Table of Contents
- Paolo Gargini: On why it takes so long to bring new tech ideas to market.
- The Ubiquity of Avocado Toast: The Millennialls’ Only Legacy?
- Pet Neutrality: The potentially seismic issue no one saw coming.
- UBER: How a dreadful two-year patch of immature and reckless top management behavior, which brought down UBER’s CEO-Founder and his cronies, also caused good things to happen to others.
- The Passing of a Menlo Pop-up Park: How an ill-fated urban planning experiment, a downtown “pop-up pocket park”, pooped out palpably, and probably permanently.
- The Town of Atherton Police Blotter: Reported police department activity levels have plunged, raising questions of coverup, complicity and chicanery, and prompting many to question if it’s all about zip code-envy.
- Update on Myrna Shagnatz, the Menlo Maven: She’s down, but she’s not out.
- Aubergines De-Classified Advertising
PAOLO GARGINI, THE NOTED GLOBAL SEMICONDUCTOR ROADMAP VISIONARY, COMMENTS ON THE CURRENT FUSS OVER SELF-DRIVING CARS, A FEW OF A YOUNG GORDON MOORE’S MORE PRESCIENT TECH PREDICTIONS, AND WHY MAKING NEW TECH THINGS SEEMS TO TAKE SO LONG
The world we live in – especially here in Silicon Valley – seems to change every day at an astonishing pace. Or at least this is what the media and public opinion seem to want us to believe.
In the world of reality, though, innovation proceeds like a submarine. It starts from the surface. Then it goes unnoticed underwater for a long time (decades, even) before it can emerge again, surprising the uninformed audience that is always bewildered and thus reacts with a euphoric response.
On April 19, 1965 Gordon Moore, a then-completely unknown researcher working at a then-unknown company called Fairchild Camera and Instruments, announced what a not-yet-existent semiconductor revolution could bring to society.
With an amazing prescience and self-confidence, Gordon wrote of a future that would include:
- Home computers
- Automatic driving controls for automobiles
- Personal communications equipment
- An electronic wrist-watch/phone
We can easily smile now while looking at these items, most of which we now cannot live without. But then one is made to wonder: self-driving automobiles in the 60s? How could that have taken so long?
Well, let’s look more at the history of breathtaking ideas being converted into commercially available products.
Microprocessors were invented in 1971, but the personal computer did not take off until the mid-80s. And it took another 10 years before consumers really learned how to use it. That’s 30 pokey years after Gordon Moore’s prediction. Why so slow?
Hand-held radio transceivers were already being used during World War II, as long as there was a donkey available to carry the massively hefty electronics required to use them. But the first analog cellular phone system didn’t get introduced in North America until 1983, while the first Apple iPhone wasn’t introduced until 2007. That was a heck of a long wait following Gordon Moore’s prediction in 1965.
The popular American comic strip hero Dick Tracy introduced us to the notion of an electronic two-way wristwatch/phone in the mid-40s, but Apple’s first samples of this product are barely two years old. Talk about a painfully long wait.
And what about self-driving cars? This must be a really new idea.
Well, not really. Consider this excerpt from “The Living Machine“, by David H. Keller, a science fiction book he wrote in 1935 – 30 years before Gordon Moore’s prediction:
“I want to show you something really new in the way of an automobile.”
“Nothing new about this,” laughed Babson, scornfully. “One of our best and most familiar models.”
“How about the steering wheel?” “Where is it?”
“I do not need one. Sit down and make yourself comfortable. Now we are going into traffic…”
It’s been over 80 years since Keller’s book was published. And while there are some self-driving vehicles being experimented with both in Silicon Valley and in Pittsburgh, it seems like we have a long way to go before our human-driven conventional automobiles – as we have known them for over a century – are fully replaced by a heavily computerized traffic grid system whose principal premise is an automatic-pilot for all cars.
Does anybody remember Apple’s Newton? In 1993 it was thought by many – especially those at Apple – to be the electronic notepad for everybody. It featured handwriting recognition software, a revolutionary concept for that time. But due to serious problems with that software, not to mention weak sales, it did not go too far and therefore – like wine – it needed to age to perfection. Apple killed the product a few years later. Other personal data assistants (PDAs) came along, but the adoption of a personal notepad never did develop into a big success.
As time went by, the big cellular phone service providers struggled for 10 years to really get wireless coverage up to an adequate level.
The Internet started as a disorganized jungle, but finally – after 10 years – the search engines and the websites were trained to operate like scientists who are looking for references at the end of any publication, finding not just one item but a broad selection of items related to a search subject.
Finally, the long-awaited color displays came, along with flash, the Cinderella of memory. Users had been stuck in grainy green and white, or boring black and white, for what seemed like an eternity.
Lithium batteries joined the team and the miracle of the iPhone and the iPad surprised the masses… but note that this was 10-15 years later than expected.
