On the latest episode of Pivot, Recode’s Kara Swisher and NYU’s Scott Galloway caught up on some of the biggest news stories of the week, including Sheryl Sandberg’s controversial apologies at DLD, the social media frenzy around the teens from Covington Catholic, and the thousands of layoffs at Tesla, a reduction of 7 percent.
“The key to building a big business or really viable business is going after an industry that’s ripe for disruption,” Galloway said. “The auto industry is actually a pretty well-run industry and I think Tesla, the question is will Tesla change the world or will they go out of business? I think the answer is ‘yes’ but I think we’re about to start the latter part of that.
“It’s getting easier and easier to imagine a Tesla-free garage because Mercedes and Audi are coming out with competitive vehicles and I think they’re much better at making cars, while not as visionary,” he added. “I think Tesla’s about to get thwacked by the invisible hand of competition.”
However, Swisher pointed out, some credit is due to Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk for pushing those rivals to make competitive electric vehicles in the first place.
“These companies would not have done those things without Elon doing what he was doing,” she said. “They wouldn’t have moved in these directions so aggressively.”
Below, we’ve shared a full transcript of Kara and Scott’s latest conversation.
Kara Swisher: Hi, everyone. This is Pivot from the Vox Media Podcast Network. I’m Kara Swisher in the frozen tundras of Washington, DC.
Scott Galloway: And I’m Scott Galloway, not in Davos, Kara.
I’m not in Davos. I was not invited again.
Oh, well. Where are you now? What worldwide capital are you in?
I’m in the second-greatest city in the world. I’m in London.
What’s the first greatest?
I don’t know.
Oh, come on.
Oh, good God.
Amalgam of creativity, grit, and amazing food, and nightlife and I don’t know what else … and NYU!
All right. We’re not gonna go into it. We have a lot to talk about. We’re gonna get right to it. Okay. I’m glad you’re in London and enjoying your worldwide tour. Where are you going next? Let’s see, London, Paris, Rome. Rome. Rome is next, I guess. I suppose.
I head home to see the kids tomorrow, a 10-hour flight to Miami where I’ll have more jet lag. By the way, how do you respond to jet lag? Does it put you in an even worse mood?
No. No, I do not. I do not ascribe to jet lag. I do accept it as part of my reality, and so I just don’t have it. That’s how I do it.
It just doesn’t happen to you?
It doesn’t happen to me. I just have mind over matter.
Oh God, it makes me so depressed.
No, it doesn’t at all.
I got to slow down.
Not me. Nuh-uh. I just pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s perfect. I do that with a lot of things in life, Scott. All right. Before we get to some ... Including people on Twitter and the right wing who hate me this week, but we’ll talk about that later.
Before we get to some bigger stories, how was your showdown with Sheryl Sandberg? Talk about what ... So she appeared at DLD where you were, and let’s hear what she had to say about Facebook first.
Sheryl Sandberg at DLD: Trust is so fundamental to the work we do and we need to earn back people’s trust. And we’re not going to do that with words alone, but with the actions we take. Standing before you today, I can tell you that I and everyone at Facebook understands and accepts the deep responsibility we have. We have acknowledged our mistakes. We are listening, we are learning and we are making progress.
All right. So what do you think?
Scott Galloway: So, I liked her talk a lot more than the rest of the audience, and I hated her talk.
I thought she was ... It was really flat; very scripted. But, literally, the audience was angry.
Really? Oh, so they just weren’t having it?
Especially since it was a European audience too, right?
Yeah, they just ...
Because they really aren’t having it.
They just weren’t buying it. And a couple things that I thought were more interesting was: She showed up with about 20 people, which I guess she probably needs security or has an entourage.
And everyone was literally just barking. I was in the speakers lounge. Everyone was barking about how terrible it was and how tone-deaf she is. And then she walked in and it was literally like their long-lost lover, friend. Everyone jumped to their feet — “Sheryl!” Oh my God, how could these people not be in a filter bubble? And I had a couple observations. One is: I don’t want to say I feel bad for her, but she just seemed like ... Just got the sense she’s just been through a lot.
Yeah, she has. Personally, too.
Yeah, she’s had a lot ... I mean, she’s taken a lot, and I’m convinced she’s just going to get the hell out of Dodge. You could tell ... She just seemed not happy or maybe she was just ... She was just jet lagged. It was awful, and it’s pretty hard to be awful at a German conference. I mean, some of these speakers are literally like ... On technology, “You must move digital to the center of the organization.” It’s just not that exciting.
