The transcript from this week’s MIB: Kara Swisher, Recode/Vox, is below.
You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Bloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.
VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.
RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast, I have a special guest. Her name is Kara Swisher. And if you are remotely interested in anything related to technology, media, venture capital, CEOs, privacy, the weaponization of social media and just about anything else you might have seen about technology, well, then you’re in for quite a treat.
We went for about eight hours. We took time out for sleeping and meals and basically covered everything from the rise of technology, how people completely did not see this coming, what technology is going to do to us in the future and who the hell is this Scott Galloway guy anyway. So I could tell you all about it, but rather than do that, I’m just going to shut up and say my conversation with Kara Swisher.
VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.
RITHOLTZ: I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’re listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio. My extra special guest this week is Kara Swisher. She is the Co-Founder of Recode sold recently to Vox. Before that, she was the long-standing technology journalist along with Walt Mossberg over at the “Wall Street Journal.” She is the author of a number of books, including “How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates,” and its sequel, “There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere.”
She won the Gerald Loeb Award for Excellence in business journalism and is the Co-Host of one of my favorite podcasts, Pivot with Scott Galloway. Kara Swisher …
RITHOLTZ: … welcome to Bloomberg.
SWISHER: I’m very impressed with myself.
RITHOLTZ: Well, you have a nice list of accomplishments.
RITHOLTZ: I was discussing your work with somebody, and they said, “She’s really a journalist, right?” I’m like, “Well, she’s also an entrepreneur.”
RITHOLTZ: She’s been very forward in terms of the conference business, in terms of …
RITHOLTZ: … the media business, which she turned into a platform. I don’t know if it was ever publicly released what Recode was sold. Was that always private?
SWISHER: Yeah, it was — it was a start-up, yeah. We sold Vox four — four or five years ago. It was four, five years ago.
RITHOLTZ: Right, 2015.
SWISHER: We had been funded by NBC and Terry Semel who’s taken ill now. But he — we — we got, I don’t know, $12 million from them. And at the time, that was a lot, but pretty soon it was a — it wasn’t a lot …
SWISHER: … to a lot of content companies. It was sort of this big boom in investing in content. And many of my competitors got four or five times what I got six months later.
RITHOLTZ: As a V.C. investment?
SWISHER: Yeah. We didn’t have a V.C. It was NBC and Terry …
RITHOLTZ: That was it?
SWISHER: … who’s a media investor, you know? And so I looked around, I said this, I can’t compete with this much money, it’s — it’s a bubble.
SWISHER: And so I sold to Vox. I looked — I talked to a number of companies. I sold really quickly after founding Recode.
RITHOLTZ: Less than five years.
SWISHER: Well, no, I — it was at all things dee (ph) for a dozen or more years, which was within the “Wall Street Journal.”
SWISHER: And I was at the — in the Journal for about a dozen — more than a dozen years. And — but we had a skunkworks inside the Journal, so it was — it was owned by the Journal, but we ran it without their input really.
RITHOLTZ: That’s nice.
SWISHER: Yeah, it was great.
RITHOLTZ: Little free time.
SWISHER: Yeah. And they were good and bad in different ways, but — and then we left because we had some problems with them. And then we had it funded and we’re going to do it independently, but then I was like, no way, this is going to — things change.
RITHOLTZ: It’s a lot of money.
SWISHER: You have to be really dynamic when you’re an entrepreneur and realize, you know, if someone — if your competitors all have three times the amount of funding you do, you have a problem. You can’t be that good.
SWISHER: And so — especially in content because it’s about hiring talent. And so we sold really quickly within a year to Vox Media like it’s fast.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, was that fast?
SWISHER: It was that fast, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible) it was that quick.
SWISHER: Yeah, I was like — you know, I’m — I’m really good that way. I know when to move.
RITHOLTZ: So that wasn’t like a hundreds of millions of dollars of an exit. That was a …
SWISHER: No, that’s a good sum, that’s a good sum.
RITHOLTZ: That was a good sum.
SWISHER: Okay, yeah, Okay.
RITHOLTZ: And — and you have disclosed it publicly?
SWISHER: I — I took this — no, I haven’t. I’m not going to (inaudible).
SWISHER: But …
RITHOLTZ: $50 million, did you say?
SWISHER: … I’m not going to (inaudible), but it’s not — it doesn’t worth anything. I own the stock in Vox Media …
SWISHER: … and whatever Vox Media sells.
RITHOLTZ: So it was — so I won’t harangue you about this, but was — I’m assuming this was an all-stock transaction.
SWISHER: Yes, it was, we decided that.
SWISHER: Yeah, we can go in cash, but we — I felt like why not, like if I’m an entrepreneur, I should own the company.
SWISHER: And I — so I’m in — I have quite a bit of stock in Vox Media. We’ll see what happens. I mean, obviously now content — content is now the bloom is off the rose there. You know, Vox is quite healthy but, you know, the others, BuzzFeed and — and Mike, of course, closed, some of these others closed, and so — and all of medias under stress. And so, you know, especially if we’re going through a recession and stuff, so it’s just — whatever the stocks were. We’ll see, we’ll see how it goes.
RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting.
SWISHER: But I am very well paid, Barry. Don’t worry about it.
I do — I do Okay.
RITHOLTZ: You do Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about the early parts of your career. You come out of — now I know you have a master’s from Columbia.
RITHOLTZ: Was that the journalism school or …
SWISHER: Journalism school. Yeah, I went to Georgetown School of Foreign Service, which was in Washington, D.C. I — it was actually my backup school, now it’s a very top ranking school at the time and …
RITHOLTZ: Can I tell you …
RITHOLTZ: … you and I are not all that far apart in age …
RITHOLTZ: … the people who came into — because of the demographics, into college 20, 30, 40 years ago were dealing with relatively easy admissions and then the boom followed.
SWISHER: Yeah, it was. Although I did …
RITHOLTZ: The — the echo boom made it much more challenging to get in.
SWISHER: Yeah, I didn’t get (inaudible). I didn’t get at Stanford, I wanted to go to Stanford, but my brother went to Stanford. But I — I got into Georgetown. It was in the School of Foreign Service, and I wanted to be — I’ve said this many times — a spy. I wanted to work for the CIA and I want to do analysis, very similar what I do now …
SWISHER: … reporting and analysis.
RITHOLTZ: Right, just with no one shooting at you.
SWISHER: Yes, well, you’ll never know. And so I then — I was very interested in the military, too, and military intelligence. And I was gay at the time that was impossible. You couldn’t be …
RITHOLTZ: To get into the military?
SWISHER: You couldn’t. You had — it was don’t ask, don’t tell under the Clinton administration. And so I — I always tell, so it was really hard to do that. And then in the CIA …
RITHOLTZ: Don’t tell. We have (inaudible) …
SWISHER: (Inaudible). It’s such a — it’s an insane thing, it’s an insane thing.
RITHOLTZ: Can I tell you it’s so shocking …
SWISHER: Today you’re like, what?
RITHOLTZ: Right. It’s so shocking to look back just 20 years …
SWISHER: (Inaudible) …
RITHOLTZ: … and say, “What the hell are we thinking? Don’t ask (inaudible).:
SWISHER: What are we still thinking? There’s all these attacks on transgender people now and …
RITHOLTZ: Well, we, you know, we’re in an alternate timeline now. I’ll discuss that later.
SWISHER: We’re not, we’re not. Well …
RITHOLTZ: You don’t think so?
SWISHER: This is just what America’s like, I’m sorry, you know. Put (inaudible) to our faces. We — we — there’s a great — there’s a great series going on. It’s the 1619 series in the …
SWISHER: … “New York Times” …
RITHOLTZ: Yes, powerful.
SWISHER: … and that you need to do that. It’s powerful.
RITHOLTZ: Yes, you know, it’s really …
SWISHER: And let me just say this is what we are.
RITHOLTZ: And if you …
SWISHER: But it’s part of us, it’s not every part of us, but it’s not this dream of being this incredibly meritocracy with everybody getting a chance. It’s just not so, it’s not so.
RITHOLTZ: So let me fast-forward to a question I’m going to — was planning on asking you later. How much of this that we’re discussing here is a function that 50 years ago, if you were a crazy Nazi, racist, a homophobe, whatever it was, you would be the guy mumbling to yourself outside this — the library, but you didn’t have the ability to coordinate nationally …
SWISHER: Yeah. Well, that’s another issue.
RITHOLTZ: … the way you can today.
SWISHER: By the way, there were tons of, I mean, people. The things people said to me 30 years ago about being gay was just astonishing like …
SWISHER: … today it would not be allowed, obviously, or in some places it would. But it — the change has been so drastic around gay people. But at the time, I couldn’t be what I want — I wanted to be. In the military — my dad was in the military, and I just couldn’t. There’s — you know, I really wanted to be like compare — like I know people are surprised I’m like I’m really quite — I really think the military can be great in — in a lot of ways, has a lot of problems like anything else.
But, you know, yeah, that — Scott was talking about that the other day. And before the — sort of the ability to unify and have — have places to meet for people who have issues, racist, like white supremacists, the Internet has helped them drastically.
SWISHER: And I talked about that in my first book in ’97. This was a place where — you can either gather for good like quilters or people, parents and, you know, people who want to know (inaudible) parents.
RITHOLTZ: All these communities about different narrow-focused.
SWISHER: Yeah, but what had happened is all these people where in whatever, Idaho, wherever they hid themselves …
RITHOLTZ: They’re everywhere.
SWISHER: … you know, (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: They just were lone wolves, so to speak.
SWISHER: Yeah. And so now they can find places to gather. It’s — it’s — they create this gathering places in which — and with a lot of tools from video to — and so it’s a really great place to radicalize people. You know, that’s the problem with the Internet, this tool, it can be — you know, it’s like a knife, it can be used in a lot of different ways. And so in a lot of ways it’s used to kill people.
RITHOLTZ: So I’ve watched your thought evolve on whether or not — this is in — in response to most recently to 8chan and Reddit …
RITHOLTZ: … basically saying we should not be a gathering place for white supremacists and others who were plotting to kill people. You’ve kind of moved a little bit about whether companies like registrars, domain registrars or — or …
SWISHER: I moved (ph). I think they should take them off. I don’t — I’ve never (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: That’s non-evolution?
SWISHER: No, not at all. No, I’m not — no …
RITHOLTZ: Because you (inaudible) were more of a First Amendment absolutist (ph) …
SWISHER: You know I’m not. No, I think it’s …
RITHOLTZ: … or am I misreading that?
SWISHER: … you’re misreading it because I think I find the — the — the intellectual capacity of most people in Silicon Valley to be light, you know, in terms of ethics, in terms of historical knowledge and everything.
SWISHER: And so they have this — I call it “libertarian light,” you know, they’re like I’m a libertarian, I’m a First Amendment, I’m like explain it for me. And, you know, I have studied it so I know what it is. And they’re like anybody can say anything. I’m like, no, that’s not what the First Amendment says. It says, Congress shall make no law.
RITHOLTZ: That’s right.
SWISHER: That’s Congress, not Twitter, not Facebook, not like — they’re just so like there’s so many people and they’re highly educated in certain ways. But, in general, the — the — it’s libertarian light. You know what I mean? People should do they want. That’s like — that’s what a 12 — a three-year-old says, “I can do what I want,” but you can’t.
SWISHER: And so I think legitimate companies like Facebook, like Twitter, like Google have the responsibility, and I have always thought companies, whether they’re chemical companies or Wall Street companies, or Bloomberg, or any — or Vox, we have a responsibility to society, you know, legitimate companies.
The others can create these things, but it doesn’t mean that this — this — this idea that you collect all the money and have none of the responsibility …
SWISHER: … is Okay because it’s not Okay. Now they can do it, but I can say this is not Okay.
RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite interesting.
SWISHER: You know, you can decide who you do business with. I don’t like, you know, like you can decide who you do business with. And, you know, Cloudflare is the company that I wrote about recently in “New York Times.” I write a column there weekly.
You know, they — this guy who I’ve interviewed several times, Matthew Prince, you know, he — he’d been sort of a — he’s — he’s changed my — I — I suddenly realized this is terrible, and I’m like, welcome to the world, like — I mean, I’ve been paying attention and they cut off Agen (ph).
But, you know, people can make the decisions. They just have to live with their decisions. If you want to facilitate white supremacy, own it, like own what you’re doing. And that’s what they’d like to do. They like to do it and then say, “Why are you criticizing me? So …
SWISHER: … they — you know, it’s …
RITHOLTZ: For expressing my First Amendment right …
SWISHER: Go right ahead.
RITHOLTZ: … to be a racist.
SWISHER: Right, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: I love the fact that the Internet identifies all these people who are participating in these white supremacy marches …
RITHOLTZ: … and basically calls out their bosses and gets them fired.
SWISHER: Yeah, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: You — you want to march here? Go ahead, just don’t expect to serve Starbucks.
SWISHER: It’s just — it’s just people — people can do whatever they want. It’s just — you know, the whole controversy on Alex Jones, for example, it is vile — vile human being, it is vile. It’s just on every …
SWISHER: … measure he’s a vile person. He can have a website anywhere on the Internet. No one’s stopping him. People who make these tools can either decide to kick him off or not. That’s the — that’s the deal, right?
SWISHER: So …
RITHOLTZ: And their commercial businesses, and if I …
SWISHER: But …
RITHOLTZ: … people choose not to do business with them …
RITHOLTZ: … because they’re not …
SWISHER: But there’s nothing wrong with companies like — pointing out to advertisers, pointing out to whatever. It’s not — it’s the way — you know, boycotts have gone on for a century. It’s — this is not a new thing …
SWISHER: … kind of thing. I think it just becomes so amplified and weaponized in this time because it’s so viral, it’s so — so — the news we get is so twitchy and so quick that people get — and — and the emotions get so easily in a rage that people think it’s different.
But what’s interesting is that they — you know, they — they have their spaces. When I was — when the Alex Jones things was happening, I was talking to all the major platforms. And they’re like, well, everybody has a right, you know, to have a place. I’m like, “But you’re going to kick him off just so you know because he’s broken your rules,” like …
SWISHER: … you made rules. What’s the point of your stupid rules if you’re not going to enforce them?
Well, you know, it’s complicated. I’m like, “No, you made rules, he broke them. Why isn’t he off?” like I’m sorry.
RITHOLTZ: It’s not complicated.
SWISHER: You know, and they had all these weird rules. And it’s like if you’re going to make rules, keep to them. You have a responsibility to the society at large. And, you know, and things that are pretty much — you know, there’s all kinds of edge cases, there’s all kinds of like …
SWISHER: … whatever.
RITHOLTZ: But those are outliers.
SWISHER: They can be, but there’s lots of places for people to go. You know, for — like with — with Twitter, there — they’ve — it’s been so haphazard with them, you know, that we’ve kicked off Milo (ph) whatever, you’re going to …
SWISHER: … we kick him off …
SWISHER: … but not this guy.
SWISHER: But we kick this person, but not that guy. It’s like it just doesn’t make any sense to people. And I think if everyone understood the rules and then when you break them, that’s that. What — what they manage to do is make people think these things are public squares when they’re private squares.
RITHOLTZ: That’s exactly right.
SWISHER: And they own everything and they get paid for everything, and they don’t want to have any of the responsibility for monitoring them. So they’ve made these very filthy public — private squares, and it’s the only place to gather and then they say, “We don’t have any responsibility for cleaning it up.”
RITHOLTZ: I just …
SWISHER: They (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: … happened this morning to be scanning Twitter and I saw sleeping giants.
SWISHER: Oh, him, yeah, he’s great.
RITHOLTZ: Right. Just mention that last night on Tucker Carlson show …
RITHOLTZ: … Dell was advertising.
RITHOLTZ: And, you know …
SWISHER: They go back.
