Distraction and Mission

Many of the leaders of our portfolio companies struggled to get their teams focused last week. We heard from many of them asking questions like “If either of you have thoughts on leading a team through exogenous events, happy to take your guidance”

It may sound insensitive or crass to be asking how you get people focused on work when they are upset, dismayed, and devastated. I understand that people need time to come to terms with something that is so emotional for them and that employers have to be sensitive to that. I am all for that. Much of last week was spent  on that.

But I also believe that getting the team off of Facebook and Twitter and back into the code and shipping product is actually a healthy thing for everyone.

Many of USV’s portfolio companies are mission driven. That’s not our investment strategy per se, but it seems to be an output of our investment strategy. We have portfolio companies trying to democratize access to healthcare, education and financial services. We have portfolio companies trying to make it easier to be an artist, an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or an author. We have portfolio companies trying to make it safer to use the Internet without being spied on. I could go on and on.

And so, working in these companies and working to help these companies and the people they support succeed is important. And if you are upset with the world, then one of the most therapeutic things you can do is try to change the world to be a better place. If you work in a company that is mission driven and you connect with that mission, then I would encourage you to throw yourself at that work this coming week. I can assure you that it will help.

And if you don’t work in a company that is mission driven, or if you don’t connect with your company’s mission, then I would encourage you to quit and join a company that you are inspired to work for and then throw yourself at that work. Here is a list of those kinds of opportunities.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    Mission is more to your point than discipline, no? (I’m referring to headline; not intended to trivialize your very strong message in this post)

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i don’t like the headline. should have changed it. gonna do that now.

      1. bsoist

        I was just going to point out that the headlines don’t match – homepage v. post page. (and FWIW, I prefer Mission as well)

  2. Dale Allyn

    No politics, I know. And I agree. But…I feel there’s been too much time spent on political mourning. I do understand the anxiety, but at the same time see need to accept the outcome of the election and move on.If the election results were different; if Clinton had won, would her supporters have been sympathetic to those who didn’t want her as president? What’s with the riots in Portland and elsewhere? Are we a nation of spoiled brats?Let’s work together to make things better. We are blessed to have amazing tools to share our ideas and to push those ideas to our leaders. Let’s do that. Please.And, yes, if you/we are working in a place which doesn’t inspire us or is not mission-driven, let’s look for a new way to participate. I’m hopeful that we will all invest in being part of “the solution” and not participate in negative and destructive activities.

    1. Richard

      It would be nice if we felt the same gut wrenching sickness each time we went to war.

      1. Dale Allyn

        You illustrate the absurdity of how some react and behave to theee election outcomes.

        1. Richard

          Enlighten me

          1. Adam Sher

            I took it to mean he agrees with you. It would be appropriate to feel this way when we send soldiers to war. An election is the opposite of war.

          2. pointsnfigures

            I don’t think I know of one President that didn’t feel it in his gut when they sent soldiers into battle. I bet that is the most distasteful part of the job. If it doesn’t hit you in the gut, you should not be there.

          3. Dale Allyn

            I was agreeing with you, as @adam_sher inferred. 🙂

    2. LE

      The amount of people protesting is exceedingly small. A metro area can have millions of people and in the case of NYC maybe 5,000 protesters? It’s a bit ridiculous what is being made out of that. It’s media and social media driven. Locally there was a protest in a small town near where I live (which is surrounded by a much larger area). Maybe 50 or 100 people showed up and they were escorted by the police front and rear and it ended quickly.Are we a nation of spoiled brats?Definitely not the nation but certainly some of the protestors this is quite different than the race riots of the past.

      1. Dale Allyn

        Of course, I agree with you vis-a-vis the mobs and media, etc. I was being a bit rhetorical.As for social media, I use Twitter as one source for interesting links on various topics, and I ended up muting about a third of those whom I follow over the past 3-4 weeks. Nearly all are in Silicon Valley/Alley, tech and starupland, and just got nuttier and nuttier. I’ll unmute them as things normalize, but it was just cluttering my feed.I’m currently in Thailand (hence the slow replies) and people here seem to be quite shocked at how the media is portraying things in the US, post election. Of course the media are showing Portland riots next to Venezuela riots. Sigh. Most say “why not wait and see?” regarding a Trump presidency. Seems like the right approach.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        This may be your first right wing populist President, correct me if not. As such and if future events correlate with South American politics which I know better, he will have a healthy stream of protestors throughout his mandate. Ignoring or minimizing this, as he did in Twitter and as you are doing here is not wise. These things grow and may turn into a sport if not handled properly.And just for the record, by “handling” I mean engaging in positive and constructive ways with the people and organizations behind the protests.

