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tv   KQED Newsroom  PBS  September 1, 2018 1:00am-1:31am PDT

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♪ -next, a "kqed newsroom" special on local business leader changing the way we live, -next, awork, and connectspecial on locwith our communities. -we sent out to build a resource that connected neighbors to the information that was most relevant to them. -a co-founder talks about helping neighbors tear down walls onne. also, an executive at reddit talks about the challengesnl facing the populare forum. -what we have tried to focus on is, what is the core that makes reddit powerful? and it's that conversation. -plus, we hear how one startup is winning over consumers by ditching brand labels. -millennials don't want to buy the products they grew up with, because those brands were "trust marks," and they lost trust. -and a ceo's mission to make the food iustry more green. -it's very personal, and it's very high-impact. we need to do something about our broken food system. -hello. i'm thuy vu. welcome to a special edition of "kqed newsroom."
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on this program, we're re-visiting interviews from our archives with game-changing business leaders who are using the web to create and strengthen communities or pioneering new alternatives to staples in our fridge anpantry. we also ask them about the has had with diveron valley especially in key leadership positions. our first convansation is with prakashiraman, the co-founder and chief architect of nextdoor. the san francisco company allows neighbors to create private networks online to share resources the sand informationmpany aabout their communities.e according to the company, more than 18000 neighborhoods from the us to europe are using nextdoor to share hyperlocal content. and we want to disclose that kqed is a media partner of nextdoor, using its service to deliver content to four bay area cities. welcome. -thanks for having me, thuy. -so, how did the idea for nextdoor come about? -so, about seven years ago, when we first started the company, we noticed a trend of social networks
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becomiin more ubiquitous and ream. facebook for your friends. twitter to chonect with people withyou shared interests. and of course linkedin for your professional network. but we found it rert of strange that tas not a network where you could connect with the people right outside your front door --, your neighboe people that were most important to you in your local community -- yourand so we set out builde that were most important to you that connected neighbors to the information that was most relevant to them, and that's now nextdoor came about. -so, what are some of the most interesting interactions you've seeexamong neighbors on noor? because, you know, i've used it. i've sed it to ask for moving, and then gave it back to other people when i wasn't. i posted about them. and there are certainly a lot of posts i see about missing dogs -- and found dogs. but there was also someone who found an organ donor. -yeah, that's right. we've seen everything from dayato-day kinds of recommens that neighbors exchange wi one another for babysitters, umbers, auto mechanics. but we've also seen more critical use cases,al espe around disasters. for example, in hurricane harvey or the napwildfires
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or the ventura county wildfires, we've seen neighbors banding together when the public infrastructure is under a lot of strain, especially 911 or first responders. c and in te of the liver donor, we did see that a neighbor put out a message saying, "hey, one of our neighbors of tis in the hospitald oking for someone to donate an organ," and we actually found a liver donor within the neighborhood community, if you can imagine that. -extraordinary. -so a wide variety of different use cases. -yeah. but, you know, there are lots of other entities that offer similar services, right? you could do facebook groups. craigslist has a function where you could form a group. there are homegrown forums. ory should people use next what sets you apart? -so, i think there are two things that really set us apart. the first is, when you look at networks like facebook or twitter or some of these thingsother social networks,art. these are largely platforms for self-expression. they're a place for you to share photos, status updates, and realre reveal a little bit bout yourself. nextdoor is purely utility-driven. people are coming to nextdoor to use their neighbors as a resource to help them solve problems.
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and the second thing that i think is unique about nextdoor is, everyone that you're interacting with is a verified member the ne. each neighborhood is a geographically-bounded is a verified member the ne. entity on nextdoor. -how do you verify that they actually live tre? -we have a number of the ne. different ways that we verify. we can do mobile-phone verification. we can do , rification via postcarough the mail, where you redeem an invitation token that proves that you actually had to go to your mailboxan take it out. we have a number of different verification mechanisms. and once peoe are verified, that increases the level of trust that they're interacting th people who are actually in their neighborhood, and facilitates a wide variety of more intimate types of exchalaes than on these otherorms. -and in this world where the internet is so ubiquitous, as you say, there's a concern that people aren't interacting face-to-face more. so, why is a neighborhood social network necessary why can't neighbors just go out and say, "hey. hi. i'm your neighbor. let's chat face-to-face. -yeah, i think we are combating a trend that has been happening iespecially over thspa 50 years of a decline in community.