RITHOLTZ: … you think that a big broad name like that would be a little savvier.
SWISHER: Oh, you know what, they wait until things blow over and then they go back. You know, they — he just want to sell. That’s (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: But — but here’s the thing, you’re going to get called out for that.
SWISHER: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right. This is the world, guess what? And that’s — you know, that happened before. You know, remember Anita Bryant, the orange juice thing with gay people.
RITHOLTZ: Right, that’s right.
SWISHER: Everyone was dumping orange juice. Was that unfair to Anita Bryant? It doesn’t matter. She had her for opinion …
SWISHER: … this is what it cost to have her opinion.
SWISHER: And I think, you know, every — everything costs and people don’t realize that, like they — we live in a world where (inaudible) I can say whatever I want, like you certainly can, but it’s certainly costs. Same with me …
RITHOLTZ: But the — right.
SWISHER: … same with everybody else.
RITHOLTZ: That’s exactly right.
SWISHER: Be an adult about it what you’re doing so.
RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing with your career now and — and how you began. What was it like in the early 90’s covering technology? I don’t think people understood …
SWISHER: Not lonely, there’s nobody governing it.
SWISHER: It was me — it was me and some other guy.
RITHOLTZ: I don’t think people really understood how important technology was going to be to …
SWISHER: Well, it’s …
RITHOLTZ: … society, the economy, everything.
SWISHER: It’d been covered, you know, chips and Microsoft essentially and software — chips and software. And either covered as a — as a — as a — as a product issue like we made …
SWISHER: … Windows 10, here’s the new story, which is not a new story when they release something, but it used to be.
RITHOLTZ: I remember.
SWISHER: And so — you know …
RITHOLTZ: The Windows ’95, the hoopla on that was insane.
SWISHER: Yeah, I was at that event. So, you know, I think what was interesting when I thought about it is this was an entirely new industry being created, the Internet industry. And you have to treat it like the beginnings of electricity or the beginning of TV or the beginning of radio and so …
SWISHER: … that’s how I looked at it.
And so one of things I’m told when I first started covering at the “Washington Post” and then later at the “Wall Street Journal” what I told matters (ph) is I’m not going to tell you how the watch work, going to tell you what time it is. And that’s what the most important story like who are these people. And I spend a lot of time understanding the culture that was going because it was all new like the — I was there. I wrote one of the first stories when the Internet was commercialized when I was at the “Washington Post” and (inaudible). I mean, nobody was paying attention to, you know, what Al Gore was doing in the Senate.
RITHOLTZ: In the late 80’s we’re talking?
SWISHER: Yes, I was covering it then. And so I really — there was a moment where I was like this is going to be the most important change in media and communications in history like so far, and there have been a lot.
RITHOLTZ: You think this Internet thing …
SWISHER: Oh, I thought it …
RITHOLTZ: … is going to catch on?
SWISHER: Yeah, I did. I kept saying — you know, I — two things I spend a lot of time doing is talking about — I — I told a story that, absolutely, it was a moment where I downloaded a Calvin and Hobbes book onto a server, and I — I messed up the server, it was so big, you know, and they had pictures. And the person who was running the — the — the technology was like, “What did you do?” And I’m like, “I downloaded a book. I put it in,” like what, can you do that?
RITHOLTZ: A book?
SWISHER: And I’m like — he’s like, “So what?” I’m like, “So what? Don’t you get it, you idiot?” like, you know, this is going to — everything is going to be digitized. And I kept saying everything is going to be digitized, everything. And I say this over and over again, everything that can be digitized will be digitized — jobs, everything. It eats everything not just marked entries and software is eating the world.
SWISHER: Digital is eating the world and it …
RITHOLTZ: You know …
SWISHER: … it has to.
RITHOLTZ: … you — you sound a bit like Andreessen who describes …
SWISHER: Yes, software — he’s in software.
RITHOLTZ: … who — but he describes entrepreneurs that he knows he’s onto something when they’re trying explain their business to a V.C. and they get frustrated and angry like how do you not see this, it’s so obvious.
SWISHER: Right, right.
RITHOLTZ: You basically just said that’s (inaudible).
SWISHER: Well, it was. It was — I — and we’d run around saying this, and everyone was like, “What are you talking about?” I’m like, “There’s not going to be newspapers. There’s not going to be,” like I would do that …
SWISHER: … like they’re newspaper people.
And then the second part was mobile. And when I got to the Journal, I just read a column this — the other day in the Times about no one’s s going to own a car, which have caused quite a lot of consternation especially with people …
RITHOLTZ: Why would that cause consternation?
SWISHER: … because like people in the Midwest or with pickup truck is like, “I want my pickup truck.” I said, “You have your pickup truck, but it’s going to be like owning a horse.”
RITHOLTZ: They’ll be a robot, right.
SWISHER: Like you don’t understand like even you will not have a car, like cities absolutely not. You, very soon after, will be automated and everything else or they’ll be floating or whatever. And so — so I wrote a piece when I — right when I got to the Journal in 1997 called “Cutting the Cord.” And it’s …
RITHOLTZ: I recall that piece.
SWISHER: Yeah. And I had a picture of me with cords and I had a big, you know …
RITHOLTZ: The scissors, right.
SWISHER: … plain scissors. And I said you will not have a landline phone. You will carry around this device. It will get smaller — because they were big at the time.
SWISHER: You know, it’ll get smaller and smaller. They will be your entire computer. It will be on the go, it’d be mobile. You will — this will be the center of use (ph), and it was –when I go back and read them, I’m like wow, that was pretty smart …
RITHOLTZ: Pretty good.
SWISHER: … pretty good. But I — I kept insisting it and — and it made so much sense, like it obviously, like when I think about cars or when I think about certain jobs being eliminated …
SWISHER: … like I was trying to learn you, and I’m like your job is going to go, like it’s so pattern matched, A.I. will take over everything you do except for the creativity part.
SWISHER: No, it’s — you know, I think about — I said everything you do is — is digitizable.
RITHOLTZ: Anything that’s by road (inaudible), anything is mechanical.
SWISHER: Not just mechanical, there’s so much more that really you could apply A.I. principles to a robotic — any of the coming things: robotics, automation, self-driving A.I., just — anything that can apply to, it does. So I think about though what can change, what’s not going to be here.
RITHOLTZ: Whenever I get pushed back when we discussed future technology, my favorite question to ask people is, well, do you think you people will still be driving their own cars in 100 years?
RITHOLTZ: No, of course, not.
RITHOLTZ: Okay. So next year? Yeah, I’ll still be — so really the debate is where — when does that transition take place?
RITHOLTZ: And people can picture 100 years …
SWISHER: Oh, it’s taking place.
RITHOLTZ: … but they can’t picture 12 years from now. That’s too difficult.
SWISHER: Yes, yeah, it’s taking place, it’s taking place.
RITHOLTZ: Yeah, already.
SWISHER: And, you know, (inaudible) …
RITHOLTZ: But the business model of …
SWISHER: … when it’s going to be.
RITHOLTZ: … the business model of not owning a car and just using Uber or some other source …
RITHOLTZ: … have something come by, that’s hard for a lot of people to conceptualize even though it appears to be inevitable.
SWISHER: They’re already doing it.
SWISHER: It’s — they’ve already started to do — people do things without realizing up. There’s a — I forget which — I think it’s — I can’t remember the poet.
SWISHER: (Inaudible) paths are made by walking. That’s what’s happening.
RITHOLTZ: That makes a lot of sense, yeah.
SWISHER: Paths are made by walking. And so I just — like I’m — I’m going to write a recap of what’s happened since I got rid — I sold my car, and I have no vehicle, like I have no vehicle. And the other — like I called someone, I’m like we have to go get this, I’m like, “Oh, I don’t have a car, how am I going to do that?” Like, you know, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to drive a car, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to rent a car. I just rented a car up and — and I’m going to try to put — put in terms of money what I — what I spent for that, what I used to buy a car with.
And when I called the insurance company, I’ve had a car, you know, an insurance policy for years …
SWISHER: … for forever. And they’re like what’s the car your replacing with, I got no car. And they’re like what? And I said, “I never am going to own a car.” It was the most fascinating discussion. I said, “You better watch out for your business because …
SWISHER: … I’m not going to have insurance.” But then I sat down to breakfast with someone who’s a lawyer and said, “You know, when you get on a scooter, if you don’t have car insurance, who covers if you hit someone …
SWISHER: … when you’re on a scooter,” like when I was – I was like, “Oh, my God, I do need interest.” So there’s a whole …
RITHOLTZ: Well, you need umbrella insurance, it’s something different.
SWISHER: Well, yeah, but it gets taken away when you don’t have a car. It was fascinating, and I’m like …
SWISHER: … “Oh, my god, a whole new business,” like — but I was thinking all car insurance will go away, what will happen to those people? But then there’s only business of people who are on the move …
SWISHER: … who have to be covered. Anyway, it was interesting.
RITHOLTZ: Your annex probably covers you if you rented — rent the scooter with it.
SWISHER: I don’t know, but it’s — that’s the whole thing, but there’s the whole new businesses to be created. In media I was like, wow, wouldn’t be interesting to go into the insurance business without owning a car, but having a mobile insurance, a moving insurance like you physically moving through the world however you decide to do it?
If you get into a vertical lift and take-off vehicle, do you know what those?
RITHOLTZ: Right, sure.
SWISHER: Those are great. They’re going to be cool. I was mentioning it to somebody.
RITHOLTZ: Well, I’ve been waiting for them for 50 years.
SWISHER: They’re coming, they’re coming.
SWISHER: They’ll be in San Francisco first, so you’re coming right up in San Francisco.
RITHOLTZ: There are — I’ve been tracking that. There are a number of companies that are relatively close, including one that’s an all-battery electric version.
SWISHER: Oh, right. I’m going to stick with gas, I suppose.
RITHOLTZ: But we’re still — we’re — I’m waiting for my Blade Runner vehicle where …
RITHOLTZ: … the projection of the highway is just a 3D …
RITHOLTZ: … three-dimensional hologram that you fly through. But hey, that was supposed to be here.
SWISHER: That wasn’t supposed to be here.
RITHOLTZ: 2024 is the date on that.
SWISHER: No, those are — those are Hollywood people telling that …
SWISHER: … not …
RITHOLTZ: All right. So when are we going to have — when are we going to have …
SWISHER: You’ll be dead, Barry.
RITHOLTZ: … personalized VTOL cars and taxis?
SWISHER: You will be dead, Barry. You will …
SWISHER: … never experience. You may try one, but you’re not going to be.
RITHOLTZ: I know the — so where — see, I agree with you, I think it’s less than 100 years but more than a decade.
SWISHER: Yes, but it’s between now and 50 years.
SWISHER: Now… .
RITHOLTZ: That’s about right.
SWISHER: And I think it’ll be a slow transition because people …
RITHOLTZ: I have very low cholesterol. We could make that.
SWISHER: They’ll be — there’ll be human — that’s right, that’s another thing, life extension. But …
SWISHER: … there’ll be human and cars at the same time. Just like you’re in New York, you know, there used to be the elevated …
RITHOLTZ: Subway, the trains.
SWISHER: … the sub — the trains, and that — when they first started, a lot of people got run over by them. When they were down on the ground before they elevated where the high line was, that’s why they built the high line …
SWISHER: … because all these people are getting killed because they were like, “What’s this — we can’t — we have horses and so horses …
SWISHER: … would bang into these electric vehicles all the time.”
SWISHER: And then there weren’t horses, and so that’s what — you know, there will be human drivers, but then there won’t be like …
SWISHER: … that’s what’s going out. And so I think that’s what you have to think about is this transition period. And it doesn’t mean people won’t drive in certain places or it’s not — it’ll just be different. It’ll be just a different experience.
RITHOLTZ: So you go from the “Washington Post” to the “Wall Street Journal.” Is that the path, what you …
SWISHER: Yes, yes, what Walt Mossberg got me there, my — my most important mentor.
RITHOLTZ: So now he was covering technology.
SWISHER: He was the guy …
SWISHER: … he wrote a technology column that he wrote for many years; he started it. His first line — his first one was called “Personal Technology in the Wall Street Journal.” And his — he had covered the Defense Department, he had covered …
SWISHER: … the State Department. He was, you know, a Washington reporter, and he just was very geeky. And the first line of his column, which I think was still relevant today, was “Technology is too hard to use and it’s not your fault,” which I love, which is like …
SWISHER: … so smart because they were sort of testing you, you know, with their products (inaudible).
SWISHER: And again …
RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible) we’ll beep that out.
SWISHER: But — Okay. So he started that and so while he was there and I interviewed him for my book on AOL because he was the only person I perceived that understood the change, like everybody else was like, oh, it’s just online services, we’ll still have “Time Magazine,” they’re so important. I was like, “No, ‘Time Magazine isn’t over,” like, you know, like — you know, and he’s the only one who got it. He and I really clicked immediately.
And we started — he got me to come to the Journal to write about this because he thought the Journal was not writing about it properly, and I understood it. And I knew them all. I knew Jeff Bezos, I knew — Jeff Bezos wasn’t Jeff Bezos for a long time, right?
RITHOLTZ: Well, now he’s Jeff Bezos prime back then.
SWISHER: Prime, whatever. He was just a guy.
SWISHER: He was just a start-up guy that wore really bad pants.
SWISHER: You know what I mean …
RITHOLTZ: At a D.E. (ph), sure, he was a hedge fund (inaudible) geek.
SWISHER: … like pleated capri pants, yeah, lot of pleated (inaudible) pants. You know, it’s so funny they were all — like the Google guys, burn a garage. The — you know, just all of them were like Elon I met when he did this thing called X.com. He — you know, he had a full head of hair and was kind of to geeky like …
RITHOLTZ: What was — what was Elon originally? Was he part of the PayPal …
SWISHER: No, he had a company called X.com …
RITHOLTZ: And that.
SWISHER: … which was a payment company.
SWISHER: And he — and they fought a lot. Paypal — PayPal, there was that group, and then they — they — they …
RITHOLTZ: Oh, so he eventually became part of their (inaudible).
SWISHER: They did merge, but there were two separate companies and they were quite …
SWISHER: … quite unpleasant rivals, and then they …
SWISHER: … got together …
RITHOLTZ: So a lot of people …
SWISHER: … and they sold it. Their big genius was in selling it to eBay.
RITHOLTZ: Right. A lot of people came out of that PayPal group, Musk …
RITHOLTZ: … and Peter Thiel and …
RITHOLTZ: … a whole run of folks in — in the tech world …
RITHOLTZ: … trace back to that.
SWISHER: Sure do.
RITHOLTZ: So — so I remember Walt’s early work specifically as a reviewer of services and — and …
SWISHER: Yeah, (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: … computers and technology, but you really came in covering the …
RITHOLTZ: … business …
SWISHER: The business, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: … of — of the Internet not so much as a reviewer, but as a …
RITHOLTZ: … straight up economic journalist, financial journalist.
SWISHER: Yeah, yeah. I was a financial journalist. I think — I — I had an interest in the products. And, of course, you know, while — it was great to have Walt as a partner eventually because it was — he had that part of it covered. He’s a reporter, too, by the way, like he …
SWISHER: … was the — one of the great things about Walt Mossberg as a reviewer was that he was reporter first and foremost, and so he reported out these products. A lot of people who covered technology were just fan boys and just …
SWISHER: … you know, just ridiculous. And Walt, sometimes he loves stuff, sometimes he just liked it so it was so fair, you know, in terms of how he did it.
And I came in and covered the business of it and tried to understand the stock stuff and — because there was a lot of, you know, early fraud around a lot of these companies, and what was — what was not true, what was true, what was a Ponzi scheme, what was not, and so I covered these early businesses. And I was quite bullish on the whole bigger sector.