  3. William Mougayar

    Well said. The election is over. If you want to make a difference, being distracted will sure keep you away from your goals.

  4. Maurya Couvares

    Thanks for this, Fred.2 Things1) If people want to make the world a better place, they can get involved with ScriptEd (scripted.org).2) We made sure there was lots of room for mourning at ScriptEd. This election is impacting our staff in a very real way, and we’re very worried about the communities we serve and what we can do to protect them. This last Friday afternoon we drank hot chocolate and apple cider and colored in adult coloring books. It doesn’t make this go away, but it made us feel closer and a little more sane.

    1. fredwilson

      well done Maurya!

    2. LE

      there was lots of room for mourningThings like some of what you say are really shocking to me. The extent to which people are revving each other up into a lather, well, it’s as if there was a comet heading toward where they live and no transportation to get out of the way. The disappointment is understandable as well as fear and apprehension. But quite frankly what appears to be over the top grief [1] really can only be a product of lack of a wise person simply putting the recent events into the proper perspective. And an echo chamber with likewise individuals (as well as the possibility of those who don’t agree not wanting to speak up <— sure that that happens).If you were diagnosed with a dreaded disease, how would someone feel if the doctor that was treating you acted in a way that there was no hope of a cure and only gloom and doom? Especially when it wasn’t clear what the outcome was. This is exactly what everyone who is vocal online is doing. This is ironic given the fact that half the population is apparently dealing with a comet that is real and not, at this point, hypothetical.If you have children and your house is flooded how would you act with your children at that moment? As if everything is going to end. Or that “we will figure this out and things aren’t as bad as they appear now”..None of this is directed at you personally Maurya.[1] Depression which has turned to anger as well as expecting some quick solution to something that isn’t even at the phase of needing a solution yet.

      1. Twain Twain

        LE, Adam Grant a Professor at your alma mater shared this on Linkedin. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Personal attacks of this type may not affect you: https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…But it’s going to be something that makes the US feel a less safer place and not like home for your fellow citizens.Now, to the people who say that there’s no room for politics in technology, well actually this election was a wake-up call for Silicon Valley about a few things:(1.) How social media is used to radicalize folks and / or spread propaganda, unchecked.(2.) What should be done to prevent trolling and ensure safety whilst respecting freedom of speech.(3.) Walk the talk of diversity and inclusion, and make systems accordingly.I agree with @fredwilson:disqus on this: “One of the most therapeutic things you can do is try to change the world to be a better place.”Silicon Valley presents itself as a bastion of “change the world and make it better” so now’s the time for SV’s collective mission to take stock, recommit their hearts and forge those paths forward.@ccrystle:disqus @SixgillBlog:disqus — I’m with you both on these issues and hopeful that SV steps up and creates solutions to ensure people’s safety whilst facilitating freedom of speech.

        1. LE

          (The first image is to blurred). Honestly anytime someone tells others to ‘please share with others’ it’s a red flag that it’s either made up or repeated out of context or whisper down the lane.And noting given the above you say this:(1.) How social media is used to radicalize folks and / or spread propaganda, unchecked.Should we really be passing around stories where we can’t verify the facts?Charlie mentioned that there were “3 incidents within 20 miles of me” and I checked the police blog for 3 days within the area that he lives (lancasteronline.com), did a web search and in both cases found nothing. So I asked him more info it’s not something that I am going to repeat or considered until being given more exact details.

          1. Twain Twain

            Adam Grant, Professor of Management, Wharton, on LinkedIn: “I’m revolted by the racist text messages targeting every black freshman at Penn. We will not stand for this– and I hope those of you outside Philly won’t either. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” https://uploads.disquscdn.c

          2. LE

            Thanks for clarifying.I get a kick out of sanitized messages like Grant’s. In this case it was his personally. But in other cases it’s issued on behalf of a company or institution. In that case it’s unclear to me why it’s necessary to even indicate that you object to something that is wrong on it’s face and obvious. “I hope you will join me in rejecting the microwaving of innocent kittens”. (I am a kitten lover by the way I would take a new one every 3 months if I could).If a child was abducted by an Italian male, is it necessary for an Italian group or person to say (and things similar to this have happened) ‘as Italians we in no way support behavior like this and we hope that you join us’. Isn’t objectionable behavior obvious on it’s face? Why is it necessary to phrase it in this way or to even make a request? What am I missing? Is this for people who just arrived from Mars?Why not just say “I was personally revolted when hearing about the racist text messages targeting every black freshman at Penn” and leave it at that. And what does “we will not stand for this” mean anyway? What exactly can you do about anonymous text messages or spam email?

