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Full transcript: Walt Mossberg on Too Embarrassed to Ask

Lots of special guests called in questions for the veteran journalist.

Walt Mossberg at Code conference 2017 Asa Mathat

On this episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Recode co-founder Walt Mossberg answered questions from listeners and industry leaders alike. Mossberg, who is retiring this summer, had a distinguished 47-year career in journalism and was the first to review technology from the point of view of the end consumer. Questions on the podcast range from (of course) what he plans to do in his retirement to what his first Facebook post was (he tells Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg she knows better than he does because Facebook can just look it up).

You can read some of the highlights from their discussion at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn or Stitcher.

Kara Swisher: Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, executive editor of Recode.

Lauren Goode: And I’m Lauren Goode, senior tech editor at The Verge.

KS: And you’re listening to Too Embarrassed to Ask, coming to you from the Vox Media Podcast Network.

LG: Come on down.

KS: This is a show where we answer all of your embarrassing questions about consumer tech.

LG: It could be anything. Like, “What are the best podcasts right now?”

KS: Recode Decode.

LG: Other than this one, of course. “What’s the best fitness watch you can buy?”

KS: None of them.

LG: “How secure is the Internet of Things?”

KS: It’s not.

LG: And, “What on earth will we do without Walt Mossberg?”

KS: Well, that is the existential question we’re facing right now. So send us your questions. We really do read them all, find us on Twitter, or tweet them to us at Recode, or to myself, or to Lauren with the #tooembarrassed.

LG: We also have an email address, and we try to read all of your emails. Friendly reminder, embarrassed has to Rs and two Ss.

KS: Yes indeed, it does, for those who cannot spell. All right, we are here at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. We’re taping this on a Sunday, which is my day off, a couple of days before the conference starts.

LG: You’re also working tomorrow, by the way. And it’s a holiday.

KS: I know.

LG: You’re welcome.

KS: You’re welcome.

LG: By the time you’re hearing this episode, we will be finished with the conference, and we will have posted most or all of the interviews from the stage to another podcast of ours called Recode Replay. So you can find that podcast wherever you found this one. There’s some really fantastic interviews conducted by Kara Swisher, and Walt Mossberg, and other Recoders with some fantastically smart people.

KS: Yeah.

LG: So be sure to check that out when you get a chance.

KS: Indeed, you’ll all probably be up in arms for whatever Hillary Clinton said by this time, so calm down, all you haters. Anyway, today on Too Embarrassed to Ask, we are joined by someone named Walt Mossberg. I’ve never heard of him, Lauren. Who is this man?

LG: I think I worked for him once.

KS: Yeah I think so.

LG: Yeah.

KS: I don’t recall.

LG: At some point. Walt Mossberg, for those of you who don’t know who are listening to this podcast, is the preeminent tech journalist.

KS: Preeminent.

LG: He started the whole idea, the whole concept of a personal technology column, back when personal computing was still very nascent in 1991.

KS: Nascent. Did you look up that word? Nascent.

LG: No, I just like that word.

KS: All right, okay fine.

LG: Lots of things are nascent in technology.

KS: You’re nascent.

LG: It’s fun to call them out when they’re nascent and then be like, “I remember when I was reporting on that when it was nascent!” But Walt, he’s been called the kingmaker.

KS: Kingmaker.

LG: By the New Yorker, among other things, and he really has been one of the most influential people in technology, and I’m not just saying that because he was at one point my boss, and is still a very dear friend and colleague and mentor of mine. And he is joining us in today’s show because he is retiring, soon.

KS: Yes. Well, retiring, I don’t know if it’s retiring. He’s moving on to his next chapter. That’s how you say it.

LG: Next chapter.

KS: Yeah.

LG: He’s going to be kite-surfing in no time.

KS: In no time, absolutely.

LG: But he is retiring, and so we decided to have him on this week’s show because we wanted to take this opportunity to pick his brain and just check in on the state of the technology industry and also give people the chance to ask Mossberg a question.

KS: Final question.

LG: Final questions from Mossberg.

KS: Then he can move on to his other favorite topic, battlefields. Mossberg.

LG: Do you promise to still guest on my show from time to time?

KS: Here he is. Hello Walt, say hello to the people.

Walt Mossberg: Hello Kara, and hello Lauren.

KS: Hello, thank you.

LG: Hello.

And sure I’ll come on.

LG: All right.

I won’t know anything but I’ll come on.

LG: Good. That sounds good. Yes you will.

KS: Anyway, thank you for coming to the show.

It’s lovely to be on this podcast.

LG: Thank you.

KS: You’ve been on the podcast. In fact you’ve been on Recode Decode, and ...

A couple of times. I’ve been on yours, I’ve been on yours.

KS: Yeah.

LG: Have you been on Peter’s?

I have not been on Peter’s, because I’m not a media mogul.

KS: Right.

LG: Um, yes you are. You started Recode.

Well, I once was a media mogul.

KS: Once was a media mogul. Now you shall be at the cigar store. So we’re going to do a bunch of questions, obviously. But Lauren, why don’t you explain how we do this?

LG: Absolutely. So as our loyal listeners know, we normally split this show into two parts. In the first half, we chat with that week’s guest and we offer a kind of introduction to whatever topic we’re talking about. And then the second half, we usually turn to questions that are submitted by our readers and listeners. But this week, we decided to change things up a little bit.

KS: A little bit. And we told you to send in questions on any topic.

Oh jeez.

KS: For Walt Mossberg. And surprise, surprise, we got a lot of questions.

I sent one in.

KS: Did you? We’re not going to do yours. We’re going to be mixing in questions from Walt’s many admirers throughout the entire show. So are you ready, Mossberg?

LG: You ready for this?

Apparently not.

KS: No, apparently. Any questions.

I thought we’d just chat, and maybe to have two questions.

KS: No, we don’t want to hear a reminiscence of when it used to be, you know, you used a phone.

When you were young. When Swisher was young.

KS: That kind of thing. We don’t want that. We want none of that. We’re not interested in that.

I have a lot of stories about you.

KS: Yeah, well, I don’t want those either. If they ask a question you can answer it.

LG: That’s going to be Walt’s Retirement Podcast Part Two.

KS: Part two.

LG: Working with Kara Swisher.

KS: Anyway. Lauren.

LG: You got a couple hours?

KS: Would you like to start?

LG: Yes the first question is from David Lindsley. He’s @RetProf77, I’m guessing that’s retired professor 77. He has written in before. Thank you, David. “How did Walt Mossberg come up with the idea that reviews should be written from the perspective of the average user?”

KS: That’s a nice question.

Okay, so when I started my column in the Wall Street Journal, it was one of the last newspapers that didn’t have a sort of regular tech column.

KS: Right.

But you know, most of them were written by geeks, for geeks. And the reason that I came up with this idea was that I had been a hobbyist in computers for about 10 years. And I had to learn all this stuff, and I realized how hard it was. And I realized that the tech companies kind of were never trying to serve the needs of regular people. So that’s how I sold it to the editors.

