Steve Faktor Profile picture
Wisdom+wisecracks on innovation+economics; 🏢CEO IdeaFaktory; 🎙️ podcast; ✍️Econovation, Forbes, HarvardBiz, LinkedIn; 💳ex-Amex/Citi/MasterCard
29 May 20
Profit-seekers can't be reliable truth-tellers.
And I say that as a capitalist.

TV News
BS corporate campaigns

Truth always loses to profit.
Sellers are compromised appeasers.

What makes truth possible?
-FU $'s
-meaty direct patronage
Whether you diverge from your employer's interests by organizing a protest or compromise the profits of a platform you're on, you're done. You are a dependent, bound to their interests, not truth.
Even wealth isn't a perfect buffer. Truth can quickly alienate you & your family from social circles. There's too much at stake. These become your boundaries for truth.

Anonymity can liberate, but it's nearly impossible to gain moral authority or build reputation behind a veil.
Read 5 tweets
28 May 20
Fuck it, let's do this. Let's talk about LIARS.

We have two flavors of people emerging on social media (the rest have the decency to shut the fuck up):
- Stupid
- Liar (and there are many flavors)

Let's discuss #StupidOrLiar.

First, Stupid.

I cut the ignorant, misinformed & stupid a lot of slack. Maybe life dealt them a bad hand or they're being used as pawns. It's only when they self-identify as smart, refuse to seek facts, are stubborn, incurious & LOUD that they become annoying - or ruinous.

The way to handle the stupid is educate, avoid, or give them something to do that they can handle without wrecking everything.

But it's the LIARS that are far scarier and they're multiplying, especially here.

Read 16 tweets
26 May 20
Interesting lesson today on how our society works. Having always lived in the city, I never needed a car, until my Great Escape into the burbs. Today, I drove out of a dealership with a new car, without handing them a penny. They checked my credit & knew I was good for it.

I've worked for some of the biggest consumer credit companies in the world but never had a moment where I felt the disparity between myself & countless others who could never walk out of that dealership without deposits, high interest rates & punishing monthly payments.
It hasn't always been this way. My immigrant parents never had credit & hated any kind of debt. They saved & paid cash, always. Not only did that mean crappy lemons like the Ford Grenada, but constant deprivation. It sucked then. Today, I see delayed gratification as a virtue.
Read 14 tweets
12 May 20
Killing standardized testing favors wokeness. It allows social engineers to bypass empiricism, make fairness fluid, grades into a feeling, and manufacture a world of their choosing.

Other than that, I LOVE IT!
BTW, eliminating standardized testing is not a "shock", but part of a steady a progression, diminishing the role of empiricism year after year in admissions criteria. It's practically at the point of total subjectivity already. See: Asians @ Harvard lawsuit.
There are legit criticisms of the SAT/ACT
-underperformance correlates w/race, but moreso socioeconomics
-the rich can afford prep to score higher
-parts are formulaic & can be gamed w/prep
-it's a 2-company monopoly
-some are not great test-takers

Read 7 tweets
21 Apr 20
I am an optimist, but rarely sound like one. I'm wired to see, then fix problems. That journey isn't rosy but always worthwhile. So I don't love dramatic "failed state" proclamations.

Here's the most balanced view I have of what I'm pessimistic & optimistic about for the US.

I'm optimistic about:
1) Many young people are more civically engaged than ever.
2) Even the far left & right see many of the same problems. They mainly disagree on solutions. Eventually we can debate those.
3) Reserve currency + military buy us time to solve things.

4) We have the tools to aggregate and direct capital from individuals to where its needed. We've only scratched the surface for deploying it.
5) The entrepreneurial spirit is still here, but underutilized. You see glimmers on Shark Tank & some startups.

Read 18 tweets
20 Mar 20
My rebuttal to Per Bylund's libertarian case for why regulation is making the Covid19 crisis worse.

Yes, there are multiple examples of bad laws/regs creating unnecessary obstacles, but deregulation is a partial answer.

1) US is still ranked among the easiest nations to do business in. Here's one of many methodologies w/that conclusion:…

2) At the end of the crisis we'll have the stats on whether more regulated economies responded better than less regulated ones.

3) Most independent labs do not have the resources, global network, or expertise to aggregate global data on the virus & coordinate methods with multiple countries without creating utter chaos. A hub & spoke model *should be* far more efficient.

Read 9 tweets
18 Mar 20
Sanitizers aside, we're not at mass price-gouging yet (& hopefully won't be), but revisiting what happened during Hurricane Irma.

We'll always have opportunists & scammers but also good Samaritans.