So what was the reaction to what she ... Essentially, she was on the “I’m Sorry Worldwide Tour” that Mark has taken previously. Trust is fundamental. We’re so sorry. We’ve acknowledged our mistakes. We are listening. We ar learning. That kind of ...
How was it received?
Boom, you’re done. Everyone just sat in the audience, just totally nonplussed. The way I would describe it is: It went from flat to people are depressed to people are angry. People are openly hostile about what she said, because if you had said it was a tape from 2016, no one would have known.
So what should she have said?
I think it’s getting to the point where it’s almost impossible for her to dig her way out, and my viewpoint is: It’s time to turn the page. I think at some point a management team loses so much credibility. People don’t believe anything you said. It’s time to turn the ... I don’t think there’s anything she can say. I think she’s done.
Let’s replay what you did say.
Scott Galloway at DLD: What can Mark and Sheryl do? I believe it’s very straightforward. I think they can be fired. The head of Nissan was put in jail for expense impropriety, the head of J Crew was relieved of his duties because he had a dispute with his board. We need to remove Mark Zuckerberg as CEO, kick him up to chairman, ask Sheryl Sandberg to move on. This is not a crime against humanity. It’s not misogyny. They will both be just fine. It is time to turn the page at this company and move on.
So you think she’s got to go after this performance.
Scott Galloway: Actually, I think ... So first off, I think part of the problem is ... We’ve talked about this. No board wants to be the board to fire the woman, and because they believe they can’t fire Mark, she’s become ...
Who is really responsible, as you know I think.
The CEO. You’ve said that all along. At the end of the day, it’s him, but he can be ... This is the false flag, or the false comfort everyone’s fallen into, that he can’t be removed. He can. It’s just that the next day after the board fired him, he could remove the entire board.
But the question is, and I’ll ask you this: Do you really think he would go full Cersei and decide to basically burn the village to save it? Do you think he’d really remove the entire board the next day if they said, “Look buddy, you’re now chairman. We’re removing you as CEO”?
No, and they weren’t going to do it. You know that board, oh my God. You think Thiel and Andreessen are going to do anything like that? Never. Never in a million years.
I’m hoping Ken Chenault...
There’s some ... Well, it’s Chenault, there’s also the other guy… Erskine Bowles and then there’s a new guy. The new guy. They’re all ... They’ll be interesting. It will be interesting to see if they’ll do anything. I don’t think they will. I just don’t think they will. We tend towards to try to get into a consensus, and that’s what they do and that’s where people like that win.
The same thing is going on in Washington. Anyone that wants to do consensus is “weaker,” and everyone that stands their ground seems stronger. So I don’t see them ... I don’t see anything happening there, my friend. I’m sorry. I think they’re going to wait. Hopefully. They’re going to put their head down and hope the hurricane blows over them. That’s what I think.
She’s got to be cut out though, because if she ... There’s no way she couldn’t sense in the audience, “Wow, these people have had it. These people have just had it.” It was awkward. It felt flat. It felt depressing, and it was okay, but there’s ... I don’t think there’s anything she can do.
You know what she should have done?
“Okay. You’re all pissed at me. Let me have it.” And then let everybody have at it. At some point people wear themselves out. “Just come on. I know. I know. What do you want ... What’s the worst ... Tell me the worst thing. Come on. I can take it.” That’s what I would do.
Open it to questions. Actually, that’s an interesting idea. Bring it.
That’s what I would have done. I should have told her that.
Bring your best shot, yeah.
“Come on. I’ll take it, and then I’m going …” And then answer honestly. And no matter what she said, she’s going to be in trouble. She’s become the lightning rod for him.
All right. Next story! There’s so many. I think there’s so many things that were going on. The government shutdown continues. Tech and business is halted. Where do ... Do you see any finishing of this? I mean, it’s become a constant thing on Twitter and everywhere else.
On the shutdown?
On social media with the president. Yeah.
You’re in DC. What do you think?
Well, I just was reading about Lara Trump saying everybody should accept the pain for the greater good. Essentially a very rich lady telling people to suck it up, and I said it was “Let them eat gluten-free cake.” That was my version.
That family. What a bunch of kleptocrats. Honestly? And then telling people to suck it up? I just ... If I was a federal worker, I would not be pleased with that comment in any way. They could do this horrible grab for everything and every piece of money they could possibly have, but they need to shut up about it. That’s my feeling if they’re going to ...
