sticking with them. They’re a new kind of media company. They’re not media companies in the tradition of, say, New York Times or Fox News or even Fox News and others. They’re a media company in that the people primarily get their news from them. They are a gateway point and they should have more responsibility of what’s on their platform.

I just recently visited Evan Spiegel at Snapchat around the new Snapchat. They’ve got enormous control over that platform, and they use it, and they acknowledge it. He acknowledges that he can pick and choose who he wants on Discover. It’s a smaller platform, obviously, but he’s the only one who actually says, “Yes, I have responsibility of who’s on this platform and what people are getting from my platform.”

Right. It’s a different model, right?

KS: Yeah.

He’s also, by the way, maybe it matters that he’s an LA person and not a …

KS: At least he understands what he’s doing and he doesn’t pretend. What’s interesting is it’s the same arguments.

I just had a really interesting woman from the U.K. in the office today, talking about AI, and she’s formed an AI ethics committee. One of the issues is the diversity of data that goes into AI. If you have crappy data sets or biased data sets, you’re going to get biased AI. If you have only white men designing AI, they’re not going to think of all the different ways, and so the next era of computing is going to be badly biased because of who makes it and what data they put in. Especially because AI learns from itself.

I’m not an expert here, but bad data in, bad data out. Crap in, crap out, I think that’s the expression. I think Silicon Valley is not thinking about the next stage, the same thing, the same way. They’re not thinking about the implications of AI and who creates it, what data sets are put in, how unbiased or biased they are. Is there a bias check on some of these algorithms? Things like that. And they should start thinking hard because this stuff is easy manipulatable, as Russia has shown.

Do you think they think we’re in the … We’re out in the woodshed, be there for a bit. This is going to pass over, we’re going to pay our fine or whatever it is and we’re going to do our act of contrition. By the way, we mean it, but we get to go back to what we were.

KS: I think they’re not going to pay a thing. I think there will be no regulation.

By the way, you and I agree on that. What do you think … The point is … Focusing this attention on them, it’s negative. Do you think they think, “We’re going to cycle through this?”

KS: Yes. Yes, I think they do think that. The most cynical of them know it. The others, they’re such earnest … You talk to them. “Oh, we feel bad.” I’m sorry. My issue is, they are the richest and most powerful people in the world, and they’re always acting like they’re victims, and that’s exhausting from a group of people that have an ability to actively change the world.

I was talking to, I think it was Susan Wojcicki, someone at YouTube, I think it was Susan. I had interviewed Reid Hoffman, who actually does answer questions, which is really refreshing, and in an honest way. We were at the ADL, which is the Anti-Defamation League, and I pulled up the Google search on ADL, and you got what you get., or whatever, the homepage. Here’s some stories about ADL. Here’s some issues recently about Charlottesville and ADL. It was all the ones you would expect to get.

When you went to YouTube and typed in ADL, you got alt-right, anti-Semitic videos, one after the next after the next, and it was astonishing that that was what you got. About 20, you got an interview with John Greenblatt, who’s the head of it, No. 20 on the search. I think I wrote Susan a note that said, “Hey, you have this company called Google that owns you that seems to be doing a pretty good job on search, why is YouTube search so bad? Why are we getting this vile stream of horror from YouTube, when you’re owned by the company who does search very well in regular circumstances?”

Again, YouTube ideologically believes that users left to their own devices are almost always going to provide better results than the big boss man.

KS: No, no.

That’s what they believe.

KS: Google doesn’t do it. Why do you get the exact opposite results from Google, which owns YouTube, versus YouTube where you get a stream of vile, anti-Semitic videos?

To be fair, there’s a story at least once a week where someone types in something into Google and the predictive search gives them all sorts of awfulness.

KS: I think Chrissy Teigen did a really good one, it was around boobs or something like that.

They do it constantly.

KS: At the same time, there is an example of left to its own devices, bias and hate will rise rather quickly. What’s incredible about the alt right is they have a really good sense of how to use these tools. So do the Russians. The alt right and Nazis seem to be very good at the internet.

ISIS was good at it, right?

KS: ISIS is good at it, all the people …

This is the thing that has spun my head around for several years now, and I keep getting surprised by it. I believe — because you wouldn’t know it but I’m an optimist — that …

KS: You are, Peter. Positive Peter is his name for 2018.

Positive fucking Peter is here. Technology, the internet, you spread it around the world and over time, it bends towards light, right?

KS: Yes, that’s what I have long believed.

People in benighted areas who don’t have access to information, you give them information, and over time, things get better. A lot of this is getting thrown back in our face. It’s like, “No, no, we’re actually going to take all these awesome tools you built and screw things up.”

KS: Yes. 100 percent. I think the Russia situation is exactly that, is that it’s so easy to manipulate. What they could anticipate, you could do it like Facebook Live, they could have anticipated a bullying incident. I don’t know why you wouldn’t think of that.

How do we prevent it? I’m not giving them the responsibility of preventing every awfulness of humanity. Humans can do, just literally, they always surprise you by how low they can go. You should have some anticipation of tools that people could put into place. Twitter, I think, utterly abrogated, it’s responsibility, and I think one of the reasons it’s seeing trouble is because it is not a place that is getting better. It’s like San Francisco is dirtier than ever. It’s not clean. You see it.

It was that initial rush, right, of Twitter when, “Oh look, we brought democracy to Egypt,” and they kind of believed it. It seemed grandiose at the time.

KS: No, it’s a great communications tool.

It was being used for good then, it was hard to imagine people were going to turn this thing around and do vile things with it.

KS: I think the problem is … Trump is the real problem on that medium. He owned it, he owns it. He owns that media.

He’s really good at it, right?

KS: He’s excellent at it. That’s my least compliment I want to give to someone.

Doesn’t use a computer.

KS: Dan Scavino, I guess, types it in for him. Clearly, the guy is channeling Trump, 100 percent. It’s a beautiful medium for him, as he would say.

His least-good Tweets are the ones where someone else has done them for him, right, because he’s uploaded stuff …

KS: He’s good at it, but I don’t think anyone can think the medium is better for him being on it. It’s just, a real nasty person is really good at nastiness.

Speaking of nastiness. I want to talk about sexual harassment.

KS: Yes.

We’ll take a quick break to hear from our sponsors, and then we will talk about nastiness. We’ll be right back with Kara Swisher.


I’m back here with Kara Swisher. As promised, we’re going to talk about nasty things.

KS: Nasty.

Sexual harassment. You’d said at the beginning of this conversation that you think some of the reporting we’ve seen is a reaction to Trump.

KS: Mm-hmm.

It makes sense. A lot of stories about media, men, behaving terribly.

KS: Yes.

Starting to spread into government. Not that many about Silicon Valley …

KS: Some.

And technology. Some. Not that many.

KS: You had a bunch. You had Dave McClure. There was one about Justin Caldbeck, who seems to misbehave quite badly. Just recently, Shervin Pishevar stepped down from his firm and from Hyperloop, another one. It’s been periodic and consistent. I think that we wrote one about Steve Jurvetson, who had some issues but it’s still unresolved. There’s been a bunch. There was one about Google and about a lot of excessive dating at that company and the tone it set.

Do you think that things are less bad in Silicon Valley and that’s why we’ve seen less stories, or do you think the reporting isn’t intense, or there’s not as many people trained on Silicon Valley?

KS: I’ve been here a long time. I don’t know of a Harvey Weinstein character, that I know of. I think Uber was that, for a lot of people. I think Uber, that tone, it’s more sexism than sexual harassment, although sexual harassment is there. We’ve written a bunch of stories about various … the India rape issues and stuff like that. I think there’s a heavy-duty gender discrimination.

I think some of it did come out of the Ellen Pao trial. Everybody saw and understood what that was. Even though she lost, I think it did set it off. It was a simmering fire that then was ignited by Susan Fowler’s memo, which the minute you read it, you’re like, “mm-hmm. That’s right.” It was one of those familiar things to a lot of women.

That’s about power …

KS: Power.

Systemic problems.

KS: Sexism, gender differences. Diversity in general, the lack of.

Not the same volume of horrifying stories.

KS: No.

I know why they’re not being reported in …

KS: It’s not a Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, the Harvey Weinstein situation.

Right, and I know why they’re not being reported in industries and parts of the country where there just isn’t media, but there’s a lot of media here, right?

KS: Yeah. I have been here awhile. I do not know someone in that level. I might have missed something. I think a lot of people wanted to attach it to … I’m trying to think. There just isn’t. Uber as a whole, I think, got that and is that, is the Harvey Weinstein of tech. The behaviors around partying, around the way women are treated, the way they break laws, the bro culture. I think that’s … It’s wider spread.

More to do with being loudish and assholey than …

KS: There’s serious sexism, 100 percent. One of the things that I think we haven’t done enough on — and I think it’s my own laziness, really. Some reporters have tried — is around the nondisclosure agreements that people have signed. I think there are dozens and dozens and dozens of those, that people have signed at Yahoo and Google and Microsoft, for certain, and all the companies. There’s not a company, I think, that’s escaped it. There’s a class action suit going on at Google right now around this, where there has been incidents of sexual harassment.

The way I split it up — I think I’ve said it to you and you said I should write an essay on it — was there are serial killers, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, obviously Matt Lauer at this point. There are murderers who murder one or two people and then get off somehow. There’s people who hit you with your car. They didn’t mean it, but they still were cloddish, did something dumb, like made a pass at a party or drank, something. What’s really hard is the continuum, is where do you say, “Okay, let’s let that go by,” because you don’t want to be the sex police.

At the same time, where it’s systemic within companies and there’s not reporting structures in place to deal with it, I think that’s where I’d like to focus is the HR departments that are inadequate, then the tools for reporting aren’t allowed, or aren’t adequate, essentially.

You said, “I don’t want to be part of a sex police.” There should be some kind of bright line between …

KS: Personal behavior.

Personal behavior versus …

KS: You could say … I think the Information tried. Reed Albergotti, he’s done some excellent work on this at Netflix, and Amazon, Roy Price, they’ve done some great stuff around Roy Price, that was an obvious situation.

That was Kim Masters.

KS: Kim Masters did that for the Information and then it continued in lots of other places. I think Netflix has certainly been affected because of Kevin Spacey and some others. I think just today …

They just fired Danny Masterson.

KS: Right. Welcome to Hollywood, by the way, for them. Welcome to the downside of Hollywood.

I think one of the thing’s that’s important is that … They tried to do it on Google. I thought about this a lot, because I was very aware of the excessive dating that goes on there, and I was married to a Google executive, too, as is disclosed on our site. I think one of the issues was … We wrote all those stories about Sergey going out with a woman, he went out with Yugo, it went on and on. Does that filter down into the culture, and does that create a feeling of anything goes? That’s the only place where I do think, “Huh, does it?” That’s something to think about, real hard. If you have people at the top of a company who have different rules than everybody else, does everybody think it’s okay to behave like that?

Do you think that Silicon Valley, given the stereotype, but the … Antisocial’s the wrong word, but you’ve got a lot of dudes …

KS: Never went to the prom.

Haven’t spent a lot of time with people, period, and certainly not with women. Rough generalization here that they will have a harder time to figure out the new landscape. Can I do this?

KS: No.

They aren’t like everybody else.

KS: I think that’s an excuse. “They were such geeks, they never went to the prom, they don’t know how to talk to a girl.” Please. You don’t talk about girls’ boobs at work. Sorry, that’s really not the hardest thing to understand. You don’t exclude women from certain things. I think it’s an excuse used, “Look at these geeks. They don’t know how to treat a lady.” It’s just ridiculous. They don’t do it on the street. I’m certain they don’t do it in the street. I’m certain they don’t walk around and … I just don’t. I think that’s an excuse.

I don’t know how to pronounce his name. Damore?

KS: Damore, James Damore recode.

Right. At one point recently, “Oh, he’s aspergery, that’s why he did all this.”

KS: Whatever. Ass, the beginning part, I’m with.

The manifesto, the argument, I see echoes of that all the time with engineers, and not about sexism, but they say, “This is how my logic brain works,” and they’re quite proud of themselves. They’re questioning authority. I can see how that tips into, “Thus, women are less good at technology.”

KS: You can cherry-pick studies. There’s a million studies going the other direction.

Of course, but I can see how their brain works.

KS: I can, too.

And how that manifests itself.

KS: They’re scientific. “It’s a scientific thing, Kara.” It’s really interesting. What they don’t have is an idea of how they impact their people around them. I think there is an element of … No EQ, I guess. I don’t think James Damore still gets why he couldn’t work at Google. He just can’t. He can’t manage people. He doesn’t get the second step. The second step was if you were a woman. Same thing, there’s a whole lot of people now who want to go back to their jobs. I’m like, “You’re just not going to …”

It is a weird impulse to … It was his third year as an engineer at Google. Things are going well for you, right?

KS: Yeah.

To have that, whatever that anger is, to write that memo. You’re writing to the 1 percent.

KS: I think he had other thoughts about women and people that were a little more problematic.

That’s what I’m saying. This wasn’t someone who was downtrodden and was …

KS: They’re all victims, Peter. Oh my God, the poor white guy can’t say what they want at work anymore.

Remember you were talking about typing stuff into Google and seeing what the results were?

KS: What are you doing? I came to play a game?

We’re doing this. We’re going to do it with Kara Swisher. We’re going to see what comes up in the predictive text.

KS: Peter Kafka will come up. I’ll be forever linked with you.

How do I do it, how do I use Google? Show me.

KS: You don’t know how to use Google?


KS: It’s super easy, there’s this box.

The bottom of the box, I wanted the results to pop up.

KS: You have to go to the Google main page.

Here, we’ll do this. This works just fine. Search is related to Kara Swisher.

KS: What is it?

First one: Kara Swisher stroke.

KS: Strokey. Strokey McStroke, which, as Peter likes to call him.

How long ago was your stroke?

KS: Five years ago.

You feeling better?

KS: I feel great.

Life changes?

KS: Yeah.

You had a stroke because we went to Hong Kong. You were on a long flight.

KS: I have a hole in my heart, as many people who have dated me have said.

You were on a flight.

KS: Through the hole in my heart that I wasn’t aware that I had, I had a embolism, whatever, a clot went through. It was like a hole in one, the doctor said.

One day you woke up, and couldn’t talk.

KS: Couldn’t talk, just for a short time.

You got to skip being at the conference.

KS: Yes, I did, and you did a fantastic job. Stroke, that’s interesting that comes up first.

Stroke. Kara Swisher email, boring. Kara Swisher LinkedIn, boring. Kara Swisher podcast, fantastic.

KS: Right.

Kara Swisher net worth.

KS: I’m really rich.

How rich are you?

KS: Who’s searching that? Just go to regular Google and pull it up.

I did it on regular Google, too. Kara Swisher mayor, that’s a classic one. Are you done talking about being a mayor?

KS: Whatever.

If someone asks. No, no, no mayor.

KS: Mayor, oh yes. No, I’m not done talking about it. I’m still thinking about it.

Still a thing.

KS: Yes, maybe.

I only see you talking about it when people ask you about it in interviews.

KS: I don’t know yet. I’m one of these people who actually researches things before I do it. I don’t know. Some days I walk through the streets of San Francisco and I go, “This place is a mess. I can’t clean it up.” You know what I mean? I’m being honest. Do I want to do this? These people, do I really want to dedicate my life to cleaning up the mess?

It seems like you could just go walk around with the billionaires and just shake some free money …

KS: That’s the part I like, I like that part.

Say, “Look, we’re just going to buy our way out of this.”

KS: Something. It’s ridiculous, the city is so filthy and disgusting.

It’s crazy.

KS: It’s crazy. It’s crazy.

It’s way scarier.

KS: It’s a scary city. It has become a scary city.

Kara Swisher Uber. Self-evident.

KS: Self-evident. I feel good about our stories on Uber.

You used to get criticism for going soft on Uber.

KS: Yes.

Did something change?

KS: We were never that. Everybody was soft on Uber. Yes, it did. I think we did …

When did it click in for you? It was this thing …

KS: I think it should have been more.

Lots of people said, “Oh yeah those guys, they’re jerks.”

KS: “They’re jerks.” We knew so many jerks.

We didn’t write it.

KS: I don’t think we understood. It’s interesting, I had dinner with Dara, who’s the new CEO, and I said, “You know, I think the problem is, you’re a healthy human being. I don’t think you understand the toxicity of these people, and so you will react to them like a healthy adult does.” I think that’s what we were doing.

He was sort of a jerk like a lot of people, he was just jerkier than most. I think the level of toxicity was not known. I think since then, we’ve done a great job. We’ve helped — along with other publications — get rid of some of the CEOs. I think we’ve been an important force in that. Not just Recode, but New York Times, I think the Information has done a great job. I think they are not in their jobs because of the media. Media has done a great job in putting pressure. I think I’ve put a lot of pressure on that board, and so has a lot of people.

Travis was supposed to come to the Code conference.

KS: He was. Remember?

It didn’t happen. That was when things were going comparatively well for them.

KS: Yes, that’s right. He was coming.

Before the bottom fell out.

KS: Before the report, the Holder report.

It was connected, right? He didn’t want to come, whatever the excuse. They gave us multiple excuses, some of which might have been valid. The stuff that came out was in part because of the people who were doing the reporting internally, about Uber, it came out and then spilled into stories that we and others wrote.

