Factbox: Tesla executive departures since 2016

(Reuters) – Electric carmaker Tesla Inc has seen a flurry of senior executives leave the company in recent months.

The company logo is seen in front of a showroom of U.S. car manufacturer Tesla in Zurich, Switzerland March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Here is a list of executive departures since 2016:

2018

Nov. – Jeff Jones, head of global security, is no longer working with the company after just 11 months on the job, CNBC reported, citing one current and one former Tesla employee. cnb.cx/2KGT2Ny

Oct. 17 – Gilbert Passin, vice president of manufacturing, has left, according to a Business Insider report. reut.rs/2ymyLHM

Sept. 20 – Liam O’Connor, vice president of global supply management resigned from the company, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. reut.rs/2CmylUSSept. 12- Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, said he would be leaving Tesla to take a CFO role at another company.

Sept. 7 – Gabrielle Toledano, chief people officer at Tesla, leaves the company. reut.rs/2NrTnXS

Sept. 4 – Dave Morton, chief accounting officer at Tesla, resigns just a month after starting work, according to a company filing. reut.rs/2NrTnXS

July – Ganesh Srivats, vice president at Tesla leaves company to become chief executive officer at Moda Operandi Inc bit.ly/2NvCJac

July – Doug Field, senior vice president of engineering, stepped down after five years with the electric carmaker. bit.ly/2P4nVjf

June- Karim Bousta, vice-president of worldwide service and customer experience, left the company, automotive news website Electrek reported. bit.ly/2N9pLj1

May- Cal Lankton stepped down as senior vice president of energy operations and will be replaced by Sanjay Shah from Amazon.com Inc, according to a Bloomberg report. bloom.bg/2x89XC6

May – Matthew Schwall, director of field performance engineering, exits to join Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit, Waymo. reut.rs/2rIFnxb

April – Georg Ell, director of Tesla’s Western Europe operations, leaves to head UK-based Smoothwall. bit.ly/2rJEKCt

March – Chief Accounting Officer Eric Branderiz exits after joining in October 2016. reut.rs/2rI6OXD

March – Susan Repo, corporate treasurer and vice president of finance, exits to become chief financial officer at another company. bloom.bg/2FFA4HB

February – Jon McNeill, president of global sales and services, leaves to join ride-hailing company Lyft as chief operating officer. reut.rs/2GgaLr6

January – Jason Mendez, director of manufacturing engineering, leaves after more than 12 years. bit.ly/2InKIQO

January – Will McColl, manager of equipment engineering, leaves after seven years. bit.ly/2InKIQO

2017

December – Erik Fogelberg, vice president of commercial sales, America, Tesla Energy left the company after 11 months. He joined as vice president of global sales for NEC Energy Solutions last month. bit.ly/2QdgnZh

November – Jon Wagner, director of battery engineering, who joined in 2013 exits to launch a battery and powertrain startup in California. reut.rs/2L3CFu4

September – Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of business development, departs. reut.rs/2KpjeuJ

August – Marco Krapels, vice president of international expansion, solar & battery storage, left the company after six months and currently serves as the founder and chief executive officer of Micropower-Comerc, according to his LinkedIn profile. bit.ly/2NZ3FMx

August – Kurt Kelty, director of battery technology and then one of the longest serving company executives, exits. He led negotiations with Panasonic on the company’s gigafactory in Nevada. bloom.bg/2vhrcSD

July – SolarCity co-founder Peter Rive leaves the company, eight months after Tesla bought the biggest U.S. residential solar panel maker. reut.rs/2Krcnkh

June – Chris Lattner, vice president of autopilot leaves within six months of joining. reut.rs/2rL6l6e

June – SolarCity founder Lyndon Rive leaves the electric vehicle maker. reut.rs/2rJnY6u

May – Arnnon Geshuri, who led HR at Tesla for more than eight years, departs. bit.ly/2IGwKg8

April – Chief Financial Officer Jason Wheeler leaves to pursue public policy projects; replaced by Deepak Ahuja, who served as CFO before Wheeler. read.bi/2wI4Zir

March – Mark Lipscomb, vice president of human resources, departs to join streaming service provider Netflix. bit.ly/2rF3zzw

March – Satish Jeyachandran, director of hardware engineering, leaves after seven years with the company; later joins Waymo. bit.ly/2IloGSs

March – David Nister, vice president of autopilot vision, departs to join chipmaker Nvidia. read.bi/2jWtteA

March – Klaus Grohmann ousted after a clash with CEO Elon Musk over the strategy at Grohmann’s firm, which Tesla had acquired in November. Grohmann Engineering helped companies design highly automated factories. reut.rs/2wJjbYF

January – JLM Energy says Ardes Johnson, who worked as director of sales at Tesla Energy, joins as a vice president. bit.ly/2rJUqWh

January – Sterling Anderson, head of Tesla’s autopilot system, leaves company. Tesla sued him for trying to recruit company engineers for his new venture while still with Tesla, and in April withdrew the lawsuit after a settlement. reut.rs/2IjRLK9

