Winners Take All

More money, (solving) more problems; an app that snitched on Spanish soccer fans; and more.


  • Buried inside this hagiographic profile of Laurene Powell Jobs by David Montgomery in The Washington Post are a lot of interesting details about her ambitions for the Emerson Collective, the LLC she founded to spend her ($20 billion!) fortune on philanthropic efforts like education reform, immigration reform, and solving big problems with the likes of former Obama education secretary Arne Duncan and fashion entrepreneur Marc Ecko. “I’d like us to be a place where great leaders want to come and try to do difficult things,” Powell Jobs, who is the world’s sixth richest woman, says. “I think we bring a lot more to the table than money. … If you want to just be a check writer, you’d run out of money and not solve anything.”

  • And this:

    To make sure Emerson is thinking as audaciously as the entrepreneurs all around it, Powell Jobs will go on “tech tours” with her friend Ron Conway, the legendary Silicon Valley angel investor. They visit the next big things in the area, as they did Pinterest, Facebook and Airbnb before they were all that. “What’s fascinating is that by listening to all these founders, she has basically put founders at the head of each of the sectors of Emerson Collective, so that she’s really funding entrepreneurs inside the collective who want to disrupt their spaces,” Conway [said]. “She wants people to innovate in their sector — education reform, getting the Dream Act passed. So Emerson has become like an accelerator for causes around social change.”

  • Many of Powell Jobs’ checks are written anonymously, her friend and “venture philanthropist Laura Arrillaga-Andreesen tells Montgomery. ““The majority of her philanthropy, no one knows about.” So when some “causes around social change” suddenly accelerate (or decelerate) mysteriously, we may never know why.

  • CityLab’s Benjamin Schneider reports on the controversy surrounding the Obama Center’s resistance to signing a community benefit agreement with a coalition of local organizations.

  • This is civic tech: 32 reasons why your “Uber for Democracy” app will fail, by Alexey Sidorenko, from his recent talk at Personal Democracy Forum Central and Eastern Europe.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Data scientist Cathy O’Neil writes for Bloomberg that Facebook should invite in an “army” of her peers to study how the platform affects the 2018 election.

  • Tech and politics: Wired’s Steven Levy reports on how Palmer Luckey, the founder of virtual reality company Oculus, who was ousted from Facebook last year, has a new startup called Anduril that is trying to win defense department contracts to build a “digital wall” at the U.S. border. Anduril’s lead investor is the Founders Fund, a VC firm headed by Peter Thiel.

  • Media matters: Two journalism transparency nonprofits, DocumentCloud and MuckRock, are merging, Christine Schmidt reports for Nieman Lab.

  • Civicist contributing editor An Xiao Mina writes in The Atlantic about the way that news photos, like the shot of German Chancellor Angela Merkel face-to-face with U.S. President Donald Trump during last week’sG-7 meeting, have become tools in “‘echo slamming,’ a phenomenon wherein people online perform their politics for those on their side of the echo chamber.”

  • Brave new world: Football fans in Spain who downloaded the popular La Liga app to watch streaming video of their favorite teams have unwittingly also been serving as digital snitches, because the app was able to access their phone’s microphones, enabling Spain’s football league to discover unauthorized broadcasts at bars and people’s homes, Sam Rutherford reports for Gizmodo.

  • Transitions: Kudos to Erie Meyer, who is going from Code for America to the Federal Trade Commission, where she will be the CTO of Commissioner Rohit Chopra’s office.

  • Apply: The Data for Good Exchange is seeking proposals for its September 16 convening, which will be taking place in New York City.