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Watsi enables users to directly fund low-cost, high-impact medical treatments for people in need. People can browse profiles on and connect with someone to support and donate to.

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Here’s our cheat sheet for 2022’s tech lawsuits

Jan 4, 2022

Here’s our cheat sheet for 2022’s tech lawsuits Your guide to a bunch of the Google antitrust cases, where the FTC is with Facebook, what could happen next with Sec. 230 and more. The Big Tech lawsuits are ripening. Photo: georgeclerk/Getty Images January 4, 2022 If you really want to know what’s going on in tech, it’s hard to beat litigation. Lawsuits go far beyond all those glossy product launches and those “we share your concerns and are taking them seriously” press releases. Instead they unearth hidden documents, force reclusive executives to testify and bring secret feuds out into an open courtroom where the rest of us might get called for jury duty. Lawsuits can also be confusing and time-consuming to watch, though. So we’re offering our guide to the most important cases we’ll be watching, or waiting for, in the U.S. in 2022. U.S. v. Google : This is the Goliath vs. Goliath of tech lawsuits — an antitrust case the Justice Department brought in 2020, alleging that Google violated competition laws with how it distributed its dominant search engine. Almost every state is on board too, and the matter could end up being as important to antitrust as U.S. v. Microsoft. While the case still might not go to trial this year, disputes over document production, pending depositions and more have already pulled in major companies including Apple, Microsoft , Yelp, Samsung and others. We’ll also be keeping an eye on a separate antitrust lawsuit , originally brought by a coalition of states, that takes aim at Google’s online ads operation — the heart of its profits. That case has been consolidated during the pre-trial phase with private companies’ similar complaints, but the dispute has already produced a look at Google’s pricing, internal project codes and a secret agreement with Facebook . As if that weren’t enough, there’s a third multistate case digging into Google’s actions in the mobile environment. FTC v. Facebook : The Federal Trade Commission brought this case in late 2020. The commission claims Facebook (now Meta) engaged in acquisitions designed to eliminate rivals. Foremost among those deals were the purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp, which the FTC hopes to make Meta spin off. A federal judge dismissed the FTC’s complaint last June but let the agency take another shot. Lina Khan, the commission’s tech-skeptical chair, then shepherded a renewed complaint that suggested Mark Zuckerberg pursued the acquisitions because Facebook had fallen behind when the world turned to mobile in the early 2010s. Up next is the question of whether the judge allows this new complaint to proceed, and if Facebook’s move to have Khan recuse herself will have any bearing on the case. Epic v. Apple : This case actually gave us the gift of a trial last year, bringing both Tim Cook and Tim Sweeney to the stand and resulting in a decision that could fundamentally alter how App Store fees function. ( Maybe .) For the time being, Apple successfully got an appeals court to stop implementation of the trial ruling that would have forced the company to let apps steer users to payment options that don’t require giving the iPhone maker a commission. The full appeal is still forthcoming, though, and Epic has also sued Google over its app store fees. NetChoice v. Moody : Florida tried to force social media services to carry more conservative content. A trade group for the companies then sued , and has so far convinced the court to block implementation of the law on the grounds it impedes the firms’ First Amendment rights. Most serious scholars agree the Florida law is unconstitutional, but a debate is brewing about whether broad interpretations of the companies’ rights would get in the way of other tech regulations. There’s a parallel case in Texas too, and if Republicans regain some measure of power in Washington in this year’s elections, we can expect federal proposals that mirror the states’. Doe v. Twitter : In this case, two boys, who were coerced into making sexually explicit videos while underage, sued Twitter, where the video ended up for a time. Their complaint showed that FOSTA — a controversial law that pared back tech platforms’ liability shield in an attempt to tackle online sex trafficking — may affect everyday social media services. In August, the company lost part of a motion to dismiss it which likely would have won before FOSTA, and may now have to face a trial. Viasat v. FCC : Elon Musk wants to launch more satellites than have ever before ascended into the sky, and he’s not alone. This case raises the question of whether environmental reviews should extend to space as companies prepare to send up tens of thousands of satellites in coming years — but it’s also the most obvious conflict as the firms vie for advantage through Washington policy-making. Henderson v. The Source for Public Data : A bit of a sleeper, this case has attracted significant interest from tech policy experts. At issue is whether Section 230, which protects platforms from lawsuits over user content, blocks a legal complaint under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The plaintiffs here sued a website that allows users to search through third-party data databases. The website prevailed, but even some typical Section 230 defenders have dismissed the court’s reasoning. The case is now being appealed, with scholars watching for potential collisions between Section 230 and other federal requirements. FTC v. Amazon (hypothetically): This hasn’t happened yet, and perhaps it still won’t. But the agency has been investigating Amazon since at least 2019 , and the ecommerce giant and the FTC have both suggested they won’t let the other off easy. Washington, D.C., has already sued Amazon over the company’s treatment of third-party sellers. The FTC itself has looked into that issue, as well as probing moves like Amazon’s purchase of MGM. Chamber of Commerce v. FTC (hypothetically): Khan’s big changes to the FTC have already drawn legal threats from Big Business. And while such threats can often be empty, particularly in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is no stranger to litigation, and a libertarian group has already sued the FTC over production of records. A potential target of lawsuits could include the way Khan has handled votes by a departed ally on the commission or her ambitious plans to regulate online data usage and illegal algorithmic discrimination in coming years. X Coverage | Intel | Events Get the top stories and analysis from the intersection of tech, policy and politics in your inbox. Email Address Policy Thank you for signing up. Please check your inbox to verify your email. Email me an authentication link A login link has been emailed to you - please check your inbox. Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC ) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with. Startup founders are joining 12-person groups to hone their emotional skills. Picture group therapy for CEOs. Startup leaders pair off to offer each other feedback and insights at a tech-focused T-group in Silicon Valley. Photo: Jensen Harris January 4, 2022 A dozen startup founders spend a weekend together. There’s a confidentiality agreement, two facilitators and a private chef. Think of it like a leadership retreat, but with more feelings. T-groups — where the "T" stands for training — are well-known to Stanford MBAs, around 85% of whom participate in one through the popular “Interpersonal Dynamics” elective before graduating. Now, T-groups are taking off with startup leaders beyond the university as tech entrepreneurs seek to optimize not just their businesses, but their own emotional skills. “It kind of feels like you’re hacking the communication cycle,” said Dallin Harris, founder and president of the design and web development company Skyhook Interactive. “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything before or since that was more helpful to my career.” For some, that can mean learning when to quit. Chase Adam — now the interim executive director of Leaders in Tech (LIT), a nonprofit that runs T-groups for startup executives — discovered T-groups in 2019. Adam had been running Watsi, a surgery crowdfunding platform he co-founded, for nine years. But years of travel and fundraising wore on Adam, and he started to wonder if it would be best for the organization if he stepped down as CEO. It was a revelation in his first T-group that nudged him to leave his role at Watsi. “I realized I had this worry that I was a bad person, and that by doing this work [at Watsi], it gave my life purpose,” Adam said. “[Being in a T-group] was the first time I realized that this feeling of guilt was what was really holding me back from acknowledging what I was going through.” From microdosing psychedelics to digital detox “dopamine fasts,” the Valley is replete with cultish wellness trends. T-groups, by contrast, aren’t new — their heyday came during the personal growth movement of the 1960s — but in the last few years they’ve earned a following among startup founders who evangelize them like Burning Man. To tech entrepreneurs who love to optimize their companies and their lives, T-groups offer a place to rapidly improve their own self-awareness and people skills: a weekend bootcamp to practice empathy, vulnerability and giving and receiving feedback. How do T-groups work? A typical T-group might involve eight or a dozen participants and two facilitators. Attendees are told, as much as possible, to only discuss the “here and now” — generally their own emotional experience and how they’re feeling about others in the group. “At the beginning, I think it’s always awkward because people don’t know how to start,” said Miju Han, a director of product management at Twitter. “But then somebody will say something that gets people going.” T-groups encourage a level of feedback that would make many people cringe. At one point, Han asked her T-group members if they would mind if she left for two hours to watch her husband run a half-marathon. The answers, she said, were “overwhelmingly negative, much more negative than I thought.” “For me as a leader, sitting with my discomfort in that and hearing how I was disappointing everyone, was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had,” Han said. “It really helped me not be afraid to hurt people’s feelings when sometimes you do have to make a hard decision.” Learning to give and receive feedback like this is a major focus of T-group. Some of it can be tough to swallow, but facilitators aim to create an environment that is psychologically safe enough to hear what people really think. When "Interpersonal Dynamics" course instructor Andrea Corey first started facilitating T-groups, she approached another facilitator in a training activity and told him she’d always admired him and hoped they could collaborate. To her surprise, he responded that “the way you show up is too much for me, and I find myself holding back,” Corey recalled. “In my mind, I was being warm and engaging and inviting, but he says, ‘It doesn’t give me a choice about how close to you I get,’” Corey said. That realization was big for Corey: Her intention — to connect and get close — was “180 degrees different from the impact I was having on this person, and maybe on others as well.” Alex Lofton, the co-founder and president of the home-buying startup Landed, likened the experience of T-group to “holding up a bunch of mirrors.” By receiving constant feedback from others in the group, he learned that he tends to want to calm people down in order to diffuse tension — which made him realize he needed to prioritize hiring a head of People for Landed. “I had this tendency to want to take on all the responsibility, or try to deflect responsibility away from somebody else for the sake of harmony, [and it] was minimizing some of our team’s growth,” Lofton said. “We need somebody who is better about letting there be healthy tension.” When giving feedback or disclosing feelings, participants try to stay on their own “side of the net,” where a social interaction is visualized as a tennis court. Staying on one’s side of the net is expressing feelings directly and stating thoughts as “stories” instead of facts; for example, “I’ve felt sad ever since I noticed you talk to me less than the rest of the group. I’m not sure why, but the story I’ve told myself is that I offended you when we were having lunch.” Participants try to avoid “crossing the net'' with assumptions and judgments about others’ feelings and intentions. Net-crossing sounds something like: “I know I offended you when I made that comment at lunch, but you’re completely overreacting by ignoring me.” Also key in T-group are feelings charts: Participants reference lists of words to describe their emotions, and refer to these guides often. People don’t just feel happy: They can feel glad, contented, cheerful, serene, thrilled or ecstatic. And “sad” is just one word for a range of emotions that includes disappointed, distressed, demoralized, hopeless and dejected. For tech leaders who aren’t used to talking about feelings, becoming aware of a wider range of emotion can be life-changing. In Adam’s T-group, he struggled to brainstorm a list of 15 feeling words, and was amazed to learn that there were hundreds to choose from. “There’s so much nuance with how to describe your emotions and what you’re feeling that I just never learned,” Adam said. “When you actually think about the day-to-day dynamics of a business, that’s like 80% of work. You’re interacting with your colleagues, with your customers, with your board.” For Harris, learning to use feeling words more often has changed the way he communicates outside of T-group. Rather than saying he has a meeting, he’s now more likely to say he’s happy about a meeting, for example, or anxious about a meeting, rather than “leaving that up to interpretation, whether it was a nervous experience or an exciting experience or an inconvenient experience.” Welcome to T-group. Pass the Kleenex. Profound personal revelations are common in T-group. So are tears. Occasionally, alumni like Adam end up leaving their job or their partner as a result of what they learn about themselves, but many others use their newfound emotional skills to make different choices at work or repair a frayed relationship. Participants are warned not to make any big life decisions right after leaving T-group, when many experience a powerful rush of emotions. Harris learned that the hard way when he cried in his first staff meeting after returning from T-group. He made one of his longtime employees cry, too, by publicly apologizing for being tough on him for what Harris saw as mediocre work. “I was overwhelmed with this feeling of, like, ‘Man, this guy has given years of his life to my enterprise, and whatever his shortcomings in performance, he makes up for in loyalty,’” Harris said. Regarding the crying, Harris said, “I got some feedback afterward, like, ‘That was a little weird.’” Seasoned T-groupers learn to be vulnerable at work without going overboard, as Harris acknowledges he did that day. But increased emotional