Follow-ups: Anti-tech sentiment, Uber lawsuit over death, Twitter libel, bitcoin arrests

In case you missed it, the anti-tech sentiment talk is heating up, with famous VC Tom Perkins sparking a big old backlash over the weekend after he compared recent protests to Nazis’ anti-Semitism. As we’ve written, protests in the Bay Area have included blocking Google buses that shuttle employees from San Francisco to Silicon Valley. Last week, one group of protesters targeted an individual Google engineer. Pat May has more about what Perkins said, and the mostly negative reaction that followed.

The Los Angeles Times has rounded up some efforts by those in the tech industry to address the growing grumbling, including a proposal by Twitter that would boost its donations and promises business to local merchants. The LAT also mentions that CEO Marc Benioff is critical of what he calls the tech industry’s “stinginess.” He said that tech companies “need to come part and parcel with a commitment to give back” to San Francisco.

Meanwhile, here are other follow-ups to recent news we’ve covered on SiliconBeat:

• Ride-sharing service Uber is facing its first wrongful-death lawsuit. On New Year’s Eve, a 6-year-old was hit by a car and killed in San Francisco by an Uber driver, as Mike Murphy wrote. Uber does not consider its drivers employees and claims it’s not responsible for what happens when a driver isn’t carrying a customer. However, it turns out that Syed Muzaffar, the driver, was waiting for an Uber fare at the time, according to the New York Times Bits blog. The blog also says Muzaffar had been driving for Uber for a month, and that it was his full-time job.

• In case you were worried that the Courtney Love libel case would curtail trash-talking on Twitter, you can breathe easy. After an eight-day trial, the jury found that the 2010 tweet in which the singer claimed her former lawyer had been “bought off” was not libelous. As we wrote recently, it was the first case of its kind to go to trial in the United States.

• And there’s action in the world of bitcoin and the Winklevoss twins. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, best known for suing Mark Zuckerberg over the founding of Facebook, are big believers in the online currency bitcoin. As we wrote last year, the twins were working on a bitcoin exchange-traded fund. They reportedly invested $1 million in BitInstant, a bitcoin payment processor. BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem has been arrested, said the Department of Justice today. The DOJ is accusing Shrem of playing a part in selling $1 million worth of bitcoins to users of Silk Road, the online marketplace that sold drugs and was shut down in October. Forbes points out that Shrem also is a leader of the Bitcoin Foundation, which has pushed for the legal acceptance of bitcoin.


Photo: Tom Perkins, famed venture capitalist, in 2006. He’s now stirring up controversy after comparing anti-tech protesters to Nazis. (Associated Press archives)


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