KS: Absolutely. I’m proud of a lot of our stories. I think all of them together really did. At this Christmas party for Uber, Dara stood up and he said, “You’re welcome for all the news.” He said, “And thank you for my job.” It was interesting, because I think we broke that story by seconds. Not very much. He was like, “I found out, I took my job …”

You said, “Here’s the new Uber CEO.”

KS: He’s like, “I guess I’m the new Uber.” His kids definitely found out through Recode, which was funny.

Have you talked to Travis since?

KS: I have not. I’ve reached out a couple times.

You’ve reached out?

KS: Mm-hmm. He’ll talk to me again.

When you meet, what do you think the opening line is going to be?

KS: He’s hard to talk to as it is. He’s not the easiest person to chit chat. A lot of people I’ve been really tough on speak to me now a lot, a lot of them do. I think that … I just had a really enjoyable interview with Steve Balmer. I don’t think I was his favorite, his fan favorite.

No. Did you talk basketball?

KS: No, we did not. We were onstage, we were onstage with him.

I don’t know, maybe he won’t. I just had some drinks with people we were really tough on in Uber, I’m not going to say who, but someone you would be surprised, I had drinks with.

I think that’s one of the things that people don’t get about you in general. You don’t have the glasses on, normally. When you have the glasses on, you look very fierce. You do aggressive reporting. You don’t have a lot of animosity towards the people who you’re writing about.

KS: Some of them, a few.

Very few.

KS: I keep it to myself.

Very few, and you don’t look back.

KS: Or I tell them. No. I tell them. I tell them.

You’re not going to let some grievance simmer for years.

KS: No. But a good example, I get along very well with Arianna Huffington, but the other day we were at a thing and I said, “I think you’ve been an enabler of Travis, period, 100 percent.” She’s like, “No girl, I have not been an enabler,” I’m like, “Yes you have.” I tell them to their face, and I think that that’s different. I’m not mean about it, I just think I said, I think you’ve enabled.

I saw Bill Gurley, I think I said the same thing to him. “Good for you for now, but you enabled it.” I don’t pretend that I don’t feel that way. I think that’s what I do that makes it easier is I don’t have secret … I’m not friendly to them on the surface and then mean to them in the press. I think what I say to them personally or right in front of them … They’re never surprised.

You stab them in the front.

KS: The front. I think that’s helpful.

The last one was Trump. We don’t need to do Trump. We just spent 15 minutes with Trump.

KS: I know, Trump.

Frommer, you ready?

Dan Frommer: Mine are so lame. Recode, Apple park, Twitter, LinkedIn.

KS: What is yours?

DF: Nothing good.

KS: What is it?

DF: Certainly no net worth.

Let’s just start it up. That voice you hear, that’s Dan Frommer. He’s the editor in chief of Recode. He’s our special guest for this last segment of the Kara Swisher interview.

Dan, you missed it, but we did the Kara Swisher predictive Google results. She didn’t believe that net worth was one of the high ones, but here it is, it’s number four on real Google. It’s all the same. There’s also Chamath.

KS: Of course, because he’s my boyfriend.

I think because he’s googling you, probably.

KS: No, no, no. People love the podcast with him, I have to tell you. I don’t know why email is there, that’s so strange.

I think people are looking for your email.

KS: Twitter, Twitter is the top one and podcast is the top one, and Uber. Yahoo has moved down. Twitter, I’m on Twitter all the time.


DF: Hello.

How long have you worked at Recode now?

DF: More than a year and a half.

What is the one question you’ve been dying to ask Kara Swisher but haven’t got around to?

KS: He doesn’t know. Look at him, he’s not prepared at all. What a journalist.

Not prepared at all. Dan, you’re here. When this comes out, we’re going to have already launched the Recode 100.

KS: Talk about that.

Why did we do a Recode 100?

DF: A few reasons. I think the most interesting reason is that …

You can go to and look up the Recode 100.

DF: You can go to and get directly to the list. Peter and I have worked on lists before. Most lists are a few editors sitting around in a room, scratching their chins, thinking about, “Who was that person I had lunch with a few weeks ago? They’re so interesting.”

I like that East Coast magazine, that other voice you used.

DF: We decided, let’s do something far more complicated and time consuming. Let’s try to make a list that is ranked and rated and judged and grouped by the people who actually know what they’re talking about, the peers, our community. The people who are actually working every day in tech and media and business, and who actually theoretically should know who’s actually doing really interesting work, and not just who managed to get onto our schedules this year. We put together a multi-step process, including public submissions from our community, an entire advisory team, which I built, which included some really big names. Troy Carter, the founder of Girls Who Code. I think it was 18 people, in the end.

KS: Diversity was important.

DF: Absolutely.

The idea was to expand the list of people we would normally put on a list. The list is people who, what’s your term? Kicked ass in 2017?

DF: Kicked ass, or won the year, whatever you want to say.

What was surprising to you, to see near the top?

DF: I think the biggest surprise was No. 2.

We can say it, right? This thing will appear in the future.

DF: I guess we can say it. Susan Fowler, who now, I believe, works at Stripe.

KS: She does.

DF: Who, with a blog post early this year, basically brought down Uber and probably the most dramatic executive shuffle that, certainly, I’ve ever seen.

KS: Cascading. She created a cascade of …

DF: Yeah. Let’s not credit Uber with everything that happened since then, but it was certainly one of the first situations where someone stood up and said, “Hey, it’s not okay what’s going on here.” We’ve seen a lot of that since then. I think that, especially in our field that we define as the Recode world, and certainly in the real world, Uber is one of the biggest …

KS: It was critical.

DF: Most interesting companies in years, and to see the absolute destruction of its executive team was huge.

KS: These guys were on top of the world. I think what’s interesting, it’s sort of like the Senator McCarthy hearings when, I’m blanking on the guy’s name, who said, “At long last, have you no shame?” I think that’s what it was.

I think it was good from an insider. I think a reporter could not have done that. Lots of people wrote about that, but I think from someone who was an insider, who did it in such a dispassionate … You should read that again, because it’s super dispassionate, it’s just …

I remember when it came out, it was a Sunday, and it was passed around Twitter. I said, “Oh, this is another one of those negative Uber stories, and it’s like a bunch of others we’ve seen. It’s for people on Twitter to talk about, and it will go away in a day.” It was different.

KS: No. It hit a nerve with everybody. It hit a nerve. When you finally go, “Oh yeah, okay, that’s enough. I’ve had enough of this.” I think it wasn’t just about Uber, it was about everything here. Everything.

Let’s look ahead. Next year? Let’s talk about the media business. Things are a little nervous-making right now. I just read about Mashable getting sold for not very much money, at least compared to the evaluation.

DF: Peter, this will be your last podcast.

This is my last podcast, thank you all for listening, thank you Mack Weldon.

KS: My socks are completely comfortable as I get laid off.

There’s a lot of consolidation happening, the very big companies.

KS: They should have sold a long time ago, right Peter? They had a chance to sell, Mashable. Didn’t they have nine chances to sell over the years?

They’ve wanted to sell …

KS: Before that, there was …

There was always, CNN was going to buy them, there was never …

DF: The famous Felix Salmon scoop.

You can go on Twitter and find that, I posted it. There’s always individual companies at the individual stories, right? Mashable’s story is different than BuzzFeed’s story. Do we think that we’re in for a year of retrenchment, broadly, in media?

KS: Go ahead, you first.

As people who run media companies?

DF: Sure. Look, I still stand by my age-old philosophy, which is if you do interesting work every day forever, you’ll be pretty much okay most of the time.

You could put that on a coin.

KS: Maybe.

DF: That’s kind of the secret to succeeding in media is, be interesting every day, forever, and never stop. I think one of the things that makes me a little nervous, and maybe more so than I have been in the past, is the business model. It’s very clear that banner ads are not a thriving investment for future media companies. You see a lot of them doing things like custom content and sponsorships and native ads and …


DF: Podcasts, but building these agencies in house that do a lot more than just sell media. That works for some of them, but it certainly doesn’t work for a lot of them. I hear some of the smaller ones are losing deals right now to the New York Times, which has been very successful there, and every time I see a tweet of a chart that’s like, “Oh, Facebook and Google are going to take all the growth in online advertising next year,” even though I don’t think of Facebook and Google as really competing with most publishers, it’s not great.

KS: I’m of the opposite mind. I think it’s just not the time to draw back, actually. If you have a …

This is directed at Jim Bankoff.

KS: If you overspend too much like, I don’t know, BuzzFeed spent a lot on video. If you overspend, and they’ve talked about that, and they had a retrenchment, obviously, which you reported about, then maybe. If you are actually doing okay, the time is … This is exactly when you lean in. I think that’s a thing. Warren Buffet’s like that, lots of people, is you don’t …

Google was founded …

KS: Exactly, Google was founded in the middle of a mess, if you remember. I think if you have, like Dan says, if you have a really good … which you think is something people like, you lean into it. Lean into it, as long as it’s high quality, and you keep your costs in line and with what you’re doing. I don’t think it’s time to spend like crazy, but I do think it’s time not to … It’s just right now is when people give up, and they shouldn’t. That’s my feeling.

DF: People are not using less media.

KS: Yes, exactly.

DF: To me, one of the most exciting things are the development of these microsubscriptions, which at least for certain niche publications, are actually working quite well.

That’s encouraging. I think we all overestimate VC funding and how much money actually went into media, if you look, compared to what they spend on stuff they really care about. Even when we thought they were going nuts spending on media.

KS: That’s just Juicero. Really? Are we that worried, we’re not going to get money? Also, all this money that’s going to come washing into the system with the tax reform and with repatriation for these companies, there’s going to be so much money all over the place, for investment, and then where does it wash to? If you don’t keep experimenting with media and pushing forward, you really have nowhere to go, to me. It’s a real problem.

I agree. I’m generally optimistic, I’m super pessimistic about local news. I think that’s a really bad thing for our country.

KS: The Sinclairs own all of it.

There is no local news in most markets now. Even the stuff that’s there has been stripped out for years. No one is really trying hard to solve that problem.

KS: I just was thinking that today, it’s … Oddly enough, I was walking to work. I walk to work every day and I was walking past the Chronicle on Mission Street and I thought, “I would love to run this thing.” You know what I mean?

Mayor and publisher of the Chronicle.

KS: No, but I was thinking, wouldn’t that be more … Could you be more effective? I was thinking local in general. Is there a way to do it? Now, of course, you’ve got the issues around unions and facilities, they own the buildings, and everything else. At the Chronicle, you’re being surrounded by … The problematic … All of the different issues around publishing, including local advertising and everything else, because I started off as a local retail reporter at the Washington Post and so I have some knowledge of this. I think it’s a really interesting business issue because you’re right, there’s all kinds of interest in local news, too. There really is. How do you deliver that?

DF: Do you have citizen, crowdsourced crime reporting?

KS: No. I’m sure we do. I’m sure we do.

Here’s the problem, all of the local news experiments are all based on, “Well, what if got people to give us news for free?” like LA Weekly did? “Or if we crowdsourced it, or if we took up the other blogs that are covering local news and then aggregated it?” No one actually wants to spend money hiring someone to go to City Hall and ask the mayor what happened.

KS: Right, it’s a really interesting problem. It would be a very interesting thing to work on, I would think. I found it, I was just thinking all the different fantastic challenges it would pose.

This headline is not as sexy as “Kara Swisher’s running for mayor” but “Kara Swisher’s going to run a local news empire.”

KS: How do you influence local, how do you influence politics, locally and nationally? I think, for example, the reason i would be interested in mayor is because you could have national implications, because San Francisco is a national and global city and it acts like it’s not. That’s my interest in San Francisco is this is where everything’s happening and why don’t we have more impact?

Look at you. You really did perk right up here, right at the end.

KS: I’m just saying.

Local news, I did not realize this was going to get you.

KS: It was funny, I did that today as I was walking.

DF: Do you think it’s uniquely problematic in America, though, or are there places where local news either has a different model or maybe it’s that local news was only really ever successful …

KS: Look at London. London has like 90 newspapers, right? Why is that? People read them, they really do.

DF: Japan, Tokyo, too. Although, I don’t know how free the press is in places like that.

KS: No, there’s so many voices in London. Tell me, why does London have so many?

DF: I have no idea.

KS: People read them.

Honestly, I’m more concerned about Pittsburgh and Minneapolis.

KS: It boiled down to one, that’s what happened, and then that one was at risk, then when Walmart came into town — it went way back — when Walmart came into town it didn’t advertise locally, and all the department stores closed, and classifieds suck.

My big worry is that there isn’t a local market for this and then people were buying these things because it was habitual, and because that’s where you learned … how to buy a car and it’s where you had to get sports scores. Once you stripped all that stuff out, some if it’s Google’s fault, some of it’s eBay’s fault, blah blah blah. There’s actually not much of an appetite …

KS: What about the Washington Post?

The Washington Post, their model is not to be a local paper, right?

KS: Not anymore.

That is what Jeff Bezos did. “I’m going to throw a ton of money at you guys, and you guys become a national newspaper again.”

KS: As it happens, Washington happens to be an interesting local place.

It’s a good time to have bought a national newspaper.

DF: Right. When I go home to Chicago and look at the Tribune, it’s sad how thin it is. That’s the No. 3 …

KS: LA Times, our friend Ross Levinsohn over there, trying to fix things up there with those crazy Tronc people. Good luck, Ross.

Good luck, Ross. We’re going to leave it there, we’re going to wish Ross Levinsohn good luck at the LA Times.

KS: He called me, he said, “Would you be interested in being the editor?” I was like, “What? No. Like, no.”

DF: Oh, good.

Now they got Lewis D’Vorkin instead.

KS: I think he was calling everybody, like in a dial-o-rama and stuff like that.

Good luck, Ross. We’re going to leave it there.

Thank you Kara, for coming back on the podcast. We’ll have you back again in a year.

KS: Yes.

Thank you, Dan, for guest hosting. I’ll see you guys in February.

KS: February.

Code Media conference.

KS: Code Media.

That’s going to be awesome. We’ll talk about all this stuff again.

KS: So many things.

But with more people.

KS: Let me just say, that is a great conference. I would actually pay for that conference.

You have to pay this year.

KS: I know, I’m going to.

There’s a retrenchment.

KS: My net worth is coming up on Google. I have to say, I do always learn something, and it’s very confusing, actually, because I learn lots of different things, and I don’t know what to think, and I like that.

You’ll be onstage for part of it, asking questions.

KS: Yes, I will, but I find it very helpful …

In the audience listening.

KS: Yes.


KS: Yes.

Kara Swisher says “very helpful,” that is what we’re going to go with.

KS: Very helpful.

Recode – All

Full transcript: Louie Swisher and Casey Newton talk about teens on social media on Too Embarrassed to Ask

No, Louie, your mom still won’t let you get Grand Theft Auto.

On this episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, host Kara Swisher welcomes back her teenage son Louie and The Verge’s Casey Newton. The three discuss how teens use social media and where they get their news, then take questions from listeners. Special guest appearance by Louie’s grandmother Lulu.

You can read some of the highlights from the discussion here, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Kara Swisher: Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode, and you’re listening to Too Embarrassed to Ask, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast network. This is the show where we answer all of your embarrassing questions about consumer tech. You can send your questions on Twitter with the #TooEmbarrassed. We also have an email address, Reminder, there are two Rs and two Ss in embarrassed, in case you cannot spell.

My regular co-host, Lauren Goode from The Verge, couldn’t join us today because she’s working on her YouTube series called Next Level, or at least that’s what she told me. She might still be in a food coma from Thanksgiving. In her place, we’re delighted to bring two fan favorites back to the show, who did a previous show and it turned out to be one of the most popular we’ve done. In San Francisco we have The Verge’s Casey Newton.

Casey Newton: Hello.

KS: Hello Casey, how you doing?

CS: I’m great. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, Kara.

KS: Yes. It was fantastic. The person I am here with in Washington, D.C., is my elder son, Louie Swisher, who was on a previous episode. Which, as it’s turned out — again with you, Casey, together — seemed to be a team that the listeners like. Hello, Louie.

Louie Swisher: Hi, Mom.

KS: How you doing?

I’m doing good.

KS: Good. Well, thank you for coming back. We previously had the two of you on this podcast in June, for an episode about how teens use technology and social media, and we discovered that our listeners want more. It was one of our most popular episodes ever, as I said, so let’s do an update. I also have here in the room my mother, Lucretia. Say hi, Lucky. You’re not going to say much.

Lucretia Carney: Oh, Kara never changes. Thank you, Kara.

KS: All right, cut off her mic now. Anyway, if we need your input, we will ask for it, but don’t say anything until then. All right. Louie, we were going to focus on you and Casey. Louie, in the past couple of months, what’s the coolest new app or tech thing you’ve seen?

Not much changed.

KS: Not much changed. Anything you’ve seen that you like?

No, not really. No new apps. I mean, TBH.

KS: Well talk about that, TBH.

It had a short life. For a week everybody — actually, for me about two days — everybody was obsessed with it.

KS: Explain what it is, for the people.

It’s an app where you can anonymously … There’s a question, it’s like, “Who’s most likely to make something viral?” Then it pops up several, like, four names, and they’re your friends. Then you get to choose one who is most likely to do that, who would do that. Then you can count how many of these TBHs, I guess, you’ve gotten.

