In These Chaotic Times, Democrats Need to Rethink Priorities

By Mike Montgomery

It was crunch time. With less than two hours to go before the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed the controversial Betsy DeVos as the next secretary of education, a group of prominent Democratic senators huddled on Capitol Hill for a press conference about … something else.

What could have been more important? The so-called travel ban? President Donald Trump’s foreign policy agenda or the onslaught against federal environmental regulations?

No, they gathered to talk about the future of net neutrality and the concern that at some point in the future, the FCC might decide to alter its approach to governing the internet.

Don’t get me wrong: I fully support a free and open internet, but more fundamental issues must take precedence in these trying times, especially when a torrent of constituent feedback can permanently turn the tide on matters of national importance — where focusing on net neutrality today may mean a constituent decides not to weigh in on opposing Steve Bannon’s spot on the National Security Council.

As a parent and a progressive Democrat, I am disappointed to see vital energy and focus diverted from the DeVos vote. On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed the unqualified DeVos to run the department that serves 50 million students across more than 100,000 schools. Why was discussing something like net neutrality, on that day specifically, more important than discussing a contrasting progressive vision for the future of our public school system or supporting actual education voices?

That’s not to say that net neutrality isn’t important. It is and will remain so. But progressives who are also net neutrality proponents should be disappointed that any attention was deflected on an historic and consequential day to discuss what the FCC might do in the future regarding net neutrality.

DeVos was confirmed by the narrowest of margins – and perhaps if senators were focused on that issue and not net neutrality, perhaps there could have been at least one more last-gasp attempt to convince one additional Republican to vote against DeVos. Instead, they were preparing for a press conference that did not need to be held that day.

Unfortunately, what’s done is done. There is no reset button for anyone to push. DeVos is the secretary of education, and net neutrality is in place as firmly today as it was earlier this week.

Net neutrality deserves attention and protection — but it needs a thoughtful legislative conversation to codify an open internet, not press conferences and partisanship. For those who want to preserve the basic principles of net neutrality but are fearful that the FCC will abolish the Open Internet order, it’s time to take this fight to Congress. As we’ve said all along — only by cementing net neutrality into law can the government hope to create a stable environment for consumers and existing and future tech companies alike. We need bipartisan legislation that will remain immune to the whims of any particular administration and survive partisan politics.

Many people I know feel displaced and voiceless in today’s political environment. The last few weeks have shown that activists are finding new ways to express their points of view – but the firehose of issues is unrelenting and daunting. Health care, immigration, education, the Supreme Court, the environment – the list goes on. We all need to remind ourselves that there’s a proper time and place for important debates like net neutrality. Tuesday was not that day.

Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates, a nonpartisan coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and nonprofits determined to make the new economy a reality.

Originally published in Morning Consult

Let’s Stop Treating The Internet Like A Utility

By Kish Rajan

What do the iPhone, the “Internet of Things” and solar panels all have in common? They’re all fantastic technologies that make our lives better, and none of them were invented by utility companies.

They could have been. People consider phone companies to be utilities. Same with electric companies. But thanks to decades of heavy regulations, these sectors have had little to no incentive to innovate due to outdated laws and regulations that stifle rather than encourage investment and competition.

Those disrupters have been able to move quickly and build innovative new companies, thanks to the internet, which has arguably been the single largest engine for growth in this country since the auto industry.

It’s safe to say that the internet does not behave like a utility, but too often, it is treated as one. Until a few weeks ago, the same committee in the California Assembly that dealt with utilities also handled internet issues. The Utilities and Commerce Committee handled everything from ride-sharing issues to the transition to renewable energy. Last session it was overwhelmed by 140 bills.

Kudos to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for spearheading a new alignment for that committee. It is now two different groups: the Communications and Conveyance Committee and the Utility and Energy Committee.

This new division more closely reflects the reality of the internet. It’s not a utility – it’s a technology.

It’s an important distinction.

The internet is often lumped in with utilities when it really shouldn’t be. Take the California Public Utilities Commission, for example. The PUC has oversight of California’s utilities – including the internet. Four years ago the Legislature concluded that the PUC was holding back the development of internet phone service. It moved oversight of that industry to the Legislature, and since then it has flourished.

Last year we were supportive of Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s efforts to disband the PUC (though his bill might have been a step too far). That bill ultimately failed, but it had the right idea. There are utilities and then there is technology, and the two shouldn’t be regulated in the same way.

That’s not to say that the Legislature should take a completely hands-off approach to the internet. We need regulations, but they need to be smart regulations that promote innovation, investment and competition.

Regulations should suit the demands of our technology-reliant world. They should promote broader access to fast internet, help close the shrinking digital divide and make sure our emergency systems are operating at the highest level of security and reliability.

The more we think about the internet as a utility, the more we’ll slow progress. And that’s not what anyone wants.

Kish Rajan is chief evangelist at CALinnovates and former director of Gov. Jerry Brown’s GOBiz initiative. He can be contacted at 

Originally published in the Sacramento Bee 


New Report Shows Californians Are More Connected Than Ever

California’s communications industry is currently in a period of astonishing growth, with the promise of an even brighter future to come. You might even call it a broadband boom. A recent study by Dr. David W. Sosa bears this out. Sosa is a principal at the Analysis Group, an economics consulting firm. His research shows that Californians are embracing the wireless lifestyle.

From 2008 through 2015, California’s total wireless subscriptions jumped by 9.5 million, or 29 percent. At the same time, broadband voice residential connections increased by 220 percent, or 4.9 million users. Meanwhile, legacy wireline users dropped by 36 percent. California’s embrace of broadband and wireless is helping keep the state at the center of the growing technology industry.

To read more about this topic, click here to read a recent op-ed by CALinnovates Chief Evangelist Kish Rajan.

CALinnovates Calls on Congress to Enact Bipartisan Net Neutrality Legislation

February 7, 2016

The following quote can be attributed to CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery:

“To quote Yogi Berra, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again.’ Well into a decade of debate about Net Neutrality, it simply won’t go away. CALinnovates takes very little satisfaction in saying we saw this coming, but we’ve been calling for a Third Way that could affirmatively cement the tenets of Net Neutrality into law forever. Instead, Net Neutrality is apparently back on the table, perhaps having experienced a slightly longer shelf life than a ripe banana.

“By passing bipartisan Net Neutrality legislation, Congress can enshrine lasting laws into place that will remain immune to the whims of any particular administration and survive partisan politics. A regulatory roller coaster makes consumers and the business community queasy. Let’s settle this issue once and for all. The time is now.”