A lot of reporters who covered the media, at the time, kept calling — telling me I was covering C.B. Radio or a fad, and I didn’t think it was a fad.
I remember those are — one of the guys who called at CB Radio, I mean, is now working for a digital content company and he’s like Mr. Internet now.
RITHOLTZ: It’s always amazing how — how people are so willing to believe whatever it is that keeps their paycheck flowing.
SWISHER: Well, I — I was very worried. That’s the reason I left the “Washington Post” because I was like when I — I love Don Graham who’s the owner of the “Washington Post”. But when I left — and he’s such a — like incredibly cordial and just a fine person. And he said, “You know, Kara, why are you leaving?” And I said, “The water is rising and you’re on the lower floodplain.”
RITHOLTZ: And what was their response to that?
SWISHER: He was like, ha ha ha. And I’m like, no, really, you — because I had covered retail, I had covered retail so I covered Wal-Mart’s entrance into the retail space …
SWISHER: … the death of wonderful retailers like Hechingers and — and Woodies — Woodward & Lothrop and Garfinkels were the two — like the death of — you could see …
SWISHER: … what was happening. The original problem was Wal-Mart, you know, and …
SWISHER: … big box stores, but then it became Amazon. And you could see glimmers of it with — with Craigslist and hitting the classified business. Amazon still wasn’t yet there, but you could see it, see where it was going.
And so — so I was like — the “Wall Street Journal” has more defensible position in media right now, and so I — I went there. I thought — but then the “Washington Post”, of course, has revived itself with ownership by Jeff Bezos.
RITHOLTZ: Bring it full circle. He — he …
RITHOLTZ: … has done a wonderful job. I used to …
SWISHER: He figured out their business.
RITHOLTZ: … full disclosure — I used to contribute to the “Washington Post” up until …
SWISHER: So did I.
RITHOLTZ: … in 2016. I — I think that the “Washington Post” has reasserted itself as one of three major papers in New York, the — and you’ve written for all three, the “Washington Post” …
SWISHER: Well, they figured out the economics. They figured out — it’s not just that he’s a rich guy, he’s actually making money. They — it’s not a — none of these businesses, not “New York Times”, they’re not like massive money-making, throwing off money businesses.
RITHOLTZ: The “Wall Street Journal” always had a million subscribers …
RITHOLTZ: … which isn’t online subscribers …
SWISHER: Yeah, absolutely.
RITHOLTZ: … which is a lot for …
SWISHER: Yes, it is.
RITHOLTZ: … a paper.
SWISHER: Probably at times isn’t the best in this area.
RITHOLTZ: Well, post Trump election their …
RITHOLTZ: … subscription base has exploded.
SWISHER: And also they’ve done a good job with a product like you can’t …
SWISHER: … you can’t separate the product from the content.
SWISHER: Their product is really quite good. And so I think a lot of these people figured it out. And with the help of Bezos who wasn’t going to be a twitchy owner, neither with the Grahams, by the way, they were wonderful …
SWISHER: … owners. I think that they sort of made it through the difficult period and just rationalized what they were doing.
RITHOLTZ: And I could — I can tell you every time I get my update from Amazon that my bill for the “Washington …
RITHOLTZ: … Post” has been paid …
SWISHER: Yeah, stuff like that.
RITHOLTZ: … that’s an enormous benefit for a company …
SWISHER: Stuff like that.
RITHOLTZ: … like that …
SWISHER: You know …
RITHOLTZ: … just — just …
SWISHER: … and great journalism, great product. I think of things although is in terms of product. Is that a good product? Like when I make stuff, is this a good product? If it’s not a product I stop making it. And I think unlike a lot of journalists, I’ll stop doing something if I don’t think. It’s — it’s something that’s worthwhile to the users, the readers or whoever is doing it.
RITHOLTZ: What — what products …
SWISHER: You never..
RITHOLTZ: … what products do you think are really strong these days that Recode Vox is doing? And what are you watching because, hey, let’s see how this develops. Is this too new? Is this too different?
SWISHER: I’m not going to can tell you (inaudible) — I thought the other night I was standing there like, oh, this like …
RITHOLTZ: Well, if it’s not out yet, but I mean that …
SWISHER: No, it’s not, but I was thinking this is what I’m going to do next for — I’m always making something else like I’m always — look, when I started doing podcasting, for example, when I started Recode, everyone was like what are you doing, I’m like, “No, we’re going to have a voicey news-based, journalistic base but voicey, funny site. Everyone’s copied it since like …
SWISHER: … what we did, so it was — Walt and I really did pioneer.
RITHOLTZ: When you say voicey, what do you mean by that?
SWISHER: Like Yahoo, when I was covering Yahoo, Yahoo sucks.
SWISHER: Here’s why, you know …
RITHOLTZ: Snarky, is that the word you’re looking for?
SWISHER: Not snarky, no, no, no. We backed it with journalism. You know what I mean?
SWISHER: Or …
SWISHER: Blunt, like guess what, the guy who’s running Uber ain’t going to be running Uber and here’s why.
You know what I mean, like …
SWISHER: … saying things journalists say to each other and backing it up.
RITHOLTZ: But not in print.
SWISHER: And — and one of the things I had was it used to be at the Journal, it’s called the to-be-sure statement. That’s always in these stupid stories.
RITHOLTZ: To be sure?
SWISHER: Like when I was covering this company, I think — I think it was …
RITHOLTZ: That’s the way they hedge what they said before?
SWISHER: Yes, like you — this online grocery, what was it? Oh, that first one …
SWISHER: Not Peapod, there was one before it. A lot of money behind it.
SWISHER: Look, listen, it’s now figured out itself.
SWISHER: At the time it was an — like you looked at the numbers, you’re like are you kidding me. And …
SWISHER: Yeah, that one — one of them. I know it was like I wrote a story for the Journal …
RITHOLTZ: That was the New York City delivery place in the 90’s.
SWISHER: Whatever, like — it was — it was — you just sat there like you’re losing so much money on every delivery.
RITHOLTZ: They make it up the volume though.
SWISHER: But it doesn’t mean it didn’t work, Prime did work, like, you know what I mean? There’s not …
SWISHER: … there’s ways to figure it out. The idea was a good one. I always try to separate the idea …
RITHOLTZ: You sound like Ant Driessen (ph) again …
SWISHER: … of the execution, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: … because he — he talks about chewy (ph) being the modern in …
SWISHER: Yeah. Well …
RITHOLTZ: … of pets.com.
SWISHER: … it was pets.com.
SWISHER: Now Julie Lane Wright (ph) who was the (inaudible) pets.com is now at that real real. What an amazing business that is, right? So …
SWISHER: … that’s the whole point. And so — so when I was writing about it, it was — you — I was like this is — this is — this is terrible business. They can’t go public. This is insane.
SWISHER: And the editor of the Journal was like, well, you have to like, you know, point out that this — you could be wrong. I’m like, I’m not wrong. This is like …
And — and they were like — they’re like (inaudible) — and that you have to do that. To be sure, some people say that this business …
SWISHER: … and I was like, to be sure, some idiot say …
SWISHER: … and I was like, let me type these idiots who are saying this.
RITHOLTZ: Does — does that get edited out?
SWISHER: No, we got edited out.
But — but then I ran my own site and then I can say that like …
SWISHER: … I can say that because it’s my site, and so we sort of pioneered that. And then it changed like everyone copied it. That’s what always happens.
SWISHER: Some — and then it wasn’t the right like having analog websites of people go to, it’s a losing game in — in — in the advertising business online. So then I was like sitting there, and I sort of …
RITHOLTZ: What — what is an analog site? You mean like meat spaces or what …
SWISHER: No, no, no, just like the way we were doing Recode 10 years ago, we changed it like …
RITHOLTZ: It shouldn’t look like a newspaper online …
SWISHER: It was …
RITHOLTZ: … it should be something specific.
SWISHER: Not just that — no, we — we did something pioneering, but then it didn’t work anymore, right? Then we tried something else, like I think the ability to try something else. And so just — there’s a long way of getting into the podcast.
I was sitting there, I’m like I like these. These mobile devices are now great.
SWISHER: These apps are now great. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do interviews because I — because I had my code conference, the code conference that Walt and I did. And I was like why not extend it 365 days a year, like I can only do 17 interviews at code, it’s always Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. But there’s all these …
SWISHER: … fascinating people that people want …
SWISHER: … like you’re doing here. And so I was like there’s so many cool people that I could do the same thing. People love the code conference, why not bring it out and make it free and make it — so — so I started doing these interviews.
And I remember like I literally had an intern in me do it, and I’m running like I’m the head of the site, I’m like I’m not doing that anymore, I’m doing this. And so we started doing it and a lot of people have opinions. They’re like, you know, people aren’t going to listen for an hour. I’m like, yeah, they are.
Like, you know, they — I was like …
RITHOLTZ: I literally had that exact same thing.
SWISHER: Yes, exactly. People — I’m like, you don’t know. Give me proof.
RITHOLTZ: People are in cars, people are on bikes …
… people are on treadmills …
SWISHER: You know, millennials like snackable; no, they don’t, they’re smart — people are smart.
SWISHER: So it was like, well, I don’t want these people who like snackables.
SWISHER: They don’t listen to me anyway. So it was like — I — I literally spend a lot of time, and — and I was like I’m certain I’m right about this. But then we did the Galloway thing, Scott came on the show because I had heard him at a — at a conference, and that was brilliant, Scott Galloway who I do Pivot with.
And, you know, I had interviewed Elon, Zuckerberg like is the head of Google, everything. And the numbers for Scott when I saw them come in I was like …
RITHOLTZ: Off the chart.
SWISHER: … off the freaking chart.
SWISHER: And also he predicted the Amazon (inaudible) the thing happened a week later.
RITHOLTZ: That is such a …
SWISHER: That was …
RITHOLTZ: … he predicted it a year in advance.
SWISHER: Yes, on my — I love that, too.
RITHOLTZ: Then he goes on your show …
RITHOLTZ: … a week in advance.
SWISHER: Yes, and does it.
RITHOLTZ: And a week later, bang, and people was …
RITHOLTZ: … thought he knew.
SWISHER: About their minds, right.
RITHOLTZ: People like, oh, he works in branding, he must’ve known.
SWISHER: No, we didn’t know. So …
RITHOLTZ: He wrote about it literally 12 months in advance.
SWISHER: I agree. So anyway, so he — so that show went off the charts before that happened, too, and I was like, huh, I’m going to have Elon again and see what happens again …
SWISHER: … because it was our rapport, our discussion. He was so insightful and smart. And so I was like we’re going to start another podcast, and it’s going to be only 30 minutes, maybe 20 minutes …
SWISHER: … and it’s not going to be long, it’s going to be quick, fast and topical on this.
And now some people are like it needs to be an hour. I’m like, no, it doesn’t, it needs to be this length because this is what — this is what it is. And so …
RITHOLTZ: And it creates a little scarcity, keeps people coming back.
SWISHER: Yes, exactly. We may do another one during the week. That’s — that’s the talks.
SWISHER: We got a lot of advertising.
RITHOLTZ: To two a week.
SWISHER: Yeah. And so with — with — you know, you just have to be like you have to know what you are or know what your — it’s like cooking, like I’m making a cake now and a lot of people want to see what you really should do is (inaudible). I’m like, yeah, but I’m making a cake.
SWISHER: But (inaudible), I’m like, yeah, go make your own …
RITHOLTZ: That’s a different — that’s a different cake.
SWISHER: It’s just really …
RITHOLTZ: This is …
SWISHER: And so I think people who go to product know what the product is.
SWISHER: And then are willing to make changes to it when it doesn’t work. So our conference, for example, I’m still trying to figure out what — we’ve had 17 years making so much money at these conferences.
SWISHER: By the way, podcasts make a fortune because I think of things in successful businesses …
RITHOLTZ: One would hope.
SWISHER: … all the time.
SWISHER: So anyway, so what — one of the things like I’m now rethinking like what is in the conference, we have ’17 is really successful years, but it’s changed. So I’m like I sit along, you know, and even to the point — and we’re not doing this, but should I keep doing it? Is it the right thing anymore? What is the next thing? And so I’m constantly thinking — and that’s how I came up with this new thing that I think is going to make a lot of money.
RITHOLTZ: So tell us what it is.
SWISHER: No, I’m not going to tell you what it is. It’s not …
RITHOLTZ: What’s not out? Well, when it comes out you’ll have to …
SWISHER: … exist, it exists in Kara Swisher’s brains.
RITHOLTZ: That’s it, so you better be careful crossing the street.
SWISHER: And what’s interesting that I think about Walt and I did is like when I think about — what I’m really proud of is we created a lot of jobs for people …
SWISHER: … like families lived on one idea that Walt and I had in 19 — whenever we did it, 2002. Walt and I thought of something in 2002, and dozens of people have jobs. It’s fascinating to me to think that way like that’s (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: And that was the all things digital platform …
SWISHER: More than dozen, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: … for conferences.
SWISHER: Yeah, all things digital conferences. You know, it came out of a single idea.
RITHOLTZ: How many conferences you guys do in a year now?
SWISHER: Well, let’s see. What is a conference, right? Look, we did this live Pivot together …
RITHOLTZ: A bunch of people in a room.
SWISHER: Yeah, but I don’t — I don’t think that way, like we have the main conference. We have code commerce that’s coming up in September with that code media. But then Scott and I did a live Pivot the other day that was — we sold out …
RITHOLTZ: Here in the city.
SWISHER: … 14 seconds …
SWISHER: … we sold that. So I’m like, oh, live podcast things.
SWISHER: You know, the pods saves America, I do them really well.
RITHOLTZ: They’ve been doing that for — well, for two years.
SWISHER: They’ve been doing it really well.
SWISHER: But — but in a different like what site, should they be 300 people, should they be 500 people, should you get sponsors? The sponsors were thrilled …
RITHOLTZ: The — the why 86th street (ph), why is the 92nd street, why is — is really been doing that for decades.
SWISHER: Yes, they have exactly, but what …
RITHOLTZ: But not as a podcast.
SWISHER: … but what about moving them around the country.
RITHOLTZ: Why not?
SWISHER: Exactly, so I’m thinking about that. So is that a conference? It kind of is. What if you could add other things onto a live podcast? Put comics there, put — like make it an event. What if …
SWISHER: … you can add experiential pop-ups, too? I’m like constantly thinking like what’s the next version of analog gathering that’s smart.
Smart is the one thing that brand is always — the brand I like to make are always like what’s smart, like what do smart people want to listen to, what is additive to someone’s life? Every time I get a tweet from someone around Pivot — I’m getting a lot of them around Pivot — I just really enjoy it. It always come up with an insight. I’m like I did it.
RITHOLTZ: That’s a — who can ask for more than that? What you’re describing what you just did with Scott is, quote, “an evening with.”
RITHOLTZ: I mean, that’s how that’s been …
SWISHER: But — but it can be seen like — then the other day I was like we have to have swag, we can make a lot of money. And so I like I’m always cut — that’s what I want to think about.
And one of the things I like to think about in products, no, we’re going to have swag. You can — we’ll give you one free, but only one.
RITHOLTZ: That’s great.
SWISHER: I never give anything free. The — the — the things that I think about whenever we’re thinking about products is, is it useful? Is it entertaining? Is it a must have?
If you have one of those things, you usually have a very successful process.
RITHOLTZ: Just one, you don’t need all three.
SWISHER: But if you have all three …
RITHOLTZ: That’s a killer.
SWISHER: It’s a killer.
SWISHER: You have two, but it has to be one of those three things, right, entertaining.
RITHOLTZ: You don’t think like a journalist.
RITHOLTZ: You think like an entrepreneur.
SWISHER: Right, exactly, exactly.
RITHOLTZ: And it — it’s evident in — in your discussion.