vulnerability is a common T-group takeaway, especially for men, according to Carole Robin, a longtime T-group facilitator who led the "Interpersonal Dynamics for High-Performance Executives" program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. After leaving Stanford, Robin co-founded LIT, the nonprofit that recently hired Adam. At Stanford, where women make up slightly less than half of MBA students, Robin saw men enter T-group with the assumption that they would be seen as “less than” if they showed vulnerability. “All of these guys in these T-groups discover that everybody feels really distant from them, and that when they’re willing to be a little bit more vulnerable, others feel more drawn to them,” Robin said. “Actually would be more likely to follow them, not less likely to follow them." Robin and another popular facilitator, Anamaria Nino-Murcia, both make a point of planning gender-balanced T-groups. Before Robin left Stanford in 2017, she would sometimes see T-group sections where men outnumbered women two to one. Some instructors experimented with single-gender T-groups, but Robin said the benefits of this approach — creating an “even safer space” to open up — didn't outweigh the downside of lacking a wider variety of perspectives. “The men were really pissed off that they had no women, because they believed they would learn a lot more if there were women in their group,” Robin said. “The women were really pissed off because there were no men.” There’s more to learn in diverse groups, which is why LIT makes an effort to recruit executives of color and requires its T-groups to be 40% women. Given how underrepresented women are among startup leaders — as of last year, women made up just 4% of the founder-CEOs leading unicorn companies, according to Crunchbase — Robin said LIT has to turn away “many, many” men who want to enroll. How T-groups came to tech T-groups weren’t invented in Silicon Valley, but they’ve gained a major foothold, largely thanks to the work of facilitators like Robin and Nino-Murcia, an executive coach who co-launched the first startup-focused T-group program in 2014. Nino-Murcia first encountered T-groups at Stanford, where almost all business school students participate in a T-group through the school’s most popular elective, "Interpersonal Dynamics" — often called the “touchy-feely” course. Robin said she was known as “the queen of touchy-feely” at Stanford. With LIT, she’s working to bring the "touchy-feely" concepts to startup founders and C-suite execs through intensive retreats and a yearlong fellowship program that uses T-group principles in monthly meetings. These programs don’t come cheap — a weekend LIT retreat costs $6,250 — but financial aid is available to those who need it, such as leaders of early-stage startups. It’s open to anyone who needs it, but most of the aid goes to women and people of color, Robin said. LIT fellowship alumni include the CEOs of MasterClass, Good Eggs and, as well as the COOs of Cruise, Notion and Scribd, among dozens of other startup founders and chief executives. (LIT fellows must be founders or executives at companies with at least $2 million in annual recurring revenue or a $20 million valuation, or seed-stage founders with a track record of leading a larger company.) Robin also wrote a book on some of the course’s concepts with David Bradford, whom Stanford first recruited to teach a course on T-groups in 1969. Although T-groups were developed on the East Coast in the 1940s, Bradford said it’s no surprise they resonate with tech entrepreneurs. “I think that leaders there are tired of having to pretend, because the norm in Silicon Valley is: ‘I have to pretend that I’m smashing this, I’m crushing this, I’m doing this wonderful thing,’” Bradford said. “But most of the time, they’re worried, they’re scared, they feel inadequate. What CEO shouldn’t feel inadequate in today’s world?” Lofton said entrepreneurs’ comfort with taking risks may make them particularly well-suited to the T-group experience. “That’s probably just going to look different with a group of mid-career, mid-management people at a corporation,” Lofton said. Participants who feel less trustful of strangers in a professional setting may face a steeper learning curve in T-group, Lofton said. That can include execs who have worked for overly critical bosses or those who have faced discrimination at work. “If you’re a Black woman in corporate America, there’s a whole lot of experience you usually have that makes it a lot harder to jump in a room and give people the benefit of the doubt,” Lofton said. “[T-group] is easier for some than others to access, but I think it’s possible for everybody to leverage it as a tool to work better together.” How is T-group different? There are many avenues for tech executives to develop leadership skills or emotional awareness: They include executive coaching, life coaching and personal development retreats through institutions like The Hoffman Process and Esalen Institute. Preaching vulnerability as a leadership skill isn’t specific to T-group: Just ask the people who’ve watched Brené Brown’s TED talk 56 million times since 2010. The 14,000-member Entrepreneurs’ Organization (and its counterpart for leaders of more mature companies, the Young Presidents’ Organization) might look similar to T-groups in the sense that members organize into small groups that meet monthly to vulnerably share business-related concerns, Harris said. But EO is much more focused on discussing business problems than interpersonal dynamics, which is the bread and butter of T-group. What sets T-groups apart from other leadership groups and personal development retreats is its format as a practice lab for interpersonal dynamics. One-on-one executive coaching has blind spots because coaches only hear the observations of their individual client, Nino-Murcia said. Other modes of personal development may have a “specific learning outcome,” said Bradford, whereas T-groups operate as an open-ended learning laboratory. “I can try out something and learn the effect from you,” Bradford said. “No behavior is universally right or wrong.” That’s because T-groups are largely oriented around giving and receiving feedback as a way to improve one’s self-awareness and interpersonal skills. “There are three realities. I only know two of them: I know my intention, I know my behavior,” said Bradford. “But I don’t know the effect. Only you know the effect. But if I’m to be effective, I need to know that information.” T-groups aren’t for everyone, and facilitators are quick to point out that it’s not therapy. In fact, participants who are currently in therapy should consult with their therapist before signing up, Robin said. The process is challenging for participants who aren’t comfortable with vulnerability, so facilitators often screen for applicants who seem ready to open up. “It’s a very real situation, but it’s also very not normal,” Nino-Murcia siad. “How often in life do you sit around in a circle with 12 people where there’s no agenda except to learn, and people are giving you lots of really honest feedback?” And, yes — enthusiastic T-group proponents do worry about sounding like cult members. “It’s so easy to misrepresent,” Nino-Murcia said. “It needs better branding, because it’s such a great — I call it a technology.” The ‘Vegas rule’ Not surprisingly, sensitive topics come up in T-groups, and participants often reveal personal information about themselves. But confidentiality agreements are treated seriously, even when participants overshare in T-group, which does happen. Without naming him, Harris recalled one participant admitting to past behavior that Harris said “would make you feel like a pariah if people knew [it] about you.” Robin uses what she calls “the Vegas rule” — what happens in T-group stays there — but said LIT would report anything disclosed in T-group that was illegal, or if the group’s facilitators were worried about a participant hurting themselves or others. Similarly, Nino-Murcia said her team would consult with its on-call therapist if it learned of child or elder abuse or someone’s life being in immediate danger. Given the level of vulnerable disclosure that tends to take place in T-group, Robin doesn’t recommend that companies attempt to hold T-groups for their teams. This dynamic would cause problems in a work environment, where there are “power differentials and opportunities and agendas,” Robin said. The other time when T-groups don’t work, Bradford said, is with a bad facilitator: for example, one who doesn’t know when to stop a group from ganging up on an individual. “Also, trainers who become charismatic tend to produce more casualties,” Bradford said, with “casualty” referring to “a person who feels psychologically worse after the experience.” Even a well-run T-group has a 1.5% casualty rate, Bradford said, compared to around 30% of those who go to therapy. Life after T-group So, what happens to participants after T-group? In a world as interconnected as Silicon Valley, it’s vital that alumni respect the confidentiality rules as they orbit around each other professionally. Beyond that, the groups foster meaningful bonds. The LIT fellows program meets monthly, and alumni can continue that cadence even after the program ends, taking turns as facilitator. Some weekend T-groups also opt to stay in touch, said Adam, who noted that he “felt closer to some of the people in that group that I’d only known for three days than people I’d known for a decade.” Perhaps even more significantly, many T-group alumni go home and use what they learned to connect better with partners and family members, said Nino-Murcia, who added that she “didn’t set out to fix father-kid relationships, and it’s definitely not that experience for everyone.” “These folks are leaders, but they’re humans first,” Nino-Murcia said. “Maybe they’ll run that company for 10 years, or maybe that company will fold next year. But those marriages, those kids, their friends, their family — those are the things that are really going to last.” From Your Site Articles James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired. December 13, 2021 A smartphone in everyone’s pocket revolutionized the world we live in. Very soon, the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring about a similar wave of transformation, and its impact will have far-reaching effects on our everyday lives. Connecting machines (the “things”) to a blazing fast internet will bring forth new data that, when analyzed, will reshape work productivity, resource efficiency, asset optimization, business models and customer service. IoT networks play a key role in bringing real-time insights together from devices that are connected to the internet and distributed in the field — such as an intravenous infusion pump in a hospital, a bulldozer on a construction site or a printer in a small closet of a research lab. Each piece of equipment is loaded with sensors that monitor and send back detailed data about device usage and performance. Harnessing this data can unlock insights and ideas that take a business to new, unexpected places. Sixty percent of manufacturers say they have a connected product in production, according to research that Lexmark commissioned from technology analyst firm IDC. But there’s a hitch: Not all organizations using IoT platforms are fully capitalizing on the data that these connected products provide. Instead, many become overwhelmed by the data, or find they lack the in-house technology skills to maximize the return on an IoT investment. Lexmark CEO Allen Waugerman Lexmark, a leading provider of printers and imaging equipment — one of the first IoT devices — understands the potential as well as the challenges better than most. Calling it a “natural expansion” of its business, the company recently launched the Optra IoT Platform , a ready-made, cloud-based solution that allows manufacturers of connected devices to transform their businesses and actualize IoT insights into business outcomes. We sat down with Lexmark CEO Allen Waugerman to discuss this major development, which he calls one of the most significant milestones in the company’s 30-year history. Lexmark is largely known for printers. Why are you moving into IoT? We built the Optra IoT Platform as the core for our own managed print services business. Now, we’re applying those same concepts to help other manufacturers. Over the past 20-plus years, we have tested and perfected the platform, which now supports more than 1.2 million printers and multi-function devices at hundreds of thousands of locations around the globe. Analyzing the data, we now take a predictive posture in delivering service and are able to fix a device remotely 70% of the time. Additionally, we analyze device-use data and advise our customers on which ones to replace and which ones to keep in place in order to deliver a better ROI and sustainability benefits. Essentially, Optra is the culmination of what we’ve been doing ourselves for years. Where is the business opportunity in the IoT market? The trajectory for IoT market growth is exponential. For manufacturers, IoT will enable access to real-time data so they can immediately see what's happening across their fleet and act on those insights — in some cases, before customers even notice an issue. Yet all too often, companies buy the building blocks, but struggle with the construction. They don’t understand how to make the jump from implementation to the valuable insights about real-world product performance that inform how you design your products. For many organizations, the real power of the device data isn’t being realized. I like to say it’s in the beginning phase, but it’s not even that. It’s in the chaos stage. Systems are overrun with data already, and by adding in even more data from IoT devices, they’re drinking from the firehose. Applying analytics within an IoT platform helps make sense of all that data, providing insights to shape business outcomes and drive critical business growth. McKinsey estimates 84% of companies working on IoT remain stuck in pilot mode for over a year. Why is this happening? From our own experience, we know that adopting IoT technologies is typically only the first step. The real challenge is finding true actionable insights from within the data “noise.” A manufacturer may have preconceived notions about their business, but the device data may tell a different story, if only they can access it. They need to analyze the data to find meaningful information and then operationalize it to deliver real business outcomes and new value to their customers. Lexmark brings a proven IoT platform, expertise on how to connect these devices and the analytics that matter to obtain a better outcome from the start. For example, when we rolled out the ability to fix printer issues remotely, we knew it would have a big impact. We were impressed that it ultimately addressed more than two-thirds of the service requests. Adding this capability freed up our technicians and IT staff to focus on more important work. What kind of customer can take advantage of the Optra IoT Platform? Companies of all stripes can benefit from IoT. In particular, we’re targeting companies, particularly manufacturers of connected devices, with revenue between $1 billion and $5 billion. These companies generally don’t have the resources, expertise or the time to build an IoT solution. This market is where our IoT