How To Build A Crowdsourced Company, From the Ground Up

By Mike Montgomery

We have all heard the traditional story. You have an idea and take it to an angel investor early on — or a venture capital firm after developing a prototype — to get funding. But this model has its drawbacks. Investors can make demands that a founder might not agree with. Many VCs are only interested in an exit, not building a sustainable company, and VC-backed companies often fall just as quickly as they rise.

What if there were a better way? Dirk Ahlborn, the CEO and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, thinks there is.

Back in 2012, Ahlborn was part of an online business incubator called JumpStartFund that harnessed the power of online communities. “If you think about it, you do everything online: your dry cleaning, your groceries, even finding love — but building businesses still very much happens offline,” he says. Ahlborn recognized the power of online crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter to bring people together, and he wanted to find the best way to harness the wisdom of passionate communities.

The opportunity arrived in the summer of 2013 when Elon Musk published a famous white paper proposing the hyperloop concept: massive magnetized tubes that could carry passengers at 700 mph from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Ahlborn thought the project would be a perfect fit to show how a crowdsourcing business model would work and asked Musk for permission to put it on the JumpStartFund platform. Ahlborn invited anyone to participate as long as they were willing to work in exchange for stock options. After sifting through hundreds of applications, he enlisted the help of 100 engineers. Many of them had day jobs at places like Boeing, NASA, Google and Airbus.

Read the full article here.

Staying In A D.C. Hotel For Inauguration Weekend? Prepare To Be Gouged

By Mike Montgomery

This weekend will be a historically busy one for Washington D.C. Today, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States in front of the U.S. Capitol, where his fans were out en masse to watch. Saturday, hundreds of thousands will flood the streets of the city to protest his presidency.

No matter which side of the fence they’re on, every D.C. visitor staying in a hotel had one thing in common: They all paid an insane amount for lodging.

We did some research into rooms this coming weekend and found that hotels are jacking up their prices by more than 800%. Book a room at the Fairmont in Georgetown earlier in January and you would have paid $190 per night for a room with a king bed. The weekend of the inauguration? That same room will cost you $1,600 per night (and you’ll have to book for at least three nights.)

Prices won’t be any better in Dupont Circle. A room at the Kimpton Carlyle Hotel, which would typically go for $99 per night, will cost you $899 per night the weekend of the inauguration.

It is a shame that these absurd rates put hotel rooms out of reach for most Americans who might want to either see democracy in action or protest the people who are soon to be running the country.

Read the full article here.

Hemant Taneja Asks: How Will We Balance A Future With Fewer Jobs And Longer Lifespans?

Venture capitalist Hemant Taneja sees a huge problem looming for America. Technology is increasingly taking over jobs that were once done by people. As this trend accelerates, there will be fewer and fewer people who need to work.

But at the same time, we are living a lot longer. And while ideas like a universal basic stipend might take care of paying all of those people who no longer have to work — what will they do with their days? Work gives our lives meaning as much as it fills our wallets. Are we destined to be sloths who simply consumer entertainment like the dystopian vision laid out in the movie Wall-E or the book Ready Player One?

Taneja thinks we can do better.

“Are we creating a world of technology that replaces human potential or are we unleashing human potential?” asked Taneja. “What do we want to be as a society?”

Taneja, a managing director at General Catalyst Partners, discussed these issue with CALinnovates Chief Evangelist Kish Rajan during an interview for the A Step Ahead podcast. Taneja believes that technology needs to work harder to include humans in the equation or risk cutting them out altogether. That means thinking about solutions to the unintended consequences of technology before we are faced with them as a society. Social platforms, he argued, should have seen the risk of something like fake news coming and gotten out in front of the problem in a responsible way.

“The right thing would be for the innovation sector to think about responsible innovation and for large tech platforms to handle their power with care and algorithmic accountability,” said Taneja.

If not, the government will eventually come in and impose regulations on the industry that could stifle innovation. Taneja believe that now is the time for Silicon Valley to take a hard look inward and decide how it can innovate more responsibly going forward.

Listen to the rest of the interview here:

Like what you hear? Subscribe to A Step Ahead on iTunes.

A Step Ahead: Hemant Taneja

Hey, everyone, Kish Rajan, Chief Evangelist at CALinnovates. Welcome to the latest addition of A Step Ahead. We’re really lucky, this time, to talk to Hemant Taneja, who is the managing director of General Catalyst, a venture and investment firm, in the Silicon Valley. Hemant is not just an investor. He is a tremendous thinker about what’s happening with innovation and technology and its impact on reshaping our entire economy and what that means for our country and our society. He’s a very deep thinker that raises wonderful questions and issues that need to be grappled with as we go down this path of a whole new global economy and how we make the right policies to work within it. It was a very, very thoughtful and interesting discussion, and I hope you’ll enjoy the chat that we had. Hemant Taneja, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate you being on A Step Ahead.

Hemant Taneja: Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.

You bet. Hey, listen, there’s lots to talk about here, as we continue to watch…as we’re recording this, we’re just a couple of weeks away from the inauguration of President Trump. We’re in a very interesting time in our country, and technology has played a interesting role in the politics of the election. I’d love to get into that and some of the related issues with you, but I want to start…you recently published a piece on Medium that I thought was tremendous. We’ll make sure our listeners get a link to it so that they can read it in full. In the piece you talk about all the amazing things that seem to be coming true or are on the precipice of coming into reality, all the amazing innovations that have been dreamed about for a long time, and yet there are…I don’t want to say downsides…but there are meaningful considerations to look at as all these innovations come into fruition. You raised some real cautions or, at least, things to think about. Tell us about that piece and why you wanted to write it.

Yeah. I was basically in my year-end reflection mode as to what are the kinds of things that we’ve been doing? What are the things that resonated with me in terms of what we heard from entrepreneurs over the year? It got to a point where the observation that we were making was, gosh, it’s the same set of people that are working on self-driving cars and self-driving trucks. As I wrote in the article, it’s the same people that are working on life extension and figuring out basic income at the same time. When you add all that up, you basically say, “Okay. There’s 3,000,000 plus truck drivers who we’re going to tell, “Now, you don’t have any jobs anymore, and we’re going to help you live forever or for a lot longer than you’re used to, and, by the way, we’ll put you on a stipend, you know. You have no purpose.”

