Tag Archives: trump

One election day down, one more to go

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo on last night’s victory for Democrats:

When a President is locked below 40% approval and often closer to 35% approval, his party will face a brutal and unforgiving electorate. This was a fact a decade ago and it’s a fact today. We’ve just been stunned into an unwarranted uncertainty by the fact of Trump’s victory one year ago today.

November 2018 feels like a long time from now, but it will get here.

Uber’s perpetual second chance

Last week, Uber sent an email to customers linking to the results of its investigation and the next steps for the company:

After a report of inexcusable workplace harassment surfaced earlier this year, our board and senior leadership took immediate action. They asked former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and experts from the law firm Covington & Burling to conduct a thorough investigation. After four months of review, this week they released their report, which you can read here.

People always deserve a second chance. Companies, not so much. I see no reason to use Uber again, especially when there are now many ride-sharing apps that are just as good.

Uber had a strong brand, and now they’ve undermined it. Uber had the best user experience, and now most ride-sharing apps have matched it.

Uber is still in more cities, but that’s less of an advantage than I first assumed. Austin went without Uber and Lyft for a year and the city’s roads didn’t descend into chaos. It was fine.

Maybe ride-sharing is a winner-take-all market as Ben Thompson has convincingly argued. But maybe ride-sharing is just one commodity feature in the future of transportation, and as these services are integrated into larger platforms like Apple Maps and Google Maps, Uber’s dominance will fade just as their differentiation has faded. (On the extreme side of this, some competition to Uber such as RideAustin already treat the infrastructure as nothing special, operating as a non-profit to serve drivers and riders.)

It may seem foolish to bet against a company with billions of dollars in revenue, but Uber has little competitive advantage in software to show for the huge investment and current loses. They have more drivers, but with frequent turnover, how loyal are those drivers? I took a ride with Fasten and my driver thought that signing up and driving with Fasten was so similar to Uber that perhaps Uber was even secretly running it.

Uber reminds me of the Trump campaign and administration: mistake after mistake, and they get away with it. But at some point the second chances have run out, and the problems will stick and have real consequences, taking the whole thing down.

Companies are not always built to last. Sometimes it’s unfair — products that never find the right customers despite the founders’ best intentions. But sometimes companies deserve to fail — mismanagement, bad products, and toxic culture.

Companies fail all the time. I hope everyone at Uber is ready with a new job when it’s Uber’s turn.

What’s happening

Because I don’t follow anyone on Twitter, about once a week I’ll randomly click through a few Twitter user profiles to see if I missed anything interesting. Usually the answer is no. If something important is happening, it’s also being discussed in more detail on blogs, and I’ll see it.

Yesterday I checked on the last tweets of a few developer friends who stopped posting either after the election or on inauguration day. I have a lot of respect for anyone who makes a quiet, peaceful stand on principle. It’s not easy to go against the flow.

The 2016 election was a disaster. It still hurts to think about it. I keep telling myself and others: heads down, keep working. I have to believe we can get through this.

Today another story exploded on Twitter: a shooting at a congressional baseball practice. If you had clicked through from the trending links on Twitter this morning you’d have seen the worst speculation, misinformed partisan tweets, and unhelpful “facts” before we knew what really happened. When we should all be striking a solemn tone for the injured, the tweets instead quickly turn dark.

For a service that prides itself on breaking news, Twitter is an absolute dumpster fire in times like this. The best of Twitter is the thoughtful tweets and discussion, connecting new friends and diverse opinions. When real news breaks, the service runs uncontrolled, in fits of nervous energy and hate. It’s a terrible place.

Micro.blog will never have trends, search, or even retweets until we can elegantly solve this. The world doesn’t need another platform with so much manipulative power.

Owning your content matters right now

Twitter and Facebook are both powerful tools to help people organize. We’ve seen some of that over the last few weeks of protests. While these social networks are also broken in significant ways, they’re not all bad. They bring people together and expand the reach of posts from our own web sites. That’s why many people embrace cross-posting.

Even more important is the free press. Not just big sites like the New York Times and Washington Post, but also small sites like yours and mine. Trump will continue to attack and undermine the mainstream press. Everyone who publishes on the internet should consider where that leads.

It’s not a good foundation to concentrate so much writing into one place like Twitter or Medium. Distributing writing across more web sites protects us if one massive site shuts down. It gives us flexibility to move to the next popular network if one emerges.

Sometime in the next 2 years, a reporter or blogger is going to break a story about the Trump administration. It’s going to be too important to ignore. But to be taken seriously, it can’t be an anonymous Twitter account that’s easy to cast doubt on. It has to come from someone accountable who has built a reputation by publishing good work and owning it.

Owning your content by having a microblog at your own domain is empowering. Maybe you’re writing about what you had for lunch. Maybe you’re photo-blogging an important trip. Maybe you’re posting from your iPhone at a protest outside the White House.

It doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s happening and worth writing about, it’s worth owning. Now more than ever.