          3. Twain Twain

            Our species has always achieved more in social collectives rather than as “I was personally revolted” individuals.It’s not always obvious what objectionable behavior is.Last week, you apologized for the tone of some of your comments towards me and I accepted your apology.Frequent interactions and a certain amount of mutual perspective and self-awareness means we were able to arrive at that.However, it’s not always the case that one person’s position is obvious to another person’s. Hence the call for social validations such as “We hope that you join us …”

          4. Adam Sher

            In addition, it is not always obvious how to reject objectionable behavior. If you ignore or spurn someone, perhaps that person realizes you are not acknowledging him/her. On the other hand, your silence may be interpreted as implicit consent.If I tell an offensive joke and no one laughs (e.g. the Aristocrats), is it because I am not funny, they are offended, or they did not understand the joke?In written language, the tendency to over-explain your position arises because most people do not efficiently communicate all of the emotion and nuance in their statements. Great authors are able to do that but the rest of us cannot.

          5. Twain Twain

            True and great authors have creative latitude to write things like …”O heart be true to self and mind open to others,All else take with shovels of salt.”Lol.Meanwhile, in technical writing, we try to be as fact-based, objective and comprehensive as possible.

      2. jason wright

        Mass hysteria, and with a competitive edge to it.

  5. Eric Satz

    Leaders lead. If your candidate didn’t win, there is no more important time than now to buckle down and do what has to be done. There is only one way forward. Back is not an option. There is no rewind button. And anger is a useless, negative emotion. There is no such thing as channeling anger for good. Find the good and build on and channel that.

    1. awaldstein

      Agree completely.Anger is a tough one to handle and that is the malaise that has captured at least my world.Me–i’m moving forward.

  6. Mike Zamansky

    I had a conversation with someone last night and they asked if it made them a bad person if after the election, while unhappy, they were relieved that they probably wouldn’t be negatively affected by the results and what might happen in the coming years.I replied – not if you use your position of relative safety and privilege to protect and uplift those on the other side.Time to double down and get to work.

  7. Vitomir Jevremovic

    Your country is one of the most organized societies on the globe. It is a double edged sword. On one side you live in isolation of difficult struggles most of the planet is tackling, and on the other side this echo-chamber protects you and serves your well being allowing you to focus on prosperity, work and solving planetary problems.Where some of us have went through bombings, sanctions, closed markets, closed internet, seeing Americans weep on a democratic process is funny, but understandable looking it from your perspective. I would suggest the following:Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.. and really don’t worry so much as you have created a country that relies on organization and system more then on one individual. Relax and enjoy the struggle, it is always more fun to have difficult challenges.[Edit: this is not addressed to anyone in particular, especially not Fred, but to a general mood that we can see (on newsfeeds) in America]

    1. LE

      Great comment.Where some of us have went through bombings, sanctions, closed markets, closed internet, seeing Americans weep on a democratic process is funny, but understandable looking it from your perspective. I would suggest the followingIf you are saying that there are some Americans that are spoiled and entitled you are correct. No reason to apologize. But keep in mind that many of the things that you read online are from a very small group of people that aren’t representative of most of the people in this country. What I like is that you also say ‘but understandable looking at it from your perspective’. So you are mature and intelligent enough to see that not everybody is the same and that it’s hard for someone here to feel sorry for something that is not front and center in their life and, ironically, even when those things are in their same country.

      1. Vitomir Jevremovic

        Thanks.I don’t feel political discussions are appropriate here and now, as this should be technology and startup safe-zone on the web. This community (people that Fred talked about) should understand that they must act as grown-ups and look at the situation from many different perspectives… especially if their goal is to become world-wide successful companies. World is a huge place full of different people, regulations, politics, legislations, etc. It is just a matter of perspective whether you are addressing that as a solvable problem, a challenge, or act stunned at something that has just happened in your backyard.

    2. Amar

      So eloquent and concise. Well said! I love it when I have a thought in my head and I read words that describe my thought better than I can. As a citizen who started as an immigrant, this is exactly what I want to share with people. The idea of USA and its power comes from its anti-fragility (to borrow NNTaleb’s definition) – this country is built on a system that will bend but not break. Well said – the opposite of fear is not blind courage, it is perspective!

  8. Guesty McGuesterson

    What I would connect with is opportunities to work outside the United States.I know that may sound flippant right now, but I promise you I do not mean it that way at all. I am as serious as I have been about anything in my life.Posting as guest because I don’t want to attach this statement to my name, but I do want to share that this sentiment is out there.I suspect I am not alone, which is probably unfortunate inasfar as it means more competition for me.