KS: Right.

I guess some people turn it into a competition. I think I got about like 800 from people I know, before I deleted the app.

KS: Why did you do just two days? What was that deal?

Because it was kind of boring.

KS: Right.

It was …

CS: Wait, Louie, you won 800 polls in two days?

No, no, in like a week.

CS: Okay. That still feels like a lot.

Yeah. I saw you as a friend request in it.

CS: You must be good at making things go viral.

Oh that was my top thing. That was my top thing, I’m good at making things go viral.

KS: All right, but you saw Casey’s friend request and you denied him?

Oh, I didn’t accept it. No, I saw him and I was like, could I? I was like, no.

KS: Why? Casey, he just rejected you.

He’s an adult.

CS: You know the funny thing about this app — and a reason why I think it did take off — was that you can only ask positive questions.

Well, you don’t ask the questions.

CS: This is one of the ways …

The question is already there, you just choose.

CS: Right. They’re automatically generated, because if it was left to the teens …

Oh, it would be terrible.

CS: … they would certainly use the app to bully each other. In this app, you can sort of only respond with nice things, and it took off.

KS: Yeah, so did you not like the nice things, Louie?

No. You’d choose something that didn’t fit someone, or something like that.

KS: Right.

There was ways around the niceness, I guess.

KS: Okay. Fantastic to know. Casey, explain what happened to this app. What occurred with it after it got a lot of popularity?

CS: Sure. It got really popular and then after it seemed like about two weeks, Facebook swooped in and bought it, and it seemed to be another classic case of Facebook using some sophisticated technology to see what young people were doing with their phones. Once that hit a critical mass, they invited the TBH team down to headquarters and said probably something along the lines of, “Hey, we could either clone this and destroy you over a weekend, or we could pay you a nice chunk of change and you could just build it here.”

KS: How much did they sell it for?

CS: I don’t think that was actually ever disclosed. Under $ 50 million probably.

KS: Here’s Louie saying he doesn’t like it, he got sick of it after two days. What is that?

I used it and then I like would check it periodically and I’d see … I’d check it sometimes and I’d see the notifications on my phone. Then I was kind of bored with it. It wasn’t that fun because you can only ask 15 questions, and then you have to wait like two or three hours before you can answer another 15.

KS: You would like, what, more? You just got bored with it.

I just don’t like the app.

KS: Yeah, you don’t like the app.

What would change it? If it got a new setting? There’s nothing really new about it. What the app’s about, you can’t change that, that’s the whole thing.

KS: Right.

I think it had a short life, it’s like a short-lived app that was really popular, now it’s not.

KS: Casey, how do you analyze that for Facebook now that they’ve bought it?

CS: Yeah. I think it speaks to why TBH was really smart to sell, because outside of a sale they probably would have experienced a rapid crash. That’s a problem with most of the social apps we’ve seen launch over the past two years.

KS: Right, Peach.

CS: Is that they seem to have a … Yeah, Peach, Ello. They can be really popular for two, three weeks, but our interest tends to wane. I think of them like popup restaurants. They’re sort of open for a few days, and you go, and the food is basically the same as the food you’ve tried somewhere else, but there’s something fun and different about the presentation. Once you’ve gone once, you’re going back to McDonald’s and Arby’s with the rest of the normal people.

KS: Right. What happened to Peach?

CS: I think TBH was sort of destined for that.

What is Peach?

KS: Louie doesn’t even know what Peach is.

CS: Peach was a social network that was designed by a guy named Dom Hoffman who was previously the founder of Vine. It just had some fun things that you could do to people. Instead of like sending them a message, you could just send them like a buzz, or I don’t know, like other weird terms.

What do you mean?

CS: You could use it to make GIFs. It just had all these weird creative tools. It was very difficult to understand what exactly it was for, but it was just different enough that everybody kind of hopped on. I do think that there’s this hunger that people have, to have an experience that is not part of the Facebook universe. Just show me something that is different, show me something that is original. There are these apps that come along every once in a while, like a Peach, like a TBH, but they either tend to die out really quick, or Facebook scoops them up.

KS: Even the one that you were … Pokémon Go, too, same thing. Louie liked it for a while and then didn’t. That was a long while you liked it.

Oh, Pokémon Go, that was my whole summer before freshman year.

KS: Right, but then it wasn’t.

Well, yeah, because I got back to school, I got back to work. I didn’t have time to like go out all day and walk around. It was very smart to release it right before the summer, like at the beginning of the summer.

CS: Yeah.

Because then people would be out all the time. They’d have free time, especially kids, the target audience.

KS: You still don’t use it, right?

I still have it on my phone. I’m not going to delete it. I did a lot of work to up my roster, but I’m just not using it.

KS: Casey, are you still using it? You used it for a while.

CS: No. I still have it on my phone. I played it for a while. Pokémon Go really was probably the biggest social hit of the past few years, although it’s not social in the way we normally think about it, because there was no messaging inside of the app. That was a blockbuster for like over a year. Even though the absolute mainstream was only playing it for maybe a few months, they had a really long tail of users that is still playing it to this day.

It’s still a popular app.

KS: Yeah.

CS: Yeah. Ina Fried — your former colleague, Kara — she still plays Pokémon walking around town.

KS: Really? She got one in my bedroom once, I was a little disturbed by that. She walked upstairs and she found something.

CS: Wait, your bedroom is a PokéStop? This is breaking news.

KS: Apparently.

Oh yeah, there’s a PokéStop across from my house. If I had known that when it was still popular … I moved after it stopped, but if it was still popular, I would always be on the app. Now it’s like every month or so there’s a new mobile game that’s like the craze. This month it’s like Golf Clash.

KS: What’s that?

If you play Clash Royale, it’s kind of like that, except …

KS: Explain Clash Royale for the idiots in the room.

Okay. I’m just going to explain Golf Clash. Golf Clash is like you have as many hits … You play, it’s a one on one, or it could be … Usually it’s one on one, one hole golf, and you just have to beat the other person in golf by getting the least amount of strokes. Then if you tie, if it’s a draw, then you go to a shootout and you have like one shot to get as close to the hole as possible. It’s set up a lot like Clash Royale, like the menu screen and the other things, but it’s really fun. It’s a good …

KS: What do you like about it?

It’s not boring like normal golf.

KS: Oh good.

It’s like a one-hole thing, so it’s fun.

KS: Like normal golf.

No, normal golf is like nine or 18 holes. This is just one hole.

KS: It’s also with your fingers, rather than walking and …

Well, I like to play golf. I used to go golfing with Lulu a lot.

KS: Yes, you did.

No, this is more, this is fun, this is a good app.

KS: Have you heard about this one, Casey? Golf Clash?

CS: I haven’t, but I’m excited to think that teenagers are about to get back into golf in a huge way. It’s been shortened for their Gen Z attention span, so golf is just one hole from now on. We’d probably get a lot more games in during the day.

KS: Yeah, that’s true, the one-hole golf courses everyone. All right.

Speaking about this stuff that sort of lasts, talk about Snap. I know you stopped using Instagram as much as you used to. I saw Evan Spiegel just recently and we talked about a lot of things and what they’re doing, but do you still use Snapchat as much? Then we’ll get to Instagram.

Snapchat recently has been pretty bad with all the glitches.

KS: What does that mean?

A week ago or something like that, Snapchat just shut down and nothing would send, you couldn’t load anything, and it was down for a couple hours. It’s only a couple hours, but …

KS: But you use it all the time.

I do. I use it, it’s my main way of talking to people.

KS: Is that more, or less, or it’s just the only way you …

About the same. I upped the number of streaks I’ve had, I guess. Not much has changed except Snapchat keeps updating and changing how it looks. Just keep it the same and fix the issues, instead of trying to rebrand it every month, I think is what I’d like.

KS: What about Instagram?

Instagram’s the same.

KS: Same. Do you use it more?

I use it the same.

KS: For your stories?

I used to never use it, this is like a year ago, and then I really started using it a lot, about the same amount I do now. I used to be into memes a lot and there’s a lot of memes on Instagram, even though a lot of people consider those not the good ones, but I was fine with it. Then I got busy with school and I wasn’t into them as much. Definitely my Instagram usage is down.

KS: Why? Does it take too long or what?

No, it’s just I’d rather do other things.

CS: Louie, I want to know where the good memes are.

KS: Yeah, where are the good memes? How do you find them?

No, because once people like you find them, then they’re not good anymore.

KS: I think he just insulted you, Casey, again.

CS: Wait, so you have to find a meme that’s never been seen before …

No, I’m saying that once people who … I don’t know how old you are, but you’re …

CS: I’m 63.

Okay. Well, okay, since you’re 63, no.

KS: Yeah.

Sure, next time I see you, I’ll help you, I guess.

CS: Thank you.

KS: But you don’t want to reveal it?

Well, no, because then a lot of people know about them.

KS: Give us one. Give us oldsters one freaking thing, Louie, come on. Give Casey a bone, throw Casey a bone here.

I’m not going to throw him a bone. What do you mean? Tell him? Explain to him a meme?

KS: No, explain one that’s good recently.

I don’t look at memes, I have school.

KS: All right.

I have lacrosse.

KS: Okay, all right. Okay. Casey, he’s insulting us today.

I have Netflix.

CS: Yeah. I came prepared for a very combative interview and Louie has not disappointed.

KS: All right. Speaking of combative, Facebook and Twitter, you’re still not using them?

No. I had a Twitter and I …

KS: You had a Twitter?

I had a Twitter.

KS: Okay.

I’ve had a Twitter account. I have one tweet on it.

KS: Okay.

It’s a retweet from you, which is a retweet from the John Oliver show about Donald Trump.

KS: All right, but you’re not using the Twitter? Do you ignore it completely?

Yeah, I just don’t use it. I don’t have the app, it’s boring.

KS: Okay. All right, okay.

Then Facebook, maybe I’ll check it to see when lacrosse practice is, but that’s about it, just because we have the Facebook group chat.

KS: What about your friends? Same thing?

Nobody uses Facebook.

KS: So they don’t pay attention to the fact that Facebook, Twitter and Google are testifying in front of Congress? Are you aware of that?

I didn’t even know that.

KS: Oh God. Oh my God. It’s the only thing I’ve been focusing on-

Because that’s your job, I have school.

KS: All right, do you know about it?

No, what are they testifying?

KS: They’re testifying about how Russia manipulated the elections and put fake news on there to trick people just like you, apparently. You don’t vote, but you will be voting some day.

Next election, actually.

KS: Yes. These platforms are the way that most Americans get their news and that they were manipulated by the Russian government to change our elections.


KS: Do you care at all or do you not believe …

That’s terrible. It’s like destruction of our democracy, but … I mean, not really.

KS: But. But.

But I don’t use Facebook or Twitter.

KS: Yeah, so it doesn’t affect you.

I know a lot of people do, though. They’re the two most popular apps, the two most popular social media platforms.

KS: Yeah, but you’re not paying attention to this Russia thing.

I think within the next 10 years they’re going to die out. Once all the grandmas and grandpas are using Facebook and once Donald Trump’s done with Twitter, once his thumbs can’t move anymore, then it’s over.

KS: Casey, do you have anything to say to that?

CS: Well, I just wanted to say I think democracy was the original good meme.

Good one.

KS: This is interesting that they’re not paying attention to things we devote our lives to. Casey, what do you think about that?

CS: Yeah.

Because we have school.

CS: Oh man.

KS: Yeah. Yeah.

Because we have school.

CS: Everything I write, I’m just like, “I hope the teens are into this story and share it at lunch,” but I’m not getting there.

KS: My mother’s laughing over there. Mom, are you paying attention to fake news?

Lucretia Carney: Yes. Yeah, all the time.

KS: Why is that?

LC: Because I watch Fox News.

KS: Yeah, so you know all about fake news. You know all about fake news.

LC: Not fake.

Let her watch what she wants to.

KS: All right. All right, that’s enough from you, Mom, turn off her microphone.

No, no.

KS: All right, so nothing on Facebook, you don’t care about these things. Are you worried about them getting regulated?

What do you mean?

KS: Facebook, Twitter, Google? Congress is thinking of regulating them over political ads, that they have to disclose who are buying because the Russians were buying political ads.

Well, they should obviously, in the bottom it should say like, “Paid for by the Russian government,” or, “Paid for by the Trump campaign,” or, “the Hillary campaign.”

KS: Right.

Don’t they usually say that?

KS: No.

Well, then they should. Then again, you can’t restrict … This is a sensitive topic, but I think you should warn, but if you don’t agree with something or you don’t like the way … This is coming off terribly.

KS: No, that’s all right.

I’m just saying you shouldn’t restrict content just because …

KS: No, but it should be disclosed.

Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

KS: You think they should be regulated, these companies.

If it’s like an avocado that’s made by Switzerland. You want to know, “Oh, that’s probably not going to be a good avocado.”

KS: Right, okay.

That’s a terrible analogy, oh gosh.

KS: All right. That’s pretty good, actually. Actually, it wasn’t. Have the teachers in school talked to you about people who spread lies online or conspiracies …

They’ve tried to.

KS: What was that? What was that? What do you mean they’ve tried to?

My school’s incredibly biased, it’s an incredibly liberal school.

KS: Right, okay.

I don’t have an issue with that.

KS: That was the point of why I sent you there, but go ahead, move along.

I know, but after Trump won we got half a day off from school because people were upset. If Hillary had won, I don’t think we would have had any days off for the Trump supporters.

KS: It was like a snow day. Okay, all right. Let me ask, but they teach you on this spreading lies online, what do you …

They don’t spread lies online.

KS: What are they trying to …

They don’t really talk to us about that, my school has other issues that are more important.

KS: All right, not conspiracy theorists, fake news, they don’t talk to you about that?

No, we don’t.

KS: All right, okay. Casey, any questions for cynical Louie Swisher? Apparently the Trump supporter Louie Swisher.

CS: Well, I’m curious where Louie is getting his news right now.


CS: Where is Louie getting his news these days?

Snapchat. Social media. From the things on Snapchat, like the Live Stories or something, so I can actually see it. Sometimes I’ll watch the news or I’ll just hear about it from you or Lulu, or other people.

KS: What do you watch on Snapchat? Because they’re adding more and more.

They have these quick briefs of ESPN or CNN.

KS: Which ones do you like now? They’re adding a lot more, they told me.

Really? Oh.

KS: Yeah, they’re going to try to get all sides.

I like “Good Luck America.”

KS: Yeah.

It’s pretty unbiased. I mean, it’s slightly biased …

KS: Who does that, Casey? Who does “Good Luck America”?

CS: That’s Peter Hamby’s show, that’s a Snapchat original.

KS: That’s a Snapchat original.

Is it a Snapchat original?

KS: Yeah.

Well, it’s good.

CS: Yeah.

KS: What do you like about it?

Well, it was better, now it’s okay. I don’t know, I like how he goes to where they are and talks to the people. He gets with the people. He did one with Biden and Kasich and I liked that, I liked to see … I didn’t know they’re working together and I think it’s great that they’re working together.

KS: Okay, so you’re getting news from the Snapchat originals. What else did you use on there?

I don’t know, sometimes I’ll check … Usually, after something important happens or something breaking happens, Snapchat will have a live story of people who are there and recording it, and they’re posting it, and they’re sending it to this … You can actually see it and it’s not biased, it’s just live footage of it.

KS: Right, so you would rather have that than pontificating from people. Interesting.

Definitely, I’d rather have that than Anderson Cooper telling me how he feels.

KS: All right then. Anderson Cooper, you’re finished. Okay, we’re here with my elder son, Louie Swisher and The Verge’s Silicon Valley Editor Casey Newton. We’re going to take a quick break with a word from our sponsors and I’m going to continue interrogating them when we get back. Casey, I want to know where you get your news from now on, from here.

CS: I’ll tell you.

KS: All right, go ahead, right now, very quickly.

CS: I get most of my news from Twitter because I have it open on my laptop for 18 hours a day and so when stories break, that’s where I see it. I wind up reading from a wide variety of sources, but …

KS: Twitter. Me too.

CS: Yeah. There are also sites where I will just type in the URL in the address bar to see what’s going on and that includes the New York Times, it includes Recode and The Verge, and then a handful of others. Techmeme kind of aggregates all of the big tech news of the day, so I go there, too.

KS: Right.

CS: Yeah, mostly.

KS: Twitter, too, absolutely.

You said 18 hours? How much do you sleep? Geez.

CS: I’m slightly exaggerating, but if I am in front of a computer monitor, Twitter is open.

Oh, okay.

KS: Twitter’s open. All right, when we get back we will talk about that and more.


We’re back with my son Louie Swisher and Casey Newton, my fake husband, and we’re going to talk some more about how young people are using tech. Now, we were just talking about where you get your news, both of you, what about video? Same thing, Louie?

What do you mean video?

KS: There’s a difference between … Do you read or watch? Which one do you do more of?

I don’t read.

KS: You don’t read at all, okay.

I’ll read articles, like you’ll send me articles and I’ll read those. On YouTube, too, there’s … I’ll look at Trending and there’s like a CNN short video and I’ll watch that.

KS: But video is where you get it. Same thing on Snapchat.

Usually. I’ll read an article or something, but I’d rather watch.

KS: Yeah. Are you using more video, Casey?

CS: Yeah, absolutely.

KS: Do you think that’s a big trend? I think it’s an absolutely big, huge trend, more.