So what’s the over/under? I have a prediction on this one.
I don’t see anything ... I threw a very important DC party last night and nobody seemed to ... There were Republicans and Democrats there and nobody seemed to have a clue about what was going to happen.
Oh, hold on. “I threw a very important DC party last night”?
I did. For Jean Case, Steve Case’s wife, who’s written ... Who is also a person in her own right. She runs their foundation, and she has written a book called Be Fearless. And we met 27, 8 years ago when I started covering AOL when it was a tiny company. She was head of communications and policy. It was a startup, and so she’s written this book, and I’m going to have her on the podcast. So it was great. And Steve Case and I reunited again, which was nice.
Steve Case, AOL.
He’s great. I have to say I like Steve Case. Don’t tell him I told you that, but I do. He’s been very thoughtful about stuff like this from very early on. His book was all about this issue of taking more responsibility, and this was two or three years ago.
And by the way, back to DLD. So in college we had fraternities as a means of stereotyping each other, and it’s helpful just to do shorthand, like the Delta Sigs were losers but they have the best pot.
The Phi Kaps were kids from small towns who scored well on the SAT. The new fraternity at DLD and across these conferences is everyone asks you the same question. They all say, “Oh, are you headed to Davos?” All of them. And I’m like, “No, I wasn’t invited. Stop asking.”
Totally not invited. You wouldn’t be invited.
I am not.
I wouldn’t be invited.
I am not going to Davos, but everybody asks you the same thing.
All right. Next thing. I think ... Should we talk about the Covington High School, or have we had enough of that? You missed that here. And is the dress black and blue, or white and gold kind of thing.
Well, you got in trouble.
You got into a little bit of a Twitter war.
I did get in trouble.
But don’t worry. You defined a person by their enemies, so I think you’re doing pretty well here. Tell us about your ...
You know what I did? When I saw that video, I was furious. And obviously it was manipulated, but I tweeted something I shouldn’t. I made a comparison to Nazis that I shouldn’t have made, and I shouldn’t have done it. And I should have watched all the videos before I said something. That said, a lot of the emerging videos show not every way ... Nobody’s an angel here in this situation. I just don’t know if I should have said something about misbehaving boys on a trip to Washington, even if they were wearing those awful hats. And that maybe is not my business, and I shouldn’t have used that comparison. Really, again, is ... What it’s become though, even after I apologized ... I put it up, people were mad. And then I apologized, and they won’t take that. I was trying to be reasonable and say, “Here’s what happened.”
And everything is so polarized right now. Now I’m getting lectures from right-wing people, which is, by the way ... And I keep going ... I don’t need your self-righteousness. I’m apologizing because I shouldn’t have ... You can’t even apologize anymore. And I wasn’t doing a ... And then when I apologized, people on the left were like, “You shouldn’t apologize. Look at how bad these kids were in these videos.” And they were! Some of the things these kids said were gross. And I’m like ...
You cannot win with anybody, and that’s really the problem. And you can’t have a cogent thing, which is saying, “Look. There were these terrible people yelling at these kids who were also out of control, because where were the chaperones?” And some of the kids said terrible things. And then this man came in the middle of it and trying to settle it, this Native American man, and now he looks bad, which he wasn’t. You cannot have a cogent conversation about just a situation that went askew, where everybody’s on just ... I don’t know. Everybody’s on a trigger that is really very light. And then Tucker Carlson on Fox News attacked me, which now makes me a hero to everyone on the left.
Tucker Carlson on Fox News: Consider Kara Swisher, for example. She’s an opinion columnist at the New York Times. Swisher went to Princeton Day School, and then Georgetown and then got a graduate degreee at Columbia. She’s become rich and famous in the meantime for toadying for billionaire tech CEOs, she’s their handmaiden. Nobody considers her very talented. And she’s somehow highly influential in our society. Is she more privileged than the boys of Covington Catholic in Kentucky? Of course she is. Maybe that’s why she feels the need to call them Nazis, which she did repeatedly.
Scott Galloway: Congrats on that.
The world’s richest Fox News broadcaster is telling me I’m an elite. He went to the fancy schools. So then I dared him to come on the podcast on Twitter, then I went right back to my ways in attacking the people that should be attacked, like Tucker Carlson, who called ... who said this country is dirtier because of immigrants.
I’ve been on with Tucker.
I’ve gone on his show.