RITHOLTZ: I am going to …
SWISHER: But I do journalism, by the way.
RITHOLTZ: You do journalism. I consume journalism.
My extra special guest today is Kara Swisher. She is in desperate need of a real New York bagel and has been unable to find one …
SWISHER: I have not been unable.
RITHOLTZ: … much to her chagrin. Well, apparently you have plus …
SWISHER: Look …
SWISHER: … that way.
RITHOLTZ: … that thing is a blasphemy over that.
SWISHER: He was coming from Brooklyn. I never lived in Brooklyn.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, well, there are no bagels in Brooklyn.
RITHOLTZ: I don’t know what anybody could possibly.
SWISHER: Fell in love with someone in Brooklyn. What can I say?
RITHOLTZ: Best bagels in Brooklyn, you’ll find a list …
RITHOLTZ: … anywhere along — it’s just …
SWISHER: I — I know where they are. They’re on Second Avenue and 50 some street.
I know where the bagels are.
RITHOLTZ: So …
SWISHER: I grew up here.
RITHOLTZ: … so you mentioned you fell in love with someone in Brooklyn and …
RITHOLTZ: … you mentioned — I just mentioned Google. I got to ask you a random question.
SWISHER: Sure, please.
RITHOLTZ: Your disclosures, you don’t mean any word whatsoever.
SWISHER: I do not. We did those — 15 years ago we did those.
RITHOLTZ: It’s like, hey, here’s who my spouse is, here’s who she works for, here’s this. I don’t get paid. Her money is hers, mine is there’s no conflict …
SWISHER: Yeah, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: … that’s like a really blunt straightforward …
SWISHER: We did that. That was very innovative at the time.
RITHOLTZ: It was, it really was.
SWISHER: Here’s why because we — we trusted readers and we wanted — you know, my ex was a very prominent executive at Google …
SWISHER: … and later became CTO of America. I had to …
RITHOLTZ: Meaning, she was working for the Obama White House as their technology director.
SWISHER: She did — she was the Chief — she is the Chief Technology Officer …
SWISHER: … in United States. But before that, she was a pretty prominent executive, Megan Smith, at Google, and she — she ran Google.org. She was — she bought things. She bought the Google Earth for them. I mean, she did a lot of stuff over there.
SWISHER: And — and so I wanted I — I actually urged her to go there when it was very small.
RITHOLTZ: Hey, these guys are onto something.
SWISHER: Yes. I was like these guys are special, like I — you know, she was looking around and she was running another company and …
RITHOLTZ: Good advice.
SWISHER: … so — yeah, it was good advice that you’re welcome, Megan.
So she has a very lovely house in Washington, D.C. due to that. So …
RITHOLTZ: She should have several …
SWISHER: … so I wanted …
RITHOLTZ: … lovely houses.
SWISHER: I don’t want to go into it. So anyway …
… .she’s doing just fine. So — so I wanted to disclose and you can’t do that in the newspaper, and I thought why not be clear to everybody. So …
SWISHER: … we trust the reader to — to — we don’t have to say — one of the things the Journal try to do is like I’m completely even headed. It’s like, no, you’re not. You have things that you don’t want people to grab onto them.
I foresaw sort of this Twitter day where everybody could do gotcha to you.
SWISHER: So before anybody could get you, just explain, and then we trust the readers to be smart. And so that’s what Walt and I did. We — full disclosure on a lot of stuff …
SWISHER: … like as much as we could. And there’s much that was relevant, I think, was it — was it. And people love it. They just — they like it. Again, it’s a respect for readers that we — we think about.
RITHOLTZ: Well …
SWISHER: We don’t — we don’t think they’re stupid.
RITHOLTZ: That’s important to actually let …
RITHOLTZ: … people think, you know what you’re doing, you have nothing to hide. You know, it goes back to Hunter Thompson …
RITHOLTZ: … basically saying, hey, I’m not unbiased.
RITHOLTZ: Here are my biases.
SWISHER: Right, exactly.
RITHOLTZ: I’m — I’m Hunter S. Thompson and …
RITHOLTZ: … you’ll figure it out.
RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about Silicon Valley.
SWISHER: Yes, please.
RITHOLTZ: You’ve lived in San Francisco for …
SWISHER: Twenty-five years.
RITHOLTZ: Right. We could talk about …
SWISHER: No, 20 years.
RITHOLTZ: … we could talk about this — how much the city has changed, but let — let’s go a little south down to the valley.
How has Silicon Valley changed over the past …
RITHOLTZ: … 20 plus — it’s just money.
SWISHER: The money, money.
RITHOLTZ: Just massive amounts of capital.
SWISHER: Massive amounts of capital and success has sort of — and — and — and the influence and power. And I think one of the things that’s interesting is sort of like it — it would be akin to watching Hollywood go from Orange Groves to …
SWISHER: … the power, Louis B. Mayer and stuff like that. And I think it was really — you know, most of the people I had covered and are now the captains of industry, the most — the richest people in the world, by the way …
SWISHER: … (inaudible), they weren’t that. They were just start-ups. And so I think some of them have stayed true to the people they are. Others have been warped by money and not understanding their power and not understanding the consequences of what they built. Others have been, you know, plunged into these ridiculous wealth bubbles where they go from the airplane to the car, to their home.
SWISHER: And they don’t understand what they’ve done like they don’t spend — they surround themselves by people who’s — who’s interested in pleasing them.
SWISHER: It’s often when — then I run into them like Mark Hendrickson (ph) and I have known each other since he was very young and I was very young. And, you know, I think very few people — he’s like the genius, you know, Mark with his giant brain.
RITHOLTZ: By the way, when I did my interview with him, I got all these emails complaining that they could not listen to it on to 2X because he speaks too quickly.
SWISHER: He talks fast like me, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: So quickly.
SWISHER: But, you know, he’s like — very few people will say something like that’s stupid. And he’s like what? And I’m like, oh, I’m sorry.
RITHOLTZ: He’s not used to hearing that.
SWISHER: But he is. He’s actually one of the people who would go back and forth. But, you know, even like, you know, just a lot of them, he’s actually quite good. You know, he — he always thought a lot about himself like …
SWISHER: … and I don’t mind that.
RITHOLTZ: Well, you have to in order to go out and risk …
SWISHER: No, he really do.
RITHOLTZ: … risk stuff.
SWISHER: Compared to other, he was …
SWISHER: … confident from the get-go.
SWISHER: He shouldn’t have been.
RITHOLTZ: Well, it turned out the hindsight bias, he could — should have. He’s achieved a (inaudible) of success.
SWISHER: He’s made some errors, like whatever, I don’t care.
RITHOLTZ: Well, everybody does.
SWISHER: I don’t care, right, exactly. But — and …
RITHOLTZ: But — but he wasn’t — what my pushback to you is he wasn’t an arrogant jerk about it and Silicon Valley.
SWISHER: Oh, he was.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, well, do tell because I see inside that.
SWISHER: No, but he was — yes, he’s …
RITHOLTZ: Was he an arrogant jerk or was he just young?
SWISHER: No, no, no, he’s the same person. He’s — he’s the same person, which I like. I appreciate — someone like that I appreciate. He like — or Marc Benioff, I love talking to Marc Benioff.
SWISHER: Or …
RITHOLTZ: Smart, insightful.
SWISHER: Smart, insightful …
RITHOLTZ: … but thinks of himself.
SWISHER: He does, but I enjoyed talking to him. He’s really like he is what he is, like those people I really …
RITHOLTZ: Give us a list of arrogant jerks you enjoy speaking with.
SWISHER: Well, you know, different people can be this different ways. You know, Larry Page — I don’t know where he’s gone to, he’s hidden off.
RITHOLTZ: Kind of disappeared.
SWISHER: He has, but he always was like that. He was always — he’s sort of …
RITHOLTZ: Was it — was …
SWISHER: … he’s sort of — he can now afford to do that.
RITHOLTZ: Was it him or Sergey who was more …
RITHOLTZ: … of the — Sergey was more of the quiet one?
SWISHER: Larry is, Larry is this …
SWISHER: … I want to say …
RITHOLTZ: But Page rank was really his …
SWISHER: Yes, Larry is really so brainy, so …
SWISHER: … smart, so substantive like really a special mind. But, you know, they’re all different, they’re different. But, you know, and then you get all sort of the young start-up people, I don’t know older.
SWISHER: You know, look.
RITHOLTZ: Where do you put Peter Thiel in this bullpen?
SWISHER: Brilliant, brilliant guy, appalling points of view, many, many, many appalling …
SWISHER: … points of view.
RITHOLTZ: Did you get around to reading Conspiracy?
SWISHER: I read his first book.
RITHOLTZ: Not his book, the book about the Gawker litigation by …
SWISHER: You know, that to me just sent me over the edge …
SWISHER: … like doing a secret lawsuit against someone. If he really cared, do it out in the public, like that to me was the — the secret part to me was sneaky and awful.
RITHOLTZ: Ryan Holidays book about that …
RITHOLTZ: … is so fascinating only because you learn, even with two people, it’s impossible to keep a secret. It’s — it’s astonishing.
RITHOLTZ: The Gawker litigation is just an excuse to describe the history of conspiracy. It’s really amazing.
SWISHER: Yeah, yeah, anyway, it’s interesting. You know, he’s brilliant, but I don’t agree with him almost everything. It’s a lot of fun and funny. And, you know, I always — I sort of poke at him quite a bit. And, you know, he — he’s — he is brilliant, but really some …
RITHOLTZ: Who else stands out to you in the Valley these days?
SWISHER: The reason I think Peter Thiel is interesting is I’m always like — like he wrote one book and I’m like it was very — I was …
RITHOLTZ: Because you’re the one.
SWISHER: Yeah, I was like, oh, so many interesting things here. You know what I mean? I can’t — and then he says …
RITHOLTZ: He’s a deep thinker.
SWISHER: … then he says a lot of things, I’m like, are you kidding me? You’ve got to be kidding me.
RITHOLTZ: The relationship with …
SWISHER: Trump, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: … kind of surprising. Now, would you …
RITHOLTZ: … imagine from a guy …
SWISHER: Not at all.
RITHOLTZ: … who’s railing about being oppressed as a gay man in Silicon Valley.
SWISHER: He doesn’t care.
RITHOLTZ: Talk about strange bedfellows.
SWISHER: He doesn’t care.
RITHOLTZ: Doesn’t care.
SWISHER: Doesn’t care. Those aren’t his concerns, and I think they should be his concerns.
RITHOLTZ: So that’s kind of the old guard.
RITHOLTZ: What’s — who — let’s talk about the most recent round of companies.
SWISHER: There’s a lot of really interesting entrepreneurs now.
RITHOLTZ: You’ve written about Travis.
RITHOLTZ: What are your thoughts about the whole frat scene at Uber?
SWISHER: Well, I think he’s — Dara is a very thoughtful and interesting person. I think he’s got a tough …
RITHOLTZ: The person who took over?
SWISHER: Yeah, Dara Khosrowshahi. I think he’s got a really tough economic question to solve there because …
RITHOLTZ: You don’t think you could just do a whole bunch of rides at a loss but make it up in volume? That doesn’t work for you.
SWISHER: No, I think they’ve got an economic problem.
SWISHER: And it’s hard and they’ve got competition. I — I believe in motes. You know, I think about motes. Amazon has built so many motes now.
SWISHER: They still have — they’re going to have problems when — when Amazon Web Services doesn’t do as well, so they’ve got to really think about what their motes are. They’ve got a lot of them. And I think any business has to have a lot of motes, and I don’t think there’s as many motes around Uber as there — and the market is saying that right now, right?
SWISHER: The market is (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: Well, they came out way too late and they came out very pricey to begin with.
SWISHER: Exactly, exactly.
RITHOLTZ: So …
SWISHER: The market is big, the market often is correct.
RITHOLTZ: If they would have — if they would have come out cheaper and — and come out earlier, maybe we won’t be talking about this.
SWISHER: Maybe, I don’t know. I think the economics are off. They just — you’re getting a 10 — you’re getting a 15 — you’re paying $10 for a $20 ride. That’s what’s happening.
RITHOLTZ: There you go, which is fantastic …
SWISHER: Great for consumers.
RITHOLTZ: … for consumers, yeah, yeah.
SWISHER: Same thing with, you know, I just thought about WeWork this week and …
RITHOLTZ: Your colleague calls it a Ponzi scheme.
SWISHER: Yes, I did. I wrote a long column about it and I included Scott in that. You know, I think just the economics don’t make sense, like …
RITHOLTZ: Wait, you’re telling me if I get a floor in a building, that floor shouldn’t be worth more than the whole building itself?
SWISHER: Well, they’re trying to pass themselves off as a tech company, and I think that’s what the fence got nine. That is just a …
RITHOLTZ: Do you remember Regis 30 years ago?
SWISHER: Yes, Regis. Regis is now …
RITHOLTZ: Regis plus beer equals 100X multiple?
SWISHER: I — yeah, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: It just seems sort of high.
SWISHER: And one of them has just gone up again, Regis or ICI (ph), or something like — you got competitors. They — that business, that — that IPO prospectus was like one of the analysts call it a lesson in obfuscation.
RITHOLTZ: I read that. I — I can’t recall the last time an S1, maybe it was Facebook. The last time an S1 came out and it was so completely and totally line by line taken apart …
SWISHER: Yeah, it was.
RITHOLTZ: … like WeWork’s were.
SWISHER: Well, it deserved it. It deserved it.
SWISHER: That — you know, look, it could be a very — it’s a really interesting disruptive brand. There’s some great ideas there, but not enough for what — for $47 billion. There’s not $47 billion great ideas.
RITHOLTZ: This all comes back to what you said earlier about way too much capital in Silicon Valley chasing way too few deals.
RITHOLTZ: Has that completely skewed valuations which, by the way …
RITHOLTZ: … (inaudible) says, “We don’t pay attention to valuation.”
SWISHER: Well, that’s what he says. Yes, you know, I think it’s — you know, once it gets in the public market, yes, I think it matters. I think you’re right, who cares if VCs throw — you know, I always say there’s not enough money to show — not enough for Ed Holtz (ph) adults to shovel the money down, and they found that Ed Holtz …
RITHOLTZ: There’s that much money.
SWISHER: Yeah, there’s that much money. And so, you know, you’ve got (inaudible) running around now. And — look, when Andreessen came in, everyone was like what’s he doing overpaying? Now, Andreessen looks like parsimonious compared to SoftBank, right?
RITHOLTZ: That’s a good work. So let me push back again …
SWISHER: That’s all.
RITHOLTZ: … on some of the new tech companies.
RITHOLTZ: So there’s Grub Street, which has been doing some really dishonest things in terms of …
SWISHER: Yeah. We just wrote about that about …
SWISHER: … about the tipping.
RITHOLTZ: Not just the tipping, but taking phone numbers for — and …
RITHOLTZ: … registering websites that look like the restaurants.
RITHOLTZ: If you think Craigslist hurt media companies, Grub Street is really damaging a lot of restaurants.
SWISHER: Well, it’s a great — it’s a bigger question you’re talking about.
RITHOLTZ: Yelp is another one.
SWISHER: Yeah. It’s a bigger question you’re talking about, which is the ethics behind some of the stuff, like it goes to the bigger version of data, how your data is being used …
SWISHER: … how you’re being manipulated online, how you don’t get the — if your data is being used and they’re monetizing it, why don’t you get a piece of it. How does that happen that your data which you own is — is being monetized by someone else? Like that’s like — you have to think about around Facebook, where’s the benefit? Are they paying you for that? Are they disclosing enough? Are you allowed to opt-out? And so those are those bigger questions of how all of us have become like, you know, if you remember the Soylent Green, Soylent Green …
SWISHER: … is people.
SWISHER: … like, you know, that’s — data is people. And so the question is what do we do about that?