Businesses should limit *hoarding* (purchase of unusually large quantities). Better to dissatisfy one hoarder than 50 other customers.

Gouging is a bit more complicated. It's a function of economics, values & depth/duration of relationships.

Let's take these one at a time.

1. Economics of Gouging

The libertarian argument for gouging is it effectively distributes scarce goods to the neediest:…

It has some merit, but no soul-or accounting for variances in wealth, timing & circumstances that locked out the neediest cases.

Read 6 tweets
22 Jan 20
"A group of researchers wondered..."


Why would RESEARCHERS wonder anything about coffee, unless they were getting paid by the industry?

Totally coincidentally, they concluded that using fewer beans would produce a better drink.

Drink water.…
.@PopSci you are PR HACKS

"This work was enabled by charitable donations of equipment from Barista Technology BV (Puqpress), Acaia Corp. (balance), Frisky Goat Espresso (personnel & coffee), & our continued collaboration with Meritics Ltd.."…
@PopSci Garbage like this needs to have a clear "advertising" label on it.

Media is trash. Believe nothing.

...except my Twitter account!
Read 5 tweets
22 Jan 20
My Thesis: "Conservatism" never existed. Not as a political movement. And not outside narrow political or academic circles. What did exist was misdiagnosed (conveniently, willfully or ignorantly).

A Thread:

Survey after survey showed Americans have always held a variety of left, center and right wing views. It's only recently that our toxicity has driven us into ideological camps.


From Pew:
And even the left, which has seemingly moved more aggressively away from the center is hiding a secret....

Read 9 tweets
19 Jan 20
@Jason @tailpath So many issues w/blockchain inventory tracking systems. The biggest is the underlying premise: distrust. Tech can't fix unknown/distrusted partners in the value chain. This is a vetting issue, not a tracking one. But it's also one that goes away with consolidation, scale & time.
@Jason @tailpath Over time, most businesses trade with known parties, not unknown ones, where the use case for blockchain (and cryptocurrency) goes away.

@Jason @tailpath A good analogy is payment wallets. A bunch of 3rd parties tried creating them, but if more & more shopping moves to Amazon & Walmart & each stores your card info for future purchases (ditto for iPhone+Android), the only wallet market left is w/less trustworthy, small vendors.
Read 3 tweets
18 Jan 20
Ok, this is not a thing. Anyone involved in the improbable act of "flight shaming" is spectacularly unemployed or has no professional/societal status that can affect your life in any way.…
At your big Japanese business meeting, a coworker walks in and says, "Look at Mr. Fancy Pants taking a plane here. Have you no respect for earth? Sandra and I took a mule. It took us 46 weeks to get here. Several mules drowned in the Pacific, but we're here, Tree Killers."
You turn to your client, "As we were saying, Mr Suzuki, we'd be honored to do business with your motorcycle company. But not Tiffany."

"Tiffany, motorcycles use fuel and you work for Goodyear."

Tiffany cocks gun, shoots herself.

"Our apologies, Mr Suzuki, we'll clean this up."
Read 3 tweets
12 Dec 19
Protecting the weak & defenseless is essential for a modern, compassionate society.

But increasingly, we're not protecting but *selecting* for weaker people & traits. It's a distortion that trades evolutionary fitness for dependence on institutional protection for survival.
When those institutions fail (overall or situationally), the fragile will be exposed to the harshness from which they need shielding to survive/thrive.

More insidious—prolonged selection for fragility virtually guarantees the long-term failure of those institutions, from within.
Read 2 tweets
22 Oct 19
@LinkedIn @LinkedInToday The H-1B is profoundly broken. It doesn't need to be cut, but reformed.

A rebuttal to this piece (from firsthand experience managing a global team with H-1B's at a F100 US corporation.:…

H-1Bs don't officially make workers indentured & underpaid; just unofficially. Workers can only switch to other companies that will pay to sponsor visas. Many don't. So:
- That reduced market
- Extra cost
- Transactional friction

Limit their options & pay.
Because many H1B workers arrive without families (or at least extended families), they tend to work longer hours, so companies get more bang for the buck.

How much buck?
Read 12 tweets
8 Oct 19
I've been keeping this twitter thread on corporate amorality, but I haven't given nearly enough thought to our own amorality.

A brief thread on our little hypocrisy.

I've been as guilty as others on Twitter...

"It’s easy to proclaim virtues when you have nothing at stake — and status to gain. But true morality is a luxury good when your livelihood’s at stake. When your family, reputation, or assets are on the line."
All our actions must be viewed in context of our obligations—to our kids, spouses, communities, friends, nation, humans, employers. Likely, in that order.