experience and message resonates, and we believe it will only grow as more companies embark on their digital transformation journeys. As you move into this new space, what cultural issues did you address internally? In the 20 years it has taken us to get to this spot, we have evolved our organizational structure to break down internal data silos and make data available across the organization, so it can be applied from product design through service delivery. Our proof is our 95% customer retention rate — customers stick with us because we deliver value such as visibility into connected devices, better device uptime and flexible business models including Product-as-a-Service engagements. We understand the challenges in unlocking the value of IoT data because we had to overcome them. Our culture fostered our success and prepared Lexmark to help other connected device manufacturers jumpstart their business transformations. IoT is now and the future — we provide the tools to help unlock that potential faster. Keep ReadingShow less James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired. The center of Maine’s lobster industry shows how much work towns must do to convince anyone they have poor internet access. Experiments in crowd-sourced coverage mapping show how much work underserved communities need to put in to even try to assert the realities of broadband. Photo: Gerald M. Brody Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC ) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with. January 4, 2022 Deer Isle lies just off the Maine coast, an hour south of Bangor on state roads. It’s home to Stonington, the most important of Maine’s landings for lobster fishers, plus 2,000 wintertime residents and twice that in the warmer months. It’s also one of many places in the U.S. where it can be a pain to get good internet access. At least, that’s what residents, visitors, the town manager and the state — all the folks who actually try to use a connection — say. Spectrum tells another story. In recent months, the internet provider has cited Federal Communications Commission maps to insist that it covers almost all of the island, and that the area doesn’t need federal money that might help a rival build out more capacity and access. “It just shows how woefully inadequate the current broadband maps are; yet, we continue to keep relying on them,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, who is familiar with the area. Current U.S. broadband coverage maps vastly overstate the reality of access to the internet, and thus confound government efforts to connect all Americans. Fixing them is one of the few truly bipartisan tech issues in Washington. Even FCC personnel agree . That’s why more than 100 residents have sent Deer Isle town manager James Fisher information since November. They’re trying to show the FCC map that Spectrum sent is little more than wishful thinking, particularly on the eastern half of the island, where many homes can watch the sunrise over Acadia National Park but the ability to Zoom is hit or miss. Fisher’s experiments in crowd-sourced coverage mapping show how much work underserved communities need to put in to even try to assert the realities of local internet access. And these areas, like Deer Isle, will likely continue to face ISPs’ incentives to undermine rivals’ plans — all as the federal government prepares to send out billions in funding to expand broadband access in the coming years. “We need to fix them ASAP,” Schwantes said. ‘It really bogs down’ The current broadband maps are so inaccurate, Congress has demanded better surveys be in place ahead of the distribution of more than $42 billion included in November’s infrastructure package for broadband deployment in underserved areas. To dole out $288 million that Congress put aside for unserved areas in 2020’s final COVID-19 relief package, however, the government is still largely relying on the current maps. On those, internet-service providers need only attest that they could connect a single home or business in the surrounding census tract — an area of about 4,000 people — for the FCC to label the area covered. “The original sin here is the FCC data,” said Peggy Schaffer, executive director of ConnectME, a state body that put together an application for grant money to build out broadband in seven areas of the state, including Deer Isle. “The further original sin is any assumption that the FCC data, given what they ask providers for, is accurate, because it’s not.” In its proposal to improve the internet infrastructure in Deer Isle and the surrounding area, ConnectME proposed to have Consolidated Communications, the incumbent telephone service provider, carry out the project. Spectrum, which competes with Consolidated, then challenged the proposed project by claiming it already provides service to the island, citing the FCC map as evidence — even though, Schaffer said, the ISP’s own website says it doesn’t reach many of the addresses in the area. Spectrum used FCC data to claim it already provides service to most of Deer Isle. Image: Spectrum “You cannot make this stuff up because no one would believe you,” she said. After Schaffer received Spectrum’s challenge, she sent it out to a state lawmaker, hoping to demonstrate Spectrum had overstated its coverage. The legislator eventually sent it on to Fisher, who by then had just a day to respond, according to Deer Isle’s Island Ad-Vantages newspaper. Fisher told Protocol that about a third to half of the island has access to broadband internet from Spectrum, which typically offers download speeds of 100 Mbps download speeds and upload speeds around 10 Mbps. Some other residents use spotty wireless options or satellite services including SpaceX’s Starlink, he said, and “another chunk” of the island, including the town office itself, uses slower DSL. “When I’m here alone, it works reasonably well, but it really bogs down when all of us are trying to use it,” Fisher said. “It will just shut down sometimes.” Overall, he said, Deer Isle has few “very good” options; he described children who have difficulty attending school when it goes remote and an influx of city-dwellers during the pandemic who struggled to telecommute. One homeowner, Fisher said, had three renters leave because of internet access issues. Charter, which owns Spectrum, did not respond to a request for comment. When Fisher received Spectrum’s coverage map, he took to the town’s Facebook page and asked residents to help build a better one by sending in their addresses and whether they had access to cable internet. “I’m a pretty measured person — kind of boring, I suppose,” Fisher said. “Not many things I do catch fire like that, but that certainly did.” About 80 households sent responses, and more have since come in, Fisher said. The town manager, who has a doctorate in urban planning, had been using mapping systems since the 1980s. He'd recently received a fellowship that he used to study potential local broadband plans, so he decided to overlay the residents’ responses on a map alongside the existing lines. It appeared to show plenty of coverage dead spots where Spectrum claimed it offered service. ‘Very intensive’ Not every underserved community happens to have longtime urban planners with experience in telecom infrastructure proposals and geo-software on hand to lead its response to inaccurate mapping. Nonetheless, experts say states and localities do try to improve their coverage maps with some regularity. In 2018, for instance, Georgia passed a law requiring ISPs to share more granular data for better maps. The state also partnered with a real estate data firm to get a better sense of locations, and required that 80% of homes and businesses in a census block