2016

December – Mateo Jaramillo, vice president of Tesla Energy, leaves after seven years. bit.ly/2wHbGBs

July – Rich Heley, vice president of product technology, departs to join Facebook. bit.ly/2rJnXjb

May – Josh Ensign, vice president of manufacturing, leaves; joins startup Proterra as chief operating officer. read.bi/2IHq4hS

May – Greg Reichow, vice president of production, leaves as the company prepares to launch Model 3, and sharply ramp up production. reut.rs/2InGIQi

April – James Chen, vice president of regulatory affairs and deputy general counsel, leaves to join rival Faraday Future. read.bi/2rI1P8P

March – Ricardo Reyes, vice president of global communications, leaves. bloom.bg/2ImDzUY

March – Michael Zanoni, vice president of finance and worldwide controller, departs to join Amazon. bit.ly/2rHW9eU

January – Chief Information Officer Jay Vijayan leaves Tesla to create his own startup. on.wsj.com/2wG39P7

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

U.S. SEC chairman says Tesla case is 'settled' despite CEO's tweet

FILE PHOTO – Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk participates in a “fireside chat” at the National League of Cities (NLC) 2018 City Summit in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

(The Nov. 26 story corrects paragraphs 4 and 5 to show the SEC filed charges against Musk and Tesla, and that Musk and Tesla settled those charges without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations)

By Katanga Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman said on Monday that the agency would not revisit its securities fraud settlement with Tesla Inc despite Chief Executive Elon Musk’s tweet mocking the regulator.

Jay Clayton appeared to be unaware of the Oct. 4 tweet describing the SEC as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission,” when CNBC anchors read it to him on Monday.

“He said that?” Clayton asked, declining to comment further. “As far as I’m concerned, that matter is settled.”

Tesla and Musk agreed in September to pay $20 million each to settle SEC charges over Musk’s tweets on Aug. 7 that said he was considering taking Tesla private and had secured funding for such a deal.

Musk and Tesla settled the charges against them without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations.

The settlement requires him to be more restrained on Twitter, prompting speculation that the agency could review the agreement after Musk’s Oct. 4 tweet which came hours after a federal judge ordered him and the SEC to justify their settlement. Shares of the electric carmaker fell as much as 4 percent after that tweet.

“I think it was an appropriate settlement; one that sent a message to the marketplace, letting CEOs know that if they speak, they need to speak accurately,” Clayton said.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Michelle Price and Richard Chang

WPP combines famous JWT ad agency with digital arm Wunderman

FILE PHOTO: An usher holds a baton to guide attendees towards the AGM of advertising agency WPP in London, Britain, June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – WPP is merging its famous JWT agency with its digital outfit Wunderman in the most high-profile move by the world’s biggest advertising group to simplify its business.

JWT, founded in 1864 and headquartered in New York, is one of the world’s best known advertising agencies, behind the Andrex puppy ads and jingles for Toys R Us.

WPP is restructuring after clients complained that with 130,000 people in 112 countries it had become too difficult to do business with. It has cut forecasts and lost major clients, sending its shares down 35 percent in the year to date.

It has already merged the Y&R agency with VML but the change to J Walter Thompson, the first agency to air a TV commercial, shows how far WPP is willing to go to overhaul its business.

JWT’s customers include HSBC, Unilever, Rolex, Nestle and others, while Wunderman works with Microsoft, Investec and Danone.

“Wunderman Thompson is a formidable combination, bringing together the capabilities our clients are demanding – award-winning creativity alongside deep expertise in technology, data and commerce,” WPP CEO Mark Read said.

“(This) allows us to compete more effectively in the sectors with the most significant opportunities for future growth.”

Read, a former boss of Wunderman, took over the top job at WPP in September, replacing founder Martin Sorrell who quit in April following a complaint of personal misconduct, which he denied.

The new agency, with 20,000 staff in 90 markets, will be run by Mel Edwards, CEO of Wunderman, while Tamara Ingram, head of JWT, will become chairman.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Adrian Croft and Alexander Smith

You Can Pry My Air Fryer Out of My Cold, Greasy Hands

The air fryer, like some of the more superfluous appliances in my house, was a Black Friday purchase. It arrived on our doorstep on a chilly December evening, part of the parade of questionable decisions that my roommates and I had made on the internet: an egg boiler shaped like a hen, t-shirts I didn’t need. We put our new Philips Air Fryer Viva Turbo Star on the countertop, a bulky black box with two dials to set temperature and cook-time, and an outward-facing handle that, when unlatched from the body, reveals a wire fry basket that can hold nearly 2 pounds of food. The basket looks similar to one you might see dipped into a vat of hot oil at a burger joint, but with an air fryer—tosses glitter—you don’t need the calorie-laden oil to get that calorie-laden taste.

