Sunday, February 10, 2019
In late August, I wrote a note to my then-colleagues at Facebook about the issues I saw with political diversity inside the company. You may have read it, because someone leaked the memo to the New York Times, and it spread outward rapidly from there. Since then, a lot has happened, including my departure from Facebook. I never intended my memos to leak publicly—they were written for an internal corporate audience. But now that I’ve left the company, there’s a lot more I can say about how I got involved, how Facebook’s draconian content policy evolved, and what I think should be done to fix it.
Quillette is now mandatory reading. You can sign up to get it emailed to you.
This facebook and google stuff is out of control. It is not all about the economics either. Both are in effect privately held companies that do not respond all that well to the incentives of the market. Once you've got, say, $10 billion, you don't care so much about your marginal returns. Here's a suggestion -- "publicize" them by forcing the major voting shareholders to share their voting power with all their effectively non-voting shareholders. This would be relatively speaking an easy fix. It would be a "moral" taking, true, but perhaps under current takings law, it would not be. In fact, I bet it would not be. This would involve getting Delaware to change its corporate law to say that the effectively non-voting shareholders of (say) google now had votes commensurate with their investment in the company, thus wrenching control away from Serge, Larry and their merry persons. Yeah, it's probably socialism of a sort, but something has to be done or all our children will end up little PRC matrix-dwellers.
Something like this happened before when Delaware allowed changes in its law that effectively neutralized the huge overhang of preferred stock left over from the Great Depression. And that effectively wiped out its value. Hmmm. I sort of like this idea. Politically it might sell. Who's going to stand up and say, Mark Zuckerberg should control facebook himself rather than sharing control with the other owners!