CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Which Tech Execs Deserve Some Candy, and Which Don’t

November 1, 2019, 1:11 PM UTC

This is the web version of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.

The day after Halloween is known for many things, from the required cleanup of toilet-papered trees to the sugar hangover of much of America’s youth (not to mention any adults who exacted the “parent tax” on their kids’ trick or treat bounties).

But we’re starting a new tradition this Nov. 1 at the Data Sheet. After a somewhat to very bonkers “Techtober,” it’s time to hand out some awards. In honor of last night, and one of my kids’ favorite treats, let’s call them the Not Exactly Redemptive Data Sheet awards–the NERDS.

Halloween Candy

Sour Patch Kids

Whether he was defending the right of politicians to lie via Facebook advertising, explaining why he’d included an often inaccurate alt-right web site among Facebook’s “trusted” news sites, getting spanked by lawmakers AGAIN (this time for for his Libra cryptocurrency plan), or offering a ham-handed defense of the First Amendment that included an all-new origin story for his company, it’s been quite the October for Mark Zuckerberg.


We also award a Butterfingers (the mini size, not a whole bar, of course) to Hollywood scribe Aaron Sorkin, who used a New York Times op-ed in an attempt to land a few punches on Zuck for promoting dishonest discourse. Only Sorkin got Zuck’s age wrong. And the Gawker lawsuit wrong. And a Pew survey wrong. And he had to be corrected about the year his own movie, The Social Network, came out. There should be some sort of special double award for that one. Give the man a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, fun size, too.

Banana Laffy Taffy

Technically, Adam Neumann isn’t in charge of the company formerly known as WeWork anymore, and technically, the company withdrew its IPO on Sept. 30. But that shouldn’t stop us from reveling one more time in some more bananas revelations about Neumann’s time running the real estate startup. (And to my Data Sheet overlords: I am ready to drop everything and have a meeting with you in Maldives any time.) On the other hand, the laff’s on us. SoftBank’s October rescue package cashed out the former CEO to the tune of $1.2 billion. Maybe the real candy award for Neumann should be a huge sack full of 100 Grand bars.


We won’t know for a year or more whether Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg deserved all the snickers they got in October. The former Sony execs now in charge of programming for Apple TV+ faced brutal reviews for some of their initial shows along with a heap of questions about their entire prestige play strategy. Today marks the first day regular people can watch the first few shows on Apple TV+ (including Snoopy in Space!), so we’ll begin to learn how well Erlicht and Van Amburg really did their jobs.


Finally, let’s give Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey some kudos, but just a bit, for his Tweet storm revealing that his company would no longer accept political advertising. Dorsey was only giving up a tiny portion (0.3%) of Twitter revenue, but his principled stand was at least an attempt to protect the integrity of our elections.

Aaron Pressman

On Twitter: @ampressman


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.


I see what you did there. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the FBI and several other government agencies seeking records about the use of facial recognition programs. “These technologies have the potential to enable undetectable, persistent, and suspicionless surveillance on an unprecedented scale,” the organization warned in the suit.

Global race. In China, all of the major wireless carriers will begin offering super-fast 5G mobile service today. China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom are aiming for coverage in 50 cities by the end of the year.

Smell the burn. On Wall Street, Pinterest and Arista Networks crashed. At Pinterest, revenue rose 47% to $280 million, slightly less than analysts expected, and its full-year forecast also disappointed. The stock, which had gained 32% since its April IPO, plunged 21% in pre-market trading on Friday. At Arista Networks, the past quarter was fine, but guidance of just $540 million to $560 million of sales for the fourth quarter was far, far, far below Wall Street's forecast of $686 million. The stock, which had gained 16% this year, dropped 27% in pre-market trading.


All kinds of companies in various sectors have funded incubators or backed startups. But beloved airline JetBlue Airways may have followed the traditional Silicon Valley model the most closely. The company set up a tech hub in Silicon Valley and started invited startups to pitch them for backing. Out of about 3,000 companies that asked, JetBlue has so far backed 28, reports Wall Street Journal reporter Agam Shah, who interviewed Eash Eash Sundaram, the airline's chief technology officer:

When you think about future-proofing JetBlue, you have your own challenges running a large $8 billion company in terms of the operational and commercial complexity. Innovation has been in our DNA, but the pace at which the innovation is happening today, it makes it incredibly difficult for the mother ship to just put a process in place to evaluate these startups and make sure there are focused teams around ingesting these startups within the company.


A few longer reads that I came across this week:

A Cybersecurity Firm’s Sharp Rise and Stunning Collapse (New Yorker)
Tiversa dominated an emerging online market—before it was accused of fraud, extortion, and manipulating the federal government.

I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb (Vice)
While searching for the person who grifted them in Chicago, the writer discovered just how easy it is for users of the short-term rental platform to get exploited.

The Drone Wars Are Already Here (Bloomberg Businessweek)
The skies of Syria, Yemen, and Libya swarm with armed and dangerous unmanned aerial vehicles. And the technology is spreading farther and farther afield.

A Road Trip in Mongolia: Bizarre in the Best Way (Wall Street Journal)
Surprisingly, you can tackle Mongolia’s vast and varied geography in one manageable road trip. Expect detours and impromptu homestays.


The Mobile Price Wars Are On. Here’s How Much You Can Save By Aaron Pressman

Exclusive Analysis: Apple and Disney Are Serious Threats to Netflix By Lance Lambert

HPE’s CEO: China ‘Needs the West to Continue to Teach Them’ By David Z. Morris

Why China’s Digital Currency Is a ‘Wake-Up Call’ for the U.S. By Naomi Xu Elegant

These ‘Secret’ Recession Signs May Provide Clues to When the Next Downturn Is Coming By Erik Sherman

Theme Parks Turn to Tech to Attract Future Guests By Dale Rutledge


If we are giving out awards, how about one for the best costume. I'll take your nominations, but the early front runner has to be Sen. Mitt Romney's grandson, Thomas. Embracing grandpa's recently-unmasked Twitter alter ego, Thomas dressed as Pierre Delecto. Genius! Hope he got plenty of KitKats and no Necco Wafers.

Aaron Pressman

On Twitter:@ampressman


If You Like This Email...

Share today’s Data Sheet with a friend.

Did someone share this with you? Sign up here. For previous editions, click here.

For even more, check out Eye on A.I., Fortune's weekly newsletter at the intersection of artificial intelligence and industry. Sign up here. 

Photo by Carlos Osorio—Toronto Star via Getty Images