And — and Congress, in general, on the bigger question has — has done no regulation of the Internet ever.
RITHOLTZ: Unlike Europe, which has been very forward on privacy and data …
SWISHER: Starting to — yes, starting to.
RITHOLTZ: They’re a decade ahead of the United States.
SWISHER: They are, they are indeed, but it’s still there haven’t been really comprehensive regulation of the Internet the way there’s conference — whether — whilst she breaks it, there’s comprehensive legislation. Whether chemical companies violate things and break the law …
SWISHER: … there are laws. Whether there are, you know, emission standards which are now the Californian — the (inaudible) Administration of California looks like it’s winning.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, God, they’re …
RITHOLTZ: … it’s a slam dunk because — stop and think about this. The automobile industry has invested so much money in everything from hybrids to electric to cleaner …
SWISHER: Nobody is going back …
RITHOLTZ: Right, it’s like wait we’ve wasted billions of dollars if we get to pollute …
SWISHER: They’re not going there. They don’t want to go back.
SWISHER: They don’t want to go back.
RITHOLTZ: That is right.
SWISHER: The future is these cars. They know what …
RITHOLTZ: Right. They — they have a marketing and branding issue.
SWISHER: Like literally.
RITHOLTZ: They want to appeal to the next-generation.
SWISHER: I wish I could talk about them. I’m like really — you’re on the downside of history here, like stop, like …
RITHOLTZ: Clean coal.
SWISHER: Clean coal. So what’s — what’s interesting is that like (inaudible) the question is where we’re going to regulate, like in California right now there’s a privacy bill coming online in 2020. That’s going to be the de facto U.S.
RITHOLTZ: For the country.
SWISHER: It is.
SWISHER: And there’s 12 others across the country. So then tech companies are going to be like, which one do we — like they were going to have follow all of them. I think everybody like longs for idea of a privacy bill that has some teeth …
SWISHER: … that protect consumers, even in these companies because it’s like — they don’t — I don’t — I think confusion really creates problems in markets, right? And so, therefore, there should be a really strong national privacy bill that is smart.
RITHOLTZ: One would think.
SWISHER: One would think, but they can’t agree on luncheon Congress right now.
SWISHER: You would imagine there should be something around anti-discrimination. There’s — you imagine there should be something around — there’s all kinds of bills. I wrote about this Internet bill of rights that they’re thinking about. There’s about 10 or 12 things. And it’s not one law, it’s dozens of laws around the Internet to regulate it. And there’s only one law right now and it — it benefits the Internet, which is Section 230 of the …
RITHOLTZ: Which people are now — oh, that was your column.
SWISHER: Yes, I wrote that, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: You’re talking about revisiting an obscure …
SWISHER: It’s not obscure, it’s a critical bill …
RITHOLTZ: Well, originally it was not well-known publicly and now it’s coming to the floor.
SWISHER: Yes. Oh, no, it’s been used by — it’s — the Internet …
RITHOLTZ: As a shield.
SWISHER: As a shield. And so what’s interesting — I have — I have a podcast coming out today. I had — I had three people debate at today because I was like, let’s talk about it and educate people about it.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, that’s interesting.
SWISHER: But, you know, that’s — that bill is helpful to the Internet industry and the digital industry. So the question is you can have that and we could — you know, getting rid of it is a huge mistake, but figuring out where the responsibility is is important. And I think so, therefore, it puts stuff around it and have some — some, you know, everyone is like regulation is terrible. I’m like, no regulation is worse …
SWISHER: … in many ways …
REHNQUIST: That’s right.
SWISHER: … because people don’t know the rules of the road. And, you know, especially with these new technology are coming, cars, some of the health care stuff, the sensor stuff, the A.I. stuff, we need good law to — to really protect consumers. And — and many people think, you know, even just the ability to sue is — is a good thing.
SWISHER: Like, you know, there are certain laws in place around pornography and everything else, but there — this is an industry that needs to be regulated just the way Wall Street is, just the way — and again …
RITHOLTZ: Well, Wall Street has been deregulated, so maybe that’s a bad example.
SWISHER: Yes, but they’ll be — like they’ll be overreached, they’ll overreached.
SWISHER: No question. But the question is if there’s none, maybe we need a little like kind of stuff.
RITHOLTZ: So you’re implying about the right to sue. You know, every — all the boiler plate that you shrink wrap agreements that you sign have arbitration agreements …
SWISHER: They do.
RITHOLTZ: … and then you give up your right to sue.
SWISHER: … has Decency Act (ph) Section 230 does take care of it pretty much. They — — well it’s been shifted away around sex trafficking and some other areas …
SWISHER: … but it’s not really been shifted away very much at all.
And then there’s a question of, you know, things like Elizabeth Warren was proposing, which is breaking up some of these companies.
SWISHER: And that’s — that’s a great tool.
RITHOLTZ: Elizabeth Warren following again your partner …
RITHOLTZ: … who has been talking — talked about.
SWISHER: Yeah, yeah, right.
RITHOLTZ: And …
SWISHER: So there’s breakup, there’s fees, there’s — there’s fines. There’s all kinds of different ways to figure out how to rein in the Internet industry, and it depends on their violations, it depends on their cooperation.
RITHOLTZ: Let’s do a quick speed round about some of your favorite people.
RITHOLTZ: And since I mentioned Blade Runner, tell me the first things that enter your mind when I mention these people’s name. Elon Musk?
RITHOLTZ: The whole crazy Joe Rogan thing was …
RITHOLTZ: … blown a little out of …
SWISHER: No, he shouldn’t have done that. He’s a CEO of a public company.
RITHOLTZ: Little more circumspect would’ve been better?
RITHOLTZ: Jack Dorsey?
SWISHER: Oh, also thoughtful …
SWISHER: … but opaque and disengaged in a way I find troubling .
RITHOLTZ: Disengaged, meaning not responsive to the current …
SWISHER: The impact of his work, what he’s doing, whatever he’s doing right now to the national discourse is damaging, and he has to think more. He talks about healthy conversations, and I really wish he would stop talking and do something about it.
RITHOLTZ: Okay. Speaking of damaging the national discourse, Mark Zuckerberg?
SWISHER: Lovely as — you know, the least arrogant considering who is, really quite thoughtful — thoughtful person, absolutely incapable of dealing with the task he has ahead of him.
RITHOLTZ: That’s pretty, pretty impressive. What about the …
SWISHER: Could use a lot of help.
RITHOLTZ: … what about the Google guys?
RITHOLTZ: Really? Disengaged at this …
SWISHER: From the company.
RITHOLTZ: … is that a function …
SWISHER: They just are not running the company.
RITHOLTZ: So who is?
SWISHER: Sundar Pichai?
RITHOLTZ: All right.
SWISHER: And — and whoever is there. It’s a …
RITHOLTZ: What about the entire split between Google and Alphabet or Google Projects.
SWISHER: There’s no split.
RITHOLTZ: It’s still the same …
SWISHER: It’s still — it’s the same.
RITHOLTZ: Its Search and everything else isn’t (inaudible)?
SWISHER: You know, they’re — they’re a jumble of blocks. That’s what — I’ve always …
SWISHER: … been like it. Years ago there was a Fortune Magazine cover “Chaos at Google,” it’s the same thing.
It’s a chaotically organized company. And there’s — there’s a lot of obviously practices. It’s a big giant company, makes a ton of money. It’s very successful in the way it does.
But — so from — you know, the DNA of any companies, the DNA of its beginnings.
RITHOLTZ: And that doesn’t change?
SWISHER: Chaotic, but that doesn’t — it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
RITHOLTZ: Even at Microsoft has that DNA changed?
SWISHER: Yes, I have a huge respect for Satya Nadella.
RITHOLTZ: Amazing, right?
SWISHER: I think he’s — I think he’s a thoughtful, measured, you know, not as a — not as exciting, screaming and stuff like that, but just a really — he’s done a great job in defining — talk about defining your products.
SWISHER: He knows who he is. He knows what Microsoft is.
RITHOLTZ: Interesting. Reed Hastings?
SWISHER: Lovely, smart. Oh, I just enjoy talking to him.
SWISHER: Really just a great thinker, he’s just — we don’t always agree on things but, boy, what a — what a smart man.
RITHOLTZ: Marc Benioff?
SWISHER: He’s smart. I like — he pulled himself off the board of Facebook, that was interesting.
RITHOLTZ: Who, Ritesh (ph)? Oh, really?
SWISHER: He was tired of arguing with him, I’m guessing.
RITHOLTZ: Right, and he had enough.
SWISHER: Any of this.
RITHOLTZ: Benioff, you mentioned earlier?
SWISHER: Hysterical fun.
SWISHER: Great guy for a drink. You want to come for a drink with that guy, always interesting conversation. Can be blow hardy, but I like it. I like the …
SWISHER: … holes jam (ph). I like his holes jam (ph).
RITHOLTZ: Started a podcast.
SWISHER: I like his whole commitment to the city. I think it’s genuine.
SWISHER: I like his — that he’s loud about it, runs like, oh, he’s just loud about it. I’m like, yeah, but he does things, like I don’t care, let him brag, let him — I don’t care.
SWISHER: I like him. He’s just a really fascinating character. I really enjoyed talking to him. I always — I’ve — never not interested in talking to him.
SWISHER: Pain in the (BLEEP).
SWISHER: But I like him …
RITHOLTZ: I’m so surprised you said that.
SWISHER: … but in a good way.
SWISHER: In a bad way too. Some of his new tweets, he’s retreating some crazy stuff lately, but …
RITHOLTZ: He took a long tweet vacation …
SWISHER: Oh, yeah, whatever.
RITHOLTZ: … for a couple of years.
SWISHER: He is — he is like …
SWISHER: Whatever. He’s — he’s — I argue with him a lot, but I enjoy it. I hate — I hope he’s not listening.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, he’s listening.
SWISHER: Okay. Well, Marc …
RITHOLTZ: What are the VCs are worth bringing up John Doerr, Bill Gurley, who — who …
SWISHER: John is sort of — John is a very thoughtful person. He’s not as — you know, he’s …
RITHOLTZ: Put a book recently.
SWISHER: He’s put on a book — we did a podcast. He’s always been — I think he — he’s — John, you know, he’s …
SWISHER: … he’s a — seems ethical but has been …
RITHOLTZ: What — what other VCs did I not get to that — that …
SWISHER: (inaudible), crazy …
RITHOLTZ: Do not know.
SWISHER: … but I love him. He’s great, he’s great.
SWISHER: (Inaudible) — he was — he’s just a character in Silicon Valley.
You know, I think — you know, there’s lots of VCs you don’t know about like Michael Dearing. There’s all sorts of really interesting — Aileen Lee, Mary Meeker. There’s all sorts of really …
SWISHER: … interesting.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, well, you all know who Mary Meeker is?
SWISHER: Yeah, she’s great, she’s great. I met her when she was an analyst at …
RITHOLTZ: At Morgan Stanley.
SWISHER: … Morgan Stanley.
SWISHER: I used to stay up at nights talking about the Internet with her in like the 90’s, early 90’s.
RITHOLTZ: She got it.
SWISHER: She got it.
RITHOLTZ: In fact, I’ve …
SWISHER: She’s a little too enthusiastic, but she was right. Directionally, she was correct.
RITHOLTZ: I’ve argued that the difference between her and people got into trouble like Henry Blodget is …
RITHOLTZ: … she was a true believer trying to (inaudible)
SWISHER: She’s a true believer, she did.
RITHOLTZ: And being wrong is not prosecutable.
SWISHER: Also …
RITHOLTZ: She was early.
SWISHER: She was early, but she was right. She was right …
RITHOLTZ: Potential right.
SWISHER: … in the long-term, she was …
SWISHER: … probably wrong several times this long-term.
RITHOLTZ: Right, valuation-wise.
SWISHER: Yeah, Henry — Henry is real cynical if he had to.
RITHOLTZ: I like Henry. I think he got a bad rep.
SWISHER: He’s brilliant. He’s also a beautiful writer, he’s also …
RITHOLTZ: Who have I missed? Steve Jobs?
SWISHER: Steve — oh, fascinating, I really enjoyed interviewing him, what an interesting and complex person. I — I always say — and I’ve gotten to know his wife quite a bit — his — his widow.
SWISHER: Laurene …
SWISHER: … who’s really, really interesting to talk to.
RITHOLTZ: She’s very active in philanthropy now, right?
SWISHER: Not just philanthropy, all kinds of — all kinds of interesting — I find her to be very interesting and — and her investments. So she’s very thoughtful, another very thoughtful person, has a lot of points of view, which I like. I like (inaudible) point of view.
Steve Jobs was — you know, he was just — what a complicated and interesting person. I know everyone sort of like tried to cartoonize people. He was mean to people. I’m like …
SWISHER: … well, yeah …
SWISHER: … but lots of people are mean.
RITHOLTZ: But he got stuff done so …
SWISHER: Yeah, and so …
RITHOLTZ: … we’ll overlook that.
SWISHER: No, no, I don’t think he was — you know, I have his ratio and productivity was so high.
SWISHER: You know, all those speeches around death were so — what an interesting person who — who challenged himself from a philosophical point of view. I don’t — he — he had a lot of — people always say he was heartless, this is what I say all the time. He had too much heart. He had too much heart. It was too — there were so many things going on with him, I — I always — we did eight — Walt and I did eight — eight interviews or more with him.
There — nobody has had …
SWISHER: … the body of interviews that we did with him, and that was every single one of them were fascinating conversations. And, of course, he’s going to be seen as one of the most important. And we did one with Gates and Jobs together.
RITHOLTZ: I recall that. That was really a very interesting conversation.
SWISHER: That is a — that’s going to go down in history. You know, I’ll be forgotten but not that interview.
RITHOLTZ: Larry Ellison?
SWISHER: Oh, hysterical.
SWISHER: He’s hysterical.
SWISHER: He just — I just love talking to him. I mean, you know, he’s — he’s — you know — you know, and he’s sort of the old days and like that’s vaguely sexist, sometimes very sexist in Silicon Valley like the old — like (inaudible) software everybody, like that kind of stuff. But …
SWISHER: … I got to tell you, he’s a — you know, he’s raised two really interesting children, too, like …
RITHOLTZ: And what do the kids doing?
SWISHER: The kids are moviemakers. They make Star Trek, and his daughter makes some amazing movie. His daughter …
RITHOLTZ: Oh, really?
SWISHER: … is like a really interesting filmmaker, and his son makes more like Terminator and — and Star Trek, the recent Star Trek, which are very good movies, the Star Trek ones particularly. And so I don’t know, I just — he’s — he’s a — he just — he’s — he’s one of the few titans left kind of thing.
RITHOLTZ: Scott McNealy was someone I haven’t heard from recently.
SWISHER: Oh, I just did a podcast with him.
SWISHER: Not — not a podcast, I did a column in “New York Times”, went around privacy — privacy, get used to it, that kind of thing. He’s got …
RITHOLTZ: Which is the inverse of what people …
RITHOLTZ: … used to say.
SWISHER: No, he was the first one to really — you have no privacy, get used to it.
SWISHER: That was a really prescient thing he said. I’m not sure I agree with him in a lot of political stuff. He’s quite — he has a — he has a problem with Hillary Clinton that is — he needs to let go of.
RITHOLTZ: Still even to this day?
SWISHER: I was talking to him. I’m like, you know, she’s a private citizen who’s never going to be president. You really can move along, like I feel like you’ve handled Hillary Clinton, so like let’s — some people who don’t like her really can — whatever. It’s just funny. I was sort of like, can we stop talking about Hillary Clinton and start discussing the current state of affairs?
RITHOLTZ: What — what about CEOs I haven’t mentioned? What companies are — that’s it.