What a promise! It works like a supercharged convection oven. Load the fry basket, mist with oil, pop the basket into the fryer’s inner chamber, and turn the dial. Inside, the oil is circulated in hot air at high speed. For our first experiment with the air fryer, my roommate and I loaded a bag of pre-cooked, frozen tater tots. We poured them into the basket, turned the dial, and waited as the fan’s fryer emitted a loud, gravelly hum.

The experts will tell you an air fryer is not a worthwhile purchase. First of all, you don’t reap the health benefits if you throw in convenience foods. If you use foods that have already been cooked, like frozen tater tots, you’re essentially just re-heating (and adding more oil to) fatty foods. Even WIRED’s own reviewer, Joe Ray, advised against buying an air fryer. He tried air-fried baked potatoes, shrimp skewers, and a whole chicken—all to disappointing results. Better to enjoy true fried food occasionally, he wrote, before concluding: “The rare dose of perfection is far better than the constant drip of mediocrity.”

This is all true. But what makes air fryers so exhilarating has nothing to do with how they make fried food healthier and everything to do with how they make unhealthy food easier to get. In the months that followed the arrival of the air fryer, I experimented with air frying all manner of food with little to negative nutritional value. Got a hankering for chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs? Zap! Cheesy mashed potato pancakes? Fire up that air fryer! A few nights ago, my roommate had the idea to toss in chopped-up Spam. When she drew it out, the kitchen instantly smelled like childhood Saturday mornings when my dad cooked Spam fried rice.

In my entire adult life, I have never felt more extravagant than I have with my air fryer. Its tiny fry basket—deeply inefficient, given how much space the air fryer takes on the counter—is perfectly suited for single servings. When you can satisfy your snack lust in less time than it takes to preheat the oven, there’s no time to reconsider healthier options. Sure, you could zap your nuggets in the microwave just as effectively, but would they be as crispy on the edges, or as golden? Why would you stick to the healthier option anyway? When you think of the din of diet fads that shun indulgence, the air fryer’s inexplicably loud drone becomes a defiant roar of “I’ll eat whatever the hell I want, when I want!” as it churns out tater tots at my command.

Comfort food is popularly associated with this kind of fried, fatty fare—food not to sate your hunger, but your emotional needs. Herman Melville famously wrote, in Moby Dick, of a bowl of chowder on a frigid night: “[A] warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained… It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.”

“Comfort food is something that simulates the need for interaction,” says Jordan Troisi, a psychologist at Sewanee University of the South who has devoted his career to defining comfort food. The “comfort,” his research argues, comes not from a food’s nutritional value (or lack thereof) but from the associations the eater makes between food and relationships. Clam chowder tastes good, but it also gives solace to weary sailors. The most evocative comfort foods, Troisi says, are associated with family traditions and celebrations. Air fryers make it remarkably easy for an at-best-mediocre cook (that’s me) to make family recipes: Hunks of pork belly cooked in a saucepan and thrown into the air fryer taste like lechon kawali, the deep-fried Filipino pork belly that reminds me of Christmas at my grandma’s house.

I moved to San Francisco after college, into a landscape of restaurants where I can’t afford to eat. Home is an eight hour drive away, where eating out usually meant going to Arby’s after church. One day, overwhelmed and questioning my future, I bought a 28-ounce sack of Ore-Ida frozen curly fries to cook in the air fryer. In seven minutes, I had a plate of popping-hot curly fries. In five minutes, I lay curled on the couch, a little satisfied and a little ashamed, the sheen of grease on my fingers.

Do air-fried foods taste as good as their fat-bathed analogues? Certainly not. But they taste good enough, and more importantly, they’re there when I need them to be, when loved ones cannot be.

But the magical thing about something as emotionally evocative as comfort food is that you can always pave them over with new memories. One night, I invited my new San Francisco friends over and offered to zap up the rest of the curly fries. They stared in awe of how easily we could recreate our favorite junk food (faster than if I had made them in the oven!) and how much crispier they are than if they were microwaved. For the rest of the night we played board games and discreetly licked the salt from our fingers.

The air fryer does not make healthy food, at least not in my house. Even my health-conscious roommates have hardly made anything exceptionally “healthy” with it. What this too-big, too-loud, dubiously effective black box can do is make startlingly accessible the single most magical quality of food: its ability to elide distance, and, in a bite of Proustian teleportation, take you home.

Ivanka Trump's Emails Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

It’s Thanksgiving Week, which means that the tryptophan haze has caused us to produce a shorter look back at online chatter in a week during which the stock market tanked, romaine lettuce was revealed to be potentially poisonous, and California remained on fire. There was, as that list might make clear, a lot going on over the last seven days despite the holiday, so let’s get to it, shall we?

But Her Emails (Reprise)

What Happened: Ivanka Trump failed to learn the most obvious lesson from her father’s 2016 presidential campaign.

What Really Happened: What’s that saying about history not repeating, but rhyming? Perhaps we should ask First Daughter Ivanka Trump.