It's why I've argued there is no evil. We all believe we're doing our best for at least 1 of those.

Read 11 tweets
25 Sep 19
With brand new epilogue: Dear Greta.

#climate #climatechange
#ClimateChange thread

The most sober & pragmatic analysis I've seen is from Citi, showing the benefits of clean solutions outweigh costs.

But that's the business side.

Sadly, the political rhetoric is now unhinged, exaggerated, irresponsible hysteria.…
1) Greta says "people are dying". Not exactly. Deaths from natural disasters have plummeted over past 100 years.

2) Greta says capitalism is the problem when its driven down pollution by subbing gas for oil/coal, driven innovation lowering solar, wind, battery & other alt costs.
Read 26 tweets
16 Sep 19
#InstaTheory: Today's dogmatic science denialism is a byproduct of capitalism

Neither righties (evolution/climate) or lefties (biology/alt-meds/GMO) accept NO for an answer b/c at the heart of capitalism is appeasement-giving everyone what they want (to hear/eat/wear etc) always
Every idea is also a market. Each yields a bounty of companies & grifters to sell you happiness.

Want to feel beautiful, smart or righteous? Buy this cream, app & podcast.

Want excuses for failure? Just tell us what you failed at, a representative will call with elixirs.
This is a world without gravity. Without facts, experts or boundaries. No one here has moral authority because they can buy bespoke truths from bespoke merchants.

In this world, companies, politicians, hard scientists (I know...) are paralyzed. To say "NO" is to deny service.
Read 5 tweets
12 Sep 19
Firefox is so secure and so privacy focused that it requires you to sign in to use all its new features, including this VPN. Call me skeptical.…
Firefox Send is the same. Must log in to use the worthwhile features of it's "anonymous" file upload service.

I suspect they're trying to know & connect with their user base, but each account, server, login tied to activity is a potential privacy/security hole.
Firefox VPN clearly intended to become a paid service.…

#privacy #security
Read 12 tweets
13 Aug 19
Thread on some thoughts on @ewarren's plan to demand poor countries meet labor & environmental standards to trade with the US & on @Noahpinion's critique.

1) Yes, Clinton-era free trade agreements caused a multi-decade job bleed from the US, especially in manufacturing
2) Free trade generally benefits lower cost providers. Therefore, a net positive for emerging nations.

3) There are things we could have done to phase in free trade deals, like boost investment & re-training in other industries, to limit the downsides. But hindsight is 20/20.
4) While ALL consumers benefit from lower prices from free trade & much smaller groups of workers benefit from protectionism, it's the job of a nation's leaders to balance the two. That did not happen here. The digital boom abandoned the analog workers of exported industries.
Read 12 tweets
3 Aug 19
A better alternative to "progress studies"

While I appreciate the importance of understanding & facilitating progress, I was underwhelmed by this proposal for a new scientific discipline.

I'd like to propose a better alternative....

#innovation #science #education

A while back, I put together a sampling of big challenges we face & a way to measure magnitude.…

But BIG problems demand big innovative solutions.

Unfortunately, the capabilities we need are scattered across disciplines & institutions.

What I propose is a global, cross-disciplinary strikeforce for each problem we face.

This model would truly meld purpose, education & action into a cohesive whole.

It would eliminate the need for yet another scientific discipline, while truly accelerating human progress.

Read 7 tweets
31 Jul 19
IBM is accused of firing older workers. This is really about money - and doesn't just apply to IBM. Many companies sneakily create practices, communications & policies (like not subsidizing family health coverage)to discourage hiring older workers.

Age discrimination is especially common in #tech, where appearing "cool" carries a premium for recruiting top grads & younger talent.

In most careers, there comes an inflection point where junior employees can do the same job (or ~80% of it) for way less.

Sadly, to companies we're no more than "human resources," so employees must make themselves indispensable, esp. as their salaries creep up.


1) Develop a unique expertise: be known for it. Could be anything from a coding language to ideas generation to great #design.

Read 6 tweets
25 Jul 19
We now reward hurting others by "helping" them.

Worst thing you can do in most mental health scenarios (dumped, relative died, feel down) is let people wallow alone.

Instead of building grit/character/coping mechanisms/community, we're breeding solitude & victimhood.

Of course, severe psychiatric or chemical imbalances need treatment. Sick days cover clinical needs.

We've become too casual about the terrible messages we send people, enfeebling, immobilizing & crippling them.

All this talk about "empowerment" but we do the opposite.

Read 2 tweets