Cover image for Zucked : waking up to the Facebook catastrophe / Roger McNamee.
Title:
Zucked : waking up to the Facebook catastrophe / Roger McNamee.
Title Variants:
Waking up to the Facebook catastrophe
ISBN:
9780525561354

9781984877895
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Press, 2019.

©2019
Physical Description:
336 pages ; 24 cm
Contents:
The strangest meeting ever -- Silicon Valley before Facebook -- Move fast and break things -- The children of Fogg -- Mr. Harris and Mr. McNamee go to Washington -- Congress gets serious -- The Facebook way -- Facebook digs in its heels -- The pollster -- Cambridge Analytica changes everything -- Days of reckoning -- Success? -- The future of society -- The future of you.
Abstract:
"If you had told Roger McNamee even three years ago that he would soon be devoting himself to stopping Facebook from destroying our democracy, he would have howled with laughter. He had mentored many tech leaders in his illustrious career as an investor, but few things had made him prouder--or been better for his fund's bottom line--than his early service to Mark Zuckerberg. Still a large shareholder in Facebook, he had every good reason to stay on the bright side. Until he no longer could. Zucked is McNamee's insider reckoning with the catastrophic failure of the head of one of the world's most powerful companies to face up to the damage he is doing. It's a story that begins with a series of rude awakenings. First there is the author's dawning realization that the platform has empowered some very bad actors. Then, even more unsettling, he finds that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are politely unwilling to share his concerns. And then comes the election of Donald Trump and a parade of horrific news about Facebook's role in the 2016 election. To McNamee's shock, Facebook's leaders continue to duck and dissemble, viewing the matter as a public relations problem. Now thoroughly alienated, McNamee digs into the issue. Soon he and a dream team of Silicon Valley technologists are charging into the fray to raise consciousness about the existential threat of Facebook--and, more broadly, the persuasion architecture of the attention economy--to our public health and to our political order. Zucked is both an enthralling personal narrative and a larger tale of an unmoored business sector inadvertently creating a political and cultural crisis with new tools that summon the darker angels of our nature. Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, Roger McNamee happened to be in the right place to witness a crime, and it took him some time to make sense of what he was seeing and what we ought to do about it. The result of that effort is a wise, hard-hitting, and urgently necessary account that crystallizes the issue definitively for the rest of us."--Dust jacket.

As an investor, McNamee mentored many tech leaders, but few things had made him prouder-- or been better for his fund's bottom line-- than being a shareholder in Facebook. This is his insider reckoning with the catastrophic failure of Mark Zuckerberg, the head of one of the world's most powerful companies, to face up to the damage he is doing. McNamee hopes to raise consciousness about the existential threat of Facebook-- and, more broadly, the persuasion architecture of the attention economy-- to our public health and to our political order. -- adapted from jacket
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Summary

Summary

The New York Times bestseller about a noted tech venture capitalist, early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook investor, who wakes up to the serious damage Facebook is doing to our society - and sets out to try to stop it.

If you had told Roger McNamee even three years ago that he would soon be devoting himself to stopping Facebook from destroying our democracy, he would have howled with laughter. He had mentored many tech leaders in his illustrious career as an investor, but few things had made him prouder, or been better for his fund's bottom line, than his early service to Mark Zuckerberg. Still a large shareholder in Facebook, he had every good reason to stay on the bright side. Until he simply couldn't.

ZUCKED is McNamee's intimate reckoning with the catastrophic failure of the head of one of the world's most powerful companies to face up to the damage he is doing. It's a story that begins with a series of rude awakenings. First there is the author's dawning realization that the platform is being manipulated by some very bad actors. Then there is the even more unsettling realization that Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are unable or unwilling to share his concerns, polite as they may be to his face.

And then comes the election of Donald Trump, and the emergence of one horrific piece of news after another about the malign ends to which the Facebook platform has been put. To McNamee's shock, even still Facebook's leaders duck and dissemble, viewing the matter as a public relations problem. Now thoroughly alienated, McNamee digs into the issue, and fortuitously meets up with some fellow travelers who share his concern, and help him sharpen its focus. Soon he and a dream team of Silicon Valley technologists are charging into the fray, to raise consciousness about the existential threat of Facebook, and the persuasion architecture of the attention economy more broadly -- to our public health and to our political order.

Zucked is both an enthralling personal narrative and a masterful explication of the forces that have conspired to place us all on the horns of this dilemma. This is the story of a company and its leadership, but it's also a larger tale of a business sector unmoored from normal constraints, just at a moment of political and cultural crisis, the worst possible time to be given new tools for summoning the darker angels of our nature and whipping them into a frenzy. Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window , Roger McNamee happened to be in the right place to witness a crime, and it took him some time to make sense of what he was seeing and what we ought to do about it. The result of that effort is a wise, hard-hitting, and urgently necessary account that crystallizes the issue definitively for the rest of us.


