Tuesday, February 19, 2019
8pm (6:30-7:30pm Reception)
in conversation with Willow Bay
Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre
New Roads School
Herb Alpert Educational Village
3131 Olympic Blvd.,
Santa Monica, CA 90404
$50 Reserved Section Seat + Book
$40 General Admission Seat + Book
$20 General Admission Seat
$95 Reception (6:30-7:30pm), Reserved Section Seat & Book
The story of how a noted tech venture capitalist, an early mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and investor in Facebook, woke up to the serious damage Facebook was doing to our society and set out to try to stop it.
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. He previously appeared at Live Talks Los Angeles to interview Robert Reich.
Willow Bay is a veteran broadcast journalist and new media strategist, Willow Bay is USC Annenberg’s first female dean. She was the first woman to co-anchor CNN’s flagship daily financial news program, Moneyline, a reporter and anchor for ABC News’ Good Morning America/Sunday, and a correspondent for Good Morning America and World News Weekend, among others. As senior editor and senior strategicadviser at The Huffington Post, she managed editorial content and growth initiatives for the pioneering online news site. Since joining the USC Annenberg faculty in 2014 as director of the School of Journalism, she has launched the state-of-the-art Annenberg Media Center in Wallis Annenberg Hall, accelerated curricular innovations and vastly expanded the school’s partnerships with key media and technology partners.
“McNamee puts his finger on serious problems in online environments, especially social networking platforms. I consider this book to be a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the societal impact of cyberspace.” — Vint Cerf, internet pioneer
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.