Okay. You go right ahead.
I’m Fox friendly. I’m Fox friendly. You know what? It could have been worse. You called them Nazis, but you could have accused them of being straight white males.
You know what? I should have watched the whole thing. I may have come to the exact same conclusion, by the way, but I should have taken time and done that. I was with my kids and I just was like, “I can’t believe these kids are doing this in this world,” and I don’t want my kids to think this is okay.
There’s a larger thing here. I think this stuff’s interesting, but not for the reasons people or everyone’s talking about. One, we’re in this “gotcha” culture, where people are ... I mean, they’re kids. I’m so thankful these technologies were not around when I was in high school.
Yeah, that would be bad.
Because, look, okay. They’re stupid, and they’re kids. Those are synonyms, and they should be given some generosity and some leeway. I think people who tweet should be given some leeway. Call them out. But everybody is in such a hurry to be given something they can be indignant about and angry about and go after people, and they’re not really speaking to you. Anyone who came after you wasn’t trying to say to you, “Hey, I don’t appreciate it. I think you should do it this way.” They’re speaking to the audience, and they’re trying to score virtue points. And if they won big ...
Virtue points. That’s exactly right. I was like, “I don’t welcome your self-righteous judgment.” I didn’t ... I’m just apologizing. I don’t need your weigh-in. It was interesting on all sides. It was really interesting. I hate to use the term “on all sides,” but you’re right, it’s virtue signaling, 100 percent.
It was interesting. I did something wrong, and I said so, but I’m also not gonna go the other direction ... you know what I mean? It doesn’t come with an extra package of other things, and so that’s what was interesting. You know, I think I’ve been pretty good on Twitter about controlling myself. In this case, I got upset. I was with my kids. I shouldn’t have done it the way I did.
Again, it could’ve turned out exactly the same if I’d spent hours watching the videos, but I may have been more grounded in terms of what I did. Anyway, it was an interesting experience, culminating in Tucker Carlson ... I call him Tucky, by the way.
By the way, I think the more interesting thing is, as you stare at your navel and be worried about it, the good news, Kara, when you really fuck up is that everyone’s so self-absorbed they go back to thinking about themselves, so you just shouldn’t worry about it.
I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried about it at all.
But Twitter here? Twitter’s a big loser, because it took this incredible investigative journalism, i.e. looking at the picture on the account that began promoting this whole tribal mess, to figure out this was a fake account, it was promoted like crazy. It was from an account that was tweeting 140 times a day, and Twitter has ... despite their “efforts” to implement big data and how seriously Jack Dorsey claims, his need and his notion and desire to create a more dialogue, that Twitter isn’t doing a damn thing.
Well, everyone was manipulated, and they don’t know they were ... I know I was manipulated, but it’s my own fault at the same time. Yes, you’re right. 100 percent. There was a great CNN story on this. We are being pulled apart by manipulative forces that we then give in to. It’s an interesting question of what we do, and there are consequences to that, and we should all accept the consequences of what we do, but at the same time, it’s difficult. Yeah, you’re right.
Maybe this medium can’t ever be anything but that. But again, as I said, Ocasio used it really well this week once again to make some points about algorithms, which I think were interesting to talk about, to make some points about how she was portrayed in the media ... which I think she made some fair criticisms in a fair way.
It can be used well. It absolutely can be used well. It’s just mostly it’s not being used well, including from myself.
I do think there’s solutions, and I wanna propose three.
All right. Give them, and then we’ll go into an ad break after that. Yes.
Identity is key. The problem here is that the people promoting this are not who they said they were. We don’t know who they are, but they’re not who they say they are, and organizations don’t wanna engage in actual identity, because it would reduce their traffic and their numbers to pitch to advertisers. Two, we just have to be a little bit more generous with each other and not say shit on Twitter that we wouldn’t say to people’s faces.
That’s a problem. I’d say a lot of things to people’s faces. But go ahead.
That’s fine then. Go at it. And then finally, we need these organizations to be ... we need to repeal the content ... what’s it called? The Content Decency Act [section 230 of the Communications Decency Act]? Make them liable when they wreak this sort of havoc and it causes people economic harm, it should be subject to the same legal liabilities of any other media company. Boom. Boom, Kara! Problem solved!
Scott, I’m so glad you came up with a solution to all of Twitter. It’s gonna be so welcome in the days ahead and the elections ahead. When we get back ... We’re gonna take a short break.