That’s really what catalyzed the reflection thing. Gosh, in some ways we’re in this amazing time, as you said, when it comes to technology and what technology’s unleashing for us. At the same time, it really is about how we channel the innovation that’s going to determine what kind of society we live in. Choices in front of us are, are we trying to create a world that’s essentially using technology to displace human potential, or are we creating a world that unleashes human potential and maximizes it and creates a more fulfilled society just culturally? What do we want to be as a society is a big question. I think as tech is going mainstream, we need to have a greater sense of purpose in the kinds of things we invest in and the kinds of things we want to create for the future. That’s really what got me thinking about and writing that piece.

Yeah. I think the point is so interesting. By the way, when you say the stipend, you’re talking about the proposal or the idea out there for something that’s being called universal basic income, right?

That’s right. There’s this whole theory today, that, gosh, as jobs go away and you move into a post-work era as a society, how are people going to live? Is the idea that, in a world where there’s a lot of automation, do you end up having to give people some basic stipend that they can live off of, and then they can figure out what to do with their time elsewhere? I think that’s what a lot of folks are thinking through as those that have embraced the idea that tech is not only automating jobs like manufacturing, but it’s slowly going to start taking over lots of knowledge, working classifications are about, as well, whether its medicine or what have you.


If it’s a pervasive issue, then what are we going to do, as a species, with out time?

Really, it’s a fascinating thing. Just staying on this for one more minute, about the idea of a universal basic income, clearly there’s lots of different approaches, and we’re quite a distance from anything like that becoming real. At it’s basic concept, you’re talking about what would be some new government program that would come in and provide some basic income, create a floor, if you will, for people to have some ability to sustain themselves as we’re going through this major transformation of the economy. Of course, that’s kind of… that presupposes that we are fundamentally going into an era for some foreseeable future, or unforeseeable future, I should say, where jobs are eliminated and functions in the economy can’t be replaced at the rate by which they’re going away right now. Just that, unto itself, is a pretty concerning set of circumstances.

I think that’s right. That is the theory that has some folks worried and planning ahead. In fact, I recently attended a dinner around ideas for universal basic income. Somebody mentioned, which I thought was fascinating, that in 30 years you might have to pay to work because there just isn’t that much work, and work gives you purpose, and then you may have to pay for it. I mean, I know it sounds like a crazy idea today, but the point is that there’s a real concern around, hey, automation applies to not just physical tasks, but also cognitive tasks, as AI becomes more and more mature. When that starts happening, and it’s more cost-effective to do that as opposed to employing people, isn’t that just going to be a pervasive dynamic across the entire economy?

I’m just curious as to your opinion. How real do you think this concern is about permanent elimination of job functions in the economy? As I sort of look at it, certainly we’ve gone through, in human history, major economic shifts, right, from agrarian to industrial, and industrial to mechanical, and into information technology, we had massive shifts. We’ve had huge changes in how the economy functions and, yet, employment has risen, quality of life has risen in places like the United States and all across the world, not universally. I mean, I’m wondering if this is overblown, or if you think this is actually something that we’re going to have to address if these are permanent shifts in how the economy works and the number of jobs that will exist within it?

I struggled with this question quite a bit, as you can imagine. The way I try to answer this question is, are there types of jobs I can think of that, fundamentally, technology just wouldn’t be able to replace? Over there, I always end up coming out that, “No, there’s going to be automated ways to do just about everything that we do today.” Then the question is, “What are the new things that we haven’t been able to envision?”

You could see, as things like AR and VR become pervasive and your alternate reality or your virtual reality becomes just as real as the physical world, you know, people may choose to spend more time sitting on their couch with a next generation VR headset and maybe there’s jobs that get created in there that unleash human potential. I think there are lots of things you can imagine that might happen that can open up new types of jobs as the physical and sort of the more cognitive jobs do head towards automation.

I think some of it is also about… going back to the article you were referencing, how do we want to play the next 30 years as we bring these new technologies to bear? If we embed technology into society with the right mindset, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem, but that, again, goes back to the unleash human potential, build these technologies, develop these technologies to get more out of humans, as opposed to replacing them. It’s not the first time we’ve had to think about irresponsible use of technology and approaching it. Nuclear was a great example, that was a existential issue, and so we figured out how to handle nuclear disarmament, but also be able to use it as a cost-effective and safe source of power for large parts of the world.

Unfortunately, mainstream technology and software, the way we think about it is…doing that right is a little bit like a frog in a boiling pan because there’s no immediate risk, like the existential risk that nuclear presented, and as a society, you know, we’re not very good at long-term thinking. So, you know, one of my big things is, can we actually start to be better long-term thinkers in how we start to define this future role with technology?

Plus, these are huge questions. Alongside that, I would ask, what are the right institutions to help shape how we try to plan for the future, right? That is to say, is government the answer, you know, when you talk about a program with the kind of potential scale and reach as the universal basic income? I mean, presumably, the government would have to have a major role in defining and executing such a program. I wonder about your thoughts on that, or are there ways that the private sector, or other sectors, come together and help to do that longer term thinking and put some of these new structures in place to address some of these major gaps that you’re talking about?

Yeah. I think all mainstream sectors, in some ways, operate at the intersection of technology, policy, and finance so, in some ways, government is always involved. When you think about how the process of technology going mainstream over the past decade, one thing that has happened is you have seen the creation of these platforms that are very monopolistic in nature because they’ve got network effects around them, so they’re going to take our market the way it’s set up, and they’re using a lot of AI in influencing what we see as folks, what we get exposed to, you know, the whole fake news issue that recently surfaced was all around just the algorithms taking hold and sort of attenuating our biases, if you will.

I think the choice in front of the innovation sector is, as these companies become these large platforms, are they going to self regulate? Are they going to embrace algorithm accountability? If they do a good job of it, then I think you’ll have less regulation needed for this next phase. If they’re not as focused on algorithmic accountability and sort of exposing products and services to consumers on top of their platforms, then I think government’s going to step in.

My personal bias is, the more regulation there is, the less innovation happens because the focus of the business starts to be towards catering to regulators as opposed to serving their customer. In fact, that’s why I think the net promoter scores of all the major regulator industries, like utilities and schools and hospitals, you name it, none of them provide great customer service because they’re highly regulated businesses. By the way, when that happens and you can’t innovate, you often get yourselves into large problems, as well. I think climate change is a problem that got created as a result of that. You know, we blame the utilities and anthropogenic sources of carbon for climate change, but the reality is we created these structures where these companies just weren’t intended to adopt new technologies and create new markets.


I’m sort of saying all this to say, I do think the right thing would be for the innovation sector, the entrepreneurs, investors alike, is to think about responsible innovation and for the large technology platforms to handle their power with care and with transparency in the algorithmic accountability. Otherwise, you do start to head towards a regulation-led economy, and I don’t think that’s a good place for any of us.