KS: Hm, and they just, you said why did you just, confuse yourself, or you just were?

I wasn’t confused, because I spent thousands of hours on, like, CompuServe, you don’t know what that is.

KS: No, I remember.

Look it up. And on some of the early pre-internet services, and all the conversation was “how do you get your Apple II to do this?” Or “how do you get your IBM PC to do this?” Whatever. And so I knew normal people ...

KS: And there was no Google to look it up.

No, there was no Google.

LG: There was no nothin’.

There was no, there were no how-tos, videos on YouTube.

KS: No “Dummies” series.

And I just thought, you know, what I said to the top editor of the Wall Street Journal was, “This is about to explode.” I mean, it already existed, but it kind of hadn’t penetrated everybody’s home and everything. “It’s going to explode, and people aren’t going to know how to use these things. And somebody needs to explain it to them, but you can’t explain to them in jargon.”

KS: Yep.

“So I think we have an opportunity here and I’d like to do that.”

LG: What did your editor say?

He loved it. Guy named Norm Pearlstein, who went on to do other wonderful things. Ran Time Inc. and, or was the head editor of Time Inc. and was at Bloomberg, and he’s back at Time Inc. now. He got it. But I found out later, years later, there was lots of internal fighting at the Journal by people who didn’t want to let me have the column.

LG: Internal fighting at the Journal?

Yes I know, it’s astonishing.

LG: What?

KS: That’s a shock.

Talking to two people who have worked at the Journal.

KS: Who have internally fought at the Journal. Constantly.

No, there were people ... What they didn’t want was opinion in the news pages. They love opinion. But they didn’t want them in the news pages.

KS: I see.

They, it is there now, let’s be honest.

KS: Oh please.

But this, it was not ... And also a lot of them said, “Well why should we give a column, all this precious space on the front of a section, to technology? That’s not important.”

KS: Yeah, I remember.

So it was that kind of argument.

KS: Okay, all right. So you were, just wanted to be the average user. All right, and you had been, just for people that don’t know, Walt had covered defense and national security and all kinds.


LG: And automobiles.

KS: Automobiles. Things.

LG: It’s all coming full circle. If you think about that.

KS: Yeah.

It is.

LG: Because you started in automobiles and now technology is the automobile industry.

KS: All right. Next question is from Yendi Cohen, emailed in this question. “You have met the most influential and talented people from the tech industry. What is your best memory?”

A fine cigar.

KS: Okay.

I mean, oh, you’re referring to the people?

KS: Yes, yes, yes. In the tech industry.

The best memory.

LG: A fine cigar with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

KS: Ew. That’s not a good memory.

There’s a lot of great stories. Some of which involve Kara, but I’ll just tell you one story. So every year I would make an extended visit to Microsoft. Three days, two-and-a-half days, whatever. And I would meet, I would see a lot of products that were not released yet. Talk to the teams. Some of the engineers, marketers, whatever, and there would be a report sent after every meeting, back to Bill Gates.

KS: Oh!

Which I didn’t know, the first time. But by the second year ...

KS: Spies are everywhere.

I figured this out, the PR people in the room had to send a report and it eventually went to him, because he was my last meeting. So one year, the idea, somebody came up with the idea, which I agreed to, that he would take me to dinner at the end, instead of just sitting in his office. But we got into a huge argument in his office about something. I can’t remember what. And a bunch of earnest discussions, and we never went to dinner. The meeting started at 7:00. At 10:00 at night, his phone rings. Not a cellphone.

KS: Oh, office.

Like his old landline phone in his office, and it’s Melinda Gates.

KS: Yeah.

She’s like, “Where are you?”

KS: Right.

I’m overhearing the conversation and she’s saying to him essentially, didn’t you take him to dinner? What is going on? And he goes, “I’m so sorry, no,” and he said, “Okay I’ll be home soon.” And he — this is Bill Gates, the richest man in the world. His wife is like, “What the hell.”

So he hangs up the phone. He says to me, “I’m so sorry, we were supposed to go to dinner.” I said, “Don’t worry about it, we had a great conversation here for three hours. It’s been fantastic. I don’t really care about dinner.” He goes, “Well look, I’m going to stop on the way home at the Taco Bell takeout window. Do you want to come with me?” I said, “No I think I’ll go back to the hotel.” He’s, “Okay well I’ll drive you to your car.” Because they had many parking lots and I was parked like 16 buildings away. And he was, in those days at least, he was driving himself.

So we start to get to the elevator and he goes, “Oh wait minute, I have no cash.” Richest guy in the world. He’s worth like 100 million dollars at this point. “I have no cash.”

LG: What year was this?

I don’t know.

KS: He had no cash.

I don’t know. He had no cash. He goes, I have to go back to the office. I said, “I’ll get it, do you need some?” He goes, “No, no, no. I have some back at the office.” So he runs back from the elevator to his office, and he comes back very proudly with a $10 bill.

KS: Right, right.

And then we get into his Lexus, he drives me to my rental Ford Taurus. And he goes off to Taco Bell. And the next day I had a meeting that happened to involve Melinda Gates.

KS: Yeah, who worked there.

Not because she was, I don’t even know if they were engaged at that point. But they, I guess they must have been. But just before the meeting starts, she pulls me into the hall and she says, “I’m so embarrassed, I just want to apologize that he didn’t take you to dinner.”

KS: Yeah, you would have gotten Taco Bell. I think it’s a good thing.

So that’s good story.

KS: Yeah, that is a good story. Okay Lauren, next one.

LG: I like that story.

Here’s a question that was actually submitted as a voice memo. We received a few of these for this show. And it’s from a big fan of yours named Mark.

KS: Mark.

LG: So let’s take a listen.

KS: All right.

Mark Cuban: Hey Walt, it’s Mark Cuban from Dallas, Texas. Other than yourself, who’s the most obnoxious person you’ve ever had to deal with in your long, illustrious, long, long, long, long, career? Thanks!

You guys, so is this how it’s going to be?

KS: Yeah. This is how it’s going to be.

LG: Just wait, Mossberg.

KS: Mossberg, we got so many.

Well Mark Cuban, from Dallas, Texas, I guess it would be Kara.

KS: Oh my God! Not Mark Cuban from Dallas, Texas?

Well, it’s kind of a tie between Mark and Kara. I don’t know.

KS: Yeah. All right. So Kara it is. All right, fine, fine, fine. All right. Here’s another one, from Susan from Mountain View.

Susan Wojcicki: Hi Walt. This is Susan Wojcicki here from San Bruno. And I just wanted to know, since you’ve been such an insightful critic over the years of so many products and services, what is one feature that you wish YouTube had? I’m looking forward to your response. Thanks so much! Bye-bye.

KS: That’s the CEO of YouTube, by the way.