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in fact, one of the inspiring statistics that we saw when we started the company was that 29% of americans claim to know very few of thr neighbors, and 28% of americans claim to know not a single neighbor by name. so you're talking about over half the population with very weak ties into their community. and so, as strange as it may seem in our kind of modern, totechnological world, se an app to facilitate these in-person teractions in the community, it actually is happening. we feel like our job inis best performeds when an online interaction on nextdoor leads to an offline interaction. for example, your box story. when you neehad boxes, ultimately, yoto go interact with someone to exchange the boxes, and now you know a new neighbor in your community. and we see that all the time. -you've also had some growing pains, like many tech companies. there have been some problems with racial profiling. residents were posting urgent alerts, for example,op about of color in their neighborhoods. -yeah. -what have you done to address this?
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-yeah, first, we were definitely shocked to see our platform being used in this way. and especially as bay area native, hearing about communities in oakland, where we first became aware of this happening, was a real shock to the system. but we worked together with these communities to re-design our product in a way that i think is almost unprecedented in technology, where we changed the product. -how did you re-design? -so, a few things that were really important o to us were, numb, to make people aware of the fact that they were using descriptive text without the context around what actually was suspicious to mabout the activity. the fact so we introduced friction into the posting process to force people to be more specific about the circumstances under which they were posting, ri not to be purely deng people on the characteristics of their race without some additional pintext as to what was sous. you know, a person of color riding a bike in a neighborhood is not in and of itself worthy of putting out an urgent alert to all of your neighbors. but if they're casing the neighborhoodin
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or breakin cars, now, that's the descriptive text that accompanies it. -so, then, what kinds of post-- how do you regulate something like this? because what about other kinds of posts that other people may find offenve, maybe concerning gender or religion. where do you draw the line? -well, we expect, through our community guidelines, that neighborhood leads are responsible for sort of mandating the social decorum of the communities in which we land this product. so, understanding that we are in 180,000 different neighborhoods th across the countryproduct takes on a lot of the identitu of the cties in which you land it. local, specific issues and that need to be discussed,s, but need to be done with civil discourse in mind. and so our community guidelines, our neighborhood leads, and thac we have a support teamat hq that helps when those neighborhood leads feel like they're a little bit beyond their capability to handle things. but we try and self-moderate.d in 10 seconds, are you making any money yet?
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-wnative advertising in the feed and in our e-mails,w ts, and th realtors, as well. -nextdoor co-founder prakash janakiraman.h. thank you so muc-thank . -turning now from connecting neighborhoods to bringing together millions of people online. imagine a free website where you can find more than 100,000 discussion forums onagretty much any topic able. welcome to reddit.20 since its launch i,h reddit has become the fourth most popular website in the us. each month, hundreds of millions of visitors comment on and post links to various topics, known as subreddits. but with that growth comes challenges. like facebook, twitter, and other social media reddit is grappling with how to protect free speech while fighting hate speech and online bullying. here now to talk about all of this is the general counsel and vice president of reddit, melissa tidwell. meli a, nice to have you here-th. -so, reddit is one of the most popular websites, not only in the us, but in the world.
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yet it doesn't have the same name recognition as, say, youtube or facebook. why do you think that is? -you know, i think it's a couple of things. a when i startthe company in 2015, we were about 60 people, and now we're about 400. -that's hypergrowth. -it's a lot of growth. t, you know, in comparison to, sort of, our user growth, we're an incredibly small company. and so, in terms of users sort of being out there, and the brand perception, some sers are doing interestithi, and some users want to maintain their privacy and have that. -how do you balance reddit users' right to free speech while monitoring and even shutting down hate speech? -yeah, i mea i think we're having a great conversation today on those questions. i think for reddit, we are focusing on a couple of things. as i said, part of our growth is growing the company,gr aning the functions that we need to have for the company to be successful. so for us, that means we have an actual policy team now that thinks about these things from a big-picture perspective. we have a trust and safety team, whh are the enforcers, and that ensure that, as we have policies,nf
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they cance at scale. we have the anti-evil engineering team. -that's -eat they're called? anl engineering team? -our current name.y and so tlp us build the tools. -do you think that social-media sites have an obligation to curb hateful content, s?cluding conspiracy theor -you know, it's a great question. i think for us, as a company, what we are focused on is ensuring that the conversation is healthy. i think we're at a time where it's important to have hard conversations, and it's important that, as a platform, we recognize that and facilitate it. 's not okay to allow a small number of voices to short of over-shout what's happening, and that's a hard thing to manage. what we have tried to focus on is, what is the core that makes reddit powerful? and it's that conversation. if there's an article posted about the washington nationals and whether or not they made the playoffs -- is it people shouting over each other and yelling about the playins, or is it people taabout what was awful about them not making it, and what they should do about it.