Problem solved, Kara, problem solved.
Thank you. All right, when we get back, we’ll be dog walking some people on wins and fails, and that is a Cardi B reference.
Back to our show. We’re here with Scott. Scott’s in London and I’m in DC. Scott, wins and losers ... I was just referencing Cardi B, she told Tomi Lahren —who I’ve been on a show with, who is just insufferable — that she will “dog walk” her, which I thought that ...
I don’t even know what that means, I’m so old.
My dogs walk me, but that’s another issue. My dogs pull on somebody, but it was very fun. Cardi B’s been really interesting on media, on social media, especially with the shutdown stuff. I think she’s flawlessly using it in a way that’s really fun and interesting. There’s a beef going, as my son calls it, it’s a beef ... but she handled it well. “Dog walk.” I like that. The “dog walker.”
Yeah. I have no idea what that reference means. Any time I see Cardi B or I listen to her, I feel so old, like I’m gonna slip and break a hip. I just ... literally, it’s one of those cultural references where I’m like, “Oh, my god. I feel ancient.” I saw her at Coachella, though.
Did you? I love Cardi B. I love all of these ladies. I love every one of them, Beyonce on down. You know what I mean? I just think they’re great. I love all of them, Nikki Minaj. It’s interesting, because they do speak up now. They often fight with each other. There was a fight between Nikki Minaj and Cardi B, I think. My son told me. But I do like that they do speak up in ways, and it does have an impact on people, and people pay attention. I like it. I like it, I like it, I like it! What’s your win or fail of the week?
So I think the CNN discovery around who is the identity or not the identity showed that old media ... keep in mind, this whole Facebook nonsense with Cambridge Analytica, it was a newspaper that broke this story. Of course, when they called Facebook and said, “It appears that data’s been harvested,” Facebook immediately turned around with Campbell Brown and Sheryl Sandberg and said, “If you publish this story, we’re suing you.”
Old media ... I think it was a good week for old media. Going back to the Twitter thing, I think the whole thing could’ve been solved if Kendall Jenner had been there with a Pepsi. I think she could’ve solved the whole thing, Kara. And by the way, I bought a case of Pepsi just for whenever my wife and I get into an argument, I roll up to her with sad, Kendall eyes and I give her a Pepsi, and she is so fed up with that. It was funny the first time, but I’ve got 23 more Pepsis. I’ve gotta case of this shit. That is awesome domestic humor.
Okay. That is a win. What is a fail?
A fail? Let me think. Oh, I think that it’s already baked. I think the best actress at the Oscars, it’s not even a contest, it’s gonna be Glenn Close, because she boiled a rabbit. I think that the ...
No. The lady from “Roma” I think is gonna win. The lead of “Roma.”
Okay, but again ... have you seen that?
Yes, I loved it.
Was it great?
Was it lovely?
I think the Oscars have become giant virtue signaling. I don’t think the best stuff wins.
The ratings are down like crazy, right? It’s a great movie, that’s not a virtue signal, that’s a great movie.
Have you seen it? Is it a really good movie?
It’s a really good movie. I’m sorry. It’s on Netflix, you can watch it now. Netflix got this best picture Oscar nomination, which they’d never done, but they put it right on the streaming platform. You can now watch it on Netflix.
If Rami Malek doesn’t win best actor, I’m going on strike.
Oh, my god.
I am going on strike. By the way, Netflix ... just bringing us back to technology, it’s a pretty big deal, because you’re gonna see Amazon get the Super Bowl. The guys with the deepest pockets are slowly but surely taking over media, and even in kind of the artistic corners.
Definitely Netflix. We’ll see what Apple and ... Amazon has less so than Netflix, and then we’ll see what Apple does, you know? I don’t think Google’s ...
It’s a matter of time. Amazon’s now the second-largest spender on scripted television, which means they’ll start winning everything and cleaning it up. They’re eventually ... it really is a matter of resources. It takes some time, because there’s ... down in Los Angeles, there’s just something different in the water there. They’ve figured out incredible cultures in these companies, but eventually they’ll buy ...
Yeah. They hired an NBC person, though, right? To replace the sexually harassing person.
Is that right?
Yeah. Yep. Mm-hmm. Yeah, we’ll see.
I did not know that.
A woman. A woman who is a really well-regarded executive at NBC, I think an NBC executive. In any case, it was really great that they got that. I’ll be interested in what Apple does. I just don’t see them making things, but they’ve hired some really excellent people. We’ll see if they can muscle their way in here. Tim Cook doesn’t look like he’d be super comfortable hanging with this gang, but we’ll see. We’ll see. We’ll see.
