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Economist Tyler Cowen launches a fellowship and grant program for moon shot ideas

Tyler Cowen, who I interviewed here, is a fascinating economist. Part pragmatist and part dreamer, he has been researching and writing about the future for a long time in books and his blog, Marginal Revolution. Now he and his university, George Mason, are putting some money where his mouth is. Cowen and the team at GMU are working on Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program for moon shots. The goal is to give people with big ideas a little capital to help them build out their dreams. “It has long been my view that risk-takers are not sufficiently rewarded in the world of ideas and that academic incentives are too conservative,” he said. “The intellectual scene should learn something from Silicon Valley and venture capital.” Cowen is raising $4 million for the first fund. He announced the fund in a podcast on the Mercatus website. “People such as Satoshi and Jordan Peterson have had huge impacts (regardless of one’s degree of enthusiasm for their ideas), and yet in terms of philanthropic funding the world just isn’t geared to seed their ambitions,” said Cowen. The project is part of the GMU Mercatus Center, a “source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” The fund has just opened applications and the amounts granted depend on the project and creator. Cowen, for his part, is optimistic about the prospects of the future-focused fund. “I expect to produce a better and freer world, some degree of human self-realization, a better climate for public intellectuals and other creators of ideas, more innovation, and to bring the intellectual side of America more in touch with the entrepreneurial side,” said Cowen.

Duty Honor Country

I was born at and spent a fair bit of my childhood at the United States Military Academy where my father taught engineering. It’s a magnificent and beautiful place, full of history and meaning. The motto of the academy, enshrined in its coat of arms, is “Duty Honor Country”. In 1962, when I was less than a year old, General Douglas MacArthur came to West Point to accept the Sylvanus Thayer Award and gave the famous Duty Honor Country speech, in which he said: “Duty, Honor, Country” — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.  I am reminded of those words upon the passing of John McCain, a man who embodied them in the world of politics that is mostly bereft of them. Though I did not vote for John McCain when he ran against Barack Obama in 2008, I always appreciated the way he conducted himself in a political system that mostly seems to bring out the worst in people. He was a sharp contrast with our current President, who exhibits none of these values. Rest In Peace John McCain. You were a great American.

A Fair Share From Airbnb

I will be attending a press event today in NYC where Airbnb is announcing a $10mm program to support local efforts that improve the lives of New York State residents. Airbnb calls this program A Fair Share and it estimates that the $10mm is just 10% of what a home sharing tax in New York State would produce for the city and state governments. The $10mm in financial support is going to seven organizations. They are: The New York Immigration Coalition New York Mortgage Coalition New York State Rural Housing Coalition, Inc. Win GMHC CSNYC Abyssinian Development Corporation These are all organizations that benefit from city and state tax dollars but need to tap into the generosity of others to deliver their services. Take CSNYC, where I am leading the $40mm CS4All private sector capital campaign to bring computer science education to every public school building in NYC. CS4All is a ten-year $80mm effort develop over 5,000 public school computer science teachers. Half of that $80mm is coming from the NYC taxpayers. The other half is being raised from private donors. Airbnb’s generous support helps us meet our budget this year and beyond and we are very grateful for it. But there is a larger point being made here and one that I want to highlight. Airbnb wants to operate legitimately in New York City and New York State. It wants to collect taxes on behalf of hosts of non-hotel accommodations in New York. And it wants to be a positive force for the economy in New York. But its opponents, largely the hotel industry and its employees, are standing in the way of that. This is politics getting in the way of good sense. And that is irritating to me as a citizen of New York City and New York State. I am thrilled to accept the generosity of Airbnb on behalf of CSNYC and I am also happy to be a participant in helping Airbnb make a larger point about what is right and what should happen here. I hope that A Fair Share helps them do that.

