letters from Ray | Ethan Kurzweil debates the role of tech firms in personal privacy

A business news report from C • NBC.
February 27, 2016

Dear readers,

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


video | C • NBC asks should tech firms protect privacy?
Analysts weigh in on the heated debate.

about from C • NBC | Ethan Kurzweil, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, and Cheryl Cheng, partner at Blue Run Ventures discuss venture capital and the role of tech firms in personal privacy.


on the web
C • NBC | business shows: main
C • NBC | business shows: Power Lunch

C • NBC | YouTube channel


set | reports on this topic
Backgrounders on the Apple debate over data encryption.

Wikipedia | Apple iPhone
Wikipedia | Apple vs. US Federal Bureau of Investigation

Apple | Q+A on security, privacy and protecting customer data: letter to public
Apple | Q+A on security, privacy and protecting customer data: report
Apple | Update on national security and law enforcement orders: report


set | articles by Ethan Kurzweil
Start-up and trends in consumer tech and developer platforms.

Bessemer Venture Partners* | Ethan Kurzweil

BVP | Ray Kurzweil on the exponential rate of progression by Ethan Kurzweil
BVP | Delighting customers is magic by Ethan Kurzweil
BVP | Epic global commercial real estate industry, start-up will dominate by Ethan Kurzweil

* BVP is Bessemer Ventures Partners


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.


video | C • NBC Make It
Story-telling platform and community to learn from fellow entrepreneurs, innovators & peers.

about from C • NBC | Make It is a home for dreamers and doers. Americans who work hard and think big. A storytelling platform fueled by America’s relentless entrepreneurial spirit. A community for anyone who wants more for their life. More success, more winning, more doing.

A community to learn from fellow innovators and peers embarking on their own journeys. A community that puts CEOs, entrepreneurs, dreamers and strivers on one page so everyone can pursue their dreams and make it. 65 million Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs or careers — and they aspire to do more.

on the web:
C • NBC | Make It