SWISHER: Well, there’s some interesting ones, like Brian Chesky from Airbnb, he’s very thoughtful and interesting. I’ll be interested …
RITHOLTZ: Such an interesting company.
SWISHER: That goes public, I think he thinks very carefully about stuff he understands. What I like about him is he understands the impact. He may not always do the right thing. They’ve had a lot of mess-ups and everything else. They had some early mess-upstream that I think taught them a lot. But I think he’s extraordinarily thoughtful about his impact and you — it varies. And I don’t think it’s just yammering. I think he actually …
RITHOLTZ: Believes it.
SWISHER: … knows that his company has negative and positive impacts. And so he’s able to discuss the negative impacts without being defensive, and it’s a pleasure to talk to him.
Tim Cook, I love talking to him.
RITHOLTZ: I didn’t get to Tim Cook.
SWISHER: Tim Cook is a really — he’s an adult. I did — I’ve done some very good interviews with him.
RITHOLTZ: People assumes that when Jobs left that would be it for Apple, but here we are, what is it, six years later?
SWISHER: More, more.
RITHOLTZ: Seven years.
SWISHER: You know, they still got the issue of they got to have what’s the next hit. They’re like the Rolling Stones …
SWISHER: … like when’s your next hit, like they’re …
SWISHER: … at some point they can’t keep making — like it’s just like they have such a record, you’re almost like a good job.
RITHOLTZ: Tough, right …
SWISHER: You know, I feel like that, I’m kind of old, but I keep making hits. So …
SWISHER: … so they can keep making it, but it’s a really — they’ve done so much amazing stuff but …
RITHOLTZ: This year …
SWISHER: … the stuff they’re doing …
RITHOLTZ: … there’s a lot of new …
SWISHER: You know, yeah, there’s stuff around …
RITHOLTZ: … new products coming out.
SWISHER: … that show looks pretty good. We’ll see.
RITHOLTZ: The — the problem with that show and …
SWISHER: Yeah, the morning show …
RITHOLTZ: … brought this up with competing with content …
SWISHER: Yeah, but …
RITHOLTZ: … between Netflix and Amazon and — and Huly and everybody else …
… it’s really hard to …
SWISHER: You never know. Look, you do still know.
RITHOLTZ: … I thought they should’ve bought Netflix five years ago and they missed that window.
SWISHER: They should’ve, that is 100 percent, I agree.
RITHOLTZ: I wrote that and people gave me grief about it.
SWISHER: A hundred percent.
RITHOLTZ: I think it was $50 billion and people gave me grief, what it’s like 200 now?
SWISHER: One hundred ten percent.
SWISHER: That would be perfect.
RITHOLTZ: That was missed opportunity.
SWISHER: That would be — they could still do it.
RITHOLTZ: Well, it’s a rounding error to them but …
SWISHER: Yes, definitely. You know, there — I like Tim Cook. I really enjoy — I think he’s been one of the adults in the room and has been very thoughtful. A lot of people think he’s taking advantage of like sort of being the schoolmarm. But I don’t care, I like it.
RITHOLTZ: Versus Facebook …
SWISHER: Oh, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: … to some degree. You mean, in terms of …
… hey, we don’t sell ads …
SWISHER: Well, I got him to say, you know, I asked him, I didn’t think he was going to answer, but he did. I asked him in this interview I did in Chicago last year. It was a live interview at a school. And I said, “What would you do if you were Mark Zuckerberg?” And he said, “I wouldn’t be in the situation in the first place.”
I was like …
RITHOLTZ: That’s a genius answer.
SWISHER: Go, I know.
RITHOLTZ: Right? That’s like snap.
SWISHER: He’s not like that. It’s like he never does that. He never does …
RITHOLTZ: They have a bone to pick with this Facebook …
SWISHER: Well, yeah, they — it’s also calculated bone because their business is not …
RITHOLTZ: Yeah, right, right.
SWISHER: … advertising so it’s an excellent business opportunity to smack them and it’s …
SWISHER: … and I think — and they believe it. And by the way, Steve Jobs was talking about this with us 10 years — years ago …
RITHOLTZ: About Facebook or …
SWISHER: No, about privacy, about like very strangely. And you can talk about that when it’s not your business, right? So …
RITHOLTZ: I guess you …
SWISHER: … I can go on about how porn sucks like — and it’s — it’s insulting to women and …
SWISHER: … because it’s not my business.
SWISHER: So, you know, it’s — it’s actually good for me if they’re competing with me. So I think a lot of people feel like Facebook is taking advantage of the situation, but I’m, Okay, so what?
RITHOLTZ: Meanwhile …
RITHOLTZ: … did you happen to catch the 60 minutes about that Israeli company that basically has licensed the technology? I think it’s called Pegasus that hack — can hack any phone anywhere in the world.
SWISHER: Oh, I assume that’s happening already.
RITHOLTZ: But I mean, there is literally an Israeli company who has given grief because they licensed it to Saudi — Saudi Arabia …
RITHOLTZ: … and, theoretically, they use this technology …
SWISHER: You know, but that’s going to catch up. It’s — it’s going to be a constant arms race for all this stuff. There’s going to be like, look, I assume everything is hacked. That’s …
RITHOLTZ: So — so McNealy is right, there is no …
RITHOLTZ: … privacy?
SWISHER: There is no — there has (inaudible), but you can’t control your privacy, that’s different. You don’t own — you don’t, it’s out there but you can — there’s ways to control and they haven’t done any job whatsoever and helping you do so.
One thing we can talk about is Trump is tweeting, all the tweeting, like that’s such an important thing.
RITHOLTZ: It — it’s …
SWISHER: Governing by Twitter.
RITHOLTZ: So it’s funny because …
… every time a conversation comes up about, gee, the president and — and this is just the most recent one. The president is haranguing the Federal Reserve chair. That’s never happened before. And what the answer to this tend to be is, well, it has happened before just it’s always been private.
RITHOLTZ: And do it publicly, to do it like …
SWISHER: Yeah, the amplification and weaponization that is provided by these tools — these online tools is really unprecedented. Everyone is like people that from like no, not like this.
SWISHER: And — and, you know, just the two examples I wrote a column about this, the — when they — when they — the census thing was happening, right, which we’ve gotten about. Remember that?
RITHOLTZ: Oh, well, it’s …
SWISHER: Remember that? So …
RITHOLTZ: … the outrageous comes so fast …
RITHOLTZ: … and furious you can’t keep up.
SWISHER: So he — so he — he …
RITHOLTZ: By design.
SWISHER: … tey had made a decision to back away from adding that question. And suddenly he tweets, oh, yeah, we’re putting it in.
SWISHER: And then the lawyer for the Justice Department is like, “I don’t know what he meant in the tweet. We need to call them like what, like governing by tweet. And then he did it this week with Greenland like the …
RITHOLTZ: Well, wait before we go to Greenland, stay with the — the Sanchez (ph) question.
SWISHER: Governing by Twitter.
RITHOLTZ: Here’s the fascinating thing, the last landed gentry in the United States are federal judges. What they say goes in their court …
RITHOLTZ: … and you can be in jail as a lawyer who’s been — who’s been fined for disrespecting the court. And eventually, the appeal will go your way, and after six months of jail, you come out. That judge said to that lawyer, “Your answer is dishonest. And if you don’t get me the answer I want, there’s going to be hell to pay.” I think he threatened them with contempt of court …
RITHOLTZ: … and sending them to jail until it’s resolved.
RITHOLTZ: And he held them accountable. It was fascinating. He’s like you’re responsible for this, it’s your client, get it done.
SWISHER: But I felt like for the lawyers because literally they’re saying they’re like …
RITHOLTZ: Oh, I know.
SWISHER: … it’s Twitter, but literally he’s governing by Twitter, like what do you do? Like I can see the person sitting there like what do we do now, who do we call? He just tweeted it, like what does that mean …
RITHOLTZ: That’s …
SWISHER: … and interpreting it.
RITHOLTZ: You’re an officer of the court, and you have an …
SWISHER: Yes, I get that.
RITHOLTZ: … obligation …
SWISHER: I get that, but I’m talking about it on a personal level. I mean, like — just like Mattis, when he was tweeting about that transgender stuff …
SWISHER: … he just ignored them.
SWISHER: I think …
RITHOLTZ: … and — and pulled someone into the office and said, no, we’re not doing this.
SWISHER: We’re not doing, but, by the way, he’s the …
RITHOLTZ: Right. Twitter …
SWISHER: … President and you’re ignoring the President …
RITHOLTZ: That’s right.
SWISHER: … so the whole thing he’s been saying …
RITHOLTZ: Thank goodness.
SWISHER: … yes, but it’s also — they e can’t do that, like that — that’s called — we have a system, so it’s really fascinating …
RITHOLTZ: Well, we have a system and if you want me to do something, give me an official …
SWISHER: Yeah, but …
RITHOLTZ: … executive order, not a tweet. We don’t want people anticipating what the President is tweeting.
SWISHER: But nobody has anticipated that you could do that because he did it again with Greenland. I’m not …
SWISHER: … going to Greenland. The — the ambassador to Greenland was like, “Welcome, Mr. President,” and then he tweets that, like just at the same time. And then they’re like — they’re all scrambling like what if …
RITHOLTZ: Somebody had an interesting theory that pre-scheduled at the end of the month is Obama going to Greenland, and he didn’t want to be compared with the adoring flams (ph) …
… I think you’re …
RITHOLTZ: And you’re probably right.
SWISHER: You know, I think — but it’s really interesting because it’s a perfect medium for this guy. He’s like the troll-in-chief.
SWISHER: He’s twitchy, he’s raging, he’s — it’s — everything about the way Twitter is designed and the way they’ve architected is perfect for Donald Trump.
SWISHER: And he’s — that’s why he’s so good on it. Now then you see someone like AOC who’s also good on it, but …
SWISHER: … he’s good in a different way.
RITHOLTZ: Future president.
SWISHER: He’s — he’s — exactly. He — or possibly, he broadcasts and she speaks the language, so I …
SWISHER: … find her fascinating in that way. And I don’t — I think Nancy Pelosi is right, you just got to get the votes.
SWISHER: I think she’s got to do both.
RITHOLTZ: She’s a natural, she’s of that generation.
SWISHER: If she combines — if she combines the ability to communicate beautifully on social media with an ability to get votes and really actually do the machinations of democracy, would you need the votes like that’s …
SWISHER: … really it. That’ll be very powerful. I think Trump just — he’s — just creates havoc, and that’s — that’s also a talent to create havoc.
RITHOLTZ: He is the chaos president.
SWISHER: And he uses — he uses — but it’s — he’s — he — he has unique — just the way John F. Kennedy used the television, he’s using Twitter and social media.
RITHOLTZ: No doubt about it. We have been speaking with Kara Swisher. She is the co-founder of Recode and the author of numerous books on technology. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out our podcast extras where we keep the tape rolling and continue discussing all things tech-related. You can find that at iTunes, Spotify, Google podcast, Overcast, Stitcher, wherever your finer podcasts are sold.
We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at email@example.com. Check out my weekly column at bloomberg.com. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. Sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’re listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.
Welcome to the podcast. By the way, Kara, thank you so much for doing this. You are …
SWISHER: No problem.
RITHOLTZ: … to track down. I had to pull in …
RITHOLTZ: … some favors.
SWISHER: I know, it’s Galloway.
RITHOLTZ: Galloway who has been on my podcast. I’ve done 250 something now …
SWISHER: Wow, good.
RITHOLTZ: … more than any — five years 255.
SWISHER: Four hundred, my friend.
SWISHER: And that doesn’t count Pivot.
RITHOLTZ: That’s a lot. But mine are all three, four hours, so it’s a little — so, by the way, just so you know, I’ve been a listener to Pivot from the beginning when I’m — I’m up really early East Coast time working on …
RITHOLTZ: … my — my …
SWISHER: Various and sundry things.
RITHOLTZ: … my — my (inaudible). And I like to have something playing in the background …
RITHOLTZ: … and you guys …
SWISHER: Were funny.
RITHOLTZ: … you guys are — well, we really didn’t get into the podcast much, but I love the combination of you as who you are and Scott as an alpha male …
SWISHER: We have a lot of …
RITHOLTZ: … East Coast …
SWISHER: … the weirdest chemistry. People …
RITHOLTZ: It’s — it’s fantastic.
SWISHER: I — anywhere I go they’re like where’s Scott? I’m like …
RITHOLTZ: No, no, we’re not married.
SWISHER: We’re not married, we don’t hang out, but we sound like a married couple sort of like I was trying to think of — like is it Kathie Lee in Regis, is it …
SWISHER: … do you remember moonlighting?
RITHOLTZ: Sure, of course.
SWISHER: You know, I mean …
SWISHER: it’s that kind of thing that’s going on there. It’s a really interesting — it’s a really interesting chemistry we have. And I think it’s because I’m like — like he’s being alpha male …
RITHOLTZ: On purpose.
SWISHER: … sort of dope alpha …
RITHOLTZ: He’s — right, he’s — he’s allowing the testosterone …
SWISHER: … alpha male …
RITHOLTZ: … poisoning to take over.
SWISHER: Right, and yet but he’s also like sort of — sort of like …
RITHOLTZ: He’s a woke alpha.
SWISHER: Yeah. He’s like the kind of like, oh, god, (inaudible). I’m like you’re an idiot like I think …
RITHOLTZ: He says stuff to you that I just like crack up …
SWISHER: Oh, we’re like watching …
RITHOLTZ: … and he’s to provoke you.
SWISHER: I was like you’re one statement away from the end of your career all the time, like I’m trying to protect — and you could see me trying to like protect him. It’s a really good — it’s a really interesting thing, and we’re going to try to do more of them. And it’s just — you can’t — you cannot capture that with just about anything. I have that report with Walt in a different way, too.
SWISHER: So it’s really hard to — to do that. And I was — I’m thrilled. I — I enjoy doing it which I can just …
RITHOLTZ: I can tell.
SWISHER: You know, he enjoys doing it.
RITHOLTZ: It comes across.
SWISHER: He enjoy — we enjoy it like it’s fun. And I think that’s what’s most important is to, you know, love the life you live, right, kind of thing …
SWISHER: … like we love it, and that’s — that’s how you make great things if you really enjoy yours.
RITHOLTZ: One is an episode I hear, hold me, Kara, you know, it …
… you know, it’s coming.
SWISHER: That’s — he has all kind — I’m a gangster.
SWISHER: He (inaudible) at texting. Barry is a gangster, I’m like, oh Jesus.
RITHOLTZ: Can I tell you the …
SWISHER: None of you are gangsters. I come from a family of gangsters.
RITHOLTZ: … can I tell you the funniest thing he’s ever said I ever heard him say.
SWISHER: What’s that?
RITHOLTZ: So he knows I’m a car guy. We were talking about cars, and I misheard him. I thought he said G wagon, I didn’t realize he had a GL wagon. The G wagon is the …
SWISHER: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
RITHOLTZ: All right. So a Mercedes makes …
SWISHER: You start bringing up football, I’m going to leave.
RITHOLTZ: … Mercedes makes this military vehicle that looks like …
RITHOLTZ: … a giant jeep on steroids. It’s like $150,000.
SWISHER: Why do you need this?
RITHOLTZ: Nobody needs it. It’s the worst dumbest thing in the world. And when I heard him say G wagon, GL, I thought he said G wagon.
SWISHER: What would that be?
RITHOLTZ: So GL is like a normal SUV. GL wagon is this …
SWISHER: Does he have one of those?
RITHOLTZ: Well, I — that’s what I thought — I go — I go, “Scott, I don’t know about you and this G wagon,” and his answer was, “No, no, GL, not G wagon.” He goes, “I’m insecure, not pathetic.”
I still get emails from people about that silly one.
