Marketplace Tech with Molly Wood

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 Aug 3, 2018

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 Jul 27, 2018


Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood helps listeners understand the business behind the technology that's rewiring our lives. From how tech is changing the nature of work to the unknowns of venture capital to the economics of outer space, this weekday show breaks ideas, telling the stories of modern life through our digital economy. Marketplace Tech is part of the Marketplace portfolio of public radio programs broadcasting nationwide, which additionally includes Marketplace, Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Weekend. Listen every weekday on-air or online anytime at From American Public Media. Twitter: @MarketplaceTech

Episode Date
Can the "creator economy" survive if creators are all broke?
The “creator” economy is made up of companies that host platforms, of social media, of marketing dollars, and of course, the talent uploading and sharing their music, comedy, photographs, and videos. Some of those creators make a living, but most of them don't. Gaby Dunn knows first-hand the emotional rollercoaster of the creator economy; of never being sure if her videos or other work will pay off by the time rent is due. And that's despite being a proven online success. Dunn has translated her online presence into a podcast, several book deals, and also a career as a prolific screenwriter, editor, actor, and comedian. We talk with her about what it means to make a career as a "creator," even though she's not a huge fan of the term. (08/14/2018)
Aug 14, 2018
Smart gun technology is well-tested, but hasn't fully come to market
In the past few months there has been a lot of debate over guns that can be made with a 3D printer, which would make it easier for people to get a gun. But there's also a push happening in the tech startup world that is focused on making guns safer. "Smart gun" technology has been around since the 1970s. While the tech has evolved over time, the idea behind it has stayed the same: that only the rightful, registered user of the gun can operate it. Marketplace Tech guest host Amy Choi talked with Alex Yablon, a reporter at nonprofit newsroom The Trace, to find out why this technology hasn't come to market. (08/13/2018)  
Aug 13, 2018
Could cryptocurrency threaten Silicon Valley's hierarchy?
To finish out our series on venture capital, we'll take a look to the future. Cryptocurrency may have its disruptive eye cast toward venture capital. The initial coin offering is a type of crypto-crowdfunding that startups can use to raise cash quickly without kissing the Silicon Valley ring. But do ICOs really have the potential to replace venture capital for startups? We go back to the time Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Yuliya Chernova, who covers venture capital for the Wall Street Journal, about the pros and cons of ICOs. 
Aug 10, 2018
Venture capital: Giving minority entrepreneurs a chance
This week we’re diving into stories about venture capital. There’s a group of venture capital firms that want to change the world for the better and make money. This is called impact investing. One of the firms working in this space is Impact America Fund, which invests in companies with diverse missions — for instance, a startup that helps African-American stylists sell their own hair extensions. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked with Impact America Fund founder Kesha Cash about the sometimes complex collision of money and mission in venture capital.
Aug 09, 2018
Venture capital: The billion-dollar fund
The Japanese multinational SoftBank Group launched its $98 billion VisionFund last year. Since then, it's dramatically changed the landscape in tech and venture capital. The fund has taken a majority stake in Uber, poured billions into WeWork, Nvidia, DoorDash, Slack and the dog walking startup Wag. SoftBank's influence is so big, it's pushing other venture capital companies to raise more money. Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley's best-known firms, is reportedly trying to raise more than $12 billion in new capital just to keep up. In our series on venture capital's promise and perils, we'll relisten to Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood's conversation with Anand Sanwal of CB Insights about how VisionFund is changing everything. (08/08/2018)
Aug 08, 2018
Venture capital: Using your own money
We continue our look at venture capital — how it works, how investments are made and how those investments shape our world. Social Capital is a venture capital fund founded by Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and professional poker player. He believes more venture capitalists need to use their own money when investing and not rely on institutional partners such as universities and pension funds. We revisit his talk with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about what should change in startup investing. (08/07/2018)
Aug 07, 2018
Venture capital: The bad apples
All week we're looking at venture capital and the people who control that wealth. We start with the industry's very culture. In November, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson left that firm following allegations of inappropriate behavior and an internal investigation. The company said he left by mutual agreement. Ellen Pao is a venture capitalist who sued another well-known firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, for gender discrimination in 2012. She lost the case, but it inspired other women to come forward. We revisit Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood's conversation with Pao about how her public battle shined a light on venture capital’s culture. (08/06/2018)
Aug 06, 2018
Why advertising is no longer the holy grail of tech revenue
Four of the biggest companies in the world — Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — all reported earnings over the last two weeks. These companies either sell gadgets, services or ads — or maybe a combination of the three. And for a long time, it looked like selling ads, fueled by personal information, was the holy grail of digital business models. But lately, it looks like less of a slam dunk. Is the advertising star dimming as a reliable business model? Marketplace’s Molly Wood decided to ask an investor — Emily Melton, a partner at venture capital firm DFJ. (08/03/2018)
Aug 03, 2018
Is security fatigue keeping companies from being secure?