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we are trying to encourage those types of behaviors, and we try and do that in different ways. sometimes that's with our community management team, to reach out to the moderator, "hey, your conversation has gone off the rails. get your users back on track. focus on what the topic of your community is." -or else wact? -or else we'll takon. -and how do reddit users differ from uor other social media?ter, he-i would say, one ofig lessons for me was the importance of thinking about the reddit community. come from google to reddit, we do posts on a very consistent basis where we engage with our users. and they're very hones they give really -- we're almost like politicians- they give us rme feedback on what they think we're doing right and inat they think we're dowrong. -and they're anonymous, too. and password that's requireds, e to create an account and take action. -so, on the one hand, that could be good, because if you were talking about sensitive topics, like maybe an eating disorder or something,yo don't want your identity know. but does staying anonymous also make it easier
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to bully someone, or tro iing? -you know, perhadoes. but i think it also allows people to sort of stand up. i think on other, real-name platforms, there's a risk of, how are your friends gonna react pto what you're saying, right? and i think part of the beauty -- we have a community called ask a trump supporter, which is, i think, a great community of people whare saying, "listen, i don't agree with everything he says, but i'm here to be a rational voice as to, from a policy perspectivwhat's " -what about fake accounts? facebook has come under fire for allowing fake accounts to influence elections or to fan political tensions.s are fake accouproblem for you as well, and what do you do about it?ti are fake accouproblem -that's a great qu.l, for us as a company, we have voting on our platform, one of our rules ioting.th there is not allowed to be vote manipulation. so, from o very early days, we have focused on the integrity of the vote. and that means, for us, oking whether the users are bots or actual real users, ensuring that we're fighting spamwi and dealin those issues. at the same time, there are good bots.
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there are commun ties who have created bot will warn you, at the beginning of posting, the rules of the community. so politics, as a community, will say, "we require civil discussion." that is an automated bot,mi something that "we res the users.discussion." so i think it's important for us to remember that there are good bots and things that can be helpful to users, and there are bad bots. -let's talk absit silicon valley's div gap, as well. prior to reddit, you spent eight years as an attorney at google. so you've been able to sort of break through the ranks. t you're a rarity. -mm-hmm. -studies show, government figures show that, in tech companies, the executive level is 84% white. it's nearly 70% men. what can you do to change that and move more women and people of color into positions of tech leadship? -it's definitely a problem in tech, and i think tech is starting to realize that. as a black female executive, one of the very few,
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i think a couple of things are really important. number one, it's important that you have the conversation at the executive level. so, i started at the company. steve huffman, who's our ceo, came arobably a month or ter i did. and we've had a very open and honest conversationve about ity and the importance of it. -what do you do about it? -you have to acknowledge the issue, and you take steps to address it. i think, for us, as an executive team, our executive team reflects diversity, and therefvee our reports reflect ity. it's not shocking that, as a minority executive, and therefvee our reports reflect ity. i then have three out of four women who are my leads. it's not shocking that the diversity because i'm lookinfor diffe. is much more intuitive, i am looking for different perspectives. and we try and tnyk about that as a com as to how other teams can sort of think differently. o you can't just searlinkedin. you can't just look for, "i need someone o has exactly done this at this type of company."
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you have to think outside the box and do it in different ways. and so i think iers a problem that's nnding, and something that you just have to continually work at. -one step at a time. comelissa tidwell, generasel at reddit. thank you for being with us. -thank you. -moving on now from the way we connect to the way we shop. brandless is an e-commerce startup based in san francisco. the so-called anti-brand got its start in 2017 with a mission to offer quality products at a very low cost. their inventory includes a broad range of everyday necessities, from food to beauty products to office supplies, eachwith the ceo of brandless,en tina sharkey. -tina, thanks for coming in. -thank you so much for having me. -the whole idea of brandless was to create a simple, organized, edited assortment of the things that you love, -the whole idea of brandless was to create a simple, organized, from chips to crackers to cookies, you name it.