Regulating and Legislating Tech and Tech Companies

More and more of the news around tech these days is about the relationship between technology companies and government. That was not the case a decade ago when regulators and elected officials took a largely hands off approach to technology, particularly the Internet, web, and mobile. While I am not a fan of many of the moves that regulators and elected officials have made over the last few years, including the NYC City Council’s recent bills to clamp down on home-sharing and ride-sharing in NYC, I do believe that the tech sector and tech companies must engage with the public sector and they must do it earlier in their development. It is hard to be an advocate for the tech sector and tech companies with the public sector, a role I play fairly regularly, when the companies in question have not been the best actors themselves. The good news is that the tech sector no longer naively believes that it can opt out of the public discourse and political engagement. The bad news is it is playing catch-up and is on it’s heels. That is going to take time and money to fix. Emerging sectors like crypto and machine learning should pay heed to what has happened here and not make the same mistakes as their predecessors. USV TEAM POSTS: Albert Wenger — August 11, 2018Speech and Power

Why It’s Time for Les Moonves to Go — You Can’t Charm Your Way out of Sexual Misconduct

I just returned from a week’s vacation in the mountains where I had almost no Internet access but was aware that Ronan Farrow had published a damning sexual misconduct article about Les Moonves, the Chairman & CEO of publicly traded company CBS Corporation. Now home, I finally had the chance to fetch the New Yorker from my mailbox and read the article in its entirety and it’s clear to me that Les Moonves needs to go and no doubt will go in the near future. You should read Ronan Farrow’s article and decide for yourself but I remain thankful that investigative reporters continue to shine a spotlight on leadership in America — whether in government or private enterprise. The summary of Ronan’s article is that Les Moonves made unwanted advances to actresses, writers and producers. These weren’t simply flirtations — he forcefully kissed and groped women, forced his hands up skirts, locked and blocked doors and made direct comments about the need to have sex with him. In addition to these fireable offenses he also clearly blocked women’s careers who resisted his overtures. But couldn’t this just be a case of “he said, she said” or disgruntled employees seeking revenge on a powerful man? No. There are four named individuals in the story, each risking careers by publicly speaking up. For each witness there are several friends who corroborated that the stories were repeated to them at the time they occurred and have been recounted over the years. The stories bear very similar approaches. There were also two women who spoke off-the-record but whose stories were also heavily fact-checked by the New Yorker and they cited 30 sources including both existing and former employees inside of CBS in their overall reporting. It’s time for Les Moonves to go. If you read the Moonves story and also the harrowing accounts from Ronan Farrow’s story on Harvey Weinstein there are many similarities. They both abused their power, they both apparently traded potential career advancement for sexual relations and retaliated when rebuffed. They both found ways to invite women into private office space after staff had cleared out and…

Marketing Dilemma: Is Expressing Your Politics Risky?

Mixing marketing and politics used to be taboo for most businesses and nonprofit organizations, unless their missions were political in nature. In today’s divisive political climate, several enterprise businesses have strategically incorporated their political beliefs in their advertising campaigns and social media channels. Of course, corporations have the money to back any political risks they take, […] The post Marketing Dilemma: Is Expressing Your Politics Risky? appeared first on SmallBizClub. Powered by WPeMatico

“What Unites Us” —Important Lessons from @danrather at the #UpfrontSummit

“The institution of a free press in America is in a state of crisis greater than I have ever seen in my lifetime, and perhaps in any moment in this nation’s history.” — Dan Rather I sat down to interview Dan Rather at the 2018 Upfront Summit about his outlook for our country one year into the Trump presidency. The interview was conducted around the thesis of Dan’s newest book, “What Unites Us,” which is a must read. You can watch the interview here or in the embed below. It’s truly an inspirational listen and there are some insightful lessons about democracy itself. If you don’t know, Dan Rather was a new journalist for CBS News for 44 years including 24 years as the anchor of CBS Evening News. He was a pioneer in reporting the civil rights struggle, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, The Gulf War and so many more historical moments in our history. “What Unites Us” is a concise reflection of what it means to be an American and the common set of values we hold even in a world in which we feel so divided. You can order it here. As the title implies, Rather seeks to find the strands that unite us rather than divide us but a lot of our interview and a lot of what Dan talks about publicly is about how much is at stake with the direction of the Trump administration. I’d encourage you to watch it — it is just 25 minutes — because Dan Rather is still so eloquent with his words and thoughtful in his outlook. Watch the interview here. Dan told me that his goal in continuing to publish (you should follow him on Facebook if you don’t already) and his goal with the book is that he realizes that he is now in the latter years of his life (Dan is a very cogent and capable 86 years old) and he wants to find a way to collaborate with young entrepreneurs today to get out the messages in the world about the things we have in common and the importance of liberal democracies and tolerance. “I understand…

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