SWISHER: He is really funny. It’s funny, he goes — when he — when we go places, and what’s really striking about that podcast is I am stopped so much on the street. They’re like, tell Scott to screw it, like and it …
SWISHER: Yeah, I …
SWISHER: … TV show because it’s really funny. People — like he was walking on the tarmac and, of course, he’s going to the Hamptons and a helicopter, I’m not doing that. I’m like a car …
RITHOLTZ: He doesn’t — he’s …
SWISHER: I’m in the car with my kids and my …
RITHOLTZ: Is he really choppering to the Hamptons?
SWISHER: Yeah, he was choppering and I’m literally driving a car — car to province down with my pregnant girlfriend and my two teenage sons, and it’s like — and the guy who does the, you know, waves the helicopter down with the two …
SWISHER: … batons …
SWISHER: … was — he has the earphones on and he sees Scott and he goes, “Where is Kara?”
RITHOLTZ: That’s hilarious.
SWISHER: But he was really funny. Kara is driving like (BLEEP) car up to the Cape is what Kara is doing, anyway.
RITHOLTZ: That’s — that’s very funny.
SWISHER: He’s a Nantucket, of course, because he’s the elite.
RITHOLTZ: Is Nantucket considered the elite?
SWISHER: Oh, my god …
RITHOLTZ: Is that — is that what that is? No, I’m not an elite. I’m in the top 10 percent, I’m not in the top one percent.
SWISHER: People make you put color in your houses. Everything has to look the same.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, the — the wooden shingles and the …
SWISHER: You don’t — Barry, you need to not go to Nantucket.
RITHOLTZ: All right.
SWISHER: You need to province down, I think, you got (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: I’m a (inaudible) guy. I’m very happy on …
SWISHER: (Inaudible) is lovely.
RITHOLTZ: … you know, sort of …
RITHOLTZ: … middle-class …
SWISHER: Fantastic, soft air …
RITHOLTZ: Right, exactly. All right. So I have to let you go eventually …
RITHOLTZ: … so let me jump to my …
SWISHER: All right, Okay.
RITHOLTZ: … favorite questions that I ask all of my guests.
RITHOLTZ: I know you don’t own a car now, but what was the first car you ever owned?
SWISHER: Honda Civic.
RITHOLTZ: Good — good reliable car.
SWISHER: With the shift — with a shift. I have a — I always have shift cars.
RITHOLTZ: Me, too, all my cars.
SWISHER: Yes, all my cars.
RITHOLTZ: My BMWs …
SWISHER: Honda Civic.
RITHOLTZ: … my Jeep, everything is a stick shift.
SWISHER: Brown Honda Civic.
RITHOLTZ: And my wife is now a better driver with the stick than I am.
RITHOLTZ: It’s really — it’s really sent me back.
SWISHER: I had a Volkswagen for years. I had a Volkswagen for years.
RITHOLTZ: Which one, bug or something later?
SWISHER: The bug. And then I had a rabbit (inaudible) it was a rabbit, it’s called something. It’s called (inaudible) right now …
RITHOLTZ: GTR, yeah.
SWISHER: … or (inaudible). And then — and then I had a minivan, I had a Honda minivan when I — but not before I had kids I had a Honda minivan. Then I had a Lesbaru, of course, a Subaru.
RITHOLTZ: Right. You saw there was a big article not too long ago about how Subaru became the car of choice of lesbians …
RITHOLTZ: … and I think it was Vanity Fair.
SWISHER: Indeed it was.
RITHOLTZ: It’s a very interesting …
SWISHER: Lesbaru – I had a Lesbaru. And then I had …
RITHOLTZ: I never heard it called that before.
SWISHER: … yeah, I had a jeep from New York …
RITHOLTZ: They are the worst.
SWISHER: … which was terrible, terrible.
RITHOLTZ: I had one, right.
RITHOLTZ: Although I — to be fair, they’re unstoppable in the snow, unstoppable.
SWISHER: Yeah, I had a — I had one with the — with the — with the …
RITHOLTZ: Like a real Jeep …
SWISHER: A real Jeep …
RITHOLTZ: … like a Rubicon (ph).
SWISHER: … and I had one that was had a hard top, and I hated both of them. And then I had – and then I started getting Mazdas, I love Mazdas. And I love the Mazda. I wanted the Mazda 2, but I have Mazda 3 and then …
RITHOLTZ: The 3 is a happy car.
SWISHER: It’s a good car.
RITHOLTZ: Right, it’s got a great happy face.
SWISHER: That was a great car. And then I just recently had a Ford Fiesta Turbo. That’s what I sold.
RITHOLTZ: I’m so sorry.
SWISHER: There was a — no, I’m telling you that’s a great car.
RITHOLTZ: I had a Fiesta years ago, I hated it.
SWISHER: No, the Turbo. And it really is a good car. Don’t insult the (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: I will tell you I rented a Ford Edge the other day, and I was surprised at how good car it was.
SWISHER: The Turbo is a different car. Everyone made fun of me and then they got in with its stick shift.
SWISHER: Oh, I see.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, this is serious.
SWISHER: Wonderful little car. It was a great little car, but I do not have any cars. I had a Vespa for many years, but I never drove it.
RITHOLTZ: That’s fun.
SWISHER: I had (inaudible).
RITHOLTZ: What do you mean you never drove it?
SWISHER: I — just in San Francisco was too cold, I had it in San Francisco. My — my ex gave it to me as a Valentine’s present.
RITHOLTZ: No good.
SWISHER: But I love scooters, I ride scooters all the time. And I love — I love scooters.
RITHOLTZ: What’s the most important thing people don’t know about Kara Swisher?
SWISHER: That I love scooters, no, people know that. No, that I love — I love action films with — really bad action films like (inaudible). I just — I just love those. I — I go to all men and I go by myself. I don’t want to like argue with people about how (BLEEP).
SWISHER: I just go. I love them, I love them, I love them, I love them …
RITHOLTZ: Really …
SWISHER: I love Mission Impossible. I love Bond. I’m so excited the new Bond film is coming out.
RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible), is he going to be in the Bond?
SWISHER: No, no, it’s going to be Daniel Craig again.
RITHOLTZ: Okay. Well, that’s this one.
SWISHER: Twenty-fifth film, I’ve seen every Bond movie 10 times.
SWISHER: Even the bad ones. And I love all those movies. I like them. I’m excited for Kristen Stewart in Underwater. I like anything action, and I also love …
RITHOLTZ: Every one.
SWISHER: … Fast and Furious franchise. I love — and I love the Rock.
RITHOLTZ: Jack Reacher? Have you seen the Jack …
SWISHER: Yes, of course, I’ve seen that.
RITHOLTZ: So — so I’m not going to name something.
SWISHER: No, I know them all.
RITHOLTZ: How about Night and Day?
SWISHER: Yes, of course, with Cameron Diaz.
RITHOLTZ: With Me, Without Me.
SWISHER: I love it.
RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about mentors. Tell us about your mentors.
SWISHER: Mossberg, that’s it.
RITHOLTZ: That’s it.
RITHOLTZ: One name, bang.
SWISHER: Walt Mossberg.
RITHOLTZ: He recruited you to the Journal?
SWISHER: He did.
RITHOLTZ: How did he affect how you developed as a journalist?
SWISHER: He was so generous with his power. He had so much power and was so generous and — and — and really is such a good mentor to women in the — in the way — never scared to mentor a woman, never — never …
RITHOLTZ: And early in the 80’s, he’s way ahead of the curve.
SWISHER: Early, he has a — there’s a group of women he’s mentored in a way …
RITHOLTZ: No kidding.
SWISHER: … that has been — and specifically made sure he did that because he understood they were — they — there were — there were issues. Always had my back just — and I can — I can be …
SWISHER: Not difficult, no, no.
RITHOLTZ: No, no, difficult, that’s what Scott told me.
SWISHER: Not difficult is not the word, yes.
RITHOLTZ: He said you were difficult.
SWISHER: No, I’m not difficult, I’m not difficult.
I — think I know what I want and I say it very loudly. And I don’t — you know, I think — and I do it around powerful people, like Rupert Murdoch said (inaudible) to me, I was like no. And he was like, whoa, what are you doing?
One point he …
RITHOLTZ: What was the reaction to that?
SWISHER: … he love — it was — let me tell you a story very quickly. So we would meet with him — Rupert Murdoch love Walt Mossberg, loved — he loved reading and he’s thrilled when he bought the Journal, always had walk to lunch and everything.
And I was always with him, right, like always there. I’m certain Rupert Murdoch didn’t know my name.
RITHOLTZ: He thought you would hit Walt’s assistant or something.
SWISHER: No, he knew, he was aware that I was his partner.
SWISHER: You know what I mean? But he didn’t know who I was, like he didn’t. And so he — he’d be like, well, (inaudible). Walt, how are you? How are you doing? You know, his mumbles and his Australian accent. I was always with him. And so he later knows who I am. And he used to call me a lot during the Internet thing, like what do you think of this company, what do you think — which was interesting. I get a call like four in the morning from Rupert.
Rupert called on the phone, I’m like, all right, sure, whatever. But — but he — we were in the office one day and he’s like, well, I think (inaudible) hello. And I go, “Listen, I don’t think you know my name, but it’s Kara Swisher. Next time I come I’d like you to say, hi, Kara, because I want you to remember my name if you don’t mind, but I don’t think, you know, my name right now. And I — I’m sorry to be rude, but I just want — like why pretend?
RITHOLTZ: What was the reaction?
SWISHER: He’s like, “I know your name.” I’m like, Okay.
RITHOLTZ: Well, use it.
SWISHER: I said, all right, if you know what you do, but I don’t think you do because I know it. And I go, “All right. I don’t think you do,” and he was like, (inaudible) like stop Kara.
RITHOLTZ: And the next time you showed up?
SWISHER: He knew my name.
RITHOLTZ: He said hello, Kara.
SWISHER: He always knew my name after that.
RITHOLTZ: That’s very, very funny.
SWISHER: Yeah, yeah.
RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. We’ve touched on a few books, and I’ll include your books.
RITHOLTZ: What are some of your favorite books? Tech, non tech?
What do you like?
SWISHER: Well, I’m reading, I’ve been reading Ron Chernow Hamilton book for six years now.
RITHOLTZ: Can’t finish it.
SWISHER: Can’t I…
RITHOLTZ: Chernow is a great writer.
SWISHER: I hear it ends badly.
RITHOLTZ: No, no, it ends on a play on Broadway, it worked out well.
SWISHER: I saw that early but I think the book is great and I’m really — I just finished “I Will be Gone in the Dark” Michelle McNamara’s book about the Golden State killer, just a really – I love dogged people and she was …
RITHOLTZ: And how that eventually got solved by …
SWISHER: Yes, well, DNA, that’s why I was interested.
RITHOLTZ: Yes, it’s amazing.
SWISHER: I’m super interested in DNA right now, so I just read that book. But it turned out to be a fascinating book. I am reading Taffy Akner’s “Fleishman is in Trouble” I had her on the podcast and I didn’t…
RITHOLTZ: :”Fleishman is in Trouble” that sounds familiar.
SWISHER: Yes, it’s a great novel, she’s a great feature writer and she’s trying her hand at novels. I read of the books I have to do podcast on, I’m reading Andrew Merrence’s book about disinformation because he’s going to be on the podcast, Mike Isaac’s book I’m giving his book party for the Uber Book, although I don’t want to hear no more about Uber, I know a lot about it.
RITHOLTZ: You know how that ends also.
SWISHER: But it’s a good book, it’s a good book.
SWISHER: Yes, and so that’s interesting.
I read a lot of nonfiction more than fiction, I wish I read – I’m reading this book that is amazing and I got a blank on her name, Julia – Gabby Rivera’s new book, it’s – I can’t remember any – but anyway.
RITHOLTZ: Gabby Rivera’s new book.
SWISHER: New book, and it’s amazing, it’s really wonderful, Julianna takes on something or – she’s really great, she’s a beautiful writer and I’m trying to read more fiction because I think…
RITHOLTZ: Everyone wants to read more fiction, it’s very hard to do…
SWISHER: No stupid fiction, I just really – you know, really I like fiction.
RITHOLTZ: I mean for work, don’t you have to do a ton of…
SWISHER: I do a tone of reading, I read the internet all day long, and I read a lot of stories. But I tend to – I like feature writers, some of my favorite feature writer, Jessica Pressler, Olivia Nesi (ph) they are all women, interesting, Taffy Akner, I like them all, I find them really wonderful, I love their writing, I think they are great.
RITHOLTZ: Tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from the experience.
RITHOLTZ: Nobody bats a thousand.
SWISHER: I don’t – could look at is failure, I hate to sound like a Silicon Valley person but …
RITHOLTZ: You sound like Ray Dalio but keep going.
SWISHER: I — I don’t look at them as failures I don’t think I’m trying to …
RITHOLTZ: Well what did you learn from the experience of something not working out.
SWISHER: I don’t – I just do something else, I have a very good ability just to like okay, next, like thank you, next. It’s I just don’t think of it that way, I don’t think I– don’t think I the only feelings I can think of is with my children like I should have …
RITHOLTZ: But that’s a given also.
SWISHER: Right I should have done more of this sometimes like I should have made decisions faster it’s all related to my children and even then I think it I’m a very good parent, I think I’m a really good parent.
RITHOLTZ: So no failures over.
SWISHER: No, that’s not true.
RITHOLTZ: Minor setbacks?
SWISHER: I don’t like — well my dad died when I was five …
SWISHER: That is not failure but it certainly formed me and I think I am very resilient because of it even though I would rather be less resilient and him alive, so, you know, sometimes I lose my temper with my mom and I wish I hadn’t, it’s a lot of that kind of stuff, but big career failures? No, I think I’m really good at career I’d have to say I’ve timed it well I think, I think I’ve done a good job in my career for sure.
And that’s a very – and also, you know, when I had a stroke I thought …
RITHOLTZ: Wait what?
SWISHER: I had a stroke of five or six years ago.
RITHOLTZ: Hold on a second, so the answer to the question what’s the most important thing we don’t know about you…
SWISHER: Oh the stroke, people do know about it…
RITHOLTZ: I don’t know about it.
SWISHER: I wrote a whole…
SWISHER: I did a podcast about…
RITHOLTZ: Listen, I do a ton of research into every guest.
SWISHER: Yes, in Hong Kong on my way to do a make money for Rupert Murdoch, I did an All Things Digital D China and Asia D with …
RITHOLTZ: So from the flight.
SWISHER: On the flight yeah and it turned out I had a hole in my heart which many people have dated me have said. No, I’m kidding, I’m I’ve — I’ve pretty good…
RITHOLTZ: That is a Mark Knopfler song, “Hole in my Heart.”
SWISHER: Yes, a hole in my heart, it’s called a PFO and I had sticky blood as I found out through “23 and Me” and I was on…
RITHOLTZ: Sticky blood.
SWISHER: Mandatory – so it’s kind of it’s a condition where the blood is stickier.
RITHOLTZ: So what was the — what was the impact of the stroke?
SWISHER: It reinforced my feeling that life is short and you better get going.
RITHOLTZ: True but what was the biological what — what were the medical side effects? I like the philosophical.
SWISHER: Yeah I have a hole, I mean, I’m with Steve jobs on that, I had a hole in my heart and there’s nothing I can do about it.
RITHOLTZ: So wait, your stroke was cerebral stroke or cardiac stroke?
SWISHER: Cerebral, if cardiac, I’d probably be dead.
RITHOLTZ: So you have a stroke with no limitation in.
SWISHER: In Hong Kong, it was just amazing…
RITHOLTZ: No cognitive functions, no physical.
SWISHER: It’s for a very short amount of time that day and then it was done I was like talking like this.
RITHOLTZ: And was the hole in your heart discovered post stroke investigation?
SWISHER: Post stroke, post stroke.