CS: I did. I wrote a story about it earlier this year because I found myself using YouTube more and more. When I went down to headquarters to essentially ask them why that was, they explained that they were using machine learning to figure out what I liked and they were getting much better at figuring that out. So there are all sorts of ways they’re doing this, but yeah, I will now just reload YouTube four or five times a day without even knowing what I want to see there, just confident they’ll show me something related to my interests.

Yeah. Yeah.

KS: Like what? What do you both be watching?

I watch a lot of YouTube.

KS: Right.

I’ll watch clips and stuff. If I don’t want to watch an old TV show, I’ll just watch clips of something I do. “Parks and Recreation,” I really like Ron Swanson, who’s a character, and I’ll just watch Ron Swanson clips, but then I actually got into the show and I watched like 12 episodes yesterday.

KS: Oh really? When you’re supposed to be doing homework?

No, I didn’t have any homework, it’s Thanksgiving break.

KS: Okay, all right. So, Ron Swanson got you into watching …

Then also, I noticed there’d be other “Parks and Rec” clips, and then it’d be clips from “The Office” or clips from “The Simpsons” or other shows. After two or three times of just watching these videos, it started to learn and notice what I want. If I completely shifted from … If I was watching these clips and then I switched to Dude Perfect or Vox or something, then all my feeds within two or three days would just become Vox or Dude Perfect, whatever I watch. It’s really interested to see that happen. It’s also kind of creepy that they’re just spying on what I watch.

KS: It’s extraordinarily creepy.

It is.

KS: What do you watch, Casey Newton?

CS: I really like to cook.

Me, too.

CS: And once I searched for a recipe on YouTube and the next time I went to YouTube it had, “Oh, here are three kind of similar recipes from different chefs,” and then I figured out that I really like two of the chefs, so I subscribed to their channels. Then every time they have a new video, I see one of those.

I feel like it’s really good for your niche or your interest because I would never have seen any of that stuff on Twitter, I would never see any of that stuff on Facebook, but you open up YouTube and YouTube sort of figures out what kinds of things you like to look at that maybe aren’t part of the daily news.

KS: Now, would you both watch … Let me ask you both: Original content. I just did an interview Susan Wojcicki, who’s the CEO of YouTube, and she was talking about them making more original content. They’ve been trying to push creators and give them money, but now they’re really moving in.

What do you mean creators?

KS: They give them money to make things, producers, like lots of creators on YouTube. Name some.

I wouldn’t call them creators.

KS: What do you call them?


KS: YouTubers, whatever you want to call them.

They’re making videos, they’re not … The only one who I think is really making impact is Casey Neistat. I really like his videos. He takes a daily vlog, which is … A lot of people, they make 20-minutes videos just so they can fit in a lot of ads and they’re incredibly boring, but then he just takes it and … With the mixture of his aerial shots and his other … Just his filming and it’s actually … His vlogs are really awesome and I really like them, even though they’re just vlogs in the end. Pretty much boring videos, but he makes them not boring just by his …

KS: Why? Because he’s …

Have you ever watched one?

KS: No.

You’ve met him, but you’ve never …

CS: He does stunts.

KS: He does stunts? Does he?

CS: Yeah. One of his stunts was he dressed someone up as Aladdin

Oh yeah.

CS: And put a magic carpet on some kind of … I don’t know what it was.


CS: A hoverboard.

Some skateboard, sorry, some skateboard.

CS: A skateboard, yeah, and then rode around the streets of Manhattan. The video is just of all these people oohing and aahing as they seen Aladdin flying around corners in the Flatiron district.

Yeah. Last year, too, he did a video where he went actually skiing through New York City when they had that Snowmaggedon and he got a Jeep and he attached … He was just snowboarding and one of his friends was skiing, being pulled by the Jeep through New York City and it was really awesome. That’s the first video I watched from him and after that I was kind of hooked.

KS: Okay.


CS: I will say though, Kara …

We’ll watch one of his videos tonight, Mom.

KS: Okay. Oh good, I can’t wait. Go ahead, sorry.

CS: Kara, you asked about YouTube originals, and no video content is as bad as YouTube originals.

They’re terrible.

CS: I don’t know why this company can’t figure it out because they’ve had the longest lead time of anyone, but …

KS: Yeah, that’s a really good point.

CS: It’s so unclear to me why YouTube didn’t try to go out and make an “Orange Is the New Black” six or seven years ago, because they had the money.

KS: Well, they were asked about it and they didn’t want to.

CS: Yeah.

KS: They were like, “We’re not content people.”

Then again, they’re not like Netflix, they’re not like …

KS: But they could be.

Why? They’re not a place …

KS: Before Netflix was Netflix.

Well, Netflix was just a place for crappy movies to go but now they have these incredible shows.

KS: Right.

Again, it’s a place where you go to watch TV.

KS: Right.

YouTube is a place where you go to watch short videos or clips about how to do things, posted by real people, not by studios and other things.

KS: So you wouldn’t welcome original content?

I don’t think they need it.

KS: What if they came up with a great show you liked? You’d just …

Why am I going to YouTube to watch a TV show?

KS: Okay, that’s a good question, Casey? Let’s get an answer to this.

CS: That makes me want to know, what is the longest video you’ll watch on YouTube, Louie?

Eight minutes. No, 10 minutes.

KS: Jesus.

Maybe 12, depending on who it is.

KS: Yeah.

When I see those YouTube creators with their 20-minute videos and there are like eight or 10 ads in them, and it’s just them …

KS: What bothers you, the ads or their name “creators”?

It’s just they’re posting shitty content.

KS: Like what? You don’t like the makeup videos, though?

I don’t wear makeup.

KS: Well, you’d look better with some.

I’m beautiful enough, I don’t need …

KS: I understand that, but what don’t you like? The ads?

Because it’s boring.

KS: It’s just boring.

They’re just 20-year-olds with too much money who are just doing weird stuff. “Oh, I’m going to prank,” or, “Oh, I’m going to do strip FIFA,” or, “I’m going to …”

KS: What?

… “kiss this girl and it’s going to be a prank, oh man.”

CS: Tell us about strip FIFA, please? No, wait. Tell us about strip FIFA.

One of the YouTubers I actually like …

KS: Write it down, Casey.

One of the people I actually like is Cody Ko, I love his videos, they’re so funny. He reacted this one guy, BarryBeeTV, and he does strip FIFA, which is like they play FIFA and you can unlock cards …

KS: FIFA’s a game, explain it for us.

CS: It’s a soccer game, right?

Yeah. You can get packs or whatever, with cards, like baseball cards, but for soccer. Depending on how good they are based off of color, and gold is the best. He did this weird setup where it’s like if a player is above a certain number, in between like 60 and 100, then the girl he’s with has to take off her shirt.

KS: Oh, the girl has to.

Which is disgusting. It’s disgusting.

KS: Oh, your grandmother’s …

LC: It’s like strip poker.

KS: Yeah. Thank you.

It’s exactly like strip poker, it’s disgusting.

KS: Right.

It’s terrible. It’s weird that …

KS: It’s disgusting.

It’s just disgusting.

KS: All right, okay. All right.

That stuff, those people who do pranks, like prank invasion, or something like that, they just …

KS: Prank invasion? I don’t even know that. Write that down, Casey.

He goes around kissing girls and calls it a prank.

KS: That’s called sexual harassment.


KS: Actually, lately. Anyway, okay, Casey, any follow-up?

YouTube needs to clean up these people.

KS: They do. Any follow-up there on that, Casey?

CS: Yeah, I think we just need to forward these YouTubers’ contact information to the police so they can investigate these crimes.

KS: Exactly. All right, let’s get into a couple different things. We’ll go very quickly because we have one more section after this. AR and VR, any interest, Louie?

What is AR?

KS: Augmented reality.

I don’t know what that means.

KS: It means you put on glasses in front of the Eiffel Tower and it’ll tell you its height or its history. Even your grandmother knows, okay.

CS: Pokémon Go is technically an AR app because it uses your phone to put a digital object in the real world.

KS: Yeah.

CS: Yeah.

Oh, is that what AR is?

KS: Yeah.

CS: Yeah. It’s one application of AR.

KS: I think the point is, the teens don’t care what’s it called.

It’s expensive.

KS: It’s expensive. All right, so VR, what about VR? Virtual reality, this is where they put the headset …

I think one cool thing I’ve seen with it was when, I think, PlayStation, they incorporated VR into their gaming console, which is really cool and it’s a respectable gaming company.

KS: So you would do it with gaming?

Yeah, and with a video game I wanted to play, not … I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about VR because it’s putting yourself … It could be really useful in a lot of situations. I’ve seen clips … Not clips, I’ve heard of how police officers …

KS: They can learn empathy.

They can put them in situations or something using VR and if they’re going to shoot the person or not, which is good training. It can help a lot with a lot of things, but I personally wouldn’t use it that much.

KS: You wouldn’t use it that much, all right. Well then, let’s put off the entire … Sorry, Google, about all those investments.

Yeah, I don’t like it, just cut it.

KS: Just cut it. Sorry Oculus, see you later.

I didn’t like the Google Glass, look what happened.

KS: What about, say, you were going to search for furniture, say you were going to college and then Ikea has an AR, has an augmented reality app and could show you what it’s like in the room.

I didn’t say AR, I was talking about VR.

KS: Yeah, but I’m saying, what if it was in the room?

AR is kind of cool. AR is cool, I can … Snapchat has the things you can put your Bitmoji in front of you dancing or something like that, that stuff’s kind of cool.

KS: You can put a Bitmoji? Casey, do you know this?

You can flip the camera around and then there’s just something like just dancing there. Some of them are weird, like today one of them was a squirrel who was twerking, which is kind of weird. It’s very weird, but some of these are fine, like the Bitmoji dancing ones.

KS: Okay. I see, yeah, look at that, there’s a Bitmoji dancing in your screen.

It’s a squirrel twerking.

KS: It seems inane. All right, so are you interested in the iPhone X? You didn’t get one, I got you the iPhone 8, did you want the X?

No. I’m going to crack it.

KS: Yeah, you’re going to crack it, that’s your thing.

I like the 8 a lot.

KS: Yeah.

I like it except I don’t like how there’s no headphone jack and I can’t charge my phone and listen to stuff at the same time.

KS: I have a solution for you for that. Casey, how do you like yours?

What is that?

KS: Did you get it up and going?

CS: My iPhone X is supposed to arrive as we are recording this podcast.

KS: Oh my God.

CS: So my hope is that when this podcast is over it will be waiting for me.

KS: Okay. You think it will recognize your face?

CS: I’m going to teach it my face and it will come to love my face, as have so many others over the years.

KS: My mom liked that joke. All right, so just a couple more questions for this section. Do you know about HQ? Casey and I really like HQ.

What’s HQ?

KS: You’re going to like it. Explain HQ, Casey, it’s the new trendy hot thing and I love it.

CS: Oh man.

Oh my, if she likes it, I don’t know if I’ll …

CS: It’s a trendy …

KS: Hello. You’ll see, you’re going to love it.

CS: Louie, I think you’d actually like this. You download the app and then twice a day you get a push notification, one is at 3 pm Eastern, one is at 9 pm Eastern, and you open it up and there’s a host who has 12 trivia questions. If you answer all 12, you win real money.


CS: So, every day there’s a pot of money, like on Sunday night I think it was $ 7,500 and then let’s say a couple hundred people won, a friend of mine won like $ 26 playing on Sunday night. You don’t win these huge amounts of money, but it’s free money and it’s totally taken over our office.

KS: It’s fun.

Wait, how do they make money? How do they not-

KS: We don’t know how they make money.

CS: They’re losing money right now. So, one of the ways they could make money is through ads. Another way they can make money is by selling extra life, so if you miss one question, you can currently get an extra life.

KS: Oh yeah.

CS: If somebody signs up with your referral code, but you can imagine them selling those.

KS: Yeah.

CS: They’re currently getting 100,000 people a day who are watching each game.

KS: Yeah, it’s really fun. If you get a mistake, you’re thrown out.

All right, I just downloaded HQ.

KS: Okay. If you get the mistake, you’re out.

CS: Use referral code Casey Newton, Louie, thanks in advance.

Casey Newton, okay.

KS: Okay. What’s interesting about it is that you keep playing until you lose.

I like the money. I like the money.

KS: I know, but it’s fun and then you can see how many people got it wrong every time.

I don’t care about that, I care about the money.

KS: I know, but it’s interesting they couldn’t spell the word.

Can I Google it? How long do I have to answer the questions?

KS: No, you don’t have time.

CS: It feels like it’s only three or four seconds, it’s pretty short. Yeah, Kara, to your point, watching people lose is the best part of HQ. Today, the first question was, “What is the sweet substance that bees produce,” and 2,000 people thought it was music.

KS: Lucky just got it wrong. My mom just said nectar, but go ahead, it was music?

CS: It’s a hard game. Yeah, yeah, 2,000 people thought bees make music.

KS: Yeah, it’s a really …

CS: Usually the first two or three questions are really easy and then it gets super hard.

KS: It gets super hard and there’s always an Australian question in there. Are they from Australia? Is that why?

CS: Not to my knowledge.

KS: There’s always an Australian question.

What’s your referral code?

KS: Casey.

CS: It’s just my name, Casey Newton.

KS: There you go. Oh my God, it could have been Kara Swisher, thanks a lot, Casey. Anyway, it’s great.

CS: I didn’t know you were playing.

KS: I am playing. It’s a great game, HQ. We’ll play it tonight. Your brother will love it, too. I think any age will like this game, a trivia game.

CS: It’s fun for the whole family. It’s very wholesome.

KS: It’s our Thanksgiving game.

Wait, so how do I get this money?

KS: Well, it goes into your account once you sign up. They get a lot of signups, that’s …

LC: Yeah, but I’m good at those things.

KS: Oh, you are? Okay then, Lucky, you’re going to keep the family in money then. Finally the Swisher family can finally be wealthy. It’s actually very hard, don’t you think? It’s really fun and they have a very adorable host, who’s very engaging and stuff, the whole thing’s great. Anyway.

CS: Yeah.

KS: We’ll talk about the final section — we have questions from our readers in a few minutes — but Casey, I want you to talk about the projects you started working on. You have an email newsletter and now you’re doing a podcast so that you can copy the person who you think the most of in this world, which is me.

CS: That’s right.

KS: So explain what you’re doing very quickly.

CS: You’ve taught me all these things.

KS: Explain what you’re doing.

CS: Yeah, just two fun things to talk about — and the easiest way to find these is just go to my Twitter profile, which is @CaseyNewton — but one, I started a daily newsletter about social media and democracy, I’m calling it the Interface. The idea is if you want to know what’s going on with Facebook, Twitter and Russia, and you also want a sprinkling of news about other social apps like Snapchat and HQ, go ahead and follow it, I’ll give you all the day’s news and a little bit of analysis.

KS: Louie doesn’t want to know about Russia, just so you know.

CS: Yeah.

It’s not that I don’t want to know, it’s that my English paper is more important than collusion right now.

KS: Okay. Oh my God.

CS: That seems fair, actually.

KS: “My English paper is more important than collusion,” that is the quote of the day. Anyway, go ahead, Casey. And your podcast?

CS: That’s out. I recently recorded the first episode of the podcast and so we’re putting that together right now, so hopefully I’ll have a lot more to share on that soon, but I’m really looking forward to …

KS: Any more details? The name, the topic? Are you just going to bald-facely compete with me and lose?

CS: It is not competing with you, The Verge has never done an interview show before and so we had the idea of, what if we could get some of these interesting folks in Silicon Valley to come in and tell us a little bit about who they are and what shaped their perspective, and what they’re working on now. By doing that, just shed some more light on what’s going on in Silicon Valley, and have some fun along the way.

KS: Name?

CS: That’s the basic idea and we’re calling it Converge.

KS: Converge, I get it, from Verge.

CS: Yeah.

KS: You’re converging them.

CS: It’s a conversation with The Verge and I’m there.

KS: Very exciting for Casey Newton, a podcast king. He’s got a newsletter.

LC: Sounds like competition to me.

KS: All right, thanks, Mom. Sorry. All right. My mom, always supportive.

Anyway, we’re here with my elder son Louie and The Verge’s Silicon Valley editor, Casey Newton, talking about everything, and we’re going to take a quick break for a word from our sponsors. When we get back, we’ll answer some questions from our readers and listeners.


We’re here with my son Louie Swisher, as well as Casey Newton from The Verge. We’re talking about all kinds of things. And since Lauren Goode is not here today, I will read the questions for each of you, just jump in, I will direct them to each of you. This is from Eric Martin, @MyFaveMartin: “Why do preteens keep taking my charger without asking when they have their own chargers and the fact that they misplace it is not my fault, so why should I have to be inconvenienced due to their negligence? When will this end? When they go off to college?” Louie, who steals my chargers, answer that question, please.

Well, I steal the chargers because they are mine in the first place and you take them from me.

KS: I see.

You take my chargers. Whenever you come and visit.

KS: No, I think you take my chargers.

I think it’s a little bit of both.

KS: I think Alex takes our chargers.

I think … Yeah. I think chargers are like, you lend them to your friend and they don’t give them back, or your mom takes them or something.

KS: What do you think about this mat? When is that mat coming out?

What mat?

KS: There’s a mat, right?

