Happy Thursday! (Sorry, that wasn't nice.)
Photo: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
Thursday's departure of Facebook’s policy and communications czar, Elliot Schrage, comes as the company navigates a difficult period marked by scandals over foreign election meddling and consumer data privacy, David McCabe and I report.
Why it matters: Policy and communications are exactly the areas where Facebook has needed the most help throughout its recent controversies, and the company's choice of new leadership there will provide clues to how it intends to move forward.
What they’re saying: A Facebook spokesperson said in an email that Schrage “first raised wanting to leave long before the election — after the election Mark [Zuckerberg] and Sheryl [Sandberg] asked him to stay on, which he agreed to do” and that he has “decided it’s time to start a new chapter in his life.”
Schrage's replacement will take charge of the social network’s efforts in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, including an already active public campaign to repair the company's image. Recently, Facebook has been running online ads focused on how it fights misinformation. It has also turned to television spots, an uncommon move for the internet giant.
What we’re hearing:
The bigger picture: Whetstone’s recent rise could be a function of the company's persistent troubles with the government and the public.
Whetstone's possible ascent has some on the company's communications team uneasy, multiple sources said, given that her start at Uber was followed by the departure of multiple longtime staffers. But she's also credited with decisiveness, and that could be something Facebook prizes as it navigates new crises.
Meanwhile, Twitter's head of communications, Kristin Binns, announced Thursday that she's leaving that company, though the coincidental timing was just that. After two years at Twitter, Binns is headed to Activision Blizzard, where she will be SVP and chief communications officer.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
AT&T completed its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner on Thursday, just two days after a judge ruled that the deal could proceed over objections from U.S. antitrust regulators — and hours after the Department of Justice said it wouldn't seek a stay of the decision.
Why it matters: While the move closes a chapter for AT&T, it likely marks just the beginning of a series of media megamergers that could reshape who owns the content Americans consume and the mechanisms through which they consume it.
Yesterday was a bad day for those with a distaste for startup hype, and a good day for those who see that same culture as a business opportunity.
Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Google released a new set of diversity numbers on Thursday — the first since the James Damore scandal — and they show the company has made virtually no progress in increasing the number of women and minorities.
On the flip side, the company did offer up additional details this year, offering details on attrition for the first time.
What they're saying: Project Include CEO Ellen Pao says the company deserves partial credit, even if their overall diversity has remained the same.
"Numbers are stagnant in Google's 2018 diversity report. But they get points for transparency by including attrition and intersectional (race/ethnicity-gender) charts, and data over time. And for looking at suppliers. You can't manage what you don't measure, so this is a start."
Separately: Color of Change renewed its call on Apple and Amazon not to set up shop in North Carolina after that state's general assembly introduced a Voter ID law that the civil rights group labeled as racist.
This made me nostalgic, both for my days covering Windows and the year I spent in college living in Amsterdam.