I have one fail, obviously, Rudy Giuliani. I can’t tell if it’s a win for him or a fail. I’ve decided to call it collusion confusion.
That’s exactly right.
He’s like ... what he’s doing is like “well, yeah he did … well, maybe he didn’t do …” By the end, we’re gonna be like, “What?” And then he’s gonna be like, “Ah, it was a red light. So he ran it. Big deal.” And you’re like, “Red light? What?” I just feel like he’s either the most brilliant person on the planet or else he’s really truly lost his mind. Both might be true at the same time. That’s my feeling.
You’re 100 percent right. The thing that dawned on me watching it, I thought, “This guy’s literally lost it. He’s crazy.” And then I thought, “Maybe he’s crazy like a fox?” What the Russians have mastered, and this guy ... you all know, Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens whose name I just mangled, censorship is no longer about holding information or withholding information, it’s about overwhelming people with so much information they get totally confused.
That’s what I do. That’s what I try to do with my 400 podcasts a week. Here I am again!
Just confuse the shit out of everybody. “You said that before!”
I wrote that. Controlling the content, constant content. Yes, it’s true.
It’s one of your favorite terms. “Muddying the waters,” and that’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s fatiguing us. He’s saying, “Maybe they colluded, maybe they didn’t.” And by the time you get done listening to the guy, you’re like, “I’m just sick of hearing about it.”
And it’s also ... it’ll feel like old news. It’ll be like, “Didn’t he admit to this?”
Yeah. “Didn’t you admit that already?”
Literally, it’s gonna be like, “Oh.” And then it’s gonna be, “Oh, he ran a red light. So what? So what, he talked to the Russians?” And you’re like, “I think I care about that. I think I did before this thing ...”
This whole treason thing should kind of be a red flag.
You’re like, “I think treason’s bad.” His full-court press on cable and elsewhere and online and it’s backed by Trump using Twitter ... I think, “Oh, my god. They’re geniuses.” And then I’m like, “No. It’s just completely demented.” There’s a new book out about the White House by someone who is very close to Trump and paints a shockingly chaotic picture, which I think we’re all surprised by in no way whatsoever.
It’s not a buttoned-up, well-run organization?
No, apparently there’s a lot of cursing. It’s literally like the show ... they’ve lived in reality television for so long. They’ve lived their life in reality television, and so it’s a real mess there. I just have this feeling that it’s gonna get worse.
Back to Netflix, have you seen either of the documentaries on the Fyre Festival?
Yes, I have.
What did you think of them?
I liked the ... I know they paid him to talk, unfortunately, they disclosed it and everything, but I liked the second one because it talked about the broader issue of people being manipulated on social media. Of course I would like that one.
But they’re both good, they’re both great. One was on Hulu, one was on Netflix. It was a lot of stuff for one stupid thing but it’s a great classic tale that has been since the beginning of time and I thought it was great. I felt bad for these millennials or whoever they were. I don’t know if they’re Gen Z or whatever. I felt bad for them.
At the same time, I’m like, “Ugh, you dumbass.” That’s how I felt. I felt bad they were manipulated and taken advantage of, especially some of them who didn’t have a lot of money. At the same time I was like, “You need to get a life where this doesn’t happen to you,” kinda thing. That’s how I felt.
You’re 100 percent right. Anyone who decides to spend $5,000 to go to the Bahamas and see Blink 182 should be screened from the gene pool. That’s just Darwin. That’s just the hand of evolutionary progress saying, “Okay these people should be broke and should die alone.”
I recommend them highly. The other one I’m gonna watch this weekend is The Valley of the Boom which has Bradley whatever [Whitford], the guy from West Wing. It’s all about the beginnings of internet-y kind of things. I’ll see if I like it because I was there and I will give a report on it next week. They just sent it to me. It’s coming this weekend or just was this weekend. That’s the next thing I wanna watch.
All right, predictions. Predictions, Scott.
I think the government shutdown is over by the time you and I speak again.
Next week? Really? How?
Give me the how, because nobody at my fancy Washington party last night could think of it, and there were a lot of fancies there.