Yeah, but I’m going to spill a cup of water on that and it’s going to be the end of it.

KS: All right. Is that the case, Casey Newton? Are you getting the mat?

CS: I haven’t gotten the mat yet. I’m definitely interested in it, although it seems like the reviews have kind of been ho-hum, so I’m not … I don’t mind having to plug in a phone.

KS: Right.

Yeah, plugging in a phone …

CS: But if everyone else starts charging …

KS: Is anyone else taking your chargers?

CS: I have had pretty good luck with people not taking my chargers. On my desk, there are just two chargers that are just out all the time that I use, but we work in an office where people take their charging pretty seriously.

KS: Yeah.

CS: So I think everyone here has like six chargers on their person at all times.

KS: Yes, exactly. All right. Go ahead, sorry.

Wireless charging is really cool, like in our car. We have a Mini Cooper Countryman and they have a wireless charger, it’s actually really cool.

KS: Does it work?

Although it does really heat up your phone.

KS: Does it? You put it in a little area and it …

Yeah, and it just charges, even through the case, which is really incredible.

KS: Yeah. The new iPhone …

I don’t get how that works, but …

KS: What is the technology, Casey? Do you know the name of it? What’s it called?

CS: I believe it’s pronounced “chee,” right?

KS: Yes.

CS: It’s Qi. Yeah.

KS: Yep. That’s what they’re using on the iPhones now and they’ll have their own pad out, I think, later in the year, so next year.

I’m not going to buy that.

KS: Okay, all right, I probably will buy it for you. Michele — I can’t pronounce that — Kyrouz? “Louie, what news shows/channels do you want to see on YouTube? What types of topics should teens explore in putting out new shows?” What would you like to see on YouTube?


KS: Yeah. If you could design your own show.

I don’t know. I think there should be a specific setting, if people want to look at news … I think people go to YouTube because they’re tired of looking at CNN, they want to look for a funny video or something else.

KS: What would an ideal news show look like?

If you’re going to put news into CNN and not leave it in the state that it is right now with news clips from CNN or whatever, I think they should have a section where you could … They have like the homepage, and they have the trending, and they have liked videos, they should have a place where it’s news and then they have different genres for news like foreign news or domestic news, local news.

KS: How would you like it delivered to you? You want it fast like cable news?


KS: Would you like just people being there?

They should do brief … Yeah, like “Vice News Tonight” or whatever. It’s brief analysis that’s interesting, I think they should do something like that, like a quick two-minute video about a certain thing.

KS: You like that Snapchat original?


KS: You like the Snapchat show.

Yeah, I think that’s good. I don’t think anybody else should do that.

KS: What’s that called?

“Good Luck America,” I think.

KS: Yeah.

They have a new one out today, so I’m probably going to look at that later.

KS: Okay. Do you know the name of that, Casey?

CS: I know “Good Luck America,” I don’t know what the name of the today show is.

KS: The next one’s from Peter Wells. I’m going to ask you both this question. “I hope you ask him about Travis [Kalanick], [James] Damore and other positive role models in Silicon Valley.” Casey, why don’t you start with this one? How are we doing on positive role models?

CS: Oh, not good. Not good.

KS: Not good.

CS: When we’re in such a maelstrom, a long-overdue maelstrom where finally there’s some accountability for so much of this horrible behavior that’s gone on for years, the last thing I want to do is look around the room and say, “Oh, well, that’s a good male CEO,” because who knows?

KS: Who knows? Right.

CS: By the time this comes out, like 84 other men will be arrested, so now’s not a good time to check in with …

KS: Yeah, every morning is like that, “Nooooo.” I remember when George Takei was like, “Not Takei,” and then …

George Takei?

KS: Yeah. See? There you went, “Nooooo, not George Takei.” What do you think about all this, Louie? And try not to say something offensive.

It’s terrible that all these people are doing these things and they think it’s okay.

KS: Yeah.

A lot of them are covering it up after like, “Oh no, I didn’t do that. I thought it was mutual,” blah, blah, blah.

KS: So, you don’t buy that?

I think it’s bullshit.

KS: Yeah.

The only person who I think has really did a disgusting thing but still owned up — not owned up, dammit — but was Louis C.K. when he came out and said he did it and he was disgusted by his action, and he’s very sorry. I think that’s …

KS: At least he admitted it.

At least he admitted it, that’s what I give him, at least he admitted it.

KS: Yeah, all right, because he admitted …

CS: Is it awkward that you were named after him, Louie?

Yeah, Louie C.K. is my father.

CS: Has that lead to some hard conversations at school? Yeah.

KS: Yeah. Yeah, all right, that’s enough of that, Casey Newton.

I think it’s disgusting what these people are doing and they’re not setting good role models by just saying … Even when there’s definitely proof that they did these things that they’re saying they didn’t, they’re just being liars and they’re just terrible people.

KS: Yes. Thank you. I raised you well, now you may go out into the world. All right, this is from Rohan Bhade, “Do teen millennials use Google Allo?”

What is that?

KS: “Have you ever heard of it? What is the preferred communication tool of choice for Android teen millennials or do they use Instagram, Snapchat to trade text and video?” Allo is their speaking. Explain Allo, Casey.

I thought it was a good start. I thought I had something to say, but it’s not nice.

KS: Okay, don’t say anything.

CS: Google loves to make messaging apps, I think they have like seven or eight right now that they use for various purposes and I believe it was last year they released Allo, which is a sort of very generic messaging app. They put it out and it pretty much died right away, particularly on iOS.

Although I will say that as people do buy Android phones — and people are buying lots of Android phones — I’m getting little notifications letting me know, “Hey, this person’s on Allo now. This person’s on Allo now.” So, I do think it’s building up something of a user base on Android phones because it’s installed by default, but whether anyone’s using it is another story.

I think the main way for teenagers to talk to each other is just Snapchat. I think Snapchat text or Snapchatting.

KS: Yeah.

It’s not like iMessage or Google Message where it’s just to the Androids or just to the iPhones, it can go between …

KS: He likes that.

It can go between the two.

KS: Do you like SnapMaps?

I think it’s creepy, but I’m …

KS: You ghosted me, whatever, you put me on ghost mode.

I didn’t ghost you.

KS: Let me just tell you, I found you at your party because your brother is so intelligent.

I didn’t ghost. What are you talking about? I’m always on …

KS: You put yourself on ghost mode, I know that …

No, I didn’t.

KS: Yes, you did, because we couldn’t find you. We did, actually … I love Snapchat, SnapMaps, and I told this to Evan Spiegel, we found you by finding your friends, that was very clever.

Anyway, do you like SnapMaps or do you just find them creepy?

It’s kind of creepy, but it’s also … It’s a lot of things.

KS: Yeah.

I think it’s interesting. The main thing is that you can see when your friends are hanging out without you.

KS: Oh, that’s great. That’s good to know. What do you think of them, Casey, SnapMaps? I think they’re cool.

CS: Yeah, I think I would find them a lot more interesting if I were in high school because I think you do always have that sense of, “Is something fun going on without me?” SnapMaps allows you to kind of passably observe that and hopefully …

Cry about it.

CS: … go hang out and participate. Hopefully not cry, although I’m sure that happens.

KS: Yeah.

CS: Yeah. I think it’s a killer product for kids in high school and college.

Yeah, it’s interesting and also … I don’t know. I don’t know if I really like having my location shared all the time, but then again, it’s just with people I’m friends with on Snapchat, so I don’t really care.

KS: Yeah. Yeah.


KS: Explain ghost mode, please, whatever.

Ghost mode is where you can turn off. It’s just going where people can’t see you and they can’t see where you are, which is pretty reasonable if you don’t want that.

KS: Yeah.

I think a lot of people just, “Eh, I have to press three buttons, what’s the point?”

KS: Oh, so they stay visible.

Yeah, I just stay visible because I don’t really care.

KS: Yeah. Okay. All right. @ohsam: “Wondering about Snapchat groups versus group chats in iMessage or other apps, and the hierarchy of friends and cliques?” So, groups, Snapchat groups, in a group chat.

Group chats?

KS: Yeah.

Yeah, well, group chat and Snapchat, it has a limited number of people you can put in it, which I don’t know if iMessage does that. It’s a good way to talk to people, and I guess if you want to make a group chat or something where not everybody has an iPhone or something. If you do an iMessage group chat and then you add somebody who doesn’t have an iPhone, it kind of ruins the whole thing because then you can’t add or kick out people, you can’t change the name of the group chat, everything becomes SMS, which costs money.

I think Snapchat’s a good way … I think that’s a good way because regardless of what type of phone somebody has, a Snapchatable phone, you can always change the group chat and change your … I think it’s good, Snapchat group chat.

KS: Which one do you use, Casey?

CS: Let’s see, believe it or not, my group chats are mostly on Facebook Messenger. I don’t know exactly why that happened. I do have one big group chat on iMessage, but I perform in an improv troupe and for whatever reason they just all decided that Messenger was where they wanted to chat, so that chat is going off all day every day.

KS: Everybody, let’s do a little ad for Casey and his improv troupe. What’s its name, Casey?

CS: It’s called Luxury Cruise Singles Mixer.

Oh my God.

CS: I did not choose the name.

I want to come see this. I want to come see you guys do something.

CS: You should. You should.

KS: Yeah, we will.

CS: It’s a fun time.

Is it suggestion improv?

CS: Yeah. We get a suggestion from you and then we do crazy things.

KS: We’re coming. We’re coming to Christmas.

We’re going to have fun.

KS: We’re going to have some fun.


KS: That’s going to be a little scary. What would you suggest for him?

Not going to reveal.

KS: Okay. Not going to reveal.

CS: Yeah. Save it, yeah, because I don’t want to plan it.

Save the best for later.

KS: Get ready.


KS: Two more questions left. Not really a question, but Reginald Bazile tweeted this to us: “Finally, someone will answer for Spectacles.”

What the hell is Spectacles?

KS: Well, there you go, that was the problem.

Yeah. Well, only one person I know has them.

KS: And?

It’s cool that you can move your phone and see the video.

CS: Yeah.

And still move around, but expensive.

KS: Did you ever want to buy any?

They were going to break … I assume they break easy, they’re expensive, I never wanted them.

KS: Why?

Because I don’t like wearing glasses.

KS: Yeah, anything else? Would you like to put something in your eye?

No. No. No.

KS: No? That you’d record everything?

Please no.

KS: Okay. All right. All right, Casey, what about you? What do you think about Spectacles?

CS: I did get them and I took them on a vacation to Mexico and I took a bunch of Snaps with them, and while I’m glad I have those memories, the process of getting the Snaps from the glasses to the phone was pretty cumbersome.

I would imagine.

CS: It made me just not want to really use them very often, so I kind of quit using mine. I think it was a fun toy, I don’t think it’s dumb that Snap made them.

Oh no, it’s a toy is what it is.

CS: Yeah.

It’s not like a useful thing, I think it’s a toy in the end.

CS: Yeah.

KS: Where do you imagine it going? Either of you.

I don’t. In the trash.

CS: Supposedly they have $ 40 million worth of them sitting unsold in a warehouse somewhere, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere good.

KS: Yeah, what about in general? The conceptual idea, Casey, think bigger.

They’d have to do something new with them.

CS: Well …

KS: Go ahead, you go first and then Louie.

CS: Yeah, I sort of think it’s like if Spectacles 1.0 was the iPod, the next version needs to be the iPhone. It has to be just radically better.

KS: Okay.

I think they should use those $ 40 million worth of Spectacles, just give it a new paint job and call it the Spectacles 2.

CS: That’s smart.

KS: Actually, that is smart. Evan Spiegel, if you’re listening, there you go.

Sell them as a toy.

KS: Yeah, sell them as a toy.

All right, another question by Jaydeep Deshpande, @theDeshpande: “Thoughts on Nintendo Switch?” Go ahead, Louie.

Nintendo Switch, not going to get it.

KS: Because?

I’m not 8. I’m not into Nintendo.

KS: You’re not 8? Years old, you mean?

Well, when I was 8 and I was younger, I really liked Wii and I really liked Nintendo, and I really liked those consoles, but now that I’m older, I don’t even play video games that much.

KS: Really? Why?

Because I don’t have time with all this homework, and I’d rather watch Netflix. When I do play, being a teenage boy, I love myself a good violent video game.

KS: Yeah. Which one will you never get to own as long as I’m your parent?

Grand Theft Auto.

KS: Yes.

I would really like it if the people at Rockstar would send me a free copy.

KS: No.

Because then my parents wouldn’t be spending money. I said to my mom, I said, “Mom, if I earn the money to buy the game, can I get it?” She said, “No, not in my house.” I said, “But it’s not your game then, it’s my game because I earned the money to buy it.”

KS: Yeah, it’s our house.

If they sent it to me for free you …

KS: No.

… can’t really …

KS: No.

Send it to me. Contact me, Rockstar, and I’d love to get a new game.

KS: No. N-O. N-O. N-O. No, they shoot women.


No, they don’t tell you to shoot people, you have the ability to choose, that’s the point of these. You don’t play video games, Lulu.

LC: Never.

It’s a game of choice.

LC: No, no, it’s a bad choice.

Well, no, you could go in that game, you could buy a car legally and you could obey all the traffic laws, or you could just drive crazy through the city, which most people do.

LC: You know what happens to people who drive crazily? Accidents.

It’s in a game, not in real life. Apparently, whenever the new GTA game comes out, crime rates drop a little bit, but still.

KS: Oh my God. Oh my God.

That’s what I heard. That’s what I herd.

CS: I feel like I’m sitting at the Thanksgiving table right now and it’s making me so happy.

KS: At least we’re not talking about Trump.

Just wait.

KS: Just wait.

LC: I like him.

KS: No, you don’t. Stop.

LC: I just thought I’d start an argument.

Lulu likes controversy.

KS: Cut off her mic right now.

What do you think about the Nintendo Switch, Casey? Then we have one last question.

CS: You know what? I will totally eat my foot on this one because I thought it was such a dumb idea and it’s been a huge hit. When I saw that thing, I thought it was going to be a big flop and then everyone in our office got some, the kids I know have them, and not only do they have them, but they seem to really love them. The fact that it’s so portable means that they can take it on vacation and they can take it on a plane. Great example of me just being super dumb and not knowing what the heck I’m talking about.

KS: All right, so Casey is stupid. All right, on that one, Nintendo Switch. Louie has a genius idea for Spectacles for selling them. Okay, last question from Paul Degnan — this has been so enjoyable, boys. “What’s the dadgum Snapchat? What are the youngs always on about?”

Let me see that question. I need to read that.

KS: Read that out loud.

What’s the goddam Snapchat? What’re the youngs always on about? Just trying to …

KS: So, you’re still a Snapchatter though, Swisher.

I use Snapchat, yeah.

KS: It’s still your favorite.

I’m going to have to follow this guy, download Twitter, he seems pretty funny.

KS: You’re still a Snapchatter.

Yeah, I use it to talk to people and because nobody texts. A text is going to take me three hours to get response versus when I Snapchat, I’ll get it within like 10 minutes.

KS: I see. So, it’s speed.

I think it’s the ease of it.

KS: Will you keep doing it after in college?

I don’t know.

KS: Also, when are you going to college? Is that soon?

You’re very funny. I’m a [high school] sophomore.

LC: Hopefully.

KS: Okay, Lucky, stop.

No, no, no, just a little bit longer. Just a little bit longer.

KS: Casey, what are your thoughts on Snapchat as a business? They’re having a lot of struggles with Wall Street.

CS: Yeah, I want to hear more about your conversation with Evan Spiegel, but they’re having a really rough time and I think now the question is, do they have a rabbit they can pull out of a hat? I’m totally prepared to believe they’ve got some great product that’s coming down the pipe that’s going to be awesome and capture the world’s imagination.

For what it’s worth, as you can kind of hear from Louie’s stories, they have clearly captured a generation of high school kids and maybe some college kids that are going to use it for the foreseeable for future, but they need to find a way to grow and they haven’t found that at all in the past year.

KS: They are creative, they are.

CS: Yeah.

Why do they need to grow? Why can’t they just remain what they are at heart, like a communications platform?

CS: Yeah.

Why do they have to add new things? Why do they have to … Why don’t they just remember what they are, a communications thing, and then keep it that way and then branch off of that and add new things because of that

KS: Wow, that sounds like my conversation with Evan Spiegel, interesting.

CS: I think it’s a great idea, but in practice, a social network that isn’t growing is dying, period. The thing either grows or it dies, those are the only two choices a social network has, because otherwise, people just fade away from it and they stop using it.

What are they going to fade to?

CS: They’ll go to any one of the 71 properties that Facebook has bought.

KS: Yeah, that’s the thing …

Facebook buys something, it dies.

KS: The issue is, they do have a giant social network — Facebook — copying everything they do. Everything.

Yeah, it’s like Instagram now has Snapchat, again, texting. DMs was around for a while, but Snapchatting, just sending pictures and stuff, I was like, “Oh wow, Stories? Oh, what’s next? Are they going to add Instagram maps?”

KS: Yes.

That’d be really creepy, I follow a lot of people.

KS: Yeah.

Yeah, Snapchat should just remember what it is and stick to that. I don’t think people are going to go away from Snapchat just because they’re not adding new content every month.

KS: Yeah.

I think they’re just going to …

CS: Yeah.

