Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
The Denver Police Department has issued a PSA on its Facebook page warning parents about marijuana-infused trick-or-treat candy.
"With Halloween fast approaching, Colorado citizens are in a unique position in the country, watching our kid's candy for marijuana edibles," a Denver Police statement said.
"There is really no way a child or a parent or even an expert in the field to tell you whether a product is infused or not," said Patrick Johnson, the owner of Urban Dispensary in Denver.
The police department recommends parents throw away candy with tampered-with wrappers or from unrecognizable sources. Since Jan. 1, people have been able to buy pot in Colorado for recreational use.
Here is the PSA video from the Denver Police Department:
See Also: Hillary Clinton's Pot Joke
The Name of Google's New Text-Messaging App Is Really Going to Annoy Facebook
Google is introducing a text-messaging app called "Messenger" with the launch of Android 5.0 Lollipop, the new version of its mobile operating system.
That, obviously, will be confusing because it has the same name as Facebook's existing messaging app. Do not expect folks at Facebook to jump for joy at this news.
Facebook Messenger is a juggernaut: It's currently No. 1 in the app store charts, according to App Annie. It has more than 200 million users, and that number will climb as Facebook requires its users to do their messaging separately inside Messenger instead of Facebook (the company's new policy). It's also a really good app.
Facebook also has another "messenger" app you may have heard of: WhatsApp Messenger. It's No. 3 in the app store charts. It has more than 600 million users.
It gets even more confusing because Google already has a really good messaging app. If you're an Android user, you'll know that Google's Hangouts app is one of the best things about Android—chat messages from your Gmail account follow you automatically on your phone. It's seamless.
So it's not clear why Google wants people on a traditional SMS/MMS text messaging platform as well. Google told the 9to5Google blog:
Messenger and Hangouts offer users choice, each have their own benefits. Hangouts work great for cross platform (web, iOS, Android) and cross medium communications (video, voice, messaging, SMS). Messenger will be specially designed to be a quick and easy way to send and receive SMS and MMS messages on Android; more to come (Nexus 6 will come with both apps).
And just to be even more confusing, "Messenger" used to be called "Messaging," according to Phone Arena.
OK, so users will have choices. That's great. It would be easier to figure out those choices if the product names were a little more distinctive, though. Just a suggestion.
Here's a chart:
Carl Icahn Lost $200 Million On Netflix Overnight
Carl Icahn has lost $200 million on Netflix stock since Wednesday, when the company's stock plunged 27 percent in after-hour trading.
It all fell apart when Netflix reported subscriber growth in its third-quarter earnings report that was lower than expected. Then it cut its growth expectations for the fourth quarter.
It didn't help either that HBO chose Wednesday to announce that it would launch a streaming-only content service by next year.
Icahn owns almost 1.8 million shares of Netflix, according to government filings dating back to June 30.
This could all be much worse for Icahn. He sold off a lot of Netflix stock last October, making $647 million and cutting his stake in half.
"It's sort of an Icahn rule," he said in an interview after the sale, "when you make 5x your money, it doesn't mean you're not a long termer ... you take some chips off the table ... The model of Netflix is an excellent one and it's very hard to compete ... it took me 20 minutes to say, this is going to be one of greats of all time."
Icahn isn't the largest holder of the stock, either. That's Coatue Management, a hedge fund helmed by Philippe Laffont. Coatue holds over two million shares of Netflix.
Netflix added two million international subscribers vs. expectations of 2.36 million and 975,000 domestic streaming subscriptions vs. expectations of 1.33 million.
In the chart below, you can see how Netflix's new estimation of subscriber growth for the next quarter diverges even farther from the rest of Wall Street's estimates (from Estimize).
The company's guidance looks as if it's falling off a cliff.
Hastings told CNBC's Julie Boostein that he believed the decline in subscriber growth was due to a $1 price increase back in May.
"Our best sense is it's an effect of our price increase back in May," Hastings said. "With a little bit higher prices, you get a little bit fewer subscribers. So that's our sense of it. But we can't be 100 percent sure. We had so much benefit from Orange in Q2 and the early Q3, but that's what we think."