Yes, I know who it is. (laughs) What is one feature I wish ... there’s 22 features.

KS: All right. 22.

Susan, DM me. There’s like, I have a long list. I love YouTube.

KS: And he’ll have a lot of free time.

But I have a lot of free time, I have a long list.

KS: Pick one.

LG: Pick one here.

I just don’t, I just think it’s not organized well. And it’s hard to find the channels that you want to subscribe to.

KS: Yep.

And so I think, you know, they have a colossal amount of great content. I think there’s a discovery problem.

KS: Discovery problem.

So, Susan, if you’re listening to this, or whatever.

KS: There’s a thing called Google that’s really well organized.

You could maybe get some help from some other people at Alphabet.

KS: Alphabet.

And figure it out, and, you know, help with discovery.

LG: I’m surprised you didn’t say commentary.

KS: Yeah.

LG: I thought you were going to ...

I hate comments.

KS: I know, all right. Next one.

LG: Lot of work there. Let’s get some more from some non-famous people. This is from Nicolas Russo, who listens to the show from Argentina. Thank you for listening, Nicolas. He says: “I would like to ask Walt what does he think Apple has done in the years post Steve Jobs that if he would be alive, wouldn’t have.” There’s a little bit of a language barrier here, I think. He says, okay, “Sorry for my English. Best of luck to Walt. I recommend Argentina for retiring in the middle of Patagonia.” Walt, that sounds like an amazing trip. I think you should do it.

How did he know that?

LG: Nicolas, thank you.

That’s where I’m headed.

KS: Okay good.

That’s it. Building a house there.

LG: Nicolas, thank you so much for your question.

KS: What would he not have done? If he had been alive?

Ah ...

KS: Come on.

What would he not have done is a really interesting question. I think he would have, I would have been surprised, this is a small thing, but it’s an example. I think he would have probably not shipped an Apple Watch that didn’t show you the time all the time.

KS: Oh, all right.

In other words, without you having to do that wrist motion. That you have to get exactly right. It’s a small thing, but that’s, you know, that was what he did. He did these ...

KS: I think he wouldn’t have done the Apple Watch.

Well, he would have, but he wouldn’t have done it until they had figured out some way to not have the battery die if the time was showing, and not just the time but maybe the time and the date, that kind of stuff.

LG: Was he a watch guy?

KS: I think he wouldn’t have done that. He would have focused on TV. He wouldn’t have.

Well that’s ... in the weeks before his death, he was trying to pivot to personally, just focus on TV. But it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have done the watch too. That had to have been something they discussed. And as you know very well, he changed his mind a lot about things.

KS: Yep, yep, he did.

LG: Hm!

KS: All right, next question. Ah, was emailed in by Robert O’Neill, he wrote in all caps so that’s how I’m going to read it. “Question! If you were marooned on a desert island and, due to lack of signal strength, you could listen to only one person, would it be Kara or Lauren?”

LG: Well I just won that one. Easily.


KS: All right.

I’d listen to Lauren, because Kara would find a way to get the signal to the island.

KS: That’s right.

Anyway. And if I listened to Kara, I’m not sure Lauren, you know Lauren has a life, she does other things, I’m not sure she would have found a way to get the signal. So that would be my best way of getting both of them.

KS: All right, okay. Well done, Walt. Well played.

LG: You have to talk like that.

KS: Yeah.

LG: Okay! Mossberg! How is it going? Are you able to crack open the coconuts to get the sustenance you need?

KS: I would call me over her in a game of “Survivor.” Come on, Mossberg.

LG: Do not underestimate me, Kara.

KS: I would be roasting you.

Oh, oh I misunderstood, I didn’t think she was on the island. I thought it was just like ...

LG: No, this is about who would you have to talk to.


LG: You could only talk to one person.

Actually, if I had some sort of communications device, I wouldn’t call either of you, I’d call the Navy or the Coast Guard or something.

KS: All right, but just so you know, in a game of “Survivor,” we’d be dining on Lauren Goode fricassee. Very quickly.

I think that’s probably right.

LG: Oh, you think, Swisher.

KS: That’s right. Oh please. Come on.

She’s kind of athletic. I don’t know.

KS: I guess. She’d be so dead.

LG: Kara, you want to go surfing tomorrow?

KS: Ah, no. All right. Let’s go.

LG: A fan of the pod, Ivo Sotirov asks Walt: “Walt, who should play you in the movie about your life?”

Ah, it would be a disastrous business decision to make a movie about my life. So the question is kind of moot. I don’t know. Somebody curmudgeonly?

LG: I have some ideas.

KS: Who?

LG: I think Paul Giamatti would make a great Walt.

KS: Giamatti. Mm-hmm.

Okay, fine.

LG: Paul, if you’re around. Call me, we’ll work on a script.

Who’s producing the movie? Who’s investing?

LG: We know some people.

KS: We know some people.

Will Sonnenfeld direct it?

KS: Sonnenfeld. What happened to Sonnenfeld? Where has he gone? I haven’t talk to him in a while.

All right, someone named Mike Isaac asks: “Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck? Congratulations on a great career, boss!” Mossberg?

Okay (laughs). One horse-sized duck, I don’t know.

KS: Well done. We said any question.

I have to say.

KS: We said any question.

That’s a particularly intellectual question from Mike Isaac.

KS: It’s true, that’s true.

Very good question.

KS: He had to dig deep for that.

Much better than his usual questions.

KS: I know, he had to dig deep.

LG: I think that he wrote it right after he woke up from the nap under his desk.

KS: Right, exactly.

LG: Just woke up and said ... Okay. Todd Yorke emailed us to ask: “Why did everyone listen to Walt about how to make their products better but they haven’t seemed to listen to him on how to make their companies more gender diverse?”

KS: Hm, Walt do you feel like ...


KS: Well.

That’s an enormous, enormous problem, and they really haven’t listened to anybody, even Kara. And Kara and I, a couple years ago, we made it a point of asking every single speaker at our conference that question, whether their company had been in the news for having a problem or not. And it hasn’t gotten much better. It’s maybe, some places it’s gone up a point. Some places it’s gone down a point. So essentially it’s the same, it’s stayed the same.

KS: I think they don’t care.

I think they don’t care.

KS: I have come to the conclusion.

I think they don’t care.

KS: Yeah.

I mean, their HR people, maybe some of their PR people or lawyers care a little bit, but the people that run the companies don’t really care.

LG: That’s also one ....

I would make one ... Having met a lot of these people, as you two have, I think in his heart Tim Cook cares about it. I just don’t, I don’t want to ...

KS: It never manifests itself.

But it doesn’t manifest itself.

KS: It’s like my kid, I’ll clean up my room. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And then never does.

Yeah. Well, but your kid doesn’t in his heart really think the room should be clean. Whereas I think if you ... I don’t want to say no one is like this, but just to use an example, I think he probably does care as a person. But as a CEO ...