This weekend in Las Vegas, the huge cybersecurity event Black Hat USA kicks off, followed immediately by the other big cybersecurity event of the year, Def Con.  There are always some big hacker stunts at these events — hackers already broke into a voting machine as a Def Con demonstration. But after a year of major data breaches, there's also a sense of security fatigue. Chester Wisniewski is a principal research scientist at Sophos, a security firm. He talked with Marketplace’s Molly Wood about whether that fatigue is affecting business. (08/02/2018)
Aug 02, 2018
Does free lunch at tech companies hurt local business?
Free food is a legendary perk of working at a tech company. The cafeterias at Apple, Google, and Facebook are almost like a tourist attraction. But cities in the San Francisco Bay Area are saying that the free lunches are killing local business, and they're moving to ban company cafeterias. The city of Mountain View made a law in 2014 that said Facebook's new campus couldn't offer free food, and last week, San Francisco city supervisors proposed a rule that any new offices in the city couldn't include cafeterias. Marketplace’s Molly Wood talks with Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, about the proposal. (08/01/2018)
Aug 01, 2018
How is the U.S. dealing with cybersecurity ... without a cybersecurity czar?
Hackers, probably Russian, successfully broke into electric utilities last summer. Homeland security officials revealed those intrusions for the first time last week. There were also reports last week of attempted cyberattacks on various members of Congress, and this week, the Senate is likely to have a showdown over funding for election security.  There had been a White House cybersecurity coordinator who organized the national response to cyberattacks, but the Trump administration eliminated the job back in May. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks with Daniel Castro, vice president at the nonprofit Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, about what this means for U.S. cybersecurity. (07/31/2018)
Jul 31, 2018
Is the backing of the banks enough for Zelle to beat Venmo?
For many people, especially those under 40, paying a friend, or settling a restaurant bill, or squaring up after happy hour isn't done in cash. It's done by peer to peer app.  You've probably heard of PayPal and Venmo, which PayPal owns. Now, there's some competition from Zelle, the big banks' answer to Venmo. Rahul Chadha follows peer to peer mobile banking for the research organization eMarketer.  His firm says Zelle will overtake Venmo this year. One thing that helps?  Zelle comes pre-installed in the mobile apps of many big banks. Chadha spoke with Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary about whether that's enough to lift Zelle up. (07/30/2018)
Jul 30, 2018
Is there a right kind of screen time?
In the last installment of our series on the trade-offs of technology, a discussion about screen time. How much is too much? And is there a right kind of screen time and a wrong kind? To answer that, we kind of need to know: What are screens doing to our children's brains? One person studying that is Dr. Megan Moreno, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin. She'll talk with us on today's show about how media use affects kids. (07/27/2018)
Jul 27, 2018
How tech steals our time — and how to get it back
From recommendations to notifications to endless scrolling that never stops giving you something new, today's tech is designed to be irresistible. But some designers of these products now say these techniques are damaging. James Williams is one of those people. He spent 10 years at Google and then co-founded a movement called Time Well Spent, which aims to get tech companies to re-think how they grab and monetize our attention. He’s also the author of the book “Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy.” He talked with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about the way forward for tech companies.