Hastings said that the news about HBO was "exciting" and that though it would be a big competitor for the long term, customers would most likely subscribe to both HBO and Netflix. HBO's price point for its service has not been announced.
Either way, it's important to keep in mind that HBO is bigger internationally than Netflix. Netflix has 53 million members worldwide to HBO's 120 million.
That's a part of the story that could have investors spooked for a while.
See also: Netflix is Getting Totaled
Is Europe Experiencing Deflation?
Inflation is crumbling across Europe. In fact, in several countries, it’s already negative. Economists are increasingly worried that the whole continent is going to drop into deflation.
Most people don’t know what deflation means. We’re familiar with its opposite, inflation. That’s the condition in which prices keep rising, the value of money keeps falling, and people end up having to pay huge sums for small amounts of goods—as they are in Venezuela right now.
For most people, deflation will be a scary and rare kind of economic meltdown. And it can be far more difficult to fix than inflation. It means that prices will start to fall. While that sounds great—everything is getting cheaper!—it’s actually a disaster because in deflation no one wants to buy anything, demand plummets, and economic growth grinds to a halt, bringing employment with it.
Here is how we got into this mess.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England both target 2 percent inflation, like the U.S. Fed. That rate keeps prices basically stable, and people are encouraged to be productive because they know in the future their money will be worth a little bit less. But that “less” isn’t too catastrophic in the short term—it allows people to plan ahead, in other words, and plan for growth.
But Europe is nowhere near that level of healthy-but-minimal inflation. It is way below it, flirting with deflation.
Here are the latest deflation figures from Europe, for September.
- Italy: -0.1 percent. Italy is in its second month of deflation
- Spain: -0.3 percent. Spain has the most serious deflation of any large eurozone economy; it’s in its third consecutive month
- Germany: 0.8 percent. The fact that Germany has some of the highest inflation in the eurozone tells you a lot.
- France: 0.4 percent. A five-year low. Core inflation is actually now at zero, the lowest in modern history.
- The U.K.: 1.2 percent. The U.K. isn’t in the eurozone, but inflation is also at a five-year low.
That’s making economists extremely worried about deflation, when prices go completely into reverse. The International Monetary Fund’s latest world economic outlook has put the probability of deflation in the eurozone at 30 percent, up from 20 percent earlier this year.
So prices are falling. Who cares? When the price of goods falls, isn’t that a good thing?
There’s a Good Kind of Deflation
It seems completely counterintuitive to be annoyed about deflation. Economists seem to get wound up, but when was the last time you heard a normal person complain about spending less on their shopping?
Of course, that’s true. There’s such a thing as benign deflation. Take, for example, smartphones. The phone in my pocket has more computing power than several slightly older devices put together, so the price of that computing power has clearly dropped.
That’s good, supply-driven deflation. Productivity and technological development mean with that the same amount of money, I can now afford a far superior product.
But There’s a Pretty Awful Kind, Too
That sort of deflation isn’t the kind that economists are getting wound up about. Prices aren’t grinding lower in Spain because workers there are suddenly massively more productive.
In fact, falling prices are a symbol of a lack of demand. In a recession, demand drops significantly, and so companies cut prices to offload what they’re making. That’s the negative type of deflation, and if it sets in, it can be pretty harmful. Economist David Beckworth wrote a great, longer explanation about the difference between benign and malign inflation.
Here’s Why It’s So Dangerous
Let’s take Italy as an example. Italy is still running a deficit and accumulating a national debt. When deflation sets in, tax revenues from sales decline, because prices fall. If property prices decline, income from property taxes decline, and so on. When your public debt looks like this, that’s a concern:
They could cut government spending, but if deflation continues, they’ll have to keep cutting forever, going into a sort of permanent austerity.
Falling prices also discourage business investment. Why spend money on machinery today, when you could buy it in two years for a lower price? For normal consumers, why spend today when I could just hang onto my cash? It’ll be worth more in a year's time.
