Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem and How to Fix It

Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem and How to Fix It

by Maelle Gavet
Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem and How to Fix It

Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech's Empathy Problem and How to Fix It

by Maelle Gavet


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A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

An insider’s revealing and in-depth examination of Big Tech’s failure to keep its foundational promises and the steps the industry can take to course-correct in order to make a positive impact on the world.

Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem and How to Fix It explores how technology has progressed humanity’s most noble pursuits, while also grappling with the origins of the industry’s destructive empathy deficit and the practical measures Big Tech can take to self-regulate and make it right again. Author Maëlle Gavet examines the tendency for many of Big Tech’s stars to stray from their user-first ideals and make products that actually profoundly damage their customers and ultimately society.

Offering an account of the world of tech startups in the United States and Europe—from Amazon, Google, and Facebook to Twitter, Airbnb, and Uber (to name a few)—Trampled by Unicorns argues that the causes and consequences of Big Tech’s failures originate from four main sources: the Valley’s cultural insularity, the hyper-growth business model, the sector’s stunning lack of diversity, and a dangerous self-sustaining ecosystem. However, the book is not just an account of how an industry came off the rails, but also a passionate call to action on how to get it back on track.

Gavet, a leading technology executive and former CEO of Ozon, an executive vice president at Priceline Group, and chief operating officer of Compass, formulates a clear call to action for industry leaders, board members, employees, and consumers/users to drive the change necessary to create better, more sustainable businesses—and the steps Western governments are likely to take should tech leaders fail to do so. Steps that include reformed tax codes, reclassification of platforms as information companies, new labor laws, and algorithmic transparency and oversight.

Trampled by Unicorns’ exploration of the promise and dangers of technology is perfect for anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship, tech, and global commerce, and a hope of technology’s all-empowering prospect. An illuminating book full of insights, Trampled by Unicorns describes a realistic path forward, even as it uncovers and explains the errors of the past. As Gavet puts it, “we don’t need less tech, we need more empathetic tech.” And how that crucial distinction can be achieved by the tech companies themselves, driving change as governments actively pave the road ahead.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119730644
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 10/06/2020
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,104,383
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

MAËLLE GAVET has been named one of Fortune's 40 under 40, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, one of the Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company and was on Time magazine's list of the 25 Top 'Female Techpreneurs'. She has been a senior executive at numerous large tech companies around the world, including the Priceline Group (OpenTable, Kayak, and Compass. She was also a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group for 6 years.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part One Monsters of Scale

Chapter 1 Making the World a Better Place 7

Tech as Driver of Economic and Social Progress 7

Hidden Effects 10

Chapter 2 Culture Bubble 13

“What Do Engineers Know About the World!” 16

“Steve Jobs Didn’t Build Apple by Being Humble and Caring About People” 19

Chapter 3 Emerald Cities 23

“Landlords Pounding on the Door” 25

“We Know Our Responsibility to Help Starts at Home” 28

“Shockingly Poor Value for Taxpayers” 29

Chapter 4 The New Feudalism 35

The Human Impact of Tech Disruption 35

“They Do a Lot More Revenue with a Lot Fewer People” 39

$1.42 per Hour 41

Chapter 5 Anti-Social Networks 43

Undermining Facts and Science 44

Democracy Under Attack 47

Unrelenting Hate 50

“When She Showed Me the Messages, I Just Felt Sick” 53

“#NewZealandmosqueattack” 54

“The Ugly” 57

YouTube Recommended Alex Jones 15 Billion Times 58

Section 230 60

“You’re Arguing About Whether the Baby’s Dead” 61

“I’m Going to Show You More Car Crashes” 65

Chapter 6 Venture Capital and the Holy Grail of Scale 67

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 69

“It’s All About Scale” 70

“You Don’t Scale Fast If You Try to Get Everything Perfect” 72


Harvard or Stanford? 74

A New Investor Class? 76

Chapter 7 Psychos of the Valley 79

A Grandiose Sense of Self-Worth and Poor Behavioral Controls 81

Shallow Affect (Superficial Emotional Responses) 83

Pathological Lying 85

A Lack of Remorse or Guilt and a Failure to Accept Responsibility for One’s Own Actions 86

Callousness and Lack of Empathy 87

Juvenile Delinquency 88

Chapter 8 Between Scylla and Charybdis: What Happens If We Do Nothing 91

The Orwell Scenario 92

The Huxley Scenario 96

Part Two Fixing the Chaos Factory

Chapter 9 We Should All Be Chief Empathy Officer 105

What Does an Empathetic Company Look Like? 107

1. People 108

2. Decision-Making Processes 114

3. Business Model and Economics 119

Chapter 10 A Multiplayer Game: Corporate Governance in Tech 121

1. Investors 121

2. Boards and Shareholders 122

3. Stock Exchanges 125

4. Investment Bankers and Proxy Advisors 126

5. Industry Bodies 127

Chapter 11 Breaking Up Big Tech? 129

Big Tech’s Anticompetitive Behavior 130

The Anti-Antitrust Cocktail 132

Reinvigorating Antitrust 133

Zuckerberg’s Pushback (And Where He’sWrong) 139

Antitrust Is Not a Universal Tool 143

Chapter 12 Tax, Privacy, and Other Running Sores 145

Implementing Fair and Equitable Taxation 146

Modernizing Employment and Labor Protections 151

Protecting Privacy and Rethinking Data Ownership 153

Fighting for the Preservation of Facts and Civil Discourse 158

Setting Standards for Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Facial Recognition 166

Chapter 13 Big Tech Broke the News Media: What’s Next? 173

“Sign a Big Check, Then Get Out of theWay” 174

Facebook and Google Are New Versions of Media Companies 177

News Organizations Need More Than Ever to Keep Big Tech Accountable 178

Chapter 14 People Power 181

Epilogue: A Manifesto for Change 185

Acknowledgments 191

About the Author 193

Index 195

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