I hear what you’re saying; although, I didn’t quite hear the how, in the sense that, you know, on one hand, what would be the motivation of these businesses to adopt a more thoughtful approach, consider public interest, do that sort of self-regulation, as you’re saying. It seems that what we’ve seen traditionally, and now we’ve elected a new president, I think, in part, on themes of, “We’ve got to get government out of the way. Government is overreaching, it’s an inhibitor to business performance and quality,” as you’ve just sort of suggested with some of the heavily regulated business. It seems that the response would be from tech, “We’ll just do what we’re doing to maximize our profitability, and we’ll just fight regulation, as opposed to trying to embrace it.”

Yeah, but that doesn’t end well in the end. If you look at a tech sector, look at AT&T or look at Microsoft, regulation catches up to you and starves you of innovation eventually. I ponder this question a lot. Gosh, when the Baby Bells were broken up, they were broken up geographically …when AT&T was broken up, I’m sorry… and when you look at utilities in the power sector, they were sort of regulated based on geographies, as well. I’m not even sure how you would sort of regulate the monopolistic behavior in companies that fundamentally thrive on being a monopoly. What would it mean to even regulate a company like Facebook when the entire reason that Facebook works really well is because everybody’s on it.

I do think there’s sort of an interesting set of questions ahead, but rather than go down the path where these issues become significant and there’s constant fight with the regulations and eventually you do get the sector to be over-regulated, it’s better to just be more responsible now. I think you’re seeing indications of that a little bit, but I do, for sure, want to see a lot more done in terms of transparency and in terms of making sure the tech business doesn’t also start to act like big business, where you’ve got four or five companies that have all the data and, therefore, they’ll have all the sophisticated advantages that come from artificial intelligence, and they abuse their power.

I’d rather see a world where new innovations can continue to develop, and you do have a free market, where the small business also has a level playing field, as well. I mean, in fact, this is one of the things that I do think about with the new administration, which seems highly pro-business, but it’s more highly pro-big business than highly pro-business, in general, in, at least, the early moves that I’m seeing. We certainly want to make sure we don’t forget the little guy.

Yeah. It’s a great transition. I wanted to talk a little bit about that, as well, because when you think about innovation and technology, certainly the Silicon Valley, both literally and as a metaphor, for tech, in general, these were things that started off as highly entrepreneurial, and these were famous lead businesses that were started in garages by a couple of people. Then they grew into tremendous enterprises, but, at their nature, they were small businesses that got there.

Again, it was about entrepreneurship, and it was about attracting talent, where folks were educated at a level that they could plug into these thriving tech ecosystems. I wonder, now, is that really where we are? Is that what, today, Silicon Valley looks like? Is it as entrepreneurial? Is it as open of a system to allow new, small businesses an entrance into the market, or do you see it becoming more of a closed system, quite honestly, you know, financially and otherwise?

I think it’s a complex question. I have this thesis that I call “The Economies of Unscale,” and is the driver of a lot of the innovation that’s happened in the last 10 years. The basic thesis is that entrepreneurs that have interesting products and minds, products and services that are great for consumers, can build these companies on little capital, can build these companies using a lot of these platforms that we just referenced, and essentially, rent, scale, and become large fast, and that pervasive behavior happens to be a unbundling scale, if you will.

If you think about why there’s all these companies that are making these…in large numbers, new brands are coming up, building consumer products, apparel, consumer package goods, et cetera. You think about new entrant companies popping up. You think about sort of how a lot of the incumbency that couldn’t be challenged before with entrepreneurial efforts as successful competition from new entrants. It’s all because these platforms have made it easy to acquire or reach customers. It’s made it easy to make things using companies, like electronics, that have popped up in globalization. It’s easy to use logistics platforms. It’s easy to sort of just rent computing from Amazon. You got all these platforms. In some ways, these platforms have actually accelerated the creation of new companies. The fact that these companies can serve small niches that would’ve been otherwise sub-scaled to serve, that has accelerated the creation of the small companies.


On the other hand, because all the data, all the information, goes to these platforms, as to what’s happening with these companies, the larger incumbents, these platforms do have a lot of power in understanding what’s working, what’s not working, and being able to use that to their own benefit, as opposed to being truly open. The issue is, those decisions are made in software, and it’s not really transparent as to what’s really going on. When that transparency isn’t really there, that’s where I think these troubles start to emerge in terms of, “Hey, are there monopolistic tendencies manifesting themselves, or are we really seeing the little companies getting a fair shot or not?” I think that dynamic is what I’m talking about when I see a sort of responsible innovation by these platforms. I do think if these big tech companies don’t do that, they will face regulation, and I don’t think that’d be good for the entire sector.

Yeah, it’s such a complex point that you’re making. When I try to relate it to, you know, thinking about politics, again, for just a moment, and you look at what happened in the last election, certainly, a part of it, if not a majority of it, was defined by this notion that the economy of the United States just is not working for a large majority of the American public. They look at tech centers like the Silicon Valley, or Austin, or Boston, and they see a small number of people getting extraordinarily wealthy and being in control of a significant part of our nation’s economy and wealth, but they don’t see any pathway for that prosperity and those gains to extend to them in places like the Rust Belt or, frankly, even places like Fresno, California. What do you think about that characterization? Do you agree that that’s essentially the shape of our economy today-

Yeah. Yeah.

or was it oversimplified?

Look, I think those are real issues. First of all, the tech center is bringing a lot of prosperity to our nation as a whole. The fact that Uber gets 15 cents, or 20 cents, of every dollar of the taxi ride in France, or Germany, or anywhere in the world and brings that value back to our economy, when was the last time that was possible? What we’ve been able to do with technology and data …this is why sort of technology or data in the age-old sort of phrase that is going around is quite accurate in my mind, that I actually think we’re able to capture a lot of value from the way these tech companies have been built here in the United States and they’re global and making our economy stronger.

The issue is around job creation, right, and the fact that a lot of this work gets done by not a lot of people, and that’s where the concentration of wealth happens to the few, especially careening this tech sector, if you will. I do think that’s a real issue. I think we have to solve it. I think this new administration needs to focus on that. It needs to focus on that in a way that doesn’t slow down the capability of our technology companies to continue to maintain global dominance that they have been because, honestly, the way the platforms are set up today, if we don’t do that here, other countries will, and that’ll be a huge loss for us. That market leadership, we do not want to lose that.