Jul 26, 2018
Designing tech for the most vulnerable users
This week we're looking at the grand bargain of technology with the next generation of users in mind. Today we're looking at how kids deal with the complexity of digital life and how companies could make things easier or safer. Danah Boyd is a principal researcher at Microsoft and the founder of the research organization Data & Society, and much of her research looks at how kids are affected by the digital societies they live in. She talked with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood. (07/25/2018)
Jul 25, 2018
Hey, kids! Robots aren't people
As part of our series on the grand bargain of tech and what it means for kids, we are taking a look at what happens when children form a bond with the robotic toys and digital assistants in their lives. MIT researcher Sherry Turkle has been studying what happens to empathy when products are designed to make kids get attached to them like a buddy, not a machine. Turkle spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about how robots and their attempts at empathy affect the kids they’re targeting. (07/24/2018)  
Jul 24, 2018
Tech, data, privacy and time: It's a trade-off, but are we giving too much?
Between social media, election meddling, privacy concerns and fears of internet addiction, we are at a time when we are re-evaluating the grand bargain that we have made with technology. We've gotten used to trading personal information for tailored ads and letting devices into every part of our lives for convenience. But, as we develop these habits and make these trade-offs, what does it mean for our kids? For the next week, we're going to look at this tech bargain and its impact on the next generation. We're starting with a conversation about marketing. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked to Marcus Collins, chief consumer connections officer at the Doner creative agency, about how advertisers think about reaching kids. (07/23/2018)
Jul 23, 2018
Facebook, it might be time to face facts. You're a publisher.
This week, representatives from Google, Twitter and Facebook all spoke at a congressional hearing about how they present news and opinions on their platforms. The next day, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg told the Recode podcast that Facebook shouldn't overregulate speech on the site, even if it means not banning Holocaust deniers. So how much should these companies be responsible for what is said online? Sounds like a good Quality Assurance topic, the segment where we take a deeper look at a big tech story. Marketplace's Molly Wood talks with Mike Nuñez, editor at Mashable. (07/20/2018)
Jul 20, 2018
Is Watson enough to carry IBM?
IBM reported earnings Wednesday. The company has been on a long turnaround path, focusing its business on cloud services, security and data analytics. It’s also investing in artificial intelligence, mostly under the brand of the "Jeopardy"-winning supercomputer Watson. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talks to Brandon Purcell, an analyst with Forrester, about the profit potential of artificial intelligence for IBM and other tech companies. (07/19/2018)
Jul 19, 2018
How to be a social media star for a living
Research from Google says 70 percent of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate more to online creators than traditional celebrities. According to the research firm L2, 70 percent of companies use social media influencers to market products. As part of our series on the creator economy, Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood talked to Troy Solomon, who has more than 45,000 Instagram followers for his verified account A Bear Named Troy. (07/18/2018)
Jul 18, 2018
How Univision finds the next social media star
As part of our series on the creator economy, we’re looking at “influencers.” Those are the YouTube and Instagram personalities who get big followings and free products that they then promote to their followers. We're also looking at the people who find those influencers and connect them with the brands who want to influence people. One of those finders is Jennifer Perri, vice president of the Univision Creator Network. She talks with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood. 