    1. fredwilson

      and we have a portfolio company whose mission is to make that easy for people. it is called Jobbatical. check it out herehttps://jobbatical.com/

      1. Guesty McGuesterson

        Thank you! +100!I saw that a while back and in the last few days I was trying to remember what it was called and where I had seen it. That’s exactly what I am looking for!

        1. kenberger

          they are a great company offering super interesting opportunities to work in some exotic places. I have visited them in their Estonia HQ !

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Love love love this concept. Personally still have much to do here. Maybe more than ever.

  9. creative group

    FRED:excellent suggestion…..A change in the world starts with a change in you….Those dismayed after work need to mobilize and start concentrating on state and local elections to get those lifetime politicians out of office. The popular vote has benefited one party the minority vote in this country. If you didn’t vote stop bitching, stop marching and start doing things that are effective. Vote them out of office.Donald J Trump will be the President of the United States. This country has endured the Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, Obama administration’s. This country will endure.Let’s move on and get to work if you are unsatisfied with the results of the election. Many took it for granted HRC would win, voted for other candidates other than those two (We included) now this is what we have to deal with. Get over the shock and get to work. In 2018 there are critical Senate races.#UnapologeticallyUnequivocallyIndependent#Termlimits (Two terms for Senators, Four Terms for Representatives)

  10. Vendita Auto

    IT Tech Skills. India has some of the best students seeking placement in North America / UK they also retain those important parental values. Elections it is what it is just difficult to shake off the fact we are still in the (tribal) playground.The biggest Xmas ads in the UK are from John Lewis this year is as good as ever, The parody did make smile through the gloom.https://www.youtube.com/wathttps://www.youtube.com/wat

  11. Sam Parker

    “Work is love made visible.” – Kahlil Gibran

    1. Richard

      Maybe, but let’s not forget that millions of jobs that have nothing to do with mission or love, whether it be mortgage broker or the coal miner.

  12. Rob Underwood

    The Friday before the election I went deep on an assignment I was doing to write my own kernel for my Harvard extension school systems programming class. Coupled with Dark Side of the Moon on repeat, I was very happy to have the distract of some deep C and x64 Assembly to keep my mind off of the election.

    1. Richard

      Love it. Being Proactive vs Reactive. That’s what we all should be doing

    2. Lawrence Brass

      What you describe is a perfect evening. High level reasoning, unforgiving logic, experimentation and discovery. Best way to wipe the mundane and cheap distractions for a few hours.

  13. David C. Baker

    I’m advising a client in Monterrey, Mexico all week and I plan to listen carefully to their perspectives.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I think you should make a return trip in January and February-only because of the weather. : )

  14. Richard

    Love the headline, apply it to all areas of ones life, including your health, your relationships …..Never forget that politics is a business as much as then NFL is. You shouldn’t be watching the NFL 5 days a week nor should you be watching Trump et al.Btw, thoughts on this headline?https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t know where that data is from and if its solid

  15. mikenolan99

    Same story, three points of view…I’ve been thinking about how to solve the echo chamber effect – the fact that the more one engages with a particular point of view, the more likely they are to be fed similar stores with the same lens.Stories are now tested for engagement – same copy, different headlines, all testing on click rate. I believe this technology has helped to divide the nation.So here is my idea: A web site or app that examines popular media sources for similar facts or event – and displays the stories side by side. As you engage with a particular headline, the site tracks the activity, but instead of feeding you more and more of the same (Google, FaceBook, etc), this site gives you feedback on your “lens” – and shows the narrowness, or broadness of your selections over time. Perhaps with social markers?We can only change what we can measure – BigLensNews.com (or some better name…) could help encourage broader thinking and better understanding.Somebody want to build this with me? (Or, feel free to steal this idea…. I wont mind) https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. LE

      the fact that the more one engages with a particular point of view, the more likely they are to be fed similar stores with the same lens.NY Times website does this with their “recommended for you tab”. But honestly the “most emailed” and “most viewed” aren’t much better. This is exactly the reason I still read both NYT and WSJ print editions which, while not perfect, are an improvement…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. jason wright

        The NYT International Edition costs GBP 2 and I swear it’s no thicker than a sheet of toilet paper.

      2. Twain Twain

        See my other comment about how gaming of the quant metrics like “most shared on social media” happens and plays into echo chambers.

