DataDownload: The strange life (and death) of John McAfee

DataDownload: The strange life (and death) of John McAfee A weekly summary of all things Media, Data, Emerging Tech View this email in your browser

Hello everyone — it’s a great word, “everyone”. You may remember the subway used to say “ladies and gentlemen,” but they switched it to “everyone” to be more inclusive — we like that word. And happy Pride Day everyone. In this week’s newsletter, we’re seeing big changes, Jonah Peretti is going on a shopping spree, disc golf is growing. And the John McAfee story, which was strange already, comes to a sad but in some ways inevitable end.

New York’s Democratic primary, its first rank choice voting primary, isn’t over but seems fairly certain so will stay tuned for that.

Overall as we head into July 4, hope all of you are venturing out into the world around you.

Here’s to a great weekend.


Steven Rosenbaum
Executive Director
The NYC Media Lab Must-Read Who Was John McAfee? The Former Antivirus Software Magnate Is Dead at 75.

The bizarre life story of cybersecurity pioneer and former presidential candidate John McAfee came to an abrupt end last week with his mysterious death at 75 in a Spanish prison. Though McAfee resigned from the company that bears his name, McAfee Associates, in 1994, he remained a tech-world legend — often for less than savory reasons. In 2008, McAfee founded QuorumEx in Belize in an apparent quest to develop a herbal antibiotic. In 2012, things broke bad for QuorumEx when Belize police raided its facilities, believing it was a meth lab. Police “confiscated McAfee’s passport and licensed weapons, shot his dog, and briefly imprisoned him before charges of unlicensed drug manufacturing and unlicensed weapons possession were dropped.” Later that same year, McAfee became a “person of interest” in the police investigation of the murder of his neighbor, with whom McAfee had a highly contentious relationship.

McAfee went on the run. He was arrested in Guatemala where he faked two heart attacks in prison to avoid deportation to Belize. Now back in the US after being deported to Miami, McAfee eventually embarked on his first of two runs at becoming POTUS. By the time of his 2020 campaign, McAfee was once again on the run. In October 2020, McAfee was arrested in Spain at the US government’s request for charges of tax evasion and alleged cryptocurrency fraud. On June 23rd, a Spanish court ruled that McAfee could be extradited to the US to face the charges against him. This appears to have been the last straw for McAfee. He was found dead in his prison cell near Barcelona — the Catalan Justice Department said in a statement that “everything indicates” McAfee took his own life.

Esquire / 4 min read Read More An HBO Max Intern Mistakenly Sent a Test Email to Subscribers. They Responded With Stories of Their Own Mishaps.

Everyone has an email horror story. The CC gone terribly wrong. The message mistakenly sent to the wrong “Mike”. Last week, an unnamed intern at HBO Max accidentally sent a test email to subscribers, earning their 15 minutes of social media fame. Rather than berating the intern for accidentally hitting “Send”, Twitter users, including Monica Lewinsky, offered words of encouragement and shared their own tales of email woe.

“When I was 25 I made a PDF assigning each employee to the Muppet they reminded me of the most,” one Twitter user wrote. “I meant to send it to my work friend, but I accidentally sent it to the entire company. My supervisor (Beaker) wanted to fire me, but the owners (Bert & Ernie) intervened.” All-in-all, a great reminder to double check all your emails before hitting “Send”.

CBS News / 2 min read

Read more Tech+Media BuzzFeed Confirms Plan to Go Public

BuzzFeed recently confirmed its plans to go through a SPAC deal, an increasingly popular form of an IPO. BuzzFeed will be valued at $1.5B and seeks to raise $438M. BuzzFeed also announced its acquisition of Complex Networks and its stable of pop-culture websites like Complex and First We Feast for $300M.

“With the addition of Complex, BuzzFeed expects revenue to grow 24% to $521M this year with pretax profit of about $57M.” But BuzzFeed’s shopping spree may not be over yet. “We’ll have opportunities to pursue more acquisitions, and there are more exciting companies out there that we want to pursue,” founder John Peretti said during a recent news conference. When asked what other publishers might be in BuzzFeed’s crosshairs, Peretti responded, “I don’t know. You have any ideas?”