have access to the internet before the area can be considered covered. The resulting map concluded 12,316 census blocks that the FCC deemed served didn’t actually have ready access to broadband. Pennsylvania has turned to crowdsourced speed tests, while Maine has used multiple data streams, including a proprietary broadband intelligence platform. Other areas allow public feedback on published maps. ”We have worked with several states across the country on developing broadband mapping that is more detailed and accurate than what’s currently available at the federal level,” said Ashley Hitt, vice president of geoanalytics at Connected Nation, a public-private partnership that seeks to extend broadband access. The group’s project in Texas, for instance, has generated several maps of the state examining multiple speed thresholds. The new maps required “public feedback, field validation, and provider input,” and Hitt said the process required “very, very intensive” efforts. The ultimate goal, though, is for the FCC to deliver soon on the improved national maps that Congress demanded — with granular data and more information from the public. But Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC’s chair , told Congress in November the agency is struggling with access to the high-level computing it needs to update the maps, and procurement regulations could slow down the work of obtaining a basic list of eligible locations across the U.S. by months. Yet even when those maps are in place, and the government is apportioning grants to the states, underserved areas appear likely to deal with something else that Deer Isle faces: incumbent internet providers challenging much-needed buildout proposals that would benefit their rivals. Town manager James Fisher asked Deer Isle residents to report whether they had access to Spectrum internet, but many said they didn't. Image: James Fischer Challenges are theoretically intended to ensure the government isn’t wasting money on building up infrastructure in areas that already, or soon will, have good internet service. Occasionally they generate updated data about service and infrastructure too. Some experts who work on connectivity, though, say that providers often abuse the process to protect their own territories or make things expensive for competitors, a tactic the ISPs are bound to try in the next round of infrastructure funds if they are allowed to. “There’s too much incentive to just challenge arbitrarily as a means of slowing things down,” said Ernesto Falcon, senior legislative counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights group. He suggested that any grant-making include penalties for bad-faith challenges. Minnesota, for instance, requires that challengers sit out two grant-funding cycles if they aren’t delivering service they claimed in a challenge to provide, or don’t build it up in a timely manner. “There’s just a lot of money on the line at the end of the day,” Falcon said. In the meantime, Schaffer of ConnectME said she hasn’t heard of a final decision from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is overseeing the current grants and will decide how the larger tranche of money from the infrastructure package is distributed in coming years. NTIA has said that it received requests for $2.5 billion for the $288 million program. “They’re now, on our application and all the other ones … sitting with a ‘he said/she said,’” Schaffer said. “They have to make a decision, and I don’t know how they’re going to.” From Your Site Articles Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC ) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with. He's turning Automattic into a different kind of tech giant. But can he take on the trillion-dollar walled gardens and give the internet back to the people? Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic and founder of WordPress, poses for Protocol at his home in Houston, Texas. Photo: Arturo Olmos for Protocol December 22, 2021 December 21, 2021 In the early days of the pandemic, Matt Mullenweg didn't move to a compound in Hawaii, bug out to a bunker in New Zealand or head to Miami and start shilling for crypto. No, in the early days of the pandemic, Mullenweg bought an RV. He drove it all over the country, bouncing between Houston and San Francisco and Jackson Hole with plenty of stops in national parks. In between, he started doing some tinkering. The tinkering is a part-time gig: Most of Mullenweg’s time is spent as CEO of Automattic, one of the web’s largest platforms. It’s best known as the company that runs, the hosted version of the blogging platform that powers about 43% of the websites on the internet. Since WordPress is open-source software, no company technically owns it, but Automattic provides tools and services and oversees most of the WordPress-powered internet. It’s also the owner of the booming ecommerce platform WooCommerce, Day One, the analytics tool and the podcast app Pocket Casts. Oh, and Tumblr. And Simplenote. And many others. That makes Mullenweg one of the most powerful CEOs in tech, and one of the most important voices in the debate over the future of the internet. But before we get to that, you have to hear about this RV. "I really love networking equipment," he said, in an effort to explain the story he’s about to tell. He's always been the guy who goes over to friends' houses and upgrades their router or just rewires the whole system: "So when I get this RV, what I ended up doing was I set up a multiple-cell phone modem router." It connects to all three major U.S. carriers and combines them into a single Wi-Fi network. Suddenly, when Mullenweg signed on every morning to do his job as CEO of Automattic, one of the web's largest platforms and most powerful influences, he could do it from anywhere with a cell signal: like one time, last December, when he recorded a Web Summit panel from the side of Highway 97 in Northern California as logging trucks went by. Mullenweg, who is also an insatiable gearhead, had a solution for the truck noise, too: a Sennheiser headset mic with awesome noise-cancellation. The setup is ever-changing. "What we recently figured out was how to mount a Starlink on top," Mullenweg said. His SpaceX-built satellite internet receiver plugs right in and provides even faster speeds. "You can't drive around with it, and I think it's geo-locked to just the Wyoming region," but with two minutes of setup his RV gets broadband-quality internet. "And," Mullenweg said, already planning his next upgrade, "SpaceX has announced they're going to do a mobile version, so whenever that comes, I'll redo the whole thing. It'll be nice not to have to mount and dismount, and it'll work when I'm moving." From his always-connected RV, Mullenweg has continued to turn Automattic into a tech giant. He talks often about his desire to build "the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet," a holding company populated with the most ambitious and important products and services in tech. But there is one thing that binds the many products under the Automattic umbrella together: a bet on and belief in the open web and open-source software. In every way that matters, Automattic is a reflection of Mullenweg (you could say he puts the “Matt” in Automattic). He started building web software because he wanted a place to store and share his photos; he’s a blogger to the core, and loves anything that aids in the free expression of ideas on the internet. He loves jazz, which is why WordPress releases are named for jazz musicians. He loves to read and write and work from anywhere, so he turned Automattic into a company that supports bloggers and promotes remote work. He buys companies that make products he likes, and