    2. Twain Twain

      I belong to the Galileo school: “Measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured” so I agree about the importance of measuring things if we mean to change the way things work.That’s why it’s worth reading this analysis on ‘Wired’ about data biases and AI weaknesses. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…* https://www.wired.com/2016/…The lens has to be with more than social markers.Why? Well … Facebook and other social media platforms have plenty of social markers (user profiles that include socio-demographic info, our likes, who we’re connected with, what we’re sharing etc.) and, yet, they’ve acted as echo chambers.So other solutions beyond social have to be invented.The election result may be an existential crisis but it’s also a tech & business opportunity.And I’m a pragmatist.

    3. Salt Shaker

      Art Sulzberger Jr., Publisher of the NYT, issued yesterday what in essence is an apology to subscribers for the paper’s election coverage and to rededicate the pub to honest reporting (“independent, original journalism”).We all gravitate to people and things whose values and beliefs are similar to our own. Human nature. An “echo chamber” isn’t necessarily bad as long as there’s a willingness to understand and appreciate the POV of others. Reputable media orgs I believe have an obligation to fill that void and deliver at least a semblance of balanced journalism, rather than the OTT, biased crap we’re fed daily.Sounds like the NYT recognizes its own shortcomings and deficiencies in this area. Only time will tell if they live up to their “new” promise.

      1. Adam Sher

        Too little, too late from the NYT. Like in finance, they will likely forget the lessons they said they learned in time for the next presidential election.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        They have a lot of making up to do.

        1. pointsnfigures

          they were democratic operatives instead of journalists. but, they always seemed that way to me for a long time.

          1. Salt Shaker

            The NYT def has a strong liberal bent, and always has. Their coverage of Trump, even though it played to my sensibilities, was laughable it was so over the top. Due to the extreme imbalance in its coverage, in my mind the paper lost a fair amount of credibility and authenticity. Similarly, I believe now that Roger Ailes is gone from Fox News Murdoch desires to create more balance in its coverage, particularly with the likes of Hannity, who was nothing more than a Trump informercial.

          2. pointsnfigures

            Agree. I watch one program on Fox News. Bret Baier’s 5PM-6PM program (central time). You see stuff on it you don’t see on MSM. I watch one MSM news hour since they are all the same. I never really liked Hannity’s show. Watched it once or twice-but there are better things to watch or reruns to peruse. I don’t watch CNBC or FoxBusiness or Bloomberg Business anymore either. Tastytrade.com is where you get actionable material.

          3. creative group

            Salt Shaker:”particularly with the likes of Hannity, who was nothing more than a Trump infomercial”Hannity was never a Journalist in our view. A straight commentator. The majority of the personalities on Fox News are commentators with the exception of Megyn Kelly.#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent#Termlimits

          4. Donna Brewington White

            It seems that honest people everywhere regardless of political persuasion would not stand for this type of overt bias. It was so blatant. Maybe always the case but I didn’t see it until the election.I expect to get a biased slant from some publications and avoid them unless I want to know what a certain faction is thinking.

          5. pointsnfigures

            Agree. I go back to Fred’s post. Stick to your core values and principles. Re-examine them when you find an alternative that looks better. Treat people using the Golden Rule. I don’t think we should penalize people for evolving on an issue if they can say how they evolved. “Strong opinions loosely held.”

          6. creative group

            pointsnfigures:any Journalist that acquired a college education in America are exposed to Liberal Professors. It is a decision to be a Liberal, Republican or one of the intelligent Independents.We view Fox News more than any network without hiding it more partisan than CNN or the regular Networks then MSNBC follows.Can’t even stomach the majority of CNBC commentators disguised as Journalists. They are auditioning for Fox Business.We refuse to view any of the Networks, especially cable. Just not the source for solid information and facts. If you want hyperbole that is what you will get. The Guardian, WSJ and Arizona Republic. (Occasionally CSPAN and NBR) are the well we choose to sip from.#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent#Termlimits (Senators two terms 8 years, Representatives four terms, (Eight years total).

          7. jason wright

            Corporate PR departments in disguise.

    4. Vasudev Ram

      The idea is innovative. Were you thinking of interpreting the meaning (and possible slant) of the articles people read, though, in order to give those scores of narrow or broad lens?And what are social markers?