So, if you want to spot what is coming next, I suggest that you consider using this simple approach: go back in time and look at what was prophesized about 20-30 years ago. Then generously add to it the technologies that have come around since then. Then sprinkle on top of it all a catchy name, find a few suppliers willing to cook it for you to perfection and then you, too, may become an overnight success!
So, what’s the take-away, you ask? Another Italian scientist, sometime in the late 16th century, put it this way “Nothing new is ever totally new, and yet it is never the same as what came before it.” Now there’s a guy who realized, perhaps before or better than anyone else, the complexity of understanding the agonizingly slow pace of implementing new technological ideas. He was Galileo Galilei, no slouch when it comes to big ideas.
And speaking of great minds, allow me to now humbly pay tribute to one of the No.1 greatest scientific minds that the impressive Silicon Valley renaissance has brought us, by sharing with you below a portion of Gordon Moore’s prophetic 1965 article in Electronics Magazine; G.E. Moore,” Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits”, Electronics, Vol. 38, No. 8, April 19, 1965.
Editor’s note: Paolo Gargini was born in Florence, Italy and received his Ph.D. with high honors in both electrical engineering and physics from the Universita’ di Bologna, Italy. He joined Intel Corporation in 1978 and was responsible for developing the building blocks of HMOS III technologies used in the 1980s for the Intel 80286 and 80386 processors. He served as Intel’s Director of Technology Strategy. Since 1998, he has been the Chairman of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), and he was an early proponent of coordinated efforts towards the conversion to 450mm wafers, culminating in Samsung, TSMC, IBM, Global Foundries and CSNE holding the first meeting of the G450C task force in 2012. He retired from Intel Corporation in 2012, and is currently affiliated with Stanford University’s School of Engineering, sits on the Board of Directors of several global technology consortia, and is a Fellow of the Japan Society of Applied Physics (JSAP) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
The semiconductor industry – which, as Paolo points out, did not exist until the 1960′s – is currently pacing at over $400 billion in global sales annually, its highest level ever. Add to that the semiconductor equipment industry’s sales, and the combined total is approaching $1,000,000,000 (one trillion) in annual sales.
THE UBIQUITY OF AVOCADO TOAST:
IS THIS THE MILLENNIALLS’ ONLY LEGACY?
If you haven’t noticed the sudden abundance of restaurants, food trucks, 7-11′s and Starbucks offering avocado toast, you must live in Fresno or Barstow. The trendy food selection favored by millennials has overnight become a sensation in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, with Brookland, Portland and Seattle now close behind.
What it is exactly that makes this unremarkable dish so appealing to millennials is still being studied by herd mentality behavior experts. The lead theory is that millennials, known for their considerably diminished work ethic and picky food tastes, are drawn to its baby food-like creamy consistency, which requires only low-impact chewing. And they like the unthreatening nature of its flavor, which many find to be similar to that of tofu paste or a dampened Kleenex.
Another appealing feature of avocado toast appears to be its rigid toast-based platform, which allows the eater to use a single hand to balance it and slurp it while also scanning their iPhone for new messages, leaving the eater’s other hand free to hold an extra large wheat grass mocha soy iced latte.
Food industry experts expect avocado toast sales to reach over $9Billion this year in California alone, up from only $250,000 in 2014, the first year sales began to be recorded. 98% of the sales of avocado toast are believed to be made to millennials. Which is where the dark side of this incredible boom has begun to rear its ugly head: eating too much avocado toast can be extremely dangerous to your health.
To get an idea of just how bad the side effects of high consumption level chowing down on avocado toast are, check out this advertisement which is now appearing on late-night television, on the web and in bus terminals and the passenger areas of Uber and Lyft cabs:
Are you aged 18-34?
Do you suffer from:
- a chronic addiction that is harming your personal or business relationships?
- frequent terrifying nightmares involving themes of climate-change-driven wildfires destroying the world’s avocado orchards?
- a recent significant weight gain?
- getting caught up in petty and sometimes violent arguments with friends over whether avocados are a fruit, a vegetable, a healthy nutritional supplement or a bland, pointless instrument of Satan?
- swollen pores that continuously excrete embarrassing and unmanageable amounts of unsightly oil?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be suffering from ATA, or AVOCADO TOAST ADDICTION.
In 2017 alone in California, this tragic condition was linked to over 500 suicides, 300 murders, 5,000 emergency room visits and countless cases of avocado-related sleep disorders, sex drive reductions, heart arrhythmia and large weeping boils appearing suddenly in the underarm area.
Cardiologists and dieticians report that even a small piece of the salty and creamy fat-slathered toast contains the caloric equivalent of a 24-ounce double-thick chocolate milkshake, enough sodium for a family of five for one month, and the cholesterol intake of such massive proportions that no human over the age of 14 was ever built to accommodate without severe risk of cardiac arrest.