companies that have missions he believes in. Most of all, he believes that open-source software is the future of everything. And he’s betting on it every way he can. Eighteen years after he first started working on WordPress, Automattic is more powerful than ever. It’s a $7.5 billion company, one of the biggest private companies in the industry. And yet its founding idea — that software should be available to everyone and editable by anyone, that communities can build great things together, that walled gardens always eventually fall — seems more tenuous than ever. There’s another 17-year-old company named Facebook that flies in the face of everything Mullenweg believes in, and is threatening to own the future of the internet. Most people will tell you it feels like the future of tech hangs in the balance. But the way Mullenweg sees it, open is still going to win. It's not a matter of if, only when. And all he's trying to do is help make it happen a little faster. The builder If you were in San Francisco in the early days of the Web2 era, circa 2005, there’s a good chance you have a Matt Mullenweg story. Maybe a 21-year-old Mullenweg personally upgraded your WordPress installation at one of his “upgrade parties,” which he used to throw at his San Francisco apartment. Maybe you went to one of his Christmas ugly sweater parties. Or maybe you went to one of the countless Meetup events, at which Mullenweg would extol the virtues of WordPress, open source and blogging. Nearly everyone who knew Mullenweg in those days remembers the same three things: He looked like a kid, he was extremely nice and he had ridiculously big ideas. “WordPress, people knew,” said Scott Beale, the founder of Laughing Squid and a friend of Mullenweg since those early days. “And then you meet the guy, and it's like, he's so nice. No real ego, he’s ready to talk to anyone.” “I had just started using WordPress,” said Om Malik, a blogger and venture capitalist, as well as a longtime friend and mentor to Mullenweg, “and I got in touch with Matt. I had no idea who he was, or how young he was at the time.” Malik would send Mullenweg long emails every time he ran into trouble with WordPress, and Mullenweg would always help. Eventually, “Matt and I just became friends,” Malik said. “We would talk about the internet, the open internet.” Even now, he added, “I only talk to him about technology. We never talk about business.” A young Matt Mullenweg (second from left) at a WordPress meetup in 2005. Mullenweg had started WordPress two years earlier, alongside co-founder Mike Little, as a fork of software called b2/cafelog that Mullenweg noticed had been more or less abandoned by its creator. At that point, Mullenweg wasn’t trying to start a conglomerate; he was just trying to keep his blog online. He liked the idea that b2/cafelog was available through a General Public License, meaning anyone could fork and change the code and no one could take it away. “The work would never be lost,” Mullenweg wrote on his blog as he pondered making the move, “as if I fell [off] the face of the planet a year from now, whatever code I made would be free to the world, and if someone else wanted to pick it up they could.” A few months later, that fork had a name — WordPress — and was released to the public. Even early on, Mullenweg used to tell people he wanted to work on WordPress for the rest of his career. He’d moved from Houston and taken a job at CNET in part because the company was going to pay him to work on WordPress, but as the platform took off he wanted to focus on it even more. But turning WordPress into a hard-charging, VC-backed startup designed for a nine-figure exit didn’t really interest him. “He said, ‘If I ever started a company, I’d want it to be a company that can be alongside the open-source project, and I’d want to work on it for decades,’” said Toni Schneider, a former Yahoo executive who eventually became the first CEO of Automattic. Schneider didn’t really take Mullenweg seriously for a while; who believes a 21-year-old kid when he tells you his plans for the rest of his life? But Schneider quickly realized that Mullenweg really did see WordPress as his life’s work: in part because he found it interesting, knew it was a huge project and could see where it was headed, and in part because he saw WordPress as a tool through which to build a better internet. A better world, even. And he knew it might take a lifetime to pull it off. The thinker The first time Mullenweg and I spoke for this story, I asked him what he thought about the state of the tech industry. It was early September, and conversations were raging about antitrust, misinformation, surveillance capitalism, Big Tech’s overreach, Facebook’s effect on democracy and in general the society wrought by the tech industry. Before he answered, Mullenweg changed the frame of the question. This happened constantly in our conversations: I’d ask about Instagram or the iPhone, he’d respond with Plato or Camus. Once, when I asked him about Facebook, he responded with a story about the printing press. In this case, he simply urged me to think more broadly. “I don’t think you have to limit yourself to looking at technology,” he said. “Zoom out to human history, or look at the current state of the world, and look at the tension and the pendulum swing between freedom and authoritarianism.” That back and forth has always existed, he said, and to expect a bunch of companies to suddenly fix it is unrealistic. The cycle plays out the same in tech, he said. Take the internet: built as an open platform, eventually colonized by a handful of dictatorial players. To them, Mullenweg says: Congratulations on all your accomplishments, but you’ll lose in the end. “You get folks who want to ride that openness, but then close people off,” he said. “Like Facebook using your contact books or your email to bootstrap its growth, but then not allowing anyone to do the same on Facebook.” That can work, Mullenweg acknowledges. Sometimes really, really well. “But it also contains the seeds of its own demise.” Users inevitably begin to feel hemmed in and controlled by the closed platforms, and yearn for open pastures. Then they go build something better. Something open. “People's natural desire for freedom starts to get more and more of the best and brightest in the world working on open, distributed, decentralized systems.” The seeds of this change are already everywhere, he said. Tesla has open-sourced its patents in an effort to speed up innovation in electric vehicles, because as Elon Musk said, the company’s goal is not just to sell cars but “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.” There’s also the whole decentralized, Web3, blockchain community, which excites Mullenweg every time it comes up. “There’s an inevitable gravitational pull towards open source affecting literally every field: finance, health, politics,” he said. “All the things that currently happen in closed ways, what if they were open? What if they were transparent? What if you could copy and paste it? Do your own version? Remix it?” And then he offered the closest thing you’ll find to a Unified Theory of Matt Mullenweg. “As more and more of our lives start to be run and dictated by the technology we use, it's a human right to be able to see how that technology works and modify it. It’s as key to freedom as freedom of speech or freedom of religion. So that is what I plan to spend the rest of my life fighting for.” In his mind, WordPress isn’t just a blogging platform, and Automattic isn’t just a startup. Both are also statements of purpose, proof points of a worldview that says that quarterly results and year-over-year growth aren’t the only metrics that matter. (And that if you wait long