My sense is that shit’s about to get real, that we’re on the verge of a disaster or a national security breach that will be directly reverse-engineered to the shutdown. I think both sides are at the point where they realize that both parties are incurring substantial risks, and I think something’s gonna break here. At least I’m hopeful. It’s so bad for our brand, the US brand. It’s worse for the president, but it’s bad for the Democrats, too. So I think we might see something resembling ...
To what? Give me a what? What are they gonna do?
Some sort of deal where both sides claim victory. It’ll be the president blinking first or squinting first. He’ll claim that he got what he wanted.
Mm-hmm. He’s gone out on kind of a limb there. Don’t you think he’s gone out on a $5 billion limb?
We’ll see. But there’s reports that the FBI has had to cease investigations around terror.
Oh, yeah. Right. Yeah.
Anything bad happens in the next ... The next time something really bad happens on a national security level, people are gonna immediately assign the shutdown to it, and that is gonna be bad for both parties.
Yeah. Yep, yep. I think also, the TSA thing. The most immediate thing that affects people ... I’m very worried about fruits and vegetables and everything. Everything the government does is important. There’s a lot of important things a government does, and I think the TSA thing is gonna affect people more because you wait in lines and the airlines are gonna be mad then businesses are gonna be mad and it sort of launches us right into a recession in a lot of ways.
I had a long discussion with my son today and we were iterating it out. We have very intelligent drive-to-school discussions but that was what we talked about is how do you stop the iterations, how do you solve the problem?
It seems like both sides are, just like on Twitter this week, dug in. Literally nobody could be reasonable. My attempt to be reasonable was seen by everybody as ... A lot of people were really nice about it but it was really interesting. I was reasonable. That’s my worry is it’s impossible to be reasonable.
Another prediction, we talked last week, I said that 2019 was gonna be a rough year for WeWork. I think it’s also gonna be a rough year for Tesla and I know you love Elon Musk.
Why do you think that? I don’t love or not love him.
Oh, you so hang with Elon!
I think he’s an interesting entrepreneur. Why wouldn’t I talk to him? Because I’m a “handmaiden to tech.” My interview with him was not easy but go ahead, go right ahead. Tucker’s friend, friend of Tucker, F-O-T, FOT.
You’re clearly over it. Anyway, I think Tesla, any industry, the key to building a big business or really viable business is going after an industry that’s ripe for disruption, pricing has caught up with the underlying innovation relative to inflation.
The auto industry is actually a pretty well-run industry and I think Tesla, the question is will Tesla change the world or will they go out of business? I think the answer is “yes” but I think we’re about to start the latter part of that.
I think Tesla is about to have a very difficult year because if you look at, and this is sample size of one, but I have a Tesla and I’ve been trying to sell it and I find it’s getting easier and easier to imagine a Tesla-free garage because Mercedes and Audi are coming out with competitive vehicles and I think they’re much better at making cars, while not as visionary. I think Tesla’s about to get thwacked by the invisible hand of competition.
I think their issues are around servicing. I’ve heard a lot of complaints by people who own them that they can’t get them serviced, they have a harder time. I think the next steps are hard. They are definitely executionally hard.
That said, and again, I’m not a handmaiden to tech but these companies would not have done those things without Elon doing what he was doing. Thank you for that. They wouldn’t have moved in these directions so aggressively.
Changed the world, 100 percent.
That is no small thing. The question is can he ... It’s still the best of the cars, from what I understand. I don’t drive one but from people who do, I think most people think he makes the best car. There’s something to that. The quality of what he’s making is really high.
They have to keep up with that and if they do that, it’s all good for the world. He’s sort of accomplished his goals in a lot of ways. I’m hoping to do another interview with him soon. I wanna do it inside the tunnel.
The Boring Company? The tunnel where they move cars? It makes no sense.
You would never own a Tesla. You don’t fit the cohort. You know who owns Teslas?
It’s 100 percent midlife crisis men because this is what Tesla says. A Tesla says, “I’m groovy and I’m rich, have sex with me.”
That’s exactly what a Tesla says.
It says ... no, hold on, seriously.
If you drive a Tesla on the East Coast, you’re probably getting your electricity from a coal-fire plant which means you’re probably putting more emissions in the air than if you drive a combustion car. But if you’re a 55-year-old guy in the midst of a raging midlife crisis and you wanna signal to the world, “I’m not only groovy and hug trees but I’m also rich, have sex with me,” you buy a Tesla.
All right, thank you for that prescription.
It is literally a midlife crisis on steroids.
Listen to me. I am doing a column. I’m getting rid of my car completely. I am not gonna have a car again in my life.