Over the long term, wages also have to fall or unemployment will rise. Companies taking a decreasing amount of income from what they make and sell will eventually have to cut their wages or lay people off. Nobody likes taking a pay cut, so this usually means a lot of people being laid off. Feel-good effects from lower prices aren’t likely to last very long if you lose your job.
And that’s the nightmare scenario that Europe is gazing at right now: Long-term deflationary unemployment, in which no one works because no one is buying anything.
How Hackers Got Your Passwords for Snapchat and Dropbox
On Monday an anonymous hacker claimed to be in possession of 7 million passwords to Dropbox accounts. While that claim was probably false, it demonstrates the increasingly common way that hackers are using to gain access to your passwords.
The hacker posted around 400 usernames and passwords on anonymous note site Pastebin in a series of "teasers" for the main list. Some Reddit users were able to successfully log into Dropbox using the information posted before the company deactivated all of the leaked passwords.
But Dropbox was quick to cast doubt on the claims, denying that it had been hacked and claiming that many of the usernames and passwords were not even related to Dropbox accounts.
So where do the passwords come from? After all, they worked, for a time.
The most likely source of the information is a third-party site that had poor security. Hackers know that most internet users re-use their passwords, so they often target smaller apps made by amateur developers. These easy targets have poor security — so usernames, passwords or files may be stored in a way that's easy for hackers to steal them.
The recent Snapchat hack, which saw nearly 100,000 private photos and videos posted online, happened because an amateur developer hadn't securely set up his website. In a post on the Snapsaved Facebook page, the site's anonymous founder explains that a mis-configured Apache server left the files vulnerable to hackers.
Hackers don't need to try and target the tech giants anymore. Why bother trying to hack into Google, Apple or Facebook's servers when you can simply take advantage of a poorly built website to get the same information?
We're now seeing hackers use a new approach. Instead of spending months finding vulnerabilities in large sites, they re-use login information stolen from amateur third-party apps. Chances are that the information works for several sites, so compiling these caches of data together can quickly create a list of millions of passwords.
In September, Russian hackers published a list of 5 million passwords to a variety of different email providers, including Gmail. It wasn't a new leak, but a collection of older password leaks compiled together to seem new. Sure, many of the email accounts had closed, but the information could still be downloaded and used by hackers to break into other accounts.
So why are hackers re-using old information? There's rarely evidence that they actually use the passwords to log into sites. Instead, it seems like they just post the information online. Or at least, they post some of the information online. As we mentioned before, hackers leak partial collection of passwords as "teasers." This is often accompanied by a request for Bitcoin donations.
We can use the public nature of Bitcoin addresses to see just how much hackers gain for posting passwords online. It's often less than they expect to receive. The hacker who shared the collection of Dropbox passwords received just 8 cents. Similarly, OriginalGuy, the anonymous forum poster behind the first wave of hacked iCloud celebrity photos, expressed dismay at the small trickle of donations that came his way, remarking:
Sure, I got $120 with my Bitcoin address, but when you consider how much time was spent acquiring this stuff (I'm not the hacker, just a collector), and the money (I paid a lot via Bitcoin as well to get certain sets when this stuff was being privately traded on Friday/Saturday) I really didn't get close to what I was hoping for.
We're seeing more and more passwords leak online. Amateur developers aren't stepping up password security, and existing leaks continue to resurface. While the information made public is often several years out of date (many of the emails posted along with the Dropbox passwords were deactivated in 2012), it's still valuable to hackers compiling large lists of email addresses and passwords to be used in attacks against other sites.
And, just in case it isn't clear, this is your fault, too: If you're using the same passwords over and over with different apps then hackers don't need to get into Apple or Facebook's servers to find them. They simply identify the smaller apps with the weakest password security.
Tesco, the U.K.’s Biggest Supermarket Chain, Faces “Operational Paralysis”
Gigantic U.K. retailer Tesco faces “operational paralysis” over the busy Christmas shopping season as a forensic investigation into how the company overstated its profits by £250 million ($316 million) would require executives to hand over their laptops and be interrogated.