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and then in the essentials -- so, organic spices or organic all-purpose flours and baking mixes -- as well as personal care -- so fluoride-free toothpaste, essential-oil mouthwash. -was there a particular momeny so fluthat sort of dropaste, eto create this brand?h. you've been in business for a while and done a lot of other things that are pretty different from this. -yeah. i would say what's interesting is, it all started with my co-founder. that are pretty different from this. ido leffler and i decided that we actually wanted to change the world together in our own small, humble way. and we were both doing lots of other things at the time, but we said, "let's carve out the time and the space to actually gure out what's broken and what we want to fix." mmi came from building ities. i came from building commerce and media and direct consumer expeences, all digital. and he came from creating consumer packaged-goods products. so i said, "what if we were to, like, fuse itmm and build a ity that's based on something that's bigger than anything that we sell?" -- this whole idea that we could democratize access
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to better things at fair prices for everyone. so we set off to do that. -so, how are millennial customers different from, p maybe, theents? -it's so interesting about the millennial consumer,be use think of them as first time head-of-household, right? either they're setting up their college dorm room or they are setting up their first apartment or they're having babies. millennial moms are gonna be the largest segment of moms. they probably already are. and if they're not, they wl be in two seconds. 78% of millennials have said they don't want to buy the products that they grew up with or that their parents used. -that's so interesting to me, because i feel like product br.ding is so ingrained in -i know, but it's changing. ocause today, the branyesterday and i think it's like 67% the value system. of americans say -- not just millennials -- they want to shop from a company .at represents their valu and so millennials don't want to buy the products they grew up with because those brandss, were "trust ma and they lost trust.
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so people are turning over their taste. wpeople who are changing but it's atheir habits,s -- changing their consumption patterns, and changing the brands that they want to reach for.yo -you calself a social capitalist. i mean, how important is it, from a business perspective, too, to have a company that's sort ofimed at the broader good i know you guys give money to programs for feeding folks when you buy something. -yeaee so, we partner withng america. there's 41 million people in this country at go hungry every day, and feeding america is the largest hunger-relief organization in this country, with the broadest network of food banks. when you check out at brdless, we will purchase a meal through feeding america in your honor, because we believe that the doing in life is what matters, and we don't wait for giving tuesday.me every ou can do a tangible act of kindness is just kind of how brandless rolls. so our community is always doing things. and, in fact, as we celebrated our first anniversary, we'd already given away over 1.6 million meals.
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-wow. so youave a lot of experience as an entrepreneur, an executive. you co-founded ivillage which, at the time, was the largest online community r women. you were president of babycenter. l how's the businedscapeonline changed as a woman in tech,ro and businessly? -you know, it's funny, but i ver really identified as a woman or a man in terms of who i was as a leader. i'm tina. and i have my experience. i have my passions. i'm also a mom. i'm also a friend. i'm also a sister.i'm l. but when i show up at work, i'm a leader who's there to bus,d an extraordinary busin and i don't think of it as "it's a female-run business." 's a business that fully expresses the commitment and atssion of the people ome to work for us and the movement that we' building. and so i think the landscape has changed in that having that real seatat te is something that's very, very important, because i represent not only my own business experience,
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but also my personal experience. and 89% of the purchasing in this country is done by women, sothe idea that women wouldhave for any consumer business -- let alone any business to begin with -- is kind of crazy. but i don't think about it as, and this is my experience."e..., and i don't want to be "labeled" or gthen an advantage other my skills, my passion, and what i'm building and executing. -so, what would be your biggest piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? -i would say always be your authentic self, because authenticity scales. bring smarter people around you that complement your skill set and complement what you can bring to the table. always make room. in diversity and inclusion, it's not just aboucicolor or race or eth. it might be about style. and so not everybody has the same approach to things. -right. -but as an entrepreneur, part of your job is to sort of convene a diverse set of voices,
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a diverse set of experiences, and a diverse set of opinions, and then surround yourself with people who actually want to stay with you and your movement for the long game. -fabulous. well, tina sharkey, thank you so much for coming in. -thank you for having me.te well, tina sharkey, th-our next ceo crmethod,ing in. a line of environment-friendly cleaning products. adam lowry sold method in 2012 and embarked on a new mission to reduce the planet's carbon footprint.co his neany is ripple foods, located in emeryville. its flagship product iss a non-dairy milk made from peas. pe that's right. all right, so, milk made from peas. why peas? -yeah,hat's right. pea milk, eh? -yeah. -you know, peas are high in protein and the situation right now is, most alternatives to dairy products are actually pretty bad dairy alternatives. they don't have any protein in them, or have very little, and most pndple agree that they're f thin and watery. so by making milk out of peas, we were able to make something really high in protein