KS: Mm-mm. It’s not a priority.

It’s all, it’s not there.

KS: No. All right, before we go to break, we have two questions that were submitted from Phil from Cupertino. Here’s the first one.

Phil Schiller: Hi, this is Phil from Cupertino. First-time caller. I had to call because I heard Walt would be on and is retiring, and I’ve been reading Walt’s articles and reviews for decades now. Love them. They’re the absolute greatest of all time and Walt’s kind of the Ernest Hemingway of product reviewers.

KS: Oh good heavens.

LG: He is sober right now.

Phil Schiller: I think the best, and maybe you should write a book some day. I don’t know, something like “The Old Man and the Internet.” And it would be a classic. Anyway, my question for Walt is one that’s been bugging me for a while. Walt, do you think in 2004 the Red Sox would have still won the World Series had they not traded Nomar? I mean, that was so painful to do that, and then they went on and had this epic comeback against the Yankees in the World Series. And maybe they still would have done that even if they had Nomar. Wouldn’t that have been awesome? So what do you think? Please help me with that question.

Well, thank you for your question, Phil from Cupertino.

KS: Phil sounds like an idiot. But go ahead.

No! It was actually, that’s a very intelligent sportsball question.

KS: All right. Okay, answer it then.

And the answer is, I don’t think they would have won the World Series unless they had gotten rid of Nomar. I think he had become a cancer in the clubhouse.

KS: All right.

And Phil from Cupertino? Just so you know? I was at the game in Yankee Stadium where I think the management of the Red Sox decided they had to trade Nomar. And we can talk about it some day over a beer.

KS: All right. Okay.

LG: All right. Ah, we actually have another question from Phil.

KS: Yeah.

We do.

Phil Schiller: Also, if Kara is there.

KS: Oh no.

Phil Schiller: You know, one of the great things about Walt has been all the amazing people he’s attracted around him to work with. And she and Lauren and so many others are really great. Kara, you don’t have to confirm or deny this. My sources tell me that, oh for quite some time now, you’ve actually been writing Walt’s stuff for him, and helping him. And I think that’s really sweet and nice, and my only question for you is, when did that start? How long has that been going on? I think it’s really kind.

Anyway, we’re going to miss Walt. We love him. Walt, hope to see you around at events or something. And we should go catch a Red Sox game some time together. All right, I’ll take my answers off the air. Thank you! Bye.

Should we explain who this guy is? By the way?

KS: It’s Phil Schiller, from Apple, is what it is.

LG: Phil.

So what’s the answer, Kara?

KS: Phil, we’re not going to answer questions about Jared.


KS: Okay.


KS: All right. All right, in a minute we’re going to take some questions from our listeners and a bunch more others, but first we’re going to take a quick break for the word from our sponsors. Walt, on your podcast, Nilay used to read the ads, but I need you to say the magic word for us today, ka-ching.

Oh, okay.

KS: You’re still a stockholder of Vox.

Do I say it before or after?

LG: Before, like right now.

KS: Now.

Okay. Ka-ching.

KS: No, that’s not good enough. Come on.


KS: That was nice. Well done. This episode ...

LG: Are you sure you want her voice in your ear on an island?


Walt, say it again.


KS: Thank you.

LG: Oh, I’m glad you are still here. I thought you already had retired and left the room by now. Today’s show is also brought to you by HostGator. Can I call it WaltGator today?

KS: WaltGator. Call it WaltGator.


Can you get more than 60 percent off if you’re a senior?

KS: (laughs) No, but you do get free potato skins at Denny’s. Before 5:30.

Do you?

KS: Yeah.

I didn’t know.

KS: They’re great for you.

I did not know that.

KS: You’ll really enjoy ... yeah, they’re loaded, too. You know, extra sour cream.

Is that good for your heart?

KS: No. You will die.

LG: But Taco Bell is.

KS: You will die immediately.

But Taco Bell, it would have been with Bill Gates.

KS: Yes, that’s true.

It’s a different thing.

KS: That’s a fair ... can you imagine dying with Bill Gates? What a sad moment. Try not to do that. Now you don’t have to. All right, anyway. We’re back with Recode co-founder and executive editor of The Verge, Walt Mossberg. He also started All Things Digital with me, Kara Swisher. We’re recording this in Southern California, just a few days before the 2017 Code Conference. Our fifteenth conference.

Our fifteenth big conference.

KS: Fifteenth big conference.

We’ve had a few others.

KS: We’ve had AllThingsD and Code and everything else.


KS: Asia.

Your favorite.

KS: No, not really.

LG: Oh yeah.

KS: Yeah, I almost didn’t make it through that one. Anyway. Lauren?

LG: And this week we’re taking your questions about any topic for Walt.

KS: Any.

LG: Anything.

KS: Yeah.

LG: Anything’s fair game. And we’re asking a few of our own as well. Here’s someone named Sundar in Mountain View, California. And he had two questions.

Sundar Pichai: Hey Walt. Knowing you, I seriously don’t believe you’re going to retire. What will you do with all your free time?

I will try, this is Sundar Pichai.

KS: Yes.

The CEO of Google. And Sundar, I will try to figure out your completely confusing morass of messaging products. That should take me the first year of my retirement.

KS: All right, next question from Sundar.

LG: Dieter Bohn just did a cartwheel, wherever he is.

Sundar Pichai: I know you love sports, especially baseball. If you were to review baseball teams just like you did with products, who do you think was the best team? Maybe since ’91, since you started doing reviews.

That’s a great question, Sundar. And you know, I am a fan of yours, and have always enjoyed our meetings. You never brought this up, for some reason, in our other meetings. So it’s a little unfair, you’re catching me short. But here’s the thing: I have never believed that share is the defining characteristic of the quality of a product or service. So since ’91, I’m sure there’s some other team that’s won more often, but I’ve got to give the quality credit and the fan-friendliness credit to the Red Sox.

KS: Oh my God, of course you did. Can you possibly pick another team?

I can make a case for it.

KS: Oh okay. Golden State Warriors, just saying. FYI.

They’re not a baseball team.

KS: All right, anyway, baseball. I don’t know.


KS: Red Sox. Yankees. Go Yankees.

She’s wearing a Nike swoosh hat.

KS: I run, I run and I do cycling and stuff like that. Anyway.

LG: I do cycling.

KS: I do. Okay, this one is from Bill in Redmond, Washington.

Bill Gates: Hey Walt. This is Bill. What’s your advice on staying up to date on all the changes, once your column’s no longer coming out?

Oh, Bill in Redmond. I know how tough it can be when you live so distant from the epicenter of tech. (Laughs) And you’ve never had any experience! Ah, Bill Gates, just you know what, just scroll through Twitter. And take your chances on what’s fake and what’s not.

KS: All right, fantastic answer.

That’s basically my ...

KS: All right.