I think maybe every once in a while add a new thing, like add new Bitmojis, add new …

KS: Yeah.

I think Bitmoji was a good thing.

KS: You know what? It’s a creative company, it really is.

It really is. It’s doing a lot of things that are great, but I think they need to not get ahead of themselves, they need to just …

KS: Very smart, Louie Swisher. I think that’s smart. They’re a very creative group of people. I always bet on creativity, so we’ll see. Last very quick question from me, did you see Elon Musk’s big truck and his Roadster?


KS: No? Okay.

I don’t really care for Elon Musk.

KS: All right, we won’t get into that until another episode.

I don’t know him, but …

KS: Anyway, would you want a Roadster?

What is a Roadster?

KS: A car that he’s put out.

LC: Old-fashioned car.

KS: Yeah, little, little thing.

I like cars.

KS: Yeah. We’ll get on to that in the next episode.

Yeah, next episode.

KS: Yeah, when you come back, when you’re driving, but not yet, you’re not going to drive yet.

Just another year.

KS: Another year. All right, Casey, thank you so much. This has been great.

CS: Thank you, guys.

KS: Thank you.

CS: It was great talking to you.

KS: I’m excited about Casey’s podcast and his newsletter. What’s it called again, Casey? How can people get it?

CS: The Interface. Go to my Twitter, @CaseyNewton, you’ll see links to everything.

KS: All right, which is great. Louie Swisher will be appearing at his high school in the next few years.


KS: He’ll be coming back for more. We’ll talk about cars next, that’ll be great.


KS: Self-driving cars and everything else.

I don’t trust a machine, I trust myself.

KS: All right. Okay, well, I have the opposite feeling about you.

You said I’m a good driver.

KS: You are a good driver. Anyway, this has been another great episode. Mom, thanks for making your short appearances. Okay, that’s enough.

LC: You’re quite welcome.

KS: All right, that’s enough, Lucky.

LC: It was great.

KS: All right, thanks, Mom. Anyway, this has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Louie and Casey, thank you for coming back on the show.

Thank you.

CS: Thanks for having me.

Recode – All

Full transcript: ‘Reset’ author Ellen Pao on the Recode Decode podcast with Kara Swisher

Pao talks about her new book and what happened after she lost her gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins.

On a recent episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, investor and entrepreneur Ellen Pao joined Swisher in studio to talk about her new book “Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change.” The book deals with the aftermath of Pao’s ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in which she alleged gender discrimination. She also talks about her ensuing work as interim CEO of Reddit, what she thinks of the controversial memo written by former Google engineer James Damore, and why we shouldn’t take tech companies’ proclamations of “free speech” idealism at face value.

You can read some highlights from the podcast here and here or listen to the entire interview in the audio player below. We’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Kara Swisher: Today in the red chair is Ellen Pao, who’s the author of the new book, “Reset, My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change.” In 2015, she sued her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for gender discrimination. She also worked in business development at Reddit before serving as its interim CEO. Today, she is a partner at Kapor Capital, and co-founder of the nonprofit diversity organization Project Include. I have interviewed Ellen many times before; we covered the trial, and I’ve known her for a very long time. Ellen, welcome to Recode Decode.

Ellen Pao: Thank you for having me.

No problem. You’ve been on a tear. You’ve been sort of everywhere, it’s Ellen Pao. This book is getting a lot of attention.

It’s been good. It’s been great. Also, it’s been calling attention to the issues, which is important.

Which is now, of course, it’s perfect timing, or good timing for bad things, or whatever. We’re going to talk about the book in a second, but first I want to talk about … We’re going to assume people don’t know who you are. Everyone in Silicon Valley certainly does, but let’s talk about how you got to where you got. You had started off, you have quite a resume. So why don’t you go through that really quickly?

I started out studying electrical engineering at Princeton. I also did a side certificate in the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. I went straight to Harvard Law School.

Before that in the book, you talk a lot about your background and growing up — sort of seems idyllic, the upbringing you had.

It was nice, yeah. I mean, it wasn’t quite idyllic, because it was a little bit of a small town. They didn’t really have very many Asians, so there was a little bit of tension there. But my parents were … we had dinner together every night. It was very education-oriented. My mom was a researcher at the lab so we had access to computers. My dad was a math professor. So we had access to a lot of information and educational tools and focus.

And achievement, around achievement.

Yeah, the thought was, they had come from China on education scholarships, and for them, education was the path to success and the path to contributing back.

It was gender-based, they were pushing both.

Right. I think we had three girls.

Right, exactly.

So there was no ability to be unfair or gender-oriented.

But it wasn’t that, it’s that your mother was a researcher. She had a significant job, and the idea was that you could achieve whatever you want. That’s the pressing idea.

Yeah, but the goals weren’t that great. They were like, “If you could be a professor or a doctor, that would be so awesome. You can do it if you work hard enough.”

So you went on to Princeton, go ahead.

Went on to Princeton and then, after Princeton, I went to Harvard Law School. I practiced corporate law for two years, a year in New York and then a year in Hong Kong, mostly men in the group. It was fine, but I knew from my summer jobs I didn’t want to practice law. It was a lot of unhappy people who are lawyers.

Sure, that’s a different story. That’s not necessarily gender-based — everyone in law seems unhappy, pretty much. But you had electric engineering as your background at Princeton. Why corporate law? Why not engineering, really?

I didn’t know what it was. It was a little bit of ignorance, but also I like the logic and I thought I could do big things with law, and at the time the electrical engineering was a little bit … Silicon Valley was not big yet. It was more limited, and I just didn’t know what was out there. I thought corporate law, I could have an impact. I ended up not realizing what corporate law actually was.

All right, so you had this great resume early on. You were on an achievement path, which many people are. From there you went where?

I went to Harvard Business School.

All right, so you got …

All of them. I wanted to come, and then I was so out of touch with tech, I’m going to go back to business school. I ended up spending my summer at Bain in San Francisco. I worked for a couple of tech projects and loved it. I thought it was great. Came back after business school.

What were they?

I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk about our clients, but one was like a big software company and one was a hardware company that was tanking. It was two — one on the rise in a new industry, and one tanking. You could see, it was an interesting contrast. It was fun.

From there, you went to the business school, and your goal there was to …

To get back into tech.

Get back into tech.

So I came back out, I joined this startup called WebTV, which …

I forgot you were there.

Yeah, and then it got bought. Before I started, it got announced that Microsoft had acquired it, so I joined in this flux where it was before Microsoft really dug its fingers into it, but there was some change. But it was cool, there were a lot of cool people. There were a lot of people from General Magic and from Apple. We were building a cool product, it was revolutionary at the time. People would be using the internet and their computers in the living room, instead of in the office.

That’s right.

That was a new concept.

And then Microsoft immediately tanked it down. It was one of those, there were like 27 purchases during that year. A lot of people got very wealthy doing that. You went from there to?

I went from there to a startup called Tellme Networks.

You were at Tellme with Mike McCue, okay.

That was fun.

Which also got bombed by Microsoft.

It also got bombed by Microsoft. Actually, in between I worked for Andy Rubin at Danger Research, which also got bombed by Microsoft.

Right, okay.

So three big, over $ 300 million acquisitions by Microsoft. Also worked MyCFO.

I remember that.

So I worked with some really cool people, and I worked with some cool startups. Jim Clark.

Yeah, I’ll never forget, I was at a dinner with him, and he said, “You know, Kara, if you have a couple million dollars … ” I was like, “Hmm, your group is a little small,” because he lived in his world of multimillionaires, and it was very funny. I thought people who are very wealthy like to be petted quite a bit, so I didn’t see how an online portal for their wealth was something that they …

You were right, it didn’t work.

Yes. I was like, “Rich people like the leather and the coffee and the champagne.”

And to call somebody and have them accountable right away.

Yes, exactly. So that was an attempt at that. So how did you get to Kleiner?

Somebody, a friend of mine, showed me the job spec. For chief of staff. He wasn’t interested, but you looked at the job spec, and they wanted somebody with an electrical engineering degree, or computer science degree from a top school, and they wanted somebody with a GD MBA, and they wanted somebody who had jobs at leading enterprise software companies, and worked at startups, preferably Kleiner-backed. Right, so Tellme was Kleiner-backed.

What were the other requirements? Then, the jobs in these companies had to be either corporate development or business development, and I’d done business development. Then the last thing was they wanted somebody who spoke Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. I was like, “This is really weird because it matches my background exactly,” and I had absolutely no rhyme or reason for any of the things I’ve done. It was all very random, but it fit some specific ideal of a person that they were looking for. I was like, “Well, I’ll just interview and see what they’re thinking, why it’s interesting.” Actually, I turned down the job initially. I was like, “Not for me.” I’m on this trajectory, and they’re telling me in a year I could be VP, but I’m ready, I’ll be a VP in a year at a startup if I continue on this track. But then John Doerr sold me.

Right, John Doerr, he was …

He’s the best salesperson in the world. He sat me down, he was like, “Just do it. Just try. It will open doors.” I said, “Well, why not.”

All right, so your idea was you wanted to become a venture capitalist, or that to be sitting next to John Doerr during all these dealmaking is like a great seat?

Yeah. To be sitting next to John Doerr in an industry that was changing. It was transforming, and he had the cupboard seat, so to be next to him, to be able to see everything that was going on, to be able to see all these new technologies, was exciting to me.

And so you did this. It would be a job most people would take, like, “What a great opportunity,” kind of thing. I don’t want … because we covered the trial a lot, everyone covered the trial a lot, but it immediately, relatively soon, turned badly there. You … very briefly and then you get to the trial.

I was there, I guess two years when I tried to quit. They’re like, “No, no, no. You’re doing the best of anybody in the firm, you should stay.” I said, “Fine.” So I stayed, and then let’s see, and then in 2012, so that must have been four years later, things kept happening. I wasn’t progressing, none of the women were progressing, and bad things were happening to people. I ended up going through every avenue I could internally, and finally I said, “Okay, this has to stop, I’m going to sue.”

What prevented you from leaving? I’m just curious, because this was a fast-moving time, too, in Silicon Valley.

In 2012?

Yeah. I guess you’re right, 2008 was a little slow, but it got …

I could have left, but I was like, “But somebody has to stop this.” Something really bad could have happened, and I would have felt that was on me because I had let that person, I had let the guy who was harassing people stay. They shouldn’t have put it on me to make that decision, but I felt like it was my fault. Bad things happened to this other partner, I thought worse things could keep happening if nobody holds people accountable, yeah, and changes the culture, because this is something that seems to now be rewarded. So I said I was going to stay and file this complaint, and then I was going to leave. Then my lawyers were like, “No, no, no, no, no. You need to stay,” so I ended up staying for six more months.

Right. And so, the trial — we read about the trial and I would love to get your … You wrote about this in the book, and maybe you recount that now, how do you feel about how it went? Obviously, you didn’t win. They had an astonishing legal firm against yours. They had so many troops, it was really visually fascinating to watch, and a little bit scary, actually, from your perspective.

It was so unfair. Also, my team, they were ethical. Really, they followed the law, they wanted the truth to come out. There was less of that on the other side. I don’t want to call them unethical, but there was the way they presented things was very …

They were very super-aggressive. They had a narrative about you.


You actually talked about it in the book. I think I tweeted the quote, it was, “You’re aggressive and unlikeable and yet shy and nothing …

Sharp elbows, or not sharp enough. It continues, but there’s nothing I could have done to be perfect. But the thing is, we did the same thing to the other women in the firm. There was this narrative around how we work that was very sharpened and presented in a way that was incredibly aggressive at trial.

Were you surprised by that?


Of course that’s what they would do. I’m not surprised in any way.

You see it with every other person who sues: “Oh, they’re a poor performer. Oh, their case has no merit. We’re going to fight vigorously.”

How did you feel after the trial? It went on for a long time. It did open people’s eyes, I think, there was no question about it. I remember, because we covered it quite a bit, that I would be places and someone would say, “I had that experience.” It was the first time I think women did start talking about it. I was at one event and someone was reading our coverage, and they were like, “Ugh, I know that one, that one.” You know what I mean? It was really an interesting …

There were people who were reading your coverage every day, because you were live-tweeting from the trial.

Yeah, liveblogging.

Ellen Pao: Yeah, Shonda Rhimes was like, “I followed your trial every day,” because I told her I watched her show every week, because I was like, “That was my one escape.” But I think it had an impact on people, because it was the first time these things were articulated out loud in public. There were so many people who said, “You know, these things happened to me, but I haven’t even told my husband. I haven’t told anybody for 10 years, but these things happened, so I believe you.” I think it was also the aggressiveness of the attacks on me, where people were like, “Hey, I actually believe you.” They felt like they wanted to come out and say that to me. That was super-helpful to me.

Do you have regrets about doing that? Or anything that you did that you think you did wrong? Not wrong — I’m not saying you did something wrong — but in terms of strategically in dealing with this?

Yeah, I mean I could have been smarter on the PR front. I could have spent more time with the press. I think they had points every day that they were trying to make. They were handing them out, and I was more like, “Oh, my lawyer said we shouldn’t say anything. The judge said not to say anything, so I’m going to follow the rules.” That, obviously it didn’t work so well.

I think early on, the fact that every juror candidate who believed that tech was a biased industry got booted off. That seems like a fundamental error, and I feel like I should have pushed harder against that. I ended up giving 700,000 pages of documents. They gave 5,000, right? So, that wasn’t a great strategy. But I didn’t have the resources. They had people who … they had teams of people doing things.

They did.

And I just didn’t.

You didn’t. Where you surprised by the outcome?

There was a part of me that was like, “It’s so unfair,” and, “I should win.” But if you look at how the law slices, you need to win by more than …

Because you’re a lawyer. I mean, you have …

Yeah, so I can understand it, even though it was corporate. It had to be one specific type of bias. It had to be the gender bias that was holding me back by more than 50 percent chance. But there’s also age bias, and there’s also racial bias, so was it all gender? Was there some other factor?

I was fascinated by the racial part of it. I suppose I should have been struck by the gender issues, but I was more struck by how they were portraying you as an Asian person. It felt so like an old Charlie Chan movies, like “inscrutable,” like all the old idiotic tropes about Asians were in there, in that trial. No one noticed them. I kept going, “What? Did they just say she was inscrutable?” Because I think that’s what they said. It was really interesting. I found that to be much more disturbing to me in many ways, because the other stuff was so obvious, these were slowly layered in in a way that I thought was very effective also at the same time.

I don’t know if it helped the jury or not. When the trial ended — and you write about this in the book — it put you at a crossroads of like, what are you going to do? Because you had put yourself out there, almost completely — completely, actually. You were definitely a canary in the coal mine of this issue. One of the things that we wrote about quite a bit was that for a lot of people, the result wasn’t, “This is terrible,” it’s, “Oh, we can’t have so many women.”


“That was just a weird isolated incident … She’s got some problem, Ellen’s got some problems.” Meaning, I think, it’s the “She’s not a perfect victim” argument, essentially. How did you feel immediately after?

There’s a sense of relief, like, “Finally I can get out of this and not have to be in the public spotlight, not have to be thinking about these issues. I can just move on.”

It’s not what happened.

No, but also I was still at Reddit, so I was still working. It was a relief also to be able to focus 100 percent on running Reddit. I think it was hard to see that this was happening to so many other people. There was still this narrative about how this case was a problem. It’s now making people less willing to hire women, and also there’s so much focus on the gender, and there are also all of these other types of bias and discrimination. There was not a sophistication around the discussions around it. It was very much like, “How do we hold on to what we set up and make sure that we can continue to run things the way we’ve been running things?”

Right, so what do imagine the impact was? Because I think it was much later, I think you sort of set the ground up for what then came this past year.

I think it was giving people a better understanding of what’s happening. That a lot of things have happened to individuals, and they didn’t know how to process it, and here was a way of looking at it in context and having it voiced as, “This is actually discriminatory. This is actually bias. This what is systematically preventing you from succeeding, and it’s not your own fault.” People started talking to each other.

They started talking publicly, and you saw this slew of woman after woman after woman, and a few men, bringing up their own stories, each time getting slammed by the press or by the public. But I think there were enough people behind the scenes being supportive, so I would write to some of them and tell them that what they’re doing, “You’re doing a good thing, I believe you. This really did happen to you, just ignore the comments, just move on.” I think over time it laid the groundwork for [Uber engineer] Susan [Fowler] to come out — she did a great job narrating her experience — and for people to say, “All right, this is actually happening. Let’s not try to pick apart the story or the person, let’s look at the problem.” I think in the last year we’ve seen people now understand there is a problem.

When was that? It’s introducing — because yours is gender discrimination, hers was … Even though I think what she really was writing about was a management out of control, which I think is why it was so effective, but she was talking about sexual harassment, too. Which is another avenue, a terrible, horrible avenue. But do you think that’s why it had so much more resonance with Susan at Uber? Or is it part of the same …

I think there was a mix. I think there were enough people who had then laid the groundwork. I know from people coming up to me in the street or writing to me, that there are men who are starting to say, “You know, my co-worker told me this thing happened to her, too. You bringing it up made her feel comfortable talking about it, so I believe you, too.” I think there were enough people starting to talk about it that it laid the groundwork for people to believe. I also think she did a great job being very meticulous. She had all the receipts. She was very careful in, like, “I’m not doing this for money. I’m not doing this for fame. I am just laying out what happened to me.” So, very unemotional, very careful.