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but really creamy and licious. and at the end of the day, that's the way we're gonna get more people to eat healthier, more nutritious, and more sustainable foods. -you're a chemical engineer by training. you were a climate scientist at one point. where did the inspiration for this company come from? does your environmental training come into it? -yeah, partially. i think a big part of this story, also, is my co-founder, neil renninger,he who's a phd bist. he's the real scientist between the two of us. and hetareated a way to get y pure protein out of any plant source. and when you do that, it's tasteless. many people don't know that proteins have no flavor. so if you get really purepr, you can make foods out of it tand then they are foodss. that a lot more people will buy and enjoy. -and i think you were also inspired by this philosophy of trying to cut down on the carbon footprint, right? -mm-hmm. -tell us about that. -yea i mean, you mentione that i do have a background as a climate scientist. that was a long time ago. and that was a big part of the inspiration
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for my first business, method, trying to use a business to create social and environmental impact. now, fortunately, that's become a much more mainstream idea now. food is even more personal, and has even more impacts on our environment and on our health, of course, than cleaning products, t and t was why i really wanted to get into food, because it's verhipersonal, and it's ver-impact. we need to do enmething about our brood system, and we need to do it through foods that are realljodelicious that people -and that don't cause a lot of carbon output, for example, because dairy products and meat productsco ribute to the carbon footprint. -yeah, exactly. so, da oy is about a quarter food carbon footprint, and food's about 30% of our human carbon footprint. thatofeans dairy is about 8% umanity's carbon footprint. and most of the alternatives are nomuch better. you know, almond milk, for example, takes a lot of water. -mm-hmm. and i know that this was also the inspiration tabehind your method. cleaning products,
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your prior company, you started it with your college buddy, eric ryan, and in the beginning, you were actually making different method formulas -that is correct. yeah, it was sort of the most ironic place you could thi a cleaning-products company being born, which is the bachelor pad of five guys in their mid-20s. -a probably not-so-clean bachelor pad. -it was exactly as clean as you would think it would be. and, yeah, we made the product there. actually used beer pitchers and things like that initially, and we were selling it door-to-door to grocery stores. but now method is actually the largest green cleaning companyn the world. -is it really? -mm-hmm. -that's a great silicon valley story, isn it? but silicon valley has come a long way. it makes amazing products that billions of people usaround the world. but there's also been criticism that silicon valley companies don't do enough to be good corporate citizens. for example, on things like houng. what are your thoughts on that? -well, i thit, in today's environm you have to have a civic identity
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that has a sense.f purpose as a compa it's no longer appropriate for a companysi to juson the sidelines. now, what i don't mean is that a company has to betl ovpolitical. there is a difference between politics and policy. and i think that businesses have a responsibility to put forward ideas about how they can make the world a better place, whether that be environmenial or whether that be s whatever the issue may be. and i think that it's -- -do you think silicon valley has done enough on that front? ell, clearly there are some places where silicon valley has some ways to go. i mean, it's the hotbed of innovation. there's a spirit of creativity here th's absolutely fantastic. and i think we've seen some examples where we need to do better as an overasiness . so i think that's where examining the impactsus that aess can have socially anllenvironmentally is rcritical, and then being conscious and deliberate about trying
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to do better in those eas. -yeah. anof corporatequickly, ssoesponsibility,e topical this week we saw a number of companies step forward on the gun-control debate, united and delta cutting their discounts for nra members, for example, walmart and dick's sporting goods changing their gun-sales policies. how do you feel about companies taking stands on controversial issues? -yeah, i think it's important for companies to have a point of view, and to share that point of view. and as i said, it can be a little bit of a tricky le when it starts to toe the line into politics, and the sausage-making of politics. 's but i don't think ppropriate anymore to not be involved. i think thut trust in societal instns, trust in business is really at an all-time low, and we need to rebuildhat by saying, "hey, this is what we stand fori thwhat we think is right and wrong." and live that. -okay. adam lowry, co-founder and ceo of ripple foods. thanks for being here. -yeah. thanks for havinge. -and that will do it for us.r
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for more of verage, go to kqed.org/newsroom. i'm thuy vu. thank you for joining us. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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robert: a legal storm looms over president trump and the nation remembers senator jonathan -- jn mccain. i'm robert costa, welcome t "washington week." president trump: our justice department and o f.b.i. have to start doing their job and doing it rightnd doing it now. robert: president trump facingmo ting legal changes rallies his supporters and says he is frustrated with his attndney generalhe head of the b.i. president trump: i want them to do their job. il get in there if have to. robert: in rapid fire tweets and interviews, the president lashed out at other targets this week, ahead of a potentially stormy season in his presidency. called the russia probe illegal.

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