What do we do about making sure that we do have new, forward-looking jobs created in the US? I do think there are areas where there is a lot of opportunity to migrate out infrastructure to the new-new. When you think about energy, you don’t have to believe in climate change, but you can think of the advanced energy opportunity as a massive job creation opportunity. We should upgrade our infrastructure, our utilities, our gas stations and the charging stations, or putting solar on our roof so that our power infrastructure is migrating to the new-new.


That’s a lot more secure and independent and sort of takes advantage of our own resources. I think there is a lot of that that can be done and be invested in to propel us into continued leadership and new job creation in the country. I wish the new administration sort of does things that expands on those kinds of jobs and doesn’t retard the progress the technology sector is making in truly making the US the technical powerhouse that it is with the global platforms.

Yeah, it makes so much sense. We actually had a piece, right now, in TechCrunch, talking about the president elect’s suggestion of doing a massive infrastructure program as one of the key initiatives of his new administration. We urged that if that’s true, to think about how that could work together with technology to innovate and modernize all kinds of aspects of our public infrastructure. You touched on energy. Transportation is obviously another enormous area of opportunity, water, you know, you could go down the line, but it does seem that there’s a big chance to take some of our technological capability and apply them to these basic systems that could have lots of benefits, not the least of which could be the creation of a lot of new jobs.

Exactly, and that is probably a two-decade opportunity in terms of the kinds of jobs and how long, you know, it’ll take to actually migrate our power infrastructure and urbanization to a city infrastructure, and so on, to the next generation technologies, if you will. I do think that could be a huge opportunity for us.

We’ve got just a couple minutes left. I wanted to touch on one other topic, and that is, as we’re talking about how to expand opportunity, create jobs, and welcome people to be able to participate in this new economy, you’ve been very outspoken about education and looking at the way public education works today and what it is, or is not, delivering against real opportunities, I assume that that’s an area that you think absolutely needs to be rethought if we’re ever to expand opportunities to folks that aren’t fully participating now?

Yeah, I do think a lot about that. I’m involved in Khan Academy and ClassDojo, which are run by two incredible entrepreneurs and sort of showing the way in terms of what the education system should be for the 21st century. My core belief is that what we have learned through entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. We sort of have to apply it to our lives, meaning, there should be this notion of an entrepreneurial life, if you will, and that involves how to learn and take advantage of opportunities in a much more seamless and successful way throughout your life.

Today, what we end up doing is, we’ve got this Prussian-based education system. We put our kids through these factories, where everybody’s the same age, and they’re learning the same things at every hour, as opposed to, again, going back to unleashing human potential, everybody learning based on their own interest, learning at their own pace, and learning things that they want to build on, and they can be great at. Our education system today is not set up to be able to empower us to do that. I do think this is where things have to move so that everybody is, if they’re bought into this personalized learning model, it requires upgrading our classrooms, going back to the infrastructure argument that I was making earlier, upgrading how our school systems operate and moving towards this next generation learning model.

I do think when it comes to training our society and our next generation to survive and thrive in this kind of a technology era that we’re headed in, these are the kinds of skills that are a lot more important than being able to factor polynomials a little quicker than the next guy, which is what we seem to be obsessed with, when you think about the academic learning in our schools today.

Sure. Although, I would say a lot of people are candidly very fearful of the type of innovative and disruptive almost, if you will, models that your touching upon for public education, worried that if we break lose from the existing system, we create a system that becomes uneven, at least in terms of its access to everyday people. How do you respond to that concern that’s out there, that what we have today is something that’s at least trying to protect equal opportunity for people to get public education, that that value might be lost?

I think the model of 20th century was about egalitarian systems. How do we make sure everybody gets equal education? How do we make sure everybody gets good healthcare. What we’ve done in that is actually created lowest common denominators for everybody. I mean, think about education, how even is it really? You have districts that are more prosperous, that can afford to have better schools than not. This is a place a teacher in every school is trying to teach the same concepts differently, with different levels of resources.

The whole point that I’m trying to make is that you want to make this so affordable in using technology, that you do allow everybody to have access to the same set of tools and capabilities and let them traverse the education graph visual based on their own capabilities, so they can create mastery of the things ‘A,’ that are important to them and ‘B,’ in a manner that they learn the best. I think that’s really the opportunity in terms of the future of education, as opposed to saying, “How do we just make sure every school has got the budget to be able to do everything as a baseline level of education.”

It truly should be about how does every kid maximize their own potential by using the same set of tools that are powered by AI and that are sort of designed for self-paced learning and designed for harnessing their particular interest and teaching them in a way that catches their attention, as opposed to some, you know, lowest common denominator, in terms of the pedagogy.

Got it. Last question, and that is that, in your piece that we talked about at the very beginning, where you sort of raised the question about whether we’re in a place now where technology is helping us to either unleash human potential or just replace humans… it is an important question. How hopeful are you that we’re going to get that right?

As a venture capitalist, I live in hope. I do think we are going to get that right. I think there’s a lot of smart minds that are thinking through this issue that I have raised, and this is just part of an industry that’s maturing in understanding how impactful it actually is on society. Most entrepreneurs do what they do because they’ve got great sense of passion and they want to have an impact. I think if we can coalesce on a set of guiding principles around the kind of future we want to create, I do think we’ll end up creating the right future that can be created with the tools that are available to us. Yes, I’m quite optimistic.

That’s great to hear. Hemant Taneja, you’ve been a great voice and a great leader raising these very important topics and be willing to share your wisdom and time with a number of folds, including us, on A Step Ahead. We’re very grateful. Thanks for your time.

CALinnovates Welcomes Call For Fresh Look at Online Consumer Privacy Rules

By Tim Sparapani

Innovators and startups welcome the news that policymakers are taking a fresh look at how to protect consumers’ privacy online.  While the headlines may try to spin this as just another partisan food fight, in truth it’s an incredibly important opportunity to restore balance and clarity to consumer privacy rules in the online ecosystem.

As we’ve said from the start, the privacy rules adopted late last year by the Wheeler FCC were clearly flawed and the ongoing jurisdictional tussle over privacy needs to be resolved for the benefit of consumers and companies alike. The Wheeler rules created an inconsistent, confusing patchwork, in which consumers’ private information on the internet would be protected differently depending on which servers and routers their data happened to be crossing. Yes, the exact same data would arbitrarily enjoy different levels of protection. 94% of consumers believe that all companies collecting their information online should face the same set of rules – and they’re right. The Wheeler rules break from the bipartisan FTC privacy framework that has seen the internet thrive and grow in other ways, introducing new friction and erecting confusing and unjustified new obstacles to even the most mundane uses of data any consumer would see as non-sensitive.  This kind of regulation is bad for consumers, bad for entrepreneurs, and bad for innovation.