We at the esteemed law firm of Dershowitz, Ramakrishnan, Dostoyevsky and O’Sullivan are here to help you find the medical and psychological help you need, and to recover the legal damages award that you deserve for your grave suffering.
Call 1-800-TOASTNOMO now. Or go online to www.toastschmoast.com We specialize in consumer class action litigation, which costs injured parties nothing, and which has revolutionized the way consumer disputes are resolved in North America, Brazil, Romania and the Shetland Islands.
We are the only law firm that specializes solely in avocado toast-related disputes. And, we were the first.
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Pet Neutrality Is coming soon, and you’d better be ready for it.
Forget about climate change, or the stunning rise in workplace sexual abuse or the dire predictions that show gender ambiguity will be the norm by 2050. Although coping with the implications of these issues can certainly be seriously stress-inducing, they are nothing when compared to the daunting ramifications of pet neutrality.
Yes, that’s pet neutrality, which is not to be confused with the similar-sounding but far less significant cause for worry, net neutrality.
For starters, pet neutrality has nothing to do with neutering or spaying animals. Pet neutrality is a whole new set of lifestyle moral guidelines that many predict is so radical, so timely and so potentially incendiary to the American social construct that if you don’t do well with constant controversy and angst, you might just be better off if you pick up and move right now to Canada, Finland or the Seychelles Islands, where life is lived at a pleasant but modest pace, and worrisome issues are fewer and far less complex.
Consider this: Americans, numbering now over 300 million, currently have nearly 100 million dogs as pets. Add cats, and the number doubles. And there are plenty more types of typical American pets: parakeets, goldfish, monkeys, turtles, hamsters, gerbils, snakes, falcons, lizards, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets, to name a few; there are literally hundreds more species. All told, Americans are thought to have more than one billion pets, and many leading scientists believe that number is growing at twice the rate of humans.
Now comes The Delictus Society, a nonprofit based in Berkeley, California which has written a “Pet’s Bill of Rights” which it proposes for national adoption by the end of the year 2018. (Delictus, by the way, is the Latin word for pet.) Katya Weinstein-Wurtzburger, the Co-President of Delictus and also a tenured professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Advanced Animal Wifery, announced on January 1st that
“It is high time that our pets be granted basic inalienable rights which will assure them of long, healthy and tranquil lives, unburdened by mean-spirited attitudes and practices of many humans and institutions that fail to properly respect the valued roles played by pets in American society for decades if not centuries, and which are vital to human civility, a high quality of intellectual discourse and the preservation of human life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Now, this is a woman who not lacking for seriousness of purpose. The rights that she and Delictus propose for pets are significantly greater than those guaranteed to humans under the U.S. Constitution. Passage of this bill of rights would pose a critical ethical question for humans: Are pets more deserving than humans, and thus deserving of rights to a better life than humans?
“Yes, without question” was the answer given emphatically by Ms. Weinstein-Wurtzburger in a recent interview with Aubergines reporter Susskinder McDermott, who breeds Pomeranian-Alsatian Mastifs in his spare time. “It’s long overdue”, she added.
It’s too soon to say whether this movement will catch on and attract a broad base of support, and if so how long a national adoption strategy will take to successfully complete. In the interim though, we think that the searching issues presented by this initiative are probably the most thought-provoking and hand-wringing to be faced by Americans in a long time, with the potential to divide our country, to take center stage away from partisan politics, and to threaten the republic’s very foundational fabric.
“The issues here are more critical than the Free Speech Movement of the 60′s, the anti-Vietnam war protests of the 1970′s and 80′s, and the current debates about whether government should control consumption by society of sugary drinks and foods; we are prepared to fight to the bitter end to right this grave, heinous injustice to animals” concluded Ms. Weinstein-Wurtzburger.
WITHOUT A DOUBT, UBER HAS HAD A REALLY DREADFUL 2017, BRINGING AGONY, HEARTBREAK AND DEPRESSION TO THOUSANDS SURPRISE: SOME UNANTICIPATED AND REALLY POSITIVE THINGS RESULTED FROM IT
Uber, the ride-sharing phenomenon whose last venture funding achieved an uber-unicorn valuation of $60 billion – higher than any other privately-held tech startup on the planet – has from almost the moment of its formation been attracting a spectacular amount of attention. Until 2016, however, most of this attention was of the positive variety. But Uber never seemed to grow out of its infamously sophomoric “bro” culture, and this nearly brought Uber down.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s charismatic CEO-Founder and lead evangelist, was from the beginning the darling of the media, and was even considered a bit of a sex symbol in some circles. He quickly became known for his testosterone-charged self-confidence and unbridled brashness. In Travis’ view, there was no challenge too great to stop him and Uber from overcoming it, whether it was demeaning existing taxi competition, thumbing noses at long-standing laws and regulations existing almost everywhere, and thwarting laws requiring drivers to be treated as employees and thus subject to withholding taxes and eligible for benefits.
