People in Silicon Valley talk like they can solve every problem. They definitely can’t, says Crooked Media co-founder Tommy Vietor.
“I worry that there’s this sense, you can apply tech to any problem and that’s how we’re going to solve it,” Vietor said in an onstage interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher Tuesday at South by Southwest. “If I hear someone say that we’re going to ‘hack the refugee crisis,’ I’m going to lose my fucking mind.”
“There are very complicated problems involving human beings and governments and moral questions and it’s not that easy,” he added.
Swisher asked Vietor and his fellow co-founders Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett — who along with Dan Pfeiffer host the politics podcast “Pod Save America” — if they were intrigued by the idea of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg running for president. Zuckerberg has not announced any such candidacy, but the idea has become the subject of speculation as he pens 6,000-word manifestos and visits all 50 states in 2017.
The Crooked Media team was not enthused.
Kara Swisher live from SXSW with the founders of Crooked Media
Kara Swisher is live from SXSW with the co-founders of Crooked Media and hosts of popular podcasts Pod Save America and Pod Save the World: Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor.Posted by Recode on Tuesday, March 14, 2017
“Here’s the thing,” Lovett said re: Zuck as POTUS. “I don’t know what’s going on over there, but Mark Zuckerberg has a great story to tell. He built a pretty impressive company. I don’t understand why he sounds like a senator in his fourth term. Just talk, man! Don’t be so afraid. Trump is president, say whatever you want!”
“I worry that people are going to take from this, ‘Oh, that billionaire-celebrity outside of politics can run for politics, so can I,’” Favreau said. “It’s about the personality, it’s not about the résumé. If there is a tech leader who goes out there and has a no-bullshit conversation with the American people about what we need to do, then, yeah, maybe they have a shot.”
But if Zuck really is mulling a political move, he’s not yet in the “no-bullshit” radius.
“The Zuckerberg thing is, they are so cautious, the statements are cautious, everything is calculated, it sounds so Washington right now,” Favreau said. “Maybe it’ll change.”
“They were talking about immigration,” Lovett interjected. “And they put out such an overworked — they’re good people, but somehow, it comes from the top, and you end up with something so overworked and so precious, that doesn’t say anything. What are you doing?”
Although he didn’t call out anyone by name, Vietor also criticized tech CEOs who have signed on to advise President Trump — a list that used to include Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and still includes Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
“You see all these tech companies dipping their toe and being a part of advisory panels,” he said. “I think that’s an incredibly bad idea. If you put your lot in with Donald Trump, you’re going to own a lot of the shit he does, even if you think you can distance yourself from that specific thing.”
If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:
- Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
- Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
- And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.