In addition, a little known consequence of the Wheeler rules was that they jeopardized the United States’ privacy agreement with the European Union. The Privacy Shield is predicated in part on the United States having a single, lead consumer privacy agency, and the dilution of the FTC’s authority puts this agreement at risk.

We’re glad that policymakers at the FCC and in Congress will have an opportunity to review the rules again and, hopefully, correct these flaws.  A return to the FTC’s role as the lead privacy enforcer would allow innovators to do what they do best: innovate. In addition, a consistent set of rules would do well to assuage consumer advocates’ concern that gaps in enforcement would delay critical privacy actions when companies are ignoring or outright abusing their data responsibilities to their customers.

CALinnovates Lauds President Trump’s Appointment of Ajit Pai as New FCC Chairman

SAN FRANCISCO, January 23, 2017

“In our hyper-partisan country, we still need to be able to get things done. Ajit Pai understands this. He called it like he saw it during his previous term, and I look forward to him continuing to push the envelope as Chairman. To sum it up: Ajit is a hardworking ass kicker who understands the economic and policy concerns of the broad tech sector with an opportunity to unite the FCC in a bipartisan fashion after four years of sharply partisan rulemakings.” – Mike Montgomery, Executive Director

“Chairman Pai’s creativity and business expertise promise to help find a third way to solving our most pressing communication issues. CALinnovates congratulates Chairman Pai and looks forward to working with he and his team.” – Tim Sparapani, Senior Policy Fellow

Erin Schrode Isn’t Afraid Of Rubber Bullets When She’s Fighting For The Environment

Erin Schrode refers to herself as a young “Eco-Renaissance” woman, and when you look at her list of accomplishments, it’s not hard to see why. When she was still in high school, Schrode co-founded Turning Green, an organization dedicated to helping teenagers advocate for a cleaner environment. She has appeared on ABC and been quoted in The New York Times and was honored by the White House for her dedication to political action.

And late last year, she was shot with a rubber bullet.

Image credit: Erin Schrode via

Schrode was interviewing pipeline protesters at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota when she felt a piercing pain in her back. She turned to see an officer who had fired the bullet out of a grenade launcher. The experience only doubled her resolve to continue telling stories of the protesters.

“Any rhetoric of violence from the water protectors was a lie,” Schrode told CALinnovates Chief Evangelist Kish Rajan during an interview for the A Step Ahead podcast. “I saw the power of nonviolent direct action play out again and again there.”

Schrode is someone political watchers should keep an eye on. Last year, at just 25, she ran for Congress in California’s 2nd District. Although she lost to incumbent Jared Huffman, Schrode used her campaign to call attention to important issues involving the environment and education.

Over the next four years, she hopes to fire up her fellow millennials to fight back against the Trump administration through technology and by showing up in person.

“This is the time to organize and advocate and mobilize in a way we never have before,” said Schrode. “Our future depends on it.”

Listen to the rest of the interview here:

Like what you hear? Subscribe to A Step Ahead on iTunes.

A Step Ahead: Erin Schrode

Hey all, Kish Rajan, Chief Evangelist at CALinnovates, and welcome to this edition of A Step Ahead. This time we’re talking to Erin Schrode, who as you’ll hear, in a really short period of time, has had a remarkable career in politics and in activism. She tells the tremendous story about her time at the Standing Rock Reservation in her efforts to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, and in that she reveals the true passions she has around energy, around politics, and around innovation. It was an interesting conversation and I hope you’ll agree.

Erin Schrode, thank you so much for joining us and being part of our program A Step Ahead.

Erin Schrode: Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to chat

Well it’s great to have you. There’s lots of stuff that we can get into. You’ve been really really active lately. You’ve been very visible in a number of key things and I want to touch on a few of those. But certainly, most recently, you have been and continue to be a very visible voice in the battle over Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline. How did you get involved in that and why are you involved in it?

What is happening at Standing Rock is the fight of our lives, in my opinion. It is a convergence of so many of the most important pressing movements of our time around climate and a livable planet, around human rights, around peace and justice. It touches on so many different topics and unites so many diverse stakeholders. I initially got involved… I’m an environmentalist and climate change and the fight against fossil fuels has been paramount in my life for the past decade. And watching this unfold in the past eight months in mostly niche environmental or small media has been really interesting. But I was reticent to show up. I didn’t necessarily think this was quote unquote my fight. And in October I saw a call from the Standing Rock Nation saying, “Come. We need people to not only figuratively stand with Standing Rock but to literally show up to be the numbers, the boots on the ground, to put your body on the line, to get skin in the game.” And I went. I was on the way to North Dakota the next day.

I just wanted to jump in. The call that they made for people to show up physically is a sort of interesting thing in the times that we’re in. Political engagement, now, is so much about digital engagement. We can talk about more about this. I even remember recently in the Standing Rock issue, there was a question about… they were encouraging people all over the world to check in on Facebook at Standing Rock because it was supposedly an effort to help the protestors gain some footing against the local authority who may or may not have been suing Facebook to track what was going on there. I’m wondering how you saw that and then how you compare that to that call that they had for people to actually show up.

That’s a very interesting larger dialogue and issue in our world today. This balance between online and offline. We have these incredible tools at our fingertips, at our disposal, with which to organize, with which to amplify. But the actual work happens offline. It happens in the real world and so it’s fascinating to see how, yes, there was an incredible role, a necessary role that people could play around the country and around the world, be it in this movement to check in or in pressing our legislators, picking up the phone, e-mailing them, in divesting your funds and just raising awareness and just sharing the content about police brutality or illegal land seizure. But then, you had thousands of people there faced with brutal law enforcement and they needed numbers. They needed this critical mass. So we all have roles to play but we can’t think that clicking a button or doing something behind a screen is enough. It’s necessary but that’s not the be all end all.

It really is a fascinating thing to think about. And I want to unpack that a little bit more in the broader sense of political engagement. But I don’t want to lose the thread for just a minute. So when you got there, for those of us who were following online or watching on T.V., give us a couple of minutes about what you did, and what did you experience, and were you glad that you went?

Oh yeah. Absolutely. I arrived there. The first two people that I met, Floris and Nicosse, Floris is a 34-year-old mother of five and Standing Rock Native, Nicosse is a Ponca man from Oklahoma who works on pipeline issues all across the region. And to get this personal, in-depth story from the two of them set the stage in a very unique way. Just two days prior to my arrival, the northernmost camp on the front lines had been raided and 140 some people had been arrested and thrown into dog kennels, had numbers written on their arms. The teepees had been ripped open with the ends of assault rifles. People, human beings, have been ripped out of prayer circle, out of sweat lodge. So this was the psychological and emotionally charged environment to which we were walking.