LG: Walt, if you ever start sharing things that look to be overly fake, I’ll just DM you and let you know, okay?

No, just message Bill. Say, “Bill, here’s a good one.”

LG: I guess we have a lot of listeners in Redmond, Washington because this one is from a long-time fan named Steve.

Steven Sinofsky: Walt, this is Steven from Redmond. Just a quick question about your review of Outlook ’97. You called it a great idea poorly executed. And you said that the interface was puzzling and that people would be confused by all this dense and daunting interface. It’s cluttered, complicated. Wordy, complex forms and dialogues. But don’t worry, Microsoft’ll get it right by the third version. Is that all you had to say, or was there anything you wanted to add to that? Oh, and go Yankees!

(Laughs) Well, Steven Sinofsky, who used to run Office and run Windows.

KS: He seems still bitter.

Seems a little ...

KS: Still bitter.

Still a little preoccupied with that, but I’m sorry to say that I actually don’t think, if I had to do a kind of coda to that, I would say that I was wrong, readers. They didn’t get it right by the third version.

KS: They did not.

Did not.

KS: When did they ever get it right?

Still bloated, complex. I mean, they shouldn’t feel bad because so is iTunes.

KS: Right. Okay.

But you know ,it’s kind of neck and neck. iTunes and Outlook, which is the hardest to use, which do you hate opening the most?

KS: Oh my God. All right.

LG: That’s a good question.

KS: It still sucks. Still sucks, Steven.

But Steve ...

KS: At least you’re not running it.

I love you, you’re a great guy.

KS: All right. All right. Let’s do some more questions from our readers and listeners. Eytan Schulman: “What are the three stories that you have written in your career that you identify as monumental?” Oh my God.

LG: That’s a good question.

I honest to God could not answer that question. I mean, I’ve written thousands, right? Doesn’t it add up to thousands?

LG: Yeah, I would think so.


KS: One monumental. You can think of one that was your favorite.

I kind of liked my last column.

KS: Okay. All right.

But I don’t know if I would call it monumental.

KS: All right.

LG: What about your iPhone column in 2007?

That was a good review.

LG: Mm-hmm. You called it a breakthrough in personal computing.

Yeah you know, I tried on the ... I think I ... I could be wrong. I know I made mistakes, but I think I called most of the really influential products for what they were going to be. They had criticisms in them. Because there were flaws in even the great products. I’ll tell you one of my favorite columns was when I totally devastated the CueCat.

KS: Oh yes.

Do you guys know what the CueCat was? Lauren Goode?

KS: I remember the CueCat. I still have a CueCat, I found one the other day.

(Laughs) Did you?

KS: Yeah.

Do you know what it was, Lauren?

LG: No.

It was an idea, it was disaster.

KS: It looked like a cat.

It looked like ... so it had a cord that came from your computer like a mouse, except ...

KS: It was a cat.

It had a cat, it had ears and whiskers.

LG: Oh I would give it a 10 out of 10.

No you wouldn’t, because this is what the purpose of it was. It was designed to save print. Save the print industry by ... you would roll it over these QR codes in ads in your newspaper or magazine, and it would bring up a website. First of all, it didn’t work.

KS: Yeah.

And secondly, even if it worked, you had to, in order to do all your reading, you would have to sit next to your computer with your CueCat. So I just, it was just the worst idea. It was horrible. So maybe that was monumental for its nastiness or something. I don’t know.

LG: Did you write anything — before you were a personal tech columnist — that you remember as being particularly impactful?

I wrote two stories before I was a personal tech columnist that got me investigated by the FBI.

KS: All right. Good. Well good.

LG: That counts.

Yeah, so those were.

KS: Okay, those are good.

LG: Yeah.

They were. It was because I used classified documents in both cases.

KS: Well now. You know leakers should be jailed. I don’t know.

I know. I don’t know, what’s the statute of limitations though?

KS: I don’t know. The Trump administration will come after you. Because we don’t want to focus on anything else. Anyway, go ahead Lauren.

LG: Here’s another audio question that we got from Meg in Palo Alto, California.

Meg Whitman: Hi! It’s Meg here from Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Palo Alto, California. So the question I’d like to ask you is, across your career, what story are you most proud of being part of?

KS: Hm!

Across my career, what story am I most proud of? Meg Whitman. From HP Enterprise. Well, I stopped an invasion of privacy once. And an overreach of corporate power. I did some of that before I was a tech columnist, but this involved ... Microsoft had a scheme at one point that was called Smart Tags, and they were going to include it in a new version of Windows that was coming out. And what it did was it would take websites that were not theirs, all websites actually, and through their browser, Internet Explorer, which had 90 percent of the market at the time, they would put links on your website without your permission, and even without your knowledge.

KS: Mm-hmm.

And those links only went back to Microsoft sites or the sites of people that paid Microsoft for that privilege.

KS: Right, I remember this.

And I went berserk-o in the column, and sort of conducted a campaign against it, and they dropped it before the version of Windows was released, and the guy that was in charge of Windows hated me and sent me like a 3000-word ...

KS: Who was that? Steven Sinofsky? (laughs)

No, it wasn’t Steven Sinofsky. Steven Sinofsky became the head of Windows because this guy eventually screwed up.

KS: What’s his name?

His name was Jim Allchin.

KS: Oh him.

I think he’s passed away. And he ... but I will tell you that before he left Microsoft, or maybe when he knew he had, I think, whatever disease he had, he came to Washington and bought me a drink and, you know, to make up.

KS: At Taco Bell? Was it good?

No, it was at a nice bar. So yes, I was proud of that, Meg Whitman. Thank you for the question.

KS: All right, and not craplets? You don’t, I feel like craplets was a great ...

Ah but I did craplets, after I used the word.

KS: Yeah.

I did a number of columns about that over the years, including, I’ve just recently reviewing the latest ...

KS: Explain craplets for people.

Craplets are apps that are put on your PC or your phone that you didn’t ask for, you don’t want, they do virtually nothing, in many cases they’re just come-ons to buy something. And I also went on a kind of jihad about that over the years. Right up through the last release of the Samsung Galaxy, the S8 which comes with craplets from the carriers or even from ...

LG: But the wireless carriers are such stand-up organizations.

The stand-up part, yeah. Them I called Soviet ministries.

KS: That’s right, I recall that.

Repeatedly in my columns.

KS: You called a lot of people Soviet ministries.

No, mostly them.

KS: Yeah. Well I recall a lot of them. And also from Silicon Valley, I think this is maybe Menlo Park. Here’s one from Sheryl in Menlo Park.

Sheryl Sandberg: Hi Walt and everyone, this is Sheryl Sandberg, and we’re here at Facebook. Walt, congratulations on all you have done for our industry and helping people all around the world to understand product and technology, and the tech industry. We are all grateful for your voice and your service and your understanding. I get to ask you one question, so I’m going to ask you the most important question in the whole world. What was your first Facebook post?


KS: Most important.