In addition, 10 of the company’s most senior staff have been suspended, have been asked to leave, or have stepped down from the company.
In a note, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Mike Dennis said:
The forensic investigation could, in our view, create operational paralysis for Tesco ahead of the very busy Christmas build up. We believe the investigation requires all commercial department personnel to hand over communication systems (laptops) to be interrogated and all supplier meetings to be postponed then, we believe Tesco’s ability to operate could be compromised at a critical period ahead of the start of the build up to Christmas trading.
Tesco is the U.K.’s biggest supermarket by a long way, and the world’s second-largest retailer. Its share price is down 1.91 percent on the latest news today, and has been slashed by more than 50 percent in the past year.
There has already been an implosion within Tesco’s management. Today, three more execs were suspended, according to the Times: Dan Jago, head of beers, wines, and spirits; Sean McCurley, a category director for convenience foods; and William Linnane, who oversees impulse purchases.
Seven senior directors have previously been kicked out of the company. The most recent pair left yesterday: company secretary Jonathan Lloyd and chairman of the audit committee Ken Hanna. Before them, commercial director Kevin Grace left, preceded by Chris Bush, managing director for the U.K.; Carl Rogberg, who worked with him in Tesco’s business in Thailand and is UK finance director; John Scouler, food commercial director; and Matt Simister, who is responsible for sourcing.
Company chairman Sir Richard Broadbent is regarded as another exec who may be required to leave the company. One of Tesco’s directors is searching for a replacement, according to Sky.
See also: Tesco’s Dodgy Accounting Practices
Will Private Contractors Like Blackwater Join the Fight Against ISIS?
Erik Prince, founder of the controversial security contractor Blackwater, recently claimed that for-hire ground troops were the missing element of the US-led campaign against jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
"If the old Blackwater team were still together, I have high confidence that a multi-brigade-size unit of veteran American contractors or a multi-national force could be rapidly assembled and deployed to be that necessary ground combat team," Prince wrote on the website of Frontier Services Group, a security and logistics contractor where he is now the executive officer and chairman.
"A competent professional force of volunteers would serve as the pointy end of the spear and would serve to strengthen friendly but skittish indigenous forces," he continued.
Prince's private expeditionary force may seem a bit far-fetched. Then again, one of Barack Obama's favored analogues for the situation in Syraq is Somalia, a place where the US pursued a "strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines," as the president explained in his speech announcing US military action against ISIS. And in Somalia, security contractors are playing a fairly significant and hands-on role in stabilizing the country.
In terms of his larger point, Prince may be hinting at something that's inevitable. After all, in Somalia, private security contractors are one of those "partners on the front lines" that Obama referred to.
Here's a photo tweeted by George Mason University Horn of Africa scholar Tres Thomas of two employees from the US-based private security and investment company Bancroft Global Development operating with the Somali military:
An African Union (AU) peacekeeping force and the national military have quietly made progress against Al Shabaab, an Al Qaeda affiliate, in Somali in recent weeks—earlier this month, Shabaab was expelled from Barawe, a coastal city and one of the last major population centers the group controlled.
But it's not as if Bancroft just showed up to provide the finishing touches on an already successful mission.
This paragraph from a US Joint Special Operations University study demonstrates that the company played a significant role in shaping the AU force's strategy against Shabaab in the months after the group's blitz through the country in 2007 and 2008:
Bancroft was first approached by Ugandan leadership and invited to work with the [Ugandan military] contingent in Mogadishu in November 2007 ... The Ugandans were well aware that the Somalia campaign would take them into unknown military territory, especially with regards to the challenges of urban warfare. This is where they sought Bancroft’s expertise. After a few reconnaissance trips, Bancroft deployed an initial team of four advisers into Mogadishu in early 2008. Within four months, their team had expanded to 12. After being impressed with their work in the field, Burundi approached Bancroft in August 2008 to provide them with similar assistance.
"Bancroft Global Development's urban warfare training" proved vital to the peacekeepers' success in eventually kicking Shabaab out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu and most other major cities, the study states.