      1. mikenolan99

        This started as a thought experiment – how do we counteract the “echo chamber” that Facebook and other sites create… as we give it more thought, would machine learning – that already sorts news into your google news feed, for example, also “learn” by who interacts with each story, as a function of other stories – to judge the broadness or singularity of a point of view. I picture perhaps multple-bars that indicate the narrowness or broadness of each particular topic, and an aggregate. For example, if I only get my finance news from WSJ – I’d have a narrower band than my Political feed – if I regularly interacted with a wide variety of sites.My social markers could be sharable badges. “I’m in the top 5% of broad minded investors”, etc.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          Getting it. I first thought you meant the use of software to analyse the meaning / slant / partisanship / etc. of articles – sentiment I suppose is the tech term for it these days. And am not sure if the technology is developed enough for that, though I do know people are working on it – sentiment analysis of text etc. Might never get there or take very long (to do a really good job of it all the time), due to the ambiguity oh human speech and writing. But I’m not an expert on this area.

  16. David Lee

    I’m doing a digital detox with my family. No social media and email, slack for work. (I know that is a large carve-out!) Will try this for a week and the “No Twitter, No Facebook” for as long as I can last.I’m going to get my news through print subscriptions of the LA Times, maybe WSJ (I get your blog alerts in my email :). I did it for 35 years — getting news through print — and can’t say my life is substantially better because I get news or hot takes more quickly.It’s like taking time off from drinking. The little red dots on my apps are as comforting and addicting as booze. As for my kids (3 and 7), I believe it can only help.I already feel more productive. A little horrified at how much time I spent in front of my phone…See you soon, man!

  17. Twain Twain

    I texted this to a fellow dev friend: “We work even harder to be the best humanist on behalf of others and to code and implement representative systems.”He’s a Michigander, a millennial and he replied: “Now would be a good time for your technology.” Yes, he’s from Michigan which turned red for the first time since 1988.A few months before the election, the AI community had become aware its mission is to make data and AI ethical and unbiased because research (from MS, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, Mass Amherst, Boston University) finally emerged that AI has inherent biases.https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c…* http://www.zdnet.com/articl…* https://www.inverse.com/art…* http://spectrum.ieee.org/te…* https://techcrunch.com/2016…Data representativeness, AI’s ability to serve all of us and solving the signal:noise problem in natural language understanding have been “bees in my bonnet” for years — to the extent that I returned to code to develop a system.The “more followers, more social media shares, more numbers” quant game is different from data and AI that enables us to also QUALIFY things — and this is vitally important in decision-making (whether it’s to buy something, to read some content, to be in a relationship with ABC or to elect a politician), and it’s crucial in enabling the machines to understand natural language and cultural context.The election result gives us the opportunity to examine the weaknesses of existing data and AI, and to make them much much more representative and intelligent so they work better for all of us.@mikenolan99:disqus — The problem with engagement KPI is that it’s all quant: number of new users, retention / churn ratios. duration on site at a particular bit of content, how many clicks, how many shares on social media etc. This quant data is what investors “pattern recognize” — even though it only gives them, at most, 50% of the picture.The echo chamber happens because the quant gaming ramps the Bell distribution curves for N (number of observed events) and skews it. The use of bots does the quant ramps to levels not previously known.That’s how #hatefulwords #fakenews end up trending on social media.Changes to echo chamber problems have to go deeper than side by side similarity displays. AI already does that in semantic similarity.That’s how when we type something in Google search, it surfaces all the other ways of re-phrasing and re-ordering the words in the sentence we inputted. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Similarity modeling is also vulnerable to quant ramping of the word Bell curves and to adding weight to words in the vector space.That’s how #hatefulwords #fakenews end up trending on social media and how Word2Vec ends up with vector associations of this type:”Ask the database “father : doctor :: mother : x” and it will say x = nurse. And the query “man : computer programmer :: woman : x” gives x = homemaker.In other words, the word embeddings can be dreadfully sexist.”* https://www.technologyrevie…There is a solution and it would be a bigger swap out of existing systems than Blockchain is to the financial system.LOL, hard work and work harder indeed.

  18. Salt Shaker

    No sense worrying about things you can’t control. Yeah, it’s a cliche, but time indeed does heal all wounds. There’s already retrenchment from the bluster. Checks and balances will prevail. We’re not a dictatorship and our country is based on sound principals. Just like in biz, fakers enivitably are outed.