Well, first of all ...

KS: That felt like a presidential speech right there.

First of all, Sheryl Sandberg, thank you for those wonderfully kind words. I don’t remember my first Facebook post, but Facebook does. You know, you or people that work for you know everything about me. So, within, I don’t know, 20 minutes of hearing this, you could probably have it on your desk. (Laughs). But having said that ...

KS: Do you like Facebook?

I do use Facebook.

KS: You do use it a lot. You’ve been using it recently on your goodbye tour.

I use Facebook, I use Twitter. I don’t know how often. I will continue to use them after retirement.

KS: Do you Snapchat?

No, I actually did figure it out, I want to be clear.

KS: Okay.

It’s not because I don’t know how to use it, I just ...

KS: What about Instagram?

You know what, I don’t use Instagram, I have an Instagram account, I use it once in a while, but I’m not that good a photographer. Maybe I’ll get better when I’m retired.

Here’s the thing, listeners to this podcast, you only have so much time in your life. You cannot be on too many social networks where you have to build up friends and followers and figure it out and all that kind of stuff. Just figuring out Twitter takes about a year. So that’s a year you’ll never get back.

KS: So just literally write a $10,000 cheque to Mark Zuckerberg and just be done with it, right? Just like ...

Whatever. I, to me, I do Twitter, Facebook, and a little bit of Instagram. Maybe that will change, that balance will change when I’m retired.

KS: Are you going to write letters in longhand?

No, no, no.

KS: To me?

Can I just tell you something Swisher?

KS: With a fountain pen? Yeah? Feather.

LG: Feather! A plume.

Okay, when I was in sixth grade, my teacher in the one-room wooden schoolhouse called me up to the front of the class and said ...

KS: To walk to in the snow.

And said, you are a good student, but you can’t handwrite to save your life.

KS: Ah.

So I advise you as you move on past sixth grade to never try to handwrite again. And I never did.

KS: Well, perfect.

LG: Wow. She should have said to you, handwriting is hard and it’s not your fault.

She should have.

KS: Yes it is. I would agree with that. All right, next one.

LG: Next one. I don’t believe it’s from a tech executive. And it’s Jeff Borden, @imborden on Twitter. “Congrats Walt Mossberg. 26 years from now in the year 2043, where is personal tech? 26 more after that? Thanks for everything.”

KS: Only 26.

I won’t care, because I’ll be dead. (Laughs)

KS: Okay. But let’s pretend that you could live forever.

LG: Yeah, what’s going to happen in 2043?

You know, I thought long and hard, I actually took a few weeks to write my last column, which, listeners, I typically do them on a one-week cycle. And so I really thought hard about it, and I believe, obviously, what I wrote. I believe what I wrote every time, even if it turned out later to be wrong.

But this thing called ambient computing is what I think we will have. And a lot of it will be finished in 10 years, as I said in the column, and all of it will be finished in about 20. And that’s, you know, everything around you will essentially be a computer, as we understand the term now. So it will have chips, it will have sensors, it will be connected to the cloud. And it will ... the walls will literally know how many people are in this room, and if somebody leaves it might reduce the temperature.

KS: So ambient computing, that’s 26 years. What about 26 hence, after that?

Oh well.

KS: Invisibility cloaks? Hoverboards

Yeah. Invisibility. I’ll go with that. Invisibility cloaks.

KS: Because think, 50 years ago was how long? What year was that, 50?

I mean, 26 years from now you’ll have the starship Enterprise computer.

KS: All right.

You know, if I look at the table we’re sitting at now, there’s three phones, one laptop, and I think I saw an iPad, somewhere. And in 26 years, anything that all of us are doing on these devices will be done ambiently, done in the room.

KS: Will there be a phone?

Well, there might be a phone. Probably not in 26 years. There will be a phone in 10 years, but there might not be in 26 years. But you’ll want to look something up, you want to message somebody? Whatever. This is going to be very different for you, Swisher.

KS: Yeah. I’ll be super old, too.

You want to message somebody, you’ll just say it.

KS: I’ll have been murdered by then.

You’ll just say it to the room.

KS: Right.

And the room will message that person.

KS: Good, because I’ll be like ...

LG: So you think input ...

The room will know it’s you.

KS: I’ll be senile.

It will recognize your face and footsteps. When you’re in the wheelchair, I’ll be in the ground.

KS: Yeah.

LG: We probably won’t even be here.

You’ll be in the wheelchair.

KS: All right. Well, maybe ...

LG: We may not physically be here. We’ll all be in a virtual presence.

We might be. It might be the Matrix. It could be. I don’t know.

LG: Yeah, yeah maybe.

KS: All right, okay. Well, that sounds horrible.


KS: All right.

So in other words, my timing is great on retiring.

KS: Your timing is great. You’ve timed your career beautifully.


KS: Here’s a voice you’ll be hearing soon, someone named Mary from Palo Alto, I think.

Oh my God.

Mary Meeker: It’s Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins. Walt, what product went on to huge success that you underestimated from the start? And what product fizzled out that you thought would be absolutely huge?

KS: Woo, good one from Mary.

LG: That’s a good question.

Classic Mary Meeker question.

KS: Classic Mary Meeker. Super annoying.

Smartest woman in the room.

KS: Smartest.

You know.

KS: Correct.

So the one that has — I don’t know, fizzled out isn’t totally right, but has certainly been dropping, and Mary herself has talked about this, that I thought would be a bigger deal is the iPad. That part is clear.

KS: Yeah, I don’t use.

I use it all the time, and I thought the iPad would replace a lot of what you do with your laptop. And for people that use it heavily, it does. But I think Mary said a couple years ago at our conference that the iPad took off faster than any other consumer tech product ever, but we now know it’s had nine or 10 quarters of falling sales and a lot of people use it less than they expected, so I would say that’s the one that fizzled that I thought was going to go farther.

The one that I underestimated is, it’s just hard for me to remember a great example. Because one of my mantras ...

KS: EBay. We didn’t like eBay, did we?

We, you and I together, yeah.

KS: Yeah.

Yeah, I guess. That, no, you’re right.

KS: Marketplaces.

It’s a very good example, because I thought eBay, I hate auction.

KS: Mm-hmm.

Just me personally. I’m just really impatient. If I want to buy something, even a used thing, I want to just buy it. Just tell me the price, if I can afford it, I’ll buy it. I don’t know want to wait.

KS: Because we loved Amazon from the start.

Oh, loved Amazon.

KS: From the start.

I knew Amazon was going. But eBay, in the beginning, because it was based so much on auction stuff, I thought was, not that it would be a failure, but it would be very, very niche, to people that loved auction stuff, and despite the fact that people very quickly wrote software to outbid you in the last 10 seconds of the auction, and all that kind of stuff. So I just thought it would be kind of a niche thing for auction people. And obviously it’s become bigger than that.

