Four things Rep. Ro Khanna said about Apple, Trump, Silicon Valley and North Korea

By Seung Lee | [email protected] | Bay Area News Group PUBLISHED: February 8, 2018 at 12:22 pm | UPDATED: February 8, 2018 at 12:41 pm Ro Khanna is worried about a North Korean missile hitting Apple Park. That might seem like a stretch, but as the city’s representative to Congress, Khanna has to be worried about all possibilities involving his constituency. His constituency, which spans from Sunnyvale and Cupertino to the west to Fremont in the east, can be considered the heart of Silicon Valley and a political bastion of liberal resistance against the Trump administration. In an interview with Fast Company magazine, he shared 12 points about American democracy, politics, creating more jobs and dealing with North Korea. We’re focusing on four points. 1. Yes, Khanna is concerned about a North Korea strike into Silicon Valley. Technically, North Korea reportedly now has missiles that can hit as far as Washington, D.C., according to the Washington Post. So in comparison, a strike into the Bay Area seems relatively easy. Khanna says he is concerned about Silicon Valley’s enormous stature and technological power being an attraction for a missile strike. The thought hit him while taking a tour around Apple Park in Cupertino. “If I was concerned about Americans’ safety and the symbol of America’s future I would think that those in Silicon Valley are the most vulnerable,” said Khanna. “That’s where you would be attacking the future economy. And now you have these symbols like Apple Park that are vulnerable.” 2. Khanna loves Apple Park. Apple is putting the finishing touch on the “spaceship” in Cupertino right now. Khanna believes Apple’s new home may become the new symbol of American innovation and become a famous landmark in the Bay Area.“I’m usually a little jaded about doing these tours, but I was like ‘wow,’ this place is a monument to human ingenuity,” Continue Reading

Google’s firing of memo writer strikes nerve in Silicon Valley

By David Ingram, Salvador Rodriguez and Heather Somerville SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A Silicon Valley culture war pitting liberal-leaning tech firms against a small conservative cohort took on new intensity on Tuesday after Google fired a male engineer for a memo that decried the company's commitment to hiring women. Memo author James Damore, 28, received jeers, cheers and a couple of job offers, while the debate raged on social media and some tech firms took steps to prevent similar episodes from embroiling their companies. Damore confirmed his dismissal from Alphabet Inc's Google on Monday, after he wrote a 10-page memo that said the company was hostile to conservative viewpoints and that women on average have more neuroticism. Many in Silicon Valley found his views, which argued that men in general may be biologically more suited to coding jobs than women, offensive and destructive. The manifesto was embraced by some, particularly on the political right, who branded him a brave truth-teller. The episode recalled past examples of the wide gulf between U.S. conservative activists and the tech sector. In 2014, Brendan Eich was forced out as Mozilla's chief executive after his opposition to gay marriage became public. Most technology executives held the opposite view, and tech companies often gave benefits to same-sex couples well before gay marriage was legalized. "Anyone who deviates from the talking points of the liberal left is shunned, shamed and forced out," Andrew Torba, chief executive of the social network Gab, said in an interview. Torba, whose company is popular among conservatives, said Damore could work for him. WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, whose group released hacked emails that helped the campaign of Republican U.S. President Donald Trump, also offered Damore a job, writing on Twitter that "censorship is for losers." Firing Damore was too extreme and Google should have put him through training instead, said Aaron Continue Reading

Donald Trump extends an olive branch to Silicon Valley tech giants including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

President-elect Donald Trump met Wednesday with a group of high-profile Silicon Valley leaders whom he frequently criticized during his campaign — an apparent effort to mend fences with a powerful tech community that could help advance his job-creating agenda. Trump told a group that comprises some of the best and brightest minds of the sector — including CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Larry Page, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Oracle’s Safra Catz, Cisco Systems’ Chuck Robbins, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg — that his administration was “here to help you folks do well.'' “We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. Anything we can do to help this go on, we will be there for you,'' Trump told the roundtable inside his eponymous Midtown abode. “You'll call my people, you'll call me. We have no formal chain of command around here,” he said. With the exception of the first few moments, the session — organized by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top adviser, incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and a Trump supporter — was not open to reporters. But Trump’s warm opening remarks appeared to represent an attempted reset with the very industry leaders who pummeled him during the campaign over fears his policies might stifle innovation, curb hiring of tech-savvy immigrants and undermine “net neutrality,” a regulation requiring internet providers to offer equal access to all online services. The meeting, however, wasn’t totally devoid of the kind of retribution that various industry figures had feared Trump would bring to the presidency. Noticeably absent from the meeting was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who Politico Continue Reading

‘Silicon Valley’ star T.J. Miller arrested for allegedly slapping his Uber driver in the head

