Tech Workers of the World Unite. Or Don't.
An episode & an explanation: The Dead Cat podcast joins the Newcomer Substack.
A quick announcement:
I’m integrating the Dead Cat podcast a little more closely with this newsletter. We’ve brought on an audio editor with Substack’s support to professionalize the podcast. Now, you’ll be able to get Dead Cat right in your email. (But you can still listen to the latest episodes on Apple and Spotify.) If you don’t want to receive Dead Cat podcast episodes, you can go to Newcomer.co/account and deselect “Dead Cat.”
I hope you’ll listen along.
What’s the pitch?
It’s a show that gets behind the tech industry headlines. It’s hosted by me and Insider reporter Tom Dotan.
Our good friend Katie Benner, a reporter at the New York Times, is a regular special guest. So far guests have included Rippling CEO Parker Conrad, Doordash VP and Obama administration alum Liz Jarvis-Shean, and Dispo CEO Daniel Liss.
The podcast is meant to be a fun way to listen in on what reporters really think about the big tech stories of the day. Tom, Katie, and I have had a gossipy Signal thread for years. Dead Cat is that thread in podcast form.
What’s with the name?
Listen, Newcomer wasn’t the most creative name and I needed to make up lost ground. I also wanted a cute cat avatar.
But we do have a rationalization for the name “Dead Cat.”
Here’s the story:
Thanks to a shareholder lawsuit several years ago, the public got a peek inside Marc Andreessen and Mark Zuckerberg’s text messages. Andreessen was coaching Zuckerberg on how to convince the Facebook board to support Zuckerberg’s efforts to solidify his control over Facebook even if he sold shares.
Andreessen texted Zuckerberg: “The cat’s in the bag and the bag’s in the river.”
Zuckerberg didn’t seem to understand the language of spy craft.
Zuckerberg replied: “Does that mean the cat’s dead?”
Thus, the name for our podcast was born. To over intellectualize it, to me, it’s a statement about how the tech industry is already ascendant. The deed is done. The cat’s dead. We’re stuck with a culturally dominant Silicon Valley — the good and the bad. Now we’re just left making sense of it.
What’s on the docket this week?
Tom, Katie, and I talk about employee union organizing at tech companies and beyond. Tom argues that tech unions haven’t caught on like you might have expected from the cheerleading media coverage. We reflect on our conversation last week with Dispo CEO Daniel Liss and talk about reporter skepticism around cryptocurrencies. Finally, we touch on The Verge’s decision to resist background sourcing from corporate public relations.