And we stayed there with them in their yurt at Oceti Sakowin. The camp was built around the sacred fires and it was such a beautiful space. These peaceful, prayerful people have gathered from all across the world. You have representatives from over 300 tribes and the visual of the flags of all of those nations is quite striking. But to see so many people show up, and everyone had their own reason and their own stories, but I saw the power of non-violent direct action play out again and again and again.

And you saw water protectors one day go up, wade across a river in freezing cold conditions, on their sacred land, on their treaty land, and across the river were met with a line of armed militarized police. And I say that because I’ve only seen visuals like this in photos out of Iraq or Afghanistan and maybe in the past couple of years in Baltimore and Ferguson.

It really is striking. And just to be clear, these actions that you were taking, I think you were describing the militarized actions, the disruption of the prayer circles, I had never heard of the idea that people were being put into kennels or cages and numbered. I mean, these are startling observations and who again were the actors that were doing this? Is this local police?

The coalition of about seven states that sent forces. So you have local Morton County. You have North Dakota State and you had other state forces that sent in varying numbers of law enforcement from different divisions, some of whom promptly left, said this is not in line with serving and protecting a population. Floris has photographs of the dog kennels, of the numbers written on her arm. She and Nicosse likened it to Nazi Germany and concentration camps.

Good heavens. That’s a remarkable thing and you may be reluctant to draw more attention to yourself but isn’t it in fact true that in the course of you being there and perhaps doing some live reporting of what was happening there, weren’t you yourself struck by a rubber bullet?

I was. I’ve been very cognizant not to draw attention away from the bravery of the people in the front lines through the power of non-violent action. But I did speak out about it because it was such a blatant example of excessive force. I was conducting an interview on camera with a Native American man, two feet firmly planted on the soil where the police wanted people to retreat to. And I felt a devastating blow to my lower black. And I whipped my head around, completely confused at what had just occurred. And I saw, just offshore in the small tributary, three of these officers and one of them had just fired what we came to see was a thirty-seven, forty millimeter rubber bullet out of a grenade launcher at us, at me, at innocent, unarmed, un-violent people.

It was caught on video by a couple of journalists who went back and pulled it and I posted it. And the next morning I woke up to a lot of people saying, “Well, if you were good at your job you’d have proof.” And I started flipping through the videos that I have been taken that day and I watched myself be shot live on camera, which is nothing I would wish upon anyone. But I decided to share that video for the reasons mentioned before, just to say that this is inexcusable and any rhetoric that the police are speaking about, about incitement, about violence coming form the water protectors is false, is a lie.

What an incredible thing. Well thankfully I’m sure it had and will have a lingering impact. I don’t know how anybody could endure something like that personally and not be impacted by that. Thankfully, you’re able to tell the story.

I am. I’m very lucky.

Well, I’m glad.

Thank you. You know it didn’t hit my spine. It wasn’t a real bullet. Didn’t hit my face. It didn’t permanently maim me in the way that you saw Sophia Wilansky, a water protector there, who had been hit with a compression grenade. One woman lost her eyesight form a canister. So it’s horrific and the way you see police rewriting these narratives is devastating, but thankfully you have a ton of proof because of the power of technology today that’s put into the hands of the people rather than those in power.

It’s incredible. Well, we could talk about this forever and I appreciate you relating these experiences. But to sort of back up and put this in context for just a moment. So we’re talking about the construction of the new pipeline. It’s about continuing to build massive infrastructure and make massive investments and also very clearly marshall state and local forces in the continuation of that oil-based economy. Given how much you’ve done in clean tech to try to help stimulate the development of more renewable and sustainable energy practices, I’m interested in, given what you’ve just endured, your impressions in how we’re doing and how much more needs to happen to address trying to change the economy that we’re clearly so invested in?

It’s absolutely critical and we have to recognize that the fossil fuel economy is one of the past, that clean tech pays, that renewables are not the ways of the future, that they’re the ways of the present. You saw the report that just came out that solar is the most inexpensive source of power without any sort of subsidies needed. I spent time last month at Cop22 in Morocco speaking a lot about climate finance. And I’m not a finance person, that’s not my background. But there are three terms that I shared that really resonated with me which are around addressing the inherent bias, doing real risk-awareness, and flipping the profit motive, and showing people that this is viable.

Also, as we usher in a new administration filled with private sector people largely, we need to talk about how there is profit to be made. And that fossil fuels, oil, fracking, does not make economic sense in addition to the environmental degradation and consequences. So I’m working hard on that at many levels, particularly on this climate finance side, which is a place where maybe we can move the needle with the coming administration.

With that, and yet with the statements that have been made or were made by then candidate Trump as it relates to the whole question, or at least the question that relates to his mind about the reality of climate change, and then people that we see, of course an Exxon Mobile CEO, now our new Secretary of State, assuming confirmations will happen, and other deep investors in the petroleum-based economy, and our Secretary of Commerce plus former governor Rick Perry who is on the board of the company seeking to advance the Dakota Access Pipeline, how are you feeling about the prospects over the next four, perhaps longer years?

Don’t say it, don’t say longer than four. It’s awful. It’s appalling. This is not going to be easy. This is not going to be pleasant. I wrote an article the day that he announced Pruitt as his appointment to lead the EPA that said so much for Ivanka’s meeting with Gore. There were people in the environmental world that were optimistic. “Look! Ivanka Trump is taking on climate change as her issue,” despite being silent about it for the whole campaign trail. “Look, Gore went.” And “Look, Trump took time.” I said it was a smoke screen. Watch what he does next week. And within a couple of days, here he was appointing someone who has sued the EPA on behalf of the coal industry, who has lead coalitions with the attorney general to fight the clean power plan. And here he is putting in Tillerson. Here he is putting in these ghastly appointees.

I don’t think that much will happen on the federal level, truthfully, which is why I’m focusing on financial and legal infrastructures as ways that we can try to circumvent the system and try to put things into place outside of the policy arena. I’m actively working towards city and state legislation that will safeguard environmental and public health. We have no other choice. This is not the time to rest on our laurels. This is not the time to sit down, to shut up, to recoil. This is the time to organize and advocate and mobilize in a way that we never have before because our future, and that of an inhabitable planet, quite literally depends on us.