Someone should have called cut on this actor's bizarre antics. T.J. Miller was arrested for allegedly slapping his Uber driver upside the head after leaving the GQ Men of the Year bash on Thursday, TMZ reported. The "Office Christmas Party" star — who plays a hard-partying boss in the holiday flick — reportedly slapped the driver once they arrived to his Hollywood home after an argument about president-elect Donald Trump, authorities told the gossip site. Uber's driver decided to make a citizen's arrest before calling authorities who arrived and took the HBO star into custody. The driver had no visible injuries and Miller appeared to be intoxicated, according to TMZ. Miller was charged with battery, issued a citation and later released without having to post bail. The Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately respond to a Daily News request for comment. The 35-year-old “Silicon Valley” star already made an over-the-top entrance at the event, showing up with a bloody ear recently pierced with a small safety-pin. Blood was dripping down the actor's chin, neck and suit at the lavish Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles while he posed for photos with his wife Kate Gorney. A rep for Miller also didn't respond to a request for comment by The News. Two other "Silicon Valley" stars got involved in a political argument about Trump earlier this year, when supporters of the president-elect hurled insults at actors Kumail Nanjiani and Thomas Middleditch for their democratic views. Continue Reading

Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel donates $1.25 million to Donald Trump campaign

Tech investor Peter Thiel is giving more than $1 million to the flagging campaign of Donald Trump, according to reports. The Facebook board member spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, but had thus far avoided putting down money to back up his fellow billionaire’s White House bid. Though the Trump train has been chugging more slowly after a rash of revelations about his treatment of women, Thiel is giving $1.25 million to his campaign and super PACs supporting him, the New York Times first reported. The PayPal co-founder's donation marks another step that the Silicon Valley venture capitalist and libertarian has taken into the spotlight in the past year. Earlier this summer it was revealed that he was secretly bankrolling Hulk Hogan’s privacy lawsuit against Gawker, which outed him as gay in a 2007 article. Thiel’s sexuality was also a focus of his RNC speech, where he said he was “proud to be gay” despite the party calling for the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide to be overturned. Thiel has not commented publicly about his hefty donation to Trump, who like the investor has taken to singling out news outlets as enemies. A spokesman for Thiel, who donated to Carly Fiorina in the primaries, told the Wall Street Journal in July that there was no plan to donate to Trump. Continue Reading

Ford’s new Silicon Valley outpost seeks tech talent

But this new kid on the high-tech block — Ford Motor's new Research and Innovation Center — will have its work cut out as it scales operations this year in an effort to stay on the cutting edge of the connected-car sweepstakes.With Skype and Nest as neighbors, and equally voracious devourers of engineering talent such as Apple and Google a few cities away, Ford's new lab will be using a familiar lure to attract talent as it jumps from 20 to 125 staffers in 2015.The pitch? A chance to change the world."If you give folks meaningful work, you retain them," says Ford CEO Mark Fields, who flew in from the company's snowy Michigan headquarters for the office's official opening."The world is facing some big issues, among them the growth of megacities, a boom in the middle class who all want cars, and resulting air-quality impact," he says. "We want to help solve these big societal issues, and if that's not meaningful work, I don't know what is."Ford already has snared one tech veteran of note: engineer Dragos Maciuca left Apple in order to run the company's new center. He had previously worked in aerospace and had experience with auto-tech at BMW's U.S. operations.Although Ford already has offices in Dearborn, Mich., and Achen, Germany, dedicated to developing tech innovations, Fields says it was "crucial that we be here in Silicon Valley, to be part of the conversation, often literally in the sense of meeting up with people at a nearby coffee shop to talk about technology trends."A number of automakers have offices of varying sizes here, but Ford expects to be the largest such outpost when fully staffed. Another advantage of being in the area is closer collaboration with the likes of Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University-Silicon Valley, which respectively are working on autonomous cars and enhanced voice recognition research with Ford.In many ways, Ford's big move West is a no-brainer. The automobile is fast becoming a rolling computer, one whose Continue Reading

‘Silicon Valley’ star Kumail Nanjiani details harassment by Trump fans

Stars, they're just like us — as in not immune from the alarming number of racially-motivated altercations since Donald Trump's presidential election victory.Kumail Nanjiani, the Pakistani-American comedian who plays software engineer Dinesh on HBO's Silicon Valley, took to Twitter Saturday to share what happened to him and co-star Thomas Middleditch when they went out for drinks the previous night in Los Angeles' Silver Lake district.The two were approached by a pair of young white men in their 20s who wouldn't take no for an answer when the actors declined to discuss Trump. The men appeared to be spoiling for a fight and repeatedly called them "cucks." (The term is short for "cuckservative," an alt-right twist on the word "cuckold," or the weak, emasculated husband of an adulterous wife who derives a sexual thrill from humiliation.)Luckily a bartender intervened and kicked the troublemakers out, but Najiani said both he and Middleditch were "stunned."What truly floored Nanjiani, who grew up in Karachi but went to college in the USA and has dual citizenship, was that this happened to him in the middle of a crowded bar in the liberal bastion of Los Angeles. "I can't imagine what it must be like to be someone who looks like me in other parts," he admitted, urging his followers not to let tolerance of hate, racism, bigotry and sexism become the new normal.To those who don't believe their vote for Trump automatically makes them racist or sexist, he has this to say: "OK, but at best, you ignored it. You overlooked it. We thought the Internet would give us access to (people) with different points of view. Instead, it gave us access to many (people) with the same point of view." Continue Reading