Yeah, it wasn’t emotional. That’s exactly the right word for it, which is interesting. But you did that too. You had your …

People were not ready at that point.

You had your list. One of the things you write about in the book is this, you had your list. Your, what is it called? What did you call it? The gripe … The trial, I’m blanking.

You know what, it was like a therapy thing, my resentment list.


It should never have been in the courtroom, but whatever.

Right, yeah, because it made you seem like an angry lady, essentially.

Right, keeping track of things.

Right, slights.

But I was like, whatever. But I also think, people loved Kleiner. There were a few people who had had terrible experiences and they reached out to me, but in general people …

And they love John Doerr.

They love John Doerr, and they were afraid of Kleiner. I think Uber did not have that reputation.


It had a reputation of being aggressive, of not following the law and of being invasive of privacy, and kind of this …

Right, that’s a fair point. I didn’t think about that, because they’re like, let’s kill that, even though they were sort of the honeypot of Silicon Valley right now, at the same time nobody … they had no friends.

Yeah, and they had the God View, and they’re doing all sorts of things that were kind of riding the edge of ethics.

So of course they did, too, which they did.

Yeah, it was easier to believe. If Kleiner could do this, and we thought they were so great, well of course Uber’s doing it.

Why did you write this book? We just talked about the trial, it definitely took its toll on your life. They attacked your personal life quite a bit, which was disturbing to a lot of people, to watch that happen, sort of the character assassination. People are more than welcome, I think, not to like you, it’s on their own, but it really was quite an effort. You went to Reddit afterward. You became CEO, and then you became subject to a series of eviscerating attacks online.

But we made the right decisions, right?


We got rid of unauthorized pictures, naked pictures. We got rid of revenge porn and then all the other companies. We were the first big company to do that. Then we got rid of some of these really harassing subreddits. Recently there’s a report that said, I think out of Georgia Tech, that said the work that we did actually worked. Those five subreddits coming down, those people …

The bullying, the ugliness.

Yeah, it changed the behavior of the people who were doing it. It helped make the site better. We knew that when we were doing it, but it was hard for people to accept that change. In this environment where people were very wedded to free speech, it became a personal attack on me.

Right, so why did you pay, and not Alexis or any of the others?

I think it was … There’s a lot misogyny and racism on the site. It’s not pretty. When the person who’s trying to get rid of it is actually a woman of color, it inflames some of those emotions and those reactions.

Did you expect that level of ire?

We talked about it. The site is noxious, so I was expecting some, but there were attacks on my family. And the amount of energy, you know, people did these super-elaborate memes.

Yeah, I saw some of them.

And then Photoshopping to perfection. I’m like, “Think about the good that you could do if you put that work someplace.” My god.

You didn’t suggest that, did you?

I think I said something in my book about that.


Because really, that amount of energy and effort, and it was actually quite skilled in some cases …

Why do you think that is? Why is that? Why do you attract that? I’m not saying it’s your fault, but what is it?

I think, I would not engage, so I did not …

Right, and you had done the trial, so you’re well known for that.

Also, I have super-thick skin, having come through all that. I like, “No. I know what we’re doing is right, and we’re just going to keep going.” Because I was so sure about it, and unwavering, it helped my team. They were like, “Okay. We’re on this path. She’s not joking. Let’s just do it.”

I think it was a team effort, very much so. I supported their decisions. Somebody else, the person who headed our community team, picked the five subreddits to take down. I was like, “This is your call, it’s your team that’s going to be dealing with all this, so I’m backing you 100 percent.” We just went and we did it, but it was not … I think it was the women on the team who got doxxed and who got Photoshopped, and one person got fat-shamed. There’s a lot misogyny. I don’t know if that was a strategy to put me in there to take all that, but it kind of took a lot of energy out. They asked me to leave.

The stated reason they said to me was, “We wanted to get to like 350 million users, or 500 million users by the end of the year.” I said, “That is not possible. That just is not possible. We’re going to focus our effort on getting rid of all this, all this harassment on the site, and getting rid of some other … the noxious parts of the site. We’re not focused on growth.” The product is barely working and scaling, so there’s a lot of …

Things that need to be fixed.

Yeah, we’ve got a lot technical debt, and you want us to hire. There’s only so much that can be done. I can’t commit to you that we’ll get to 350 million. They’re like, “Okay, so we’ll find somebody else.” I don’t think they’re at 350 million now, two years later.

It’s interesting, because I think a lot of … when you think about where the priorities are, one of the ones that runs strongly through the Valley is this free speech idea, and why are we bothering with this, and this and that. You talk about that a lot. Is that something that’s … because it goes back and forth on whether it’s a good thing, but that’s one of the things you always hear, is, “Well, people should be able to say what they want. People should be able to do what they want. These tools are there not to be restricted.”

Yeah, I was one of those people. In college I was the editor of this college daily paper. I was very much like, “What we do is hugely valuable. We need to be able to write what we want to write.” We outed some professors for bad behavior. That journalistic integrity, and being able to write what you want to write, is not how it’s played out on the internet. It’s not used … This idea of free speech is used to protect harassing behavior and harassing messages, and that, I think, is actually counter to the actual goals of free speech.

The goals of free speech are to have this platform where people share ideas, and you have conversations, and you convince each other about the benefit of all these different ideas and opinions coming together. What you end up with is a bunch of really loud high-populated groups pushing off other people, the marginalized voices that free speech is supposed to enable and protect.

So, how do you see that? Because on one hand, you want to hear the ugly speech, don’t you? Or not?

If it’s ideas. But if it’s just, “I’m going to shout a bunch of curse words at you,” nobody wants to hear that.

All right, well let’s take James Damore, for example. Which, I just talked to Suzanne Majewski yesterday about the firing round, and she was quite firm that they did the right thing at Google.

I agree, yeah.

Others did not. There’s definitely … they don’t often say it, but I know it’s there and you hear it, and you can see there’s a lot of people very supportive of him and what he said. He didn’t say … Google has made its argument, which I think I agree is also correct, that he would create an unsafe work environment. But you know, what’s happening in Berkeley, what’s happening everywhere else, and the groups of men who want to say what they want to say, part of me is like, “Yeah, let’s hear them. Let’s hear the ugliness, because it’s not helpful to shut it down.”

Pretend it doesn’t exist.

Yes, exactly. Yeah. How do you look at that? Who decides? That’s the difficult part.

I think it’s different from my work environment, like who are my peers and who am I working with. I don’t want to have people in my office telling people that they are not qualified, that women are worse engineers than men. That is not productive to my work environment. That is not my value as a company. So that idea has to go, and if you can’t be convinced that that is not the case, then you’re not going to be a productive contributing member of my team, no matter what.

If this is the goals of the team, right.

Right, right. I think that …

I’m just thinking, the Army, the Air Force currently just gave that speech, just the other day, “Get out.”

Get out.


I think there’s a difference between, what should the government enable and what should you be able to say on these different platforms, from what are you able to say in a work environment and what are you able to …

So the work environment should be whatever the work decides it wants to be.

And its values, yeah.


I think that’s, for me, a pretty easy case. Then, how do you think about free speech from the broader perspective of, “I’m a platform and I want to encourage these ideas and allow people to see it.” I think for us at Reddit it was, when you are harassing people to the point they don’t feel safe, they stop participating on your platform, that is the line that we’re willing to draw.

We want all voices to be able to use the platform. There was a period of time where, before we got rid of the unauthorized nude pictures, the whole site was people looking for naked pictures of celebrities. We could not get anything else in because the demand was so high and we couldn’t service the actual real conversations. So, is that what you want your site to be, devolve into the crap that people …

The naked celebrity picture site.

And if you’re the only site that allows it, then that is what you’re going to be, and you don’t have any good conversations then.

How do you allow these voices to still have these opinions? I’m just using James as an example, Damore’s example, I don’t know him. Should he be able to articulate these things? Should we listen to them? Who decides on what’s tolerated to exist?

I actually don’t like giving him that much attention and credit.


Because I think he’s some rando who …

I think he’s common. I think he’s very …

Yeah, I think, but why him? He’s not a special person.

Not him in particular.

No, ideas I agree with, that we should be talking about them, but why should we give him any attention? There’s no reason to.

Well, because I think he does represent lots of people.


I think to say, “Oh, he’s …”

But to use his name and to give him all that attention. I had a huge problem with The New York Times article, to present these ideas without any kind of context and to give him that platform I think was irresponsible.

Well, except that I think in hearing them, I think what’s interesting is happening, not just there, but just Berkeley, everywhere else, it’s like, we don’t want to hear it. Why not hear it? Why not hear Milo? Why not hear … Listen, I don’t want to listen to Laura Anne Ingraham, but I want to listen to Laura Anne Ingraham. You know what I mean? I feel like if we don’t hear it, it’s pretending it’s not there, and it feeds into that movement, which is depicting things as they are as a really important valuable thing.

I guess, where’s the line between depicting them as they are and encouraging them? Some of these ideas are not ones that you want to have encouraged, and not by your institution. So similar to, it’s different, because it’s not a workplace, but similar to your workplace, there are certain ideas that you don’t want to encourage.

Well, yeah, except then who decides? The issues, it’s not just in the media, but it’s the platforms, Facebook and others, because they’re now de facto news organizations, as far as I can tell.


I don’t think not hearing … It’s like taking a photograph, the photograph is what it is. I’m thinking of this election, we didn’t listen to a lot of … Like, should you quote David Duke? Absolutely. If we had been quoting him more, we would have seen it coming. Or under like, “Oh, he’s a fringe person.” I’m like, “Is he?” You know what I mean? That’s the difficulty of this.

I think there’s …

I’ve heard a lot, “Don’t give people a platform.” Why not articulate them?

I think so, but you need to provide the context. You need to provide … You can’t just end up with these silos that we have now, where it’s like these echo chambers, and it’s just people spinning out of control, and fake news coming up and people believing it, because it’s gotten so far from the truth and there’s no communication between the two sides. I think you have to be responsible as you do it. You can’t just allow random crap to proliferate without any kind of context.

So what do you do? Because then that requires people to have a point of view. Google was very quick to get rid of him, because it’s a workplace issue, and that’s what they hung their hat on. But I think, internally within Google, that a lot of people supported this guy. What does a company like Google do, for example? Or if you’re Facebook, they were very loath to move into this Russia area, because they’re like, “We’re just a benign platform and we don’t know what goes on here.”

But I think that’s bullshit.

I agree with you, and I said that many times. But at the same time, taking their point of view it’s like, “Who decides?” They don’t want to decide.

But they make all these decisions every day. What is spam? What isn’t allowed? Breasts on Facebook, and they’re not particularly good at it, from what I’ve seen. They’re making these decisions, why not make this decision around this? They’re deciding what’s terrorist, what is terrorism on your site. So, why not cover this area, as well. I think you have to draw clear rules. I think that’s the problem.

I don’t know if you saw, maybe it was like a month or two ago, the rule book was presented, and it was a mess. It was a total mess. I think you have to have clear rules that you can point to and that people can understand, so that you’re working within a system. Like raising a child — you’ve got to give them the boundaries, and you either follow the boundaries or it’s chaos.

So who should make those rules?

The problem is when you don’t make rules, you’re allowing this behavior that … ends up making the rules.

Right, exactly.

So you are making rules anyway, so you may as well own up, take the responsibility or hire some people that you pay a shit-ton of money to do that.

Why don’t they want to? Why do you think they don’t want to? Because they really still don’t.

It is so much cheaper not to do it. Free speech is easy — it’s free, you just let it go, whatever happens, happens. That’s, I think, where Reddit got where it is today. It was this super-small organization, it’s easier just to say, “We allow whatever.” It’s an easier rule.

Anything goes.

It’s a super-easy rule, we allow whatever you want to say to go on the platform and that’s it. You don’t have to pay anybody to monitor it, you don’t have to build technology, just prevent it. It’s a free-for-all, and everybody understands it, and that’s what happens.

But I don’t think money’s just it. It’s something else …

It’s money and prioritization. It’s, “I’d rather get more users, I’d rather figure out my business model, I’d rather make sure the technology scales.” At the end of the day, the rules around the community and all of these many complicated decisions get de-prioritized.

And they’re not subject to the abuse, either …

No, because most of them are white men.

Right, right. So how do you change that idea? You discussed this issue, how do you get that … In the next section, I want to talk projects, including things you’re doing now, but how do you get them to that? Because again, I would rather see what they actually think. Pretending they don’t think like this is … I want to hear from them.

At Reddit, I was working with a product manager on this idea of bringing together subreddits that are opposing and having conversations between the more thoughtful people from those subreddits. Find the moderators who are open to having a conversation and are not just going to scream at the other side, and actually have a conversation about these different issues, and see if you can bring people together a little bit more. Or at least have people think through these ideas and create conversations across different groups of subreddits so that it’s not these silos. You can build some empathy. You can build some understanding. You can hopefully stop shouting at each other.

Do you imagine you can do that? Because it seems like things have gotten real far.

I think there are still people that you can, but it will be harder to find those people, and there’ll be a set of people who will never say, “That was a good conversation.” It is harder to bring everybody together, I agree, because there’s so much misinformation out there. People are so locked into their views, and they’ve had so much confirming information because of the way the news gets presented today.

Are you blaming the media? I’m just curious, is it the media’s fault? Is it Facebook’s fault? Or are people just using these tools, you could say it’s really interesting that the U.S. built all these social media tools. and they become weaponized by Russia. They’re using things we invented. I do think these people never thought of these consequences in the first place.

No, I totally agree.

I think they absolutely don’t. I had a conversation when Facebook went live, and I kept saying, “Well someone’s going to kill someone,” and a lot of their executives were like, “Kara, you’re so cynical.” I was like, “What? I’m sorry, people are awful.” That’s my experience. What was interesting is, why doesn’t it occur to them? Or maybe the penny’s dropping now with all these congressional investigations. Then I want to get back into the issue of gender, because it’s the same thing. It never occurs what happens in Silicon Valley, particularly.

It’s an echo chamber itself. Where you go to all these different events, it’s all the same people, and they’re talking about the things that matter to them, which is different than what matters to the rest of the world. It’s a very insular community. It’s not that many people who influence a lot of things, and then it’s a lot of people who are trying to make those people happy, because there’s so much wealth and power concentrated in so few people that’s it has distorted the social mechanisms which would make people understand what else is going on.

I do, though. It’s fascinating, because I find them naively optimistic. I don’t think they necessarily … It’s not, because I will have conversations, I generally believe they believe this isn’t happening or that it’s not their fault. It’s sort of, I call them open wounds. They’re like, “Oh, we feel bad this happened.” I’m like, “Yeah but you made it.” You know what I mean? Which is an interesting thing. What is that … Where are we then in Silicon Valley on this issue? And then in the next section, we’ll talk about Project Include.

I think it’s hard, because as you said people don’t feel accountability, so then they don’t feel any kind of responsibility to clean it up. I don’t know. I don’t have that much hope for … Maybe the congressional hearings will push people a little bit more. Maybe, but people still use the products, right? There are still people who are using Uber, who are using Facebook. You know that they’re selling every bit of information they can, and they’re advertising to you based on everything that you’ve done, but it doesn’t prevent people from using it.

I think people have gotten really addicted and really tied in to these products. The hope is that they’ll fix these products, that they’ll reset their cultures, that they’ll bring in people at higher levels who have different perspective, not just gender but race and age and sexual orientation and immigrant status, all these different aspects that are different from who’s currently running things. But it’s super-slow, people aren’t tracking it, and it doesn’t seem to have an impact on product.

So you feel positive about them?

I feel positive about these new companies. Project Include, this nonprofit I started with seven other women to try to push for change in teach, there are these early-stage startups CEOs who get it. They’re like, “I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I’m doing it because I want a better product. I’m doing it because I want to recruit people in 15 years, when 75 percent of the population is either female or nonbinary or underrepresented person of color.”

I know this is where I have to go, and I’m excited about it, because when I go to work and I see people working together and they seem happy and they feel included and they feel like they belong, it makes my day. These are the people I think who are going to take tech into the right direction. I think this desire to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, this desire to have the next Facebook is incredibly toxic, and we have to move past that.

Talk about Project Include and what you’re doing and what you hope, because I find it’s fascinating, because you seem to have a much more hopeful … given all you’ve been through, than I do. I don’t. I don’t think people … change.

I don’t blame you. Yeah, I don’t know that people can change, but I think the people who are in charge can change, and I hope that happens. I think, I guess it was in the end of 2015, I started meeting with some people, and I end up meeting with a few folks, including Erica Joy Baker and Tracy Chou. We ended up talking about like, “Okay, everybody now is talking about the problem. How do we actually fix it?” We’re seeing all these unconscious-bias training, or I’m going to go recruit at this conference for women, and then I’m going to talk about it in the press, and then I’m done. We’re like, “This is all so terrible. It’s really embarrassing. How can we help and give people what they need to actually change?”

The eight of us got together, and we spent several months putting together 87 recommendations, grouping them into different categories. Our core values were very consistent, very easy to come up with. I think they still hold true today, two years later. One, you need to make sure that you’re including everyone. There are so many efforts, and it’s super-frustrating to us to see all these efforts around gender. “I’m going to include some women and then everybody can feel good.” All the women on my team feel good, but I’m not solving the problem, I’m just making that in-group a little bit bigger, and then I’m ignoring all the people, and a lot of them have much worse problems, like are treated much more poorly, but I feel like I’m taking care of my daughter, because I have a daughter and I’m going to make sure the world is good for her when she becomes old enough. That is the reason I hear the most often from some of these old-line male executives.