  19. LE

    I understand that people need time to come to terms with something that is so emotional for them and that employers have to be sensitive to that. I am all for that. Much of last week was spent on that.Predictably I disagree with this sentiment. A job and business is serious and not to be taken lightly. If you were to have an operation (not even a life saving operation but just an operation) would you want to find out that the surgeon is all distraught over some exogenous event (or even a family event?) and wasn’t performing 100%? Or the man piloting the plane you are flying in? You are either dedicated to your craft and plow through adversity (‘the show must go on’) or you will probably loose to some other entrepreneur that has more resilience. [1] Quite frankly it’s a bit ridiculous for people to be distracted and not be able to focus on their jobs as a result of this particular event. The show must go on. Even SNL put a show together after 911 and even NYC got back to work after 911 (places that weren’t directly but only indirectly impacted). 911 bothered me because I knew things would change and there would be an impact. But I didn’t miss a beat because as @Salt Shaker:disqus said “no sense worrying about things you can’t control”. Not going to get my blood pressure up and not going to get me to lose sleep. (My system being down, that I loose sleep over…)This entire coddling nature today honestly bothers me. Not the way I would raise kids.When I was a kid my dad had a heart attack and was lying in the hospital and the doctor said “he’s in very grave condition”. I left his bedside and went to school because that is the way he raised me. That education (and your job) was important and don’t make any excuses etc. (Then it becomes a habit same with lying). He lived perhaps 40 years after that “grave event”. And had many other medical issues and events. The one that ended his life ironically was a screw up similar to what happened with Joan Rivers. Where I suspect the people involved weren’t operating up to full capacity in their jobs. (Informed speculation..)[1] Unless of course you are in some type of opportunity that is just so good you get all sorts of do overs and capital to paper over mistakes and problems.

  20. Adam Sher

    Companies typically have vacation, personal, and sick day policies. If there are workers who are unable to work because of the election or some exogenous event, they should be encouraged to use the days off that their companies provide. Alternatively, if these CEOs or managers created an empowered work environment, their employees should feel comfortable discussing their feelings in the office.Since many tech companies espouse their awesome culture, which also often includes some generous vacation policy, or appeal to safe spaces, they should remind their employees of these.

  21. Donna Brewington White

    I understand the importance of grieving. If not dealt with, it will crop up in ways in which a person is unaware and cause damage in one way or another. Plus not dealing with our emotional pain is missing an opportunity to become a more whole and productive human being which benefits the self and the sphere we influence.Many are dealing with grief by finding comfort from those who agree with us. What about finding the authentic voices of those who do not. Hearing their story, their plight. An opportunity for growth if not healing.A lot of talk about needing more diversity in tech. Diversity is not just about skin color, gender, sexual orientation– it also includes ideologies, beliefs, perspectives. Sure the more obvious differences can be a short cut, but some of the most hurtful discrimination I have faced in my lifetime has been for not fitting the mold of what someone thinks I should believe or subscribe to because of my race and gender and especially the combination thereof. People make presumptions and are bitter when these are disappointed.So bringing this back around to the topic, sort of, I have been thinking about the election results from the rust belt and how out of touch the operators in the main tech centers are with these voters, i.e., citizens, consumers, users, customers. Seems like an opportunity.

    1. Adam Sher

      There was a good story written in the Atlantic several months back about an Appalachian manufacturing community who created their own programming curriculum so that those displaced workers (i.e. the entire community) could be “outsourced in America” programmers.A huge way the urban tech centers could reach these groups would be to direct some of the awesomely cheap resources that are available (e.g. raspberry pie) towards these communities and help bring them into the tech fold. The cost of living in these communities is so much lower than urban tech centers, that I imagine companies would be able to profitably outsource software development from there.

      1. Donna Brewington White


        1. Adam Sher

          Detroit could become an “outsourced in America” programming hub. I came across several companies located there that provide contract for hire software engineering teams. Although it is a city, it is Dorian’s portrait of American manufacturing. Homes were so cheap in Detroit, the city basically gave them away (during the fallout of the Great Recession). Maybe Detroit will become an exemplar of tech’s ability export the wealth its created to poorer parts of the country.

          1. pointsnfigures

            I have spent a little time in Detroit over the past couple of years. I am bullish on Detroit.

    2. Twain Twain

      I agree with you loads about this, Donna.That’s why in the “What Trump means for startups” comments, I wrote about regeneration for the rust-belt that includes STEM-training so that folks there can learn how to make robotics, electronic devices and other goods that can be exported.And Stanford has this initiative:https://www.gsb.stanford.ed

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I missed that comment but was inspired by your comments in this thread.Also appreciate Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest movement. Not sure of its impact.

        1. Twain Twain

          I’m inspired by your constant commitment to other people and being there for them.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Not nearly as much as I’d like, but thank you so much for saying this.