And for a while, it actually seemed to many as if Travis and Uber had a decent shot at taking over the world.
But then came 2017, when the wheels of Uber seemed to be coming off. More and more media stories about a chest-bumping “bro culture” within Uber emerged that suggested rampant misogyny and immaturity at the higher management levels. Add to that, growing driver frustration over working long hours with no benefits and anemic driver income levels. And growing anti-Uber user sentiments. And large public competing taxi driver protests in big taxi markets like New York, Paris and London. And rising complaint levels about Uber drivers sexually assaulting women passengers. And rumors of Uber management misusing private travel records of passengers’ travel destinations. And even an Uber upper management team illicitly obtaining a female rider’s confidential hospital records after she brought charges that her Uber driver had raped her.
There was the humiliating surrender by Uber of its huge China market when it was apparent that Uber was not able to effectively compete with its home-grown Chinese competitor, Didi Chuxing, which had become ten times larger than Uber in China while Uber burned through over $2 billion to establish its highly unprofitable China platform. Facing certain failure, Uber was forced to sell its China platform to Didi.
And then there was the incident of Uber hiring a key former Google engineer who led Google’s autonomous driving operation, who then came to work for Uber to lead – guess what? – Uber’s new autonomous vehicle business.
Google and Waymo, its autonomous driving subsidiary, almost immediately called foul, and claimed essentially that the new Uber hire had stolen massive quantities of Google’s and Waymo’s confidential trade secrets, and that Uber – Travis and others – knew he was doing this and did nothing to stop it. This case alone, if successful by Google and Waymo, could potentially bring down Uber, but it is too soon to reach any strong conclusions here. (Google has reportedly let it be floated that it might take a mere $1 billion in cash to settle the case.)
Bottom line, after months and months of the Uber Board working with Travis to both clean up Uber’s bro culture issues and to conduct himself in a more mature and poised manner consistent with that of a 40-year-old CEO of a $60 billion business, the Board gave up on Travis and fired him, stunning the tech world and leaving Uber with no immediate CEO successor. Eventually, a new CEO was hired. But Travis remains on the Uber Board, and he continues to own 10% of Uber’s shares, while his cronies in the company also own a considerable amount of shares, all valued in the billions of dollars.
Things at present are relatively stable, and the new Uber CEO so far seems to possess more sensitivity and maturity, and a more conventional style, than his predecessor. But Uber is currently wrestling with Travis still, who reportedly is working hard to control and manage an enormous investment by Softbank, perhaps in combination with the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, that would raise $100 billion or more in new Uber funds. In other words, Travis still believes he can “Pull a Steve Jobs” and return triumphantly to the helm of troubled Uber after having been ousted by the board of directors. This is being actively duked out both in several courts and behind the scenes at Uber. This turbulence could continue for many months to come. Early reports are that SoftBank is interested in investing, but at a 30% lower valuation than Uber’s last financing round.
Despite all the chaos and mayhem, Uber still commands the largest market share of the ride-sharing business in the US, and continues to add new markets, and to hire new drivers, at a very strong pace.
But surprisingly, despite all the drama, the lawsuits, the intrigue and the chaos, there have been a number of really positive things that have happened during – or perhaps as a result of – this existential crisis period for Uber. Reflecting Aubergines’ long-standing editorial bent for emphasizing positive news wherever and whenever it can be found, we list below our list of the top five most significant good things that have occurred in connection with Uber’s crisis.
REALLY GOOD THING NO. 5: NO ONE NAMES THEIR BABIES TRAVIS ANYMORE
A review of birth certificates registered in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metro area indicates that the name “Travis” for newborns has plunged in popularity from No. 1 at the beginning of 2017 to virtually nil at this time. This is apparently unprecedented in American history.
And while data for dog and cat naming is less aggregated and therefore less reliable, our (admittedly non-scientific) sampling of our readers’ pets’ names indicates that the name Travis, apparently previously a top choice for certain pets (notably pit bulls, feral cats and timber wolves) has essentially disappeared.
At the time of this printing, we are not able to determine whether any parents of children previously named Travis have gone so far as to formally obtain a legal name change for their Travis-burdened kids. However, there is mounting anecdotal evidence of parents who have become so disgusted by Travis Kalanick’s widely-publicized odious behavior that they have just informally eased into usage some more neutral, chummy and far less controversial names. Like Skip, Chip, Biff, Buff, Bud, Buster and Ike. And even Melbert, Myron, Malcolm, Milqtoast and Moses could be in for a comeback.