NY Times / 4 min read Read More After Repeatedly Promising Not To, Facebook Keeps Recommending Political Groups to Its Users

Despite repeated promises from Mark Zuckerberg to permanently end recommendations of political groups to Facebook users, The Markup’s Citizen Browser project has revealed these promises as empty. “Citizen Browser consists of a paid nationwide panel of Facebook users who automatically send us data from their Facebook feeds.” Using this data, The Markup has documented hundreds of Facebook recommendations for groups blatantly promoting political organizations (such as “Bernie Sanders for President 2020” or “Liberty Lovers for Ted Cruz”) between February 1st and June 1st of this year.

Of the 2,315 members of Citizen Browser, “just under one-third of all panelists received a recommendation to join at least one group in this category.” Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) expressed his disappointment with Facebook’s ongoing failure to live up to its commitments: “I was pleased when Facebook pledged to permanently stop recommending political groups to its users, but once again, Facebook appears to have failed to keep its word. It’s clear that we cannot trust these companies to honor their promises to users and self-regulate.”

The Markup / 9 min read Read More The Rise of the $10M Disc Golf Celebrity

Multimillion-dollar endorsement deals for professional athletes are now so commonplace that they’re seldom newsworthy. But the recent $10M contract for top professional disc golf player Paul McBeth raised more than a few eyebrows, particularly among those who didn’t know the sport existed. McBeth has won the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) world championship five times — and is the undisputed champion of a not particularly well-known sport. Disc golf manufacturer Discraft rewarded McBeth with the 10-year, $10M endorsement contract. The deal puts him in elite company. According to OpenDorse, only about 70 athletes make at least $1M a year from endorsements.

Niche sports like disc golf are increasingly becoming big business — especially on social media. Dude Perfect, the most popular sports channel on YouTube, “has nearly twice as many subscribers (56 million) as four major U.S. sports leagues — the NBA (16.7 million), NFL (7.8 million), MLB (3.0 million), and NHL (1.6 million) — combined.” For McBeth, who initially wanted to be an MLB player, his disc golf accomplishments have exceeded his wildest dreams. “In baseball, there’s no way to be a trailblazer anymore. The best you can hope for is to make it to the Hall of Fame. But in disc golf there was a bigger opportunity. I could be the Tiger Woods for disc golf. This sport could go to the moon, and I could be remembered as one of the reasons why. It’s a bigger responsibility, but I want that responsibility. I want to be the greatest ever. That’s the goal.”

The Ringer / 20 min read

Read More What We’re Watching The Remote Work Revolution

“Tsedal Neeley, HBS professor of business administration and author of ‘Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere,’ discusses the divide between a majority of workers who want to continue to work from home, the majority of employers who want their employees to return to offices full time, and whether ‘work-life flexibility’ can be achieved.”

Bloomberg Technology (YouTube) / 6 min watch

Watch Now What We’re Listening To Podcast: What Cops Are Doing With Your DNA

“Ever since police used a DNA platform called GEDmatch to crack the Golden State Killer case in 2018, police departments around the country have rushed to use genetic genealogy to crack their own cold cases. The result? Hundreds of violent cases solved. So, why are some states passing new laws to limit this new technology. According to Nila Bala, senior staff attorney at the Policing Project at NYU Law, for police using DNA technology ‘this really is the wild, wild west. There aren’t any rules or regulations guiding police departments on when to use this technology and how to use it.’”

Apple Podcasts / 25 min listen

Listen Now Virtual Events Free Event: NYTA Founder Spotlight — Developing Pride
Date: June 29, 12PM-1PM EDT
A conversation with Jannae Gammage, CEO & Co-Founder of Market Base. Come learn about Jannae’s founder story and company. Register Here.

Free Event: Final Showcase — Global Incubator Programme USA at the Urban Future Lab
Date: July 1, 11AM-1PM EDT
The Urban Future Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering is the U.S. landing pad for Innovate UK’s Global Incubator Programme. Celebrate the culmination of the first year of this multi-year program and hear from the UK-based cleantech businesses in cohort 1. Register Here. A Deeper Look 9 Ethical AI Principles for Organizations to Follow

Long before AI was close to becoming a (practical) reality, scientists and writers wrestled with the ethical implications of “thinking” machines. With AI now here to stay, PwC has suggested nine ethical AI principles for companies to follow. According to PwC Responsible AI leaders Ilana Golbin and Maria Luciana Axente, organizations must walk “a fine line between the potential harm AI might cause and the costs of not adopting the technology.

Many of the risks associated with AI have ethical implications, but clear guidance can provide individuals and organizations with recommended ethical practices and actions.” Here’s an infographic of the nine ethical AI principles.

World Economic Forum / 5 min read

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