Lock her up! Lock her up! That’s what folks are supposed to shout in response to women who use personal email accounts for government business, right?

That certainly sounds just like what Trump used to complain about in reference to Hillary Clinton, but surely there are particularly nuanced differences that make this entirely different. Anyone?

For those who love headlines with a point of view, you might be happy to know that CNN described the defense by Ivanka’s team as “ridiculous.” Of course, the story was widely reported on by the media, because of course it was. (Even a Fox News contributor called it “unforgivable.”) But how were the Twitteratti feeling about all of this?

Perhaps we should focus on the important things and ask the President of the United States what he thinks about this whole problem. After all, he must find it somewhat hypocritical to have one rule for Hillary Clinton and another for his daughter.

OK, fair. Haven’t we all done some emails at some point or another? Who amongst us can cast the first stone? But, of course! It’s totally different and “fake news.”

The Washington Post wasn’t the only organization looking into the matter; indeed, the Post story relied on the efforts of American Oversight, a non-partisan ethics watchdog that was happy to share what it had found on social media.

So, let’s review where we are…

For anyone wondering what the incoming Democratic House is going to do about this:

Oh, and it won’t just be Democrats that will be looking into this.

The Takeaway: Perhaps we’re all focusing on the wrong part of this whole story. What if Ivanka really didn’t know any better? What could that mean for everyone?

The Fate of Jim Acosta’s Press Pass

What Happened: The White House’s war against the media took an unexpected couple of turns last week in the wake of a lawsuit filed (and, seemingly, resolved) by CNN the week before. You can say a lot with a letter, it turns out.

What Really Happened: A couple weeks ago it looked as though CNN’s lawsuit against the Trump White House had been settled when a judge ordered the White House to restore reporter Jim Acosta’s hard pass to the building. Little did anyone (outside of CNN and the White House, that is) realize that the battle wasn’t as over as it seemed.

No, wait, we mean this.

Yes, the White House essentially told Acosta his pass would be taken away again as soon as the judge’s ruling expired. (Considering that the president had, just days earlier, demanded “decorum” from reporters in response to outcry about what the White House was doing, this shouldn’t be the biggest surprise, admittedly. See also: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that CNN needed to send an adult in Acosta’s place if he couldn’t behave.) CNN was quick to respond to the White House’s threat.

And just as everyone expected another court battle to ensue, something else happened…

Yes, out of nowhere, the White House backed down and restored Acosta’s pass permanently. Acosta was happy to put the entire thing behind him, it appeared.

Others were less eager to let it go, and for good reason; the White House included new rules for press in its letter to Acosta. That’s kind of a big deal, and not in a good way.

The Takeaway: Well, at least Acosta got to return to the White House. What’s the worst that could happen with that outcome?

Poor Form

What Happened: Just in case anyone needed a reason to be even more suspicious of the man currently in charge of law enforcement in the United States, that very thing surfaced last week. It’s hard to follow the money when you don’t know where the money comes from…

What Really Happened: There are a number of questions surrounding incoming Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, not least of which are “Does the president know him?” and “Is he being hired to close the Russia investigation?” (Both answers would appear to be yes, with a better question about the latter topic perhaps being whether or not he has already tampered with Mueller’s probe.) Oh, there’s also the surreal matter of the White House refusing to say when he was actually formally named acting AG as well, which is only mildly very suspicious. Last week, more concerns arose about the scandal-prone figure thanks to the release of his financial disclosure form. Ready for some more questions?

The story was the second big scoop of the week from the Washington Post and ethics group American Oversight, with the latter once again sharing information via Twitter.

Perhaps the reason for the delay was that something was clearly amiss.

Or, beyond the revisions, there’s the potential violation of federal law, which one would tend to think would be a no-no for an acting attorney general.

So, let’s recap: Whitaker made money from mysterious sources while also potentially violating federal law. How, exactly, is he going to hold onto his job? Maybe his boss will look out for him?

The Takeaway: Oh also, the irony of the name of the form that revealed all this glorious new (lack of) information wasn’t lost on everyone.

Captain America Would Be Ashamed

What Happened: In a statement released early last week, President Trump stood with Saudi Arabia following the death of a journalist despite widespread belief that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered his killing.

What Really Happened: As the country prepared to slide into the Thanksgiving weekend, the Trump administration clearly thought that it was a good time to demonstrate that it honestly wasn’t every concerned with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the CIA having reportedly concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the murder.

Yes, the president issued a statement on his desire to stand with Saudi Arabia that, honestly, lives up to the New York Times‘ description of “extraordinary,” as well as NBC News’ term “unusual.” It was particularly Trumpian in its verbiage, and although it’s nowhere near good, it’s certainly something.

At least he read through all of the available information before drafting this statement.

But if you thought that the administration might be embarrassed by the statement, think again.

In case you’re wondering quite how bad this statement actually is, there’s literally a thread from a former Department of Defense analyst and expert on the Middle East.

