The end of the Silicon Valley insider–critic

“We have a generation of ‘veteran tech critics’ with ties to the industry they comment on.”

Ten years ago, it was relatively difficult to find critical coverage of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other companies in the tech sector — it was hard to find any critical tech coverage. Stories like Edward Snowden’s NSA disclosures and the Cambridge Analytica scandal led to ramped-up journalism resources and attention, and in many cases, reporters staffed full-time on the tech beat, but before then, legacy media regarded Silicon Valley as a niche concern. Anything related to tech was significantly underreported despite the scale and influence of the industry that was only growing.

If you wanted to read about a new feature that Facebook implemented in 2011, you might have ended up on the blog of someone who worked in the tech industry — perhaps even the blog of someone who worked at Facebook and on that product. In the absence of professional journalists covering tech, there was independent media like blogs and newsletters to fill the gap.

Consequently, we have a generation of “veteran tech critics” with ties to the industry they comment on. These could be academics with fellowships funded by Microsoft or employees at Google who spoke critically about Facebook’s privacy issues at tech conferences around the globe. The sheen of expertise that experience inside these major companies might have conveyed before is dimming as the wider public begins to recognize that the problems Silicon Valley companies inflict on society are not new, but problems that rooted in their very inception. There were people organizing Google bus protests in 2013. Why should we listen to the people who were inside the buses then, if they’ve had a change of heart, and are now more politically aligned with the protesters they ignored before?

The belief in a tech insider as a tech expert is what led The New York Times to publish Nick Clegg’s op-ed in 2019, “Breaking up Facebook is not the answer.” Clegg is Facebook’s VP of global affairs, and his is an outrageously unpopular position that perhaps only one other person on earth could argue with full conviction (Mark Zuckerberg). Likewise, the Silicon Valley whistleblower-to-Aspen Ideas Festival pipeline that Frances Haugen has staked looks increasingly like a cynical face-saving measure post-“techlash.”

But now there is a deep bench of reporters and commentators with expertise in the tech industry who have never taken Silicon Valley money. These are the real experts.

Ten years ago, it was relatively difficult to find critical coverage of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other companies in the tech sector — it was hard to find any critical tech coverage. Stories like Edward Snowden’s NSA disclosures and the Cambridge Analytica scandal led to ramped-up journalism resources and attention, and in many cases, reporters staffed full-time on the tech beat, but before then, legacy media regarded Silicon Valley as a niche concern. Anything related to tech was significantly underreported despite the scale and influence of the industry that was only growing.

If you wanted to read about a new feature that Facebook implemented in 2011, you might have ended up on the blog of someone who worked in the tech industry — perhaps even the blog of someone who worked at Facebook and on that product. In the absence of professional journalists covering tech, there was independent media like blogs and newsletters to fill the gap.

Consequently, we have a generation of “veteran tech critics” with ties to the industry they comment on. These could be academics with fellowships funded by Microsoft or employees at Google who spoke critically about Facebook’s privacy issues at tech conferences around the globe. The sheen of expertise that experience inside these major companies might have conveyed before is dimming as the wider public begins to recognize that the problems Silicon Valley companies inflict on society are not new, but problems that rooted in their very inception. There were people organizing Google bus protests in 2013. Why should we listen to the people who were inside the buses then, if they’ve had a change of heart, and are now more politically aligned with the protesters they ignored before?

The belief in a tech insider as a tech expert is what led The New York Times to publish Nick Clegg’s op-ed in 2019, “Breaking up Facebook is not the answer.” Clegg is Facebook’s VP of global affairs, and his is an outrageously unpopular position that perhaps only one other person on earth could argue with full conviction (Mark Zuckerberg). Likewise, the Silicon Valley whistleblower-to-Aspen Ideas Festival pipeline that Frances Haugen has staked looks increasingly like a cynical face-saving measure post-“techlash.”

But now there is a deep bench of reporters and commentators with expertise in the tech industry who have never taken Silicon Valley money. These are the real experts.

Ariel Zirulnick

Michael W. Wagner

Melody Kramer

Errin Haines

Joni Deutsch

Anita Varma

Whitney Phillips

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Christina Shih

Natalia Viana

Jesse Holcomb

Robert Hernandez

Kendra Pierre-Louis

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Chase Davis

Candace Amos

Cindy Royal

Joshua P. Darr

Rachel Glickhouse

Sarah Marshall

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Kerri Hoffman

James Green

Jennifer Coogan

Moreno Cruz Osório

Richard Tofel

AX Mina

Don Day

Matthew Pressman

Parker Molloy

Julia Angwin

Sarah Stonbely

Andrew Freedman

Raney Aronson-Rath

Millie Tran

Francesco Zaffarano

Kristen Muller

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Doris Truong

Burt Herman

Anthony Nadler

Eric Nuzum

Megan McCarthy

Joanne McNeil

Matt DeRienzo

Victor Pickard

Stefanie Murray

Meena Thiruvengadam

Jessica Clark

Christoph Mergerson

David Skok

Tom Trewinnard

A.J. Bauer

Joy Mayer

Wilson Liévano

Gabe Schneider

Ståle Grut

Simon Allison

Jim Friedlich

Paul Cheung

Nikki Usher

Mike Rispoli

Cristina Tardáguila

Julia Munslow

Matt Karolian

Joe Amditis

Larry Ryckman

Anika Anand

Tony Baranowski

John Davidow

David Cohn

Mario García

Chicas Poderosas

Tamar Charney

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Alice Antheaume

Cherian George

Izabella Kaminska

Brian Moritz

Simon Galperin

Zizi Papacharissi

S. Mitra Kalita

Shalabh Upadhyay

Jonas Kaiser

Mandy Jenkins

Gordon Crovitz

Kristen Jeffers

Sam Guzik

Jennifer Brandel

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Catalina Albeanu

Jody Brannon

Gonzalo del Peon

j. Siguru Wahutu

Mary Walter-Brown

Daniel Eilemberg

Janelle Salanga

Juleyka Lantigua

Stephen Fowler

Amara Aguilar