And while it adds that Bancroft scrupulously adhered to a UN embargo on small arms importation to Somalia, much of that ban was actually lifted in 2012, meaning that contractors could take on more traditional combat-advisory type activities—note that both of the purported Bancroft employees in the photo that Thomas tweeted are armed.
Bancroft has diversified within Somalia as well, anticipating a time when they could use their years of involvement in the country to pivot towards more peacetime-orientated activities.
As the Wall Street Journal reported in April of 2013, the company is developing a secured hotel and conference complex along a relatively quiet stretch of Mogadishu beachfront. The WSJ described the property as "a fortified compound sprawled across 11 acres of rocky white beach [offering] 212 rooms including $500-a-night villas, several dining rooms, coffee and snack shops, and a curving slate-colored pool where sun-seekers can loll away Somali afternoons."
Private security contractors are controversial. Opponents claim that these companies are effectively above the law in the countries where they're hired. They're sent to some of the most unstable places in the world, weak states where a private contractor's power and organizational capacity can outstrip that of the local government (G4S's operations in South Sudan are a case in point). Private contractors have a mercenary character to them—they seem like hired guns, sent to foreign countries with little apparent oversight or consent. They can also covertly implement US policy in a way that strikes many as unaccountable.
At the same time, Bancroft's story demonstrates that a private-sector component to the anti-ISIS campaign could be inevitable, as these companies provide a level of expertise, funding, capability, and willingness that other potential on-the-ground actors simply don't have. They can take risks that a foreign government cannot, while also serving as a cats' paw for US policy—as the SOCOM study noted, the Burundian and Ugandan militaries paid Bancroft using money from a US bilateral assistance package, and the company was given an official US State Department contract in 2010.
Maybe companies like Bancroft won't be sending combat forces of the type that Prince envisions. But if history is any guide, they'll be involved in the fight in some form or another—assuming they aren't already.
See Also: John McCain Thinks ISIS Is Winning
Marissa Mayer’s Secret Plans for Tumblr
Just after Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion in the spring of 2013, several of Marissa Mayer’s top product and media executives presented her with detailed plans for what Yahoo should do with its new property.
To every proposal Mayer said no.
In her efforts to persuade Tumblr CEO and founder David Karp to sell his company to Yahoo, Mayer had promised Karp that Tumblr would remain an independent property—much the same way YouTube runs separately from its parent company, Google, and Instagram its parent company, Facebook. A source close to the situation says Mayer was determined to prevent Tumblr from becoming a “shiny new toy” for Yahoo executives to play with.
Over the next few months, it was decided that Tumblr would use Yahoo’s ad sales force and ad technology, and that Yahoo would use Tumblr’s publishing tools to power some of its media brands. The integration of Karp’s company into Yahoo would go no further.
Sometime between the late fall of last year and spring of this year, this stance softened. Mayer and her team now have an expanded vision for what Tumblr could be for Yahoo—a vision that did not originate from the mind of Tumblr’s CEO, David Karp.
According to several sources, Yahoo executives believe Tumblr should become the company’s answer to YouTube. In this vision, Tumblr would become the exclusive distributor of videos from YouTube stars like JC Caylen, JennXPenn, Teala Dunn, Ricky Dillon, Connor Franta, JackJack, and Bethany Mota.
In late March 2014, Re/code’s Peter Kafka and Kara Swisher reported that Yahoo was “working on a plan to lure some of YouTube’s most popular stars and networks to show their stuff on the site.” Kafka and Swisher said that the plan was “aimed at taking advantage of persistent complaints by both video creators and owners, who think that they don’t make enough money on YouTube.”
The story continued: “Yahoo executives have told video makers and owners that the company can offer them better economics than they’re getting on YouTube, either by improving the ad revenue or by offering guaranteed ad rates for their videos.” What Swisher and Kafka didn’t mention was where the videos from former YouTube stars would go.