On his way out of town for the holiday, Trump offered some additional clarity to the waiting press.

(Bear in mind that, if the president hadn’t read the CIA report before issuing his statement, it’s very unlikely he’d managed to get through it within the couple of hours between that release and making this comment.)

Now, let’s take a second to look at what Vice President Mike Pence was tweeting about while all this was kicking off.

…There’s a Space Force joke to be done here, surely. Moving on. Perhaps, to the current administration, sending birthday wishes to an inanimate object is more important than trying to hold someone accountable for the murder of a journalist? After all, it’s not as if the current occupants of the White House are particular fans of the fourth estate.

But, really: Whatever could be behind the president’s reticence to actually address reality here?

Yeah, that’ll do it.

The Takeaway: Just to bring this one back to the holiday season…


More Great WIRED Stories

Why Big Changes Always Start with Small Groups

In 1847, a young doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis had a major breakthrough. Working in a maternity ward, he had discovered that a regime of hand washing could dramatically lower the incidence of childbed fever. However, the medical establishment rejected his ideas and the germ theory of disease didn’t take hold until decades later.

The phenomenon is now known as the Semmelweis effect, the tendency for people to reject new knowledge that contradicts established beliefs. Whether you are a CEO trying to launch a new initiative, a political leader pushing for an important reform or a social activist advocating for a cause, you need more than a big idea to change the world.

The problem is that a new idea has to replace an old one and the status quo has inertia on its side. Even those who are easily convinced have to convince those around them and those, in turn, need to convince others still until the long chain of influence results in a change of the zeitgeist. That’s why to truly make an impact, you need small groups, loosely connected, but united by a shared purpose.  

1. Small Groups And Local Majorities

To understand how new ideas take hold, it’s helpful to look at a series of conformity experiments conducted by Solomon Asch in the 1950s. The design of the study was simple, but ingenious. Asch merely showed a group of people pairs of cards like these:

However, there was a catch: almost everyone in the room was a confederate who gave the wrong answer. When it came to the real subjects’ turn to answer, most conformed to the majority opinion even when it was obviously incorrect.

The idea that people have a tendency toward conformity is nothing new, but that people would give obviously wrong answers to simple and unambiguous questions was indeed shocking. Now think about how hard it is for a more complex idea to take hold across a broad spectrum of people, each with their own biases and opinions.

The truth is that majorities don’t just rule, they also influence, even local majorities. So if you want an idea to gain traction, the best strategy is not to try to immediately spread it far and wide, but to start with groups small enough to convince a majority. Once you do that, you can begin to work to achieve wider acceptance.  

2. Loose Connections

One important aspect of Asch’s conformity studies was that the results were far from uniform. A quarter of the subjects never conformed, some always did, and others were somewhere in the middle. We all have different thresholds for conformity that vary widely, depending on a variety of factors, such as our confidence in our knowledge of a subject.

The sociologist Mark Granovetter addressed this aspect with his threshold model of collective behavior. As a thought experiment, he asks us to imagine a diverse group of people milling around in a square. Some are natural deviants, always ready to start trouble, most are susceptible to provocation in varying degrees and the remainder is made up of unusually solid citizens, almost never engaging in antisocial behavior.

You can see a graphic representation of how the model plays out above. In the example on the left, a miscreant throws a rock and breaks a window. That’s all it takes for his friend next to him to start and then others with slightly higher thresholds join in as well. Before you know it, a full scale riot ensues.

The example on the right is slightly different. After the first few troublemakers start, there is no one around with a low enough threshold to join in. Rather than the contagion spreading, it fizzles out, the three miscreants are isolated and little note is made of the incident. Although the groups are outwardly similar, a slight change in conformity thresholds makes a big difference.

It’s a relatively simplistic example, but through another concept Granovetter developed called the strength of weak ties, we can see how it can lead to large scale change in the final graphic below as an idea moves from group to group.

The top cluster is identical to the one in the first example and a local majority forms. However, no cluster is an island because people tend to belong to multiple groups. For example, we form relationships with people in our neighborhood, from work, religious communities and so on. So an idea that saturates one group soon spreads to others.

Notice how the exposure to multiple groups can help overcome higher thresholds of resistance, because of the influence emanating from additional groups through weak links. Physicists have a name for this type of phenomenon — percolation — and configurations like the ones in the diagram are called a percolating cluster.

As I explain in my upcoming book, Cascades, there is significant evidence that this is how ideas spread in the real world. So if you want an idea to gain traction, the best strategy is not to try to convince everybody all at once, but to start with small groups with low resistance thresholds. They, in turn, can help you convince others and build momentum.

3. Forging A Shared Purpose

As many have observed in recent years, you don’t really need leaders to spread ideas. Some, like LOLcats, go viral all on their own. Yet if it’s an idea that you consider to be important, you don’t want to leave things to chance. In many cases, such as the Occupy Movement, even an initially popular idea can spin out of control and lose credibility.