REALLY GOOD THING NO. 4: THE LEGAL PROFESSION IS ABSOLUTELY GORGING ITSELF ON UBER-RELATED LEGAL FEES
The term “embarrassment of riches” is almost too tame to apply here. The legal profession and its vast ecosystem have been estimated to have benefitted by at least $150 billion this year alone just from contentions matters, which include lawsuits, outside investigations, arbitrations, jury trials and prosecutions relating to Uber’s many woes. This doesn’t count the upwardly spiraling bread and butter work of Uber’s often public bitter battles with cities, states, unions, federal regulators, traditional taxi groups, trade consortia, Catholic religious orders, the Mother Teresa Foundation, the Dali Lama Institute and the Jimmy Carter Center for Peace, Disease and Hope. Add to that countless sexual harassment and discrimination claims brought all over the world by employees, riders, drivers, neighbors, consultants and advisors, most of them females.
$150 billion is not chump change. It’s slightly greater than the current GDP of Chile.
REALLY GOOD THING NO. 3: MIFFED UBER USERS TRIED LYFT, AND THEY LIKED IT
Blame it on the “Delete Uber” campaign, which gained major traction in the Bay Area and elsewhere, or just an astounding groundswell of outrage by users nationally who became sick and tired of reading about the disturbing bro-culture that was so prevalent in Uber’s executive suite.
Whatever the cause, Lyft, Uber’s next-biggest ride-sharing competitor, made impressive gains in ridership and market share in most US markets.
No dummies, they, Lyft offered big cash discounts to first-time users. Lyft even offered free rides in test versions of Lyft’s autonomously-driven cabs. Many passengers were rewarded with vegetarian pizzas, artisanal ice cream and Blue Bottle Coffee lattes. Meanwhile, Uber drivers reportedly fled Uber in droves to join Lyft.
And Lyft has recently partnered with Ford Motor Company to jointly develop an autonomous car platform that is the envy of many of the giants – Google, Apple, BMW, Microsoft and Tesla, among others in the industry – who are building their own businesses for entry into the gigantic market for autonomous vehicles that has been predicted.
Although Uber isn’t by any means dead or even on its back, because of its many pending litigation matters involving its Board and Travis, it is certainly deeply distracted, and it is likely very worried about the sudden movement of Lyft – the shy and understated underdog – ramping up its sales and marketing, schooling its drivers to be way nicer and humbler than Uber, and now reaping the benefits of its historic Boy Scout-like image, its freedom from vexing management distractions, and its hubris-free work environment.
REALLY GOOD THING NO.2: AN INTREPID SILICON VALLEY JOURNALIST, DESPITE CRUEL AND FRIGHTENING HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION TACTICS BY UBER’S EXEC TEAM, MADE IT HER MISSION TO EXPOSE THE UGLY BRO-NESS OF UBER, AND THAT OF MANY OTHERS. AND SHE MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE
Sarah Lacy, the CEO and founder of Pando Daily www.pando.com, a venture-backed subscription-based online news source that covers the tech scene in Silicon Valley, was among the very first to pick up on the overly aggressive behavior pattern developing out of the executive suite at Uber, and also among certain other venture-backed tech companies, venture capital funds and tech accelerators.
Sarah’s amazing courage, in the face of some intimidating threats and actions by Uber senior management and others, rose to an especially heroic level as she continued to report on the epidemic of rude, misogynistic and super aggressive testosterone releases by many big names in the tech industry and the VCs who finance it. During this time, many heads rolled, including, ultimately, the biggest head of all, Travis Kalanick.
No doubt Sarah’s success in outing Uber’s bro-ness was helped a lot by ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s blog report of rampant sexism that she found so troubling. But Sarah was well on to this story before others and, to Uber’s great regret, she never gave up. And she helped start a women’s revolution that began in Silicon Valley, was fueled by Susan Fowler’s shocking blog entries and then by the New Yorker’s account of Harvey Weinstein, and now a tsunami of women’s workplace complaints that have shaken the US and the world.
Her Twitter handle, @sarahcuda, reflects Sarah’s earthy but honest comfort with her reputation for being tough and unrelenting when and where it counts. And her newest book, “A Uterus Is A Feature, Not A Bug“, available on Amazon, bears a word that Facebook apparently found to be too racy to be advertised on Facebook. Ironically, the book takes aim at Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book, “Lean In”, as being too timid in advising women on how to achieve success in the business arena.
REALLY, REALLY GOOD THING NO. 1: SUSAN FOWLER, AN ENTRY LEVEL SOFTWARE ENGINEER AT UBER, COMPLAINED TO MANAGEMENT THAT HER BOSS HAD PROPOSITIONED HER ON HER FIRST DAY OF WORK, AND THAT OTHER EMPLOYEE SEXUAL HARASSMENT WAS RAMPANT IN UBER. NOTHING WAS DONE. THEN SHE BECAME A WHISTLE-BLOWER AND REVEALED HER OBSERVATIONS ON HER PUBLIC BLOG. THAT’S WHEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.