In DC, you can get around without a car?
I will be dead ... I don’t have a car here. I borrow my ex’s to use sometimes. I’m not gonna not drive a car but I’m not gonna own a car anymore. I am selling my car in San Francisco.
You’re going all Uber?
I’m going all Uber, all those quick rental cars. What are they called? Whatever. I’m doing all non-ownership.
If you do this, we should auction, let’s auction your Fiesta off for charity and I’m in for 2,500 bucks. If it doesn’t go for 2,500 bucks ...
I’m not giving you my Fiesta. No one’s auctioning, no. I’m not ... That’s not a bad idea.
For charity. Seriously.
Who wants it though? That’s my whole point. Let me just tell you why and then we’ll finish up. Here’s why. A hundred years ago when I first got to the Wall Street Journal in the mid-1990s, I wrote a piece called “Cutting the Cord” and it was all about that I am never gonna have a landline phone and it was a picture of me with those giant sort of clown scissors with wires wrapped around me. It was a little S&M. It was me cutting the cord and I wrote a story and I will send it to you. It was about being ... I said someday, you will not have a landline phone, you will not have a thing in your office, you will not do this. You’ll all be in mobile.
I will never buy another car again, ever. I’ll be dead. That is what I’m writing about. I will be dead. I have bought cars. I am done with buying cars. That’s gonna be my column.
You’re fairly bearish on the auto industry as a whole.
Everyone has been saying that ...
There will be fleets of cars. No, I’m not gonna not drive in a car. I’m gonna get in an Uber, I will rent a car when I need it, but I will not own a car, I will not have insurance for a car, I will not have AAA, I will not have tire problems, I will not buy gas. These are all the things I’m not gonna do and that’s what I’m writing about. Thank you very much.
I just love to roll up to my kids’ school in an overpriced car and kinda honk at people and say, “Hey, the big dog’s here.”
“He’s a professor but he has a nice car. He’s so interesting.”
Have you ever considered therapy? It’s an interesting option for you.
A car is really important to your identity.
Not Kara Swisher’s. I’m done. I am done with the automobile ownership.
You’ve had it. You’ve just had it?
I love scooters, I’ll ride scooters.
Oh my god.
I’m not gonna not use ...
You’re on scooters?
We’re not gonna go into it.
We gotta go, we have just a few minutes. Listen to me.
You’re on a scooter.
Yes, I love scooters. Elon Musk made fun of me and my scooters.
Which brand of scooter do you drive around?
Whatever scooter is lying on the sidewalk, I just grab it. I don’t care. I don’t own one. I’m not gonna own them. I rent them. They’re all over my hipster neighborhood in DC and my hipster neighborhood in San Francisco. I get on the scooters, I ride them, I have my little helmet. It’s very nice. I like my little world.
You gotta send a picture of that.
You can’t take a picture on a scooter. That is a mistake. But I will send you a scooter picture. I will put it up, but I love scooters.
Scott, I will talk to you back ... I’ll still be here in D.C. and you will be in Miami, so we’ll be talking next week. There’s gonna be a lot of talk about. The FTC fine for Facebook will probably be up by then, a whole bunch of things. I look forward to talking about it.
I think you should bring us back together. I think we should go scooting with Tucker Carlson.
He lives in DC. Where I tape for CNBC is the same building, I should go up to Fox and go, “Hey, guy.” Hey, girl.
That’s what I’d say. “Hey, girl.”
Kara! He’s got such a high voice, like Kara!
Oh my god.
“Kara, people like you!” He always says that. “Kara, people like you...” I can’t do it right.
My mother wrote a letter to him. She was mad. She’s a Fox News fan and she’s not watching Tucker Carlson anymore. She wrote a very indignant letter to him.
She was like, “Everything he said was untrue!” I said, “You might catch a clue about Fox, Mom.”
But you’re clearly over this. Listen to you. Get over it. Literally get over it.
No, I don’t like people lying about me! You can say I’m a crazy, left-wing, San Francisco liberal lesbian but you cannot say I’m untalented. I’m sorry. That is not allowed.
That sounds fair.
That’s not happening. All right, Scott.
Seriously, find a mannequin, put a bowtie on it, stick it in the trunk of your Fiesta and drive it off a bridge.
I am gonna find Tucker Carlson and give him a big Kara Swisher hug.
All right, okay, Scott. We’ll talk next week in the same time zone.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.