Many people assumed that Yahoo would stick them on its Yahoo-branded video product, Screen. But we are told by three sources—one close to Tumblr, one close to Yahoo, and a third close to a digital-media publisher approached by Yahoo about the plan—that Yahoo envisions its poached YouTube stars setting up their new channels on Tumblr.
Yahoo’s thinking was pretty simple, says one source. Having concluded that poaching YouTube stars would be a good strategy, it simply looked in its portfolio for a user-generated content network. Tumblr was the obvious choice.
It makes sense. Yahoo product executive Mike Kerns has done a nice job of turning Screen into a slick product that’s easy and fun to use. But the tweens and teens who love Ricky Dillon have probably never heard of it. Tumblr, they know.
(You maybe wondering who Ricky Dillon is. Or JC Caylen. That’s OK. Your 12-year-old knows. And if she saw either, she would go into a hysterical screaming fit—just like the kids used to when they spotted Paul, John, George or Ringo.)
The other reasons executives may favor Tumblr is that its so “social.” Tumblr has a dashboard like the Facebook News Feed. As you can subscribe to YouTube channels, users can already “follow” Tumblr blogs. Videos and other Tumblr posts can be “reblogged” spread virally throughout the platform.
That said, the plan could obviously change. In fact, while the idea has been in the works at Yahoo for many months now and is still going forward, its implementation has been more slow than some originally expected.
One reason: YouTube stars are happier with YouTube than they used to be. In February, Google executive Susan Wojcicki became the CEO of YouTube, replacing Salar Kamangar. Wojcicki’s first initiative was to repair the company’s relationship with its homegrown stars. She went on a listening tour. She’s put ads marketing YouTube stars in TV commercials, on billboards, and in subways.
Her most effective move was to stop using so much of YouTube’s available funding for original content on established celebrities like Madonna or Jay Z, and using more of it to pay advances to homegrown talent.
We heard a story about how business is so good for some young YouTube stars, it’s not unusual for them to turn down offers from basic cable channels offering them shows. For whatever reason, Yahoo has been running hot and cold on its big YouTube plan over the past few months. There were reports of delays at the beginning of the summer. The CEO of one digital-media company that Yahoo approached about setting up a Tumblr channel says he liked the idea but that his contact at Yahoo seemed to drop it.
There is some gossip attributing the delay to a lack of enthusiasm from Tumblr CEO David Karp. But a source close to the company tells us that’s not the case. This source said Yahoo and Tumblr are working together to lure YouTubers, but that it’s still “early.”
Yahoo may soon feel more pressure to speed the process along. So far, the Tumblr acquisition has not been material to Yahoo’s revenues. Tumblr was hardly mentioned during Yahoo’s last earnings call. On Oct. 2, Fortune’s Miguel Helft wrote a story headlined “Was Yahoo’s Tumblr acquisition a flop?”
Late last month, activist investor Jeff Smith of Starboard Value published an open letter to Marissa Mayer, accusing her of wasting $1.3 billion of Yahoo’s money on nonrevenue-generating acquisitions since 2012.
Smith said that Yahoo was better off selling to AOL than continuing down the path Mayer has established. “The $1.3 billion spent on acquisitions has clearly not delivered value to shareholders,” he wrote. “Not only do we believe that many of the acquired companies were, and still are, losing a considerable amount of money, but we also believe that these acquisitions, on a combined basis, have failed to deliver material revenue growth.”
If Yahoo were able to suddenly begin generating even a fraction of the $3.5 billion of gross revenues and $1.5 billion in net revenues YouTube brought in for Google in 2013, shareholders like Smith would likely hold their fire.
Tumblr’s and Yahoo’s spokespeople declined to comment on this story.
Bill Gates Sure Spends a Lot of Time at Microsoft
Since naming Satya Nadella as CEO, Bill Gates spends a third of his time working at Microsoft, he told Vanity Fair's Bethany McLean.
That's a surprisingly big chunk of time, and more than most people realize. When Nadella became CEO, Gates gave up the Microsoft chairman job and took on the vague title of "Founder and Technology Advisor." That made it sound like he was practically dusting his hands of Microsoft.