Now we can see where Ignaz Semmelweis went wrong. Rather than working to gain allies among like minded people, he castigated the medical establishment–those who had high resistance thresholds to a challenge of established beliefs. Instead of being hailed as a revolutionary thinker, he died in an insane asylum, ironically from an infection he contracted there.

So we need to redefine how we think about leadership. In his new book, Leaders: Myth And Reality, General Stanley McChrystal defines leadership as “a complex system of relationships between leaders and followers, in a particular context, that provides meaning to its members.” Control, as attractive as it may seem, is always an illusion.

You Can’t Overpower, You Must Attract

All too often, we think creating change is about charismatic leaders and catchy slogans. People see Martin Luther King Jr. and “I have a dream” or Obama and “Yes, we can,” and think that you need a heroic leader to make change happen. In a similar way, they see CEOs like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk thrill audiences on stage and think that’s what entrepreneurship is all about.

This is a trap. Movements like Occupy didn’t fail because they lacked a Mandela or Gandhi, any more than countless startups fail because they lack a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. Successful movements like Otpor in Serbia and Pora in Ukraine prevailed against incredible odds, in much more difficult environments, without visible leaders. Bill Gates isn’t really such a charmer and neither are Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google. 

Most often, change efforts fail because they seek to overpower rather than attract. Semmelweis sent angry letters to his critics, rather than address their concerns. Many of the Occupy activists were shrill and vulgar. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are often known for their arrogance as much as for their technical prowess.

The problem is that fantasies about overpowering your foes are much more romantic than doing the hard work of building traction in small groups and then painstakingly linking them together through forging a sense of shared purpose. Nevertheless, if you want to truly change the world, or even just your little corner of it, that’s what you need to do.

Turn Off Siri on Your Lock Screen for Better iOS Security

Here’s an easy thing you can do right now to improve your digital security hygiene. Pull out your iPhone, open Settings, go into the Siri settings, and turn off Access When Locked. That’s it! Do it on your iPad while you’re at it. Go ahead and do it for your family and friends, too, at holiday functions when you need to deflect personal questions. Everybody wins!

In the battle of the smart assistants, every tech giant hopes to hook you on its voice-activated helper. That means putting the features front and center in as many products as possible. For its part, Apple offers Siri access from your iPhone’s lock screen, so you can seamlessly hear the weather or make a call without needing to unlock your device. But while Siri and other smart assistants are generally secure, all this integration inevitably leads to bugs from time to time. On a smart speaker, that’s usually not a huge deal. On a smartphone, Siri bugs have made its lock screen presence a periodic risk.

The trouble stems from Siri’s ability to control several aspects of your smartphone. It needs that access to effectively help you navigate your iPhone by voice, but new versions of iOS often miss controls on that access. These bugs could let someone who doesn’t have your passcode—or fingerprint or face—manipulate Siri to access some of your personal data, or even unlock your phone, without authorization.

“It might be worth considering turning it off for folks who do not need it much in the lock screen,” says Will Strafach, an iOS security researcher and the president of Sudo Security Group. “Especially since Touch ID and Face ID make it so easy now to unlock fast.”

In one recent example, hawk-eyed researcher Jose Rodriguez, who has uncovered numerous lock screen bypass bugs since he started looking in 2013, found a new lock screen bug mere hours after Apple released iOS 12. The flaw let anyone access a device’s full contacts list without needing to first unlock the phone. When using Siri to create a conference call, iOS requires authorization to go through contacts and add an additional caller. But when Apple added group FaceTime calls, the company forgot to limit on who could scroll through contacts while adding a line.

Apple did not return requests for comment about fixing the iOS 12 FaceTime bug, or the potential security benefits of disabling Siri on your lock screen. In the general, though, the company fixes lock screen bypass flaws after they come to light in subsequent iOS updates.

In addition to Siri, lock screen bypass bugs can also involve accessibility voice commands and iOS’s Control Center. Essentially, any feature that accepts inputs while a device is locked represents a potential point of failure. “People may like Siri on the lock screen, but my personal choice is to disable both Siri and Control Center there,” Strafach says.

The same concept applies on Android, though it shows up in more varied ways thanks to that platform’s fragmented landscape. For iOS, though, the protection is straightforward. Just turn off lock screen Siri.

Lock screen bypass flaws aren’t the most pressing digital security concern for the average iOS user, because they generally involve physical access to a target device. But they’re also usually easy to replicate—meaning people are more likely to be able to exploit them in practice. Given the minor inconvenience of turning lock screen Siri off, why take the risk?


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Playtech founder Teddy Sagi sells stake in the gambling software company

LONDON (Reuters) – Playtech’s founder Teddy Sagi has sold out of the gambling software company that he set up 19 years ago, Sagi’s family office Globe Invest said in a statement on Friday.

Sagi’s Brickington Trading has offloaded about 15.2 million shares in the London-listed business, according to Globe Invest.

