Sunday, October 30, 2016

Colin Powell's hacked emails expose the underbelly of the Silicone Valley Washinton corruptocracy. Silicon Valley supports Hillary because she's just like them

Secrets Of Silicon Valley Intrigue Revealed In Colin Powell's Hacked Emails

Included: Complaints about gender bias at Salesforce, Kleiner Perkins's Christmas card, and failed attempts at dinner with Mark Zuckerberg.

Secrets Of Silicon Valley Intrigue Revealed In Colin Powell's Hacked Emails
[Source Photos: Colin Powell: Flickr user DoD News; Macbook: Flickr user Donnie Ray Jones]
The recent hacking of Colin Powell's email accounts prompted juicy headlines about the former Secretary of State's dislike of Donald Trump and withering criticism of Hillary and Bill Clinton.
But it has also revealed plenty of inside details and gossip about drama in Silicon Valley through correspondence related to Powell's role as a board member of and as a strategic adviser to one of the tech world's most powerful venture capital firms, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers. And it provided unprecedented insight into the revolving door between government and industry—complete with its perks, insider deals, and extraordinary access.
When he left the Bush Administration in 2005 after serving as the first African-American secretary of state, Powell was perfectly positioned to take advantage of his new life in the private sector. A decorated military hero and politically moderate and well-respected official, he managed to avoid the bulk of the blame for the Iraq War. Just six months after resigning in January 2005, he joined one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins, as a strategic limited partner. Two years later, he joined the board of directors of AOL cofounder Steve Case’s new company, Revolution Health, and in 2014, he joined the board of buddy Marc Benioff’s Salesforce.
Throughout the 11 years he’s been in the private sector, he’s straddled the worlds of government and technology, advising future administrations on military issues and consulting with top venture capitalists on what high-tech startups to invest in. His Gmail account from 2014 to August 2016 is full of correspondence with top investors, leading politicians and government officials, and former military colleagues. Among the most revealing moments are Powell's efforts to avoid running into Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser thrown for her by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, an internal study in which some Salesforce employees complained about gender bias at the company, Powell's efforts to get Kleiner Perkins to improve its diversity in the wake of the Ellen Pao lawsuit, and Powell's strenuous efforts to get AOL cofounder Steve Case into one of world's most exclusive and powerful social clubs.


Just six days after Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server was first revealed in a story on the front page of the New York Times on March 2, 2015, Benioff invited Powell to a small dinner he was hosting at his home for Clinton. He excitedly told Powell, "I'm sure she would be thrilled to say hello to you!" Benioff intended to raise about $500,000 for the Clinton Foundation, which he thinks "does very good work in the world." Powell immediately forwarded the invite to his personal assistant with a laughing emoji. 

Powell’s response to Benioff was blunt: "We can shake hands if we pass each other, but no real need. Don't want to generate another 'emailgate' story and don't want to be at a Foundation fundraiser. Don't push to make it happen." He also explained that though he and Hillary "are very close and have been for years," he is annoyed at her team for linking his private email use with her situation. He also snapped that Hillary "once said she voted for the 2003 war because of my U.N. speech. I had to remind her that she voted for it three months before my speech. :)"
In between, Powell was hurriedly emailing his assistant, who replied: "Good lord. She's the last person you need to see right now." The assistant suggested that Powell leave Benioff’s house right before Hillary’s arrival, claiming that he needed to catch his flight home, even though it didn’t leave for another three hours. She tells him, "But that still has you waiting at the airport for a few hours." Powell doesn’t mind, seeming to prefer waiting at an airport to talking to Clinton: "I usually wait a while." He adds, "I’ve told Marc most might be a hello on the way out if she is on time. I doubt she’d want me around as she tries to hustle Marc, nor would I want to be." It’s not clear if Powell ever stayed around to meet Clinton at the dinner.


Multiple emails show Powell and Benioff's touching bromance—often emailing each other with the most casual observations, sharing stories about their newest sports cars, and always signing off with "Aloha." As a board member, Powell was obviously privy to some of the most intimate dealings of the giant company, including letters from regulators, potential acquisitions, and the status of litigation. Among the revelations is that Salesforce considered acquiring Adobe and business-automation software giant Pegasystems, among 12 other companies (with the notable exception of Twitter, which Salesforce considered buying in recent weeks before stepping back) listed on a 60-slide presentation sent to board members back in May 2016, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
When Salesforce lost its bid to acquire LinkedIn due to Microsoft’s higher offer, Benioff emailed Powell that maybe the company wasn’t prepared for the intensity of that competition: "We were closer than we realized—maybe a $105 cash plus $105 stock would have done it! But we were definitely over our skis!!!!"


Among the documents shared with Powell was a "Salesforce Culture Retention Study," which the company commissioned to learn more about why employees choose to stay or leave Salesforce. Many of the 73 current and former employees interviewed had positive responses, citing the alignment between their own personal values and the company culture, and often praising Benioff for his generosity and his reputation for taking a stand on social issues. "It’s nice to be working for a CEO that stands up, vocally, for a lot of the things I personally believe in," said one employee. "Like the philanthropic model—I’ve never had that; I think that’s pretty amazing. I don’t know why I would leave, you know? I’m excited to be here."
Other current employees raved about the opportunities to grow at the company: "Oh, the ability to grow and change in my responsibilities and roles, yeah. That’s exactly—that’s exactly why I see myself staying."
But there were also descriptions of some women who had "extremely negative experiences" that they attributed to gender bias at Salesforce. They cited the "boys' clubs" and "extremely misogynistic nature" of Salesforce as a significant barrier to career advancement. Other women cited "derogatory labels" used at the company, and one woman recalled being told that "women don't belong in the tech industry." The report noted that since Salesforce was considered a leader in equal pay and treatment, "these discrepant experiences were alarming." The authors noted that they lacked "sufficient data to fully understand the dynamics" surrounding these topics and called for further discussion.
Other employees reported a torturous workplace where they were under pressure to "antagonize customers," resulting in a "churn and burn" feeling and a dynamic of "do your fucking job." And some employees reported incessant cursing, "table pounding," and condescending micromanagement in which you were "made to feel stupid."
Reached for comment, Salesforce's EVP for Global Employee Success, Cindy Robbins, emailed the following statement to Fast Company:
There is no finish line to equality and fostering a culture of trust, transparency, and wellbeing. Salesforce continues to be one of the best places to work because we continuously solicit feedback from our employees. We routinely commission third-party studies to evaluate key areas of our culture, and we shared the findings of this report in a webcast to our entire workforce as part of our commitment to transparency and to spark meaningful dialogue around areas for improvement.


Other emails discuss regulatory concerns about elevated trading activity in advance of Salesforce's $2.8 billion acquisition of e-commerce service provider Demandware on June 1, 2016, which was the subject of an inquiry by Wall Street regulator the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Upon the announcement of the deal, shares of Demandware, which went public in 2012, shot up 55% on that day. The agreement to buy Demandware was for an offer of all its shares at $75 a share, a 56% premium to its closing price on May 31. Thus, investors who bought the stock in the days before the acquisition could have made a lot of money. And FINRA seems to suspect that there were more than a few of those savvy investors.

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