enough, open wins at those, too.) Mullenweg has long traded hype cycles for the arc of history. And he hopes he can help bend it a little. The tycoon Let’s fast-forward a few years from those early days of WordPress to more recent history. By now WordPress is a behemoth. About 43% of websites on the internet run on WordPress’ open-source platform, which is maintained by thousands of contributors. Meanwhile, Automattic is running a thriving business selling services around the software. WooCommerce, a WordPress plug-in that Automattic acquired in 2015, has become a particular success story: It’s an open competitor to tools like Shopify or the Amazon Marketplace, and has become one of Automattic’s main growth and revenue engines. There are countless businesses run on top of WordPress, from theme makers to plug-in developers to hugely successful publishers and retailers. Because Automattic sees what happens on the platform, and because that platform is so large, it’s in a unique place to make educated bets on the future of the internet. Mullenweg became Automattic’s CEO in 2014, taking over the role from Schneider. Shortly thereafter, he launched the company into hyper-growth mode, and also got a crash course on how to run a business. “For me, the big transition was from coding every day to not coding every day,” he said. Schneider saw it the same way as he stepped down: “The product stuff kept going beautifully, but it took him a while to really ramp up on the business stuff and figure out: How do we organize this company in a way where each of these businesses can thrive?” But as he often does, Mullenweg learned to think bigger. “My big learning under Toni was that by changing code, I can affect that part of the program,” he said. “But [by] changing people, you can affect the world.” He came to love thinking about the architecture of Automattic and how to build a company with the same ideals and incentives as the community it came from. To sum up his style, Mullenweg offered a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of “The Little Prince.” (Because of course he did.) “He said, ‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.’” As Automattic has grown in size and scale, the company has more freedom to take on different kinds of projects. “I can build something from scratch with our 1,700 people,” Mullenweg said (Automattic's staff is actually closer to 1,900 now), “or we can partner with a company. We can make a minority investment, we can make a majority investment, we can make it a division of the company, we can make it fully integrated.” He said he’s always tried to keep Automattic nimble, ready to make big moves at the right moment but never conjuring a sense of panic or desperation. Even early on, Mullenweg used to tell people he wanted to work on WordPress for the rest of his career. Photo: Arturo Olmos for Protocol There have been a few misses over the years: Automattic was one of Slack’s first customers but didn’t invest in the company, and WordPress was an early supporter of bitcoin but never held any of it. Now, Mullenweg said, he’s in a position to jump on almost anything, as long as it feels right. This year, in the midst of a huge uptick in M&A and fundraising around the industry, a lot has felt right: By Mullenweg's own count, the WordPress community acquired 42 companies and products in 2021, eight of which were bought by Automattic itself. And even he's not sure that captures everything. Over time, Automattic also gained a reputation as a good investor or acquirer in part because it doesn’t have rigid structures into which it needs to put things. “Every other company we talked to was telling us about their plans and what they wanted to do,” said Russell Ivanovic, the CPO of Pocket Casts, which Automattic acquired in July. Automattic was different. “They said, ‘Look, this is why we think you should join our company, this is the freedom you’re going to get, this is the kind of organizational structure that we have.’” “Matt tends to attract people that are like him, who have that kind of product-led thesis and are a little bit more mission-driven,” said Deven Parekh, managing director at Insight Partners, which has invested several times in Automattic. “They aren't necessarily optimizing for the last dollar at the time they sell the company.” People like Paul Mayne, the founder of Day One, who said he wasn’t really looking for an exit but knew he’d be crazy to ignore Mullenweg’s advances. “It’s their openness,” he said when I asked why he thought Automattic was the right home for his company. “It’s all open source-based and long-term focused, and about writing and publishing. I felt like we shared values there.” To truly be a platform, it has to be open. Otherwise it’s more like a trap. There’s an underlying trend to many of Automattic’s recent acquisitions, a reflex to try to build or buy open alternatives to increasingly closed systems. As social media falls increasingly under Facebook’s watch, Automattic buys Tumblr; as Spotify moves to control more of the audio and podcast ecosystem, Automattic buys Pocket Casts. promises to be analytics minus the gross data practices; Day One promises top-notch encryption to keep your important memories and journal entries private forever. Every Automattic product is both a bet on the future and a subtle rebuke of the present. “I think it’s crucially important to have alternatives that are creator-focused, versus advertiser-focused,” Mullenweg said. “I guess part of this is wanting alternatives to advertising business models as well.” That means betting on subscriptions, like Tumblr’s new Post+ service. It means making it easy for creators to sell things directly through WooCommerce. It means lots of other things, too, eventually. And if that’s the plan, there are plenty of places left for Automattic to explore. “I would have loved to have Instapaper or Pocket,” Mullenweg said when the topic of reading apps came up. He’s a Pocket user now, and loves the app, but it’s owned by Mozilla. Which, of course, brings up the idea of web browsers; if you want to preserve user agency and power on the internet, the browser is a place to start. “I would be very, very interested in Mozilla,” Mullenweg said. “Or maybe, like, a Brave.” For these new companies, joining Automattic can feel a bit like being dropped into Mullenweg’s frontal cortex. It’s a completely remote company, for one thing. And because Mullenweg is a blogger at heart, you’re likely to spend most of your first few days at the company reading. Automattic — like Mullenweg — defaults to transparency and flat hierarchies. Employees are encouraged to write about their ideas even in their very earliest stages, and everyone around the company is encouraged to comment. (That meant, for instance, that Pocket Casts’ Ivanovic could read back through chat logs to see the conversation that led to its acquisition, including the parts where some employees thought it was a bad idea.) It can feel strange at first, but multiple founders I spoke with said they quickly came to appreciate the Automattic way of doing things. “They have some internal document that just says, ‘embrace the chaos,’” Ivanovic said. Mullenweg leads an executive team called “Bridge,” which operates as the connective tissue of the company. Most other teams are named after something random, like a bird or a mythological creature. The idea is for everyone to feel like they’re part of Automattic, not part of a company owned by Automattic. “It helps a team not be too attached to whatever they’re currently working on,” Mullenweg said. Ultimately, the mission matters most of all. The titan At this point, few companies have more influence

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