NewCo Shift
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NewCo Shift

Money quote Thursday Oct. 12

Facebooking the Music

It’s hard to tell what the company really thinks about the issues defining its current crisis. That’s a problem.

Where to start? That’s how I feel, anyway, as I try to unravel the torrent of news and spin coming off Facebook these days. The three stories above are just today’s top news, there is far more, and it’s only increasing in complexity and volume.

Facebook today attempted to take control of the narrative, dispatching COO Sheryl Sandberg in a very public “exclusive interview” with DC-based media outlet Axios (Shift has a story on the stakes here). The resulting interview is … unlikely to change any hearts and minds, but at least Sandberg accepted responsibility and apologized. Beyond that, it felt stiff and rehearsed (though Sandberg’s response to the “is Facebook a media company” question was pretty animated.)

It doesn’t help that Facebook closed a door which allowed independent researchers access to a large body of contested posts and data (story #1) and failed to answer more than half of the New York Times’ questions (story #2). This really is a delicate and nuanced story, but headlines like those make it seem far less so. It makes it seem like Facebook is hiding something, and/or protecting its bottom line. Eventually, we hope, the truth will out.

This story is behind a paywall, but it’s a cautionary tale, and a familiar one. A hot tech startup with a charismatic CEO, half a billion in funding, and a can’t miss proposition. Turns out, they were cheating. Damnit, I wish this story wasn’t so…predictable. Money quote: “Outcome is the latest in a series of highly valued startups that promise to overturn old industries with new technologies. Outcome has said its mission is to “activate the best health outcome possible for every person in the world” and provide “actionable health intelligence at the moment of care.” In practice, it puts flat screens and tablets in doctors’ offices and gets paid by pharmaceutical companies to run ads on them.” Oh snap!

Turns out, when folks get a bit older and start having kids, they want something more than the hip downtown office. Money quote: “Suburban landlords are upgrading office parks with amenities to mimic urban life, too. At Van Vlissingen’s properties, that’s meant fitness centers, food-truck Fridays, beach volleyball courts, and a fire pit and amphitheater where monthly concerts are staged. Origin Investments, a real-estate investment firm, recently spruced up a dated office building outside Denver with a 4,000-square-foot fitness center and a “barista-driven” coffee lounge and stationed a rotating cast of food trucks outside a building it owns near Charlotte.”

The Post calls the ball: The gas powered engine is on its way out. Money quote: “You really do feel like this electrification thing is suddenly very real,” Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at “There’s a momentum we haven’t really seen before. It’s coming from other countries around the world and from big automakers, and that’s forcing everyone else to comply.”

I’m watching this closely, because the convening of a constitutional convention seems utterly crazy, but in fact, is very close to happening. Money quote: “Coburn wants to enshrine in the Constitution itself every Republican national platform for the past 40 years. You will note that two of the three “areas” are pretty damn vague. How many amendments to the Constitution do you think it would take to roll back the federal government to a size that would satisfy Tom Coburn? Twelve? Twenty-seven? Eleventy-infinity? The mind boggles.”



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John Battelle

John Battelle


A Founder of The Recount, NewCo, Federated Media, sovrn Holdings, Web 2 Summit, Wired, Industry Standard; writer on Media, Technology, Culture, Business