Author Notes

Roger McNamee has been a Silicon Valley investor for 35 years. He co-founded successful funds in venture, crossover and private equity. His most recent fund, Elevation, included U2's Bono as a co-founder. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Roger plays bass and guitar in the bands Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System and is the author of The New Normal and The Moonalice Legend: Posters and Words, Volumes 1-9 . He has served as a technical advisor for seasons two through five of HBO's "Silicon Valley" series and was also responsible for raising the money that created the Wikimedia Foundation.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

McNamee (The New Normal), founder of the venture capital firm Elevation Partners, provides an informative guide, bolstered by a unique insider's perspective, to scandals involving Facebook, particularly those involving the 2016 presidential election. He describes going from being an early booster of and investor in the site, as well as Mark Zuckerberg's advisor-he counseled the Facebook founder in 2006 against selling to a larger company-to conducting his own investigation into Russian intelligence's use of Facebook and urging American politicians to have Zuckerberg testify on Capitol Hill. He also discusses how Facebook deepens political divides, how tech giants use consumers' data against them, and how conspiracy theories proliferate online. He makes the case for more stringent regulation of powerful internet companies and for a philosophical shift in Silicon Valley away from impersonal metrics and toward "human-driven technology, an approach not predicated on exploiting the vulnerabilities of human psychology." The book is a little overlong due to some redundant and all-too-familiar passages on the dangers of social media, as well as some seemingly irrelevant autobiography. However, it succeeds as a comprehensible primer on the political pitfalls of big tech. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE, by JoAnn Chaney. (Flatiron, $27.99.) In this thriller with echoes of "Gone Girl," a hiker whose first wife died in a mysterious fire rushes down from a mountainside claiming that his second wife has fallen from a precipice into the river below. THE PLOTTERS, by Un-Su Kim. Translated by Sora Kim-Russell. (Doubleday, $25.95.) In a slightly akilter version of Seoul, a handsome young assassin is in danger. ZUCKED: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, by Roger McNamee. (Penguin Press, $28.) The story of Facebook has been told many times before, but McNamee - an early investor in the company - does a superb job of contextualizing its rise within the proper technological history. And this book is not merely the cri de coeur of a forsworn tech optimist zinged by moral conscience. It's also a robust and helpful itemization of the ways Facebook could be brought to heel. ANTISEMITISM: Here and Now, by Deborah E. Lipstadt. (Schocken, $25.95.) Lipstadt seeks to awaken her audience to the nature, persistence and scale of an age-old prejudice that never seems to die, along with the insidious new ways in which it seeks to disguise itself. BREAKING NEWS: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now, by Alan Rusbridger. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30.) The former editor of the British daily The Guardian recalls coping with the dramatic transformation of the newspaper business and his concerns about the present assault on truth and fact. MERCHANTS OF TRUTH: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts, by Jill Abramson. (Simon & Schuster, $30.) Abramson examines four news organizations, including The New York Times, which she led at one time as executive editor, and combines analysis with gossip to underline her commitment to journalism at a moment when its future has never looked more uncertain. THE DAKOTA WINTERS, by Tom Barbash. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99.) This novel is set at the famous Dakota building in 1979 and 1980, as the young narrator tries to define himself in the shadow of a charismatic father. He has help from one of the building's most famous residents, John Lennon. WHERE REASONS END, by Yiyun Li. (Random House, $25.) Composed after the suicide of Li's teenage son, this devastating novel comprises a dialogue between a mother and her dead child: a stringent meditation on love, loss and the limitations of language. CICADA, written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. (Arthur A. Levine/ Scholastic, $19.99; ages 12 and up.) A gray-suited cicada works in an office, underpaid and insulted, until he transforms and flies away in this enigmatic, profound picture book for older readers. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 The Strangest Meeting Everp. 13
2 Silicon Valley Before Facebookp. 31
3 Move Fast and Break Thingsp. 53
4 The Children of Foggp. 81
5 Mr. Harris and Mr. McNamee Go to Washingtonp. 111
6 Congress Gets Seriousp. 121
7 The Facebook Wayp. 135
8 Facebook Digs in Its Heelsp. 151
9 The Pollsterp. 165
10 Cambridge Analytica Changes Everythingp. 177
11 Days of Reckoningp. 199
12 Success?p. 213
13 The Future of Societyp. 241
14 The Future of Youp. 267
Epiloguep. 277
Acknowledgmentsp. 289
Appendix 1 Memo to Zuck and Sheryl: Draft Op-Ed for Recodep. 297
Appendix 2 George Soros's Davos Remarks: "The Current Moment in History"p. 301
Bibliographic Essayp. 313
Indexp. 321