RITHOLTZ: So you got a little lucky with a minor stroke that discovered this leakage in one of your valves or what was it?
SWISHER: No, no, no, it’s a whole new – it’s got a PFO and when you’re born, there’s a flap where the amniotic fluid goes back and forth…
SWISHER: And when people are born…
RITHOLTZ: That’s supposed to close up.
SWISHER: …it closes up. It flaps over and then seals.
RITHOLTZ: Right, yours never did.
SWISHER: Many people doesn’t seal.
RITHOLTZ: So does it leak?
SWISHER: Many – 20 percent of the human…
RITHOLTZ: What does it do?
SWISHER: It doesn’t leak, it just is there.
RITHOLTZ: Just flapping in the breeze.
SWISHER: Just flaps and doesn’t, and a clot got through. If there’s no clot getting through, it doesn’t matter.
SWISHER: So – I’m not a doctor but I did wrote a big column on it, actually in “The Times”…
RITHOLTZ: I remember that.
SWISHER: When Luke Perry did.
RITHOLTZ: Oh yes…
SWISHER: I have a stroke and my brother saved my life, my brother is a doctor and when I was in Hong Kong and I was…
RITHOLTZ: How did your brother save you?
SWISHER: Well, I was there and I suddenly couldn’t talk, I had a dysphasia and…
SWISHER: And I was like – and I was in a hotel room and I was like well I can’t call anybody and I felt okay, a little headache.
RITHOLTZ: Could you type, could you…
SWISHER: I had a little bit of tingle in my hand but yes, I was writing a story about Yahoo, and I was like, you know, these idiots at Yahoo, once again, are screwing up or something…
SWISHER: And it was my finger tingled, I tried to eat something that fell out of my mouth and I was like “blah blah blah blah” and I was like…
RITHOLTZ: I’m having a stroke.
SWISHER: And I thought I had a migraine, I had migraines for years which is a sign of a stroke among women, didn’t realize it. Not everybody who has migraine gets a stroke but it’s one of the signals.
SWISHER: And I’ve been travelling and I thought a lot and I was like, oh, I’m just so tired, that’s what it is. And so I wrote my brother, I texted him, and it was a different time and I think it was in the middle of the night in San Francisco and he’s an anesthesiologist and he said – like my father was an anesthesiologist, and he texted me, I went up to breakfast and by the time I got to breakfast, you know, I woke up at 4 in the morning, Hong Kong time and then went up whatever, and then went up to breakfast, by the time it was gone…
SWISHER: It was really talking like this like I had like teeth surgery, and I got up to the thing and my brother called, he says get yourself to a hospital right now, you are having a stroke, and I said “Are you crazy?” like you’re such a bad doctor, how ridiculous…
SWISHER: I’m you know, whatever years old, I was not old.
SWISHER: And so, I think my late 40s and or maybe 50 and you know, it was late 40s and so he said you are having a stroke, get to a hospital now.
SWISHER: Now. And I was like okay, and so I did, and he was right, and it wasn’t a minor stroke, it was a stroke.
SWISHER: You know, all strokes, I mean there’s thing – NTMI or whatever they are called and they medicated me immediately and I didn’t have any repercussions, he flew to Hong Kong immediately.
SWISHER: But he saved my life, he did.
RITHOLTZ: That’s amazing.
SWISHER: Now he’s never let me live it down.
SWISHER: The day I die.
RITHOLTZ: That’s the trade off for saving your life. I’m going to hold this over you forever.
SWISHER: He’s a great doctor.
RITHOLTZ: Tell us what you do for fun.
SWISHER: Oh I don’t have fun, what’s that? No, I have a lot of friends, I have a ton of friends, I love spending time with my kids, my kids are amazing, my two sons are astonishing, and I’m about to have a baby with my girlfriend who is having a little girl, so – family, I spend a lot of time with family, I think that’s fun for me, doing family stuff.
I don’t have a lot of hobbies, I used to roller blade, I don’t do that anymore.
RITHOLTZ: Nobody does.
SWISHER: You know, I did SoulCycle but I’m not going to do that – I’m going to try something else.
RITHOLTZ: You’re out because of it.
SWISHER: I have a Peloton. Yes.
RITHOLTZ: I was going to say Peloton is really the best.
SWISHER: I don’t need my thousands of dollars, it’s not a little money, it’s not like I can get one Starbucks a week, it gets a lot of money, they’re $30 a session, I don’t have to give them that money, you know, whatever, people can make their own decisions, I don’t care, I don’t have to, but they can also leave me the hell alone if I want to do something else.
RITHOLTZ: Fair enough.
SWISHER: So I know it’s virtue signaling, I don’t care, I don’t want to spend the money there.
RITHOLTZ: I have the phrase virtue signaling because really…
SWISHER: I don’t care.
RITHOLTZ: It’s an ad hominem attack.
SWISHER: It is.
RITHOLTZ: It’s not about the argument.
SWISHER: That’s who I am.
RITHOLTZ: And people have pushed back about that and you go back to the person who created the phrase and he describes it as a personal attack against people whose ideas we don’t like.
SWISHER: I just – I just want to do, like leave me alone.
SWISHER: But you know, mind your own business and I won’t be…
RITHOLTZ: Hey, who I spend my money…
SWISHER: Right, exactly, it’s my money…
SWISHER: I work so hard and I can spend it anyway…
RITHOLTZ: Give it to Ben and Jerry’s…
RITHOLTZ: I mean I am for people who are politically ….
SWISHER: Whatever, I just want to spend my money where it’s – most things you can’t figure and then like, well, this is this and like you can’t figure everything but that is a clear one.
SWISHER: That’s a clear one, like I get that.
RITHOLTZ: He has signaled his virtue.
SWISHER: I know if I eat like a Hershey bar or this money, I can’t figure all that, of course.
SWISHER: But in this case, this guy made a prominent gesture and I’m going to make a prominent gesture back.
So that’s you know, and that’s – there’s no logic to it, it’s Kara Swisher logic and by the way, Kara Swisher logic applies to Kara.
RITHOLTZ: Can I tell you, there is logic to it, when someone is going to be a very visible patron of someone whose beliefs not just disagree with yours but are actively oppressing your identification…
SWISHER: I don’t care, I just don’t like it, I don’t like it, I won’t give money, that’s all. That’s – it’s not even that complicated, by the way, I feel terrible for Melanie Whelan at SoulCycle, I’d like to have her in a podcast to talk about it, I think the people of SoulCycle, I’m so sorry that they have to go through this but you know what?
RITHOLTZ: Well, spin it out to a separate entity then?
SWISHER: I was like I want to call Lorraine Jobs and say, Lorraine, who does love SoulCycle…
RITHOLTZ: Buy these people out from…
RITHOLTZ: But then you are rewarding the bad behavior…
SWISHER: I know some billionaires, I can do something about it, you know…
RITHOLTZ: Yes, but then you are going to reward.
SWISHER: So I don’t do anything for fun.
RITHOLTZ: You are going to reward his bad behavior.
SWISHER: I don’t do anything for fun, I hang out with friends, that’s what I do.
RITHOLTZ: That’s it.
RITHOLTZ: Tell us what you are most optimistic and pessimistic about your chosen field of technology and journalism?
SWISHER: I’m optimistic because there’s so much exciting stuff going on, and so much innovation happening in journalism and I think that even though people have sort of declared the end – when people are declaring the end of the world and stuff, I remember Barry, you all are saying, it’s never that, it’s never…
SWISHER: You can’t whine and give up on things like – okay.
RITHOLTZ: That’s been a losing bet for 5,000 years.
SWISHER: Yes, you know, and journalists tend to like not – like sometimes, like I was talking to someone and they go this is what’s happening and this is what’s happening and I’m like, do check if this is what’s happening because you are just making that up and so I think you have to really feel you know, anyone who has children have to believe in the future, anyone, you know, and I have a lot of children and so I believe in the future.
I don’t want to have children if I didn’t.
RITHOLTZ: So what are you pessimistic about?
SWISHER: Autocracy, on one hand, I feel like autocrats always end up dead in the drainage ditch, I studied the holocaust quite heavily and the propaganda and stuff and the holocaust and so it can get really bad and when is the point where it stays bad? And it hasn’t so far in our history, there is always someone who looks at Joseph McCarthy and says “Have you no shame?” and it ends? Like it doesn’t end totally but it stops, the fever stops, you have someone at the …
RITHOLTZ: The fever stops.
SWISHER: Right, the Salem Witch trails, they were terrible, they ended. You know, I was around – when I was – formative years, AIDS was terrible during the Reagan administration, the stuff the Reagan administration was doing was appalling.
RITHOLTZ: Not good.
SWISHER: James Watt said trees caused cancer or whatever – trees cause pollution.
SWISHER: Remember him?
SWISHER: Like I was in a …
RITHOLTZ: Because day and night they exhale carbon dioxide. So silly.
SWISHER: Yes, right, whatever James Watt, I’m sure he’s not living anymore but he was — it was just there is always these people that are retrograde and I use – on this, one of my favorites, you know, what I do for fun? I go to the theater, I love – I’m seeing Moulin Rouge tonight and stuff like that.
RITHOLTZ: Have – I got to say, have you seen “To Kill a Mockingbird” with Jeff Daniels?
SWISHER: I see all of it, of course I did, I have seen everyone.
RITHOLTZ: That just – talk about powerful.
SWISHER: I love theater, I love theater, it’s transformative for me as a person, I’ve always since I was a kid and my mom brought us – it’s a real gift my mom gave us, the love of theater and so I’m – I was “Angels in America” is one of my favorite ones and I have seen it at least a dozen times…
RITHOLTZ: Tony Kushner.
SWISHER: Tony Kushner, two parts, and the end of the play, it’s a wonderful play, it’s such a beautifully written play and such a time, it’s hard in this time to remember but it was terrible during the AIDS crises, terrible, terrible, terrible, and people die and these wonderful people die like way before their time.
And the last line of the thing, they are standing at the fountain in Central Park, the Bethesda Fountain and she said – the line he gives is the world always spins forward and this is our time, we will not be silent anymore. And I remember being a gay person and just coming out and people don’t remember when it was hard to be gay and it still is in many parts of the world but it’s easy, I have kids.
RITHOLTZ: It is better in the United States than it was.
SWISHER: It’s like you can’t believe it, you can’t believe it. And so I remember that really impacting me in – the world always spins forward and that’s why I think, everyone’s like “Trump is going to ruin everything” and I’m like, is he, he can’t.
RITHOLTZ: Well, he will do damage for four years and hopefully…
SWISHER: Right, he can, and like we will fix it, we can fix it and we can pick it up and I think that’s where I get up and same thing with journalism, same thing with anything is that – they always end up, these people that want to push us back to old times and which brings people down, there are people that stand up and say enough is enough.
RITHOLTZ: When is that going to happen?
SWISHER: It will.
RITHOLTZ: All right, I hope you are right.
Last two questions. And a millennial or college grad comes to you and says I’m interested in a career in Journalism, what sort of advice would you give them?
SWISHER: Yes, start writing.
RITHOLTZ: Just start writing.
SWISHER: Start looking around and start writing, start reporting, start writing. So much amazing journals is being done right now and again, because these times are harder. Same thing happened during the last time we had something like this.
So just get out your pen, whatever, your tablet.
RITHOLTZ: What’s a pen, right.
SWISHER: Just whatever, get out whatever you can and start telling stories and I think telling stories is the greatest talent that humans have is to tell stories.
RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And our final question….
RITHOLTZ: What do you know…
SWISHER: How many questions, Barry?
RITHOLTZ: I come prepared.
SWISHER: All right.
RITHOLTZ: What do you know about the world of technology…
SWISHER: I like your name Barry, nobody is named Barry anymore.
RITHOLTZ: That makes me special about it.
SWISHER: That’s true, that’s a fair point.
RITHOLTZ: So I got a…
SWISHER: But he’s a serial killer, right?
RITHOLTZ: You know, that’s what I used to do…
RITHOLTZ: Before this.
SWISHER: My son’s name is Louie, there is nobody named – old Jewish, Italian guy.
RITHOLTZ: Louie CK.
SWISHER: Yes, well, Okay.
RITHOLTZ: There you go.
RITHOLTZ: So you named your kid after Louie CK.
SWISHER: No, I did not, my father’s name…
RITHOLTZ: That is a digression I did notice but.
SWISHER: My father’s name is Louis.
RITHOLTZ: There you go.
SWISHER: I did not name him after Louie CK.
RITHOLTZ: One of my favorite seafood places is Louie’s in Port Washington.
SWISHER: Okay, Port Washington, I grew up in Rosyln Harbor.
RITHOLTZ: Oh, so I’m in Locust Valley, I’m give minutes.
SWISHER: Yes, I went to Portledge.
RITHOLTZ: Portledge is literally …
SWISHER: I know, privileged.
RITHOLTZ: 30 seconds from my home.
SWISHER: Portledge, privilege.
RITHOLTZ: I live in…
SWISHER: That’s where I went to grammar school.
RITHOLTZ: And can I tell you whenever people visit me, they are like, I didn’t know Long Island was like this and I’m like well, you made a left and you went to Connecticut.
SWISHER: Which is Syosset.
RITHOLTZ: This is the – so my sister’s kids went to Syosset, that’s – I didn’t know you grew up in Roslyn Harbor.
SWISHER: Yes I did.
RITHOLTZ: Very interesting.
What was I saying? Our final question, what do you know about the world of technology today that you wish you knew however many years, 30 years ago when you first started?
SWISHER: I know about it today, I wish I knew – actually I forget more about technology than most people notice so – in an hour and – I don’t – I think I didn’t quite – the damage, I think we should, understood the damage earlier so I could start writing about it and stopping it.
RITHOLTZ: Privacy, social networks, what damage?
SWISHER: All of it, all of it, the idea that these – the impact on humanity and how – you know, I studied propaganda at Georgetown, that was my area of expertise, and foreign service school and the uses of propaganda, I should have understood having studied the Nazis and especially the Nazis how they used propaganda to in the roll up to killing so many people, the way they used it, it was not a one day thing…
RITHOLTZ: You can’t just slaughter millions, you got to prep for that.
SWISHER: You got to prep it and I…
RITHOLTZ: You got to get the population…
SWISHER: And I’m not just comparing it to the holocaust, but there is damage being done that is very – it’s a similar thing as how we make people the other and I think the internet does that.
RITHOLTZ: The other.
SWISHER: And I think the internet does that.
RITHOLTZ: The internet is very effective at that.
SWISHER: It is and thought it was going to be Star Trek, I thought it was going to be we’re all going to have communicators and love each other and we’re all going to be on a ship.
RITHOLTZ: But it’s both, you have the good and the bad that comes out of it.
SWISHER: That’s right, and so the question is are you a Star Trek person or a Star Wars person.
Star Wars, it’s very dark, it’s very dark.
RITHOLTZ: Yes, yes.
SWISHER: And Star Trek is very hopeful, I was a Star Trek person for far too long.
RITHOLTZ: That’s very interesting.
Fascinating stuff. Thank you so much, Kara, for being so generous…
SWISHER: Thank you, thank you, Barry.
RITHOLTZ: With your time.
We have been speaking with Kara Swisher, she is the founder of Recode, I mentioned you won a Loeb Award, right?
RITHOLTZ: And she writes a weekly opinion column now for the “New York Times.”
If you enjoy this conversation, well, look up an inch or down an inch on all of our previous 250 plus conversations and I’m sure you will find something that you will enjoy. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, go to Apple Itunes and give us a lovely review, be sure to check out my weekly column, you could see that at Bloomberg.com.
I would be remiss I did not thank the crack staff that helps us put together the easiest podcast to record in podcast land. Charlie Vollmer is my audio engineer this week. Atika Valbrun is our project manager, Michael Boyle is my producer, Michael Batnick is my head of research. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.