Aug 28, 2017

Axios Login

Well, I hope you had a restful weekend. Those of us on the Uber beat (aka every tech reporter in the Valley) did not. Speaking of which...

The download on Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber's CEO-to-be

After a dramatic process, Uber's board has finally selected a new CEO: Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia's current chief executive. So who is Khosrowshahi? Kia has been doing some research:

  • Born in Iran in 1969, Khosrowshahi moved to the U.S. in 1978 and earned an electrical engineering degree from Brown University in 1991. He worked at Allen & Co. as an investment banker in the '90s, then joined IAC/Interactive Corp. in 1998.
  • In 2005, two years after being bought by IAC, Expedia was spun off and Khosrowshahi became CEO. He currently also sits on the boards of Fanatics and The New York Times Co.
  • Under his leadership, Expedia made a number of acquisitions including Orbitz, Travelocity, and HomeAway.
  • Expedia's stock price has more than tripled over the last five years under his watch. That could appeal to Uber investors given the company's aspirations to eventually go public.
  • Khosrowshahi is sometimes described as a "ruthless dealmaker," as noted in this Business Journal piece, thanks to his time on Wall Street. Although, this has sometimes cost him deals, like the acquisition of Travelscape in 1999 after he decided to cut the price by $30 million. On the other hand, his dealmaking skills saved Expedia's $3.9 billion acquisition of HomeAway, which almost didn't happen.
  • Khosrowshahi has been a vocal critic of President Trump and his administration. Expedia was among a group of major companies that filed a lawsuit against Trump's ban on travel from certain majority Muslim countries.
  • On a personal note, Khosrowshahi is a big fan of soccer and has four kids, two teenagers and two younger ones. He married his second wife in Vegas, wearing jeans.

Our take: Khosrowshahi may have a good combination of tough business skills and newfound management skills that Uber needs right now. He also has experience with financing, acquisitions, and running a public company — all things that are central to Uber right now or down the line.

Still, Khosrowshahi will face a lot of challenges on the outset, including hiring a new slate of executives, dealing with an ugly lawsuit on trade secrets, and managing a rambunctious board that's currently dealing with a lawsuit between one member and another. And of course, he'll have to work with former CEO Travis Kalanick.

What about Expedia? As for who will take over Khosrowshahi's job at Expedia, we hear it will most likely be CFO Mark Okerstrom.

Q&A: Palo Alto Networks' Sethi on boosting diversity in cybersecurity

While the gender gap is pervasive throughout the tech industry, it's even more pronounced in the highly technical cybersecurity sector, where only 11% of workers are women. To that end, Rinki Sethi, senior director of security operations and strategy for Palo Alto Networks, has helped create a curriculum for 18 cybersecurity badges for the Girl Scouts, which will launch next year.

Here are some highlights from Sethi's recent chat with Kim (read Kim's full piece here):

Hiring for diversity: You need to broaden the scope and bring in thought diversity to your team. I want to find someone to compliment the team but the only way to do that is to go outside of what I'm comfortable with. Thought diversity goes beyond gender. [In India], I was talking to someone whose employee built a security operations center —and that employee was completely blind. I was blown away. The way that person is going to solve a problem is going to be so different.

The biggest security threats these days: In the security industry, it used to be about detection and containment. People use to believe that breaches and attacks were going to happen — that you can't prevent them, you just have to be ready to respond to them. That's changing. It's now about designing networks, infrastructure, applications to prevent those attacks in the first place.

Implications for skills the industry needs: Our customers are having trouble finding talent. So they're looking at using automation... to reduce the surface area for attacks, so they are not having their employees do the same things every day. They're trying to move to threat hunting — looking at how something happening on one part of the network correlates to what's happening to on another part of the network — which requires a lot of data analysis. It's easier to recruit talent into jobs focused on threat hunting because those are the fun roles in security.

India's squeezed tech workers

Indian tech workers — for decades a backbone of the U.S. information technology sector and a big presence in U.S. university STEM programs — are facing a reckoning in the U.S. and at home, and are having to up their skills to adapt, Kim reports.

  • Trump's proposals to curb immigration favor high-skilled, high-paying jobs, and target Indian IT outsourcing companies, which rely on H-1B visas to bring workers to the U.S.
  • The rise of automation and machine learning technologies will reduce some IT jobs, leading to layoffs.
  • Countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are quickly developing tech workforces that compete with India for outsourcing.
  • An increasing need for in-house tech collaboration is leading some U.S. and European firms to turn from outsourcing to local talent.

Why it matters: These shifts are a cloud hanging over one of the most vibrant sectors of the Indian economy. IT — such as coding, creating and testing software, entering data, customer service — creates $150 billion in annual revenue and employs nearly 4 million people. The current tech and political trends threaten this key sector of the Indian economy.

Depending how far they go, the trends are also a potential threat to Silicon Valley startups and IT companies that have formed a symbiotic relationship with Indian know-how and labor.

CALinnovates: End "political ping pong" over net neutrality

Axios took the first look at survey results out this morning finding that 74% of respondents support net neutrality legislation that would ban blocking, throttling and fast lanes on the internet .

The online survey was commissioned by CALinnovates, a San Francisco-based tech advocacy group whose members include AT&T, Uber, and a number of startups.

Other survey findings:

  • Younger Americans (18-29 year-olds) were nearly twice as likely to favor legislative action.
  • People have become more concerned over the past few years about blocking, throttling, fast lanes, and the general ability to access content and services on the internet.
  • 81% of people are more concerned about the privacy of their information on the internet.
  • People are also more concerned about the accuracy (69%) and reliability (67%) of information they receive online.

Ping pong: CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery said it's time to stop the "political ping pong" of different approaches when it comes to the FCC's oversight. CALinnovates wants to convene a drafting session for interested stakeholders, "where we can go behind closed doors and come out with some semblance of a recommendation for Congress."

Our thought bubble: There's a general feeling of net neutrality fatigue: People are getting wary of this decade-long fight and some companies and consumers want the issue settled already. But that's easier said than done, even with Republicans in charge.


Separately, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's tech subcommittee, wants to tackle net neutrality and online privacy this fall.

Here's what she told David on Friday:

On net neutrality, Blackburn said that companies want "to have their say and to do something on where there is agreement." It remains to be seen, however, whether there'll be enough agreement for all the parties involved to hammer out a deal.On her privacy proposal: "I'm optimistic." She said a "real win would be to have an aggressive discussion" about the issue in the fall.

Take note

On tap: It's a big week for nerds in Sin City. VMWorld and Oktane are both taking place in Las Vegas...Also Amazon is set to close its purchase of Whole Foods and immediately start lowering some prices.

Trading places: See above for some big changes at Uber and Expedia.

ICYMI: Apple may get $4 million in tax breaks per job at an Iowa data center, according to the L.A. Times...The Chinese government issued new rules that further limit what can be said anonymously in internet chat forums...The majority of Americans don't download a single new smartphone app on a monthly basis, according to ComScore...Score one more job for the robots: It turns out drones are way better at spotting sharks than humans...Airbnb has set up a site to link those displaced by Hurricane Harvey with those that can offer a free place to stay.

After you Login

Check out this awesome public art exhibit of fake shadows. The exhibition is in the Silicon Valley town of Redwood City if you want to check it out in person. (I know I do.)