Probably the best way to get some insight into the powerfully positive impact Susan Fowler has had on the cause of women to strive for equality of treatment and freedom from harassment in the workplace is to read her blog entry about her year of employment by UBER which she published publicly on February 19th of this year.
Susan had already left UBER when her blog entry was made public. Its publication caused a nuclear-like thunderbolt to strike UBER’s headquarters at its core. The media, especially the New York Times, went into full investigative froth mode. Women everywhere in the workplace were stunned at Susan’s audacity and thrilled to see the firestorm that she had unleashed. It swept over Silicon Valley and other markets like a tsunami. And things may never be the same again in the workplace.
Susan’s tone as a writer is pure matter-of-fact and surprisingly mature and calm, not oozing with bitterness or bile. She was only 25 when she started at UBER, and had little job experience to compare her UBER job to. But was she amazed – and disappointed – that an organization the size of UBER had chosen to flat out ignore her complaints because, as she was told, her boss “has real advancement potential”.
It wasn’t long before Susan’s blog came out that the UBER Board intensified its pressure on Travis and the C-suite to get control over its– yes – Bro Culture. Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder and his powerhouse DC law firm, Arnold & Porter LLP were brought in to conduct an independent investigation. Law firm Perkins Coie LLP was also hired to investigate other employment related issues. It felt to anyone near the scene that the lid of UBER was about to blow off.
Over the summer, on June 21st, Travis resigned. And other big guns working in and around the C-Suite also left. The Board had intensified the heat and insisted on turning around the Bro Culture, a feat not unlike turning around an aircraft carrier, but harder.
Was Susan Fowler’s blog post the “tipping point” that propelled the anti-Travis and anti-Bro Culture momentum? Many say yes. It put the 800-pound gorilla on public display in a way which could no longer be avoided. (Although the viral video of a cocky passenger Travis, sitting between two comely young women passengers, shouting and cursing at an unhappy Uber driver who was simply and quite honestly answering Travis’ question about how he liked driving at Uber, came close to being the tipping point.)
Susan, like Sarah Lacy, has a book deal. It’s a memoir of her experience working as a woman in the tech workplace.
THE ILL-FATED MENLO PARK “POP-UP POCKET PARK: HOW A TINY NEW DOWNTOWN PARK MAGICALLY POPPED UP ONE DAY IN 2016 AND THEN, IN STUNNING FASHION IN 2017, AFTER BEING PUBLICLY BRANDED BY AN ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT AS A “CURDLING CESSPOOL,” GOT ITS CAP PERMANENTLY POPPED.
It would be a stretch to say that Curtis Street, which only runs for a single block in downtown Menlo Park, is the Wall Street of this pleasant and prosperous but less-trendy neighbor to the north of the City of Palo Alto. Besides, Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park has deservedly already laid claim to its Wall Street-like significance based on having more venture capital firms located there – and more venture capital deals done there – than in any city or region of the world.
Although nothing flashy or glitzy gives any clue to the huge business deals being transacted on tiny Curtis Street which routinely are being negotiated, made and closed behind closed doors there, the high-powered neighborhood is the home to two of the most important deal makers and power brokers in town: Seubert French Frimel & Warner LLP, the global legal powerhouse’s international but characteristically understated headquarters are there, as well as the location of many of global giant Alain Pinel Realtors’ most successful brokers of super high-end estates in Atherton and Woodside, the top zip codes in the United States for personal wealth and where the majority of Silicon Valley’s most successful and powerful tech CEOs and financiers choose to live.
A trio of self-effacing but amazingly irrepressible opponents of the pop-up park deserve special credit for their success in mobilizing the many park opponents in the community in opposing the park, and appealing persuasively to the City Council to shut it down.
The heroic trio – Keri Nicholas, Bill Frimel and Lorin Dakin – were all first put nearly over the edge when the City installed an upright piano in the tiny park space and invited any visitor – whether possessing musical talent or not – to come and bang on the keys. And did the piano players come. And bang. And bang some more.
Yes, at night, too.
Loren had long been convinced that that the Astroturf “lawn” of the park (which covered up eight scarce parking spaces, as he readily grumbled) and its notoriously impervious design had become the receptacle of many bad things left behind by adults, children, dogs, cats, pigeons, raccoons and assorted vermin. He set off to get an environmental sampling done of the turf by a licensed laboratory.
Bill counted the days until a hearing was scheduled to decide on the “permanency” of the park by the City Council, while polishing his arguments as to why it should be dismantled immediately due to a host of powerful legal, social and common-sense concerns.
Keri wasted no time in rounding up hundreds of pages of signatures on dozens of petitions and promises to appear before the City Council from concerned downtown business owners, downtown consumers and nearby neighbors.
