Business Insider just published an exclusive(!) story about something very exciting that I’ve been working on for a few months.
The article is behind a paywall but here’s the headline and nutgraf…
EXCLUSIVE: Former TechCrunch and Pando journalist Paul Carr is starting a new publication to keep tech CEOs ‘awake at night’
In the months after [Carr] left Pando, he saw Palantir’s CEO admit to helping ICE deport undocumented immigrants, and Hootsuite terminate its contract with the same government agency amidst intense public scrutiny. Susan Fowler published her book detailing Uber’s toxic culture in February, and, a few months later, Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout protesting their company’s decision to not regulate President Trump’s posts on the platform.
This “relentless drumbeat” of events, as Carr described it, was what pushed him back into journalism—this time as the creator of a new tech publication called Tech Worker.
Techworker is a passion project – assembled during the tiny amount of free time I have while working on NeedHop – to provide a platform for stories for and about tech workers, aka the most powerful workforce on earth.
I’m beyond excited to be working on the project with a who’s who of whistleblowers, activists, journalists, organizers and general badasses, many of whom are already legendary for their work in holding big tech ceos and companies accountable for their behavior.
To again quote Business Insider…
While the publication has yet to publish its first piece, there are now over a dozen people who have committed to be contributors to Tech Worker.
Those include Ray Holgado, a former employee of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative who is suing the organization for racial discrimination; Yael Eisenstat, the ex-CIA officer who left her role at Facebook in protest of its policies regulating misinformation; and Claire Stapleton, a Google Walkout organizer. Another contributor is Pando founder Sarah Lacy, whose outspoken criticism of Uber’s sexist and misogynistic company culture prompted an Uber executive to suggest that his company dig up dirt against Lacy in 2014.
(To that list, add Susan Fowler, Veena Dubal, Adam Penenberg, and maybe a dozen others. Acting as editor is my old Pando colleague Dan Raile.)
The site is entirely reader supported, and completely independent. Here’s the launch announcement page…
Techworker will live or die based on how many people sign up as founding subscribers, so I’d be eternally grateful if you did!
Ok, that’s the short version. Here’s the longer explanation…
When Sarah and I sold Pando last year I swore off tech journalism for good. Two decades of daily fights and legal threats and angry tech billionaires threatening to “go after” my loved ones had taken its toll. I readily admit it’s been nice to open my personal mailbox every day and find mostly spam, Amazon delivery notifications and notes from my mom. `
My professional time, meanwhile, has been focused on building NeedHop, a platform to help people share their life experience to help others solve mutual problems. Again, it’s been wonderful to hear so much kind and constructive feedback from users – a contrast to journalism where the clearest sign you’re doing your job right is if 20% of your readership is furious with you.
Still, much as I’ve enjoyed being outside of the “big tech” fray, it’s been hard to ignore the quiet (then not so quiet) revolution that’s been building inside Silicon Valley.
The past year has been rough for the world’s most powerful tech CEOs and investors.
Privacy, election interference, harassment, diversity, gig worker pay and benefits, ICE and DOD contracts… the new masters of the universe have suddenly found themselves being held to account for a dizzying array of indefensible policies and ethical scandals.
But this revolution isn’t being led by lawmakers, or activists, or journalists. It driven by their own workers.
Whether through organized walkouts, or lawsuits, or whistleblowing blog posts, or tumultuous all-hands meetings, tech workers are standing up and speaking out. And when tech workers speak, their CEOs panic.
As someone who has covered the tech industry for twenty years, I watched this reckoning-from-within with a mixture of excitement and frustration.
Excitement at seeing the bravery of these workers calling out their insanely powerful bosses, despite fear of retaliation… and then watching the bosses backtrack or back down.
But frustration that my own “former” industry – media – isn’t doing enough to amplify their efforts, and voices. While the real story of the tech industry is being written – and rewritten – by this new generation of workers, too much reporting is still aimed at either the end users or the CEO/investor class. Perhaps for that reason, so much journalism about Silicon Valley falls into one of two neat storylines: Tech is evil or greed is good.
From the senior engineer at Facebook to the Amazon warehouse contractor… Tech, as any worker will tell you, is complicated. And it’s made of people.
So why isn’t there isn’t there a publication dedicated entirely to tech workers? (Or, frankly, why aren’t there several?)
I couldn’t help myself. As each day brought forward a new story about tech workers taking on their own industry, I started to imagine what such a publication might look like.
In the few snatches of downtime I had away from NeedHop, I spoke to some of those whistleblowers and protest organizers, to those plaintiffs and to those who had quit their jobs in protest. But I also spoke to plenty of workers who felt that much of the existing coverage of tech workers was too focused on the negatives. Sure there were big problems, but the tech industry was also building the goddamned future.
A publication for tech workers, everyone seemed to agree, should cover the industry in all its messiness. The good and the bad. It would be first and foremost a journalistic enterprise: Sources would be aggressively protected, stories pursued relentlessly and baseless legal threats from angry tech billionaires given short shrift. It would be reader funded with no external investors to influence coverage. It would feature reporting from experienced journalists and also provide a platform for workers to tell their own stories. It would have a sense of humor, and probably t-shirts.
Important and exciting as the idea seemed, and wide as the market hole clearly was, did I mention I have a day job building NeedHop? I barely have the bandwidth to think about the work of starting and running a blog, let alone doing it.
So next I called my friend and ex-Pando colleague Dan Raile. Dan, as Pando readers will know, is an amazing reporter and also a fantastic editor. More importantly he hasn’t lost any of his hunger for journalism and taking on the tech elites. He is, in other words, is exactly the person who should be editor of such a site.
Dan said he’d love to do it.
The next challenge was money. I have a little – maybe enough to pay some pre-launch contributors and a hosting bill or two. But definitely not enough to build a full-blown media property (at NSFWCORP we spent maybe 25% of our early funding on tech and design). So that was the end of that. Even if I didn’t have a full-time day job, I’m never going to raise another dime of venture capital for a media company ever again.
But then I read about the launch of Defector, the new independent sports blog from the former writers and editors of Deadspin. After quitting G/O media en masse (another great tech worker story!), the team had partnered with an agency in New York called Lede who had agreed to design and build them a fully-fledged website in return for a small cut of their revenue.
Mostly on a whim, I emailed Lede’s CEO Austin Smith and asked if he might be interested in helping build a site for tech workers. A half hour later he replied with a resounding yes.
And so to today. After months of plotting and planning, I am beyond proud to announce the imminent launch of Techworker.com, an independent, reader-supported site for, about, and by the most powerful workforce on earth.
The roster of reporters, contributors and advisors involved in this thing is, frankly, insane….
…and that’s just the starting line-up. If you’re a tech worker – at any level, for any company, anywhere in the world – we’d love to hear from you: Story ideas, anonymous tips, pitches for guest essays… we want them all. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get right back to you!
Whether you’re a tech worker or not, I’d love for you to check out our announcement page…
Along with a full list of contributors and advisers, the page also includes the option to become a founding supporter. Techworker is 100% reader funded so it needs your help to pay contributors, develop the site and (inevitably) cover legal bills. In return you’ll have full access to every article, plus a host of fun/exclusive supporter-only perks.
Again, there’s no venture capital money here – no trust funds or shady government backers. Techworker will live or die on reader contributions. It may be the shortest lived project I’ve ever been involved in.
Either way, I’m really excited that what started out as an idea, then became a passion project, is now a reality.
Welcome to Techworker.