During the CEO search, Gates had repeatedly told people that he would not, under any circumstances, come back as CEO.
And for a decade he's been selling off his Microsoft shares. He once had a 45 percent stake of Microsoft, or 1 billion shares. He's down to just under 300 million shares, less than a 4 percent stake and is no longer the company's biggest shareholder. Former CEO Steve Ballmer (with 333 million shares) is. If Gates continues selling his Microsoft stock at this rate, he'll be out of Microsoft entirely by the end of the decade.
But, with a new CEO of his own choosing, his attention to the company has returned in force. When Microsoft announced Gates' new role, it said that Gates would "devote more time to the company, supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction."
That turned out to be very true. But it also might turn out to be a big mistake. The same one Gates made with Ballmer. Gates gave up the CEO title in 2000, (in the midst of the company's anti-trust litigation with the Justice Department), but he actually didn't leave his full-time job at Microsoft for another eight years. He became "Chief Software Architect" until 2008.
During those eight years, Gates pretty famously, and regularly, undermined Ballmer. Ballmer told Vanity Fair, "I didn’t feel completely in charge until Bill left [entirely in 2008]. ... He didn’t know how to let me be CEO, and I didn’t know how to do it." Ballmer and Gates had epic fights during that time, especially the first year. When engineers grew frustrated with Ballmer, they would go to Gates, McLean reports. Employees say it was like living with a mom and a dad and not knowing who was in charge.
Gates told McLean he won't make the same mistake with Nadella. If the two of them disagree, “Satya runs the company, so he gets to decide,” Gates says, admitting that as a part-time Microsoftie, he may “not have the full picture. So I get to give input. And if I say to Satya, ‘Hey, this project needs 10 or 15 people, 'I’ll bet I’ll get it, but it’s up to him.”
For his part, Nadella, who is more tactful than the hard-charging Ballmer, notes that he's been at Microsoft for 23 years, including those "mom-and-dad" years. "The thing you’ve got to remember is I grew up in a Microsoft where Bill and Steve were there," Nadella told McLean. "If there’s anything that I know it’s how to get stuff done with Bill around."
But given Gates' clout in the world, the tech industry, and, especially, at Microsoft, you have to wonder: As Nadella's term proceeds and he wants (or needs) to defy Gates, will that really be possible?
The Man Who Invented the Cubicle Hated What They Became
While the cubicle is today seen as a symbol of the drudgery of office work and the control companies have over their employees, the design was originally meant to give workers more freedom when it was first introduced in 1968.
In his book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, author Nikil Saval writes that what we today call the cubicle was actually first marketed as "The Action Office II," the second attempt of designer Robert Propst to create a workstation that gave people individual autonomy and the ability to work in a variety of settings.
Initially, the adjustable walls that make up the modern cubicle were meant to be kept at a 120-degree angle, giving workers privacy when they needed it, while also making them available to coworkers they wanted to speak with.
Inside the workstation, the Action Office II contained pushpin walls that people could personalize, several levels of shelving, and room for both a standing and sitting desk. The idea was to give office workers a flexible space that allowed them to move seamlessly between their various individual and collaborative tasks.
Saval writes that the design, produced by the office furniture company Herman Miller, was met with public acclaim, including a New York Post column titled "Revolution Hits the Office."
Of course, many companies were more interested in saving money than providing their employees with flexible working arrangements. So once they figured out they could put people into a smaller space by repositioning the walls to form a box, that's exactly what they did.
As other companies began to copy the design, their versions increasingly were marketed as the small, closed boxes modern workers are familiar with—in contradiction to Propst's original intentions.
By 1997, three years before Propst's death, The New York Times estimated that upward of 40 million Americans were working in cubicles. It was then that Propst told the Times that he had designed the Action Office II to "give knowledge workers a more flexible, fluid environment than the rat-maze boxes of offices."
Instead, corporations had perverted his intent to cut costs.
All Propst had left was this final denouncement of what his creation had become: "The cubicle-izing of people in modern corporations is monolithic insanity."