Silicon Valley’s elite comes to Trump’s Washington - Axios
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Silicon Valley’s elite comes to Trump’s Washington

Evan Vucci / AP

Before President Trump took office, tech CEOs made a pilgrimage to Trump Tower for a high-profile meeting despite their significant political differences.

Today, they're meeting with Trump again — despite the persistent divide between tech and the White House over issues like immigration and climate change.

Why it matters: Silicon Valley's relationship with Trump is complicated. The industry's employees aren't usually happy when their CEOs engage with the president. But a combination of policy realities (tech would love a good deal on tax reform, for example) and a fear of being out of the loop on other discussions (such as modernizing federal IT systems) keeps executives coming back to the table. Tech giants also know a powerful White House contingent has concerns about Silicon Valley's increasing wealth and control over consumers' data, so they need to maintain a dialogue.

What the White House says it wants: "This day is going to show that we have a lot of people who really want to see the government succeed and really want to work with it," a senior White House official told reporters, arguing that the meetings weren't about photo-ops. But, of course, there's also value for the White House in having the president meet with major, recognizable figures from the industry that is a major U.S. economic engine.

The rundown:

  • The executives' meeting with Trump is organized by the Office of American Innovation led by Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. The execs will join several working group sessions, according to senior White House officials, dealing with a variety of issues related to modernizing government technology. Vice President Mike Pence will also be present, among others, as will Ivanka Trump.
  • There's a session on high-skilled immigration, a major policy priority for tech companies who rely on the H-1B program for workers — the same program Trump wants to overhaul to protect American jobs.
  • A group of tech leaders will also join a series of meetings on Thursday focused on emerging tech like drones and the Internet of Things, bookending what the White House has dubbed "technology week." That's organized by a different office in the White House currently run by Peter Thiel ally Michael Kratsios. Trump will also talk about tech issues during a trip to Iowa on Wednesday.

Elephants in the room:

  • The administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, which drew significant condemnation from tech companies. A senior White House official brushed off the idea that the move had lessened interest among executives in attending — saying "we had virtually no fallback from the Paris thing." Officials say that there were more people interested in coming than the White House was able to include in the meeting.
  • Tech, where many major companies are founded or led by immigrants, has concerns about Trump's stance on immigration. One question posed in a briefing document for attendees of the session on the program is, "How can the H-1B visa program be modified to ensure that visas are issued to the highest-skilled and highest-paid workers, while also eliminating examples of the program's abuse?"

What to watch: Where the relationship between Silicon Valley and the Trump administration goes from here. Expect executive to bring up issues that matter to their companies. A source said, for example, that Apple will focus on veterans affairs, cybersecurity and encryption and human rights (CEO Tim Cook is attending working group sessions on immigration and "citizen services," Apple confirms). The company has decried the Trump travel ban for several majority-Muslim countries and on the administration decision to pull back Obama-era guidance protecting transgender students.

Chris Liddell, the White House's director of strategic initiatives, says the White House hopes to keep the companies involved in these discussions as they move forward.

"Largely we see them working in an advisory capacity, and again, depending on the [working group] stream and their level of interest we will have them more or less engaged," Liddell told reporters. "But obviously at the end of the day we have to do the work, so this would be just helping us with ideas."

Liddell is also keen to establish an exchange program of sorts, where industry talent agrees to stints in government positions to work on complex tech issues, such as cybersecurity, sources say.

Who's going:
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
  • Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
  • Kleiner Perkins Chairman John Doerr
  • Founders Fund Partner (and Trump ally) Peter Thiel
  • Palantir CEO Alex Karp
  • IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
  • Intel CEO Brian Krzanich
  • Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz
  • Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen
  • Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf
  • OpenGov CEO Zachary Bookman
  • VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger
  • Akamai CEO Tom Leighton
  • SAP CEO Bill McDermott
  • Accenture Chief Executive for North America Julie Sweet
  • MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga

Who's not: A glaring absence from the list is Facebook. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg attended the Trump Tower meeting and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was reportedly on a White House conference call earlier this year.

Update: A Facebook spokesperson said that the company received an invite but had told the White House of prior scheduling conflicts for Monday.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to correct Julie Sweet's title at Accenture.

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Manafort registers as foreign agent for Ukraine

Mary Altaffer / AP

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has retroactively filed forms with the Department of Justice disclosing his work as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian political party, per The Washington Post.