No, I get that. That drives me crazy, I have to tell you. What about your sons?

Yeah, what kind of world do you want them to be in?

Yeah, it’s funny because I remember when Donald Trump said that, the remark about pussy-grabbing, and then like, “Well, I have a daughter.” I’m like, “Yeah, but you have a son, what about this?” Having a daughter is not the reason you should do it, it’s because it’s the, one, right thing to do; two, a guy, whoever child you have, it has to be thinking of it. What’s the point of it right now? What are you doing? I do want to talk about Kapor Capital, too, what you’re doing.

We’re coming up with recommendations around helping CEOs come up with inclusive plans, and then comprehensive plans, and then also measuring them. We have two programs. One is called Startup Include; one is called VC Include. Startup Include works with startups, and mostly with the CEOs. We work with them to use surveys to figure out what the demographics and sentiment are of all their employees. Then we group them by different underrepresented groups, and then see, “You have one group that is unhappy about compensation. Let’s think of some ways to try to either educate them about what you’re doing that’s fair, or make your process more fair, or figure out where you are.” And give very specific recommendations on how to be inclusive and how to … a lot it turns around hiring, like how to bring people in to make your teams diverse.

You and I talked about this, the blind hiring, when we were on stage at Code, the idea that there should be blind hire. It was one of your concepts.

Yeah, because you just see study after study, people are really biased and they can’t get out of it. They can’t, they just can’t do it. One of the women on Project Include, Laura Gomez, has a product where it helps with hiring using data and analytics. She was telling me the story about this woman who was dinged in an interview process, but then when she went through a blind hiring process, she had the best technical score out of anybody. They ended up hiring her, and it was the bias that prevented her from being hired, because they assumed she wasn’t good technically.

Right, right, because of lots of reasons. Also, there’s this idea of fit, they use … What’s really hard about this all, I think, if I really have to think about it, is that especially in tech, is they think so well of themselves, and they’re actually nicer people. It’s not like a Wall Street person with a stripper. That’s easy, like, okay, I get you pretty quickly, or whatever, any of those industries that are well-known for more dude behavior — bad dude behavior, not dude behavior.

We use the term tech-bro, which is probably slightly unfair to use, but it does seem to fit a lot of people, but that it’s they don’t feel that it’s them. They’re nice people, and yet the same results happen, right? And then they don’t want to face the fact that maybe they’re not … They don’t ever want to admit that perhaps they still have the same problem, which is a hard problem to deal with. Like in gender, I don’t think they purposely don’t want great tech skills, and yet that exactly what happened. They use the term “fit” a lot, they use the term … Lots of terms they use.

I think there are two things going on. One, I think there is a set of people that we were talking about earlier, this group of people who actually think that women and maybe black and maybe Latin people and maybe other groups of people are actually not equal.

Then they pool and they cherry-pick science. Certainly that’s what Damore certainly did, I think.

Yeah, and you have to lower the bar to bring them in. People use this weird language to explain it, because they don’t actually want to say, “I think women are not as good as men,” or, “I think black people are not as good as white people.”

They use the word “standards” — “We have standards.”

“We have standards.”

They never bring up standards with white men, and you know a lot of stupid white men.

Oh my gosh.

It’s fascinating, never …

And they just keep getting funded.

I know, exactly. But what’s interesting is the word “standards” never comes up, except when it has to do with putting a woman on a board or whatever. I’m like, “I don’t think it’s standards for the group you’ve got there now …”

Yeah, and in most cases you’re raising the bar to prevent that person from coming on board. I think it’s toxic. I think the second thing is, I do think people really want to believe that tech is meritocracy and they are meritocratic.

Yes, they do.

And then when you call out, like, “Well, why do you have no women in your venture capital firm?” They become very defensive, and then they come up with all these reasons.

Can’t find them.

Yep, can’t find … Or, there’s only one that’s qualified, and she doesn’t want to work here.

Yeah, we tried.


We got a no.


They’re not as good at it.



There’s no pipeline of them.

What is, to you, the problem?

I think it’s all of the above.

Yeah, definitely a pipeline issue, no question.

There’s definitely a pipeline issue, but I think more people would come into it if there was a better place to go, there were more role models, you could see a path in these companies. But also, there is a better pipeline than actually gets hired. You’re not looking hard enough and you’re not actually …

Especially on boards, for sure for boards.


Where I think a lot of it starts.

Yeah. It was interesting, I was talking to somebody whose board members were like, “Oh, you know, we need to bring more diversity to this board.” He was talking to me and I’m like, “Then you need to tell him that he needs to get off the board.” Like, “If he’s not happy that it’s all white men on the board, then he needs to get off. He needs to step off and bring somebody else on his team or somebody, if he doesn’t one then, somebody else.” They want it all the ways, and they’re not willing to actually do the hard work to make it happen, right?

Right, because someone has to give away something, essentially.

Those are the kind of things, and then we do a lot of evangelism, advocacy. But the core things are working with the CEOs. We found great CEOs who are interested and excited and that we think are leaders in tech. You know, Dustin Moskovitz, Jack Conte, people who we think are doing great things and also that other people will follow. When they’re successful, they can be advocates for diversity and inclusion, and then get that tech flywheel going.

Are people getting tired of the discussion? Because it feels like maybe they don’t want to hear it anymore. I definitely can feel that. I get it on things like, “Oh Kara, stop talking about …”



I’m not friends with those people.

Yeah, but they do.

I believe you. I think part of it, I think people feel …

You could see in their eyes, too.

Yeah, they feel a little bit like …

Under siege.

Under siege, and then they don’t know what to do. They want to solve the problem, but they actually don’t want to do the work, so they just want it to go away. Why do you keep bringing it up?

Yeah, this lady problem.

Like, “Hey, we fired this guy already, why aren’t happy with that?” Because you replaced him with somebody who looks just like him. That’s why. Because you are setting yourself up for that same problem. Why don’t you just fix it? I think it’s partly, “Oh, I actually don’t believe there’s a problem.” It’s partly, “I don’t know how to fix the problem, so I want to pretend there’s no problem.” Then it’s partly like, “I’d rather talk about something else that’s more exciting than something that’s going to bring me down.”

Right, so with Kleiner, it was about a gender discrimination issue, but sexual harassment has gotten more of the focus. I do think sexual harassment is pervasive, but less of a problem than gender discrimination. You know what I mean? Because I think they do go hand in hand, and they’re part of the same toxic tree, but sexual harassment, a lot of people can go, “Oh, no, no, no.” A lot of men do not like this, do not want this to happen in their company, etcetera. Most of the really problematic people are pattern — they do it in a patterned way. Most of the more annoying sexual harassment are these microaggressions, like, “Smile more. You should smile more,” or, “Don’t you look pretty,” which are like …

“Go get the cookies,” or “Take the notes.”

Yeah, whatever, which are more around the gender discrimination kind of thing. That’s the thing I worry about, the people like, “Oh, we’re going to fix the sexual harassment issue,” which I think is probably easier to fix than the other part, and ignore what I think is the more problematic issue.

I don’t know, because I hear about people saying that, “I’m not going to meet with a woman one on one.”

Yes, they do. Yeah, so no, that’s definitely …


It’s the Mike Pence thing.

Yeah, I don’t know if they’re going fix …

I have to be able to control my … I can’t control myself, and therefore I’m not going to help women anymore. That’s the thing.

Right. Right, and that’s …

Why don’t you just control yourself?

Yeah, and so why are all these women complaining, it just means we’re never going to hire a woman.


I don’t know. I think it’s like, how do you pick which is the bigger problem? Then I think the discrimination also ties to people who discriminate against women are also likely to be discriminating against people based on race and age and all different types of things, because they’re tied to the person that looks exactly like them. I don’t know, it’s all ugly.

Yeah, so what do we do, Ellen?

I think a big part of it is, I hope this next generation of workers, and I believe they are much more informed … Like Tracy was maybe 26 or 28 when she … I think she was 26 when she created a database of … a GitHub repository for where are people in terms of their engineering teams in demographics. At 26, I was totally clueless, I had no idea what was going on. I thought everything was meritocratic and I was working my hardest to get my way up.

So I think that next generation is much more aware. I’m hoping that people telling their stories makes them even more aware, so that they are looking for the right companies to join. That’s these companies that are people who are interested in diversity, inclusion, who are listening and who are changing and who are not taking the old admissions-committee model of cultural fit and, “Do I want to be on a plane with you for 24 hours in a row?” as their guides. They’re joining these other companies that are using technology to make blind admissions, who are using technology to make sure that performance reviews are fair, and just adopting and experimenting to try to make things better.

You’re now at Kapor Capital, what are you doing there?

I am chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Kapor Center, which is an affiliated nonprofit foundation. Then I also am a venture partner at Kapor Capital. So I work with entrepreneurs, with founders, with CEOs, on making their companies diverse and inclusive, and then I also look at investments.

Do you think that’s catching? Because Mitch and Frieda are very … this has been one of their things for many years.


Decades, yeah.

It does seem like it’s changing. We hear from venture capital firms that are interested in adopting our founder’s commitment, where founders commit to making their companies diverse and inclusive, before we will actually invest in them. They commit to having impact and making sure that they’re impacting …

What is the commitment? How do you make them do it?

We’re not going to say, “Oh, we’re going to kick you out,” but they state that they want to make their teams diverse and inclusive, they are signing up to participate in a set of workshops that we have, and sharing information, and in working with us on our different initiatives to make sure that they understand, how do you write a code of conduct? How do you form you values? What should you be thinking about as you look for an investor? To have this holistic view and comprehensive view of what inclusion means?

What did you think about the decency pledge? I know you’re not going … I hated it. I hated it. Kara Swisher hated it.

I think I slammed it in The New York Times.

Yeah, you did.

What did it do? Nothing.


It did absolutely nothing. It’s another tepid diversity initiative that makes people feel good about themselves but accomplishes nothing.

Nothing, right, exactly. If you, Ellen Pao, was god of Silicon Valley, which I think would scare a lot of people, what are the three things you would do? It sounds like a silly question but it’s not. What would you …

I would just take a ton of money. I think if you could get, I don’t know, maybe even just $ 25 billion, and give it to the smartest people of color, women of color, women, to invest, it would change the landscape. It’s not going to happen. The LPs, I don’t know where they are, but they’ve been completely silent on these issues.

They have.

I’ve heard of one or two who have taken issue with the sexual harassment, because as you say, that’s a much easier one to draw a line at.

Oh, no, nobody likes that. Nobody likes boob -grabbing. No. Because that’s actionable, too. Gender discrimination is much more difficult.

Yeah, and you don’t feel good about being in a company with a harasser or investing in a firm with a harasser. It’s embarrassing. But I think if you gave money to people, and they were able to invest it in the best companies and the best entrepreneurs and the best founders without all this bias hanging over them, you’d have a different world.

And different investors.

You’d have different investors, you’d have different founders, you’d have different people succeeding. Instead of only white men are getting the money so only white men succeed, and then it reinforces, “Oh, only white men should be getting money.”

You mean they’re just not better than us? Ellen, what? You can say no.




So, are you hopeful for what’s happening now, because they feel … I’m not, because I just think that they’re going to paper it over.

I think in the last year, the amount of change we’ve seen in people’s perceptions has been immense.

Yes, thank you, Uber.

So that makes me … yeah.

No, really, in a lot of ways. Because I think it …

Thank you, Susan Fowler.

Yes, of course. But I think I wrote a piece called, “Thank you, Susan Fowler,” but I think it’s not just that, it’s that people can’t look away. It’s the quintessence of all of it. It seemed like everything drained down into Uber, and there it was, and it’s gore and it’s …

It changed people’s framework for thinking about tech companies.

But I hope it’s not everyone goes, “Oh, it’s just Uber.”

Right, and I don’t think so. I think then you saw all these other companies, and it’s been kind of a storm of …

When does that stop? Do you imagine this stopping?

It doesn’t seem to be. I think there’s still a lot of cleanup. As you said, it is not just Uber. They may be the worst, potentially, but there are many other companies that have been in this toxic tech culture. I think that gives me hope that people will actually make the changes. When I talk to people who are now speaking up, and they’re doing little things that are making a difference. I talked to people who are speaking up and going public, and then you have the technology, through Medium and Twitter, to reach so many people in your own voice, without, no offense, having to go through the press, having that …

I know, it’s the media’s fault, Ellen.

It’s not, but it is different. You feel a lot more control. To feel like you have control over your story if you’re going to do and say something sensitive. I think that makes a huge difference, and I’m hopeful. But I agree with you, there are not indications that it’s changing. We have a ton of work to do, we have just changed the nature of people believing the problem or not.

Do you worry because of the larger culture, and with Trump in the White House and the stuff that spews out of his Twitter stream every moment?

I think that’s a huge problem, and it’s making people who otherwise would be quiet speak up, but in some ways it is good. You hear that person, you fire them. They’re out. Get out. I think it also has activated a lot of people. Where they feel like, “Oh, I just can’t be quiet anymore, because look what happens.”

Right, also I think a lot of times people get exhausted and are in a perpetual state of rage and it creates intolerance, too. You know what I mean? Like that stuff at Berkeley, I’m like, “Just let the guy talk,” I know he’s gross, but let’s just …

I feel a little bit different.

I know, people are like, “Oh, I’m being damaged by it.” I’m like, “You can take it.”

But I feel like this is my home.

I know.

This is my community. When the kids are … You know, some kids are probably like 14, 16, who are going to college, to have that in your community base doesn’t feel good.

No, I know.

I know it’s a bastion of free speech over at Berkeley, it’s hard but …

I know, but at the same time, it’s like, then they come at you. You give them an excuse to come at you if you don’t let them …

But they have platforms.

I know, but you know. You know.

Yeah. That’s more complicated …

They don’t have to be nice, we do. You know what I mean?


I know it sounds … It’s unfair. So, last question, what is your goal with this book? Do you have a goal, or you just felt like typing?

No. One big thing … God no, about myself for so many pages, no, that was not the goal. I think a lot of it was there are so many people who are so supportive, and then they connected with different parts of my story, and I wanted to give them a whole unsmeared version. I also wanted to make people feel positive about tech. There are so many good things about tech.

It’s a shockingly positive book.

Yeah, I could not have written it a few years ago.

She’s kind of pissed. She’s in a pissed …

Yeah, well she wrote fast. She didn’t have time.

That book — she’s pissed. She was on the stage at Code this year, and she got on the stage, I’m like, “You’re in trouble, you’re pissed, because they’re going to not like you being pissed” kind of stuff.

But she went through.

Yeah, yeah, that’s true.

There are so many good things about tech. There are so many awesome products, and there are so many things that can change the world. I wanted to make sure that people stayed in it. That they don’t take a look at it, see it’s pretty toxic, and maybe I should go do something else. We need people to come in, and we need people to succeed. I’m hoping to help them by understanding what’s going on around them, by giving them some tips, and then by showing the positive side of it.

Yeah, it’s sort of the attitude about democracy — it’s the worst system ever, except for all the rest. The field is like that, it’s the worst system ever, except for all the rest.

Yeah, but you’ve enjoyed much of it, right?

I have. At some point, I’m like, “Are you kidding?”

You see the system, and it’s so bad, and it’s so hard to change …

No, mostly it’s that they’re so not easy to pin down, I guess, because they are nice. It’s not like you’re dealing with just flat-out assholes.

Who are lying to you, and …

Right. It’s sort of like, at Uber, definitely, it’s like, “Okay, I got them. I got what they are.” But it’s more insidious, because it’s so …

Yeah, the VCs are all so nice. I mean, that’s their job.

Yeah, you know what I mean? Then you’re like, “They don’t even understand.” It doesn’t even occur to them … And then you have to be mad to get their attention, and it does work when you’re mad at them.

That’s tiring, so tiring.

It’s tiring. It’s exhausting. So, last question — what is the thing you …

I thought the other one was the last question.

What? No, this is my last question. You’re going to have to answer. It’s my empire here at Recode. What is a thing that you think people don’t get about you? Ellen Pao is what?

I don’t know. I think, like, you know, I’m just trying to do the right thing.

You are actually very funny. I think people don’t get that.

Maybe, yeah. I met somebody, like, “Oh my God, you’re so warm and friendly.” It’s like, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, you’re inscrutable, Ellen. No, no. You’ve become an iconic thing, and therefore you become a cartoon of yourself probably in some way.

Also the PR. That huge PR campaign didn’t help.

Yeah, it’s probably true. Anyway, Ellen Pao’s new book is “Reset.” Is it going to become a movie with Shonda Rhimes? Is that why you were talking to Shonda? I’m interviewing her next week.

No. I ran into her at a conference, and then I ran into her at TED, and we just …


… chatted and stuff like that. I love her, though. I think she’s awesome.

I’m excited to interview her. I’m-super excited. I’m a huge fan.

Yeah, she’s …

She’s powerhouse. Is it going to become a movie, or is it going anywhere else?

We’ll see, maybe you can do a cameo.

No, thank you. No, thank you. No, thank you very much.

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