Well that organization and mobilization is an interesting question and it brings us back to where we were a couple of minutes ago. That is, I’m a Gen Xer, and I’m a bridge person that lived my life before there was mobile phones and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and now I’ve adapted in that direction. But you and others are digital natives. You’ve always lived with this technology and these powerful tools that certainly lend themselves to all kinds of organizational and mobilization efforts. But this election also raised some real doubts or concerns about how effective and how valid some of these digital mechanisms are for constructive political engagement. But I’m interested in your perspective on what are the most positive ways and affective ways of using these tools to bring, particularly younger people, into the process.

So it’s a very important debate to be having. It’s very important to reach out and to engage my generation. How do you do that? We know how to reach them, but how do you actually translate that reaching into action? How do you convert it? What we saw throughout the selection process is that a lot of people, a lot of young people in particular, get excited by Bernie Sanders’ campaign, take to the streets, mobilize, work for a candidate, a 75-year-old white man representing the youngest, most diverse generation in history. The irony is not lost.

Why do you think that was by the way? Sorry, can I stop you really quickly? What was the appeal, demographically and otherwise? Bernie Sanders would not be your first thought of who would create a following of literally tens of millions of millennials across the country, and yet he did. Why? What did you think the appeal was?

I’ll tell you the things in his messages that resonated with me and people that I’ve spoken with. He’s been saying the same thing for decades. He has stood true to his values, to his beliefs. He’s not a piece of what people see as the establishment or the machine. His views on environment, on education, are very much in line with that of my generation. He had a candor. He was very…I think authenticity is one of the more overused words in recent history, but similarly to our campaign, people were pleasantly surprised that I was willing to answer the questions, that I was willing to speak without talking points, that I was willing to engage on the issues that matter. I think there was something in Bernie Sanders’ message and rhetoric that people said, “Yes. That is real, that is relevant, that is true, and I want to be a part of it.” There was an excitement, there was a palpable energy that people got behind.

What I hope now is that that doesn’t die, that this idea of the need for, truly a revolution, doesn’t stop because that candidate lost, or because Hillary Clinton has suspended her presidential campaign. I fear that though. I fear that it’s easier for people to rally behind a person than having to get people to continue this momentum behind a whole group of people and actually follow through. Perhaps in talking about millennials, as you were asking, how do we activate them? And I think what you hear form many young people now is that, “Well, maybe we have to run. Maybe we have to insert ourselves into what we see as a broken system if we actually want to see any market improvement.”

Well, I think that the idea of getting more people actually running for office is a big deal. But I want to underscore one point that you made again, is that we at CALinnovates are thinking about the role of technology in our public lives, be it campaigns or civic engagement or what have you. I heard something in your answer, or at least I want to make sure that I heard this right, because I think it’s very interesting, when you were talking about Bernie Sanders, is that the appeal for someone like him, it wasn’t technology, it was the authenticity of his message. It was policy-based, it was values-based that was the appeal. Really technology then becomes a way of telling that story, creating infrastructure around organization. Technology is not the end onto itself, right? It’s the means to an end. Again, this is what I think I hear. If you had the right message and the right messengers to bring people into engagement in the first place.

Absolutely. That is definitely what I said and what I believe. But there’s another piece of technology that we spoke about on the campaign trail. To make government more effective, more efficient, and more transparent. And that goes beyond technology being nearly, and I say nearly within quotes, it’s an extraordinary conduit, but actually so much of what Sanders was talking about was holding people accountable, was the need for transparency. Technology there becomes an actual concrete tool to bring that to fruition. So technology definitely has a role to play and you see it creating two-way channels and real accountability, or has the potential to do that for government if they’re willing to be so bold as to put it into practice in that way. I can only hope.

Well I think it’s a great point, and you talk about, as we only have a couple of more minutes left, I’d love to come back and continue this conversation, because there’s so much more. Perhaps we could chat with you again down the road.

I’d love to.

On this last topic that you’re raising, which is actual engagement. Again, me being a Gen Xer spending a lot of time in the private sector and in government, I certainly have seen very clearly the limitations of government in terms of utilization of new technology, creating that transparency, being more effective and responsive in ways that would inspire others to participate. I trust that that part of your message here is that government itself is going to have to be…we’re going to have to renovate it. We have to modernize the way it functions if we expect people to want to be part of it.

Absolutely. During a campaign meeting with many people from Silicon Valley and from Northern California where I live and where I ran, they were asking, “What can we do? What can we tech innovators do?” And there is so much. Let’s just put out the challenge to the powers that be, figure out how to vote online. Figure out how to make that…I find it hard to believe that that can’t be as secure as mailing a ballot through the United States Postal Service. The larger challenge is to actually bring our government into, not perhaps the 21st century but the 20th century. We are lagging so far behind and I want people to consider innovators, movers, shakers that are changing the face of business through disruptive start-up models and economies in tech that are taking media to new heights. They are using non-profits in ways that we have never before seen to not give up on politics. We need you, all of us there as well.

Well, that’s great. So final question is you, not long ago, were one of the youngest people running for Congress. You had in many ways a very successful campaign. You did not win the race, but you created a great brand and platform. What is next for Erin Schrode on the electoral front?

Many things. We launched the campaign seventy days before the primary election and I was quite realistic about the chances of coming out of the top of the polls. I laid out very clear metrics of success around redefining civic engagement, around reinvigorating a culture of public service and expanding the definition on who can be a politician while adding value to society, while talking about the kinds of policy issues we’ve been discussing, and what we achieved was beyond my wildest dreams. We came up six points short of advancing to the June primary. I am so proud of the movement that we built, that we were able to coalesce people with such an urgency, that we were boots on the ground up and down the district, the Northern California coast, while reaching tens or hundreds of millions with our messaging across the country and around the world.

That intersection of media and policy is where I feel we excelled so greatly. Getting people to care about issues they didn’t necessarily know existed within a matter of minutes. And I want to expand upon that, I want to continue to activate and mobilize people that translates to direct policy, lobbying, change, push other government officials. You haven’t seen the last of me. I absolutely want to run again. I don’t think it will be in 2018, we’ll see. But look out 2020. We have a movement to build, a generation, and a nation to take ownership over and lead and create the future that we wish to see.

Well Erin Schrode we appreciate you being in the arena politically and being present in things like Standing Rock and other critical issues. It is obvious that you are one of the people that is inspiring a new generation of participation and for that we’re grateful. And certainly we’re grateful for your time here on A Step Ahead.

Thank you for having me. Thanks for engaging people in these critical conversations. Ir’s going to take all of us for all time so I’m with ya.

Awesome. Thanks again.

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