    3. PhilipSugar

      First I completely agree that you have faced discrimination, in work, and in personal life. I do not dispute that for a second.I shared stories that I could not believe with Anne Libby once I started traveling with women.I know that your experience with the police is different than mine. I got pulled over for riding on the shoulder last week to get to an exit ramp to go to my house because they were working on the bridge. The State Trooper yelled SIR when did you think that was a good idea! I said right until I saw your lights sir. He said don’t do that!!, I said sorry, and that was it.But I said during this election people did not understand the anger that there is by working people at Washington D.C. Nobody really knows who voted which way, because nobody gets to actually see your vote. I assure you and know for a fact that there were some people that are like you: nobody is exactly like you 🙂 that held their nose and voted they way they did, they just didn’t admit it to people, because they were pissed. They feel that they have been left out and worse that DC enables people that leach off of them to either prosper by being part of the system or not work and get their money, which they work so hard for every single day. They held their nose,, in the end I could not do that, but they did in droves.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I get it, Phil.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Understand I am co-miserating. And understanding. It is a tough election cycle.

    4. cavepainting

      This level of grief, fear and anxiety is not common, and very specific to this cycle.It is not an over-reaction. It is how a lot of people feel. It is not so much that their candidate lost; it is more the fear of what may happen.But, it is important that we do not minimize or ignore these genuine fears and concerns. The history of the last century teaches us that societies can change and turn on themselves really fast under certain circumstances. There is a very dark side to human nature that is always waiting to express itself.May be Trump would not turn out to be so bad after all. I am hopeful, but am not sure anyone really knows, including him.What you said about listening to diverse perspectives is critical. We are all in our own bubbles, and some times we end up amplifying our concerns by hanging out with people like us vs. broadening the way we look at things.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        A lot of insight in this comment. Thanks.

  22. pointsnfigures

    don’t worry about things you cannot control.

  23. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Those few Contributors that are truly Independents what news sources do you rely on for true fair and balanced news without the Democratic, Republican or Alt-Right conspiracy theory slants?Thanks in advance!#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent#Termlimits

  24. Dave Pinsen

    Post-election fear and anxiety is an unfortunate result of a political and media campaign that sought to anathematize Trump rather than discuss his issues. Because his opponent couldn’t win on the issues. It’s tough to beat nationalism with globalism in a national election.Now the campaign is over, and many on the left think Trump really is some sexist, racist, antisemitic, misogynist Hitler. It’s a mass psychosis, and I genuinely empathize with the anguish many of you are feeling. Because none of it is true.Trump hired a woman to build Trump Tower — the first woman to build a sky scraper, and he hired a woman to manage his successful presidential campaign — the first woman to do that too.One of Trump’s closest advisors is his Jewish son-in-law. He’s been friends with Benjamin Netanyahu for years and even recorded a campaign commercial for him. His company has a number of Jewish senior executives.And Trump won a higher percentage of the black, Latino, and Asian-American vote than Mitt Romney did.And, unlike his opponent, he’s not a hawk. Trump doesn’t want to invade anyone; he beat Jeb Bush in the campaign by arguing that W.’s wars were disasters.It’ll be okay everyone.

  25. Pete Griffiths

    KOKO looks very cool.

  26. csertoglu

    This has been a big challenge in Turkey for the past 3 years – since the Gezi protests. Most startup teams are not political, but are young, well-educated and have big ambitions for their lives ahead. The constant stream of agitating news is very distracting and hurts productivity and morale.

  27. Murat Koprulu

    I happen to come across this fascinating blog just today. Kudos for the quality of the discussion. And it was the discussion of the angst of post election that impressed me. My 5 cents worth of comment: It seems that the prevailing view is that there will be plenty of opportunity to challenge President Trump on issues except on immigration in general, and on the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the nation, most of them here since mid-2000s. Not to mention that he will likely severely restrict immigration. Migrants, whether Silicon Valley workers, or farmland workers, or warehouse workers, are the mother’s milk of this nation. Have always been, and will continue to be even more in coming years because the birth rate of the nation is steadily dropping, and the participation rate in the labor force is steadily dropping. That is extremely bad news for economic growth. No one quite gets that this bit of ignorant dogma is enough to cripple the nation.

  28. LE

    Which the media, bloggers and social media will cover only insuring that there are more events that are copycat.NBC Nightly news ran a story about a high school that my nieces went to where someone (a single person) wrote something hateful on a bathroom wall. National story and trying to illustrate (as they say) ‘an increasing trend’. The only reason the story even aired is because of the recent election. Obviously there has always been epithets written on bathroom walls. But now the perp gets extra juice. For sure it’s happening more now because of the election. But quite frankly it doesn’t warrant a story on national news which will only serve to encourage others who have a (quite frankly) screw loose.

  29. jason wright

    How does one recognise a tech worker?

  30. LE

    What happened? Why do you think it wasn’t reported (and how do you know about it?)