Reporting by Ben Martin; Editing by Mark Potter

Service? Don't rely on Venezuela's state telecoms firm Cantv

BARINAS, Venezuela (Reuters) – When Ceferino Angulo heard screams and gunshots one night last year close to his dairy farm on the western plains of Venezuela, he tried to call the police, but there was no phone signal.

A detailed view of a phone lines cabinet of Venezuela’s national telecommunications company CANTV in Barinas, Venezuela September 24, 2018. Picture taken September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

He was not surprised. A phone tower, built by state telecommunications firm Cantv on his land to provide coverage to his local area outside the western city of Barinas, had stopped working.

The tower, set in rolling grassland on his 57-acre farm, was overgrown with vines snaking up its pylons. Its guardhouse was abandoned almost a decade ago and no Cantv employee had visited in three months, 54-year-old Angulo said.

“We’ve spent four years incommunicado. A telephone signal is one of the things we most need here,” he said.

In the decade since the government nationalized the 88-year-old firm, Cantv has cut investment in new technology, skilled staff have departed and thieves have pillaged its equipment, according to a dozen current and former Cantv employees and internal documents.

Venezuelan businesses struggle to operate because phone lines have stopped working, worsening a five-year economic crisis that has shrunk the Venezuelan economy. People find it difficult to access healthcare or sign up for new passports because they cannot register online.

A Cantv spokeswoman declined to comment. Cantv President Manuel Fernandez did not respond to emails and text messages.

Last year, Fernandez said on a government website that Cantv was a “powerful tool” to give telecoms access to people and build the socialist state. Internet use in the country had quadrupled since 2007, he said.

Cellphone connections are patchy across Venezuela, however, and people are reporting ever more network outages, which the government has blamed on right-wing saboteurs.

Barinas, also the area where former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lived and studied as a youth, has been one of the areas hardest hit by the deterioration in Cantv service. In some places, coverage has been completely lost.

Rusting service vehicles sit abandoned outside the phone company’s local headquarters, as it cannot afford new tires or batteries, the current and former employees told Reuters. Cantv’s own offices there often spend days without internet, they said.

Some of the rusted electrical circuits providing internet to Barinas homes have not been replaced since the early 1990s and several residents said they had gone over a year without a connection.

“There is a crisis of investment,” said Jose Luis Machin, Barinas’ former mayor.

A Cantv technician taking a Reuters journalist on a tour of the company’s infrastructure in Barinas said over 100 meters (328 ft) of copper cable had been stolen the night before from a bridge, severing the neighborhood’s connection. Thieves melt down the copper or even sell the cables back to Cantv, the technician and two other employees said.

For telecoms services, Barinas’ nearly 300,000 residents now depend on network terminals built during the past few years by Chinese telecoms firms ZTE and Huawei.

On one block, a ZTE terminal was considered so valuable that a guard from the National Bolivarian Militia, a branch of the armed forces, said he had been posted there to protect it from vandals.

“FROZEN IN TIME”

Cantv, founded in 1930, was re-nationalized by President Chavez in 2007 as he moved to consolidate his socialist revolution.

The company was once Latin America’s leader in the telecommunications sector. It was majority-owned by U.S. firm Verizon Communications and traded on the New York stock exchange. In the past it invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new technology each year, attracted top talent and paid them generous salaries, the former employees said.

Since its nationalization, they said, Cantv had filled thousands of vacated positions with unqualified staff. The company has stopped upgrading its servers and maintenance on its fiber optic network was halted, causing ever more frequent service disruptions, they said.

Fernandez said last year that, before its nationalization, Cantv was an elitist U.S.-controlled company which took its profits abroad instead of investing in the country.

According to the Speedtest Global index, Venezuela ranks among the worst five countries for both mobile and broadband connection speeds.

Cantv had 2.45 million internet subscribers, nearly 7 million fixed line subscribers and almost 14 million mobile subscribers by the end of 2015, according to internal data seen by Reuters. The country’s population is around 32 million.

Average salaries at Cantv are now worth less than $8 a month and pay often arrives late. People who oppose the ruling Socialist Party do not get promotions, employees said.

“The company is frozen in time,” Jose Maria De Viana, a former chairman of Cantv’s mobile phone unit, said.

Cantv publishes few financial details but a copy of its private results, seen by Reuters, for the January-October 2016 period shows the company can no longer fund itself.

It was short 2.72 billion bolivars, then the equivalent of $1.8 million, to meet its investment target and needed 390 million bolivars in “external funds” to help cover the shortfall, data in the documents showed.

Between 2013 and 2016, Cantv’s payroll for its 15,000 employees quadrupled as the government lifted wages to compensate for inflation, according to the report seen by Reuters.

Two executives with access to company data, who resigned in recent months, told Reuters that Cantv has to request funds from the central bank to pay its staff.

The company also suffers from the government’s insistence that it keeps its fees low, currently the equivalent of less than one dollar per month.