Manafort's consulting firm disclosed that it had received $17.1 million between 2012 and 2014 for its work for the Party of Regions, then led by exiled, pro-Russia former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Why it matters: Manafort didn't break any laws by filing his disclosure form retroactively — that would require clear intent, and his spokesman told the Post that the form's preparation started last September — but Manafort's work for foreign clients is already under scrutiny amid the ongoing Russia investigations.

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How Lightspeed responded to Caldbeck's alleged behavior with Stitch Fix founder

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

When Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake told Lightspeed Venture Partners, an early investor in her company, that (then) Lightspeed partner Justin Caldbeck had sexually harassed her, the firm asked her to sign a non-disparagement agreement. Not signing, a source suggests, could have endangered her entire company's future. So she signed, and remained silent about her experience.

Why it matters: Lightspeed today tweeted that regrets not taking "stronger action" when it learned of Caldbeck's alleged behavior. Lake signed the non-disparagement clause while Stitch Fix was trying to raise money — which it eventually did in a round led by top-tier VC firm Benchmark. Lightspeed could have blocked that investment.

Caldbeck has been accused of sexual harassment by several other female founders, leading him to resign from Binary Capital, the firm he co-founded after leaving Lightspeed in early 2014. Lightspeed never said anything publicly about the charges against its partner until today, and arguably enabled his future behavior by legally requiring that Lake stay silent.

Background: Lake founded Stitch Fix, an online personal styling and shopping service for women, in 2011, but by mid-2013 was having trouble finding new capital. Existing seed investor Lightspeed didn't want to lead the new round, in part due to shell-shock from consumer-focused commerce disappointments like ShoeDazzle and LivingSocial. Many others also passed, until Benchmark Capital expressed interest in leading what would become a $12 million round.

At around the same time, however, Lake had told Lightspeed about the alleged harassment by Caldbeck – and asked that he be removed as a board observer. Lightspeed agreed to do so, but Lake also knew that it could effectively block the Benchmark investment. Lake was asked to sign a non-disparagement agreement against Lightspeed and its partners, which she did on August 13, 2013.

Lightspeed also would sell a portion of its shares in the company — which now may be valued at $4 billion in an IPO — into the Benchmark transaction, although it's unclear if that was related to Lake's allegations or simply a byproduct of Benchmark's minimum ownership requirements.

Caldbeck would formally leave Lightspeed the following spring, in order to form Binary Capital.

Below is the non-disparagement agreement (apologies for the low resolution), which is contained in a larger file related to the Benchmark funding. It was provided to Axios by someone with access to that file:




Axios and The Information had previously reported that a Lightspeed founder had told the firm of Caldbeck's alleged misbehavior, but had not identified Lake nor her company. Recode today was first to publicly name her, and received this statement from Lake:

"It's important to expose the type of behavior that's been reported in the last few weeks, so the community can recognize and address these problems."

A Lightspeed spokeswoman declined comment, beyond the firm's tweets on the matter.

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Ex-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer defends Uber's Travis Kalanick

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer (Magnus Höij / Flickr Creative Commons)

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is giving Travis Kalanick, who recently resigned as CEO of Uber, a pass on his company's workplace issues.

"I just don't think he knew," she said on Tuesday, speaking at the Stanford Directors' College, according to the SF Chronicle. "When your company scales that quickly, it's hard," she added, also mentioning that she's friends with Kalanick. In March, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky also offered words of support for Kalanick.

Our thought bubble: Kalanick may not have been completely ignorant of his company's culture:

  • He sent a memo in 2013 ahead of a company retreat bemoaning his inability to have sexual relations with his employees.
  • At similar company trip to Vegas in 2015 a manager groped female employees, resulting in his firing.
  • On a trip to South Korea in 2014 a group of employees, including Kalanick, went to an escort bar, prompting a female employee to tell HR it made her uncomfortable.
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Trump's Twitter response to the health bill's postponement

President Trump reacted on Twitter this evening to the shelving of the Senate GOP's health care bill until after the July 4 recess, and his subsequent meeting with Republican senators at the White House — at which he said the final Senate bill was "going to be great."

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Doctors go digital to check up on patients

Mel Evans / AP

Digital medicine is being adopted by hospitals and health systems to assist patients' self-management of chronic diseases, the Wall Street Journal reports.

How it works: Doctors can use electronic tools to both monitor their patients and encourage healthy behaviors. An example: the ability to remotely remind diabetic or obese patients to exercise via a regular text message.