The fight for truth and progress

Kevin Hoctor has a great post about staying above name-calling and focusing instead on positive change during a Trump presidency. Standing up for people, exposing lies, and supporting the free press:

If you have a website, use it. Write more words than you can fit into a tweet. Call out injustice and hold your House and Senate representatives responsible for their actions and their voting. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

You’re not alone if you’ve been aimlessly reloading news sites all day for weeks. It’s easy to fall into a trap of indecision, failing to create anything, unsure of what to do next that will matter. I struggle every day to rebalance my time on the right things.

But to Kevin’s point, a marathon is finished one mile at a time. And I’ll add a quote from Steve Jobs, which I think about sometimes when I can’t focus on making real progress:

Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Remember that Twitter was still in the middle of taking off 8 years ago when Obama was first elected. Not quite mainstream, no Trump account. We’re going to blink and it will be 2018 and then 2020. Everything can change again if we work to make it better.

Proud to have voted for Hillary

I couldn’t sleep. I woke up early the day after the election, thinking about my daughters, and cried. I had been so excited to celebrate our new president with them. I had been so excited to watch the returns with my kids, to share a moment of pride and optimism.

This wasn’t a normal election. This wasn’t just a debate over policy. It was much deeper. The world is already worse and darker for many people because of what happened.

There will be arguments over why the election went so wrong, but it’s more complicated than just one thing. There was the overplayed story about private emails. There was the FBI letter. There was the media treating Trump like a reality TV star instead of a threat.

Hillary did her job. She destroyed Trump in all 3 debates. She ran a solid campaign. But she has always been held to a different standard than everyone else. I’ll never get over that.

I’m proud to have voted for Hillary in the primary and in the general election, and I’d do both again. This election was very close. It was winnable. If we had ignored the polls and fought for every state, it was winnable.

Friday night, I went with a friend to see Trevor Noah’s standup show. It was great to laugh for a couple hours, about the election and everyday life. But then the night fades and we’re still in a nightmare.

After Hillary has had some time to rest, and reflect, and be her own person again, I hope she can find another cause worth fighting for. Let’s not forget that she did make history as the first woman to be nominated by a major party. She paved the way and reminded us how hard this is. That matters.

Daniel and I recorded an episode of Core Intuition the day after the election. We tried to capture that feeling of loss, and anger, but also of hope that we can have a renewed passion for our apps and ideas. Maybe some of our products have a place in the work to do before 2018.

Hillary said in her speech, the day after the election:

Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.

On this, I disagree with Hillary. Trump has already shown us who he is — someone who mistreats women, lashes out at his critics, and disrespects immigrants — and nothing he does in office will change that. The only thing we owe him is a short presidency.

Disappointed in Thiel

About 2 years ago I read Peter Thiel’s Zero to One while traveling. It quickly became one of my favorite business books. I’ve always thought we should strive to create truly new products, not just better versions of old ideas. I referenced the book in one of my blog posts about Snippets.today.

It wasn’t until the Gawker lawsuit that I bothered to learn more about Thiel. It’s disappointing enough that anyone I respected was on stage at the Republican National Convention, a 4-day train wreck that I expect years from now the GOP will look back on with embarrassment. Now Thiel’s giving over $1 million to Trump.

Marco Arment makes the case for Y Combinator distancing itself from Thiel:

Wrapping reprehensible statements or actions as “political beliefs” doesn’t protect them or exempt their supporters from consequences. Racism is racism. Sexual assault is sexual assault. Labeling reprehensible positions as “political beliefs” is a cowardly, meaningless shield.

I don’t think we should use the word “shame” lightly. It’s used jokingly too often in our industry; for example, “shame on you” for not using my favorite app or listening to my favorite show. But on this serious topic, I agree with the content of Marco’s post completely.

With her

I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter. I was in 2008, I was earlier this year, and absolutely I am now, as Donald Trump seems intent with each daily blunder to prove he’s the worst candidate the Republicans have fielded in quite some time.

Having said that, even leaving the politics aside, I think the new podcast “With her” from the Hillary campaign is fantastic. It’s exactly what a podcast should be: well-produced, yet informal, with just enough of a look behind the scenes to feel personal. You can subscribe in Overcast or iTunes.

GOP train wreck, day 2

I agree with Dave Winer’s summary of day 2 of the Republican convention:

It’s one thing to nominate a grade school bully from a racist family with a potty mouth and an emotional age in the single digits. That’s pretty bad, but to call for the other party’s candidate to be jailed, that’s over the top. To let those words come out of your mouth, even as an anonymous person in a crowd, you all have crossed a line that will be hard to come back from.

History will reflect poorly on the Republicans of 2016. And nearly as bad, while flipping through national TV networks last night, I saw little or no condemnation from the news. Maybe we need a multi-party system just so the GOP stops getting 50% of the air-time.

I called it a mob last night. The only good news: the arena seemed literally half empty.