Cantv was dependent on agreements with ZTE and Huawei to supply equipment and staff and the firms were paid in dollars out of the Venezuela China Joint Fund, a bilateral financing program, the current and former employees said. Cantv sends its employees to China to receive training, they added.

President Nicolas Maduro has turned to ZTE, in particular, to implement technology projects. Last week, Reuters reported details of ZTE’s role developing a new smart card ID that critics say Maduro is using as a tool to monitor the populace and allocate scarce resources to people his government deems most loyal.

Su Qingfeng, the head of ZTE’s Venezuela unit, said in a phone interview that ZTE was not Cantv’s biggest provider and received no preferential treatment with contracts. A Huawei spokesman declined to comment on its relationship with Cantv.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Even Cantv’s pro-government union has complained about the company’s “serious problems.”

In a private letter to members last year, the Fetratel union chairman, Jose David Mora, wrote that Cantv could not obtain new equipment due to a lack of foreign currency. He said the company was deep in debt to Chinese firms.

“There is total impunity for those that have bled this company dry,” he wrote, citing “zero confidence” in the current leadership. Fetratel did not respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Angus Berwick; Additional reporting by Francisco Aguilar in Barinas, Anggy Polanco in San Cristobal and Andreina Aponte in Caracas; editing by Dan Flynn, Phil Berlowitz and Rosalba O’Brien

How Much Weed Should Someone Try If It's Their First Time?

Our in-house Know-It-Alls answer questions about your interactions with technology.

Q: One of my relatives wants to get into cannabis (which is legal in their home state, of course). Should I tell them to smoke weed or do edibles?

A: Ah, the joys and terrors of exploring cannabis. We’ve all heard tales about overdoing it—maybe like me you once stood in line at an ice cream shop dumbfounded by the exchange of goods and services for money. But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can guide your relative as Virgil guided Dante, only without all the nightmares.

It may be “just” a plant, but cannabis is an extraordinarily complicated drug that science is just beginning to understand. It demands respect and takes practice. The first thing to know when helping your relative decide between edibles or the smoking route is that the human body processes THC—the psychoactive compound in cannabis—differently for each. Smoke (or vape) cannabis and it goes to your bloodstream and makes its way immediately into your brain. Eat it, and the liver gets first dibs at processing the THC, turning it into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is five times as potent. The high will be delayed, but the effects last much longer.

Edibles might seem convenient and innocent enough (yay brownies!), but you need to be very careful with dosing. When you buy an edible at a dispensary, more than likely the dose is going to be 10 milligrams of THC. Which can be too much for a beginner.

So follow the most important rule for cannabis, and for edibles in particular: Start low and go slow. You probably want to begin with a dose closer to 2 or 3 milligrams. You might not feel anything from it, but you’re going to prefer that to overdoing it and descending into paranoia. Wait an hour, if not longer to be safe (we metabolize things differently on different days, after all), and try a bit more. Low and slow.

Smoking or vaping weed is a bit easier to dose because the effects are much quicker and milder. Newbies might want to take a hit and wait 10 minutes or so and repeat as needed. Again, this isn’t a race.

What about tinctures?

Whether your relative decides to smoke or do edibles, I’ll give you a little secret to pass along: Before doing either, start with a CBD tincture. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis. And it is insanely popular right now: Manufacturers have been putting it in face creams and claiming it can cure pretty much any ailment a human can suffer. Science has yet to confirm almost every single one of those claims, though CBD does seem to at least have anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties.

Science has also been exploring how CBD interacts with THC. For years, anecdotal evidence has suggested that CBD dampens the psychoactive high of THC. And increasingly, researchers are putting hard data to this. Patients taking the synthetic THC drug Marinol for nausea, for instance, often report nasty psychoactive side effects like paranoia. But they tend to handle the drug Sativex, which combines CBD and THC, much better.

Problem is, cultivators have over the years neglected CBD in favor of breeding high-THC strains—smoke standard cannabis flower these days and it’s likely to have only a tiny amount of cannabidiol, if any. (Some special strains like ACDC, though, are loaded with CBD.) That and if you’re buying an edible, it probably only contains THC isolated from flower. If CBD isn’t there to put a check on THC, you’re more likely to have a bad time. So a few drops of pure CBD tincture under the tongue taken before THC might make the high much more manageable.

Or, to be extra low and slow, start with a tinctures alone, which contain THC and CBD in various ratios. It might be 18 parts CBD to 1 part THC (which would produce a very mellow effect), or 3:1, or 1:1 (you might actually feel pretty high). This might actually be a safer way to go for newbies than traditional edibles.

Just remember. Cannabis can be extremely powerful, especially if taken as an edible. And cannabis hits people differently depending on your physiology, plus the high can vary from experience to experience for the same person.

Repeat after me: low and slow.


Matt Simon writes for WIRED about biology, robotics, and his struggles with ordering ice cream.

What can we tell you? No, really, what do you want one of our in-house experts to tell you? Post your question in the comments or email the Know-It-Alls.


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