Jul 17, 2018
Ten years later, what we learned from WALL-E
Ten years ago this summer, the Pixar film “WALL-E” came out. It's about a future where humans have ruined earth's environment with trash, so they live in space, captive to screens, self-driving chairs, and robot servants. One little robot is left on Earth to clean up the mess, until he finds love — and ends up saving humanity from itself. As part of our summer entertainment series, we're pondering the critiques and lessons of Wall-E with sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson, who also happens to be a big fan of the film.  (07/16/2018)
Jul 16, 2018
Twitter is in a big game of "bot or not"
This week, Twitter announced that it's removing locked accounts from its platform. That's in an effort to clean up its bot problem. Bots are fake Twitter accounts that spread propaganda and intimidate people. A New York Times story in January suggested that up to 15 percent of Twitter's user base could be bots. Twitter says it was more like 5 percent. But now, as the company is trying to clean up the bot problem, some investors are worried that Twitter may have fewer human users than they thought. Kevin Roose follows social media for the New York Times. He spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about how bots became a business problem for Twitter. 
Jul 13, 2018
Yes, lots of people are still playing "Pokemon Go"
"Pokemon Go" was one of 2016’s most popular mobile games, but it seemed to lose players just as quickly as it gained them. That may have been due to some technical glitches, but "Pokemon Go" appears to be back. That's at least in part thanks to some new social features. Those are what got Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood back in the game, and got her thinking about who else is playing "Pokemon Go."
Jul 12, 2018
Tesla's China plant will serve the world's biggest electric car market
China is a huge market for electric cars. Tesla is looking for a place to build and sell lots of electric cars. But the U.S. is in a trade war with China and right now there's about a 40 percent tax on American-made cars being sold in China. That hurts all automakers, but if you're trying to become the dominant electric car maker in the world you need to sell cars in China. Dan Sperling is the founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. He spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about how the Chinese government is changing the market for electric cars. (07/11/2018)
Jul 11, 2018
Why Uber and others see a billion-dollar future in e-scooters
On Monday, Uber announced a partnership with the electric scooter rental company Lime. Uber already owns Jump Bikes, an electric bike startup. Lyft just bought a bike rental company as well. All these moves are about creating one-stop shopping for all kinds of transportation and also about solving a pretty basic problem. The average cab ride is less than three miles and using a car to make that trip is expensive and inefficient, especially in traffic. Hence this new investment trend in what's being called micro-mobility. Ralph Buehler is a professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech. He spoke with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood about what he refers to as multimodality.
Jul 10, 2018
Making the web easier to access for people with disabilities
About 20 percent of Americans have one or more disabilities. And just like the the physical world, the digital one is not always readily accessible. So, how do we make the internet a place everyone can enjoy? It starts with design. Marketplace’s Lizzie O’Leary spoke with Mikey Ilagan, an accessibility specialist with the design firm Think Company, about the challenges people with disabilities face online and how to solve them. 
Jul 09, 2018
What's Dell up to? Going public again
The computer company Dell is going public again later this year. Just five years ago, Dell did the opposite and went private. Back then, company leaders decided they had to retool in order to survive. Making the personal computers that every other kid in your dorm had probably wasn't going to cut it. Dell and its future are the topic we chose for this week’s Quality Assurance, where we take a second look at a big tech story. Klint Finley is a reporter with Wired and has written about Dell. He spoke with Marketplace's Lizzie O’Leary about the company’s motivations for going private in the first place.
Jul 06, 2018
The International Space Station has an AI assistant. No ... it's not evil
Robots have a long sci-fi history with humans in space. Now the International Space Station is getting a robotic assistant of its own: CIMON. Short for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, it arrived on the International Space Station on the back of a SpaceX rocket on Monday and looks like a floating soccer ball with a digital face. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke with Matthias Biniok of IBM, one of CIMON’s designers, about how the robot will help astronauts aboard the ISS.  
Jul 05, 2018
Is politics tearing apart the FCC? A recent commissioner who left says yes
The Federal Communications Commission didn't used to get so much attention. But the five-person commission that was mostly known for regulating TV and radio is now essentially in charge of managing how the internet works in the United States, and what used to be wonky policy discussions about net neutrality and broadband subsidies have gotten a lot more political. Back in April, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn announced she was leaving after serving for nine years. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood spoke to her in May, and asked her why she decided to step down when she did.
Jul 04, 2018