Silicon Valley looks to fight Trump on immigration ban

SAN FRANCISCO — Tech companies up and down the West coast scrambled Tuesday to figure out what role they could play in opposing President Trump’s executive order on immigration, which is having an outsized effect on the industry because of the large number of immigrants and H-1B visa holders it employs.A loose coalition of California-based tech companies were scheduled to confab Tuesday evening in San Francisco to discuss what actions they might collectively take to fight the executive order, two sources familiar with the meeting, but who weren't authorized to speak publicly about it, told USA TODAY.Friday's executive order blocks the arrival of  travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries for at least 90 days, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Syrians are barred indefinitely.Trump’s order immediately blocked the arrival of citizens of the seven countries for at least 90 days. The Syria suspension is indefinite.Google, Airbnb and Netflix are among the companies planning to meet, they said.In the Seattle area, Microsoft and Amazon were helping the state's attorney general with Washington's own suit against the immigration order.The San Francisco meeting was called after lawyers for tech companies began calling and emailing each other over the weekend. The result was the meeting, which was originally planned to take place at the San Francisco offices of GitHub, which makes software development tools. However, on Tuesday it was moved to an undisclosed location because news of the meeting was leaked. Neither the location nor the time of Tuesday's meeting has been released.Discussions are still in the very earliest of stages and it’s unclear at this point whether an amicus brief might be filed or if it were, in what jurisdiction, or even if an amicus brief is the appropriate response, sources familiar with some of the discussions said.Silicon Valley tech firms have come out Continue Reading

Exclusive: Silicon Valley tries to spread wealth to Trump’s America

SAN FRANCISCO — Leslie Miley says he knows how Silicon Valley can lift the fortunes of communities bypassed by the tech boom: Put boots and brain power on the ground. And this Silicon Valley engineer and diversity advocate says that's exactly what he plans to do.He's joining forces with Venture for America to launch a new executive-in-residence program that will tap Silicon Valley experience and know-how to build businesses and jobs in such overlooked spots as Detroit and Cleveland, Ohio.It's a new twist for Venture for America, a nonprofit organization that trains and matches college graduates with start-ups for a two-year fellowship in underserved cities.It comes on the heels of a bruising election that illuminated the deep divides between pockets of high-tech wealth and the Rust Belt cities and town that are in a spiraling decline of job losses, in part due to automation that have wiped out some manufacturing jobs. The tech industry's work visa programs that hire tens of thousands of employees from overseas each year are also under fire. On Monday, word leaked that the Trump administration has drafted an executive order that could restrict those programs.Between five and 15 seasoned managers from major technology companies will leave their jobs and uproot their lives for one year, with their employers paying their salary adjusted for the lower cost of living outside of Silicon Valley, according to Venture for America. Two companies, LinkedIn and Yelp, have signed on and Venture for America hopes to recruit more.Miley, who is leaving his job as a director of engineering at San Francisco start-up Slack to jumpstart the program, says he will be among them, with Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield's blessing.The goal: for Silicon Valley executives to use their skills and connections to accelerate innovation in places Continue Reading

Trump adviser Peter Thiel is on Silicon Valley speed dial

SAN FRANCISCO — Peter Thiel's phone is ringing a lot more these days from people in Silicon Valley looking for a line into the Trump administration.During the presidential campaign, the billionaire investor who served as a delegate for Donald Trump and spoke at the Republican National Convention was a lone emissary from the tech world, widely shunned by the industry that bet heavily on Hillary Clinton. His $1.25 million donation to support the election of Trump prompted angry calls for Thiel to be dropped from the Facebook board and from Y Combinator, a prominent start-up incubator where he is a part-time adviser.Now Silicon Valley is looking to hitch a ride into Trump Tower on his coattails.Thiel has not taken a formal role during the transition but has spent nearly two weeks advising the Trump team. He's expected to play a key role in representing the interests of the tech industry on regulatory and policy matters in Washington, along with a small group of conservatives from his circle, such as Palantir Technologies co-founder and venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale, who has ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan. Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and trusted adviser, also has deep connections to the tech industry.Thiel has said he is not vying for a full-time position in the Trump administration. "I think my future is going to continue to be in the tech industry. That’s what I’m good at. That’s what I enjoy doing," Thiel said during an October speech at the National Press Club in Washington.That's welcome news to investor Saar Gur, who says there's a lot of anxiety in Silicon Valley over what the new administration might do and a growing push to "be helpful." Trump’s remarks on tech, his opposition to net neutrality and hard stance on immigration, have frightened tech executives, but they also see a new opportunity to push a tech-friendly agenda.Gur's venture capital firm, Charles River Ventures, took a very Continue Reading