The campaign quickly became viral and powerful, and when the time came for the City Council to meet, a veritable mountain of opposition petitions was presented along with a huge but well-behaved crowd of opponents, many of whom, along with Bill, came to argue that the time had come to dismantle the park. The environmental report was submitted to the Council, establishing that the turf contained a high level of toxins from feces, urine, Agent Orange, marijuana, sulfuric bromides, baffling but diseased-bearing bacteria, strychnine, cyanide, mercury, arsenic, chloride and the key elements contained in McDonald’s Flambéed Cranberry Holiday Nog, Jack-in-the-Box’s Rib-Eye Burgers with Havarti and Grilled Onions, and Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Holiday Quesadillas.
When the Council finally called a vote, after unanimously declining Loren’s offer that they each take a whiff of his lab sample, Mayor Kirsten Keith noticed that a few council members and many attendees seemed to be dizzily close to passing out.
The vote was unanimous: The Pop-Up Park would be dismantled immediately. One council member abstained by virtue of having passed out when she remembered having picnicked in the park the previous day with her two very young and often-crawling grandchildren (sans picnic blanket).
Peace, retail prosperity and better parking has been restored to this bucolic but powerfully buzzing street in downtown Menlo Park. It smells better, too.
THE TOWN OF ATHERTON POLICE BLOTTER: WHASSUP?
For the last six months of this year, the Town of Atherton’s police blotter has shown so little crime, so few calls by residents for their customary concierge-style treatment, and so little to report at all, that one might be inclined to wonder if the crime data for this high-net worth zip code for the ultra-wealthy had been doctored to make it look more like Disneyland.
Suspicions are mounting that Aubergines’ aggressive reporting of some of the more colorful incidents publicly reported in earlier periods led to a police directive to heavily edit the blotter report and excise anything that could possibly subject the Town to ridicule, suspicion or embarrassment. If so, this tactic has been successful insofar as ridicule and embarrassment are concerned. However, suspicion – rather than declining – has skyrocketed among residents and other observers because of their disbelief that the crimes and incidents being reported in Atherton have radically declined.
We remain committed to the pursuit of truth and transparency when it comes to the Town of Atherton, and will report to you further as and when we have further verified information about what kind of high jinks, tomfoolery or chicanery might be under way.
One recent theory is that the Atherton city fathers received early notice that the Town of Los Altos Hills was planning to seek its own zip code, rather than being combined with the City of Los Altos. Why would this matter to Atherton, you ask?
Atherton’s zip code is frequently mentioned as the community in the US with the highest median price for homes, some recently going for $100 Million or more. This confers huge bragging rights on residents and others who care about such matters.
Should Los Altos Hills, a very high-priced residential town, get its wish and be granted to be separated out from Los Altos, it is believed that the median price of homes in Los Altos Hills standing alone will prove to be significantly higher than the current zip code’s median price, causing potential feelings of deep shame to the lower-priced Los Altans, and unbridled giddiness to the higher-priced and newly-emancipated Hills Folks, with a median home price perhaps even exceeding that of Atherton’s.
Now, this topic is becoming heady stuff. Realtors and homeowners in Los Altos Hills are referring to the act of getting a solo zip code for themselves as “unlocking value”, the kind of phrase that is more often heard on Wall Street when Carl Icahn and other activists move to break up a company with demands for spinoffs or sales of parts of the company.
It is simply too soon to tell if this cheeky and very Brexit-like move by Los Altos Hills will sow deep seeds of resentment between the two formerly friendly communities.
UPDATE ON MYRNA SHAGNATZ, THE MENLO MAVEN: HER TRAGIC RELAPSE
We regret to report that our beloved colleague, Myrna Shagnatz, whose insightful and sensitive column debuted in our last issue, has been sidelined for an indefinite period. Myrna has struggled for years with alcohol, drug, gambling and sex addiction, and it seemed to us as if she had at last gotten control over these demons and been free of pain or suffering for quite some time. But we were badly mistaken.
Details of Myrna’s condition are being carefully guarded by her physicians, and our knowledge is therefor quite limited. However, her publicist, Hollyhock Huckabee, stated that the recent Harvey Weinstein publicity had “laid Myrna low”.
We have learned that Myrna at some point about twenty years ago dated Mr. Weinstein in New York, a relationship that was every bit as tumultuous as that of Madonna and Sean Penn. It ended with Harvey dumping Myrna over the dinner table in a very crowded TriBeCA restaurant, and shouting profanities and epithets at Myrna in a beastly manner that horrified everyone present and left Myrna grief-stricken and hospitalized for months. Mr. Weinstein went on to publicly brand Myrna an “insatiable sexual predator”, a charge never made by Mr. Weinstein against anyone before – or since.