The statistics: 67 percent of surveyed health-care executives and clinicians said technology allowed them to support their patients to be healthy; 60 percent said they were able to give input to providers on the patient's status.

Why it helps: Physician and researcher Joseph Kvedar summed it up to the WSJ: "Digital medicine allows us to get into your life in a personal way, deliver interventions continuously, and inspire you to be healthy in a way an office-based practice can't."

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Roger Stone to testify before House Intel in July

Seth Wenig / AP

Roger Stone will testify on July 24 in front of a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee as a part of its Russia investigation, per Politico.

His reasoning: Stone said that he wanted to speak out in order to rebut the testimony of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta, who appeared in front of the committee earlier today.

From the horse's mouth: In an email to Politico regarding his decision, Stone said, "I may not be able to sue a member of Congress but I sure as hell can sue the f--- out of Podesta. The claim that I had knowledge of the hacking of his email by WikiLeaks in advance is a demonstrable lie."

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The GOP senators blocking the health care bill

Susan Walsh / AP

After Mitch McConnell announced he would be delaying the health care vote, which appeared doomed to failure, President Trump brought the entire GOP caucus to the White House and told them, "we have really no choice but to solve this situation."

Many of the holdouts were given seats uncomfortably close to the president. Rand Paul, one of those holdouts, met privately with Trump and said the president seemed "open" to changes.

Here's who Trump and McConnell need to win over:

  1. Susan Collins tweeted before McConnell delayed the vote that she will vote no, and after the announcement said "it's difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the impact of the bill."
  2. Ron Johnson said he would vote against the bill if GOP leadership forced a vote this week.
  3. Rand Paul said he wouldn't vote for the bill unless there were changes, and met Trump Tuesday afternoon to discuss his position.
  4. Mike Lee said he would vote against starting debate on the bill in its current form.
  5. Ted Cruz said last week he was opposed to the bill due to high premiums.
  6. Dean Heller said last week he would vote no on the motion to begin debate.
  7. Jerry Moran said he was a no vote after McConnell announced the delay.
  8. Shelley Moore Capito said, "I cannot support it" due to its cuts to Medicaid and because it does not sufficiently address the opioid epidemic.
  9. Rob Portman said he "cannot support it in its current form" especially since his state relies on Medicaid to combat the opioid epidemic.
  10. Lisa Murkowski said delaying the vote on the bill is an "important step" (she didn't see voting for the bill this week).
  11. Bill Cassidy said the CBO score makes him "more concerned" about the bill.
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Jonathan Karl on covering Donald Trump

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Records of some patients who use marijuana delivery service Eaze may have been accessed

Some patient records of medical marijuana delivery service Eaze may have fallen into the wrong hands.
The records of a physician affiliated with Eaze were improperly accessed by one of that doctor's former employees. Eaze confirmed the issue in a statement to Axios, saying it has revoked the access of the physician involved, Don Davidson.
We became aware on Monday, June 26 that a third party doctor that employs the EazeMD technology – Dr. Davidson MD - experienced unauthorized access by a former employee to patient data in their electronic medical records system. The issue has been reported to law enforcement and the doctor's office is working with an independent security firm to assess the full extent of the impact.
We have no evidence to suggest that Eaze's systems were compromised.There is nothing more important to Eaze than the trust of our users. The office's access to the platform was immediately revoked. More information about the breach is available at https://forum.dondavidsonmd.com/t/63z2p0/notification-about-security-incident

Eaze doesn't actually grow or deliver the pot, instead serving as a technology platform connecting dispensaries and clients. In addition to arranging marijuana delivery, Eaze has a service, EazeMD, that connects people with a doctor who can prescribe medical marijuana. Davidson was a part of that.

Why it matters: It draws attention to the fact that with online services come online records, all the more concerning if what one is buying is marijuana.



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Lawmakers want to move fast on self-driving car legislation

Courtesy of Waymo

Members of Congress said Tuesday that they hope to move forward with a package of self-driving car legislation by the end of July. "We've got to keep moving, because again, this technology is moving away from us, you might say," said Republican Bob Latta, who is helping to lead the effort. That would move the bills out of the relevant committee — but not out of the House entirely.
But, but, but: At a hearing on Tuesday, Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the committee, said he feels the role of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn't get enough attention in the legislation, which could open the door to more industry testing.
Sound smart: Self-driving car makers from the Valley to Detroit want the federal government to provide a national framework to avoid a patchwork of laws that differ from state to state. But whether enough members of Congress have the bandwidth or willingness to act remains an open question.