In my defense I will say they also did a pivot, and they now sell many, many more things. Maybe the majority of things there now, I don’t know, are sold just straight out for a price.

KS: Yeah, but I remember you and I at CES like ...


KS: We took Meg Whitman out and we’re like suggesting other jobs for her. Do you remember, we took her out for a drink? We just scared her.

Yeah, that’s right.

KS: Because she didn’t, she’s like, “I don’t know anything about this internet,” and we’re like, “What a stupid job you just took. Maybe you’ll make some money.”

LG: eBay is still around.

KS: I know, we were like maybe you’ll make some money.


KS: I don’t know.

Clearly, clearly ...

KS: Billions later.

I would have thought, if you would have asked me then I would have thought it would have been out of business by 2017.

KS: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

LG: And to wrap things up, here’s a great question from someone named Jack who hails from St. Louis, although I think he lives in San Francisco these days.


Jack Dorsey: Hi Walt. This is Jack. I’m from St. Louis, Missouri. And my question is, what it is like to have Kara as a boss? Actually, my question is, if you were to spend your past 25 years in journalism covering something besides technology, what would it have been and why? Thanks, Walt.

KS: Nice, Jack from St. Louis.

Well, first, Jack Dorsey, let me just say, the thing, as I retire, the thing that would be the best retirement gift that you could give me would be editable tweets.

KS: He’s still asking.

Can we make the frigging tweets editable? How hard is that? Is that like one hour of one engineer’s time? I mean really, we can make the tweets editable. But it’s a good question you ask, and the answer is I would probably have wanted to cover medicine.

KS: Oh.

LG: Hmm!

Health developments, you know health tech maybe, or not even all tech, just ...

KS: And why is that?

Well because I think it’s super dynamic, it’s super important. You know, I might have said foreign policy, national security, the intelligence community, all that kind of stuff. But I had done that. So moving on, if I were going to do a complete pivot like I did, but not to this, I think it would have been health tech, biotech, whatever you want to call it.

KS: And what’s it like working for me?

(Laughs) I, ah, Jack Dorsey, I don’t know, I’ve never worked for Kara Swisher.

LG: Jack, it’s kind of like, imagine if you didn’t just work for one company. But you worked for two companies and you were running them both on the same day, and kind of running back and forth between the buildings and not getting a lot of sleep maybe. It’s sort of like that if you can imagine that.

KS: Yeah.

Yeah, that’s a good one.

KS: I can imagine that.

Yeah, it’s a good analogy.

LG: I have a question for you, Mossberg.

Lauren Goode.

KS: Yeah, all right. Lauren Goode.

Do you have a question, Lauren Goode?

LG: Yeah, Kara, you should ask him too.

KS: I will too.

LG: So my question is about ...

You could ask me a question any time in private.

LG: It’s true, I can. But maybe ...

KS: And yet here is her show, so she’s going to ask.

LG: Yeah, it is my show. And maybe you can share these pearls of wisdom with our larger audience as well. My question’s about longevity. So, some people say perhaps that younger generations such as the millennial generation tend to move around a lot, change jobs a lot, if they’re lucky enough to have jobs right out of school. The dynamics of relationships are very different now. You’ve had a very long career doing the same thing for a very long time. You’ve also been married for a very long time.

I have.

LG: What’s the secret to longevity in the things you make commitments to?

KS: Ooh, that’s a really serious question. Kind of a downer.

LG: Sorry, I don’t think it’s a downer. I’m looking for his wisdom.

There is a secret to it. I think. I’m not going to tell you about the secret to marriage. I’m not qualified to do that. I mean ...

KS: I think you should just be a little deaf.

Everybody has to work out their own marriage situation. I’ve been very, very lucky, you both know my wife. And she’s extraordinary.

KS: Saint.

Well, yes.

KS: Saint Edie.

She’s kind of a saint but she’s also smarter than me.

KS: That is true.

Which helps the dynamic. But professionally, this is an interesting and important question. I think you have to constantly reinvent yourself. And here’s the trick that people don’t understand. Sometimes you do that by changing jobs. Sometimes you do that like Kara and I did by leaving one company and starting your own company. Which is very common in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, becoming more common elsewhere now. But you can reinvent yourself within the same company, within the same profession.

I changed beats every few years, and even when I had the tech column for, it turned out to be almost 26 years, Kara and I ... I would have left and done something else a long time before if Kara and I hadn’t been allowed to start a business within a business. We started an entrepreneurial, autonomous business that did conferences and websites, called AllThingsD that preceded Recode, while we, at first, for the first few years, while we were both still columnists at the Wall Street Journal.

And so to be serious for just a minute, if you’re listening and you feel stuck, or you’re saying well should I stay in this place, whatever. It depends on whether the place you’re staying in will allow you — and by the way, you have to be very tough and very persistent to get them to allow you to do this, probably. But will they allow you to try something different and entrepreneurial inside? Because you can do that too. And it redounds to your benefit, but it redounds to the benefit of the organization as well.

KS: Yep.

And that would be my pearl of wisdom.

LG: Good answer.

KS: That’s a very good answer. All right. I have a question. Do you want to tell us what you really think about Rupert Murdoch? No. (laughs)

How long do we have? Can we extend this?

KS: How he has ruined democracy as we know it, for the future generations. But no, I’ll not ask that question. I do want to ask about journalism. How do you feel about, this is my last question, about the state of journalism? So much has happened in the long time, especially because of technology, the impact. Are you positive, negative? Feel under siege like never before?

Oddly, I’m optimistic. I’m positive. Here’s why. It’s under siege from this completely unqualified person who’s the president of the United States at the moment, and the ...

KS: Today again.

People around him, including people ... I can only describe some of the people as outright thugs. And so it’s under siege, but I think the best journalists and the best news organizations do their best often when they’re not complacent, and they don’t have a chance to get lazy. And if you look at the New York Times, and you look at the Washington Post, and you look at Vox Media, if you look at BuzzFeed, if you look at a lot of other places around, you see people who are actually energized by the challenge of telling the truth.

Because part of the tactics that are being used against journalism right now are to actually try to change the very meaning of what’s true and essentially establish the idea that nothing is objectively true. And people, it has taken, sadly, it took a while. The whole campaign was not necessarily a great moment of glory for a lot of people in journalism. There were some people who did a good job. But more people should have done a better job.

Now I think it’s kind of full on, and there may be people that wind up going to jail. I would hate that, but it may have to happen. People are being beaten up and different things are happening. I’m sorry for all those things. But every one of those things should be an inspiration to the rest of everybody who considers herself or himself a serious journalist. To be tougher, and to not — and by tougher I don’t mean let’s get Trump, or let’s get this group, or let’s get that group. That would be exactly what they want.

KS: Yeah.

Don’t do that.

KS: I have to stop taking boxing lessons. And okay, keep going.

But, yes you do.

KS: No, I’m not.