The tension around the huge and seemingly endless Weinstein scandal obviously brought up all of the old memories of Myrna of her previous relationship with Mr. Weinstein, and she even considered taking her own life. Dr. Phil, Oprah and Deepak Chopra all fled to her bedside, and agreed to personally manage a 24×7 hotline dedicated just to keeping Myrna alive.
We are happy to report that Myrna is doing much better now. And once she learned that the scandal had spread to such improbable perps as Garrison Keillor, George H.W. Bush and Pope Francis, Myrna’s instincts told her that the end of this brutal scandal’s publicity might come soon. In the meantime, we are keeping Myrna in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask that you do so, as well.
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WANT TO LEARN TO SPEAK ESPERANTO AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS EASILY?
Do you find the abundance of Mandarin, Hebrew, Farsi and Russian-speaking persons in Silicon Valley to be overwhelming and, frankly, just a bit boring and commonplace? Does it irritate you that fluency in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian is virtually expected of Silicon Valley residents?
Why not learn Esperanto, the world’s most widely-spoken constructed language, and join the over two million happy Esperanto-fluent speakers around the world. And you will soon find that there are many residents of Silicon Valley just like you: fluent in Esperanto, snobbishly smug, and really, really happy.
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Courses are available for all ages and those of any first language.
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“I liked learning it, and thought it was even easier than learning to crochet. I have many Esperanto-speaking friends now. And I am more self-confident when I stand and share stories in my sales presentations.
- Honeysuckle Waldrip, age 37, Level 3 Senior Sales Grower, HerbaLife, part-time welder and professional step dancer, Terre Haute, IN
“The best part of learning Esperanto was that the translation of “Wassup?”, “What’s goin’ on?” and “What Up?” are all the same in Esperanto (“Whazzz?”) You know how much time that will save me over my lifetime, man? It’s money.”
- Marvin Gaye, III – age 29, hip-hop scholar at the University of Southern California, ska dancer, chimney sweep apprentice and jumbo button bingo champion, Venice, California
HOW’S YOUR MATTRESS? TOO FIRM, YOU SAY?
Do you feel like you’ve being inundated with loud, repetitive and desperate-sounding advertisements of MATTRESS FIRM, a company previously known by the inexplicable name “Sleep Train”, whose previous adverts were distinguished by deeply irritating jingles and the deafening blast of a train horn?
Do you find firm mattresses to be excruciating, unromantic and even sleep-depriving?
Maybe it’s time you considered Mattress Madness, the venture-backed San Bruno startup that’s aimed its unique and proprietary product – The Firminator – at those who want the warmth and comfort of a bed, and yet crave the stimulating and exotic curvature of a re-purposable tropical hammock. Starting at $499.95 and available online and from street peddlers, flea markets and hustlers everywhere. it’s made from a proprietary conflict-free US-grown woven hemp product.
OUR GUARANTEE: If after trying the Firminator you aren’t totally satisfied, we won’t be able to give you your money back, but we’ll give you something even better: our secret formula for how to easily and inexpensively repurpose your hemp-made and cannabis-infused Mattress Madness so that it can be cut up, rolled and joyfully smoked and get you so high you won’t have a care in the world, and certainly will never have a problem sleeping. At least 1,000 chubby joints, reefers, bowls, spliffs and doobies can be made from one of our hammocks.
Call now at 1-800-MattressMadness, or find us at www.MattressMadness.com
To Dwight and Ruth Ware, of Evergreen, Washington, at 3:17am on January 19, 1928, at Everett General Hospital, a boy, Leonard, weighing 13 lbs., 8 oz. Circumcision, scalp fungus treatment and baptism declined. Deformities, birth marks or maladies noted: none noted.
Aubergines is a quarterly review of borderline-authentic news which publishes about twice per year. Nothing contained in Aubergines may be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Don’t even think about suing us. What few assets we have are securely lodged in the island nation of The Cook Islands, which does not recognize and will not enforce judgments rendered by the United States, or any jurisdiction for that matter. If you are fond of reading materials where highly annoying words like emoji, milieu, GIF, ennui, selfie, micro-aggression or meme are in frequent use, you won’t be happy here. And while there are widely reported accounts that regularly reading Aubergines will result in lowering one’s blood pressure, arresting male pattern baldness, reversing gluten and lactose intolerance, relieving menstrual cramps, eliminating toenail fungus, relieving spastic colons and chronic bed-wetting, stopping stammering, thwarting incontinence and impotence, and taming annoying tics, Chron’s Disease, and Hashimoto’s or Dress Syndromes, absolutely no such guarantee or warranty of any kind shall be applicable here. All rights are waived in perpetuity and forever thereafter. No representations or warranties, express, implied, inferred or deferred, shall apply in any circumstance whatsoever. This disclaimer is fully valid and enforceable even in jurisdictions where it might otherwise be invalid, including outer space, the afterlife and beyond.
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