letters from Ray | Ethan Kurzweil debates the role of tech firms in personal privacy
February 27, 2016
My son Ethan Kurzweil — who is a partner at Bessemer Ventures Partners — tracks the future of web innovation, social and legal concerns about privacy, and start-ups who have an edge with their business or consumer applications, like team sourcing or software-as-a-service.
He appeared on C • NBC business affairs show Power Lunch. Episode debated the recent news about the US government and law enforcement asking Apple to release private data on an iPhone used by terrorists.
They talked about digital privacy and how we negotiate the needs of the public vs. the individual.
Ethan said, “Companies have to be transparent with their users about how their data is used. There’s a big difference between giving somebody an exploit that gives access to private data — and using data to inform a better consumer experience. It’s a slippery slope to that, but there’s a distinction. I would not endorse the government putting a vulnerability in everyone’s Apple iPhone.”
Good job, Ethan!
— Ray Kurzweil
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about | Ethan Kurzweil
Ethan Kurzweil, partner at Bessemer Ventures Partners, was 11 when he started his first business, the Cat Corporation. In charge of family cat care, he awarded all labor intensive jobs to his sister: cat feeder, cat brusher — and claimed all management jobs for himself: CEO, Vice President of Cat Welfare, Executive Director of Grooming. He now discourages founders from letting sibling rivalry influence their org charts.
Ethan was a co-founder of real company SSB Bart Group — which helps make the web accessible to users with disabilities. H he worked for Dow Jones & Co. managing the turn-around of The Wall Street Journal’s international editions, and Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life.
At Bessemer Ventures Partners, Ethan focuses on investments in consumer tech and developer platforms. He’s excited about consumer video start-ups and companies “developerizing the enterprise” — his phrase for companies that provide non-technical business users with powerful tools and potential impact without requiring them to code.
Ethan’s investments include consumer companies Twitch acquired by Amazon, Dropcam acquired by Google, Periscope acquired by Twitter, Playdom acquired by Disney, Zirx, Life 360 and Piazza. Developer platforms Intercom, Twilio, Pager Duty, NPM, and Sendgrid. Also software-as-a-service companies Hightower and Simply Measured. He was also involved in the firm’s investments in Adap acquired by AOL and Skybox Imaging acquired by Google.
He serves on the advisory board for New Leaders. Founded in 2000 by a team of social entrepreneurs, New Leaders is a national non-profit that develops transformational school leaders — and designs effective leadership policies and practices for school systems across the country. Strong school leaders dramatically improve quality of teaching and raising student achievement.
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