Do your work better, find stuff out, tell the truth, be relentless about telling the truth, and stop the false equivalency stuff.

KS: No.

Just because one faction does something terrible doesn’t mean you have to dredge up and kind of sort of inflate an example from the other side that eh, a little bit looks like that. That’s bullshit. Just report the truth. And if the FBI investigates you, and I understand it’s tougher now than it was when they investigated me, you have to keep going.

KS: Keep going.

You just have to keep going.

KS: Mm-hmm. Keep going.

LG: Keep going. Just keep swimming. And actually, in response to what you just said, we’ve been getting this caller from Florida named Donald? Did you say Donald’s been calling in? He wants to? No, let’s just skip it. Let’s move on.

KS: It’s huge.

That would take another hour.

KS: Yeah.

LG: Yeah, just go to Twitter.

KS: Just go to Twitter, you’ll be able to fill in on that one. All right, Walt, this has been another, the best episode. The best, the biggest.

LG: The best.

KS: The best.


KS: The biggest, best. We are so, this is so good, we’re sick of being good. That’s really what’s happening here.

LG: Many people have said.

KS: Yes.

Is this in technicolor? At your local theater?

KS: On the Vox Media podcast network! Walt.

Yeah, you yell that every week. We haven’t been saying that on ours.

KS: Well I get extra money for it. Anyway.

Do you really? Nobody told me.

KS: He slips me a 20 every time I do it. All right.

Can I plug something? Before we wrap up?

KS: Yes, please do.

So I have this podcast.

KS: Yeah.

From which I’m also retiring. Because I’m retiring from all of it.

KS: What are you going to do with that name?

Call it Control Walt Delete, it’s a great name.

KS: I know. Too bad.

I know, it’s too bad.

KS: We’re hiring another Walt.

That’s what they’re going to, they are running a national search for another Walt right now. But what we’re going to do is wrap it up with a live taping in New York, in a theater.

KS: Wow.

On June 9th, and if you go ...

KS: I don’t think I’m there then.

Any of my tweets ...

LG: I think I might be too.

Or Nilay Patel’s tweets.

KS: Oh no I’m not.

Or Vox Media’s tweets, whatever, there’s a link and you can buy tickets. And that’s my plug. Buy tickets, come to our final live podcast.

KS: June 9th. What theater?

It’s going to be at the School of Visual Arts. I don’t know the name of the theater, but it’s a theater at the School of Visual Arts.

KS: So it’s analog.

In Chelsea.

LG: Yeah.

KS: Analog event with Walt Mossberg, his last taping of Control Walt Delete.

Well, it’ll be, yeah, it’ll go out as a digital podcast. I mean it might even ...

KS: Are there any more Walts around that we know?


LG: Walter White.

KS: Walter White. Walt Disney’s dead.

LG: They’re going to bring in Brian Cranston.

I hate to say this, but Walter White was not a real person.

KS: All right, okay, but I’m thinking, do we know any Walts?

LG: I don’t know.

KS: Walt is a name that people ... It needs a comeback.

LG: Yeah.

It’s an old-fashioned, it’s a terrible name.

KS: We have to tell the people ...

LG: I think I know one Walt.

I’ve always hated my name.

LG: Really?

KS: You know the hipsters on the playground need to hear that name, because.

LG: Oh, oh there’s Walter the farting dog.

KS: Oh.

Thanks Lauren.

KS: Thanks Lauren. All right. Anyway this has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Walt, thanks for joining us and thank you for everything else.

Well, thank you guys.

KS: There’s going to be a lot of thank yous this week. For you.

Thank you guys, so much.

LG: Yes, thank you so much for coming on. I’m really glad that you were able to do this and that we got so many callers!

KS: We got some callers! We got so many greats.

I know, just random.

KS: How did that go?

LG: There’s one person who didn’t turn theirs in, and I’m going to tell you who it is after this. And I’m going to remark too ...

KS: Megan Smith.

LG: No, no, it’s someone else. And I’m going to remark as well that, amazingly, the women turned them in right away and met all their deadlines.


LG: You know, so.

KS: Except for Cuban because he clearly enjoyed that. That was the first one we got.

LG: Actually I think he was the first. (Laughs) Ah but Walt, if you ever wanted to call in to future episodes of this podcast, you are always welcome. I would love it if you came back visited us at some point.

Oh you couldn’t stop me.

KS: Yeah.

LG: That’s true. First time, long time. Second time, long time. But if you all enjoyed this week’s episode as much as we did, be sure to subscribe to the show, and you can always leave us a review at

If you can open the app.

KS: Okay, all right, stop reviewing, it’s over. It’s over, Walt, you have to leave. But seriously, subscribe.


KS: If you do, you’ll be the first to listen to new episodes, every Friday. Or catch up on previous episodes. We answer all of your tech questions that our listeners have been too embarrassed to ask.

LG: And if you’re not on Apple podcasts, you can also subscribe on Google Play Music, Tune In, Stitcher, Soundcloud, basically anywhere. Or you can just go to the website, go to, and you can find all of our show there.

KS: And while you’re there, you should check out our other podcasts like Recode Decode, Recode Replay, and Recode Media with Peter Kafka.

LG: The Verge also has some great podcasts. There’s our weekly show, The Vergecast, which is hosted by Nilay Patel, then of course there is Control Walt Delete — I have to say, Control Dieter Delete just doesn’t have the same ring to it. In a couple weeks, Walt and Nilay are going to be live in New York, as Walt said, you can find tickets for that online.

KS: You know, we could do Control Alt Delete and find some right winger. Some white supremacist.

LG: Sounds wonderful.

KS: Something like that.

That’d go well with Nilay. That’d be good.

KS: Oh man.

LG: We can do Control Alt Delete, make it all about alternative music.

KS: Alternative music, there’s all kinds of things we can do, yeah.

That’s what I wanted.

KS: Or alt left. We could do alt left, we could have Bernie Sanders. So. “How do you turn this thing on?”


LG: You kind of, like, you could.

I could pull that off.

LG: Who else is going to play you in the movie about your life? Bernie Sanders.


KS: He should be president, is what he should be.

LG: Free college for everyone!

KS: “I would have beaten that Trump guy, I would have. That Hillary. She took up all the oxygen.” Anyway! Don’t forget to tweet your questions ahead of time to @Recode with the #tooembarrassed.

I can’t spell embarrassed, Kara. How do you spell that?

KS: Oh I’m not going to spell it.

LG: Two Rs, two Ss. Thank you for listening, everybody. Thanks also to Digital Media, the company that distributes this show, including Beth O’Connell and her editor, Chris Basil. And thank you to our producer, Eric Johnson, who is sitting with is right now as we wrap up.

Yay Eric Johnson!

KS: Great job on all this.

LG: We’ll be back next week to answer more of the questions you’ve all been too embarrassed to ask, so tune in then.

KS: Yes Walt, say the final goodbye.

Mossberg out!

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